The Mission Continues

November 1, 2015

IMG_5696Hello everyone! Its been quite some time but here I am! Alive and safe. The last month of mission was incredible and incredibly busy. I did a mountain mission, a couple island missions, retreats in the mountains and helped with music for a retreat in Comayagua. Totally worth it. I am writing this blog to basically sum things up in Honduras. The mission was excellent. Such a blessing. June 2013-September 2015, but the mission continues now at home…HOWEVER. I havent told you all about my awesome experiences in the last month of being in Honduras so I will start there. And by awesome, sometimes I mean crazy or insane. (P.s. The pig is from an all boys orphanage. he was posing for the pic)

A Few Mosquitos

So we went to the mountains to do one day confirmation retreats. We were scheduled to go to three parishes in three days staying one night in each place. We made it around to each place. Success! But in one place, the house where we stayed had a few mosquitos and I didn’t have bug repellent. What a night. So we arrive at the house and the lady who lives there is sooooo kind. She had three beds set up for us in this one room. We go in and she says, ” There are a few mosquitos here so I apologize for that.” But we were like oh no worries…we deal with mosquitos all the time everywhere. But there were more than a few here. There were like 60. Now imagine one buzzing around your head. You wait trying to listen when it stops buzzing because you know it is probably biting you. There the buzzing never stopped. After like 40 minutes of starting to get ready for bed the lady came back and said, ” You should probably leave the light on so the mosquitos don’t bother you.” We tried that…it didn’t work. I slept for like one hour in my burning hot sleeping bag covering my whole body because I didn’t want bites. I couldn’t handle the heat. I stuck my head out and saw mosquitos hovering over Jose Alberto, another missionary up there with me. I killed a mosquito that was biting his hand on his hand! Then I decided to move. I laid on a bench that was a bit small for me but on the other side of the room. That didn’t work either. They followed me. So I moved to the tile floor. I slept there with my back on the cool floor and just said whatever. Eat me I don’t care. I woke up in the morning all good and went to take a shower. 100 mosquitos inside. So I just danced the whole time so they wouldn’t land on me. It worked.IMG_5880

So after all this you are probably wondering why the heck we didn’t have bug spray. We did. It was just in the car. The car that was two blocks away it front of the house where the girls were staying. It was 10:30pm. I gave the keys to the girls ” in case they needed something from the car.” Big mistake. But it was quite an experience. ( The pic is from one of the retreats we did)

Elderly Home in La Ceiba

So most the time whenever I would go to the cost I would visit an elderly home. This last time I was there I visited again and I just wanted to share a bit about this one lady. She is so funny. She has been there about 9 months because I saw her some months after I started going there. When I first met her she told me she had been there a month and started talking to me about how she sows and has a room in a different city and in the elderly home she is not allowed to do much. she also asked me where I live and I told her Comayagua and she goes, ” Ohhhh Comayagua, I’ve been there.” And she went on to tell me about some famous person that she is related to that she went to visit. Very nice lady. So time and time again I visited that same place and I would go to talk to this lady. Even up to the last time. And I promise you we had the same conversation six times. She always tells me she has been there a month and all about her Comayagua experience. Other people there were just so happy to see us. It was a blessing to visit them.IMG_6112

So we went from the mountains to the coast and then the coast to the island. So beautiful. It was so amazing to return back to the islands to see the same people I had worked with and visited before. The water is absolutely amazing and the people too. We even went in a boat to small island off the coast of the bigger islands where there were a bunch of houses and even a gradeschool. We watched as a group of young children from the Catholic Church taught all the island kids about Honesty with dances and songs and prizes. Such an awesome program that the Church was doing there in Honduras. It was a great experience. I will never forget being in church and looking out the window and seeing beautiful islands and the ocean water. Such peace.

IMG_6028Now back to the mountains again! But this time just to hang out. I had the opportunity to visit Mountanuelas another time. This town was one town where there were 300 families that were part of the church there and we did programs with 120 kids, 80 jovenes and about 200 adults. This town was on fire for Christ and I missed them so I went back. I only had about two or three days to spend because I had other missions to do but I made it happen. However it was quite difficult to get there. (The pic is with a family in Mountanuelas)

The day I was going to go visit them I didn’t have enough time to finish the music for mass during a huge youth retreat and still make the bus so I changed my plans to leave the next day.
The next day there was a strike and ALL the buses going that way were stopped like 15 minutes up the road. So I decided to pay for a taxi and I took three others with me, letting two of them pay only what they would have paid in the bus and I covered the rest. Then I got to another place and took another bus. Then I got to another place and a friend picked me up on his motorcycle and brought me up the bumpy hill to Mountanuelas. It was about 25 minutes on the motorcycle. BUT I made it. It was super fun hanging out and staying but I only was there for one night. Some kids wanted to do things so they came to the house where I was staying. I grabbed the guitar, we said some prayers and did some music with dances. They loved it. Me too. I will always have that town on my mind and in my heart.

Now life back in Comayagua was a bit crazy for the neighborhood.IMG_5921 Some of the boys that always would come to our young guys group on Tuesdays were having problems with the new time they had to be in class. These families were very poor so a lot of the guys went to school from 6pm to 10pm so they could work during the day, After a few months, the school system changed and added another hour so they would be coming home from school at 11pm. Now my neighborhood is not the safest place at all. So a couple times within the same month, a few of the these kids got assaulted. They were threatened and robbed. There were four guys with guns and one with a machete and they took their backpacks and cell phones. Now that sucks. But what really was sad was that they took the backpacks that had their school books and workbooks so they couldn’t study. And they didn’t have money to buy more supplies. So some thought about dropping out or looking for a different school on the weekends. A few weeks later they were assaulted again by OTHER guys. That time they ran and one of the guys shot his gun a couple times, probably to try to scare them. The gun shots were right in my neighborhood. (The pic is of a family that I visited for two years every week. They already are greatly missed.)

It is a tough situation they have. IMG_6033They already are poor yet they even get the last things they own taken from them. But they ended up changing schools and are continuing. They also are happy because they started getting to go to the group again. But this has to be a reality check for us! WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH OUR LIVES? What are we doing to thank God for all the blessings he gives us? Most of us don’t struggle with hunger or safety or anything like what is happening in other countries but we complain about this or that. Is it worth it? We need to be thanking God and serving others that have it more difficult. We are sooooooooo soooooooo blessed to have the lives we do and to be in the situation that we are. Now I know we have our difficulties too, I am not saying that our lives are not hard, but they have these difficulties on top of the ones we have many times. Problems with their marriages or not being married at all, abuse, infidelity, etc. So let’s take a second and focus on what really matters…the love of Christ. The love of God that we can be to our neighbors anywhere in the world.

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God is calling us to be different. The Church needs saints. The world needs people that go against social media even if it isn’t that “cool”. It is easier to just blend in. So why don’t we be different? I am different. Not just because of what I do but because I’m a little nuts haha. But I want to share the love because everyone can use a little more love in their life, especially from a stranger. So be encouraged. If you are in a tough situation, try to change it. Rely more on God and let him lead you instead of you leading you. And serve other more because through that we truly are filled and we end up getting served. ( The pic above is a wonderful family I visited for about a year. I started to visit them after the father was murdered)

This mission has taught me so much. I have grown spiritually, physically and mentally. I have become more aware of what it is like for other people where as before I just lived in my bubble in Anaheim Hills. Life is not all about just being a nice person. Its about being the best version of ourselves. Its about living a life of service, to our kids, to our family, to our neighbors, to those in most need and even to our enemies. That is what life is all about. That is what matter most. And Jesus Christ shows us the way to do. He gives us tons of examples of how to do it. And the saints too. WOOOOOO there are a ton of saints who were normal people just like you and me who did extraordinary things.IMG_6017

Now I don’t want to sound all preachy, even though everything I just wrote is preachy, but its to express the truth about what I experienced. You all have been following me many since day one. You have little these experiences with me. So don’t let it just be a good story that you heard. Let it change your life. We are in this together. And that is why I say, the mission continues. It didn’t end when I left Honduras. No no. It started there and now I’m just starting a new chapter here. Where we are all called to serve. In our own backyards.

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to all of you who supported me spiritually or financially during this time. This has been quite an adventure. I want to also thank the Missioners of Christ for having a place where individuals like myself can go to serve in such a radical way. If you all were not in Honduras I would never have gone there. I will miss you all dearly. You are my family.

So just as I usually end my posts, please pray for me because I need all the prayers I can get and remember that I will be praying for you. Hasta luego!!!!

My missionary family in Honduras

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A couple pictures from the Island mission. Do you see the jelly fish???

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In Honduras- I played music for retreats, preached the gospel visiting houses like the apostles did, prayed with families, drove all over Honduras, acted in dramas, visited families on a consistent basis, visited orphanages, helped with physical therapy, visited patients in the hospital, preached to people on the street, prayed for hours daily, went to daily mass, learned more about who Jesus is, grew closer to Jesus, put on programs for children/adults/youth in the mountains, put on programs on the islands, preached about Jesus on the beach, led youth groups on missions, raised $4500 for a guitar program and implemented it getting around 50 guitars out all around Honduras, attended baptisms, helped with confirmation retreats, visited the sick, visited the elderly, visited the imprisoned, made friendships that will last a lifetime, shared unforgettable experiences and I loved. What a beautiful two year three month mission.

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The Home Stretch

August 13, 2015IMG_5292

The time is flying by! I have only one more month here! We have been calming down a bit from the hyped mission season. Now I am on the home stretch trying to give it my all, participating in everything and visiting many people. These two years have been absolutely amazing and I have been super blessed to have had the opportunity to serve and be served by so many. I still have a month so I am not checked out yet. But pray for me because its pretty tough knowing the next step that I’m taking but still trying to live in the present moment. Everyone here deserves the very best all the way up until I leave. But yeah, so about the missions!!!!

The first mission I went on after returning here from Africa was in a town called Zacate Blanco, which means Long White Grass or something like that…It was about three and a half hours from Comayagua. What a beautiful week. Besides the fact that most of the team got sick! Including me. It was great. The teenagers from the village really responded and came out each day for the programs. We did a four day program on sexuality and God’s plan of love for our lives. It was awesome!
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The house visits were excellent too. We were able to visit some 60 houses where basically all of them had little altars with a candle in the middle of the room next to the wall. It just shows us how Important the faith is to them.

The first day of house visits I went with two girls from our group and two young guys from the village and it was the coolest thing to see……When we were walking there were many places where it was very slippery so the guys helped the girls out to get down or to get up, not for just moment but until they passed through the whole entire hill or area! Chivalry lives! Thank you Zacate Blanco! We also had the opportunity to give a short english lesson to children in the local school. So cool.
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When it came to sleeping, we all stayed in a few different places. The girls in one place, Father Jose Maria, the priest who stayed in our town a couple nights, stayed in another and the guys in another.
The guys stayed in this like one room shack thing that was built like a house but it was a teaching classroom or something and people brought us a couple beds and a hammock. Sleeping was quite eventful when it was your turn to sleep on a bench or the hammock. Usually some would just end up on the floor. We also had a fun time going to the restroom which was located on the other side of the street behind someone’s house where we had to enter through their gate then walk along the back side of their house where they had some nice calm dogs…when they were sleeping, otherwise they barked and barked and basically seemed ready to attack at any moment, then we arrived at the restroom where you stood in a mud pit outside the restroom and in the restroom because it was raining and made everything mud. So we were a bit discouraged from needing to use the restroom. And the tough thing was that we were sick on a few days so it was necessary multiple times to go! I will never complain again about my bathroom…But we definitely grew in humility and decreased in pride.

Then afterwards I went on a mission to Guayiquiro with some seminarians, guys studying to become priests. It was fun. I was a bit sick but driving was my main thing so I was able to drive each day. I was trying to sing too but I didn’t have a voice so it was a bit difficult but the people in the towns that I visited were so excited just with our presence that they made it easy to lead a bit of music and dancing even without a voice.IMG_5556

I also had the chance to visit Buenos Aires, a community that I visited a year and a half ago and a young girl was wearing the miraculous medal around her neck. it was one we gave to the children over a year ago! Then I saw others with the medals too! So awesome.

I  then visited San Miguel and there was futbolito in this one area, which is like mini soccer, but I went to visit some of the same houses that I visited in the mission in March.  It was beautiful. The first family was an elderly couple with some of their children. That were sick the last time I had visited them but very healthy this time. They gave me bananas, a juice and a cookie. It just absolutely amazes me that they welcomed me like that…they  barely have things yet they gave them to me. Then I visited a child of theirs whose wife is super sick. I prayed with each family in each house. IMG_5356
Then I went to another family that I don’t remember visiting but they received me and gave me this corn pineapple thick drink thing. And the other lady there was trying to sell mangos but wasn’t having any luck. She gave me one. Then I offered to pay for the others and she told me she wouldn’t sell them to me because the one was a gift. Then I finally convinced her to sell them to me but still she only took 30 cents for two of them.
But it was just beautiful. It was nice to just visit with them. It felt like family. Because we are.

Then we got back to Comayagua from the mission with the seminarians and the same day we brought the them to the airport we picked up a team of high schoolers to do the last mission of the summer!

IMG_5518The last mission was in a village close by. Las Flores which means the flowers. We went up for four days of mission then had a youth retreat with all the youth from five villages together on Friday. It was beautiful.
The only tough thing….well there were a lot of tough things but one big one happened on Monday. Many people were upset with how the government was handling some changes it was making so thousands of people went to the streets and stopped all the major roads by doing walks in the middle of the road covering the whole road so nobody could pass. So Monday morning we didn’t even go to our villages. So we missed a morning of house visits but we worked hard the next few days and visited all the houses in my community.

My community was called Chaguiton which means something like dirty water or a mud pit something like that it took about one hour to arrive there from Comayagua. So it was quite a drive each day but slow and relaxed. There were some 45 houses in the village. We managed to visit them all! One house we visited had four generations living there and they were all there at the same time; great grandmother, grandmother, mother, daughter. The young mother is only 19 years old! But its a beautiful thing to see a family step up and help to take care of each other. This same family had like a ton of mango trees to the point where there were like 100 that had fallen on the ground. So I was making a comment about the trees and the next thing I know the lady was giving each of us a mango. That’s something interesting about how things work here. Its like if you talk about something you like or you see someone is enjoying for example food, they will almost always offer some to you… Even if you don’t want it, it doesn’t matter, you take it. 🙂 And you show them that you LOVE IT. This is a beautiful aspect of the culture because they want us to be as comfortable as possible and feel at home and it works. I always do feel at home seconds after entering into the house. The mother of the household usually gives me a big hug and kiss and grabs a seat for me, then starts talking to me about the family and everything that has been going on. Then she grabs some coffee and maybe a small piece of bread or a cookie to go with it to give to me. Always smiling and giving thanks for our visit. This all happens before we even say a word or do anything; we just show up! But the love of God is like that. it doesn’t matter what people have to say, we are all family. We are all brothers and sisters of Christ. We are all sons and daughters of God. And I give a great big thank you to Honduras for reminding me of that.

My teams were great. Everyone participated and gave their all in each mission. We did house visits, shared the word of God, did dramas in the church, gave talks, played music and had reflections. This summer was a great one.

I will be continuing to visit families and do a couple more retreats before I go so I will be sure to write about them too! God bless you all and thank you in advance for your prayers.

Back From Africa

20150618_110147June 26, 2015
Hello everyone!!!! I’m in New York! I just got back with part of the team that went to Africa! Wow what a beautiful experience. So since the last blog update I have helped with three bread of life retreats (TWO in Africa!!!), an event called Festival of the Spirit, continued to visit local families and helped teach about the faith to a mothers group in Moras, a town about 30 minutes from our house.
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Honduras has just been absolutely amazing. Such a blessing. I’ve been growing closer to the people I’ve been visiting each week and also I’ve been growing in my faith. Everyone in the house has been working so diligently as a team. God really knew what He was doing when He put us all together.
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I want to talk about a couple things that have been happening in our local area then I will share about Africa!

First- It’s a story about one boy whose family I’ve been visiting for almost two years is doing something amazing. His name is Julio and he is 17. Over a year ago he was dropped from the Sponsorship program the Missioners of Christ offers because he did not meet the requirements. Mainly because he wasn’t passing his classes because the requirements his mother had to meet she always completed. She is a super woman always volunteering and helping out and working with the friars and the retreats we have.
So Julio was not working or going to school for some time when finally their family needed more money because they were having a very difficult time. So Julio went out and got a job where he has to work over night a lot of the time but it’s a full time job. Then after some time he decided to start going back to school on the weekends, taking a two day intense course to receive the same education he would get in a week.
Now Julio has been doing this for Months, working, studying AND staying involved at the local parish and church group. I saw all he was doing and the beautiful effort he has been making for his family I decided to help him so now he has a scholarship to help with school expenses. Such a beautiful story. I continue to visit the family every week when possible.

Second- it’s a story about another family that I’ve been visiting occasionally that has a few children and two of them are boys that would Always Always ALWAYS attend our boys group, men of Christ, every Tuesday night. Walter 16 and Franklin 14.
They were not doing too well in school and also needed to help bring money to the household because the mothers wages were not enough. So they eventually dropped out of school. They continued to come to the group and I would visit the family occasionally to pray with them or just to chat. After some time they wanted to find a way to study and work so they began to attend classes at night. From 6-10pm so they could work during the day. Once that started Night School they could not come to the group anymore. Only once in a while. Then after a short while the school increased the amount of hours so they would be have school from 6-11pm. Now I don’t live in the safest area so walking around our neighborhood at 11pm is not the greatest idea. We as missionaries, NEVER NEVER never do it. But these kids have to. So Walter and Franklin were walking home one night a couple months ago with about three or four other boys and they were assaulted. A bunch of guys with guns and one with a machete stole all their book bags and cell phones.
This was not only a tough situation to overcome but they also now were missing a lot of their workbooks for the classes so it made it difficult to study. A couple weeks later it happened again to some of them returning from school in a different area still close by but a different group of guys this time. They all ran for it and some gun shots were fired.
This is just one of the difficulties the people here face. They didn’t ask for that, it’s because of their situation that these things happened. They did nothing to deserve it…

Since I’ve been in Africa I haven’t been able to follow up with them to see how they are but the last thing I heard was that they were going to try to go to school on the weekends like Julio. They were happy about the idea because it would be safer and they would be able to attend the boys group again on Tuesday nights. Let’s pray for them and if you are interested in maybe helping them financially let me know!

Last thing. AFRICA
So as you all know, I have spent the last two and half weeks traveling through Africa with a group of four others: Father Herald, a missionary Franciscan Friar of the Renewal Priest, Brother Tansi,  Franciscan Friar of the Renewal member, Carol, a consecrated virgin who had led the team and mission in Honduras for about 13 years and Ashley, a long term missionary in Honduras like
me who is also a nurse. We were in Ho, Ghana then in Kumbo, Cameroon. Wow. What an adventure. A very beautiful one full of traveling, beautiful scenery, great new foods, awesome people and the best part, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.
The main purpose of our visit was to do two huge retreats called The Bread Of Life centered around Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s a retreat basically with Jesus in the center, physically in the center and with Jesus being the main subject of the talks. There is just something absolutely amazing that happens when young people come together to worship Christ in Adoration. And that is exactly what happened. An explosion of Joy. Pure Holy Joy.
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We had about 320 young people join us on the first retreat in Ghana. The masses were beautiful with tons if dancing and singing! Africans dance to basically every part of the mass. It was just pure joy. They are all so good too at dancing moving at the same rhythm in sync. I was like dang, they must come out of the womb dancing.
The dancing that happened throughout the weekend was beautiful but it made me realize something. What has our culture done to certain types of dancing? We have turned it into something taboo, mainly happening at parties or in night clubs. We turned something so beautiful, so meant for glorifying God, into something taboo. I’m talking about dancing with the whole bod! There in Africa during the mass I could see the love of Christ from the people through the dancing. There was nothing taboo about it! Even the nuns were dancing! The whole experience made me think twice about our style of dancing that we see in music videos and in clubs. Now I know how to turn that all around and offer it to The Lord. Thanks to all the people of Africa!

So we ate interesting food, well interesting to me and spent a lot of time traveling in a car. We ate something called FuFu which is like corn mixed with Yucca or something
Like soft potatoes and it comes out like a blob. You eat it with your hands usually with soup. Very interesting. AND you only eat with your right hand. I learned that from the beginning being left handed and wanted to grab everything with the left. By the end of the trip I was a pro and eating with the right hand. We even visited the Bishop of Ghana the last night and I ate FUFU!20150615_222914 20150615_221348

With my Hands. Oh yeah.

But on another note, the countries are gorgeous. I was just like staring out the window for hours during it 10 hour ride to Kumbo from the Doaula Airport in Cameroon. Then to be in the village in Kumbo, a village financially poor but so rich with life. It was amazing. God used this whole trip to really remind me of what’s important. Already living in Honduras I was getting a sense of that, that the faith is the most important, the Love of our Lord, but after being in Africa and seeing living conditions even MORE difficult than in Honduras with a people that had even MORE joy, it was a great reminder. It was obvious. The more we depend on God the happier we will be. The amount of money in our pockets will not bring us security. It’s Jesus that will. You want to know what happiness is? Watch the videos of All of us Praising Jesus in Eucharist the last night we were in Ghana. Pure Joy. Healthy Clean Joy.
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So now I’m back in New York, feeling more worldly having visited some new countries but even more so feign refreshed. It was such a blessing to see the same beautiful faith lived out by the people of Africa. It just reminded me of how
Blest we are to have the Universal Church. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world. You can always encounter Christ in the Eucharist.

God bless you all! Pray for me as I finish my last couple months of mission in Honduras. And of course I will continue to pray for all of you. If you would like to help support my works financially feel free to send me
An email or a message in Facebook!
DSCN451120150621_151146a gift to us from the Youth in Cameroon
Mau Ne Ira Wu. Me Ack peh.
God bless you and we will meet again.
(In Ewe, the local language in Ho, Ghana)

MARCH MONTH OF MISSION

April 26, 2015

Hello everybody! It has been a long time since my last blog. I came back from the coast, La Ceiba and then prepared to have three teams come from the US to do missions in the mountains. The whole month of March I spent in the mountains. I was only in Comayagua where the house is, for like six days out of the whole month. We went to many different places for the missions. It was really exciting seeing so many different people and different places. The first mission of March we went to a place called Nahuaterique. Nah wa ta re k.  We went to a place called Caiman. The people in the town didn’t even know we were coming!!! The communication was really bad but we were told before that they already knew. But we are missionaries so we prepare for anything and everything! We worked out everything with a family living close by the church. The guys slept in the church on the pews and the girls stayed in a house close by. photo1 1

What an adventure! We walked all over the town visiting houses, sharing the gospel, drinking the water!!!! Thank God this town had a spring that poured right into the town and also some Places had a filtration system so we were all good drinking all the juices the families were offering us. Normally, in an advance mission, we visit and tell everyone to tell the families to boil the water for us because our stomachs can’t handle the water. But this town, we weren’t able to do an advance mission so we  had to be photo1 3Ready for anything but it all worked out great! Nobody got sick! We ate basically rice and beans everyday with HUGE corn tortillas. We played music and enjoyed the week. The only thing that may not have gone over as planned was a little fight I got into. So I was visiting a house and this macho is like looking at me from outside, basically sizing me up. I wasn’t sure if he was going to come in the house or just kind of give me looks. So I’m talking with the family then he comes inside. I’m looking at him and he’s just getting closer and closer. Then all of a sudden he makes the first move. He wacks me with his wing. I freaked out and tried kicking him but the turkey kept trying to come at me. Then a man in the house helped shoo him away at the same time that I grabbed a doll I found on the group and helped chase him out. I think it ended as a tie…Other than that everything was awesome. photo1 4We even picked some coffee from the coffee farm next to the church…trying to help pay a little to the family that was giving us food all week. It all ended great. The people were very motivated and excited.
This town was about 3 1/2 hours from our house.
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Mission 2- Pimientillas, Socorro

The second week we drove about 3-4 hours to Pimientillas, a town where there was about five different Christian churches within five minutes walking. It was quite an adventure visiting all the families.photo 1
The team separated into three groups to sleep in different houses because the town was very poor. I slept alone photo 3with a family, two guys were in another house and two girls in another. Rice and beans everyday for basically every meal. Sometime I ate Spaghetti. And I never missed drinking a cup of Coffee with every meal. 🙂 but it’s all good because its the best coffee EVER! The first night I was trying to sleep but there were a bunch of Mosquitoes flying around so I grabbed this net thing that the Family gave me that was to protect from mosquitoes but I had no idea how I was supposed to put it around me or around the bed. So I put the net around my body and tried to fall asleep. But I kept hearing the mosquitoes flying around my ears. Zzzzzzzzzz buzzzzzzzzz.3 40 minutes later I fell asleep. Then the next day I woke up and I looked around the house but I didn’t see a place where I would be able to shower. So after eating breakfast I said bye to the family and the dad asked me if I was going to take a shower. And I kind of looked at him with a confused face and he says, “you can do it right here” and he was talking about an area that was wide-open right next to where there was a pila, a cement block thing where people wash close an it hold water. Then he says “you can do it with shorts. And I can lend you shorts if you need some.” And I told them “I think I’ll do it later.” So when I got there in the nighttime when everyone was inside I took a shower outside but not in my shorts……not naked either jeez people! In my boxers. I wanted to sleep in my shorts. Then the next day I wake up and go to the restroom to find out I wasn’t sleeping alone that night. I had three ticks on me or better said in me. First time ever. I had seen a ton of ticks here but not in my skin. But we were on mission and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it so I pulled them out and kept on going with the mission. It was an awesome week. We even did a program in the local grade school on their Fathers Day while all the dads of the town were there.photo 2 So cool. A group of students also asked me to help them write a song for the dads so I did. It was fun.

Mission 3-San Antonio, Guayiquiro
4 hours from the house

The third mission was definitely a crazy one. First we drive four hours to get to the town. We dropped off half the team in another town about an hour and a half driving from San Antonio to help the priest out with a program. Then that part of the team had to walk to San Antonio afterwards, which they said was about three hours away. Then we went to a school close by the church in San Antonio that had about 200 students to get them all excited about our visit so they would come and visit the church. In this town we were told that basically everyone was Catholic so I was really excited to be able to visit and have a full church. So were visiting the school and entering in each one of the classrooms of these small children and then high school students and we were singing songs and presenting ourselves and what we were going to do that week. Everyone was super pumped and cheering when we left. We are all excited too. We get back to the church, about less than five minutes from the school, and the other missionaries were walking to the front of the church. Just so you know, to get to the front of the church of San Antonio, one has to basically climb down a mountain to get to the front doors. In my group there was a great friend of mine Michelle who is like a second mother, who had spent a few summers in Honduras and is always such a great motivator.  She was jumping and dancing in the visits we did in the classrooms. But after that, the first day, we hadn’t even been in San Antonio two hours and she is walking to enter in the church and she slips on the rocks. I didn’t see her. I just heard the noise of someone falling and I screamed “hey don’t fall.” But in like a joking way. Then I look over and I see that she’s sitting down and I was like oh no she fell down. Then when I got closer I noticed that her ankle was completely broken. Totally broken and she is just bummed out. “Dang it I’m so sorry Justin. “She says like she did something wrong and I’m like “don’t even worry!! Stuff happens it’s not your fault. ” but inside I was freaking out a little bit because we had just arrived in San Antonio this town that is four hours away from home and we just had a major accident. Thank God we had a car because I am one of the drivers in the house so what we ended up doing was driving back two hours to a central point where The head of the missionaries here in Honduras came to pick her up to bring her back to Comayagua. She left the next day to go home to have surgery. photo 21After dropping her off with Bob, we drove two hours again to go back to San Antonio. In our return trip we ran into the other missionaries from our group that were walking from the town that we had left them in. They had been walking for about 4 1/2 hours and still were very far away from San Antonio. You see the concept of time here is a little different than  what we may be used to. For example someone had said it would take three hours to get to San Antonio, and what they really meant was six hours. This was the first day in this town…
The Second day we planned on visiting a few different sectors of the town. The sector that I went to was about one hour away walking through the forest.photo 32 It was a lot of fun.
In this mission too, the guys slept in the church but families were very kind and brought mattresses for us. The week went well and was a blessing. We returned back on Friday and then Saturday morning I took off I go to La Ceiba to do another mission of Jesus on the beach.

Mission 4- La Ceiba
photo 4
This mission was much different from The others because I was on the beach. It was raining the first few days but then it was really hot. We were basically evangelizing all of the people on the beach. We put on inspirational videos, we do drama us and we played music. We also had many games that we did with the children and the teenagers. At one point there was about 120 or more people watching our dramas. There was about three radio stations that were broadcasting everything we were saying and doing and there was a nationwide Catholic channel doing a program on us. The program lasted 30 minutes and was shown twice on Good Friday. Basically showed a summary of what Jesus on the beach was. This is something that was really cool because it showed everyone in Honduras that has access to this channel the actions we were takin to spread the gospel. Everything was a great success. We even had participation from numerous teenagers from local parishes who volunteered to help out each day with dramas and everything else and even a dance.
What an adventure.
So that was my whole month of March and a little bit of April. Now I am back in the house getting back into the groove of things. But just like always, things come up so tomorrow I am leaving to do three one day confirmation retreats with three other missionaries. It should be exciting. I don’t know who will be there or what to expect but I do know that we will be leaving to go to the mountains at about 4am so it has to mean it will be something awesome! Haha. God bless you all, keep praying for me.

Back in Honduras once again!

Hello everyone! Welcome back to
my blog! And for me, welcome back to Honduras.

The hardest thing right now being back is waking up I think. I adjusted to going to bed at 11pm and waking up at 730/8am. Here I try to go to bed at 10pm but wake up or “wake up” (try to) at 5am to take my nice cold shower. I forgot how wonderful they were. But besides that it’s super nice to be here. I already initiated my Music Plan and have purchased 48 guitars with soft cases that will be delivered next week. I have a few donated guitars as well. I have been visiting some neighbors and working with the youth in the neighborhood. It was super easy to get back into the groove of things but I’m busier than before. I just keep praying for more
strength to finish all that I am responsible for. But God is awesome. He always hooks me up. The difference this time vs the last time I was in Honduras is that I’m taking off in September!

My mission here is ending! I know that’s seven months from now but still, this is the last part. So I’m trying to give it my all. That’s why I have four missions in a row in March this year!!!!!!

The days are moving fast with all the activities. We are preparing for a Pan De Vida retreat, Bread of Life, where something like 150 to 200 people are coming and some of us missionaries are responsible for the music which is like 6 hours a day broken up! But only for two days of the three day retreat. The first day Wilmer, who is an extraordinary musician, will be playing. Thank you Jesus!!!

Last week I went to La Ceiba for a few days. It was nice because we were able to visit an orphanage and do a little program, visit an elderly home, visit prisoners, visit a youth group in El Sauce? I think that’s how you spell it but you pronounce it
“Sao say”
A little story about the community of Sauce. This is where we have done a festival of the Spirit and helped with music for mass and have stayed in a house there. This past Friday, we were practicing music, Rolando, Omar and I, with the choir in a house in Sauce to play in the mass and holy hour at night. Oh and it was raining. Like a lot… The streets were flooding. Then as the hour got closer to go to mass we found out it was canceled! Why? Because the street in front of the church was literally flooded!!! You couldn’t get into the church.

So this rain continued and continued and when we were ready to go do
our mission on the Island of Utila Saturday morning, when we arrived at the dock there was no ferry! The ocean was to rocky and dangerous to travel so the ferry never came. So then we had to wait for the afternoon. We were going to try gain in the afternoon because the ferry was returning but a lady from the Island recommended we stay back until Sunday.

Considering that she is from the Island we took her advice. We stayed back and did the program for the youth group and we were going to hang out with a friend after mass Saturday night but she said because of the rain, she didn’t want to leave because she didn’t know if she would be able to get back to her house if it kept raining!!! I don’t know about you all but I’ve never not once had a problem getting home because of rain. It’s crazy what some people go through.

So the next day, Sunday, we left for Utila and did a one day mission on the Island; visiting houses, an elderly woman, a family that lost their house there two weeks before that was started supposedly by a child and we had mass. We also had an opportunists to have a walk along the Island. So beautiful!!! Then we slept on the pews in the church because we “misunderstood” that all we needed to bring was sheets and a towel. Ha! We should have brought the inflatable beds but owell. Quite an experience that I hope not to repeat. At least not without a sleeping bag or Something. All we brought was sheets hahaha. I guess we just like to be hardcore like that.

But the mission went well in La
Ceiba. Now this whole week we have been preparing. Tom our new servant leader, or head honcho, is here visiting and giving us
formation with Dell, a new employee with the Missioners of Christ. I’m excited to see what we all come up with for the future plans of the Missioners of Christ. Where will we take this group to this year… Keep praying for us and also for these people:

Olman- an eight year old we a tumor growing and he only has a few months left to live but it still bringing joy to people’s lives preparing himself to meet Our maker.

Junior, Exi, Garby- some of the prisioners that will be leaving soon and will need help.

….- a 12 year old girl who was physically abused and needs prayers. (I prefer not to write her name)

And the all boys orphanage Hogar de Nazaret, La Granja

Thanks again for following me and my mission. The support is greatly appreciated. God bless you! Talk to you next month… Well, in April I think after the four weeks of straight missions. Remember- Prayers prayers prayers! This is going to be a busy March.

Home for Christmas! What did I do these past two months???

December 29, 2014

So a lot has happened in these past two months since my last blog post. The time flew by. I’m at home right now enjoying the surf, family, friends, comfortable bed, different kinds of food and hot showers. But I wanted to share what had gone on in the last two months.

We went on a mountain mission and did a week training for Hondurans that wanted to be missionaries and then we took them out on the mission. I led four nights of apologetics or defense of the faith, and some music. The beautiful family I stayed with in the mountains had seven children! The mother is only 31 years old but all the kids are amazing and so happy. It was a huge blessing.DSC02062

On the way up to the mountains one of our groups guitars FELL OFF THE BUS on the road. It is damaged but it was an older guitar so I was like hey, its all good. Then I arrive with my guitar to where I was going to be staying and I go to pull it out of the case and boom…….broken. All the string were loose and I was confused, then I looked at the neck, oh yeah…. totally broken, from the guys who put it on top of the bus too tight. IMG_2176

We are definitely bringing guitars with us inside the buses from now on but it was a bummer to learn this way. But whatever! Life is amazing, the people were so beautiful providing us with food, a place to stay and plenty of exercise. We walked for about a few hours a day because all the houses we were visiting were super far apart.

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Many of the houses don’t have electricity but they manage. Every person it seems to me, drinks coffee every single day. The mom where I was staying told me she gives coffee to her kids when they are about 6 months! haha. Its definitely a cultural thing. I drank about 8-9 cups of coffee each day I was in the mountains. That’s a bit more than I drink in the mission house…. zero cups.

I’ve been visiting the family of Don Mario who passed away, almost every week for a couple months. The wife, daughter and granddaughter. It is a blessing to be able to help them cope with everything that happened. And the granddaughter Emily, who is 6, is a firecracker. She cracks me up. She loves talking and running around and playing. She even gave me one of her “graduation pictures” from kindergarten. She only had 4 small ones and chose to give me one. Then I told her I would be gone for about a month and she was like, “It’s a good thing I gave you this then huh? So you remember me.” Such an amazing family. Please keep them in your prayers- Doña Marta, Claudia, Emily.

I also still do work with the all boys orphanage and its a blessing because I have been able to teach them a lot more these past few months.

We spent thanksgiving in Trujillo, a little further than La Ceiba, with a missionary group called Finca del Niño or Farm of the child. They have a school that serves about 100 kids and live with about 30 orphans. They are from the states and are Catholic Missionaries just like us! So awesome to meet other missionaries to laugh about the difficulties and share with them. It was super fun. They put on a  thanksgiving dinner for about 100 people, including all their neighbors and us! And it was totally legit! Delicious and made form scratch. Thank you Finca del Niño.

Ok. BEING HOME. It is a blessing to be back visiting home. However! It is a bit odd. I don’t feel totally at home in either place but it’s all part of the mission and that’s the beauty of it. My home is in God. So wherever I go I have the faith and I find my home in the church. But its super interesting being here because I like don’t have to do anything but I feel like I should be…so what am I doing over here to continue the mission you ask? Well, I supported a book handout we did Christmas day- Rediscovering Catholicism, to every family that came to mass on that day. Free! Also I have been surfing and a couple days ago I was talking about God with some guy Rodrigo, 27 years old, and then before I left the beach we prayed together in the water. He is a good christian soldier for Christ. So it just shows you that mission isn’t just in Honduras. it is here too and we are all part of it. Find your way here to give back and if you already are, I thank you and applaud you…Keep up the good work!

A couple interesting things I’ve discovered, then I’ll finish up!

1. Tortillas and Coffee- We in America buy the finished product. Straight from the shelf or straight from starbucks, we have tortillas for making burritos or coffee right to our hands…but how does it get there? What does it take to get those coffee beans there or what would it take if we didn’t have the luxury of just buying tortillas…

Corn Tortillas- This is how it works in many of the villages. A family grows corn. Then they go and collect the corn from the field. Then they pick off by hand each of the small pieces of corn from the cob.( I think thats what it is called) Then they cook all the corn pieces so they are cooked and soft. Then they put them in a grinder machine that they smash by manually moving a lever. Then they place the smashed corn on a rock type thing with a bit of water to smash it even more. Then they make it round and cook it on the stove top, which is run by sticks creating fire below. Then boom!!! Tortillas! IMG_2221Quite a process.

Now Coffee- They plant the coffee plants. They grow and flowers appear on the plants. Then from those flowers appear beans. They are green but once they turn red they are ready. Then someone picks all the red beans and makes 5 cents for every pound they collect. Then there is a process of pulling off the shell, drying the coffee and getting rid of the bad beans that can take days and days. Then the coffee gets roasted. Then they grind it. Then boom. A cup of coffee. In the mountains, numerous people only drink their own coffee from their own plants. Its the best coffee and most fresh you can find!  But wow what a process. Now when you are drinking a cup of coffee that only took you 3 minutes to make, think about the multiple day process it took for these Hondurans.

2. The rain- Rain is nice and helps many crops grow but too much rain destroys homes and causes a lot of problems. It was raining so much that one person from our neighborhood told me that he sometimes has water soaking his bed because of all the rain that comes in the house. His bed is about 16 inches off the ground. Another family puts metal sheets down through their living room so the water flows from one side out the other down a hill. I even saw some houses on a flooded street filled with water. Its crazy so please pray for all these families and their daily struggle when the rain comes. Thank God we will basically never have to worry about these kinds of things. For us its a catastrophe but for them its their daily life.

Wages

After talking with numerous people in different positions I have discovered what many people make make as to do with wages over there. The wages vary quite a bit but generally speaking one makes about 100-300 lempiras per day, being about $5-$15 per day. If they have a decent job- picking coffee( $5-$15 per day) working for Little Caesars($7-$15 per day), or the water company out here( $15-$20 a day), or a security guard (12 hrs for $10 per day ) for the mall. If you have a low end job like packing vegetables in boxes- you will earn 30 cents per box, work 12-16 hours with a half hour break and do anywhere between 18 and 100 boxes depending on your speed ending up being $5 to $30. Yes the cost of living is much less but these people work super hard for not a lot and they make whatever they earn work…

God bless you all! And I will let you all know what’s new once I get back to Honduras in the end of January!

IMG_2208  IMG_1827

Dealing with Death

October 24, 2014
Alright well I pray all of you are doing well. This past month has been incredibly crazy. I went to the doctor a few times because I have had a ton of headaches but the doc said I’m making it up because there are no problems…I just have to suck it up. No the doctor didn’t say all that but he did say my brain looks good so hopefully the headaches stop soon.
Besides that, I have experienced three deaths in this past month. Two of which were right here in the neighborhood. I have been visiting this family for months now and the grandmother was severely sick with cancer too. I just so happened to visit her, Doña Lidia, less than a week before she passed away. I could tell she was very sick. I went back to my house and grabbed my guitar and returned to her house. Less than a week after, she passed away. We went to the funeral, the burial and helped with some items for a novena that the family was doing. A novena is a prayer that is done for nine days straight and here on the last day they have a get together with food and what not.
The other person who passed away was named Don Mario. He worked for an all girls orphanage here in the neighborhood. His death was not expected at all so it has been more difficult to deal with I’m sure for many people. I went to the ninth day of the novena and there were over 50 people in the house praying. Talk about faith in the Lord and how prayers work. This neighborhood knows the power of prayer. It was such a beautiful thing to see how the whole neighborhood came to support the family.
The most recent death was not here in Honduras…only a part of me died here, but it was a friend of mine back in my home town. Gary Lofgren. The friend that got me to go to Honduras for the first time in 2007. The friend that without his encouragement and motivation I would have never come here and definitely would never have decided to be here for two years. He was a great person. He always was smiling. We have been praying for him and continue to now. He will always hold a place in my heart. I offer many prayers for his family and fiancé…
So Dealing with Death is the name of this month’s blog because that’s what we are dealing with. A lot of it. But at the same time, its people returning to our Lord. To Jesus, to heaven, to the creator, so at least as Christians we know it is not the end.
ON ANOTHER NOTE: Life is normal here and still exciting. Always something new happening. We are preparing for a PAN DE VIDA retreat that is huge! It has like 3-4 hours of music a day and I’m helping lead the musicians so its been an interesting preparation process. Pray for the success of the retreat!
After this retreat this upcoming weekend, we have another retreat in the mountains for Confirmation then the following weekend another retreat for leaders in another set of mountains! Lots of music, talks, testimonies, preparation and JESUS. Thanks for your prayers.
With respect to the weather: RAIN RAIN and MORE RAIN, until the last two or three days. Before for practically the entire month of October it was raining.
Good things about rain: food grows, the climate is cooler, the plants grow, the land doesn’t dry out, people in the mountains have water to cook and clean…
Bad things about rain: your clothes hanging up never dries, plants die because there is too much water, you have mud on every single pair of pants because your sandals make mud fly up on the back of your pants, houses flood with water, houses fall down, people have died from too much water flooding their towns… so it’s kind of a win lose situation. I’m pleased with the weather right now, a bit of rain and mostly cloudly.  Thanks God
I’m learning more spanish daily and more guitar and more things to cook. Keep praying for me as I need more strength always. God bless you all for your support and love.
P.S. putting pictures in facebook!