Friday, August 16, 2019

Being His Hands and Feet

We spent Friday morning enjoying breakfast conversation about our week and our lives around eggs, plantains, avocadoes, and good coffee.  Cindy led the devotion on Galatians 2, reminding us that we are justified through Christ who lives within each of us.  We are really on one mission and that is to walk in faith where He leads us.  We talked about those back home who have been our "supply lines" so that we could be His hands and feet in Honduras.  We sang "Here I Am Lord", a theme of our missional service.

Pastor Junior's family has been a model for that song all this week.  We spent the day with his family, traveling around the surrounding area of La Paz.  Mattias once again drove the bus carrying us to our field trip.  First stop was the city of Cane.  We were greeted by white-washed tree trunks that lined the road leading to this smaller town of colorful homes and businesses.  The color palate ranged from orange to blue to shades of pinks and yellows.  The ornamental designs of their doors and fences made the community look especially quaint.  The town has a soccer stadium to celebrate the nation's favorite sport.  At one end of the town, we parked the bus and walked toward a huge statue of Jesus with oversized hands.  It was fitting for us, as it has seems that both our team and the mission in La Paz have used our hands to serve the people and each other so often this week.  Next we drove between rows of banana trees, mango groves, and herds of cows and horse to view an archeological site of the Mayans.  The site was used to mark the summer solstice and the growing seasons.  Sacrifices of animals were made to honors gods of the Mayan culture that would supply a bountiful harvest.  While understanding the ancient peoples' view of religion, we celebrated God's handiwork that He created by his Word:  the mountains, the nearby river, the vegetation, and the living things, including a group a cows and young calves next to the site.

We traveled next to a larger city, Comoyagua, translated as "eat and drink".  Located in the center of Honduras, as well as the center of Central America, it served as a capital for Spanish settlements and later the first capital of the independent Honduran nation.  We visited the Cathedral de la Immaculada Concepcion, opened on December 8, 1711.  This Franciscan church held many beautiful stained glass and ornate pieces of work.  The front of the church was covered in gold with its depictions of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  In the church is the oldest clock in the Americas.  We climbed the steep staircase and received a guided explanation of the clock.  It was built around 1100 by the Arabs that occupied Spain.  It was sent to Comoyagua by King Carlos III during the colonial period.  We were able to watch the clock chime the quarter hour while in the bell tower. We finished the morning shopping at the local souvenir shop, spending our Honduran lempira.

We enjoyed visiting a local mall in Comoyagua for lunch.  Our Honduran family guided us to a restaurant area where we found items such as chicken, pizza, and sandwiches.  We shared extra fries and leftover entrees with each other, enjoying the mall experience.  We found a frozen yogurt stand to have dessert.   A large scale chess set provided several team members and Junior Junior, Pastor's son, a chance to match wits.  Mattias brought the van to the mall entrance and we quickly boarded for the ride back to La Paz.

We finished the trip by visiting the future location of Pastor Junior's mission.  Cureently, the parsonage is being built for his family.  The location provides ample space for the church and a school.  The family led us on a tour the parsonage built of concrete block and steel trusses.  Pastor Joel led a prayer blessing the construction and the future plans at this location.

We returned to the hotel to see the local markets one more time, catch a little nap, and relaxing.  We enjoyed a special location at the hotel for our last dinner in La Paz, enjoying pork and chicken, beans, avocadoes, cheese, and tortillas.  Again, our team shared side dishes with other members, talked about family traditions of foods and games, enjoying our time together.  Alysia led a devotion on James 2, helping us reflect on our continued need to serve after leaving Honduras.  We sang "Take This Life and Let It Be" without accompanyment, serving as a strong message abut being ready to serve Jesus on His mission, both home and afar.  Final details for the morning travel to the airport were shared.  We have enjoyed being the hands and feet of Jesus here.  We are also anxious to return to our home to share our love with our families, friends, and those in need in our communities.


Thursday marked the final day of the eyeglass clinic.  We started our morning with coffee first, then fresh omelettes with ham, cheese, onion, and peppers.  Penny led song and devotions that highlighted using our gifts for God's purpose, as serving benefits His church and brings glory to Him (1 Peter 4:10-11 and 1 Corinthians 12).

As children of the Heavenly Father, we have witnessed the beauty and love that is found in La Paz.  Our clinic has served multiple generations of God's people looking for help.  Thursday had many people needing glasses and wanting sunglasses.  Our team worked efficiently with the resources remaining to meet both their needs and wants.  The 140 people we served gave us smiles of gratitude, handshakes of thanksgiving, and hugs of support.

We enjoyed the chicken and rice for lunch, along with fresh fruit salad, consisting on pineapple, melons and bananas.  We packed up our equipment and remaining eyeglasses into the suitcases from home.  Alysia, Pastor Junior and Rosa, along with our interpreter Diego dialogued about the week's clinic to develop a report for MOST Ministries.  The numbers were significant (817), but it was the relationships built during the week that are the true celebrations and markers for success. 

We retreated back to the hotel to find rest from the afternoon heat.  For some, another climb to the Overlook was worth the heat of the day.  At the top, we gazed over the valley, watching a plane land at the new  airport.  We enjoyed smoothies and coffees before returning to the hotel to prepare the an evening celebration.

Our host family wanted to host a closing party for us on the final day to the clinic.  The church was decorated with balloons.  A table was filled with a variety of chips, dred pepers, taquitoes, and crackers with spreads.  We began the party with prayers of celebration to God for the wonderful week He had prepared for us.  We sang a song, echoing the Alleluias in our hearts and souls for the services to Him.  The team was blessed by the mother of Ivan, one of our interpreters, who brought us small woven baskets made by Indigenous weavers who lived in the surrounding mountainside.  Pastor Junior and Rosa presented Alysia with a special gift to remind her of this first mission trip that she led for MOST Ministries.  Each of the team members received a small gift to remind us of this experience in Honduras.  Alysia presented gifts to the church from MOST Ministries.

The excitement increased as music was played and a piñata was hoisted above the church floor.  The children waited in anticipation of the breaking of the prize box.  Many of us took turns to swing the stick to break the piñata.  Being blindfolded, we relied on the directions shouted from our the sidelines, as well as other senses.  In the end, the piñata was broken and the children flooded the floor to gather the scattered candy.  Much like the grace and love given to us through Christ, we relish in the abundance of His love and mercy.  We learned new dances and enjoyed the fun together.  What a wonderful celebration!

Our evening devotion ked by Kara and Grace was also fun-filled through songs and reflections.  We long to be sheep, led by the Holy Spirit, toward a beautiful relationship with Him.  Romans 2 reminded us to be transformed and serve others.  We shared our mountaintop experiences with each other.  Alysia gave us some guidelines for preparing our re-entry from the field.  We have joined Jesus in His Mission in this place at this time.  We have watch what He has done when we have offered our time and talents to further His Kingdom.  The view from the top has been exciting and fulfilling.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A view of our Honduran dishes

We have reminded how God will provide for us while on our mission trip.  Among the blessings has been our meals.  We have been treated so well while in La Paz.  We have experienced meals together at the hotel, as well as with on Honduran family.  Each morning, we gather for breakfast at 6:30 prior to devotions to start our missional service.  We eat lunch provided by our hosts during a break from serving, usually between noon and 12:30 p.m.  Following our service, we eat dinner together back at the hotel at 6 p.m., followed by evening devotions.  Here are a sampling of pictures of our meals.

A purpose to serve many needs

We sang those ancient words remin ding us that how He is with us because He is truth.  We recognized our various gifts we offered to His purpose.  Our devotion from John 14:25-27 shed light that we need not worry about what to offer.  We also know that he will change us through the work while in La Paz.

We saw many children Wednesday at the clinic.  There were elementary students, young children holding their mother's hands, and babies in loving arms.  We also saw children bring their older parents to the clinic.  One son walked his nearly blind father through the stations to ensure that some help could be provided for the one good eye.  There is a strong sense of family in this community.  Since almost all of us serving on the team has some form of eyeglasses, we understand the desire for clear eyesight.  We saw many clients with astigmatism, as well other eye diseases.  Our routines in providing good care were rewarded with claps and shouts of "Claro!"  We shared many good stories over a lunch of carne asada and rice.

We served many today who came from a nearby community, traveling by bus to come to this mission.  A teacher of English came as well, thanking us for our service in our native tongue.  Some children did not need glasses, as we explained that we did not want them to receive glasses that would hurt their eyes.  They did receive something greater:  the message from Pastor Junior of the love of Christ, portrayed in the colors of beads on a bracelet or "hair" on the end of a finger puppet.  A total of 181 clients were seen!

We enjoyed our leisure time before sharing a common table with plates of nachos and a bowl of jalopeno peppers.  Tom's devotion centered on the 1 Corinthians 13 and the love that has grown in our lives while in La Paz.  Yes, we are serving His purpose and He is with us...and His church continues to grow through His Amazing Grace which we sang together.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Helping Hands

Tuesday morning brought a reminder of our need for morning routines(coffee, please), as well as new found sweetness (pancakes with honey and cream cheese).  We were reminded in song and Scripture that we have an awesome God who provides everything for us and is with us when we getting into trials and tribulations.

Help came in various forms at the eye clinic.  We were moving chairs often to accommodate our clients.  One clients was lifted with her wheelchair to the testing station by Pastor Junior, then we provided all of the other supports in one location for her.  Another client came in a pedal bike, so he likewise received the special treatment.  Some help came our Honduran family in the form of ice cream (with chocolate) in the middle of a very warm morning.  We also were helped with several clients who spoke a little English.  Several asked about MOST Ministries.  We were able to share God's blessings and our names freely.

Our lunch of pork chops, vegetables, rice, and totrills helped our energy after a full morning of service.  As our numbers increase, we experience a little tribulation:  we are running low on sunglasses.  We have seen many clients whose eyes have been damaged by sunlight from working outside.  Despite this, we continued to help "Gracious!" and "Bless you!" from each person.  Our translators have helped us so much to communicate with the clients.  At the end of the day, we provide help to 182 people, the highest number of the far.

We spent the afternoon resting, running, and shopping at the local Family General.  It is quite helpful for us to locate items with some familiarity to the stocking that occurs back home.  Many items were purchased to take home as gifts or to snack on while in La Paz.  Dinner was muy especial as we were treated to chicken wings and fries (papas) and loud Honduran dance music!  Apparently, Tuesday night is music night at the hotel.  It was a little loud for us, so we treated to a more quiet location for our evening devotions.  We reflected on how God's Word works in us and becomes reflected by the love we share with others.  We had many helpful moments:  Rosa's morning song "If You are Happy", the farmers who brought long cucumbers to the family, the white cane provided to the man who could no longer see well, Diego's patience in translating for us.  In each of these ways, we will helped by the Holy Spirit to watch how the meek respond to the love that we simple pass by being the hands and feet of Christ.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Working Together, Growing Together

Monday's breakfast was a team effort, as John and Joel began serving the coffee.  We learned through the young rich man in Mark 10 about the need to be together of one mind with Christ. 

With all of the team members together to start our clinic, we work together to learn new roles, assist in helping our clients, and dialogue with our interpreters about their responses to the screenings.  We saw Christ to the compassionate friendship between two men, one having special needs.  We saw Pastor Junior using different visuals from beads to blocks to tell the story of Jesus to young children, young adults, and older men and women.  All the while, we witnessed smiles and gratitude from our new Honduran friends.  The way we are living our lives in La Paz mirrors the joy in we have in our hearts for this mission.

What else are we doing for fun at the end of the day?  Tonight, it was buying snacks treats to share with each other as we gathered for devotions.  Through conversation around Romans 8:31-39, we are reminded that nothing can separate us from Christ's love.  Through song, we shared that our faith is in Christ alone.  We are growing together to see God here in La Paz.  We are growing to learn more about ourselves as maturing Christians.  We are growing together as the family of God.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Bonding with our new family

Today we experienced deeper sharing of the love of Jesus as we deepened our relationships as team members and as members of the team growing God's Kingdom in La Paz.  Breakfast time found some team members running around the neighborhood of the city, encountering markets and grazing vacas (cows).  Others found the coffee, eggs, plantains, and avacados refreshing on Sunday morning.  Since our worship at Pastor Junior's church was in the afternoon, our morning devotion with all 12 members centered on John 4, praises lifted on high, and a team photo.

We joined Pastor Junior's family for lunch.  Along the long tables we used for the clinic the day before, we now had plates of chicken, rice, vegetables, and tortillas.  Conversation between the new American family and the Honduran families centered on family, starting with two new babies:  Sofia and Lisa Maria.  Love was translated easily, as the women took turns holding the twins.  The sharing of family history and celebration photos of a recent Quinceañera showed that we had common feelings for each other's family joys.  

The two families walked as one unit to the Overlook, a short hike from the church via The Way, with cobblestone streets and the Stations of the Cross leading to a steep incline.  Using each other's encouragement and plenty of water, we reached the summit to find a glorious view of the valley below.  Adorning the summit was a cross and a Catholic church, as well as an overlook deck.  The beauty of God's hand on the mountains, vegetation, and skies made each step of the journey worth the sweat.

We went back to the hotel after our afternoon hike to prepare for afternoon worship.  The Lutheran congregation is a new family in La Paz, seeking followers of Christ.  Pastor Junior included English translators for the liturgy and sermon from Luke 10:28-42.  Like families bonded through Christ, we joined in Holy Communion, with Pastor Junior and Pastor Joel sharing His Body and His Blood using both languages.  Yet the purpose was singular:  to freely receive what Christ died and rose again to give to us: release from sin, strength for day, and eternal life.  

As we separated from our Honduran family for the evening, we enjoyed dinner and devotions about the joys of serving on this mission, through the words found in Colossians 3:12-14.  We talked about encouraging words for both families as we move forward in our week of servanthood.  As we sang and reflected on the day, we certainly had 10,000 reasons for praising Him and seeking to be more like him with His spirit alive in each of us.  Imagine the family of God, across the miles, languages, and history, singing together:

"Quiero service mas...Mas Como Tu"
"Make me brand new...Make me like you"