|"After all, what gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord Jesus when he returns? It is you! Yes, you are our pride and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 (NLT)|
One of the challenges that we face as long-term missionaries is how to integrate the long-term goals of the ministry into seven to ten day visits from short-term missions teams.
During the end of February and the middle of March we hosted two teams from RO4Y supporting churches. Both trips were very different, but they both helped us carry on the vision that God has placed on our hearts for Rancho Oasis and the community of El Circulo!
|Calvary Chapel Morgantown Team 2012: Feb 26 - Mar 5|
The team from Calvary Chapel Morgantown focused on three main outreaches. The first was the completion of the construction of Oscar’s mother’s kitchen addition. The second outreach was a Vacation Bible School. Finally, the third outreach, replaced the traditional medical brigade with health awareness workshops.
The men on the construction team, which included two Spanish speakers, started the adobe brick addition by excavating for a foundation, laying a foundation of rock and mortar, then raising the walls of adobe brick and mud mortar. The men completed all of the work in five days with the assistance of Oscar and his uncle, local Baptist minister Jose de la Paz.
|Foundation laid, now starting on adobe walls|
|Jim, Oscar and John|
God has used the current situation with the property (under negotiation to purchase) to help us reach out to the community. In order to stimulate a sense of ownership and sacrifice among the people, we are asking those we help to donate 10% of the cost of the materials into the next community outreach effort. It has been a blessing to see the excitement of the people when they receive the donated work and materials and to see their willingness to give back financially.
|Bible Lesson at VBS|
The plan for VBS was orchestrated by several women, teens and children within the team. As we drove to the Ranch Monday morning, the Lord put it on my heart to swing by the local elementary school to introduce my “Gringo” friends. Little did I know how much that (and announcing the VBS to the school the prior week) would have on attendance! Out first day saw over 70 children and we were close to 100 by the final day! I met kids I had never seen before.
|Full House on the Bus Ride Home|
The heart of Rancho Oasis is the discipleship of the next generation of youth in Honduras and I was so blessed to meet many new kids, encourage the RO4Y faithful and to see my friends from West Virginia have so much fun, especially with the help of two translators! (Thanks, Iris and Josue.)
Our third and final outreach throughout the week was a daily “Health Awareness Workshop”. A small team made up of a medical surgeon, a physical therapist, a medical student and a Honduran translator lead daily classes that covered health issues such as proper washing of hands, first aid and dental care. There was a faithful group of women and teens from the community who came out every day to not only glean the knowledge of our friends, but to bring forth a myriad of questions about health and hygiene.
|"This is a germ..."|
Though traditional medical brigades meet the short-term needs of a lot of people in a very quick time span, they aren’t sustainable. Marillyn and I are more interested in equipping the locals with the knowledge to prevent and deal with sicknesses in a practical, inexpensive and sustainable manner. We were so blessed at the creativity of the team and for the excitement and gratitude among the locals. (They included a mini version of their morning adult classes with the kids for the afternoon VBS sessions. For example, to illustrate the passing of germs, one of the team members pretended to sneeze in their hand that, unannounced to the kids, was covered in glitter. The team member shook many of the kid’s hands and asked them to look at their hands for germs – the glitter! It was a great, visual lesson for all who participated.)
|How many women does it take to watch Tobias? Let's see: one, two...|
Missions teams come in different shapes, sizes, ages and experiences. Even teams returning to the Ranch, more likely than not, have a very different experience each visit. Yes, missions teams are a lot of work, but Mare and I have come to not only value their help, but are richly encouraged by their fellowship during their time with us. (We actually became full time missionaries because of our short term experiences.) It is our hope that their experience at the Ranch will draw them closer to Jesus, make them more passionate for serving the Lord and to open the door of interest for future staff at RO4Y.
|Striking a Pose at the Retreat Center: Casa San Sebastian|
To help capture the experience of the West Virginia team, I’ve asked them to share many of their stories of the week:
|Prepping Clothing Sale|
“Among the many [memorable moments of the week], one was during our skit for cutting vegetables. The ladies thought I really cut myself! (Erica used ketchup for blood to talk about first aid procedure.) The laughter that followed was a loud joyous laughter heard for miles…they had to wipe tears away. This unexpected moment gave us a bond that opened doors for the rest of the week.”
– Erica, age 26, biomedical/PA student: Health Team
“[God taught me] there is hope! The task seems overwhelming, but there is hope. The men I worked with have nothing, nothing of material, but Christ in their hearts and it is more than enough.”
-John, age 44, radio group market manager: Construction Team
“[God taught me] that He is in control and active and working at RO4Y and in our lives... [the most memorable moment] was the salvation of Catalina (Oscar’s mom) and having the opportunity to share a message with her two days before… the second most memorable [moment] was seeing two women taking notes and the ‘thank yous’ for teaching them about health.”
-Brad, age 49, surgeon: Health Team
|Ismael finding a "sweet buy" at the clothing sale.|
“[God taught me] that we are the ‘conduit’ through which God’s Holy Spirit flows – to all people. [During VBS] one mother was so ready to volunteer with a smile – it touched my heart. The children, for the most part, were so patient with us even though we struggled with the language barrier.”
-Carla, age 62, homemaker: VBS Team & Kitchen Crew
|Reviewing the Points of the Gospel|
“God spoke to me about the urgency of needing to save the lost. The children are always the most memorable part of the mission. I am always overwhelmed with how the children feel so comfortable and welcomed and loved here at the Ranch. You are truly a refuge for these children. I feel God’s Spirit here and I sense the children do, too.”
-Mary Beth, age 43, office manager/teacher: VBS Team
“[God taught me that] we can be unified with other Christian brothers regardless of language barriers, race or location. Seeing Oscar give his personal testimony was one [memorable moment]. Although I didn’t understand the language, I could clearly see the passion the man has for our Jesus Christ. The example Oscar provided to me by his work ethic, his love of his family, his genuine friendship, and his unswerving commitment to Jesus has left a mark on my heart that I will not forget.”
-Jim, age 41, VP of finance: Construction Team
|Our 2nd Parent-Child Dinner focused on parent's reading scripture to their kids.|
|Becky w/ her World Vision Child|
-Becky, age 51, physical therapist: Health Team
“[A memorable moment for me was] experiencing the intense labor required to construct a home in a traditional Honduran way using only mud and clay.”
-Shawn, age 47, pastor: Construction Team
“[To make my time of ministry more effective] I think I could have trusted in God more. When I was going to this AWESOME place and preparing to go I thought, ‘Hey, I got this! I can do it all by myself and I don’t need nobody!’ Well, I was 100% wrong. I’ve learned I need God soo much just in this 7 day trip. I know now that our God, well my God is Awesome and all powerful and I need him soo much.”
-Julia, age 12, student: VBS Team
“At one point during the week, I just felt completely alone. No family, friends or anyone I could go to. But I talked with God and he made me realize that he put me in that position so that I realized how much I actually do have aside from the material stuff. This week taught me that I’m not alone and not only do I have friends and now a new family, but God’s got my back even when he seems to be silent.”
-Amelia, age 17, student: VBS Team
“I realized that I don’t want missions trips to fade out of my life, they will be part of my life, even if they’re short term.”
-Sarah, age 17, student: VBS Team
“I worked on building Oscar’s mom’s house and I helped with crafts in the VBS. I planned on doing both of those, but I also had the privilege to help with the rummage sale, play soccer and read to Tabi and Nomi. God taught me that I have so much, but I am so unhappy. The people here (like Oscar) have so little, but always had a smile and praise the Lord.”
-Cole, age 14, student: Construction & VBS Team
|I, Jon, celebrated my 35th birthday while the team was here.|
“This week God taught me so much more than I expected to learn. He taught me that missions and serving His people, and specifically his children, is definitely a path that I want to take my life. Also, he taught me so much about myself that I never even expected to find out! The most memorable experience for me this week would be this litt boy Jose’s smile. I made him smile. He was the child who seemed so sad and upset and when I reached out my hand to play with him he smiled… One thing I loved the most out of the week was just seeing that us being here and taking the time out of our lives to be there with them was such a joyous thing to them and they were so thankful for our presence.”
-Brooke, age 16, student: VBS Team
“I really love the kids now and I definitely want to come back next year. God taught me to love more than anything else. I also learned that in the USA, we have too much ‘stuff’.”
-Abby, age 12, student: VBS Team
“This week God taught me that He can sustain me thru anything. After a long day I found myself wondering how I could do it all again the next day. Well, God is good! I was able to get thru each day without worry and with the strength that totally came from Him. He upheld me physically and spiritually. [My] memorable mement [was] reaching out, [visiting] and praying for two young girls (the neighbors). We prayed as a team that they would respond to our love. By week’s end, they interacted and a connection was made. Praise the Lord!”
-Christy, age 38, wife/mom/teacher: VBS Team
“I played with the kids, and helped with crafts. [God taught me that] we take all we have for granid. I don’t think I spelled that right.”
-Isaac, age 10, student: VBS Team
“[God taught me] that He is in control no matter what… my suggestion that RO4Y could reach the community of Christ is – us. When we come back [to the USA] tell our friends and teachers about our trip!”
-Bella, age 8, student: VBS Team
Thank you CC Morgantown for your hard work, fellowship and prayers!
We look forward to next year! (Thanks Amelia, Erica, Jim and Brad for the extra photos!)
Stay tuned for PART 2 of “A Tale of Two Teams”