As some of you who have been checking the blog might have already guessed, we have had a few technical difficulties here in Honduras. (Thanks Terry for helping us out!) So let me catch you up on our first few days.
July 10th and 11th, 2008
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Well, Almost
The Palmetto team has taken several different routes to Honduras this year. We are also joined by the North Raleigh Church of Christ on this Torch Mission. To say it has been an adventure getting here is an understatement! Our major difficulty is that the Tegucigalpa International Airport has been closed to large planes since late May due to a plane crash. Thus, all groups coming to Villa Gracias (where we are all staying) have had to re-route to San Pedro Sula - 4 and 1/2 hours (by bus) to the northeast.
If only it was that easy! Just on Thursday and Friday, we encountered cancelled flights, mad dashes from Columbia to Atlanta, planes and trucks with mechanical problems, missed buses, harrowing bus rides, motion sickness and for those who left Columbia on Thursday night: a 27 hour trip. The term "Welcome to Honduras" had double meaning today!
Amazingly (or perhaps not, since God is good), we all arrived safely, and other than being tired, we all were in good spirits. No doubt it is because we have a charge to fulfill, and that seems to permeate this group. Pitch in, keep everyone going and busy, look for ways to encourage one another, and by nightfall you will be too tired to whine about anything!
July 12th, 2008
A First For Me: A Square House!
After a restful night's sleep (not quite long enough for the 13-19 year old crowd), we followed our usual routine of getting the rules: curfew, quiet time, don't drink the water, don't flush the TP, boys keep to your area and girls in the other. Troy Hudson did devo this morning and gave us all something to think about! [Just the way it should be!] He asked us to look at our hands and study them. He then pointed out a couple of things: our hands would not be the same by the end of the week and our hands were to be the hands of Jesus, helping those less fortunate and bringing a miracle to their lives. Quite lovely thoughts!
We broke into three different teams today. Team one stayed in Tegucigalpa, preparing for our medical missions and VBS. The goal is to provide medical services during two or possibly three days, and while people are waiting in line to see the physician or nurse their children will be educated about Jesus through our VBS efforts.
Teams two and three had a different task. Two house builds took place today; both houses were in Sierra Grande and were houses funded by either the HEART (Home-schooling association in the Irmo area) or the Radford Family. House building here is unlike building a home in the states. I equate a wooden house here to the old chicken coop we had on our farm when I was a kid. Houses are 16 by 20, built of green pine and the siding and floorboards are one and the same (tongue-in-groove). Building sites are already cleared; we just have to dig holes for the corner posts and supports, then square it up and start hammering.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well, it is, for people in the know. Most of us are amateurs, barely knowing which end of a hammer is the business end. And did you know that there are rocks just lurking under the surface, right in the spot you need to dig a two foot deep hole? Did I mention it likes to rain a lot here? Regardless, while I can't speak for the other house building team, the one I was on was incredible! (No, it is not because of me!) We started building around 11 and were done around 5. Our house was even square! Not bad for a bunch of amateurs!
Really, though, the important part was seeing the joy that this home brought to the new owner. She had been living next door in a rented house, but now she and her family have a home of their own, thus relieving their financial burden. As usual, before we left we talked about our purpose in Honduras and how we believe God has blessed us and called us to share the love of Christ with her and her family. We shared with her that she now had Christian brother's and sisters in South Carolina who knew her by name and face and would continue to pray for her and her Christian walk. Many tears were shed by her and us; pictures were taken and then the tools gathered for the bus ride home.
It is a great feeling to know that the Lord has blessed someone by using you to fulfill his plan! God is good! All the time!
July 13th, 2008
Church among the Angels
The North Raleigh team joined us last night having endured their own travel adventures. It will be great getting to know these wonderful people. How do I know that they are wonderful people? Simply because they are here and clearly want to serve. Welcome to Honduras! This brings our number to about 60. Wow!
Today being Sunday, our tradition is to find a local congregation with whom we can worship. So, after breakfast we headed for the Los Pinos Iglesia de Cristo. The trip there was a bit hair-raising to say the least. We traveled by buses to a dirt road on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. Then we drove up this mostly one lane, very muddy road, up the side of a mountain to the community of Los Pinos. The hair-raising part was the view. Boy was it gorgeous! Just don't look down, and boy did we all hope the bus didn't slip in the mud or get stuck!
The church at Los Pinos was quite lovely, and as expected they did things a little differently than we do in the USA. I was particularly impressed with their emphasis upon providing a time of re-committement before taking the Lord's Supper. Essentially, the man doing the service asked for people to "come forward to confess their sin" so that they could take communion with a clear conscience. After communion, Sean Brown gave a sermon on prayer and the need for all of us to work on our prayer life. Amen!
Los Pinos is like most every place else in and around Tegucigalpa. The poverty is overwhelming. People live in houses in various stages of decay. Sewage runs through the streets; there is no clean water. Regardless, these dear Christian people showed up at church wearing their best clothing, singing songs of praise to God, and enjoying the company of a bunch of gringos.
Mike Witte and I were particularly impressed with the prayer of one Honduran gentleman. In his prayer he thanked God for the numerous blessing that He had provided. I thought, "Numerous blessings? You have to be kidding me!" But then I realized, how much I still have to learn. In the states we tend to think of blessings in a material sense. I have no doubt that this gentleman, who has relatively nothing in comparison to most of us, was thinking of simple things like being alive, being healthy, having some food, having a family, having a home, and having the ability to share Christ with others. Humbling!
After church we headed down the mountain to spend some time at a local mall, eating lunch and otherwise looking around. From there we traveled to the Valley of Angels. This community, located about an hour north of Tegucigalpa, tends to be a day-trip tourist destination with lots of T-shirt shops and curiosity shops. Everything from pottery, dresses, carved boxes, and preserved frogs (yep, you read that correctly) can be purchased in the Valley of Angels. Think of it like Myrtle Beach, with out the ocean and the traffic.
Two or so hours later we went to dinner at the Santa Lucia Resort. That last word, "resort," is a misnomer. It is really a place that middle class Hondurans go to, to eat dinner, and perhaps rest for a day or two. Nothing fancy: no spa, no golf, no luxury. We ate dinner. It is a safe place to get a good idea of what Honduran cuisine is like.
At 7:30 we went into the town of Santa Lucia to hold our devo at the Catholic Church. This town, which the Spanish built around 1530, holds one of the oldest continually used Catholic Church buildings in the Western Hemisphere. The church was built in 1533. Though it has been remodeled, parts of it are original, with the roof being held together by wooden pins and not nails. We try to come here every year, because the experience is always so great. The singing is incredible and very uplifting. Devotional thoughts were given by yours truly. My talk was on "Remodeling" and how everyone, especially first timers, would have their hearts remodeled by the end of their 10 or so days here.
From Santa Lucia we returned to Tegucigalpa and our home base at Villa Gracias, arriving around 10. We had covered a lot of territory and had experienced great blessings through a day of worship! May we all be blessed by our experiences of this day, so that we may serve the remainder of the week, focused on Christ and the love he has for all.
God is good! All the time!----Timothy E.