Nueva Alianza village update [PHOTOS] and Mission teams recap

It’s been a busy summer in Honduras! And that is just the couple of groups with which I was able to be present. Praise God for all the volunteer work that goes on in all parts of the country due to foreign teams. The San Pedro Sula (and I would imagine Tegucigalpa as well) airport is always buzzing with English speaking groups coming and going during the summer months.

I was able to spend 6 weeks total in the country. Needless to say, my summer flew by! (And I like it that way. ūüėČ Now fall can hurry up an get here please.)

But I wanted to follow up on the project in the currently sponsored village in Copan and share a bit from our 2 weeks of medical clinics.

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Nat√°n and Walter in Nueva Alianza

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Laundry mat! Where some of the families wash their clothes. Most don’t have the typical pila. (large concrete wash basin)

I posted a picture and caption on Facebook from our preliminary trip up to the village about a little girl named Mariela:

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|| The best view. || ¬†My new friend, Mariela, showed me her house and her family’s garden yesterday. They were proud of their new water filter they received about a week ago. Two families live together in the tiny home so she calls the little room that she shares with other family members her “house.” Their outhouse style toilet has stopped working so they have to use the bathroom in the woods. They wash clothes in the nearby creek.

From the post a sweet friend messaged me wanting to send money for this family to have a new bathroom! So on the following trip we were able to sit down with the pastor of the village and write out the materials needed to construct a new outhouse for this family with a toilet that could be “flushed” with (a bucket of) water instead of what they had before – a hole in the ground that would fill¬†up. Then we went to the hardware store…

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…and just a few weeks later we went back for a visit and got to see the completed and functioning outhouse!

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The donation we received was enough for two entire outhouses so on¬†this follow-up trip we bought another load of materials to construct a second outhouse for another family who mentioned this need and whom the pastor knows personally. Also, we DO NOT build or hire anyone to build these for them. Part of maintaining dignity and pride in work and your possessions is taking ownership of them from the beginning. We do not endorse handouts but¬†we work with them and listen to what the needs are. We do the basic things that they are not able to do on their own and come alongside them as they work to make it happen. Our goal is to develop communities and individuals, not be their vending machine, which is why the church’s consistent presence with them in their village is so important. I wish I was there to be able to visit monthly or even more often.

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me, Nat√°n, Pastor Joaquin, Jonathan, Yanela – overlooking Nueva Alianza in the background

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* JOY *

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Mission Teams!

So, this year was pretty exciting as far as teams go. We had a lot of people and each year a lot of my family go, which I love, but this year it was even more exciting because my little (giant) sister came for the first time! And I was about her age the first time I traveled to Honduras and fell in love with the country.

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Family! me, little bro Carson, little sis Tori

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Lovely cousin Kate! What would I do without her?

Our first week of medical clinics was in the area of La Esperanza, Intibuc√°. Such wonderful weather and beautiful people! Our second week was in Cop√°n as usual, which will forever have my heart. ‚̧ I actually didn’t take any pictures these two weeks because my main role was interpreter and I can get easily burned out wearing too many hats. Let’s face it, missions is not always smiles and giggles¬†and I can get cranky by the end of these trips!¬†But to be honest, even though it is a lot of work, this time was refreshing and reenergizing for me. Exhausting and sometimes emotionally taxing, but the Lord taught me new things and I treasure the moments shared with family and friends, new and old, on the 2015 Honduras medical mission trips.

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Tolupan Indians: How Can I Help?

Following up on my post about meeting the Tolupan Indians in Honduras, I want to share about the current project that New Life Honduras Non-Profit is initiating along with the local pastors and missionaries in this region of the country.

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Healthy House Construction Project!

New Life Honduras is raising funds for the construction of healthier houses for the Tolupan indigenous people. This ethnic group is in the process of extinction and one of the main goals of our holistic development work with them is to prevent this extinction process while also helping them preserve their customs and language.

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The total cost to construct each new home is a little under $2,000. The new houses will feature metal roofs, better walls and floors, and better location and ventilation for the stoves. It will increase the overall health of each family member and provide separate sleeping areas for adults and children. The homes will not be built for the tribe… The homes will be built by the tribe members with guidance from Honduran ministers/missionaries.

We need your immediate help!

We are asking for monetary donations to contribute toward the cost of these healthy houses. Here are ways you can help with that:

  1. Donation drop boxes. If you or someone you know owns a business or is a leader in a church, contact me about setting a donation box in your lobby or front desk to collect change. 100% of donations will go to build houses for the Tolupan people.

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  1. Jewelry Display Gift for Donation. The day I met the Tolupan Indian tribe I bought several handcrafted necklaces and bracelets from them. They are made from seeds found in the forest they inhabit. I have arranged them in shadow boxes with a photo and description and will give these displays to those who make donations to the Healthy House Construction Project over $100.shadow box
  2. Contact me (via email, phone, or message from the home page) about sending a donation and/or writing a check.
  3. I am scheduling visits to talk to church congregations, Sunday School groups and youth groups. Please get in touch if you are interested in hearing more about our community development work in Honduras!

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“A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

The day I met the Tolupan Indians

I have been procrastinating in writing about my experience I had a little over a month ago with the Tolupan ethnic group. I hardly have words to describe what I saw Рthe most extreme poverty and unhealthy living conditions that I have ever witnessed with my own eyes. After much processing, I am gathering my thoughts and trying to express what I felt that day and continue to feel so deeply. My heart is bursting to share with you about this trip. This indigenous group maintains the majority of their ancestral customs. They are polygamous, they answer to their chief, and they speak a dialect called Tol, although most adults also speak Spanish. tolupan children inside

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We started out in Honduras’ capital city, Tegucigalpa, bright and early Friday morning. 5:30 a.m. We loaded into Brother Orestes’ extended cab pickup truck, the New Life Honduras Non-Profit team – a Honduran missionary couple from Tegus with their newborn baby, my boyfriend Nat√°n, a local pastor, Brother Orestes and me. It took us a little over four hours by car to reach the base of the mountain where the Tolupan people live. On the way, we stopped by a small village where a new church had just been planted – the first in the area – and visited the pastor and his family and prayed with them. (this pastor’s daughter and husband were the missionary couple with us) We took the opportunity for a bathroom break (lean-to style outhouse) and to stretch our legs. The pastor asked if I had ever visited the Tolupan community before and when I told him no he told me to be prepared. I thought he was referring to the physically challenging hour and a half hike up the steep mountain to reach their village… but he put his hand to his heart and said, “prepared… right here.” We parked at the base of the mountain called Monta√Īa de la Flor, as far as a vehicle can reach, and all piled out. About half an hour before arriving we had approached a Tolupan couple walking along the side of the road headed home so we offered them a ride and they hopped in the truck bed. They had already been walking for hours and it would have taken them several hours more to reach their community up in the mountain. couple Then we started the hike up the mountain… I would probably include it in the top 5 most strenuous physical feats I have ever attempted. Of course, considering my drama queen, wimpy nature, it only felt as if I were going to pass out and die in the moment.

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Through the huffing and puffing and swearing, I mean sweating and complaining and accelerated heart rates and breaks to rest, I really didn’t have much of a desire to record video or take photos on the way up. (I seriously question that theory about exercise releasing happy endorphins) We finally reached the clearing where several Tolupan families of one particular tribe have made their homes. Because of the extreme isolation in which these people live I had no idea how they would react to me, a tall white female with reddish hair and blue eyes. (other than one child screaming and running when he saw me, all went pretty well) I was accompanied by 5 Honduran males so I was definitely the odd one out. When we approached the clearing with their little huts set all around, I felt as if I had been transported into a movie. It felt staged or something other than real life. Children and their mothers began to pour out of tiny, poorly-constructed mud and stick huts. It would be an understatement to say that everything was dirty… because how do you really clean a dirt floor? Or dirt walls? Or a bed made of tree limbs? house Every house we entered was entirely empty of food. One mother told me that was her greatest need – food in the house. (They live off the land and were a hunter and gatherer group until recently when diminution of land affected their ability to hunt sufficiently) Their large stone stoves inside the house with little to no ventilation often cause health problems. Chickens and dogs sleeping, eating and leaving waste in the same living space as humans also contributes to many health risks. There are countless other risk factors such as moist dirt floor, unhealthy hygiene practices and their thatch roofs which contribute to parasite problems. A lack of access to common medication has even resulted in death from sicknesses as simple as the flu and diarrhea. This father had recently lost his wife to “the flu” and was left to care for his children in their tiny hut without walls. father hut

May God bless you¬†with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people. May God bless you¬†with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy. May God bless you¬†with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done. –¬†Sr. Ruth Fox

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My next post this weekend will be about the holistic development that New Life Honduras Non-Profit is doing with the tribe, how I am involved, and how we need your help to continue. Please pray for these families and that their hearts would be open to Christ. Pray that their physical and emotional needs would be met. Pray for the Honduran missionaries who are diligently and humbly serving the tribe, making sacrifices that go unnoticed with a silent faithfulness that goes unrecognized.

This past crazy month [July 2012]

SO much has happened in the last 30 days of my life. Medical trip in Honduras, best friend’s wedding in Tennessee, Church of God General Assembly in Florida. I will try my best to accurately recap.

1. Medical Trip || Honduras

I spent the first week and a half of July in the country of Honduras, which will soon become my home for the next year. With the group from Argo Christian Fellowship (my grandmother’s church) we were able to see 1,700 patients in Cop√°n, Honduras within only 4 days of clinics! In cooperation with several Honduran doctors, dentists, evangelists, translators and other volunteers, we had the privilege of being a part of God’s redemption story by showing His love to the people of this beautiful Central American country.

Me explaining medicine to families in the pharmacy.

“The hills are alive with the sound of music…” It is always necessary to stop on the roadside for a little frolicking in the mountains.

2. Best friend’s wedding || Tennessee

What an emotional weekend that was! My best friend since I was 12 changed her last name and started a new family on Saturday, July 14th. Brianna and I have made so many memories over the years. With her I have laughed harder, thought deeper and cried longer than with almost any other person I know. We went through all the awkward stages of adolescence together…

From when we first met, as nerdy pre-teens, to now… (just nerdy pre-teens in adult bodies…)

Bridal party: Allison, Melanie, Laura Anne, Emily, Brianna, Evin, Me, Jessi.

I am so happy for the love that she and Josh have committed to for the rest of their lives. Bree & Josh: I wish you the best!

Here is a little wedding music rehearsal medley from a couple nights before the wedding. Two very talented families!

3. Church of God General Assembly || Florida

What a long, exhausting but good week in Orlando. I saw many old friends (and friends who are like family) and met some wonderful new friends. I met some seasoned missionary veterans who have been on the field for decades, all who have committed their lives to adopting new cultures and learning new languages and loving people in the name of Christ. I came away from this past week pretty inspired.

My Honduran family I lived with in Panam√° last fall was at General Assembly. It was so good to see the Leons!

As well as several videos that I edited for World Missions being used during the conference, this photo of mine of Honduran pastors in Cop√°n was used on the Latin America missions banner. ūüôā

Being part of the media team, our schedule was pretty full and a couple days we worked 13+ hours. Other than being in Orlando without being able to visit Disney World :/ and wanting a little more time to spend with friends, the week was great. It made me thankful for divine networking and the way God puts people in our paths at just the right time. ūüôā He continues to be faithful and guide our steps.

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Aaaaand now…. It is time to pack. I move to Honduras in a little over a week!