Thursday, July 11, 2013
Entire foundation laid for church in Honduras
There was something deeply satisfying about watching my teenage boys dig ditches, mix concrete and tie rebar. The fact that they were helping to build an orphanage in Honduras was icing on the cake.
My church, Covenant Presbyterian, has been deeply involved with the Salt and Light Ministry Honduras for some 20 years.
Every year a delegation of dozens travels to Honduras to work side by side with the locals deep in the tropical rain forest of central Honduras.
Unfortunately, the trip conflicts with the annual convention of the Mississippi Press Association, which I had not missed for 25 years.
But with the boys being teens, they needed to see another side of the world. They needed to witness poverty so they could appreciate the gifts of America. It was time for the Emmerichs to participate in this wonderful ministry.
This mission trip exceeded my high expectations. Working side by side with the people you are helping builds wonderful bonds and trust and Christian love. This is what mission trips are all about.
Let’s face it, the value of our labor was minimal. In fact, we probably slowed the process down.
What is valuable is for the Hondurans to see their fellow Christians spending time and money to travel a great distance to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.
What is valuable is for Americans to humble themselves and get dirty and sweaty doing hard physical labor to help those less fortunate than themselves.
What is valuable is the donations that flow after people see the poverty, connect with fellow human beings in need and get a first-hand view of the great things Salt and Light is doing.
What is valuable is the money we inject into the local economy when we come and stay, spend money for food and lodging and visit local churches and donate as the offering plates are passed around.
We stayed on Lake Yojoa, a 100-square-mile lake at 2,000 feet elevation in central Honduras.
Our modest hotel had a beautiful view of the lake and mountains. Each morning we got up, ate breakfast and went to work laying concrete, teaching Bible school, preparing food in the soup kitchen and providing services in the medical clinic. After lunch, we worked some more.
Slade Exley, who along with wife Susan, organized the effort, said this was the most physically demanding mission trip of the 20 he had been on. Just my luck!
It truly was amazing how much progress we made. One construction team of five laid an entire foundation for a large church.
Our construction team dug out and poured concrete for the entrance road to the orphanage.
The orphange will take several years to complete, but when done will be a wonderful institution. Each week different groups do a little bit more, working with paid local construction workers.
At the closing dinner, one local commented on how our dedication to help the Hondurans had inspired the local churches to do more to help the poor and needy in their own backyard.
Honduras needs our help. Along with Haiti and Nicaragua, it is one of the three poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, fueled by drugs, thuggery and inequality. Its murder rate is three times that of Jackson.
The country is beautiful, lush with bananas, ginger, mangos, pineapples, avocados, oranges and just about every fruit and vegetable you can imagine.
In the mountains, the climate is far cooler than Jackson, with highs of around 85 and lows of 65. Every night around sundown a brief tropical downpour cools everything to a perfect temperature.
Despite the rains, it is never muddy, because the volcanic rock is so porous, the groundwater flows straight to the water table, which causes real problems with groundwater contamination.
The land is so fertile that the fence posts start growing and soon turn into trees.
Every morning we did a devotional. I did mine on the parable of the Dishonest Steward, a parable which has confused many.
I argued that the parable is simple to understand and Jesus even summarized it in one sentence in Luke 16:9: “I tell you, use wordly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”
America is so rich. We are the stewards of the world. We need to spread that wealth around and make friends. That’s what we were doing in Honduras.
Any church can participate in Salt and Light mission trips. Just Google “salt and light Honduras.” What a great way to travel, see the world, spread the gospel and reinvigorate your soul.
We worked hard but we also had fun. The food was great and the nights were cool. On Sunday, many of us had the experience of a lifetime zip-lining across a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls. And it’s tax deductible!
I asked many locals what was the main barrier to progress in Honduras. They all said the same thing: Government corruption.
As we celebrated July Fourth, I said a prayer of thanks to our founding fathers who had such foresight. Indeed, our prosperity today is a result of the freedom and liberty we enjoy.
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