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Sunday, December 30, 2012
Lipscomb associate director of athletics for spiritual formation Brent High checks in with an update from day two of the trip to Mission Lazarus in Honduras
We began our day with ham, eggs, toast and assorted breakfast cereals at Mission Lazarus. The people in Honduras take resting on the Sabbath very seriously. There would be no work today. Today we did what most groups that come to Mission Lazarus do on their last day before going back home.
After breakfast we made an hour-long drive to Limon for church service. The congregation in Limon is in the middle of a slum that began as temporary housing for victims of Hurricane Mitch in 1998. From what I understand the residents were originally supposed to be there for just six months. 14 years later they’re still there. The poverty is extreme. We saw several extremely young children, maybe 2 or 3 years old, walking the streets around the church building completely naked and terribly dirty. Kids are begging everywhere. Some hold long strings across the road to try and get the vehicles to stop and listen to their pleas for lempiras.
We arrived at the church building early. It’s an open-air building with a tile floor and tin roof that has multiple holes in it. Everyone sits in old folding chairs. I noticed one of them had a stamp under the seat that said “Southern Hills Church of Christ.” That congregation is in Franklin, Tennessee. Our group came close to doubling the adult attendance at the congregation. For every adult there were probably three kids. After an initial period of shyness, most of them began to interact with our students. Their little smiles were infectious.
The singing was extremely joyful. For a group of people in the middle of such a desperate picture everyone seemed very happy and glad to be there. Samuel Montoya served as an interpreter during the service. T.J. McCloud led a couple of songs in English. Blanton Farmer and Matt Johnson served the Lord’s Supper.
There were a couple of twists to the service that none of us had ever experienced anywhere else. After the weekly contribution was collected (the church collected a little over 1,000 lempiras from the entire congregation – or $50 in American dollars) they called three members to the front who were celebrating birthdays. Each one of them put one lempira back into the collection basket for each year they have lived. One little boy put two lempiras in the basket. A women put 33 lempiras in the basket. A man put 34 lempiras in the basket. Everyone celebrated.
Then the collection baskets were passed around to the congregation again. Any monies collected the second time were to be given to the three people celebrating birthdays. Lacey Hartselle, Alexander McMeen and I were invited to the front to hand the wads of lempiras to the three people.
The preacher for the Limon congregation focused on the parable of the talents. He then invited all of our team to the front of the congregation and prayed over us. He thanked us over and over for leaving our families this time of year and coming to Honduras and spending time with his congregation. This reinforced something I had read in David Platt’s book Radical a couple of years ago. David made the point that so many times we get caught up in the fact that the money we use to travel to the mission field could be used for other purposes. He said the real impact is made when people in places like Honduras see that you were willing to leave the comforts of your home, spend time with them and build relationships. God doesn’t need our money. He does need us to be His hands and feet.
One of the most touching moments of the day came at the end of the service in Limon. Kaela Pennington came to me asking if we had a first-aid kit. My first question was, “What’s wrong?!”
Kaela told me about a young lady who she had met during the service that had a badly burned finger. It had become terribly infected. I fetched the first-aid kit from our truck and Kaela went to work. She cleaned the wound, treated it with Neosporin, gauze and tape and got Samuel to tell her what she needed to do going forward to help it heal. The young lady hugged Kaela tightly and was so appreciative of her kindness.
From Limon we drove another couple of hours to Amapala. We loaded into two boats and traveled to an island a short distance from shore. From the dock we took these little three wheel motorized vehicles to the beach, a place called Playa Grande. The scenery was breathtaking. We enjoyed a late lunch that consisted of gigantic shrimp, fish and plantains. The shrimp and fish had been caught just offshore earlier in the day. We threw baseball on the beach and the girls showed off their best gymnastics moves.
We headed back to the dock and were on the boat as the sun set behind the mountains in the distance. It was one of those moments you know there is a God and He is mighty.
It took us about two and a half hours to drive home in the dark. Thankfully there were no issues. I continue to be amazed at how many people including small children walk, bike and sit – yes sit – in the middle of the road here. You are on them so fast especially at night when you’re driving. It was such a relief to get back to the refuge.
The guys in my truck have actually figured out how to play an iPod on the old sound system. On the way back they played several worship songs and sang at the top of their lungs. It was such a meaningful experience for me personally. They did that on their own with no prompting from me whatsoever. I am learning very quickly that this group of students is very spiritually mature. In many instances already they have been the teacher and I have been blessed to learn from them.
We had another amazing dinner at Mission Lazarus. This one consisted of beef stew, rice and vegetables.
We turned the lights out at the pavilion and sang around the fire. Mighty to Save, Ten Thousand Reasons and Blessed Be The Name were just a few. Kyle Erickson and Ryan Terry talked about the lessons they’ve learned over the last three weeks of being here in Honduras. They challenged the rest of the group to make sure they use the talents and opportunities God has given them to share Jesus with the world. They continued to reinforce the idea that we’re not here to necessarily “do” anything. We’re here first and foremost to further relationships in the name of Jesus.
After Kyle and Ryan spoke, many of the team members shared things that were meaningful to them today. It was the kind of session you usually experience on the final night of church camp. For them to already be at this level of sharing and transparency so early in the trip is extremely encouraging and a foreshadowing of what I believe will continue to be a week that leaves all of us changed for the better, forever.
Special thanks to all of you who have prayed for us or have supported the trip financially. God is using you in a mighty way to encourage us. Thank you.
Tomorrow morning we expect to begin an intense week of work building a brick house.