Note: This is an excerpt from my journal that I kept during my trip to Honduras a few weeks ago. I’ve tried to edit/add to some of my original thoughts because I didn’t have the time to write them out completely while on the trip.
Last night, a tropical storm hit Honduras. We knew before we went to bed that the rain was coming. I woke up this morning to the sound of a torrential downpour and had a feeling that today was going to be interesting. Whether rain or shine, we were building another house today. This house was located in the village that Carlos, David’s son, is from. We were building it for a friend of his. When we showed up to the building site, I was not sure at first where the house was going to be built. We actually had to tear down the house that they were currently living in. To be honest, tearing down a house is more fun than building a house, at least for me anyway. Once everything was taken out of the house, I basically grabbed a hammer and started swinging. It’s amazing how quickly we tore down that house. Granted, it was held together by rotting wood and old nails, but still we had the area cleared in a short amount of time.
Once we finished the demolition, we were ready to start building. The only problem was, we had to figure out where to start. The house was to be built in an area that was surrounded by wall on three sides. This meant we were not able to build the actual walls of the house from the outside, which is how we normally would build. It’s always fun when you have ten or so guys trying to figure out how to do something. I just decided to stand against the wall and let them sort it out. It took awhile to figure out that we had to build the back wall on the ground, before putting the posts in their holes. We basically had to build it Amish style. This led to the discussion of what the Amish would be like living in Honduras. This was less of a discussion and more of just me thinking out loud and no one really paying attention. Which is the story of my life, but that and the Amish in Honduras is for another time. I’ll get back to the rest of the day.
So, we got the back wall up and it was level for the most part. At that point we had little to do and a lot of people standing around, myself being one of them. Ashley’s group, who had set up a store in the village, selling supplies that we had brought with us, were already sold out. They sold out in like twenty minutes. Luckily she found out that there was a church in the village that needed some work to be done. I volunteered to go help at the church. There was too much testosterone in too little of a space at the building site. I figured I would be more useful helping somewhere else. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into. We walked back to the bus and sat down to eat a sandwich. To tell the truth, it felt so nice to sit on the bus. I was so comfortable that I probably could have fallen asleep right there. It was not even noon yet. It seemed like I was on the bus for only a minute, when it was time to leave to go work. We made the trek up the hilly village road, which was comprised of red mud and huge puddles of water. The church that we were working at was at the top of a hill, right on the side of the mountain. We had to cross a little stream and climb up these steps made from car tires to get to it. All I knew was that we were going to shovel some mud somewhere. As it turned out, we were shoveling mud from a cement walkway in between the church and the feeding center. This mud gets built up from the runoff of the mountain side and in some spots was over a foot deep. There were about eight of us, and the only tools we had were two shovels, one of which had only half a handle, a pick axe, a post hole digger, and a wheel barrow. There was really only enough room for two of us to work at a time, and I was the only guy. I wasn’t very excited to shovel mud from a hallway. The mud was really heavy, and there was a lot of it. And did I mention I was the only guy? We did our best to work in shifts, shoveling mud into the wheel barrow, then dumping it over the hill. Eventually I got into a rhythm and kind of started to enjoy the hard labor. I would definitely classify shoveling mud into the non glorious category when it comes to serving others. Luckily getting the job done just for the sake of accomplishing something was motivation enough for me. It is strange how we like to feel a sense of accomplishment when doing hard labor, especially us guys.
Did I mention that a tropical storm hit Central America as we were finishing the house? I say, we even though I didn’t really do much except watch. It was amazing to see our team at work in the pouring down rain. Everyone was completely soaked (except Emily), and many of us were shivering. I’m not exaggerating when I say there was a river of water flowing through the path that leads to the building site. As I stood there all I could think of was how I couldn’t wait to finish the house and get back on the bus. I wanted a warm shower and a dry change of clothes. It dawned on me that as eager as I was to finish the house and leave, the family we were building for was even more eager for us to finish, so they could stay. This was their home. I wanted to get out, they wanted to get in. I think of how excited I am when I move into a new place or new room and how I love to find a place for all my stuff and make it my own space. I’ll admit, I had much difficulty seeing the house we were building as a home. To me it was four walls and a tin roof. To them it was a gift from God. Part of me feels bad for taking for granted all the comforts I have back home. Building a house for a family in Honduras in a tropical storm is a powerful experience. I don’t know about the rest of the team, but as I was watching the final boards get put up, or the last piece of sheet metal for the roof being nailed down, I felt that God was there with us. The power of the Spirit is amazing. Once the door was cut and the house was finished, we all stood inside for the traditional dedication/prayer. I’ve been a part of three builds between my two trips to Honduras, and this prayer was by far the most powerful. Even though I was unable to understand what Christian was saying, I could feel the emotions in his voice. I sensed God’s presence in the room. Christian talked about how thankful he was for this gift his family had been given. He spoke of how for years he remained faithful to God to bring them a new house and how God delivered. The faith he showed was both inspiring and challenging. At times, it seems as though my faith is miniscule in comparison.
I think it is difficult to compare the type of faith or the amount of faith of two different cultures. Being a Christian in Canton, Ohio seems much different than being a Christian in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. But then again, it is the same. We both believe in a Jesus who preaches the power of love. Love is the one thing in both cultures that feels the same to me. Christian love is Christian love, no matter what language you speak. Maybe I should expand on that, but I think this is good for now.