I had a great time with my family while I was Stateside. I was there three weeks. I got to visit with my family and friends. I almost finished painting my barn. I just lack a small area and I ran out of paint. I got some paperwork finished that was pending. So for the most part it was a successful trip.
One part of the trip that I was looking forward to was a week at the beach. My long time friend/almost family, Robin, asked me and my girls and my mom to come stay at the beach with her for a week. It was Mother's Day weekend and so it just all worked out. I bought some books from Books a Million and loaded up my sunscreen, snacks, and etc and headed out.
We had a few mishaps before we got to the beach. I have long time friends that always let me borrow a car when I come home. For a missionary this is a huge blessing. I parked my borrowed car behind my friend's car and we were so excited about going, we all loaded up the car and hopped in. I should have moved the car. Because the car was so loaded we couldn't see behind us . We were mortified but we were determined to not let this ruin our trip. So we unloaded the back of the car so we could have a better view the rest of the trip, and put the extra stuff in a car that was coming later that night with one of my daughters. We picked up Robin's mom and off we went.
Our first stop was to get something to eat. The food was great we were all laughing and having a great time. We paid our bill and walked out. I was looking for my sunglasses in my bag and didn't see the cement ramp for wheelchairs and I struck the side of it with my newly painted pink toenails that were residing in my open toed sandals and I think I broke the third toe on my left foot. I was determined not to say anything. If it had of been my big toe, it might have been a little obivious, but I could handle throbs from that tiny member..
We got to the beach apartments and they were so gorgeous. The pool was right outside of the townhouse apartments we were staying in. We got unpacked and waited for the second wave of folks that were coming with the rest of our stuff. Thankfully we had a third wave, my daughter Sarah brought all the stuff down that we thought we had packed. Going to the beach is hard work. Robin is a caterer. She had so many fancy meals prepared for us. It was like having our own chef. She was amazing and had literally packed all that stuff just so that we all could be blessed.
We sat down for a moment after we got everything in its place and then I get this phone call from Honduras. Apparently the 15 year old mom that we took in in January that had the 5 month old baby decided to go AWOL over the fence and told the little girls that she was going to abandon the baby and was giving the baby to the mission for us to raise. She felt like Haley would take good care of her. It was night and the girls ran to tell Haley but it was not quick enough. She was gone. Haley called the police and did everything by the book. I thought the girl was doing great, but apparently the call of the world was stronger. The baby is now with defax waiting adoption.
I went out the first full day and it was amazing. The water in Destin was so clear and cold and the weather was mild. I came in after a few hours, and got in the pool when I get this phone call from Honduras. The judges are holding me responsible for the girl's disappearance. So I have to start making phone calls. Haley is running around in Honduras to different official offices so that I can talk to them. Finally, it is decided that though I am the responsible party, I am not responsible. It took a couple of days, but everything was fine.
Tuesday I am at the pool, and I get this phone call. Two more of our girls have run away. A 16 year old and a 14 year old. They acted like they were going up to the school, but just kept walking.
Haley is losing it at this point, (and rightly so)because she has no idea where they are. They took a short cut through the woods we found out later and walked to La Esperanza. One of the girls had been introduced to this family a couple of years prior as her family. It was not her family but the family of her deceased stepfather. Not the best choice. At the time we didn't know any of this. We just knew they were gone. I am trying to talk to officials and my GO phone got up and went. I had but 60 dollars on the account for one month, but they charged me data, and so I had no minutes, and so I was borrowing phones, and people were calling my girls who were sleeping in at their beach vacation time, and asking to speak to me. Even though the wanted to be helpful, they were not happy campers. I finally just prayed and asked the Lord to keep the girls safe and work this whole mess out. I was going to be in HOnduras in a few days. I was so frustrated and mortified that all this was going on with my girls.
I am a early riser by habit and not by choice. So I would go to the beach early and walk and read and swim. About the time I have had enough of the sun and am ready to go in, the other folks in the world are ready to come to the beach. Then late in the day I would go back out and stay until the sun set. The water was freezing, and I was wondering about the truth of reports of melting polar ice caps. Anyway, the weather was perfect. I would just leave my chairs out there for the day and bring them back in the evening because there are tons of signs that tell you that all items left on the beach are discarded without exception.
One night we all went to the movie and when we got home. Our kids are night owls and they were going back to the beach. It was late and so I asked them to grab my chairs. They said "No Problem". They forgot. The next morning I went out to the beach and peeked around the first beach condo and I thought I saw my where I left my chairs but at a distance they seemed to have a lime green color on them so I figured they weren't mine. As I got closer, I realized that they were lime green tags with hot yellow zip ties that declared to the world, "You messed up". Well I don't know why I was so embarrassed but I was. My mom and I reclaimed the chairs by plopping down in them. I tried to take the tags off but they were not budging. Mom and I laughed about it and just figured "Oh well", and started our reading fest.
A tanned guy with a huge scar about 2 inches wide that ran from one of his hips to his shoulder came to speak with us. He was the beach patroller that issues lime green tags. Normally the beach at that hour was empty, but today of course, it was full. He begins by telling us that we shouldn't have left the chairs, and if we left them again we will lose the chairs forever. Now if the lime green tags with shocking yellow zip ties weren't enough to get attention from folks strolling the beach the attendant with a huge scar drew the rest of the eyes on us. I wanted to ask, "What in the world happened to you?", but I was being nicely scolded. It was kind of a speech that you would here in a chapter of Beach Eitiquette for Dummies. Anyway, we said "Sorry, Sir it will never happen again". Folks lost interest in what was happening as he walked away. I pulled with everything and got the lime green tags off, but the hot yellow zip ties remain even now.
As I was sitting there thinking about the girls that had left the mission, I thought about my lime green tags. So many of us have stuff that happens in our life with our families and kids. It is kind of like the lime green tag that everybody for miles can see and say "They messed up". When really it isn't our fault. I thought that I had made all the arrangements for the girls and the chairs to be cared for and safely tucked away. Then you have the second wave where you get the lecture from the attention attracting scarred guy and everybody is all ears, and all you can do it say "I am sorry it happened". All the while you are thinking, "What could I have done differently?". Thankfully we have an advocate and He has the power to pull of the tag, but sometimes the hot yellow zip tag remains as a reminder of His grace in every situation. God knows what the problem is and everybody has a free choice with him. He says that no one can pluck you out of His hand, but he doesn't say you can't jump.
My girls jumped. All of them had left before but we allowed them back. We found the girls a few days after I got home.. Ben the school director came back from his vacation to help find the girls. One came back on her own and through a little investigative work from Ben Heath, (which sounds like a detective sort of name) he found the other girl. Even after they got home, they insisted they were going to leave to extended family, refusing all thoughts of being at the place they have called home for eleven years. During their interviews, they didn't have problems with the farm, except they didn't like to rake and do homework some other adolescent notions. The head of defax here just looked at them and gave them a tongue lashing about how blessed they were to have an home to rake and care for and a school to go to. She said that because of the problems they have made for themselves in the past and the poor example to the smaller girls, they would have to leave. She told them that this is not a game where you can come and go as you wish.
Three of the girls made the plan, two left, but unfortunately all three insisted that they still wanted to leave. All three have been tremendous during their time with us. They are the girls that all the teams remember because they are so "dynamic". That word comes from the word that is associated with dynamite and like the explosive you never really knew when they would go off. We have been with the officials this week and they say because their "families are not blood related or too young, they are not going there. Because the three insisted about leaving they will not be able to stay here. Please be praying. I know that God has a plan for them. I still hope that where ever they end up. I want to continue to be part of their lives. I thank you all for the prayers you have had over our girls. They are living at my house right now and they seemed resigned to what is going to happen. Pray that God will use this to help grow them up in the right direction. Pray that I will be able to accept what I don't understand.
Blessings, the Yellow Zip Tied Honduran MOM