Blog: October 2010
Praise the Lord! Because of your support, prayers, and generosity, the total amount of funds for both service trips to Honduras and Malawi has been raised. God is so good, and so faithful! Because of your generosity the sites of UrbanPromise Honduras and UrbanPromise Malawi will be blessed. The children of Honduras and Malawi will be provided with more opportunities to pursue education, success, and a brighter future. Thank you so much!
I am nearing the end of my second week here in Honduras and it is starting to feel like home. I am able to communicate and understand the children a little better, and they have latched onto me as if I were one of them, helping me work on my Spanish, holding my hand, and showing me their projects. I am able to help some of the students who go to a local bilingual school with their homework. I quiz them in Spanish, and they answer me in English--this way we both are able to practice. Every day we walk 30 minutes down dirt, gravel or muddy paths, across streams, and through garbage piles to Camp Hope, the after school program in a local aldea. An aldea is another name for an outer- lying village from Copan where many of the poorer, indigenous people live. Our after school program for this time of year serves this aldea and the children from this poorer community.
The children we serve come to camp every day, ready to do their homework and cooking experiments, have English class, have a snack, and listen to a Bible lesson. They are just as children should be, with big smiles on their faces, laughing, playing games, chasing each other around, without a care in the world. But they are different than most children in many ways. They come to camp in their dusty, dirty clothes, with shirts that don’t fit them, holes in their pants, and sometimes with no shoes on their feet. They walk from a mile or less away to come to camp, by themselves, through the rugged terrain. A few of the kids carry their baby brothers, sisters, and cousins with them because they play the role of care giver in the family during certain times. They have skinny arms and legs, and a few have little bellies that stick out from lack of good nutrition. Most of the children we work with are shorter than the more Hispanic descent population in Copan. Their nutrition is not what it should be for a growing child, so they do not grow in the ways that “healthy” children should grow. They are beautiful, playful, loving, innocent children, showing the face of God to those around without even knowing it. These are many of the children that we serve.
Wednesday after camp we were invited to one of our little camp girls, Yeslin’s, birthday party. She lives in a little house about a 10 minute walk up the mountain. We walked into the back of the house where there were boards of wood laid with stones on either ends of them to create benches for about 25 or so children who crowded the back, dirt floor, open birthday party area. There were a few men who were playing guitars and singing birthday music, and about 4 or 5 extremely skinny dogs running around trying to steal the kids’ food from their plates. We quickly became the source of entertainment as “gringas” (white people) and so different than the people they normally see. The family was so generous in making us feel welcome, offering us our own plates of food for dinner and a glass of coca-cola, which is a special treat for most of the children. . We were welcomed as family although we had never been there before.
This is something that I have experienced over and over again during these past two weeks in Copan-- a simple, loving form of generosity--the giving of so much from people who have so little, people who don’t even know me. I am offered meals, drinks, and gifts. I am so blessed by these people’s generosity, I can learn so much from their example. Nothing we have is our own--it is a gift and blessing from the Lord. Who am I to hold onto my money, food, car, clothes, and time as if it were my own? Who am I to hold onto the things I have been so blessed with when people who barely have enough to sustain themselves give so generously?
The UPH staff is traveling back to UrbanPromise in Camden NJ in about 2 weeks for the UrbanPromise summit. The three full-time leaders-- Blair, Rachel, and Matt, will be running a half marathon while there. We are nearing the end of the school year for the kids from the after school program, in which we take them on special trips to local places around Copan. I will be creating a fundraiser for the half marathon to help send the kids on these trips.
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers. I appreciate all your support and miss you all very
- Thank the Lord for my host grandmother Maria’s successful surgery. She is back in Copan this week and seems to be recovering well.
- For the fundraiser to come together for Camp Hope’s special end of the year trips, and for funds to come in for that trip.
- For the details to come together as I begin to plan for my time of service in Malawi.
- For me to truly immerse myself in this circumstance-- to embrace the people, culture, children, language, and program while I am here--to focus on what the Lord has for me here.
Hola mi familia and amigos from Copan Ruinas Honduras!! What an amazing place, people, culture, and ministry--the journey begins. I am so blessed to have the next eight weeks ahead of me to serve and work in Copan with the people and ministry here. God is so faithful and provided me with safe and fairly easy travels. I spent the night in the LaGuardia airport to catch my flight at 5:40 a.m. to Dallas, Texas. I had 30 minutes once my plane landed to make my transfer to my next flight to San Pedro Sula. I was a little worried about the short amount of time that I had between flights. If we left the least bit late from LaGuardia I would miss my connecting flight to San Pedro Sula. Knowing the Lord’s faithfulness and that people were praying for me, I put it in the Lord’s hands--and my first flight actually got into Dallas airport 30 minutes early, giving me 1 hour before my next flight took off. His faithfulness continued as the flight from Dallas to San Pedro Sula Honduras went well and got in on time, along with my luggage. From the San Pedro Sula airport I had to find and catch a bus to the city of Copan. By God’s grace I was able to find the bus kiosk in the airport and purchase my ticket with the little Spanish I know. After a four hour long, curvy, hilly bus ride I found myself in the bus station in Copan to be picked up by Blair, the director of UrbanPromise Honduras (UPH).
My first few days in Copan have been focused on getting settled into my new house with my host family, meeting the kids from our program, getting to know the leaders of UPH, exploring Copan, working on my very rusty Spanish, and simply seeking the Lord’s presence in this place. I am living with a host family right across the narrow cobblestone street from our UPH office. My host mother’s name is Brenda. She and her 11 year old daughter Angie are so welcoming. I love being a part of their family already. Angie gave up her room for me to stay in, and she and Brenda sleep in the same room together. Brenda’s house is right next door to her sister Carla’s house. I eat my meals at Carla’s house with her family and the many guests that she has in and out of her house each day. Carla hosts many different types of people in her house. She has a few extra rooms and rents them out to travelers, people taking Spanish lessons in the Spanish school down the road, and one of my new friends and soon to be new AfterSchool Program Director, Katie. Katie has dedicated the next two years of her life to live here in Copan and run the AfterSchool Program and Summer Camps for the children we serve. She already is a wonderful friend and so helpful when it comes to speaking and understanding Spanish.
So far I have played in a football (soccer) game with some of the local Hondurans and some of our staff, helped with a special scavenger hunt for some of the kids, walked an hour and 45 minutes to the top of a mountain to visit the sweetest, most joyous young woman I have ever met who lives more simply than any of us could ever imagine, attended a Spanish church service and was so blessed to worship with believers from Copan, walked the 30 minute very strenuous hike to Camp 8 times, had my first Spanish lesson, and have begun to form loving, life-changing relationships with those around me. It has only been one week and the Lord has already done so much. I will be working a few days in the office with some of the full-time staff, working on some fund development projects in order to sustain and grow their programs to reach more of the children and surrounding communities. I will also be working with the children and staff in Camp a few days a week, assisting with Bible lessons, English class, homework help, games and special activities, and simply forming meaningful, loving relationships with the children in our camps.
It is such a unique and blessed experience to be a part of this community. To be loved and accepted despite my cultural differences, lack of understanding and ability to know and speak the language. I begin a regular schedule next week and can’t wait to get into the routine of things and see what the Lord is going to do.
-That I will be able to learn Spanish quickly. I am taking classes at a Spanish language school down the road three days a week. I can get by but still have a lot to learn. I practice it with my host family and the children. It is difficult for me to understand those around me because they speak so quickly.
-For my host grandmother Maria. My host mother Brenda has to take her to Guatemala for the next few days because she is getting surgery to remove kidney stones.
-That the rest of the funds needed for my second service trip to Malawi will come in. $600 of support still needs to come in.
-For the Children of camp Hope. For their health, salvation, and future. They are from a very poor community yet have some of the richest spirits I have ever seen. That I will be able to show them the love of Christ despite my language barrier and cultural differences.
The group arrived in three sets and today we split into three groups again! Peter, Carol, Dylan, John and Tony are headed out of Malawi today to begin their journey home. Will, Kim, and Molly extended their trip and will be with Rise Malawi in the rural village in Dowa for two days, then return to the city to see Christ Cares before departing on Thursday. I will spend time in a conference with our leaders, then head back to Blantyre in the south to spend more time with Rays of Hope and will depart from there. It has been an amazing trip and I believe I speak for the whole group when I say that we were so blessed to be here. Thank you for your prayers and support. We want all of you to come soon!
A message from Will in Malawi Yesterday we visited Project TEACH's after school program in Luchenza. Attendance was lower than usual because the headmaster of the school passed away. We still had a good turnout with about 23 students.
John, one of TEACH's leaders, introduced us to all the students and then all of the students introduced themselves to us. All of us on the trip are always amazed at how well the children behave when we visit the different ministries and this was no exception.
Because the head leader, Sullivan, was away for the funeral of a close friend, Tony stepped in for the daily devotion. Tony demonstrated his gift by telling an inspirational and encouraging story which the children, leaders and all in our group enjoyed.
After the children had a snack and drink they joined Carol, Kim, Tony, Molly and Lindsey in a classroom set up for painting the fabric backpacks we brought with us. The children LOVED the backpacks!
The boys and girls then joined Peter, John, Dylan and Will for several Minute to Win It games. Everyone was screaming with excitement.
We all joined the children for a game of soccer. This must have been the highlight of Dylan's day as he LOVES soccer!
This morning Sullivan lead us for a hike up Mt Mulanje. This was both challenging terrain as well as a steep climb. We were rewarded at the top of our climb with a dip in a watering hole at the bottom of a large waterfall. Most of us jumped from a large boulder about 10 ft above the water. The water was both refreshing and FREEZING!
Stay tuned for the next update. Thanks for your support and God bless.
We all got up early to make the long trip from Lilongwe to Blantyre. Peter Gamula (CCM) accompanied us to make sure we stayed on track. Arrived in Blantyre at 12:30 to pick up Willie from Rays of Hope. Went to Willie's house (and office for RoH) for introductions to camp leaders (5) and to see demonstrations on their computer skills. Each one had prepared a Powerpoint presentation on their church. Good work. Then on to after school program at a local school - over 90 children at the after school program which included devotions, lessons, crafts and games delivered to very respectful, well-behaved and eager children. Their school was in major disrepair with no classroom furniture. Commitment of the leaders is amazing. One young man, Arthur, is a volunteer because he does not want to be idle. Full, wonderful day!
(By Carol McWilliams)