Monday, July 30, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - day 8

We had an early morning - on the road by 7 a.m. to head up into the mountains. A little background on this day....

When we were preparing for the trip, our group leader told us that he reserved a day toward the end of the trip as a "free day", allowing the group to be a bit touristy. It would be up to us how we wanted to spend that day, and he was setting aside some money for it. I believe we started talking on Saturday about what we were going to do for our free day. Any beaches were a 4 hour bus ride away, meaning we would go down the night before, stay overnight in a hotel, spend the day at the beach and then drive back in the evening. One of our honorary group members, in a separate conversation, had mentioned that there was a ministry he knew of that built houses for families for $1500. $1500 was the amount set aside for our group to have our free day. When we started talking about how to spend the free day, the group agreed unanimously to build a house for a needy family instead of spending our money on our own fun and comfort. We had 2 half days of shopping earlier in the trip, and would be able to spend an afternoon at a beautiful national park before we left. It blessed us tremendously to be able to turn our fun day into a new house for a family.

The drive up into the mountains took us on a different route than we were used to. This one was a winding road past large homes, including the American, Canadian, and South Korean ambassador's homes. We stopped at a place called Villa Gracia to pick up some supplies and meet Mark, the guy in charge of the house building ministry. Villa Gracia was a beautiful retreat center used by missions teams or for weddings that reminded us a lot of home. Lots of pine trees, beautiful views, but no bugs! We soaked up some of the beauty for a bit while we loaded up our supplies and a few more team members.

As our bus got close to the house site, we learned that we would have to hike the rest of the way up the hill, as there was no place for the bus to turn around at the top. Mark took a few people, including Soyla, in his pickup, but the rest of us hiked it. It was steep and long. I needed lots of breaks (mostly due to my out-of-shape-ness, but also the altitude and heat), and was amazed to learn that a group a few days before had made that same hike carrying all of their lumber and tools up as well.

When we got to the top, we saw the cleared site for the new house right next to the mud home the family was living in, which was collapsing in one corner. There were 2 women and 5 children living in the home, which also included an outdoor kitchen and bathroom area.

I was able to use a post hole digger to help dig for the corner posts. We added 4x4s along the walls, an elevated floor, wooden walls, and a slanted tin roof. A door and window completed the 15x16 foot home for the family. We added a plaque above the door saying "en el nombre de Jesucristo" (in the name of Jesus Christ). The whole team worked together well, and we finished in just over 5 hours. It was hot and dirty work, but immense satisfaction when we finished. We invited the family in to their new home, joined hands to pray over them and their home, and they thanked us, and wished that we could come back to bless another family in the way we had blessed them.

We hiked back down to the bus, ate a few sandwiches and drank some water and headed back to Villa Gracia to drop off our new friends. We were all exhaused, and the house was pretty quiet that night - most of us showered, slathered up with aloe (sunburns are more intense at those altitudes and on the equator), ate dinner, and went to bed. Last day tomorrow.

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 7

Second day of school outreaches. I was feeling much better knowing that we only had a few days left before I got to see Josh.

Our program finally felt polished, and we had so much fun doing at the two schools we went to, both in the mountains. At the first school, it was a bit rainy, but we went around handing out notebooks & pencils, making balloon animals, and giving out candy and color bracelets. At the second school, the children stood in single file lines by class for the entire 20 minutes. We spent time afterward handing out supplies, candy, and bracelets. There were too many kids (405) to do balloons!

The school we ended at offered us soda from their cantina (school store) thanking us for coming. It was a nice cool refreshment after a long day. We got a chance to pray with the interim director of the school - yes, prayer is allowed in Honduran public schools, although the teachers said that the government had tried to outlaw it. The school employees fought back, saying, "without God, we are nothing". What an amazing testimony!

We ate traditional American (TGI Fridays) and headed back home to rest up for the next day and check on our sick team members. We had dropped them at the hospital in the morning to get some intravenous fluids and get checked out. When we returned, found out one likely had a case of dengue fever from a mosquito bite. Although worried about her, we were relieved it was not something we had been spreading through the house.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 6

Halfway point of the trip and I was REALLY missing Josh. With all the stress of the weekend, part of me wanted to go home. I knew there were still important things to do, and I didn't want to miss out on what God had in store, but emotionally, I was done. I asked God to sustain me and help me to savor each moment in Honduras, rather than wishing them away.

The schools were back in session after their spring break, so we headed out to do 2 outreach programs. We had planned some songs (in Spanish) with puppets, a puppet skit about how we are all special to God, a silly skit about how going to church doesn't make you a Christian, a review of the beaded bracelets where each color represents an aspect of the salvation story, and a salvation prayer. We also planned at each school to spend some time with the kids afterward, handing out candy, supplies, and balloon animals.

The first school we visited was a primary school, and the kids were adorable. There were probably about 80 of them, and they all brought their chairs out in to the courtyard. (The Honduran schools I visited were all laid out similarly; classrooms surrounding a large central courtyard.) It was hard to know if any kids in particular prayed the salvation prayer at the end, as some of what we had prepared was over their heads. We handed out bracelets and toothbrushes, and they gave us hugs. I missed Josh fiercely with each little one that I hugged.

The next school was a few blocks away, and so we hauled all of our supplies, including the PVC-pipe puppet stage down the streets to the intermediate school. I was frustrated at this school - 300 - 400 kids in the courtyard with little to no supervision. Students in Honduras generally attend a 3 hour school day in either the morning or afternoon. We arrived about 30 minutes before the end of their session, and it was the first day back after break. It appeared to me that the teachers just let them out. It was very hard to hold their attention, and many kids kept trying to come up behind the puppet stage where we were, rather than staying in their places. They were basically milling around the courtyard, somewhat paying attention, while we ministered. The bell rang in the middle of the salvation message, and it was mayhem. However, about 15 kids stayed up front, even as their classmates were running off, to pray the salvation prayer. That made it all worth it! We were able to hand out notebooks there, but not much else.

Stopped at a mall for lunch, and were able to bless Soyla with a new printer - one that was super ink efficient, since she regularly sends out mailings to 700 people and can run through printer ink in a week.

We had dropped 3 of our team members off up on the mountain to do some construction work, and left 3 at the house. After lunch, we headed back up the mountain to pick up our teammates, and stopped back in la colonia Australia to see the home of Jorge and Yesi, our Honduran hosts. Their home was so important to them, and you could see the pride in Jorge's face as he spoke of the improvements he was hoping to make. It was a blessing to see the inside of a typical mountain village home. Driving through on the bus, it was hard to imagine what the homes looked like inside. We definitely take our creature comforts for granted here in the States.

I continued feeling healthy, although tired and emotional. Was starting to lose focus a bit, and prayed that God would help me persevere.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Mom goes to Honduras - Day 5

Saturday night was a bad one, I guess...I slept through it. Many people were sick - there were vomiting, fevers, fainting, seizures, all throughout the night. Two of our team members had a medical background, so thank God they were there to assist those who were getting sick and thank you Lord for supernatural strength and healing.

Sunday morning, most of us were feeling well enough to visit church. Two who were still sick stayed behind with the nurse-practitioner. We visited the same church we had been to on Wednesday night, and Soyla translated the sermon for us. The pastor preached about sacrifice - we can't take anything with us when we die, so why not use it all for Christ here? It was their "faith promise" Sunday, asking them how much they were willing to commit to give over the next year at church. The message was very appropriate for us as well, as we were all learning what it meant to give away what we had.

In the afternoon, we did the tourist thing and went to Valley of the Angels. It's a large market area with lots of little shops and restaurants. We were able to walk around in smaller groups. Found a little cantina named El Fogon that only had a few things on the menu, but it wasn't busy and the prices were good. Authentic Honduran food and it was YUMMY! Some tortillas with beans, rice, steak, sausage, salsa, cheese, etc...fairly typical sounding, but all Honduran style. Andrea and I enjoyed our lunch there much better than the fried fish a few nights before!

Found a few gifts to bring home, hunted down some ice cream, and blessed the socks off a little boy on the bus! He was standing outside our bus trying to sell candy for about 10 lemps. (approximately 5 cents). If you gave him 12, he could actually make some money off the sale. We asked him what he was saving for, and he said he needed new shoes. This little boy was probably around 8 or 9 years old. He needed 130 lemps for new shoes. We bought most of his candy, gave him 130 lemps, a new pair of shoes, and some beans, rice, and cornmeal to take home to his family. It was so cool to be able to meet his need "abundantly beyond all he could ask or imagine". I'm glad God let us be a part of that.

When we got back, found out that the nurse practitioner was now ill and several others were not feeling good. We needed to run through our program for the schools the next day, and were afraid we might be down to about 6 people. Wonderful spirit of cooperation and unity as we worked out what would happen. It was my night for devotionals, and I wanted to talk about what compelled us to go to Honduras. 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 says that "Christ's love compels us". We also talked about showing love not just with our words, but with our actions.

No one really slept well Sunday night...we weren't sure what kind of virus was going through the house, and were trying to isolate those who were sick as much as possible. Prayed against any spiritual weapons that would try to keep us from spreading the word of God in the schools.