Lesson Learned

Today is the second anniversary of me moving to Honduras. When I first moved down here I made a two-year commitment. I was no where near ready to make the decision that I would stay for an indefinite amount of time and in some ways, living alone for two years in a foreign country seemed like an eternity!

 

Now after two years, I don’t see myself moving back to the states anytime soon. The past two years have been a wild ride. I’ve cried, laughed, mispronounced words, felt like I couldn’t go on, cried some more, laughed some more, met friends, said too many goodbyes to friends moving back to the states, and that’s just the beginning. Last year I wrote a blog post about the things I learned my first year being in Honduras, so I thought I would do the same this year, because when you do life in a foreign country, you’re constantly learning new things. So here we go…

 

I’ve learned to embrace the frizziness that my hair (although lion mane sometimes seems more appropriate) has. Because honestly, I think so many Hondurans are so captivated by the blonde that they don’t even notice how frizzy my hair really is.

 

I’ve learned that when you mispronounce a Spanish word, the best thing to do is laugh at yourself and with the Hondurans around you, then repeat the word about a million times so you never mispronounce it again.

 

I’ve learned that maybe God sometimes makes your Internet not work so you can spend more time with Him, free from distractions of social media or TV, (but not always free from construction noise, fireworks, or dogs barking).

 

I’ve learned to always keep a bottle of Raid in each room of my home. Spiders, scorpions, ants, centipedes and more, Raid takes care of them all.

 

I’ve learned how to chase a gecko out of my home with a broom (sometimes not so successfully)

 

I’ve learned its normal to cry in Spanish class. Just let it out. Without shame.

 

I’ve learned that goodbyes are hard. And they are a large part of being a missionary. Missionaries come and go as the seek to obey God’s calling in their lives, but that doesn’t make it easier for the people who stay behind to continue working in another country. Over the past year, four missionaries/missionary families have moved from Comayagua, Honduras back to the states. All following God’s call, but still hard for the missionaries who remain here, and undoubtedly for them as well.

 

I’ve learned (well more of experienced) God’s protection. After being robbed two times, once in my home while I was sleeping, I saw God’s hand of protection as he put an angel at my door. The person who broke into my house was upstairs where I was sleeping, but did not enter my room. And I can only attribute that to God having directly placed an angel there.

 

I’ve learned there will be people in your life who always have to criticize what you are doing, how you are doing it, why you are doing it and more. And those are the people you don’t need in your life. No matter what you do, it will never be good enough. Those relationships are toxic and emotionally draining. It is far more edifying to spend time investing in the relationships with people who have your best interest at heart. People who aren’t afraid to correct or call you out when it needs to be done, but doing so as a way to encourage and strengthen you, not further their agenda or ideas.

 

Some lessons were hard to learn. Some easy. And some I’ll probably learn over and over again. But overall they are lessons that have made me grow, made me stronger and made me a better person. So here’s to year three of living in Honduras.

 

Bring on the lessons!

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Oh the Lessons You’ll Learn

I’ve learned quite a bit during my first year living in Honduras. There would be more in this list, however, I kept the list going in my mind instead of on paper, and now the list is a little bit shorter. So in honor of me completing one year in Honduras here are some of the things I have learned so far.

Add water to everything. Shampoo. Hand soap. Juice. Add water to absolutely everything. It saves lots of money and makes everything last longer.

It’s important to find a good balance between looking up and looking at the ground when walking place to place. While I believe it is vital to not only look up and be aware of my surroundings, it’s also equally as important to look down to avoid holes, poopy diapers, broken glass bottles and other various items that are scattered throughout streets.

Always keep an extra set of clothes/shoes with you. You will be thankful when you step in some unpleasant smelling items in the road or have a baby in the mountains pee on you because they were not wearing a diaper.

Always keep Raid in arms reach. I would say just keep it anywhere in your house. But when you see a nasty cockroach or spider that’s ten times the size of a normal spider, you will want Raid right next to you so you can stop that sucker dead in its tracks.

Always keep deodorant, perfume and anti-itch cream with you.

I’ve learned that my giant car can fit through seemingly impossible tiny spaces. It is still an adjustment for me to be driving a Nissian Xtera in Honduras. I am still used to driving my little Chevy Cobalt, which I like to call a toy car because it is just that small. So when I’m driving in Honduras and there is a parked taxi on one side and fruit cart on the other and another oncoming car I am sure my car won’t fit. But it always does. And I have yet to hit anything with my car. {And here’s to hoping I never will}

I have also learned you will always need to ask for help so just suck up your pride and ask. Whether asking for a ride to asking where in the world your friend found sour cream. From asking for directions or asking to meet a friend for coffee because you’ve had a rough day. Your friends will always be there to help you out. And then, jump for joy and rejoice when they ask you for help because you are so grateful you are able to give back just a small amount of the support they have given you. {Special shout out to my amazing friend Wanda who has helped me more times than I can count.}

During my first year in Honduras I’ve also learned how strong I am. Not becor 12 9cause I live alone or moved to a foreign country alone. Not because I’ve dealt with bugs and heat and other cultural differences people tell me all the time they could not deal with. But I’ve learned how strong I am because I have the power of an all-knowing, ever-present, active, living and moving God within me. I am strong because I have seen and learned how weak I really am. I have seen God’s power be made perfect in my human weakness; in my human mistakes, in my flawed human decisions, in my times of depression, times of stress and more. Through it all, I can constantly see God’s perfect power manifested in every circumstance.
Perhaps most importantly I’ve learned that I won’t always make everyone happy. Someone will always disagree with decision I make or things I post on Facebook. Someone will always disagree with how I live my life or the way I do missions. And they will let me know. But it’s more important for me to be listening to what God is telling me than what people are telling me. And while it is vital to seek the advice and wisdom of other Christians, it is impossible to please them all. So I’m not going to try. Because when we follow the call of God, there is no promise that we will have an army of supporters. In fact, it is almost the opposite. We will face opposition, hardship, trials, pain, times where we feel we have nothing left to give. And that is the cost for following the call of God.

The long haul

Today I began my sixth week at language school. When I left Comayagua six weeks ago my plan was to stay in Siguatapeque at the langue school for six weeks. I then planned to return to Comayagua to start working with another missionary and continue to take some Spanish lessons, but less frequently than before.

After spending five weeks in Sigutapeque at language school, spending time with my Honduran host family, going on weekend outings with students, learning more and more Spanish everyday, studying, praying, and talking with close friends and family, I feel its time to make a big announcement. When I moved to Honduras in June 2014 I made a two-year commitment. Now, I’m changing that. I’m no longer making a commitment to be down here until 2016. I’m here for the long haul. I’m here until God tells me to go back to the states, with the understanding that command may never come. Since I returned to Honduras in February after some time in the states I have felt more and more that this is where God has called me not just for two-years, but for as long as he wants. I’m sure there are plenty of people reading this post that are saying to themselves “I saw this coming” or “I knew you would be there longer than two years” And you my friends are right.

Along with staying in Honduras longer than expected, I have also decided to stay at language school for around 3-4 months in total. I have seen my Spanish grow so much during my time here and I have also been able to see how my growth in the Spanish language has helped me build relationships with the people in Honduras. So many more doors are being opened the more and more Spanish I learn and I am able to form deeper relationships with the people of Honduras. And that is one of the most exciting feelings in the world for me.

With all that being said, I am still looking for funding. Right now I currently have about 25% of my monthly support in reoccurring monthly gifts from supporters. When I made a commitment to be in Honduras for just two years it was easy to rely on one time gifts. I knew once I raised a certain amount that would cover the costs for my two years down here. However, now that I am here for a lot longer than two years I am still looking for monthly supporters. Please don’t think that any amount is too small to give. Every $5 a month donation adds up.

If you feel led to become a monthly supporter you can sign up online at https://worldoutreach.org/index.php/missionary-support-2 and find my name “Eytcheson, Sara-Honduras” in the pull down bar. Click “Donate” and select the “automatic monthly gifts” option. All donations are tax deductible. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at elmtreeministries@gmail.com

Thank you so much for the support so far in my journey and for your continued support as I continue to seek God’s calling on my life in Honduras.

God Placed me Here.

Tuesday night I was sitting at the counter of my host home eating dinner and I couldn’t stop smiling. Despite eating beans for what felt like the millionth time in a week, I couldn’t stop smiling. It got to the point where I felt like I almost couldn’t eat my food because I just couldn’t help but smile. I was joyful. I was happy. I was content. The morning before I experienced something similar. As I had just walked out of my host home and out the front gate to begin my walk to class, I caught myself smiling. I was content. Despite dust blowing into the air and into my eyes from cars passing by on the dirt road, I was content. Despite rocks getting caught in my sandals and dirt sticking to my feet, I was content.

Despite living in a place that many people write off as dangerous and unsafe. I am content. I am content because God placed me here, at this moment, for a particular reason. He put me here to walk on these dirt roads. He put me here to stop at a local pulperia for a drink when I get thirsty. He’s put me in a host home while I am at language school, where I eat way more bean and tortillas than I think I can handle. But I am content because God placed me here.

God placed me here; in a place where sometimes the electricity works and sometimes it does not. A place where sometimes there is Wi-Fi and sometimes there is not. He placed me in a country that is more beautiful than most. He placed me in a host home where I can relate more to my Honduran host sister than many Americans because we have experienced so many of the same things in our lives. Where I can say to her “I know it’s hard to lose a dad. I know it’s hard to have all your family in the states”. God placed me in a country where the kids have so many less “things” and so much more joy. There are sometimes hot showers, and sometimes they are colder than the water I have to drink. And sometimes I find a cockroach crawling on me or bugs in my bed, but God placed me here because he has placed me here, I am content.

I am content because God is my joy. Not hot showers or American food. My joy is not in comforts of an American life (although I’m not going to lie, they are nice to come ‘home’ to every once and a while). My contentment is not found in reliable Internet or malls I can go shopping at. It’s not found (as much as I hate to admit) in Biggby coffee. But instead, in Christ.

And I won’t sugar coat it and say I am always welcoming of the new challenges that come with being a missionary. Sometimes I just want to run tfor the hills and back to the comforts of American living. It’s still an adjustment to living a whole new lifestyle. There are times where I want to be back in the cold Michigan weather. Or times when I just want a dish of Olive Garden Mac and cheese. But I am choosing to be content in Honduras. Because this is where God wants me. This is where he has me. And there is no place in the world, no matter how safe, I would rather be.

There is no greater place in the world to be than where God wants you. No matter how “unsafe” the country may be. No matter what living conditions may be. When you know you are where God wants you; it is there you find contentment. And I am so happy to say I have found it.

Exciting new Adventures

Monday afternoon I am leaving for language school in Siguatepeque, Honduras. It’s about an hour away from where I live in Comayauga so I will be staying with a host family in Siguatepeque for six weeks. I’m told I will be staying with middle-aged women and her daughter and son-in-law who live in a house right behind her. I will be taking four hours of one-on-one Spanish classes Monday through Friday. Then, upon returning to Comayagua after 6 weeks of classes, I am planning to take lessons for 2 hours every morning Monday through Friday. I am excited and nervous and anxious all at the same time. I am excited to dive in-depth to learning Spanish, while being able to practice it daily with the women I will be staying with. I am also grateful for a donor who committed to covering the complete cost of my lessons. I was told before I moved to Honduras in June that my language school costs would be covered, but that money never came. That is the main reason why I have not been able to take full time Spanish classes until now. I am also nervous because I do not know what to expect. It makes me anxious that I don’t know what to expect as far as the house I will be staying in. I am finally adjusting to how life is in my apartment and to think about adjusting to living with another person cause me some anxiety. Will I have access to Internet? Will there be hot showers? Will cockroaches loom around every corner? Will there be a fan for when I get hot? All these questions and more keep flooding my mind as I think about what adjusting to another new way of life for 6 weeks may be like. But then I keep reminding myself that God will carry me through it. That he has everything laid out the way it is supposed to and I really have nothing to worry about. But lets face it, it’s a whole lot easier for our human brains to try and control the situation then give it over completely to God. I know I’m not the only one who does this, whether you want to admit it or not.

I have also been meeting a lot with another missionary, Angie, this week. She moved here with her family (husband, four kids, and one Honduran foster baby) just over a year ago. We have been able to spend a lot of time talking about what it would look like to partner together. We have each talked about our passions and visions for what we want to see and do in Honduras. God is moving in the ministry her and her husband are doing and I am very excited to jump on board and partner with them. I’m no longer working alone! It was such an answer to prayer to find another person to work with. Another missionary who can help me through the struggles of moving to a foreign land. A missionary who can help guide me, hold me accountable, and who I can call one of my closest friends.

This week Angie and her husband purchased a piece of land to begin building a feeding/community center in a small community called El Filtro near La Paz, Honduras. A few weeks earlier they received an anonymous donation that provided them the resources to purchase the piece of land and transfer it into their names. It was amazing to see God work through it all and the process was very smooth and easy by Honduran standards. They received the deed they needed, were able to meet with the lawyer, sign the papers, etc. all within a few days. And you can ask any missionary here in Honduras, that is pretty amazing.

Angie and her husband were also able to meet with the mayor of La Paz this week to share their vision for the feeding and community center. The mayor was fully on board and wants to help in any way she could. This may include having her engineers design the building, approving building permits, paying for building permits, or even paying to construct the building itself!

After the building is constructed we hope to open a feeding center that will provide up to 100 kids in community breakfast before they go to school. There have already been mothers in the community that have offered to help cook and run the feeding center in exchange for their children receiving a meal. We also hope to start using the building for outreach activities like a crafting day for the kids, crafting days for moms, and game and activities for kids. But perhaps most importantly we want to have small groups for the women to help them see their worth as daughters of Christ. It is also possible that we may open a trade school in the future to help single moms learn skills they can use to help support their families. Currently, Angie and I are reading over lots of small group materials that focus on healing from past hurts, abstinence, becoming godly women, and their worth as women. We are gathering as much information as we can so we can combine it to make a culturally relevant Bible study for these women.

So there are a lot of changes happening in the next few weeks. A lot of unknowns and uncertainties. But also a lot of God working and doing his thing while I sit by and marvel at how he always pulls through just when I need it and when I feel like I don’t deserve it. I’m still looking for monthly sponsors to help cover my monthly expenses here in Honduras. All donations are tax deductible. You can sign up online to become a monthly sponsor by going to https://worldoutreach.org/index.php/missionary-support-2 Find my name “Eytcheson, Sara-Honduras” from the pull down menu of missionaries.

A New Direction

My first six months in Honduras were much different than I expected. I thought I knew what life was like in Honduras because I had spent so much time there before, but living alone in a foreign country, struggling to learn a new language and adjusting to cultural differences was much harder than I ever anticipated.

I wanted you all to know of some changes in ministry that will be happening. I hope you all understand that I have not made these decisions lightly. I have spent a lot of time in prayer and talking to some of my closest friends both here in the United States and in Honduras. I have decided not to proceed with opening the daycare in Honduras. The stress of moving to a new country is hard enough. Let alone trying to start a new ministry on top of that. I could not do it alone. And the more I prayed and asked God for guidance, I began to see him telling me that as Christians we are not meant to do things alone. We are meant to work as the body of Christ. I began to see God gently closing the doors that involved me proceeding with the daycare.

During my time of prayer and searching, God has opened the door for me to possibly work and partner with another missionary family here in Honduras. While there is still a lot to work out and discuss, God has been reaffirming partnering with this family in ministry. Over the next few weeks I will be meeting with them and discussing what our partnership together would look like and work to develop a plan for our ministry. Their current project is working to open a feeding center for children in the community of El Filtro so they can provide children with a basic meal before they go to school in the mornings. However, there is also opportunity to start and afternoon activity day with children, starting small group Bible studies with women in the community, and possibly even teach basic skill classes to help women learn a trade they can use to make money and support their family.

Although God is closing the door for me doing the daycare, he is not shutting the door in me being in La Canada. I will still be able to visits, attend church there, work with mission teams in the community, and post pictures on Facebook. The church in La Canada is still proceeding with opening and running the daycare and all the donations and supplies for the daycare will stay with the church. The building is still being used for Sunday School classes along with the picnic tables and storage units built by the Immanuel team in July.

Also, currently I only have about 1/3 of my monthly expenses being covered by reoccurring monthly donations. The other 2/3 I have to rely on one time donations that are not always steady coming in. If you would like to become one of my monthly sponsors please email elmtreeministries@gmail.com to find out how you can join my sponsor team. You can also email me if you have any questions about my change in ministry, or if you would like to receive monthly email updates from me.

Thank you again for your ongoing support and prayers!

A Not So Typical Day

I talk to my mom almost every day.  Sometimes between our busy schedules and the two hour time difference we go a day or two without talking. But one of my favorite things about technology is the fact that it has allowed me to stay in touch with people from all over the world. When I was in the states I was able to stay in contact with my friends from Honduras. Now that I’m in Honduras, I’m able to stay in contact with my friends and family in the states. Thanks to iMessage I am able to still text my friends and family when I am at my apartment. Thanks to apps like WhatsApp I’m able to text my friends in the states who don’t have iPhones.  I’m also thankful for apps like MagicJack, which allows me to call the states for free when I have Wi-Fi. Technology also allows me to be able to keep all of my supporters, church family and friends updated on what’s going on in Honduras. I’m able to post pictures, share videos, share new blog posts and more.

 

Since I’m able to talk to my mom so often, one of the things I hear from her almost ever time we talk is “So and so asked how you were doing” or “So and so asked what kind of things you’re doing right now since the daycare isn’t open yet”.  So hopefully this blog post will answer some of those questions people have been asking, or answer the question people don’t want to ask.

 

I thought perhaps one of the best ways to share what I’ve been doing is to share it in a picture. So here it is.

IMG_4402

And before you ask, yes, I did stage this picture.

 

But this is what my life looks like most days. I am very aware some of you may be underwhelmed. Some questions might be going through your mind like “Why aren’t there kids in the picture?” “Why isn’t she in Canada in this picture?” “Does she spend all day on the computer?” And I’m sure there may be other things running through your mind based on the picture.

 

I cannot tell you what a typical day looks like because there is no typical day. When you’re in Honduras, especially as a missionary having grown up in a different culture, you always have to be on your toes. You have to ready for anything. You also have to become accustomed to the fact that things usually take at least twice as long.

 

But here is what I can tell you. My most typical day down here most certainly includes having a fan face me at any possible time to keep me from what feels like myself metling. The most typical day also includes my scouring Pinterest looking for ideas for the daycare. I look for games, crafts, activities, decorations for the daycare building, discipline ideas, ideas for parental involvement at home, sample schedules and whatever else I can find that gives me thoughts or ideas I can use for the daycare. You can’t really start a daycare without any ideas right? And thank goodness for Pinterest for their help.

Another typical part of a day may also be simply driving around to get myself accustomed to the driving style in Honduras. There is a huge difference between driving in the states and driving in Honduras. One difference is the change in the size of vehicles I drive. Adjusting from driving a small Chevy Cobalt in Michigan to driving a monstrous Nissian Xterra is difficult. I feel like I’m driving a monster truck. Although I am thankful for such a large vehicle when I conquer semi-washed out dirt roads, I am definitely still adjusting to driving a much larger vehicle that I have been for the past eight years.  Some days I spend time just driving around the city. Figuring out which streets are one ways and which are two-way streets. In the states you know because of all the posted signs telling you if a road is a one way, telling you the name of the road, and much more. Here, there is no such thing. Often times roads are not marked with names. This also makes giving directions difficult. For me, I live on the road just before the supermarket, take a left, and two gates past CoHorSil is a green gate. That’s my place.

 

Another part of a typical day may also include me simply spending time with other missionaries here in the city. I was not aware when I moved just how important having a community of other missionaries would be. I thought that since I had been to Honduras so many times before that I would be okay with the friends I already had in Comayagua. What I failed to realize, however, was that none of these people understood what it was like to make the transition from one country to another alone to start working in ministry. Although some of them have spent time in the states, they were with family. They were not starting a brand new ministry on their own. Some of them already knew English before moving to the states so they did not even have the pressure of learning a new language. While I am still so grateful for my friends down here, there is simply nothing that can replace the time I spend with my missionary friends. Their love, support, guidance and advice through a journey they themselves are going on has been an incredible blessing.

 

There are some days where I spend a majority of the day writing these blog posts for you to all read. Maybe for some people they are able to sit down and whip out a blog in a short period of time. But for someone who is not a natural writer, it takes a long time. I usually sit down with a cup of coffee. Put on some good worship music and work on it for the better part of 4 hours. That’s even after an idea for a post has been bouncing around my head for a few days.

 

I’ve also tried to get into the habit of reading one chapter of a book every day. Not a novel, but a book about faith, cultural transition, or the Christian life in general. Basically I’m just looking for a book that I can apply principles from directly into the work going on in Honduras. And for those of you know who don’t know me very well you know this is a huge undertaking for me because I hate reading. I hate it with a passion.

 

Some days I’m able to travel around the country a little bit for different events. This week I was able to go to Siguatapeque for “Living in your Strengths” workshop with two other missionaries. And in a few weeks I get the wonderful opportunity to travel to Valle de Angeles for a women’s only missionary retreat. It’s a time where we are able to fellowship and worship together. But the best part, its ALL in English!

 

IMG_4265Some days I spend at home working on making jewelry to sell to help continue to support my ministry in Honduras. Recently, I began making beads from paper. I got the idea from a woman in the mountains who did the same thing. It made me think back to the days when I used to make paper beads at church when I was little. Maybe some of you remember doing the same thing. But let me assure you, they turn out much better now than when I was eight!

 

Even while I took a break from writing this blog post to attend church in La Canada, my car broke down on the way there. Leaving a group of 8 of us stranded on the side of the road for at least 45 minuets until we were able to get a truck to tow us back to the city. If this is not God’s sense of humor demonstrating the fact that there is no typical day in Honduras, I don’t know what is.

 

There is no typical day in the life of a missionary. There is not a schedule we can stick to because even if we make an agenda for the day, most likely, something will happen that will throw the whole schedule off. Someone will call that needs our help. Our car will break down. Something will happen that causes us to miss a meeting. Our electricity will go out. Our Internet will shut off when we are trying to respond to emails. You name it, it will probably happen at some point. Unless you come live with me, you can never fully understand. But I hope this did help give you a better understanding as to what my time has looked like so far.