There is so much to say about our trip to the United States. It was destined to be a good trip because we faced so much opposition in coming. The night before our flight, they announced the winner of the re-count for the presidential election and everything broke loose. We woke at 2:30a.m. to catch our 1:40 p.m. flight. Pastor Juan slept on our couch to be ready to go at such an hour. We thought, if we could beat the protests and get to San Pedro Sula safely, then we could wait all day in the airport for our flight. We jumped into the Toyota and drove just beyond the toll booth where we ran into cars piled up because shirtless and masked men had lined up a wall of burning tires to block the road. They then cut a tree down blocking any traffic. The whooped and hollered and chanted “Out with JOH,” the president. They told us we could pass, but there were about seven more roadblocks before getting to San Pedro, and San Pedro was shut down. After prayer and encouragement with Joel, we made it through to Guatemala and took a flight from the capital. As God opened a way for Moses, he opened a way for us. I wrote the whole exciting story of getting here on the blog and you can read it if you like the details.
Pastor Juan stayed with us for a month in San Diego and also went to Tucson. He was able to share several testimonies at a service we held in a retirement home. He was so moved to see such a place that took such good care of the elderly. As you can imagine, there isn’t a place for them in Honduras. Before coming to the states, Pastor Juan had adopted an elderly man from his village who had no one to take care of him. He spent the months leading up to this trip, taking care of him, bathing him, changing him, and providing for him. On Don Teodoro’s last night here with us, he was agonizing in bed and Pastor Juan was beside him. He said he couldn’t go and he was afflicted. Juan prayed and then asked him if he wanted to receive Jesus. Teodoro agreed and they prayed. Teodoro again told Juan he wanted to go, but something blocked his path. There was a part of the path he could not cross. Pastor Juan prayed again with his wife and thought he should baptize him. So with a bowl of water, he baptized Teodoro in the bed. He drizzled water over Teodoro's head and into a small bowl. He dumped the water in the river out back, telling Teodoro that his sins were dumped with it. When he returned, Teodoro was peaceful and said, “Now, son. Now I can go.” I few hours later he passed away. Thinking about his experience with Teodoro who was kicked out to the street, Pastor Juan was amazed at the retirement facility.
Pastor Juan enjoyed everything about the states: the beach, whale watching, Balboa Park, the missions, but mostly the food. When asked about his time and if God had taught him anything, He said that every food he tried was better than the last and that God showed him He is the same way. Just when you think you have experienced the best with God, there is more.
Pastor Juan met my dad, Bruce, and my Aunt Pam, who came out to San Diego for Christmas. Aunt Pam was his personal tour guide, taking him all over and making sure he had everything he needed. He joked saying, “I have an Aunt Pam in San Diego too!”
The ministry did not do intensive classes this winter. Instead we took a contract from C1 church in Idaho. They wanted 75 desks to be used in churches with children’s programs. The table tops swivel, allowing the table to be a bench during service, then transform back to a table. Don Will designed a hinge and lock mechanism and we started production. They have worked faithfully since January and we are ready to deliver the first 23 desks. Rosa also started production with some friends of the ministry to make products in the sewing class. She made an amazing amount of products and items for our students to come alongside and continue to produce with her. I also left Mario with five gallons of paint and some ideas to continue his mural work in the ministry, but what he created blew me away! What amazing talent! His work changes the atmosphere in the ministry.
While in the states, we were able to visit Faith Church in Tucson, The Chapel, and Mountain View. All three places we were able to visit two years ago and it felt really good to be invited back to share updates and what God has done. In San Diego, we met Escondido Church of the Nazarene for the first time. They gave us an amazing greeting with a potluck lunch. We shared in the morning services and then in the Latino service. My good friend Pastor Rafee invited us for worship with Dwell, where Pastor Juan could share about his ministry. We also gave an update at my home church SDFC, at Ruben's and Dean's Sunday school classes, and at Lakeside Nazarene. It was refreshing to have an oportunity to share with my home church what we do and Lakeside has always received us well. We love to worship with them.
Brooke Pate, one of our fantastic board members, planned an amazing Benefit night for Cocal Gracias on Feb. 3. Elda McGinty shared some of her worship songs and brought the Holy Spirit to the forefront. We had such a good night and want to thank all the other people who collaborated to make it possible. Thank you to those who came and supported the ministry. If you did not come, you won’t want to miss the next one in January 2019. We closed out our time of visiting with Mission Church for their morning and evening services and really enjoyed to be with them.
God gave me two gifts this trip. The first was a road trip with Joel. I flew to Chicago on a Southwest flight and was picked up in Joel’s mini cooper which was packed to the roof. He told me to only bring a carry-on and boy was he right. We drove to a hotel and unloaded the mini into his Kia van and then took them both to CarMax, where he sold the mini. After a great dinner with some family, we hit the road at 6 a.m. The next roadtrip days were amazing seeing new sights, new cities, and having fellowship with my favorite person. We listened to Bethel podcasts that have really set the tone for ministry this year in my mind. The second gift was Disneyland with Angeliene. I had prayed for several years for God to take us to the magical kingdom so that Angie could experience it, and this year he sent my graduate student who works for Disney cruises to come and give me tickets. We found a day to go just before we came home and Joel and Elda went with us. It was everything that I could have hoped for and a great time for Angie and Rina. Angie says her favorite ride is Matterhorn, which she rode alone. The tickets meant so much more to me than answered prayer, but mountains of
faith, because when we were wondering if we would get out of Honduras or not, I kept thinking, we must get out, otherwise why would God send me tickets?
Pastor Octavio and Maria Luisa, Joel’s in-laws, took me to a house service in Orange County where we listened to amazing worship and testimonies from around the world. A man there spoke words over me, telling me that I would break the generational curse. I thought he meant something in my family. He also said when my hands sweat; it really isn’t sweat but oil. It’s anointing oil that comes out. At the time I thought, well my hands don’t usually sweat, but maybe they would start.
When Jorge came over to fix mom’s bathroom he mentioned to us a few ailments that had befallen him. We asked if he would like us to pray for him. He agreed. We prayed for his knees, which he said had chronic arthritis. He said it ran in his family. We prayed for his knees. Then we prayed for his left eye. He said he was completely blind in it. We asked him to try to see things and he couldn’t. We prayed for his eyes and he said he could see light and color. We prayed again. He said he could see us standing around him in the living room. We prayed a third time and he could see Rina holding a bag. He walked out of the house with his right eye closed, looking at the world though his left eye. “I can see your neighbor’s car! It has a tarp on it!” We were all so excited along with Jorge. He drove off in his F-150 with a huge smile on his face. I remember standing in the driveway with my hands in the pockets of my jacket and they were sweating. A few weeks later, we saw him at SDFC and Rina asked him how he was doing. He said he could still see some in the left eye, but that it had blurred back to before. Rina asked how his knees were and he said, “Like a little kid! His knees felt perfect and he could do so much more than before!” It was when I was sharing the testimonies with Rafee that he said, “It’s what the guy told you. You broke the generational curse with his knees, and your hands were sweating.” He was right! It was just as Adrienne had spoken over me at the house church!
At the Cocal Gracias Benefit, Joel and I shared the back story of Cocal, photos from this year, and our vision for the future. Sitting in the crowd was 10 year old Riley, my friend Corey’s daughter. We had dinner with them the night before and they told us about her breaking her arm. She had fallen fifteen feet from a tree in the beginning of January. She broke her Humorous bone clean through. The doctor told her it was going to be at least 12 weeks for her to heal. Twelve weeks put her recovery at mid-March. She was bummed because she was going to miss their family snowboarding trip at the end of February. I saw her in her sling at the benefit and when she came to give me a hug goodbye, I quickly prayed for her arm to heal. I thought, “Who knows? Maybe God wants to heal her.” I couldn’t just let her leave. The following Friday, Corey and I had breakfast where he told me Riley had gone to the doctor for a checkup. It was week 6 in her healing. I had prayed for her the week before. The doctor took x-rays and said there wasn’t even an indication of a break. Her arm was perfect and she could go snowboarding! Riley was so thankful. When Corey asked her on my prompting what it was she felt when we prayed, she said, “I felt God’s love… for me and for all the children in the world.”
We returned to Honduras without incident and were picked up by my brother-in-law. The following aftrnoon we had a great service with our worshippers at MLV. They surprised us with a surprise carne asada dinner in our honor, a kind of welcome home thing. We had a great service and Josari gave her life to Jesus. She's the first one of many for 2018. What a great way to start the year.
Two of my advanced English students gave conversation practice to the first and second level students all January and February. I am so proud of them for taking on such a task as teaching their peers. I also have five students currently traveling the country with IHS medical brigades and serving as translators for different teams. Charlie has been keeping me updated on his trip. The team took him in a plane for the first time in his life to fly to La Mosquitia, a remote part of East Honduras, and he went water rafting down a rushing river!
I am so thankful for such good friends and family back home. Without the support from you all, we could never be as successful as we are in ministry. Thank you for sponsoring students, praying for us, and spreading the word about Cocal Gracias. We promise to work hard this year 2018. We are so excited. If I have more time, I can write an update about all the things God is teaching me and talking to me about. It will be a good year though. God bless, and we hope to see you soon!
WE ARE STILL LOOKING FOR STUDENT SPONSORS
WE ARE NOW RAISING FUND FOR OUR 2018 OPERATIONS BUDGET
COCAL GRACIAS MISSION TEAM FOR JULY 4-15 2018