Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Over the mountain and through the woods

I've discovered a new rule. No matter where you are in Honduras, the place you want to go is going to be an hour and a half away. Today was a day of visitation. Prisons, hospitals, and orphanages now carry our fingerprints and mark our hearts.

Many of us road towards the young men's and women's prison not knowing what to expect. The closest we'd been to a prison was the distance marked between our televisions and couches. As the bus pulled up to a large stone wall and iron gate three men in their mid twenties glanced up at us. Their bullet proof vests and machine guns set a somber mood that deepened when one of the guards slammed a bullet filled clip home in his rifle. We walked along a concrete path past small block rooms filled with young men grasping black metal bars. They hooted or stared silently as we passed. Lush green grass bordered stone refusing to be imprisoned and growing wildly from the fertile ground. A man in a christian shirt led us into a classroom the size of a one car garage and motioned for us to sit in pastel colored lawn chairs. I sat beside a young man named Carlos. He slowly sipped soda from a plastic cup. Beads of water slid down the sides. His handshake was warm and firm as he told me he was sixteen.
Seven young men made their way into the room with us and one after the other began to share their stories. Addicts, gang members, and the sons of drug dealers began to paint pictures of pain and hardship culminating in a prison sentence and then, a rescue. They boldly shared how Jesus had become their salvation. Carlos took a seat in the center of the back wall and began to speak. "I am serving a six month sentence. My crimes were committed while pursuing a life of drugs and acceptance from friends I now realize weren't friends at all. Since I have been in this place, none of my so called friends have visited me. You came from a very long distance to see me and I know you love me. I prayed for God to send someone to share the gospel with me and was amazed when someone showed up almost as soon as the amen ceased to resonate from my lips. I thought Christians were crazy. I liked marijuana. I stole from poor people living in a poor country. Drugs led me to do illicit things and that is why I am here. It took all of those hardships for Christ to reach me. This is a violent place and sometimes bad things happen here" I chuckled at the understatement. We were only allowed to be with the seven young men because a gang had attempted to murder another inmate in previous days. We were well aware that it was a dangerous place. He continued to speak. "I'm only here for a little while but, if going back home means I will lose Christ, I wish to stay. I was right. Christians are crazy. I am crazy." Tears spilled across the rims of my eyelids at the depth of his faith. The stories continued. Each carried power and challenged us to be bold. It was then that we knew we weren't at the prison to encourage, but to be encouraged.

There are schools throughout Tegucigalpa. Children walk around in navy blue slacks, white short sleeved button up shirts, and constantly yell as they run around. The children of the deaf school are different. They wear bright yellow shirts and rarely make a sound. We began handing out fruit juice, cookies, and toys with bright lights or colors to the students. Their director introduced us to some of the older students who quickly signed out their names. She is in stage four cancer but radiates joy and enthusiasm for her students. The room came alive. Hands wiggled furiously as the children sang "God's not dead" with their hands. Armed with a light up yoyo I walked up to a child and placed it in his hand. He wound it up and was delighted to see it flash as it spun. After a couple of throws the string knotted. I motioned for him to give the toy to me. I drug my thumbnail down the string and the yoyo spun quickly while he nodded that he understood what I was doing. I bent the string at its center and let the yoyo run down it like a tight rope artist and then dropped it and jerked it up so that it would wind completely. His eyes went wide.
That was the extent of our interaction. I've never felt more helpless as a communicator. Even as a teenager coming to this country, I had a small working vocabulary. Here I was mute.
God led me to think about the people in our group acting as translators, helping us to pray and communicate. I thought about his call for us to be ambassadors. In order to fill that role we must learn the language of the community we are in. How foolish it is for us to expect them to learn ours. That's like asking a child, deaf from birth, to speak English perfectly. Its not possible. What good is a translator without a message to translate? Am I effectively hearing God as he leads me to communicate with his children? I left feeling challenged to listen more closely and eager share God's love more fully with the next group we would see at the hospital.

I'll not steal all the good stories and let some others tell you about those in the hospital and the blind school. It's late and we have a big day in store for us at the dump tomorrow.

Paul Bennett

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

3 houses in one day... sort of

Today was an exhausting and slightly frustrating day for all of us as we set out to build 3 houses in a community on the opposite side of Tegucigalpa from where we are staying. This community was on the edge of a rain forest which we experienced as our day drew to a close. We were able to build 2 of the houses, while the other wasn't quite finished as the rains came and cut us a little bit short of our goal. The house that didn't get completed was stalled by some muddy ground that wouldn't allow them to set their posts. Because of that they were forced to move the house to another site nearby stalling the building process and not allowing the group that was building there to complete it. Not to worry though, because another mission group will be heading out there tomorrow to complete it.

It's amazing to me the beauty that surrounds us as we build these houses in such poor communities. I heard someone discussing around the house that I was helping build, how much someone in the United States would pay for a view like the one we were getting to see as we built. Here is a picture I took from the roof of the house.

The beauty of God's creation was definitely all around us, not just in nature, but also in the people that live in the communities we work in. It is truly a blessing to be here and to experience this. We are all tired tonight from working so hard the last couple of days, but we thank God for all of the soreness, blisters, sunburns and heavy eyes, because these are all a part of serving others. For all of us this is a shaping experience where God is molding us by putting us in uncomfortable places and forcing us to learn and experience Him through serving and loving the "least of these". God is good.

Tomorrow we will be visiting two prisons as well as a def school and a children's hospital. It will be a rest from the physical labor, but it promises to be an emotionally exhausting day. Please pray for us that we will be a light to people who are in dark places and that, through Jesus, we can bring hope.

Love and miss all of you

Matt Warren

Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Great Day

She wakes up as her mother walks out the door of her 13x10 home and begins cooking food for her four siblings. From the early morning hours until 6 in the evening she will change diapers, wash clothes, tend to wounds, and wipe tears. At six, as the last rays of sunlight sweep across the mountain, she swings a backpack over her shoulder and walks down dirt trails to a school that allows her to attend from 6 to 9. Her mother isn't there on Sunday as she gets the children ready for church and brings them to the building. Her name is Cynthia. She is nine years old.

Her's is one of many touching stories in the mountain community of Mona Loa. We spent the day climbing steep cliffs and handing out bags of food. Running out of bags is our biggest fear. While we walk from home to home hand in hand with the children who are so glad to see us, others are running a clinic, and crews are working hard to make sure two new families have a shelter to call their own.

As the day comes to an end we are exhausted, poured out. Children carry gifts from gringos and, we hope, permanent memories of the love Christ. At devo, we exchange gifts and laughter while pulling random items from a sock. Top honors go to a fancy lighter and clay figurines.
It is a good day in Honduras

Tyler White

My first trip to Honduras has been everything I thought it would be so far. The plane ride and landing wasn't as terrible as it was made out to be on the discovery channel. My first hike to deliver food on a mountain was a great experience. I even delivered a bag of food to a man that happened to speak english.
Today I was apart of building my first home in Honduras and it was the best experience I have had since we have been here, but I know there is still a lot more to come. I look forward to the rest of the week and serving God even more.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


When honduran christians sing praise to the Lord they are unshackled. No one worries about their breath, getting the notes right, or whether their belt is the same hue as their shoes. Their praise is pure joy.
As Matt Warren led the congregation in praise today, we sat intermingled with the congregation. Ramona translated the words of the minister as he shed tears over the fact that today was his last day with the congregation at Los Pinos. He thanked his flock over and over again. So long that some of us learned spanish.
Rain followed us to the valley of angels as Edna challenged our group to buy one item of 50 limperas ($2.50). We're going to have a gift exchange full of obscure gifts. The cement block stores are filled with hand made bracelets, mahogony jewelry boxes, oil paintings, and hammocks. Mariachi players surrounded Jaden Mock singing birthday serenades. He remained stoic.
A two hour drive saw us back to Julio's (our home) just in time to fill out plates with buttery potatoes and a tasty seasoned meat dish. Bellies full, we jumped onto the bus and went to play soccer. Tyler White attempted a bicycle kick that was pretty good for a gringo. Some of our less controlled kicks sent our ball sailing into a river. I thought we'd lost it forever until some Honduran teens crossed it and found it for us. Ar we headed home the bus smelt as if an arm pit had taken flight and was hovering beneath our nostrils. Showers are on the menu!


There are strange birds here. Their music floats through our room in the morning and tapping the center of our foreheads. There is no snooze button. What a beautiful torturous way to wake up.
Today we are worshiping at the church Columbus helped establish and then to an artisan center called valley of angels. gotta run

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Emily Chaffin's day

I knew God would have lessons to teach me here, I just had no idea it would be so soon. We landed in this wonderful country, and the lesson began. My selfishness becomes more apparent with every second I am in this fantastic place.
After arriving in Tegucigalpa, we boarded a TORCH bus. As we boarded a man came and took some bags to the back of the bus. He was so dirty and apparently injured his hand somehow. As he was leaving he asked several people for one dollar. Several people gave him some money. I just sat there motionless. For some reason I was scared. Eventually he got off but I haven't forgotten that moment yet. Who am I to be afraid here? How selfish can I be to be unwilling to give this man some money? Too selfish to act, I did not feed the hungry. What a blessing it is to know that others did what I was unwilling to do. However, I have a new opportunity to serve the Lord today through God's grace and mercy. Thanking the Lord today for a well deserved slap in face. I am selfish. That changes today.

Day 2

The sound of singing brought us out of our bunks this morning. It wasn't the beautiful melodic type of singing that draws cute furry woodland creatures to the window sill. These songs were the involuntary type ripped from one's soul as glacier cold water cascades down the human body. I smiled as I heard the singing because I had taken the first shower of the morning and had nothing left to do but listen with twisted glee as others tried to do the impossible. Shower without getting wet.

Today is going to be a great day.
Half of us head to an open air market as the rest begin sorting mounds of stuffed animals, pencils, toys, and the rest of the items you so thoughtfully supplied us. We are filling large black garbage bags with food. Families from el funez won't have to wonder where their next meal will come from this week.

Day 1 Dilemma In The Camp

After a fabulous day overall, singing and devo, we discover there will be no water available for showering. Attitudes go down hill very quick :(
Did we forget to let our light shine?
How often do the people of Honduras go to bed dirty?
Day 2 begins with prayers for a shower, be careful, God can bring the rain.

Friday, June 24, 2011

37 hours

37 hours is a long time to be without sleep so forgive us if we don't make sense tonight. After a few minutes of zero gravity air flight, suspenseful searching for lost luggage, and off roading in a yellow school bus, We are all settled in with no missing luggage in a lush green compound. The rain's pitter patter on the tin roof over our heads carries us into peace. Everyone is sharing their goals for the week and counting on God to deliver. Spirits are high even as eyelids are not. We love you and thank you for the support that you've given us. You are a part of that and as such you are serving here with us.

Wanna hear what we'll be doing tomorrow? We get up around 6am and put together food packages to carry on our backs into a nearby village. some of us will travel to a local farmers market and haggle for the best priced fruits and vegetables we can find. The women of Mi Esperanza (My Hope) will also receive our best as we load buckets and become a part of all they seek to accomplish.

Love and prayers
the TORCH team