Our Honduras mission team has been given the opportunity to do a make-up trip for the one we were not able to take in June. We now have an even larger team of 6 adults and 8 youth that will travel to Honduras on December 28th and return on January 5th of 2020. This will be a really special trip because we will be spending New Years with the children and youth at LAMB’s Children’s Home (Casa Hogar) in San Buenaventura. We have even more blankets, games, art supplies and tools packed and ready for the trip.
Sadly I must advise that our ECOHS sponsored mission team to Honduras had to cancel our trip. Political unrest with protests and road blockages across much of the country would have made it difficult for us to complete our work. Amanda Scott, volunteer coordinator for LAMB in Honduras, advised us that we should not travel there during our scheduled week starting June 22nd. We will be working with Amanda to determine some other opportunities for some of our members to travel to Honduras later this year. Right now, LAMB is operating on a week by week basis with mission groups as they monitor the situation.
Several of our parishioners were able to travel down to Honduras on June 14th as part of the other Atlanta team. They were able to interact with an Alonzo Movement group in Flor del Campo, spend Sunday at the Children’s Home and work two days there on projects. They also went to the Valley of the Angels for a mid-week break. However, because of the protests, they stayed at the Casa LAMB residence house for the last two days before flying home to Atlanta. Three of our youth had planned to stay and join us for the second week, but that was cancelled because of the situation and all came home safely on June 22nd.
Thanks to all who contributed clothing, toys, over the counter meds and hand made blankets for the trip. Many of these did make it to Honduras and were greatly appreciated by the children and staff of LAMB. The remaining items will go down on future trips as we get the opportunity to take them.
Some of our Holy Spirit Gang doing their thing in Honduras:
Well, it was 0-dark-30 (5:30 AM) and quite cool when I left the ECOHS parking lot with Jannai, Colleen, Luke and Carol. There were also four large bags, four carry-ons and four backpacks. We had a speed limit ride straight to the International Terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and pulled up in front just as the folks from St. David’s/St. Aidan’s arrived. Bags were quickly unloaded and Atlanta team #1 with our four intrepid ECOHS missioners were off to Honduras.
0-dark-30 departure from ECOHS parking lot. From left to right: Luke, Colleen, Jannai & Carol.
Please check the blog maintained by team #1 leader Amy Hill for the happenings during the week of 6/14-6/22 at: http://aeh-hondurasmt.blogspot.com/
It’s that time again! On Saturday, June 8th, we met with the other Atlanta team at St. David’s Episcopal Church in Roswell and had our big joint packing party. For just the Holy Spirit team we filled three large bags with all the over the counter meds, soccer balls, volley balls, candy, coloring books, crayons, Oreos, stick on tattoos and, oh yes, Sumo Bumpers!!!! The Sumo Bumpers were such a hit two years ago, that we decided to take some again. We also helped the other Atlanta team pack up all the PJs, underwear and beanie babies that we have helped them collect for their week in Honduras.
Back at Holy Spirit we have two more large bags that are stuffed to the gills with small blankets for all the babies, children and youth at the Children’s Home in San Buenaventura…nearly 60 of them. Special thanks to the ECOHS In-Stitches group for knitting or sewing most of these. We also have some very cute “lovies” that were knitted for the really little ones by Ro Woodhead. I am still amazed that we got all the blankets and lovies into just two large bags. Next trick will be getting them to Honduras and doing an orderly distribution!
Well, Mother Bonnie (aka MoBo) has passed the baton to me, Jay Franklin, to lead this team in 2019. Only hope I can do half as good a job as MoBo. Commissioning of the Holy Spirit Mission Team took place at the end of 10 AM service on Sunday, June 2nd. Mother Mandy, our new interim Rector, did the honors. We were short a few team members, but had ECOHS missioners that are going the first week with the St. David’s/St. Aidan’s team, the 2nd week with the Holy Spirit team and some that are crossing over and doing both weeks! This is the first time our two Atlanta teams have been back-to-back. Those in attendance were: Jannai Ahadzi, Kennedy Allemand, Colleen Norris, Luke Blair, Carol Franklin, Jay Franklin and Amy Hill, leader of the other team who stood in for Samantha Goldberg. Each left with a cross and the charge to “go out into the world and be the church!” Next up: Packing Party at St. David’s.
It’s now Monday, and for family and friends, you all know that we made it back safely on Saturday. But it seems right and good to close out this year’s trip with a few words about our return trip home.
Everyone really did a great job of getting ready to go. I’m proud to say there was minimal scrambling as we did our final checks on weighing bags to be checked (thanks, Jay!) and got all luggage staged for transport back to the airport. Not a lost passport to worry about ANYWHERE!
Plus, the added bonus of an uneventful and on-time trip to the airport, which helped us to beat the big crowds to the check-in lines, in order to get plenty of table space in the food court!
No surprises going through security as we’d already been warned that there would be MANY checks and rechecks of our bags and our persons as we slowly made our way through screening before getting to the gates and then again before getting on the plane.
The plane landed on time, although for a while we had hoped we would get in early. Unfortunately, delays in Atlanta (imagine it was weather related) had us circling for a bit, but we made up for that time with the fastest trip through customs I’d ever had for a group! Word of advice: ALWAYS use the Mobile Passport app when returning to Atlanta on an international flight. What a time saver!
For our families, be aware that returning home can be harder than we may expect. We left with a sense of adventure, anticipating newness, change, and challenges. Some may have experienced a sense of community and closeness that we don’t have at home or a feeling of purposefulness that we don’t always feel. So don’t be surprised if there’s a kind of reverse culture shock as we return.
Encourage your missioner (because I sure have!) to keep a journal and write a reflection, including things like:
- Where did I see Christ this past week?
- What activity or situation really touched me or troubled me? or both?
- How have I changed? And why?
- (Or whatever else seems to be on my heart)
Because taking the time to pause and process what we’ve seen and felt and heard DOES matter. Making time for listening, to perceive those nudgings of the Holy Spirit that moves in and around and through us, helps to guide us in ways that change how we interact and connect with others, leading us towards loving as Christ loves us. It’s a journey and it begins with small steps, like listening for God’s voice.
So be patient with our missioners and encourage us all to share, for these next steps can help to ensure that this trip is more than just another week in our lives. Rather, it’s a way to develop and deepen our relationship with Christ.
The last day of a mission trip to Honduras can be hard, particularly if anyone hates saying goodbye (like me). But that is what today’s about . . . closing the door on this trip, while opening us up to the possibilities of what may lie ahead.
We had our usual start: praying Morning Prayer together, sharing a marvelous breakfast, and taking off in the vans for a great workday. We completed our part of the project and memorialized the event by emblazoning our team name in an actual concrete foundation, soon to be covered by another team’s work on a wall — an important reminder that we all do our part — but only our part — in Christ, for no one does God’s work alone, but within the unified community of Christ’s body, the Church.
We also had a surprise blessing of new work for a few of our youth. This Saturday night there will be a Quinceañera, a “coming of age” party for the young Latin women of the children’s home who turn 15 this year. Although we’ll miss the actual party (we’ll already be traveling home), it was absolutely wonderful to participate in preparing the chapel for this special event.
Lunch, once again, was a time to come together with music and song and hear our friend, Angel, give his testimony to us all. He was especially encouraging of our youth. Of my many trips to Honduras, this week as been a truly spectacular time, with exceptional camaraderie and connection between our worksite leaders and our youth. A phenomenal gift!
Our afternoon flew by, and soon we were seeing the children for the final time. We attended a despedida, a farewell celebration with music and games and laughing and hugging. It was a marvelous time to gather and say goodbye. And although it’s always hard to leave, some youth were given some extraordinary parting gifts, like a child telling a team member just how much he’ll be missed. (Right, Luke?!)
And as if our hearts weren’t full enough, we also met the Safe House girls tonight, young girls saved from human trafficking. They entertained us with music and dance, and then taught our youth a new dance. What an amazing opportunity to witness what redemption can look like in the faces of these young girls who have suffered so much. Truly remarkable.
When we finally were alone as a team, we spent time preparing for our return spiritually with prayer and reflection and physically by packing. We’ll have a full day, with an early start tomorrow. We’re so grateful to have this dedicated time to strive to follow Christ, giving us an opportunity to experience what it can actually means to allow our hearts to be cracked wide-open by the power of the Spirit. I pray that having experienced a full and purpose-filled week that many of us may begin the journey of seeking to serve Christ in new ways, as we have discovered the wonder and beauty of seeing God’s hand in the world.
P.S. Not sure how she does it, but Colleen always manages to strike up connections with so many of God’s creatures!
We were back at the Children’s Home today and ready to go after a day of rest! We knew the routine, how to work with one another, and were filled with the desire to do our part to serve . . . while having some fun, too!
Our team seemed to organically align ourselves into two teams: the wall building team and the mescla/support team. Wall builders were helping to build row upon row of the wall: filling spaces within and between blocks and decoratively scraping the crevices after the mescla began to set. The support team made sure there was a ready supply of all materials by mixing mescla, gathering rocks and water and tools, and later cleaning and preparing the tools for a return to storage once tasks were completed. We worked effectively together, even managing to wrap up our work just as the rain set in — our first big cloudburst of the week. The rain didn’t continue long, but did a great job of soaking most of us through and through. But it was no big deal. There was no way a little water would prevent us from connecting with the children before heading back to the guest house for the day!
Today we also had a chance to share those individual moments that have been particularly meaningful to us: the times when we may have felt the Spirit guiding us, or noticed that our eyes were opened to see something new or unexpected, or felt that our hearts were breaking open. Sharing our personal reflections can be challenging, yet we’ve grown to love and trust one another this week, making it just a bit easier to be vulnerable. Then we celebrated a joyfully intimate Holy Eucharist and Healing Service, where all were invited forward for anointing and prayers of healing and support for ourselves and those we love. It was a beautiful, Spirit-filled time and for many, a time of renewal, hope, and comfort.
For our team, Thursday’s can be both wonderful and poignant. We know that our week is coming quickly to an end and that tomorrow will be filled with heartfelt good-byes. While we don’t want to miss a moment of today, we can’t help but notice that we’re beginning to move ahead, inching ever more quickly towards returning home. We’ll be happy to return, yet may feel changed by the Spirit who has drawn us here to open our hearts and minds to recognize that all people are God’s own beloved, and who teaches us that if we’re willing to take the time to truly see, we can witness God’s handiwork all around us.
Today’s was a marvelous change of pace! Instead of heading to the worksite at the Children’s Home, we traveled into Tegucigalpa to God’s Littlest Lamb’s School and Daycare to attend the weekly devotional, a high energy assembly of the entire school, focused on Christ. It was a joy to hear the uplifting music and the weekly reflection on Scripture before meeting with the staff. This school, located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tegucigalpa, not only focuses on education, but the overall well-being of the children and their families, mind, body, and spirit. The passion of the staff — from the principal, to the head of the daycare, to the director of the Alonzo movement— is so clearly evident as they explain how they care for the children and are available far beyond the normal work day to build community and assist families through life’s difficulties in support of the well-being of God’s littlest lambs.
From there, we became tourists. We first stopped at Arte Giancarlo’s, a local shop featuring handcrafted pewter and Honduran crafts, then lunch at a local restaurant, before heading to Valle de Angeles, a small town centered around a lovely square, filled with small shops for souvenir shopping. No trip to Valle is complete without a final stop for ice cream, a traditional team event each year!
After dinner at the guest house, Suzy McCall, the founder of LAMB, joined us for the evening to tell us her own story of coming to the mission field. Suzy has been a missionary for almost 30 years and recently celebrated her 15th anniversary with LAMB. She explained her continuing journey to learn and seek Christ’s guidance in her life and encouraged us all to continue towards spiritual maturity, moving beyond that starting point of a “me-focused” relationship with Jesus that may concentrate on personal salvation, and towards a deeper relationship with Christ that focuses on community. She talked about what it means to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves through her reflection on Hebrews 13:12, “Therefore, Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people with his own blood.” We were challenged to consider those in our own times who are the “outsiders” — immigrants, refugees, the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized — and how Jesus calls us to care for all our brothers and sisters in love and with compassionate caring.
Our day ended with Compline and singing . . . and the realization that our week here is halfway over. Two more days of work at the Children’s Home and we’ll be heading home. Time is flying by so quickly.
We’ve really pulled together as a team as we get (slightly) more proficient at the worksite. Today we had the chance to begin building part of the wall, requiring some of yesterday’s skills (mixing mescla, gathering rocks and more rocks, sifting sand) plus new, advanced skills, like forming conga lines to move cinder blocks and scoring the mortar to make a cinder block wall more attractive and working elbow to elbow. We have proven to be a marvelously trainable group! Yeah, us!
We had the phenomenal gift of being among the first to greet Emily Alexandra, the newest addition to the Children’s Home. She was an abandoned 3-month old child, but is now in the loving arms of LAMB Institute, warmly welcomed into this Christ-centered family. Everyone was excited to see her and it was marvelous to witness the children all greet their new sister in Christ with a hug or a kiss or a touch. Not every children’s home is capable of accepting children so young and it’s such a blessing to know that this ministry can help children of all ages.
At lunch we had the special treat of celebrating the birthday of Ariel, one of our worksite leaders, for the 2nd year in a row. Colleen, who had remembered this special event, made sure we were prepared with some marvelous cupcakes after a trip to PriceMart last night, which she described as a “Spanish CostCo.” Ariel was so touched that we remembered his special day.
Our time with the children each day has developed into a comfortable routine of friends spending time with one another. Today, our teen boys just hung out together, as boys will do. And there’s nothing quite like watching a co-ed volleyball game played with an interesting combination of soccer AND volleyball moves, while little ones on bikes and trikes scoot around the court. And to top off the day, we were surrounded by little ones singing and dancing “I Like to Move it, Move it” from Madagasgar. One of our youth, Leora, had begun the dance while playing hide and seek with a large group of children, when suddenly everyone had to match her steps, proving they knew the moves as well. Sports, music, laughter — a universal language.
After leaving the Children’s Home, we dashed back to the guest house to drop off our things before heading to the LAMB school to visit the Alonzo Movement, a ministry that provides hope-filled activities for young people. The energy and laughter was contagious, as our youth joined in with the relay races and soccer scrimmages with this club of 8-10 year olds. A truly joyful end to the day.
What are we learning? So many things. In very real ways, we’re experiencing what it means to recognize one another as beloved children of God. That different isn’t bad, it’s just different. And there’s so much more we can do when we’re united in following Christ’s path of loving God and loving our neighbor. Nothing is impossible with God.