Sharing a Profound Moment
I must begin today’s post by first taking a step backwards for just a second–back to the close of our team meeting last night to tell you of yet another very profound moment we all shared. We had just started walking away from the meeting when up until this point, mild mannered Matt Rugh, father of Zach and Jake Rugh, asked us to hang back for just one more minute. Matt then proceeded to tell us that when he showered up before our meeting he went through the pockets of his dirty pants before casting them aside–just as he would do on any other day in his life. Matt then moved to center of the mission house floor and put his hand into his pants pockets again. Next, he withdrew some things from his pocket while saying “and this is what I found,” and opening his fist, he gingerly tossed out the items onto the tiled floor. You see, Matt had worked alongside Christian another young El Ayudante worker and interpreter building a new roof on a village house. This young coworker whose name happened to be Christian had at some point loaned Matt a pencil–and just like that we all saw the carpenter’s pencil and three large nails laying out on the tile where the grouting formed the shape of a cross.–yet another poignant message from God, and we all felt the “Ah-ha, we know you’re here with us God,” moment.
Onward to Tuesday, June 30th – Day 4
Today would be yet another very busy day. Daily work in and among the community, back to vacation bible school at Lo de Reina in the early afternoon, then back to the mission house for a quick dinner and clean up for a special church service at the Lo de Reina Church.
As you might have gleaned from earlier passages in this series of posts, family devotionals are important starts to our days with God and all His children at El Ayudante and help us keep our focus on doing His work. This morning ritual has started to set in on me and Bob. We already are finding that discussing the devotionals and associated bible verses brings out reflections, thoughts, and open conversations about our daily lives, our true selves and true desires, concerns for our larger family’s future, and keeping God at the center of all our lives’ activities.
Again after breakfast, our 2015 El Ayudante Family Mission Team split up into smaller teams to continue projects we started on Monday. Some stayed in Lo De Reina with the roof building project, but most of us traveled in the back of the work truck just like the locals do and got involved with activities this time 2.5 km NNE (about 1.5 miles) of Lo De Reina in Cascabeles. This time, Bob and I went with the Thomas Family to install water filters. Bob and I volunteered to chat with family members while the Thomas’s installed their first-ever water filter system. The Thomas family, David, Alexandra, and Amara cleaned large and small gravel and twice washed sediment from about 75 pounds of sand to be used in the filtering system. They first identified the place where the family chose for the plastic trash-can-type receptacle to stand. They used a leveling tool and tongue depressors where necessary to ensure that the water to be put in the container would remain level. They next tested their leveled container by adding a small amount of water and to confirm for a final time that the container had no leaks. Next they carefully distributed the large gravel, followed by the small pebbles, and finally, the cleaned sand. Then, they filled the trash can to a marked fill line inside and attached a clear plastic fish tank filter like tubing to the spout made of PVC. At the finish, the water in the can would filter through the sand, through the pebbles and through the gravel, and clean, filtered water would run down the plastic tubing into a plastic water-cooler bottle. And, the final one minute test of the water flowing through the tubing measured it for proper flow. We also installed a picture poster with care instructions in Spanish on the stucco wall above the filter. The poster includes a contact number for the family to call should any problems arise that they cannot handle.
Preparation and installation takes about one hour. And the family, usually of 8 to 10, has clean, filtered water inside, and for up to 10 years.
Pila (pronounced, Pee-la)
For a majority of Honduran families, plumbing is an uncommon luxury. Families only other sources of water on their property, if they are lucky enough to have one, is a government controlled pouring of water just once or twice a week for about one hour into an outside rainwater catcher and basin known as a “pila.”
Hondurans treasure their pilas because they meet a number of purposes for the family:
- Collects Water: Whether or not the family has access to a water system, a pila is a sufficient way to for them to collect and retain water. When a water system is not available, rain water collects in the basin. The size of the concrete basin allows for a substantial amount of water.
- Washing Clothes: The ribbed, scrub board at the side of the pila allows people to wash their clothes, and use water collected from the basin to rinse them. For a family without a pila, a rock takes the place of the scrub board and a bucket or barrel substitutes as a water basin.
- Washing Dishes: Water collected in the basin is also used to clean dishes.
- Bathing: Most households lack an actual bathing area. Children wash in the same area as the scrub board and adults rinse off with the water collected in the basin.
- Flushing a Toilet: In circumstances where a family has a toilet, (this is part of why we also install latrines and build corrugated aluminum outhouses with toilets inside them for shelter and privacy), people can pour water from the pila into the toilet for a “self-flush.”
Meanwhile just inside with the family, Bob and I talked with the father, Manuel, the mother, their two grown daughters and their children, and his other children who were not out working or at school. Dad was proud. He pointed out his children’s school graduation certificates that he had framed and hung across the top of the room’s otherwise plain and empty stucco and block wall. He went on to tell us two of his children had gone off to college. But, he truly didn’t have to tell us how proud he was because we clearly saw it from his wall display in his otherwise austere home atop a mountain where 50 percent or more of school aged children drop out and when all schooling is over for children at age 14. But still, his college educated children returned home because they missed their families and there was no employment in Honduras where they could use their college degrees.
He also said that he left religious choices up to his family members and that his wife and children were the church goers even though he feels he has a strong spiritual connection with Jesus Christ.
Before closing our conversation in prayer, Manuel told us that he earned his money by growing coffee and selling raw bee honey. He gave us a sample of his ambrosial freshly collected raw honey and we instantly bought a bottle to take home with us. (We should have bought several.) Jonathan, our interpreter, also bought a bottle. I was left feeling that this man was giving his children opportunities and choices in education and religion that he had never had for himself and these things were the most important of any gifts he could give his children.
Next we walked only a few steps further to one of Manuel’s relative’s houses. This time Bob and I prepared and installed the water filter while the Thomas family talked with the household about their lives in Honduras, their needs, and their relationships with Christ.
It was just before dinner and during clean up to get ready for church that Mark Howard came to assemble us all for an impromptu meeting. It appears that one of the local women, who came to the clinic in the morning suffering through the final stages of cancer, had succumbed to her disease just an hour or so ago at the Comayagua hospital. Mark described this octogenarian woman as a leader in her community–wife of the local mayor Saul Martinez–she had helped spread the vision and support for El Ayudante for 11 years and its new Clinic that was just within a few days of celebrating the opening of its doors one short year ago. So to honor this woman and the Honduran people’s culture, we would not be attending a church service. Rather, her body was already placed in a casket and taken to her home where close family and friends would gather with food and refreshments and would likely stay the night until her funeral the following day at the same time as she had passed the day before. I wish I knew more of her story to tell you, but I only recall Mark referring to her as a dear friend to El Ayudante and held in high esteem among her community.
After a brief regrouping, we decided that we all could best use this time to further plan and prepare for yet another first ever event at El Ayudante–Family Game Night– and, to also close with four team member’s stories about their walks with Jesus that they had intended to share at the canceled local church service.
But before I close my journal on this day, there is one more friend that I came to know and to get too close to each night from within our dorm in my bunk. I just knew from within the walls and ceilings that surrounded me that at some point I would discover this busily scurrying, chirping little bunk buddy under the sheets with me–and yet another reason once again to trust in the Lord that I would not be harmed!