Monday, January 21, 2013

Day 5: Honduras 2012; MATTRESSES!!!

To say the kids at Mama Tara's orphanage needed new mattresses was the understatement of the century! When I first walked into the girls room in Dec of 2011 I was overcome by the odor... I was painting murals on the bedroom walls to brighten things up. I spent a lot of time getting acquainted with this odor. Even with open-air-windows their was just no escaping the hot smell.
 Diapers and pull-ups aren't a luxury they can afford in Puerto Lempira... think about that for a moment... The young children who aren't fully potty trained or sleep-potty-trained... well... they wet the beds like any other kid. 
Now look at their mattresses. No pee-pee sheets... No vinyl coverings... For some not even sheets. Now think for a moment that the kids all had lice that you could visibly see when hugging them. Take a close look at those mattresses that are years and years old!  Very porous .. we have all seen commercials showing us what our mattresses can look like over time (bed mites). These mattresses are probably a bed bugs dream come true! It made me so sad! 
My kids continually kept coming in to see what I was doing. Several of the older girls had been sitting on the beds watching me paint. When Pierson and Maylin came in I didn't allow them to sit on the beds with the other children. I felt terrible and self-righteous and hoped the girls didn't see through my thoughts. I tried to play it off as "it isn't polite to sit on other people's beds"...  ??? Can you blame me???

Yeah, I know... speechless right? 
This picture is one of the boys beds along with all of his possessions... yes ALL of his possessions. 
 The beds were pretty rickety as well. They shook dangerously far in any direction you pulled. In the girls rooms the beds are three high. They swayed at least a foot when whoever slept on the top bunk climbed the ladder. So for several days we worked hard at replacing boards and shoring up corners. Even the kids pitched in to help hold things in place while we worked! 
We replaced old slats and added a few more for extra support. Can you imagine sleeping on this with just a thin piece of foam? Me neither! It makes my back hurt just looking at it! Clayton gave a thumbs up after shoring up one of the boys bed!

Then the glorious day arrived!
The new mattresses had arrived!!! Praise the Lord on High!!! After we left last year we decided that mattresses were a MUST have! Our church began to raise money to get a mattress for every kid there. During that process I called Tara our missionary friend in San Pedro Sula to ask how much it would be per mattress. She wasn't exactly sure so she started calling around... Before I knew it an Organization called "Orphan Helpers" had donated 30 slightly used, but VINYL mattresses. Hallelujah!!! All we had to do was pay to ship them to PL! If you have been reading my previous posts about this trip you know that getting things to PL is not at all easy or cheap. But none-the-less we raised the money and wouldn't you know they got there in time for us to put them in the kids rooms before we left!!! How great is our God?
 When the truck arrived with the mattresses. Everyone was excited! Look on top of the truck! that is "E" literally doing back hand springs over and over on top of all the mattresses! Talk about being 'flipping excited'!!!

 EVERYONE pitched in and carried the mattresses into the main room. It truly was a joyous occasion!
 The mattresses were in GREAT shape! We were thrilled. We used Clorox water and scrubbed them down as the journey there had left a bit dirt on them.
 Perhaps the coolest part was that Linda (the Awesome girl who moved in with them just a few months before we arrived, and who is staying for 5 years!) had the forethought to number and label them all! Each kid was assigned their own mattress to take care of. It was THEIRS!!! This was in hopes they would really want to take care of their mattresses. This also helped assure that they wouldn't get stolen!
 Linda labeling the mattresses. 
 Then came the fun part! Putting them on their beds! 
These are some happy happy faces!!!
 Linda said that she had never had such an easy time getting the kids to bed as she did that night!
They were all excited to sleep on their new mattresses!
Thanks, Tara at ROOM,  Orphan Helpers and Bethel UMC for making this happen!
You can go to bed without fear; you will lie down and sleep soundly. 
Proverbs 3:24
Side note; Our plan was to burn the old mattresses in the trash pile but the women who worked there wanted them to take home. Before long there were all kinds of people asking for them!?
Chew on that for a moment...  : (

Monday, January 14, 2013

Honduras 2012: Catching a Ride

 Then there was the afternoon we wanted to walk into "town" to get a better understanding of the way of life here. Well, walking seemed like a good idea... and then it didn't...
Our friend Alex called a friend of his to come pick us up! Thanks Alex!!! Our feet appreciated it!
This is what catching a ride looks like for a team of 20 in PL.

  Hang on guys the road is a LOT bumpy!  
 Letting our feet dangle off the back.
 One of the sweetest young ladies I know! The Waits family, the local missionaries,  are an amazing family. They are all such a pleasure to be with and I can't thank them enough for ALL they do for us!
Hoping out in town. It was definitely a bumpy ride but it was totally worth it. At the end of the day my legs definitely weren't going to happily carry me all the way into town and back to our Lodging!

Just keeping it real!
And yes, we got second glances as we paraded into town! :)  Nothin' like a truck full of Gringos!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 5: Honduras 2012: Giving Joyfully. Thanks Bethel UMC

Our church sent 20 people to Honduras but MANY more hearts went with us. We had women sewing head bands and dresses (shown below), people donated school supplies, shoes, clothes and money for mattresses. We were sent with prayers and much support. We were sent with love. 
Because of all this it was hard not to pour out that love on the kids when we got there. 
Checking their throats... joyful!
Giving the kids baby dolls... joyful!
Doing crafts with the kids... joyfull!
pulling wire through walls... joyful
passing out donated clothes... joyful!

 The list goes on and on...
  rebuilding a chicken coup,
rescreening doors, 
Cutting windows out, 
 digging ditches,
 building cabinets. It was all just awesome!

Thanks Bethel UMC for sending so much love with us!!! None of your toughts, gifts or prayers went unnoticed. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Day 5: Honduras 2012; And We Worked

Understand that mission trips have little to do with actual work. Yes, things need done. There will always be work to be done. But more and more over the years of doing short term missions I have learned that it has little to with the work and more to do with the relationships and sharing the gospel. Sure, you could send money, but money doesn't tell the good news of Jesus. You can build a wall, but in time a wall will fail. You can build a porch but porches eventually rot. You can cut someone's grass but that grass will grow back. 
The ONLY thing one can give that is worthwhile and will last an eternity is Jesus. Building a wall, painting a porch or cutting someone's grass is just an excuse to get in and do the real work. 
The real work
1. Sharing the Gospel.
2. Standing with our brother's and sister's in their time of need.
3. Empowering and giving hope.
And so we used physical work to fulfill our goals. 
Along the way though you can be sure that there was a child peering over our shoulders or getting right down in the ditch and working alongside us.  
 They took turns with pic axes. My mom's sponsored son (in the green) took turns with her sharing the pick ax. Mom, who is 68 by the way, would swing that pick ax for a bit and then B would swing for a bit. They took turns and together they were very productive! It was beautiful to watch him walk over and see her working. When she paused for a moment to wipe the sweat off her brow he tapped her shoulder and asked for the ax. She handed it to him and let him work for for a few minutes until he paused for a break and then she took it back from him. Over and over they did this. Young and... a bit older working side by side. American and Honduran working together. Together the reality of this project became a bit more attainable.
 This little firecracker "L" got in the ditch and helped me push dirt out.  Pick axes had broken up the dirt but we had to wait for shovels. While we waited we got in and started digging by hand. 
 "L" filled this frisbee over and over with dirt! 
This little guy got in and helped shovel. Would the work have gotten done more quickly had he not been in control of the shovel for a while... Absolutely. But stop and think about it for a moment. We could have done the work without the help of a single kid and we could have done it a lot faster... But that isn't what it is about. It is about standing with our brothers and sisters. It is about encouraging them to be a part of their own solution. It is teaching them to take pride in their home. It is about sharing this journey with them. So many lessons would be lost if we just did it ourselves. 

"J" helped Adam and I find the right boards to build the new cabinet for the kitchen. Maybe he'll be a carpenter some day?
Not all the kids who worked were Honduran. Maylin and Pierson did their share of work too. Not just the physical work but they have mastered, way better than I have, loving their brother's and sister's in Christ. They don't see the kids as less-than. They truly exemplify Christ in that they see themselves as no different than these children we came to serve. They don't see the dirty clothes and bare feet. They see friends. 
I know many people wonder why we take our kids... Do they really get anything out of it? Do they help too? Aren't they just a distraction to us? ... oh yeah we get these questions. 
My honest answer is this. Yes, Yes and No. 
By taking them we are teaching them that mission's is a way of life... It isn't something that you do when you grow up. It doesn't matter how old or young you are. It doesn't mater how strong you are. You don't just go when you finally build up an extra week of vacation or save up enough money. You go NOW because God calls us ALL to go. He calls us all to be his disciples and spread his word to all nations. When He said "Go and make disciples of all nations" he never said, 'wait for an opportune time'. He just said "Go"
I want to teach our kids that now is the time. I want them to know that God is speaking to them too. I want them to understand what poverty really is. I want them to know that they can and do make a difference. 
"I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow! "
Jeremiah 31:13