Sunday, June 24, 2012



In just a few days I will have been in Nica for three weeks. In some ways it’s hard to believe that three weeks have gone by but in other ways it’s very believable that three weeks have passed.

This week was physically exhausting to say the least. It’s my week to attend to the dorm girls while getting ready for school. Which meant a 4:00am wake up call and 25 girls missing socks and not wanting to get out of bed. We also had a medical team here from all over the globe care for the women and children here at Casa Esperanza as well as people from the community. In one room there were teeth being pulled and in another room minor surgeries were happening. It was amazing to see what could be done with so little. Doctors with time and equipment…generators…add people and miracles happened. It was neat to be a very small part of caring in a practical manner to the people of Managua. The doctors worked tirelessly from 8:00am until 4:00pm or after. Amazing people who love God giving of themselves fully.

Oscar was hammin' it up! There are several more that I took that he was just posing away. LOL! 

Emotionally and spiritually exhausting as well though. In the states for me to be over tired is no bueno…but here everything seems to be multiplied. So with the physical exhaustion came the spiritual and emotional exhaustion multiplied by 10. Part of the emotional exhaustion steamed from the new rescued girl that I mentioned last week. She has a story of torture and slavery and complete brokenness. In the medical team there was licensed counselor and she spent many days having sessions with the girls in the dorm as well as one-on-one sessions with the new girl…I’ll call her “Abbie” for sake of security. Abbie explained about the horrors of living with an aunt who beat her and forced her to service men in the home as well as tend to the daily chores of the home. Abbie was a live in slave in every sense of the word. She was often beat and whipped when she failed at doing what she was told. She suffered burns from electrical wires and cigarettes. Abbie bears the scars of beatings as well as self-injury. The counselor had asked me if I would sit in a counseling session with Abbie and share part of my story with her. This was a short session where we talked about coping skills that Abbie could use while here at HOH and ways in which she can start the healing process. Shortly after the session Abbie went to another staff member at the HOH because she had cut herself and expressed that she wished to die. This precious child is 13 and she has not seen the hope of Christ yet. Please be praying for Abbie…that she would move towards her own healing…which is bottom line having Christ!

God has been moving in a HUGE way here through the craziness of this week as well!

This week we welcomed two teens and one mother of three out of prostitution and into the residential program and two sisters into the dorm. Even in the chaos of having hundreds of people pass through the gates of HOH God gave us more women out of slavery. Yay God! J
It’s been amazing to be a part of the HOH’s daily life. It’s totally and completely different than visiting for a week…different in a good way. I love to be a part of the “normality” of living here…meals, homework, chores, etc. It’s a different side of things and it’s a privilege to be a part of what God is doing here in such ways.

One thing that God has shown me about himself this week in every thing that has happened is a deeper understanding of his character…specifically him desiring us…me.

I guess it started a week ago when Laura, a staff member, asked April, the founder of HOH, about an interesting observation with some of the things that the dorm girls say. The dorm girls are all looking so desperately to be loved and cherished and as they get to know and trust you they will often call you their love or say that they love you. As their trust and affection for you grows they no longer say that they love you but they replace it with something a little bit deeper…I want you. Now in the states if we were to say this it would have a much different meaning…but here to say I want you is somewhat normal…but a deep sign of absolute acceptance and affection.

God used this seemingly small difference in language to reveal himself a little bit more to me. God loves us…no doubt about that…but wanting is a little bit different for me. For me a lot of my insecurities around friendships or where I belong with family are rooted in a deep belief of not really being wanted or being wanted just for what I can do for someone. God has used this little observation do open up darkness in my heart…where lies have lived for years…and open them up and shine his Truth and his light. Realizing on a very deep level that I am not just loved…but…WANTED by the God of the universe does big things for my heart and my thoughts. He is shifting how I see my place in his family…at his house…at his table…I have a spot not just because he loves be but he wants me. He wants me there.

Desires my heart…my obedience…my following him…he wants me for me…for who he created me to be not what my lies dictate me to be.

He wants us!

This may seem silly or maybe like “duh” to some…but for me this was and is and will continue to be a life changing truth that will continue to sink deeper and change my steps for eternity. I know I say this often…but God is just SO good to us! He is so good to his children. He wants us…and he wants us to KNOW him….and to really know him. I could just keep writing that over and over...He wants you my friend. No strings…no nothing…just a deep desire for you to know him and for him to be given full access to your life. Let him in my friend. He is a good God and he wants nothing but your good and for you to look more and more like him.

Run to the God that wants you because you are loved by him…not to the idols that steal and destroy.

P.S. Funny story: I was in my little house and the other Ashley, who is also an intern for six months was visiting. I saw a for those who don't know...I am TERRIFIED of roaches. I can handle any other bug or creature..but roaches..ugh! They creep me out! Anyways...I saw a roach..and I legit screamed like a little girl! The other Ashley died laughing at me and through her laughs she said "You just did a hardcore legit "I'm really scared" scream!" And last night there was a scorpion on my wall...there was no reaction from me...only roaches get the scream. :) 

P.P.S. Lupe and her sister Anna are back! Oscar went and picked them up last Sunday evening! :) 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It’s been ten full days now living in Nica and in full Nica style I might add. This week has been one of adventure and growth in many ways for me personally. Last Sunday evening me and the other two gringas went to the local grocery store called La Union and upon our return we were met by a rushing river where the road to the House of Hope once was. This road is called simply 13 but it was no longer a road. It was evening and quickly getting dark as in Nica there are not many street lamps…so here we were…three gringas sitting in a big truck waiting for a river to become a road once again. After a couple of hours the waters slowed and we decided to be brave and attempt to drive to the HOH. Once we tried to start the engine of the truck it would turn over. Again…three gringas on the side of the road now truly stuck. We called Oscar the on campus director of HOH. He came in boots and a motorcycle. We discovered it was the spark plugs. He asked us to flag a truck down to help us tow the truck off of the hill. It took us all of 30 seconds to get a truck. Oscar does not know the power of three gringas on the side of the road in Nica. Once we got the truck towed off of the hill it magically started! Horray! When it was all said and done it took us over 3.5 hours to get to the HOH…which under normal circumstances it takes about 5 minutes. Welcome to the rainy season in Central America…let the water stories begin.

This week has been one of humility. It’s been humbling to ask questions and how to say just about everything in Spanish. Wanting so badly to talk to the girls and the women and just not having the words. I am getting better at following stories and conversations. I am having a difficult time with putting sentences together and having it flow…so for now it’s two-three word sentences. I like talking with the younger kids…they can be a bit more patient sometimes.

Humbling also with just what the Lord has been showing me in my heart…where I view myself much higher than I am…than I should be. I have taken up running, as my way of stress relief and thinking time off campus, on one of my runs is when God spoke to me about how high I was putting my “righteousness”. I stopped dead in my tracks…sweat dripping from my nose…I lowered by body and just asked for God to forgive me for putting myself above others. The passage in Philippians 2 came to mind and I was reminded of how Christ lowered himself…to human form…in obedience walked to his death…for us. Undeserving love. Isn’t our God so good to bring things up to our attention to make us more like him. A jealous God. Oh he knows me…us…so well. How to speak to us. How to love us. How to show us himself.

Our God is great!

This week has also been a bit busy with the excitement of the medical team coming Sunday evening. The empty houses here at HOH have been transformed into make-shift doctor’s offices. There’s everything from an opthomoligist to a dentist and everything in between. This will be huge for the girls and the women who live here…but also the Tuesday morning women will be able to receive services throughout the week. The medical team will be here until Thursday servicing the women and children in the area. Please be praying for the girls as they go through the different stations. Many of the girls are fearful of new things and the unknown. Some of the girls will need to see they gynecologist…as you can imagine this is something that is terrifying to them. Please be praying that the girls who need to go will be brave and go. I am told that only one girl out of ten who needed to go last year went.

Also…every weekend some of the girls leave to go with their families on what is called “permiso”. The special little girl Lupe and her sister Anna left last Friday with her mother and they still have yet to return. My heart is heavy for them and I ask Oscar about them almost everyday. He said on Friday that he was going to attempt to go visit them and pick the girls up but he was unable to find them. Please be praying for my sweet little Lupe and Anna. It’s not the same here without them.

I know that many of you have been praying for me…I can feel them lifting me and holding me up. There have been a couple of rough days through this past week…but God has been good…and has been close; closer than ever since stepping into a relationship with him almost two years ago. We went to another ministry with some of the older girls last night called One by One and it was set up much like a middle school youth group…complete with flashing lights and awkward games. During the worship I was overcome with emotion of feeling God fill the room…much like at Blueridge on a Sunday in the Big Room…feeling God the same way there as I do at home. Made me miss you all…my Jesus family…but knowing that God is here too and he is looking more and more beautiful everyday.

I don’t even have to words to say how thankful I am to you all…my Jesus family…for your support in any form…I just love you all and my life will forever be changed because of your sacrifice.

As one of the girls here on campus loves to say “I love you forever.”

P.S. Funny story: I had a dream last night that I was a ninja and i was fighting people like in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon..and I was flying through the air to kick someone...and I totally kicked the wall in my room as hard as I can! My toes still hurt from it! Watch out people...I'm secretly a ninja!  

Sunday, June 10, 2012

It hasn’t officially been a week but we’ll just keep that little detail between you and I. 

Arriving to Nica was well…emotional on many ends. Sad I was leaving and to be honest a lot scared. Scared of nothing in particular just scared because I was about to land in a country where I didn’t speak their language and I was alone. I got to Nica about 4:30pm local time…which for EST was 6:30pm. I had been traveling a total of 12 hours and was exhausted.

Laura, who is the teams’ coordinator for House of Hope, picked me up and she drove me to my new casa. It was dark so most of the girls didn’t recognize me at first and I didn’t recognize too many of them. I spotted a familiar face and I wasn’t sure it was really who I thought it was until she ran into the main meeting room screaming “She’s here she’s here! My madrina is here!” At that point I knew it was my Lupe. Lupe is the little girl I wrote about my last day at House of Hope and how God chose her to show me his love. I scooped her up and gave her a big hug. I was so glad to see her here…safe. 

To be honest the first night was rough. Just being physically and emotionally exhausted and no way to call/text my people to just get a comforting word. Nothing. I felt the aloneness deep in those first few hours. After taking a shower to cool off because it was super hot, I had unpacked my supplies in attempt to feel grounded; I was ready to curl up with God. Oh just thinking about to how I felt Wednesday night brings me to tears. Not so much of the sadness I felt but just how God totally met me and was so close…answering my prayers in the days to come. I felt so alone but it was as if God sent his best caregivers to comfort me. He used letters and gifts I found in my bag and a dear friend’s voice on a playlist. Reading in his word that first night was so comforting but brought me to tears in a way I’ve never experienced. Thinking, “this is it God…I’m here…you better be too!” I wasn’t saying that in a “you better” kinda way it was more like a “oh Jesus I can’t feel you or see you so please come close!”

The next day I could feel that peace…that closeness that only God can bring. I’ve felt it before in the states…it’s just a little bit different here. You don’t have the distractions of life pulling close as well…it’s just me and God at night in my little 10’X10’ room. I wrote in my journal both Wednesday and Thursday and God had completely answered my heart’s cry from Wednesday.

I ended my entry with:
oh Jesus, I feel so scared and so alone. I so need you to come close. Need you to fill this emptiness I’ve never felt before. God please move into the spots that aren’t yours yet. Come Jesus. Come close.”

I began Thursday’s entry with thanking God for doing just that…not realizing what I wrote on Wednesday. He is so good to us. He loves us so well. I am so thankful that he choose many of you who are reading this to love me in supporting me. I can never thank you enough with words or deeds for your sacrifice. Know that I take that seriously and am encouraged by your obedience and sacrifice to support me during these next six months. I’m not just speaking of monetary sacrifice…there’s the prayers and the encouragement and hugs and love I feel so many miles away. It’s finding a letter tucked away for me to read…it’s hearing my friend’s voice on a quick call to the states encouraging me to be brave. I see and hear God in all of this.

With God I can be brave…with me I’m gonna run.
(My closest friends know that about me.)

There is a total of 22 girls…well…actually 23 now that live in the dorm. Oscar actually just picked up another girl he found with no family prostituting in a market. She is 13.  She has been here now about 2 hours.

God’s love in pursuit of us…of her…in the dirty noisy market.

There are also 9 women who live here with their families on campus now. A new mom came the day before I got here and she has three beautiful children.

These past few days have mainly been of me adjusting to Nica life and learning the ends and outs of the House of Hope. Adjusting to my new normal. A normal where I don’t speak the language and talk a lot in one word sentences and gestures. No one is sick as of yet and nothing major has happened to report…as of yet that is.

One funny story from Friday night: I was taking a shower and was just turning off the handle when the handle broke and the water flow got even stronger! I ran and found Grace, a summer intern, and explained to her I’m not sure what I did but the water won’t turn off. Oscar sent us to find the cistern and shut the water off on the entire campus. Yes, me, I caused the entire campus of House of Hope to have no water. That’s how I roll people. That was only on day 3 too…who knows what else I’m going to come up with!

God has been and is continuing to be close and to speak to my heart in ways I am not used to.  I know he has big things for these next six months. I can feel it deep. With growth comes pain and death of myself though…as most anyone would like to fast forward to change…I’m asking God to not let me miss anything he has for me. Even though I miss you all more deeply than my words can say here I know that this is of God and this is what he wants. Just kind of ironic to think about…this time last year I was writing how God was moving in me to make deep connections and roots with those that I call my close friends now…and look where he has me now. Growing my security in him…in those “Jesus roots”…in who I am as his child.

Oh! Another funny tid-bit of info: there are three interns total. Grace a summer intern who the kids call “loco” or “princess”.  Ashley another 6 month intern who the kids call “cowgirl”. And me…which I’m going by Ash, and the kids are calling me “beautiful”. Not sure how beautiful I really look in Nica dirt and sweat but hey I’ll take it. J

To my family and friends…know that I am praying for you. Praying for each of you to move towards God in radial ways. Radical doesn’t have to mean moving to a different country or anything like that…radical for God means being obedient to him when you have every reason not to be. Just do it friends. Move towards him. He is for your good…in your corner fighting for you. He loves you. I love you and miss you more deeply than I’d like to think about right now…so with that…go friend and love!