Sunday, July 26, 2015


I returned from my sixth visit to Honduras a few days ago, and I've spent a lot of time since then grasping loosely for words. Like water, they slip through my fingers. And truly, it's been that way for almost a year.

I've been searching for the right way to describe everything I've experienced. I would love to craft a picture for you of the quaint community of Joconales, nestled an hour up a mountain on the border of Honduras and Guatemala. I'd love to introduce you to the people who work and pray tirelessly for your sponsored children, every day. I'd love to share the emotions we experienced on our final day in the country, as the children shared a special surprise with us.

(And don't worry, throughout subsequent posts, I will certainly try.)

But truly, how could my words (or even a photograph) ever do any of this justice?

What is it about this place? What exactly has threaded itself to my soul? What is it that draws me back?

In the last few years, over the course of several visits, Honduras has stolen my heart and become my home. All throughout the year, I dream of the day when my feet will touch Honduran soil again. I know I'm not the only one.

The homecoming begins for me in the airplane, of all places. Though there are many phases throughout the journey -- including all the preparation beforehand and the brisk navigation of Terminal D in the Miami airport -- it's the descent into Honduras that really ignites the stirring in my soul.

Flying into Honduras during the daylight is a delight. I love to watch the mountains grow before me, as rivers snake their way through clusters of palm trees and patchwork stretches of farmland. Even the sticky heat in the jetway feels familiar as I step off the plane. I remember the hallways in the airport as I make my way downstairs to Immigration. I revel in the sudden immersion into the Spanish language, as I read the signs and try to catch the conversations that are happening around me.

After my passport is stamped and I've grabbed a shaky hold of my bags, I drag them through customs (the worst part, always!), and check them against my receipts at baggage claim. Weighed down by my suitcases, I stagger into the lobby of the airport and I'm officially welcomed into my country.

That's when I really feel it.

That's when I know.

That's when I'm home.

There are many other moments that follow, and each one reminds me in a different way that I'm exactly where I'm meant to be.

When we pass by the empty parking lot at the Wonderland water park. When the Spanish language floods its way back into my mind and out of my mouth. When I brush my teeth with bottled water for the first time. When I wake up in the morning and see the mountains out my window and remember that no, this isn't a dream, and I'm really here!

My heart is filled to overflowing in these moments, just from the tiniest things. How good is our God to give us these pleasures in life?

And then there are the bigger things. These are the moments that etch themselves into my core and carry me throughout the year.

The first hug with my child. An overwhelmingly warm welcome at a project visit. A sweet reunion with a friend. Tears during a goodbye (or, in some cases, a hello). Hearing the passionate pleas of my friends in their prayers. Worshipping with absolute abandon. Driving through the mountains and admiring God's creation all around me. Seeing the love of Jesus in action. Feeling alive and in the very center of the will of Christ.

It almost hurts to remember the beauty in these moments, when I am here and not there, when I am left instead to guard the memories and tell the stories.

But the love, the heartache, and the sacrifices are always, always worth it.

And there is always more to come.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why "The Gringa Catracha"?

I'm back!

It's been over six months since my last post on my old blog, "Our Compassion Adventure." However, that's not for lack of trying. For some reason, something has stopped me from writing there, even though I tried (a lot).

To be honest, my philosophies of ministry and missions have shifted since I first began that blog. God has worked great things in my life as well as the lives of our children, but the focus of my blog felt somewhat limited to me.

Rather than editing my previous entries, I finally decided that it was time for a fresh start.

So, why "The Gringa Catracha"? What does that even mean?

A couple of years ago, our bus driver (of all people) initiated this nickname. People in Honduras have always been fascinated by how very white I am, and it was pretty common for at least one of our children to point at me, calling me "gringa." However, even though my skin is white, my heart is Honduran.

When explaining this sentiment to our bus driver, he laughed, nodded his head, and said, "oh, so you're the Gringa Catracha!" Gringa references my white skin, clearly, but "Catracha" references my Honduran heart. Literally, "The Gringa Catracha" means "The White Honduran."

The more I've thought about it, the more I've grown to love this name. It has become a way to quickly bridge the gap between me and my sponsored children, as well as their families. While it isn't the same as if I was born and raised and living in Honduras, something about the name always lowers inhibitions in others. It demonstrates my deep commitment not only to their children, but also to their country. Even the fact that I know what it means to be "Catracha" always makes them laugh! I'm not just coming once and leaving...rather, my heart is completely with my people in Honduras.

So, here I am. This new blog will still primarily focus on my adventures with Compassion International, but I don't want to only write about Compassion. I know that there will be many more adventures that will come my way in the coming months, and I'm thankful for the potential of a broader scope here.

I already have many stories to share, and I hope that you will join me!