Tuesday, August 29, 2017

5W + H

The first English classes I teach usually start with the 5W + H: Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. It gives me a good gauge of my student’s English level and gaps in their previous English classes.

It’s also a great way to get to know my students - Who is your husband? What is your favorite color? Where do you live? When is your birthday? Why do you want to speak English? How old are you?

The back and forth allows forming of questions and answers, students asking one another questions, and diminishes the teacher/student barrier. Combine that with a pot of piping hot locally-grown Tazazul Coffee and homemade muffins, and you get ladies Wednesday night English class.

Granted, all the English classes I get to be part of don't include food goodies but it's always a joy to spend time with Raul and Alma (see the picture) and Ventura when we learn together each week. Learning English gives each of them the opportunity to grow in relationships with our friends, families, churches and supporters in the States as well as flex their own personal education and expand their possibilities for the future!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Who Gets the Grease?

Last night we said goodbye to my parents... the hugs with "see you in a year or so". My parents have spent the past week or so in Phoenix, AZ with the primary reason of spending quality time with Mike and me... before we return to Honduras. Problem is, we don't know when we are returning to Honduras.

We have been approved as long-term (career) missionaries with Mission to the World.
(even though we are a little crazy!)
We have attended all the necessary trainings. (my bum print in many a chair)
We have been in contact with our supporters. (friends and family fun!)
We FEEL more than ready to return home... (home, home, home...)
But... we can't return yet. (Is the word "stuck"  appropriate here?)


We originally went to Honduras as short-term (2-3 years) missionaries which meant that we did not receive retirement, some insurance benefits, or a full salary (among other things)... Now that we are career missionaries, we receive those benefits! (WOOT WOOT!) So... we get to pursue more relationships and invite others to give financially.

Not sure why we raise support?? Watch this 2-minute video.

The short answer: Because God says to.

We long to return to Honduras by May 9. Why?

My daughter, Dixi, is in Honduras.
The contract on our house ends June 18 and we have to find a new home before then and move and...
My best friends are in Honduras.
My family is in Honduras.

God is working in Honduras...
I have been designed and equipped to serve the people of Honduras with my husband.
Home (on earth)Honduras

Therefore, I become a squeaky wheel.
We can't return to Honduras until we have an additional $1,800 a month
committed by you (and others like you).

Are you already supporting us? (thank you!! and can you give more?)
Think you can't support us? (we have supporters who give $5 a month, and some who give $300 a month)
Know someone who could give? (rich aunt or friend who loves Jesus)
Have more than you need? (sell something, transfer funds... get creative)

I can say with certainty that God will provide for us when He wants to, how He wants to, through whomever He wants to... even through you, right now...

Consider it. Pray about it.

I am a squeaky wheel... and the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

To give online (credit/debit), click here.
To give through EFT (bank account), print this.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Life in Luggage (moving 17 times in just over 2 months)

Mike and I made the decision to transition between my parents and his parents every 4-10 days during our time in PA. That's two months of back and forth. Now we are in Atlanta for 7 days. That means that in the past 72 days, we have moved 17 times. Let me reiterate - Mike and I CHOSE this. Do not feel sorry for us - it is what we expected... and it is typical for many missionaries when they are in the States on furlough (or HMA).

Choosing to switch homes so often means that we didn't wear out our welcome in any one home (very important). I am happy to say that I still love and want to spend time with my mother - and Mike's too! That's a big deal. What's not so much fun is living out of suitcases.

Think about your travels... can you relate? Have you experienced something similar? Tell me about it! I know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'd love to hear your experience.

Now, on the bright side, we are flying to Michigan on Monday at which time we will be settled into our own 1-bedroom apartment and will not move from it for a full 3 weeks! This is exciting for us and we are looking forward to storing our clothes in a dresser and our toiletries in a drawer. Our suitcases could use a break. :)

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Snow in PA (pics)

We have spent the last 2 months in Pennsylvania.
Here are some of my more artsy photos of the area for your enjoyment.

This Sunday evening we will be flying to Atlanta, GA so I'll be in touch from there.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Shivers, Snow and other S Words

It's Snowing!

The news says the winter storm is on the way.
The world holds its breath in anticipation.
Schools begin closing early.
The snow plows sit idling on the freeways.

For me, I find a fleece blanket to wrap up in, a mug of something hot and delicious, and let my mind wander as I wait... for what? Snow.

Does snow change my plans? No.
Does it impact my day? No.

Yet I sit and gaze out of the window.

Dixi has never seen snow.
She waits for me
in tropical 72 degrees.
I send her pictures of snow.
She can't understand water, in its solid form, falling from a white sky.

Dixi knows that the Bible says:

"Come now, let us reason together, says and Lord:
though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson,
they shall become like wool.
(Isaiah 1:18, ESV)

So I send her pictures of snow.
Drifting, flaking, sighing, swaying in the breeze.
Snow in Pennsylvania. I shiver.

It's been two months now in this snowy state.
Some of our time was spent watching buggies pass
horses' breath puffing with each step.

Hugs and a squeeze of "see ya later" and the buggies are an hour away.
Now Sitting in a bright room, windows all around... watching the snow.

People who love me surround me.
Family - in one way or another.
A nervous glance out the window - probably should go.
roads may be bad...
it's snowing.

Another pair of warm socks. 23 degrees. Offices closing up early.
The ground is a dull gray - yellow grass peeking through.

the hum of the heater, ticking of the clock, creak of the house...
the fireplace giving warmth – even to my cold toes.

My thoughts drift to home.
La Fe.
Friends... no, family.
Tropical sunshine.
Oppressive humidity.
Green, lush, growing, life-giving, fruit-bearing...
Soon – not soon enough.

For now, family, friends, sharing, travel…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Delicious Ambiguity

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I've learned, the hard way, that some poems don't rhyme, and some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next.
Delicious Ambiguity.” 

When teams come to serve alongside us during the summer months, I have the honor of doing the briefing - 45 minutes of do's and don'ts that end in a review and "Have a great week!" One of the main points that I always drive home is "BE FLEXIBLE! Things change, get over it." Though I preach this every week, I have the most difficulty applying it myself. This week has been the most challenging of them yet.

Life is such a short, delicate thing; strong, solid and passionate one minute, whisked away in a breeze the next. I would like to tell you the story of Rikelme and his mom, Aida... but let me back up. This story starts a year ago - when Aida had two healthy boys.

Wilmer and Aida loved Jesus very much, loved each other very much, and loved their children very much. They lived with Aida's mom and other siblings in a small home in La Fe - but they had their own room, a small crib, and I heard singing and music coming from their home often.

Then, without warning, Aida's two year old son got sick - gravely ill. By the time that they gathered up the $2.50 to go to the emergency room, he was gone. Aida's heart broke. She clung to her husband and her son, Rikelme, and wept. She mourned the loss of her baby boy. Wilmer decided to comfort his wife by suggesting they have another baby.

9 months later, baby Ruth made her appearance. Full of giggles, laughter, bubbles and chubby legs, Ruth brightened Aida's heart and her eyes shown with happiness.

Then, in May, the wave rolled in once again - Wilmer left for work in a neighboring town - riding his bike as usual. He never returned. He had been killed while working that day - she has to collect the body... his family needs to be notified... she has to go to the funeral... She scooped up her sweet Ruth and left to face days of mourning and sadness.

During this time, I have come to know her and love her - her mom, her siblings, her children. Rikelme, now 4, is one of the most imaginative, creative, attentive, respectful, smiley kiddos I have ever met - and being a teacher, I have met quite a few. He loves to learn - to play - to explore...

In June, Rikelme began to have a horrible fever that he just couldn't shake. We made sure Aida had meds to bring down his fever, some antibiotics to get at the sickness, and plenty of healthy advice such as "lots of water", "no playing outside", "bathe to bring the fever down"... I'd walk by several times a week, just to check on him and see how he was doing.

About a month later, Mike got a phone call from Aida - she needs to take Rikelme to the hospital... NOW. It was 8 in the evening and we were not available to give them a ride so we encouraged her to take a taxi. The next day, I went to pick them up from the hospital. Rikelme was all smiles - enjoying some orange juice. Aida gave me the information the doctors were requesting: an ultrasound, blood tests, urine analysis... They don't do those particular tests in the hospital here - you have to go to a private medical center to get it done... and pay - sometimes a lot.

Rather than just going to get the tests done, I suggested that we go visit Tree of Life clinic out in Armenia Bonito where Dr. Roger works. He would have Rikelme's medical history and see Rikelme as a person rather than just a number. After a short visit, some meds, and more advice, Rikelme returned home.

I spent several days keeping an eye on him - making sure he was looking better and doing well. After 4 days of him improving and playing outside, I figured we were in the clear... And then the wave hit.

On Saturday, Lyssa told me that Rikelme does not look good at all and that his fever is back. On Sunday, I longed to go visit him but couldn't - we had clinic the next day in La Fe anyway. On Monday, Dr. Roger said to take him to get blood tests done. At 2 o'clock, Aida, Ruth, Rikelme and Sandy (a week-long summer missionary) jumped in the car with me and we headed to a private hospital to get the blood tests done. Rikelme was burning up - his eyes glazed. He refused water or juice. He refused food. He refused meds.

At 6 PM, I picked up the results of the exam and read them to Dr. Roger over the phone. In our conversation, I heard, "It could be this, or it could be that... but it really looks to me like leukemia." Leukemia. Cancer. Rikelme probably has cancer.

Do I call his mom? Do I tell Mike now? Do I make this public knowledge? I called Mike - he told Lyssa who told Shannon... the team knows. My heart pounding... what do I tell his mom...? Do I tell her or let the doctors?

In a state of shock I sit on the couch. Lyssa walks in at some point. She's crying. Am I crying? I try to look fine. Rikelme. Aida. I smile at Dixi, at Lyssa, pat her hand.

It's Tuesday morning - I've barely slept. My eyes are red and vision is blurry. Can I stay in bed? Do I have to go out today? Yes, I must. Aida. Rikelme. Everyone is getting ready for our kids events today. I'm in charge. I run the kids events in La Fe. Be in charge, Ashley. Rikelme.

Mike says to go talk with Aida. Aida. My feet are lead. I think someone just said good morning to me. Little hands in mine as I walk through La Fe. Someone else waves. I think I smile... maybe not. Aida's house. The front door. Walk in. Good mornings. Aida is sleeping still. Rikelme beside her. Touch her back, say her name. She wakes. I'm not crying, right? Good. No need for her to fear. Rikelme doesn't move.

We move outside - the sun is very hot on my neck. We sit and I show her the blood results. Her siblings are listening. It doesn't look good. We need more information. Let's head to the hospital. She packs. Ruth will stay with the family. She sniffs as she packs. I breathe deeply trying to keep the blood from pooling in my feet and the tears at bay.

We arrive at the hospital - 8:30 AM - we have to park outside the fenced area. Heather (week-long summer missionary) carries Rikelme inside. We sit and I take him on my lap. He's burning my skin as he rests his head against my chest. Aida goes to pay the fee for him to be seen. I cry when she isn't looking. The woman next to me sits down - her baby has a rash. The preclinic nurse puts a thermometer under the baby's arm. Can I have one to check Rikelme's temperature? The nurse lifts his arm to put the thermometer under. Her eyes shift to mine - she sees the tears. She speaks to the other nurse - "He needs to take a cold bath." She leads us away from Aida. Away from the crying and sick children, through the emergency room to a long, white, trash-littered hallway. She opens a closet.

In the closet is a hose coming out of the wall. No light. Cement floor and walls. "Bath him," she says. "I'll be back."

I squat with Rikelme on my knee - his head falling to his chest. Tucking in my skirt, I begin removing his clothes - his skin burns. I tell him to stand. He can't. Cradled in my arms I step in the dark closet and turn on the water. His eyes open a crack. When the water touches his skin, he moans and begins to cry.

Put the water on his head - on his shoulders - on his neck - under his arms. He screams. He calls for his mom. I sing to him. He clings to me. We are wet. He is shivering. I am crying. I dry him with my skirt. Put his clothes back on him. Am I still singing? He's back in my arms. His ears are cold. His neck is still hot.

I carry him back out to the waiting room. I am wet. Aida is still in line to pay. We sit. Aida sits next to Heather. We wait. Rikelme moans. Oh, my heart. Don't cry, Ashley. Be strong for Aida. Aida is crying. We wait. Heather leaves. I cradle Rikelme against me - humming. Lost.

They call his name. I carry him in, lay him on the exam table. He doesn't wake. The woman pokes and prods first his throat then his stomach... listens to his heart, his lungs... Looks at Aida. "This is all your fault, mom," she says. I gasp. "What?"

"You were here 15 days ago. We sent you out to get some test drawn and you never came back. That's why Rikelme is so bad now. You should have come back. It's your fault."

My heart sinks. That was me. I picked her up from the hospital that day. I encouraged her to talk to Dr. Roger first. Not Aida's fault. It's my fault. No, not my fault. No one's fault. No one's fault. I look at Aida. She's crying. Rikelme still hasn't woken. The woman does paperwork. We wait.

While writing, she says, "You need to buy an IV, the bag of serum liquid stuff, and the tubs to hook it up." So, hospitals don't provide this. Aida has no money. I go to buy the supplies. My heart is so heavy. I cry as I walk.

I leave the front doors of the hospital. There a little restaurant store - maybe I can buy it there. No. Try outside the front gate. I walk out the front gate. The guard whistles at me. Across the street is a wooden little stand with a woman smoking inside. There are coolers in front and condoms behind her on the wall. I give her the little list of things the woman said we needed.

She holds her cigarette in her teeth as she reaches above her head and pulls the supplies out of a cardboard box. The liquid, the syringe, the tubs. I buy it and a small box of juice. Rikelme has had no liquids today.

The woman grunts when I show her what I bought. Still she's doing paperwork - texting on her phone between sections on the paper. Aida is crying. I put my hand on her shoulder. The woman calls over a another woman in a doctor's coat - the doctor is chewing bubble gum and playing with her hair... and texting.

She glances at the notes. "He needs a pint of blood." She looks at us. I look at her. "Well, go buy a pint of blood." Um, "Where?" I ask. She leads me through the hospital. Water trails down the walls. Huge gaps where tiles have been removed from the floor. Pipes above my head leaking down onto the ground. Blood trails... on the ground... Vomit in the corner...

We enter the blood lab. It smells of mold and sick. No fans. Halogen lights. Crying people. I swallow. The doctor points to the line - exasperated. "Thank you," I whisper. Waiting, again.

My turn... I need a pint of blood. What type? Uh... I don't know. I go get Rikelme and Aida. We go back. They take Aida and Rikelme behind a door. I can hear Rikelme crying. When the door opens, both are crying. I hug them. Rikelme's flesh burns my skin.

I'm in line again. There's a broken mirror on the wall. I look terrible - like a ghost - eyes red-rimmed and lips tight from holding back the emotions and sick. Waiting. Request the pint. "Ok, but you have to pay for it before I can give it to you." The woman who is speaking to me has blood red lipstick on. Her watch says 1:25 - that can't be right.

I tell Aida to sit with Rikelme. I'm wandering back through the hospital to the waiting room - where you pay for things. Waiting in line to pay. Old woman with fake hair color, glasses sliding down her nose... I'm paying. "You have to donate too, you know." What? "You have to donate blood when you buy it. That's part of how you pay." Uh. Ok. I'll do that.

The receipt in my hand, I make my way back to the Lab. Tears fall from Aida's eyes. Her hair is everywhere. I'm back in line. Red-lipstick lady takes the receipt and hands me a bag of blood. So glad I haven't had anything to eat yet today. Her watch says 2:15. We walk back.

The door to the emergency room opens and we go in - "Sorry, no bed available. Go in the janitor's closet - there's a bed there." I carry Rikelme in. There's a hospital gown on the floor in the corner - I wipe off the baby changing table/bed and lay him on it. He moans but doesn't open his eyes. There was a stool next to the hose closet - it's still there when I go to get it. Aida sits next to Rikelme. I lean against the doorpost watching the emergency room.

Nurses and doctors laughed and chatted. Children whimpered and moaned while mothers silently cried and whispered quietly into their cell phones. I praise the Lord for the broom closet and changing table where Rikelme lays; Aida's head resting on their clasped hands.

In a rush, three nurses enter the room and ask for the IV supplies. I fish them out of my bag - all thumbs being pulled back from my silent reverie. They prepare Rikelme's vein and insert the IV - he cries out in surprise and pain. Aida moves to comfort him but the nurses push her away. He cries out yet again. Aida stifles her sobs in my shoulder and I wrap my arms around her - giving her all of the encouragement and love as I can muster. Tears spring into my eyes as she weeps. Rikelme continues to scream.

Still, I cannot take my eyes from the nurses backs. They are chatting happily about what they are going to be doing this weekend and how one of them has a boyfriend who will be traveling next month. Rikelme continues to call for his mother.

When they back up, I see that he now has an IV protruding from his right arm - a square of cardboard taped around it to keep him from bending his elbow. Aida rushes to him and comforts him - her tears falling unheeded onto his chest and face. I thank the nurses in a mumble while wiping my tears away. Rikelme stirs and returns to his feverish unconsciousness.

We wait. Finally, a bed is available. I carry Rikelme over and place him on it. The nurses look at me and frown. "Only one person can stay with him." I squeeze Aida's arm and walk out to the waiting room... and wait...

The minutes drag by. After what feels like days, I peek into the emergency room to see what is going on with Rikelme and Aida. A pint of blood is now flowing into his veins. Aida is putting a wet, folded t-shirt onto his burning forehead. As I walk toward her, Aida stands and moves toward me. We hold each other - grieving and crying as one.

After several moments, she pulls away - the hospital doesn't have what it needs to provide for Rikelme - they can't help. He needs to go to San Pedro Sula - 3 hours away - away from family, friends... me. Aida needs to go pack a bag. Will I stay with him? Of course.

I stand beside Rikelme now, changing the wet cloth on his head. Each time the coolness touches his skin, he moans. I cry - openly now that Aida has left. His little fingers that so often hung onto my hand as I walked. His smile which always captured my heart. His imagination and love of playing. His simple faith in Jesus.

The ambulance will be here in 2 hours. Aida returns. We wait. Lyssa arrives and my sobs are barely contained. We will stay with Aida until the ambulance leaves.

A storm is raging outside - I can hear the rain hitting the roof, thunder rumbling. The ambulance arrives. We must carry Rikelme to the ambulance. He's on the stretcher now. My heart aches. Aida gets in. A sharp intake of breath and the door closes.

The sobs rake my body. The ambulance pulls out... Lyssa by my side. The rain is fitting for this night. My tears and raindrops glide down my face. Will I see him again? My voice mixes with my sobs, Lyssa's groans mix with mine in a chorus of surrender and prayer.

This is where I will end this post. It leaves you hanging on Tuesday, August 20. Keep an eye out for updates on Rikelme and the next blog in the story.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Our Precious Dixi (we're "parents"!!)

It is with joyful and thankful hearts that we present to you, Dixi (9). Dixi moved in with us just today with her one small bag of clothes provided by Shannon, bag of small toys, and a huge smile. We are her "foster parents" for the next 6 months.

In it's most simplest form, Dixi's mom does not have the financial stability or parenting skills needed to care for her - that's where we come in.

As many of you know, we do not have children of our own. Though we only have Dixi for 6 months (until mid to end of November), we are treating her as our own - loving her, counseling her, hugging her...

We know she is not our daughter. We know that will need to say goodbye at the end of 6 months, but we also know that God has given us a child who needs parents, needs Jesus, needs healthy food and a safe place to live. And to her, God has given... us.

Today was her first day in 3rd grade at a local private school. She loves to sing, dance, paint, draw, act... she's extremely imaginative and loves to learn.

If you would like to know more about how God placed her in our lives, check out our teammate Shannon's blog post. We are so thankful to know that the Lord is providing for her and for us during this time.