Thursday, August 28, 2014

5 ways to pray for Honduras

1.) Violence - there are many news reports that depict Honduras as one of the most dangerous countries in the world due to the violence. This comes from the amount of poverty, lack of police force, and corruption within the government. Unfortunately, a lot of times the police force are criminals too.  Even many of our friends don't trust the police.

Pray specifically for this violence to end, for the protection of the innocent people who are involved in this.
Pray that the Gospel transforms the lives of the criminals and the people within the Honduran government and they start to lead as Biblical leaders.
Pray for the safety of people in Honduras especially in areas where it is unsafe to even be outside.

2.) Good Works - Do to the large Catholic background here in Latin America, many people believe it takes "good works" in order for them to spend eternity in heaven.  We've come across many people here who have told us they don't think they will go to heaven that day because they haven't done "enough good things" to be forgiven.  It's very hard because there are many people who don't know why they believe this, only because it has been bred into them by parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents.

Pray that God will open up their hearts to the message of the Gospel, that they will understand that it is by grace that you are saved and that Jesus is the only way to heaven.
Pray not only that they will understand this so that they can spend eternity in heaven, but also so they can have a personal relationship with Jesus while they are still on this earth and feel purpose in their lives.

3.) Food Shortage - Due to the large drought in Central America during this rainy season, we are expected to experience the worst food shortage in 2015 since Hurricane Mitch that devastated the country in 1998.  We've already seen prices rises in supermarkets of staple items like beans and rice due to failed harvests especially in Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Nicaragua.

Pray for all of the families that will be affected by this and that God will provide for them.  $0.30 a pound increase in beans may not seem like a lot, but to the people here, it is a huge amount of increase as 60% of the population live on less than $2 a day.
Pray specifically for the children at our Children's Development Center and their families as they will be greatly affected by this.
Pray for God to provide our center the resources to help these families and be the hands and feet of Jesus if needed.  

4.) Lack of Sanitation - A lot of work has been accomplished in the last decade for clean water and sanitation in Central America, but it is still greatly lacking.  In Honduras alone, 954,000 people still lack access to safe drinking water and 1.6 million people lacked access to improved sanitation.  When we say "improved sanitation" that doesn't necessarily mean they have a toilet, it could only mean they have a latrine that has treatment.  Only 74% of rural Honduras have access to these "improved" sanitation sources.

Pray against the diseases that are caused by lack of sanitation and for the people who are sick because of it.  A child dies every 20 seconds because of a diarrheal illness that could be prevented with adequate sanitation.
Pray for ministries around the world who are trying to combat this humanitarian injustice and are sharing the Living Water through this.
Pray for us, Great Commission Latin America, as an organization who are in the process developing a water and sanitation project here in Danli. Though it takes a lot of effort, funds, communication, and education to start efforts like these, we know that this is not how God desires His children to be living and we want to help solve this problem. Pray for us as we raise awareness, raise funds, meet with government agencies, and as we share the love of Jesus. Pray that God will use us for His will.

5.) Education - 60% of the population in Honduras live under the international poverty line and a large part of this is due to lack of education. The public school systems here are stretched very thin with very little funding. Most kids only go to school at most 4 hours a day, if they choose to go every day.  There is no requirement for children to go to school in Honduras.  If they can afford it, most parents send their children to private schools, but because the income gap is so large here the families in poverty will never be able to do that. A lot of children have to drop out of school at age 14 or 15 to help their families with the bills and never complete high school, thus furthering the cycle of poverty.  Most families in poverty live for today, and can't think about the future.  The goal of the Children's Development Center is to help and encourage our kids to complete high school and provide them with the resources to do that.

Pray for children to stay in school, finish high school and to have the desire to do this.  Pray they understand the importance of education and how they can use it to change their family.
Pray for the Children's Development Center's efforts in helping bring up Christian men and women and encourging/helping them complete high school.  Pray that God gives us wisdom in this ministry.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

mission team // the rock church 2014

Just a few days after we arrived back in Honduras from a trip, we welcomed a mission team to our church, Iglesia Gran Comision Danli, from The Rock Church in Salt Lake City. We were anticipating this trip quite a bit, simply because we had heard so much about them from our friends here in Danli. This church started bringing teams one year after our sending church, NLCF, so you can imagine the bond they've been forming with the church in Danli.

One great thing about this church is they are able to bring such a wide variety of people and ages on their teams -- from teenagers and their parents, to nurses, to previous longer term missionaries, to photographers and engineers. That dynamic makes for a very unique experience between the members of the team each year, and it's very cool to get to witness the amount they have to teach other, and the people that they encounter here in Honduras. We were lucky enough to be the "host parents" of one of the translators from Tegucigalpa and the team leader, who was thankful to be in a house with good internet since he and his wife had welcomed their first baby 3 week prior!

We had several people on the team that had been on this same trip before, so we were able to immediately bond with them, even on the ride from the airport back to Danli, by sharing our stories together. Between these stories and us comparing the similarities and differences between Virginia and Utah, we never ran out of things to talk about!

The week began with a classic Honduran Sunday, a day of rest and fellowship. We went to what we call "the mountain" (the actual name of the mountain is "La Roca", which means "The Rock" ... appropriate for this team!). We ate carne asada for lunch, went for walks around the beautiful property, rigged some homemade fishing polls, and then rigged a rope for a Honduran version of volleyball. It was a beautiful day!

The rest of their time here was very busy; filled with evangelizing in different communities, working at under-funded government run daycare centers, and visiting the very poor hospital and giving out supplies. The team also raised the funds to build the third wall at the church (!!).  We're only lacking one wall to completely close in the church!

The face on this little boy was pure joy when he got his new shoes!
Also proud of these young boys from our church going out to help share the gospel.
On Friday, the team spent the morning with our CDI kids, which of course the kids loved. The highlight about this was one of the team members is a sponsor to one of our CDI students, and the two got to meet for the first time. It was an awesome thing to witness! Tim, the sponsor, also gave Brayan, the student, a few gifts; Brayan, however, realized that the other kids didn't get to meet their sponsor that day, and he chose to share his bag of candy with all of the other students and the teachers. It was precious!

Brayan meeting his sponsor, Tim, for the first time. 

The CDI kids making crafts with the mission team.
On Saturday, while part of the team was at band practice, the other part of the team made two beds to be given to two CDI students that needed them most. Now our students Anner and Angel both no longer have to share their beds with their two other siblings.

One of the beds being delivered to Anner's house. He now has a bed to himself!
As we said, there was a variety of people on the team and two of them specifically are the very talented folks who made the recap video above, as well as kept up with a great photo/video blog for the people following them back home, which you read more specific stories from the week here.

We're already looking forward to seeing you next year, you guys! Thank you for everything.  You're such a blessing to the GCLA church here in Danli!

Friday, August 8, 2014

highlight // fundraiser event for the danli cdi

On July 1st, there was a fundraiser event held in Covington, VA to benefit the GCLA Children's Development Center (CDI) that we work with here in Danli. People from Jamey's home church, Faith Baptist Church, and other churches in the area all helped to make this event possible. We were so fortunate to be able to be in attendance at the event to witness all of the people who came out to support us and this ministry! We had roughly 120+ people in attendance. With so many people filling one event space, we had to turn the dessert table into overflow seating! (Which is not a bad problem to have!). There was a spaghetti dinner, which included awesome salad, bread, desserts, and refreshments as well. 

We just wanted to say again, a HUGE thank you to everyone who helped make the event happen, to all who came out, to all who donated additional funds, to all who brought school supplies to donate, and to all who sponsored kids at this event! We were so happily overwhelmed by it all. In just one night, we received:

  • 9 new sponsors for new children to start coming to attend the CDI,
  • Monetary donations to the CDI that totaled around $1800, and
  • Enormous amounts of much needed school and craft supplies for our students (Like 2500 crayons!)

Some might ask, how will these things specifically aid the Children's Development Center in Danli? First, adding new students to the CDI does not only allow us to help and feed more children, but increasing our number of students will hopefully help us split up our after school Bible and English classes into separate age-specific classes. We are also excited for our current students to have even more kids to play with. Since the children in our program attend public schools, they only go to school for 4.5 hours a day, which leaves little time for playing or recess. Our recess time is some of the only "fun time" that our students get with other kids! 

With the donations that were so graciously given, our hope is to complete the floor in the kitchen and the upstairs classroom (our future computer classroom) with tiling. Most finished floors in Honduras are tile, but right now these two rooms have only rough concrete. Not only have there been lots of falls and skin scrapes on this rough floor, but in the kitchen especially is hard to fully clean We are so excited for a new kitchen floor that can be swept AND mopped! Also with the donations, we hope to buy new tables for the classrooms. There is also one very old wooden table that was given to us, but the top finish has been torn off and there are tiny bugs that we can't seem to keep out. As we increase our numbers, we are going to need more tables!

The very first craft project that the CDI students completed with their new supplies
were Bible bookmarks to give as gifts to the mission team that came to visit and play with them. 
And with the school and craft supplies, the possibilities are endless for how much these things will change the lives of our wonderful students. First, some of the school supplies are now being used for our Bible and English classes, but about half have been tucked away in order to make school supply packets for our students when they start their new school year in February. This is an incredible help to the families, because most of them don't have the money to buy most or all of the supplies for their kids. Students in Honduras also have to wear uniforms, so hopefully by providing their school supplies, buying a new properly fitting uniform might be a little easier for some families.

Also, why do we do crafts? Well, arts and crafts are great visual examples of class lessons for children, but to these children, it's more than simply that. Almost all of these kids do not receive any art classes in their schools, and we've been able to see what effect that has on them. They have never been encouraged to be creative, or create something that is their very own. They often ask Lesley "What color am I supposed to color the girl's shoes in the picture? What color is right?". And though she encourages them to choose whatever color they think would look great, they can't. They're frozen. We love that by having the capacity to occasionally do crafts with our students, even with simple items such construction paper, crayons, scissors, and glue, we are able to open up their minds just a little bit more. And let them be kids and grow.

Last, but not least, here is the quick video that we showed at the event that we'd like to share with everyone now. (Please excuse any glitches in the video, we need better editing software!). These are the sweet children you've helped with your generosity!

There are still some kids on our waiting list to attend the CDI.  If anyone is interested in child sponsorship at the Danli CDI, please contact us (Jamey and Lesley Smith) personally and we'd be happy to give you more information and help you set up the process or you can visit the GCLA website.

Also, to be kept updated on what's going on at the Danli CDI, visit the Facebook Page.

Friday, August 1, 2014

friday photo dump // thanks for the visit, Virginia.

in cased you didn't catch them all, please enjoy a quick review of our trip to Virginia in photos!

Mom & Dad were pretty excited to see us at the airport!
Day after we got home, it was Jamey's mom's birthday!
Pretty cool birthday present, huh?
The line for dinner at the CDI fundraiser event was pretty long.
We had to use the dessert table as overflow seating!
We were very pleased by all the great questions during the
 Q&A session at the CDI event! Thanks to all again. 
SO many school supplies for our students were donated at the event!
Half of them were saved for the kids to receive school packets
 at the beginning of their new school year in February. 
We just beat all the storms in the area for our July 3rd family kayaking run.
We had a great time being outdoors in our beloved Virginia. 
Jamey and his mom had a mother/son lunch date while Lesley and her mom
 had a mother/daughter lunch date. I guess you could call it good timing! :)

It felt amazing being able to celebrate the 4th of July in the U.S.!
We went to see the fireworks show at the VMI Campus in Lexington, VA.
And it was awesome! We might have also had black raspberry ice cream for dinner.
While we were in, we helped Lesley's grandma purchase a new tv.
She wasn't so sure about how to pick out flat screen tvs, but her
 old one that she bought in 1990 got struck by lightning.
We also taught her about surge protectors. 
We were overly blessed by having the family that Lesley previously
nanny-ed for host us in Northern Virginia for Jamey to be in a wedding. 
And that handsome groomsman would be Jamey. Jamey was so glad
to get to be in his college roommate, Josh's, wedding while we were home. 

There's the happy couple! Congrats, Josh & Louisa!

As the two weeks came to a very quick ending, we couldn't help but
choose Bojangles as our last meal in the States for a while!