Thursday, November 19, 2009


His mother and he were sitting in the Mission House waiting for us to return from our morning errands. She had brought him 2 weeks earlier and was told by Amanda when we would return. We had been stateside at a number of speaking engagements and a Mission Conference at UMHB.

His grandmother died recently, so his mother returned from the Moskitia to get her son, Carlos. Marta had given birth to him 5 years ago and he was born into this world at 7 months, weighing only a pound and a half. The odds of one making it are stacked high enough against one that you might just give up there, but now lets be born into poverty in one of the western hemisphere’s most isolated places. Marta’s husband, upon learning that he had a deaf son, left the family to pursue other ambitions. When this happened, Marta with two other children to raise, and with Carlos having a host of medical complications, moved Carlos to La Ceiba to live with her mother.

Marta was sitting on the sofa-cot in the living room and Carlos was soundly sleeping, his head on momma’s lap. As we sat, and Marta told us her story, Carlos stirred from his nap and woke. He sat and faced us, and broke out in the most powerful, heart-captivating smile God has ever put on a human face. Instantly he “owned” us!

After a short while we became very aware of his alertness and ability to “communicate.” His grandmother had created her own version of sign language, and although crude, effective. As I have seen, time and time again, my amazing wife got down in this little person’s face and began to “talk” with him. I recently got my behind chewed out online by a deaf man who informed me that we should change the name of the organization’s byline ‘love can be heard by all’ … “How can the deaf hear!” he cyber barked… “You should change that to…seen by all!”…in a not to gracious moment, rather than ignoring him, I cyber quipped back… “We have been at this for 10 years, Bob, and people actually hear with their hearts”…I have not “heard” back from Bob yet.

For several hours we watched Amanda teach him in her office, which is full of craft materials, crayons, glitter and glue. He played with Lego blocks and thought they were the most amazing things ever created! We observed his fine-tuned motor skills and dexterity; his alertness and enthusiasm were powerful. We are once again reminded that we all have value.

I wonder what deception and prejudice governed the mind of this little one’s father; to think that because he was born less than perfect (in his mind), he felt his manhood was somehow diminished and now had to change his personal pursuits to the point of abandoning his family. In fact, God had strategically and majestically placed this perfect one in his life to bless him and many others. I know because he is such an incredible blessing in just our first meeting.

It is a problem I have in that I do not operate in the here-and-now as well as I do in the future tense. I cannot help it, I just love to think and dream about what might be. This child is not a mistake and he has greatness on him. He is a survivor, and by all natural accounts should not have survived his birth, let alone make it to our mission house and into our lives.

Here he is, hearing with his heart, in the middle of my world. I am so blessed.

Jeff Harter

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Heavy On My Heart

I’m frustrated…this is the third time I’m writing this as I’ve somehow erased the entire note again!! Am I learning patience or what!

My frustration goes deeper than computer errors, deeper than my human error (can’t blame the computer I’ve been told!) My heart aches with frustration and I hope after you read below that yours does too.

I briefly must tell you that I wont take the time to romance you with details of the trip. i.e.: How beautiful parts of it were, how I enjoyed the team I went with, or anything else for that matter. I wont take the time to express myself with elaborate words. I feel convicted to be frank, honest, truthful, unfiltered if you will.

You see, last June I went on a missions trip to Honduras. We were to work with Signs of Love ministries. Before the trip, during the trip, and even after the trip I wondered exactly why God allowed me to go. I couldn’t exactly put my finger on it. I wasn’t that useful. I didn’t speak Spanish nor did I have much experience with sign language. In fact, I get car sick and since we drove a lot there were times I wondered if I was even cut out for being there! But I’ve used a song titled “Use Me Here” as an anthem for about 12 years now so when Honduras presented itself, I was game.

Tonight, a few months later (the eve of my husbands birthday actually ) as I was driving home from the gym I started to think about our Pastor going to Africa. I think I have this healthy jealousy about it, as I wish I was going! I thought of my own experience 6 years ago, the people, certain landscapes, the hospitality and even the hardship behind every tired smile. Those memories must be universal as my mind wandered to Honduras.
I started to weep because God reminded me that His heart aches for the Deaf. This isn’t an official statistic but every deaf Honduran Robin with Signs of Love has come across has either been sexually or physically abused. Every single one of them. Repeat. Every one of them…abused.

They have no voice! The “least of these” have been taken advantage of. No one hears their cries for help and not many are even willing to take the time to “listen”. They are victims because they were born deaf. They are outcasts and seen as an opportunity to be used, battered, mistreated and many are enslaved to their homes.

I don’t know if I intend to offend you or not…but here I go. I’m frustrated because of the circumstances they endure. I’m frustrated because I see us Americans, myself included, make some of the same selfish decisions. This doesn’t excuse the Honduran mentality regarding the deaf but we weren’t born into poverty, we have been given so many opportunities in this life and we are selfish people and we waste away so much of God’s giftings to us. Above all, I’m crying for the deaf in Honduras. My heart wonders if when God pressed this so deeply against my chest if a child was being raped that moment. Was I crying with them? For them? Does he/she have any tears left in what already feels like a hopeless life?

Oh, how my heart aches! But it also weeps for joy because Robin and so many other people use their gifts to comfort and protect “the least of these”. Thank you Lord for not giving up on us. And now, as I type this (again) I wonder why God waited until now for my tears to become real? Why I desire to hold someone so close that I cannot effectively communicate with?

All I can do is take comfort in Isasiah 43 (please take the time to read it, message version preferably) and ask my Maker for wisdom. I thought I may plant a seed of love in the life of the Honduran people but I’ve been terrible wrong, they’ve planted one in mine.

Use Me Here
Where I am
I’m not going to pray anymore
That you’ll change your plans
Despite my fear
I place my life in your hands
The future can’t wait
Tomorrow might be too late
Jesus, use me here.