Joy in the journey – Dec/Jan trip to the states.

We’ve been home about 12 days now and we are starting to settle back into our “routine” here. Our trip to the United States was such a blessing! We saw SO MANY friends and family – and still couldn’t get around to everyone that we wanted to see. We were in Colorado for about three week s and Mississippi for one week. Our time in Colorado was divided up into three categories: Dave working, all of us spending time with family in and around Denver, and all of us spending time with our friends from the Fort Collins and Greeley area. Dave worked for three days in Salt Lake and for also spent several days on site with a client in Loveland Colorado. During this time, Marinajo and the kids got to spend some great time with grandma (Marinajo’s mom) putting out the Christmas decorations and baking. When in Denver, we mostly stayed with Marinajo’s brother Kip and his wife Patsy – they are some of our best buddies and we wish that we could have spent more time there. Christmas was really special as we were able to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with Artie and Mary, and Archie – Marinajo’s parents and her brother. It was neat to be able to have Christmas morning there with them. True to his nature, Santa found us there! Benny got a bow and arrow set from Santa and a new BB Gun from grandpa Fields in Tennessee. Mariah got a new digital camera and is now happily posting pictures on Facebook.

After Christmas we spent time up in Northern Colorado (Fort Collins and Greeley) trying to see as many friends as possible. Our host family was our dear friends the Edens and we were just so happy to be able to spend time with them. Their welcome and their hospitality just reminded us of how much we love them and how much we miss them down here. They must have felt like characters in a sitcom at times as we would leave each evening to go “have supper” with yet another family and then come blowing back in with the cold December wind about 10pm and so tired we could drop. We were also able to worship with our church family in the Spanish speaking service at Christ Community Church in Greeley. Marinajo was able to play in the praise and worship band for three Sundays and I was able to share briefly (in Spanish!) one Sunday. This Spanish church is experiencing huge growth and we were so blessed to be able to compartir (share) with them our new life here in Honduras.

It was an exhausting, but wonderful time catching up with all of our friends and renewing deep friendships. We are just so blessed to have so many wonderful friends! The miles and the time don’t change everything – they don’t change the love that we share with people. EVERYONE remarked on how big the kids were and lots of people said to me (Dave), “I thought you’d be more tan”…… Funny! I guess since we only send pictures back of us at the beach that people think that must be all we do – go down to the beach. (Full disclosure –We’ve been to the beach twice this weekend – two times in the last two days) Unfortunately, this is not the case. Most days I sit in a concrete office all day and do IT work for the hospital and for Intelligent Design IT. We usually get to go to the beach on the weekends, but it had been quite awhile since we had been able to go before we left. So, I guess that is why I was so pale.

After Colorado we flew down to Mississippi for a one week visit to our sending church – The Church of the Good Shepherd – and to visit with some of the people that we served during our time doing hurricane relief work there after Katrina. WE JUST HAD A WONDERFUL TIME IN MS! We were so warmly greeted by our home church down there that several times we were moved to tears over their love and care for us (thank you church family!). One church member picked us up the airport with ALL of our luggage and ALL of us, another church member vacated her home for one week so that we could stay there by ourselves. Still another wrote us ahead of time to see what we wanted to eat and had a BIG pot of Gumbo on the stove, a pecan pie that was absolutely OUT OF THIS WORLD on the table and some huge juicy steaks in the fridge waiting for us when we got there. Honestly, I don’t think we’ve ever received this kind of love and attention anywhere. We got to spend some good time with two of the ladies that we were closest with during our time in Mississippi doing hurricane relief work, Ms Barbara and Ms Bea. What a huge blessing it was to be able to reconnect with them – we just picked up right where we left off. We were also able to see our friends at First Baptist church, whom we spent much much time with after the storm. This church, while devastated by the storm, housed volunteers and even gave me a Sunday School room to use as an office for about two years. We have deep close ties with this church, so it was so wonderful to see their new Sanctuary – now completed. It was even better to hear of the growth that the church is experiencing. I believe God is giving them a harvest of souls because of their sacrificial work after the storm.

I got my dates mixed up and we missed our flights back to Honduras. Thank God for a lady on the Continental international flight customer service line who was able to get all of our flights rescheduled and graciously waived all of the change fees! What a miracle and answer to some brief but very fervent prayer on my part!

Now that we’ve been home for almost two weeks, I can honestly say that this is home for us now. We are just so thankful to be here. In the midst of all of the travel and going back “home” (what used to be home for us) – it is just so clear to us that this is where God wants us to be. He moved our hearts down here and we just love it here. We now have a home we can call our own here at the hospital and it helps SO MUCH to just be settled. I get up every morning and look out over the Caribbean and realize that I am one of the luckiest people alive. We pray that God would just use us for His glory here, because right now – it feels like life is TOO good – I hope that makes sense. We’ve been fortunate that our Spanish teacher Diana is now staying with us four nights a week and is REALLY building up her new business down here. This means that we are getting lots of practice and training with our Spanish – an answer to prayer! We feel like this year we’ll be able to finally get to a point in our Spanish where we can really begin to minister to the local Honduran people with more than small talk – but rather heart talk.

Lastly (these updates ALWAYS end up so much longer than I anticipated when I first sit down to write them), I am reading “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Phil Yancey for the second time right now and let me just beg each and every Christian that is reading this to please read this book. And if you haven’t read it in awhile, let me ask you to read it again. I realize each day as I read it HOW MUCH we need to be reminded of this central theme in Christianity and how often we fail to express grace to our fellow Christians and (worse) to those that are not Christians. Christ’s life and the writings of the New Testament are RADICAL DEPARTURES from the social norms of the day and what makes them radical of the lifestyle of obedience and sacrifice that we are to live as Christians. The message of Grace MUST BE intertwined deeply within this lifestyle of obedience and sacrifice, or our religious lives degenerate into religious works. Without grace, our message rings empty in a graceless world. The world is not looking for more rules to follow; rather they are looking for redeeming love. It is grace that expresses that redeeming love to a dying world. Yes, grace must be expressed within the context of the gospel, which includes the message of sin and condemnation for those that do not choose God’s grace. I realize that. But when Jesus said we are to be salt and light, I believe that Grace was, and is, the central empowering force for TO BE THAT SALT AND LIGHT in the fallen world in which we live.

May God’s grace touch you this day anew and may we each live our lives out of the abundance of fear, awe, wonder, and joy that His grace has touched someone like me. Amen. God Bless each of you and we pray that you are warm and well in HIS LOVE this day.

Dave and Marinajo
Mariah and Benny