All posts by admin

28May/14

Amphibious

Today, another day blessed by our loving father, was as preciously enjoyed as the first day we arrived. The sun rose, breakfast was mucho grande, and the drivers were happy as always to drive us to our mission of the day. I love starting the day out in prayer and it’s always a surprise to see what God has laid on Chris’s heart to read from God’s word of love.

The ride to Rosa’s is a bit of a drive but that’s okay. I love sight seeing, taking pictures and videos of the life of Honduras. There is a wide variety of people, houses, and dogs. Some people are hanging out at their home, working at their stores, standing on the corner talking, riding their bikes, selling some fruit. Drinking water or eating frozen, flavored ice from a bag. Children walking to school in their cute little uniforms reminds me of when I was in school since I had to wear a similar uniform for 12 years attending Catholic High School. The towns are busy and I love saying hola and smiling real big to just about everyone!

After riding through town there is a nice, bumpy drive before reaching our destination. The beautiful sight of God’s world is breathtaking. The view is wide open with green land and high mountains. This sight reminds me to pray and take a moment to talk with my father. Sometimes there are cows in our way which is really cool. Anything that happens on this trip that wouldn’t happen at home I fully take advantage of enjoying every moment.

We don’t waste any time getting to work after we arrive to Ms. Rosa’s. I love seeing the children which is one of the main reasons why I’m on this trip. I prayed many times about how awesome and heart fulfilling it would be to be with all the children in a different country. So today I had tattoos and candy as usual! I always like taking a little extra cookie for the puppy. I have had the pleasure of hiking for the past few days which always puts my body to the test. Even though my legs burn and I can barely breath by the time I reach the top, its worth the hike. Its rewarding to know that I’m making a difference in someone’s life who lives at the top of the mountain.

The swimming hole

Coop playing with the kids
The Trail of Pail
Me and two of my friends

We’ve built four stoves so far! I’m a professional at it now! Not really, but I’m really good at making the stoves look really good. Besides helping make another stove today, I got the chance to go swimming with the kids!!! They jumped from the rocks, splashed each other with water, and laughed and had a great ole time! We were catching tadpoles and putting them in a plastic bottle but then we let them go. This made me miss my son in a way because he loves doing all of these things.  When it was time to go one of the little girls was trying to tell me that I only had one shoe. Which meant that one of the little boys, Oscar, took my shoe and hid it! Luckily I didn’t have to walk back with one shoe on, due to my special friend Danny who found it for me. Making these kids laugh is the highlight of the day.

Each day here gives me a feeling of God’s presence. Whether its feeding the families, making the kid’s laugh, helping improve their everyday living with a stove, learning about others, or just being involved and caring about someone else other than yourself is a God connection. That’s the connection I want!

Tracey

27May/14

Images And Words

Light to dark – dark to light – light to dark – dark to light.

After a reprieve from the action yesterday, today we returned to Rosa’s outpost and split up into more or less the same teams as last Friday (which recall is the first and last day we went to Rosa’s).  Chris, Danielson, Maynor, Lorie, Tracey, Madison and Cooper ventured up beyond Rosa’s house into the wilds of the remote Honduran mountains and soared high in the winds to finish the stove they started Friday.  Not only did they finish it, they started and completed another.  The tally of total stoves we have now built on this trip is 3.

The team that stayed at Rosa’s continued working on the 16×9′ addition to her house.  Since the footers were poured on Friday, today we concentrated our efforts on building two additional rebar support columns and laying block.  By the end of the day we were some eight high.  We’ll climb a little higher every day.  Our goal is to have a roof over it by Thursday. 

Twist tying the rebar columns

Mark laying block.  (Crooked, as Danielson
would later point out)

Clouds rolled by and we rolled with them.  Ominous skies loomed overhead but the storm never came.  The sun came and went.  The heat was unpleasant but not suffocating.  The integrity of our mook was never jeopardized.

Lorraine sifting sand, prepping for mook mixing
Stove numero tres

The trail of pain.
There is so much pain.
Doom comes to those who wander.
But not all who wander are lost. 

We arrived back at the compound at 6:00pm, thirty minutes before dinner.  This means, again, nobody had time to take showers before dinner.  We always enjoy eating dinner with dirt, mook and blister scabs falling into our plates.  But when we did finally get around to taking our showers, the water ran red from our cuts and lacerations, as it did during the first plague of Egypt, and was as blood.  Here’s nominating Mark to receive the Red Badge Of Courage for the Honduras Mission Trip of 2014.  I, Blog Overlord, nominate him to receive this award.  The award shall come down from the blogosphere and shall be stamped with the Seal of Doom.  And I, Blog Overlord, receive second place, having slit my wrist on the roof at Santa Clara.  This award, too, shall be stamped with the Seal of Doom.  Oh yes, there has been blood.

Three days left on this journey.  Let us not sleep as do others, but let us rest.  We are to be watchmen.  The smile of dawn will come too soon. 

Every day sends future to past.
Every breath leaves us one less to our last.  

Brad
Blog Overlord

26May/14

Daily Blood

On Sunday morning an expected seasonal heat swept through the valleys of northwestern Honduras and into the settlement of Quismistan. 

Last week’s weather was, if anything, a bit of luck and a brief respite from the high temperatures of this time and place in the world. The focus of the early morning was on seeing one of the team members, Hunter, off on his return voyage home.
The team leader tossed and turned all night in anxious anticipation for the necessity of obtaining Hunter’s passport and exit fee from a safety deposit box in a separate building on the compound. If he awoke too late, the building’s occupant might be gone for the day, and Hunter stuck in Honduras, when scheduled for summer school. 

Our leader got up early. 

And he escorted Hunter on the hour and a half trip up to San Pedro Sula, and his flight to America. He returned with pizza. 160 slices. 

The rest of the team enjoyed some extra time in the morning before making their way to the community of Teheras, a series of huts and makeshift shelters on the side of the highway heading south out of Quimistan.  

If a person volunteers for a mission trip abroad in search of desperate poverty, degrading conditions, and an almost incommunicable sense of suffering, (that they can’t find in their own suburban neighborhood), this is the place to find it. 

Living in the 21stcentury, in the First World, it is easy to forget how difficult days can get, how bleak circumstances can be, what true economic blight looks like, and how hopeless life can seem. We came from a world of luxury, of reality television and status updates, where a concern for sheer survival was replaced a hundred years ago by triviality and decadence. 

Things were worse in Teheras, especially a few years ago. Before efforts of the foundation, before a Sunday school class led by hostess Sandra, housed in a newly fashioned concrete church in the heart of Teheras, small but sufficient, a skyscraper of comfort compared to surrounding shelters, modest and indescribable. 

A couple years ago our group gathered with the children in a dirt patch a few paces below the highway, in-between two shacks, with unnecessary barbed wire stringing along random poles. Back then no hope appeared in the eyes of those children, covered in flies, dressed in the same outfit every day, with no promise of an education, or expectations of making it away from such a place, where their families squat in ditches belonging to the government, with no other, certainly no better, place to go. 

This morning many of the same children the team from Wilkesboro encountered in years past was in the new church, singing songs, clapping, a great many of them even smiling. After the service, our team helped Sandra serve the children a meal, rice and a single tortilla shell. Each child brought with them a tiny plastic bowl plastic cup. The team collected them, filled them up, and returned them to kids, who’d eat a few joyful bites, before placing the bowls in plastic bags to take with them home, to share with their remaining families. One can only begin to imagine what else they’d eat on this day, or the rest of the week for that matter. 

After Teheras the day was light, some shopping and a visit to one of the Federation satellite schools where several team members are sponsoring “AP” kids, those from the area with good grades, who get selected by Agape for additional help to pay for future studies, including for most of them some college. 

Afterwards the group met back at the compound for pizza with the families of our hosts, our interpreters and our drivers; a celebration complete with balloon hats for Maynor and Daniel and fake tattoos for the kids. It was a happy occasion in the middle of two weeks of work, a reminder of why we are here, and the pleasure filled life we came to extend to people in places like Teheras, and Rosa’s family on that mountain side we return to tomorrow. 

The honest truth is that for a great many people we know back home, family members and fellow Christians, they will find salvation in their own ways even without participating in mission trips, through faith, a belief in the divinity of Christ, and their humble requests to be forgiven of sin by the Almighty. 

This trip was not a requirement. Mission work is not an obligation, but rather a choice made by the servant of God to share the good word and to perform works of faith. In the end each of us possesses the secret for salvation, the antidote, it is up to us whether or not we share it, and to appreciate what Sandra’s husband Marcos taught the AP children today, that “life is an instrument of God,” and so here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own. 

There is not a new stove or added bedroom that will do more for the people we serve in this country than the simple effort to inspire in them a new measure of hope, a new birth of faith, a belief that things will get better they can carry with them through challenges that will arise long after we are gone. 

The meal we served this morning in Teheras filled stomachs for just a moment, on one day. When we departed from that place, a skinny seven-year-old boy escorted his two younger sisters, tiny and fragile, across the highway, dodging tractor trailers for a walk uphill through weeds, carrying a bag of rice and three tortilla shells, to feed the rest of his family.

All we can do is to keep coming, to keep building, to keep sponsoring, to keep inspiring hope, and to keep the faith that one day those kids will make it out. 

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12
Michael Cooper
Ambassador, WUMC
26May/14

Hope is Eternal

We left Villa Celia Delfina this morning to trek across the great divide of the Quimistan Valley heading for Nueva Esperanza (New Hope) to perform a one day construction project at the local school. Every year for four years, the Wilkesboro team has made this journey into the mountains to bring and share the hope of Christ because the people of Nueva Esperanza have a special place in our heart. No journey is too long… no journey is too difficult when it comes to fulfilling the commandment He gave the Disciples before His ascension. Christ said, “To share the good news of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.” New Hope is so remote, one would think that you are close to the end of the world… 

Today was no different, after a gut wrenching two hour journey across torturous and pothole laden roads we arrived to be greeted by the children. They were lined up at the gate smiling and welcoming us to their world. Our work began in earnest when we began installing new screens on the windows of the main school building, and some of the team began to cut and build new screen frames for the lower building. Several team members kept the children entertained while playing a variety of games that included baseball, soccer, volleyball and a few made up games. The work was completed by 4 pm, we loaded back up to make the return journey home.

Once we arrived back at the compound, we cleaned up and went out to eat at the local chicken joint along with several special guests and their families. Following the meal many of the Americanas gathered to play soccer with the locals, and I tell you the truth, the girls were a lot more physical at the game than the guys. I took a cross check from a young lady that sent me into the fence… I think I have a few loose teeth now… The day went well as always. 

Screening

Making screen frames

Hunter cutting screen

Thanks to our drivers and the crew who always put our safety first, God bless all of you.

Mark

24May/14

The Pepper of Doom


Hola amigos! Como estas (how are you)? 

         Today, the group returned to Rosa’s house, a place that is very dear to our hearts, because the site underwent such a metamorphosis during our last mission trip. Rosa and her family now have a working bathroom, complete with a shower, toilet and pilla, but are in need of a bedroom (not to mention furniture to go in the bedroom). Now, the job at Rosa’s house is to add a 16×9 ft bedroom, so today the team at Rosa’s house had to dig a 22 in. foundation and 29 in. footers, make rebar support columns, and lay the foundation for her soon to be bedroom.

         During our first few minutes at Rosa’s, we carried cinderblocks from the road to Rosa’s house; which was very reminiscent of our first job at her house. Unfortunately, after the morning workout, there were not as many tools as there were people. To give all the members of the team something to do, Danielle proposed that a group of us venture further into the mountains to work on a stove for someone. We had already worked on another stove previously in the trip and were fairly comfortable with the task. Tracey, Madison, Will, Cooper, Kay, Lorraine, Russell, Chris and myself decided to go. 

         Danielle promised us a ten-minute hike to the other job site, but was misinformed, at least by American standards. What might take a Honduran ten minutes, instead took us Americans forty five. Of course, that might have something to do with the fact that we were either walking straight up the mountain or straight down the mountain, with hardly any level ground in between. Our path was simply a washed out creek bed provided by mother nature. Nobody fell or got hurt, which was a miracle of God. Even Danielle was huffing and puffing by the end of the walk. The rest of us were just hyperventilating.

         After the feelings returned to our legs, we finally got to work on the stove. The stove was in a very dark room. The only light came from the doorway and the person in charge of holding a flashlight so Danielle could actually see to measure, lay out brick, and fill in mud. Madison, Tracey, Lorraine and I alternated between muddin’, while Danielle laid the bricks. When Danielle needed the bricks to be cut, Will used a machete to trim the bricks down. Chris tried a few times, but then gave the job back to Will, much to Danielle’s relief. By end of the day, the only part of the stove that was unfinished was the pipe that lead up to the ceiling and we began our long journey back to Rosa’s house.

Here are photos of the stove instillation group:



Mooking the stove


Laying bricks for the stove


Mudding the stove




Here are photos of the job at Rosa’s:


The site of the foundation before the digging started.
The batter boards and batter strings – this time we didn’t have
to use fishing line. 


Digging commences


Becky and Pat wiring the rebar frames
 


Hunter digging the footer


29″ footer after the mook had been poured into it


Duct tape is the international tool of choice.
Stabilizing the rebar frame by duct taping it to
wooden boards



Lorie

23May/14

Half the World

Half the world talks
With half a mind on what they say
Half the world walks
With half a mind to run away

Half the world lies
Half the world learns
Half the world flies
As half the world turns

Half the world cries
Half the world laughs
Half the world tries
To be the other half

Half of us divided
Like a torn-up photograph
Half of us are trying
To reach the other half

         Lyrics: Neil Peart        
I heard this song on my iPod on the way back to Santa Clara this morning and it, as all great songs do, makes you think and see the world through the artist’s eyes and music. Neil’s point in the lyrics is close in comparison to the words of Solomon in the 3rd chapter of Ecclesiastes when Solomon talks about everything having a light and dark side in life… Although I’m not sure Neil wrote this song using that literature as a guideline, I would like to think he did.  

The third day at Santa Clara started under the threat of rain… we were not disappointed. We gathered together in the school building and waited it out for about an hour or so.  The clouds broke and the busy bees resumed their tasks.

Team Mook paused the mooking on the new bathroom and put their plumbing hats on to prep the drains and supplies for the baby pilla and sink. Then we built a small pilla in the corner of the room under the skeptical eye of HaHa.  I don’t think he liked the way we approached our construction method by dry stacking the blocks, but after driving re-bar through the core holes and packing them to the hilt with mook, we gained his approval and he said “Perfecto!”  We did complete the roof, but sadly due to the rain delay we did not pour the floor.

Team Zilla continued to ground and pound the latrine pit with a new convert in Coop. They rallied around their leader and took turns digging while others on the team moved the fill dirt by wheel barrow across the playground to start a new garden. Thanks to Lorie, Mads and T Mac for assisting.  The Team committed to work through the heat and humidity of the day trying to complete the pit at the prescribed depth… Sadly after all their hard work, they came up about 6 inches short of the goal; it was not because of lack of effort, again the rain delay hampered the teams goals for the day, but God will send others to complete what we have brought along so far.

Daniela and his group completed the new Justa Stove in the kitchen area, YA!!!!! This will assist the teachers who prepare the meals for the students, and it will remove the harmful smoke fumes caused by burning wood. Chris, Russell and Daniela installed a smoke stack thru the roof. Loraine, Becky, Kay and Pat also assisted where they could, but their greatest contribution may have been connecting with the children all week and sharing the love of Christ with them, which is the heart of our team.
Half the world lives
Half the world makes
Half the world gives
While the other half takes
By our baptism, we are called not to conform to the world, but in to the ministry of Christ our Lord… in His suffering and in his glory. Remember your Baptism and be the other Half that makes rather than the half that takes…
Mark
23May/14

Foreboding Doom

Mook packing

Lorie and Madison trying their hand at
mook slinging.  They have nothing on HaHa.

Tracey with the kids

Michael is in ecstasy in the hole

All these pictures were taken yesterday.

Hunter and co. dug 5-6 feet into the rocky earth, pulling out rocks the size of soccer balls (and maybe bigger).

Mark, Jerry, Brad and HaHa plastered the bathroom wall with mook.

Chris, Russel, Lorraine, Pat, Kay, etc. all but finished the stove.  They left with only eight blocks to lay and a chimney to install.  

Sorrow forever awaits on joy.

Brad

21May/14

The First Mook of the Season

As the darkness relinquished its control and gave way to the beautiful new day at 4:11 am this morning, the birds of many different feathers began to sing praises to the One who provides for all of their needs. And we, being created in the image of God should do the same and yet rather than relinquishing control of our lives and trust in Him the same way that the birds of the air do, we boastfully think we can do it on our own…  What a blessing and joy today has been, serving our Lord and the people of Honduras, making differences in people’s lives while bringing glory to His name.
The long wait is over… The planning and preparing have come to an end and today is when the rubber meets the road, today we share the Gospel of Christ in our words… actions… and deeds. After breakfast we piled into 2 mini vans and traveled to Santa Clara to begin working on the White Dove School renovation projects. We divided into 3 different teams once arriving. One team lead by Daniela, and assisted by Chris, Russell, Loraine, Becky and Pat began demo work in the kitchen and made preparations for the Justa Stove. Team 2 Lead by Hunter-zilla, Nick, Graylan, and Wilbur joyfully pounded on the ground with picks and shovels to dig a latrine pit for the new bathrooms that were already under construction by a Honduran man, whose name I can’t pronounce, much less spell, so we just called him HaHa. Team 3 consisted of the master Mooker, B-Rad Triplett, Jerry ‘Dusty’ Kilby, Tracy ‘Mac’ and Mark ‘El Blocke’ Reavill. Team 4 had a short mission of refurbishing the swing set at the school, they were Kay Passa, Madison, Lorie, and Coop.
By the end of the day, much progress had been made on all 4 projects. The demo was completed and a new top was poured so that the Justa Stove construction can begin in earnest. Team Zilla thrust their way through 4 feet of rock laden soil setting up round 2 of ground and pound tomorrow. Team Mook completed the upper layers of blocks on the new bathrooms, although they had a couple of minor setbacks (A scaffolding crash and communication error with Senor HaHa) but all in all, according to Daniela, our workmanship and quality was the talk of the town. The swing set was sanded, cleaned and repainted and new chains and seats installed. The children from the school should be able to enjoy it tomorrow after the new paint job has dried.

The first mook of the season
As the evening storms loomed close by, we packed up our tools and equipment and headed back to Villa Celia Defina to a welcomed shower and a wonderful meal prepared Ms Sandra and Gloria. The wait is over, we are back! Viva Honduras!

Mark
20May/14

The Great Escape

Gazing modestly at the sunrise over the clouds

Passing over the Gulf

Give him a blonde wig and he’s Dee Snider

Group picture at Santa Clara

We stopped by on our way from the airport
to scout out jobs.  This will be our work site
for the first few days.

Today has taken the wind out of us.  We need to recharge our batteries, turn off the engines and get ourselves back to neutral. 

Hunter has found his therapy in herpetology.

Blogging will kick into full throttle tomorrow.  It’s time to listen to DOOOOOOOOOOOM.   

Brad

18May/14

Hope Deferred Makes the Heart Sick

The trains are moving slowly across the yard.
Coiled tungsten filament
Mixing inert gasses at low pressure

Featured on the front of this year’s t-shirt is the light bulb of hope.  It was originally designed as artwork for Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s F# A# Infinity, though by who specifically I’m unsure (probably Mr. Efrim Menuck).  On the original design a Russian word could be seen written across the top of the screw cap, but instead I wrote in “Esperanza” – the Spanish word for “hope.” 
Until ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend! was released, and the subsequent tour was underway, the members of Godspeed were opposed to printing t-shirts and selling merchandise at their concerts due to their anti-consumerism ideology, and in fact they encouraged fans to design and print unique Godspeed shirts of their own.  So, I have done just that for this year’s mission team.  
Remember, hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things.   And no good thing ever dies.

In haste,

WUMC Youth & Tra la la band