.last.day at House of Hope.
.a. marathon day to end the week with for sure. two cell group visits..teaching a cooking/baking class at HoH..two more cell group visits (which we missed one..but got to hear stories)..saying goodbye to the girls at HoH..and lunch and dinner squeezed in there at some point. i was glad that the day was busy. wanted to experience everything before we headed out the next day.
.bright. and early we arrived at a small church. balloons and streamers decorated the small building. we piled out of the van and into plastic lawn chair seats. we sat amongst the cell group members. each with their own story that i wish we had time to hear. Shea taught a lesson from Exodus about how God had done amazing things for his people..but some of those people stayed in captivity. God wants full and total freedom for his children. hearing this teaching and then looking back at what God had done in just a few days time made this Truth come alive to me yet again. God wants our freedom. God will move mountains..part waters..bring us to the end of us..for the sake of freedom. "it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.." that verse goes on to say to "stand firm then..do not let yourselves be enslaved by sin again"..that means it's a bit on me and my actions to stay in freedom. kind of like me staying with my walls down.
.we. quickly traveled from the first cell group to the second. *side note* i got the privilege of riding on the back of the motorcycle with Oscar to the second cell group. this was hands down the best way to experience Nica driving! my knees literally hit things while weaving in and out of cars trucks and carts pushed by children selling fruit. for the first time on the trip i didn't feel like some "gringa" in south america..i felt like a Nicaraguan. ok..now back to God stuff..
.we. filled this small court yard filled with young children doing simple exercises. this was our second cell group. the ladies weren't quiet ready for us so we jumped right in doing stretches and push-ups with the kids. so fun to see them laugh at us moaning and groaning about ten push-ups and so forth. no más!
.when. it was time we gathered around under this small lean-to like structure. there were about fifteen or so women there. i had not recognized any of them at this point but i was excited to be a part of another cell group. to see and feel how God has been working and moving among these women. just then, Kellie, nudged me and said, "look! do you see Carla?!" i hadn't..but i quickly scanned the faces..and there in the corner standing leaning on a pole was Carla! this is the same Carla who i had sat with for hours..who was having seizures..who bore the same scars on her arms that i did. Carla. God is so good to us. i gave her a big smile and a little wave to let her know i knew exactly who she was. and boy did i have some questions to ask her about God. my heart was beating so fast..but i had to stay calm because Shea still had to do her lesson.
.Shea. looked at me and motioned for me to come close. i did and she said that she felt like God wanted me to share my story here. i agreed with no holds barred. remember on the first day..i jumped..this was just another one of those moments..but it was easier because i knew the end result was moving closer to God. all of my thoughts of disappointing God or not relaying my story well the last time flew out the window as God spoke his truth so loud and so clear to me. i was able to share clearly and knew that God was speaking through me. it's one of those moments that you hear yourself talk but wonder who is making the words come out..because it sure is not you...yep one of those..goose bump moment. God was near..i could feel him.
.after. i shared Carla immediately came up to Kellie and i. gave us both hugs and started pouring her heart out. sharing about her abuse as a young child. rape. neglect. pain. not much different than my story. she shared how she had no hope and longed for hope..but did not see it for herself. she wanted it for her children. i probed her thinking. questioned her lies she was believing. wanting to share the hope that i found in God..and how i had been so fearful of surrender. so fearful that i would put all my eggs in one basket and would just be let down again. i asked Carla if she wanted to have a relationship with that kind of God. the God who forgiveness. heals. transforms. redeems. gives hope to. binds up. i could go on and on. still she said she wanted it for her children or that she would try..but couldn't promise anything. she wanted to pray at that point. so she did. i still had questions though..she was so close to surrender and i couldn't let her walk away. (or at least not too far away). after she prayed she quickly and rather awkwardly walked away to go stand by herself. i had my eye on her though. God kept saying "let her be for awhile..i've got her". another lady came up to us to ask for prayer for her sickness. we prayed over her..but my mind distracted at Carla standing only ten feet away. shortly after we prayed over the second woman i noticed Carla out of the corner of my eye talking with Shea and Crystal.
.in. a whirlwind of events Carla grabbed me and i joined their little circle. Carla was ready. she was ready to surrender to have a relationship with Jesus! what flowed out of her was the most beautiful prayer of repentance..brokenness..and a glimmer of hope. we got a new sister..and her name is Carla. brought together by scars..held together by Jesus. as i'm writing this i remember how close i was to pulling out of the trip. to saying next time..next time i'll be ready. oh what i would have missed out on. obedience is what pushed me to go..and God did and is moving in me because of that "yes". we didn't have time to stay and chat awhile..but i left knowing that God was all over us as a team.
.at. HoH this day some of us did a cooking/baking lesson. i normally love to cook but i didn't feel like that is where i needed to be. that would have been my safety zone. to do things. to make things. to be busy. not to continue diving into the girl's lives. not to allow them to dive deep into my heart because we were leaving the next day. my normal would have been to play it safe..but i was done with being safe. so outside combing and braiding hair is where i found myself. a few of us sat in a circle working our combs through lice ridden hair. happy to be doing so i might add. wishing we could do more though. loving on each of the girls in this "mom" like way. this is how God would love his little girls..so he did it through us.
.our. third and final cell group landed us at Sarah's home. Sarah was the recipent of one of the mico-grants and she makes pinatas out of her home. this was one of the largest cell groups and the most involved. you could tell just by how the women responded to each other. how they loved one another. you could feel it. they wanted to move each other to know God more. we met up with Patricia who invited us to her home to share her story with us. She shared of her brokenness..her pain..and how God is redeeming it all. you could see Jesus pouring out of her. feel him so present in her life. two amazing women we had the priveledge to meet. Sarah was gracious and shared a portion of her story with us and we got to pray over her. she is a hero for God..and we got to pray over her. to encourage her. keep going. keep going. keep going.
.as. the evening drew near it was time to go back to HoH to say goodbye. we had about an hour to spend some final moments with the women and children. when we arrived it was about 6:00pm..so they were excited to see us. it was late in the day for visitors i'm sure. they were waiting for us as we piled out of the van. each girl calling the name of the person they had bonded to the most that week. for me it was little Lupe. she jumped into my arms as soon as she saw me. hugged me and wasn't letting go..i could already tell. as we walked through the gates of HoH she asked when we were leaving..Kellie let her know we were leaving the next day and that this was our last time at HoH. Lupe immediately began crying in my arms. the rest of the team ran ahead and began playing games and laughing. my sweet tender Lupe crying in my arms. we stayed outside of the main building as to give her and i time to be quiet with our sadness. i was trying desperately to be strong for her..to not cry. that didn't last long as i walked over to Kellie to have her translate what Lupe was saying. Lupe didn't want me to leave. she said that i was like her mom..she wanted me to be her mom and she was going to be so sad to see me leave. oh this broke my heart. knowing that i had to leave. but on the same hand she was able to let me in. was able to love me and allow me to love her. she got to feel God's love through me. i asked her to look at the moon. i told her that it was the same moon that i see in america..and that we would not be far away. i told her i would pray for her and think of her each night when i see the moon. at this point we were sobbing together. tears of sadness. tears of a bond that had been formed. for me though..they were also tears of feeling God so near. of knowing him so much more. so much better. of him allowing me to experience him that much more. i began singing to her. praising God for who he is. for rescuing little Lupe. for loving us THIS much. i got to show her his love and in turn she showed me his love too. she stayed in my arms the entire hour. crying on and off..for both of us.
.at. the end of the hour when she got her icecream and cookie is when i moved a million steps closer to God and his love for us. we were still holding each other. still crying. Lupe took her cookie..broke it in half..and ate one half and gave me the other half. she laid her head back on my shoulder and started sobbing again. i could feel the dampness of her tears running down my arm. i was done being strong for her. i sobbed right along with her. after a few minutes she picked her head up..tears streaming down her face..took my head in her hands and began to kiss my tears away. oh Jesus..how you love us! i did the same for her. kissing her tears away..knowing that's how God loves us. Lupe and i embraced one last time and i set her down..told her i loved her and kissed her head. with God's love i love that little girl. with God's love i loved every single one of them. overwhelmed with his love i wept the entire ride to dinner.
.as. we got back to our house i was so weighted by what had just happened. feeling the physical exhaustion right along with the emotional slam me hard. i started reading through isaiah 61 again. weeping at who God is. how he cares for us. oh how i hated God..and didn't want anything to do with him. God was moving mountians and parting seas in my heart. the only thing that felt right at the time was to go outside and get on my face and worship him.
"Jesus..oh you love me so much. forgive me for doubting your love. for running from it in fear. your word says you came to give life..and that is what i am feeling. i feel alive. i feel as though you are awakening me in new ways. i don't even know how to wrap my head around what you are doing..but Jesus keep doing it. keep moving. i am so soft and i know that is you. Jesus i praise you for who you are. you are my King. you are worthy. you are my savior. my redeemer. my everything. Jesus don't let me walk away from what you are doing inside of me. i want to stay in this moment. in this moment of knowing you more. of feeling your heart beat. oh God..my heart feels like it is going to burst with your love. i love you Jesus..."