Sunday, June 28, 2009

One step closer to home

I know many people are concerned about the media reports about unrest in Honduras.  Our team is safe at the airport in San Pedro Sula, having seen no evidence of the political upheaval.  I just spoke with Grey, and they expect to board the flight to Miami within the hour.  Please don't hesitate to call me if you have questions, and I will send email updates as I have them.

Friday, June 26, 2009

My New Home

Today was the best day we were here in my opinion. I started the day by completing a stove that we had built from scratch with two other workers. After enjoying a nice Coke from the family the new stove belongs to and eating a good lunch, we headed off in the back of Olman's truck to finish a new stove with Johny and Antonio. The best part of the day was visiting the local ice cream shop and having a nice ice cream cone with Olman, Parker, and Olivia. Next, we traveled to a local hotel in Santa Rita to play an intense soccer game with Concepcion, Olman, his brother, and another worker for the church. I cannot believe that this trip is almost over, and honestly, I do not want to leave. I am going to miss the place. Right now, it feels like home.

"Espencer" Dibblee

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Thursday's mobile clinic

Today was the first day of the mobile clinic. We climbed the beautiful Honduran mountains (in a truck, thankfully!) to arrive in a village that housed the church we painted last year. We set up a mini-clinic, with Sam and Katie doing intake, Dave and Lynne doing vital signs and triage,"Dr. Franco" from the Copan clinic diagnosing illnesses and writing "prescriptions," which Sharon, Libby, and Kathy dispensed from the supply we purchased from mission funds. Grey performed 100 tasks (as usual) including interpreting and deciphering the Dr's handwriting. (They scribble their prescriptions in Honduras too!). Though feeling ill, Melissa helped keep records of everyone we saw:  In three hours, we saw over 60 individuals and filled nearly 200 prescriptions!!  (And that was just the morning of our first day!) We were amazed by the needs and humbled by the graciousness of the people of this village...and of Hondurans in general. 

Libby, Sam, and Sharon in San Pedro Sula

Los Tres Amigos were sad to leave Copan early, but we made it to SPS safely....only to arrive in the middle of a street festival and a workers' rights rally, right outside our hotel window! We visited the festival and listened to some great music, and laughed as an older gentleman took Libby's ice cream right out of her hands, smirking as he did so! (We will assume it's an ancient custom in welcoming obvious strangers to town!)  

Sam's Spanish is getting better every day; she chatted up the cab driver, Julio, in Spanish non-stop (the only way Sam knows how to talk!).   :)  He agreed to take us to the airport in the morning...bright and early, at 4am!

OK...we had to break from blogging to run to the balcony to watch the fireworks in the plaza across the street! (Can our brief visit to San Pedro Sula GET any more magical?!?!) We thoroughly enjoyed the mission trip, and delighted in our brief stayover in SPS. Back to the states (and "reality") tomorrow. Nighty night!
--Sharon McGroder

One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Medical

Today was an early start as we got on the bus at 8am set for Santa Rita. We had 4 different work crews going today, 3 construction and 1 medical. My crew, Sophie, Kathryn Scully, Sean and I worked with Antonio to built a latrine. We were dubbed the ambulance crew by Olman since all of us are either currently or have been slightly under the weather (don't worry parents, everyone is being taken care of- nothing a little extra water and pepto can't solve) . Nonetheless, the latrine was built! Our group also practiced our Spanish, learning key words like: martillo, clavo, escoba, pila y cuchara. We got back to the church after walking to two more work sites to try and built a stove and another latrine, but the supplies had not been delivered. On our walk back we stopped and visited Norm and Cindy's crew who were on their second sink of the day. Travis' crew had finished a stove and were onto building stairs for the office in the church. The energy was as high as the temperature!!
Once back at the church, we started vacation bible school and focused on the story of the loaves and the fishes. A few things we learned:
  1. Children, like fish, travel in gigantic schools when you are the one with the stickers
  2. If you are going to put out pom poms, plastic eyes, and pipe cleaners it works better to hand them out than to create one big pile and try to fend off attacks ;-)
  3. The lesson was not lost, we learned to share what all we had
- Monica

It's never felt so good to be around so many sick people. I sat there at the makeshift "check-in" desk along with Sam, as we ripped up pieces of loosleaf and made some forms with basic information--things like name, age, where do you live, complaints/symptoms, etc. There was a sheet hanging from a clothesline in the back of our "clinic" (which was being held inside a basic, rectangular room with four windows, concrete floor, and plastic chairs) for private meetings with the doctor. Lynne and Dave manned the blood-pressure and temperature station while Sharon and Libby rationed out the prescribed medicines. There was a line of people standing outside before we were ready, but we got started as soon as possible. (to be continued by Katie Bailey)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dancing in the Rain

From really old Mayan temples to blow up beach balls, today was blessed with God’s presence. Early in the morning we woke up and went to the Mayan temples. Next, we spent a long day building stoves, playing with children and best of all riding in the back of pick up trucks. Just as we left the church it began to pour. The only thing to do was to go dancing in the rain. The day was full of laughs and love, but most importantly the embodiment of the Holy Spirit.  

--Catherine Belous

Catherine's post perfectly captures the highlights of today.  I *love* the picture of them dancing in the rain!  To me, it captures joy, freedom, innocence, friendship. Bliss.  

In addition to the group activities, I was very grateful to spend some time with Concepcion, united in our love for God and our discomfort with each other's native languages!  Through the power of the Spirit, we were able to communicate about future collaborations between our church.  I look forward to strengthening our friendship and witnessing the power of the Spirit working in our congregations. 

I continue to be inspired by the energy, openness, and love that our youths show for each other and for the children of Copan.  Our extraordinary adult chaperones on the trip have facilitated some transforming experiences for us all.  Kathy, Cindy, Lynne, Sharon, and Norm have been tireless in their support and energy for all the projects we are attempting. 

Today was bittersweet as three of us prepare to leave tomorrow. The kids promise to keep writing and I'll look forward to praying for them and beginning to plan Honduras 2010!  Blessings and love, Libby+

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Latrines and sinks for dummies

Not to speak for the other member(s) of our group with extensive construction experience, but today we attended bathroom construction 101.  If a natural disaster ever occurs in Vienna, rest assured that we could install new stoves, outhouses, and sinks for you!  

Building on our experience learning to install clean-burning stoves, three work team headed out for latrine and sink duty.  Despite the incredible heat and tons of dust, we had a lot of fun learning from Lucio.   Later in the afternoon, Sam even had time to take a little ride to get refreshments for the group. 

Back at Espirtu Santo, the business skills training class ended with the participants pitching their business plans to the board of directors of a "bank."  Everyone seemed to learn a lot and were proud to graduate with a certification of accomplishment.  

As always, our teens were so wonderful playing with the kids as their parents attended the class.  Every day, I feel a lump of pride in my throat watching the incredible love flowing between our kids and the children we are meeting.  Here are some of the places we saw God today: 

  • In the care the kids showed for Sophie who is sick
  • In the children in the vacation Bible school
  • In the compassion shown in the installation of the stove, in saving so many trees with a simple act of kindness
  • In Lynne and her willingness to go an a wild goose chase to try to procure a donation of rehydration salts for our medical mission later this week
  • In the sense of blessing for all we have upon learning that the medical clinic that we helped build gets used by the “rich” because it costs $2 per visit
  • In the incredible natural beauty we saw up in the mountains
  • In the lack of language barriers when sharing laughter and recognizing how certain jokes cross cultures
  • In knowing that we are helping people through the business skills classes and seeing the people feel proud of themselves
  • In Dave and his deep concern about keeping various parts of the trip moving forward and all of us safe

Monday, June 22, 2009

Our first day of work!

(Click on any picture to see it full-sized)

Happy 16th Birthday Katherine!  Our very own Mariachi band serenaded Katherine right before we enjoyed a tres leches cake!

Everyone was very excited for our first day of work!  Four kids and four adults offered the first day of the business skills class and were thrilled to have 12 participants.  While they were teaching, some of our teens played with the children and offered mini-vacation Bible school 

Another team went up into the mountains outside Copan Ruinas to learn how to install clean-burning stoves.  It was remarkable to see how such steep mountains are farmed and work alongside a craftsman as he installed the stove. 

After demolishing the old stove that required 64 trees a month for one family to cook, we began to install the new stove that will only need 16 tree!  Add this to the health benefits for the family since all the smoke is piped out of the house and we felt very honored to be part of this project.  We took copious notes and pictures to make sure we do it correctly later in the week.  

A story from one of the kids: Today, After returning from Santa Rita, Dave asked if anyone wanted to go for a run--and Brittney and I did!  We ran through Copan and we decided to try to climb to the summit.  After a grueling climb, which we reached by taking old cow paths (yeah it was gross) Brittney began to battle her fear of heights to reach the top.  Dave and I had to encourage her but in the end she reached the top without much difficulty and we enjoyed our view.  Then we had to get down. After several attempts, we had to bushwhack a lot of the way down, which was really hard but a great story! --Sean Kelly

Where we saw God: Sunday June 21

  • In the recognition of how blessed we are to be on this trip and the reminder to cherish this opportunity as a treasure
  • During the exchange of Christ’s peace when everyone moved around and greeted each other
  • In the faces of the children when they recognized Spencer—big, tall Spencer and such trusting, sweet children so delighted to see him
  • In the smiles of our group at the lunch table
  • In the goodness of the team work and cooperation
  • In watching a the simple, slightly boring “Jacob’s ladder” craft transformed when multiple kids put their ladders together to make garlands to decorate the church
  • In the welcome shown to a man with Down’s Syndrome at church and the feeling of connection when teaching him one of the crafts
  • In seeing Libby and Concepcion say mass together so everyone could understand
  • In the feeling “I love this place” and the deep sense of connection
  • In Sam and all the responsibility she was given and took in preparing the lessons today
  • In the incredible greeting and smile offered by a young woman working at the youth festival
  • In an old woman’s wistful question whether we had brought toothbrushes, because she remembered our previous visits and validated the good work we do
  • In the look of gratitude in the eyes of the grandmother of children at the Vacation Bible School

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Jacob dice...READ THIS BLOG!

What does a mission team do on Sunday? Go to church of course! We returned to the church in Santa Rita where the youth festival was held and had quickly been transformed from a confetti covered room into a church again.  There were few people there because the festivities had gone late into the night (they started mass at midnight), but it was a great service none the less.  After experiencing church in Santa Rita last year, I really enjoyed the bilingual service because I could actually understand what was going on.  Mother Libby delivered the sermon with Grey's translation.  

After the service approximately 25 kids joined us for vacation bible school.
It was awesome to see the familiar faces and how they have changed, as well as have the kids recognize those who visited last year.  We told the lesson of Jacob's ladder, colored, made paper ladder chains which were hung in the windows, and played "Jacob dice" (Simon says)...I lost every time.  

There was story time and jalapeno eating contests at lunch followed by time for relaxation and shopping.  Below are some of the different reactions to los jalapenos! Monica and Libby also purchased the medication that will be given out at the medical clinic later in the week. Now we are looking forward to dinner, sleep, and the beginning of our business classes and preparations for construction tomorrow!     -Melissa Murray 

The Youth Festival

Since it was my first time in Honduras with the mission team, it took awhile for me to get used to our surroundings. So most of the day saturday was spent chilling out and learning the lay of the land. However at night, there was a youth festival at the church we are teaching vacation bible school at. It sounded very fun during the day and we were all excited about performing two songs for the other teens. Little did we know we'd be performing in front of a church full of people. It was probably one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life considering we danced in both our songs and I think the people thought we were crazy. The rest of the festival was full of skits and singing and was quite enjoyable (once we weren't up on stage). Overall, the day was fun and a good introduction to the next week. 
Kathryn Scully

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Our first day in Copan Ruinas

Admittedly, I was more than a little surprised that we all made it on the bus shortly after 8:00 am!  Our wonderful driver Franco, from Mayan Temple Tours, whisked us out of San Pedro Sula and through the beautiful countryside of the Copan River Valley.  The ride to Copan was fascinating, and my emotions bounced from awe at the gorgeous scenery, profound sadness seeing the shacks and garbage lining the road, delight watching a little boy carry a dog up a hill, concern to see the remnants of mud slides... Comments from the back of the bus were very insightful and I hope that one of the youth on the trip will post their thoughts later this evening

We are blessed to be staying in the lovely Casa de Cafe 
which boasts tremendous views of the mountains and a great location in Copan Ruinas.  Take a peek at our slide show to see where we're staying.  We had a relaxing lunch, and then chilled at the Casa while solidifying our schedule for the week.  Even though we were pretty sure it would change by Monday, a trip to the health clinic that Holy Comforter helped build shifted our whole schedule within the hour!   We will start digging wells and installing clean toilets on Monday so that we can take the doctor to the remote villages late in the week.

The next day will be dedicated to worshipping with our Honduran brothers and sisters--tonight we are thrilled to be invited to an annual youth celebration where our kids will sing a few songs.  Tomorrow, I'll get the chance to say mass with Father Renaldo at Iglesia Espiritu Santo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

We've arrived!

Holy Comforter's Honduras Mission team gathered at National airport and wrangled our way through the baggage lines.  After a smooth flight from Washington to Miami, our flight to Honduras was very delayed due to an amazing thunderstorm.  

Despite a loooooong time in Miami International airport, 
everyone was in wonderful spirits.  The kids took the chance to work on their summer reading lists, and adults tried to fend off their millions of questions--some gentler than others.  

We arrived in San Pedro Sula at 1:00 am EST and given the storm, decided not to brave the roads and mudslides between here and Copan.  We are spending the night at the Gran Hotel Sula and will head to Copan first thing in the morning (more or less).