FC: Adventures in Honduras Maranatha Mission Trip February 16 - March 2, 2011
1: On February 16, 2011 we took off from LAX on a two week adventure to Choluteca, Honduras. We joined the Maranatha sponsored Berkshire Mission, to total a group of 59 people from all over America, Canada and South America. Our goal was to help lay block in a large school auditorium, build three one-day schools, conduct medical clinics, and assist with evangelistic meetings and VBS for the kids. And so the adventure began . . .
2: Traveling Had to take a picture with this epic guitar at Houston airport. We had a very bumpy landing in Tegucigalpa. It is one of the worst airports to fly into because the surrounding mountains make it necessary for a steep descent and ascent. We didn't know that until after we landed. It was a weird feeling to look out the window and see the mountains so close to the wing of the plane. McDonald's, of course, is everywhere, including Honduras.
3: Our west coast group arrived first. Three hours later, the rest of the group flew in from the east coast. They brought containers of supplies that we lugged out to the curb to be loaded up. We were surprised when a military truck showed up to help us transport them safely to Choluteca.
5: Even though we were all tired from a long trip, we were excited to get started. It was a three hour bumpy bus ride to our destination. The pavement was washed out of parts of the road and potholes abounded. Semis passed with less then a foot between us and them.
6: Hotel y Hacienda Gualiqueme After a long drive we arrived at our destination and unloaded all the luggage and supplies. We were so thankful for such nice accommodations - very unusual for a mission trip.
9: We got to see a lot of wildlife around the hotel. The rooms even had air conditioning and maid service. However, Mark found bat droppings on his bedspread every evening. But such things can be expected on a mission trip.
10: A family of skunks lived by the hotel. They said they were friendly, but we stayed out of their way. We enjoyed cooling off in the pool after work each evening.
11: We were very blessed to have such good food on this trip. We met here each day for meals and morning and evening worship.
12: Get ready, Get set... | Every morning we loaded up our supplies and headed out in the bus or pickups. The medical team visited different sites while we went to the work site.
14: Views around the work site. . . | There were vultures circling everywhere.
15: This is the location of the school campus Maranatha is building. When completed, 1200 students will be able to get an education here. It is expected to be finished in March, 2012. Supplies for building were shipped and stored in the containers below. But some of the supplies were still held up in customs.
16: Main Auditorium
17: Half of the construction team worked here and were able to finish the inside wall and the baptistry.
18: The weather was hot and dry, in the 90s and 100s every day. Thankfully, there were usually clouds in the afternoon. We drank tons of water and Gatorade to prevent dehydration.
20: Lunch Time | We worked up such an appetite that whatever they brought us for lunch tasted extremely delicious. It's amazing how good food tastes after some good hard physical labor.
21: We were thankful for flushing toilets at the work site - a big plus on a mission trip.
22: One Day Schools
23: Mark and I worked on the one day schools. We were in charge of making the windows. This was a detailed and tedious project. They have changed the design since then. After we finished the windows, we helped install them in the buildings. It actually took more like 2-3 days to put up these schools for an inexperienced team. Our goal was to build 3, but we ended up finishing 2.5 of them, partly because we were waiting for the foreman to arrive.
24: Some of the pieces were about a half cm too long, so they had to be shortened. Then then sharp ends had to be sanded off.
25: We worked on the windows with an 80 year old man named Frank. He was from Canada and this was his first mission trip. As we worked, he told us about his past military service and many accomplishments during his life. "But," he said regretfully, "I left God for last." He had always wanted to go on a mission trip, but caring for his sick wife prevented him from doing it sooner. Now here he was. He told us how he had exercised to get in shape to come. The heat really bothered him, but he never complained. We enjoyed working with him and he taught us patiently. He was a real inspiration to us, proof that you're never too old to work for God.
26: There were 8 windows per building, with 2 parts each that opened. We made 48 parts total. We also made the vents that went above the door.
27: The windows were difficult to install. Many of them had to be resized to fit because each frame seemed to be a different size. They had to be leveled and set. It was quite a learning experience.
28: We worked hard and it was a great feeling to have accomplished so much. We were happy to know that our efforts would help provide a Christian education for so many kids for years to come.
30: Medical Clinics | The medical and dental team visited different sites around the city. They saw 200-300 patients per day and had to turn more away. Some people came as early as 2 AM to wait in line. Hypertension and diabetes were common problems. They also treated some babies that were malnourished because the mothers watered down their formula to save money.
31: I joined the medical team one day for a visit to a small poor village outside the city. The people here grew produce that is sold in the USA. Sugarcane and melons are big crops there. Many of them complained of respiratory problems because of the pesticides used to spray the crops around their homes from the air.
33: People were very happy to get reading glasses. One older lady asked for some so she could see the time on her cell phone. When she was given a pair she burst into smiles, lifted her hands and praised God. Such a simple gift made a big difference!
34: This was the cord that the dentists plugged their equipment into. | The pharmacy always kept very busy with lots of Rx to fill.
35: The Pathfinders joined the medical team every day to help with crowd control. | This man dropped by the clinic to show us some tricks his horse could do.
37: The town of Choluteca is a mix of modern and primitive. Western culture has definitely made an impact there. Like most poor countries, public safety was lacking. The traffic didn't follow rules, most on motorcycles didn't wear helmets, and electrical wires were hanging everywhere. One day the police stopped our bus looking for drug trafficking. But being a smaller town, there was not as much crime as in the city.
38: We went for a walk down to this river behind our hotel on one of the Sabbaths we were there. Some of the locals were busy doing their laundry. Some of our group went swimming, but we opted out. The water was partly runoff from the city.
39: Choluteca SDA Church | The church in Choluteca is small but active. We attended there 2 Sabbaths and helped out with the programs. They were so happy to have us.
40: Evangelistic Meetings | Before we came to Choluteca, 4 Bible workers had been preparing people for baptism. When we arrived, Pastor Rigo, a missionary on the island of Guanaja, held a series of meetings. Everyone was welcome - even the dogs.! Quite a few people were baptized at the end.
41: Kid's Meetings | After dinner each evening, we went to help put on programs for the kids. There were about 200-300 in attendance every night, packed into this hall. With all those bodies and little air circulation, it got so hot and stuffy. This made it more challenging to keep their attention. But they were entertained by felts, stories, songs, puppet shows, short videos and health nuggets. They especially liked the action songs. We had a lot of fun together.
43: As is typical when working for God, there were challenges. There were some problems with making arrangements for the meetings and on the last night the power went out while we were trying to show a video about Jesus. We just started singing and prayed and it came back on. We were so happy to see so many give their lives to Jesus.
44: La Ceiba | For the last few days of our trip, we made the long drive back to Tegucigalpa and flew from there to La Ceiba on the northern Caribbean coast. It was much more humid and tropical there. They decided to ship our carry-ons on another plane, so we had to wait until late that night before we could get them. La Ceiba is a tourist area but still poor. We stayed in a beautiful resort. It was no five star hotel (our bathroom ceiling was leaking and they shut off the hot water one day), but it was a great place to relax and enjoy the beauty around us.
46: We decided to take a snorkeling tour of the Cayos Cochinos islands on one of the days. The boat ride out was very bumpy, but it was worth it to be able to experience the breathtaking beauty of the tropics. There was no running water or electricity on the islands. When we started the trip, they asked who wanted what type of fish so they could call ahead and have it fresh caught for lunch. We brought our own food. Many of the people who live on these islands are Garifuna, a culture of black Caribs who still live in their traditional ways without intermingling.
48: We stopped at this island to snorkel and then went on a hike where there were pink boas that they caught and held. Supposedly they can only be found in this area.
49: This was a very narrow island. We stopped here for lunch.
53: For our second outing we went on a kayaking trip through river inlets out to the ocean. We got to see a baby alligator and some monkeys.
54: The rest of the time was spent relaxing and wandering the beach back at the hotel. It was all over too fast and we had to leave paradise to go home. We were so thankful for the time we got to spend there.
57: This trip was a great opportunity for us to step out of our comfort zone and do something for God. Mark got to experience his first mission trip and by the end he was already ready for another one. It was really cool to be able to do this together while we were dating. It really helped us get to know each other and see the other person in a variety of situations. Evidently we liked what we saw, because we got engaged about two months later. We also enjoyed the variety of ages in the group and it left us with the impression that you are never too old or too young to work for God. According to Maranatha news, the school in Choluteca was completed in the summer of 2012 with the help of a total of 600 volunteers. We were glad to be a part of that. This is an adventure we will remember for a lifetime. . .