Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Glimpses of Honduras

While in Honduras with Compassion, there was something that I noticed right away about the children attending the Compassion programs...

Even though their home environments were unlike any we'd ever seen or experienced...

Children living in shacks built along landfills...

Homes without running water...

Barefooted babies and toddlers running around barefoot in garbage stewn neighborhoods...

The children supported by Compassion were not only smiling and laughing, with bright and happy faces... but they were also very clean and well kept.

Along with everything else, Compassion helps the children learn the importance of hygiene, and many times, we could tell which children were Compassion kids simply by how squeaky clean they were.

Compassion leaves no stone unturned in their holistic approach to breaking the cycle of poverty.

I've tried hard to teach the importance of hygiene to my kids, and still they grumble... "What do you mean I have to wash my hands, I washed them last week!" (Seriously. Seriously!)

Not these kids!

They were thankful for the opportunity.
Friday, July 23, 2010


I met a new friend while I was in Honduras. Her name is Rebecca, and she's a fellow Compassion Advocate. I have enjoyed getting to know her over the last few weeks. I love her heart, and I am excited about what God is doing in her life. She reminds me of my best friend Tia.

She just wrote a post that really touched my heart. I pray it touches yours too.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thank you, Gracias, Merci.

So hard to believe that I am home and so far away from where a part of my heart still beats...

It seems like just yesterday, I was playing with this sweet little girl...

And hanging out with this little guy...

Witnessing the extreme poverty that creeps into communities...

...and threatens the spirit of His precious lambs.

I have photos of kitchens inthe homes we saw...

...But none of bathrooms, for there were none.

My feet long to be on the dirt floor of their homes...

...face to face with those most precious to Him

I miss the people of Honduras.

The end of my time in Honduras only signaled the beginning...

I'm hungry for my heart to be broken even more.

What now?

What will I do with what God has shown me?

How will it change my life?

How will it change how I live the Gospel?

How will He use me to make a difference?

Now that I know, I am responsible.

I am responsible.

To carry their stories, to give of myself, to make a difference in this world... for Him.

To never forget these places... these faces.

There will be more stories to share from my time in Honduras, as my heart continues to reflect upon what the gospel now looks like to me in terms of what we’re called to do for the least of these.

To my Compassion Honduras team, Advocates, Leaders, Honduran Friends & Guides... to friends and family...

While the rest of the stories settle and wait to be released, I want to take a moment to express my heartfelt gratitude for the support you have given me so abundantly in the months prior to the trip, the time spent in Honduras, and the weeks since. Your prayers, financial contributions, words of encouragement, your decision to sponsor children through Compassion, your commitment to writing to your sponsored children, your comments and emails, your prayers for my health, your love... your love of Christ... all had an important role in making this trip one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

Thank you! Gracias! Merci!

This is only the beginning. I’m hungry for more, on fire for more, challenged to continue to pursue Him to the ends of the earth.

I look forward to hearing how this experience has impacted your life, and about your own journey as you follow Him to where ever He calls you, where ever He leads.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Glimpses of Honduras

One way that Compassion helps families become self-sufficient financially is by providing Compassion assisted children and families with trade skills that can be used to generate an income. A few examples? Woodworking, leather working, shoe making... or sewing!

(Sewing classroom, Pueblo Nuevos, HO-311)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Glimpses of Honduras

In addition to helping with school fees, supplies, uniforms and shoes when necessary, Compassion provides extra-curricular tutoring to children in the Compassion programs.

This is a small classroom I saw at the first project we visited, in the village of Pueblo Nuevos (HO311). There's something so warm and inviting about this classroom, I love the way the daylight softly falls on the walls from the window up above.

I kept closing my eyes and seeing it full of children eager to learn and stretch their minds to their dreams.

Can you see those children in your minds too? Can you hear them?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Timely Provision

As a Canadian, I don't bat an eyelash when I hear of temperatures dropping to the freezing point. It's pretty typical for the temps in our corner of the world to go further below the freezing point than it ever reaches above it. Summers are mild, winters are ridiculous -- that's life in Canada.

One of the first questions that is communicated back and forth between our family and our sponsored children's families are weather related... it's something we all have in common, and something we're curious about when it comes to other countries. It's a conversation starter, it breaks the ice, so to speak.

Last week, I received a letter from Lizbeth's family in Bolivia. Her mother, Sonia, explained that as of April, it was very "hot!" in Bolivia. I grinned... I had just returned from Honduras, and from what I understand, Honduras is not quite as hot as Bolivia. If it was "very hot" in Honduras for us Canadians, and it seemed mild to the locals... I can't even imagine what someone from Bolivia would consider "Hot!". Perhaps to us Canadians, it would classify as "lava activity?" Would they find our low 70's summer temps "cold"?

I didn't give it much thought until this morning, when I happened to glance at CNN's news headlines, one of which immediately concerned me:

"Cold Temps Cause Deaths in Bolivia"

(CNN) -- An intense cold front in southern Latin America continues to blanket the region, causing deaths, school and highway closures, and other woes.

A total of 18 people have died in Bolivia as a direct or indirect consequence of low temperatures, the Peruvian state-run Andina news agency reported. The deaths were spread out throughout the country.

On Monday, Bolivian officials said temperatures in the major city of Santa Cruz de la Sierra would reach 3 C (37 F), the lowest in 29 years, and in other regions the mercury dropped below freezing, Andina reported.

As a precaution, Bolivian authorities canceled school from Monday to Wednesday, the official Bolivian news agency ABI reported.

I immediately thought of Lizbeth, her family, and all the Compassion families in Bolivia living in extreme poverty. Would they have the resources to keep their families warm during this unseasonably cold weather? Were they safe?

All morning, I prayed for Lizbeth's family, praying for God to provide a way to keep them warm.

Little did I know that God had answered my prayer months ago... in MARCH!

I learned about His provision early this afternoon when I received another letter in the mail from Lizbeth's family.

When I read the letter and saw the photo that accompanied it, I knew it was His way of saying "I Have Already Provided". It was a letter thanking us for the family gift we had sent to them back in March in order to provide for the most urgent needs of the entire family, above and beyond the needs covered by sponsorship. They explained that they had bought items that they really needed, the majority of which was:

Clothes and blankets.

At the supplies store in Bolivia... Lizbeth, her twin sister Lizzie, and their mother Sonia.

When God prompted me to give in March, I had no idea that this is what He had in mind, I didn't know what their needs were, or what their needs would be.

I didn't need to know...

... I just needed to trust and obey.

Hard not to trust a God who answers prayers before you even bring them to Him!

If you'd like more information on providing a family gift to your sponsored child's family, please consult your country's Compassion Office for more information, or click here:



For more information on what your contribution will provide depending on the country your child lives in, check out this awesome link -- Country Specific Gift Giving and Letter Writing Info
Click on the appropriate country, and then click on the bottom right hand side link "View Letter Writing and Gift Giving Tips". Did you know, for example, that in Bolivia, a $100 family gift can buy a bicycle, a cow or a sewing machine? The bicycle can provide transportation, the cow can provide milk and income, and the sewing machine can provided a way for the family to increase their income.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Not Afraid To Squeak Up!

My heart knows nothing quite like being a witness to the passionate prayers of another Christian... it stirs my heart in ways I struggle to describe.

I didn't grow up in an evangelical church / household and as such, prayers were rarely heard out loud and even reading the Bible was not openly practiced nor encouraged. This left me feeling as though spirituality was something privately shared between an individual and God, and to be honest, it left me with more questions than answers.

Years later when I began to see people praying out loud, I was surprised. People did this? And not just out of a book or a text in front of the church?

I fell in love with hearing others pray, especially my friend Michelle, with her prayers so tender, eloquently simple and beautiful. Being witness to someone's prayer seems like an intimate glimpse into their passionate love for Christ, and it often left me feeling overwhelmed but also in awe.

Even though I loved to hear others pray out loud, I dreaded being asked to do the same. I felt completely inadequate! Up to that point, my prayer life took the most direct path, from my heart to God's. I was quite comfortable with the status quo, feeling free to pray intensely, gently, joyfully, tearfully, gently, brokenly and every way in between, every prayer wrapped in passion and love for the Lord who would receive those prayers. Sometimes my prayers were felt, prayers I couldn't describe or put words to. I knew that regardless of how I prayed, God would stand in the gap of whatever I failed to express... that even without words, He would hear what my heart brought to Him.

I felt it wouldn't be the same if I prayed in front of someone else, someone who'd simply hear my meager words and offerings for Him. My gift is for the written word; speaking comes less naturally. Someone may be disappointed by the little I had to offer when they asked me to speak up. It felt more like a stage than an altar when prayer had an audience of more than One, and that left me very uncomfortable.

Then last November while visiting with two of my best friends, Tia and Elizabeth, Tia asked me to pray out loud with her. I knew this was important to her, so I braved it and did the best I could. She took it a step further and encouraged me to continue doing so daily. She has heard me pray countless times since and keeps encouraging me.

Tia's lessons reminded me of a gift I'd been given long ago. Elizabeth had prayed out loud for me back on February 18th, 2005, at a time of critical need. It was one of the very few things I remembered from being in the hospital that week, and it left an indelible imprint on my heart. Beyond that, her prayers had led to an unforgettable and humanly inexplicable healing that very night. What if she had not been willing to pray out loud? What if my reluctance to pray out loud robbed someone else of the same gift she had given me?

God brought it all together in His perfect time. Our week in Honduras was filled with prayer time and I knew that praying out loud would be inevitable. Still, in the presence of those whose prayers seemed like a sacred spiritual symphony, I felt as though mine were meager and weak. I'll never forget holding hands with Damary and Maria while Bessy and I listened to their powerful, passionate, intense time of prayer, and feeling as though I had been witness to a sacred, intimate moment between these women and God... which both left me in awe and unsure of my own prayers.

Why couldn't I pray out loud the same way I pray when it's just Jesus and I? Why won't the words and the passion flow the same way they're felt? Is that an indication of my prayer life, my faith and my relationship with God? The enemy wanted nothing more than to let the doubt creep in.

Not wanting the enemy to continue to whisper this uncertainty to me and to take away from my time with the people of Honduras, I came home asking myself "what should a prayer sound like, look like, feel like?" It wasn't about learning to pray exactly like them, or being "good enough", it was about understanding what God expected from me personally. I've spent the last few weeks seeking answers and refocusing on what prayer means to me.

Prayer means conversation -- it isn't necessarily something one sided! Imagine your child coming to you, pouring their heart out in a passionate prayer of gratefulness and of heartfelt cries, and not being given the opportunity to respond to your child? Imagine how God feels when we do this!? What if it's not that God isn't responding to our prayers, it's that we're getting in the way of His attempts to respond to us? Are we truly listening to Him?

Prayers shouldn't be put in a box, forced into a peg hole, nor are they one size fits all. They are unique to the individual, to the circumstances, to the emotion, and to the relationship between God and the person praying. If a certain level of prayer had to be attained in order for God to take note of our prayers, if prayers were measured and put on a scale... we'd all be in serious trouble because the responses may be pro-rated in accordance with our proficiency. What a fine mess that would be. In reality, God hears them all, from the unabashed prayer of a young child to the bold prayers for the "sun to stand still" (Joshua 10:12)... from the awkward and simple prayers of the inexperienced to the intense and passionate prayer of the broken hearted... the quiet prayerful meditation spent in silence.... even the prayers without words.

What the enemy wanted to steal from me, he inadvertently made stronger through this introspective experience. Does he realize how counterproductive that is for him? Shhhh!

Whether out loud or inaudible, prayer is as personal and individual as we are.

In the wise words of my friend Tia:

"When God created the mouse, He didn't expect it to roar like a lion... and when He created the lion, He didn't expect it to squeak like a mouse."

It's perfectly OK if I feel more like a mouse when I pray out loud than a majestic lion... I'm going to speak squeak up and pray as He created me to.

In the end, what matters to Him is that I continue to pray intentionally from the heart in a way that's personal and meaningful, and that I grow in my prayer life, always giving Him my best and never settling for just squeaking by.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Sponsorship Changes... Hair Color?

After having received a raise a few years ago, I found myself looking through the Compassion website for another child to sponsor.

Photo after photo, dark haired children with gorgeous brown eyes stared back, hopeful. Then, the unexpected. I stumbled upon the profile of little girl with a mop of reddish curls, and I was captivated. I was married to a redhead with a mop of curls, and our daughter has a hint of red in her hair. She'd fit right in with out family!

Shaking my head, I thought to myself that it seemed so silly to pick a child based on hair color. I kept looking, but image after image, all I could see in my heart was this little girl named Emily, from the country of Honduras, with tired eyes, a sweet grin and that coppery hair...

I showed her photo to my husband, saying "Look, she's just like you!" He grinned, shook his head, and gave me that "... are you seriously considering another sponsorship, we can't have them all, you know?!?" look. Even unspoken, it was a rhetorical question.

I showed her to the kids, and they agreed on how unusual it seemed, but how sweet and precious she was... and that we should sponsor her. It's in the genes, what can I say?!

After much prayer and consideration, we made the commitment to sponsor Emily. The relationship through the letters seemed extra special and so personal. Our families really connected, especially Emily's mom and I. It was great to see them thriving and getting to know them over time.

Then, the unexpected happened. The next photo update we received from Compassion was of Emily, with alert brown eyes, the same sweet face.... and dark brown hair!

We were baffled, but we could see that it was her, we would have recognized her face anywhere.

Sweet little Emily was no longer our little red headed curly top... she had grown into a beautiful brown haired beauty.

The letters continued, the love grew, and once more with the next photo, her hair darkened.

In January of this year, we were notified that Emily had left the Compassion program when her family became financially stable enough to move to another area not served by Compassion. We were so sad to say goodbye to the family we had grown to love so much, and yet encouraged by the hope the future held for this precious family.

I did my best to remind the children that the sponsorship helped her, no matter how long we had with her, and that we needed to pray that the impact we'd had would stretch through the years into her adulthood... just as the impact she'd had on us would last.

Still, it seemed hard to find closure.

Thankfully, God provides... He even provides closure.

He taught us a short while later that sponsorship HAD made an incredible impact on sweet little Emily beyond what we had realized.

We had proof already, but hadn't realized it.

Sponsorship changed her hair color.

Excuse me??

Emily's hair color was red due as a result of severe malnutrition. She was so nutritionally depleted that her hair color had turned to a coppery shade of red.

I thought of the kids and how miserable they are when they get a cold, or my own struggle with my health, but never has our hair color changed from our health issues. Imagine how unwell one must feel if their body is impacted to the point that their hair color changes? Jesus come quickly...

My heart broke, and yet, it couldn't help but rejoice... Although I had no idea when we chose her because of her hair color that this would end up being significant, God knew. God knew we'd never forget the impact we made and that we'd be encouraged to begin another sponsorship in Emily's place.

Emily has been, and always will be a beautiful reminder of the following:

That we can make a difference...

That something like hair color may seem silly, but to never underestimate the things God uses to catch our attention...

To not take our health for granted, and be grateful even when we don't feel well...

The harsh realities of poverty...

The importance of Compassion's program...

And the difference sponsorship makes.... even to one little girl's hair color.

Canadian? For sponsorship please click here, or email me at JD (at) beyondmeasure (dot) me.
For sponsorship from the U.S.A., here is the link to kids waiting for sponsors.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Know You're...

You know you're a Compassion Advocate/Sponsor when...

... the kids check the mailbox and call you at work in a panic, yelling "Something's wrong, there's nothing from Compassion today..."

... when your husband talks about "Office Space" with his buddies, you envision an office space in your home as a Compassion Corner for all the correspondence and advocacy stuff.

... previously mentioned husband's main concern is that he'll lose a percentage of his music studio to the Compassion correspondence binders that are accumulating alarmingly fast...

... to avoid that reality, previously mentioned husband has allowed for the computer desk upstairs to be turned into a Compassion Corner.

... your kids know that when you receive anything Compassion related in the mail, they must call you immediately.

... while praying for the children still waiting for sponsors on Compassion's website, you create a new online game to play -- memorizing the children's photos that appear four at at time on Compassion's sponsorship page, and clicking on the one whose name, country and info you can recall from memory... and then starting all over again with the next four. You win the game when you recognize and remember information for all four.

... when the opportunity to travel internationally comes up, the first thought you have is "Is this a developing country served by Compassion?"

... when someone asks how many children you have, you're tempted to respond by asking "do you mean just in Canada?"

... you carry photos of your Compassion children in your purse, and realize you don't have any of your biological kids... oops!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Proof of Answered Prayers

Five years' worth of letters and love, support and encouragement, prayers and praises... five years that had changed our lives completely.

I had always prayed we would someday meet any of the children we sponsor, and here we were, across from the one we had sponsored the longest. A mere twenty steps would close the gap and allow me to wrap my arms around her and tell her how much she is loved.

Our team was standing off to the side of the water park entrance, and the kids came in and stood off to the side across from us. I saw her as the children were brought in, but I was somewhat unsure at first. Although I knew it was her, it was hard to reconcile the solemn photos I had stared at for years with the radiantly sunny face I had a glimpse of that morning. The photos didn't do her justice, she was a stunningly beautiful young lady, so tall, so... real!

We were all beside ourselves with anticipation, it could tangibly be felt. What would this be like, would it be awkward or would it feel as though we'd known each other for years? Would they be shy or excited?

Once we were all ready, the leaders would call out one sponsor's name, and then the sponsor's child would be called and the child, along with a family member, someone from Compassion and a translator would join the sponsor. That meeting spot, the big blue star on the ground, that was the spot where prayers were answered.

When my name was called, I wandered over to the meeting spot and waited, and the world around me completely faded. A few more seconds, and I would be able to wrap my arms around this girl whose family we had prayed for and loved for over five years, this girl God had used to change my life...

The only thing missing was my mom, who sponsors Bessy with me... she would have loved to be there in that moment.

I've been compared to Tigger a few times, so I did my best to put the Tigger side of me into a virtual straightjacket so as not to overwhelm her... I gave her a big hug, hugged her mom and her Compassion rep, and we stepped off to the side to get to know each other a little in person.

After a bit of an introduction, I explained that I was here on behalf of both my mom and I, told them what had led me to Honduras, and how hard it had been to not let her know in advance that I was going to meet her. I recounted the story of how the sponsorship started, the day I first saw the photograph of a sweet and solemn three year old girl in a pink shirt, jean overalls and the longest, most beautiful pigtails. That's when I knew... that was our Bessy... and here she was, sitting beside me, with her mom across from me. What an amazing gift.

Her mother had heard the story in our letters, but it was worth recounting again, this time she could hear my voice, hear the emotion as I recalled what had joined our families together.

She told me how much she appreciated our letters, she felt the love we had for the Lord and for their family, and that it had really touched her heart to get to know us through our letters. She explained that Bessy was normally really shy, but she had been so excited about this trip she had been sick to her stomach from the anticipation.

I learned that they embarked on a bus the previous morning around 8am, and only arrived in the city around 6:30pm. It was hard to imagine the lengths they went through to share this day with me, I was so thankful for this precious gift.

Bessy gave me three crafts she had made at school for my mom and I, and I gave her a bathing suit to use for the day. I learned that she had never owned a bathing suit, never been swimming or been in a pool. She was ready to experience it all!!

We went and changed, found a table in the hut to put our stuff, and she and I ventured out into the pool. The weather was perfect, not too hot, perfect sun, perfect weather for a pool day.

Our translator, Daniel, was a lot of fun. He helped break the ice as we all played with a beachball. Bessy was a bit hesitant to venture out further in the pool at first, so she held my hand and we wandered off to explore the rest of the pool area. I loved that she held my hand, she held it so gently, but so full of trust. She didn't say much, but she was smiling from ear to ear, it was such a beautiful sight.

We talked, I asked a bunch of questions, she answered them, and once in a while would throw me a question. In no time, we got some quiet giggles, then a few hearty laughs. It sounded like heaven.

We took a break for lunch, and she was almost too excited to eat. I got to spend some more time with her mom, as well as with the Compassion rep. That's when I learned about her village's transformation from the church's Compassion program. I was in awe... I had no idea!

I also had a chance to talk to the Compassion Rep by herself when Bessy and her mother excused themselves to use the washroom. I told her a little more about my life, my story, my faith, and invited her to share it with Bessy's mom at a later time when the opportunity arose.

We had brought gifts for the children, as it was our only chance to bring something for them beyond what we could normally mail to them. I had brought a backpack filled with stuff for Bessy and her sister, Evelyn, as well as a suitcase full of stuff for them to bring back and give to the Compassion project.

The first thing I gave her was her Bible and her doll. She grabbed the doll, hugged her and a smile that rivaled the sun shone across her face... I looked at her mom, and her mom had tears in her eyes. I couldn't understand what Bessy was saying, so I asked the translator, and he explained that Bessy had always believed in God, but now she believed in miracles and answered prayers, she was holding the proof in her arms... Bessy's mom explained further by telling me that Bessy had prayed for a doll from the time she learned how to pray, and this was the very first doll she had received. An answer to prayer.

I tried to hold back the tears, but I'm not sure I succeeded. Eight years old... first doll... most toddlers in North America had more dolls than they knew what to do with. I knew this was different, that this child would appreciate her doll and take great care of her.

I showed her the rest of the things I brought for her, including a skipping rope that she had just told me she wanted, and a large box of Crayola Pip-Squeaks for her and her sister to share. Her mom was so excited as it would give her daughters many options for activities to keep them busy and give her some rest, especially the markers, which would lead to some quiet time. Apparently, her youngest daughter Evelyn is, shall we say "very rambunctious"? I understood -- some things are universal :)

Bessy's mom talked some more about the benefits of the Compassion program, beyond the entire community having been positively impacted by the departure of the gangs. When Bessy started to come to the project, she suffered from asthma and was very sick. In little time, her asthma symptoms completely disappeared. She was healthier than she'd ever been, and has been perfectly healthy since.

I learned that her younger sister, Evelyn, also has a sponsor. Her father is not a Christian, but he is a great father and loves his family very much. He was worried and called earlier that day to make sure that they'd gotten there safe, and that Bessy had finally gotten to meet me. So sweet. Evelyn was sad about not being able to come too, but was so happy for Bessy.

I was glad that the clothes I brought, including a smaller bathing suit, would fit both Bessy and Evelyn, that was a sweet surprise.

After a while, we headed back to the pool area to take advantage of some sun and some fun, and the rest of the day seemed to fly by. All too soon, it was time to wrap up the day, get changed, and gather up in the meeting area.

It was hard for my heart to feel heavy with sadness when it also felt so buoyed with joy. I had been so incredibly blessed. Still, I warned them that we had been told that it would be best for us not to cry, so as not to alarm the children or make them think that they'd done something wrong or that we were disappointed. Bessy's mom and I laughed, telling each other that there was little chance that the two of us wouldn't cry! Ahhh, no wonder we got along so well! :)

As we prepared to say goodbye, I asked Bessy's Mom and Maria, the Compassion rep, to each take a turn to pray out loud. I had expected the translator to translate, but he didn't, and I don't think he could have... it was a God-send, because the Holy Spirit translated it for me. I have never, ever witnessed a more passionate, spirit led, beautiful and awe-inspiring prayer... It was an experience that touched me profoundly and one I will never, ever forget. These women were prayer warriors, and I felt once more humbled to be in their presence. Powerful moment... words won't do it justice, it had to be experienced.

I asked Bessy what she'd like in her letters, and she asked if I could send her a photo of a bunny, maybe a white bunny if I could... and another Cinderella coloring book. I promised that I would try.

I walked side by side with her as we went back to the gate, carrying her backpack while she carried her doll, and with each step, we were closer to saying goodbye. After many hugs, photos and valiant attempts to hold back the tears, I told them how much I had appreciated the time God gave me with them, how much I appreciated the blessing of sponsoring this amazing little girl, and how blessed I felt to consider them all family. I told them I would continue to pray, especially for the salvation of Bessy's father, and they promised to pray for my husband as well. Another international powerhouse of prayer...

I managed to hold it together, I don't know how... especially when she blew me a kiss, and blew one while I photographed it for my mom.

All too soon, I found myself on the bus, completely in awe of the time He had given me to spend with them.

The doll wasn't the only proof of answered prayers.
Sunday, July 11, 2010

Honduras, Day Four

The plan for Day Four (aka Wednesday) was to visit the Mayan Ruins at Copan. Even though I would have preferred to do more project and home visits, I knew that a day of emotional rest would do some good and give us a chance to process much of what we had experienced so far. My main concern was doing a lot of walking in the heat, since I had been struggling physically all week with blood pressure issues, retaining fluids while trying to fight dehydration... it wasn't pretty. The pants I had packed wouldn't fit, and yet only a week ago, there was room to spare.

I woke up on Wednesday really not feeling well, but praying that the weather would remain mild and bring some relief from the heat... prayers answered. Off we went!

The Copan Ruins are amazing to see in person.... the photos don't do it justice. It was neat to see this small scale model, though, just before we entered the park itself and saw them in person. Gave it even more perspective.

I have to admit, my awe and wonder often stemmed from wondering how in the world they built temples of such magnitude in this kind of jungle heat, but I am Canadian, what can I say? :)

The tour guide we had was exceptional -- very informative, funny, engaging. He set a great pace, not too fast, not too slow.

He even pointed out things like giant poison ivy plants... and suggested we don't use them as toilet paper if we're out in the bush...

At the entrance, we were greeted by a handful of these colorful birds. They were so beautiful, and free to fly around.

Walking through the trails, we saw very interesting vegetation. Some of the fruits were pretty big. Imagine how that would feel if it landed on your head? Hmmmm....

The climb was steep...

Felt like we were being watched...

The trees were amazing. I can't even begin to imagine the tree/life rings on some of these...

The guide showed us the root systems for some of these trees, and how they wound their way through the ruins. Amazing.

I loved seeing even the "younger" trees, and how they would grow right in the midst of the temple areas, the roots working their way around the stones and stairs.

It seemed as though everywhere we looked, there were "hidden pictures" within the scene before us. Carvings and stairs blending into the surroundings at every turn.

These carvings were massive... I'm trying to imagine the artist who made them centuries ago, what that must have been like to witness.

It would have made more sense to bring a wide angle lens...

The size perspective can be felt in this photograph...

At each turn was yet another photographer's playground...

(Dwight Jones)

Dizzying heights.... beautiful view. But beware the dangers...

Once in a while, I gave my camera to one of the Honduran guys, you know, for proof that I was really there.

Once in a while, I took the opportunity to prove how silly and awesome our team leaders are... like Kayla!!

Further ahead, the tour guide allowed us to sit for a break while he gave us some more history of our surroundings.

I couldn't hear what he was saying, the ringing in my ears was louder than usual, and to be honest, the beauty that God of God's creation around us was far more captivating...

Loved to see the force of nature in the midst of our surroundings -- like this rock that was determined to push against the growth of this tree.

The fruits...

This was one of my favorite photographs from that day... Which came first, the tree or the stairs? Obviously the stairs... but I love how the tree accommodated them so beautifully.

Ever feel you're being watched? Oh yeah... discussed that already. Carry on...

We had seen this tree from the bottom of the valley... seeing the base so close was quite an experience, this photo doesn't do it justice in the least.

The view was breathtaking...

And perfect for photos... individual, or in very small groups... With twenty cameras pointing their way, a fall would have been very well documented :)

(Steph & Kayla, two of our fearless leaders...)

The grand stairs were being restored, but the tour guide took us to see them and explain what we were seeing. My thoughts were a million miles away... I struggled to connect with a place where such brutality existed so many years ago... human sacrifices? In my heart, there was only one I could focus on, His name was Jesus.

The guide took us to the ball court area, where the Mayans played with 7-10lb rocks to try to knock out the other team's parrot heads... Wild.

Such elaborate places... so beautiful.

I was impressed at how fast three hours passed... it seemed as though we were only there for barely an hour.

All too soon, it was time to say goodbye... to our guide, and to our feathered friend.

We had lunch at an outdoor cafe style pizzaeria, where I met this beautiful woman... the one I wrote about in this post... the one who reminded me of Jesus.

The quaint little town/village was charming, with it's toilet paper taxi making it's way through the cobblestone streets... only in Honduras.

Toilet paper is a precious commodity here, the taxi needed its own guards... What, you haven't heard of the Toilet Paper Patrol?

The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing little shops around this beautiful town.

I bought a few things to bring home... coffee, leather bracelets, carved wooden boxes, a scarf, and a handful of postcards. The vanilla (banilla!) was a great buy as well. After a quick stop at a local coffee shop (even though I don't drink coffee), I made my way back to the hotel to get some rest before the night's Leadership Development Program student presentation.

All in all... another perfect day in this beautiful country.