You may remember Christy writing in our last newsletter about how we were able to help several families following the flood that occurred here in Siguatepeque the day after we arrived. I’d like to provide an encouraging update on one of those families. After the flood, all that was left of their simple home was the back wall and most of the cement floor. Several feet of river mud that was washed up by the force of the floodwaters was piled up against the remaining back wall of the house. On my first visit, there were clothes and other personal belongings still stuck in the branches of the trees along the bank of the river only 15-20 feet away. Their remaining clothes and belongings were strewn on the fence and all about the area to dry out. On two occasions during this visit I had to walk away to weep. I was overcome with emotion at the severity of this family’s loss, coupled with their already extreme poverty. I was also confused at why my God, who had previously revealed to me so many instances of His unfailing love, would allow this to happen. Yet, upon speaking with Carolina (through an interpreter, of course), the single mother of three who seems to serve as the de facto head of household for this extended family, I was deeply moved by her courage and resilience. Although she faced the daunting task of rebuilding some semblance of a “normal” life again for her family, she was neither defeated nor depressed. They had already rebuilt an outdoor kitchen area and constructed an 8’x8’ make-shift new home of sticks and black plastic sheeting. During this initial visit we secured the assistance of the neighbors (who hadn’t suffered as much loss nor exhibited near as much need) in helping this family during their time of need in exchange for providing electrical lighting equipment along with food, clothes and cleaning supplies.
Since then, we’ve visited several times, brought a few necessities, tried to encourage them, and prayed with them. Each time, we were encouraged by the strength and positive attitudes Carolina and her mother, Maria Teresa, showed despite their circumstances, and the love and gratitude they expressed toward us. We inquired about them attending church and learned they attend a church that provides transportation for them. They were eventually fortunate enough to have a homeowner within two blocks down the street offer them the use of a nice home which was up for sale. It was difficult to keep from praying that the house wouldn’t sell. We also discovered that, in addition to losing the family home, Carolina’s father, Meliton, had made his living selling plants and flowers that he grew on the property. Much of his “inventory” was ruined in the four and a half feet of water that came with the flood, causing him to begin anew. We also learned that because they lived so near the river, the government intended to relocate them to another barrio about a 25 minute drive away. This would not only make it more difficult for Meliton to make a meager living, but we discovered the family owned this land and Meliton intended to rebuild there when he was able.
Finally, the encouraging part of this story! Last weekend (the weekend before Christmas!) I had the opportunity and tremendous blessing to join over 25 other people in building a home for this family on their property. With the organization, leadership and funding provided through the local Hope Coffee ministry, Iglesia Roca de Los Siglos (Rock of Ages Church) and Lynda Gregg, a fellow BMDMI missionary serving in Siguatepeque, we were able to build a simple 16’x16’ wooden home at a cost of about $1800. It was truly amazing and humbling to be part of such a project. Although there were about half a dozen men who were obviously capable of assuming responsibility and supervising the project, you could never really tell who was “in charge.” The cooperation, selfless actions, and servant spirits demonstrated were a joy to watch. A number of younger Honduran men/boys who obviously hadn’t had much experience in construction very willingly grabbed power tools and perched atop partially constructed walls under the watchful eyes and patient instruction of many more experienced North American men. It was a learning experience not only for the young Hondurans learning to use power tools and construction methods, but for me as well, in how to more humbly and lovingly teach these young Honduran men/boys how to “be a man.” I realized during this experience that too often when I am “the expert” and “elder” I tend to exert too much control in my efforts to “teach” and be efficient. I learned valuable lessons in this building project myself. I pray that God will continue to teach me how to better grow and serve His kingdom.
Crude by our standards with only one room, one door, two windows and no indoor kitchen or plumbing, this home is an upgrade over their previous home. Another church also donated metal bunk beds and a mattress and box spring (that were to be delivered later). Please join me in praying that the government “forgets” about this family living too close to the river and allows them to live in their new home for years to come. After all, they haven’t had a flood this catastrophic for as long as most people here can remember.
On my way home after this joyful and humbling experience, I was amazed at what God had done! He brought together several different mission organizations, several different local churches, representing numerous religious denominations, to accomplish the work of His global church. People with different ethnic backgrounds and languages, and vastly different ages and construction capabilities, worked shoulder-to-shoulder, with no one trying to steal God’s glory by taking credit for what was being accomplished. It was a day I will remember and cherish for a long time. – Eric
In the picture of the completed home are: Standing on porch 1st from left is Meliton and next to him in the white blouse is Maria Teresa, his wife. Seated in front of Maria Teresa is Carolina, their daughter, holding her youngest child and to her right is her sister who also lives in the home. Seated in the red pants on the porch is Lynda Gregg. Standing on the porch with the “I heart HOPE” shirt is Mark Fittz, director of Hope Coffee. Standing on the ground in the red shirt is Pastor Raul Villanueva from Iglesia Roca de Los Siglos and next to him is his son, Jocsan, interpreter and young friend to Christy and I.