Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"A Grown-up Ministry": The Micah Project Fall Update

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"A Grown-up Ministry"

     It’s just after lunch on a Monday afternoon. We’ve finished our classes for the morning, which begin with a 7:30 devotional and end at noon every weekday. All of us pitch in to teach an aspect of our home-schooling program; I teach high school math and sciences. Lunch today was a hearty chicken and rice dish, which our cook Aida made from scratch earlier in the morning, and mounds of piping hot tortillas. Noon chores have been completed by the ten young men that live in the Micah house, and everyone is beginning their afternoon activities.

     A missionary named Barry Horst, who comes to the Micah House twice a week, is on our interior patio teaching carpentry skills to Hector, Jason and Nelson. Currently, they are building a closet to store our garbage cans, although this year they have built everything from bird houses to go-karts.

     There are creative juices flowing from our living room, where our art teacher Herman is teaching Cristofer, Edwin and Eduardo how to paint typical Honduran landscapes with oil paints. There is as much paint on their faces and arms as on their canvasses, but their paintings are beginning to take shape anyway!

     Four of our boys’ moms, Telma, Aleyda, Maria and Deisy, are in the library practicing their sewing skills as part of the new Micah mamas program. Each of them received a sewing machine as part of this ministry, and come to the Micah House three days a week to practice on them.

     Two street boys just came to the door, Jose Daniel and a boy we’ve never met named Jerson. We have been trying to get José Daniel into the Micah House for two years, but his addiction to yellow glue keeps him on the streets. Today, neither street kid is too high on glue fumes, and we invite them in for lunch. Afterwards, our spiritual life coordinator John Bell gives them haircuts on the patio, shearing off their matted hair with his clippers. Little did John know when he joined Micah last September, modeling the Christian life at Micah is as much about cutting (and de-lousing!) hair as it is about planning discipleship groups and Bible studies. He does both with grace and patience!

     Rebecca Bell has the most stressful job of the afternoon: fighting her way through Tegucigalpa’s chaotic traffic to take Wilmer, Hector, Miguel, Maycol, and Pedrito across the city to the home of Brian Silverio, a volunteer who is teaching them a form of martial arts called jeet kune do. Their soccer league has been cancelled for the last few weeks, so this has been a good way to get some energy out!

     Back here at the house, Marvincito just had a bit of a break-down…or blow-up, really…which is a fairly regular occurrence for this fifteen year old sixth grader as he struggles to put the habits of street life behind him. I distract him by having him file paperwork in my cabinet as I write this update at a table in my classroom. Strangely enough, this seems to have a calming effect on this intelligent but needy boy…maybe I should hire him as my secretary!

     I take a few minutes amidst the bustle of activity to check my email. We receive regular updates from the American embassy as to where the protestors are marching, which has happened daily since Honduras’ president was flown out of the country and into exile on June 28. I want to make sure that Becca doesn’t drive into a protest zone while taking the boys to their martial arts class. All is clear on her route, so I open a message from Marvin Morazán, who is studying music ministry in Costa Rica:

     “I had an incredibly blessed weekend this week! I was in southern Costa Rica sharing my testimony at a church. It was such a blessing to be able to share in the worship service and with the youth afterwards. I’m having so many incredible experiences and am growing so much. Thanks for everything… see ya’ and much love. One of your sons, Marvin.”

     I also take a moment to re-read an email that Jarvin, who is studying psychology in Costa Rica, sent to encourage the boys who are currently living in the Micah House:

“You might not believe me, but you all have the authority to act against the things in your lives that tempt you to make bad decisions. You can challenge yourselves to do good without depending on your leaders to force you; you can make good decisions on your own. God says that he has plans for each one of you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. This should give you the hope and the faith necessary to help change this sick society in which we live.”

     There’s something about today—about the electric buzz of energy in the Micah house as so many people are being served in so many ways, about the encouraging emails from our college students, about seeing John minister to the street kids right out on our patio—that, to quote Jarvin, gives me the hope and faith necessary to keep moving forward in ministry. Today makes me feel like the Micah Project has grown up. Ten years in, Micah has taken on a life of its own. It still takes creativity and a tremendous amount of energy, grit and prayer to keep all of our guys focused on their futures and our outreach ministries functioning, but, thanks to God’s direction and intervention, it happens successfully every single day.

     As we move closer to our tenth anniversary on January 8, we have begun a process to make sure that the Micah Project keeps maturing--keeps using the resources that God has given us in the best way possible in our next decade of ministry. As part of this process, we are engaging in strategic planning regarding our philosophy of ministry, the structure of our staff, the long-term usefulness of our facilities, and the structure of our board of directors. Though God has used the Micah Project to impact many lives in the last ten years, we feel that our ministry in Honduras is just beginning. There are still children wasting away on the streets, still single mothers unable to feed and educate their children, still young ones waiting to be mentored into the Christian leaders of Honduras. We want to do each of these things even better in our next decade than we did in our first!

     As this afternoon draws to a close and our dinner hour approaches, I leave my laptop and take a minute to walk through the Micah House, observing the different activities taking place in every room. I take a moment, while I help sweep up the sawdust from the just-finished carpentry class, to thank our heavenly Father for all of you who have supported us with your love, financial support and fervent prayers. God has used you to transform lives in Honduras, lives that are beginning to reach out and impact others as well.

     We ask that you continue to pray that God would prepare us for all that He has in store for the Micah Project in the next decade of ministry!

Su hermano en Cristo,
Michael Miller

Above: On October 23, Jo Bewley, the founder of the Micah mamas group, came to Honduras with her husband Bob to meet the moms! She had a chemotherapy treatment earlier in the week in Houston, but that did not stop her from coming to meet the ladies whose lives she has impacted. Here, they show off their creations to Mama Jo!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Weekly Prayer Requests


Dear Family and Friends, it is once again my privilege to bring you Micah's weekly prayer requests. In an (occasionally very stressful) instant, another week has come and gone. Now, as we look ahead to another week of insanity and joy, please join us in praying for:

*Our spiritual retreat this coming weekend.
- For both safety and peace between the guys as we travel.
- That the Lord would use this time to work in both the hearts of the guys and the staff. Please pray that our theme of repentance is brought home as we all confront and confess the sin in our lives. Also, please pray that as we come to fuller understanding of our own sinfulness, we will also come to a deeper knowledge of Christ's love in delivering us from sin.

*Tino Hernandez and Marvin Soto
- Please pray for these two college grads as Marvin looks for work in the U.S. while Tino searches for a job here in Honduras. Also, please keep all of the unemployed in Honduras and the U.S. in your prayers.

- For a good and focused end to the school year! Please pray that our teachers are able to get their grades finalized and submitted to the government on time and with a minimum of stress.

* Peace
- In Honduras. As the two political factions continue to talk, there have been reports of near-agreements, but nothing has been finalized. Please pray that the two factions are able to find consensus before the elections next month.
- In our neighborhood. As crime and drugs continue to sweep through our barrio, please pray for both our safety and that of our neighbors. Also, please pray that the people in our barrio will turn to Christ for hope and enjoyment instead of drugs and violence.
- In our home. Raising ten teenagers can be intense! Please pray for peace between the guys as well as patience and love from our staff.

*Michael Miller
- As the director, Michael deals with many of Micah's administrative details while also serving as its primary caregiver. Additionally, he frequently takes extra work upon himself to ensure that his staff is properly rested. Please pray that he is able to find enough time in order to relax and recharge. Also, please pray that we, the staff, are able to find ways to help lighten Michael's workload.

And now, PRAISES:
- For Jenna's health. After almost two weeks away from Micah with a bad case of Dengue Fever, Jenna is once again back at Micah! We are very happy to see her here again!
- For our visitors. Bob and Jo Bewley had a wonderful, although brief, visit (see Jo Bewely with the Micah Moms sewing group in the photo on the right)! Also, praise God that Melody Dunne had a safe trip down and is currently enjoying her week-long visit.
- For another week to enjoy the mercy and love of our God!

I simply cannot thank you, our supporters, enough for the opportunity that you provide us in being able to take part of this amazing ministry! Also, many thanks for your love for us and concern about the details of our lives. We hope to keep walking this road with you for many more years!

David Hawthorne

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Street Kid Spotlight: Rosa Yanet

In addition to the weekly prayer requests, another new feature we will be adding to our blog is the street kid spotlight.  Although a huge part of our ministry is focused on the guys we have living in the Micah Project, our heart and our prayers still go out to the ones who continue living on the streets.  A variety of factors have driven these children and teenagers from their homes to the rough life of the streets.  And more often than not, the addiction that they develop to inhaling industrial shoe glue keeps them there.  We hope that as you come to know their faces and their stories, you will lift them up faithfully in prayer before our Heavenly Father who loves them.

Our first spotlight falls blazingly on an incredible young lady named Rosa Yanet.  Rosa’s mom died when she was very young and Rosa never had the chance to know her.  She was raised by her father, though he did not take very good care of her.  Rosa is 15 years old, and has been living on the streets for many years now.  She dropped out of school after the second grade, and she doesn’t know how to read or write.

As one of very few girls living on the streets, one can only imagine the sort of life she has suffered.  She keeps her hair short and wears baggy clothes to fit in with the street boys that she hangs out with, and she has easily been mistaken for just another one of the boys.  Thankfully, many of the street boys have taken to protecting her and doing what they can to keep her safe.  Rosa comes on a weekly basis to street kid soccer, though she never plays because she worries that the boys play too rough and she would get hurt.  But she will happily sit on the bleachers and color pictures while the boys have their fun on the field.

Recently, Rosa joined the Micah Project on a couple of Saturday outings to local parks.  It was nice to see her not high on glue.  In fact, on Friday night when I invited her to come the next morning she motioned to her bottle of glue and said, “But I won’t bring this with me.  It’s rude to bring this if someone invites you somewhere.”  She was very pleasant and had fun riding bikes, playing in the swimming pool and kicking the soccer ball around.  It was wonderful to see her enjoying the simple fact of being a child… something she never really got to celebrate growing up.

At 15, Rosa is too old for many of the centers in Tegucigalpa, and since the Micah Project is a home for boys, there’s not much we can offer her either.  Our prayer for Rosa is that she would find a safe place to call home and that she would come to know the love of her Father in heaven, and live in the understanding that she is a beautiful princess in His eyes.  Please join with us in prayer for Rosa Yanet!



Jenna Miller

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekly Prayer Requests

Buenos Días,

Once again, I (David Hawthorne) am privileged to bring you, our friends and family, Micah's weekly prayer requests. This has been quite the week! While I was raising my support back home during the summer, I missed the action and swirl of Micah. Now that I'm here, I'm wondering why I was so eager to give up the peace and quiet of home! Micah is once again proving to be an exciting and exhausting ride. As I'm back in the midst of the turmoil, drama, laughter and raw emotions that is life here at Micah, all I can do is bow my head and pray for wisdom, compassion and endurance in order to meet the torrent of needs that arise from Micah life. Please join me in these prayers.

This week, please pray for:

-Jenna Miller, one of our missionaries, has been sick for over an entire week. On Sunday, we learned that she likely has Dengue Fever. Please pray for her convalescence and that she is soon able to get back on her feet.
- Hauner Amaya. Oscar's younger brother has had a lingering sore throat for almost a week. Please pray that the medicine we bought will help him and that he soon feels able to resume his normal routine.
- Cristofer. Last week he had a 103 degree fever and a very sore throat. Thankfully, the medicine he's taking seems to be working and he's once again out and about. Still, please pray that he continues to recover quickly.

*Upcoming Events
- This weekend, several of us are attended a fundraiser being help in our honor at a local school. The school is looking to promote awareness of homelessness and the plight of street kids as well as raise support for Micah. Please pray for our guys as this is an awesome opportunity for them to share their stories. Also, please pray that some people here in Tegucigalpa are able to learn more about the suffering that happens right here in their own city.
- In almost two weeks, we are taking the guys on a spiritual retreat with the theme of repentance. Please pray that everyone who goes is able to learn and grow. Also, recently, many of our young men have begun to confront the pain left by the horrors of their homes and street life. Please pray that the Lord is able to use this time to bring further healing into their lives.

*Upcoming visits.
- Both Melody Dunne and Bob and Jo Bewley are scheduled to visit within the next few weeks. Please pray that their visits go smoothly and well.

- Both Micah's Board of Directors and our staff are looking to create a five-year strategic plan for Micah. Please pray for us as we consider our vision for Micah's future.

-Please pray for both our own finances as well as all for those suffering in this slow economy - both here in Honduras and in the U.S.
-Please pray that Marvin Soto and Tino Hernandez are able to find work in the U.S. and Honduras, respectively. Both of these young men, alumni of our group home, graduated this May from Missouri Baptist University and have been looking work ever since then.

-Despite a joyous celebration Wednesday night as Honduras earned a placed in the 2010 World Cup, it remains a divided country. Please pray that a peaceful situation will be found, and that the international community will recognize the results of the upcoming national elections.

*Our Neighbors
-John Bell has been working with several young men from our neighbor who have been involved with local gangs. Please pray for two of these young men: for Eduardo as he continues drug rehab and for Hector Alejandro as he examines his future options after successfully completing drug rehab.

*And now, the good stuff: PRAISES AND THANKSGIVING!!
-That we were able to have a relaxing and safe weekend as Roger Figueroa and Marlon Castellones took the guys on a road trip while the remainder of Micah's staff relaxed. Also, praise the Lord that Michael's sermon at a local church went well!
-For Wednesday night's soccer victory. With so many months of tension and fear, the chance for unity and celebration was desperately needed!!
-That the past week was more stable for Micah. The anger of last week seems to have been expended and certain emotional issues are starting to be more appropriately handled.
-Continued stability in Honduras. For the past two weeks, the protests and tensions of the past summer seem to be fading. There is still no end in sight, but violence and anger seem to be on the decline.
-For Pedro Martinez's grades. He is currently studying college-level calculus and is doing quite well!

Many thanks to all of you for your financial, emotional and spiritual support. Thank you, everyone, for your faithfulness in walking this thrilling, exhausting, discouraging and rewarding path with us here at Micah.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

David Hawthorne

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why I was happy to see people running and screaming in the streets.

Dear friends and family,

After a total of six and a half months here with Micah, I (David Hawthorne) thought that I had figured out a few grounds rules about living in Tegus:
1. Don't run, yell or do something else to draw too much attention to yourself while in the streets. Creating a commotion can result in unwanted attention.
2. Don't expect to be able to freely roam Tegus at night. It can be fairly safe to make short trips, but long evening walks can leave you very vulnerable to being mugged.
3. Don't ever expect people to appreciate you for being a gringo.
So, imagine my own surprise this past Wednesday night to find myself running, soaking with sweat, half-way across Tegus at 9:00 PM, leaping and screaming, pumping my fist, exchanging high-fives and whoops with strangers and receiving hugs and cheers while the entire city poured into the streets. No, I hadn't suddenly lost my mind or become a national hero. No, Wednesday night, Honduras qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and the entire country was in a mood to celebrate!! To explain, please allow me to back up earlier into the evening.

Wednesday evening, while I ate dinner away from Micah, the U.S. soccer team was losing 2-1 to Costa Rica and time was rapidly waning. Honduras had defeated El Salvador earlier in the day and was temporarily in position to clinch a World Cup appearance. However, unless the U.S. was able to defeat or tie Costa Rica, Costa Rica would unseat Honduras and instead advance to the World Cup. As I climbed into a taxi for the ride home, both mine and the taxi driver's moods were gloomy. With less than two minutes left in the game, it appeared that Costa Rica, not Honduras, would be in the World Cup. However, as we drove through Tegus, people in bars and homes began yelling and screaming and a few cars began speeding while honking their horns. After a hurried conversation with some other taxi drivers and a phone call to Micah, we learned that with 15 seconds left, the U.S. had managed to score the tying goal, and that Honduras was going to South Africa and the World Cup!!

The taxi driver and I quickly lost focus of getting to Micah as we rocketed through the back roads of Tegus. He was hitting the horn over and over as I banged on the roof and yelled out the window. People poured out of buildings, yelling and cheering. A police car pulled up next to us and hit its lights - but rather than pulling us over, the police officers being honking their horn and turning their siren on and off, over and over again in celebration. Other police officers were in the streets hugging other people as children and teens ran by waving flags and soccer jerseys in the air. We eventually arrived at Micah, where I was almost knocked over by a wild combination of a high-five, hug, and chest-bump from Miguel. Some of our guys were running wildly in circles yelling. Others were simply standing there grinning. A few raided the kitchen, and with a cup, a spoon, an empty water jug, and a couple of pot lids, began to noisily lead some cheers and chants.

Soon, the guys were able to convince Michael to go let them go to the Boulevard Morazan, one of the largest streets in Tegus and located almost in the center of the city. That is how I found myself running through the streets of Tegus at night, yelling and screaming, desperately trying to keep up with our guys, stumbling over obstacles in the dark, pumping my fist in the air, leaping into the air and hearing hundreds of car horns as vehicles packed with celebrants sped up and down the streets, all while fireworks exploded overhead.

As we drew closer and closer to 'the Morazan,' the crowd became thicker and thicker and traffic almost stopped. On 'the Morazan,' thousands of people cheered, waved flags, whipped jerseys around and around over their heads, screamed, danced and chanted "Yes, they could!" or "Long Live Honduras!" Others even thanked Michael, John Bell, and I for being gringos and for how the U.S. had just helped Honduras!! Honestly, there are few words that can capture the scene there in the middle of Tegus. An entire city had poured out to wildly celebrate an event that had not happened in over 25 years! All I can do is ask you to imagine the most intense and heavily attended Superbowl party that you have ever attended and then expand that party over an entire mile. At 10:30, the party showed no signs of stopping. Even 24 hours later, an air of festivity still hung over the city as school was canceled and the president declared Thursday a holiday.

I know that the United States famous for its national disinterest in soccer. However, internationally, soccer is a matter of national pride and a chance to assert a nation's status, even when the nation lacks political power. In Honduras's case, it has just received the opportunity to hold its head up high in 2010 and remind the world that it is a sovereign nation that demands respect. For Hondurans, this is long overdue. Their last World Cup appearance was in 1982, and the chance to claim some respect is very welcome. Also, because soccer is such a weighty national matter, the joy and celebration of Wednesday night can easily be transferred into the political arena. As Honduras continues to swirl in the midst of an exhausting, terrifying, and polarizing political crisis, any glimmer of hope is welcome. Hopefully, the goodwill and joy of Wednesday night will carry over to the negotiating tables. Still, if not for anything else, Wednesday was an opportunity for the entire nation to forget about whether a neighbor was pro-Mel or pro-Micheletti and to just celebrate being Hondurans. We here are Micah are excited, not only because Honduras has something to celebrate, but also because the Lord was able to work to bring about hope, closer relations with our Honduran neighbors, and just a small measure of healing for the entire country. We are excited to see how our awesome God will use this event in the future of Honduras!
¡¡¡Viva Honduras and three cheers for our God!!!

Still dancing,
David Hawthorne

P.S. I apologize for the poor quality of our pictures, but all we had were camera phones with us on 'the Morazan!'

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weekly Prayer Requests


This week we are introducing a new feature that will become a regular item on our blog: prayer requests. We here at the Micah Project have been incredibly blessed to have a faithful group of friends and supporters who loyally visit, fund, inquire about, and pray for us. So, on our part, we want to try to help you all enter our lives a little more easily, while seeing and sharing some of our pains, hopes, sorrows and joys. Many thanks to all of our friends and family!!

This past week in Micah has been a week of rapidly changing ups and downs in our home. Many of the guys show progress and maturity, while others struggle to gain a foothold on that path. In Honduras, the two political factions have starting talking again, but still remained deadlocked. I (David Hawthorne) am settling into Micah life once again, but am still the "new kid on the block." So, in light of such a hilly week, please pray for:

* Juan Carlos.
On Sunday, we were saddened to hear that Juan Carlos had once again run away from drug rehab. The past year has been a year of struggle for Juan Carlos, and he recently decided that it would be best if he returned to Proyecto Victoria for another round of rehab. Three weeks into the program, he announced that he longer wished to continue and left. Pray that the Lord works in his heart and causes him to change the course of his future. Although we have reached the limit of our own ability to help Juan Carlos, there is still hope that the Lord will work in him. We love this young man, and we hope and pray that this happens.

* Health
- Jenna Miller, one of our missionaries, has not been feeling well. Please pray that she is able to get back on her feet soon.

- Roger, one of our group home supervisors. Recently, he suffered some kind of seizure in his sleep. The doctors say that all the tests are negative and that he simply needs to watch his stress level. Please pray, if there is something more serious here, that the doctors are able to diagnose it.

- In our home. Our guys that come off the streets or out of violent home situations often have a difficult time handling conflict. As we deal with the inevitable conflicts that arise in a group of teen boys, pray that conflict resolution will bring healing and maturity.

- In our neighborhood. Drug use and gang violence have drastically increased in our barrio over the past few years. Please pray that our Lord does something amazing and begins to change hearts and turn things around here. Pray that people are able to find jobs and that they will not turn to drugs and gang life for hope.

- In this country. Since June, Honduras has faced a rocky political situation which has disrupted normal life here. As of right now, the two factions are talking. Please pray that they continue talking and that they are able to find an amicable solution.

* End of the school year.
- Pray that we can finish the school year (the next three weeks!) well and with a lot of energy. Also, pray that we can establish a balanced and rich routine with the young men during the vacation period with an appropriate balance of rest and activity.

* An upcoming retreat. The last weekend in October, we are taking the guys on a spiritual retreat. This retreat, our theme is going to be repentance. Please pray that our guys are able to encounter God on the retreat even as they begin to work towards repentance and forgiveness.

*And, finally, PRAISES!!
- For Wilmer. Not only has he become one of the most stable and positive influences here in the house, but he is also doing well in school. He is currently receiving a 96% grade average. This is amazing for a young man who was just learning to read a year ago!

- Pedro Luis. This year, he is taking civics classes, which are considered some of the hardest in the Honduran curriculum. However, he is doing and passing his classes with ease. Thank God that he is succeeding!

Once again, many thanks to all of you for all of your support and concern!! We continue to pray that the Lord will use us as His servants here in Teguz, and that we will see His will done and His kingdom grow.

Lord have mercy,
David Hawthorne

Friday, October 9, 2009

Las "Micah Moms"

Near the beginning of 2008, Micah missionary Kamia Paul started a new program for the moms of several of the boys at Micah.  They have met together weekly and we have even hired some teachers to teach them new skills including sewing and jewelry-making.  Kamia would meet with them and talk about the Bible with them.  Now, although Kamia is no longer full-time at Micah, the work she began has continued to flourish as the mothers still come on a weekly basis to the Micah house to continue practicing the new things they have learned.  This week, I had the privilege to sit down with some of the members of our "Micah Moms" group and find out what it is that they enjoy about this group and get ideas for its future.  Here are some of their responses:
Maria is the single mother of Erick and Cristofer.  She has been a part of our "Micah Moms" group since it started about a year and a half ago.  She says, "It's good for us because we don't have professions.  It's nice to learn a skill so we can make things and sell them."  So far she has learned how to make purses, pillows, cushions, jewelry and clothing for her kids.
Yolanda is the mother of Jarvin, Darwin and Arle who have all been a part of the Micah family for many years.  When she first started learning to sew it was very difficult because she never learned how to read or write so she had a hard time making measurements to be able to make the things she wanted to make.  But she has overcome that fear and really enjoys making purses and earrings.  She hopes in the future to learn how to make shirts, skirts and new curtains for her house.  Her favorite part of the "Micah Moms" group is spending time with the new friends she has made, and together learning these new skills.
Telma is the mother of Josue David and Pedro Luis.  Since the group was formed a year and a half ago, she has learned how to make bags, pillows, aprons and dresses.  Usually her 10 year old daughter, Cindy Yahaira comes with her and helps out.  Telma is really happy to be learning this new skill so she can have something to offer.  She hopes to learn even more new things in the future!
Maycol's mom, Aleida, has really enjoyed learning to sew and make jewelry with the other Micah moms.  She even comes sometimes when the moms are not meeting to practice and improve her skills.  She has become a very good seamstress and makes clothes for her younger children.  She has good ideas for the future of the group too!

p.s. Edwin wants me to tell you that he also learned how to sew.  He is the newest member of the "Micah Moms"