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!
April 20-22 we were blessed to get to take 14 of our youth to the Baptist Association’s yearly Youth Camp. The theme of this camp was “Youth with a Purpose”. The weekend started off with a laugh as the bus that had been rented for us would hold 16 people (which was plenty of room) but the person who booked it forgot that everyone would have all their luggage for the weekend also. So after some arranging and re-arranging, we finally got everyone and their luggage into the bus and we were off. The bus driver told us he knew where to take us when we gave him the location but 3 1/2 hours later and after multiple turnarounds, he finally admitted he was lost. So another 45 minutes of calling people to try to get them to tell us where to go, we finally arrived at camp at almost 9:30pm!
Camp was full of fellowship with youth from other churches, lots of Bible study sessions and time spent growing closer together as friends as well as growing spiritually in the Word.
One of the speakers at camp did a great object lesson about how hard it can be to discern the voice of God in a world that screams so loudly to us to do everything but listen to God’s voice. One of our youth, Adam, was chosen to participate in the object lesson. He had to walk through mousetraps that were set to snap and he had another youth that was supposed to direct him where to step. But, everyone else at camp was loudly screaming the WRONG directions to him. Thankfully Adam made it through (thanks to our youth who went to the front of the room and loudly shouted correctly where to step). But it was a great object lesson that made a lasting impact with them.
One of the youth’s favorite parts of the weekend was the Saturday afternoon recreational games competition. They started out with a huge flour challenge on the sand, then moved to 5 different game stations where they had to work together as a team to complete different challenges both on the sand and in the ocean. They were a sandy, sticky, muddy mess at the end but everyone loved the 3 hours of fun and games.
Of course, when you say camp, everyone thinks of camp food. However, the food at camp was delicious because a team of sweet ladies from Flowers Bay Church donated their time to cook all the meals at camp all weekend. We had great foods and breakfast was my favorite. Honduran breakfast are delicious here….refried beans, eggs, white butter, and Johnny cakes!
David was actually the camp pastor for the weekend. His job was to counsel youth if needed, answer spiritual questions they might have, and he led the Sunday morning worship on the water.
One of our favorite parts of the weekend was watching our youth worship! And best of all, several of them gave their life to Christ throughout the weekend!!! There is nothing sweeter to us than seeing God at work and watching Him open hearts and transform lives.
We had an amazing, fun-filled, no sleep weekend with all our youth! We made memories together, grew closer together, watched God work in so many ways throughout the weekend and we look forward to Youth Camp 2019 with all of them too, Lord willing!
Our 1st Easter in Honduras turned out beautifully and was so blessed! To be honest, these “first” holidays without our families and with being in a completely different country can be tough but the Lord has been so gracious to us through each of them so far. Our church hosted a Good Friday morning worship service from 10:00am-noon. We enjoyed singing lots of songs and David preached a message on “Understanding the Cross”. Saturday we spent the day having some fun with the kids. We hardboiled 36 Easter eggs and then dyed them. These were going to be used for a youth egg hunt for the kids Sunday afternoon. The kids loved dyeing the eggs so much and had fun experimenting with colors and wait times. I made an Alabama egg (since we love Alabama Crimson Tide football) and one of the kids decided they should make an Auburn egg since their Meager (grandmother) loves Auburn…ha! Easter Sunday we started the day bright and early at 4:30AM with a sunrise service. The sun actually came up about 5:15am but we sang songs of Jesus resurrection and then went down to the ocean and sat on a log to watch the sunrise together. It was so beautiful and in the picture above, it looks like a cross as the sun comes up! It was such a powerful way to start Easter morning. Afterwards, the church members came back to our house and we had a potluck breakfast together with coffee, lemonade, flitters, beans with white butter, deviled eggs, and cake. We enjoyed the fellowship together also.
The Senior Pastor of the church here recently resigned. The Baptist Association of Honduras has named David as the Interim Senior Pastor and he has started working closely with a man in the church who desires to be trained to be a church leader. So David will be filling the pulpit until a man from the church can be raised up to lead the church. Basically, David’s goal is to work himself out of being needed here so the church here can grow, thrive, and carry on with a solid foundation without the need of missionaries.
For the Sunday morning service, the children and youth did their annual Easter program. It is always such a precious time to hear them saying their poems, reciting their Bible verses, and singing songs to the Lord. They all did a great job and we were so proud of all of them. All 3 of our children participated in the Easter program too.
That afternoon at 4:00pm, we hosted an Easter party for the youth group! We hid all the eggs in the front yard of the church and in a neighbor’s front yard. 7 of the eggs had a number on the bottom of them and were “prize eggs”. It took the youth quite awhile to find all the eggs because we hid them well..ha,ha! Then we came back to the house and distributed the prizes to the winners of the numbered eggs. After that, we went back down to the church (we only live a few houses down from the church) and did an egg toss relay. The kids actually did surprisingly well with this challenge but in the end, one team was victorious! We came back to the house and ate snacks and played “The Game of Things”. Then we told them that if they needed to go home, we understood but they could stay as long as they wanted. We had kids at our house until 8:30pm and it was awesome!! We love being with the youth kids and having fun with them.
We were pretty tired after a very long but incredibly blessed day so we cleaned up the house and went to bed. We thank the Lord for such a great 1st Easter in Honduras!