Friday, February 23, 2007

For all of you wives/moms out there

Yesterday, I was able to attend our church's "Mom's REST stop" for the first time. A group of moms, mostly in their 20's and 30's, get together every other week at the church with free childcare provided by older women in the church and do various things like crafts, Bible studies, and prayer time. Yesterday they had a guest speaker, a lady who was in her 40's and a mother of 3, the last of which was a "surprise" and is a little over a year old. I had met her several times before in-between services when she and I both used to give our little ones a midmorning snack. My impression of her was that she was one of those "granola", ultra-feminist types, and that really is how she carries herself. However, she spoke about how to be a Biblical woman, mostly focusing on our roles as wives, and I was impressed and encouraged by her talk, and filled with respect over the way she presented a Biblical view of how a woman should act that is completely anti-cultural. I'll highlight just a couple of things that really struck me.

First, she mentioned that she believes that women have a special place in God's heart (though we're saved with the same grace as men), and cited several verses that supported her opinion, one of which was Isaiah 40:11, "Like a shepherd He will tend his flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." That whole chapter is my favorite portion of scripture, but I had never thought about that last line before. God especially singles out mothers and "gently leads" them! How encouraging!

Secondly, she talked about Ephesians 5:22-33 where it mentions how a woman should submit to and respect her husband. Not a very popular passage in this day and age, she pointed out. But she gave some very encouraging, practical tips on how to live that out:

* find some way(s) to praise your husband every single day and let him know how you admire him
* don't try to "fix" him by correcting his attitudes and behavior; that's God's job, not yours
* don't criticize him; that's also not your job, but Satan's
* ask him for advice whenever you can, even if you don't feel like you need it; his opinion and wisdom will certainly help you, and he will feel needed by you (which he is!)

She gave an example from her own life to illustrate some of these things: her husband loves books, so much so that he has over 3,500 books in their 1000sq.ft. house. They don't have enough bookshelves (or room for more shelves), so he stacks the books on the floor. They also have a 15-month-old daughter -- you can imagine the combination! Whenever her husband gets upset about his books being messed with and she feels the urge to scream, "You're being selfish and crazy!", she prays for forgiveness and the grace to respect her husband, regardless of his faults, and resolves to try to discipline her daughter better so that she doesn't mess with her daddy's books. I found that striking because it seems to me like she's got every right in the world to be upset at him, but instead of criticizing him herself, she lets God do the work through her respectful and kind actions. And she said the result when she does this kind of thing is that her husband realizes on his own that he's being selfish and wants to do better.

This kind of attitude goes along perfectly with what God says in 1 Peter 3:1-7, "Wives in the same way [as being obedient to Christ], be submissive to your husbands, so that...they may be one over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come [merely] from outward adornment...Instead it should be that of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight..."

I was impressed by the fact that this strong, independent, self-sufficient woman would be saying these things! I figured if she can do it, maybe I can be a better Biblical woman for my own husband. I certainly pray that God will help me with that.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Back in the USA

Well, thanks to all of you who were praying for me while I was in Honduras with my father-in-law! God's blessings were rich upon me, and I really felt the love and support of those of you who were at home. It was an amazing week of encouragement -- something I never expected. I guess I kind of expected it to be a "testing" experience, or at least an "eye-opening" experience, and in some ways it was. But the feeling I'll always have of last week is one of support and comfort. I was blown away by the overwhelming amount of love I received from my teammates and even from the Honduran people. I expected to be the one doling out the love, and instead I was the receiver for the most part. Believe me, that was not my plan! But God had other things to teach me: things like how to receive love and how to rely on the help of other people. My personality doesn't lend itself well to these things, and I think I needed a little bit of a wake-up call. Praise God for it.

Now, for you less touchy-feely people, I'll try to give a brief summary of the week's events.

Nate and I arrived in Tegucigalpa (a.k.a., Teguc) on Saturday afternoon, where we met most of the rest of our group. The group was comprised of two main parts: one part from Illinois and one from Michigan. Nate and I were just along for the ride in our own little group. However, by the end of the week, the geographical lines between the groups blurred, and everyone seemed to have always known each other. I guess that's how it is on these types of trips. Anyway, Saturday was spent in orientation and getting to know one another. We were able to enjoy for the first time the splendor and beauty of the view from the mission house's balcony, which is located on a mountain to the north of the city.

On Sunday, we attended a Spanish-speaking mega-church in Teguc, after which we took a drive over the northeast mountains to an area called Valley of the Angels, where we ate a lovely meal and did a little bit of sovenier shopping. There was a TV at the restaurant, so I was able to catch some pre-game Super Bowl highlights. (Yay COLTS!)

On Monday and Tuesday, we had our first medical brigade at a church in the west part of the city. It went fairly well. I think we were able to help some people who really needed it. The brigades were organized into sections: general medical, dental, optometry, physical therapy, pharmacy, children's, and evangelism. Everything seemed to flow quite nicely. World Gospel Outreach (WGO), the ministry we were down there to support, does a really good job of organizing everything.

On Wednesday, we had a "break" and were able to tour the other parts of WGO's ministry. We went first to the top of a mountain on the east side of the city, Rancho Ebenezer, their alternative to an orphanage, where they house abandoned children with married couples, usually 4-6 children per household. In this kind of setup, the children are able to receive real love and care from a real family setting, while also getting a first-rate education through the school at the ranch. It's WGO's way of enhancing the Honduran culture from the bottom up -- by teaching people real values, integrity, and what it means to be part of a family. Once children become 18 and are no longer under the legal guardianship of the ministry, they have the option to become part of the Bridge house, which is the second place we visited. The Bridge house is located in the middle of Teguc, and is run by one set of house parents who help the young adults adjust to living on their own. I was very impressed with the skills that were being practiced at the Bridge house: cooking, cleaning, managing a budget, maintaining good grades, and showing spiritual and emotional improvement. It seemed like a good "bridge" from the ranch to the real world, and I think the ministry has the chance to produce some of the country's future leaders. Before returning home to the mission house, we went up the mountain a little higher to the future mission house site, where WGO hopes to begin building sometime in the next year or so. The view from that site is almost as breathtaking as the current mission house's view, and in some ways, more. It looks like a good place to put down roots and establish the ministry even more strongly.

On Thursday and Friday, we continued our medical brigade, this time at a different church on the east side of the city. Everything went well, and once again, I think we helped many people who needed it. The joy of giving someone some glasses and helping them to see better than they had in a long time (or in some cases, ever), was wonderful, indeed. We had about 350 people go through our optometry station, and about 1600 came through the whole brigade! I really enjoyed that part of the trip.

On Saturday, we packed up our things, said goodbye to the friends we made, and boarded the plane back to the US. It was sad to leave the people we'd grown so close to, but it was also nice to know that we were returning to our homes and families where we belong. I praise God for the many blessings He bestowed upon us while we were away. I had the pleasure of receiving the "Honduran welcome," as it is affectionately known, which is really just a nasty bug that upsets your stomach in a variety of ways. However, it only lasted two days, and during those two days, I was able to experience the love and care from many people in ways that I did not expect. Praise God for His loving family of believers!