Heading home ….

One of the more difficult parts of our trip is heading home.  Parting with the children stinks.  You just want to take all of them home with you.  They are such an incredible group of young people.  Orsy, Banessa, and the staff at Greenfield Children’s Home do an awesome job raising these kids.  On our last day, everyone on the team looks for every kid and gives them a hug.  The kids do the same to the team.  It’s kind of a wonderful, happy, sad, little time of chaos.  We closed our visit with a prayer led by Mister Orsy, where he thanked us and blessed us for our service.  The feeling is mutual from the team to Orsy, Banessa and the staff at the home.

Romans 12:1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice–the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.


Team from Shepherd of the Valley

Last year, I posted in one of the final blogs a list of our “tasks” down in Roatan.  Dave summed it up nicely this morning when he simply said, “We served”.  None-the-less, I’m publishing the list so our followers can see how we served and how their donations went into this trip.  So on behalf of the team, we thank all those who helped us through prayers and donations; we thank spouses who held down their households while their other half was gone for a week; we thank grandparents who watched kids; we thank Orsy, Banessa, Blanca and the rest of the Greenfield Children’s home staff for all their hard work – every day; and most of all, we thank God for allowing us to do this work. Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you!


Tasks accomplished on 2016 Shepherd of the Valley Trip to Roatan

Built and installed 8 bunk beds with and for the people of Oak Ridge

Delivered groceries, school supplies, clothing, and bibles to 28 families in the communities of Oak Ridge and Mangrove Bight

Prayed with and shared God’s love with these families

Fed over 300 people at community day in Oak Ridge

Held a flea market to provide affordable clothing, shoes, school supplies, and hygiene supplies with the proceeds going to the church in Oak Ridge

Performed a skit for the people of Oak Ridge themed around the power of prayer and belief in combatting sin

Held prayer sessions for wanting/ needing people in Oak Ridge

Provided some Christ-based crafts and games for about 200 children.

Established, renewed, and strengthened relationships in the communities of Oak Ridge and Mangrove Bight

Provided fluoride treatments to over 100 children in the community

Visited a local hospital and provided “baby stuff” to some of the new mothers.


At the children’s home, we …

Established, renewed, and strengthened relationships with the children

Had a fun-filled afternoon of decorating bulletin board frames, playing football, and water balloon fights

Provided several computers for the school and performed some minor computer repairs.

With the kids, performed multiple skits on their favorite bible stories

Cleaned the kids teeth and gave fluoride treatments

Fixed two showers (now they all work!)

Built an office desk

Built a folding table for the donation room

Fixed a couple window screens

Build and installed several window safety grids

Built bulletin board frames and mounted the cork boards in the frames

Sheet rocked a section of ceiling

Cleaned gutters

Attempted a roof repair

Replaced the well pump

Repaired / replaced several stair boards

Repaired gate to apartment.

Fixed several screen doors.


Humbled by Joy

Let those who delight in my righteousness shout for joy and be glad and say evermore, ‘Great is the Lord, who delights in the welfare of his servant!’  Then the tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praises all the day long.  Psalm 35:27-28

We had some new experiences today.  An unexpected task for some of the construction crew today was that the pump at the children’s home went out and needed to be fixed.  Without the pump there was no water to the home.  There were three miracles regarding this event.  First, the pump went out at a time when our team was there, and there were some team members who knew how to fix it.  Secondly, we didn’t have any big projects that needed to be finished up that morning, so there was time to fix it.  And thirdly, the pump needed to be replaced, and it just so happened that we had some money left in our budget that we had to spend, and amazingly enough, we had enough money to cover the cost of the new pump.  God works in pretty amazing ways!

For the first time in the five years that I’ve been coming on this trip, we visited the government run hospital.  Like so many other moments on this trip, our visit was an eye opener.  One of our interpreters, Marisol, works at the hospital as a nurse in the maternity ward.  Because of her, we were able to visit the maternity ward and have a mini tour of the hospital in general.  We were privileged to meet several moms that had just had babies, as early as today.  The maternity ward consisted of a room for delivery, next to an operating room, next to a recovery room.  We met a first time mom, and a mom who was there because her stiches were coming out from a C-section.  In the same recovery room were women who had had hysterectomies, as well as abortions.

Once again, as Americans who are far too privileged, it was difficult to imagine having a child in the conditions that we saw.  We wondered how they could mix new moms with women who had been through an abortion in the same recovery room.  We also saw a pediatric ward with injured and sick children, and we secretly shook our heads at the rusty beds, and the sometimes dirty sheets that we saw.  It is uncomfortable to be in such a place, realizing that that place is the best that the people of Roatan have, if they need medical help.  The equipment was old, the space was cold and uncomfortable, and yet there was gratitude and joy on the faces of the people that were there.  The staff were friendly and doing the best they could with what they had.  It was inspiring to see. Once again, the spirit of the people here always shines.

Entrance to the operating room

Entrance to the operating room

Mom and April, born that day.

Mom and April, born that day.

Sweet, sick boy. :(

Sweet, sick boy. 😦

Main hospital hallway

Main hospital hallway

Open air waiting area

Open air waiting area

After fixing the pump and visiting the hospital, we had a short visit to a new community called Mangrove Bight.  We made an initial contact with the church there and we visited 12 families with groceries and Bibles.  We also provided fluoride treatments to dozens of kids.  It was awesome to form new relationships in a community that we haven’t visited yet.  The church members that we met there were so grateful and warm.

Praying with a family and Mangrove Bight.

Praying with a family and Mangrove Bight.

As our trip is wrapping up, it’s difficult to internalize all the things that we’ve seen, the people we’ve met, the blessings that we take away from this place, and the awesome privilege it is to serve here.  There are so many moving parts to this experience and God, being the grand weaver that he is, knits it all together in a way that we never could.  It is really quite overwhelming.  There are so many special moments that we experience here and it fills my heart with so much joy!  Words can’t express how meaningful and humbling it is to be a part of what God is doing.  We thank him for using us!

Singing in the Rain!

To our blog followers, Andrea and I apologize for the lack of updates.  We had a lot of connectivity problems on Roatan.  We are going to get our posts out … they are just delayed for a few days.


This is our update from Thursday …..


Isaiah 45:8    “Drip down, O heavens, from above, And let the clouds pour down righteousness; Let the earth open up and salvation bear fruit, And righteousness spring up with it. I, the LORD, have created it.


I’m not sure how hard it rained when God flooded the earth in the times of Noah, but if we had forty days like today, I would have been looking for a boat.  It rained for a good part of the day today, with some of it being pretty heavy downpours.  It didn’t prevent us for doing His work.  It just made it more interesting and memorable.


Flooded trail in Oak Ridge

The day started with a great devotion by Gary talking about grace and the importance of it in all our lives.  It’s something that heals us all and benefits the giver as well as the receiver.  Ultimately, we are all the beneficiaries of God’s amazing grace.


Today’s plan involved putting on a community day in Oak Ridge.  We started the event off with Rich professionally directing a skit on the temptations of sin and how we can overcome sin through prayer.  It was a really upbeat performance that engaged the many children in the audience.  We followed that up with several Christian-based crafts (cross necklaces, ring toss, keepsake box decorating).  The kids and adults had a great time and came away with some positive messages.


Some of the crafts at community day in Oak Ridge


Ring toss game at community day in Oak Ridge

Next was our “soup kitchen” that we’ve been doing the last few years.  We gave out hot dogs, juice and cookies to over 300 people!  This seems to have become a fun community event for many of the kids in Oak Ridge.  It’s a simple meal, but I am still amazed by the attendance and appreciation from the community.  After lunch, we had the thrift sale where we sold new and gently used items at a deep discount.  Most of these items were donated from members of Shepherd of the Valley and carried down to Roatan by the team.  We brought down roughly 2000 lbs. of checked luggage – full of donations and construction materials.


Lunches ready to be served in Oak Ridge

One of my personal highlights of the day was reconnecting with a young boy named Luis.  My first year coming to Roatan was five years ago and, at the time, Luis was staying at the Children’s home.  Luis spoke Mesquite, a local Indian language.  Most people in Roatan speak Spanish and/or English.  We couldn’t directly communicate, but every morning he would come sit on my lap and hold my hand during morning devotions.  He’d help me during the day with various projects.  He never said a word to me until the last day when I was getting ready to leave he came and gave me a hug, made the sign language gesture for I love you, and said “mi amigo”.  The little guy broke my heart.  The next year when we came back to Roatan, Luis had moved back with his family.  I’ve asked about him every year since and this year he came to community day.  Luis still doesn’t talk much.  He knows Spanish and a little English.  Christy helped me set him up with a care package with a backpack, some shirts, shorts and shampoo.  It was really good to see him.


mi Amigo … Luis

Another cool part was our follow-up home visits.  This took place during the heaviest rains of day.  Some of the dirt trails from Tuesday had become fast moving streams.  This made navigating the steep hills a real adventure.  Everyone made it through without injury, but we were all soaked to the bone and will need to dry our shoes.  One of the places we visited on Monday, was a house with 8 kids living there between the ages of 14 and 20.  Their parents were off working on another island and would not return until November.  When we visited them on Tuesday and brought some basic groceries, the oldest girl broke down crying and was incredibly thankful of our small gift.  We found out today that they had run out of food the day before our visit and had no visible path to getting food.  Today, we brought them clothes and a few other staples – including a Spanish bible.  We delivered supplies to the next home, which was further down the same trail.  When we came back past their home, five of the kids were waiting in the rain and yelling “Thank You” and We Love You” as we walked by their home.  There wasn’t a dry eye on the team.


Ironically, back at the beginning of the day, I thought we should cancel the home visits.  I was concerned about the safety of the team on some of the treacherous trails.  Several member of our team protested.  We decided to do the home visits.  I must admit, I went into it a bit reluctantly.  We made it to 3 of our five homes and we actually went to the most difficult ones.  In hindsight, I was wrong.  We were in Roatan to serve – not to stay safe and dry in a church.  Miranda also pointed out how it drove home what these folks had to deal with when it rained.  We all have nice homes and a good infrastructure for handling bad weather.  Many of the people in Oak Ridge don’t have water tight roofs.  I learned a little lesson today.  Thanks God.

Isaiah 41:13  For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

It was a challenging day.  It was a good day.

All About the Kids

But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Luke 18:16

Our experiences in Roatan are all about relationships.  Our motive for coming here and doing this work is a response to God’s love for us, and our love for Him.  God has blessed us with many on-going relationships here on the island.  When our team goes into the community of Oak Ridge, we are recognized and greeted with warmth because of the relationships we have built there.   It is also a vital part of our ministry to carry on the relationships that have been established with the kids at Greenfield Children’s Home.  Today was all about those relationships.

As we were planning for this year’s trip, we made it a priority to make sure that we spend more time with the kids.  We wanted to take an afternoon when we could put our tasks aside and just spend time bonding with the kids.  It was awesome!  Everyone involved had a fabulous time, and we left there tonight knowing the kids a little bit better.

Our approach was to have a few planned activities that could be loosely followed as the interest levels dictated.  Earlier in the week the construction team put together bulletin boards for each of the kids to have in their rooms.  Today, they got to paint the frames.  It was quite a sight to see all 19 frames sprawled out on the driveway, each kid expressing themselves in their own way.  It was something that all of them really loved, from the youngest (2 ½ years old), to the oldest (15 years old).

Creativity abounds!  Painting bulletin board frames to put in each kid's room.

Creativity abounds! Painting bulletin board frames to put in each kid’s room.

Many of the kids at Greenfield are awesome football (soccer) players.  So, we decided to go ahead and play a game with them.  They showed us how athletic they are, and we showed them how we’re not really good at soccer.  But the point was to get out there and play with them, and to share in something that is important to them.  We got schooled, but it was a lot of fun!

After the game. we had a water balloon launcher that the kids would use to fling water balloons down to the soccer field, about 300 feet.  Some of the kids tried to catch the balloons as they flew through the air.  There were other kids that were giving mani/pedis, and still others helping in the kitchen to make homemade pizza for dinner (followed by brownie sundaes!)  We all had a blast!

Balloon launch!

Balloon launch!

Richard's million dollar smile!

Richard’s million dollar smile!


Our time with the kids ended today with each adult and each kid picking out a Bible story, and acting it out in any way they could.  It was such a blessing to be able to spend time with the kids in such a fun, goofy way, but still teach them about God’s love for them.  We had a really good day!

The construction crew and community crews both had different tasks to do this morning.  There were some general repairs around the home, and care packages to put together for the families that we visited yesterday.  There were about 20 suit cases hauled up to Oak Ridge for the thrift sale tomorrow.  It’s the most we’ve ever had in donations to sell at the sale.  What a privilege this day was!

My favorite day!

There are certain parts of this ministry in Roatan that I love so much.  The three biggest are being with the kids at Greenfield Children’s Home, ministering in the community and fellowship with the mission team.


Working with the kids at Greenfield Children’s Home is such a privilege.  A very wise woman, Christy, told me on my first trip to Roatan that: “They just want to be loved.”  It’s such a simple statement with incredibly deep meaning.  And, I didn’t understand the depth and importance of that guidance until I got to interact with mi amigos.  They are an awesome bunch and if you want to check them out go to www.sblmroatan.net.  There you can see pictures of the kids and opportunities to help out through sponsorship and/or other means.


Luke 18: 15-17   Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”


This ministry is also about working out in the community.  Today, we went up into Oakridge, where we have spent many years building relationships in that community.  Part of our team spent the morning with a group of volunteers from Oakridge building bunk beds for others in the community.  It was a fun morning of fellowship and hard work.  Two of the people on the volunteer team were previous recipients of bunk beds from a trip two years ago.  It was so cool to see the circle of God’s love.  Together, we assembled eight bunk beds and delivered them to homes in-need.  We also brought groceries, performed fluoride treatments for kids, and prayed with each of the families.


John 15:12   My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.


It is so cool to go into someone’s home and to be welcomed with loving smiles and thankful hearts.  I wonder if the people we visit understand how thankful we are for all the love and kindness they extend to us.  The circle of God’s love takes so many forms and twists and turns.  To see that circle come around is very moving.


Kenya, Gabby, Jenny and Alisa from one of our home visits

Kenya, Gabby, Jenny and Alisa from one of our home visits

Henry "working" with one of our "helpers"

Henry “working” with one of our “helpers”

Happy kids with their new bed!

Happy kids with their new bed!

Construction crew with a few of our completed bunk beds in the back ground

Construction crew with a few of our completed bunk beds in the back ground

Rich and Jose finishing a bunk bed.

Rich and Jose finishing a bunk bed.

Prep, Prep, and more Prep

Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are a variety of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone.  1 Corinthians 12:4-6


I don’t usually like to write about only the tasks that we did during the day, because they are so secondary to why we’re here.  We do our best to have a healthy combination of productivity and relational time with the kids, but today was mostly about preparing for the rest of the week.  Our team was busy at work at the children’s home accomplishing a myriad of tasks.  Here are some pics that show our work today.

Bunk bed parts being cut

Steve, Rick and Dave cutting bunk bed parts,


Ty framing bulletin boards for the kids.

Ty framing bulletin boards for the kids.


Lisa and Gary building a table.

Lisa and Gary building a table.


Henry, Lisa, and Gary still working on the table.

Henry, Lisa, and Gary still working on the table.


Anna, Naomi, and Jon priming frames for the bulletin boards.

Anna, Naomi, and Jon priming frames for the bulletin boards.

The construction team was also busy with plumbing showers, and making a 3 ring toss game for community day.

Our community team was very busy sorting through the donations.  We had more donations this year than any other year.  We have a huge amount of clothing of all sizes, shoes, hygiene items, lice kits, and school supplies.

Christie sorting school supplies.

Christie sorting school supplies.


Airing out some donations that have been in suitcases for awhile.

Airing out some donations that have been in suitcases for awhile.


Lori sorting a mountain of clothes.

Lori sorting a mountain of clothes.

We had a great day together as a team.  Everyone young and old were able to help in many different capacities.  The kids on the team also did some babysitting for some of the younger children and Greenfield, and they were also able to help them with homework after school today.  We ended the day with a pairing up with the kids to talk about their favorite Bible stories and some of us even learned a little Spanish!



Connect … Re-Connect

No, this is not a blog about poor internet connections.  It is about the fellowship we’ve been given as followers and the great joy we find in our first, second, or tenth time connecting with the people of Roatan.

Mathew 18: 1-3  At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

The first two days of our trip are full of adrenaline.  It’s like drinking a triple espresso and following it up with a couple monster drinks.  The first day is full of the anxiety of travel.  Will I over sleep and miss the plane?  Will my connection all work?  Will my luggage arrive?  What am I forgetting?  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the tasks.  It’s harder to let go and know that God’s got it all under control and that it will all work out.  Personally, I vacillate between these two states.  I always find it amazing that when I surrender is when it all seems to come together.


Well, we all made it safely.  Nobody overslept or missed a connection.  We seem to have lost one bag, but Jon seems to be getting by without it.  All is good.


Today was about connections.  Dan led us in morning devotions and spoke about his path to supporting this trip and how God kept calling him.  He spoke of his connection with the children at Greenfield Children’s Home and of his love of doing God’s work here.  It was a message for us all to listen for God’s calling and a lesson for the reward of hearing Him.


Our next connection of the day was with the children.  We spent the day with them at the beach – playing in the water and enjoying an awesome picnic lunch.  It’s so fun to reconnect with these kids and to see how they’ve grown: physically, mentally and spiritually.  They are such an amazing bunch of kids.  Orsy and Banessa do such a great job with these children.

Finally, we went to our partner church in Oak Ridge for Sunday night service.  The Honduran church services are full of music, dancing and impassioned preaching.  It is a great opportunity to see and feel how they worship.  At the service, we saw many familiar faces.  We were greeted with smiles, handshakes, and hugs.


It’s been a great day of reconnecting.