Honduras Mission Update 9

One last good morning from Honduras!

As we started our last full day together Friday, Chris M. lead us in a challenging devotional. We once again visited the story of Mary and Martha, but with a twist. Chris brought us away from Jesus’ feet where Mary was perched, to the tomb where her brother lay. It was here Martha exemplified a transformation we can also experience when faced with difficult situations. In John 11:17-27, we read how first Martha rebuked the Lord for His absence, then she acknowledged His relationship with God, and finally she stepped forward with a bold faith in Jesus as the Messiah, the Savior. When you see the injustices in our world, I encourage you to revisit this scripture and take a glance at your heart. Me and my attitude were convicted and encouraged this morning! How often have I rebuked God “Where were you?” rather than praising Him for being our salvation. I’ve certainly done it this week as I witnessed the poverty in Honduras.

We spent our day at the school to pitch in where needed. What appeared to me on the first day as chaos turned out to be a well-run school community. We did not come to fix the school or the village, but to pitch in and be extra hands. We had the opportunity this week to be Marthas (cleaning, repairing, cooking, etc.) as well as Marys (loving, listening, learning about Christ’s love).

Tomorrow (today) we will head to the airport early and bid adieu to our new friends and family members. Please join us in praying for safe travels and smooth passages through customs. Is TSA even open? Hopefully, with bleary eyes and full hearts, we will see you at church Sunday morning!

[To read more of the day-to-day from our week, feel free to visit my blog: leslievorndran.com]

My blessings and love to you,

Leslie

Honduras Mission Update 7

Greetings Friends and Family from Honduras !

21We awoke to a breezy beautiful morning along the Omoa Bay.

But we began the day in the town of Bethany a long time ago via Luke 10 verses 38-42. Martha and Mary served Jesus in their home, in different ways and with different hearts. We tried to think about what choosing the “better portion” means to us personally.

After breakfast of scrambled eggs and porridge we all crammed in the van and headed to Tegucigalpita and the Children’s Village. All the children were there today, as it was a school holiday – Soldiers Day. That was great with us as we had about 75 of the kids there to brighten our day.

We brought in 150 fresh oranges for the kids (they are green in skin color though) and the house mommies were quickly peeling them and giving each child a fresh orange . That produced big sticky smiles all around!

The Aquaponics folks jumped back into their super fish and agriculture project.

23Chris, Leslie and Sharon spent much time today with the kids…. Backgammon with the older boys, play dough with the girls, card games on the floor, and lots of coloring and markers.

Bill , Chris A and I were back on maintenance and repair duty. We installed 4 more ceiling fans (an absolute necessity in every living space ), repaired 5 swings – cut new seats from scrap wood and hung new hardware, repaired a kitchen door and a few other tasks. None of the repairs were hard but all were complicated by tool and hardware challenges and the 90 degree plus heat!

It rained on and off some today – actually poured buckets for 10 minutes a few times. But it never cooled down – just made it more sticky and a bit swampy!

22At one point as we were repairing the swings (a regular experience here that I really enjoy) I saw about 12 little ones chasing Chris Abel around the swing-sets! Those kids are fast and even with their short legs they caught him every time !

The neat thing about ” fixing stuff” is that it is a truly healthy experience… repairing a door and repairing a heart absolutely at the same time. With the kids helping , by holding our tools, and asking us questions and simply smiling at us- my heart is fully lifted up! Who knew ? We came to help the “poor among us” and they are actually helping us! This is the simple truth about mission work and it always amazes me!

We were hot and sweaty as we left the Children’s Village about 4:30. It was a bit quiet in the van on the 30 minute drive back as a few of us nodded off! Showers back at our small hotel felt really good.

At our dinner of pollo, beans and rice and vegetables, we were joined by three young Honduran women from The Leadership Center – Yanetzi, Olga and Alex. They are spending their last couple days at Heart to Heart with us now . And they will join us at the school tomorrow and help in the classrooms. We will spend time on their entrepreneurial business plans tomorrow afternoon. (Alex tells me she is the next Bill Gates.)

Buenos Noches Amigos!

Dan – for the team

Honduras Mission Update 6

19Hi friends and family!

It’s my turn to write the reflection from today’s mission trip activities.

A few minutes ago I was sitting in the passenger seat next to the leader of our mission trip. This guy has a shaved head, white goatee, glasses, and wiry arms covered in tattoos – including one of the Grimm Reaper.

Gary looks like an old, retired Walter White from AMC’s acclaimed “Breaking Bad.” But instead of using his intelligence and finances to create a meth empire, Gary is spending the later years of his life connecting people in the United States with a ministry that cares and educates nearly 100 Honduran orphans. It’s not every day you meet a guy like this. So during our ride home after visiting a barbecue restaurant where we treated the teen boys to a feast of meaty delicacies, I picked Gary’s brain.

Now earlier in the trip, Gary had mentioned his grandchildren. So I asked him, “Gary, what’s the difference between your grandkids and these kids?” His answer? “I see these kids ten times as much. No. A hundred times as much!” When I dug a little deeper, he explained how God has blessed his children and grandchildren in many ways. But God has called Gary to expand his family beyond his biological kindred to children who are in need of a blessing. “My family is back in the United States. But my family is here, too.”

20So he and his wife Sylvia spend their most of their free time taking groups like ours to two main locations: 1) The Children’s Village (AKA orphanage) where we’ve been fixing things up, playing with kids, and (get this) helping build a mini-ecosystem to grow vegetables and fish; and 2) the new school where we spend our time tutoring, cooking, or helping in the medical clinic. Besides hearing Gary’s story, Dan and I got to interview a few other people for a video we’re shooting. This included a woman named Ashley, who left behind her life in the USA to become the director of the school, and two young women from the Leadership Center who have traveled five hours to intern at the ministries related to the children’s village. Ashlea talked about the challenges of limited resources and space and how trying it can be to have all the American volunteer teachers living under one roof. (Sounds like a great Reality TV show!) The two young women who had been raised in Honduras shared how impressed they were with the education that has been provided to the children’s village and the surrounding community. Even though it has its challenges, this under-staffed, struggling school is providing incredible opportunities to these children – opportunities they would never have had without all of our support.

This morning our devotion touched on a verse from 1 Chronicles 29. It’s a reflection of King David who prays, “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly? Since everything comes from you, we have given you that which comes from your own hand.” This has really summed up my feelings about this whole trip. Who am I to hold a smiling orphan in my lap? Who are we to fill the refrigerators full of nutritious food for an entire village of children? Who are “my people,” that we should be able to support this kind of life-changing work day after day? We are offering much, but with the knowledge that none of our time or resources was really ours in the first place.

I know things seem crazy in the United States with the government shutdown and corrupted politics. But have you ever realized that your odds of being born in the United States were less than 5%? That’s the equivalent of rolling a 20 on a 20-sided dice on your first throw. We’ve got privileges and opportunities that far outweigh most of the world. And while these kinds of statistics are sometimes used to foster guilt or resentment, I just want you to feel for a moment the awe of being able to say “Who am I, to be given this kind of life?”

Today the Director of the Children’s Village drove a few hours to pick up three siblings who have been part of an abusive family. This week alone the village has grown by eight children, almost 10%. Take a moment to imagine what it would feel like to be trapped in an abusive situation as a child – with no hope of escape or opportunity. And now imagine the experience of someone stepping in, giving you a place to live and good food to eat and an education that can empower you to have a better life. For free. Because someone who had more decided to care.

18This is what Worldwide Heart to Heart does every day. A few people had a dream and a calling and now they have a school and a village and so much life! And while we get to say “Who am I to visit such a place?,” you can be part of the family that supports these kids. You knew it was coming, so without further ado, here’s the link: http://h2hcv.org/donate/

Thanks so much for reading this. I hope that at the least this has given you a fresh perspective about your own life and gifts. Whether it’s Honduras or something closer to home, you have a way of making someone’s life better. And that’s awesome.

Chris

 

 

 

 

Honduras Mission Update 5

Dear Friends and Family

It is good to be closing out a long wonderful day with a note to you.

Chris Abel began our day with devotionals at 6:30 on the deck overlooking Omoa Bay. It was a spectacular morning and Chris challenged us with an in depth reading and reflection on John 21:15-23. This familiar passage took on new meaning for me personally and I encourage you to carefully read it a few times. It might help your day; it did mine.

We had a nice breakfast of scrambled eggs, watermelon and porridge (kind of like oatmeal) and were all off to the Children’s Village.

We split into about three groups there. Most of the kids were at school in Cortes today – except the 10 littlest ones.

13Our friends from Washington State and Chris A jumped back into the Aquaponics project (raising fish and vegetables for food for the children with in a closed system). They continued to make progress. Today they got much plumbing done and repositioned the containers for the water flow. They also gathered some local aquatic plants and are trying them in the fish tank to see if it will be a good source of fish food. Talapia, by the way, apparently eat anything including, Chris reports, they will clean your fingernails thoroughly when you put your hand in the tank! Our fish team was joined today by a few of the Honduran workers which is a good sign. We really need the locals to take ownership of the project for it to have a chance to become self-sustaining. Many “gringo only” projects eventually fail so this is a key element we hope in turning over the Aquaponics.

14Leslie, Sharon and Chris headed to play and work with the toddlers/babies who were not at school. Much fun was had; play dough (purple is a favorite color), cut out dolls with stickers, book reading, soccer ball kicking, and much more!

Bill and I spent most of the day on maintenance projects. We were in one the little boys’ room for about 4 hours. 10 boys (age 4-10) live there – the room is about 10 feet by 20 feet. While generally clean, the truth is that the youngest boys are bed wetters and the resulting smell is very strong. We installed a ceiling fan, cleaned vents in a room air conditioner unit, fixed a couple fluorescent fixtures and repaired the door lockset. The amount of maintenance tasks is overwhelming at the Children’s Village and while we made progress today, the list is way too long to feel good about.

16We all gathered at noon and ate together at the baby house – meat enchiladas and piña juice. Very tasty!

Heavy on our hearts today was the new family of 5 children that had arrived on Saturday. The youngest two girls were at the Village – Naomi the 1 1/2 year old and Joana the 4 year old. (the oldest three siblings were at the school). Both these little girls are not doing too well. Naomi is sick. She is listless and cries constantly. Leslie held her for 3 hours today trying to console her. Sharon was able to feed her a bit of food as Chris held her at one point. We are not sure what is wrong right now. Joana seems healthy – but just not happy – or better said, she is very sad. This family has been broken apart – despite the abusive / difficult circumstance that they were in – they are now not with their mother who gave them up. I am sure it is not possible for me to comprehend what these precious children must be thinking. They are safe and Heart to Heart intends to try and keep these children. They are working with the state agency, who actually sent the mother with her children to Heart to Heart. But financial resources right now are an issue for this Ministry.

Heart to Heart spends about $250 per child per month to provide each a loving home and give them an education. It’s not a lot of money in the States for sure – but here it is, especially since the Ministry right now is running in the red. Can we help more? I think we all know that answer.

Leslie has posted a bit more information on these new children at her blog site – maybe you might visit? http://leslievorndran.com/2013/10/01/Naomi/

We all climbed into the van around 4:15 – hot and sweaty – for the 30 minute ride back to Omoa. We all enjoy each others’ company and the fellowship is terrific – so close quarters is ok!

A few of the team went for a swim and everyone showered. We gathered for our daily debriefing at 6 where much of the discussion and even more emotion centered around Naomi and her siblings.

We had a wonderful dinner of seafood, vegetables, plantains, rice, beans and plantain pie! We were joined tonight at dinner by Joseph Rahm, his wife Haley and their two young children. Joseph is the director of The Leadership Center here in Honduras. After dinner we chatted for a couple hours about the challenges and importance of educating young people in this very poor country.

15It was a good day here. We are striving to be the arms and legs of Christ, and feed his lambs, to the best of our ability. We appreciate the support of all our friends and family back home. Without you, we could not be here.

Buenos Noches,

Dan – for the Mission Team

Honduras Mission Update 4

Hello everyone.

We had another wonderful day in Honduras. Weather was much milder (probably only in high 80s) and there was a breeze every now and then.

We started out our morning, as is the custom, with devotions. Leslie read from Joshua 2 with the message that individual faith can make us strong and do things we may otherwise not be able to do and sometimes those acts make a powerful difference. We hope that the children’s faith will grow and they too may someday make a powerful difference in their community or possibly country. Our morning devotionals lasted longer than normal as the topic generated a healthy dialog amongst all of us.

Soon after, we were split up with the group from Washington State headed over to the Village to continue their work (with great success). They believe they are about 75% of the way to making the system operational. This is terrific news and the result of a lot of back breaking work in very hot weather. They are to be commended.

13The others left early to spend the day at school. Each of us served as teachers aids in different classrooms. It is amazing to see the progress all of the students are making. The photos shows a standard classroom. All students are required to speak English in the classroom. You can tell the difference this has made not only in their general classwork but also in their conversational English with our team.

12Coming home after an exhausting day in the classroom, we got the opportunity to ride with the students in the school bus. What a treat. See attached picture of the madhouse. 3-4 students per seat and about 100 people on the bus but order was maintained and fun was had by all.

When we arrived back at the hotel we were met by the Director of the Leadership Center and his family who had come down from the mountains of Honduras to meet with us and visit. We all had a delicious meal at a local restaurant before turning in for the night with high expectations for another action packed day tomorrow.

Please keep the children and our team in your prayers.

Good night all!

Bill