Another blog post from Bruce, in Honduras....
this was written a day ago and was delayed in sending due to an electrical storm. As you read this, he is most likely winging his ways across the sky heading home!
This afternoon we completed the church addition project!! We have successfully added 800 square feet of space which will enhance this church’s ability to minister to a larger community than has been previously possible.
Other than the Sunday messages of Christian Encouragement, this church’s efforts also include Bible studies, purity classes, housing a family in need and the very successful neighborhood feeding center program.
Each day of work has included a one hour period of time when parents bring their preschool and elementary age children for a meal and a lesson. During this time of day, we've had to be extra careful of jobsite hazards but it has also been a time of our interaction with these extremely poor people of the community.
The typical home in this barrio looks to be about 2-300 square feet with no running water, an outhouse, camping style cooking and an outside concrete sink and washboard (a “pila”) for cleaning laundry. Yet it is very common to see the people looking well groomed and dressed in clean stylish clothing. I challenge any of us gringos to pull this off as well.
Our trusty group of teenage helpers seem like their counterparts back home hanging out together, joking and teasing each other. Some differences are also apparent. They don’t grumble about hard physical work and they aren’t distracted by technology or vehicles. In fact some of them are quite good musicians in the church praise band. It seems incongruent to my North American mind that they have been born and raised right here in this poor barrio. They are also a product of this feeding center which connected them with this church at a young age and likely rescued them from being recruited by the gangs.
I was introduced to a girl one day, about 13, who came by the church with her aunt and uncle as volunteers to help feed the kids that day. She looked a little shy and was dressed in a school uniform of clean white blouse and navy blue pleated skirt (all school kids here wear uniforms). When I conversed with her in my pathetic Spanish, she startled me by responding in clear and perfect English. I went on to learn that someone in the U.S. has sponsored this bright young lady for the last seven years at an English speaking school and she has been doing very well there. I could clearly see reason for the pride that her Aunt and Uncle have for her.
Nelson is a gravel voiced middle aged member of this church who lives about 2-blocks down the hill and works as a self employed welder/fabricator. He makes steel roof trusses, doors, security bars for windows and property entrance gates. He speaks some English because of time he has spent in Panama working at a US military base. He saved our bacon a couple times by loaning us his paint sprayer and extension ladder.
Nelson exudes enthusiasm for life and seems to really savor the time he spends helping his church and discussing life with us. His opinion on his country’s leadership: “It’s no good. They can't be trusted”. Spoken as a man with first hand experience. He is part of a multi-family group that have pooled their resources to hire a 4th grade teacher for their 4 3- 4th grade kids. Each family chips in $5 dollars a month. Why? Because the school couldn't afford to hire the teacher.
I overheard Mateo asking a 12-year old girl what her plans were for her future. She replied that at one time she wanted to be a doctor but now she wasn't sure. Mateo suggested becoming a teacher to which she immediately replied “No,they don't get paid !”
I have always found it interesting to just open the pages of a World Atlas to any country and examine the character of that country summarized on those pages. The type of government, geography, weather, religion and natural resources are all listed there. If you look up Honduras, for example, you would see that coffee, fruit and sugar cane are natural resources which are exported from Honduras.
Read on a little further and discover that at least 850,000 Hondurans have left this country of 8 million for Spain, Guatemala Canada, the U.S., etc. in search of employment. That is 10% of the total population and 800,000 of these people come to the U.S., many arrive illegally.
I have had the pleasure of meeting two such men on our job here. Both of them have made the dangerous 2,600 mile journey on foot and on top of freight trains through Guatemala and Mexico to sneak across the border into the U.S. (read the book Enrique’s Journey if you would like to know more about this trip).
One of them worked 6-years in Virginia as a cabinet installer and then chose to return home to his family. The other worked 17-months in Maryland doing landscaping work and after a near fatal car accident, he was sent home by immigration.
This trip to Honduras has enabled me to see the world in a more realistic way than my life in idealistic America has allowed me to see. This refined perspective has spoken loud and clear to my conscience that the most valuable natural resource that any nation has is it’s people.
The first priority of any nation should be an investing in it’s people. Investments that release their potential & skills and provides the freedom to use those skills which, in return, will benefit the nation. Unfortunately, Honduras looks to be a prime example of a government that ignorantly dismisses the value of it’s people in favor of individual greed and corporate corruption.
This may sound like an oxymoron but “Thank God for Christ!” because the model that Jesus Christ gave us for healthy relationships turns this self-focused approach totally on it’s head. Jesus directs us to love one another to the point of loving our enemies, to give unselfishly and to trust faithfully. This is the kind of power that can ultimately diffuse what is happening here in Honduras and this is what the Christian church is promoting here.
I have no trouble justifying the time and funds given through this 3-week mission trip to enable this life changing effort to go forward.
Thank-you for the part that you have played in this also.
in closing, a few more pictures...