Thursday, February 20, 2014

mission team // step program trip

We are so glad to be able to write about the first team we've planned a trip for and hosted ourselves in Honduras! Funny enough, it actually happened to be a team that currently lives in Honduras already. Yes, you read that right!

We met our friends Jim and Sonia Bridge at our training in Colorado before we moved to Honduras, and we were thrilled to find out that they were also moving to Honduras! They live in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and their ministry is serving as the leaders of the STEP program here in Honduras that is part of the BIC churches. It is a program that designs team internships to give young adults realistic, intensive and developmental cross-cultural ministry experience for six months. As the new leaders of this program for the first time this year, Jim and Sonia have been searching earnestly for opportunities for their participants to learn and serve throughout all different parts of Honduras, and it just so happens that we live in a very different part of Honduras than them. We were so glad that we were able to help host one of their many trips they will take to the edges of Honduras and show them around the ministries that we have going on here in Choluteca.

This first team that Jim & Sonia are hosting consists of all girls, ages 18-21. They all traveled down from Tegucigalpa last Sunday, and we enjoyed having them serve at the children's nutrition clinic and the family home orphanage during the five days that they were here. This was their first time serving in a more rural Honduran setting as a team, which gave them new experiences and challenges to work through. They were certainly a blessing to the under-staffed CDI, and prepared several fun activities for the the children to do! The kids, in combination with the much hotter 100F degree days, definitely wore out the Steppers by the end of each day.

Along with serving at both children's ministries, we were able to give the group a tour of other projects that Iglesia Gran Comision Choluteca has, including the Casa Hogar Vida community, the block factory, the CHV coffee brand roasting site, the "Manualidades" crafts store, and one of the rural communities that the church is doing a lot of outreach in, Las Bresas.

Here are some wonderful pictures from the week, documented by the very talented Nikki, who is one of the participants in the program. Enjoy!

Everyone needing hugs at once. :) 
The girls showed the kids how to make paper frogs that jump!
We all helped serve lunch for the kids each day!
Bryan is pretty awesome at soccer!
All of the Family Home kids got involved in the soccer game -- 
even the little twins who kept running into each other!
Vilma, the oldest at the Family Home, with her balloon flower. 
Lesley loving, but being a little afraid of, Bryan making his own balloon design!
Elias, the youngest at the Family Home, with his awesome dino face paint!
Water balloons at the family home for a hot, hot day!

Children in the rural community we visited using old bed springs as a trampoline. 
Visiting one of the families that the church here has built a strong structure home for. 

Visiting the Casa Hogar Vida coffee brand roasting site. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

ask anything // round 4: kids edition

The awesome children from our sending church, New Life Christian Fellowship in Blacksburg, VA, recently sent us letters to let us know that we were thought about as their missionaries. They spent the last couple of weeks learning about Acts 1:8 and what it means to be a missionary. We were very encouraged by these sweet letters, and thrilled that the kids had an avenue to ask what questions they have. So, may we present to you, our first Ask Anything: Kids Edition from NLCF Kids!

1 // Question: from Dawson 

1 // Answer: Most people in Honduras eat a lot of rice, beans, eggs, avocados and tortillas. They also eat a lot of plantains, which look a lot like bananas but are eaten like a vegetable! You have to cook plantains before you can eat them. They are very yummy! If you wanted to have a special meal here, you might have a whole fried fish (with the head still on it and everything!) and pickled onions and jalapeno peppers and cabbage. Here's a picture of plantains for you: (the right side is what they look like after they've been cooked)

2 // Question: from Hayli 

2 // Answer: Lesley's favorite colors are purple and gray. Jamey's favorite color is light blue. But we also wear a whole lot of orange and maroon. Go Hokies!

3 // Question: from Sydney 

3 // Answer: Right now, we are spending a lot of time taking classes to learn Spanish so that we'll be able to talk to everyone better. We have a teacher that comes to our house every afternoon to help us. Lesley also goes to play with kids at an orphanage and a children's nutrition clinic where kids are given good meals to make them be healthy and where they learn about Jesus. There are lots of kids and sometimes there isn't enough people to play with them all, so Lesley goes to help! Jamey does work to help make sure that people are going to get clean water so they don't get sick. We also do a lot of things with our church!

4 //Question: from Maggie

4 // Answer: Maggie, in Honduras, people do a lot of things differently than in the United States, like wash their clothes without a washing machine, and they don't have dryers for their clothes. Some people have to live in houses made out of sticks and plastic tarps with dirt floors and no electricity because they can't afford a house with strong walls, windows, a roof, and a floor. Also in Honduras, you can't drink the water that comes out of the sink in your house because it's not clean enough to be healthy for you. So you have to buy clean, healthy water at the store to bring home for drinking and cooking. We have to go buy more water lots of times every week. 

5 // Question: from Sydney 

5 // Answer: Lesley really loves to take pictures and to cook. Cooking is her very favorite thing to do and she loves finding new things to try to make all the time. Cooking has been very different for her in Honduras though, because they have a lot of different foods. Jamey's favorite activities are running and learning Spanish! 

6 // Question: from Will 

6 // Answer: It is very hot here all year long! The city that we live in is about one hour away from the beach and it's usually 95 degrees or hotter every day, and a lot of people don't have air conditioning. It is also very dry right now. It only rains here during a couple months in the year. So that makes everything very, very dusty! You have to clean a lot more here. 

7 // Question: from Josie

7 // Answer: Hi Josie! To say "hello" in Spanish, you say "Hola!" except you don't say any "H" sounds in Spanish. To say "goodbye" in Spanish, you would say "Adios!". To say "Good Morning" in Spanish, you would say "Buenos dias!".

8 // Question: from Tyler

8 // Answer: Yes, Tyler, the money is different here in Honduras! Honduran money is called "Lempiras". It takes about 20 lempiras to make 1 U.S. Dollar. Here's a picture of it for you:

9 // Question: from Hayli 

9 // Answer:  Hayli, there are different ways that we tell people about God here. We invite some people to our church and they hear the message of the Gospel while they listen to the sermon. Sometimes we go out to different communities around the city and share about Jesus with people individually. A lot of people here believe that they have to do enough good things to go to heaven and they are not saved by the Grace of Jesus. We share with them what God has told us, that it is only by our faith in Jesus and knowing that he forgave all of our sins by dying on the cross that gets us to heaven and that we are saved by Grace.

And just to get a peek at how adorable our letters were, here is one of the whole letters we got. It doesn't get much more adorable than this!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

highlight // meet miriam

1 // Who is Miriam?

Miriam is our wonderful teacher for our Spanish language classes and she's had lots of teaching experience before us. She's one busy lady, and we love just talking with her & hearing her stories. She's also become one of our best friends here in Choluteca as we've gotten to know her even more!

2 // Can you tell us more about her? 

Sure! Miriam is 64 years old and has been teaching for a long time, including previously teaching English at the CDI Nutrition Clinic here in Choluteca, being a private tutor in English for families, and more. Through tutoring, Miriam realized that she loves this teaching format, rather than full classroom teaching, much more in order to personally have conversations with each of her students and be able to constantly check their grammar and pronunciation personally. Miriam is a widow, and has five grown children, and seven grandchildren. We're blessed to know some of them too!

3 // She's a busy lady, huh? What makes you say that?

We're amazed at how much our dear friend Miriam gets done in a day. She's very busy with a full home of family members, taking care of the woman who served as her nanny growing up full time (who is now 95 years old and has no family of her own to care for her), and working with our church, Iglesia Gran Comision Choluteca, in reaching out to individuals who have HIV or who have been affected by family members who do. Miriam is also involved in other ministries that the church does, including acting in some of the drama plays and skits whenever there is a part for her! She loves it. And this is ALL on top of teaching us three hours a day!

4 // How did Miriam learn English herself?

Miriam told us the story of her coming to learn English, and she told us that when she was seventeen, and growing up in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, she made the decision to go to a special school to learn English. A few friends of hers decided to go too, and the program took about two years to complete. We asked her if she was glad that she decided to learn English, and she said to us that she is glad because she has been able to help other people learn English, but she doesn't always have people to practice her English with to keep it well in her mind. (The "if you don't use it, you lose it" idea.) We told her very early that she would get plenty of practice with using her English by teaching us, because when we first arrived we knew very, very little Spanish. We relied on Miriam being able to explain things to us, and receive instruction for lessons, in English!

Quick snapshot of Jamey & Miriam in class together at our apartment!

5 // What is your favorite thing about Miriam?

Our favorite thing about Miriam is how comfortable she feels talking with us about anything. She is willing to answer any question we have for her, whether it is about Spanish grammar, phrases that are used common, or even just questions about the Honduran culture. Miriam has been the one to tell us where we can find things here, given Lesley advice for working with the children at the church's projects, and even helped give us advice on selecting, using, and cooking new produce and foods that we aren't used to. She has been a wonderful blessing to our lives every day!

6 // What is her favorite thing about you guys?

Miriam tells us constantly that her very favorite thing about us is that we are able to laugh so much together, even while we are having classes with her. She loves to laugh about stories we tell each other, about our mispronunciations in Spanish that have us saying different words than what we intended, and even about the funny relationship Jamey & I have while being classmates. We have our own private jokes that come out of this language learning sessions, and Miriam tells us that she tries to tell them to other people, and then she'll realize that it was simply a "you had to be there" kind of thing. Miriam will leave with an extra skip in her step on the days that we have laughed extra and says to us, "Okay! I will see you tomorrow! And we will laugh more!". She also regularly tells us that she is glad to have classes with us because it makes her use her brain very actively. She believes that we're helping her to not lose her memory when she is older.

7 // How can we be praying for Miriam personally?

Since Miriam is someone who is very near and dear to our hearts, we would like to ask that our ministry team and blog readers remember to lift Miriam and her family up in prayer. Miriam is a breast cancer survivor, who has been in remission for about a year now, but she has to continue to take chemo pills for five years. Her health is something that is constantly being monitored and we pray that she will remain in good health for many years to come. If her personality has anything to do with it though, she will be around for a very long time because we know that Miriam has so much more she still wants to do in this world. She's a go-getter! Also, several other members of Miriam's extended family have been suffering from cancer, including her 2-year-old granddaughter. Would you join us in prayer for this sweet little angel? She had surgery to remove the tumor in her kidney several weeks ago, and the doctors have been doing a lot to help her. They found out recently that she will not have to go through as much chemotherapy treatments as they had originally thought she would. We are so grateful for that! She starts chemotherapy treatments tomorrow, on her 3rd birthday.