Sunday, March 9, 2008


While living in a small, somewhat-forgotten country in Central America, I have spent a great amount of time studying, reading, and thinking. Between English classes, chores, outreach time, and grading papers, there remains a bit of time for searching deeper into the most important things in life. The blessing of Jodi's laptop computer has made it possible to watch hours and hours of sermons by some of the most capable speakers in America. So even though hundreds of miles from the nearest English-speaking church, I have had David Asscherick, Mark Finley and Doug Batchelor speaking to me from the comfort of my own room. I even attended GYC 2008. Thanks be to God for technology! Let me never bash it again!

I don't think I'll ever fully realize the blessings gained from the sermons I've watched here, in a vacuum, outside the influence of everything else that makes up my life. Like Luther stumbling upon the Bible chained and forgotten in a monastery cell, I discovered the word of God again while swatting at mosquitoes in my little cinder block room far away from my homeland.

Some gems I've found in my perusals, from the Bible, other books, or sermons:

"It would be of no surprise that if a study of secret causes were undertaken to find that every golden era of human history proceeds from the devotion and righteous passion of a single individual. This does not set aside the sovereignty of God; it simply indicates the instrument by which he uniformly works. There are no bonafide mass movements--it only looks that way. At the center of the column there is always one man or one woman who knows God and knows where he or she is going."

--Richard Ellsworth Day

"But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded." 2 Chronicles 15:7

"We cannot attain to the understanding of Scripture either by study or by the intellect. Your first duty is to begin by prayer. Entreat the Lord to grant you, of His great mercy, the true understanding of His word. There is no other interpreter of the word of God than the Author of this word, as He Himself has said, "They shall by all taught of God." Hope for nothing from your own labors, from your own understanding; trust solely in God, and in the influence of His Spirit. Believe this on the word of a man who has had the experience."

--Martin Luther

"Here is a lesson of vital importance to those who feel that God has called them to present to others the solemn truths for this time: These truths will stir the enmity of Satan and of men who love the fables that he has devised. In the conflict with the powers of evil there is need of something more than strength of intellect and human wisdom."

--Ellen White, The Great Controversy, page 132

"I am like Jeremiah, a man of strife and contention; but the more they increase their threats, the more my joy is multiplied . . . . They have already destroyed my honor and my reputation. One single thing remains; it is my wretched body: let them take it; they will thus shorten my life by a few hours. But as for my soul, they cannot take that. He who desires to proclaim the word of Christ to the world must expect death at every moment."

--Martin Luther

"For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him." 2 Chronicles 16:9

"Those who accept the one principle of making the service and honor of God supreme will find perplexities vanish and a plain path before their feet."

--Ellen G. White, Desire of Ages, page. 287

"What is the definition of sin?" John Wesley asked his mother.

She replied: "Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, reduces your relish for spiritual things; whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is a sin to you, no matter how innocent it may seem."

--Sermon by David Shin, The Tipping Point of Revival, GYC 2008

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."
--Jim Elliot

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

At First I Prayed for Light

At first I prayed for light: could I but see the way,
How gladly, swiftly would I walk to everlasting day!

And next I prayed for strength: that I might tread the road
With firm, unfaltering feet, and win the Heaven's serene abode.

And then I asked for faith: could I but trust my God,
I'd live infolded in His peace, though foes were all abroad.

But now I pray for love: deep love to God and man;
A living love that will not fail, however dark His plan.

And light and strength and faith are opening everywhere!
God waited patiently until I prayed the larger prayer.

Hymn 488 in the Adventist Hymnal

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Children of the Trash

Every morning, I work with the seven youngest kids we have here at the Hogar, who we call “the Chicitos” (chicito means “little one”). It is a job and a chore but also an opportunity to learn spiritual truths and practice the fruits of the Spirit, namely patience, gentleness and self-control.

My kids and I have to scavenge for trash every morning. People in Honduras generally don’t use trashcans and our kids at the Hogar are no exception. Because of this, every day the little kids clean up the trash in our yard and garden. We work our way around the grounds, one or two kids usually holding onto my hands, my waist, or any other part of me they can reach. All of them are talking to me, arguing with each other, asking me questions, pointing out interesting scenery, and doing everything except looking for trash. I usually have to point it out to them.

Once they’ve spotted the trash and actually picked it up, a new phase begins. Just because the kids have picked up the trash doesn’t necessarily mean it will go into the trashcan. As my mom used to say, “There is many a slip between the cup and the lip.” Discarded rope becomes a harness for Manuel, to be driven by Javier. A piece of cotton and a rusty wire becomes a lovely flower to be put in someone’s hair (usually mine). My kids are fascinated by bits of plastic, empty soda cans, orange peels, rotting shoes. They play with it, throw it at each other, or hand it to me to carry. Sometimes, I put it in my pocket without thinking. The other day, I found a multicolored rock, a length of red yarn, a piece of tinsel from Christmas, a felt, and three beads in there after work.

Or they eat it. This is usually where my patience runs out.

“Manuel, por favor, ¡no se come basura! ¿Que piensas niño?”
Translation: Manuel, good grief, don’t eat trash! What are you thinking, child?

I never thought I’d actually hear myself say that to someone. But it’s almost a daily thing. “Reinita, no ponga esta cosita en tu boca! Esta es basura!”

They stare at me blankly and take it out of their mouths, looking aggrieved. Yikes, I think. How am I the bad guy here? But it probably is our fault, if you think about it. These kids are becoming too comfortable with trash.

We also get to sort beans. Seven ADHD kids and me and a huge basin of beans to sort. It’s kind of like purgatory. The older girls, Marta, Waleska and Selenia sorting and arguing with each other; Damaris refusing to do anything (usually I have to send her to her room); Javier playing soldiers with his pile. Manuel and Reinita still don’t know the difference between a bean and a rock.

“Reinita,” I say, peering into her “good” pile, “This isn’t a bean. This is a rock. And this is a leaf.”
She screws up her face into her best baby pout. “Yo no sabía,” she says (“I didn’t know!”). What?? How do you not know? You’re like eight! Although I try to do quality control on the finished product, Jodi says she’s crunched into some gravel while eating our beans.

Oh well. More minerals. With beans like this, who needs a multivitamin?

Food for Thought

"When it's hard to forgive others for wrongs the've done to us, remember this: God died on the cross so He could forgive us."

Linsey Strack

Christmas Morning

This I wrote on Christmas morning after an almost sleepless night. Feeling down, I was about to write my sad thoughts, and instead God gave me this to write. I felt like a new person afterward, my heart was light and happy. Gracias a Dios por todo.

My Savior and Redeemer
My All in All
My Comforter and Help in trouble
My Joy and my Strength
My Friend, faithful to the end
My King and Lord
Who loves me more than His own life
My reason for living and my Teacher
My counselor and Father
(My loving Father)
How I want to be with You
How I want to feel Your presence
For You are everything good
And I am dust
And nothing more than a flower
that grows and then wilts in the heat
Withers when there is no water

I am not alone
For God is with me
He will never leave me or forsake me
He will be to me a husband
And Father
And I will live with joy because of Him
Like a child with her parent
I will trust and not be afraid
I will never be alone
Because God, my precious Jesus,
Is with me
God with us

There is peace, strength, and joy
In the cross of Jesus.

God is like this . . .

This was an e-mail that was written in October sometime, I think.

If I could paint a picture of Jesus, I would paint Lety as she turns from washing the tables and smiles at me. Her dimples are deep pits in her round cheeks, her little white teeth flash at me, her dark eyes twinkle and her curls bob. “Hola, amiga,” she says, and reaches out her chubby arms to embrace me. As we hold each other tight, I can rest my chin on her head, trying to avoid disturbing the three or four sprouting ponytails that come out of the top of her head (she likes her hair like this although we’re not really sure why). I would somehow paint her warm little hands, her infectious giggle, her trusting eyes. A twenty-two year old with the mind of a child.

I would paint German riding in the back of the truck last Sabbath, looking seriously at me as we bounced up the mountain. The other children crowd around him, yelling, arguing, laughing, hanging on to the truck for dear life as we crash into potholes and splash through puddles. I would paint him in his raggedy jeans that are too big for him and are about to fall off, his untied and muddy shoes, his runny nose. I would paint him scampering over the bed of the truck to me and nestling down on my lap. I wish you could paint the way little boys smell (well, maybe it’s just as well that you can’t). I would paint his little hand holding my arm and his stubbly hair scratching my cheek.

I would paint Manuel learning to cook today in the kitchen with Jodi, his eyes lighted up, as they always are when he’s around food. I would paint Jodi patiently helping him measure the ingredients for cookies, first the oatmeal, then the baking powder, then the sugar. Carefully counting . . . uno, dos, tres . . . I would paint him standing on the folding chair, fighting manfully to keep his hands out of the dough (one moment his hand hovers over the bowl, then he snatches it away, then it creeps back, and he watches it, fascinated). Jodi helps him stir, and he looks up at me and grins with delight and surprise, as if to say, “Look! Look what I can do!”

In each child, God sends me a message of love. He says, I am the girl who looks forward to your smiles in the morning and who longs for a real “amiga” who will never leave her. I am the boy who searches for a safe place to rest when the world is topsy-turvy. I am the child who needs someone to teach him the most important lessons of love, trust and self-control. He says, “When you see one of the least of these, you see me” (Matt 25:40).

I wish I could paint a picture of Jesus on earth, encountering the multitude every day, seeing each person with the eyes of One who knows the innermost thoughts. I wonder what He would have thought of me, me with my little, sinsick soul, one girl in a crowd of more impressive people. If I could have been there, gazing at His face in awe and a little bit of fear that He would notice me (but hoping, hoping He would), when His eyes fell on me, what would He have seen? One who loves her neighbor, or one who is desperately in need of His love? One who has “arrived,” or one who longs to be changed? One who wants to show others their faults, or one who’s willing to learn her own from the Master Teacher? Would he see a strong spirit, full of pride and self-sufficiency, or a humble spirit, broken and willing to become anything He wants? I fear I would shrink from those eyes, unable to look into them, and just say, “Be merciful to me, a sinner.”

To this He would say (I would paint this if I could), “I am the Friend who will never leave you. I am the Safe Place you can come to for comfort and rest when your world is upside-down and inside out. I am the Teacher who will teach you life’s greatest lessons and help you learn love, trust, and self-control. I will train your hands and your heart to do and be what they should. Do not be afraid. I am.”

An impossible job, to paint these things. Maybe I don’t actually want to paint a picture. I can’t do the subject justice. If I can be part of a painting by the Master Painter, any part, I will be satisfied.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

What do I really do here?

This I wrote in November, but I never sent it. I decided to make it a post. I would give it the date circa November 15.

What do I really do here?

I ask myself this as I get up in the morning, open my Bible, and turn to the place I left off the night before. What is it that I’m doing to make a difference? I ask myself this as I help Lauriann serve milk and rice and bread in the morning. Really, what am I doing here? I ask myself this as I listen to the kids argue and fight all afternoon. God, why am I here right now? Shouldn’t I be doing something more important?

We listen to sermons on the computer, sometimes several times a week, after our day is done and the childcare responsibilities are in someone else’s hands. As the speaker describes the difficult-to-understand passages in Daniel and Revelation, the Bible becomes a living movie, but more interesting and spectacular than any movie I’ve ever seen. Caught up in the big picture, I look down at my little life here in a back corner of a forgotten country and wonder, shouldn’t I be out there?

Then, I remember. I am “out there.” So why does it feel like I’m still waiting to be somewhere else?

But I always want to be somewhere else. Finishing my nursing degree, I want to be anywhere but in school. I want to be in the front lines, talking about Jesus, sharing the gospel with people who are hungry to hear it. I want to go so bad it hurts. But I can’t. Not yet.

Working at the hospital, wiping bottoms and starting IVs (or trying to). I want to be somewhere else, anywhere else, doing something really big for God. But I can’t. Not yet.

Finally, I think I’ve gotten my big break. I go to Honduras. I’m a real missionary. But I get stuck at a high school teaching two hundred forty kids a subject they don’t want to learn. In my free time, I baby sit forty-five of the world’s most difficult kids.

So, when do I get to start being a missionary? I ask God. I have 98 Great Controversies waiting to go out. I have over 200 Steps to Christ. I’m sitting on resources here.

So often I feel like I’m doing nothing but just waiting. Waiting for school to start again. Waiting to go home again. Waiting to meet that special someone. Waiting for that perfect job that I love with all my heart. Waiting for this or that bad character trait to finally go. Waiting for Jesus to come . . .

Oh Lord, how long . . . how long until things start happening? I pray this and wait for the answer.

Then I wonder. Maybe it is the times when nothing is happening that the most happens.

Think about it. How do you develop a good character? A good character partly comes from making good habits. How do you form good habits? By doing those menial, boring, irritating tasks that just have to be done over and over. By choosing to do something the right way and not the half-hearted way until you just naturally do everything the best you can. How long does that take? A day? A month? A lifetime? How do you form a relationship with God? Is it something that happens in a week, a summer, a month? You can start a relationship with God in that time. But to really know someone takes years of daily talking, daily spending time, daily working together. But I want it all now, God.

And God says to my impatient, headstrong spirit, “How do you become trust-worthy in big things? By being trustworthy in the little things.”

Ugh. No God. Please, can’t you just give me a big thing and be done with it?


You need to get up every morning and have time with Me, even if you’re tired and don’t feel like it. You need to help Lauriann serve the potatoes. You need to take care of the kids, even when they’re bratty and nasty. You need to make lesson plans—and do it well, the way you know you should. You need to do all of these things to the best of your ability, even though they don’t seem to matter, even though you’re more interested in the big picture than the details. Because I am in the details, those little things you tend to ignore and despise. If you were where I am, you would see that these details together form the big picture that you’re so interested in. You said you want to follow me. I’ve led you here. Now, do your duty, child.

I’m waiting right now to go to the cafeteria to serve supper. After that, I need to write an exam for Thursday. After that, I need to take care of Yeny’s wounds like I do every night. Then, I get to spend some time studying my Bible. Then, I’ll take the lice out of my hair (hopefully not find many). Then, bed.

And tomorrow. Tomorrow I will do my job again.