Greetings from back home here in Virginia! It's Ryan once again informing you that we are now back, ready to share some stories and do some laundry. The last couple of days really helped put a bookend onto our week as we were able to have more opportunities for community building with the native Honduran people before coming home.
We once again hosted many of the local children in Vacation Bible School the last two days, though we moved to an area closer to the work site as the local UMC (Central Tegucigalpa UMC, more or less) there wanted the surrounding neighborhoods to see that a church is moving into their area. The move helped us to get some of the children and a couple of the parents from neighboring lots more involved in what we were doing. We were also thankful to have the pastor and some of the other members of that church, both youth and adult, helping out with us. We chose to spend the time with the children mostly doing various crafts and giving them a little recreation, largely "futbol" oriented, of course. The children seemed to love the crafts and we were told that doing them was a rare treat for them as they only see mission teams a handful of times per year, and most of those teams don't have extensive crafts as part of their VBS. It sounded like they were a little more focused on our engagement with them too as a result. In total, we only got to spend about 6 hours this week with the children and would have liked to have spent more, but logistics made it difficult (many of them of course have regular school in the morning and our shortage of space limited what we could do). Also, it was really valuable for us to have a balanced schedule. In general though, we were able to once again see the impact that the church can have on the surrounding community, an impact only limited by a lack of ongoing resources.
We were also thankful to continue working on what will be the new UMVIM center there at the work site. The local operation currently rents space for both Central Tegucigalpa UMC and the mission house/office, but would like to be able to finish this new building in the next few years so as to be able to better serve the community and eliminate the expense of renting properties. Our team didn't necessarily tackle the most interesting part of the project, but it was nonetheless an essential part as we aided tremendously in the effort to excavate soil/clay from the site and start building one of the cinder block walls on the side of the property. From the looks of photos from teams throughout this past year, this has been more or less the entire project in 2013. Moving soil is far more time consuming in Honduras than it is the the US, because the availability of machinery (back hoes, loaders, etc.) is expensive and somewhat unavailable, so it has to be done with shovels, buckets, and wheelbarrows. Still, its rewarding to see the final result of our team effort and moreso than the task at hand, it was rewarding to work side by side, exchanging laughs, songs, and dance moves in our broken Spanish with the workers who live and work at the site.
As always, our week in Honduras was very rewarding to us, and we believe very rewarding to the community we encountered as well. It was a distinct pleasure to meet and connect with many different age groups and experience their amazing community infrastructure. We were even there to witness a noisy and extensive time of national celebration as the Honduran men's soccer team tied the Jamaican team, thus earning them a qualifying berth in next year's World Cup! (We could hear people driving up and down the street honking and going crazy until about 1 AM or so. Then, the Honduran President declared the next day a national holiday.) It was great for us to join in everything that God was doing there, and we look forward to what God calls us to share in next!
After some long plane flights, we're once again glad to be home. Ask us about our adventures if you get the chance!
Grace and peace be with you,
Hello again from Central America!
This is Ryan again and I'll try to give a brief update as it is late here. We've had several adventures since my last update.
First, we've been fortunate to get some good work in at the site, helping to excavate some of the soil in what will eventually be the basement of the new UMVIM facility and helping to build a couple of rows of cinder block wall as well. It's hot, sunny, and humid here, which makes it challenging, but our team has responded very well by mixing rest and perseverance. The native workers are warming up to us and we've enjoyed sharing lunch with them a couple of days now and even had them over for dinner this evening, an experience that I believe was a great opportunity for all of us to extend our relationships beyond the work site.
In addition, we were able to visit some of the local spots including one of the local markets in La Valle de Angeles, a nearby tourist laden "suburb" of Tegucigalpa. It's always an intriguing part of culture to visit a local market and see what items they sell to visitors that they believe speak to their culture. Our day yesterday was rounded out by a trip to one of the local parks overlooking the city where the very large statue of Jesus rests. Rio de Janeiro has the most famous one, but I'm told that other cities have these statues overlooking the cities as well in Latin America. Of course, we had the chance to stop by and walk around a glorious basillica on the way as well!
We were also glad to have many of the local children that work with UMVIM over to the mission house today to lead them in some Vacation Bible School, where they were able to make various crafts (a decorative box and necklace) and show us some of their futbol moves. It's always great to meet the children here and they are usually very excited to spend time with us for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I'm not aware of the background of the children in general, but I know that the mission center comes to various locations to pick them up, so I'm assuming that at least some of them have families that participate with the UMC community as a result of the VBS programs that we and other teams host, which is one of the many goals that this ongoing operation hopes to accomplish!
All in all, God's been good to us this week, meeting our every need and we're glad that he'll continue to do the same these last couple of days!
Grace and peace be with you,
Hola! It's Ryan again (the previous post was from me even though it says otherwise). We just got back from our first of two church services and so I thought I'd continue some of my "reporting". Our first service was at the Iglesia Metodista Unida Central de Tegucigalpa, which was a small church (I think it was a retail pad of some sort), but it had an amazingly intimate atmosphere. Their two hour worship service included many fun Spanish language songs, congregational testimonies, birthday celebrations and even some singing on our part. One of our group, Aurelia, sang "They That Wait" and then the rest of us all followed with one of the few songs we all felt comfortable with, "Sanctuary".
It was great to once again meet some of the jovenes "young people" that we had previously hosted last night when we were able to invite them over for a cookout with us at our mission house, which most teams apparently don't get to do. We shared in some games, guitar circles, a Spanish language viewing of "The Blind Side" (no American football questions were asked), and a time of sharing about our lives within our different cultures. It was great to hear how their faith experience shapes their life contexts and even though many of them were a few years younger than us, we still found great commonality in our mutual faith.
We are thankful to be "at home" to some degree here in a rather cozy misson house here in downtown Tegucigalpa surrounded by many people who are offering us tremendous support including our UMVIM contact, Sandy, our interpreter, Melissa, our cook, Luis (and family), and two ladies who are living as United Methodist nuns in the country who it's been great to share experiences with.
We look forward to what happens next, which is another chance at worship!
Grace and peace be with you,
Hola, and greetings from Tegucigalpa! We've managed to procure internet access and are therefore glad to bring you an update to our adventures so far. The flights down were somewhat tedious, but thankfully otherwise uneventful and we (and our baggage) have all arrived safely!
In contrast, yesterday was more adventurous as we were able to visit the construction site that we'll be working at for much of the week. The terrain here is very mountainous and much of the city here is built into the side of hills, so the land that we are working on (which I understand to be a new church/headquarters for UMVIM Honduras) is wedged in between various neighboring properties onto one of the hillsides (lots of retaining walls for those more construction oriented). Our first tasks dealt with beginning to build one of the retaining walls and then help with some of the excavation of one of the lots, so a lot of moving soil and cinder blocks up and down the hill. There are some local workers at the site with us, showing us what to do and it was a great start to the week to meet with them and work a half day and eat lunch with them (they eat a lot!).