Bunk Bed Day!

Today was the last full day of our mission trip to Roatan, Honduras.  We dedicated this day to delivering bunk beds and gifts to 14 needy homes.  This is one of the most strenuous and fulfilling days of the trip.  Our morning started out with devotionals and a quick breakfast.  We then loaded the bunk beds onto a flatbed truck.  Our team built these beds throughout the week.  On the ride to Oak Ridge, be heard a loud BANG.  One of the front tires of the flatbed had blown-out.  Luckily, it was on the right side of the truck – which enabled us to change it away from the traffic.  The team got together and helped the truck driver change the tire and we were off again in 20 minutes.  Once at Oak Ridge, out team divided up into three groups to haul and install the beds in people’s homes.  The recipients of the beds were chosen by the local pastor and are people in real need.  Many of the families were the same ones we visited earlier in the week to deliver groceries.  During the earlier visit, our team noted needs of these families – how many children, were they school age, what they needed for clothes and shoes ….  The gifts that accompanied the beds were structured to meet these needs.  We also brought sheet sets and blankets for each of the beds.

Bunk beds and mattresses loaded and ready for the trip to Oak Ridge

Bunk beds and mattresses loaded and ready for the trip to Oak Ridge

Team fixing a flat.

Team fixing a flat.

In one of the groups, the team needed to move a bookcase and some shelves.  Upon moving the bookcase, John saw something moving and right where his hand had been was a large scorpion.  After a little scrambling and a big adrenaline rush, we took a couple pictures and “removed the scorpion”.  The rest of the bunk bed assembly was tenuous as we were on the lookout for more.  The other teams shared touching stories of families sharing food, water and even one trying to give Ayla a chicken as a thank you.  In one respect it seems funny or strange to be offered a chicken, but another perspective is that this was a family that had no money, but they were willing to give a big piece of what they had.  It was true generosity.

The scorpion we found behind a book case.

The scorpion we found behind a book case.

A woman crying with joy over her new bed

A woman crying with joy over her new bed

Rick sharing his time and a toy with a young boy from Oak Ridge

Rick sharing his time and a toy with a young boy from Oak Ridge

Our next step is leaving Roatan.  This is both exciting and sad.  It’s exciting to be headed back to see our families.  It will be sad to leave the people we’ve grown to love here in Roatan.

Many thanks to all of you that helped to support this mission trip.  Without that support, we would not have been able accomplish what we did this year.

One of 15 windows the team built / jam extensions and trim

One of 15 windows the team built / jam extensions and trim

Some of the plumbing completed under the building.

Some of the plumbing completed under the building.

Bathroom shower stahl the team built (needs to be tiled and faucets installed)

Bathroom shower stahl the team built (needs to be tiled and faucets installed)

School office that the team tiled.

School office that the team tiled.

Hallway leading to the school bathroom that the team tiled.

Hallway leading to the school bathroom that the team tiled.

Advertisements

Loaves and Fishes II

Today, our entire team traveled to the community of Oak Ridge.  This is a place we’ve worked to establish a relationship with for the past several years.  We started our time with the community with a presentation to the children on “Why they are special”.  It was a message about how the judgment of others doesn’t matter when you understand that you are truly loved by our creator.

Children of Oak Ridge watching the presentation on "You are special"

Children of Oak Ridge watching the presentation on “You are special”

After, we had several craft activities for the children.  Our people volunteering the craft stations were mobbed by groups of children wanting to participate.  It was a great site to see the excitement on their faces.

Dan handing out toothbrushes to the children.

Dan handing out toothbrushes to the children.

After the crafts, we prepared a simple lunch of a hot dog, two cookies, and a cup of Kool-Aid.  The children were served first.  As word got out, more and more children showed up to get in the food line.  We quickly needed to make a decision on how to serve the growing mass of people.  We decided to start cutting the hot dogs in-half and giving out a single cookie.  There were no complaints from the people receiving the food – only gratitude, smiles and gracias.  We started with 250 hot dogs.  We kept serving half-dogs and the people kept coming.  We were able to feed all the children and then we asked the adults to get in line.  They were as excited as the kids to receive this small meal.  In the end, we had about 6 half hot dogs that we needed to give out as “seconds” to a few of the children.  At about this time, a woman came up to us and started speaking in Spanish.  Tony translated her words: “This was the same as the story of Jesus feeding 5000 with five loaves of bread and two fish.”  It was indeed a miracle that we witnessed.

 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.  “Bring them here to me,” he said.   And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.  Matthew 14:17-21

A happy child with his meal.

A happy child with his meal.

After serving the meal, we had a quick team lunch, cleaned up the church and prepared for the thrift sale.  We had donated items from Minnesota that we priced between 1-5 Lempira (5-25 cents).  We started letting people in 10 at a time and letting them each buy up to 3 items.  The line to get in the church stretched into the street.  People were excited to purchase shoes, clothing, school supplies, toiletries, etc. at prices they could afford.  It was awesome to see the priorities people put on their purchases.  They bought things for family members – school supplies and shoes being the most popular.  In Honduras, children are required to wear uniforms to school and have paper and pencils.  If they don’t have these things, they are not allowed to go to school.  Mothers clearly wanted their children to have an education.  After it was finished, we were left with a few heavy fleece sweat pants and some sweaters.  These weren’t too popular in the tropical climate of Honduras.  We raised roughly $150 (remember this was in 5-25 cent increments).  The money was donated to the church in Oak Ridge for maintain the building.

People waiting to get into the thrift sales.

People waiting to get into the thrift sales.

After the joy of serving, the team returned to Greenfield Children’s Home for a little clean-up, a pizza party and some awesome fun with the children.  As always, we were greeted with hugs and lots of affection.  We had time to play, wrestle with the boys, and paint finger nails.  It was a great way to end the day.

Nate with a beautiful manicure.

Nate with a beautiful manicure.

The Community of our Team

 There was a cohesiveness to our team today, of which I was really proud.  Our construction crew has been tirelessly working to complete a very ambitious “to do” list.  They have installed two showers in the apartment, including under the building plumbing, installing shower pans, building the stud walls, installing dura rock, and tiling.  They have also put jamb extensions and trim on all the windows in the school, tiled the teacher’s office and school lavatory, and built 16 bulk beds, from scratch.  It’s no wonder that they were a little bit behind where they wanted to be this morning, so they asked for some help from our community team.  Everyone stepped up!  It was such an awesome display of cooperation, and people stepping out of their comfort zones to help out.  I was very impressed with the character of everyone on our team!

Jon, Sydney, Jill, Dan R., Sharon, and Dan C. assembling bunk beds.

Jon, Sydney, Jill, Dan R., Sharon, and Dan C. assembling bunk beds.

Tony and Nate working to on the tiling.

Another highlight of today was the jail visit.  Six of us went to visit those who have been arrested and being held in jail.  As we walked into the jail the first thing we noticed was a strong stench of sweat, urine, and feces.  All of the inmates are held in a cell area, some behind bars, others in the hallway outside of the bars.  They have no light, a dirt floor, and very little ventilation. There were about 10 people in the cell area, and they had a hole in the floor to use as a toilet.  Here in Honduras, if the inmates don’t have anyone to bring them food, they don’t eat.   We brought them tuna fish sandwiches and tea, along with Bibles.  All of them, except one wanted a Bible.  We read two different passages with them: I John 4:9-16 and Romans 3:23-24. 

 

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.   Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.   No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.   And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.   If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God.   And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.     I John 4:9-16

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.   Romans 3:23-24

They found the passages in their Bibles, and were very interested to hear what they had to say.  All of them were warm and receptive to us, and very appreciative of the food.  It was yet another experience that made an impact on all of us. 

The rest of the day was spent getting ready for Community Day tomorrow.  We bought 250 hot dogs, buns and cookies.  We will be showing a short video about how God made each of us special, Dr. Rick will give a teeth brushing demonstration with his tooth puppet, we will have crafts for the kids, and a thrift sale for the families.  We’re all excited to have a fun day in the community and look forward to interacting with the people who live in the Oak Ridge Community!

Ayla and Charlie painted picture frames for the family portraits we took of the Oak Ridge families

Ayla and Charlie painted picture frames for the family portraits we took of the Oak Ridge families

The Wealth of the Poor

 

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

Matthew 5:16

 Today the community team went out into the community of Oak Ridge, on the east side of the island to visit 15 families.  We were split up into 3 groups, each one with an interpreter and a guide to show us where to go.  We brought the families groceries and did our best to also encourage them and support them.  All of these families knew that we were coming and they welcomed us with open arms. 

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

 

The families that we visited today were all materially poor.  They live in conditions that are considered unlivable to the large majority of Americans.  There homes were pieced together with scrap metal, and many of them had dirt floors and no running water.  They have leaky roofs, collapsing foundations, dangerous steps leading into their homes, and not enough beds for their families.  Most of them do not have enough food.  When we asked them what their prayer requests were, however, not one of them mentioned anything material.  They asked for God to watch over their children so that they will be safe.

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

 

One man had a hernia and couldn’t get the surgery that he needs because the recovery time is 6 weeks, and he can’t take that much time off from his job.  One woman asked, through her contagious smile and tears, that we pray for her to be able to find a job.  The father of her children is gone, and she is raising her four children on her own.  She said that all she wants to do is get baptized, and spend the rest of her life serving God.  She didn’t complain a single moment throughout our entire visit, but instead she was telling us how thankful she is that God has given her what she has.  Her faith was nothing short of inspiring!  

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

Family from the community of Oak Ridge.

 

The construction team made huge headway today as well.  They built the shower walls and put the shower pans in, and they did tiling projects in the school bathroom as well as the teacher’s office.  They also got the bunk beds ready to assemble.

There is no doubt that God is working on this island and in the community of Oak Ridge.  He has given the people here a resiliency and a faith that is so bright it outshines the poverty, and the difficult situations that we see here.  All of us felt privileged to be able to do the work we did today.  All of us felt privileged to meet the people we met today.  And all of us feel privileged to allow God to work through us to fulfill his purposes in us, and in the people of Roatan.

Preparing for the week

The team had the opportunity to exercise their minds, muscles, and hearts today.  Our day started with a great devotional led by Linda.  We talked about the power of letting go and putting God in control.  This is actually a topic that comes up often during preparation for the mission and the actual mission itself.  Prior to coming to Roatan, we had an issue with the construction costs exceeding our budget.  This caused some stress on the leadership team.  The Sunday before we left, a donation came in that put us back on budget and enabled us to keep our original plan.  Letting go and trusting God is a powerful act.  I am personally amazed by what happens when I practice this simple act of trust.

After devotionals and a quick breakfast the team was off to work.  Part of our team sorted through donations in preparations for Thursday’s community day.  They also started on the tie blankets – completing 27 of the 44 we plan to make.  The construction team raised walls for the walk-in shower stalls, re-plumbed some of the supply water, and finished more of the demolition.  The bunk bed team completed about half of the bunks and is well ahead of schedule.  We also completed a lockable closet for the school office.  All-in-all it was a productive day.

Sharon, Linda, Christy and Ayla making tie blankets.

Sharon, Linda, Christy and Ayla making tie blankets.

Jill and Sharon sorting donations for the Oak Ridge Community day.

Jill and Sharon sorting donations for the Oak Ridge Community day.

Nate sorting through wood for the bunk bed ministry.

Nate sorting through wood for the bunk bed ministry.

The highlight of the day, however, had nothing to do with construction or preparation for community day.  Today was Danny’s 12th birthday.  Danny is a handsome, loveable boy at Greenfield Children’s Home.  When we arrived in the morning, he told many us that “Today is my birthday” with an ear-to-ear grin.  After school let out, he was ready for a party.  Tony, Banessa, and Blanca baked a traditional 3-Milk cake.  We sang Happy Birthday and had a traditional piñata for the kids.  It was so fun!

Danny with his birthday cake.

Danny with his birthday cake.

Tomorrow will be another joyful day.  Part of our team is headed out into the community to visit families and give gifts of groceries.  The rest will be working on progressing with various projects around the children’s home.  Please pray for continued safety of our team and we all thank you for your support.

Peace, grace, and love to you all.

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.      Joshua 1:9

Connecting with the Children

 This morning we were greeted with a beautiful 80 degree day here in Roatan!   We met up with the kids at Greenfield, and they all piled into the vans with us for a 45 minute drive to the beach!  This is an event that we usually like to have at the end of our trip – as a celebration and a time to say goodbye.  With the children’s schedules (they start back into school tomorrow after winter break), it was best to have “Beach day” on their normal Sunday.  It was really awesome to see all of them again!  They greeted us with hugs and smiles, excited to spend the day with us.  There were bonds instantly made with the team members who are new, as kids sat on laps and made them feel quickly part of the family.   Those of us who have been here before were delighted to see them all again…noticing how they have grown a little taller, and matured a little bit more.  It’s awesome to watch these kids grow up!  We had a great day of bonding with them, the staff at Sandy Bay, and each other.  Tomorrow we start the physical work of building the bathroom shower, and preparing for our work in the community.  I think we’re all excited to get to it! 

Dan and Destiny enjoying time on the ride to the beach.

Dan and Destiny enjoying time on the ride to the beach.

Over and over again the message I hear expressed from our team members is gratitude for being here, and having this opportunity to serve.  Thank you to everyone supporting us on this trip – both through prayer and financial contributions.  We couldn’t do this without you.

For more information about the Children, see Sandybay Lighthouse Ministries website: http://www.sandybaylighthouseministries.org/index.html

The journey begins

We made it safely to Roatan today.  For about half the team, our journey started in the early morning hours.  The first flight left at 5:00 am – which meant getting up around 2:00 am.  The nine of us on that first flight had twenty bags to check – each of them carefully packed to weigh 49 pounds and get around the heavy bag charges.  After boarding the first leg of our flight, we were informed that the aircraft was 700 lbs. overweight and we’d need volunteers to take another flight.  Many of the people on the plane knew we were the ones with all the bags.  Interestingly, no one blamed us.  Instead, it turned into conversations about what we were doing in Roatan.  It’s interesting how things happen to help spread the word about God’s mission.  Eventually the airline got three volunteers and we were on our way.  Upon landing in Roatan, we had a question from one of the group members:  “How did the airplane lose 700 lbs by having three people get off?”  Well the answer was they also removed some of our bags – filled with materials needed for the mission work this week.  We didn’t fret over this for long –leaving it in God’s hands.  The second half of our team arrived at about 4:00 pm and with them – you guessed it – our missing bags.  So our faith was quickly rewarded.

Later, the entire team accompanied Orsy and family to Saturday night church service.  Most of the service was in Spanish.  Part of the preacher’s sermon was translated by our friend Yourgin.  The services in Roatan are much different than what we see back at our church.  They are filled with praise songs, young girls in colorful dresses dancing in front of the congregations, some of the message is delivered during the praise songs, and the sermon is full of spirit and passion.  It’s something one needs to witness to fully absorb.  In the end, it is great to experience how another culture worships.

Now we are ready for an impactful week of delivering on God’s mission.  We’ll be remodeling a bathroom at the children’s home, finishing some windows and tile floors in the school, building bunk beds for some of the homes in the Oak Ridge community, delivering groceries to families in need, visiting a prison, and holding a community day (free lunch and flea market) in Oak Ridge.

We’ll try to update this blog every day.

Grace and Peace.

Team Picture at Kadosh Church

Team Picture at Kadosh Church