It is finished …

Our work in Roatan came to a close on Friday.  In the morning, we finished up with the bathroom stalls and were able to get four of the toilets installed and working.  It’s difficult to leave the job “unfinished”, but we trust that the next team to visit will complete the work.  In parallel, a group went to visit the local jail.  This is a temporary holding facility with two dirt floor cells – housing roughly a dozen prisoners.  The living conditions were poor at best.  The team brought food and spent some time praying with the inmates.

The afternoon was spent with the children from Greenfield Children’s Home at the beach.  The boys spent time rough-housing in the water with some of the men from our team.  Others sat in the shade and enjoyed time chatting and breathing the warm ocean air.

Saturday will include a brief stop to say goodbye to the children and then we are off to the airport for the journey home.  Leaving will be bittersweet.

Thank you all for your support before and during this mission.  It is truly a privilege to be doing God’s work on this mission.

Emanual taking a snooze after the time at the beach.

Emanual taking a snooze after the time at the beach.

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Community Day

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

We spent the entire day in Oak Ridge today. Again we were so inspired by the spirit of the people and every member of the team had amazing stories at the end of the day.
We had an event at the local church that included crafts, a drama, a demonstration from Dr. Rick on how to brush teeth (with his tooth puppet!), and a thrift sale of clothing, shoes, and school supplies. There was a little girl, about six years old, who found a pair of shoes that she loved. She waited patiently as the team got ready for the sale, and then finally she pointed the shoes out to one of our team members, Dave P. He told her that the shoes cost 5 limpiras ($0.25). She spoke no English, but she was able to communicate that she didn’t have any money. Dave let her take the shoes, and she was delighted. About a half hour later, she came back and found Dave and said “thank you for the shoes” in English. She had spent that time learning from someone, how to say that much in English, to show her appreciation.

Clothes, shoes, school supplies for sale

Clothes, shoes, school supplies for sale

Another part of our event was a very simple meal. We boiled 200 hot dogs, and served them with ketchup, mustard, and mayonnaise, and included a small cookie on the side. The children were swarming around us to get their hotdogs. There were over 200 people there, and we couldn’t get the food out fast enough! When the hot dogs ran out, people were more than happy to accept a hot dog bun with only ketchup, mustard, and mayo. After the meal, most of the 200 people stood in line for dum dum suckers. We were blown away by their appreciation for such a simple meal, and all of them left the event with smiles and gratitude.

A local boy enjoying his hot dog

A local boy enjoying his hot dog

Tony and Dr. Rick with his tooth puppet

Tony and Dr. Rick with his tooth puppet

The afternoon hours were spent visiting our families in the communities again. We brought them framed pictures that we had taken on Tuesday (the kids at Greenfield decorated the frames), school supplies for those who were in school, Bibles in Spanish, fleece blankets that the team made earlier in the week, and lice kits. Wade and Lisa brought one man a water line to run to his house, and helped another woman hang hooks on her walls. It was such a pleasure to be able to give them a small amount of comfort and encouragement. Robyn’s group had one little girl, about 4 years old, who discovered a small doll in her bag. When she saw it she hugged the bag as if she would never put it down. It was at that time that she and her mother both asked the team to take the little girl back to the U.S. with them. They both assumed she would have a better life there…

Our team prayed for a woman that just happened to be in one of our homes named Cecilia. She was crying because her husband had been having high fevers at night and was going to work sick during the day. They had no way to get him help.

Miracles upon miracles happen every day here. Being with the people of Oak Ridge brings about interactions and realizations about our own lives that are profound. We will return to the U.S. changed, re-evaluating our own lives and priorities. We feel as though we have been blessed far more than we could have imagined. It’s remarkable that we gave to this community, and every one of us feel as if we left there with more than what we gave. It was a day rich in love, miracles, and so much joy!

A Day of Preparation

We had a busy day – mostly spent at the Greenfield Children’s Home.  Jon led the morning devotionals with a nice discussion about reaching out to others through good deeds.  One verse he called out was Mathew 5:16

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

The rest of the day was spent on preparing for the big Oak Ridge community day on Thursday and progressing on the construction projects.  Donated clothing, food, school supplies, and household goods were sorted and readied for distribution.  A portion of these items will be given to fifteen families that attend the local church.  The remaining donated items will be distributed to the community in Oak Ridge through a community day event.  We’ll be putting on a short skit depicting sins and forgiveness followed by a brief bible verse reading and explanation of the skit.  After that we’ll be providing a meal for everyone and arts/crafts.

The children help decorate bags for distributing supplies to families in need

The children help decorate bags for distributing supplies to families in need

The construction crew finished putting up a wall in the girls bathroom and sheet rocking it and repairing multiple holes created from walls that had been moved.  Most of the bathroom has at least a first coat of mud.  The plumbing is progressing well.  The waste lines are all in and the venting is done.  All that remains below the building is to repair one pesky leaking supply line.  It will be a big relief to done underneath the building!  Back above ground, the toilet stalls in the boys bathroom are complete and the girls bathroom stalls are roughed-in.  We are hoping to finish most of the work Friday morning.

Dave and Rick prepare to install a wall in the girl's bathroom.

Dave and Rick prepare to install a wall in the girl’s bathroom.

Stalls in the boy's bathroom nearing completion.

Stalls in the boy’s bathroom nearing completion.

The other big event today was Richard’s ninth birthday.  Tony baked three cakes for the children and the team from SOV.  Late in the afternoon, the kids celebrated with a traditional pinata followed by “Happy Birthday” in both Spanish and English.

It was a joyful day!

Richard with his pinata

Richard with his pinata

Children gathered for Richard's birthday celebration

Children gathered for Richard’s birthday celebration

A visit to Oak Ridge

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.   I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.                                                          Isaiah 41:10

Today we had one of my favorite opportunities here in Roatan…to serve the community of Oak Ridge.  There was a team who spent the morning shopping at the grocery store, and put together 30 bags of groceries, 2 for each family we visited.  After assembling the bags, we had 16 members of our team head out to Oak Ridge.  What we found there was nothing short of remarkable…

We visited 15 families, and each one had a different story with different struggles.  These families deal with huge issues of survival on a daily basis, along with unemployment, addictions, health issues, sanitation, and the list goes on.  But what is consistent among them is their enduring spirits, their hope for the future, and their remarkable faith.  The people we visited have completely different lives than we are used to back in the U.S.  Some of the conditions they live in are deplorable.  As a result, what we found were very different priorities. One of our questions to them was “is there anything that we can be praying about for you?”  Their requests spoke volumes…pray that the cider-block wall that is leaning towards my house, holding up the hill, doesn’t fall.  Pray that my husband can find work.  Pray that we can find a way to send my daughter to school, because we can’t afford it.  Pray that my child can get notebooks.  Pray for safety for my sick child.  Pray for my entire family struggling with addiction…

We left there with a need to re-evaluate our own lives…our priorities, attitudes, and responsibilities. We met some amazing people and it was a privilege to serve them and to be blessed by them all at the same time.

Andrea

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His purpose for …

The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me ….   Psalm 138:8

What a great day!  Our team had many activities planned for today.  As we do each morning, we started with daily devotionals.  Dave P. led us through a powerful discussion on how the Lord loves us and we can strive to emulate that love to others.  One highlight at the end was Norlan blessing us with singing of My Sanctuary.  He has an incredible gift of singing talent.  After devotionals, the group set about on many service projects.

Norlan  in the yard of Greenfield Children's Home

Norlan in the yard of Greenfield Children’s Home

A group went to the “Miss Peggy’s” clinic to help with patients, minor repair work and clean-up.  As our group helped to clean-up the grounds, they were joined by some local children who started helping out.  What a great lesson for service and giving that the children learned and demonstrated through participation.  Another group set about general repairs in the Greenfield Children’s Home.  All of the faucets and toilets are now in working order!  The crew working on the lavatories in the school made significant progress in demolition of older water and sewer lines.  New lines have started to be installed and the new toilets arrived on site.

Rick, Wade and Jon contemplate the plumbing design

Rick, Wade and Jon contemplate the plumbing design

Within the home, the team finished the tie-blanket project.  These will be distributed to children in the Oak Ridge community.  Time was also spent playing with the children and assisting with school work.

Children help out with making blankets.

Children help out with making blankets.

We finished the day with the group sharing what had happened during the day.  Each person experienced different lessons and special moments throughout the day.  Hearing how others had experienced God’s mission brought joy to the entire team.

A Day at Sandy Bay

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

It’s interesting how the “purposes of God” surface on a trip like this. We have spent months preparing for this trip, carefully planning for every day and every moment…trying to think of all the details so that we can make the most impact. We have met, brainstormed, and planned, and now we’re here. Now God is letting us in on His plans. The preparations we’ve made will be used, just not necessarily in the ways that we expected or envisioned. I love that! It just demonstrates again that He is in control. Step by step, He works it out and leads us to the purposes that he has, and makes them pretty obvious as we go. It’s such a thrill to be part of those purposes. God is at work here in Roatan, and he is at work in our team. Small happen miracles every day.

Sunday was spent at Greenfield Children’s Home. The construction crew started with they’re plumbing projects. They installed new faucets in the bathrooms and kitchen. They also began plumbing for the lavatories in the school. The non-construction crew met the kids, helped with homework, and started preparing for our community day in Oakridge. Blankets were made. Clothes, shoes, toys, and school supplies were sorted for the thrift sale. We had a great day!

SOV was remarkably generous!  The volume of donations took us 1/2 day to sort!

SOV was remarkably generous! The volume of donations took us 1/2 day to sort!

Members of our team made blankets with the kids.

Members of our team made blankets with the kids.

The construction crew had to get under the school to plumb the toilets.

The construction crew had to get under the school to plumb the toilets.

Angel was a big help!

Angel was a big help!

Roatan 2013: Made It!

Our entire team made it safely to Roatan today! For many the physical journey started at 2:00 am this morning. Our flight from Minneapolis to Houston boarded at 4:40 am. Most of us lacked our normal amount of sleep, but you couldn’t tell. The energy of the team was high. Everyone brought extra bags full of donated clothing and construction materials for the mission. United Airlines limits you to a maximum weight of 50 pounds on each checked bag. We had several bags tip the scales at 49.5! There were a few minor bumps on the journey – unanticipated standby status for a couple members, earlier than expected departures for others. We were blessed to pick Rick S. up in Houston. He had been delayed the previous day and was able to join us on the same flight to Roatan. In the end, we all made it safely.

At the airport in Houston:  Pat, Maf and Cheryl spend some quality time

At the airport in Houston: Pat, Maf and Cheryl spend some quality time

In the evening, we were able to join Orsy, Banessa and many of the children at their weekly church service. It was such a thrill to see the kids again. They continue to grow physically and spiritually in the loving hands of Orsy and Banessa. Attending a church service in Roatan is quite an experience. They have a great band and we were able to recognize many of the songs played. The church services are held later in the day when the weather is a bit cooler. The church itself is open air – with a corrugated metal roof. A cool breeze blows through the congregation as the band plays and young women perform traditional dances. The service was conducted in Spanish. While most of us couldn’t keep up with the translation, it was clear to see the preacher’s passion and the enthusiasm by the congregation for worshiping.

We enjoyed a night of worship at the Kadosh church

We enjoyed a night of worship at the Kadosh church

Kadosh Church Service

Kadosh Church Service

We returned to our rooms at about 10:00 pm. It was a long yet fulfilling day. We all look forward to serving in His name tomorrow!