I had a chance yesterday to talk with the team now in Honduras from Casas Por Cristo, an organization that builds homes through pastoral networks, hoping to help the church do outreach into their communities, reaching people for Christ through helping them physically, specifically through home building. They are praying about where to set up shop in Honduras, and how that will unfold (so you can be praying for them...lots of need, lots of possibilities) but it was also very cool to see how many times it seemed like a small world just talking about their general experiences, places in Honduras, opportunities, connections, etc.
It reminds me that while right now looking at the soon beginning new year, and the changes coming, and potential changes/growth/hiring/building/etc. coming...that we have to trust, obey, follow and move, trusting God will bring it all together. That faith...beyond what we can see but leaning on the everlasting arms.
Funny how there is such joy in that...and yet, to be honest, also at least a bit of trepidation, mostly related to how I could screw things up.
Even as areas around us in Tegucigalpa enter later today into a "state of exception" where certain constitutional rights will be forfeited in order to try to prevent extorsion and problems from gangs, meaning, apparently, that the police can pick up anyone they even suspect of committing, assisting, or benefitting from a crime. This will last for thirty days.
Sounds a bit scary to be honest, especially looking into the future of how this will be implemented and seeing just unknown (some of those 89 areas are directly around us.)
Apparently the writer of Leaning on the Everlasting Arms wrote that hymn in 1887 after two friends wrote him letting him know both their wives had died. He wrote back, including the verse "The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27) He thought about that...and coo coo ca choo, came the hymn.
So, we will keep walking, but not alone, and not by our own power. We will, we must...keep leaning on the everlasting arms.
Want to hear a cool version of this hymn?
Early Sons of the Pioneers this one made me cry
The Five Blind Boys of Mississippi this one made me move
Got one I missed you love? Share it!
All this to get the gravel there to work on building the clinic next to the Milk Project and church there in Las Botijas.
Just one trip...but represents a weekly battle, just getting around.
Those who have been around for this year especially, and for a while, know we share about these pesky issues, and our poor vehicles that make the trips and sometimes don't make it back.
In the not-great picture above taken by our customs agent, you can see the next step forward: we have purchased a new Land Cruiser pickup to help the farms/moving material work!
This one will be for Sampedrana primarily. The white 2000 F-250 we have for that farm...has been down almost all year with problems. This Land Cruiser should last 20 years or more with good care, and given the global craziness, we were fortunate to be able to get a new one, and even fully optioned (for us...that means a winch, cow catcher, and other safety equipment) will be about $35,000 all told.
We have been saving what we can from people drinking coffee, but we are still about $17,000 short of having this fully funded. We have been using our group vehicles to help with this, but that isn't helping us maintain those vehicles for when we have groups!
Want to donate to help us pay this off? It will be coming home this week, so it will be working while we figure out how to balance the books, but given the options available, this was by far the clear winner on all fronts.
If you have questions about the backstory of how we could get this with supply chain issues, want to know why this is the best overall option, what it is equipped with that makes it great for this use, or anything else...please send me an email!
If you want to donate though to help us get this funded and take a load of our minds, click here to help!
Where did I leave off? We are in Columbus Ohio currently, getting ready for several days of ICOM (International Conference on Missions) and then next week to new ground for us, the GMHC (Global Medical Health Conference) and I wanted to give an update...but not comprehensive, as praise God, that would just be too much stuff to fit in one blog post.
vehicle woes continue, which is a pain...but a good pain. We are driving so much, doing so much with the churches, that unfortunately this is just a byproduct of that. If we stayed put more, less issues. Sure, some of the trucks are getting older, and we are working on some replacement plans, but for now, I get excited seeing that the funds have come in for the new clinic construction in Sampedrana (almost done) and Las Botijas (just starting) and the road work. If we worked in parts of the country that were already well established...we wouldn't have these issues. But we are working in areas that are largely forgotten by the government and everyone else.
We are trying to help build something bigger than us, than the areas we serve.
I could write a few paragraphs on all this, but instead, just going to pray for the kids of Honduras today, and how we can, and are trying to help in His name.
We have a team here this week doing medical brigades.
Since we have not had an optometry/eye team for many years, and thus can't do a rural brigade for that since we would need quite a few folks to pull that off...at a minimum at least we can take reading glasses for those over 40 to compliment the medical (and for this trip, dental and gynecology with some of the gang from the clinic going with us.)
Valerie needs to be in the clinic in Tegucigalpa of course, so I have been handling dispensing the reading glasses...and addressing any other vision complaints, giving advice or pointing them to the clinic or public hospitals depending on what they need.
What I am continually amazed to see is how often places here try to sell glasses to people that do not need them...or at least, sell them glasses that arguably aren't worth the investment.
In Cantarranas yesterday I saw a prescription that was the minimum you can put in a pair of glasses (also optioned with expensive add ons to increase the price) and the patient was told she absolutely needed these to see clearly and be able to function.
They wouldn't hurt her of course...but this was a money grab for sure, not really thinking in her best interest.
Just yesterday there were several other such stories, and over the years we have heard and seen countless examples. It definitely makes it hard to know who you can trust. Especially since the above prescription I saw was given at another church and was presented as a brigade, not a for profit business (which it is.)
So...I could just post here Matthew 10:16 "“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."
But there is a reminder there to check ourselves when we act/react to others in all circumstances as well.
So I will add two other verses about trust:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6
"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst." I Timothy 1:15
We are hosting another team from CIY (Christ In Youth) this week, and looking forward to another medical brigade arriving the day they depart.
It has been good to have groups back in force this year, it just opens doors to ministry opportunities that otherwise we don't have usually, in the past including hospital visits, but that is still not possible with the restrictions there.
We are now able to get out to do more clothing though, and seeing that the need is certainly high, just like a lot of things that have been stopped or curtailed in the last couple years. The picture above is after a distribution this week at a church that pastor Manuel knows (about 20 minutes outside Talanga) and the pastor and other leaders asked to pray for us after the distribution. They were thankful to God for the help to the community, after being let down by someone else in ministry who promised the same thing in the past but just took (money, food) and never delivered any clothes.
Maria hitched a ride with the group this week, as they were going to Las Botijas to work on the floor for the new Milk Project building there. She has been working with Oscar and pastor Rony to find a director and cook for the Milk Project...and confirmed in that trip we have both now! The goal is to get everything else we need, and for a time to cook in the mission house there, to start on August 1st. The rest of the building work will take a while, as it will then start to get down to slower items like cabinets, buying appliances, etc. But...we have a start date and the people needed to do more house visits and give classes every day.
Then comes the hard work where we need to pray that everyone adapts well, works well together, for all the communication and help from Tegucigalpa to coordinate together, and of course for the impact this will have for the kids and families.
My, my, not since March have we blogged eh? I do enjoy blogging, but clearly, when things get busy, this particular aspect of my job gets put to the side.
And since March, we were extraordinarily busy. Many of you know that we (Valerie and Felipe) are now empty nesters and thus are trying to help the mission in a new way this year, spending roughly half our time not in Honduras, but working in the US...visiting churches, coordinating containers, trying to promote Hill Climber Coffee more, attending a few conferences...you get the idea. Lots of travel, lots of work...plus at least for me, I still have a lot of the work I do in Honduras that fortunately travels with me. It was good to be in the USA for almost three months, but wow...it is different. Good different, and also hard different, because that type of developmental work is often times with a long term lens. We were very blessed to see doors open quickly and God bless us in our doubts, giving us some clear answers to why we were there. We got funding for one of the clinic projects, in Las Botijas, that otherwise...would not have happened, well, for sure not the way it did, and some other things as well. But overall, it is a different muscle, and we are learning still how to do things like this, especially long term and as the mission is growing.
The good thing is that everything in Honduras continues when we are gone. We do miss our live/in person leadership devotionals every Monday, we try to do them via WhatsApp when we are not here, it certainly isn't the same, but beat the alternative.
The physical and spiritual work in Honduras is going great...but we are still praying, wrestling, and struggling with how to do the end product side yet. Be praying for us, because it is quite the conundrum for us. And if you have any advice, or glaring reasons why it isn't working, or we aren't working, on that front...please let us know! It feels like we are doing things well...but maybe also like there is some glaring issue we aren't able to see, a blind spot if you will.
We are hosting three more teams this summer, and two more in the fall...very exciting, and opening lots of doors to some familiar places we have not been for a while, and to some new places as well. Things are still a little different compared to pre COVID with hosting teams (we are still masking here everywhere, and the hospital visits are still not possible) but for the most part there is a lot we can do and a lot of places to go. We will be doing more clothing this year with groups, and a lot of construction in Las Botijas and Sampedrana, helping with the new clinics there, and the Milk Project ongoing construction specifically in Las Botijas.
Overall...things are busy. Too much going on, and plans for what might be going on, to go over here now, but I will try to keep up better on this great platform to go more in depth than we can elsewhere. Got something you have been wondering about but that I haven't addressed or mentioned? Drop me a line!
It's hard to share what the clinic does on a daily basis via a blog or photos on social media. Usually the biggest things for God that they do (or you could say that He enables them to do), are also the hardest to "capture."
Here are a few recent "histories" though
We got an initial estimate for turning the clinic into a hospital from the construction firm. To do everything needed to go to three stories, double wide from what we are now...from about 8000' to 24000', done to a hospital standard and built to withstand adding more floors in the future...over $500,000.
That might be more money than we have raised in the last 20 years combined for building projects. Just looking at the number, it seems unlikely.
It seems that way, it really does. The word "daunting" comes to mind.
Time to pray to Him who turns what seems unlikely or impossible into possible, start working on a plan, and see what He does. And keep helping people in His name as we go.
Hospital visits here are scary things, regarding the reason. Some things are available for a price, some specialties or treatments just aren't available no matter the hospital you can afford. One visit may end well (whether quick or exhaustingly long) and another quite differently, often without answers or reasons.
The realities of that are faced every day throughout the mission, throughout Honduras, in different ways. It gives us pause to pray, to see how we can do more in the clinic and Churches, and to focus ultimately on each moment we are given and not look too far down the road, as bumpy or smooth as it might currently seem to be.
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