Sunday, June 30, 2013

A Rainy Lord's Day

This was the house build I was on yesterday.  See the mother praying and thanking God!  She was sooooo thankful, I keep thinking about her all night.  Yes, she had a clean new house, but she still lived amid the stink and trash and I got to go back to a hot shower where I was able to scrub off all of the remnants of dirt.

Today is Sunday and because there has been quite a bit of rain.  We decided to stay on the premises and have church in our chapel. 

We had a great worship to God (which is even more meaningful and special here), by singing and making melody in our hearts, communing with our brothers and sisters by taking the Lord's Supper and listening to a lesson from the word of God. 
A beautiful Sunday morning view out behind the mission house.  It's amazing how beautiful this country is!
Sundays are our one day of rest.  We had breakfast, church and then we headed to the bodega where no only do we store our supplies, but there is a wonderful ministry to women called Mi Esperanza (My Hope).

The ministry trains and educates women in a skill that will enable to become independent and support their children.  (Men are usually not in the picture.)  Mi Esperanza has a store of their wonderful handmade products.  We buy their products and the profits go back into supporting their efforts.  You can read more about them on their website.
We mainly spent the rest of the day in the Valley of the Angels.  It is a neat place filled with handmade Honduran crafts.  It's always a good place for us to get souvenirs to take back home to our friends and family.
 Valley of the Angels

This mural was made with plastic bottle caps. It's in Valley of Angels and I can only describe it as the Gatlinburg of Honduras.  It's very nice, clean and quaint.

They had fresh fruit for sale, I'm not sure what these giant pea pot things are!

Pictures around the courtyard of the bodega

Banana tree

I don't remember the name of this yellow fruit, but the Hondurans like it.  The thing on the end is a cashew nut!!

As a side note, this is consider winter here and it's their rainy season.  That usually means we have a shower or two each day.  Well, on the way back from the Valley, it rained fairly hard for a sustained time. 

 It wouldn't be a big deal back in the states, but here the roads instantly started flooding.  We were fine in the bus, but many cars were getting stalled and our bus driver had to turn around and go a different way. 

I wasn't able to get good pictures from the bus window, but I think you can tell the water is probably a foot deep!

 It has actually been raining tonight for about 45 minutes and I hate to think what that means for all of the poor who live in shacks, or the ones in houses without much of a foundation. It really makes me sad to think about it.

I wasn't able to put up my pictures yesterday, but I think it will work tonight.  Here we go!

Much love!! Tomorrow is the last work day for this group and they will leave Tuesday.  We will have a couple of down days before the next group arrives on the 4th!


Pictures from yesterday's house build.  In case you didn't read yesterday's blogpost, it was by far the worst site I have been to up close.  It was so humbling because the lady was so thankful and happy! I think you can tell by the pictures that I took of her.  I hated to take many pictures because for some reason it seemed disrespectful.  It's hard for me to put it into words!!


The lady in the middle was the mother and she is holding her youngest daughter.  She had two other children and a husband.

This was one of the "houses" that was close by.

Notice the mud around this "shed", we had to walk around the to bring the lumber in to our "site".  See the rocks we had to balance them on, they were surrounded by mud and nasty standing water.  A little boy was hanging around all day.  When we were walking to the bus, he told us this was his house.  It didn't have a floor.  I guess they aren't finished building it.




We always need 2-3 to hammer the roof.  I'm glad I don't have to do that!!








Saturday, June 29, 2013

Hades in Honduras!

Today was one of the most humbling experiences that I have ever had in my life.  Today I helped build my second house.  Let me just say it this way,  if hell is anything like where I was today, (and I’m sure it’s much worse) I don’t want to go.  Of course, I don’t want to go anyway!


I'm sad to say that I'm having technical difficulties and I can't upload any of my other pictures tonight.  This was the youngest daughter of the family we built for.  She is smiling and happy about her new house!!

Today’s plan was for two houses to be built and before we left the mission house, we heard that our “house” was close to the dump.  We arrived at our location and it didn’t look too bad, but as we walked to the site, we saw a different story.  I know my pictures will not do it justice, but we basically walked into what looked like a dump with shacks made with whatever materials could be nailed up to make walls. 



From what we could tell the dump was right over the hill and the people in this village walked to the dump to “work”.  The smell was awful and there was black stinky mud and fetid (Is that a word?) water everywhere.  Also, before we could even get started, we had to tear down the shack that the family lived in.  The four men in our group got started with that, while the rest of us got started moving the massive pile of about 120 pieces lumber through nasty, stinky, slippery mud.   


I was getting discouraged at this point because it took two of us to carry 2-4 pieces at a time.  Finally some of the Hondurans started helping us and they would carry 3-4 by himself.  It was a long process, but it got better when some of the locals put down some wood over the slipperiest parts.  It didn’t matter too much because we said we were all initiated when we stepped into the sewage water!!! Disgusting to say the least.


The family consisted of a mom, dad and three children.  The dad helped us from the beginning to end.  The children played and were so happy about their new house and the mom kept a smile on her face the whole time.  She was a beautiful young lady, who kept thanking us and God for this blessing.  When we were finally finished and we said a prayer, she told us that she had been praying for many years for God to help her family!!!  Today was an emotional day for me!!







I consider myself blessed in many ways. 1.  I am blessed to be able to come to Honduras.  Coming to Honduras enriches my spiritual life more than anything I’ve ever done.  2.  I know God blessed me by enabling me to raise the money to build the houses.  3.  This trip also helps me to realize how blessed I am to live in a country like the US.  I know we have problems in the US and we have poor in the US, but let me tell you, we are rich compared to most people in the world.



Friday, June 28, 2013

Casa Numero Uno

Here is one of the mansions that we drove past.
Today was house build number one.  We actually left the mission house and drove to the right. (We hardly ever go that way.)  Some of you that have been before may remember the year we worked up there and had a hot dog roast in a park up there.  Since we were up on the mountain, the temperature was quite nice and we didn't get too hot.

Five people were living in this house.  We built the house for the little boy in the background and his parents.


We drove up the mountain and went past some huge mansions.  I was kind of wondering if there were any poor people who lived up there.  We stopped on a little dirt road and saw our wood on a path in the jungle.  I don’t know if it is technically a full-fledged rain forest, but it sure looked like one.



After a short hike, we came upon our site.  We were building by a mismatched “home” that appeared to have 5 people living in it.  Our group worked very well together, we were like a well-oiled machine. “Tricky” Pat was our jefe (Spanish for boss) and we had almost all of our walls up in  and we were done by 2:00.

This is Austin one of our Torchers from the Keys.  This family puppy is in much better shape than most all of the dogs we see.

He was sweet and he loved this ball that I had in my backpack.

This Honduran girl was tiny, but tough.  She put most of the men to shame.  She could drive a spike in 2-3 wacks.  She stayed on the roof the whole time. 


Saying a prayer during the house dedication.  This is the family.

There were two other groups today.  One group broke down bulk food and assembled food bags for families.  These bags included: rice, beans, sugar, coffee, flour, lard, salt, and bouillon cubes.  Each family will get enough to last about 2-3 weeks.
This is the trail that we took to the house site.



The other group was supposed to be unloading the container, pulling items to send back to Choluteca, but in fact, we went to the warehouse around 3:00 and the container had just gotten there!!!  We all proceeded to help unload the container!!  (I am old and had been hammering all day, so I sat and rested!!


I’m not exactly sure what tomorrow’s plans are, but I should be able to make a post!!!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Travel Day/Picture Card Malfunction

(I hate to say, but my memory card for my camera has malfunctioned, so I can't upload any pics tonight.  The rest of the time, I'll be forced to use my phone for pics.)

This map shows Choluteca and Teguc, the capital.

We got to sleep in today, which was nice.  We took the same 3 (I may have said 4-5 last time, because I didn’t know and it seemed like it.) hour bus ride back to Teguc (short for Tegucigalpa). On the back, we made a bathroom stop at a little restaurant by the road. Lo and behold there was a small zoo behind it.  We enjoyed taking a break and looking at all of the animals.  I didn’t have my camera, so I borrowed someone else’s pictures.

waiting for keys at the Mission House


Everyone was excited to get back to Villa Gracia, or what we like to call the Mission House.  We got here around  5pm and it was probably 70 degrees and there was a slight breeze.  Believe it or not, it was chilly!  We were also glad to get back to the delicious cooking here, especially after having to eat either KFC, Pizza Hut or Wendy’s the last three days.



We also enjoyed our devo because the acoustics  are always so beautiful in the little chapel where we meet.  Brett Mitchell has been doing our devos and he gave a very poignant one tonight.  He told of coming here about 20 years ago and seeing three little boys who were brothers in a village.  The oldest one’s name was Carlos and he recalled seeing the little brother who was playing by the road in a dirty diaper.

El Mono


 Brett and his wife, Judy, (probably girlfriend at the time) played with the boys and made a connection with these boys, year after year, the would look for these boys when they came back to Honduras.   To make a long story  short, this one little planted seed caused many wonderful things to bloom from it.  Torch was able to build the family a house, and eventually Brett and Judy were instrumental in getting them out of the village when it became too dangerous because of gangs.

This is Reid, who is 4 and our youngest Torcher.  This is her third trip and her attitude will put the rest of us to shame.  Her dad is Brett, who has been giving our devotionals.


 This relationship grew throughout the years, and eventually the boys’ mom begged Brett and Judy to take them to the US , so they could have a better life. Brett and Judy, of course, weren’t able to do that, but a friend of Judy’s happened to be working in Honduras with orphans and she took the boys in to care for them.  Fast forward to the present……the oldest is in college getting a degree in computer engineering and the other boys are still in school.

This is pretty much the whole team, you can see the preacher and his family in front with the associate minister


Brett’s true personal story helps us realize that one person can make a difference.  Each time we play with one of these children, we could form a relationship that can set many positive things in motion.
Photo: Machetes for sale!!
A man was selling his wares tonight.
(Thank you Steve Johnson for the pictures that I borrowed!!)
(I also apologize to Brett for my paraphrased version of his devo.)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Adios Amigos! Proximo Ano! (I know I don't have the correct Spanish punctuation!)

The preacher is from Nicaragua, but he chose these Honduran colors!
It was our last day to work with our brothers and sisters in Agua Agria.  I did many things which included 1.  Teaching songs and finger plays to children


 2. Making bracelets with ladies

3.  Washed ladies’ feet

 4. Helped make a rock walk

Notice the rock path and the rock flower bed, I worked on both of these!

Those are Leah Wright's orange shorts that you keep seeing.

 5. Helped finished painting the preacher’s house 

Here I am walking back to the school to go to the banos.

Others in the group did finishing work on the preacher’s house.  They added many touches on this house that we haven’t added on others. (trim, rock stoop, water tank stand, etc.)  About half of the group worked at the school giving away clothes (sadly we never have enough men’s clothes and shoes, and doing what we call “Daughters of the King” (see explanation below).  Some of the guys played soccer with the boys while the girls had their “Daughters of the King” event.

Little girls are not always treated as well in this culture.  A few years ago, we started having Daughters of the King.  We wash their feet and hair, paint their nails, braid their hair, take a picture of them and print it out for them.  This is Kevin, one of our physical therapists from Montgomery, Alabama.  We especially like the young men to do this and show this care to them!!



We all stayed and had Bible class in the church at 4pm.  There were many kind words of thanks and love and I learned to say “proximo ano”, which means until next year!!!

This is Nahum, the new associate minister. He looks like he is 15 and he is 25.  Our group built his house, but I didn't ever get to see it.  It was up a steep hike up the mountain.

Tomorrow is a travel day, so I may not have a blog post!!!

Good night! xoxo PJ


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Dos Dia en Cholutec (excuse my Spanglish) Day 2 in Choluteca

Today was our second work day in Choluteca.  Diane and I started the day again with a Ladies’ Bible class. We moved the pews out on the front porch of the church and before we got started we had a good size crowd of children.

beans for breakfast!  They are good!!

I spent some time teaching them some American Bible songs.  They seemed to really enjoy doing songs that had hand motions.  I taught them “God made the big, big sun”.  I sang “Jesus loves me” with hand motions and they sang it in Spanish.  I joked that I was Diane’s warm up act!

He was cutting teeth and enjoyed chewing on my camera! How do you like my Zumba scarf???

A group was finishing up the preacher’s house (which is right beside the church), so Diane was competing with the chainsaw and hammer sounds.  She continue speaking about “raising your child & planting the seed”.  At the end of the lesson, she gave each of them a packet of sunflower seeds and some nail belts that we found in the warehouse. These had been used in a VBS because someone had written “Growing God’s Garden” on them.



After our lesson, Diane and I finished nailing up one of the last walls, hauling in wood and picking up scraps around the property.  Both house teams were getting close to being finished by around 4:00 pm.  We accomplished so much today.  Not only did we finish these houses, but we were able to put in a sky light in each house. 
These little guys enjoyed helping us.  They moved rocks that weighed almost as much as they did.
We also were able to make a nice flower bed that was edged with large rocks and some of the men got a great start on a latrine for the preacher and his family.  We ended the day with a dedication and prayer at both houses.  There were few dry eyes!  Tomorrow is the last day to work in Choluteca.  I love how we have been able to work with the local congregation, get to know the people there and show them the love of Christ!!!
This is Steve Johnson from Bell Shoals Church of Christ dedicating the house and presenting a plaque to the family.
PS:  Our medical team saw 600 patients in 2 days!!!

Monday, June 24, 2013

A good honest day's work!

Diane delivering the lesson, with Hannah translating
Today started early because we had to eat breakfast and be packed and on the bus by 8:00 am.  We headed back to Agua Agria and endured another bumpy, dusty bus ride.

View of the school from los banos

We arrived about 45 minutes later and found many people already crowded around the school.  The village actually closed school for three days because of all of our projects this week. (VBS, medical clinic, clothing giveaway, and Ladies’ Bible Class)



I had decided to help Diane work with the ladies.  She focused her lesson on “raising a child up in the Lord”.  Hannah, a young girl from Freed, led songs for us in Spanish and translated Diane’s lesson.  We had a nice size crowd of about 15, which included the preacher’s wife, Soshi.
  She spoke English fairly well and we enjoyed talking to her.  She is due to give birth to a baby boy in about a week.  On a side note, the ladies decided to buy baby gifts for her, and we presented them to her today.  She cried with happiness and surprise when she got all of the gifts! Diane’s lesson went well and she gave each lady a t-shirt for their children. (See picture)


I mentioned yesterday that this community has gotten a full-time preacher for the first time.  This happened because of the generous support of two churches in Florida, Bell Shoals Church of Christ and South Trail Church of Christ.  They also raised the money to build a house for the preacher, the associate preacher and a Sunday school room. 



After lunch, Diane and I joined the team that was building the preacher’s house.   This house wasn’t a normal “Torch” house.  It actually will have two rooms and a third room will be a Sunday school room/office.  Our team worked very quickly (with the help of some of the locals) and we got all of the walls, and most of the floor and roof put up.


As I mentioned yesterday, we had a team doing a VBS class, a medical clinic, and another team working up the hill on the associate minister’s house.  They ran into some issues and were not able to finish today.  We are all scheduled to go back to the jobs we went on today.
(A side note: We made the news again.  TV cameras came because of the work we are doing & the head of the town said they would bus in many more people tomorrow from villages that don't have access to medical care.  Thanks to Dr. Hasha Patel who came from Brandon, Fl!  We also have two pharmacists, a nurse and two physical therapists!!!  It is so wonderful that they come and use their skills to help the people here!!)


I mentioned already how hot it is here, well, I either got used to being sweaty, or it wasn’t as bad today.  Most of the day was a little overcast, so that helped.  We finished around 4, went and had dinner and finished the evening with a devo.  We will be back on the job leaving tomorrow at 8 am sharp.


PS: We are still hoping the container will arrive before this team leaves.  They had specific things they got for the preachers at Agua Agria. (Furniture, baby bed, etc.)  I’m sure if it doesn’t arrive, someone will make sure they get it.


Good night for tonight!! Xoxo PJ