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Monday, December 30, 2013
Lipscomb Athletics Associate Athletic Director Brent High checks in from Honduras and Mission Lazarus.
Happy New Year from southern Honduras! For the third straight year I have been blessed to help T.J. McCloud from Lipscomb Missions lead a team of student-athletes and friends to serve with Mission Lazarus. There are 14 of us on this particular trip. Joining T.J. and me are Samuel Montoya from Lipscomb event management (a native Honduran who is helping translate along with many other responsibilities), Josh Kolbo from the men’s soccer team and Maggie Allen from the volleyball team. Miriam Parker, Sarah McFarlin and Morgan Bucher from the women’s golf are here. Three-year veterans Dustin Wilder, Blanton Farmer and Nate Mueting from the men’s golf team are helping lead. Glenai Gilbert, Matt Johnson and Ryan Mueting (Nate’s brother) have been adopted as honorary athletes for the week.
This is my fourth trip to Honduras with Lipscomb student-athletes. In addition to the three year-end trips I had the pleasure of leading the Lipscomb softball team here in August of 2012. Each trip has had its own unique identity. Early on, this one has featured the deepest spiritual discussions on the road and at night around the fire. These kids are dealing with some very serious issues and are in the midst of making some very important life decisions. They have been extra honest with each other and in turn that spirit of openness and transparency has opened the door for others to share without fear.
Sunday morning we attended a church service in a remote mountainous area. The “building” consisted of a tin roof and pole supports covering a dirt floor. The “pews” were 1x6 boards on top of adobe bricks. The worship was sweet and sincere and our kids really seemed to be moved. We then took a tour of the Mission Lazarus coffee plantation. It’s a fascinating operation at the top of a mountain. There we saw the coffee beans in various stages of production.
We are working in the little town of Duyure each day. It’s about an hour’s drive south of the Mission Lazarus refuge where we are staying. The drive reminds me of the Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming or Lake Tahoe in California. Seriously. Some of the views are that incredible. Today on the ride back you could see the Pacific Ocean glistening on the horizon.
Duyure is where we served on our first trip two years ago. That year we built an adobe brick house for a man named Sotero and his family. His house was washed away in a hurricane-related flood. Several boys from the town showed up on our work site and jumped in and started helping. Ronnie, Wilson, Antonio and Jorge were among them. A little girl named Carla and her baby brother Franklin would sit beside the barbed wire and watch us work all day. On my last two trips we have made an effort to return to Duyure one day and reconnect with our little friends. Each time we’ve been able to find them whether they’ve been off milking cows, collecting sticks to load on their burros or just in town playing.
This year we made our first appearance in Duyure for the Iglesia de Cristo (Church of Christ) service. It started at 3 p.m. The first person we saw when pulling in the church yard was Sotero. He knew immediately who we were and rushed to embrace us. We greeted our friend Jose who serves as a minister at the church. He has the biggest, warmest smile you can imagine. Then we saw Carla sitting in one of the plastic lawn chairs that form the church “pews.” She remembered us and told us all about our other buddies and her little brother. As we headed back home, there standing in the middle of the road in front of his house was our buddy Antonio. He heard we had come back to town and was eager to see us. We told him we’d be back Monday morning around 9 a.m. and to look for us then.
Sunday night was an incredible time of sharing and reflection. This group is really close already.
Monday we headed to Duyure. There standing at the road was Antonio and his million dollar smile. He rode down the hill with us and we arrived at the church grounds around 9:15 a.m.
We are building a playset in the church yard. We are also building a rock wall and eventually will be laying a concrete sidewalk.
We moved 40-100 lb. boulders, used pick axes to dig trenches, hauled fill dirt in wheelbarrows, sawed boards to various lengths for the playset, hammered, drilled and measured. We made tremendous progress today.
There was a lot of time mixed in with another group of kids that assembled at the work site. We made a lot of new friends. In the middle of the day Ronnie and Wilson showed up. As we headed home we stopped by Sotero’s house to see Jorge.
Reunions are so sweet. It’s a little preview of Heaven.
Mission trips change you. While they’re partly for the people you serve, I am more and more convinced that the real fruit, the ripple-sending measurable fruit, comes when those that serve head home. They see the world differently. They see themselves differently. They recognize opportunities to make a difference in their communities and act on those opportunities.
I have said it before and I will say it again. In my opinion, missions is the best thing Lipscomb does. Special thanks to Mark Jent, T.J. McCloud, Paul Stevens, Julie Woodroof and Elizabeth Duke for the many, many hours they spend sending teams out all over the world. Thanks to the literally hundreds of donors who have invested in making this trip possible. Your investment will matter in eternity. It will be used to positively impact the population of Heaven. What a thought!
We are praying for our sister team that is serving in Jamaica this week. We are also praying for Mason Alexander, Coach Casey Alexander’s son, who has been very sick this week.
Please continue to pray for our team. Pray that eyes are opened, hearts are touched, decisions are made that need to be made and that regrets and second-guessing are abandoned.
We serve a risen Savior. He is alive here in Honduras.