tell them who they are.

when i showed up to training camp back in july i had no idea what i was doing.  the plan was that i would train a group of college kids for eight days.  i’d love them, pray for them, put them in teams and then send them on their happy little way with someone else in charge of them.  i remember being in worship that first night.  i was determined to not be intimidated by them.  i was determined to not let all of my own insecurities and fears get in the way of that week.  but i didn’t know what to do.  i had no idea what to say.  and clear as day the lord said to me, “just tell them who they are.”

tell them the things that no one has ever said to them.

tell the stuff they’ve been desperate to hear.

tell them what i think of them.

tell them it’s okay to be great.  it’s okay to be amazing.

so, that’s what i did.  for eight days i told them all of the truths i could think of.  i told them they weren’t alone.  they weren’t forgotten.  that they were fought for and wanted beyond measure.

i’ve spent the last fifty two days with these faces.  these beautiful, incredible faces.

and i’ve clung to that word.  i’ve told them who they are.

they are sons and daughters.

they are forgiven and whole.

they are worth more than they can possibly imagine.

they have destiny, authority, and purpose.

they are creative worshippers who bring life to dead places.

they are fun, exciting, crazy warriors who have something the world needs.

they are capable.

they are chosen. loved. accepted. wanted.

and the list goes on.  i could brag on these people for days.  and i probably will.

the crazy thing is that the more i tell them who they are, the more the same truths get solidified into my own heart and spirit.

kentucky fried crying.

i’ve shed my fair share of tears in public places.

over coffee with people who asked hard questions.  in hotels and restaurants around the world when i missed my family.  in kelly’s office more times than i can count.  one night during a class in college i was crying so hard i had to leave.

i guess it’s just kind of my thing. i cry. good things. bad things. happy. sad. angry. it’s how i emote and how i process.

this week i parked myself at kentucky fried chicken a few times.  i’ve been catching up on blogs, emails, finances and facebook.  i’ve talked with some of my favorites and caught up what life looks like both here and there.  yesterday i hung up with one of those favorites and i burst into tears.

i’m not entirely sure why.

there’s nothing wrong.  things in honduras are great.  my squad is amazing and i’m absolutely loving leading them.  the lord is taking me to new places in him, continuing to remind me that i’m a daughter and that’s enough.  things with my co-leader are good.  i’m not upset about anything.  i’m not missing home any more than i normally do.  i don’t feel (too) stressed about the future or unsure of what’s going to come next.  i don’t feel particularly overwhelmed by things.

and yet, the tears still came.  but in a cleansing kind of way.  in a way that brings release and actually helps you breathe a little bit easier.  it was the refreshing kind of cry.  the kind that reminded me that i’m loved and missed and known.  the kind that makes you thankful for the people waiting for you.  the people you can count on.

it was a good cry.  even if it was in kentucky fried chicken.

i’m not allergic to wasps.

i know that i’m not allergic to wasps because i’ve now been stung by two of them in less than twenty four hours.  the first one attacked me right on the nose.  i cried like a baby and then put wet tobacco on my face.  my nose isn’t, as allison would say, quite as gross today as it was yesterday.

this morning another little demon creature got me on the finger.  a little more gracious of a spot, i suppose.

despite the wasps, life in honduras continues to be great.  we’ve developed so many strong relationships with the hondurans and it will be a sad day when our squad leaves here in a few weeks.  thank you for all of your continued prayers and support. we couldn’t do any of this without you!

one of those days.

in the last three years i’ve trekked to eighteen different countries.  i’ve been a part of many different ministries.  i’ve talked to and prayed for a countless number of people.  i’ve seen churches, red light districts, four of the seven wonders, dumps, mansions and shacks.  i’ve walked on cobblestone streets, beaches, dirt roads and sidewalks.  i’ve seen poverty like you can’t imagine and the wealth that exists next door.  i’ve met and held prostitues, orphans, the handicapped and forgotten grandmas; the regular, hurting, broken people just like me.

i’ve seen some stuff.

but no matter how far i travel or how many people i meet, i still find myself walking through the streets of honduras, day after day, and thinking “this is not okay.”

it’s not okay that last saturday i saw an eighteen year old handicapped boy wearing a diaper and laying in a box.  a box.  on the side of the road, in front of a packed mcdonalds.

it’s not okay that, while we were praying for a drunk man, a well dressed man came out of a church and told us we were wasting our time.

it’s not okay that baby genesis lives here five days a week and then is forced to go back to a shack where there are no clean clothes, no diapers, no nutritious food.

it’s not okay that amalia, dania, and arielle lost their father to suicide.  he hung himself in their one bedroom plastic home because he’d reached such a place of desperation and depression that he saw no other option.

it’s not okay that marcos’ mom called tony last week and said, “you can keep him.  i don’t want him anymore.”

it’s just not okay.

and, yet.  i can only do what i can do.  i can only stop for the one in front of me.  feed the hungry man that needs food, hold the orphan who isn’t wanted, pray for the family who has nothing.  i can only ask god to come.  i can only teach a group of wide-eyed college kids how i know to bring kingdom to earth.

some days it’s exhilarating and exciting.  some days i’m thankful beyond measure.  some days i’m tired and frustrated and want to stay inside my tent all day long.  some days it’s easy and some days it’s really hard.  some days the kingdom feels very at hand.  and some days it just doesn’t seem like enough.

today is one of those days.

ask of me.

several years ago i was quite the dreamer, the idealist, and the anything is possible-ist.  then i went on the world race.  and i walked away from countless situations that weren’t any different when i left than when i walked up.  i walked away from people who didn’t get healed, people that didn’t accept jesus, communities that were still impoverished. and little by little i started to get really overwhelmed by the enormity of the world and its problems.  if i started to think about human trafficking, orphans and poverty i’d be crippled in minutes.  the problems seemed too big and i hated the idea of helping one person at a time.  it just seemed extremely inefficient and ineffective.

somehow, over the past few years that mindset has made me pretty jaded.  i’ve allowed myself to focus on all of the things i couldn’t do, all of the reasons why god wouldn’t show up, every excuse for why someone couldn’t be changed.  and the more i thought that way the more i actually started to believe it.  and then i started acting out of that belief.  which, for me, basically meant i wasn’t acting on much of anything.  i showed up to my nice christian missionary job, went to church and said all of the right things.  but i wasn’t doing much.  i haven’t been doing much.

and my conversations with the lord basically revolved around the trite things happening in my life and the lives of those around me.  i wasn’t asking much of him.  probably because i didn’t really expect him to show up.  so if i stopped asking, i couldn’t be disappointed by the stuff i didn’t get.

we worshipped a few nights ago as a squad.  we were specifically praying for herman.  herman is one of the boys who has lived and worked with tony for the past several years.  we met him when we first arrived and spent several weeks getting to know him, loving him, having fun with him.  to make a long story short, herman has chosen to go back to the life he’s always known.  he left tony’s home last week and one of our teams ran into him a few days later.  he was high on paint thinner and wanted nothing to do with them.  he’s completely shut out the people that care most about him, including the lord.

we started praying for herman and the situation in los pinos and i lost it. i lost it like i haven’t lost it in a really long time.  but, i wasn’t upset because i felt the hopelessness or because i felt like god wouldn’t show up. i wasn’t crying because the situation felt like a lost cause.  my first reaction wasn’t to be upset or bitter.  my first reaction, the thing i brought people into with me, was to prophesy like crazy over him.  to speak destiny and life and truth over him.

and then the lord spoke and reminded me what i’m supposed to be asking for.  he reminded me to ask for nations.  i’d forgotten that.  i’ve been so preoccupied with trying to figure some stuff out that i stopped asking for the nations.  the thing that gripped me as a freshman in college on a spring break trip to jamaica.  the thing that wrecked me for 11 months.  the thing that has changed the direction of my adult life.  i stopped asking for it.

but a few nights ago, through a lot of tears and a few screams i started asking again.  i started asking for big things.  crazy things.  impossible things.  i asked for nations.  and i felt like a piece of me that had been missing was a little bit restored.

spoonfuls of nutella.

i’m still not exactly sure how it all happened.  it was one of those sweet ministry moments that wasn’t planned or expected.  it didn’t happen during a scheduled ministry time, no one was preaching or praying; but god showed up nonetheless.   it was, you know, one of those moments.  the kind that mess you up just a little bit and leave you thinking, wondering, dreaming, hoping.

i was in my my tent when i heard someone crying.  naturally, i assumed it was one of my participants so i got up to go save the day.  cowered in the corner, however, wasn’t one of my people.  it was a twelve year old honduran girl named nicole.

nicole is the sister of two of the boys who live here with tony.  she’d been staying with us for the past few weeks because her grandmother was having surgery and there was no one else to take care of her.  her abusive mom lives and works in the dumps where she also prostitutes herself. her father has never been around.  her grandmother cares for her from a wood and plastic shack on the top of a hill in the middle of los pinos – one of the most dangerous communities in tegucigalpa.

i sat with her for a bit and let her cry.  my spanish doesn’t really go beyond “hello, how are you?” so i just kept my mouth shut and held her.  after a few minutes i handed her the last of my peanut butter m&ms that my roommates sent me with.  it’s always my natural default to feed people when they’re upset or i don’t know what else to do.  eventually katie joined us, amalia, dania and sandra in tow.

it was amalia’s birthday.  but, the occasion was saddened by the fact that only a few months ago, amalias father had killed himself in their home.  “it cannot be a happy birthday without my papa,” she told us as she started to cry.  eventually, all four honduran girls were in tears.  a few more of my girls had joined us and for over an hour we each held one, prayed over them and cried with them.  we felt the weight of everything these sweet young girls were carrying.  the pain, questions, wondering where god is.

but there wasn’t anything we could do about it.  there were no nice answers or “i understands.”  we can’t really begin to relate to what these girls have seen and experienced.  there could only be desperate cries to the one who always shows up, the god who always meets us where we are.  so we asked god to come.  and we mourned with those who were mourning.

and then we ate nutella.  by the spoonful.  because crying girls should always eat nutella.