Phoenix Ops Impact in 2013: Fed 'Point of Impact' kids; Fed the homeless; Ministered to children through art, play, and bible teaching; Ministered to the needs of orphanage caretakers through art experientials.
To find out more about our ministry, read the testimonies from some of our volunteers:
There are so many experiences on this trip that really impacted me, but for some reason there is a couple of times that really stick out in my mind and really touched my heart. At one of the feeding centers that was in the worst neighborhood that we went to, the one that is in a gang controlled neighborhood, we had a lot of time with the kids and not much space to play. The first day that we were there we had them playing soccer in the room where they have church, but it was getting a little out of hand and some of the kids were being left out. I am not totally sure why, as it made me pretty dizzy, but I had the idea to hold the kids by their hands and spin them in the air. The loved it so much that after spinning just a couple of the kids they were mobbing me to get their turn. I had them line up instead of being in a mob around me, which is the only time throughout the whole trip I was able to get any of the kids to do something in an orderly fashion. This is the first thing that struck me with this experience with these kids, they wanted to be spun so badly that they were willing to follow the rules and wait their turn, which is a foreign concept to them. I spent about half an hour trying to get each kid in line their turn. We had a blast and they were all laughing and having a good time with it.
The next day when we came back to the same center, after we got through our scheduled activities, the kids wanted to be spun again. This time when they all lined up I had the entire line chant the name of the kid whose turn it was. I would hold their hands and bounce their arms up and down to the beat of the chant of their name before I started to spin them. While doing this I would get eye level with them and just look into their eyes, watch their joy and as they smiled and laughed. Each time that I did this with each of these children, I felt like I was getting a precious moment that no one could ever take away, a moment that the enemy could never touch. These kids live in so much fear, violence and deprivation that they are robbed of their innocence and the comfort and safety and love that every child should have. It was a really moving experience for me to be the one to hold their hands, to look into their eyes, for them to find joy and safety for just a few moments. For those few moments they just got to be kids, they didn’t have to worry about the evil that they live in, they had someone with them who wasn’t going to hurt them and who wanted to bring them some joy. It seemed like something so little and insignificant, but it touched my heart tremendously. It brought me a lot of joy to have those precious moments with each child, but it also brought me a lot of sadness because something like that that seems so trivial may be something they never experience again. Most of those kids don’t have a dad to spin them around or play with them or just to love them or they do have a dad, violence is more present in their home than love and kindness. The sad reality is that they live in hell on earth, in a place no child should ever be in, let alone raised in.
"For that short time they got to escape the horrible reality they live in and find the joy and safety and love every child deserves. "
It’s gut wrenching to think about them, knowing that they live in that place and that they will grow up in such an evil and violent place. My only hope is that we will see them in Heaven one day with the King when He makes everything right that has been made wrong.
Dale's Honduras Story
This was my sixth trip to Honduras and it was different in many ways. First off there was a lot of unknown to the trip, the set up and all the many details that have to be completed before you can even begin. In the years past those details were taken care of way in advance of our trip date. For me it was a time of uncertainty and doubt, it was also a time where God kept showing up and providing for TBLM and the members of the team.
The time we spent preparing for the trip was a big part of my experience and it greatly enhanced the intimacy I got to share with all involved on this trip. Jesska and Melissa really set the tone for us and helped open the door for the team to bond. They not only taught us some great information but they cared for us in a way that created trust and openness. On the same note Mimi Crook did such an awesome job with all the trip details. The scheduling in Honduras was so spot on and that allowed the team to relax and focus on our individual roles. It was such a privilege to be part of a team where each member took ownership of their role and did it with so much enthusiasm. These things had such a positive impact on my time in Honduras.
Right off the bat I was impressed by Esteven’s knowledge of each of the children’s story at the orphan’s home. All the boys and girls were there and he knew their stories very well. It was a really good entry to our time in Tegucigalpa. It amazed me that one of their local churches had invited prostitutes from their neighborhood for dinner. Another church had brought people from the dump to worship and eat lunch with their congregation. They live on the front line of this earthly war.
We got to work in several feeding centers in different parts of town. Each center is in a community controlled by gangs or organized crime. Just to visit these places is stressful, and we were only there for a short time. We do not live there and dwell there as they do. If something goes bad, there will be no swat team to save the day, there will be no police, there will be no rescue. There will defiantly be no justice. I was moved by the conversations I got to hear from the Pastors at each center, about the stories of tragedy and loss. They were so open and willing to speak of their discouragement. I felt so privileged to be able to pray for these men, to acknowledge their struggle and to validate all the hard work they do. It was a highlight for me to be able to be with them in such a vulnerable conversation and prayer. It would be so easy for anyone to turn their face from this environment, to harden your heart or just walk away. But these people don’t, they came back every day and they hold out a cool drink of water and a gentle hand of care.
It rains on the good and on the evil. This is where my heart gets destroyed, the kids. It is so hard to really open myself up and try to feel what they must be going through. I don’t want to believe the reality of their lives. I want to disassociate and pretend that it’s not that bad, but it is. These children are so beautiful and so cool. They are full of energy and life. They want attention and love. We are to fight evil with kindness. These centers give them a taste of stability and security.
"They get to hear about Jesus and they get to experience
Gods kindness through the staff"
They are given freely the gift of life while they are there, Gods word, shelter, clothing and food. What a powerful picture of how we are to approach and fight evil. They are literally at the door steps of hell offering Gods love in a kind and gentle way, truly amazing.
I am so glad that we as a team were able to minster to the staff at these centers. The art work is so cool and so helpful in this war against our hearts. It was the artwork that gave Andrea the opportunity to be used by God to bring a young girl to Christ. So cool to see Miki and Mimi work together and move so smoothly in such a difficult arena. When entering these places of our heart condition it is so interesting how much resistance there can be, it is so difficult to open ourselves up and allow God and others into our pain. Isn’t it a mystery how God designed us. He gave us hormones so our bodies could not only survive but flourish in this fallen world. There is a battle going on inside us and God uses the grieving process to strike back at evil and uses our tears to heal our bodies. There is an emotional war going on that influences our bodies. Evil desires us to suppress our hurt and to disassociate from feeling. God desires us to expose our darkness and to name the loss in our story. He requires us to forgive because love can not grow without it. This battle for our hearts is a battle for intimacy and it is a struggle and a blessing. This trip helped me see a little more clearly that I need to be ok with struggling and I need to name more often the blessings that God has written for me in the relationships I am in. The message I got from this trip was, my task is to love well. (Matthew 5:3-12)
Melissa Nicole Hundley's Story
I, Melissa Nicole Hundley had the unique opportunity of being invited to be a part of the Honduras team. Although I did not go to Honduras specifically, I was able to work with the team who did go to Honduras. In working with the team, they allowed me to challenge and encourage them to become more self aware of their emotional and physical responses and preparations of the trip through the art of the senses. In challenging each team member to allow their internal responses become external, the freedom to explore and validate their process created opportunities of a greater awareness, in hopes each team member would be better prepared to guide others through the healing process.
"The team was able to use the “Free Create The Story of God”
material (By: Melissa Nicole Hundley) as an approach to connect biblical truths,
the arts, and personal exploration of ones story in relation to God’s story."
Being a part of the team challenged me in the process of guiding others to explore greater self awareness and encouraged me to continue my process of exploring greater self awareness, connecting the art of truth and grace.
The Honduras trip was simultaneously one of the most real and surreal weeks of my life. My role was to teach the basics of art therapy alongside Mimi Crook, and then practice the techniques learned as a group. It was a time of complete feeling and connecting with people and with their pain and darkness. I also was able to connect with my own pain and the darkness within me. Throughout the entire trip, there was always at least one person in each group, if not many more, who were willing to be honest, raw and full of emotion. This vulnerability was powerful and them showing their “weakness” resulted in so much movement. It defies human reason that our God works that way. There were two particularly strong moments that come to mind. One was with 15-year-old Gaby, one of the girls from the POI orphanage. She has come from a painful and terrible past, yet she was one of the only girls to cry during the art. She shared about the safety that existed for her in the orphanage through the love of her home parents.
"Despite the language barrier, I felt more connected to that girl than so many people who I spend time around here in the states at school or work, whose pain stays hidden underneath so many layers."
The second occurrence happened the next day at the first feeding center. We started to discuss trauma and a lady in the room began to share a horrific experience from her past, and as she cried sharing her story, the other women in the room were able to realize that they could share. She established safety for them. However, in my own weakness, I felt so overwhelmed by the sorrow that I wanted to leave the room. I didn’t. But that desire was so strong. Because seeing the pain that lady had carried with her and let fester was heart breaking. Someone from home shared the verse with me about power being perfected in weakness (1 Corinthians 12:9-11), and once again I was reminded of God’s ability to use weakness. The time in Honduras was saturated with emotion and was so special. Movement happened in the lives of the people we met and in the lives of the team, including myself.
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Thin Blue Line Ministry International
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When I first heard of the trip, I was eager to help plan and organize but not too eager to be part of the team going down. Being raised there and living there the last 20 yrs, I have experienced and know what life in Honduras entails. I did not want to be exposed to the pain, poverty and insecurity that rules the country.
Out of obedience to God and prompting from my husband, I agreed to go. I was extremely cautious of my surroundings and for the first 24 hours really had to focus on what our goals as a team were in order to overcome my own personal fears. As we slowly eased into our work and got to know the children, the fear that gripped my heart loosened and gradually I began to experience the colors, smells, sights and even tastes I had locked away when I left Honduras.
"Immediately, I was also able to feel the pain of the children and realize that for that week, we were their light, comfort and hope."
Knowing one eight year old walked 3 miles daily by herself through the most dangerous parts of town to attend the POI centers, broke my heart. Hearing the story of two young boys going out at three in the morning to collect empty water bottles to sell made me sick of my own cushy lifestyle.
As I heard and saw many similar stories during the week, and got to experience firsthand the life of a whole community functioning and living in the city dump, I was overwhelmed and did not know what to do with all the pain. As we processed together as a team, I realize that I can continue to pray and cry out for the difficult situation these kids and families face daily. I can also choose to remain open hearted and be willing to follow Christ regardless of the cost to my comfort.