Well, maybe not paradise to some… but to our team and the people of Honduras, this is a very special place. It’s a beautiful country filled with gorgeous landscapes and postcard worthy mountain scenes & beach skylines. Like many third world countries though, the landscapes don’t always match the living conditions for some of the locals. There is much poverty in the areas where we serve in Honduras. Today we traveled to one of the remote and poorest areas of this region. We traveled an hour up the mountain today to the town of Bell’Aire. The people call it the cloud forest. There we work at a clinic that was built by an American woman who has planted her life and family in one of the hardest areas. She has created a fantastic space for ministry and she personally knows nearly every one in the community and she ministers to them in many ways. Today’s blog will be a compilation of stories from people’s experiences today in Bell’Aire and on the trip.

Brad Kempson (Children’s Ministry)

Working at the schools is amazing. We have two programs that we do, based on if we have elementary or high school kids. You never know how the kids are gonna be until you get there. It’s a learning process trying to communicate with the kids.

When we have elementary kids, we do a program based on a rainbow. We tell the story of Noah and the Ark with a skit, and we explain the story of salvation with skittles and their colors. The kids always love our skit and everything we do. After the program is done, we pass out bags with coloring sheets and crayons and skittles to the kids, along with a copy of the New Testament.

At the high schools, we do a skit called Agnus Dei. It shows how Jesus helps people with their problems. It is really powerful. After the skit, we pass out bandannas with the plan of salvation in English and Spanish and we give them a full bible.

In both schools, some youth give their testimonies, and we play games. Whether they are “cookie face” or the skittle straw game where you move skittles with a straw. The kids love watching their classmates play the games with us. After everything is done, and we finish with all of the activities, we pass out the gifts. The kids’ faces really light up when we give them their Bibles and their gifts. We put bandannas on with them and we just have a lot of fun. Even though we don’t speak the same language, we all have fun together.

Nancy Gatewood (Family Ministry)

Here in Honduras our family ministry team has a very special blessing as we worship with local churches. Seeing the true joy of the Honduran people as they worship always touches my heart. Even though there is a language barrier when we are speaking, when we are singing the same song in two different languages simultaneously – we discover that worship songs transcend the language barrier! Yes, we may share a message from God’s Word with the people but we are the ones who are blessed.

Camryn Gardner (Children’s Ministry & Home Visits)

Today and yesterday I was able to go out with our team and deliver food bags to some families throughout Honduras. Yesterday one of the things that touched my heart was that as we were approaching a house when Mrs Ashley said, “Camryn it’s your turn to pray at this next house.” So, as we handed this family there food bag and asked them what it was that we needed to be praying for, the mom of multiple children tells me that she has a 17 and an 18 year old that grew up in church, but have now become bored of it and she wanted me to pray that they would turn back to Jesus. I was extremely humbled in that situation because, I know exactly how those kids feel being an 18 year old myself. It showed me, that even though we live in different countries, we have the same struggles. Today’s home visits were extremely tough. I have always heard very traumatic stories about the people in some of these areas , but I have never been able to put faces with the stories. Today, that changed. We went around to people that were living in mud huts, people that had been attacked to the point of being disabled and that resulting in not being able to find work…even to kid’s houses that had been sexually abused. These people are literally struggling to survive. I met many families with backstories I couldn’t even imagine. As I said, today was a very hard day for me, but one of the most eye opening ones I’ve had in my 3 trips to Honduras.

Jordan Guffey (Pharmacy Team)

Today was our clinic in Bell’Aire. This is by far one of my favorite clinics that we do. The people that come to this particular are much poorer than the other two places we see people. We are the only team that is going there this summer. When I picture the people of Honduras, these are the people I see. They are so kind and gracious for the care that they are receiving. The first 30 minutes of this clinic is always what I like to call “organized chaos”. Everyone on the medical team is running around trying to figure how things are going to be set up and there are tons of people, everywhere you look. There was so much going on today, but one case in particular I remember involved an infant that needed a spacer for an Albuteral inhaler. Russel and I are running around trying to find one for the baby. I ran up to the main clinic to ask one of the nurses where they are. I found one in a respiratory trunk. I ended up needing a mask to attach to the spacer, so that it could be correctly used. I fashioned the spacer up and closed the holes on the mask and had the opportunity to show the family how use it and dispense the rest of the meds to them.

These are just a few of the stories of our day in Bell’Aire. It was a long, but wonderful day. We began our day with devotion time at 7am and didn’t return from clinic until after 8:00pm. Though it was a long day, every patient was seen and all of the people received the help they needed. The best news of all is that two people received Christ as their savior today.

It’s that time of year again. July has a special place in the hearts of the people of Ebenezer and Florence. Every July people from our church and community travel to serve and share the Good News of Jesus with the people of Honduras. We’ve been here for a few days with a team of 35 and multiple translators doing medical clinics, worship services, children’s ministry and family ministry events. I asked a few of our team members to share each day what they saw and experienced and today I have four stories to share with you about the good things the Lord is doing in our midst here in Honduras.
Dr. Richard Barfell (Medical Team) Today was our first day in a village medical clinic. I’ve been on several medical mission trips in the past, but I was especially impressed with how efficiently our team operated. Everything ran impeccably and everyone knew their assigned roles. We had a surgical station, an ultrasound station, 5 medical stations, an optical clinic, a laboratory complete with lab technician, and a smooth running pharmacy. All of these resources allowed us to care for as many patients as possible with a wide breadth of pathology.
Our first patient of the day was a young man who had been involved in a horrible blunt trauma incident requiring him to have a significant amount of orthopedic hardware in his right lower leg. Over the years, one of the screws had worked it’s way loose and was painfully pressing on the skin of his ankle and inhibiting him from raising his foot to walk. Dr. Connor, Mr. Huiet and myself were able to successfully remove this surgical screw giving this man a chance to walk without crutches in the near future. We were also able to perform several other minor surgical procedures and treat about 80 medical patients. All in all, this was a markedly successful day from a medicine standpoint.
However, the highlight of the day, and the act that will certainly provide the most lasting benefit, was when Charlie led one of our patients to the Lord. I told Charlie that what she did was more important than what any of the doctors had done throughout the day. I view our labors in tropical medicine as only a platform to declare the good news of Jesus Christ to a people in desperate need of Him. Sure, we can provide medical treatments and some definitive surgical treatments, but we are only putting a Band-Aid on a bleeding aorta given the lack of medical infrastructure in this country. Any lasting or significant impact that we will have on the people of Honduras will be spiritual. It is a true pleasure to continue to work alongside the amazing people of Ebeneezer Baptist Church. They have made this outside her feel welcome and loved! More importantly, they make the Honduran people feel loved and have mirrored Christ with all of their interactions.
Sophie Watson (Children’s Team) Hey there! My name is Sophie, and this is my first time going to Honduras. I work with the children’s ministry here and help out a little with family ministry. Today was our first full day of children’s ministry. (Yesterday was spent prepping, attending a local church service, and doing family ministry at a church.) Before I came to Honduras, I was advised that “you can only really prepare 90%,” and boy, was that true today! We started off our day going to a school, where we thought we were doing a program at an elementary school, but it actually was an older grade school. So, we had to revamp our plans and basically flip our schedule, but everything turned out fine! This afternoon after lunch, we carried bags of groceries and Bibles to homes surrounding the clinic. This was the first time I’d really seen some the living conditions up close. Some of the houses we visited were nicer and had multiple rooms, while many were just one small room; a few were basically metal shacks. Coming into this, I expected to see some of these shacks, but it’s very different when you find yourself standing inside one. One thing I noticed was that no matter how little or how much a family had, they all seemed to keep everything as neat and organized as they could. One of my favorite parts was seeing their faces light up as we handed some of them their first copy of the Bible. It reminded me that we truly take for granted our ability to own a copy of God’s word and read it daily. While we visited, we also had a chance to pray with each family. It was interesting to see that even though some of their lives seemed so different than ours, they still have many of the same worries and concerns as us (family, cancer, sickness, etc.). It was such a blessing to be able to spend time with each family and be able to bless them, even if in a small way.
Logan Grimsley (Medical Team) Coming back to Honduras as an RN has been different because now I understand the medical lingo. I’ve started my career in postpartum recently so I was hoping to see a lot of pregnant women. Today, I was able to set up an OB ultrasound and I automatically knew how to take care of her. For instance, not letting her lay flat on her back and propping one hip higher than the other to prevent decreased blood flow to the baby. I calculated her estimated date of delivery and assessed her fundal height to figure out how many weeks she was. I loved being able to know what to do instead of having to ask others what needed to be done like in years past. On another note, I got to administer multiple IM injections to different people. I knew where to give the injection and and the kind of medicine I was giving. I feel more confident in helping take care of the people here in Honduras after becoming an RN. I’m so blessed to have finally achieved this life long goal of mine, becoming a nurse. I only pray that God will continue to use me to share his love with all the patients I come in contact with. As well as always using my best judgement for the lives that are in my hands. Please continue to pray for our journey here in Honduras.
Charlie Goode (Family Ministry/Optical/Witnessing) Presumptions and confusion were in high regards in my mind as I contemplated how the Lord would use me giving out glasses to bring Him glory. Little did I know, He had plans to show up in a mighty way, as He always does. My translator and I would work with each person until we found that exact fit for their eyes. After, we gave the patient their glasses, I would explain to them that it is important to see with their eyes, but it is most important to see Jesus in their heart. There is nothing more crucial or satisfying than that. Some people were exuberant as they agreed with my statement, but some were confused and withdrawn. I had the opportunity to share the plan of salvation with three of my patients that expressed that they did not know Jesus. Each person left with Jesus in their heart. How absolutely beautiful it was to see people pass over from blind to full sight, both physically and spiritually.
These were just four of the testimonies of our 35 team members. Can you imagine now how much the Lord is doing in each of our lives and all the stories that could be told? Thank you church for sending us. Thank you for giving and thank you for praying for us all. God has been and will continue to be with us as we follow Him across this country sharing help, healing and the love of Christ with everyone He puts in our path. Check back tomorrow for more testimonies of what the Lord has done.

These students were just finishing 7th grade when Ashley and I arrived back in Florence.  They were young, full of life and excited about being brand new members of the Crash Student Ministry at Ebenezer.  Now they’re walking across the stage graduating from High School.  We’re proud of all sixteen of you and pray for you as you step into the next chapter of your life.  Always remember the words I shared with you today from Proverbs 19:20-21.  Many will offer you advice and you will have lots of plans.  But in the end…only the purposes of the Lord will prevail.  Let it be JESUS that you run after as you head into the future He has for you Class of 2018.