Saturday, February 27th: Arrived early afternoon after departing from Denver airport at 1:00am. We're picked up by Thomas Kettelkamp (our guide from World Hope) and people from the Ulloa church. We experience traffic in Tegucigalpa ('chaos' doesn't describe it). Got settled in with our host family (Pastor Lopez). Later than evening, we join a wedding celebration. I ate guinea pig. Not bad.
Sunday, February 28th: I experienced what it's like to be awaken by a chorus of 100,000+ roosters. Today is site-seeing day. Thom shows us downtown Tegucigalpa. I see me first coffee plantation (I'm boycotting Starbucks coffee - feel free to ask me why). We go for a hike in the La Tigra national cloud forest. Enjoyed top-shelf Honduran cuisine. Then, we went to a professional soccer game. It was wild. It was awesome.
Monday, March 1st: Time to get to work. We go with a crew from the Ulloa church to the site of their future outreach center (on the other side of Tegu). Around Tegu, the city has marked out properties, which you can claim by squatting on. However, you have 1 year to build something permanent on the site, or your forfeit the land. They've been on the land for 10 months, but have had no $ to build anything. They built a stone retaining wall (using rock on the site), but the city said, "Not going to cut it." So we've helped finance the construction of a concrete retaining wall, which the city will accept. And we get to be there for the start of construction. No skidsteers here. Pick axes and shovels modus operendi. At the end of the day, Thom takes us to the national cathedral. I got to preach for the Ulloa church.
Tuesday, March 2nd: Another work day. The Ulloa crew brings tarps so we can enjoy some shade. It was in the 90's. More pickin' and shovelin'. Rock and sand get delivered to the site. We have to move with 5-gal buckets to get it off the road. By the way, for lunch each day, we enjoyed the best Chinese fried rice I've ever had. To finish the day off, we hauled 105lb bags of cement up the hill for storage. We felt that. Still, it's a joy to work alongside our Honduran brothers.
Wednesday, March 3rd: Half-day of worK. Then Jersen & Jessica Lopez take us Sheridan boys downtown to do some souvenir shopping. We get Honduran World Cup team shirts for our family members. I got to preach again at church. The pastor's son, Jersen, who's studying for an exam for the English program at the University of Tegu, was my translator. We'd worked on the project together and we became very close. The entire Lopez family has been so gracious. The other team members enjoyed table soccer and thumb wrestling with the others.
Thursday, March 4th: Thom has to leave for the U.S. We enjoy one last workday at the site. We the excavation was finished and we started building the foundation with rocks and mortar. Experienced mixing mortar by hand on the ground for the first time.
Friday, March 5th: Tearful goodbye with the Lopez family. They drive us out to Casa Hagar, on orphanage in the country just outside Tegu. We spend the day playing with 23 kids. It's so awesome to see them so healthy and happy, especially after hearing some of their stories. Almost all of the care is provided by one woman, Alicia, who's incredible. We watched the Spanish version of Pixar's Up with the kids that night. I still cried. Got real homesick after getting 23 hugs goodnight.
Saturday, March 6th: Returned to the States, forever changed.
So what did I come away with?
- I learned that speaking in a Spanish accent doesn't count. Merely adding an 'o' or 'osito' on the end of an English word doesn't make a Spanish word.
- An incredible team experience. Ryan, Jerel & Mark were incredible. They fully engaged and I don't feel like we had a low point.
- New friends and family.
- I learned to push through fears and embrace our time there. The language barrier was hard. I feared doing something foolish and getting in a pickle. I feared getting sick. I had to push through the fact that we were staying in an impoverished area. There was little privacy and that's okay. We got bit up by things that crawl. But it was still such a rich experience.
- The blessing of knowing we were an answer to prayer re: developing the property.
- The joy of getting to know the people in Ulloa - people who work hard, people of deep faith, and people who live richly in the midst of poverty.