Light in the Darkness

I want to share a little bit with you about what God is doing here in Santiago. One of the ministries God has me pouring my heart into right now is the Sewing Clinic. Every Wednesday, I spend the day with some lovely ladies from our community, and we sew and laugh and grow together. And on Mondays, Roxanne facilitates a bible study for us all. Each week, as we sit in a circle and discuss what God has spoken to each of our hearts, we are given opportunities to grow and disciple each other, and it has truly been beautiful.

One of the ladies from our sewing clinic, Oneyda, has given me permission to share a blog about how thte sewing clinic has changed her life.

Last year when the sewing clinic started, Oneyda was incredibly interested because sewing has always been a dream of hers. She came the first day very very excited, and immediately, she stood out as someone who was truly talented. But what made her stand out the most was the way she grasped a new skill and then helped all of the ladies around her to understand as well. From the very first day, we knew she would be integral to the sewing clinic.

Fast forward about six months, we’ve all grown closer, and I learn that Oneyda has no electricity in her home. The nearest electric line is nearly 1000 feet away, and as we talk about our lives, she tells me that she dreams of having electricity in her home, and maybe someday, a bathroom…

Let that sink in for a minute. This woman is becoming one of my closest friends, she’s at my house all the time, sewing, chatting, laughing, I’ve been teaching her to cook some American foods, and I realize one of my closest friends doesn’t have electricity… Or a bathroom… She says she hasn’t told me this because she was embarrassed. But she has been praying, and she KNOWS that God is going to provide light in her home through the sewing clinic…

Fast forward again to January 2018… Chris and I planned a trip to the states, and it is Micah’s first time meeting a lot of our family. We planned a few fundraising events and told the ladies that if they had a few bags made before we left, we could bring some with us to sell at these events. We thought maybe they would make a few things… These women worked night and day, and we took back almost 250 bags, purses, and backpacks to sell!!! And we sold almost all of them. By the end of our visit, Oneyda had sold enough to pay for everything she needed to run electricity all the way up the mountain to her house. By late February, Oneyda had electricity in her home! And she was even able to buy some of the supplies she will need for a bathroom!

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” -Psalms 81:10

Recently, I was talking to Oneyda about the sewing clinic and how she has become a leader. She said, “The sewing clinic has been such a blessing to me. I know you probably think that I’m talking about financially, but I’m most blessed by the way it has affected my walk with Christ. I have grown and changed so much this year. I know the Lord like never before. That is the biggest blessing!”

Lately, Chris and I have been discussing how we could sell more of the ladies’ product and help provide specifically for Oneyda so that she can build a bathroom in her home. We decided we would pray that God opened doors, maybe through teams purchasing their products, or maybe He had different plans. Just a few days later, Justin proposed an idea… What if our sewing clinic made ukulele bags to sell with the ukuleles they are making in San Pedro?!

So our ladies went to work creating patterns and prototypes until they got it just right! And just like that, God is answering our prayers! We are selling amazing quality ukulele bags, and our ladies all feel so encouraged that God is always providing for them!

“And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:19 

 

 

Please praise God with us for all of the ways He is blessing our ministries and LITERALLY shining light to penetrate the darkness. Our God is so good!

Always His Plan

I want to share the testimony of how the medical clinic came to be, starting from the very beginning. God knew about the medical clinic we would open in Santiago, Honduras long before I ever dreamed of it and He’s been guiding me to this place almost my whole life.

“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:16 (NIV)

My aunt Wilda won an award for being an amazing nurse when I was small. Her work ethic and recognition of a job well done obviously impacted me greatly, because my mom and dad tell me that from that day forward, I wanted to be a nurse. Fast forward to junior high and high school and I got a little afraid of giving people shots, so I changed my desired career to teaching.  As only God can do, He made it clear to me that nursing was where He wanted me. I was still unsure of how in the world I could ever hurt someone on purpose, but I trusted that He knew what was best for me. I was accepted to the same nursing school my aunt Wilda graduated from and waited to see where this new future would take me.

In nursing school, I always wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse. I couldn’t imagine a better job than helping women bring sweet babies into the world. God had other plans and had me do my clinical practices in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. It was my second choice. I applied for jobs on the labor and delivery floors of a few hospitals and a medical-surgical floor at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. I’m sure you can guess where I got a job- the children’s hospital.

I loved working with children. They were sweet and fun and they almost always left my care with no real risk of returning. Their illnesses were generally not chronic and so their future looked bright. I loved working with children, but still felt like working in labor and delivery would be even more fun.

When I married Eric, I tried again to get a job on a labor and delivery floor, to no avail. I was able to get a job at the Kentucky Children’s Hospital. My attempt to become a midwife was thwarted by high tuition costs and a school that was hours away from our home. Once again, I trusted God’s guidance in my life and became a pediatric nurse practitioner instead.

God knew before I was born what His future was for me. He knew my future held Honduras, that I would be working with children and that I would live in a community that needed medical care. Isn’t it so amazing? He is smarter, more loving and more powerful than our minds can imagine.

The medical clinic has been a dream for the Sparrow Missions Children’s Home from the very beginning. I knew God had allowed me to become a nurse practitioner and get a doctorate degree, so I also knew I needed to use that knowledge to serve Him. When I practice medicine, I feel God’s hand guiding me and leading me. I feel close to God when I am caring for people, whether it is in the hospital or in a general practice office. He gives me insight and understanding about the person’s condition and many times about their struggles.

I am more than happy and proud to be allowing God to use my hands to bring healing to His precious creation. Please continue to pray that God gives me wisdom as I care for the people here in Santiago and that I continue to listen to His guidance.

New Path, New Life

Psalm 32: 8

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

It has been approximately 6 years since the beginning of the youth group in Los bordos. We have witnessed many changes in the young people of the bordos community, many have decided to go the narrow way, with the passing of the years those teenagers have become grown with new vision, new goals, but more importantly, with Christ in their lives.

As a result of this change in their lives, many had the desire to continue their studies they had left years ago, some left it because of the need to work and others because of the lack of support from their parents. But in the end this cycle of mental poverty is beginning to break! Glory to God.

It has been a difficult starting three years ago supporting these young people to study but we’ve been confident that God would provide everything necessary to make this possible.

The first year was not promising, most of them dropped out. It was very frustrating to see them make that decision. But I did not insist, nor did I try to convince them. Rather, I focused on continuing to talk to them about Christ and to be good stewards of their blessings and taught them about how important education is. In the second year, there was a larger group, about fourteen, of which eight finished their studies that year. Results were improving.

The influence of God in the life of the perseverant began to affect others. The third year (2017), there was a great enthusiasm of many young people to return to their studies, and we decided to create the program “Camino Nuevo” or “New Path”, that would give them the opportunity to continue their studies on weekends and thus be able to work during the week to support their families, that year we had 30 students of which 29 finished their school year and 6 graduated from school! 29 out of 30! This was great news and a great achievement for these young people who decided to take a new path for their lives!

This year 2018, the challenge is still standing! There are 39 students wanting to follow their dreams and be able to make their way in life through Christ and education! We managed to enroll all of them even though there were 3 students without sponsorship! But just as the first year there was much uncertainty but God provided, and so God has been faithful at all times throughout the years and I know that His faithfulness is immense!

It is amazing to see 39 young people from the bordos walking toward school with their uniforms ready to go to study every weekend, I am sure that the light of Christ that at some point illuminated them through someone, is now illuminating through them to many others to break the cycle of mental poverty, and take a new path in their lives that will open many doors to them and their generations!

 

 


Matthew 5: 14-16

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” 


I just want to thank each of the people who have been a channel of blessing for these young people, through their prayers and their sponsorships. Thank you for making a difference in the lives  of these young people and creating an impact in eternity!

God bless you!!

Cris Lopez

Sparrow Academy: Year 3

I Hope everyone is doing great and that this 2018 has brought new beginnings  and opportunities to grow and seek The Lord in new and exciting ways.  As you all know, another Sparrow Academy school year about to start and lots of new and exiting things are happening here at the Academy. This is our third year open as a school, it has been a blessing to see how God is moving each year in our students as they grow and learn more about him through spiritual counseling and education. It’s been wonderful to see God’s mercy and power in the lives of the students and his provision for our school.

Each year we have added a grade and this year is not an exception. We are happily adding a new class of first graders and a new class of eight graders. They are all exited to learn and some are even exited to have the opportunity to go to school for the first time. For all the students to be able to receive such good care, we need to have a healthy staff. We have to have a group of teachers that are capable to give love and to follow the best example of a teacher there has ever been, JESUS.It’s been great these past two years watching our teachers grow to love, support and work as a team.

A huge part of the growth in our teachers is due to the love and prayers that are constantly sent from each of you every day. We are off to a great start and exited to welcome all the new kids and staff to this new school year. We ask that you please continue to pray and support our school as we kick off our third year. I know that challenges and obstacles will come up throughout the year. Yet I also know that our Lord and Savior will help us overcome, and grow us into something much better. Thank you all so much for all that you do for us here at the academy. We are so blessed to have our Sparrow Family!

 

Blessings,

Elena

The Struggle Is Real…But So Is God

In about a week, we will be celebrating the third anniversary of our move into our home in Santiago to become directors of the Sparrow Children’s Home.  Three years ago when we began this journey, we had solely a vision, one house, and about 5 acres of property with no idea how it would look in 2018 (or beyond).  Now, we are a vibrant community with two more families on site, seven wonderful foster children between two families (and one family to begin accepting children soon), several ongoing ministries in which staff are involved, and connections made to the people around us as we have integrated into the framework of life here in Santiago.  Not only that, we are blessed to add another member to our ministry family this year as Tía Leah (Gruneisen) joins us on site as well.  So many testimonies how God has done incredible things in and through our ministry these past three years, and great excitement at the thought and prospect of what He will do next.

 

So I could just stop there and give God the glory for all the incredible high points and victories we have seen, but it would be a disservice to what we have seen through the low points as well.  Because inevitably they come right?  For every story with a happy ending, somewhere along the way there was a struggle that somehow brought God glory as well.  We all know as Christians there is no such thing as a life lived without struggle.  It differs for everyone, but they always come.  I mean, Jesus even gave us a big warning sign while he was on earth right?  Remember when he said in John 16:33 that “…in this world you will have trouble…”?  Well, thankfully he didn’t stop there, and went on to let us know we can rest easy because he has overcome the world.  Not that there will always be a sunny side or silver lining to every struggle we face, but that ultimately we can have peace in knowing he is always in control.  For us here, those struggles can present themselves weekly in the forms of hours spent in the bank, repeated car troubles, frequent power or water outages, trying to master a second language, or any number of other day to day issues that come about.  For every wonderful photo you see of missionaries loving on their communities and looking like they have it all together, there are ten times more moments of struggle each and every day.  And it is the same for all of us.  Those times come, but the good news is…it’s normal.

 

Recently, our struggles have come on a more emotional and familial level as well.  While God has helped our daughters begin to adapt and settle in more to life here, there are still moments they miss living in the US greatly.  Especially on days when other factors make life a little more difficult here, it is easy for them to escape into thoughts of moving back to Kentucky or living stateside once again.  There is a level of frustration and fear for us as well that comes from uncertainty of the future of the four precious Honduran children that have become part of our family.  Will adoption laws become less restrictive for non-citizens?  Will trying to adopt ultimately lead to the children being placed with another family?  We know that God has a perfect plan, but sometimes it would be nice if we got at least a little bit of a spoiler, right?  And finally, another struggle for us has been trying to maintain a healthy marriage and family dynamic in the midst of all the other factors pulling all of us in every direction.  If we are not careful, all those struggles and stressors can eat into our personal lives if we allow them to affect the most important relationship of all…our walk with the very God who has already told us he has our back.

 

In the past several months, we have made a concerted effort to have a nightly family devotion at the dinner table.  Roxanne and I simultaneously go through devotion plans in our Bible app together and message each other nightly as to how God is speaking to us.  All of this while each of us independently as well making sure we are walking with God daily through reading His word, meditation and prayer.  All of this has led to us to keeping a greater sense of peace in our lives and in our homes.  Oh, there is still stress and there is still fear and doubt from time to time, but I can’t even imagine how much more that would be magnified without a healthy relationship with our heavenly Father.  And that is what I have learned and what God is teaching me now more than ever.  That no matter how hard I may pray for deliverance from them or how hard I may try to avoid them, struggles are gonna come.  The question is, will I allow God to prepare me and guide me through them?  And you know what, that is okay.  The world teaches us sometimes that if things don’t come easily, then we must be doing something wrong.  So if struggles are present in our lives, then something must be out of whack.  But as Christians, we know that this is not the case.  In fact, a lot of times you find those struggles even more rampant when our walk is as strong as it has ever been.  Struggle is not necessarily a symptom, but it is an inevitability.  You can’t prevent it.  You can’t find a shortcut around it.  However, you can endure it.

 

So, yes, the struggle IS real, but, again, so is God.  The same God who told us we can take heart, or have peace, because He has overcome the world.  Not just our personal problems or struggles, but the world.

Be reminded by the words in Isaiah 41:10, “fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

No, the sun doesn’t always come up tomorrow, and the struggles we face can be downright unbearable from time to time.  However, by staying strong in our relationship with God and walking with Him daily, He will strengthen us and help us as we pass through everything life doles out for us.  And He will uphold us.  The struggle is real, but so is God!

 

Eric