Mission Possible

If you’re following this blog, you may have noticed the alternating posts from Andrea and myself. We have a different approach in writing. Different strengths in what we do. If I may paraphrase a line from Jerry McGuire: “She completes me”. Andrea is artistically gifted. I’m an engineer. She sees in shades of gray. I can be black and white. She can be about the experience. I can be about the task. Being with her helps me to balance myself towards those things I lack. So what’s the significance of this monologue? I’m going to list the tasks our team accomplished with God’s backing on this trip. I’m going to channel Andrea to write about the meaning behind it. So here we go ………..

We built four desks for the Beacon Academy. This school, which is run out of the children’s home provides a better education than the kids could get in the public schools.
We rebuilt a swing set for the kids to play on. The kids have been having fun on the swings from the second it was finished.
We rebuild the ball-pit play structure. Again, as soon as it was done, the kid were all over it.
We replaced half the toilets in the dormitory.
We fixed six showers in the dormitory.
Fixed the girl’s bath tub.
We repaired multiple bedroom doors in the dormitory.
We installed four screen doors.
We provided food, bibles, family pictures, clothes, shoes, school supplies and first aid kits for twenty families in need in the community of Oak Ridge.
We provided fluoride treatments for about thirty children in Oak Ridge.
We put on a skit to communicate the message of Jesus as a servant king – washing the disciples’ feet.
We washed the feet of about two-hundred people in Oak Ridge to re-enforce the message of servitude.
We fed about four-hundred and fifty people at the community day in Oak Ridge.
We put on a flea market where the people of Oak Ridge were able to buy clothing, shoes, and school supplies.
The money from the flea market was donated to the church in Oak Ridge
We visited a jail and provided meals to about twenty five prisoners.
All of the children of Greenfield Children’s home got their teeth cleaned and fluoride treatments.

Now, for arguably the more important stuff:
We got the love the children. They are such great kids. It is the best part of the trip.
We got to share God’s word and His love with the people of Roatan. In many cases, the Word and the Love were shared back to us.
We got to learn from our brothers and sisters in Christ: We learned about God’s Grace, our Brokenness, His Love, His Patience, and His Forgiveness.
We built bonds with through fellowship.

This mission is one where we get so much more than we give.

Peace and love to you all.

Kids new swing set

Kids new swing set

Finished Desks!

Finished Desks!

Finished Screen Doors

Finished Screen Doors

Girl's Tub

Girl’s Tub

Shower in the dorm

Shower in the dorm

Hot dogs for the community day in Oak Ridge

Hot dogs for the community day in Oak Ridge

Rick providing a fluoride treatment

Rick providing a fluoride treatment

Updated ball pit

Updated ball pit

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Community Day A-Z

A is for Adoration. There are so many families in the Oak Ridge community that we are coming to love!

B is for Broken hearts. God breaks our hearts for the people of Oak Ridge every time we come here. Today we spoke with many people who don’t have enough food. We met one boy with Cerebral Palsy. He had a seizure while we were surrounding him. There are people who are hungry and hearts that are broken and discouraged.

C is for the love of Christ. God has given us the privilege of showing the love of Christ to the people here, and it was our pleasure to do so.

D is for Direction. There are so many kids in the community of Oak Ridge, and it is our prayer that they grow up, become leaders, and be able to direct their community and their church in the direction that God has in mind.

E is for Edwin. Edwin is an 11 year old boy that used to be at the Children’s Home. He is now living in Oak Ridge. We’ve been told that he’s been getting into trouble and is heading in the wrong direction. We saw him today, and he had a black eye from a fight that he was in. We are very concerned about him and lift him up in prayer.

F is for Families and Fluoride, and Familiarity.   After the event at the church, we visited families in the community again. This time we brought them clothes, Bibles, shoes, toys, hygiene items, and first aid kits. We also gave the kids fluoride treatments on their teeth. For me, one of the coolest things about coming back to the same community year after year, is that people are becoming familiar with us. I recognize faces, and they recognize me. There is a comfort in that.

G is for God. God is working here in Roatan, and through all of the brokenness that we see, we also see miracles and restoration.

H is for Hot Dogs. We served 400 hot dogs to the community today. Everyone got something to eat.

I is for Incline. Oak Ridge is a very hilly community. Our team sometimes has to climb significant inclines to get to the homes of the families.

J is for Joy. We see joy in the people of Roatan, and it is contagious.

K is for Kids. I was such a joy for us to be with all the kids today. There were about 300 kids at our event today. They watched a skit, did crafts, and ate hot dogs. We saw lots of smiles.

L is for Limpira. Everything at the thrift sale today was 2 limps. That’s about 10 cents.

M is for Mustard and Mayo. Remember those 400 hot dogs? They all had ketchup, mustard, and mayo.

N is for New Toys. Every kid in the families that we visited got a small toy.

O is for Officers. This year we had a presence of the local fire department, national police, and the military at our event. They heard about last year, saw the crowd, and decided to stick around for crowd control. The military guys were wearing M-16s. Yikes!

P is for People. There were 3-400 people at our event today!

Q is for Quality tooth brushing. Jill used our tooth monster to give a tooth brushing demonstration.

R is for Rope. Dan C. played Jesus in our skit for the kids. His costume was a sheet with a rope tied around his waist.

S is for Sale. We had a thrift sale today. There were about 2-300 people who were able to buy shoes, clothes, school supplies, and hygiene items for a nominal fee. The money that was collected went to the local church.

T is for Towels. We used towels in the foot washing part of our day. Towels were also one or our crafts for the kids.

U is for Uniforms. The kids here in Roatan are required to have uniforms in order to go to school. Some of the thrift items that were for sale were geared towards the clothes they need for those uniforms.

V is for Victory. It feels like a victory to our whole team that we were able to pull off such an event that we had today. There were a lot of logistics and details to remember, and with Gods help, we were able to do it.

W is for Washing. Our theme this year was humility and servitude. We used the story of Jesus washing the disciple’s feet. After the skit our team washed the feet of anyone in the community who wanted their feet washed. We estimate that there were about 300 pairs of feet.

X is for…not much starts with X.

Y is for Yourgin. A big thank you to our friends Yourgin and Brandy, Merisol, and of course Orsy for being our translators today.

Z is for Zany. There are always parts of this day that seems crazy and overwhelming, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Gathering at the church in Oak Ridge

Gathering at the church in Oak Ridge

My savior was a carpenter, but I fix toilets

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. Colossians 3:23

Today was a big work day at Greenfield Children’s Home. The day started with a heartfelt testimonial from Miranda. She is indeed a special sister in Christ. After devotionals and breakfast we went off preparing for tomorrow and working on the various projects around the Children’s Home. The construction team had a big day. We’ve had fun naming the sub teams based on their tasks. Team SWING SET finished the play structure and the children were on it instantly. The team did an awesome job and the children will enjoy this for many years. The ball pit is almost done with its reconditioning. New platforms were built, the floor was restrung so that it’s suspended off the ground and most to the netting was attached.

Kids are already enjoying the swing set.

Kids are already enjoying the swing set.

The ball pit nearing completion of the renovation.

The ball pit nearing completion of the renovation.

Team DESKS finished their job off with a coat of varnish on the tops. These turned out awesome.

Finished Desks!

Finished Desks!

Finished Desk

Finished Desk

Team SCREEN DOORS worked really hard to install two doors. We’ll have some last minute adjustments to get them set right. The door jams in Roatan aren’t built to a specific standard – making it really difficult to mount them. We’ll have another crack at them Friday morning.

Team TOILET (I’m on this team – hence the title of the post) made some good progress. All of the toilets in the dormitory are now functional. We plumbed and installed the shower controls and re-tiled the shower stalls. Friday, we will be able to grout them and install the shower controls.

Working on the showers in the dormitory.

Working on the showers in the dormitory.

Team COMMUNITY had a very busy day preparing for the events tomorrow in Oak Ridge. Donations were sorted for the flea market and for gifts to the families we visited on Tuesday (we visit them again tomorrow). We plan on having dental hygiene training for the kids, a short skit on Jesus’s washing of the disciples’ feet, a “soup kitchen” for the residents, a flea market, and some home visits. It’s going to be a joyful day doing God’s work. Also at the children’s home, the community team finished with teeth cleaning for all the kids.

The final part of our day is typically a team meeting where we plan the next day and reflect on the one coming to a close. Tonight was a special event where we washed the feet of our team members and prayed for each of them. It was a good reminder of Jesus’s message of servitude.

Peace and love to you all.

My favorite part of coming to Roatan

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Then I heard a voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8

My favorite part of coming to Roatan is going out and visiting families in the community.   Today we got the privilege of doing just that. These are the things that I love about it…

Working with the local church. The fact that we get to come here and become involved in what the local church is already doing is awesome. We are all a team as we reach out to the local community, and it is an honor to work alongside our fellow believers here in Roatan.

Encouraging other believers in a different part of the world. The people here have different struggles than we do. They struggle with health issues that are difficult for them to address for various reasons. Many times they are not close to a hospital or clinic, they don’t have enough money to pay for health care, or if they have a job, it’s difficult for them to take time off for a medical reason. The issues our team came across today were things such as epilepsy, heart problems, a man who was confined to a wheel chair because he broke both his legs in a car crash, a woman who was about to give birth (hospital is 45 minutes away), and a 13 year old girl who had swollen arms, and her family doesn’t know why. There were also emotional issues that people are dealing with. We saw broken families, largely because the fathers leave, along with that, we saw depression, and discouragement. Economic issues were also on the forefront. There were many people out of work, and unable to provide for their families. And finally, we came across a lot of people that wanted to be stronger in their spiritual lives.

Seeing our team grow. Whether we’ve been here several years in a row, or it’s the first time, going out into the community changes us. People on our team come to different realizations, and God is teaching us lessons along the way. We are blessed every time we are invited into these homes.

Being used by God. It is such a pleasure to be used by God in the way that He is using us. Every one of the homes that my team visited today said that we were sent by God because they really needed us right now. Whether it was food, or prayer, or encouragement, they all needed something that we were able to give. It is an awesome realization to know that God is using us to get to others.

Please continue to pray for our team, the families of Oak Ridge, the House parents of Greenfield Children’s home, that for our safety for the rest of the week.

A&W Roatan 2015 Day 4 (28)A&W Roatan 2015 Day 4 (53)A&W Roatan 2015 Day 4 (41)

Perseverance

May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.  2 Thessalonians 3:5

 

Emanuel with his new Cheetah toy.

Emanuel with his new Cheetah toy.

Did you ever notice, if you just listen or look around, you’ll hear God’s voice?  I’ve never heard the thunderous command of “Go forth and do this or that.”  But, as I sat down to write to write today’s update and I typed in the Bible verse Jill put in our devotional journal several weeks ago (2 Thessalonians 3:5), I hear his voice loud and clear.  Let me explain.

 

The day started out with our normal morning devotional, Led by Gary, who gave us a great testimonial about his walk with Christ.  We then divided up into our sub teams to tackle a variety of projects around the children’s home.  The teams were given descriptive titles:

 

Community team sorted through donations and supplies brought down from Minnesota.  Many of the donated items will be brought to the community of Oak Ridge on Thursday of this week.  Some of the items are used for the kids at the children’s home.  The team also prepared a drama for Thursday’s community day.  This year’s drama is about Jesus showing servitude to the disciples by washing their feet.

 

Andrea chilling with Angel, Danny, and Jairo

Andrea chilling with Angel, Danny, and Jairo

Team Swing Set disassembled the old play structure and completed a good part of the new one.  They were the first team to discover some of the construction items brought from Minnesota didn’t make it to Roatan.  They put on their creative hats and figured out how to persevere through the challenges.  They created new brackets and build wooden swing seats to replace the missing items.  They also dug into a ball pit in dire need of some TLC.  This team is on-track to give the kids a renewed play area.  They were also fortunate to have help from some of the boys at the children’s home – who just love to learn how to use tools – especially impact drivers and drills.

 

Team working on the children's play area

Team working on the children’s play area

Team School Desks build four great looking desks and just need a little more time to build the drawers.  This will be used in the on-site school for the kids of the children’s home.  They had a short break from desk building to measure the dormitory roof for another team that’s coming down to do some repairs.  While on the roof, gutters were cleaned and palm trees were pruned back.

 

Lori working on desks for the school

Lori working on desks for the school

Team Toilets and Showers prepped 8 showers for replacement valves and removed four non-functioning toilets.  We found out that the boys end of the dormitory had two working showers and two working toilets.  The girls end of the dormitory dad no working showers and two working toilets.  The team also found that a number of their parts were missing and some of the shower controls and fittings didn’t match.  We needed to find specific copper fittings on an island that doesn’t use copper plumbing.  We managed to come up with enough fittings to convert the six remaining controllers to PVC.  The four new toilets arrived and we should be in good shape to finish the installs this week.

 

Wade and John removing an old toilet

Wade and John removing an old toilet

All in all, the team persevered through some challenges.  God’s loving hand was with us and guided us.  Submitting to His will can be difficult – but so rewarding.

 

Thanks to everyone supporting the team through prayers.

And They Sang a New Song…

And they sang a new song, saying “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:9-10

Today was the first day that we got to spend with the kids. Those of us who have been here before, were delighted and amazed at how tall they’ve grown, how their smiles have changed, and how their love for us has not waned. It was truly a pleasure to get re-acquainted with the kids, as well as the staff here, who have made countless sacrifices to take care of these kids every day.

 

Our team, the staff at Greenfield, and the kids

Our team, the staff at Greenfield, and the kids

 

We also had an opportunity to involve our church back home with a Skype call. It was a small miracle that we were able to get the technology on both ends to cooperate, and we were able to have a question/answer session between our Sunday school kids back home, and the kids here at the Children’s Home.

 

Skype session from Roatan to Minnesota

Skype session from Roatan to Minnesota

 

We had a great day with the kids, but I think, for me, the best part of the day was when we visited a local church for worship. We were taken to this tiny cement building, and greeted by friendly locals. They were happy to see us, hugged us, and showed us where we could sit. Their smiles were warm and they were truly happy that we were there. There are about 30 people who attend this church, and they had no problem accommodating the 19 of us. Their worship was passionate, their songs were joyful, and their love and reverence for God was contagious. It was such a rich experience to be in a tiny church in a remote corner of the world, just started 4 months ago, and worship with people who have a sincere dependence and genuine reverence for God. Even though we couldn’t understand everything that was being said, it was clear that the Spirit of God was in that little building.

 

The church in Flowers Bay

The church in Flowers Bay

 

Tomorrow the real work begins. We depend on your prayers, so please keep praying!

Let’s Get Started

We made it to Roatan today! Our team came down on several different flights. The trips were smooth and bumpy, eventful and without a glitch, full of little miracles that got us all here safely. One of the groups had an hour-plus delay in leaving Minneapolis and a similar delay leaving Dallas. The delays actually bonded us with some of the passengers. It’s inevitable that someone asks what are group is doing – which is an opportunity to share the mission. One of our team members had a long conversation with his seatmates about the work being done at Greenfield Children’s Home. The person was visibly moved by the conversation. The customs agents seem to always stop and inspect our baggage full of donations and construction materials. It must look somewhat comical to see a suitcase full of 50 pairs of shoes, a hammer drill, school notebooks, a right angle grinder, donated clothes and medical supplies. Each year we are questioned because, if we were selling the items, we should pay import taxes. When we tell them what we are doing, the doors open up and the luggage goes through.

Emma meets some children at dinner.

Emma meets some children at dinner.

Tomorrow will include a couple Skype conversations with the Sunday school classes at Shepherd of the Valley Church, some bonding time with the kids at Greenfield Children’s Home, scoping out of our construction projects and an evening church service. Personally, I can’t wait to see the kids.

We’ll try to update the blog each day. Grace, peace and love to all. Thank you for your support and prayers.