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Homeward Bound

Today we fly back home to re-engage with families, jobs, and daily routine. We're thankful for a safe week, for the care given us by the ODM staff, for the leadership of Marsha and Pastor Jeremy, for the med squad that kept us going, and for the team unity that made the week's activities enjoyably productive. And for those back home who have supported this mission team in many ways.The bodega is much improved, and the window frames and screens look good. The stories of Jonah and the Good Samaritan were retold in creative ways. Families from the Tocoa community were fed, clothed, and medicated. Crafts were crafted, parties were partied, and our 2018 team plaque was hung in place. Children and adults together shared names and smiles, informal bilingual learning, and occasional goofy behavior. It's not too much of a stretch to say God was glorified in those diverse ways this week. After all, Sunday is not enough.

"We Are Not Divided, All One Body, We"

This week we've had some fun playing with a supposed rivalry between two factions of our team. The division is based on which of the two vans you rode in during the long ride from the airport to La Ceiba and then Tocoa. Yep. Somehow it has come up in conversations throughout the week. The A Team v the B Team. Lots of good material to joke about.Today's title comes from a line in an old, well-known hymn. Too bad it's not always true. Sad divisions can be found not only in our secular world but even within the body of Christ.One thing becomes clear when spending time here with Ministerios Puerta Abierta, Open Door Ministries. There are real differences between the world of Tocoa, Honduras and Arnold, Missouri, USA. Ethnicity and language, of course. Transportation and the unwritten driving rules. Food. Construction methods and standards. Drinking water and sanitation. Lawn mowing. Armed guards at stores, checkpoints on the highway, high walls around the residences--except fo…

Thinking, Hoping, Believing

We're preparing for our last full day in Tocoa. We think, hope, and believe the end of this day will see the bodega (storage room) at the orphanage impressively organized and the windows at the girls' home looking good with repaired screens and freshly varnished frames. The cocina wall will sport an improved look when (thanks to "board chairperson" Kelley) our new 2018 St. John's team plaque takes its place beside our 2016 team plaque, joining the artistic efforts from other churches that have sent teams. The unofficial ODM baseball team may or may not show improved play on their makeshift field, but Mike and Martha shared their best coaching wisdom. Synchronized swimming, of the improvised variety, also made its appearance for the first and possibly last time by two team members as we relaxed around the pool one evening. It's good to have some laughter while on a mission trip, and certainly laughing, playing, and singing with the children is a key activity. …

Pie and cake

Pie and cake is the shortened form of easy as pie, piece of cake and can be translated as no problemo. For example:"Could you please get rid of the malware on my laptop, replant the hostas, help Samantha with her synchronized swimming routine, and bring me a beam stretcher from the garage?""Sure. Pie and cake."The team's activities went quite well yesterday. The midweek chapel, featuring a skit by the children, got the day off in great fashion. The replacement of the water tank at the feeding station, complete with new valve fittings and a drain plug that fit perfectly, went faster and easier than expected. The distribution of food and parasite medication at the other feeding station was smooth. The re-organization of several years' supplies in the bodega is moving along. The rain that came yesterday afternoon was too light to disrupt the sanding, framing, and varnishing of window screens at Casa Grande, the girls' home. The children and adults continue…

The Rains Came

Yesterday morning went well. Work at Casa Grande, the girls' home, moved along nicely with screens repaired and window frames varnished. We had established a routine that was working. Meanwhile, team members prepared for our second feeding station trip, which this time would include handing out clothing along with food and medicine. When the time came, the entire team arrived at the feeding station and carried out that project successfully. By lunchtime our plans had gone quite well."The rains came and the wind blew..." according to one New Testament parable. For us, the rain and wind came suddenly just as we had finished lunch and we're thinking about starting our afternoon. Lots of heavy and prolonged rain and more wind than anything we'd experienced here. Unlike the house in the parable that was built on sand ("and great was its fall!"), buildings in Tocoa are built of solid concrete blocks that withstand storms. We stayed safe in the cocina and conn…

Typical Day

To be clear upfront, there are no typical days in the sense of routine, predictable schedules. There are, however, some things common to our days here in Tocoa.The children. The core reason we came. Playing, talking through the language barrier, hugging, and smiling are important parts of our days. And, more importantly, their days!Unpacking, sorting, repacking, carrying, and distributing the supplies we brought along. The kids like to help as they can--partly because they're interested in what's in the containers but also because they genuinely like to help.Meal times. Watermelon, pineapple, bean and rice, tortillas, eggs, chicken, potatoes, bananas, etc., etc. Local Honduras cuisine, nutritious and tasty. A time to relax with all team members sitting together.The weather. So far this week has brought heat, humidity, sun, clouds, occasional brief downpours or light rain. Yesterday we enjoyed cooling breezes. (We'll, sort of cooling.) We can count on sweating each day.Feed…

On Honduran Time

The week has begun. It began an hour too early yesterday for two team members. Their alarm went off at the right time for the wrong time zone (Central Time), while the rest of the team enjoyed the added hour sleep that the Honduran time zone (same as Mountain Time) gave us.Honduran time also differs in other ways from our time back home, where most of us admire and aim for clockwork efficiency, trying to pack the most accomplishments into the least time. In contrast to that approach, yesterday's worship service, meals, afternoon birthday fiesta, and intervals in between all proceeded in leisurely ways. It takes getting used to. The relaxed pace gave us plenty of extra time with the kids--but of course that interaction was not "extra free time." It's a huge reason we're here. The work and service accomplishments are important, but time spent with children is never wasted.We did accomplish some preparations for this week's tasks. The supplies we brought along a…