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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Some of the crafts at community day in Oak Ridge

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.