It’s now July 15; we got back to Honduras last Thursday. We had two return dates set prior to that, but each time something popped up at the last moment that had to be dealt with. Now that we have arrived it seems really good to be here. The compound looks good, classes are full, and all the teachers are in place. Our former student and teacher, Christian, is back for a break but will probably be heading back to the ship soon. Jose is still here. Before leaving the States we met with building experts who want to help with the sports park and the new classroom building; we received another project for the production center so these women have some temporary work; another couple that was connected with a well known evangelist wants to come down and minister; and someone with a master’s degree in teaching wants to come down and teach our teachers. Our delays were not in vain; His ways are always better. We had another direct answer to prayer this week. We needed money to be wired right away to cover payroll and expenses for the mission center—and we didn’t have it. We decided to go ahead and wire what we had and try to come up with the rest some other way. Then suddenly our electricity went out and we had no phone or internet to contact the bank. We continued to pray about the situation, and two things happened: 1) the electricity eventually came back on 2) we were then able to read an email from Donna, our treasurer, saying we had received a donation in the mail and she was on the way to the bank to deposit it in our account. As you might expect, it was enough to meet to need.
Saturday (5/11) was a busy day. The first event of the day was loss of our electricity. Poor timing; it just so happened that Saturday was one of the hottest days of the year. Furthermore, we had parent’s meetings scheduled starting at 10am. We had about 100 people in the conference room at a time—and it really got hot. The purpose of the meetings was to keep parents informed and involved in what their sons and daughters are doing. We also solicited their help in making sure the students do their homework, come to class everyday and on time, wear their uniforms etc. Despite the heat, it was a very productive time….. Later on in the day we had Timothy Training for our youth leaders. Saturday night we had been invited along with some other churches to attend a worship service. The church that extended the invitation was very small, and I expected attendance to be around 25 people. As it turned out, the service was outside; approximately 250 chairs had been set up in an open lot next to the church—and all were filled. It was a real blessing. On Sunday we went to church at International Christian Fellowship in San Pedro Sula; it was great to see friends we haven’t seen in a long while. Today (5/13) we started out with a student’s meeting to discuss and distribute their new handbook. Cheryl has done an amazing job with these students in choosing their curriculum, developing lesson plans, teaching their teachers, outlining student deportment. The classes are much more effective than they were a year or two ago…. I am now being included in some pastor’s events. They refer to me as Mr. Gary Missionary. This noon we will be having a pastor’s meeting (including Missionary Gary) in our conference center. This is a big answer to prayer. Ever since we got here we have been working toward seeing cooperation among the Evangelical pastors in our villages.
There’s a big difference between being called to stay and deciding not to go.
Dr. Jonathan Friend & Dr. Chris Stokes
Last week we had a medical “brigade” from Christ Presbyterian Church in Tulsa here at the mission center. This is the clinic established by Dr. James Green some years ago. There were three physicians, three nurses, a pharmacist, and a lens specialist. They were in the village of El Chile on Monday, and Campana on Tuesday. The rest of the week they were at our Mission Center in Los Portales. We had put out notices in the villages the week before, and more than 500 patients were seen in those five days. What a great blessing for all….. This week is back to “normal”. Cheryl will be spending much of her time with the students and teachers, both little kids and high school age. I will work with the carpentry class; and spend time in the villages. We also have a couple of regulatory issues pending which are very time consuming.
Have you noticed? The more you eat the more you eat; the more you pray the more you pray.
This past week we spent a lot of time in church meetings. There were 3 outdoor revival meetings; one church members meeting; and a fast and pray service on Sunday. The average time for a church meeting here in Honduras is 3 hours. That being the case, we spent 15 hours in church last week. Our church attendance is growing, and we praise the Lord for that. I have gotten a little more active in addressing groups in the Campana area. Saturday night I shared briefly at the local pastor’s convention in Campana, and Wednesday night I gave the message at church. I also meet with the carpentry class twice a week. Thursday morning (4/11) Cheryl had physical therapy in San Pedro; and she had the women’s service in the church tonight. She spoke on bearing one another’s burdens. This is especially focused to the village women’s ministry leaders.…Yesterday afternoon our children’s group presented an Easter presentation, costumes, script, and all. There were about 20 children involved. The Jesus Passion film was shown for all classes of older students. We had three showings to accommodate the schedules and capacity of the conference center. It had quite an impact. More than several students accepted Christ. Honduras shuts down for Holy Week (Semana Santa). All stores, businesses and schools closed as of noon today. Our church, Templo Evangelico Emanuel, will also show the Passion on Thursday afternoon with special services Friday and Sunday. Christ Presbyterian Church from Tulsa will arrive the end of this month, we so look forward to them coming and pray that God will bless their time here.
If you choose to live your life in the comfort zone you will never know for sure what you really believe about God.
Last Sunday our church, TEE, celebrated Father’s Day and invited some who normally do not attend church. There was a great response. The children provided special music and lunch was served afterwards.
Some will remember a lady from New Campana named Ramona. Several years ago she was run down by a motor cycle and had two major bones in her leg badly broken. She had surgery, but it didn’t go well; the metal they inserted in her legs started protruding through the skin, and soon she could no longer walk. About that time, Dr. Green (James Green from Tulsa) came to hold a medical clinic, and asked us to see about a restorative surgery to remove the metal and take care of the infection. She began improving right away. I have seen her twice this week and she has made great progress. She can walk now, and sometimes even walks without her cane. For awhile she had to be in a wheelchair.
Last week we had a dental clinic day thanks to some volunteer dentists from San Pedro. We continue to see more and more patients in the medical clinic four days a week.
For the classes, there are close to 300 attending classes now. We share the Gospel in each class.
Yesterday, March 28, was Cheryl’s birthday. The employees bought her a beautiful cake, and lovely necklace and earrings. Last night we had a very special birthday dinner in San Pedro with our Russian friends the Gillans. It was a great blessing.
We finally got back to Honduras on February 26, nearly a month after we had planned. Our time up North in MI, OH, and KY were gratifying, but very cold and snowy. It has been years since I have driven in snow and ice. Mom Longstaff’s passing was difficult; yet remembering together her life of love and faith was a blessing. She will be greatly missed…. Three days after we returned to Honduras a team from Kalamazoo, MI arrived. On Saturday, March 2, there was an ordination service at the church officiated by pastor Dan Sarkipato, installing Nelson as the official pastor of our church, Templo Evangelico Emauual. A very special event as our pastor from Venezuela has not been able to return. On Sunday there was a baptismal service in the ocean. Four were baptized, this time by “our new pastor, Nelson”…. There were 11 members on the team, including two physicians assistants and a nurse. They, along with our own nurses saw 260 patients in five days. The team also hosted volleyball matches each day which included many of our local young people—and on Friday was a tournament. The group left on Saturday; the next group arrives the end of April. We have a lot to get caught up.
Well, January has come and gone and we are still in Tulsa. Cheryl had shoulder surgery on January 7, and is now in rehab. Our return date is now set for February 13. It is a tremendous blessing that we have Nicolas and Nelson and the other 18 employees at the Mission Center to keep things running. We, and especially Cheryl, normally communicate with them several times a day. Cheryl had made arrangements with her physician to be dismissed early from PT to leave for Honduras on February 13. However we have received word from her sister that her Mom has been put under hospice care. Therefore we will be making a trip to Michigan before returning to Honduras. We are just now collecting information regarding how soon to make the trip. Today (2/4) was the first day of classes at the mission center. Cheryl and Ellen LeGrone have spent a lot of time introducing a new curriculum, lesson plans, a new student handbook with new rules, etc. We’re depending on our Honduras staff to implement all of the changes.
- We got back to Tulsa last Tuesday (12/4); the trip was pretty much uneventful. A day earlier we said good-bye to Denny Boersema. He spent ten days with us working on the education program. He and Cheryl worked on new applications of curricula, as well as procedural handbooks for students and teachers. On the same day that Denny arrived, a group from Beacon Hill Baptist in OK was just leaving. Candy Matheny and her parents have been running the 1000 Christmas gifts project since 2007. This time Candy and her mom, Collene Jennings, along with Linda Thornhill, Avery Johnson, and Phillip Deckard came along. It was a great experience for all. First of all, the container came in much faster this year. The boxes were in our warehouse by the time Jim Redyke and the group from First Methodist had arrived. This year we went further back into the “jungle like area” to hand out the gifts. Over past couple of weeks we have had several meetings regarding the future of our Honduras church. Since Nelson Batista has been held in Venezuela so much of the time, the decision was made to ordain Nelson Osorto, so he can do baptisms, communion, marriages, etc. He is working on a seminary degree. For now the two Nelsons will be co-pastors…..Just before we left on Tuesday we had Saturday graduation at Gathering Hearts. A real highlight was when the 94 graduates sang songs and hymns in English. We served sit-down lunch to about 200 students and family. Later in the day we attended junior high graduation at the private school where we and other Gathering Hearts participants scholarship students. That was a very special time also…. Before leaving Honduras we also had several meetings about the land for our soccer field. The deal was sealed just before we left.
- . . . . . . . .
Sometimes I think we may be fuel for the unbeliever when the things we preach are not the things we do.