Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Salem Baptist Church First Trip To Honduras - Welcome

At a medical clinic two years ago we gave Pastor Santiago, Martha, our housekeeper, and Rosa, our housekeeper's, brother some solicitations for homes in El Limonal.  A few days later he dropped by his solicitations not for homes but for a bridge.  Mike and I both looked at each other and said, "A bridge".  So all in God's timing this dream came true for El Limonal.  We prayed for just the team to take on such a task.  One which North Carolina Baptist Men of Honduras has not attempted.  We had a new team sign up for this year and we got to meet them one on one back in North Carolina.  We went over what is expected for medical and construction teams.  We talked over the options for about thirty minutes and Mike and I said what about the bridge.  Well, this was what the team agreed together they wanted to do for their first visit to Honduras.  We all joked about how this was new for all of us but we knew God was in control.  So Mike and I met with Pastor Santiago and Pastor Carlos at the point of origin for the bridge.  As the logistics were being discussed the community began to gather to observe.  They were curious of why their pastor and some North Americans were standing in the pit of the dry river bed.  Pastor Santiago called them down to share with them what their future will hold.  Pastor Santiago and several church members explained to their community God has finally answered their prayers.  They are receiving a bridge the week of June 11th.  He explained to them many people had promised the community this bridge and did not follow through with their promise.  But God is so faithful and their bridge is not coming from man but from GOD!!!!  All God's people say AMEN.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Matthew 7:7

Beginnings of a Bridge

As Pastor Santiago and Mike promised the team arrived on June 11th to assist in building El Limonal a much needed bridge.  For many years they crossed the swelling river during the rainy season on a log about one foot and a half in diameter and about twenty feet long.  During the week the team saw many of the people of the community cross over this make shift bridge carrying bicycles on their shoulders, their children, and may other heavy items across their only means of getting from one side to the other.  The people who lived on the far side of the bridge used this log to get across to bet to church, to school and to go to work. 
The team came excited and especially grateful for the outpour of the community.  Pastor Carlos worked with the community prior to the teams arrival getting the foundation ready for team. Quickly the North Americans learned what the meaning of community truly is by the lives of their new found friends.  Everyone came together and found where they were needed and the work began.
For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,
so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith;
if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach;
if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Roams 12: 4-8

Learning the Honduran Culture

Salem Baptist Church came ready to experience every aspect of Honduras they could possibly imagine.  Their second night with us they asked if they could try coconut water.  This team fell in love with the refreshing taste of their coconuts.  We refrigerated them and they were chilled to perfection.  They came in the first day filthy from working on their bridge which God had called them to clean.  I share with Topher his white shirt would not come clean in the "lazy man's machine" which is what Jose calls it.  So he wanted to be taught how to clean his clothes on the pilla.  Well here came Rhonda, Joe and Shelby with their laundry.  The next night Jim shared he wanted to learn how to clean his clothes on the pilla.  Going back to Topher's white shirt, he wore his white shirt to church on Sunday morning.  Topher enjoyed learning how to clean his clothes the Honduran style and appreciated the chance to experience the  "pilla machine"  He admitted his clothes got much cleaner with his pre cleaning technique.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Psalm 51:7

Devotions at the Job Site

North Carolina Baptist Men have started a new trend at lunch time.  They feed themselves physically but later have time in God's word.  Pastor Carlos shared his devotions without a translator.   A majority of the workers assisting with the bridge are not believers.  They do not have Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  They graciously stood by and listened to God's word shared by Pastor Carlos.  At one time Pastor Carlos shared tomorrow may be too late.  If you do not have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior you will go to Hell!!!  How true this is people.  If you do not believe that Jesus Christ died for your sins and have not received HIM as your Lord and Savior tomorrow may be too late.  I pray this for all you are reading this today.  This is the most important decision you will ever make in your entire life.

Our new friend Joe is not a preacher by trade.  He is a child of God who loves His Lord and Savior.  He is going to heaven when his journey on this earth is done.  Hallelujah!!!!!  Joe did our devotions the first evening.  He did his devotion on the book of Jonah.  What an amazing job our new friend Joe did going through the entire book.  Afterwards we ask him to share the story at the next day's devotion and if he would again preach on Sunday using the same message.  Joe was taken back a little but after what he shared during his devotional he said I would be honored to share God's word on both occasions.  We do not have to be an ordained pastor to share our love for Christ with others.  We just need to trust and obey which is what Joe did.  Praise the Lord, Joe, a humble servant, shared with a bunch of macho men from Honduras who do not think they need Christ and then again he preached it to the church members on Sunday.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosever believe in HIM will not perish but have everlasting life."
John 3:16


For three days there was VBS in the afternoon.  Topher planned the outside activities which consisted of relay races with the boys and girls.  The team divided the age groups into two groups.  While the bible story and craft were going on inside of the church, Topher had the others outside for the relay races and soccer.  One afternoon Nita shared the story of the Good Samaritan.  Nita gathered several of the children from the audience of seventy five to participate in a skit on the Good Samaritan.  She had a soccer ball and explained to the children what to do during the skit.  There was some bullies who came along and took the boys soccer ball away and left him bruised and injured.  Different children individually came by the injured boy and walked pass him or right over him without helping him.  But there was one young man who stopped to help the boy and took him home to get him more help until his family could come and get him.  The children enjoyed being apart of the bible story and acting it out.  Thank you Nita for doing such a great job and taking the time to make this new and fun for the children. 
But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.
Luke 10:33

Just Another Day At The Bridge

Mike and Jim went over to check on a future job in El Limonal.  While they were there a young man came up with an iguana he recently caught with his sling shot.  The young man had stun the iguana on one of his back legs.  Mike asked if he would share his treasure or maybe his supper with the North Americans.  Much to our surprise the ladies, Rhonda and Nita, on the team wanted to hold the iguana.  This young fellow brought quiet the entertainment to the North Americans.  This iguana was going to make one family a nice supper. 

Each day ladies from the community and church brought a snack and refreshments to the workers.  They enjoyed a cold cup of punch and one day had a hot dog bun with creama and refried beans.  Our friend Joe participated in a couple of those snacks and thoroughly enjoyed them.  There was a nice bit of shade for the workers each day to enjoy their morning and afternoon breaks.  The community of El Limonal were gracious with all they had.  A beautiful example of the hands and feet of Jesus.  During the lunch each day as well there was enough food for the twenty five workers and the others who came to watch.  The children got to share a plate of food as well.  Those ladies fed the 5000 that week.  Always had some left overs.
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,
Acts 2:46
Feeding the 5000
Matthew 14:13-21

Sunday full of Blessings

Sunday morning the team arrives ready for worship.  The Hondurans came from all directions on foot to worship the Lord.  They started out singing, "God is Good", "Thank You Jesus" and "I Am Waiting for that Day".  Topher was asked to read the scripture out of Luke 14:25-33, "The Cost of Being a Disciple."  There was a solo by Mercelle, "I Will Choose My God".  Then God used Joe in a mighty way this Sunday morning.  Joe shared the story of Jonah and The Whale.  God called Jonah to go and share the gospel with the people of Ninevah.  Jonah did not want to go to Ninevah.  They were evil and wicked people who lived in Ninevah.  So Jonah ran away from God and his calling for his life.  He got on a ship and skipped town.  A really bad storm came up and caused Jonah to fall out of the ship and end up in the belly of a whale.  While in the belly of the whale Jonah realized God was giving him a second chance to go and do what He had called Jonah to do.  Once Jonah prayed to God and asked forgiveness, the whale spit Jonah out and Jonah went to Nivevah to proclaim God's story. Thank you God for second chances.  God is a compassionate God.  God was compassionate to the evil people of Ninevah.  They repented of their sins.  Praise The Lord once again for second chances.  Jonah did not want to give these people a second chance.  He got made at God for wanting to do this for the people.  We can be this way sometimes as well.  Someone hurts us or makes us angry we do not want to forgive them.  This is our human side and not allowing God to work through us to forgive others.  God forgave us and in return we need to forgive others as well.  How quickly Jonah had forgotten what God had done for him.  He saved him from the belly of the whale.  God loves everyone even though we are sinners saved by God's grace.  Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," Our God is gracious, merciful, compassionate  and slow to anger.  He sent HIS SON on this earth to cover our sins by a brutal death on a cross.  He is the Perfect Lamb.  We should all run to God not away from God.  We may miss a huge blessing by running from God.  Joe shared about his shoulder surgery and how he almost did not come to Honduras because he was afraid he would not be any help to his team.  But God wanted me to come and made it very clear I, Joe, was to go to Honduras to help build El Limonal a bridge.  If I had stayed behind I would have missed out on seeing your beautiful community come together and show the North Americans what true community is about.  Years ago God also gave me a second chance to become His child.  I am grateful today for second chances and all the blessings I have received from God by his second chances.  If you do not know Christ as your Lord and Savior today I pray you will receive the sweetest and most important gift of all, Jesus Christ and an eternal home.  Joe thanked them for allowing him to share and for being in El Limonal this week.
Pastor Santiago shared some thougths and asked if there was any one who needed Jesus today or wanted to rededicate their lives to Christ.  Slowly as we sang four different people came forward and rededicated their lives to Christ. 

While Joe was preaching about Jonah, his daughter Shelby and their friend Topher, were teaching the same story in Sunday School.  Shelby did the entire lesson in Spanish.  She taught this lesson to two different groups.  While she had a break between classes Shelby went back in the worship service and sang, "Oceans" in Spanish for the adult congregation.  Thank you Shelby for using your God given talents for the kingdom of God.  The people love to hear North Americans share and speak their native language.  Job well done. 

After a full day of worship we had an afternoon to visit Mt. Horeb and share watermelon with our guys on Mt. Horeb.  Before the cold watermelon some of the folks climbed one of the smaller rocks to look out over the mountains and beauty of Honduras.  This was a restful afternoon and several of us reflected back years ago how on Sunday afternoon we took the time to set on our front porch with family or friends and simply relax.  This was an amazing afternoon full of friends, fruit and fellowship.  Thank you God for teaching us to be still and relax.
Please enjoy reading:
Luke 14:25-33
The Book of Jonah

Thank You Senor Cruz

Pastor Carlos called Mike on the second day saying they needed more boards to form up the bridge.  Mike went to the local hardware store and bought a few more.  Upon arriving on the project Maida shared how there was a miracle taking place here today.  What miracle was that Maida?  She shared how boards started appearing out of no where.  The men went up the embankment and later came back with numerous boards.  More than they even needed at this particular time.  Pastor Carlos was in awe as well.  No one knew where the mysterious boards were coming from.  Finally after much conversation and asking around someone shared that 78 year old Senor Cruz was donating the boards from his home where he has a business.  Senor Cruz is a carpenter by trade.  So God blessed the bridge this day by Senor Cruz's generosity.  Thank you God for Senor Cruz.  According Zechariah the Lord showed them four carpenters.  In El Limonal this week God gave us one very good and giving carpenter, Senor Cruz.
"Then the LORD showed me four carpenters."
Zechariah 1:20

The Work Continues

There was a lot of discussion on what to do next.  Everyone worked hard together and if there was any disagreement you would not have heard or saw it.  They all worked for one common good, for their community and to glorify God.

The North Americans when not working on the bridge was keeping those twenty five men hydrated.  They were so grateful for this community who came together to help them make their dream come true. 

There was so many talented and gifted Honduran men on this project.  God blessed everyone this week.  There was so many different people doing so many different jobs.

One of the jobs was throwing the leftover rocks into the bottom of the beginning of the bridge so later the sand can go on top of the rocks.  As usual the rock pile disappeared quickly.
We hope by building this bridge this week someone if only one will come to know the love of Jesus Christ.  Our goal this week was not to build a bridge but to build relationships with these beautiful people especially those who are lost.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Matthew 28-19-20


Rhonda started out the morning greeting all the ladies as they entered the church.  Nita and Shelby helped and greeted everyone as well.  Rhonda brought hand sanitzer, hand cream, emory board and finger nail polish as props for her ladies bible conference.  Our hands say a lot about us and what we do. She shared how we all should want our hands to look like the hands of Jesus.  
She first started out with the hand santizer . 
She referenced James 4:8 and had Maida read it to the ladies, 
" Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded." Our hands are not clean unless our hearts are clean.  I need to reconfess my sins to Christ daily.  As she was sharing this Nita and Shelby put hand santizer on each ladies hands.  The ladies cleaned their hands as Rhonda shared this is only a physical cleaning.  The cleansing of the soul is through Jesus Christ.

The next step was the emory board.  Each lady received one of these as Rhonda shared how we need to file down the sins in our lives.  Get rid of everything which is unpleasing unto to the Lord.  Thought is so approiate one lady filing her nails with her bible below her.  God's word teaches us about the sins in our lives and how we need to file them down to nothing.  We need to strengthen our hands and whatever we do, do it with all our might for the Lord. Her scripture reference was  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom. Ecclesiastes 9:10
The next step was passing out construction paper and magic markers to each lady.  Rhonda shared how our hands are hands of compassion, hospitality and hands of mercy.  Rhonda shared how she had observed their generosity and hospitality for her North American team throughout the whole week in El Limonal.  She talked about how hard they work daily for their families and church family as well.  There hands are servant hands.  Hands which reach out and show compassion on one another.  The daily snacks for the workers.  The preparation of lunches for the workers daily.  This is not including their daily chores around their home, washing your clothes and cooking for your own families.  Your hands do so much for others. Rhonda had Nita and Shelby give each lady hand cream to put on their hands as an ointment for healing like in the story of the Good Samaritan.

Now the fun part.  Each lady got to pick out their favorite color of finger nail polish and paint each other's finger nails.  They were being treated special for one time and it was this special morning.  Hands which are well kept and prepared are hands prepared for prayer.  What does your hands say about you?  Not your physical appearance but your spiritual appearance.  Like the finger nail polish we can be covered in the Holy Spirit as it files away our sins.  Our hands need to represent the love of Jesus Christ it all they do.  Our hands need to hold God's word as we find time during our busy day to read and pray over His Word.  We need to share His love with others by using our hands daily to glorify HIM.  Thank you God for having us here this week in your community where we do see your hands busy at work in so many ways.  To God be the glory.

The ladies headed back down the path to the location of the bridge.  They all appeared with freshly painted finger nails and their new treasures.  I did not see Merecedes moving blocks today.  She stood back and watched as the men did the work.  She was very proud of her new and improved hand manicure.  Thank you Rhonda for making this morning so special for all 37 ladies. 

Dedicating Our First Bridge

We all gathered on the bridge as we all listened to Pastor Santiago give God all the glory for this miracle.  They had prayed along time for a better means of getting to the main road and to home daily during the rainy season.  When the team first arrived the river was dry.  On the second day the river filled two thirds full from the rainfall the night before.  Pastor Santiago shared how this team came just at the right time and God's provision is always on time.  He also shared how this bridge was given to them by God not man.  God used man to provide the means for this to happen.  The community was grateful for the North Americans generosity of giving and coming working beside them.  They shared how there is not anyway they could ever afford this but they knew God's provision is bigger than anything we can imagine.  Pastor Carlos shared how it was a honor to work beside of everyone this week and he apologized if he offended anyone during the week.  Pastor Carlos is such an example of a humble godly man.  Before praying over the bridge Rhonda had Maida read some scripture from God's word:
"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
Matthew 25:21

Saying Good Bye to Some Sweet People

This week was more than building a bridge.  It was building relationships and this team built many of them this past week.  They had some precious God moments each evening about all their new friends.  They could not have made it without St. Peter, (nickname).  He had the keys to the church and plus he worked so hard daily to get this bridge up.  They enjoyed St. Peter's son as well.  This young man worked extremely hard all week beside his father.  The ladies were always around to help out as needed with the meals and snacks.  There was always someone close by to chat with or to help.  And course the beautiful children.  Especially the "unbelievable" boys.  They were hilarious all the time.  God simply blessed our new team from Salem Baptist Church in so many ways.  Thank you Salem Baptist Church for accepting the calling and coming along side your new friends and some fellow believers in Christ to store up memories which will last a life time.  We love you Salem Baptist Church from Apex NC.
"A friend loves at all times."
Proverbs 17:17

Before and After

Five days ago Jim, team leader said "Oh this is a bigger than I thought."  Guess what Jim shared the last day, "God is so much bigger."  We all witnessed this the last five days.  The old bridge has been in place for five years prior to the construction of the new bridge.  This new bridge of 100 bags of cement will be here a very long time.  It will be here for generations to come.  Thank you God for all you do for us!!!!