It 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.
One 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.
The 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.
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.
Our 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.
August 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!
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.
Reunited at the airport after being apart for 9 months!
One 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.
We 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.
We 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).
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.
Mom 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.
There 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.
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.
They 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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”.
Meet Angelina! She is one of the sweetest young ladies and she goes to our church. Not only do I get to teach her in Sunday school class each week at church but she is also in my 4th grade Bible class at IPB where I teach Bible each week. Fun story about Angelina, a few weeks ago we took the youth and children from church to go ziplining. This is a common tourist attraction here on the island but for most of the folks who live here, it’s not something they can afford to do. When we went, on the first zipline, you had to tandem zipline with one adult and one kid. When they asked for an adult volunteer to go first, I quickly raised my hand but then I needed a kid to go with me. Angelina smiled and quickly said “I’ll go with you Mrs. Gretta”. So she and I were the “guinea pigs” on the first zipline. It went great and she loved it too!
A couple of Sundays ago, Angelina came to me and said that she had given her heart to Jesus and she wanted to be baptized. I was so happy for her and so David talked to her Mom and then talked extensively with Angelina and knew she was truly ready to be baptized. So on June 30, after church, everyone went down to the white hole and witnessed Angelina’s baptism. It was such a special moment for me because Angelina is one of my buddies both at church and at school and now she is my sister in Christ too!
After the canchita soccer game, the youth guys were talking about how they wished they had a place in our community to practice soccer and play sports. Someone mentioned an old sports field that used to be on the point. They took David down to look at it and it needed a LOT of work and had not been used in almost 20 years! So the youth decided they would clean it up and restore it to useable condition. For 3 days, they worked removing debris, cutting limbs, moving rocks, raking and shoveling sand, pulling weeds and getting the field back to where it could be enjoyed again.
Then we found out that volleyball used to be the sport of the island and that this field would host volleyball tournaments where teams from each community came and competed against each other. We decided to start a sports ministry which is so funny because David’s only sport is that he is a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo and due to birth defects, Gretta never got to play sports. We were confident that the Lord was going to use this ministry to reach people in our community and bring the community closer together again. The youth actually came up with the name “Fishers of Men” because they said fishing is a huge economy here and we want to be fishers of men for Jesus too. So we hosted our first volleyball tournament and had a very good turnout considering it was our first try.
We had one team of men and young men from Oak Ridge that competed. They played against Jonesville (a nearby community) and boy, it looked like those guys had never missed a day of playing. They still had their skills, moves and stamina. They put on a great game to watch but in the end, Oak Ridge men’s team came out victorious!
There was also a women’s and young girls team from Oak Ridge who played against the Jonesville ladies. The Oak Ridge ladies team also won their game. A lot of the girls on this team had never played before or hadn’t played in over 20 years so it was fun to see them win as well. The best part of the tournament was that in between the men’s game and the women’s game, David had the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone there! And all the teams prayed together before their games began. It not only brought a community closer together for a night of family-friendly fun but it also was a platform for the gospel. We look forward to more volleyball tournaments and more opportunities for “Fishers of Men Sports Ministry” to impact our local community.
David was asked to do a “blessing of the fleet” for 3 ships that our friends here own. They invited me to come also and we went out to go pray with these boat captains and crews. Fishing is one of the major job markets here. Many families have husbands/Dads who are gone 4-8 months out of the year out on boats doing commercial fishing. We went by boat and literally climbed up the side of one of the boats to get onboard. It was such a unique way to get on a boat! We met the first boat’s captain and crew and David introduced us and then read scriptures to them and then gave a clear gospel presentation to them. He ended forming a circle with all the crew and praying over them, their season and their families they would be leaving behind. Then we literally climbed over to the next boat and did the same thing and then to the 3rd boat. It was such a blessed morning to meet these crews, have the opportunity to share Christ with them and pray for them as they all were headed out that afternoon for their new season.
One of our youth, Dylan who was baptized back in May, plays on a local soccer team. Their team won the island championship and got to go to mainland Honduras to compete in a national championship game there. The 2nd night he was gone, he sent us a text message (see pic above) that just thrilled our hearts. The Lord gave him the opportunity to share the gospel with one of his teammates and he sent us a text telling us how good it felt to do that!! You see, since Dylan got saved he has been soaking up the Word and full of questions and his heart has been desiring to know more and more. It is wonderful to see these youth so excited about Jesus and sharing it with their friends. Please pray that this excitement for the gospel will never wain and that they will always have a heart for the lost.
Ministry doesn’t always look grand or “down in the trenches”. Sometimes ministry is simply doing life together. One of the things we love is having youth over at our house. They come and play games, watch movies, or just hang out. We’ve taught them to play a few new games that we enjoy like “Spoons” and “Nertz” too. We love that we can open up our home to them and they can feel comfortable and welcome anytime here. We enjoy this type of “life ministry” so much!
We were blessed to have our friend Noah come to visit us for 2 weeks. He stayed with us and got to do life just like we do everyday which “hopefully” gave him a real sense of life on the mission field. Noah had just graduated from West Point and is getting ready to be stationed at his next assignment. He was such a joy to have in our home and a great help in ministry too. He is extremely knowledgable of the Bible, loves to sing and knows lots of magic tricks too which the youth loved trying to figure out. Before he left, he told us that the Lord had laid it on his heart to get the motor we needed for our boat. It was a complete shock but an incredible blessing! He and David went down island and he purchased the 40horsepower boat motor we had been praying the Lord would provide for several months. We’ve had a small boat since a couple of months after we arrived here but had not been able to purchase the boat motor yet due to the cost. This will be a huge asset to our ministry as we will be able to pick up people for church, travel around more easily to visit people and pick up supplies in our area and it can be used to show people around our area when they come visit as well. Water transportation is the main method of travel here and it will be so nice to finally have our own boat to use here. Please continue to pray for Noah as he serves our country and pray that the Lord will use him mightily to share the gospel and be a light for Christ with those he has the opportunity to be stationed with. We hope he will get to come back and visit us again too!
The youth guys asked us to take them to play a Canchita soccer game in French Harbour. They wanted David to be their “coach” and asked me to be their “team Mom”. We honestly didn’t know what canchita soccer even was but we gladly went along with them to fill in those roles. We are from Alabama and we are huge SEC football fans (Roll Tide!) and we have never really gotten into soccer (other than Wyatt and Sidney played it for a season when we were in TX) so we were pretty much completely out of our element but ready to have fun! The guys were playing teams from 2 other churches and it was so refreshing to see them all gather to pray together before the game began. One of the things we are trying to instill in the youth and adults here is that if they will put God first in everything, He will bless them.
Canchita soccer is actually really fun to watch. 2 teams take to the field at the same time. The field is actually completed enclosed with netting so the ball can’t go out of the field and the field size is smaller than a typical soccer field. Once a team scores, they get to stay on the field and the losing team comes off and another team goes on. Then when a team scores, the winning team stays on the field, the losing team comes off and another team goes back on to try again. There are no time outs, no breaks, it is just constant play for 2 straight hours! Our guys did great at the beginning but in the middle they started having some issues amongst themselves so David talked to them while they were waiting to play and kind of “rallied the troops” again and they went back out with renewed attitudes.
In the end, they didn’t win but they learned some very valuable lessons and overall had a good time together. We could see their spirits were a little crushed so after the game, we surprised the team and took them to Bojangles (the only fast food restaurant on the island) and bought them 40 pieces of chicken, fries and cokes. That sure boosted their morale…ha…and we had a great laughing, playing pranks on each other and having fun together as a team. We are thankful these guys want us to be with them. So many times, youth don’t want adults around but it’s truly a blessing to have youth that want to hang out with us. We love our youth and always have fun together!
God is so good and He allowed us to have back-to-back Sundays of baptisms! On May 27, David again had the privilege to baptize 4 more of our youth!
To see our youth grow not only growing in number but growing in those who are giving their life to Jesus is almost surreal. It is something you pray for as missionaries, you pray for the Lord to move and work in hearts to change lives but to see it actually coming true is incredible. The Lord is truly sending revival to our community here!
On May 20, David had the privilege of baptizing 5 of our youth! Baptisms here are done differently than in the States as the churches here typically don’t have a baptistry in their church. The church we are working with in Oak Ridge does all their baptisms at the ocean just down from the church in an area called “the white hole”. This is an area of the ocean that has been cleaned out specifically to be used for baptisms and has been the baptistry of the church for many years.
It was such a joyous occasion to see each of these youth following Jesus’ example and being baptized. We have grown to love the youth here in Oak Ridge immensely and being able to call them our brothers/sisters in Christ now is a treasured gift.
We truly believe the Lord is at work here in our community and we are praying for revival to sweep this community and spread across the island from east to west!