One question I’ve had since my time at the Finca that hit me a couple of months in is, ‘why does God trust us so much?’ The question would pop up as I realized that rules and decisions that make big impacts are not made by a person with all the right answers or generated by a computer. They are made by normal human beings who have a certain skill or amount of experience, yet, nevertheless, have the same level of weakness and fault as every other person. It would pop into my mind as I have meaningful conversations with the kids, questioning myself whether my advice or example is all that correct. It comes to my mind when I think of the Honduran education system or decision-makers at DINAF, two systems that affect our kids greatly. It comes into my mind when I see one decision alter the rest of a child’s life, and I am forced to wonder why God allows us to make such grand and impactful decisions.
As missionaries, a frequent question we ask ourselves is ‘Am I enough?’ Especially in the very beginning or the very end of our time, it comes up. Al inicio, the thoughts look a little like this… and I remember them clearly:
The kids aren’t listening to me; they didn’t learn a thing in my class; are my interactions impactful?; what is my mission here?
At the end, I see myself questioning:
Did I spend my time well? Will they remember what I tried to teach them? Did I talk about Jesus enough? Did I show my love as clearly as I would have liked?
We recently went on a retreat where we reflected on different prophets, and I was very shocked by many of the doubts that accompanied their journey. Laura walked us through several of these belonging to Moses. When God asked Moses to talk to Pharaoh in order to free the Israelites, he responded, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? … What if they do not believe me or listen to me? … O Lord, I have never been eloquent. I am slow of speech and tongue. … Oh Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Picturing the Moses that we have been told about for our entire lives saying these words, I can barely pair him with this man. Did he really doubt that much? Did he really have a stutter? Did he really feel that inadequate?
After this retreat, my interest in the first books of the Old Testament, a part of the bible I never touch, spiked my interest. A couple of mornings later, I read about Abraham in the Book of Romans. ‘Abraham believed and hoped against all expectation. He did not doubt nor did he distrust the promise of God, and by being strong in faith, he gave glory to God. He was convinced that He who had given the promise had power to fulfill it.’ I decided to flip on over to the beginning of the book to find out more about Abraham, first known as Abram. In rereading the well-known history of Abram in Genesis, I was surprised to connect the words from Romans about this man with the story of his life. This is the guy who, after being promised by God a child to be born to him with his wife Sarai, had taken Hagar, his servant, to have a child. After his sign of distrust, God still decides to allow Sarai to become pregnant, and, what more, promises to establish his covenant with him and his descendants after him forever. God, what? You trust him after that? (You crazy?) Do you see him how Paul sees him in Romans?
In the Book of John, Jesus tells us, “I am the vine and you are the branches. As long as you remain in me and I in you, you bear much fruit: but apart from me you can do nothing.” This, I’ve really come to believe during my time at the Finca. He knows our weaknesses and our likelihood to make mistakes, and He knows that we will not act in a flawless manner every time. But, He promises to guide us, and we must pray that He guides others, especially those making big impacts on our world. This also gives me peace within myself, because I know that whatever I get done during the day or whatever I contribute to someone else is enough. With so many kids and activities and work and missionaries and people, I have needed this message.
And, I’ve had to convince myself that my fruit is ‘enough’ many times here. I’ve had to trust that, although it wasn’t enough for me, it’s enough for Him. A good example is the PAVI Venta. PAVI, the work program for our adolescents, has been one of my main jobs and a work in progress throughout. Every day, there is a new piece that needs developing, problem that needs solving, or schedule that needs fixing. Through the constant movement that this work creates, God has taught me many important lessons. One big lesson came with the PAVI Venta.
Venta means sale, and it is an opportunity for the kids to spend their ‘money’ that they’ve earned on fun items, such as clothes, bathroom products, games, etc. After talking with past missionaries and reading documents, I planned away to give the PAVI Venta life after a couple of years’ absence. It took about two months of preparation, going through donations, locating a place, making presentations, even asking my parents to send down some special items. Although a lot of work was involved, I was happy to create an exciting event that included the PAVI name :). Well, as many things happen here, nothing really went as planned. A very small amount of kids were able to participate, and many discouraging moments and words stuck in my memory. I think all of my missionary community felt a little bad for me, as did I. Yet, así vamos.. we just continue walking and try our best to see the positive. Yes, a couple of kids received exciting prizes and a couple of kids (and many missionaries) had a fabulous time at Tbay. And, next time, it will be better.
So, 6 months later, it’s that time again.. the PAVI venta.. the time where all kids should work extra hard and save up to purchase well-deserved materials. This time, God is so kind to have added two missionaries to the team to work on the event, much wisdom from the last venta, and a prepared mentality if it all goes downhill. With three minds working together, we developed a fiesta.. aka la FeStiVidAd dE PAVI.. with minute-to-win-it games, music bingo, and even an auction. The library was beautifully decorated, and the hardest working kids were rewarded with recognitions and their buys. It was a long day, and it ended with a feeling of relief and thankfulness.
Although I don’t believe God cared that the second venta was more successful, He was kind enough to allow me to see the fruit of our hard work and taught me that there’s always reason to trust Him. And.. He trusts me though I feel just as inadequate as Moses, Abraham, and many others.
The PAVI Venta is one of many things that have passed recently. We’ve also graduated 5 of our oldest girls from high school, an enormous achievement! We’ve said goodbye to my dear roommate Selena, held confirmation for 4 of our boys and first communion for one of our girls, celebrated a Finca Thanksgiving, started a new winter camp for the kids, graduated our 9th graders, welcomed our past missionary Marie into our home for a week, and celebrated Our Lady of Guadalupe. As our newbies are seeing, the weekly changes are comical, and they continue to come as Christmas approaches and 4 of us say goodbye to the Finca.
I can’t express how much I will miss every single personita at the Finca, but, somehow, I am coming to terms with my leave. Life here has been very real, with many (many) emotions, learning opportunities, and understanding. The missionaries have taught me a new way of selflessness and care for one another, the employees have taught me the realities of Honduras and a life of hard work, and the kids have taught me how to give, how to discipline, and how to show love through acts. Although it will initially hurt not being able to walk past house 4 girls every day, make dinner with my community on Fridays, celebrate with a fiesta and baile, laugh at the mannerisms of our House 1 boys, or find company and activity at any and all times, I put my faith in God that His plans are leading me to the right place, that my prayers for my family in Honduras are enough, and my relationships withstand the distance. I ask for your prayers to find this peace as the transition begins!