Pain and little girls. I have become well acquainted with both during the last two months. Although frustrating at times, I love the little girls as though they were my own daughters. Actually, in my heart, they are. I don’t enjoy the pain, but I do learn from it. Before I go on, let’s get one thing straight. I don’t believe God causes us pain. I know He can, He is God after all, but I just don’t believe He does. Besides, the human race has screwed this world up so much that God doesn’t need to send pain our way. We experience enough just living in a fallen world. You may have a different theological stance, and that is okay because I am not a theologian. However, I personally don’t believe it. I do believe that God uses pain to teach us lessons. This week one of our girls, Nicol, had a painful experience and learned a lesson. Nicol was the first of the kids at Village of Hope to call me Popi. I told her that if she called me Popi, then I got to call her hija – daughter. We’ve been family ever since.
Nicol’s painful event is one that I never wished on her and certainly wouldn’t send her way, but I am glad she went through it. Why? Because it taught her to trust me. And yes, it is important that she trusts me. Not because I have a need to be trusted or want her to think I will never fail her. I will fail her. No, it is important because my purpose in her life is to teach her to trust her Father in Heaven. The One who never has, nor never will, fail her.
Here is what happened. The older boys were playing soccer. Nicol and her twin, Katerin, were nearby. One of the boys made a hard kick. Katerin saw it coming and jumped to the side. Nicol was behind Katerin and never saw the ball until it hit her in the chest. It was purely an accident and the boy apologized immediately. I have personally been hit by a ball kicked by the same boy. It hit me in the chest too, knocked me back a step, and left me fighting for my breath. In essence, it hurt, and I weigh about a thousand times more than 10-year-old Nicol. Now remember, I didn’t send Nicol to get hurt, nor did she do anything wrong. (No sin in other words.) Yet she got hurt. What she did with the pain is the point. She had several options. There were 3 Tias (house moms) nearby. There was a husband and wife team on the property and even another Tio (Uncle). Nicol ignored them and came to my door. When I saw her outside my apartment, tears and snot covered her face. Her sobs were actually gasps for air. In her eyes, I saw that she wasn’t just hurting, she was terrified. As she sobbed, gasped, and patted her chest, her twin told me what had happened. I understood Nicol’s pain and fear. I have suffered from both lately.
You see, in mid-April and I thought I had a summer cold, but it kept getting worse. I fought to keep working in the garden, but I had no energy and would get out of breath in minutes. At night, I couldn’t sleep because I couldn’t breathe. I finally went to a missionary-run hospital and was diagnosed with pneumonia. They flooded my system with antibiotics and told me to rest. I knew that I could never rest at the orphanage with 40 kids knocking on my door all day, every day, so I returned to Texas and stayed with Bruce and Joyce Hammack. Formerly I have called their house the Hammack Hotel, but now it is the Hammack Hotel and Convalescence Center.
The worst thing about having pneumonia was the feeling of helplessness and its accompanying fear. I had no energy, no stamina, & no way to speed up recovery. All I could do was sleep. According to common sense, I should still be recovering in Texas, but I believed that God said, “Go home to Honduras. Now.” So, I came back, but I am still in a fight to recover my energy and stamina. It scares me that my lung capacity is so diminished. Sometimes I can barely walk two blocks before I am out of breath. Not tired, but out of breath. When I saw that look of terror in Nicol’s eyes, I understood what she was going through. She couldn’t breathe, felt helpless, didn’t know what to do, and couldn’t even talk about it.
As Nicol leaned against my door, she gasped for air, patted her chest, and tried to cry. Those who have had asthma know the fear and helplessness that comes with not being able to get a full breath. I stood her up straight and calmly told her it was going to be okay. I instructed her to draw in a deep breath. She did. Then another. Then several more. She got the idea, quit her shallow gasping, and went to deep breathing. Occasionally she moaned and rubbed her chest. The tears never quit streaming down her face. It took 15 minutes to get her breath back and another 30 in my lap before the fear left her eyes. Here’s Nicol on a better day. She is standing outside my door within inches of where I found her crying.
After almost an hour of Nicol sitting on my lap, my leg had gone to sleep. Now I was the one in pain. I could barely walk, but I led Nicol to Tia Sandra so she could get some more loving. I tried to leave, but she refused to let go of my hand. Finally, I stood her on a porch so she was my height and gave her a long hug. I told her I had to go back to my apartment, but Nicol pulled me back down. I thought she wanted yet another hug, but my leg hurt and I wanted to sit down without a 65 pound child in my lap. Then I felt a little kiss on my cheek before Nicol walked into her group house. I was stunned to tears by her simple gratitude. Of course, I manfully hid those tears.
I think there are many lessons we could all learn from this episode. (I know I did.) Lessons about ourselves and lessons about God. First, I praise God that the ball didn’t hit Nicol in the face. Besides a broken nose, mashed lips, and blood all over the place, it could have broken her neck. Next, when she was gasping for air, it took lots of courage, faith, and trust for her to agree with me and take that first deep breath. The fight against pain and fear took a while to win, but she won. Well, okay, we won. The three of us. Oh, didn’t you realize that the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ was present and working in us during this time. I certainly did. Remember, I am a 62-year-old guy who has never had kids. I don’t know what I am doing. BUT JESUS DOES! He took me through this step by step as I took Nicol through it the same way. Among other things, He gave me wisdom and miraculous calmness – I never shed a tear. Well, not until she kissed my cheek. My eyes still water up thinking about that. (Manfully of course.)
Like God, I didn’t need to cause Nicol pain to teach her a lesson. Life in a fallen world just happened to her. Like God, I hated to see my child in pain, but also like God, I was pleased that she came to me instead of anyone else. Like we should, Nicol went straight to her Popi with her pain. Although it wasn’t true before she got to my door, like God, or rather because of Him, I knew just what to do. Like we should, Nicol took a step of faith and did what I told her to do. And like we should, she made a simple and honest act of gratitude. Like God, I was pleased by her gratitude.
Oh friends, I know this had nothing to do with aquaponics, but you can’t believe how sick, miserable, and bored I have been the last two months. I am still weary and it has been hard to get going again. Pops knew I needed something that would bless my heart to kick me out of the doldrums. He knew that His kids are best healed by love so He led me back to Honduras in time to be here for Nicol. Then He guided us step-by-step. I wrote this to publicly thank Him for all the changes, joys, struggles, and yes, even the pains that He has led me through during the last six months. I also thank Him and praise Him that I was not lingering in Texas when Nicol needed me. Now, by faith, I trust that my public gratitude pleases Him. One other thing that I hope pleases Him is my absolute conviction and determination to guide our (His and mine) girls into knowing Him as their true Father and “Popi.”
The History of Food 4 Kids & Our Mission to Honduras
Countdown to Honduras
Budget for 1 year in Honduras------------$13,500.
Donations and pledges received---------$13,500.
Amt still needed-------- -----------------------ZERO!!!
2014 Food 4 Kids projects in Honduras.
*1.Materials and tools for garden school---$700
*2.Pumps, components, and misc for small
*3.High efficiency pumps for large
fish tank while waiting for its conversion to
aquaponics farm in spring 2014.----------$500
*4.Large fish tank repairs, kid-proof cover,
solid waste collector, and bio-filter.-------$500
*5.Kiddie pools to grow duckweed.--------$100
*6.(Spring 2014) Conversion of fish tank into
aquaponics farm.-------------------------@ $3000
*7.Solar electricity system---------------------?