Thursday, August 2, 2012

Sermon by Jim Bradley, El Hogar Missioner

July 29, 2012
by Jim Bradley

Hola Redeemer,
My name is Jim Bradley and I was one of the newbies that went to El Hogar.  From the first time I heard about the trip it was something that I wanted to do.  I had done a couple of similar trips when I was in high school down to the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky,  and spent 6 years in the Navy, so I figured that it would not be too different than what I have seen before.

This year the stars were in alignment, so it was my turn to go, but nothing I had done had prepared me for this adventure.
From the time we landed in Honduras my life was turned upside down.  I felt isolated, not knowing the language I struggled to understand what was going on.  Although it was tough at times, it gave me a small window into what my wife Donna has to deal with daily due her hearing loss.

For me the first couple of days got me thinking about what we were doing. To me, we seemed out of place, the projects had not started and the jefe (the boss or the keeper of the keys) was not around.   Looking around, I began to wonder if we were really here because we wanted to feel good about ourselves. Were we really disrupting their lives?  Making more work for them, as they needed to find work for us and keep an eye on us and taking time out of their schedules to give us tours of the farm.

As the week went on and we started to work on projects, things changed but I always wondered what we were doing.  It was hard for me to believe that there was only one hammer, one crosscut saw and one hack saw on the farm.  Then someone said that it was the jefe’s way of letting us experience their lives.  When  we were going over who would speak at this service, someone asked about what the scripture reading were, so we could relate our experiences to the readings,  the loaves and the fishes came up as one of the readings.  I knew that the farm was experimenting with raising tilapia, we had the fish but where was the bread?  When I thought about it more, I realized it was about the hammer and the saw, even though we only had one, we accomplished a number of projects using these tools.  We were able to work together sharing them and passing them back and forth between the projects.

Latter someone emailed back that maybe the tortillas was the loaves, which reminded me of the last night when we bought pizza for the boys and the staff, while we were serving the boys I got the see the pantry for the school, it amazed me at how little food was in there, in some respects we had more food in the volunteer house than they had to feed 50 boys and the volunteers.  It was truly amazing at how many people could be fed with bags of beans and cornmeal.  There always seem to be a steady supply of beans and tortillas at every meal.

As the week went on I could see it was small things that made a difference, fixing a light in a bathroom, giving one of the staff a door for his room, running a network cable and teaching the staff how to put on the connectors, painting a mural. Many things we take for granted.

The boys were incredible, one night I asked to see one of their textbooks on tilapia, I made a comment that there were no pictures, the next thing I knew one of the boys was explaining every picture in the book to me in Spanish, with Sarah’s help I learned all about raising tilapia, he was so excited to share what he was learning.

In the end it was not as much about the projects we did as it was about the relationship and friends we made during the week.  Listening to their stories, learning how to spin a top and letting our hair down.
On the way home I was asked if I would do it again.  My answer was yes, this was an adventure that has changed me in many ways.

gracias, vete en paz (thanks, go in peace)

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