NEWSFLASH from the Jesus News Network! November 1, 2013.
“FIRST CONTACT” An alien Gringo has landed in Tocoa, Honduras. Hugs delivered and received.
Hola y’all. I must warn you that this update is a long one. I know, I say that with every update I send, but hey, this is my first one since I landed in Honduras.
First, I’d like to take a moment to say, “WOW! I’m really here.” Yes, I know that I’ve been in Honduras over two weeks and I should be settled in, but I’m still in that “Pinch me, I must be dreaming” state. To me, it seemed like it took forever to get down here, but to Barry and his daughter Lauren, they can’t believe I got here this fast. To them it is proof of God’s involvement.
Now look, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I have learned that when others see God’s hand in something and I don’t, then I’m missing something. Therefore, I did some calendar work. Here’s what I found. I returned from my first trip to Honduras in late February, 2013. Then I spent a month planning. Then God changed those plans and revealed that He wanted me to stay in Honduras for at least a year. Let’s call that the beginning of April. Next, I proposed two budgets to the pastors at the Church at Agape Outpost and to you, the supporters of Food 4 Kids. The 1st was to cover my time down here. The 2nd was for the projects I believe God wants done.
SECOND NEWSFLASH! Did you know that no budget was presented for hug distribution? It costs nothing. Just saying.
Back to the calendar story. God completed raising the money for my trip in August. Then came two “long” months of preparation, purchasing items needed, and praying. My first full day here was November 1, 2013. From the time He told me to come for at least a year, God raised the full amount for that year’s stay (including travel) in only 5 months and got me down here in only 7 months! So, yes, I did get down here fast and it had to be God’s action because several of those months I spent in Texas working with the aquaponics system in Bruce and Joyce Hammack’s backyard. WOW!
THIRD NEWSFLASH!!! Alien completes water tests from the orphanages’ wells and the fish farm. PRAISE THE LORD!! (I’m doing a lot of shouting aren’t I?) The pH is low and the water is soft. Both are great for plants. Remember, high pH and hard water were the problems we had with the system in Texas. But not in Honduras!
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, God got me down here in only 7 months, but in the meantime, He sent me back to school for a refresher course. No, not just in the Hammacks’ backyard, but He actually sent me back to Florida and Morning Star Fishermen for a week. Then I got to return to Colorado for a few months. Another important bit of information that is praiseworthy is He got me out of Colorado before winter set in! YEAH GOD!! (Sorry Rita, Candy, Mark, Carol, and any other warm-blooded friends still in the mountains.)
Now, here’s the important stuff. These are just the names that I can put a face to. I’m trying, but I can’t learn them any faster. Seriously, show me how to do a memory trick with names like Mayalin, Miyeli, Eyeni, Yami, Fany, or Eili.
THE KIDS: Manuel, Jonathan, Jasmin, Briana, Nohemy (pronounced no-amy), Amalia, Esther, Jona, Jose, Yami, Sebastian, Estefani, Eili, Saidi, Fany, Zahir, Junior, Carlos
My newest BFF is Manuel. He is about two years old and before Sunday, all I ever heard him say was “Hey.” Today Manuel said, “Hola!” On the trip from the airport to the orphanage, Barry Compton and his friend Jay said that I didn’t have to pick out a special kid, that he or she would pick me. The next day Manuel walked up and held his arms out for me to pick him up. I did and that was special, but then he laid his head on my shoulder and just melted against me. He didn’t move, talk, or do anything. In my imagination he said, “Hey Gringo. Love. I need it. Give it up.”
Next I met Nohemy (At first, I thought her name was spelled like it sounds = Noamy.) Nohemy is 13, almost 14, and her daughter’s name is Amalia. Amalia is around one year old. Yeah, that’s right. Do the math. Nohemy loves Amalia tremendously, but dang it, she is still just a kid herself. She should be skipping rope, but instead, she is trying to be a Mom. If I let it, her situation could break my heart, but instead, I have chosen to let Nohemy inspire me. Manuel may be my new BFF, but Nohemy is my new hero. By the way, I’ve been privileged to earn her trust and give her a bunch of hugs too.
Another new friend is Jonathon. He is one of Manuel’s older brothers. Jonathon joined me one day at the garden and became my first helper. He stayed beside me for hours and helped as I dug up sod and then helped me separate the dirt from the grass. As more kids came to join us, he instructed them on how to help. He even told them to keep the red worms in the garden and throw the white grubs away. He gets hugs from me too, but what’s better is that he gives them back.
The final new friend I will tell you about is Esther. I know less about her than any of the others, but I also know her the best. I met Esther last February on my first trip to Honduras. I sat outside one night at the girls’ home and played “quick hands” with a group of the girls. You know the game where you put your palms on the other person’s palms and they try to flip their hands over and touch you before you can remove your hands. Esther was there that night only 8 short months ago. She is a beautiful, young lady about 15. It is easy to tell that Esther has a problem with her temper and her mouth. She is brash, bold, and yet, surprisingly gentle. When she yells at one of the little kids, it will leave your eardrums ringing. Two minutes later, she will hurry over to pick up a little one who has fallen. She seemed embarrassed both times I saw her do that. She will hurl dirt clods at one of the older kids with the speed of Nolan Ryan, but then gets sad if I squish a grub I find in the garden. She reminds me of some of my heroes from the Bible. I think Jesus would have named her “Daughter of Thunder.” Soon, I will ask Lauren about Esther’s story, but for now, all I know is that she is here, and that means her past is probably not a good story. However, she gives great hugs.
I’m going to wait a few days before posting some pictures. Right now, I would ask you to just dwell on their names and their stories. Then try to imagine life as Manuel, Nohemy, Amalia, Jonathon, or Esther. No, I’m not talking about imagining life in a nation of poverty. I’m talking about life as an orphan. Some of you may have lived this life, but most haven’t. Many of us did grow up with only one parent. Some had a parade of stepparents. Others lived in houses with two parents but no love. Some of you may have been taken from your natural parents and grown up in foster care. In truth, without Jesus, we’re all orphans. As you pray, remember that the kids I have introduced to you are the fortunate ones. They are clean, well-fed, clothed, and loved. So as you pray for them, pray for those still out there that need help, and love. And don’t just pray for the orphans of Honduras.
One of the reasons I am so grateful to be part of the Agape Outpost is that this little mountain church helps orphans all around the world in places such as Kenya, India, Uruguay, and now Honduras. (and I’m probably leaving out some other nation where we help orphans.) We help the spiritual orphans of the world too by supporting churches and/or missionaries in South Asia, Uruguay, Mexico, China, India. (Again I am sure I’m forgetting someone.) Friends, I am honored, humbled, and I thank you for sending me to Honduras. And remember, each of the hugs I give away is from you and each one that I receive is for you.
Don’t forget in the darkness what God told you in the light, Gideon
NEWSFLASH!! “An alien sits alone in a room and there is a knock on the door.”
As I finished this update, I heard a light tapping on my door. I opened it to find Jona, a tiny fellow about the same age and size as Manuel. While Manuel is quiet and serious, Jona is a talker and a grinner. I picked him up and he wrapped his arms around my neck and squeezed for all he had. No talking today, just a long hug. We hugged for a couple of minutes before I set him down. Then he grabbed my hand and started tugging on it and talking. I didn’t understand a single word, but I knew what he wanted. Jona loves to be pushed on the swing set. So I set the tiny fellow on the swing and started pushing. An older boy got in the swing beside us and said, “Hola, Gideo.” I have to admit, I don’t know the older boy’s name – yet. However, there is still tomorrow. Then Esther came running from the front porch of her casita. I stepped away from Jona for a moment as Esther and I bear-hugged. Then I went back to pushing Jona. Bold, brash, beautiful Esther pushed the other boy. See, I told you she was gentle too. We did this for about five minutes, and then the older boy jumped out of the swing. Esther took his place and I pushed her, a 15 year old, and Jona, a 2 year old, for another few minutes. As I pushed I thought how similar they were, both are starving for love from someone they can trust. Then Esther jumped out and ran to her casita. She waved and called back, “Hasta luego, Gideo.” I somehow convinced Jona it was time for him to play with the other kids and then returned to my room where I typed this - and cried. In many of my recent emails I have stated that I am the most blessed man you know. I mean that, but let me clarify something. I am not saying that I am the most deserving man you know. Friends, that is why I am so blessed, I don’t deserve this. But in His mercy, Father God has chosen to give it to me. So yes, I am blessed, but it is because God is good, not me.