Colony of Heaven

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Due to poor medical care and violence, death seems to be more common in Honduras. In my first year here, I had been to more funerals than I had in my entire life.

But in the past 3 months we have had 5 people very close to our Signs of Love family die.
There’s no better way to say it, death sucks!
It was never part of God’s plan for His most precious creation. It causes the heart much grief and pain and because of the fall, it is everywhere.

Yesterday as we bumped down the dirt road littered with big dips and holes (from a particularly wet rainy-season this year) everyone in the van was struck by the newly blooming giant pink trees that were scattered throughout the hillside. They popped out in contrast to the landscape of green that surrounded them. It was interesting to think that just a couple months ago their limbs were stripped bare of any sign of life with the heavy rains and now they were full of beauty and life.

Three of the people that we said good-bye to these past several months were walking with Jesus. Their lives bore the fruit and light of a follower. Two of them to the best of our knowledge (unless they had a salvation moment on their death bed) didn’t know Jesus as Savior.

This has been a strong reminder to our team of why we are a part of this ministry, why we must be the Church!

Eugene Peterson put it well when he said, “So, why church? The short answer is because the Holy Spirit formed it to be a colony of heaven in the country of death…. Church is an appointed gathering of named people in particular places who practice a life of resurrection in a world in which death gets the biggest headlines. … The practice of resurrection is an intentional, deliberate decision to believe and participate in resurrection life, life out of death, life that trumps death, life that is the last word, Jesus life.”

The baked bread, the flowers, the photos, the interpretations of services, the hugs, the prayers, the tears, and a listening ear in themselves seem like small gestures. However, in the “colony of heaven” they spoke bold truths to those loved ones suffering loss in the “country of death.” YOU ARE SEEN! YOU ARE LOVED! YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

And so as we celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus this past Sunday, it seemed a bit more personal thinking on “life that trumps death,” the resurrection that we share with Christ (Romans 6:5).

“According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

We pray that as the Church, our lives would display the hope of God’s resurrecting power in us and in the places of our lives that feel hopeless, lost, and broken for the praises of His glory! His kingdom come is not only future, it is now!

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A Mother’s Love

“When the doctors told me she was deaf, I began to cry. The realization of the challenges she would have and my inability to communicate with her was overwhelming,” Eliza’s mom told me during our second home visit with her family. “But when Eliza looked up from her play and noticed I was crying she stopped and came to comfort me. It was in that moment that I realized if she was happy the way she was, why shouldn’t I be? I just want her to be happy and know I love her.” As she told me the story she began crying again and I felt as though I was taken back to that moment 6 years ago, and now 10-year-old Eliza put down her coloring book to put her hand on her moms arm, looking intently into her eyes. She looked back at me as if to say, “what’s wrong?” I signed “Your mama loves you so much.” A big grin covered her face, and she went back to coloring.

I saw her mother’s love for her displayed that day through her desire to teach and learn her daughter’s language. She went and got the dictionary we had left with her the last time, and opened it up to the alphabet signing “A-B…” giving Eliza the cue to finish the rest of it on her own. When Eliza got to “Z” the same smile of pride came across both their faces! She proceeded to show us page after page in the blue dictionary of all the words she herself had learned and taught Eliza. Family participation like this is rare here. That day we got to encourage her on the beginning of this communication journey from our own experience: That the parents that were more involved and tried to learn sign language, ended up with more successful, confident, and flourishing young adults! I smiled with the hope of thinking how this mother that hadn’t even completed her own high school education, but was doing everything possible to communicate with her daughter. That she was loving her daughter the best way she could love her right now!

Trauma Training

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Our Signs of Love family is GRATEFUL today because of a very talented and loving psychologist who traveled from Tegucigalpa to love and serve us! Victor poured into us today to help us get better at loving our very own. Yes, we are a grateful people! We learned the difference between crisis and trauma, and how to identify each. We are in awe of God’s love through this man.

Why drive 7 hours to reach a few? Here’s why… look at these faces! Language, love, Kingdom come, eternal life now – WE LOVE WHAT WE GET TO DO! (Click on the image below to see a video of our time.)

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Why Signs of Love? Max!

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It’s for the Maximilianos of this world why we’re here as a Signs of Love family.  Maximiliano (Max) was introduced to us several years back.  We were thrilled to meet him, as he was advanced in years, and had no language.  He embraced our Signs of Love family, as we embraced him.  He eagerly wanted to get to know us, and all the information that was flowing from our hands.  He absorbed this new language we got to bring to him every month, and even more, absorbed our message of Love. Over time, his understanding of this Great Love deepened, and he was compelled to became a follower of The Way, and be baptized all in the same day! Max became very sick, and as we watched him deteriorate, we knew his end would really be his beginning. On January 21, 2018, Max went Home. Our Signs of Love family was able to attend his burial, and testify to the glorious breadth of this man’s life.  In this world, reality is a life like Max’s isn’t given much value. What an honor it is to be value bearers: to be examples in these communities of the Truth that these lives are priceless, and SEEN by God.  We’re grateful to be the ones who get to introduce the Maximilianos of this world to language & Love. We’re grateful to be the ones who get to walk alongside them through this journey called life, to be the ones surrounding their burial site, grieving their absence, and rejoicing in their triumphant eternity.

(written by Robin Harter)

Thank God for Language

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New years and birthdays seem to cause a sense of reflection in us all. While in the van on the way home from a village in January, several deaf started talking about how long they had been part of Signs of Love. For some it had been ever since they were 5 years old for others just the past couple years. They each shared stories of the first time the met Robin with her bouncy curls and memorable personality full of love, a time when they didn’t even know their own name, when they didn’t have language. Again for some of them that was just a few short years ago with most of their life, language-less, others had the opportunity to learn sign language from a (relatively) “young” age.

Carrying over a tradition we have in the deaf church in the city, we had begun teaching gratitude in the program where everyone took turns saying one thing they were thankful for. For some it was the sun after many days of rain, for others time with family over the holidays, and for others that we were able to have a program after all the protests.

Back in the van, they started talking about what it would have been like to have never learned language. One of exclaimed, “Thank God for sign language!” And another, “Thank God for Signs of Love.”

Pray for Honduras

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This week could be one for the history books of Honduras with the inauguration of the first two-term president ever scheduled for Saturday. There is a lot to pray for this week for the beloved people and leaders. Would you join us in lifting up the events of this week and the coming year to the One who sits on the throne and is the Leader of leaders, King of kings!

“I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.” (1 Tim. 2:1-2)

Pictured below in the “P” is Orlan encouraging the deaf congregation to pray for the leaders in their country.

Jesus our Prince, Jesus our Peace

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Jesus our Prince.

Jesus our Peace.

If any of you have been following the news about Honduras, there has been a lot of unrest since the elections November 26th in which no official winner has been announced with both sides claiming victory. One side is claiming electoral fraud, and both sides are taking to the streets to have their voices heard.

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining,” is seen in the corruption, the destructive protests, the rebellion, and the death all around me.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices…”

I am humbled to be reminded that Jesus came into my corruption, my protests, my rebellion, and my death to bring me into His truth, joy, contentment, and LIFE!

No matter what “side” people are on politically here, everyone is feeling the “world groaning” as described in Romans 8:22. The Greek word translated “groan” and “pain” mean “to experience a common calamity, travail in pain together.”

Our commonality is our pain. Our commonality is our need for a Savior, our need for a Prince, our need for Peace! That is even more palpable both in this country I have called “home” for 7 years and in my own heart as I become introspective as the things around me seem so unpredictable.

Our commonality is the hope of Jesus to all peoples (2 Corin. 5:15) that were once far off but have been brought near (Eph. 2:13)!

Jesus came as a different kind of leader than we have ever experienced. He is the kind of King that is willing to get lower than a woman caught in adultery. Jesus is the kind of King that washes feet. He is the kind of King that rules with love, joy, peace, and kindness.

Jesus came with a deeper kind of peace than we had ever experienced, not merely marked by a tranquil unity between people or nations. His peace is one characterized by “the spiritual harmony brought about by an individual’s restoration with God” himself!

“Advent” comes from the Latin word meaning “coming.” This Advent, the concept of God’s Kingdom being “already and not yet” has me griped with anticipation for what is coming. Waiting expectantly for the complete Peace of the future Kingdom experienced in all its glory when Jesus returns to rule and reign. While on the other hand wanting to more fully experience the peace and reign of Jesus Christ in my life and heart right now and everyday that He gives me on this “big blue marble,” because Jesus already came as a baby to be God WITH us!!

May we grow in sanctification and humility as we look to Mary in her song, to be His “servants” in this country He has called us to because “he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”

“Hail the Heaven-born Prince of Peace
Hail the Son of Righteousness
Light and life to all He brings
Risen with healing in His wings

Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With angelic host proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem
Hark! the herald angels sing
Glory to the new-born King