Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Write-up on summer Mission trip-REMIX and Honduras 20122

It has been a few months now since our return from leading an incredible three-week missions trip to Toronto and Siguatepeque, Honduras with 12 of our youth and 4 other leaders. All are currently members of Willow Creek Baptist Church located just outside of Barrie, Ontario.

This trip was a unique time of ministry for my wife and I as this was our first mission trip, among many we’ve experienced, leading a team from Canada. We were so blessed to have this privilege and there wasn’t a day that went by when we didn’t see God leading and going before us in everyway! As a team we needed to raise $37,000. God immensely blessed this project and we were able to raise over and above what we needed. This allowed us to bless Siguatepeque Bilingual Christian School by sending 7 children to Vacation Bible School as well as pay for economic stoves, which will be delivered to families in the poor communities.

Our first week was a training week in Toronto (REMIX-www.torontoremix.com) with several other youth groups from as far as the U.S. Our days were filled with learning how to center our lives around the mission and message of Jesus, while also learning how to see people as God sees them. The mornings consisted of in-class training followed by afternoon mission and ministry opportunities. Here we were sent out as a youth group to put into practice what we had learned in the morning sessions. The themes for the week were as follows:
DAY 1 -
Encountering God's Love
DAY 2 - Meeting people through Jesus' eyes
DAY 3 - Care through listening and learning
DAY 4 - Connect with God's community
DAY 5 - Share God's truth
DAY 6 - Share God's mission

Our first day led us downtown Toronto via subway where we did a prayer walk that ended at a church that reaches the homeless and marginalized in the city. The other afternoons consisted of things like; park ministry, cleaning top-bottom at a youth drop-in center, mall ministry and more, all while sharing God’s love and praying for people. There were some incredible conversations that came-out of this time as we encountered people who were so hungry to know the truth and purpose of what life is really all about.

Sunday July 3rd our team arrived in San Pedro Sula and drove 2 hours up the mountain to the school, located 4000 feet above sea level. Our first week at the school, consisted of Vacation Bible School each morning until noon. We had over 70 kids attend from JK to Grade 5 and did kids songs, taught memory verses and Bible stories, played games and just loved on kids as Jesus would. Many of these were children from the local orphanage and these beautiful children grew very close to our whole team. In the afternoons we worked, until dinner, on a children’s Jungle Gym, painted wall murals, built and painted desks and chairs for a school in a rural poor community of Balibrea, organized the school’s library, repaired fences, cleaned roves, property and more.

In our second week, most of our days consisted of finishing up work projects along with visiting the poor community of Balibrea. It was here where we gave eight economical stoves to families who attended the house church in that community. The pastor from that area (Pastor Noel) came with us and taught each family how to use these eco friendly stoves that only smoke for about 3-5 minutes and use five times less firewood. For only $50.00 Canadian/stove, Honduran families will remain healthier and provide more time to do other more productive things. We were also able to give the families clothes, hygiene products and stuffed animals for the children.

Balibrea was definitely the highlight of our two weeks in Honduras. It was very hard to see what some of these families lived in when right across the road families had so much wealth but the incredible thing was they were all so happy. They were all smiling and laughing and so grateful for the stoves, clothes and toys. Our team quickly began to realize how much we have in Canada and how unhappy we still are a lot of the time.

Upon our arrival back to Barrie we had a team debriefing where we asked two key questions: 1. How has this changed us? 2. What are we going to do to serve in our own community? We all agreed we need to serve more people and families in our community, church and youth group. Some of our youth are now looking for opportunities to help their neighbours, others have started witnessing downtown Barrie on weekends and as a youth group we have focused many of our events to serving others in and around our city.

To see pictures and read more of our journey, please visit more of our blog.

We are now praying and looking forward to leading another team of youth and leaders from here at Willow Creek, Lord willing, to Honduras again in the summer of 2013.

Love In His Service,

Pastor William and Melanie Walker

Associate Pastor Of Youth and Worship

Willow Creek Baptist Church, Barrie, Ontario (www.willowbarrie.com)

Work E-mail: william.walker@ptpbroadband.com

William and Melanie Blog Website: www.melwillwalker.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 17, 2011

We are Home

We arrived at the Toronto Airport at 11:45pm last night safe and sound. We were greeted by family and friends, which was great as we came out with our bags to arrivals!

We all can't thank everyone enough for your support and prayers. We hope this blog has been an eyeglass into what we experienced and that you were able to get a good view of our ministry while away.

We look forward to seeing you at church in the next week or so and we will plan to have a sharing time of our trip in the near future to share even more stories and pictures.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Punta Sal

Our boat

We woke up early this morning to catch our boat just outside our hotel to go to Punta Sal Island. The sun was shining and it was warm. It was a smooth boat ride there. We first headed to a small cove where we did a 40 minute guided jungle walk tour. Here are some of things we saw...

Ant Hills

Crabs and lots of them


Big rocky hill to climb

Lobster that was caught. It's huge!

After our tour, they took us out by boat to a tunnel we could swim through. It was very cool, but I don't know if anyone got any pictures of it.

We then headed to a small beach and swam for an hour, then over to a part of the island where the Garafuna (people) live. There is about 100 that live on Punta Sal Island in total. We swam and they served us a fish lunch like this...

Small beach

Beach where we ate lunch and swam

Where they cook lunch

Lunch - Battered fish, deep fried plantain (tastes like french fries) beans and rice

We headed back to Tela around 2:30 and surprisingly enough it was a much, much, much, much smoother ride back compared to 4 years ago when Will and I, Dave and Esther last went!

Cool story actually about when we were at the island. When we were swimming at the small beach first, Jenna Stevenato got a small piece of something stuck in her foot near her baby toe. It was painful and we couldn't get it out. However when we got to the other beach where we were having our lunch, there was another team there too from Georgia. They were a team of doctors and construction workers. So a doctor happened to have the necessary tools Jenna needed to get this little piece out of her foot, except for anestectic to freeze the area! She was so brave, despite how much it hurt to get it out and we were very blessed to have the doctor there to help her. Thank you Lord Jesus!

We are back at our hotel now safe and sound. We are about to eat dinner in an hour. We leave for the airport around 7:30 tomorrow morning and we'll be seeing you all shortly.

Thank you all for your prayers, your comments on our blog and your encouragement. Please continue to pray for us as we travel home tomorrow. We don't get in till midnight in TO, so we'll be a little tired.

It has been a great missions trip. William and I have dreamed of taking youth over on missions trips and this was our first opportunity to do so and it's been amazing. We were just looking at some of the older pictures we took last week in Siguatepeque where we were staying and we were just saying we already miss it there and I know the rest of the team would agree with us. Please also keep Jasmine in your prayers as she stays here with a family that is close to Dave and Esther for the next three weeks. We will miss having her on our way home tomorrow, but are so excited she is able to stay and serve.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Our last few days events

We have internet at our hotel in Tela, so I am taking this time to write and post photos for you of our past three days.

We finished our VBS last Friday, so we have been very busy working at the school. Monday we had half our team go off to Balibrea and deliver 4 stoves to families. The normal stove that most have are very big, hot and use a lot of wood and produce a lot of smoke that the families inhale 24/7 as it's always burning. Pastor Noel, who is the pastor in this community has been delivering these new stoves to families within his church so that they can bless others in their community with it as well. These stoves use less wood and don't smoke as much so are healthier for the families in their homes.

There are some nice homes in Balibrea (above), then across the street you can find a home like this one (below). This small house below is smaller than a normal size bedroom in Canada and sleeps 6 kids and a mother. There is one twin bed in the house that the mom and her three children share and a hard table covered in blankets for the two older kids to sleep in. The baby sleeps in a hammock above the mothers bed.

Here she is receiving her new stove with three of her children. There is not enough room for a kitchen inside the house, so she cooks outside.

Here she is trying out her new stove and putting tortillas on it. She was very excited.

This house (above) make of wood and sticks was a house we stopped by on Saturday. We didn't mean for our van to stop here, but the extra tire (donut) that sits under our van came loose and fell off. By the time we heard the noise of the tires holder dragging under the van we had stopped in front of this house. The mother and kids were home. William had packed some cookies for us as a team, but we hadn't eaten them yet, so we gave them to the family. Only to find out 2 days later that this family is very poor and the husband who lives here has had an alcohol issue and many times came home drunk and threatened to kill his wife and kids if she went to church. When he found out she was at church he would get very angry and the wife and children would flee the house and spend days hiding out and sleeping in the forest nearby. All this to say, Pastor Noel has been praying for this man and he has recently given his life to the Lord! It was no mistake that the extra tire came loose and we stopped in front of this house. They get very little food and I believe have about 9 in their family to feed. These cookies were a huge blessing to them!
Here are two of their children.

This is a normal shower for people in Balibrea. Some cloth held up on a make shift clothes line and some buckets.

We were also able to hand out some stuffies for the kids and tooth brushes and tooth paste for each family member we visited.

We also took a trip to a children's home, close to Balibrea. 7 of these kids from the home attended our VBS, so we wanted to visit them again and meet the other children. 41 in total! Here are some photos of our time there.This little guys name is Christian. He is 6 months old and came to the children's home when he was about 2 months old. Beautiful big brown eyes!

This is Lorena. She came to VBS and stole our hearts!

While this team was out on Monday in Balibrea, the other half of the team stayed back to work on the work projects. (Jungle gym, benches and desks for the school in Belibrea).
Painting 15 desks for the school in Balibrea

On Tuesday the teams switched locations. The team in Balibrea handed out 4 more stoves, shoes, clothes and tooth paste and tooth brushes.

On Wednesday we were all at the school finishing up our work projects and cleaning up. Here are some pictures of projects we were able to work on and finish.

Our jungle gym coming along nicely. We did not finish it all, but the next team coming will be able to put the two roofs on, a climbing wall and fire mans pole and it should be complete. We'll get photos of that when it's finished in about another 3-4 weeks.

We had some soccer nets donated, so we were able to put these up. Worked great, we weren't running after the ball when it went through the goal!

Another mural at the school.

Megan and I finished the mural in the kindergarten area.

Benches for Balibrea school finished and painted.

Putting the desks together

15 desks are finished and painted

We are in Tela now. Here is a picture of us having pizza for dinner tonight beside the beach enjoying a gorgeous sunset.
We are off to Punta Sal Island tomorrow at 8am-3pm. We'll be taking a jungle walk tour, swimming and eating a fish lunch. More pics to come!

(Some of these pictures are compliments of Dave Bettney.)