Thursday, March 20, 2014

mission team // nlcf at virginia tech 2014

New Life Christian Fellowship Mission Team 2014
To write about this particular church's first mission trip to Danli since we have lived here is completely surreal and wonderful, because this was the trip. The trip that started it all for us. It's what brought us here. And now New Life Christian Fellowship serves as our sending church. There was a lot of excitement for us going into this trip, even though we had only been living in Danli for a week and a half before they arrived and even though we only personally knew a few of the people on the 18 person team!

We were so happy to be in the position to host two of the team members in our new home, one of which was our dear friend Steve (you know, the one who was both a groomsman and the pastor who performed the ceremony in our wedding; we kind of know him well), who has been leading this trip with NLCF for several years now. Both of our "host sons" (just kidding, that's just what the Hondurans like to say!) were very patient with us during some running water outage problems that we'd been having, and we were very grateful for that!

On Saturday (3/8) when the team arrived, we went on the church bus to receive them at the airport, headed back to Danli, and went to the regular Saturday night church service. Sunday was a church event day at the park, filled with some swimming, basketball, soccer (of course), card games, and more. Lots of hanging out, lots of getting to know people from the church, and lots of sunburn! The rays seemed to be extra strong that day, and Lesley got her first (of sure to be many) good face burn with a sunglasses outline. It's documented in many pictures from the beginning of the week. Also, the church had baptisms in the pool of the park as well, with so many congregation members and the whole mission team there to see. It was wonderful and such a blessing that we got to see one of our friends be baptized by her dad just 2 weeks after us arriving in Danli.

Church park day and baptisms.
Throughout the week, the team had the opportunity to go to several different communities on the outskirts of Danli to share the gospel, as well as give out food provisions and Spanish Bibles to those who didn't have their own. Some of the team members also got to build beds to give out to those in most need of them as well. We particularly loved getting to join the team in evangelizing because this year the church taught the team about GCLA's new vision of sharing using "Multiplica Multiplicadores". Through it, each team member was encouraged to tell a short version of their personal testimony first, before sharing the gospel using the bridge diagram in the home they visited. We both felt so blessed to get to hear so many of the stories of the team members that we normally would not have gotten the chance to hear. It added such a new dimension to sharing with others so openly as well as connecting to people on a personal level.

Also, some of the team (mainly guys) got to help with a construction project at the church, which was extending the concrete floor of the church out to meet where the roof ends. It was long and hard work, but it was so worth it! It is going to be such a blessing for the church as this was the final step before the next goal of closing in the church with 2 additional walls.  The church still needs to raise funds in order for the walls to happen.

Final product of the completed floor, far left. 
Making the beds (left), and getting having a little helper to deliver them (right). 
We also took the team to visit a local public hospital, which was a first for us too. There is a huge difference between private and public hospitals here in Honduras. You hear about the bad conditions in public hospitals, but you don't realize really how terrible they are until you are inside. Patients have to provide their own bedding, medicine, clothing/gowns, and in some cases, food, and most cannot provide these things for themselves. It is practically required that a friend or family member stay with the patient to be able to attend to them. The hospital is not clean by any means, and smells even worse. It is very hot inside the building, and everyone must share a room with 2 to 3 other people with no room dividers or privacy at all. Many of who went to visit the hospital left completely wrecked and devastated of what they had just seen.

One 16-year-old boy at the hospital that particularly made his way into our hearts. 
On Saturday, we went to visit a nursing home to deliver food and spend time with the elderly people there. It was amazing to be in Honduras and see birth dates of patients born in 1919. We talked with, prayed with, and played music for the patients. They especially loved that the musical group would come around to their bed and play a song "just for them". The NLCF team was also able to attend a second regular church service on Saturday night, and blessed the church by creating a worship band for the night made up of the musically talented members of the team, since the church here in Danli does not yet have their own live band (but they do have the instruments and are working towards having a band soon!). It was fun for us personally that we got to worship in BOTH English and Spanish! What a joy!!

Visiting the nursing home; one lady was particularly happy to see a baby around!
NLCF-ers playing worship at Iglesia Gran Comision Danli. 
As they do every year, the tearful goodbyes came on Sunday when it was time to head back to the airport. Because we have only been in Danli for a few weeks, it felt a little weird to be herding the NLCF team on to the plane (though they didn't want to leave) but then being one of those people who stays, smiles, and waves until they get to the security point where we can't see them any more. Oh yeah, we live here. We don't go back to classes and midterms, Virginia Tech, and NLCF. We stay!

Quick snapshot from the "touring" day the team had, here seeing one of the church member's fields. 
We were with the team for about fourteen hours every day, so we were as tired as they were, but we loved the busyness and joy that they brought. We also loved getting to see things through brand new eyes again, through those who have either never been here to Danli before, or who have never even left the country. Thank you, Hokies. You left you mark on this great city once again (and filled it with even more orange and maroon shirts for us to spot). We love you! Can't wait til next time.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

personal // hogar dulce hogar (we moved!)

On our moving day, this past Wednesday, we moved Honduran style! We had four layers of furniture, appliances, boxes, and suitcases on the back of a single pickup truck with lots of rope. We even had a local friend say to us, “I’ve never even done this. I think you’re more Honduran than I am right now!” 

Everyone thought that Jamey's rope from the hardware store was super funny, but it's what they had! Someone even said "Are you ready to go boating now, Jamey?"
Our sweet friends that came to get us got an early start in the morning, by leaving Danli at 4AM to get to Choluteca by 8:30AM, so that by the time we arrive back with our things in Danli later that day, we would still have some daylight left to unload everything into our house.

Outside of our apartment in Choluteca, all packed up!
With such an early start, and not wanting to stop too many times along the way with so many open things on the back of the truck, we actually ended up getting a super early lunch (though none of us had had breakfast, so it was actually brunch) at 10AM at KFC. Random, yes, but it was the closest thing (literally, we lived next door to it in Choluteca) and open at the time. Little did we know, our friend Miguel didn’t know a lot about fried chicken and biscuits. He had a lot of questions about biscuits, and asked why people from the U.S. like it so much because it’s just bread. Haha! We immediately responded by telling him that where we are from, biscuits are VERY important. They are like tortillas for him! He also had to watch us bite into our fried chicken first before he knew what to do with it, because obviously we weren’t using utensils. He first proceeded exactly like we did, and then decided that he liked it much better when he just ripped the skin off of it, rubbed a layer of ketchup on the whole thing, and then chowed down. It was a fun “lunch” to say the least.

Our totally non-discrete moving, during a stop in Teguc.
The trip from Choluteca, through Tegucigalpa, to Danli ended up taking us a little over five hours with a few stops. We were definitely driving at lower speeds with our big load of cargo! Once we arrived in Danli, we pulled up straight to our new home. Lesley yelled “Hogar!!!” and Miguel completed her sentence with “dulce hogar”. (Which means “Home sweet home” in Spanish.)

Our great friends Belkis and Luis, who live very close to us, came over the second we arrived and immediately went to work. Luis helped everyone unload, and Belkis asked us if we wanted to go ahead and spend the night there or with them. And since we picked staying the first night in our new place, Belkis was determined that we were going to get some things cleaned before we stayed the night. While we were setting up everything, she was so generously busy cleaning off our walls, cleaning the floors, and cleaning our bathroom for us to use. We were so incredibly thankful for all of the help we received that day!

The outside and gate of our new house in Danli! We even have a little garden area.
Since then, we’ve been busy with errands, getting settled, church and church events. We’ve actually hosted people over a couple of times already, and been invited to dinner with three different families. We are feeling very loved and waited for.

Also, just a day after being here, we were able to finally meet some friends of ours in person that have only just been pen-pals of ours so far! Their names are Sean & Whitney, and they are missionaries from the U.S. in Danli as well, serving with a different church here, who moved to Honduras around the very same time that we did. They had actually found this blog online and reached out to us from there. What a blessing it has already been to know them and share together, and we are so excited to now continue our friendship in person, in the same city, and living just a few blocks from one another!

Thank you to everyone who prayed so much for us about this move and about us finding a new home to live in for the next several years. We are so grateful for how well our move went, and absolutely thrilled with our home that our church staff here picked out for us since we could not be in Danli to house hunt ourselves. We can’t wait to show y’all our house in one of our next blog posts, which will be a new video tour!! Those who enjoyed the first one so much have been begging for another one!