This past month has definitely has it’s ups and downs. Good stuff. Bad stuff. Crazy stuff.
And I don’t know why or how but May always seems to be a rough month for me to plow through.
Let me be painfully honest here: I tend to see and only focus on the problems, not the blessings. I see what needs to get done and overlook the awesome things happening or that have been accomplished. I am painfully aware of that and strive to rest in those blessings and be satisfied in them and not always be discontent or anxious for what remains to get done or needs to be solved.
So, with that said, here’s some of the not so fun things that have happened in Travesia lately. I’ll have the fun and encouraging stuff afterward.
- Jefferson’s mom died on April 30th. The mom of one of our boys from the varsity team died last month. She’s struggled with HIV for the past few years and we knew she was getting worse but it just happened suddenly. It was a blow for him and his family. He is one of the few boys that I feel like I can really say is really genuinely kind and wants to grow to be a strong leader with christ in his heart. It’s hit him in different moments since then and I’m thankful we’ve been able to walk with him and his brother through it. They are both so young to have lost someone so important like a mom. Jefferson is 14 and his brother Christofer is 12.
(I took this picture while I was at his house with him after he found out his mom had died. We just sat outside for a few hours together. His whole world was changed forever.)
- A local gal who is a good personal friend of all of us at the academy and has helped us so much recently started having pain in her breast. She struggled with breast cancer a few years ago so this is a very anxious time for her as she is having tests done right now to determine what is the cause of these pains. Please pray for her. Medical exams, medicines and treatments are expensive and hard to get, pray for her needs to be met and for this to be nothing but a fluke or something easily and quickly resolved.
- Another gal who is very close to the academy is expecting a brand new baby any day now. And just recently she found out that her husband is cheating on her and it’s questionable if he’s going to stay with her or leave. We want to support her in the best way we can and we pray for their family to be restored. Pray that her husband, E, comes to know Jesus and that his life is radically changed. Pray that God uses this story of heartbreak for his glory and redeems and restores everyone involved in it!
- For another close friend of the academy, his father recently had surgery for lung cancer and is having an up and down time with his recovery. It has been very touch and go and he remains in the hospital struggling to recover.
- On a larger scale, Honduras teachers and doctors have been on strike during different times of the week for the past 3 weeks because of a new law that would privatize schools and hospitals. Because of this schools have been frequently shut down and peaceful marches have blocked major highways. Students are suffering right now because they don’t have school very consistently. The education level, at least here in Travesia, is outrageously substandard and this does not help. We try to supplement what they do in school at the academy, but our classroom time with them is only an hour and 15 minutes every day and there’s only so much that can be done.
- Over 30 people left from Bajamar (neighboring village) and a few from Travesia last weekend going to try to make it to the states. Among them were two rhinos that have been here from the beginning, smart, funny, bright boys… SUPER discouraging. People continue to leave for the states… for many in Travesia, it’s their only hope. It’s a sad state of affairs when their greatest life aspiration is to leave their community for a dream life in the US… especially when that dream life will most likely never happen.
- We found out one of our older rhinos is smoking pot (we suspect some of our other boys do this, but I at least was genuinely surprised for this kid) and his attendance has been poor lately and he’s been making horrible decisions in his life. He’s on a fast, destructive spiral downward in his life. He’s on the verge of ruining so many good opportunities that have been set before him. We don’t know if he’ll continue in the academy or not. We’ve have so many talks with him but don’t know if it matters at this point.
8. Our boys have had poor behavior and attendance for the past few weeks. Super disrespectful to each other and us. Out of control is a good way to describe them. In the moment it is so discouraging and disheartening…. Boys running around fighting each other, fighting or lying or not listening to you… and you can barely communicate to them in their language and its almost as hard to try to understand what they’re saying to each other…. Talk about feeling powerless and useless. And it’s such a struggle for me to not react to them in anger in the same way that they react to each other. I pray that I act with Christ in my heart, with love and compassion, and not with anger or emotion, when they need correction and discipline. Pray that God continues to draw these boys to him, to soften their hearts. Pray that they seek Jesus, find him and give their lives to Him. He is their only hope… and OUR only hope…. For change and new life!
And I guess that’s enough of the bad stuff for now. I’m encouraged when I read scripture and I’m reminded that God is sovereign through the good and the bad and he can use ALL OF IT for his glory and for our good. I’m clinging to that and trying to rest in that promise.
Anyway, some good stuff!
- Maria and Axel have started doing a little soccer clinic on Sunday afternoons for little kids aged 6-9. Kids this young can’t be a part of our rhinos program during the week, but there are so many kids that age in the community and we want to bring them in and have them participate with us in some way. Seeing these little boys come in and have fun and laugh and play has been so encouraging and exciting.
- The mangos are ripening! We have a grove of mango trees up at the academy. And it’s about time for their mangoes to ripen. WE’ve had a few ripen and LOTS have been falling that aren’t ready but the rest should be ready soon… sooner if we could get some rain. I consider this a good thing because I look at the bunches and bunches on mangoes hanging from those branches and I’m reminded of these boys. They are like green mangoes right now on that branch. They aren’t ready. They need more time, more growth and more enrichment to reach maturity. If I picked one of those mangoes now, its’ small, green and super bitter to the taste…. Not good for anything but throwing out. Pray that our boys will grow and like John 15:5, that they will remain in Jesus so that they can grow complete and be fruitful!
- Spanish. For anyone living in another country, trying to actively learn a new language AND use that language at the same time is a challenge. I’ve learned that my Spanish goes through phases where it gets better and then gets worse. I feel like I’m now coming out of a phase where Spanish was rough for a while. I’m encouraged by how fast I’m able to pick up words and new vocabulary and acutually remember them. I’m encouraged to find myself thinking more in Spanish and just going with the flow, rather than trying to translate from English to Spanish in my head. That makes me feel like you can teach an old dog new tricks, even if that dogs and to stumble and stutter his way through the tricks to get them right over time.
- Yaina, who cooks our dinners at the academy for the boys, is having a baby boy soon. And she decided to name here baby after Jeremy and I. His name will be Jason Jeremias. It’s such an honor for me! I never had someone name their kid after me! We’re excited to meet her new baby and to have him be a part of the academy as he grows up.
- I recently was able to get my Honduran driver’s license. And for me that was a personal victory because the process is long and confusing. And the tests and exams were all in Spanish. But it’s something that I need to continue driving legally in Honduras and not get any unnecessary attention from the police here, who love looking for any reason to give people, especially foreigners, a hard time. So, win for me (as you can tell from my happy face…)!
- As we have had some boys drop out over the past few months, we leave their spots open and empty. And if new boys come along who are interested and can stick past their first few weeks of academy life, we allow them to join the teams permanently. It’s been encouraging to see new boys, excited to play soccer and participate with us, just come out fo the wood work lately. Pray that they stick and are a fresh infusion of energy and good examples for their teammates!
- Once a month we do excursions for boys doing really well in the academy in the areas of respect, participation, behavior, and attendance. It’s been so fun to go to the movies recently with some boys. It was just as entertaining to see the boys at a big mall in the city and to watch their reactions as they took it all in… from the tall buildings, to the crowds, to the escalators, to even the hand dryers in the bathrooms (one boy loved it and kept going back to it, asking me if it was magic). Such sweet, special memories that will stay with them and us!
- And last but certainly the best… we were able to baptize two folks in March at the academy after having some really good conversations with them and sharing the Gospel. Yaina, our cook, and Jefferson, on our Varsity team, made decisions to follow Jesus and accepted him into their hearts. We are so thrilled to be a part of this journey with them. In them is our hope for their families and their community.