Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Day of Rest

Pictures from top to bottom: (1) Alfredo Rodriguez and his beautiful 9 months pregnant wife, Carmen; (2) Alfredo, Jennifer, Daniel, Carolina, Marisol, Jack and Maria Louisa Cerrato; (3) Douglas, Stevie, Phil, Mizael, Steve, Cory and Daniel in front of the Siguatepeque "Famous Thing"; (4) John, Mizael, Steve, Douglas, and Stevie in front of the church in Siguatepeque's city center; and (5) Mizael and his beautiful family in their home.

After finishing the hard work week, we enjoyed a day of rest on Saturday, as we were treated to a tour of Siguatepeque by Douglas and Mizael. We went to the Mercado, the town square, saw the "Famous Thing" (dubbed by Stevie) in the town square, as well as some other local relics. Following the tour, we partook in one of John's favorite activities -- eating ice cream.

Since the ice cream was nothing more than an appetizer, our next stop was lunch at Alfredo's (bus driver Alfredo) house. This truly was one of the highlights of our trip, as Alfredo and his very-pregnant wife (due on April 28), Carmen, rolled out the red carpet for our visit. Carmen prepared tortillas (of course), bean soup with beef, and a dessert of arroz con leche. Great conversation was had by all, and the looks of utter joy on Alfredo's and Carmen's faces were priceless. One of the most touching and meaningful moments of my week was when Alfredo dropped us off at the apartment on Saturday night and said, holding back tears (unsuccessfully), "Thank you for allowing me and Carmen to have you over for lunch today." I cannot put into words the feeling I had at that moment.

After Alfredo's house, we went to a mall for some last-minute shopping for loved ones at home, and then headed off to the home of some other local missionaries, where we drank some iced tea and chatted on their porch. And John was able to catch up on some sleep in their extremely comfortable hammock.

After that restful time, we were treated to a flashback to the 80's at Mizael's home, as we watched a DVD of the videos and concert footage of Journey from 1980 to 1998. If anyone wants great fun in Siguatepeque, simply ask Mizael if he wants to watch music videos or concerts. Trust me, you will not regret it and you will never forget the experience. After the rock concert, we enjoyed dinner at a local restaurant, Stevie finally got to see a Toucan (she was very excited even though it was in a cage), and Phil was attacked by fire ants (quite the experience that I hope you all can avoid).

On Sunday, we enjoyed breakfast at Alfredo Cerrato's house and then headed off to the airport. After God, once again, delivered us through the insanity known as the Honduran "highway system," we boarded our airplane and returned to the U.S. While it was difficult to leave the beautiful country and people of Honduras, knowing that we all will be back in the near future made our departure a bit easier to swallow.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Finishing Strong

The NEW driveway at the Clinica Medica de John Eaves

Cory sunbathing at the work site
Cory sunbathing at the work site
In front of the home where the first family with orphans will live
Un hombre muy guapo
Steve taking another well-deserved siesta.

Today was our final day at the work site and the driveway is finished! We can't wait to see ambulances and cars bringing people into the clinic for much-needed treatment.

After breakfast, we prayed for Guadalupe and her family before she had to leave us. It was a tough goodbye, but we all know that God will bring us together again in Siguatepeque. Please continue praying for her and her family.

Then, we went to the site and continued mixing concrete, and fetching sand and rocks. Steve took pictures of the concrete in the clinic, with the hopes of getting some concrete experts to come to La Providencia to help solidify the flooring. Please pray for generous and willing hearts in the experts.

After lunch, a sergeant in the U.S. Army came to the site and we had a great conversation with him about Honduras and his personal experience with Providence in a Box. It was an extremely informative conversation with him, as he shared how he has seen hope realized in the faces of children and adults alike, simply because they held "new" clothing in their hands. Please continue to pray for and participate in the Providence in a Box ministry.

Then, we prayed through the home where the first family at La Providencia (2 parents, three biological children, and five once-orphans) will live in the home. It is pretty surreal to walk through a home and pray for children who are now orphans without a home somewhere, knowing that they will be surrounded by love in the home very soon. I hope that all of you get to experience the feeling someday soon.

We went to our last day of Vacation Bible School after the site, where we sang and played with 2 year olds. Needless to say, since Honduran 2 year olds are the same as American 2 year olds, there was not a whole lot of "School" going on. While we were playing, Alfredo spoke to their parents about La Providencia, hoping that their kids will be an integral part in the La Providencia school. Please pray that these children, who are so precious, grow up to be leaders and valuable members of their respective communities.

Tonight, we enjoyed a great dinner at Alfredo Cerrato's house with his family, the La Providencia staff and a few other local missionary couples. It was a great time had by all, with LOTS of laughter and Chinese food (yes, there is Chinese food in Honduras). I strongly encourage anyone reading this blog (all two of you) to share a meal at the Cerrato household if at all possible. Please pray for Alfredo, Jennifer, Daniel, Carolina, Maria Louisa, Jack, and Marisol Cerrato, the La Providencia staff, and all other missionaries in the Siguatepeque area -- that they will be encouraged to continue living out their faith and loving these amazing people, who, like all of us, are in desperate need of the hope of the Gospel. Until tomorrow . . .

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Surgery, Softball and Some Sadness

Cory working hard under Phil's "leadership"

Cory undergoing the 21st surgery at the John Eaves Medical Clinic
Looks like Stevie has found her calling
Phil using an unorthodox method of Children's ministry
Guadalupe in all her glory!
Hello once again from Honduras,
Well, if you're reading this, you've most likely read yesterday's entry regarding our team's day. You'll be happy to know that today's entry will in no way be as mean-spirited or as inaccurate as that. Let me just say that I will use this space for good and not for the purpose of lifting myself up by insulting others and their ailments. Oh, by the way, my back is much better today after some much needed medical rehabilitation yesterday.
Once again we hit the worksite bright and early this morning (well, in Honduran time). We each assumed our much too familiar positions with shovels in our hands and wheelbarrels at our feet. We spent the rest of the morning moving rocks and sand and loading it a bucket at a time into the cement mixer. Steve however, was allowed to work with all of the wet cement since he claims to have a couple of decades of concrete experience. I tried to claim the same thing in order to have a chance to write my name in the cement but for some reason they didn't believe me and they told me to get away from the experienced workers and go back over to my rock pile.
As we were working away, Cory tried to get out of work by placing about a half inch long splinter deep into the palm of his hand (he claimed he was shoveling rock at the time). Well fortunately, since we were pouring the driveway for the medical clinic, we didn't have to walk far for some of the best medical care in all of Honduras. I think Cory got a little concerned when the doctor brought out the surgery tools on the tray and began asking him to hold out his hand. I think the real problem was that the doctor didn't speak English so Cory was not able to get the usual calming words that it wasn't going to hurt a bit. We're happy to say that Cory pulled through the operation and La Providencia's medical clinic has increased it's record to 21 successful surgeries without losing a patient. I think it's safe to assume that Cory's procedure was one of the least difficult that has been performed at the clinic but we we're still very grateful for the excellent care.
After our day at the site, it was once again time to go over to the church to help with VBS for the community children. These children (ages 3-4) walk in with the cleanest clothes that they can possibly find (which most likely have already been handed down through about a half-dozen other children before them) and the most precious faces you've ever seen in your life. They are each hearing for the first time in their lives that Jesus loves them and cares for them and always will. I look forward to future trips down here where I will be able to see some of these very same children make decisions to follow Christ.
Once we said good-bye to the kids for the day, we were guests of honor at a softball game put on by the church that is sponsoring the VBS. It was so much fun getting to play with some of the older kids from the community and trying to communicate with our very broken Spanish. It was definitely a unique game, especially due to the fact the the field doubles as a soccer field (with soccer definitely having priority). So quite often the game was interrupted as the kids playing soccer would need to run through the infield.
As it began to get dark, we arrived back at our apartment after a pretty exhausting day. Of course Guadalupe had another unbelievable meal prepared for us consisting of the best tacquitos I've ever had in my life.
As you saw in the title of this entry however, our day ended with a very sad piece of news. And that is that Guadalupe has to leave us tomorrow morning due to a family emergency that she just found out about this evening. She lives in a town about two hours from here and has just been here this week in order to cook for us. Please pray for her as she leaves in the morning to go back home. She really is a special person and we are praying for her family.
Well, it's about 2:30 in the morning now so I'm thinking about trying to get some sleep so I can go throw some rock around again in a couple of hours.
Tomorrow(well, I guess I mean today, Friday) is definitely going to be bitter-sweet as we will have to say good-bye to the workers at the site that we've been working side-by-side with all week. We will also be saying good-bye (until our next trip down here) to the kids that will be at our VBS tomorrow.
I am like the Rock of Gibralter(Sp?), so I of course will not cry as we say good-bye, but please pray for those members of our team that are not as strong as me that they will be able to hold it together. And if it says on here tomorrow that I cried when we said good-bye, it's a lie. Really, it is. I'm a rock. Seriously. I am. Bye for now, John

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Day 5 -- John's Big Day

Picture 1 -- Steve laughing it up with the Hondurans
Picture 2 -- Steve, in his element, pouring concrete
Picture 3 -- Phil and Stevie, completely out of their elements, mixing concrete
Picture 4 -- Stevie, in her element, teaching the kids at VBS
Picture 5 -- This is what it's all about
After breakfast this morning, as we were getting ready to head out to the work site, John informed us that we'd have to work without him today because of his back injury. After realizing that he wasn't joking, we headed off to the site to begin the pouring of the concrete driveway. Wondering what John was doing back at the team apartment, we mixed dirt, concrete mix and gravel, and poured the concrete into the forms until John, Cory, Alfredo and his son, Daniel, showed up with lunch. Upon their arrival, we discovered that our prayers for John had been answered because somehow he pulled himself off of the floor of the apartment and walked about one mile to the mercado y la tienda de helado (market and ice cream store for those of you who aren't bilingual). Please pray that God will work through the relationships built between our team and the workers at the work site.

After lunch, we finished up some work and headed to the church for Vacation Bible School with 3 and 4 year olds from the community, who are candidates for positions in the La Providencia school. Before VBS started, Cory and some others went around the area knocking on doors to see if any of the other children wanted to partake. While we taught and played with the children, Alfredo talked to their parents about the project and how their children would be loved, educated and cared for at the project. Stevie was a natural while teaching the children, as they were listening, smiling and laughing (almost always at appropriate times) the entire time that she was working with them. The rest of the team assisted in leading the singing, teaching and crafts, as well as the photography. Please be praying for these children (photos above), as they are the "sick and poor" of which the Bible so often speaks. And since I know that you're all wondering, John also made his mark on the VBS by playing the ever-famous "pull my finger" game with Daniel and Cory. I'm sure that the Honduran teacher that heard the results will never forget our team for as long as she lives.

After VBS, we returned to the apartment and John decided to take us on a tour of the city, since he became an expert on Siguatepeque earlier this morning. He showed us the pastelerias, the panaderias, the tiendas, y las farmacias (which he visited for pain medication, of course). Unfortunately, though, we didn't bring the digital camera so you can't share the experience. Upon our return, Guadalupe had arroz con pollo ready for us and, as usual, it was some good eatin'. We tried not to eat too much, though, because we had to play soccer tonight with Alfredo's family, some locals, and the La Providencia staff.

At soccer, which was "indoor" soccer played on a concrete field, we began playing with the expectation that Steve and John would not be able to play because of their ailments. However, to our surprise, another miracle occurred and John was able to take the field, playing defender and a mean goalie. In fact, John was somehow able to make a hockey-style kick save, which entailed him dropping to the ground extremely quickly with his legs in a near-splits position, and popping back up to ensure that he could take care of the rebound. Fully expecting that he would be in traction for the rest of the night, we prepared for his exit from the game. To our surprise, he not only continued playing goalie (very well, I might add), but he returned to the field at every position. The true star of the night, though, was Stevie, as she showed the Honduran boys that girls can not only play soccer, but often can show up the boys. It was a great time had by all. Oh, as for Steve, he, too, played goalie for a bit, and his son (no need to name names, but let's just say that Ryan isn't on this trip) happened to score on him a few times.

After the game, we returned home and, of course, ate some more of Guadalupe's great comida ("food" for the Spanish-challenged) and prepared for bed. Buenas noches, nuestros amigos.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Folsom Team April 14-17, 2007

Day 1 in John's words:

Greetings from Honduras,

From the moment we landed, this experience has been incredible. Soon after we came bouncing down the runway (literally) we were met in the airport by the director of La Providencia, Alfredo, and Jack, his 8 year-old son. We then began the 2-hour drive to Siguetapeque. What a drive. From dodging the burros on the right, and the semi trucks coming at us head-on in our lane from the left, we were still able to look out and be amazed at the beauty of the country.

When we arrived in town, Alfredo took us directly to the orphanage site and gave us a complete tour of the medical clinic (formal dedication was celebrated just last week), where 20 surgeries were performed in just the last two weeks. We also toured the first orphans home that is nearly completed. It is absolutely amazing to drive down a washed-out dirt road past shacks that pass as homes, you then come upon La Providencia that is going to be able to provide these people with medical care that they could never possibly receive otherwise.

We then drove to the apartment that will be our home for the next nine days.

We met Guadalupe who has since developed into our dearest, closest friend. Of course, that may be because she is the one that has been making us the most incredible meals for the past three days. I love Guadalupe. Did I mention the food? I really love Guadalupe. But I digress.

After dinner and a great devotional discussion about dying to self and making ourselves available for God to use us, we called it a night. Hasta Manana, Amigos.

Day 2 in Stevie's words:

The start of the second day, we headed out for church, of course with full stomachs from another amazing meal prepared by Guadalupe. On the way there, we spotted a monkey in a tree outside a house. It was pretty exciting. On the way back I had my camera all set to take a picture, but to my disappointment, the monkey had left the premises. I now keep a keen eye on the trees hoping to see another one. Anyways, the church is located on the side of a house that belongs to one of the members. We began with a bible study and then sang some worship songs. We then had the service which discussed Jesus as the light. After each sermon, the members have communion and eat together. We had soup with rice, beef, plantains, and potatoes. After a few games of ping-pong, we headed out to see the waterfall. On the way there we stopped to eat at a restaurant where they were known to have amazing fish. Not being a big fish lover I decided to try it out. I soon wish I had gotten the buffet when the food was brought out. On each of the plates were literally a whole fish, that looked like they had just been caught and fried. To my surprise, they were as good as everyone had said they were. After we all finished we got back on the bus and drove to the waterfall. When I first saw the waterfall it took my breath away. God is truly amazing! We got down to the bottom of the waterfall and began our journey through the waterfall. There were many times I wanted to turn back, but I knew that all I had to do was trust God. We all made it through and sat in a cave underneath the waterfall. Words cannot describe what we went through. We got to jump off a couple of cliffs into the water, with one being around 30 ft. high. We also got to experience Jack's first jump which was also very exciting. The trip to the waterfall will never be forgotten. When we finished there, we drove back to the apartment where Guadalupe had tamales waiting for us. We all ate a lot, but it didn't really look like we made a dent in the bath tub filled with them.

Days 3 and 4 from Phil's perspective:

For the first time in my life, I'll try to keep it short. After breakfast both days, we made it out to the orphanage site where we are preparing the area and laying concrete for a driveway that will serve as the back entry of medical clinic. We have had a great time getting to know the Honduran workers and learning a little bit about laying concrete. We'll likely finish the driveway tomorrow and move on to a different job on Thursday. At lunchtime, we (OK, I) play soccer with the locals on a field that is about a 20 degree angle and includes trees, post and other interesting obstacles. It is quite the exhilarating experience for any experienced soccer (or futbol) player. On Monday night (to keep with the food theme), we had pastries with chicken and potato, which were about as good as it gets. Unlike the tamales, there were none left at the end of dinner (even Douglass (PWM's accountant) took part in the festivities). And, finally, tonight was one of our favorite nights, as we had the honor of babysitting Alfredo and Jennifer's five children so that Alfredo and Jen could hit the town. Let me tell you, babysitting Daniel, Carolina, Maria Louisa, Jack and Marisol is an experience that you would never forget! After the babysitting and dinner, Alfredo shared his testimony with the team, and I hope that everyone reading this has a chance someday (preferably on a trip to La Providencia) to hear it first-hand. Trust me, it's like nothing you've heard before. Good night from Siguatepeque.