Back to Honduras

I couldn’t say it better than Frederick Buechner:

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
(Frederick Buechner)
“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.” (Frederick Buechner)
“Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes….” (Frederick Buechner)
“It is a world of magic and mystery, of deep darkness and flickering starlight. It is a world where terrible things happen and wonderful things too. It is a world where goodness is pitted against evil, love against hate, order against chaos, in a great struggle where often it is hard to be sure who belongs to which side because appearances are endlessly deceptive. Yet for all its confusion and wildness, it is a world where the battle goes ultimately to the good, who live happily ever after, and where in the long run everybody, good and evil alike, becomes known by his true name….That is the fairy tale of the Gospel with, of course, one crucial difference from all other fairy tales, which is that the claim made for it is that it is true, that it not only happened once upon a time but has kept on happening ever since and is happening still.” (Frederick Buechner)
This woman…I am so grateful for her hospitably, wisdom, encouragement, and love. I love getting to do life and ministry with you!

Sharing God’s Work Among the Deaf

FBC Alma choose us as their missionaries for the summer VBS! We got to share about the ministry to the deaf virtually. They had a team contest to see who could raise the most money to donate and the winning team got to pie the pastors in the face! 

I also got to share during Bible story time at FBC Fernandina Beach’s VBS. The kids has some great questions for her signing puppet Risa, whom we pretend is a deaf Honduran. 

I was also grateful for the opportunity to also share on a panel with the women’s group at The Journey Church regarding “spirit care.” There I was able to meet and connect with some amazing women!

Does your church, small group, VBS or conference have an opportunity for us to share virtually or in person? Please let us know!

School’s Out for Summer!

Daniel finished up his 7 month position at the local high school teaching history and economics. It was his first time teaching in the states but he drew upon many of his experiences overseas, and his Spanish even came in handy for many of his students! He continues to focus on his masters program throughout the summer. 

Back to Honduras!

Jessie got to go back to Honduras for the 1st time since we left in August of 2019. Although it took jumping through a few extra hoops due to COVID restrictions, it was so worth seeing all those precious smiles and all those hugs from people we worked with for nearly 9 years! Grateful for the opportunity to do some follow up training as well as beginning to use some of the resources she has been studying and receiving training on. 

March 13, 2020

Anniversaries of the loss of special people can often creep up on us with unexpected waves of grief as if it were just yesterday. But who would have thought I would be so aware of the anniversary of the day COVID became a reality in my own life (in a different kind of way). But from the looks of many social media posts, I’m not the only one.

Many of us remember the moment we began to realized COVID was going to change a lot of things.

The first Sunday with no church service in person.

The first day of virtual learning for kids.

The first day of wearing a mask in public. 

For me it was getting off the plane in Paraguay as we began our feasibility study for the possibility of a new Signs of Love plant. A woman at the end of the jet bridge dressed in medical gear and a mask stopped me to take my temperature. Say what? 

Well it did start a little earlier that day. It was my birthday and Robin had come to Chile and we were to then travel on to Paraguay together. As we sat in the Santiago airport I noticed maybe 1 in ever 6 people that passed by wearing a mask. It seemed odd. Chile had its first case of COVID just 10 days earlier and even then, it was in the far away big city from where we were residing on the Chilean coast at the time. After all we still had plenty of water and toilet paper on the shelves.

As we began to board our plane from Chile to Paraguay it really hit. We were 2 of 4 people on the entire plane! 

The flight attendants came and sang happy birthday (one of Robin’s schemes) to me in a language that wasn’t Spanish. Wait where were we going? (Come to find out they were singing in Guarani, one of Paraguay’s official languages!)

They had taken a piece of cake from first class (no one was sitting there to eat it) and put a battery powered “candle” on it for me. 

We landed in Asuncion. Once we got through the temperature check, things seemed pretty normal. At least we thought so. We had never been there be able to compare it to anything. 

Our plans for the next 2 days got more and more challenging being North Americans. At the time, the US was quickly becoming called a “hot-spot” and when people saw us they were unwilling to make much contact. Simple things like finding a public bathroom and purchasing some essential items for our boarder crossing the next day required a lot of patience. 

Were we crazy to be trying to cross the boarder into Northern Argentina, where we were told there was great need for rural deaf ministry?

If we cancelled our plans for travel the next day were we walking in fear or stupidity? We had been asking ourselves these questions in the previous days, but now we had to make a firm decision. 

We took a few hours to sit before Jesus seeking direction. I opened my Bible to 2 Corinthians 5. Nothing seemed to speak to our situation. Then I turned the page to 2 Corinthians 6:

“Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us. God reminds us, I heard your call in the nick of time; The day you needed me, I was there to help. Well, now is the right time to listen, the day to be helped. Don’t put it off; don’t frustrate God’s work by showing up late, throwing a question mark over everything we’re doing. Our work as God’s servants gets validated—or not—in the details. People are watching us as we stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly… in hard times, tough times, bad times; when we’re beaten up, jailed, and mobbed; working hard, working late, working without eating; with pure heart, clear head, steady hand; in gentleness, holiness, and honest love; when we’re telling the truth, and when God’s showing his power; when we’re doing our best setting things right; when we’re praised, and when we’re blamed; slandered, and honored; true to our word, though distrusted; ignored by the world, but recognized by God; terrifically alive, though rumored to be dead; beaten within an inch of our lives, but refusing to die; immersed in tears, yet always filled with deep joy; living on handouts, yet enriching many; having nothing, having it all.

“Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” (Corinthians 6:1-13 MSG)

We took this as our go ahead… “stay at our post, alertly, unswervingly… in hard times, tough times, bad times.” 

So we prepared to travel the next day. 

11:00 pm our contact in Argentina sent me a video she took of her television screen. It was the Argentinian president announcing that at midnight they would be closing all boarders and that any foreigner without residency currently in the country would be escorted to the airport and put on the next departing flight. 

We landed back in Chile to the news that they were also closing it’s boarders and the president had banned gatherings of more than 500 which was not accepted well with the already active anti-government protests that had been going on for the past few months. 

This was just the beginning of 1000 ways (big and small) that our lives would be changed over the last year.

But the one thing that hasn’t changed is God sovereignty. 

I’m grateful for the ways He has guided every step of our lives overseas the past 10 years, and we actively wait as He makes the next step clear to us.  He is graciously providing for us and using us right where we are and we desire to glorify Him wherever our feet may be. 

“Wherever you are, be all there! Live to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God.” (Jim Elliot)

10 Years!

Last week marked 10 years ago that we sold most of what we owned, packed up the rest (that was later accidentally auctioned off “Storage War” style without us knowing…if you haven’t heard that story it’s a good one!) and moved to Honduras. Eight and a half years later, the week we prepared to moved on, I walked the beach of what we called “home” for so long, picking up 120 tiny shells (representing each of the 120 deaf we served there) and praying over each by name. Nine months later I hid away a few pieces of sea glass collected on a beach, this time on the Pacific Coast of Chile. A beach where God began to heal my heart and prepare my mind. Tonight I created a “remembrance box.” God often commands His people to remember what He has done for them. It draws us closer to Him and helps us in challenging times. I look forward to collecting a treasure of our time here in the States to also place in this box and to carry with us wherever God leads next! Each stone a remembrance of His unique faithfulness over so many years in so many places!

Yay, yay, yay! 🥳🥳🥳

In January 2016 Orlan, the deaf pastor in Honduras, took over preaching full time. He felt lead to start at the beginning. So together we opened to page 1 of “The Action Bible” (Genesis 1), and each week we worked through the next Bible story chronologically. In August 2019 when we moved on from Honduras I began video recording the weekly Bible stories for his sermons and we would spend time later discussing application and context of each story over WhatsApp. This week, 4 years from when we first began, I recorded the last story of the Old Testament. The last phrase I recorded in Honduran Sign Language was, “But God was silent until…”

Until…until…until what?!

Turn the page!! Until Jesus came to earth, Immanuel, God With Us! But within that page turn was 400 years of silent history.

When you have to teach something, you learn so much, and I am grateful for the process of learning as I taught and how arriving at the story of Jesus this Christmas season seems to have so much more meaning after reading straight through the Old Testament. And yet I love that with the active living Word of God, there is always so so much more to learn!

So proud of Orlan and how he has diligently memorized each of these stories as he reaches his sheep each week with the stories of God’s faithfulness, goodness, kindness, and love!

May each truth shared be planted into the hearts of the deaf that see them and grow to bear much fruit, for the glory of God!

Recent Projects

In the past several months, our SofL team spanning across 3 countries, have partnered together to develop a teaching series for Deaf leaders around the world based on Romans 12. Each lesson teaches sign vocabulary, a Bible story, a life application story, an art therapy activity, and a social-emotional activity.

We are excited for deaf leaders in various countries to begin to use these videos to teach the deaf that they have access to. Please pray for us as we finish up the remaining 10 videos in the series!

Honoring My Granny

To those of you that donated to our ministry to the Deaf in honor of Granny, a heart felt “THANK YOU!” She loved the Kingdom work we were getting to do and supported us in so many ways!

There was always something about Granny’s hands that I always took notice of. Her hands cannot count the number of cakes they have baked for celebrations, the number of pants they have hemmed for others, the number of meals they have delivered to those in need. The number of games they played, the number of scripture pages they have turned, the number of drinks they have handed the sick and elderly cannot begging to be counted on these worn fingers.

It’s not so much the hands themselves, but the heart behind the hands. To be the hands and feet of Jesus starts in the heart. The heart to comfort those who are broken-hearted by holding their hand. The heart to see her friends and family know Jesus by folding her hands in prayer. The heart to love others well by selflessly serving with her hands. Her hands might not appear to be the most beautiful hands with scares from hot oil, pricks from needles, numbness, swollen joints and age spots from 97 years of use. But to those that have been touched by these hands they are the most lovely because we have experienced the heart inside the woman and she is stunningly beautiful!

While we no longer get to hold those hands or be the recipient of the blessings they daily bestowed, as her soul has gone Home to be with Jesus, we will still carry her heart in each of us. I see her heart in each of those she left behind. Just to name a few…

I see Granny’s heart in Janet’s “get ‘er done” attitude and tender care and in Charlie’s meek strength and passion for stories. I see her in Lanita’s love for the Word and Butch’s generosity. I see her in Mom’s doing things for others and Dad’s humor. I see her in Lisa’s creativity and Jon’s quiet servant heart to do what needs to get done. She’s in Taylor’s desire to teach, Jacob’s thoughtfulness and Jess’ care for others in their greater time of need. I see her in Caleb’s desire to learn and use his knowledge to help others. I see Granny’s heart in Tara’s love for children and in Bert’s desire to leave a lasting legacy. She’s in Amelia’s desire to take care of others, in Isaac’s tenderness, and in Cole’s determination. I see her heart in Daniel’s attitude of service and I see her heart in my deepest desire to hear “well done good and faithful servant.”

Granny Solomon was the heart of our family, and she left her heart in her family.We will miss her hands but we will treasure her heart in one another. She’s joined our cloud of witnesses, cheering us on in this race to finish strong with great resolve and intentionality to love others to Christ!Love you 🤟 and miss you Granny!

Lastly, some of her last clear words the day before she went home were “Tell everybody…” She couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Tell everybody you love them?”

“Mmhum,” she nodded.

“Tell everybody you appreciate them?” (She was one of the most appreciative people I know, especially when she needed more help in the past several months.)

“Mmhum,” she nodded with a long blink for emphasis.

So to respect her wishes, I want to “Tell everybody”, she loved you and appreciated each of you so very much!

Since we weren’t able to have a larger service for her at this time, we recorded her graveside service with just her closest family.

She will be greatly missed!