menhnWe are loved.

 One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we get from our mission trip debriefs is the very real presence of God’s love we experience during these trips.  This love is so obviously present, so enveloping, and so joyous — in the people and communities we serve, with the local church members alongside whom we work, and in every element of our mutual faith practices — from prayers, worship, devotionals, and one-on-one discussions with our Honduran partners — that it inspires and renews us in our faith walks.  

 God’s love — present and empowering — described our second set of regional teams with whom we worked on days 4 and 5.  Pastor Daniel from Ciudad Espana brought 5 men and Pastor Carlos from Talanga Diez de Septiembre church brought one of his men leaders and we continued with our work building the mission house.  Their stories, and the friendships we forged truly inspired us.menhn1

 Alex has been a part of the Ciudad Espana church for 9 years and was one of only 10 or so members that Pastor Daniel started with when he arrived 4 years ago.  He is a leader in the men’s ministry which now consists of 12 home-based small groups that meet weekly in the evenings (“Men at Night” is their title).  Yunior (pronounced Junior) hosts one of the small groups, and together with Alex and other men comprise a separate group that is pursuing religious studies.   Pastor Daniel’s vision  — supported by the stories from Alex and Yunior — is that (a) Ciudad raises up a group of 5-8 men and women lay leaders that are trained in a regional university program 2 days a month over a 2-year period, (b) while leading key ministry areas like the Men’s program in our Ciudad church, (c) and graduating 2-years laters able to go out to either other small towns surrounding Ciudad and/or our other Honduran churches to further build our church’s reach and impact.  

 We’re sharing this story today because it is a great example of how our serve trips helped support building the long-term leadership capacity in Honduras. 

 menhn3Our second story from days 4 and 5 center on Pastor Carlos’s and his pastoring of our church at Talanga Deiz de Septiembre.  This is a small church located an hour outside of Tegucigalpa.  It was a failed church, down to 5 members when Pastor Carlos, who was mentored by Pastor Roberto in our Danli Central UMC, took over 3 years ago.  He has grown his church to 70 people in worship (up from 60 last year), and sent 12 youth to this year’s national youth conference retreat.  This would translate to our Leawood campus sending 2,000 youth to a national conference!  Pastor Carlos shared videos with us of his church, and the national youth conference, which he has helped lead the last 7 years.  His men’s ministry consists of himself and the 5 men leaders from his church.  They are meeting regularly and are committed to reaching out to bring more men into our church in Talanga Diez de Septiembre.menhn5

 Our work with the 2 teams filled days 4 and 5.  Tim, Ben, and Chris worked with a team of men from Ciudad digging a hole for the mission house cistern.  This is needed because the city water line pressure is inadequate to actually get the water up to all the floors in the mission house.  When complete, the cistern and its pumping station will solve this problem.  Joel, Dan, Dennis, Brad, and Norm worked with the remaining Ciudad and Talanga men building walls on the third floor.  I (Bill) worked with a Ciudad volunteer bending rebar to support the wall building team.menhn4

 Our 4th day ended with our requisite soccer game (we are really seriously good at baseball and basketball), a fabulous dinner, an evening devotional on John the Baptist, and discussion of why Men’s ministries are so important to our churches.  After a full day of work on day 5, we bid our Ciudad and Talanga teams farewell.  

 A final note: our trip translator Ralphael says he has been doing this work for years, and he has been amazed at the interactions and relationships we have built with our 2 sets of regional men’s teams so far.  We couldn’t agree more.  This has been great fun, and we are inspired by the men’s teams alongside which we have served.  

God’s love is indeed ever-present.