¿Por qué esto existe?

Transition is the only constant in Hondo. The last of the Tennessee group leaves today. Lydia and her family have been so sweet and hard working. I plan to keep up with them.

The groups from Childress, Texas and Oklahoma started arriving today. Currently, there are fifty of them, but that number is going to grow. They are friendly, but it is hard to get to know so many in such a short time Karol and Kelin are going to have their hands full.

As I reflect, I don't think I have given Karol and Kelin due attention in my writings. These two sisters have been guides on everyday trip Skillman has taken. These two have been so wonderful to all of us. I am sure we wear them down, but they never complain and we have a lot of in with them. Both of them are in college. Karol is studying to be and Industrial Engineer. Kelin is studying to be an Environment Engineer. Working for Marc in the summers gives them a difficult schedule, but they seem to be doing well. I know that they can do well and go far.
Karol & Kelin
Today is an easy day. We visit the boy's home. We'll play with them for awhile and maybe have lunch. Then we go to the Valley of Angels to be tourists. On the way to the boy's home, we are stopping at the hospital to drop off a microwave for Nurse Lydia.

I was completely wrong about how 'easy' this day would be. I have been to the boy's home before, but I always assumed the boys had done something to be there. I didn't know they were there through no fault of their own. The part that got me was the timing of the following stories:

First, I met Moises. He told me he wanted to learn English. It was nice to talk to him because he understood that I was still learning Spanish.  We both tried very hard.  He began telling me that is friend lived in Houston, Texas. He was deported to Honduras because his family did not have the money to care for him. Thus, he landed in the home.
"Malo suerte", he said.

Next, I learned about Gabriel. He is from Roatan and speaks excellent English. He is in the home because his entire family died. Olivia (16, from Overland Park) told me that he could be in the home for three months, then he has to find a place on his own.  I couldn't hear any more because it was going to make me cry.  I found Kristin's hand and shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably. She graciously let me soak her shoulder and talked me through it.

I was able to compose myself and go outside to play with the boys. Josue was there for me to talk it out, but I just wasn't ready to do it without breaking down again. I can barely see the keyboard because my eyes are tearing as I type.  These facts are so difficult to take in.

Finally, I talked with Minor. I met him early on while buying bracelets, but this was the first time I talked with him and saw him 'work.' Each time we made balloon animals, the children wanted to keep the pumps. Minor asked to pump his own balloon. Reluctantly, I handed him the pump and he made a balloon for himself. Then he saw a popped balloon on the ground that one of the volunteers had thrown away. He picked it up, 'fixed' it, pumped it and asked me to tie it. He had done this to share with another one of the boys.  As I looked on astonished, he began looking for more of the same. He was looking out for the othe kids. He is 12.

After awhile Matt, Rebecca and Kayla had to catch their flight. This gave me time for my strong sense of sadness to partially subside. We said goodbye and exchanged contact information.

Soon, it was time for our group to move on. I hugged Gabriel and Moises. I told Gabriel to teach Moises English. I hugged Minor, but he seemed preoccupied with helping the other boys. As I made the quick walked to our bus, I could only think to myself, "God, I don't ever want to come here again. I don't want place like this to have to exist.

"Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth."- Matthew 5:5


Dios es mi guía

Last night, I could not stop thinking of Anahi. When I woke this morning, I prayed that God show me the work I am supposed to do today. I signed up at do prison ministry. Talking with Kristin and my experience with CR made me think it was time for me to try out prison ministry. However, I worried who would be there for Anahi. I'm sure I am not the only one she could connect with. I also know that children require consistency in their lives.

After prayer and discussion with others, I think God wants me to remain with VBS. I let Kristin and Logan know that I was backing out. I felt bad, but there is also plenty of time for me to get involved in prison ministry. There is only a finite time to pit children on God's path as they develop.

The size of our first group was perfect. With roughly 20 kids, we were able to move smoothly through the activities. I befriended Tatiana (12) who helped repeat our memory verse in spanish. She also returned for the second session with friends. The second group had 65 kids, so it was a lot harder to keep order. We had a successful session in spite. We also had a number of returning kids. Those I remember are Perla, Elvia,  Alexandra and Daniella.

Anahi was not present. I was both sad and worried. I hope she has a good life. I hope God holds her tight in his arms and protects her from the evils of this world. It would be wonderful to see her again (now or in the future). Hers is another face I want to see in heaven. God bless her. 

"The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace."- Numbers 6:22


Anahi, la timida

Today we held the first day of VBS for the church in Ojojona. I was pumped during breakfast, but as time grew closer I became very tired. Josue, Joel, Karol and Kelin performed the Spanish skit and puppet show. Kristin, Andy, Meredith and I acted as support.

I think Karol and Kelin did a wonderful job. Kelin played the part of Rehab. Karol controlled one of the puppets. They are normally soft spoken, but they put on quite a show. During the two separate sessions, their personalities shined and they kept the group moving.

I got the chance to meet a lot of the kids and had a great time. Each of them own a different part of my recollection. Perla arrived before the everyone and had the opportunity to see rehearsal. She also helped me with Spanish. I met Helen and her brrther, Omar. Helen simply loved her brother and obviously has a knack for taking care of him. I also met best friends- Nazerete and Elvia. Haley was there as well and played with anyone that was around. Karla Isabell Amaya Alverado and Alexandra Martinez Alonzo gave me a challenge when it came to remembering names.

Of all of these, the one that stood out was Anahi. Upon arrival, it was obvious that she was quite afraid and did not want to stay. She came with neighborhood friends Katia (16) and Brayon (1.5). As Katia was trying to get Brayon settled, Anaya was standing outside of the building wanting someone to take her home. She was I tears and pretty scared because as cars whisked by on the street. I saw her and kneeled down, beckoning her to me. She slowly made her way into my arms. I hugged tightly, picked her up and brought her to safety within the church. She buried her face in my shoulder and didn't want to go anywhere else.
I asked Katia but she did not know how old Anahi was. Her size she could have been 3 or 4. However, developmentally she was no older than 2. She spoke, but not much. I attribute part of this to fear. However, as time went on, she opened up to a few people. I think she may have a form of autism.

At one point we were playing with the other kids on the playground and she fell. When I checked her out, she had a cut on her toe. With no bandages on site, I had to create one from a napkin and a sticker.  I was happy that she took to me right away.  We had fun together, though we didn't say much.  We just played.  The planned activity was beyond he grasp (or she just wasn't interested) so we played with stickers.  I found it funny that she thought she had to lick them before placing them... all over my face.  Now I shudder.  But I didn't care before.
Looking at the condition of her clothes, hair and callused skin I speculate her living conditions are among the worst. I don't think I will ever forget her and our time together. I can't wait to see her again tomorrow.  I pray that she is alright and that she has someone there to love her. 

“And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him."- Luke 15:20


No lo huele, ahora

Clark and I were chased by dogs on our run. I was fine with running by, but Clark thought they were aggressive. We walked until we passed them, but finished our mile.

Today, we went to the dump. After this, our group split and served as relief for the house building teams. Finally, we spent the time before dinner at Casa de Esperanza.

The dump was nothing like last year. Marc asked that we not bring items for distribution because he does not want inhabitants to think they get stuff whenever a bus arrives. Instead we distributed food and spent time with them. There was a gentleman that I thought was being a menace to our ladies. He was in his fifties and spoke very broken Spanish. When Joel asked me to handle it, so I saw it as an opportunity to work on my Spanish. Twenty minutes later, Karol told me he was drunk and speaking nonsense. Way to go Joel.

Next, we built a home on a secluded farm for a family that was the target of a local gang. They were relocating outside of the city in refuge. The site was shaded well, but tight and muddy. While we were there Melissa (Heidi's sister) caught a baby chick and passed it around for us to hold. It was neat.
We arrived at Casa de Esperanza well before the other group. I spent about 30min in a back room playing with five month old twins  Olman and Josue. Soon Marc arrived and told me it was okay to take Olman outside for the rest of the group. Once outside I also played with Sisi, Hailey and Nohemy as the jumped on the trampoline.

As I observed, a little boy made his way below the trampoline on which the kids jumping. He looked one or two years old. I scooped him up to make him safe. He didn't smile, but sat with a troubling scowl. As Debbie reached for him, he clung to me and buried his face in my chest. He was very shy and very guarded. Anytime someone came by to hold him, they were denied. Then Logan came along. He lit up bright as day. He began laughing and playing with him and did not want to leave him. I could tell Logan had shown him a great deal if love.

This day gave me a glimpse of how a parent feels about work and their children. Before visiting Casa, I was extremely exhausted. I wanted nothing more than to go home, shower and sleep. I was not 'in the mood' to entertain children. However, when we arrived and I saw their carefree, smiling faces my fatigue faded away. It was as if I was never tired.

"But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven"- Matthew 19:14


Dios, dame tus ojos...

This entry will begin a bit off topic. I was looking at pictures from Micah's baseball tournament on my phone last night. I zoomed into one and  recognized the chain tucked into his jersey. It belonged to the dog tag that I gave him after his baptism.  I had it engraved to read, "Confutatis maledictis, voca me cum benedictis". I wanted him to remember the Holy Spirit, Christ and his Christian brothers are always around him even when he is alone. Baseball players wear charms around the neck as reminders of where their strength comes from.  I am happy that he wears this as his reminder.

Today's events are as follows:
1. Hospital Escuela, School for the Blind and Nueva Oriental
2. The farm
3. The dump

I chose option one and found myself at Hospital Escuela once more. Initially, I was separated from my group.  In spite, I felt very familiar in this place. I stopped at the orthopedic wing and visited six children. Next, I went to the pediatric playground. I found my group preparing balloons and toys and the fun began. I met  Elvira Maria, a two year old girl with pneumonia in isolation. Though she was being released, she was not having a good day. The doctors came in during my visit.  Elvira Maria knew it would not be pleasant. She began crying upon site of the white coats. After the doctors left, Debbie and I returned to comfort her. She was reluctant at first, but she soon warmed up. We were friendly visitors.
Elvira Maria
During other visits, we met Alejandra. She was a patient, but had no signs she was ill aside from her medical bracelet. She took advantage of our attention.  Soon she was laced with fun bracelets, stickers, balloons, nail polish and coloring books. She was so cute that none of us could deny her. I gave her the yellow balloon to match her dress.

After the hospital we visited Escuela para Ciegos. As they were released for recess, we played with them in he courtyard. I met Derrick and gave him greeting from Archer. Following, we went to an indoor assembly area where they sang songs for us and the director played a few Beatles songs on the piano. A little girl sang so beautifully as she led her classmates in a song.
Soon we went back to the courtyard to say goodbye and a little boy came and leaned up to me as if he knew me. His name is Jasper and he is four years old. Some joked and said he was my lost son.
I was excited to visit Nuevo Oriental. I wanted to meet with Kevin, Vanessa and Naomi once more. As time went on everyone talked about seeing their kids again, but mine never showed up. We didn't spend a great deal of time there, but I hoped to see at least one of them. Sadly, it never happened.  It will be at least another year until I see them again.

Devotion was average tonight. Joel spoke and made most people laugh rather than cry. His words definitely pull out emotions. He is gifted far beyond any speaker I know. Next, Marc gave a brief talk; sharing a glimpse of the lack of fortitude the Hondurans have for facing up to authority and the abuse of power. Upon hearing some of the most common offenses, I wanted nothing more but to act. But I didn't know where to begin. I understand it is hard to 'unknow' some of the things we now know.

"But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"- 1 John 3:17


Construí mi primera casa

I don't know who it was, but two people lied about snoring. We'll get to the bottom of it soon. Between the snoring and a sore back I did not get a great night of sleep. However, part of the sleep deprivation may be a result of my excitement in anticipation of a morning run and work for the day.

Josue, Clark and I began our one mile run at about 6am. The hills here were brutal. I don't think I will master them this year, but I have years to work on it. Josue was beat, but Debbie was so proud of him. I was happy to get my first dose of endorfinas Honduras!

Today our group had the choice of three service projects:
1. Visit the dump and supporting school
2. Build a house for Giovanni (friend of Luis)
3. Build a house for the family of a paraplegic teen.

I chose project 3. I know it is going to be a hard day, but I am happy to be fatigued for this cause.

We arrived on site and went right to work. Before construction began, we had to demolish an existing home. Next, we cleared the existing slab and prepared to build the new home. However, there was slight delay. The plots were owned by sisters disputing the right to build. Joel acted as mediator and translator. With Marc on the phone, the situation was resolved and construction began.

After awhile, Heidi identified the teen boys watching as gang members. They were waiting for us to leave materials unattended so they could steal them. Our teens acted as guards. The boys were not aggressive, but they were patient. Honduran boys their age are not expected to accomplish more than this. Every so often the wind blew the strong smell of marijuana over the site. This is how the average teen spends a school day. Repeatedly, older men would stumble through the area drunk or high as children walk home from school.

We were joined by the team that visited the dump at 1pm.  All of the children were released from school, so play began. The kids were excited and sometimes hostile. They were sneaky about collecting multiple balloons, coloring pages and candy. Soon we began playing games with them. I have posted a few of my favorite videos below:

It was exciting to build my first house. I didn't do a lot, but working was enough for me. We never got to meet the girl that was paralyzed. I was fine with this because she is not an exhibit and I doubt I would be able to handle it.  Her family is shown here:
We ended construction abruptly.  Once Joel blessed the house,  we headed straight to dinner. Food was great, as usual. During devotion, I sat next to Terry (Intern Christine's dad) and he sang so beautifully. Though I didn't know the words, it was quite easy to harmonize with him. The message was delivered Wes (Murray State Ministry leader). Though the second part of his message didn't make a lot of sense to me, the first part hit home.  An explanation follows:

I continue to struggle with God and the suffering if the innocent. Yet, I know I love God and he loves me. Wes talked about various characters and their journey to the wilderness. Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Daniel, John the Baptist, Paul... Even Jesus was in the wilderness after being baptized. All of them spent time in the wilderness. This is where God taught them to be strong. "The wilderness is the King's school." Wes concluded this point by saying, "Some of us are in a wilderness that we did not choose." That floored me. It didn't resolve my issues, but it gave me a bit to chew on.

"Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil." - Matthew 4:1


El Viaje Comienza...

I have concluded that the day of travel is going to be filled with adventure each year.  The main group was delayed during check-in for reasons we still have not figured out. Joel and Debbie were held because a United Airlines employee seemed to think they needed a visa to visit Honduras. After all stories were shared we felt Satan was at work, using the airline employees to keep us from our mission.

Ultimately, we made it to Honduras and our transport from the airport to San Sebastian (our lodging) went smoothly. Marc introduced Heidi as one of our guides for the year. Josue seems to know her already and she seems very energetic.  The crew from Overland Park landed an hour after us. It was lovely to see John, Jerry, Ann and Olivia once more.

Our first stop was to the mall food court. Heidi recommended a great burrito shop. I loved the burrito. I was also surprised to enjoy the sweet juice so much.

Our next stop, was to a house building site. The group from Tennessee was already finishing up the first house for a family. When we arrived we were instructed to pull out some toys because there were a 'kazillion' kids to play with. We started with balloons and bubbles. Then I met David and played frisbee with him. He picked up pretty fast and LOVED it. I also got to set foot in one of then houses for the first time. The video is posted below:

After this we went to San Sebastian to check into our rooms and freshen up. While settling in we discovered a large bees' nest outside of our room.  As a result, he men moved into the single chalet at the front of the property. I made no secret of my extreme fear of bees and my lack of desire to overcome it this week.

We had dinner at Cafe De Gringos. It was established by Byron-  a former employee of Marc. We also talked with Nicole (Marc's daughter), Matt (Nicole's husband) and Haley (their daughter).  Our table shared some desserts. However, Debbie and I were frustrated because we got our Sombras (Sopressas) well after our meal. Sombras are very sugary smoothies (maybe healthy?)

After dinner, Marc led a brief devotion talking about Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. His focus was how service is our way of showing a small piece of the great love that was shown to us. Afterward, we communed together. I found it fulfilling to commune with people whose names I still do not know and do not live near. This is another sign that Jesus died for all of us. Wondrous.

I don't know why, but I fell asleep right away! I think it was around 8:30pm. Tomorrow, the work starts.

"Doubtless ye shall not come into the land..."- Numbers 14:30 (used terribly out of context to represent the thoughts of the airline employees)