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!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Exploring the Mayan Ruins

Thursday, July 16th

       Bible Verse: "For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Ephesians 3:14-19.  Gabby led us in a very engaging bible study all about the power of the Holy Spirit, although we ended up talking a lot about prayer, which is very important on trips like these.  We also shared with the group some of our reactions to painting the shelter.
       Margarita said that she was amazed at what can be accomplished when you do something in the name of God.  As she was walking around the shelter looking at everything that had been painted, she thought back to the first meeting we had, and how our group came together and how the perfect amount of money was raised,.  We all agreed that God's hands have been at work in this trip and it is by His power that we are here.  We all feel so blessed to be a part of something like this!
      Jennie said she gained a lot of perspective on how much we take for granted.  She was asking herself, 'Why does God let people live like this?' as her eyes were opened to how people lived.  Mrs. Kluitenberg said that there was power in the name of Jesus, and people recognize that all across the world.  She encouraged us to call on his name because of that power.

Bethany showing us how huge the tree behind her is.

Posing on some ruins.  

 Middle class houses in the ruins.

More middle class houses in ruins.

 The Copan river makes the soil extremely dark and fertile.

 All of us girlies, posing, again!

 Beautiful (and very loud) birds live in the ruins.

Where the Mayans competed in games.  Two teams would bounce a ball off of their body and the slanted walls and try to keep it in the air for as long as possible. 

 Looking out over the plaza from the top of a ruin.

 Miss Grachen photobombed this!

 Sister picture!

 I took this from the bus.  This is where some people live.

 How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop? Too many.

 Beautiful mountains visible from the bus.

 We bought these dolls from kids in Copan. 

 Mayan selfie!

 We even got Fredy to pose.

These steps were ginormous. 

 Jenny and Gabby aren't sleeping, but we were extremely tired!

See the rainbow we make with our shirts?

       After three days of hard work, our team took a break to visit the Mayan ruins in Copan.  It took us three longs hours of driving in the bus to get there, which gave us a great view of the Honduran country side.  A lot of us slept on the bus because we were so tired!
       When we got to the hotel, a girl and a boy walked up to us selling straw dolls, saying that they were hungry.  We politely said no gracias, but Jennie felt very bad for them.  The next time we saw kids selling dolls, Jennie, Bethany, Katie and Miriam bought some for one U.S. dollar each.  While we were eating lunch at a pizza restaurant, another girl said she would give us a doll and sing the national Honduran anthem for us if we gave her some money.  Miss Grachen gave her ten dollars in Honduran money, and the girl bravely sang the national anthem, which was actually in the Chortis language of the Honduran indigenous people.  Miss Grachen, who knew parts of the national anthem, said she did a very good job.  It was adorable.
       They showed us a card that explained why they were selling dolls.  The dolls are made by women of Maya Chorti village community, and the children sell them to help their families in their daily struggle for survival.  It's not the dolls that are important when we bought one.  It was the fact that we are helping a community, which is all we wanted to do.
       After lunch, we visited two Mayan ruin sites.  The first one, which was smaller, ran beside the Copan river and had a lot of middle class houses and plazas.  I was surprised to learn that much of the ruins have not been excavated yet.  We saw many random hills in the ground that were actually buildings buried overtime by dirt, grass, and trees. Miss Grachen was excited to go to this site because she had never gone to this specific one before.
       The larger Mayan ruin site had plazas, altars, stelas, and audience seats for competitive games.  Our guide described how the best players in the competitive games were sacrificed, since it was considered an honor to be with the Gods.  Many of the buildings in the ruins were built in different time periods during the Mayan reign, and some of them were even built on top of each other. A lot of our time was spent posing for pictures with the ruins in the background, some of which we posted above. We also saw lots of wildlife, including birds, and many insects. 
       We left the ruins and went straight to dinner and while we ate it started raining, which hopefully will cool down the temperature tomorrow.  Then we went back to the hotel and all of the students met in one room for one of the best nights of my life.
       We all took turns sitting on a stool or on a bed and every person went around the room and said encouraging words, for example what they like about the person, and we listed what made the person special.  We talked about what people were good at, and how amazing their faith is, and how much they make us laugh.  To do all eight girls, it took us two and a half hours, and almost every single person was crying at one point in time. Everyone had a lot to say, and we were laughing a lot as people recounted stories, and told inside jokes.  I have never seen such a closer group of friends, and we all expressed how much we wanted to get to know someone else in the group.  God has blessed us all with an amazing group of girls that want to encourage each other and build each other up, and we all experienced a little bit of heaven last night, which is something I will never forget!