Monday, July 18, 2011
We started on our main work today. We traveled to the village of La Balsa, a village our church has adopted. This village is in the far from the ranch where we are staying. In poor road conditions, like the team experienced last year, it is a three and a half hour trip. One way. In better road conditions, like today, it was a two hour trip. We were all Shaken Babies again from the bumpy ride, but nothing could dampen our spirits. We were happy to be there.
The children of the school and many of the villagers turned out to welcome us. They held signs that read, “I Love the USA,” “Friends Forever,” and simply “Welcome.” Some were in Spanish, some in English. The teachers had made up letters to attach to the children and a row of children spelled the words, “St. Andrews Presbyterian TPA” (Tampa). We were then led to the school for a welcoming ceremony. The principle, teachers, and children all welcomed us. Speeches were translated, introductions of the team were made, and they sang the Honduran national anthem to us. We were then asked to sing our national anthem to then. I was so thankful for Ginny Ingram from our team. She stepped up, faced us, picked a starting note, and belted it out. We followed her and managed a rather pleasing version of the our national anthem, even in the high parts. I prepared some comments and a prayer that I translated into Spanish and spoke to them in Spanish. Our translator was at my side to bail me out if needed. I told the people that more important than the work we will do this week is the message we bear: “God loves you.” The team decided to focus on the love of God this year. Our theme verse is from 1 John about how we love because God first loved us.
After the ceremony, it was time to go to work. We split into four teams. Three of the teams were construction teams and the fourth went to the school to work with the children. I went with teammates Ginny Ingram and Kitti Ginn to the home of a man named Ernesto. He seems to be a man in his late 50s (although it is hard to tell in this country…people age quickly here). His house was built and he had not moved in yet. The floors were dirt and today we changed that by mixing, pouring, and finishing concrete floors. The two other construction teams did the same work of pouring floors. All of the construction teams finished their assigned work.
The school team taught the elementary and middle school children the story of the workers in the vineyard. This is the story about how a farmer hires people at different times of day and pays each person the same (a lot of people struggle with the concept of God’s generosity in this story). The school team had the students act out the parable. I didn’t see the drama, but I’m told that after a few moments of instruction, the children took off with the concept and loved it. Hopefully, they connected the concept of God’s generosity as well.
La Balsa seems to be in better shape than a previous village we served. Even though it is further away from the ranch and even though few teams have visited this village, many of the homes have poured concrete floors, chimneys (asthma is a problem without them as they cook with wood burning stoves), latrines, and most importantly, running water at the home. Many villages don’t have all of those luxuries and as a result, people suffer. Isn’t it strange to think that improving the lives of the people here means pouring a concrete floor? It makes one think about the differences between wants and needs in America.
Something has been nagging at me on this trip. We just came from evening devotions and I tried to express it to the team. Beneath the particulars of the work we are doing is God’s hand working on the people of this village and the team. That interests me the most. I want each person on the team to see what God is doing in this time away from home. I want the villagers to see what God is doing with them during our stay with them. In a larger sense, it’s what I want all people to do – to see God in the moments of daily living. We talked about the distractions in the life we Americans live. There is a lot of “noise” in our life. The people here don’t have the same noise as us, but they still have noise. The key is to see God in the midst of it all.
I am seeking God’s hand in the middle of these days in this eastern territory of Honduras. God is here, and God is on the move.
Now, however, it is time to see if the ranch internet is working. It wasn’t last night and I’m not sure about tonight.
God loves you… and so do I.