Sylvia in Honduras – Part 4

My involvement with our new friends in Honduras didn’t end when I left their beautiful country. The communications continue. Here’s what happened the other night.

It’s about time for bed. The phone rings. Who would call at 10:15 PM? It is Pastor Elio in Honduras calling (they are two hours behind our time). We greet each other and inquire into one another’s wellbeing as is the custom. I start asking questions. How is the construction on the church going? Is the roof on yet?

Then Pastor Elio speaks. There has been an accident. One of the welders fell from a truss and three trusses came down and have to be repaired.

A workman repairs failed trusses.

I asked, “What about the man who fell?”

Well, we thought he was dead. He lay on the concrete not moving. We all gathered around him and I [Pastor Elio] began to pray for him. Suddenly the welder opened his eyes and then he got up. He said he thought he was OK, but we took him to the hospital for a checkup.

No broken bones, no head injury — just bruised all over! Does that sound like a miracle? It does to me.

The church paid his hospital bill and gave him a week’s pay [from construction funds] so his family could eat while he was recovering. Now the funds have been reduced because of the accident and the extra time and materials needed to fix the trusses and buy some joists and build some central columns to make the roof safe and strong. But a God who can protect a man from injury and death can provide the extra funds to finish the Upper Room Church in Barimasa.

Pastor Elio and wife Ana with their daughter serve a great God!

If there are further developments to report, I’ll be back to report them. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about my mission trip to Honduras as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing with you. Thanks and God bless, Sylvia

Sylvia in Honduras – Part 3

As most of our team were ready to return to Michigan, the walls were up, except for the peak ends. Some of the rebar for the floor was being laid.

Sunday, March 8th they started pouring the floor, which they finished on the 13th.

Some of us were tying the rebar in 12 inch square intervals trying to keep ahead of the cement levelers. I learned not to put my toes under the rebar. This hard-working fellow quickly lifted his left foot when I yelped!

Then we were both back to work.

On Tuesday three of the 9 trusses were put into place.

Another mason was putting a skim coat on the inside walls and the welders were working on the last 2 trusses at another site nearby.

Even while building, their regular services went on. Thursday nights the women were in charge.

Often on Saturday nights other churches would visit and a visiting pastor might preach.

Sunday night Pastor Elio was in charge. They would quit working about 5:30 to set up the lights from temporary poles, get the speakers, keyboard and microphones hooked up and set up plastic patio chairs for adults and kids. They know how to worship!

It was a blessing to be a part of this miracle God caused using two churches in Michigan, which raised over $11,000 for the construction of a church that can only pay their pastor $10 a month. The UB Mission School in La Ceiba contributes another $35 monthly.

Our Honduran brother and sisters may be poor materially, but they are rich in faith and willingness to work hard. It was a joy to work, play and worship with them!

I returned to the states on Saturday March 14th, and arrived home around 3 AM on the 15th. Chuck has already told you that story, and that’s the way I remember it too.

The story has continued since Sylvia’s return. I’ve asked her to share with us what has happened in the last two and a half weeks.

Sylvia in Honduras – Part 2

Sylvia continues her account of the mission trip to Honduras.

On Tuesday we called the kids over to a neighbor’s yard about 2 PM. Jessenia is a member of the church and she let us to use her refrigerator to keep our extra water cool and we used a water hose from her sink outside for mixing mortar and we met in her patio to have Bible Class. Since the majority of the children do not attend Sunday School or church, I had to lay a careful foundation for who God is and how the Bible is the source of our knowledge, basis for our faith and our guide for living God’s way.

There were some adults and teens every day as well as children from babies in arms to preteens. I taught them choruses and then gave the Bible lesson. They would just sit there when I was through and look at me, so we would sing more songs or read a story. Then I’d have to get back to the construction. We gave out candy or gum every other day and even the volunteer (and professional) workers had to have some. One day we gave out 84 pairs of sandals we had collected and brought, but so many “new” people came to get them that some of the church kids and workers didn’t get theirs. We had to buy more from a local store.

While singing some boys were using sticks, old plastic bottles and stones as rhythm instruments, so we found some toy tamborines, horns and cymbals that we got for the kids to use (and for later use in Sunday school) I also made ”maracas” out of a pill bottle with dry rice in it and a couple of empty water bottles with small stones in them. At one of the services, a visiting church had four girls in a rhythmic choir using pretty scarves and a couple of pom-pom-like metallic ribbon streamers they also waved around. I found some blue scarf like material and had it cut into rectangles. The owner of the shop even volunteered to serge the edges for free. I made a couple of red ribbon streamers, too. So now the SS girls can form a group to praise God during chorus singing with interpretive “danza”.

The second week after 7 of the 9 members of the team left, I didn’t have the borrowed guitar to sing with, but Lee and I continued to have Bible Class every day. We were invited to meet next door where there was a cement porch with a roof to shade us. It was much safer than the other yard and cooler! The children listened carefully as I explained the Good News and only the Lord knows how many and who prayed from their heart as I led them in prayer on Tues. The last day the lesson was on how baby Christians grow spiritually. Since Pastor Elio was there (for most of the last part) and because I would be leaving the next day, I asked him to pray with them. I wanted them to look to him as their new spiritual leader. I continue to pray for the children and teens and their teachers and Pastor Elio.

Part 3 of this story is scheduled for tomorrow.

Sylvia in Honduras – Part 1

Chuck asked me to tell about my mission trip to Honduras, since many of you were praying for me as I went. Thank you for your prayers. God answered in awesome ways.

When we first got to the work site at Barimasa (a suburb of Olanchito, Honduras) on Feb. 27th, we found, as expected, the walls which had been built over 3 years ago and grass was growing where we wanted to pour a cement floor.

The church had decided that they wanted four more courses of cement blocks and the reinforced cement cap all around before we put on a roof, so we did a lot of block hauling to build the scaffolding towers with wood across the top to walk on.

While the men and Denise (our nurse) were laying blocks, I started helping others clean out the grass. The children were eager to help so I was kept busy with the shovel, pulling out the grass and giving it to the kids waiting 3 or 4 in line to dump it out the side “door”. Some of the boys also helped tie the rings to rebar to make the vertical “towers”. I cut a lot of wire ties and made a lot of wood and wire braces for the fabricating of cement forms too during that first week.

It was hot—many days in the 90s with 90% humidity, but I got frequent breaks from what I was doing as I was called away to translate for the Hondurans or Americans. I usually grabbed my water bottle during those breaks.

By Sunday we had cleared the altar area, but realized it would take too long to do the whole floor, so we found a Bobcat in LaCeiba and Jeremy went to work on leveling and grading the floor.

The first five days I was focused totally on the construction. One day we worked 14 hours—from 7 AM to almost 9 PM to meet our goal. And the Honduran volunteers were right there working beside us! Next time I’ll tell about the Children’s Ministry that started on March 3rd.

— Sylvia

The story continues tomorrow with part 2.

The Traveler Returns

Last Saturday, was the big day. Sylvia awoke at 4:00 AM in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The construction project was finished for her. The day at the beach was over. Today, she was going home. It was an early start, but before long the flight for Houston, Texas pushed back from the gate. Her journey had begun.

Chuck didn’t get get up that early. The lazy fellow waited until the sun was up. Then he dressed, went out to the barn and fed the cats. The bird feeder was empty, so he filled it with sunflower seeds. Orange juice in the glass and coffee starting to brew, he went into the office to check for new e-mail. Already there were blog comments to approve.

He kept himself busy the rest of the day. She’s coming home. Try not to think about it too much. (Ha!) Lots to do and keep moving. The game plan was simple get tired. Go to bed early. When she gets home be ready to greet and to talk.

Sylvia’s plane makes its way to Houston. There is a seven hour layover. Not fun! Read. Work sudoku puzzles. Walk. Get a bite to eat. Only a little, the funds are mostly gone. (After eating a modest meal, she has $1.50 left. It had cost more to leave Honduras than she had been told.)

The time drags on. And on. And on. It should be time for boarding the flight to Detroit. Oh no. There is an equipment problem. More than an extra hour drags on before they finally are able to depart. The pilot makes up some of that time by flying a bit faster than normal.

Chuck has kept busy all day, and after a quick surfing trip across the blogosphere, he goes to bed early. Remember, the plan is to be there for Sylvia when she arrives to greet her and to talk with her.

In Detroit Sylvia retrieves her bags and meets the friends that will drive her the two hours to Sunfield where her car is waiting for her. She finds it there and has to scrape frost off the windows. A big change from the 90 degree temps she has just left. It takes Sylvia about 20 minutes to drive from Sunfield past the silent town of Lake Odessa and to her home in the country. It is nearly 3 AM as she quietly enters the house. She walks on tip-toes into the bedroom. It has been a long day. She is tired.

I (Chuck) am sleeping on my side facing the door. I open one eye and say, “Oh, it’s you.” (I can be so clever at that time of day.)

She replies, “Who else would it be?” (Two can play that game.)

I hear her briefly at the bathroom sink and then I feel her lay down on the opposite side of the king-sized bed.

She sighs, “Aaahh . . . This feels good.” Soon she is breathing regularly. Sound asleep.

I start to count her breaths, one, two . . .

The sun came up.

When the 35mm photos are back from processing, Sylvia will share some of her experiences with us here on Secondary Roads. For now, were just going to relax for a while.

I hope you enjoyed this account. Do come back and visit us.

FLASH! ~ Followup Another Country . . .

I was eating a very late breakfast when the phone rang. It was Sylvia! She wanted an address so she could send a card to someone.

The truck is being worked on, so she has a few hours rest. The 12-hour work days have been difficult, but rewarding. A friendly neighbor has shown kindness by giving Sylvia a place to come in out of the terrible heat to rest. Yesterday, this neighbor cooked up some rice and beans for the work crew. She gave the Hondurans plantain on top of theirs. For Sylvia and Lee she fried some yucca (cassava root). They normally boil the cassava, but it is very bland. We love it fried with a little salt.

Hotel management kept their word and replaced the full amount that Sylvia lost in the robbery. We are happy about that. I think she is even happier that tomorrow is their final 12-hour work day. Then they will have a little time to “play tourist” before beginning the return home.

Winter Wind ~ and, etc.

I felt the winter wind today,
It chilled me with its icy blast.
I do not know from whence it came,
Nor why it went by rushing fast.

Perhaps the wind is like the train,
I saw when I was but a lad.
It made its rounds upon the track,
The sound of whistle made me glad.

Or could the wind be like a bird,
That takes to wing and flies so free.
And seeks its food and for its young,
In summer nest, in winter flee.

I felt the winter wind today,
It chilled me with its icy blast.
I could not see from whence it came,
Nor where it went as it rushed past.

Follow up:

Sunday at mid-day, an icy north wind was blowing snow. Very unpleasant! The good news is that weather forecasters say the last half of this week will bring us milder weather.

South of the Border:

Saturday evening, Sylvia called from Honduras. The team arrived safely and on time. Her first observation was, “It’s hot!” The team is making progress at the construction site and will have additional help from Honduran volunteers. She thanks you for your prayers.

My Wife Left Me

That’s right, my wife of 47+ years left me in the middle of the night. And here I am alone.

It’s not as bad as it may sound. She is off on a mission trip to Central America. The team met at 1 AM and then drove to Detroit to catch their plane.

Sylvia will be helping to build a church in a Honduran village. She will also be the interpreter for the team. It should be fun. Hard work, but very satisfying fun.

She’ll come back. She always has. If you have moment, say a prayer for her and for the mission team from Sunfield, Michigan.

Thanks. We all appreciate it.