Sunday, September 7, 2014

My Mission Trip to Honduras in Summary

WARNING:  The following blog post may not be the fun, shallow fare that is usually found on this blog.  Proceed with caution.  Next time I'll provide more fluff.

Last night we returned from a week-long mission trip to Honduras.  As I'd written before, I felt the Lord's leading to go on this trip and in fact told Him that if He wanted me to go, He'd have to pay for it, and He did, by providing me the funds in my income tax return.

We flew out of Evansville, at 6 AM on Friday, Aug. 29th.  The nerves were beginning to hit me.  I was leaving the country, for a third-world country, with a group of total strangers, except for my friend Annette who, like me, is very introverted.   We flew to Atlanta and met up with the rest of the team - 29 or 30 in all, some nurses, a doctor, a dentist, a couple of pastors, several others who've been on many previous trips, and me... a legal secretary.  I could tell from just listening to them talk that they are all good Christian people.  Sigh, another reason to feel inadequate.

From Atlanta, we flew about three hours to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  We had to wait to get through customs and then we ate at the airport because the restaurants were "safe" - i.e., we shouldn't get sick eating their food.  After eating and gathering luggage, we all went outside and were greeted by the vans and trucks that were going to transport us to the Faith Home Orphanage about a half hour away.  The air conditioned van/bus thing that we rode in was the last time I was even remotely cool until the following Friday when we rode in it again.

At Faith Home, the team would stay in a Teamhouse where there were dorm rooms that held about 6 people to a room, a big kitchen/common area, and long screened in porch that ran the length of the building in which we ate, had devotions, had team meetings, sorted our stuff to get ready to go and just generally hung out. 

We got ourselves situated and settled in.  I slowly started wondering what I'd signed up for... do I have to list it again?  foreign country, total strangers, don't speak the language - the Lord never saw fit to give me the gift of tongues - and man, now it's just plain hot, and there are bugs and scorpions?!  I was getting homesick for my mommy and my sweet babies,... and remember, I wasn't exactly keen on being assigned the children's church thing.  In retrospect, I think it was just Satan making me feel inept.  I knew God wanted me here and I knew that He wouldn't put me into a situation that, with His help, I couldn't handle.  But all of that was in retrospect... it took a day or two until I recognized that.

Saturday, another hot day, we worked to get everything organized and packed away, ready for the 5-7 hour drive on Sunday to Danli, which was where we'd be staying for the following four nights.  That night, we walked over to the church to have a service with the Faith Home residents.  Mentally, I wasn't good.  I didn't want to go, I was hot, and covered in bug spray, and seriously considered staying at the teamhouse, the service wasn't mandatory, but I figured I needed to go.  I didn't enjoy it.. I sat there and sweated, except for when I had to stand and sweat.  I didn't understand it - it was in Spanish. 

When we got back to the teamhouse afterwards, Jerry, one of the guys asked me and Annette what we thought and wasn't the presence of God in the service wonderful.  I felt bad because the entire time I'd just wanted out of the building.  That night, while taking my shower before bed, I was praying.  I knew that I was there because God had sent me, but I knew my attitude wasn't very Godly.  I prayed for a new attitude and for strength regarding the children's church thing.  I really can't stress how much I don't care for being very close to children... I like them in theory, but not in practice, you know??
The next morning I woke up, feeling refreshed and I felt much better about the whole thing.  God had granted me a new attitude.  And that evening, He granted my other prayer when the leader, Buck, announced that the local pastors who were going with us felt it would be better to talk one on one with the people than having a big ol'service where they might feel compelled by the crowd to put up their hands... SO that meant NO CHILDREN'S CHURCH FOR ROSE!!!  Yeah!  I don't mean that to sound bad, really.  :)

So what was I going to do?  Didn't know until the first morning of clinic when I was informed that I'd be an escort - basically moving the people from station to station.  This was fine, as long as I was busy and not just standing for several hours at a time.  I worked as an escort for about a half hour, until people got backed up in pharmacy and the doctor shouted "we need help in pharmacy!" and I jumped at the chance.... it looked like the very job for my organizing soul!  For three days in the clinics, I worked with Annette and another lady at the pharmacy station and we had a really great, fulfilling time... with little to no contact with children.

One evening, at devotion time, Buck mentioned that us first timers probably thought that we'd come for God, but that in fact, the first time, know it or not, we come for ourselves.  Privately, sitting there,  I knew I'd come for myself... that I needed it, so this didn't come as a surprise.  It did make me feel a wee bit less selfish about it!

After the three days of clinics, we had another day with 5-7 hour bus ride back to Faith Home and the heat and humidity, but my attitude was much better and while it didn't change the amount I sweated, I dealt with it a lot better.

Our final night, we attended a church service again with the Faith Home residents.  Again, it was all in Spanish and again, I still didn't understand a word, but this time the service was very different for me and I was able to praise God for the change.

Our final morning, before leaving for the airport, we took team photos (below) and I'm able to say that there isn't a stranger among them.  That's not to say there aren't a few strange people, but this group of strangers are all now family.  I went on this trip for me.  I knew I needed it, to grow closer to God.  However, the team together treated over 500 people and over 60 people accepted Jesus.  I was a part of that.  I can't wait to go back and do it all again!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

It'll Be Like Herding Cats?

First, let me say that coming up with a title for a blog posting can sometimes be the most difficult thing about it.  And this one, all I can come up with is "Missionary Position," but I just don't feel that would be appropriate, so hopefully something will come to me by the time I'm done writing this.....

The other day I had my final Hepatitis A & B booster shots before my trip to Honduras.  My arm aches and my head hurts and it's more than 48 hours later, but I still feel better than I did after the first shot!  Now, my appointment was with the nurse, no need to see the doctor for a booster shot – don't suppose insurance would appreciate that, eh?  But next Friday, the day I fly out, is my doctor's final day before retirement.  And while I sort of wanted to make an appointment to see him one last time before he left, again, I didn't think the insurance would like my doing so… I'm thinking the words "insurance fraud" might apply.  So Annette, my friend who is also the phone nurse at my doctor's office, must've told them that I wanted to see him to say goodbye because when I (finally) got taken back, they put me in a room so that I could see him between patients. 
I was so pleased to be able to give him a hug and wish him well.  I truly intend to go and get him a "congrats on your retirement" card, but I haven't had a chance to go anywhere other than the Dollar Tree and they didn't have any appropriate cards.  Maybe this weekend.
Also trip-related, we had a pill-packing party a couple of weekends ago.  The medicines that we take are donated or purchased in bulk, so the pills had to be divvied up into like 20 pill packages.  We were encouraged to bring family and friends along a) so as to inform them about the trip; and 2) because the more people doing it, the quicker it gets done!  When I got there, I'm thinking there were just three people from our church going, but I sat down to help a table packing Tylenol-esque meds and the girl beside me asks if I'm from Westwood.  I'm like, yeah, .. why? what've you heard?  And she says she is too!  Who knew!  Now we have four people from our church going.  Her name is Jamie.

We discovered that we are going to be a traveling trip.  Normally, the teams stay at Faith Home orphanage and travel to and from the villages where they go, or the people come to a clinic they set up somewhere.  But our team will stay the first couple of nights at Faith Home and then pack up and travel several hours south and set up a base there.  We'll spend three or four days from the base to villages around there and back before traveling back to Faith Home for a couple of days before flying home.

We have also been informed of our tentative assignments.  Now, before I tell you what MY assignment is,  you have to think... "What would be the most fabulously funny area for Rose to be assigned?"  Got an answer in mind?  Well, here goes... I'll be helping with children's church.  Yes, that's right CHILDREN's church.  I'll pause here for you to get over your laughter.

Finished?  I went to go pick up my team t-shirt and Buck and he asked me what I thought about children's church.  I said, "Well... while I would never volunteer to do something with children, I will do whatever you need me to do.  That being said, if the Lord places it upon your heart to have someone else do that job, you feel free to follow His will."  Although the assignments were listed as "tentative" in the email, I haven't heard anything different, so I'm guessing Rose'll be doing children's church.  He did assure me that for the most part it'll be watching the kids while their parents are in adult church, and I figure it'll be more like herding cats (since I don't speak Spanish and I'm guessing they won't speak Rose), but also it'll only be for a couple of hours and then I can go assist in other areas.  On the bright side, I have an excuse to pack some of my more fun t-shirts, right?  :)

This coming Sunday, Daniel, of the "Mission Moment with Daniel" portion of the service, plans to have the four of us come up to be introduced to the crowd and be prayed over.  He emailed me for the names of the four of us, which I provided along with email addresses, and told me of his plans.  I responded that I was fine with it as long as he did not expect me to do more than be eye candy on the stage because I would not be speaking, and that I was pretty sure I could speak for Annette as well....  that I didn't know Jamie well enough to speak for her, but that Annette and I took a vote (before we knew about Jamie) and we'd elected Brandon our spokesperson.

I have all the stuff that I'm supposed to smuggle (and for any federal authorities who might be reading this, I say that in jest) across the border and now I just need to wander upstairs to find my big suitcase so I can start packing!  Once again, we'll be checking luggage, so I don't have to worry about small containers of liquids!  (yeah!)   So my next posting may be from Honduras... we'll see...


Monday, August 4, 2014

Leaving on a Jet Plane, part deux

Last January, at our church, during the “Mission Moment” in the morning worship service, it mentioned that there would be teams going to Honduras this summer and fall, and that if anyone was interested in going, to contact the "Mission Moment" guy, Daniel.  I’ve always wanted to go on a mission trip, but never felt that I was in a place, either financially or professionally, where I could afford to do it.  So when Daniel mentioned this, I started thinking about it and wondering if this might be the year. 
 
Then life intervened, my uncle got sick and passed away, and I forgot about it.  But Scott Strouse, the guy who organizes and leads these teams for General Baptist International Missions, came to our worship service and spoke with Daniel about the mission trips, and again, I was just feeling like this was something I should do.  So during prayer I told the Lord that if this was something He wanted me to do, I was game, but He needed to make sure that my tax refund would cover the expense for both this trip and the plane tickets to Ireland (which I’d just purchased online the night before!)  I talked to Scott after the service and got the information about the trip (specifically, the cost) and then went home to do my taxes.  Of course you know that God made my refund come out almost to the penny! 
 
I told Mom that I was thinking about going to Honduras on a team – her response was, “well, you’re going to Ireland this summer, maybe you should think about going next summer.”  So I told Mom about my discussion with the Lord and how I felt I was supposed to go THIS summer – her response was, “well, I guess you’ll be going this summer!”
 
Now, here it's less than a month away, I’ve had my shots, and I’ve got my passport warmed up.  I will be among three people from my church serving on a medical/dental mission team going to Honduras this fall.  We’ll be leaving on Friday, Aug. 29th and will return on Saturday, Sept. 6th.
 
I realize that those of you who know me well are saying to yourselves “but Rose, you don’t like children and aren’t particularly fond of people in general! What up?”  And you’d be right!  But then I figure the Lord knows that too, and I’m sure He knows just the perfect way to use me.
 
Although the team will be using Faith Home Orphanage as a “home base,” we will traveling out during the days to villages where we will set up clinics to provide medical care from real doctors and nurses, dental care, eye doctor care, and medicines to the inhabitants – some for the first time in their lives.  Medical care and dental are one thing – one very good thing, don’t get me wrong – but I am blind as a bat without my contacts or glasses.  And frankly I cannot imagine living in a world where everything was so blurry and out of focus with no hope of ever seeing the simplest of things… unless said thing was like an inch from my face!  I would think that being given the opportunity to have glasses would be almost as terrific as it was for the blind guy when Jesus put the mud on his eyes and then when he washed it off he could see.  Makes me goose-pimply!
 
Of course the true purpose is to bring the Gospel Message about Jesus to the people.  All persons coming to the clinics will attend an adult or children’s worship service where a clear Gospel Message is preached in their native language, and each family receives a Spanish Bible.  (I think it would have been nice of the Lord to bless me with the gift of speaking/understanding Spanish for this trip, but he hasn’t felt the need to do so as of this writing… should this change, I’ll let you know immediately.)

So would you like to help?  Please pray!  We’re going to a third world country and I’m sure there is danger - heat, bugs, bizarre viruses that my safe American body has no defense against - and what about restless natives!?  I know the Lord will keep us safe, but prayers to that effect would be nice, too.  And prayer that while we’re doing our thing, the Lord will be doing His thing and reaching those in need.  What else?  Well, as I said, we’ll be staying at Faith Home, but the goal is for us not to drain their resources in any way, so we cover the cost for everything (meds, food, Bibles, etc.) and it's something like $11,000.  Per our last team email, only about $3-4,000 has been donated so far.  God will provide.  But if you feel that you have the resources to help out financially, please make your check out to “GBIM” and put “Medical Team” on the memo line.  Checks can be either given to me directly or mailed to:
 
Scott Strouse, Summer Medical Team
701 Colony Rd.
Evansville, IN 47714

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wednesday, July 16th

Wednesday morning we woke up and headed out for our Loch Ness tour, but first, to lock our luggage in the train station, so we didn't have to lug it all around all day! Now, in fear of being too late, we probably over-compensated, but as it turned out, it was fine because when the taxi driver let us off at the cruise place, he told us about this hotel/restaurant directly across the street where we could have breakfast. We had a very nice breakfast - I tried marmite, I'd heard about it before but wondered what it was, (sort of like I've heard of the Austrailian's veggie-mite) and I do not recommend it - BLAH!

When we left breakfast to cross the street and get to the boat, it had started raining. This was the only down side, in my book, to our not getting to go on Tuesday's cruise, the weather would have been fine on Tuesday... but we were told that the weather today was more "authentic" so... And the rain didn't last, it was very breezy, although some or all of that may have been our speed in moving on the water, I don't know. On Facebook, you can see the pic of my hair standing totally up on end, due to the wind. We did not see Nessie, she may have been sleeping in, or even on vacation.. who knows!? She might be in the Pacific Northwest looking for Bigfoot! But we did see some fantastic scenery, and a castle or two, the mountains.. I'm incapable of finding the words for the beautiful scenery we've seen on this trip.

The trip took us down the Ness Canal, to the Loch, and lasted about 1:45, and they then let a lot of people off the boat because they were going to tour the castle and then bus it back to town, so we were able to nab decent seats (all the good ones having already been nabbed when we first got on), for the return trip. For the return, the rain had stopped and the sun was beginning to contemplate eeking out. It was a lovely ride back. It was even nice enough that at one point, Holly and Tom upstairs to ride on the upper deck.

After disembarking, we caught the bus back to town and had a nice lunch at, you guessed it... another pub!, before catching our train south to Edinburgh. That's where I am at the moment, I've been taking advantage of the free wifi to catch up on the blog. Watching the guy in the seat catty-cornered from me downing four (count them, 4) huge beers in about an hour and a half, then when he got off the train, the slug left all of his empties! Holly and Tom have been playing musical chairs and when I'm not typing, I'm looking out the window at the scenery. The sun, by the way, decided to come south with us and the skies are painfully blue with lots of fluffy clouds.

This may be the last "on the road" blog as the wifi may be iffy between now and Saturday. But here's the plan: We'll be arriving at Edinburgh about 7:30pm. We'll get a taxi to our dorm - we'll be staying in the same place, or thereabouts, as we stayed the last time when we were stuck in Scotland post my appendectomy - and then investigate the dinner options. Tomorrow will be our only day in Edinburgh and there is the Castle and the Holyrood Palace which are two musts.. there may be a hop on/off bus tour, don't know, but that would be nice, as you get commentary during the trip so you know what you're driving past. Either that or Holly is well acquainted with the bus system here and we may just get an all-day pass (3 pounds 20) and motor around that way.

Friday, we'll be getting up and taxiing it to the airport for our flight back to Indianapolis. The flight leaves around noon, if I recall correctly, and we'll be landing about 11pm in Indy. We'll probably be mostly dead, so we'll pass out at Chez Burns and in the morning, I'll head home... hitting a McDonald's first, for some ICED TEA!!!

Thanks to all who have enjoyed our journey with us. I'm sorry I couldn't include photos in the blog, hopefully you've been able to follow along with the pics posted on Facebook.

Until next time,... :)

Tuesday, July 15th

The entry for Tuesday may be brief, instead of several small places to go and see, we had just a couple of big ones, so...

We slept in, had a leisurely breakfast at the cafe at the bus station - sounds worse than it was. I had a steak sleeve (or something like that) and it was this very tasty roast beef all cut up, in gravy, cooked in a delicious flaky pastry... two thumbs up! - and caught a bus to Culloden Battlefield. Unfortunately, the bus we caught was going to Culloden the town, rather than the battlefield... so the driver dropped us off and told us to wait, because the bus we needed would be coming by and we could take it to the battlefield.

So we waited for the bus... and waited.. while we wait, let me point out that Tuesday was St. Swithen's Day - I got this info from the UK edition of USA Today (does that make sense??) - and tradition goes that if it rains on St. Swithen's Day, it will rain for the next 40 days! So we were keeping an eye out for rain that day 'cause we did not want guaranteed rain for the next three days (as long as we'd be here :).

Anyway, the bus came and we rode to Culloden Battlefield. Culloden was the last battle fought in the British Isles. It was the battle where the Jacobites (people who thought that James the Something should be on the throne rather than George I (either the father or grandfather of the George who lost the American Revolution) fought to replace George with Bonny Prince Charlie (James' son). Lest I bore you, let me just say that they lost big, and thousands were slaughtered in about an hour and George Something was on the throne in 1776. We only had about an hour to tour the place, so we couldn't see the battle re-enactment or take the guided tour of the battleground, but I got a really cute apron covered with cartoon cats wearing tartan on it in the gift shop!

The plan for the afternoon was to take the bus back to the bus station and catch a bus to the place where we were going to catch the boat for our cruise around Loch Ness. Unfortunately, all that waiting for the bus two paragraphs ago threw a wrench in our works and we didn't make it in time. Tom was able to convince the lady behind the desk to switch our tickets to the 10 am cruise the next morning - he said that the words "Stupid Americans" were heard... So not only were we free for the afternoon, but we'd be taking a later train on Wednesday to Edinburgh.

How did we spend our free time? Well, like all good Americans, we hit the mall! :) Ok, well first we hit a Victorian Market (I found a Scottish flag for Gnarley and Holly found a nice chocolate shoppe!) But then we hit the mall.. mostly because it was someplace we could sit and kill some time before dinner - but Holly took advantage of the opportunity to find herself some sparkly sunglasses to replace those she'd lost back in Dublin on day one (she'd since been using my extra pair).

We had dinner at a local pub and then bussed it back to the hotel and relaxed, watching Romancing the Stone before hitting the sheets. Tomorrow... Loch Ness!

Monday, July 14th

The plan for Monday was to take the train to Inverness and we discovered that we could catch a train at 7:10 in the morning, getting us there about 11-ish. We made it... I can't say we were happy or perky about it, but we got on the train and started traveling north. The scenery was beautiful and there were even pockets of snow in the mountains! At least we're pretty sure that's what they were - don't know what else it could have been. We saw a lot of green hills, trees, fluffy sheep and cows. Very lovely.

Once in Inverness, we nabbed a taxi to take us to our hotel, again too early to check in, but we wanted to dump the luggage. I never realized that hotels would do this, but it's nice to know. We got directions to the nearest bus stop and trekked out. First, food! There was this restaurant that advertised "All American Food" - I'm not sure that it was honesty in advertising, but it hit the spot. Next, we found the hop on/off bus tour and took a jaunt around the city. It was raining, but we all had our umbrellas, so it was all good.

Our first stop was the castle - very picturesque, on top of a hill, looking over the city. Unfortunately, it is currently in use as a courthouse, so there was no going in, no tour. We got nice pics and then went down the hill to the info center. I hit the gift shop while Holly got the bus schedules interpreted.

We then roamed the city, hitting a cathedral, walking over the bridge over the river (which may or may not have been the River Ness - I don't have the map handy), and we walked on the bouncy bridge (which when you walk on it, it feels like it's bouncing, rather creepy if you ask me.) On our way back to somewhere, (I don't know where - Inverness really screwed with my internal GPS, which isn't all that great to begin with - I never knew where we were!) we discovered this old church, build in 1148 and some nice ladies talked to us about it while my footies rested and Holly and Tom looked around. A beautiful church and the ladies were so friendly to chat with.

Then again, while continuing on our wandering, we discovered this used bookstore/cafe in another old church building. We had time to kill so we went in for some light browsing and maybe a nosh! We all found something to read, got something to eat, and sat and rested out of the rain before discussing our plans for the rest of the evening. Tom wanted to hit a whisky tasting at a whisky store so Holly and I took a cab back to the hotel, rested and read our books until a James Bond movie came on TV. When Tom arrived back at the hotel, he told us that after the tasting, he discovered the bus he needed wouldn't be around for another hour so he popped into a pub that was having a trivia night. He joined a team in need of a fourth and using his prowess in esoteric American crappy movies, helped them win!

We turned in... it was a short day, but we needed the rest.

Sunday, July 13th

We woke up in the Castle - it was so cool! We had a really nice room, with a closet that held a toilet, and our own bathroom, across the hall. Having left my brain at home, it took me forever to figure out how to use the shower. I swear, each shower mechanism is different! After par-boiling my body, then freezing it to sub-zero temps, I finally got it figured out and had a nice shower. I really liked the shower gel in the shower, but I don't have room in my suitcase to smuggle any home, so it'll have to be a fond memory.

Breakfast was an incredible spread. There were five us there eating: me, Holly & Tom, and the couple from Canada who were staying in the other room. He was a big Colts fan so he and Tom hit it off real quickly! There was so much food on this tiny table, and I swear, the hostess kept bringing more out! The owners were a couple from the Czechoslovakia area and he said that when they saw the view from the battlements, he knew he was moving to Scotland! I can see why, the view was very nice - it was of the River Clyde. After breakfast, we all traipsed upstairs for the view and pictures!

We also got to hear about the ghost of the castle. If I recall correctly, she lived in the castle years ago and she was just mean and nasty and killed the townspeople for sport... and either she was tried and sentenced to starve in the castle OR her husband came home from wherever, found out what she'd been up to, and killed her. Either way, she didn't wake us up. If she attempted, she was destined for disappointment.

Unfortunately, it was time for us to leave the castle. It was a great place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live in a castle. Too many steps, for one, and the cable reception wasn't all that! We got a taxi to the train station and rode back to Glasgow. It was about noon when we arrived, we found our bed and breakfast and, even though it was too early to check-in, left our luggage there so we could catch a bus to see some sights. As luck would have it, the hop on/off bus stopped just around the corner from the B&B. We rode around the city, the entire tour taking almost two hours, and made a mental note of the highlights we wanted to hit. The city of Glasgow is preparing for thew Commonwealth Games - which is like the PanAm Games, only for just the 60-ish countries in the British Commonwealth, and it is every four years - so some of the areas of the tour were blocked off from us. I'm not sure they were places we were desperate to see, but they might have been nice to see.

But before we could hit any of them, we had to wee, so we hopped off at this ginormous museum, the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum. While we were there, we looked around a bit. It was a very nice and we could have spent a lot longer there! Before we left, though, we did hit the gift shop where I found the most adorable Scottish rubber ducky which, as the only way you can see my pics at the moment are on Facebook, you may have already seen. He's too cute!

After the Museum, we got back on a bus and made our way to the cathedral and necropolis (cemetery). Tom wanted to hit a tour of the Tennant brewery which was conveniently located at the very next bus stop, so Holly and I hit the cathedral while Tom headed down to his tour. The cathedral was beautiful and we took pics. Then we trotted over to the cemetery and took pics. But it was huge and wound its way up this hill that we didn't have time (or in my feet's case, the interest) to climb, so we headed down the hill to search for Tom. Turns out his brewery tour doesn't operate on Sunday, but he found a micro-brewery where he could hang for a while.

We hopped on the bus and started around the city again, until we could alight at a stop near our B&B. We had just enough time to catch some dinner before going back and officially moving into our room in time for the World Cup game. I took a shower, checked my email and went to sleep. The last thing I recall being the impression that someone scored.