Thursday, July 23, 2015

+44, it's not just a way to call the UK anymore

We had two groups in July.  They actually overlapped.  I did not get to spend much time with the first one, the group from CIY here July 5-12 as I was sick for two days, and then they were off to Sampedrana with Oscar for five days before leaving.  I regret not getting to know them, but I had to take care of myself, and it did feel good in a way to know I was not really needed, they did fine with everyone else's help.  Up in Sampedrana they worked hard to put a concrete roof/second floor, as well as floor in the first floor of the new Sunday School rooms, and helped a bunch on the coffee farm.  That is always hard work.

Also hard work was just getting ready for that group.  You cannot just stroll down to the hardware store there and order concrete, sand, gravel, etc.  You have to go quite a ways to get it yourself in the case of sand.  Oscar was there for several days just to get everything ready.  Anytime we have a group that stays in Sampedrana for several days, it is such a big deal for the whole community, very much appreciated.

The second group that was here July 8-17 was from Hazel Dell Christian Church, specifically via their student ministry.  It was our biggest group ever...44 people total.  (+44 is the international calling code to reach the UK)

I do not put that statistic to brag on them...but I will brag on them for other reasons.

There is much debate it seems about what is a good group size for short term mission work.  I suppose it depends on the mission, what it can do, staff size, etc. but generally I hear smaller is better.
I am here to tell you that more than the size of the group...what matters most is the preparation, organization, and intentionality of the group and its leadership.  And in that respect, this group was one of the best I have seen.

They came prepared with months of meetings and team building.  They were ready to do whatever we asked of them, and they did it in spades.  Of course...having 44 people meant doing more was easier!

So...where did we put them all?  Part of the funding they raised went towards the apartment/garage/third floor construction.  That was specifically so we could put beds there for the overflow of what the mission house and man cave could not this case 12 more beds up there (temporarily...unless we get another big group like this!)

This third floor, in addition to Justin's apartment, has an office for Oscar and a full bathroom.  In the future we hope to get funding to finish the floor, and use some of the space as a conference area for meetings, and possibly an office for me as well. might think this is the garage for the Fords, but for this week it was called "The Breezeway."  And the term was quite apt.  We made makeshift tables for eating and meeting space, and brought chairs down from the second floor of the clinic.

It worked remarkably well...and it was in fact quite breezy and cool.

So what did they do?  Hang on minute!  We also needed more translators than normal.  All of us were up to bat, and while I am thinking about it, how about another update on Cecilia?

Cecilia being off school for the summer has been zealous in her desire to translate, help, cook, whatever she can for the groups.

Here I found her extolling the virtues of these tiny bananas not always available in the USA (I have definitely seen more of them in the last few years than I did for a decade before that!)

She is only 13, but definitely has a passion for working with groups.  Sometimes she is a bit overzealous (she can definitely tell you what to do if you ask), and sometimes an old crusty missionary (forgetting that this might be normal for her, but for the group their first time doing many of these things)...but is trying very hard and growing all the time.

This picture was not planned, I just jumped at the opportunity.  One of the things we have been trying a few times this year is working with the groups, the clinic, and the Church.  This being a big group, we were able to divide up into nine groups...six doing corn distribution with the cell groups in the wide area of Pantanal, and three groups going to do medical care.  Right before we were to leave we gather for prayer...and how many of us that were there together just hit me.

Every group seemed to walk...quite a bit.
And to go up and down...quite a bit.

At least on this portion I visited, there were now stairs, that was a welcome sight.  Unfortunately, the whole area is still prone to mudslides.

So many is hard to process.  Joy, tears, no food, a pet squirrel, a spider that leaped to attack the youth pastor, and especially of interest (and prayer) for me personally was hearing Valerie bring back a patient to examine at the clinic that "just happened" to be in the group she visited...that had just suffered a severe retinal detachment.  

Sunday afternoon we visited every family in the Milk Project with well as many prospective families (anticipating we might get all 50 children sponsored soon...still have 11 left) that are waiting.  

More walking...more up and down.  More stories that are more than stories...they are people.

May God take all those efforts to help physically, and also work through them spiritually to His glory.  

All told: we distributed more than 6,000 pounds of corn, and around 1,000 pounds of rice.

Construction...the Church (next to the clinic) they helped with concrete for starting an entrance ramp to the new building, more block on the Milk Project building, a new concrete parking area for the clinic, painted (one mural on the inside, several on the outside wall), started a retaining wall for a garden area, and brought extra funds to take a day in Talanga to help do some rust painting and with more of the wall they need for the property and an entrance gate.  The Church will do the remaining work on their own...this project will soon be finished, and it was decided the time had come that it had to be done just a few months ago we were not sure how we would even get it started!  Very cool.

All told...10,000 pounds of concrete used, not sure how much sand and gravel! And at least 7,500 pounds of concrete blocks moved/put up, and several thousand bricks.

We also visited both local hospitals, split up into seven different groups, with this group having made special bags and flashlights made that say "Cristo me ama" (Christ loves me) on them, lego toys, and more to give to the kids.

With a big group, we were able to go to Talanga and Cantaranas at the same time to do more corn distribution, we did a clothing distribution/VBS and corn distribution in Jalaca with another Church we know, and during the Milk Project time we had with the group they were able to print pictures for all the kids, and host another time for all the kids that have had to leave the project (had roughly 80 kids that day total)

They gifted us a new printer we can use for future VBS/group times to print out pictures for kids to take home which works great and is wireless for connectivity.

They also bought me a very nice new laptop, nicer than I deserve for sure, and many more laptops to be used in the clinic, which was huge, and tons of other supplies we will be able to use in the Milk Project, Sunday school for the Churches, and in the clinic. They bought tires for the White Ford (after a rather sudden and total tire failure the first day), and even helped us house hunt since we will be forced to move soon. Some sent us prayer cards specifically for us, before they even met us, and quite a few knew history of the mission and staff before arriving as well, and had preachers to share on Saturday night with the youth group and as well on Sunday morning.

Not all of this...but quite a bit makes this group pretty unique. What impacted me the most was how smooth it went, how organized they were, how intentional to have this trip not just be a trip, but a life changing experience for all involved. Sharing testimonies, having materials ready before AND after they left, even giving parents/family a heads up on how to reintegrate upon arriving back home. This huge group that many warned me before they arrived would be too big, too much trouble, was one of the easiest groups we have hosted. How? Much preparation on our end, much communication on both, and the vast majority of the credit goes to Jimmy, the leaders, and the entire group. I smell a future seminar teaching this in their future.

Short term missions is instrumental in helping us do what His Eyes does here, it is extremely valuable to us in that regard (which is a very big encompassing regard.) Our desire for those teams helping us though is just what this group did...a relationship, a partnership, working together to make a difference for Honduras, but most certainly as well to impact those that come to be changed, to make a difference not just for a week or so here, but to take that and build upon it to continue growing in God to make a difference wherever they go and whatever they do.

Maybe God will bless us with another group from their Church in 2017 that corresponds in the number of group members to the calling code from Denmark, Sweden, Norway...maybe even Brazil?

For now...thanks be to God for both these groups and the work they did here, and prayers for the work He will continue to do through that, and through them around the world!

Oh, and God? Not a big deal, but if they come back...maybe we can have time to get another Cocozilla (seen here in the incubation stage of development) or Hyperturbosupermegagrande as well?

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