Honduras Trip Journal

     Left church at 5:20ish. Flights from MBS to Detroit to Miami. Big rush to catch flight to San Pedro Sula. It was a miracle that they let us cut the long line to check-in and go as a group. I ended up getting in 1st class with Matt. Pretty nice. We think our luggage made that flight. In San Pedro we had to rush to catch the flight to La Ceiba. We meet Estrella there.
     Country is wonderful. All green and lots of mountains. Quite different from Midland. Our luggage didn't catch that flight. In La Ceiba, Pad and Alex met us. We took a 1-2 hr bus ride to the hospital. Gave us our first real look at the people and towns. It seems they're quite poor, but make do.
     At the hospital, Pad explained most stuff to us and we settled in our bunks after prayer. They're quite nice for being in the middle of nowhere. We expect to get up for breakfast and work at 6:00 tomorrow.

     We woke up right away for our first day of work at 5:15. The room had cooled off a lot so I even felt a bit chilly. The sun was up and our body thought it was 7ish, so we were wide awake. Breakfast was great and we had devotions as a group. After some waiting, Pad led us over to the hospital.
He explained the history and gave us a quick tour of the hospital. The building is complete, but not finished inside. It is designed quite nice and they have a lot of equipment (and junk). We expected to dig the foundation for a 3-story chapel/lighthouse tower in the courtyard, but our first task was to clear junk from the rooms. We filled 2 large trailers. Most was medium sized, but there was some really heavy stuff: 8 circuit panels (6 people), some hunk of metal (7-8 people), big lockers .... but we got it. Then we took our lunch break, a nice rest. In the afternoon, some people did more work in the hospital, but most worked on the bridges. There are 2 bridges over the ravines between the hospital and dorms.
Our main task was to remove the 2 anchors from each and set it up as 4 anchors each. Chris and Brady did measurements and stuff. Most people dug up the anchors until we realized they would unscrew from the ground. Matt Greene (college student here with his family for a month) and I took old netting down from 1 bridge. It was intertwined between the planks and middle and top cables. So we crawled along a bouncing bridge ~50 feet above the jungly ravine with an open knife. Fun. Our luggage came mid-afternoon to much rejoicing. Only the white tubs (and hopefully Brian's missing guitar) are waiting in La Ceiba for the next time someone goes. We stopped work around 4. After relaxing and very refreshing showers, we ate dinner. Afterwards we worked on a corny/stupid/hilarious poem for Chris's birthday tomorrow. We then devoted, talked, voted Estrella as "More than a Man", and practiced two skits. Jill handed out pops. I read through my testimony before going to bed at 9:30 (it felt much later).

     Woke up to the girls singing "Happy Birthday" to Chris at 5:00. I woke up after a few lines and jumped up and joined in (they were supposed to wake us up first). I headed into the "Valley of the Shadow of Death" to do anchor digging. Very hot with no breeze. It was fun to talk to the locals (workers) about the heat, work, and breeze. Interesting to talk to 67 year old Don Juan Caranza (in charge of all the tools) to get things. I achieved the nickname "White Cat" for my speedy climbs up and down the ravine without rope. Unfortunately, my forearms got cut badly, but they don't hurt. Went over to the dorms to help. Rested, weeded through stones and pick-axe (pico) -dug holes for plants. Natalie took a picture of me with ants and then told me they were fire ants. Ouch.
     Lunch. Worked with Brady on the bridges: measuring of 45 degree angles for the holes to be dug on the other bridge. Tried to tie used cables to new spots, but no good tools/intelligence. (All anchors done and other bridge's started). Big rain at 3:30. Called it a day after getting soaked. Did nothing. Dinner. Meeting. Cake for Brian (his birthday tomorrow) and Chris. Sleep.

     Today we had clean-up. Got sweaty doing dishes. Attached, measured, cut, bent, and clamped big, long stabilizing cables to the anchors. Probably a dozen times I came up to the bodega to ask Don Juan for parts/tools (often with Spanish-English dictionary in hand). Finished and balanced all 4 wires on far bridge. Brian and Brady dropped lots of tools and Jill got most of them. Showed Anna, Em and Chris how to measure and cut for the near bridge.
     At 3:30 we went swimming at the ocean. It was fun. Matt jumped on me a few times when he got scared for no reason. Some small flying fish flew about 5-6 ft.
     After dinner we walked ~20 min east to Lucinda and went to a church service (they have one every night). We were very welcome. They sang long and loud. The pastor preached the entire gospel (I understood most of it). He wasn't prepared; so considering that, he did quite well. Had very short meeting afterwards.

     Not much happened today. Started off with Catherine, Natalie, Abby and Tom on far bridge fastening guide cables in place. Waited a lot for clamps and cable cutters from the team attaching anchors on near bridge. Finished around lunch. Still bounces, but more stable than before. Near bridge needs to finish attaching anchor cables and fasten guide cables. After lunch, I went down to 2 felled dead trees and heaved rotten parts and branches over the barb-wire fence to the road. Couldn't get chainsaw started, so we didn't cut any of the trees. Em's leg started to get swollen. Day done at 3. Rested until dinner.

     Slept in until 5:45!! Matt and Em lay with legs raised all day. Rehearsed church presentation; things seemed to work well. Miscellaneous work until lunch. Bridges done (except near bridge doesn't have the guide cables secured), no trees chainsawed. After lunch, we rehearsed our village presentation.
     When done ~4, we got ready to give the church presentation. Shortly our driver (Nicolas) and the Lis Lis pastor came. We ate an early dinner with them and left to Lis Lis. The church was bare concrete with some benches and plastic chairs. Lots of kids, few adults (only 12 actual members of the church). Everything went smoothly and again we were well accepted. Very grateful for Estrella to translate and do mini-sermons between parts. Kids were fun but shy. I asked one "What'd you do today?" Nod. "Did you play?" Nod. "What'd you play?" Nod. Older kids were more talkative. On the way back, we got stuck on the muddy rise coming out of the second river. All the guys got out and used our brute strength to get the bus to the top of the slope.
     Nicoli is staying the night in Tom and Andy's room. He'll bring us places tomorrow (he lives in La Ceiba). Tomorrow will be a very relaxing day.

     Slept in until 7:30! Wow! Had breakfast and then our own worship service. Everyone was encouraged to find some verses or something and present it during the service. It seemed God called many of us to share scripture concerning giving our worries to God and fully relying on Him. Went to a waterfall about 45 min away. It was nice, cold water and had a good place to jump from (12-15ft high). Em and I jumped twice; we even got Estrella (can't swim), Aaron (afraid of heights), and Linda (scared of lots of things) to jump.

     Lunch. Went into La Ceiba for a nice meal in a restaurant. On the way, Nicoli was passing a car and we realized there was oncoming traffic, so the road became 3 lanes for a little and nobody seemed to care. After dinner, we went to a "real" church. There were ~100 people. The pastor was bilingual and frequently said some English so we could follow along. It was fun to try to sing along (they had songs on overheads). The pastor encouraged us to look at our private Christian life and see if it is as "good" as our public Christian life we show off.

     In the morning we waited for Alex (a local, a good worker for Loma de Luz, and bilingual). He was the only person who knew what town we were going to and he was supposed to arrive at Loma de Luz last night. While waiting, we found out that Pad's truck was broken into and many important papers were taken. Alex showed up shortly and we went to La Bomba, El Es Fuerzo. We started outside of a church with some songs and skits. Then we went to the schoolyard. There was a lot of kids. Everything went fairly well. The kids constantly crowded us, but we managed. Natalie completely changed her testimony so the kids could relate. This was good; it also worked well because Estrella was translating. Most of us will try to make appropriate changes to our testimonies.
     Part way through, we decided to take a lunch break. It was good to rest for a little.
     During our lunch break a older kid (young teenager) came into the church and asked for a Bible. Alex and I went with the boy to the Gonzales home.
Not the Gonzales home, but a typical one
I was very grateful for Alex. He knew all the appropriate words and actions. We learned that the mother had lost ~7 kids when they were very young. When pregnant for this boy she prayed that if it was male, she would give her life and the boy to the Lord. It was touching to give a Bible to a family that was Christian for 14 years without a Bible. I inscribed it to them and returned.
     We continued inside the church, minus the children in school. After the presentations, we played games and did crafts in the churchyard. Soccer, Frisbee, parachute games, football, bead bracelets, bubbles, face painting, and paper airplanes. The kids loved it. Unfortunately some things (like colored plastic beads) held the value of gold. Bead-givers (me included) were mobbed by several dozen hands shoving for beads. Chaos.
     We relaxed all afternoon. In the afternoon we got good news that the thief returned the important papers to the O'Neil's bank. After dinner some of us went to the very top of the hill behind the hospital. An awesome view. We were at level with some small mountains and could see miles of the Caribbean. Before bed, we had a longer meeting to discuss our 1st village presentation. We thought of many ways to improve, but as a whole we felt it went very well.

     Waited again for Alex before leaving. That's okay, though: we aren't constrained to a certain schedule and he has important things to do at the hospital. We went to Ceibagrande. It is one of the poorest towns in the area. We presented in a church. Our planned changes worked well. The kids were also much more attentive. The structured seating (benches) and fewer children help a lot. We broke for lunch towards the end of our presentation.
     We ate in the church and many of the kids didn't go home for lunch, they just watched us. Before we started again, some of the girls played "London Bridge" with the kids.
They played singing/hand slapping songs and Tom tried to teach rock-paper-scissors. Games and crafts went less chaotically. Balloon animals were a huge hit (they were forgotten yesterday). Bibles were in high demand. Unfortunately many people blatantly lied to get 2 or 3 Bibles. The pastor said the # of Bibles a family has is sort of a status symbol.
     Lots of dancing while doing dishes. Nate and I slept in the air conditioned room to help our heat rashes. Mine is going down.

     Today we left pretty much on time. At La Crucita, we were guests to a fiesta.
It was primarily a traditional dance competition between various towns' schools. Since we were coming, they coordinated it with our presentation. Unfortunately, the MC wasn't too glad to have us present Christian messages, so we weren't able to do as much as we would've liked to. We also had some problems with the microphone, so we ended up just shouting. We did capture most of the attention of the crowd of ~500, so that was good. It seemed they put a lot of time and money into the fiesta.
     Around noon, we went to a near town (they're like twin cities), Limeras. We had lunch and went to the school. The children there were very attentive at good. Balloon animals were another big hit, but all the crafts were manageable. It rained for ~1/2 hr, so we all got drenched and the soccer players got muddy. Bible distribution went much better. We gave Bibles to the pastor and he handed them out. This gave the people a sense of accountability to the pastor, rather than taking Bibles from some Americans. A great day.

7-26 or 7-25
I got the daily "More than a Man " award for: + help speaking Spanish + being a rash with legs and no complaints + always having a key to the storage barrels + .... can't remember

     Slept in until 7:30! Went to Rio Estevan.
Right on the ocean with beautiful views of the mountain. The sick of yesterday (Abby, Aaron, Natalie; Jill to help the dentists) came but Matt, Chris and Tom stayed to do some requested work.
     Presented in a nice church. Smaller crowd than normal. Kids were well-behaved and seemed a relatively wealthy town. We got all the blessings we asked for: energy, attentive kids, organization, and smooth presentation.
     I met Heidi, a 10-12 year old who had some questions about the tracts ("I will pay your debts").
She couldn't understand how Jesus could cleanse her from her sins. I couldn't understand much, so I brought her to Christy (a missionary at Loma de Luz and a fluent Spanish speaker). She answered Heidi's question. But Heidi thought church was boring but her mother was a Christian. She wasn't ready to commit her life, but was encouraged to talk to her mom and the pastor. Pray for her.
     After our nightly meeting, we ("'N THA SINK") performed our debut hit: "Polar Yams". A great hit. We had practiced a lot the last day.

Polar Yams:

[Guitar by Brian.
Band: Brian, Matt, Nate, Chris, Brady, Randy, Dave]

We are just a bunch of cutie guys.
We are llamas, llamas in disguise.
We may seem a little fruity,
But we sure can shake our booty.

[Loud and crazy] We are just a bunch of cutie guys.
We are llamas, llamas in disguise.

Once I met a girl, she was really cute.
She could even play the flute.
One day she held my hand.
And whispered gently "I am a man."

[Load and crazy] Lo-Lah Lo-Lo-Lo Lo-Lah x2

After she told me this, it broke my little heart
It quite nearly tore all my limbs apart
After she left me I was all alone
So I wrote this little poem.

[Loud and crazy] We are just a bunch of cutie guys.
We are llamas, llamas in disguise.
[With background] Lo-Lah

Now we're at the end of this song.
We hope it didn't take too long.

[Play through melody. Hit bad last note and band falls to ground. Brian plays good note with big, fake smile]

     Went to our last village today: Bambú.
A smaller than average # of kids (~100), at a school. Everything went quite smoothly. Afterwards, we came back to the hospital and then to the ocean. Water was the perfect temperature (relaxingly cool) and had a good beach and unripe grapefruit trees (quite bitter).
     At dinner Brian and Ashley O'Neil had a carrot-piece eating contest. They were forced to stop at 84 each.
     Our meeting after dinner consisted mainly on reflecting the past 2 weeks:
     + perspective of wealth
     + the answering of prayers
     + cooperation within the group (and prayer for its continuation)
     + God's will for our future work for God Tomorrow will be a sleep-in/cleaning/nice lunch/church service day.

     Woke up at normal time and unloaded 2 semi trucks full of equipment and electrical supplies before breakfast. Cleaned, swept and mopped all the rooms. Packed luggage and gave a lot of clothes to Estrella to take to the school near her home in Honduras.
     After a regular lunch, we had a Euchre tournament.
Nate and I got 4th of 11?. For dinner we went to Maribel's in Belfate (home of the missionaries and technical town of the hospital). Decent food, but definitely designed for locals to eat at. The town is fairly large and we saw the missionaries' homes. They remind me of big cabins.
     Afterward, we went to Lucinda and presented our church presentation at the church we attended before. Our last one!
     After our meeting, we were sitting and talking in the main/eating room. Chris was lying down and was warned many times to go to bed. He didn't go to bed, but he fell asleep. We did a good job of duct-taping him to the bench. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the morning or before.

     Chris woke up at 1:30am, tore himself loose and went to bed.
     We had a quick breakfast, loaded our bags and went to La Ceiba. Checked into "Hotel Grande Paris" and went to a souvenir shop. Almost all shops were closed (Sunday) but this one opened just for us. I bought a decorative machete for $19 US.
     For lunch we all went to Pizza Hut and drooled while eating American food. Afterwards, we went to an ice cream place and drooled some more. I had pineapple ice-cream.
     We swam in the afternoon and ate at a decent local restaurant. There we said our goodbyes to the O'Neils and Christy.
     We went back to the hotel and had a church service. Everyone was encouraged to share something. Chris challenged us to go back to Midland and continue ministering to those in need: spiritually and physically. Estrella encouraged us to decide each day to see, think and speak only what is good and constructive. Nathan read Titus 3:14
     "Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives."
     This spoke to me and I feel God has shown me some of what his will is for me. However, I still need to pray and contemplate more.
     We met some youth from Illinois in our hotel. There are 26 under their youth pastor Tim. They've been in La Ceiba working with kids and churches giving presentations and revival crusades. They're white water rafting tomorrow and leaving early Tuesday morning.

     Woke up at 4:00 am to leave La Ceiba at 6:00. ~5 hr layover in San Pedro Sula and our luggage couldn't get on the plane to Miami. They were accidentally only marked through San Pedro not Miami, and we saw them on the luggage claim. Hopefully they'll get home within the week. Miami to Tennessee to Detroit. Some parents picked us up and drove us home. Got home ~3am, talked to Mom and Chloe. Called Dad in England and talked. He's going to India tomorrow and a phone call would be very expensive.