Santa, sleigh-boat and a parade

Friday evening before Christmas we had an awesome experience for Santa & Mrs. Claus to get on a “sleigh-boat” and go spread more Christmas cheer to our local community.  We had an awesome sleigh driver, Matthew, who is one of our youth.  We loaded up his boat with the leftover “blessing bags” from our previous outreach along with some hygiene kits of toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant and combs and took the leftover ornaments with us to pass out as well.

We got to go out to hand out goodies here in Oak Ridge, then in the Bight and Punta Caliente and then over in Pandy Town.

Acts 20:35 says “It is more blessed to give than to receive” and y’all, we wish there were words to describe the joy that comes from blessing others and giving back.  As a family, we all agreed this Christmas was so special and so much fun because we got to get out in the community and give to others in such fun and unique ways.  We want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you who sacrificially purchased items for our blessing bags.  They were such a huge part of our Christmas ministry outreaches and everyone loved them!

On Saturday afternoon, the Pandy Town patronado (like a town council) asked us to be Santa & Mrs. Claus in their Christmas parade. We rode on the back of a flatbed truck from Madeyso (which is like a Honduran Home Depot) and had a great time waving to everyone and sharing the joy of Christmas.
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We hope you and your family enjoyed a blessed and very special Christmas. We certainly missed being home with our family and friends but we are thankful to the Lord for the new ways He allows us to celebrate here, the new traditions we’ve started here and the new friends we get to share the holiday season with too.

Roatan Because We Care (RBWC)

We were connected to a wonderful organization “Roatan Because We Care (RBWC)” that does amazing work all across the island year round.  They contacted us asking if we could be Santa & Mrs. Claus for their Christmas outreach and we were thrilled to get to partner with them in this way.
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On Thursday, we went to small communities behind the garbage dump and handed out apples, Santa hats, candy canes and a toy to each child.

It was such a blessing to get to love on so many kids and families and share the love of Jesus with them.  Each area of the island that we served at was a poverty ridden community so it was so special to be able to bring smiles and happiness to these children and families the week of Christmas.

On Saturday, we served in a community on our end of the island and our kids went with us and helped serve by doing face painting for children.  Their line for face painting was SO long and the kids loved the hearts, soccer balls, seahorses, iguanas and princess crowns the kids were painting on their cheeks for them.
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We were so blessed to get to help RBWC with this amazing Christmas outreach to communities from east to west. It was such a blessing to get to spend hours seeing children’s faces light up when they saw Santa, watching kids hungrily eat their apples (some of them even ate the entire core!) and seeing the joy and excitement when they were given a small gift from Santa too.

For many of these children, this was their Christmas.  Santa won’t come on Christmas Day, their list of things they rattled off to Santa that they want won’t be under the tree, most of them don’t even have a Christmas tree in their house.  To know that we could be a small part of bringing joy to these children and help them have a merry Christmas was the sweetest gift.  I think we had as much fun loving on the kids as the kids did getting their goodies.  We look forward to partnering with Roatan Because We Care (RBWC) in the future for other mission opportunities.

Christmas for Kids

On December 13, we hosted “Christmas for Kids” at the church from 5:00-7:00pm.  This night was an evangelistic outreach to our community to show them that our church loves kids and families, a unique way for us to share the gospel with them and a way to bless them with a “blessing bag”.
IMG_1052Amazing folks back in the States, had generously donated various items so that we could make 100 “blessing bags” to be handed out at this event. Each bag contained a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, Bible activity book, 8 ct. Crayola crayons, comb, girls hairbow, bouncy ball, bubbles, glider airplanes, sticker sets, flashlight and batteries and a washcloth.


When the families arrived at the church, they went into see Santa and got to get their picture made with him & Mrs. Claus.  Santa asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas and then he asked them if they knew what Christmas was really all about. He reminded each child that Christmas isn’t about Santa or the presents but Christmas is all about Jesus.  He reminded them that Jesus is the reason for the season.  One of the cutest responses from a child that night when Santa asked them if they had been good this year was “Well Santa, since you already know, I’ve been 10% bad but 90% good.” This boy was in the 5th grade and we all got a good laugh out of his honesty!

After Santa, they went into the classroom area to enjoy “Santa’s Workshop”.  The first area in the workshop was for kids to enjoy a 3 minute video sharing the nativity story. Then they went to another area and got to make their own nativity Christmas ornament.
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We were blessed to have 70 children come to this event and even more people if you counted the adults.  It was a great way to love on our community and remind them of the true reason for the season.

Youth Christmas Party 2018

IMG_0904This year, we hosted an Ugly Christmas sweater party with our youth group. Thankfully there is an awesome thrift store here on the island and so it wasn’t too hard to find some cheap, ugly sweaters.  We gave away 6 small trophies (from Oriental Trading) as prizes for the best sweaters in several different categories.

We played several fun Christmas games including making a snowman, seeing who could create the best reindeer antlers from panty hose and balloons, having a snowball fight (with wadded up toilet paper) and showing their creative skills with a drawing game by drawing a Christmas scene on a paper plate on top of your head.  These games brought lots of fun and laughs!

“Santa” also had left a few gifts for some of the youth.  There were presents like “pet dust bunnies”, “the original selfie stick”, “new set of weights for beginners” (q-tips) and the all time favorite “new maxipad houseshoes” that had even been personalized.  These gag gifts gave everyone a good laugh and lots of fun memories.

We ended the night eating an “ugly sweater cake” and chips and dip.  It was so much fun being with the youth celebrating Christmas in a fun, festive way together. We love these youth so much and have had a wonderful year with them as we have all grown closer together both as friends and grown together spiritually as well. Please continue to pray for our youth.
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Family Fest 2018

IMG_0208This year the church decided to offer a family-friendly alternative to trick-or-treating. So we hosted “Family Fest 2018”.  We invited families and children to come to church from 5:30-8:00pm for a Family Fest.  Our youth and some adults dressed up in costumes as either a person from the Bible or an animal in the Bible.  As people arrived, they went into the sanctuary and watched a 5 minute video that shared the gospel.  From there, they went into the classroom building where there were various carnival type games set up to play.  At each game station, the person dressed up coordinated with the game.
554ddcfa-7eb4-48ef-a456-12c24914685a“Lions Den Bowling Alley” game was hosted by Daniel and 2 of the lions.

IMG_0200The woman at the well hosted a game where you drew from the well to receive candy
IMG_0202The Roman Solider hosted a game where you cast lots to determine what prize you received.
fc8f929b-2087-41b0-9b1e-abff5fea68442 fishermen who Jesus called to be apostles hosted the fishing game
916f3077-caed-46f9-9f5d-4be624f1690fJoseph and his wife hosted a game of corn hole where you threw beanbags into the pit where Joseph was placed and sold into slavery.

At each game station, the Bible characters shared about their story from the Bible before the kids played the game.  That way, the children were learning stories from the Bible and receiving lots of candy and prizes too as they went around the room. At the end, each child received a cupcake and drink also.

We had very positive feedback from this community outreach event and many families have expressed that they hope we will offer it again next year at Halloween.  It was a wonderful way to share the gospel and share stories from the Bible and everyone from the youth and adults to those who attended enjoyed the evening.

One Year in Honduras

On November 4, we had officially been in Honduras for one year!!  The last year has been filled with cultural adjustments, learning to live without air conditioning (in a very humid, tropical climate), having no hot water, eating new foods and juices, making new relationships with people here, working with children, youth and college age students, helping to equip and grow the local church here, praying for open doors and new ways to share the gospel and make an impact for Christ and much more. We really miss our family and friends back in the States so much but we truly feel your prayers and we deeply appreciate the financial sacrifices our ministry partners make that allow us to be here serving the Lord in Honduras.  You can WATCH A VIDEO that shows some of the many ways the Lord has allowed us to minister and serve here in Honduras over the last year.

As the end of the year approaches, we realize many people are looking for ways to be generous to others through this season of Thanksgiving.  Would you prayerfully consider partnering with our family this holiday season as you consider giving?

One of our big financial needs for ministry is to raise the last $12,000 so that we can purchase a 15 passenger bus to be used in ministry.  The Lord graciously blessed us with a few donations last year that raised half the cost of the bus but we still lack $12,000 to be able to purchase it. This bus will allow us to take our youth and church members to church events and on trips around the island and make large group ministry so much easier on everyone.

We also need to raise more monthly financial partners. If you would be willing to partner with our family on a monthly basis, it would be greatly appreciated. We are currently at just 80% of our needed monthly support and need to be at 100% in order to serve well. You can give online:  CLICK HERE!

We also have an Amazon wish list of items that would help us in different ministries and also some food items that we as a family miss. You can view our Amazon wish list here.

For every missionary that goes,
there is a team that sends them.
THANK YOU for being part of our team!

September Update

IMG_0534It was a joy and privilege to baptize one of the college age young men in our church this month. Maverick and his family actually are our “neighbors” and live just down the point from us.  Over the last few months, Maverick has been studying with me, asking questions and praying for God’s guidance and will.  Maverick made a decision to give his life to Jesus Christ and also desired to follow Him in believer’s baptism. We are excited for what God has in store for Maverick.
helpOne of the joys of mission work is being able to help people in need and share the hope we have that is found in Jesus Christ.  God gave us several opportunities to help people here in our local community with food, clothing items and even a few kids toys.  The family in the top lost their home to a fire. It was a complete loss.  Most people here do not have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance so in cases like this they have to completely rebuild and restart from scratch.  A wonderful organization called Embrace Today International Ministries recently partnered with us and sent us a huge box of clothes, some food items, hygiene products, and some kids clothes & toys to be used in outreach ministry here.  We appreciate their partnership and look forward to working together to meet needs and bless families here in Oak Ridge.

MINI CONFERENCE 2018 – Our church here hosted the Baptist Association’s Mini Conference September 28-30.  The theme of the conference was “Unity & Loving One Another”.  All the Baptist churches on the island were invited to attend and we had such a blessed weekend with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Each church sang songs, we prayed together, a different pastor preached each service, and on Sunday we enjoyed a fellowship meal together.
bagsThe Lord laid it on our hearts to do a Christmas outreach to our local community.  We decided to make “blessing bags for Honduras”.  These bags would be similar to an Operation Christmas Child shoebox and would be handed out to local children and families.  We asked for 100 gifts bags, bubbles, Bible activity pads, travel size toothpaste, travel size shampoo/conditioner sets, pencils, pencil sharpeners, bouncy balls, Blowpop suckers, 40 hairbows for girls, travel size deoderant, Cracker Jack candy, 72 airplane gliders, combs, mini flashlights with batteries, 8 count crayon sets, travel size bars of soap, toothbrushes and washclothes…..and you all responded!!  Within 2 weeks, we had received donations to cover all of those items plus a Santa suit & a Mrs. Claus costume as well.  The plan is that December 12, families can come and get their picture made with Mr. & Mrs. Claus and each child will receive a blessing bag.  Then they will get to go into another area and hear the story of the birth of Jesus, make a nativity ornament for their Christmas tree and enjoy a Christmas cookie & drink. Each family will receive an invitation to church as well. Please be praying for this evangelistic outreach and a huge THANK YOU, THANK YOU to those of you donated items and partnered with us for this event.

 

August Life Update

One of the joys in our first year of living here has been the opportunity to teach Bible classes at a local school here.  This year, the school even made Bible class to count the same toward their overall grade as their core subjects like English, Math, Science, etc.  We have so much fun with the kids and love watching them learn more about God, how God works in their lives, and beginning to understand the overall story of the Bible as we put the pieces together from Genesis to Revelation.  Recently, I (Gretta) got done teaching the 4th grade Bible class and as I was packing up my stuff to leave, I heard the kids chanting and saw they were blocking the doorway so I couldn’t leave.  It was really sweet and my heart overflowed with joy that they truly want to keep learning about God’s Word and have a desire to continue learning.

f5fe977a-d619-458f-b1b5-157af3a509adOur Fishers of Men Sports Ministry continues to go well and we have seen great growth both in the number of people playing on the volleyball teams as well as the people coming to watch the games and support the tournaments. It truly is reaching out to our local communities and bringing people in them closer together.  One of the best parts of the ministry is how it is a platform for the gospel.  The picture above was taken before one of the women’s volleyball team practices.  The ladies gathered up to pray together before they started practice and they are becoming closer friends as well.  We thank God for how He is using this ministry in so many different ways.

Once Wyatt finishes homeschool each day, he wants to head out and have fun with his friends.  Thankfully there are several boys his age that live nearby so they get together and have fun in the afternoons.  Recently a friend let us borrow their “paddling dory” (like a kayak but made from fiberglass) and Wyatt and his friend Arlen have been going fishing all over the harbor in it. On one of their trips, they caught a barracuda fish and Wyatt was so excited.  This wasn’t a very a big barracuda but one of his friends stuck it down inside his backpack and took it home and ate it for supper! It’s fun to hear all about their adventures in the evenings too and we are thankful for the many things he is getting to learn about and the new experiences he is having here.
IMG_8628August is also a special month in our family because Sidney’s birthday is August 3.  This year she turned 15 years old.  She decided that to celebrate her birthday she wanted to invite the youth group over for cupcakes and games.  So she chose 2 different kinds of cupcakes that she wanted, chips and dip and cokes and she had a really fun birthday party celebrating with her.  The kids loved the games we played too and we had a photo booth with props set up for them to take pictures at as well. It was such a fun night full of laughter, fun and food!

Gretta’s Parents Visit

One of the things that never gets easy when you’re on the mission field is being away from family.  Even though thanks to technology, we can still video chat, text through WhatsApp, send emails and pictures, etc. it is still not like being together in person.  And sometimes, you just miss a hug from your Mom or Dad!  We were so incredibly blessed that Gretta’s parents were able to come visit us here in Honduras and spend 2 weeks with our family. They stayed out our house with us so they got a real taste of everyday life for us here on the mission field.
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Reunited at the airport after being apart for 9 months!
IMG_7960One of our friends took Mom & Dad along with Abbey and Wyatt to the house in their small car while we took the luggage back by boat.  Boats are the main method of transportation here in Oak Ridge.
IMG_8010We had so much fun playing games together again.  We all enjoy playing games and some of us are pretty competitive (ha!) so we played Mexican Train, Nertz and Settlers of Catan as much as we could.
IMG_8045We also got to take them out in our boat and show them around where we live.  They got to see the different communities around us where we minister and we got to take them through the mangrove tunnels (the most popular tourist attractions in Oak Ridge).
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They treated us to eating out some while they were here also.  Typically we rarely go out to eat because it is so expensive.  But Mom and Dad spoiled us rotten while they were here and the picture above was taken at the Hole in the Wall restaurant.  It is only accessible by boat and such an interesting atmosphere but had delicious food.
IMG_8079Mom and Dad love to play Trivial Pursuit and we had found a brand new Trivial Pursuit game at the thrift store here. Unfortunately, it was genius edition but we split into guys vs girls for a rousing game of “we are obviously not geniuses” game.  In the end, the guys were victorious by several pie pieces and beat us girls.
152dcc44-4abc-4948-8027-2eb72d202aadThere was a volleyball tournament with the “Fishers of Men Sports Ministry” while they were here.  Not only did they get to see Gretta play with the ladies team in the tournament but they also to see David share the gospel with everyone in between the men’s and women’s games.
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Our sweet friend Rosina took us all on a full island tour (from east to west end) one day while they were visiting.  We took them to the Sloth & Monkey Hangout where they got to hold a sloth, have monkeys play all over them, and hold the national bird of Honduras.
IMG_8215They got to go to one of the resorts and see a beautiful view from the very top at Pristine Bay Resort and have their picture made at the famous postcard.
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We went to the Mayan Chocolate Factory and they got to learn all about how chocolate is made, sample all the different flavors they make there and they spoiled us by letting us all pick a chocolate bar to take home too!
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We took one day for some R&R and spent the day at Roatan Beach Club. One of our youth guys works there and he paid for our day at the beach. It was such a special treat for all of us. We absolutely loved their beach and Mom and Dad enjoyed just relaxing at the water’s edge and swimming when they wanted.
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The restaurant at Roatan Beach Club is Lionfish Louie’s and everything on their menu is lionfish.  We had never eaten lionfish until we moved to Roatan but we all love it and it doesn’t have a real “fishy” taste or smell to it.  We were excited to get to introduce Mom and Dad to lionfish and they loved it as well.
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Of course, our 2 weeks together flew by and certainly didn’t last long enough.  We had to say “see you later” to them as they went back to the States.  We are so thankful for all the sacrifices they made to come spend 2 weeks with us here, for the ways they loved on us, encouraged us, and blessed us during their time here.  It was certainly precious time together that we greatly needed. Lord willing, they hope to come back in December 2019 for another visit!

Garbage Dump Ministry

One of the things you hear about often in 3rd world countries is people living at garbage dumps. We recently learned that there is a garbage dump on the west end of the island and that people do actually live there…like whole families live there!  Our youth had been asking to do a mission project and when we shared about what we had learned about the garbage dump they immediately said “let’s go to the dump!”  So they started collecting good used clothing and bags of water (yes, bags.  Here they sell bags of water for like 10 lempiras which is a little less than 50 cents a bag).  They collected a lot of clothes in a short period of time (some of them even donating things they had in their closets that either didn’t fit anymore or they didn’t wear).  We loaded up one Saturday morning and headed out to the garbage dump to be the hands and feet of Jesus to people living there.

When we got to the dump we were actually really surprised at how many people lived there. As we started unloading, they started walking up from several directions.  Pretty soon we had a fairly large crowd and we were told that there was a lot more people who live there but on Saturdays they walk into town to sell their scraps for money.  The youth had divided up into 2 teams (one to share the gospel to the adults and one to share the gospel to the children).  The teams had worked hard crafting their gospel presentations and learning them.  So once we got unloaded, we split up the children and adults into different groups and let the teams do their gospel presentations.

After the gospel presentations, we started handing out clothing and fresh, clean drinking water to the people there. One of the youth and I were handing out waters and a guy told us about an area where there more people who hadn’t come down.  So we loaded as many bags of water as we could into my backpack and took of to them.  When we got there we met the man in the picture above.  He told us he wanted to come down but if he left his “home” then other people who lived there would still everything he had so he couldn’t come but was thankful we had come to him instead. The kids at the dump were the most heartbreaking to me.  Most of them had major dental issues, some of them looked malnourished, they all were dirty as could be and most of them weren’t going to school or getting any type of education.
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One of the best parts of the day was getting to pray with the people who lived there.  They were so open and receptive to being prayed for and often shared struggles and needs with us.  The youth loved being able to bless others and on the way home so many of them were asking “when can we go again Pastor David?”  They loved serving others and they were just as blessed as the people they got to bless.  We praise God for the opportunity to be His hands and feet to the people who call the garbage dump “home”.