'El Encuentro' means 'the encounter,' and that's exactly what some of our youth recently got to experience: encountering God in new ways...and encountering numerous other young people from all over Central America! Twenty-two of the oldest boys from Jovenes en Camino and 18 of the kids from our youth group in Mateo were able to attend a fantastic camp last week, thanks to generous sponsorships from many of our Facebook friends. The camp, called El Encuentro, was put on by the students of the Baxter Institute, whose hard work was evident to everyone involved. From breakfast to bedtime, the youth were involved in devotionals, ice-breakers, excellent classes, sports, social time, and a talent night. It was so exciting to see the young people we've grown to love being able to interact with so many other neat teenagers. Note: Be sure to ask Bart about the basketball tournament!
The photo quality on the picture above is horrible, because the windshield on our truck interfered...But hopefully you can see how our JEC boys are packed into the back of that pickup. How many people (plus all their luggage) were crammed into the two trucks?? 27!!
Two of our boys sporting their JEC shirts, as they participate in
a daily devotional with 500 of their newest friends!
We were really impressed with how our boys volunteered to participate in a number of different activities. Here, Erick (in the grey t-shirt) and Luis (in the black jacket) are pulling their hardest in a game of tug-of-war.
Although they unfortunately didn't win a trophy for their efforts in fútbol, they did bring home first place in the basketball tournament.
Basketball?!? In soccer-dominated Honduras?!? I didn't say it was pretty. :)
Here’s some news that I’m certainly the last to hear: Being a missionary doesn’t make you a good person.
Before moving here, somewhere deep in my subconscious, I think I believed that just through the act of getting on a plane and settling down on the mission field, I’d somehow become a way better version of myself. I’d grow some wings and a halo, I’d naturally be nicer to people, it would become really easy to talk to others about Jesus, and the temptations that once plagued my life would naturally disappear.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that Melissa-in-Honduras is still Melissa, with all the shortcomings, weaknesses, and attitude problems that I had in the States. Only here they probably started creeping out more often, simply due to the stresses of cross-cultural adjustment.
Darn! You mean I’m still self-centered? And at times kinda lazy? And (gasp!) even in this ‘developing nation,’ I still struggle with materialism? Yep, yep, and yep. Unfortunately.
It has brought to mind so many devotional talks I heard as a kid by former missionaries or missionaries-on-furlough, when they’d say things like, “It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can serve God,” or, “You don’t have to be a missionary in another country to be sold-out for the Lord.” Back then, it seemed like they were selling their cool, overseas lives way too short. But now, I get it. I really doesn’t matter where you are in the world. All that matters is your heart.
I can live in the middle-of-nowhere, Africa, as a “missionary,” but if my heart’s not right, it’s pointless. Likewise, I can live in Anytown, USA, working a “secular” job, with a right-heart, and that’s everything! A right-heart might look different from person to person, but for me, it means a heart that’s filled with God’s love for me & mine for Him, overflowing onto those around me; my motives are centered on Him, and my attitude reflects that, so that my service is joyful, instead of some resentment-filled duty I’m fulfilling. And living in Honduras day-to-day, I’ve really had to check myself: that it’s not just the actions I’m doing that look right, but that my heart really is right.
I’m so glad that God has put me in Honduras at this point in my life. And it’s so comforting to know that - no matter where in the world I might live in the future - what matters to God is my heart...that’s it’s close to His heart and seeking to be ever-closer.