Monday, August 10, 2015

Last Day

Sunday, July 19th

Bible Verse:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
  He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
  He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
  for his name's sake." Psalm 23:1-3
Miriam led the group in a bible study all about the importance of refreshing your body and your spirit.  The Holy Spirit helps us feel renewed and restored, which many of us needed to feel after a long week of working.  We prayed that the church service we were about to go to would help us feel ready to spend one of our last days showing as much love as we could to the Hondurans.

This is the church we went to in the morning.

Other volunteers were able to finish the outside and it looked really good!
Katie took pictures and decorated frames with the girls - so many plastic jewels!

Hannah helped make bead bracelets, which colors symbolized the gospel message.

Gabby posing with one of the older girls who was fluent in English!

One of the dancing performances - these girls were talented!

This is one of their performances (that I explain below)

In the performance, Jesus came and rescued them!

The leader of the shelter gave each of us a keychain and a hug as a Thank you and farewell!

We all piled into this room, the first one we painted, and ate dinner together.
These girls just love to pose, even while eating dinner!

What an elaborate cake! Katie regretted not being able to try some because she was sick, 
but it looked  very tasty!

Mrs. Kluitenberg started a fun game with the girls, and they loved it!

Dave was the best at the piñata!

Go Abby! Hit it!

All the kids diving for candy after the piñata broke!

The young boys loved playing soccer with Abby!

Caroline had some fun drawing with chalk, entertaining a lot of the young kids!

Miriam helped with the beads too :-)

Jennie was at the coloring station

Taking pictures with the polaroid camera and framing them became very popular!

Even Freddie joined in on the soccer juggling circle!

Lots of face paint... or face 'crayons' for easy clean up!

In celebration of Katie's Qinsa Niera (15th Birthday)!

The first day we went, us Americans stuck together as a group and there was a clear boundary between us and the Hondurans because we didn't know each other.  By the last day, though, we were mixed in with everyone else and felt totally comfortable sitting next to all the Hondurans!

They surprised me with a 15th birthday celebration!

These are all the cards the little girls gave me!

      On Sunday, our group had a chance to sleep in a little before getting up and meeting downstairs for breakfast.  A few us still felt a little sick, and Katie had a fever, but that didn't stop anyone from going to the church service.  Margarita knew the Bishop there, and it was a short walk from the hotel, so we all decided to go.
      To try to set the scene for what a Christian church in Honduras was like, it had pews, an altar, and a cross up front.  The doors stood open to welcome in anyone from the street, although by the time we got there at 10:30, everyone was already there.  They had a guy on bass, and a guy on piano who also sang and there were some pre-recorded tracks.  Of course, all of the songs were in Spanish however we were able to understand a few words.  
      The Bishop gave a sermon, and he even translated a few lines for us and said them in English, but the rest was Spanish.  He would read many passages from the bible, and Margarita translated the reference so we could look it up and follow along.  Despite the fact that I didn't know what he was saying, I could tell that he believed what he was saying and was passionate about preaching for Jesus.  He had a powerful voice and he often would step down from the altar and walk in between the aisles as he preached.  Halfway through the service, we went around said let peace be with you, and I was surprised at how friendly everybody was.  The language barrier didn't matter!  Even with foreign strangers, our group felt comfortable and happy to be there.
      We got back to the hotel and unfortunately Caroline felt under the weather, but Margarita encouraged her to go to the celebration at the shelter, saying that she won't want to miss it.  Caroline decided to go, and we got to the shelter just after lunch.  There were a lot more people there than what we had seen in the past week, and all the chairs were set up for the performance at the end.
      Abby set up a station where she played soccer with a lot of the boys, Miriam and Hannah made bead bracelets that had a different color bead for each theme in the gospel message, Jennie and Bethany did face paint and coloring, Caroline set up some chalk mats and drew pictures with the little girls, and Katie and Gabby took pictures on the polaroid camera and helped the kids decorate frames for them.  There was never a dull moment for our team, and all of the kids were zipping from activity to activity with a bright smile on their face.  
      After that, we all sat in one room (because of the drizzling rain) and we watched the performance put on by kids and teens at the shelter.   They were a few dances done by a few girls at a time, and some younger kids dressed up in traditional dresses and danced.  Everyone on our team had three Honduran kids on each side of them, and it felt like we were a part of one big family!
      The last performance entailed fun music and goofy characters that walked on stage and interacted with each other.  Towards the end, someone dressed up as 'the devil' and pretended to throw everyone to the ground and reprimand them for who they are.  Then another character that represented Jesus came in and cast out the devil.  Then he helped everyone up and they in turn worshiped him.  It was a very beautiful story that was well done by all of the teens!  I was very happy to see that they understood parts of the gospel and wanted to glorify God with this performance.
      Then the leader of the shelter called each of us up and gave us a keychain, a wonderful handmade card, and a hug!  All of us vowed to treasure these things and to remember the kids at the shelter when we look at them.  Then they brought a cake and surprised me with an early birthday celebration!  In Honduras, turning fifteen is a big deal, much like turning sixteen is a big deal in America.  It's called someone's Qinsa Niera when they turn 15.  They sang in Spanish and I blew out the candles and got a hug from so many kids at the shelter!  Miriam, as she watched me receive so many hugs, said 'It's my birthday too!' :-)
     Later, they brought out a pinata and I was the first to try and hit it.  They let a few little kids go, but then they started to chant for everyone on our team to do it.  I was surprised at how good some of our team was, and eventually the pinata broke and there was a mad rush as everyone dove for candy!
     We hung around for a little while longer but it was inevitable that we would have to say goodbye.  A few people got teary eyed because we didn't want to leave, and many kids told us "I love you" and we said it right back.  We drove away and waved back at everyone, thanking God that we had been able to form close relationships with all these wonderful kids.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Race Marked Out For Us

Saturday, July 18th

Bible Verse: "God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.  And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother."  Abby led the devotion today about God's love. We talked about how we can tell if God is in someone by how they love other people.

 Katie showing how an origami fortune teller works.

The three musketeers.

 Looking amazed at all the work that was done.

 A girl with a pet bird.

 Why is Gabby holding a chair?

 Taping and scraping the T.V. room

 "This is the color of love being spread to the shelter" - Miriam

 Abby scrapping paint off of the floor - it's hard work!

Reach for the SKY.

 Four people painting in one corner of the T.V. room.  The bathrooms got really hot and stuffy!

 Katie and Karla selfie.

 Finished upstairs room!

 Finished T.V. room!

 Katie wrote "I love Jesus." Karla is writing "I love you."

A mural on one of the walls at the shelter. It translates "friends of Jesus."

 Snacks we got on our way home! Plantation chips are the bomb.

All the girls doing ab workouts!  Shout out to Coach Smith!

       While we were at Copan the last couple of days, the volunteers from the local church kept working at the day shelter.  They scraped and painted the outside hallway ceiling, a washing room, and the rest of the outside, including the front side of the day-shelter. When we arrived, we were amazed at their work, but we knew there was still a lot left undone.
       In the morning, we touched up the upstairs room and got ready to paint yet another room, which we referred to as “the T.V. room." However, we very quickly started facing problems.  Dave scraped and painted the ceiling in the upstairs room, but it would not stop peeling. We used dark pink paint for the lower walls of the T.V. room, but we did not have enough light pink paint for the upper walls. On top of all that, everyone who was not feeling well Friday night, still were not well on Saturday.
       At lunch, we regrouped ourselves and made a plan. Miss Grachen would exchange an extra green paint bucket to a pink paint bucket at the hardware store.  Since the T.V. room was a larger priority than the upstairs room, everyone would focus on getting the T.V. room done. We had three hours to do it, since Freddie needed to leave by five for his daughter’s fifteenth birthday party.
       Mrs. Klutenberg worked on the ceiling, Caroline did the bathroom, and everyone else worked on the lower and upper walls. Together, and with God’s power, we were able to finish the room by four, leaving enough time to clean up. Abby also scrapped paint off the tile floor, and Dave painted outside.  The whole day felt like a race, but it was the race marked out for us, and God was running before us.  We could not have crossed the finish line without him.  
       The kids really appreciated everything that we were doing. Dave shared that Karla helped him paint the ceiling upstairs by shimmying up a pole and painting with one of her hands.  He says he has so many pictures of her, because she loves to pose and has the cutest smile.  The kids encouraged us by giving us cards throughout the day with pictures and words on it, saying “Thank you,” and “I love you.”  When we were getting ready to leave, Karla got some chalk out. Katie wrote “I love Jesus” on the tile floor using pictures and some Spanish. Miriam asked Karla if she loved Jesus too, and Karla said yes. Then she wrote to Katie “Jo te ama,” which is “I love you." 
       When we got back to the hotel, we decided to have some fun by doing some ab workouts and swimming in the pool in order to keep in shape for cross-country.  After dinner, we hung out and practiced some songs in Spanish that we would be singing for the everyone at the day-shelter on Sunday.  Thankfully, Miriam, Jenny, and Abby were feeling better, but Katie still wasn't.  Please pray that she gets better!
       Overall, everyone was relieved to be done with painting. As Miss Grachen said, "You will never have to see a paintbrush or a roller for the rest of this trip!" Every day is a gift from God, and finishing the shelter was definitely a gift. Praise God!

p.s. Caroline and I were slightly delayed when we posted this one because we didn't feel well, but now, on Monday morning, both of our stomach aches are gone!  Yay! 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Spiritual Warfare

 Friday July 17, 2015

Bible Verse: "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose," Romans 8:26-28. Katie led the group in a bible study all about how the Spirit intercedes for us, and she used the image of the Spirit being our mailman, teacher, and translator.

The whole group rode in the back of the bus to get around Copan.

This was the view and the gorgeous day that we had.

Ready to go zip lining!

These were the workers who helped us - they looked like monkeys on a zip line!

Helmet Selfie :-)

Go Margarita!

Many of us tried zip lining upside down!            Miriam zipping through the trees!                                      
Dave asked for 'mas, grande bounces' or 'more, big bounces'!

Fredy and Miriam having too much fun at lunch.

Hannah posing with Scarlet Macaws, the national bird of Honduras.

There were lots of gorgeous plants at the aviary we went to!

This bird wanted to pose for us!

We got to hold birds, and shake our fists to make them spread their wings.

Gabby holding birds...

Bethany holding birds...

This toucan kept chasing Abby!

Street vendors selling jewelry.  You had to bargain for a price!

We saw this on the drive back. Moo! 

       Today was our second and last day in Copan.  In the morning we went zip lining with Canopy Tours, which had 16 zip lines, that were a total of 4K long.  We were accompanied by four employees that hooked our harness to the zip line and told us how to do it.  On one zip line, we were allowed to try zip lining upside down, and most of us did.  They also bounced us by moving the wire up and down, and Abby and Dave especially loved it.  We took lots of photos, and the employees even volunteered to film us as we were zip lining down, which turned out to be a really cool video!
      After that, we went to an aviary and saw lots of gorgeous birds, flowers, and even some bugs.  They were all in cages, but you could walk into some of the cages for a more 'face to face' experience with the birds :-).  We saw Macaws, Toucans, Parrots, and a few other birds that had more exotic names I can't remember. At the end of the aviary, two men were holding birds and they put them on your shoulders for you to take a picture.  If you shook your fist, they spread their wings, which is a reflex because they think they might fall off.  We all enjoyed looking at these birds, because they were so colorful and we all commented on how they were God's creation and that He is so creative and magnificent.
      We got back on the truck and rode back into the city of Copan and we stopped at a shop where we looked around for souvenirs or gifts for family.  There were street vendors outside the shop selling very similar jewelry, and you had to bargain with them.
      When we were done, we went to the hotel to get our stuff and as we were waiting outside the bus, Fredy came up to me and asked me a question I will never forget. He said, "Do you love God?" At first, I was startled by the question, but I said yes.  He asked me again and now, having heard the question before, I said yes very quickly.  I didn't catch on to what he was doing though.  Then he asked me another time, and I said yes, but I said it like a question because I was wondering why he was asking me this.  Then he said, "You didn't sound too sure!" Then I remembered John 21, the story where Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, and Peter had done the same thing I did.
      I didn't know what to say after that, but Fredy asked me to recite Romans 8:28, the verse I had talked about at Bible Study.  I recited it, and he nodded, like he wanted me to remember that verse.  I had just confirmed with Fredy that I do love God, and the verse talked about how God works for the good of those who love him.  It doesn't mean that my life will be perfect and free of worry, but God is working for my good.  It took me the whole day to figure this out, and I thought a lot about what Fredy had asked me.  I believe that was the Holy Spirit working through Fredy, but I don't know exactly why, I just know that I'm very blessed to have known Fredy on this trip.
      During the bus ride we slept, and then ate snacks and sang a bunch of songs.  Fredy said he loved our singing!  As we got off the bus, we realized that multiple people hadn't been feeling too well, but we hadn't said anything.  Jennie, Miriam, Abby and Katie had some form of a stomach ache, fever or headache.  I will save you the gory details, but we were talking about maybe this was a bit of spiritual warfare.  We had come off of a few great days of serving God, and encouraging each other as christian friends, and now we were sick.  I don't believe in coincidences!
       We knew that we would be doing a lot of work painting tomorrow so we all prayed for healing.  A few of the people who felt good went swimming but everyone else just watched or read.  We had dinner, and a lot of us ordered chicken soup.  Abby and Miriam left for bed early, and we prayed that they would feel better tomorrow.
       Please pray that we would be healed and that we will be well enough to paint and serve God with everything we have.  He has already overcome the world, and no sickness is bigger than God!