Where Exactly Will You Be?
We will be living in the department (state) of Lempira, in the town of La Campa, in the southwestern mountains of Honduras, very near to the borders of El Salvador and Guatemala. Some maps actually show La Campa, but nearly all of them show the city of Gracias (yes, the city is named thank you 🙂 and La Campa is just a little bit south of Gracias.
Who Are The Lenca?
The Lenca are an indigenous people group who live in the area described above. They have largely lost their original language so they speak Spanish. It is estimated that there are 133,000 Lenca, all residing in Honduras. They are considered an engaged but under reached people group. This means that there are less than 2% of the Lenca considered to be evangelical Christians, but that there is an evangelical church planting strategy in place. This information was obtained from http://www.peoplegroups.org, February 2014.
What Are The Lenca Like?
The Lenca people are very intelligent and resourceful people. They have learned to do a lot with a little since they don’t have much, at least as we in the U.S. define having much. Their economy is primarily agricultural; they grow a lot of corn, beans, and coffee. They are a very peaceful and friendly people. They are shy and reserved at first. They’ve been exploited by different groups over the years so they wisely watch and learn before they trust.
How Do You Get There & How Long Does It Take?
We fly into San Pedro Sula and it takes about 3.5 hours from Atlanta on a non stop Delta flight. There is one flight daily to and from San Pedro Sula and Atlanta. From San Pedro we drive 4-5 hours depending on traffic, number of stops, etc. 4 hours is the best time we’ve ever made, 5 is about average, it took us 9 hours one time. That is a story you’ll probably see in this blog sooner or later…
What’s The Weather Like?
San Pedro Sula is hot and humid; think Atlanta in August, but worse, for about 10 months out of the year. La Campa is much more temperate since the elevation is about 3,900′. During the warmer season temperatures run roughly 80s/60s, during the cooler season roughly 70s/50s. March and April are the warmest months, November-January are breezy and cool, June-September are rainy.
Is It Safe In Honduras?
Is it really safe anywhere? There is risk everywhere you go, even in the U.S. The fact that Honduras has led the murders per capita statistic for at least the last couple of years draws a lot of media attention. And it is a horrible statistic in which to be a world leader. While not minimizing the tragedy and danger there are a couple of important observations to be made about this statistic. First, while not easily quantified, it is recognized that the vast majority of these murders are by and of gang murders revolving around the drug trade. Innocent people are getting caught up in this without a doubt. But it is largely rival gang members murdering each other. Second, there are areas of every large metropolitan city in the U.S. where we don’t go; the same goes for Honduras, there are places we don’t go.
How Are The Roads?
Generally they are in poor condition. However, there are at least 3 major road construction projects currently underway or recently completed we know of (as of early 2014) and these projects are being done very well. There were also some nice repairs made in late 2013 but it remains to be seen how long they will hold up. Driving in Honduras is an adventure to say the least!! The speeds are not very high because of the condition of the roads and the vehicles but it is still dangerous, and seemingly chaotic, even by Atlanta area standards. I guess you could sum it up by saying that whoever is willing to go first gets to go first. There is not an abundance of road signs or streetlights. The road signs that do exist are merely suggestions, people pass each other everywhere and go as fast as they can. Driving after dark is not recommended so we generally don’t. The closest paved road to La Campa is about 45 minutes down the mountain to Gracias. Otherwise, we are surrounded by dirt and gravel roads.
What’s The Food Like?
The Lenca diet consists mostly of corn, beans, tortillas, and queso. They make some very good tamales, and there is some pork and chicken available. Like most other places in the world, the amount of meat consumed depends on your level of wealth; but regardless of wealth, there is not as much meat consumed there as there is in the U.S.
In and around La Campa, most of the foods are natural, we would refer to them being “organic” here in the U.S. Overall, the food supply is healthier in the rural areas; there is plenty of junk food available in the major metropolitan areas. Many familiar U.S. chain restaurants are easily found in the big cities too.
We have already planted several fruit trees on the missions property, these are in addition to the already producing mango trees and pineapple bushes, and there will be more planted in the months ahead. We intend to do quite a bit of gardening and chicken raising to provide as much of our own food as possible. Of course we will grow some of our own coffee. All of this will eventually reduce our dependency on financial donations.
How About The Water?
Don’t drink from the faucet or sing in the shower!!! They are used to their parasites, we are not. They would have similar problems drinking U.S. tap water. We are expecting to have a filtration system in our home so our water will be safe for us to drink from the faucets. There are great soft drinks available there, and they are all made with REAL sugar. None of that corn syrup stuff. We’re not claiming them to be healthy drinks, but they are not quite as bad for you, and they taste so much better!!
Why Are You Going To Do There?
We believe that churches should start churches, not the missionaries, and that the nationals should lead their churches, not the missionaries. So now you are really wondering what we’re going to be doing. We will continue to work with two national pastors we’ve built relationships with for the last 4 years to help them identify and train leaders from their churches to pastor these new churches. While we are doing the training and teaching of these men, we will also be coordinating the efforts of short-term mission teams who come to help us start new churches in villages where there is no church. And once the village is ready for a church, we will help them obtain resources and work side by side with them to build the church.
We are currently aware of approximately 20 villages where there is no evangelical church. This means that the people are going a long way to hear the Word and live in fellowship with other believers, or they are missing out on this altogether. There is a small house church movement in certain parts of Honduras that we will be respectful of in our efforts. Our goal is to work where nobody else is working, not to build buildings just for the sake of it or to steal church members. Everything we do is intended to make God’s name known by making the reality of redemption known by more and more Lenca. We want do our part to contribute to every nation, tribe and tongue giving worship to God for all eternity (Revelation 7).
We will also help families meet physical needs constructively following the teach a man to fish rather than give fish principle. There are some popular books available such as Toxic Charity and When Helping Hurts that you can read to get a better idea of our methods to help families in a long-term, constructive manner. Of course, Abundant Life Coffee, www.abundantlifecoffee.com will continue to play a role in bringing economic hope and opportunity to Lenca families by helping them start their own coffee growing businesses and then doing what we can to help connect them to the profitable international coffee market.
Please read the blog post titled Why Go? for even more information about why we do what we do.
How Long Will You Be There?
Good question, we don’t know. We estimate that it will take at least 5 years to help start the 20 new churches we are already aware of at this time. We think there are plenty more opportunities that we do not yet know about. The better answer, we suppose, is that we have not signed up for a short-term assignment so there are no plans to move back to the U.S. soon; and since our ministry philosophy is that we should be trying to work ourselves out of a job we also can’t say with certainty that we’ll spend the rest of our lives in La Campa. How long we are there is completely up to the Lord.
From a practical standpoint, we will help train and support leaders for as long as they want, we will help start new churches and be involved with the new churches for as long or short as they want, and then we will move on. First and foremost, the churches are God’s churches, but after that, they are Lenca churches, not the American missionaries churches.
Are You Going There Independently?
Absolutely not! We are missionaries serving with Frontline Missions, a small missions agency based in Fairburn, GA. While most of us come from a Southern Baptist background, we are a non-denominational agency working with many different evangelical churches. Please visit www.fmusa.org for more information.
We are members of Kennesaw First Baptist Church who has been a strong partner with us in Honduras since 2011, please visit www.kfbc.org for more information.
What Will You Do For Money?
All of the Frontline missionaries are a combination of faith supported and tent making missionaries. By faith supported we mean that we depend largely on the generosity of others who believe in financially supporting Christian missionary work around the world. The Apostle Paul was a tent-maker by trade so in addition to receiving donations, he made tents to earn money to help meet his needs.
As already stated, we will rely, more heavily at first, on donations from other people and churches. We also already mentioned that we will do as much of our own food production as possible to meet our needs, and we think there will be some other opportunities for us to combine work with donations to support us and our ministry.
One last comment about finances; we receive 100% of your donations made by check, no money is taken off the top for any reason. The only time we receive less than 100% of a donation is when you make donations on-line because the PayPal credit card processing fees have to be paid out of the on-line donation.