Thursday, June 28, 2012

Casa de Esperanza

Terri Tindall is doing a wonderful job with her children at the house of hope. That's what our blog title means by the way. While our women were treated to mani pedi's at the Mi Esperanza salon our guys and Janae painted the main building at the children's home. The oil based paint's aroma enveloped us all and seeped into our pores while Skillet, the Tindall's dog, fought diligently to stick his face into the paint buckets. 
While our team painted and played with the Casa children, Matt Warren and I were asked by Julio, the owner of our residence, to visit a mountain community in the sky. Our tires slipped across gravel. We were thrown left and right as we hit ruts in the road and climbed higher and higher. When we finally stopped we were perched on the edge of the world. Julio told us that on a clear day, we would be able to see the tops of volcanoes and all the way to the ocean. I wish he wouldn't have told us because i was completely satisfied with the view I had. Strange how we are satisfied until we find out there is a possibility of more.
Matt and I stopped at a house where a man was building a super efficient brick stove that would hold heat from corn husks for an entire day. The man has a vision of providing communities with these stoves if they will pay for the bricks. His view is that the Hondurans should always contribute something instead of just taking handouts so that they maintain their self respect. He spoke with enthusiasm about teaching community members how to grow coffee, apricots, and other high profit crops. We both left encouraged by his passion and pretty happy about the bags of home grown coffee he put in our hands. 
After changing a flat tire. we returned to Casa and spent the rest of the day with the kids. Morgan spent hours playing soccer with a girl on their court. She ran circles around him laughing and scoring at will. Others jumped on a trampoline or tossed frisbee. Coroline Lee sat a table painting tattoos on the children. They went through all the stencils fretting over which animal or symbol would be best. I chose the heart.
We spent our devo time with the Tindall's at a small church in a community called ojo ona. The singing was nothing less than angelic. Marc shared stories of girls from the dump and then many others added their experiences. God is big and he is faithful

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Visitation

Have you ever had someone read love across the wrinkles in the palm of your hand? I have. We sat in a room filled with tables and children. Their eyes constantly shifted from ceiling to floor seeing nothing. Several of our missionaries sat beside them and felt the children caress their hands and wrists. My hands were held individually by a twelve year old boy. He explored my knuckles and wrist until finally his fingers found my wedding ring. I explained that the wring belonged to my wife which meant I belonged to her. He smiled.
My fingers began dancing in the hands of the young boy as a room full of blind children sang the most beautiful melodies. Each table belted out a separate harmony singing "It's a small world after all". Across the room, tears spilled over Leslie's cheeks. A child clung desperately to her neck. We did our best to match their enthusiasm while singing the same song in English.
We were led into a courtyard. All the children came out to meet us and receive candy and multi edged toys that were tactilely interesting. They caressed stuffed animals and traded between one another eager to learn the new objects.
As is the norm in honduras, even in a blind school, a soccer match broke out between the gringos (us) and the children. I'm ashamed to say that I did my best to steal an eight inch hard plastic ball from a little blind girl. I'm even more ashamed to admit that I couldn't do it. God has certainly given her functioning senses an extra portion of strength.
All too soon we left the crowd of smiling children to head back to our compound for dinner of pork chops and a devotional led by Morgan McNabb. Many people shared stories of how Jesus has touched their lives today either in the hospital, or the blind school. I guess I should tell you about that too. But I won't. Have you ever had someone read love across the wrinkles in the palm of your hand?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Never give up

Sorry we didn't post yesterday. I'll give you a double portion tonight. We've built 4 houses in the last two days. Kevin Price did an amazing job leading our crew. He's a squirrel leaping up side walls of houses with chainsaw in hand. Two of our homes were side by side and built for sisters. They were truly overwhelmed at the end of the day. In between building we all piled into our bus and rode up to the dump to hand out bowls of rice and beans. Instantly a crowd of people swarmed us eager for water and a meal.
Even in the heat they were clothed in long sleeves and pants as well as facial coverings to guard against the stink. After drinking their fill they splashed others around them laughing. Seeing them enjoying themselves was very uplifting. Soon we were in a circle kicking a partially deflated basketball. Caroline  Lee became the children's favorite target. She made faces that cracked everyone up every time the ball came near.
Before leaving we passed out care packages from the back of the bus. Not having enough packages for everyone was truly heart breaking. Many of the women hugged Marc Tindall and it became obvious the way they spoke to him that he's done a great job ministering to the people their.
After our build we traveled to the mi Esperanza warehouse and loaded up boxes. We had so many that Kevin had to sit on the bike that we loaded on as well.
The past two days have been exhausting but amazing!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

A brand new you

Sunday worship in Honduras is always fresh. As we sat in our little circle tonight sharing stories of where saw Jesus we kept coming back to worship. Vonda put it well when she said they worship in the way children do. They're uninhibited by music theory, unconcerned with page numbers and powerpoint slides, and totally wrapped up in God's arms of love when they sing.
The church God built through us 9 years ago in Los Pinos has flourished. Many of us sat outside and looked on through the windows as we began our service. Matt led singing. He just can't get a break. At times we sang duets. Our Honduran brethren sang in their language while we sang the same song in ours. Our sermon was delivered in nuggets as sections were spoken in English and then translated into Spanish.
My favorite part of the service was the end. No. Not because it was over, but because Johnny, a young man who has worked with TORCH this summer made the decision to put on Christ in Baptism. Tim Hines explained that he was one of those guys who seemed impossible to reach but that God, in his unexplainable way, had cracked his shell. Johnny's smile was infectious when he broke the water's surface and none of us were immune. The only time he was happier was when we showed him the video of his baptism. He laughed hysterically.
After services we rode to the valley of angels and sorted through necklaces, machetes, and wooden bowls. Don't be surprised if you get one from us when we get home. Each of us were challenged to find one gift priced at under $2 for our dirty santa exchange tomorrow evening. The game is called white elephant. I'm not sure where Edna got the name but, really, when can you ever be sure where Edna gets anything?
The day ended with a meal at Janet Hines house with the Florida group. She is incredibly kind to allow so many of us to bombard her home. We ate cheeseburgers and grilled chicken. So far, contrary to what we were told, none of us have lost weight. It's been another great day.

And then there was mud

We went to our first building site yesterday. This is the rainy season in Honduras so the ground was soft. Too soft. Each step we took on the building site felt like twenty. It was as if there were a crowd of people beneath us eager to rip the shoes from our feet and pull us down to join them. Several of us had to dig ourselves out before we could walk from place to place. I could help but think that people would pay money to play volleyball in this stuff.
One blessing came to us with the soft earth. Digging, usually the most arduous part of a build, was easy. Our post hole diggers bit into the ground with a ravenous hunger so we finished our holes in record time. The erratic machine gun staccato of hammers driving nails soon filled the air as Carmen, a mother of three watched her home materialize.
Mark Connell, our wild haired TORCH representative, kept the mood light assuring us each wall was the best wall ever built. Our floor was also the best. And our window. And our roof. As chainsaws chewed through the last sliver of wood holding Carmen's door closed we gathered around the house. Carmen and her family joined us inside for prayer.
Presenting a home to a family is a sweet sweet moment. Many of the things we do her carry with them  the slightest hint of sadness. Praying with a sick child, carrying food to hungry people, treating the sick in a clinic, or playing with children in an orphanage all are extremely fulfilling but they sometimes leave you with the impression that you've only lifted a grain of sand from a beach of need.
Nine of our group spent the day at the Mi Esperanza warehouse sorting clothing and boxes so that we would have them with us throughout the week. After we returned to Julio's, our little home in Santa Ana, we all realized the sum total of their labor. Box after box was pulled from the bus and carried away. Some were extremely heavy but Kevin Price had the answer. Put the box on a shoulder and run! A humbling thought. Each box resting in our arms or on our shoulders held answers to the prayers of many people we'd soon see.
After cleaning up and eating some amazing Lasagna we piled back into the bus and traveled to a huge statue of Jesus for a joint devotional with Tim Hines' group. We returned to Julio's at ten thirty thoroughly exhausted yet completely inspired.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Busy Little Bees

Alarm chimes interrupted our sleep at 4:45 am. We shuffled like the walking dead into the shuttle and made our way to the Atlanta airport. Seven hours later we experienced one of the softest Honduran landings I can remember. That means only three people lost their teeth and the applause was only moderate. The moment we stepped foot in Honduras we slammed our feet on the accelerator. Our container was ready.  Boxes full of clothing and supplies filled the warehouse at the Mi Esperanza compound and seemed an insurmountable mountain waiting to be climbed. We spent the afternoon moving and organizing all the things our friends and loved ones so thoughtfully donated. In the morning we'll be building our first house and sharing some of what you've given. We're excited to be used by God for sure but, if the sight of several Torch member's mouths agape in slumber on the first real mountain bus ride says anything, we are exhausted. 
Paul Bennett