Sunday 29 July 2012 Bill Vogele
Buenos Días. Bienvenidos a El Hogar de Amor y Esperanza. Welcome to the home of love and hope.
My name is Bill Vogele, and I am joined this morning by Cathy Burns and Jim Bradley to offer some reflections on our recent trip to Honduras. I have been going on Redeemer trips to El Hogar almost every year since we started in 2006; Cathy has been three times, and Jim went for the first time this year. They will speak about their impressions from those perspectives. Looking back on the several trips, I want to try to put the trip in the biggest perspective.
But first I want to give a bit of background. The El Hogar project in Honduras is a set of three schools all under the auspices of the Episcopal Bishop of Honduras. Altogether they serve almost 300 children. These are children from the poorest families – in the second poorest country in the hemisphere – which gives you an immediate sense of the deep need these projects serve. The largest school in Tegucigalpa have over 100 children in grades 1 through 6. A technical institute near Tegucigalpa has about 85 teenage boys learning trade skills, like carpentry and welding. The agricultural school – where we have just been and where a Redeemer group has gone each year since 2006 – has about 55 boys aged 12 to 20, completing grades 7 to 9.
If you were paying attention a few moments ago you may be wondering why I welcomed you to the “home of love and hope” – after all, that is the school in Honduras. Right? My message is that you – we – are the home of love and hope. We are in a seamless relationship with the boys and the people of Honduras.
Last week we sang the hymn, “All are Welcome” – in which each verse begins: “Let us build a house where love can dwell” (and so on). Also last week Kate preached on another reading from Ephesians that called us to challenge and break down the barriers that define those who are “inside” and those who are “outside”. I believe this is what we are doing together. Each pair of socks or bluejeans, each dollar of support, each prayer for us as volunteers traveling and for the people of El Hogar makes that connection. It is an expression of relationship that breaks down the barriers of language and nation, of wealth and poverty. These differences are real – but the relationship that we work on together invites the outsider in. All of us who have been fortunate enough to go on these trips know that the invitation most often comes from the boys and the staff to us travelers. They are the ones who welcome the outsiders in to their home.
This relationship is inescapable; it is our call for work in the world. Thank you for supporting it. Thank you for allowing me to be one of the parts that gets to move back and forth.