Does faith find you or do you find faith? This is a topic for contemplation and discussion. Perhaps you have it figured out or perhaps you are still wondering. From a book I just finished on the horrific conditions suffered by prisoners shipped from England to New South Wales centuries ago comes this quote: “The Lord has given you all the faith you need. It’s there. You just need to believe it.”
As you travel and/or settle in places far away from what you have called home, what do you do with your faith. The questions of faith and beliefs may not be difficult, but how do you express that faith and what do you adopt from your new situation. I live in a country that has a large percentage of Catholics, some practicing and others not, but it is also a country with a continually growing protestant population, mostly called evangelical though that includes a wide range of beliefs and practices. Prayer is not only allowed in public schools, unlike the United States, but it is also required of students in some classes including the kindergarten where I teach English for an hour twice a week. “Si Dios quiere” (God willing) is an expression that is heard often, mainly from those who really believe that God has a hand in the daily happenings, but also sometimes used as an excuse for doing nothing; if God wants it to happen it will, so there is no need for us to plan or expend energy.
I have found it easy to maintain faith but difficult to practice in a manner where I am comfortable. Going from one hour services most of my life and also teaching one hour classes for years, I find the two to three or more hours long services a little beyond my comfort zone. How can it be though that I have been a member of the Presbyterian Church for so long and never knew that the presbytery was the front area of the Catholic Church reserved for clergy. Reading of all sorts opens our eyes to different words and concepts. I still practice what I believe to be a compassionate life style helping others and I enjoy talking with others about our beliefs, but I will be continue to be content with hearing the music several times a week from the church two blocks away. You will note jeans and white shirts hanging out to dry among the trees in one of the photos, the church retreat center being one of several such locations currently used by the new university students.
I was surprised by the request of one of my students and then pleasantly surprised to hear that there is an even wider need and interest. In the English language computer laboratory we have fiction and nonfiction books and magazines in English available for students to borrow. a resource not common in English or Spanish in Honduras or many other countries. The student request was for an English Bible so that he could be learning more about his faith as he also learns English. Here comes my request:
A bilingual Bible for the laboratory
English only Bibles (used and even highlighted would be just fine) for lending
English only new Testaments to give to students who demonstrate an interest; these may be available in the dollar stores
CDs of contemporary Christian songs in English
Easy to read materials appropriate for university students learning English
Perhaps you could share Bibles you no longer use or as a group you could gather several such items and send them my way. I would be very happy and my students would really be appreciative. We may even start an English Bible and worship group at the university.
Unfortunately the most difficult part of this endeavor is the mailing. If you keep the package small, like a padded manila envelope or small box, and make sure it is less than four pounds then you can use the simpler customs form and keep the cost at about $25. You could probably address it in Spanish, of course, to the blue house on the corner three blocks up the street from the Catholic Church in Catacamas, but here is my official address:
Prof. Janet Espinosa
Universidad Nacional de Agricultura
Barrio El Espino Apt 09
Catacamas, Olancho, Honduras
Shirt and Jeans