a letter from suzy
April 14, 2018
A joyous Easter season to all! May the resurrection hope and glory of Jesus Christ be ever present in our daily lives!
We baptized three children on Easter Sunday: Fani, Eskarlett and Jeison. I had been thinking that this year might be my last to lead the Holy Week services. Richard and Lariza Lemus, our Cuban missionaries, are in full swing at the children’s home, leading intercession and discipleship groups, counseling, teaching Sunday School, and alternating with me on the preaching schedule (Richard). However, I came down with something like the flu at the beginning of the week, and I missed all the services except Easter Sunday, which I attended as part of the congregation. Richard led the footwashing service on Maundy Thursday, the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday, and he also baptized the children. Easter Sunday was just as glorious from the congregation as it has been from the front of the church. It’s bittersweet to see the Lord raising up leadership in an area that I truly love, but already I am seeing that the Lemuses are His provision for growth and healing in the lives of our children and staff, so I am once again receiving the assurances of Jesus as I relinquish a large part of the role which has meant so much to me in recent years.
My home life requires a great deal of time of energy, too, so I am thankful that I can spend time with the seven children (Sallie, Elsa, Lucy, Elias, Sammy, Danny and Caleb) who are my treasures to raise and love. Mary and Lety are still at home as well. Mary is working as an English teacher at the children’s home. Lety helps me with driving and errands while attending high school on Saturdays. Sallie, Lucy, Sammy and Danny are all in school. Elsa is taking a break from formal school, but is always keeping me informed on current issues. Last Saturday we celebrated Elsa’s quinceanos! Fifteen years ago, four babies came into my life, and into the life of the Lamb Ministry, beginning with Baby Elsa, and out of that has grown our daycare, school, children’s home, and all that is related to those ministries. In fact, LAMB as most people know it today, began with Elsa, Sallie, Dennis and Dayana, all of whom are celebrating their 15th birthdays this year! Amazing!
At the children’s home, we received two newborn baby boys last September. Isaac and Daniel are chubby and happy! Isaac, who was discovered in a plastic bag, has some developmental delay, but we are confident that he will catch up with busy Daniel. My own Daniel’s miraculous recovery from extreme neglect until fifteen months of age is living testimony that God can heal, even when the doctors hold out little hope. Danny is in kindergarten now, and he is active, chatty, impetuous, affectionate, and quite bossy! He turned four in November. He and Lucy go to the same school. Lucy is in sixth grade! Sammy still goes to school with Mary at the children’s home pre-school. Although he is seven, he has language and learning difficulties, so he remains in an environment that is nurturing and also stimulating. Sallie attends a Christian private school. She is in ninth grade, and is my “spiritual child". She spends weekends at the children’s home so that she can participate in the prayer group, discipleship class, and praise band.
Elias Gonzales, who has been at the children’s home since he was three years old, came to live with us in early December. He is 16, and he has also had multiple challenges with learning and emotional difficulties. One day in December, I saw him walking down the road away from the children’s home. I stopped my car and asked him if he had permission to be where he was, and he said yes, but wasn’t very convincing. Carmen, his sister, was in the car with me, and we decided to turn around and investigate further. I called the children’s home, and they confirmed that he did not have permission. When we caught up with him, he had bought a Coke at one of the stores in the village, and was walking towards the children’s home. With some persuasion, he got into the car, and I asked him to tell me the truth. He said that a couple of his cabin buddies had talked him into sneaking out to buy a Coke. They gave him the money, but took none of the risk. Elias has always been easily influenced. Since I had heard a staff conversation shortly before that which mentioned the possibility of sending Elias to another center, I was concerned that this would be the final straw. So I took him home with me. I called our children’s home director, Arely, and asked her if I could keep him during school vacation, which had started a couple of weeks earlier. Elias had failed the school year (ninth grade), too, so he was in a critical moment. She gave me permission, a bit reluctantly, since he should have been punished, but I really felt that the Lord had put me in Elias’ path at that time and place. I believe strongly in Divine intervention, even something so specific and personal. I discovered that Elias has been on medication for a long time. I asked if we could investigate the possibility of taking him off the meds to see if he still needs them, as he seemed lethargic to me much of the time, even nodding off to sleep in the daytime. The children’s home staff helped me get an appointment with a state psychiatrist, and we began the long process of evaluation and weaning off meds. He is almost finished with one medication, and then we are going to start on the other. In the meantime, he started Saturday school (at Lety’s school), and although the beginning was a bit rocky, he has a tutor now and is doing fine. We have five Gonzales siblings (Carmen, Elias, Katy, Andrea and Abram) at the children’s home, and all of them are wonderful artists. Elias also loves music. Once he is really in motion with school, and free of medication, I hope to get him into a guitar class. Carmen spends weekends with us, so this has also been a time of reconnecting as siblings under the same roof.
Maybe you are seeing that we are a busy, complicated household! I have had to hire a tutor for Elias, who doubles as a caregiver for Caleb, and also another support person in the house to help with cleaning and Caleb. Caleb is only two, and Mary works six days/week, so when they moved home, it was necessary to beef up the childcare during school hours. I also turned the garage into a home for Mary, Caleb, Sammy and Sallie. That has freed up space in our house for the rest of us. In the process of building and furnishing Mary’s house, I realized how OLD most of our beds are! Ugh. I have replaced some of them. I guess you all know how much furniture costs, but I have found some good deals. I have really felt the wind of the Spirit under my wings as I have gone about these practical tasks for our family. Thanks to all of you for your continued support, as I would not have been able to do any of this without help.
I will close with a mention of something that is happening in our ministry, now that I have sort of caught you up on our family news. As many of you know, Honduras is in the throes of a developing dictatorship. While there is no money for hospitals or schools, millions are being spent on military, police, arms and prisons. There are many political prisoners. Demonstrations have continued, off and on, but the opposition is divided, and the Congress has a majority with the “president,” so there is enough momentum to keep prices rising and the people oppressed. Our ministry works with the most vulnerable of the Honduran population, so we have been bombarded with requests for employment, food, education, etc. Our ministry in Flor del Campo deals directly with the worst symptoms of the deteriorating social structure, especially with gangs and extortion. Yesterday, a young girl who attended our school a couple of years ago was murdered. Her name was Genesis. She was 16. She had gotten involved with selling drugs as part of the gang “18,” and had transferred to a very large public high school. Many young girls in inner city neighborhoods have a no-win option if a gang wants to incorporate them into their activities. If they say no, they are killed. If they say yes, they are eventually killed. Since Genesis’ murder yesterday, several of us have been talking about a companion ministry to the Alonzo Movement, which has been reaching out to both boys and girls for nine years, but which is heavily populated by boys. The leaders have always been men, with a few female volunteers. We will soon have a meeting in Flor to talk and pray about opening a companion ministry which would be for girls only, so that they can be freer to share with us their challenges and needs. Femicides are very high in Honduras. Young girls are extremely vulnerable to every kind of predator. Please pray that we can come alongside them in a stronger, deeper way than we have been, so that they do not fall prey to others who seek to use them for their own ends. We will be recruiting Spirit-filled women to lead this new ministry, as only Jesus can make us as courageous and faith-filled as David facing Goliath.
This has been a long letter, and it is really only the tip of the iceberg! Thank you for reading it. Thank you for keeping us going with your prayers and financial support. Bless you for believing, with us, that all things are possible with God.
Much love to all.