FRIDAY – TRAVEL TO HONDURAS
After 3 hours of sleep, my alarm rang at 1:45am. Quick shower and pack the suitcases and Alyssa & Amber in the truck. We met the rest of our group at Mid-America Nazarene University at 2:45am. MNU provided 2 vans and drivers to take us to the Kansas City airport. (Thank you Brady Bratz & Ron Jackson for driving). With this being spring break the flights were full so we traveled in 2 groups: United Airlines and Delta Airlines.
Even though I arrived at the gate in plenty of time, I ended up being the last one on the flight.
Our United Flight landed in terminal A in Houston for a "brief" layover. The exciting thing was that our team had to go to terminal "E" for our connecting flight. THAT WAS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE AIRPORT! We took stairs, escalators, a tram, people mover, …… and made it to our flight just in time.
The United Airlines team (Rusty, Alyssa, Amber, Brenda, Jennifer, Caitlin, Hannah E.) arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras around 11:50am. Unfortunately no one was at the airport to pick us up. So we waited and waited with no international phone to call the missionary. The funny thing was that Jim & Frances Martin, our missionaries, had been sitting in another part of the airport. We finally ran into each other and headed off to Burger King for lunch and to wait on the Delta flight to arrive with the rest of our group. 2 ½ hours later, all spent at Burger King, we gladly welcomed our Delta team (Daniel, David, Hannah T., Emily, Jolene, Tom)
Unpacking & Settling In
We arrived around 3pm at the Martin’s home and begin unpacking. As we laid out the supplies that we had brought with us, I was overwhelmed by the generosity of God’s provision for our trip. We had a 6 foot table overflowing with Beanie Babies, 3 suitcases and 5 large garbage bags full of sewing supplies, almost 100 Spanish bibles and money for painting and medical supplies.
One of my favorite team building activities of the day was sitting back and listening to our team’s laughter as they practiced making balloon animals that would be given out to kids over the next week.
SATURDAY – On the road again
Adventure through the mountains
After a good night’s sleep, we all enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, sausage, refried beans, and tortillas cooked by Tom Mitchell. He definitely has missed his calling in life!
Around 9 a.m. we loaded up the small pickup and 15 passenger van for the 3 hour journey to Choluteca. This is a treacherous drive through the mountains. We crowded 11 people, supplies and luggage into the van and 5 people and additional luggage into the pickup. MNU students, Emily, Jolene, and Hannah T. rode in the back of the pickup the entire trip. Needless to say, in the 90+ degree weather they were a bit sunburned when we arrived.
On our drive we stopped for a drink and visited a roadside zoo. Monkeys, ostriches and turtles were some of the favorites of the group. We arrived in Choluteca just in time for lunch at a local restaurant. The choices were Chicken, Beef or Beef with Sauce. They brought out a potato soup as an appetizer. We all really enjoyed it, especially David (until he found out the soup was actually squash and not potato). He said his mom would be proud that he was eating vegetables.
After checking into Hotel Kali, we headed out to our first service activity into the village of La Fortunita (Little Fortune). To get to this community we traveled about 10 miles of washed out roads that rarely receive any type of maintenance. Along the way we saw tons of trash littering roadsides. People we passed along the dusty road were mostly on foot, bicycles or motorcycles.
When we arrived we were greeted by curious kids and a few adult onlookers. The candy and beanie babies we brought as gifts were eagerly accepted. A local pastor and musician led a worship service in their new, open air church. Most of the homes in this community are made of mud & sticks. The new church was built out of concrete blocks.
There was music and several Christian greetings throughout the service. The worship leader invited anyone who would like to come up and sing a special or share their testimony. Emily from our group led us in a Spanish song that was well received. Great job Emily!
During the sermon the pastor was asking if anyone needed to ask Christ into their life. All of a sudden Jolene from our group started to fall over and fainted (later we would discover that she was dehydrated). We quickly took her outside and helped her get hydrated. It was neat to see the community and our team work together to help her. As Jolene began to feel better we made balloon animals for the kids and stayed until dark. On our way back to the hotel we passed several people walking and riding bikes in the dark on the dirt road heading home to La Fortunita.
Roosters do crow at 5am!
Luckily the hotel we stayed at was surrounded by small homes that all seemed to have roosters. As the choir of roosters greeted the day, they were kind enough to start their crowing before the sun came up!
We (Tom & Rusty) also shared our room with many ants both in the beds and in the bathroom. At least our room was supplied with a small lizard that enjoyed the ants for breakfast.
After a great breakfast at a local Wendy’s, our team loaded up the vehicles and headed out to Cerco de Piedra for worship.
There was lots of music this morning at church. Some were special songs that started out as a solo and then the congregation joined in. Not understanding a word, I at least joined in when everyone was clapping. On one side of me sat two active boys. I’m not sure they stayed in one place during the entire service. On the other side of me were two girls, one of which went up front and led the congregation in a special song. All four kids loved seeing the Bible on my phone during scripture reading. I could hear them trying to sound out some of the words as it was all in English. The pastor that preached at La Fortunita also preached at Cero de Piedra. He did a great job in telling the story of the prodigal son. We found out later that the pastor, now in his 60’s, only had a 1st grade education. 17-year old Andrea Martin translated for us. We also got to share in communion during the service. They served fruit punch and broken up vanilla cookies for the communion elements. This was actually one of the most meaningful parts of the trip.
Walking to School up hill both ways
Sunday afternoon was a time of rest and fun. We packed up and headed to a beach that was about an hour away. On our way out of town we passed a young teenager walking along the road. He was wearing a school uniform. Jim pulled over to the side of the road to pick him up. I was thinking the van was already full enough and one more person would be a little uncomfortable.
It turned out Jim knew the boy. He was walking home from school to his home in La Fortunita. Every school day he walks 13 miles to school and 13 miles home. That’s 26 miles down dangerous roads. All of a sudden my "little discomfort" of a full van was a bit humbling.
After about an hour drive we arrived at the beach. Along the way we saw salt fields and sugar cane being harvested. We also had to stop occasionally for cattle crossing the road. We even saw a few pigs running through the little beachside town.
Our team enjoyed playing in the extremely salty water. This was the first for some to ever see a beach. We had a great time jumping waves and were all worn out on the ride back to the hotel.
We have been blessed to have the Martin’s neighbor Luz housing some of our group and even serving as our driver for the pickup. Luz is a 56-year old widow that is a barrel of laughs. With a big smile she is strong and opinionated. She was widowed over 20 years ago and was raised Catholic.
As our group ate dinner Sunday night at a local restaurant Luz was her normal crazy self. We were laughing and having a good time telling stories. Somewhere in our joking around the conversation turned serious. Luz shared with a few of us at the end of our table that she has a hard time forgiving people that have hurt her. So much so she said she was going to hell because she could not forgive others. Even though she does not normally attend worship services, Luz had actually translated for us during our service in La Fortunita. During our conversation this evening she began quoting some of what the preacher had talked about. I could tell just by this conversation that God was already beginning to work in her life. Please pray for Luz that she would come to know her own personal forgiveness.
MONDAY – BACK TO TEGUCIGALPA
Before checking out of our hotel we noticed water flowing out of one of our rooms on the 2nd floor and it was creating a waterfall in the parking area below. One of the toilets had accidentally overflowed and the water was stuck on. Thankfully we were able to get the water shut off so the maintenance man/hotel guard could fix the plumbing issue.
Tow truck and throwing rocks
Traveling back, Daniel, Jennifer, and Hannah T. rode in the back of the pickup. Even after a heavy dose of sunscreen, Daniel received the worst sunburn of the three. Before leaving we stopped at a local mechanic to arrange for the mission’s main van to be towed back to Tegucigalpa. It had broken down during the previous week’s mission trip, a team that visited from Kansas City. We also stopped at a local mission to provide money for a church member to receive dialysis. The mission was gated and the not easily accessable. Jim threw rocks over the gate at the door of the building in an attempt to get the pastor’s attention. Our team was amused with the antics he was going through until he climbed over the spiked 6 foot fence. We all gained a whole new appreciation for our 68-year old missionary host.
After a few additional stops along the way our team was thankful to get out of the vehicles after the 3+ hour drive. We cleaned up for the evening and watched "Castaway" with Tom Hanks. We also spent some time sharing about significant things that we had experienced. Jim Martin shared that he had been in contact with the painting contractor that would be working with us on the painting project. Our team fundraising had raised $300 for the project. After talking to the contractor he said $300 was the exact amount needed to complete the project. It’s neat to see how God provided the EXACT amount needed!
TUESDAY – PROJECT DAY #1
Daniel started out our day with a time of devotions. We enjoyed eggs, bacon, tortillas, refried beans, toast and then a visit to Expresso Americana (Starbucks) for coffee and Carmel Granitas (spoiled Americans!). Then we setup for the sewing class and medical brigade at the local church. Our painting and burritas groups headed to their locations.
Burrita’s – Hospital Visit
The Burritas’ team (Amber, Daniel, Jolene) spent the morning in a small Honduran home and help finish making the burritas’ (homemade tortillas with refried beans, cheese, and eggs). As the ministry has money available, they distribute burritas to parents and children at the local hospital.
When we arrived at the hospital we were greeted at the entry gate by an armed guard. Once inside the hospital compound, people were lined up to get into the hospital. Some were most likely waiting for hours in the hot sun to see loved ones or to receive medical care. Since missionaries Jim and Frances were regulars and served the patients, we were able to get in and head to the 3rd floor, the children’s ward. Stepping out of the elevator on to the 3rd floor was like stepping back in time. People lined the non-air conditioned halls. When we entered the first room we saw 6 beds full of children with various conditions mostly abdominal issues. The kids smiled as we passed out beanie babies and the parents were grateful for the burritas that we gave to them and their children. Unfortunately this may be the only meal they receive today.
One room we stopped in had a 15-yearold boy with his 21-year old sister sitting beside his bed. He had been shot in the leg. Their mother had died and the father was left with their 9 children. The sister had stepped into the mother role to help care for her younger siblings. We also visited a little boy, 3-years old that had been attacked by a dog. The attack damaged the boy’s left eye, face and left arm. Even as his mom tried to console him, he cried and cried the whole time we were there.
As we worked our way through the ward we came to a children’s floor that had 2 rooms of kids with what they described as "watermelon heads". Basically their heads have built up so much excess fluid they have grown as much as twice the size of their original size. Unfortunately their life expectancy would be very short. This was heartbreaking as some of the parents cradled their children in their arms or rubbed their backs as they lay in their hospital bed.
The last section we visited was kids with broken legs or arms. One room had 20 beds full of kids. We gave out burritases, Beanie Babies and made balloon animals for this active group.
We arrived at Iglesia Filidelfia (church) at 9 a.m. to setup for a medical clinic. The pastor had announced the previous week at church, that our team, along with a Honduran doctor, would provide medical care for the community. Our team had one nurse and 3 nursing students. Once we had everything setup we realized that we would need additional vitamins and medication to meet the volume of people that the pastor was expecting.
Brenda led the nursing team and worked with a 15-year old Honduran girl that would serve as interpreter for medications. Caitlin worked with Brenda and took the blood pressure of each patient that came through the clinic. The clinic was set up in exterior Sunday School rooms at the church. Basically they are open air rooms with little to no breeze. After 6 hours and 70 patients, the medical team was wiped out! Great job ladies! As a comparison to the United States, many doctors only see 25 patients in a day.
Alyssa and Jennifer helped organize the sewing class for the first day. The lesson was planned for 1 ½ days. The great thing about the class is that we had 2 former students from our last trip help out. Our goal was to not only teach the students a skill but to equip them to teach others. By the end of the day 3 of the 5 students had completed their sewing project early!
The painting team of Tom, David, Hannah T, and Emily, were sent to a Compassion International building to paint classrooms. The team painted the back wall of 3 classrooms blue and the rest of the walls white. They also painted a hallway blue and white. After a couple coats of paint on all of the walls, the team had been hard at work reaching high and low areas and moving furniture. In addition to the walls, the team had a lot of paint on themselves as well. Towards the end of their time there, many kids were getting out of school and walking home. Emily welcomed two young boys into the building to help paint a small area. Afterwards, Hannah T. and Emily found a soccer ball and started to play outside with the two young boys. Eventually, more and more children and parents came out of their homes to play and watch.
Tuesday Worship Service
We attended an awesome worship service tonight at Iglesia Filidelfia. Although the music was in Spanish, and I didn’t understand a word, it sounded very much like a traditional praise and worship service in the States. I was glad they ended the music with a familiar song "Alleluia" that we were all able to join in on.
The church provided a young man to serve as translator from Spanish to English for our group. The pastor mentioned our group in the service and came up to us afterwards and expressed his appreciation. His wife was one of the sewing students 2 years ago and 2 other former students came up to Alyssa after the service to greet her.
Out of Water
The missionary home has a cistern that provides water for showers and the kitchen. The city of Tegucigalpa normally fills their cistern 2 times per week. Unfortunately our group used all the water in the cistern so coming back after a long sweaty day of painting, hot hospital rooms, and working in open air facilities in the heat, we had no running water for showers or flushing the toilet.
WEDNESDAY – PROJECT DAY 2
Out of resources
We headed out early to our projects. The painting team finished up early so they joined the team doing the burritases. When they arrived at the hospital they didn’t even make it in the hospital door before giving away all their burritases and beanie babies. People outside the hospital flocked to them asking for more. Unfortunately we only had enough to provide food to part of the crowd.
Sewing Group #2
The second group of 5 students arrived bright and early. We again had former students that came and helped. It was great to see them again. The women learned how to use their sewing machines and how to use a pattern to make a skirt. At the end of the day students from Tuesday’s class joined us for a graduation ceremony. Each student received a sewing diploma, sewing machine, and a huge bag of fabric and sewing supplies. One woman commented "Ever since I was 21 I always wanted a sewing machine, now that I am 54 I finally have one!" We ended our time together in a prayer circle and the ladies shared their appreciation to Alyssa and thanked God for his provision.
Medical Brigade #2
Jolene joined Brenda and Caitlin for the second day of the medical clinic. Many people brought in their kids and elderly, similar to the day before. As we were heading to the church that morning we saw an accident that had just happened. A bus had hit a motorcycle. The motorcycle rider is a member of the church we were serving at. The pastor brought him to the medical clinic we had setup. He was lucky to only have suffered a broken leg. Patient count today 100!!!!
Beads and artwork
Much of my time today was spent hanging out with kids whose mom’s were either in the sewing class or standing in line at the medical clinic. I never knew I was so gifted at making beaded bracelets and necklaces. (ha ha). Luckily Amber was there to help me. The kids loved drawing using the colored markers we had brought along. At one point I had 3 or 4 kids drawing on various pieces of paper all around me. As I looked down one of the girls had actually decided my jeans made a better drawing surface than the piece of paper I had given her. By the end of the day I had various colors of ink on my clothes and arms.
Thursday / Friday
We will be touring the Church of Nazarene seminary and local district office in Tegucigalpa on Thursday and then on to the Valley of the Angels (a shopping area with items made by local merchants).
Friday we pack up and head back to Olathe, KS.
As I visited with Jim Martin this evening he expressed his appreciation to our group for all their hard work and everything that was provided. It has been fun to see the group dynamics that have evolved through the week and lives that are being changed (both us and those in Honduras).
Thank you to all of you that helped support the team with your prayers and financial support. It has been a great experience.