Sunday, April 5, 2015

personal // gracia -- easter conference 2015

As some of you may know from us talking about it last year, the whole week of Easter is celebrated in Honduras. Mostly everyone is off from work and goes on some sort of vacation or on a trip to see family that lives further away. Within GCLA, we celebrate "Semana Santa" (Holy Week) with an annual Easter conference that takes place from Wednesday to Friday in San Pedro Sula. It concludes on Friday, as Good Friday is the major celebrated day of the week (rather than Resurrection Sunday, as it is for us back in the U.S.).

The annual conference is really big; it gathers together various people from the over 30 churches in the network. 
This year the conference was called "Gracia" (grace). We especially enjoyed talks about how God can work in our lives when we live in humility, about how there comes a point in every lost person's life that only grace can truly save them, and much more. Obviously, grace is an absolutely crucial topic for our faith.

While we could list out all of the things we did on our trip, we think it is more important to be real and honest about our week. Missionary life is far from perfect and sometimes would not even be described as good. Any missionary will tell you that your purpose in being here is God teaching you about all of the ugly in yourself just as much as it is you attempting to be the hands and feet. But sometimes we feel that people expect a lot of of us (and sometimes we even expect a lot of ourselves) and for that reason, we can easily get caught up in listing all of the things we did. It can often be a product of our U.S. "do, do, do" checklist mentality.

But we are broken. Yes, even especially missionaries. So not only did we celebrate that Christ is Risen, but this Easter we took extra time to take moments to introspectively look at all of the other blessings and examples of grace in our lives. We'd like to share those moments of blessing and thanksgiving with you.

1) When we traveled on Tuesday to San Pedro Sula, a dangerous city in Honduras, we had something unfortunate happen to us and were able to be taken advantage of because of the large amount of corruption that exists in Honduras with the government, police, people, etc.

But we clearly felt the hand of God protecting us every bit of the way. Also, we were never alone, and felt so loved on by the extended large family of Hondurans we were traveling with. Each moment of being with them was an extension of the love of Christ.

2) This year we did not have English translation like we did last year, but instead listened to and experienced every moment of the conference in Spanish. There were rapidly-spoken skits/plays, session talks that lasted at least 45 minutes each, and so many people to reconnect with from all over the various churches. Our brains were so exhausted at points, which the hot, HOT weather did not help.

But, quite literally by the grace of God, we were able to understand! We learned beautiful new songs that we actually understood the meaning of and could genuinely worship, rather than just trying to hum along. We pleasantly surprised many people as we were able to actually hold conversations with -- some that we hadn't seen since last year -- rather than just nod and smile, say hello, and say "I'm fine, how are you?". We took dozens of notes in a constructive meeting for all of the children's development centers (CDIs) and we are going home more educated -- even though it was all back and forth conversation in Spanish. God is so good!

3) We were busy and there was a lot more going on for us this year. We felt like it was not really a time of rest and "a week off", but actually a time where we would crawl into the bed at midnight and immediately fall asleep. There were times when we felt out of our element, not in control, and we were internally conflicted once again by cultural differences about various things. 

But, we spent some really good time with great friends, got to help out friends, and even help put on a birthday party. We felt more like we knew what was going on this time around, but more importantly we were able to accept that wherever our time was spent is not always our call. It's always a good stretching experience when you have to practice giving up control especially for us as North Americans.  I think that God could teach us all something about that.  

Happy Easter everyone! We hope that you end the holiday feeling just loved, cared for, taught, and guided by Christ as we did.   

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