Tuesday through Friday were dedicated to building. I had no idea how this was going to work…being I have never built a single thing…especially a house!! This amazed me, but I knew that God put us here and would equip us with the needed skills.
We got to the build site, and it was a flat foundation. We were literally starting from the ground up. Our lumber had not been delivered, so we had a while to chat and get to know our wonderful Honduran builders who were there to help us out. It was interesting to see all of us, so…. flexible, about not having the wood when we got to the job site. We had been prepped for this. Hondurans, and I think the whole of Central America is…shall we say…on their own time. You really have to go with the flow, and if you are a punctual, Type-A person, this might bend your nerves.
As we waited, the kids of the neighborhood started to emerge, checking out the “gringos.” They were precious. So loving and sweet, with huge smiles and hearts to match. We had brought treats to share with them. Candy, gum, bubbles. And they ate it up.
We had some time to interact with a few ladies living within the neighborhood, and I was amazed at the faith of these people. They have nothing of material means, but are so rich in a million other ways. We heard great stories of how God has provided so much for them. Their smiles and heir thankfulness was astounding! They have faith like I’ve never experienced.
It was incredible to see and hear of the physical miracles that God has provided for this area of the country. A well that has pure water, when ALL of the surrounding wells are contaminated below the dump. How unbelievable!! But that’s our God! He’s up for the unbelievable!
As the day went on we started building. It was amazing to see our team move together in unity. Each of us, taking a job, from carrying lumber to the site, learning to use a hammer to nail boards, using a saw for the first time, measuring (NOT my forte') faming doors, windows, putting up siding or playing with the sweet niños who were surrounding us all day. We all tried things we have never done before. Our Honduran friends were great at allowing us to try as they got the giggles a few times watching us.
On our first day at work, we managed to get up all four walls, framed, and three sided. WOW!! Can you say, we work well together? As the days went on, we felt more and more comfortable in our environment. We laughed a lot, and were so thankful everyday for cooler temperatures (even a little rain) we learned about one another as we worked, and formed an amazing bond with our Honduran friends that will last a lifetime. The kids became more and more familiar with us, as we learned their names. They would come running every morning to see us and the ones that were in school, we looked forward to seeing in the afternoon. Personally for me, this was one of my favorite things. I have such a heart for children, and always have. There were so many conversations with these sweeties, that neither of us had any idea what the other was saying…their English is non-existent, and my Spanish is muy malo!! But somehow, there was this transcendence between us that made it all work out. We laughed, and had the best time taking pictures, blowing bubbles and eating candy. They loved helping us as we built. Helping us carry wood, and sometimes nailing a few nails. They acted goofy, just like kids do, and I was happy that they were so willing to allow us into their lives.
After that first day, half of our team was ask to go and work on another project in the neighborhood. Building a room for another woman, who needed some extra space for herself and her house full of nephews. Half of the team and half of our Honduran workers left, and I wondered how this would affect the time frame of our house. God knew we could all handle it, and as we worked on two different projects, it all came together, and both projects were completely finished.
On our last build day, we were full of anticipation to meet the new owners. We had a few small jobs to finish up on the house, and then were taken down to AFE school for a special treat from the kids…WOW were we surprised to walk into a room full of ALL the students, cheering for us, and embracing us. They all performed songs and dances for us, by grade, and at the end had us all come up, and ran to us in a giant Hug Attack! This made me burst into tears! These kids, who in one short week completely stole my heart, were laughing and hugging every single one of us, all at the same time! It was incredible. My heart was bursting with happiness, love and also sadness at the same time, knowing this was our last day to see them. I took hundreds of pictures, and cannot wait to go back and see as these kids grow year by year.
The time came for us to go back to the house. We were going to meet the family, and dedicate the house. I was full of anticipation and excitement! As this sweet family crested the hill, I saw them for the first time and my heart leaped out of my chest. Thank you, God for allowing me a glimpse that first day at AFE….the little girls running up the hill to us, were the very girls that leaped into my arms that very first day that we visited AFE. Again, little Lucy leaped into my arms, standing outside of her new home. I could hardly believe it! What a blessing to us. We loved on the family as we talked/met their mother, Carmen. We learned of her story of how she and her 4 girls had been abandoned, and they had been living in a hostile environment with her sister alongside the road, 8 in the small shanty. She told us that her oldest daughter had told her sister that they would soon get a house….this was BEFORE she actually knew that they were getting a house. Her sister had been mean-spirited and said, "they would never have a house of their own." Her daughter prayed and asked for a house….and that’s where God brought us into the picture. Our team formed to build this house for them. As we presented her with a Bible, prayed over her, her children, and their new house, and handed her the keys, I couldn’t hold back my tears of joy. God is so good to the faithful. It’s amazing to me, to feel at first we were called to go to Honduras to be a blessing to those in need, and as it turns out, I feel that WE were the ones receiving the blessings a hundred times over. God taught us so much while we were in Honduras. Thankfulness in any situation, that He WILL provide exactly what each of us needs, to have giant faith, that He can take any situation and make it extraordinary, that we don’t “need” a lot to be happy and joy-filled, that language and culture are never a barrier if you go in with an open heart, a smile, and God’s love that flows through us.
Being back home has been tough this week. How do we go back to normal? I have never experienced having culture shock, coming HOME. I am again grateful for the night before we left and the meeting we had on how to come home. We prepare for this trip for a long time, but often don’t think of how it will be coming back home. We learned that when we come home we could have feelings of guilt. That after seeing what we saw, being where we were, the experiences we went through, we come home to the familiarity of home, clean water, flushing toilets, clean clothes, our jobs, house, cars, etc to not allow guilt to take over. We should feel a burden. Not guilt. A burden for what we can do….How to respond. We talked about our emotions, when people say, “How was your trip?” and our reaction when people say, “it looks like a great time” well……..
I know they will never understand. And that's ok.
We know that what we have in our country is by God’s design. He has seen us fit to live where we live and have the lives that we have because He knows we can handle it. He put us here.
I know that He changed me…and all of us, on this trip. He grew us in ways that were unexpected and astounding.
I have had on my heart for so long, to do a mission trip and was SO thankful that on our very first night in Honduras, as Greg and I sat and prayed together…in the quiet of our room God said, “Paula, I know the desires of your heart. I placed them there.”
So as we take our time, each of us, to get back to "normal life", dealing with the shock of being home, may we never lose sight of the changes that were brought upon us, a burden to help those in need, to think of others and not always put ourselves first, to shine God’s love everyday, to have astounding faith in every circumstance. And to see everyday that we are so blessed.
After our week of hard work and dedication, we had some great down time. To laugh, and play and shop. Eat Pupusas and get hopped-up on phenomenal coffee! What an incredible city! What an amazing country. What a sensational team!