Monday, May 19, 2014

Halfway There

Today, Monday, was a harder day. Well at least it seemed that way to me. It could be that yesterday we simply went to church and the beach, so back on the work grind could've simply been why it seemed harder. Like usual we got up early, hiked to the top of prayer mountain and had a devo of sort followed by time for prayer, reading or meditation. Our 'lesson' today centered on what keeps us from full-heartedly giving ourselves to God. What holds us back? Something Clay said really registered with me this morning. He said a lot of people are afraid that by giving everything to God they'd end up living in a hut in Africa. This didn't register with me because I, too, am afraid of living in Africa, no quite the opposite. I spent 30 minutes asking God why I haven't strongly considered making work like this a permanent lifestyle? If I am one the few individuals willing to embrace a 'hut in Africa' why haven't I already done it? While I sat there overlooking the valley of the mountain I couldn't help but think that God has given me an opportunity to pursue my education and truly make something out of it. As ready as I am to pack my bags, I can't really offer anything than manual labor. I have no income, no trade, and am on no way prepared enough to communicate. With that said, I was filled with the excitement that one day if I continue pursuing me education I will be ready. I fully understand God doesn't call the prepared, but prepares the call, but I think it would be a disservice to all involved should I quit school and move to another country at only 20 years old. Props to you that have done it though! So instead I pray God gives me an open window. I pray he gives me the knowledge and discernment to know when the time is right. Call me and I will go. Our meditation this morning was wonderful, and it got me thinking and praying for my future, but that was only the start of the day. Afterwards we ate another delicious breakfast and we had to wait around for a while. We got a later start because we were waiting to see if we needed to take a mechanic with us to Las Pitas. Don't hold me to that spelling because I'm not from here haha. Anyway with the trip being two hours, we wanted the first set of people to get there and try to fix the generator so in case they couldn't fix it we could bring him along. Turns out the mechanic wasn't needed, and we rolled out about two hours than usual. Two hours doesn't seem like much, but when you consider that we usually have finished half of our work and are eating lunch, our late arrival set us back. Upon our arrival, Hector surprised us with a treat. La gorobo (sp?) aka lizard. We ate our lizard tacos which were fantastic and then set about our work. Today we did a lot of the work without our main constructor. So it was kinda chaotic. We couldn't find the tools we needed and so on. Also it was significantly hotter today compared to our usual morning work schedule. Regardless, we finished our two outhouses. The process may have been chaotic, it may have included Cason accidentally pouring cement all over me and my hair (which I really hope comes out before I come home for the wedding) and it most certainly included good food, but regardless we finished the jobs and left with many thanks from the families. Today was also unique because I had the opportunity to sit down with Jarrod's wife and discuss the work she does in the clinic. She is a Nurse Practitioner and manages the clinics run by Mission Lazarus. In our thirty minutes talking I learned a lot. I learned of the struggles she faces financially, the difficultly of getting the prescription medications she needs, and also I learned about how she is in the process of 'revamping' their clinics. By this I mean that she is in the process of making the patients have more privacy all the while training locals the art of running the clinic. The way she spoke, and the passion she has for this work gave me chill bumps. It was almost as if God was whispering in my ear or that the Spirit was nudging me or preparing me. What she said next was truly no other than God answering a prayer from earlier that morning. She said that while they don't have a need for interns, she was considering have a student come down in the summers to assist her in the clinic. Preferably a future nurse. Bingo she said it. My eyes lit up and without a second thought I said such an opportunity would be right up my alley. I told her I would love to be considered and that I would be in contact with her should she decide to go through with such 'position' for next summer. Now if it ends up working out, who knows but God? I don't need to know details or have a set in stone plan, because nothing about mission work is set in stone, but in that moment I saw God opening a window that I prayed for this very morning. So while today's work was hard, my soul and heart were filled to the brim. We serve a faithful God, one who loves His people more than we can imagine. When I was filled with doubt and uncertainty, he reassured me that I'm on the right path. My day to come and serve people like this everyday will be here before I know it. For now we have a two hour trip home and then hopefully I can pick the concrete out of my hair and off my skin.

What I Live For

Mission work is my niche. I say that full-heartedly and confidently, because it is. There's something about stepping off a plane into a third world country that nourishes and awakens my soul. Where people are filled with fear , or even disgust at the lack of sanitation and poor living conditions, I feel like I belong. In a weird way, I envy these people. They have so little, but they are so full. Their hearts overrun with love and sense of family. They are generous beyond their means to us, Gringos, that can barely speak to them in broken Spanish. They feed us what little food they have to live on, and still do so insistingly and cheerfully. Before we left, I had a number of people tell me how brave I was and how I was doing such a 'good' thing. I was told so many things to such an extent I was almost embarrassed. I believe people have this vision of mission work, of it being glorious work where we come in and save those who we consider to be less fortunate. But to me it's not this way at all. I am humbled everyday, and convicted in every moment. Where people think I am helping these Honduran families, I can honestly say I am leaving with so much more. While we leave each family with an outhouse, we leave spiritually full, with a better understanding of Christ our savior. We humble ourselves, to serve these families who in reality are helping us in a way that will benefit us eternally. So no the work isn't glamorous, but it's still beautiful. There's just something about being on your hands and knees paving concrete and constructing an outhouse that not only fills my soul, but I know pleases my Creator. It's even better when a Honduran constructor complements you on your work haha. It's only been two days, yet we've already learned so much. Where the roads are long and terrifyingly bumpy, the coffee is sweet, homemade chicken soup and tortillas fill our bellies, and where we are strangers, this place seems more like home. It's always easy to hear God on trips like this. To be surrounded by his nature, and people who have full trust and faith that he will provide for them on a day-to-day basis, makes it easy to see and hear him. I can't help but feel my heart and soul being pulled towards work like this. This isn't my first mission trip and I'm confident it won't be my last. In my biggest dreams, which I know God is capable of working, I would love to have the opportunity to work down here for longer than a week. I would love to put my education to use, and give these families healthcare they need. Yet, as ready as I am to quit school and start working here, I know how important my education is. I know God has given me an opportunity to grow in my knowledge at school so I can one day better glorify him through it. For know I am content with that, but hold me to my word that I'll come back someday. Keep praying that God will open our eyes and hearts. Keep praying that His word will continue to grow and that these churches will continue to flourish. I speak for our entire team when I say we are blessed and so very happy to serve.

To the Work

So what exactly are you doing in Honduras? I mean I didn't know until I got to Mission Lazarus what work we would be doing. While I feel like my family was concerned about my lack of knowledge about the details of the trip, I simply trusted that the Spirit had led me this far and that he would see we had work to do. On our first night we had a debriefing about the expectations Mission Lazarus had and the work we would be doing. I have full respect and truly love the mission of Mission Lazarus. They don't simply give hand outs, but in an effort to stop dependency work alongside the locals. So when it comes to our work project, the families are expected to dig a 10 foot deep hole that is approximately 50 inches wide. That's where we come in. We build up and level out the hole with rocks first. Then we mix concrete (which we now really have the hang of) and then layer some of it out to make the hole more level. Then we lay the concrete slab and poor more concrete on it. All the while, we the girls are usually building the actually outhouse out of metal sheets that we screw together. Then you place the concrete seat, and place the metal house around it. Lastly you put on the door. It seems simple, and sometimes it is, but other times we have have to haul all of the materials (buckets, concrete, slab, metal, rocks) long distances, and up hills to get to the hole. On our first day, Paden and Cason, with the help of Hector, had to haul the 300-400lb slab a half mile. Keep in mind the roads aren't paved, there's tons of hills, so this act alone took at least 30 minutes and I feel like our boys are feeling the burn today. The goal is to build two a day, and we've got it down to an art. The boys deal with the heavy lifting, Shelby and Kelci are pros at assembling and I'm a runner (although I might add I'm pretty good at mixing concrete and pouring it down to smooth it out). Our first house took 2 hours and now it takes about an hour. What I love about the process is that it's us and the families working together. We only have one man who is bilingual, but somehow we manage to communicate. Usually we just all piece together what little Spanish we know in hopes of getting our point across. The process is fun and hard work all the same. The families feed us, which is awesome! The kids love to watch and it's just a great experience. Thus far our days have basically been us getting up at 5:30 to go hike up to a prayer mountain. We spend anywhere from a hour and half to two hours in mediation and prayer. It's a beautiful way to watch the sun rise and feed your soul. Then we eat breakfast and load up to make the 2 hour drive up in the mountains to work. Whenever we finish, we head back to Mission Lazarus for dinner, lots of coffee, and good conversation. The cabins we are staying in are extremely nice, and they even have hot clean water which is a rarity on trips such as these. I feel like we are staying more at a resort than the usual lodging for a mission trip. So basically we drive a lot, drink lots of sweet sweet coffee, work hard, and end our day with full bellies and lots of laughs. It's almost a fairytale for mission work. Oh that's the other thing, we have wifi which is how we are able to share pictures and communicate. So hopefully I can keep updating my blog, but for now Hasta Luego!