When I was 13 years old, my dad was ‘called’ to be a missionary in Honduras. As a family, we weren’t ‘cut out’ for the mission field – I had no idea my world was about to be kicked over on its side. One moment I was busy doing homework and planning slumber parties, the next moment I suddenly found myself in a third world country recovering from a hurricane. I went into culture shock as the poverty, disease, and the idea that human life isn’t so precious in other parts of the world… slowly seeped in.
Most children grow up in ‘phases’ – I was given no time for that. I took on the mental weight of an adult the moment I stepped out of that tiny TACA airplane… and into the rest of my life. In fact, the only evidence that I even had a childhood exists in a black 32×17 Rubbermaid trunk. I bought the trunk to protect my books, CDs, and photo albums from the Honduran heat and humidity. Today, I keep the trunk in my closet. It contains stacks of letters from my 8th grade Sunday school class… wishing me well, wishing me luck. It contains letters I wrote to myself… promising myself I would get out alive. It contains the jewelry I wore the day I was kidnapped… the photographs that were taken minutes before it happened, photographs of a dear friend who gave his life so that I could live. It contains fragments of a life that I shut away until now…
When I began writing for this album, I opened the trunk for the first time in years. The overwhelming smell of dark mahogany, coffee, and burning sugarcane (the smell of Honduras) hit me like a wall, and I knew that all the memories I’d stifled were begging to be brought to life. I also knew that I was being presented with a choice: I could let these memories, and the experiences that they represent, cuff me, paralyze me, and make me bitter… or I could turn them into something beautiful… something that other people could relate to and, hopefully, find comfort in. This is my gift.