Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sermon by Cathy Burns, El Hogar Missioner

July 29, 2012
by Cathy Burns

Good morning! When I last came up here to tell you about my experience 2 years ago in Honduras, I talked about how moving it was to go to a place where I did not speak the language and was totally out of my comfort zone. I mentioned how welcoming and enriching it was to spend time with the boys and how much their spirit and energy enriched me beyond words.

Well, I just returned from my third trip to Honduras. I still can’t speak Spanish well, but I’m slowly improving. Working and spending time with the boys is still overpowering for me and I’ve come to a very special appreciation for the teachers who are so dedicated to the boys and the farm. What a wonderful gift they are to the boys and to the school. They are definitely unsung heroes in my mind.

But there is something else I want to share with you that I think is equally important.
When the team forms in January and February, we are asked what gifts we have to bring with us to Honduras. I’ve always had difficulty with that one because I don’t see myself as bringing any special gifts to the table. Many other team members probably feel that way too but I’d like to focus on the gifts that you, as our church community, send down to the boys in Honduras. They are not easily identified or quantified but lest you think that the checks and donations of jeans and socks that you send are all they get, I want you to know that the team has wonderful gifts that come to light when situations arise. So here goes.

The most obvious gifts are ones of language fluency and comprehension. Calie is our chief translator but we have many team members with the gift of the Spanish language. Thank goodness, because this helps those of us who are not fluent communicate our needs and wants accurately and with respect.

We have our engineers: Steve, Jim, and Linda, who worked tirelessly for hours getting the nine computers that arrived at the school installed and working with the appropriate updates and configured in Spanish. This was a huge job that occupied these team members for innumerable hours, alone in the computer room with an occasional visitor to check on their progress. Okay, they were in the air conditioning, but still, it was cold and lonely in there.  And yes, they were responsible for “taking down” the internet at the school for several days, preventing Katherine from blogging about our adventures. I’ll apologize for the inconvenience to parents and loved ones on their behalf. On the up side, I received a message on facebook telling me that the boys were using the computers with the new CPUs! That was exciting!

Our blogger, Katherine, did a wonderful job with her blog…when she could. Thank you, Katherine, for that gift. I read the blog when I got home and really enjoyed it. I didn’t have time beforehand so it was nice to read what had gone on the previous week through Katherine’s eyes.

The gift of music is another gift you all sent down. Erika played her guitar; Katherine, Meike, Lindsay, Sarah, Jenna, Sam, and Peter all practiced songs for our despedida on Thursday. The best part was that we all got to listen to the practices beforehand! As I said, the gift of music was ever present. We even got a few thumbs up from the boys when they passed by the casa de voluntarios when we were singing during morning prayer.

We also had artists of all levels. Sam and Lindsay drew designs on the walls of the cow shed and the classroom building and they, along with Katherine, Meike, Jenna, Peter, Erika, Jesse, Linda, Sarah, and I all painted something over the course of the week. Whether it was walls or designs; intricate or not, we all used our painting skills to enhance the beauty of the buildings at the school.

Our doctor on the trip, Erika, expertly cared for a puncture wound on one boy’s foot and a sprained ankle of another. Her care and concern were ever-present and very comforting. While I’m mentioning Erika, I don’t want to forget the carving skills that she lent to the memorial sign that Steve wanted to replace at the school. The wooden sign has 3 names of students that have died and it has been severely damaged by termites. Erika sat for many hours with a chisel, carving the Honduran flag and the Episcopal Church shield. Then Linda, Jenna, and Sarah worked miracles getting it varnished on both sides in time for the despedida.

And finally, the gift of friendship - not only in extending our hands in friendship to the boys and teachers at the school, but also to each other. Without that gift, the ability to enjoy and process the true meaning of the experience would not be possible. I cannot overlook the fact that Bill offered to go in my place when it became apparent to me that I could not be away for two weeks. My personal obligations were just too much for me to let go for that long. Thank you, Bill, for stepping in for me and being part of the group that went the first week.

And thank you to all of the parishioners here at Redeemer. With your support, you sent a great group of individuals who shared your love and care with a group of teenage boys in Honduras.


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