Thinking back

(Big thanks for reading, and bonus points if you can spot the hummingbird in the photo!)

Our first full day on the island is done, and it makes me think back to our first visit to Roatan five years ago. I was expecting to be an anonymous worker drone for two weeks before returning home in time for the start of another La Liga season in the spotlights.

To my surprise, I started sensing something from the time I stepped through the doors leaving the baggage area. Some whispers, and then a stranger stepped up and asked, “Aren’t you that guy from beIN SPORTS?”

I’m not sure how they did it – you will find that islanders have a certain ingenuity when it comes to getting things done. Somehow they had managed to get the beIN signal into households around the island. No surprise that every soccer fan needs their daily supply of Messi and co., but what was a surprise is that on this island off the coast of Honduras, they were watching in English!

It underscores the history of Roatan as a former English colony. While a growing segment of the population is Spanish speakers who have migrated from the mainland, a large part of the population still speaks English. And they were still Honduran and loved their fútbol! I believe it was God’s way of knocking down my perceived barriers and welcoming me to the mission.

Five years on, and the lawyers have stepped in to take the unauthorized beIN signal off the airwaves, understandable but sad. Now if I’m recognized, it’s by friends I have made from previous visits. And in many ways, that’s even better.

This time around, there are a few curious looks. Bell’s Palsy will do that. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s similar to the facial appearance after a stroke. If I’ve had a good night’s rest, it’s hard to notice, unless I try to smile. (I wonder if people are thinking I’m too serious. Boy will they be surprised when I’m back to my normal, clownish self!)

If I try to speak, let’s just say I’m constantly having to rewrite the script in my head before it gets to my mouth, trying to eliminate the plosives, like the popping P which can be hard to say with only half your face under control.

However, after a long day the muscles start to tire and sag. The effects become more noticeable. Though, this is actually good news, as it means I have more muscular control than during my first battle with Bell’s a decade ago. Then, the muscles were totally powerless and it was hard to even keep my eyelid closed. It gives me hope that the healing will begin sooner this time. And be quicker. All things in His time though.

Everyone has been extremely supportive. I appreciate the prayers and well-wishes both here and from you at home. I know God is using this, even if I’m not sure how or when it will bear fruit. I joked with my wife that He’s now helping her teach me patience and humility! (She agreed, but I don’t think she thought it was a joke.)

I feel better, but outwardly it’s not showing much yet. It would be a miracle if it did. He’s good at those, though. I know He can. He’s done it before and can do it again. I’m praying for the small steps leading to a big finish. And trying my best to appreciate the moments along the way.

Thanks for joining me on this journey. Even if it isn’t exactly the one I expected at the outset, I’m actually enjoying it. There is some anxiety and fear, though hope and love are far more evident. Dwelling on the negative never solves anything and often makes things worse. Instead I’m seeing the many positives.


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11 thoughts on “Thinking back

  1. Thank you for serving while dealing with your own struggles. Certainly God’s peace, healing and grace are evident in your ministry. Thank you for being real so we can pray. Lifting you up now…

  2. My brother Phil you know scripture very well and I would like to remind you of that time when Jesus called Peter and told him: “Simon, Simon the devil has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon (Phil) that your faith may not fall…….” He already prayed for you my brother and you will get better soon a big hug

    1. Wise words! Thank you fellow believer for encouraging a brother in Christ! Praying here for healing and comfort for Phil. What a gift that we can all come together in prayer even though we do not know one another.

  3. My physician husband traveled to Roatan several years ago to work at the hospital on the island. As a fluent Spanish speaker and physician (and missionary kid from Argentina) he has a heart for missions. Thank you for doing what you do despite not feeling your best. We are praying and believing God will be glorified. Please let us know if we can help in any way.

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