Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Let us Dance for You: Julie Shares Her Heart


Many thanks to our friend and Manna sponsor, Julie Sorgenfrei, who joined the Manna team in June. In this blog post, Julie shares her heart and her experiences in meeting the Manna children.



One of my youth ministers in high school told us a story about elephants.  In some parts of the world when an elephant is just a baby its leg is chained to a tree or pole.  The elephant's first instinct is to pull away - to fight the chain and try to break free.  It completely resists being tied up.  The baby elephant soon learns though that no matter what it does, no matter how much it pulls or how badly it wants to get away, it's stuck.  Trapped.  A prisoner of the chain.  

The chain is traded out for a large rope and then a smaller one as the elephant grows.  Eventually a fully grown elephant can be kept in one place by a simple strand of twine.  The elephant is big and strong - it could break free of the twine simply by taking another step or two; by tugging a little bit.  It has learned its boundaries, though, and remembers the pain of trying to become free of the chain.   The elephant remembers that it didn't matter what it did - it could only go so far while being tied up.  By the time the twine is used, the elephant no longer resists... no longer fights.  Everything within the elephant tells it that it can't go any farther than the length of the twine or ever be free.  

Do you see that elephant in your mind?  I was given a piece of twine that day.  I taped it to my bathroom mirror and it remained there for years.  It was taken down when the bathroom was painted, but I still have that bit of twine.  We were encouraged by our youth minister to look at the twine and remember that we can feel like the elephant sometimes - hopeless, stuck, defeated.  We were then reminded that we are daughters and sons of the King.  We are all made in His image and He has ensured that we don't ever have to be prisoners.  When we feel hopeless, stuck, or defeated we can turn to God.

I'm telling you the story of the elephant because I am guilty of considering some of the people who live in communities like the ones Manna serve as being "trapped" - just like the elephant.  We might envision them as being defeated, discouraged, and hopeless.  Yes, they are poor in our eyes.  They face difficult things every day - things we can't fully comprehend.  Many of them go to bed hungry and wake up unsure of how they're going to afford their next meal.  Parents wonder if they'll be able to send their children to school or if their small harvest will be enough to sustain their family for the next several months.  I heard these stories, and many more, when I traveled to Honduras this past summer with Manna 4 Lempira.  The overwhelming message I received while there was one of faith, though.  The people in these communities love God and are filled with His hope.   I invite you to meet some of the precious people who live high in the mountains of Honduras.  



The first full day we were in Honduras we heard of a girl who is part of the Mercedes feeding center.  She hadn't come for her medical check-up that day because she had been burned when a pot of hot oil spilled while she was helping her mother cook.  Her arms, thigh, chest, and abdomen were covered in painful blisters.  Autumn, the team doctor, was able to acquire medicine for Sindy and she showed her how to take care of her burns the next day.  I spent over an hour with Sindy at her home on our second day at Mercedes.  She showed me the outdoor kitchen where she was burned and all of her animals.  Sindy dreams of being a veterinarian when she grows up and loves animals.  She showed me the hammock where she likes to sit and do her homework or pray, and the spot by the creek where she likes to spend time talking with her siblings.  Sindy is the youngest of 7 children and she is so treasured by her family.  Her parents were delighted when I asked to take a picture of them together and they took me to a beautiful rose bush by their home.  It made for a pretty background for their photo and they excitedly told me of how Sindy helps tend the roses.  We went back to their patio and I asked if I could pray for their family.  Sindy's mother, Maria, immediately started crying as she answered with an enthusiastic "yes!".    And oh, friends, when Hondurans pray, they PRAY.  I felt so close to God in that intimate time of prayer with this precious and faithful family.  As we were leaving to go back to the church Sindy asked me to wait for a moment.  She disappeared for a minute and then came back with two roses from the bush.  She gave one to her mother and one to me, thanking us for being beautiful examples of faith to her.  Sindy is a beautiful example of faith to me.



Sindy and I talked later about how unfortunate it was that she had been burned, but also how God showed up in big ways by providing a doctor for her when it happened.  She sweetly told me that she had been able to sleep the night before and hadn't had pain.  Sindy attributed her restful night to the many prayers being said for her by her family, the staff at the church, and our team.  The enormous faith of this 14 year old girl brought me to tears.  

There are so many examples of faith and joy that are just as beautiful.  I'm reminded of the ways that parents and grandparents looked at their children and delighted in them.  I remember how a sponsor taught her sweet girl how to swing - something this girl had never experienced before.  I can hear the laughter of my girls as they played on a see-saw for the first time.  It's the joy that fills you as you watch little girls receive their very first doll.  It's listening to a chorus of children singing about how marvelous God's love is.  It's sweet sisters who care for each other deeply and say "foto! foto!" every 2 minutes as you walk around the community.  They want to remember the day - remember what it felt like to be so completely happy and to spend valuable time together.



It's a little brother who steals the show at a home visit with his endearing personality.



It's two friends who share a bowl of rice and later take delight in spoonfuls of peanut butter.



There is joy found in never having empty hands while you're there - they're always filled with the small hands of sweet kids.  It's in finding my favorite flower at the hotel - a flower I didn't think could grow, much less thrive, in the climate of Honduras.  I am filled with glee as I watch the children at the feeding centers read their letters from their sponsors and smile.  They love all of you so dearly. 

I find a treasure in a small boy who is exploding with happiness.  I watch as he races through his home.  He literally explodes through a doorway and leaps down a few steps onto the porch.  We all laugh as we watch him do this several times, and he is clearly enjoying the attention.  He knows he is cherished and loved.  Then he drags his backpack over to me, the one Manna provided.  He pulls out his notebook and proudly shows me his homework.  I see a page where he's supposed to practice writing his name.  I ask if he will write it for me and at first he giggles a "no" and runs off.  A few minutes later, though, he sits down nearby and intently works on his writing.  I catch him smiling at us over and over - proud of his work and delighted by the praise he receives.


I look at the face of a precious little girl who wanted nothing to do with me the day before.  She's little, I'm a stranger, and I understood.  She slowly warmed up throughout the day and eventually she shyly came over and crawled in my lap.  Soon all I had to do was say her name, "Mariseeeelaaaaa", and she'd turn and laugh at me.  It's the next day now, and I'm finishing a visit to her home.  We pray with her family and start saying our goodbye's.  When I looked down at my sweet girl to give her one more hug, I saw tears welling up in her eyes.  Even the littlest understand how loved they are and how much they are prayed for. 



I see the face of God in a sweet little girl who is only 12 pounds.  Her mother brings her to the center to be registered and I think the whole team collectively lost their breath for a moment.  Daneliz is so tiny at almost three years old and I wondered how she had survived this long.  She has special needs and her mother is doing the best she can to take care of her beloved daughter.  A light fills the mom's eyes as our team doctor, Autumn, tells her of her own daughter's journey with special needs and shows her pictures.  Hope is found.  



Another moment that stands out in my memories from this summer happened while we were walking all over the mountains near the Mercedes feeding center to do home visits.  The girls were laughing as we walked through the streets and then they started twirling.  Oh, how my heart almost burst.  It was as if God was speaking right to my soul - "See My love, Julie?  The way you delight in them is the way I delight in you."  

video


It reminded me of lyrics from an old song:

"Let what we do in here
fill the streets out there.
Let us dance for You,
Let us dance for You."
- "Madly" by the Passion Band

The work that Manna 4 Lempira is doing is powerful and it is bringing hope to generations of Hondurans.  It is evident that the good work of the pastors and volunteers at the feeding centers is overflowing into the streets and homes of the communities they serve.  The children registered in the program are full of hope and have big dreams.  It's abundantly clear that God is in the hearts of the people there.  I am grateful for the privilege of being able to walk beside these families.

This verse is my prayer for you and the beautiful people of Honduras today.  May God bless you all abundantly.

"I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.  Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him.  Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong.  And may you have the power to understand how wide, how long, how high, and how deep His love is." - Ephesians 3:16-18


Thursday, March 3, 2016

How our Program Works!

Are you interested in sponsoring a child through Manna 4 Lempira?

Here are a few quick facts!


  • We operate in partnership with Sowers 4 Pastors to support the ministry of over 140 local churches in the mountains of western Honduras.
  • Sponsorship is $15 per month. It provides your sponsored child with 2 nutritious meals per week through the local church, school shoes, school supplies, discipleship, and other benefits throughout the year.
  • In addition, sponsorship provides 2 nutritious meals per week for up to 60 children in the general feeding program of 12,000 children at 140 churches in other parts of Lempira.
  • Our ministry page can be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/manna4lempira/
  • We have two programs: Mercedes and Mi Betania. Here is a little information about each program: 

  • Sponsors are able to build a relationship with their children through letter writing.


The first step is to choose your child from one of our albums of waiting children. Please follow these links to view children who are waiting for a sponsor:

Mi Betania Program: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.564391920377750.1073741843.493435070806769&type=3

Mercedes Program:  https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.493438780806398.1073741829.493435070806769&type=3

The next step is to contact page administrators Kim and Jonathan Hall via the Facebook Page or by email at kames1217@bellsouth.net with the name and the number of the child you are interested in sponsoring. After they confirm that the child is available for sponsorship, you should then set up payment through the Foundation for Missions https://foundationformissions.com/donate/donate-through-the-usa-office/

To make payment, click on the link above. Select "Donate to a Program or Project." After you enter your email address, options will pop up to enable you to set up donations weekly, monthly, every three months, or yearly! It is important that in the additional comments box, you write "Manna 4 Lempira, Sowers, Honduras" to ensure that funds are directed to our ministry!

Step 3 is to submit your mailing address and email to Kim and Jonathan for records. They will then send out your child's profile and high resolution photos. Here are a few examples of what you will receive!



The Final Step is to start writing! You will receive letters from your sponsored child via US mail, and your child will be hoping to hear from you! Here are our guidelines for correspondence. Letters are due on the 5th of the odd numbered months--January, March, May, etc. 

Special invitations to send packages and other treats will be announced via our page and by email. Periodically, you will receive extra photos of your child when teams visit with our missionary partners!


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How Manna 4 Lempira was born...

In 2013, God set it in our hearts to make a trip to Villa Verde, Honduras, to have a quinceanera party for a child that we sponsor through the ministry of Compassion International.

The problem was that Villa Verde was incredibly remote. How on earth would we get there? My husband and I did not want to travel for a one-day visit. We hoped to find a way to do other ministry work in or near that community.

We began to pray, and God led us to search for missionaries who worked out of the nearest town to the tiny village of Villa Verde--that is, Gracias. After talking with missionaries and exhausting options, we were dismayed to discover that no one seemed to know anything about our little village. Then, one day, I "googled" a search that I had done many times, but somehow, I got different results! Sowers 4 Pastors was a ministry that worked out of Gracias. I sent an email and prayed that God had really provided us with a perfect answer.

Allen Sowers called and spoke with my husband Jonathan, and it became clear after that conversation that God had led us into His perfect plan for our time in Honduras. Not only did Allen know about Villa Verde, but he could see it from his front porch! He had even built a portion of the church we were hoping to visit and provided meals for the children there. We began to plan a trip with the Sowers ministry for July of 2013.

We learned a lot on that trip. The Sowers were so gracious to us! It was clear that we were new to mission work. It became clear that construction was not our talent. We blundered around and helped paint and repair the adobe walls of the little church in Villa Verde. We helped run a poorly organized VBS for about 250 children. Most importantly, we felt God planting a strong love for Honduras and its people in our hearts. We had no idea what we were doing, but we felt God's leading to keep working in Honduras.

In 2014, we hoped to return to Honduras with the Sowers and work in the same community. This time, we hoped to learn more about the Sowers ministry. The little church in Villa Verde was just one of 1,000 churches in rural Honduras that the Sowers work with. They also operate 140 feeding centers through some of those churches, providing two nutritious meals a week for children who come to bi-weekly Bible studies. We had seen little of this ministry in 2013.

On the first full day of our trip in May of 2014, we got in Allen's Land Cruiser and traveled about an hour on the pavement outside of Gracias. From there, we spent about 45 minutes crossing the mountains on rough, steep mountain roads to visit one of the other churches served by Allen and his family in a little village called Mercedes.

The Sowers had helped this church design and construct its building. They had often brought medical and dental teams to serve the people. We were there to see how the feeding program for children worked.

It was a wonderful day as we met many of the children who are served meals at the church 2 times per week. Every child seemed so genuinely thankful for the bowl of vitamin-enriched rice that they received. Even though we only spent a half-day at Mercedes, we did not forget the children once we returned home...

And out of our memories of the beautiful, hungry little children in Mercedes, the idea for Manna 4 Lempira was born. Mercedes was just one of 140 churches feeding hungry little ones in rural Honduras. Those 200 children were just a few of the more than 12,000 children that are fed through the ministry of Sowers 4 Pastors. We wanted to do something to support this ministry, to provide funds to feed these children.

God had been teaching me for some time, through other sponsorships and ministries, about how to develop a sponsorship ministry. I talked with Allen Sowers, and we agreed to try out a small program at the Mercedes feeding center.

We would register 150 children to start with, and as God blessed, add more. The fee for sponsorship would be $15 per month. $10 would help pay for the food for all 140 feeding centers, and $5 per month would go directly for the benefit of the sponsored children. In addition to food, the lucky 150 children would be able to have school shoes, school supplies, and other much needed assistance. At the same time, the food for the other 12,000 children being fed through the Sowers' ministry would be paid for!

The rest is history. In faith, we registered 150 children one morning in July 2015. I came home and started working on typing child profiles, setting up a sponsorship page, and posting photos. God blessed in such an amazing way! We had such a wonderful response that 75 more children were registered in the program, and as of today, 178 children in our program have been sponsored. We are even considering partnering with another small church to begin a second Manna Project!

And why Manna? Our name comes from exodus 16, where God provided His people with food in the wilderness. When they were hungry, God said, "I will rain down heaven for you." (Exodus 16:4).

Filling hungry bellies is only part of our ministry. We also want to provide them with a much greater gift. In John 6, Jesus speaks to the Jews and says, "I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Through meeting the physical needs of the children and by connecting them with sponsors who can provide emotional support, we hope to open a door to meet their spiritual need for Christ. Children who are hungry, needy, and abused have a hard time believing in the love of God. As needs are met and as God's people demonstrate His love in tangible ways, children's eyes begin to be opened to the truth of the Gospel.

As a sponsor with Manna 4 Lempira, you are an ambassador for Christ in the life of a child who is desperate for hope!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Welcome to Manna 4 Lempira!

We are a small sponsorship organization working in partnership with the Sowers 4 Pastors Missionaries in the department of Lempira, Honduras.

The Sowers are missionaries whose primary goal is to assist and equip the Honduran pastors who are evangelizing the mountain people of western Honduras by planting churches and discipling the new believers. They operate a meal program to battle malnutrition in over 100 churches across Lempira, serving more than 12,000 children 2 nutritious meals per week.


One of these meal programs is operated out of the Mercedes Congregational Church. This church serves more than 300 children two nutritious meals per week as they attend Bible class. 

Our children live in the small mountain village of Mercedes. Mercedes is a small community in the Department of Lempira, Honduras. It is located 12 miles from the main road through Las Flores, on the slopes of Celaque, the highest mountain in Honduras. Some of the children walk an hour or more from their homes to receive meals and attend Bible class.

Most people in this community are employed as seasonal field laborers, planting and harvesting coffee. During the harvest months, workers can earn about $20 per day. The harvest season lasts between 2 and 3 months. The income earned is the only cash incomes most families have for the year. They supplement their food supply by farming.

Children in Mercedes face many challenges. Insufficient shelter, food, clothing, and medical care are common. Children who are able to attend the local public schools struggle to afford the required uniforms and school supplies. Many young people drop out of school after 6th grade to work in order to help support the family. Common health problems include parasitic infestations, asthma, respiratory illnesses, and malnutrition.

Your support will provide your sponsored child with two meals each week, provided through the ministry of Sowers 4 Pastors to your child’s church. Your child will receive school supplies, two pair of shoes, and Bible teaching. In addition, your support will supply 2 meals per week for 60 other children in the Sowers feeding programs in other parts of Lempira.

Child photos and profiles will be updated once yearly, with periodic photos as teams visit the feeding center.

The cost of sponsorship is $15 per month per child. To view children who are waiting for sponsors, please visit:


To sponsor, contact Kim at kames1217@bellsouth.net

OR 

send a message through the Manna 4 Lempira Facebook page 
referencing the number of the child you are interested in supporting. 

Please do not make a payment for a child without first sending a message to confirm that the child is available. 

To make a sponsorship payment:


ALL Donations are tax deductible!

Mail a check:
Make payable to:
The Foundation
PO Box 560233, Orlando, FL
32856-0233 USA.

For online and payments by check, please include a note that says:

“Sowers Family Honduras Child Sponsorship, Child number ________.”

Please remember that you are also able to support your child by writing him or her encouraging letters. For information about correspondence, please contact Kim, who will send you a correspondence information sheet!


You may:

· Send paper mail, photos, and paper gifts—coloring pages, stickers, etc.

· Email letters and photos

· Send a package to your child in our Gifts for Gracias Christmas campaign.

Correspondence is limited to one page per month. You may attach up to 10 photos to paper letters and 3 photos to emailed letters.

You will receive 4 letters per year from your child. Please remember that translation and delivery to this rural area will take time. When possible, you will receive photos of your child with your letter or package when it is delivered.