Jueves 5.6

I woke up to find a text message that my God-Brother (Vernon C. Broadus III) passed away in the early morning. I felt as if I was reading wrong. Reginald and Alivia were taken too soon. Vernon C. Broadus Jr. died in May. Now this! I don't know that this family can take anymore loss. Honestly, I didn't want anyone to know and I wanted to stay busy all day. I managed to do that, but I still thought about him, his wife (Tara), mother (Diana) and daughter (Alec). Kris is the only one on the trip that knows what is really going on.

We went to the market, distributed food at the feed center and did crafts with the kids. I tried to concentrate on the kids but found I was distracted. My ribs hurt, but it paled compared to my confusion. I couldn't understand exactly what happened. He was fine just yesterday. All I recall is the last time I saw him... At the dance recital. His wife and daughter were on stage together and I was telling him how well I thought they did.

Today was our last day of work. We arrived at our dorm to find the store flooded. I found it easier to comfort Terri than to comfort myself. I was happy to see Karol and Kalin again. They helped clear and clean the store before dinner. Christina showed up also. We roasted marshmallows and caught up. All three of them are still working hard in school. Christina is getting her Master's degree and hopes to return to help Casa one day.

So much happened today, but it us shadowed by the fact that I have to re-enter reality in a few hours. Why this? Why now?

"No I'm not colorblind, I know the world is black and white. Try to keep an open mind, but I just can't sleep on this tonight."- John Mayer

Viernes 5.5

Today we split the group in half to build two houses. The day was filled with tension. Initially, we all thought we would split teams according to skills. However, the Tennessee group wanted to remain together because of promises to parents. We accepted this and the tension began. I won't go into details because the lesson is not there. I knew Texans were competitive, but today I learned the depths of our passion for competition. Mistakes on both sites were made, but I can say mistakes from the Texas group were a direct result of lack of concentration, haste and strong wills. During our break, we had time to be reminded of the reason we are here.

I realized how small we were as I saw the state of the community. I saw a mother and her daughter grateful to have a home. I saw neighbors celebrating as they watch a new structure come together. I saw hungry children, barely clothed as we toiled over who was in charge or next steps to take.

We had to acknowledge that our petty quarrels will not matter after we have finished these two houses. It will not matter which house was completed first. It will not matter who drove the most nails or which wall was put in first. At the end of the day two families received two houses completed because someone prayed for their well-being. God was not happy with our conduct, but he still used us to do his work.

As I write, I am embarrassed as I recall our behavior. During one of the house dedications, the father, Walter, commented that we worked as a family to build a home for his family. I suppose God put the language barrier in place so that Walter could not see the times we were not being brotherly. If we were a family, we were disfunctional. At the end of the day God will do what he wants to no matter how we behave.

"If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."- Galatians 6:25-26


Miercoles 5.4

Today was dump day. I dreaded the experience because of events from last year. Individuals were unable to download their thoughts because Torch ministries came to visit and took over our devotion. The message was hard to grasp because our minds were on other things. In fact, I could only remember the opening to the message because I was focused on what had happened earlier in the day. However, I resolved to go with the flow and try to talk about effects of the dump on an individual level.
While at the dump, things were very light. The experience was not as harsh as it has been in years past. I met Walter and Kevin while playing odd man out (futbol). They were free spirited and very friendly. After giving a solid body check to Jared, my ribs were extremely sore so I took a break on the feed truck. Next, we had devotion in which Kevin and Walter were more than happy to sing songs. It was fun and uplifting. Finally, we went to the cliff's to see the valley and hills beyond the dump. We had never gone this far into the dump. I was surprised that it became remarkably organized and peaceful once you got far enough behind the initial piles of trash.
Nelson at the Dump
After the dump, we ate lunch at Burger King. This time it was the good one. Thought they still served me the wrong burger, the meal as service were great. Kristin, Suzanne, Bryn and I had a nice time.

Next, we visited Mi Esperanza. This is a place where women can learn trades to make money. Trades include sewing, jewelry, computer skills and various other things that we take for granted. Mi Esperanza is a place that allows these women a safe job in which their work directly benefits the worker. For this reason, the have a store that is 100% stocked by products the women have produced. I used this opportunity to purchase souvenirs. I was a little worried about Kristin in the store. There were so many small pieces cute of jewelry, she could have easily spend $1000. However, she did hold back. She only spent $200.

After Mi Esperanza, we walked through the shops in Ojojona. I was happy to run into Daniel. He is driving a taxi to provide money for his son. It's not much, but it is much more than most men in his situation have done in Honduras. I tried to offer him encouragement. We walked back to the rooms through old town. It was a nice stroll. When we got to the hill, Suzanne Gordon and I decided to jog. It felt so great to run again. My leg seems well (as I prayed). Now, I have to get over my bruised ribs and I can get back into my running groove
Torch joined us for dinner and devotion tonight. It was not as bad as I dreaded. I still had trouble paying attention to the message, but the praise and worship was good. I 'twas happy to catch up with Sisqo and various others that joined us the previous year. After devotion, Bryn, Suzanne, Kevin and I played a very loose game of Scrabble. It was at this time that I also realized Clara reminds me of the girl from "The Ring." It's not all the time, but her hair was wet and down and she was making this face that freaked me out. I think she was getting a kick out of it.

It doesn't appear that many people were highly disturbed by their visit to the dump. I would like to think it is because the situation has improved in this place.


Martes 5.3

Kristin gave us some thoughts for devotion this morning. We were all excited about building our first house. She talked about her mindset as she came here each year and left with the work impacting her profoundly.

Bethany- Squirrel
I was excited about building the house, but I was more excited to return to Lomas Diamantes. I hoped that I would remember the kids and they would remember me. As soon as we stepped off I the bus, the kids were ready. I was approached by a group that contained Sue Annie, Daniella, Juan Jose and a few new faces. Later in the day I saw Jessica who seemed to be looking after a little boy. During the excitement of one of the games the boy was accidentally run over by two kids. He was not hurt and did not cry until some of the other boys started pointing and laughing. As soon as I saw him crying I picked him up and brought him to the area where no kids were allowed (to ensure the older boys recognized that their folly allowed him to places they were not allowed.)
"Como te llama?" I asked.
In a very small voice he answered, "Marquito."
Again his voice was soft, "Marquito."
"Marquito? No! Marquito es fuerte! Hablas mas fuerte!"
"Marquito." His voice was slightly stronger.
"Mas fuerte!" I showed him a muscle.
"Marquito!" He was timid but firm, so I put him down.
"Ahora, va a jugar!"
He returned to the game clear eye and a bit stronger. I pray that he will remember that he is strong and the taints if others hurt now more then his fall.

Later, Luis asked Suzanne and I to work on installing the roof. We were both a little surprised, but took on the challenge. Nelson and Joseph did a great job of leading us. Ultimately, we worked well as a team.

I may have bruised my ribs. At one point I was climbing a wall to relay messages from within the house. The house design was recently changed, so the normal footholds were non-existent. I had to support myself on with my arms and core. At one point I leaned on my chest to give my arms a break. It was at this point that I may have bruised my ribs on both sides. I hope they heal quickly. I am itching to build another house. This one took 6 hours though it was most people's first time. I really think we can beat this time.

"Thou preparest a table before me in the midst of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
- Psalm 23:5


Lunes 5.2

We went to Hospital Escuela. Our trip seemed to fly by, but it was wonderful. We visited orthopedics, nutrition and oncology. I was worried about having a hard time in oncology. With my history, I wasn't sure if I could handle seeing children with various cancerous conditions. I was afraid to conjure memories of my grandmother and the hope of her recovery that will never be realized. I was surprised at how I was able to handle this. It was a comfort to see the smiles in the children's faces though their bodies were betraying them. I didn't go to the most intense area of the cancer ward, but I think I can save it for another time.

We went back to Casa de Esperanza to clear an area for a wall. In the course of our work, we also handled a number of other chores. This included bike repair, refrigerator sanitation and various other acts of cleaning. If an individual had to handle these things, it would have taken quite some time. As a group, we were able to complete the work fairly quickly. I spent the remaining time with Josue (the twin) riding and working on his bicycle. He is a meek yet headstrong boy. It is hard not to treat him like he is made of glass, but he can be independent when he wants. He is bright and sweet. His illnesses (and possible undiagnosed disorders) seemed to disappear when he was allowed to do his own thing. He really like airplanes and to see the moon. "La luna!" He would yell as he gazed at the heavens. 

I have a feeling Josue is going to be one of the stories we see on the on television. The one where a guy had humble beginnings and achieved in spite of insurmountable odds. And everyone will ask how he was able to do this great thing. He will reply, "It is by Gods grace that he surrounded me with a community that loved and supported me. This community gave me th resources I needed and loved me how I was. for this, I am forever thankful to Him."

"I will praise thee; For I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are they works; and that my soul knoweth right well." Psalm 139:14


Domingo 5.1

This morning I led a quick devotion based on Luke 1:37. I talked about how God can accomplish things through us without the luxury of Starbucks and Microsoft.

Service in Lomas Diamantes was great. I am excited about working in this community and returning each year. The service was simple. Proferio wrote it and Nicole translated. They both have genuine passion when talking about the Lord.

Emma Selfie
Kris and I had lunch with Nicole, Emma and Haley. While there, we met Timoteo (Luis's father) and family. I had balleadas and horchata. I loved the balleadas, but not a fan of the horchata.
After lunch, we returned to Lomas Diamantes to connect with youth (Christians and Non-Christians). I met so many kids and tried to make connections, but only some of them remembered my name. I plan on working on that in subsequent visits. However, I will work to remember Juan Fernando, Fernanda, Juan Jose, Angie, Daniel, Daniella and Jessica.

The group from Tennessee arrived and were pretty tired. They are half teens and half adults. Hopefully they will be more social tomorrow. Nelson (intern) led devotion tonight. Jared led singing, but not all of the group fully participated. Hopefully, we can get the Tennessee group more involved in the singing tomorrow night.

"Greet all brethren with an holy kiss" I Thessalonians 5:26