Living in Honduras for the past 8 years has been an amazing adventure. People often ask me what's a normal day like for me. Well, there is nothing normal about any day of my family's life in Honduras. It's an adventure. I hope to be able to share some of our daily adventures and experiences through this blog. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Refuge Construction is up and going again.

In case you were wondering we are still chugging along on construction of the first two homes at the Mission Lazarus Refuge. We have been delayed for almost two months waiting on lumber. Last week the first of the lumber arrived and we are up and going again. Enjoy the pics.

Summer Groups Build Posada San Lazaro

These are pics of the ongoing construction of the Posada San Lazaro. This year's summer groups that will be coming to work with Mission Lazarus will be helping us build group lodging at the Mission Lazarus Refuge ranch. This lodging will greatly assist hosting groups in the future.

Apart from construction summer groups will participate in VBS at areas churches and schools, home visitation with food baskets & gospel meetings.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Where are you, Bagdad?

Yep, you'd think so but that's the corner of one of the busiest streets here in Choluteca, in front of Banco Occidente or Bank of the West. From the looks of the guns you'd think that we were in the Wild West or at least Bagdad. I realized today while i sat in my truck in front of this bank that i had grown accustomed to seeing a big gun on the street, then i realized that it's not normal! Just thought that i'd pass that along.

Diana & Rene born,May 13, 2007

Last Sunday, May 13, 2007, Diana Beltrand and Rene Ramos were baptized into Christ at the church in San Marcos. Both of these adolescents were good friends with Hanibal Martinez, who passed away on May 10th. The example that Hanibal lived by is what moved these two to accept Christ into their lives just like Hanibal. Diana is currently the oldest child of the Mission Lazarus Refuge. We are really excited about the example that she is setting for all of the children that live at the Mission Lazarus Refuge.

Angels Among Us

Heb 13:2-3 Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.

In 1999 I met a little boy in Honduras. He was only nine years old but had the face of a fifty year old man. Over the next few years I would travel to Honduras many times, I always remembered this little boy and I always looked forward to seeing him.

In 2001 I moved to Honduras. Shortly after moving here I found out that this little guy lived with his great uncle. His mom had given him to her aunt but the aunt had died and now this little guy was forced to fend for himself. Noticeably malnourished, small in stature, he was the easiest target for the cruel jokes, pranks, & comments made by his peers and even his grown up neighbors. When I found out that he really did not have anywhere to eat I worked out a deal with a neighbor to provide him three home cooked meals a day. For the first time in a long time he had a full belly.

He did not go to school, he was a working man at his young age of 11 years old. He ran errands for local stores, picked up merchandise in the open air market, the little money he made, about $2 a day, he gave to his elderly uncle and they both lived off of it. He really understood what it meant to share.

About four years ago I needed a guard at my house. I remember the elderly man and the little boy, just barely getting by, if you could even call it that. I offered the old man the job and he accepted. My only condition was that the boy was not to work, he was to go back to school, he was to play, he was to be a child. The old man agreed.

At the age of 14 this young guy, who appeared to be about 10 years old, was enrolled in the second grade. He had some learning problems but the teachers worked with him so that he would not get behind. He made friends, even had a few elementary crushes on some girls from school. He got a bicycle, he learned to ride a horse, he loved taking care of the animals around our little farm, feeding the pigs, the cow, the horses.

When he was 15 things were not working out with his uncle and we had to let him go. We knew how much this young guy loved his new home and life so we offered to let him stay, we’d take care of all of his needs, and he could stay in school. I remember how he gave me a big hug and cried, thankful that he would not have to leave. He agreed to stay.

He had a few daily chores, he had an allowance of $8 a week. He would often travel back to Choluteca where his uncle lived to take him a few dollars and check on him. He really understood what it meant to share. I would get on to him. I could not believe how much he loved a man that had treated him so poorly.

About a year and a half ago he wanted to understand more about he Bible, Jesus, and going to Heaven. He could not read very well so I explained a few things to him. We talked often about Jesus, praying, being a Christian. Then one day he told me that he wanted to be baptized. I was thrilled and I had to privilege of baptizing him a few days later because he wanted to be baptized on Sunday at Church.

Last year he turned 17 years old, he still appeared to be only 13 or 14. He entered the 6th grade. He was excited, only one more year of school. In Honduras a child is considered educated after graduating from 6th grade. He tried to talk me into dropping out. He was a bit embarrassed about his age. I told him to stick in there that he was almost done.

My little girl Sol was really good friends with him. From early on she and him had a special bond. As a toddler she loved to be held by him and has she got bigger she loved to just to walk and hold his hand.

Lately he had been asking me to help him get a cell phone. The kind that you buy phone cards for. I laughed with him about it, that he did not need one. And then he agreed. Then when we finally got electricity at our house last month he decided that he needed a TV. He told me that he would trade his saddle for one if I would help him get it. I was considering the idea of getting him a small TV for his room and of course letting him keep his saddle. Last week with a big grin he told me that he had been elected vice-president of his class. He was really happy and proud; I can’t imagine how good it made him feel.

When I got home from work yesterday Ally and I went to check on him. He had not been feeling well, he had had a bad head ache off and on since Sunday evening. He was feeling much better, he was outside. He was rubbing one of our dogs. Sol came up and gave him her hand. He came walking with us, Sol on one hand and Levi on the other.

At about 7:30 last night he came into our kitchen and collapsed on the floor, his headache was back and he could not bear it. I got dressed and told him that we were going to go to the hospital. On the way he repeatedly vomited and moaned about his head.

At the hospital they admitted him, check him out, a specialist came who gave him some medicine to reduce the apparent swelling on his brain. He said that they would keep him in observation for the night and in the morning he needed to go to the capital, 2 hours away, for a CAT scan.

We had been able to locate his real parents and they came to the hospital. He would always remember to visit them every few months. He heart was big, he did not recognize that his mother had given him away.

This morning he left the hospital with Dr. Javier who works for Mission Lazarus and headed to Tegucigalpa in the Land Cruiser that our clinic uses.

He did not make it to the capital, he did not make it to the hospital.

At 10:00 AM Thursday morning May 10, 2007, Hanibal Martinez, the angel amongst us, flew back home.

Hanibal was an angel sent into our lives to show us how to be better people. I guess his job was done. I hope and pray that we lived up to Jesus’ expectations. Somehow I feel that I feel way short.

Late last year Hanibal had been diagnosed with some congenital defects that had not been previously diagnosed, those included a heart problem, semi-cleft palate, and an indented chest. On Monday of this week Hanibal was scheduled for an appointment with a cardiologist in Tegucigalpa, but since he felt bad we canceled it.

Hanibal knew his limitations, he knew he was small and did not have much strength, he dreamed of being a chauffeur.

Hanibal is gone and I am left confused. I recognize that he is in a much better, beautiful place. I recognize that he faced a life full of ridicules for his small stature. I recognize that he was able to live the past three years the way a child should, being a child. But I am at a loss of words to explain why.

I loved Hanibal and his gentle sweet spirit will be greatly missed.