Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The work of the mission trip is over, but there is more to come.
The format of these trips is three days of working on projects—floors, roofs, walls, latrines, teaching in schools—and one day of throwing a party for the village. The final two days are travel days, one to get to the Tegucigalpa and another to get home (very late Saturday night).
This morning we went to the school sponsored by Honduras Outreach, Inc., the mission organization that helps us with these trips. After a few moments with the school principal, we got to tour the new library for the school. The library was donated by a woman from Atlanta and was impressive and promising for the children of this area. It is amazing how little money it takes to help these students get an education. The government pays for public education through sixth grade. After that, it is up to the family. Most can’t afford it. St. Andrews sponsors four children each year. You may remember the “noisy bucket” offering across two Sunday with only the loose change in our pockets covered the cost of one student for an entire year—tuition, room, and board.
Today was my favorite day of any of the Honduras trips I’ve taken. I am so thankful that I’ve had no stomach issues so far. In fact, I feel great. The visit to the school was inspiring. Then we started our two hour trek to La Balsa. On the way there, I listened to Hayden’s Creation on my iPod. It was great to be in a spectacular tropical climate with mountains and blue skies and listening to that music. Soon, however, I joined in the conversation in the Range Rover. I introduced those in the Range Rover to “Eh, Cava!” or in English, “Hey, Cow!” It’s a game I learned in Ohio and played it with the family. It is made for rides through cattle country and this district of Honduras, the Olancho district, is definitely cattle country. The game is one side of the vehicle versus the other. When you pass a field of cows on one side of the road, someone in the vehicle from that side puts his or her head out of the window and yells, “Eh, Cava!” as loud as possible. If the cow looks up, it’s one point. If the cow, runs away, 10 points. If the cow, falls over, 50 points. It’s amazing how quickly the ride to the village passed this morning. It must have been quite a sight. After making sure no people were nearby, grown men and women yelling at cows at the window.
At the village, my first job was helping put a roof on a house. It was for the new home one of the three pastors in La Balsa. Each room was about eight feet by eight feet. Actually, I didn’t do much actual work. They had their system for putting up tin roofs and I stood up on the roof for a while, and then got down and started talking with the crowd that was gathering. Jayne Dowdy ("Juanita") was with me and she had handed a small boy a tennis ball. I began to teach him how to play baseball. I put a makeshift home plate in place, taught him his stance and grip, and then pitched until he hit it. By this time, the grownups were interested and laughing the whole time. A boy I’m guessing was about 12, stepped up to bat next. The grownups really laughed when I positioned him into batting position. The grownups never caught on to team “chatter” even though I tried to get them to say, “Hey, batter, batter…” Jayne bat next and hit a home run.
Before we left for lunch, I was able to have a conversation with the pastor about the spiritual needs of the community. His first response was problems surrounding the abuse of alcohol and drugs. Later, if possible, I want to hear more about those problems.
When we returned for lunch, I played soccer (football here) and Frisbee with a group of boys along with Barry Dowdy and Gene Ginn, both elders at St. Andrews. I enjoyed the image of the pastor and two elders being playful while at the same time creating positive memories with the children of the village. The boys kept calling out, “Barrito” (Barry), “Eugenio” (Gene), and Juan (John). Others from our group joined in as well. Suzanne got the girls out after lunch and threw the Frisbee with them. That led into more fun.
One of the most meaningful parts of this or any trip was the visits we made afterward. Ginny Ingram, Marcia Allison, and I joined two local pastors and Marta, our trip coordinator and translator, to visit people in need. We visited a man who could barely walk after he threw his back out clearing rocks out of his yard. Ginny and I prayed over him and we all laid hands on him. Next, we visited a 95 year-old woman named Camilla. We prayed for her, her husband, and her sister-in-law (I think). The third visit was to a widow with some health issues. We made a point to remind them beforehand that we were here because of the love of God. Our theme is “We love because God first loved us.” We wanted them to know that clearly. And then we prayed. All three seemed to connect well with the prayers. With Camilla, we closed the prayers with the Lord’s Prayer. They prayed it in Spanish and we prayed it in English. It was beautiful. God knows the languages just like God knows the hearts and needs of the persons.
So I felt good all day. However, my day was a contrast to a couple of our team. A few are still not feeling well, one in particular—Dawn from Wisconsin. She was feeling puny all day and was happy to get home tonight. She gets full marks for determination. In fact, the whole team gets full marks for determination. This team has had a dogged determination on this journey. The Shaken Baby Syndrome rides, travel delays, flat tires, intestinal issues, and constant living together have not slowed this team down. This team is eager to serve.
The fiesta will be at the school that has been home base for work projects. We picked up three piñatas in San Estaban on the way home. Tomorrow should be interesting. Children in the U.S. enjoy piñatas. Children here are piñata professionals. I know. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.
Off to try the internet service tonight. Remember, God loves you and so do I.