Greetings from barrio San Matias, located just outside of the city of La Campa in the Department of Lempira, Honduras. Many of our friends have found it hard to believe that the information provided in the previous sentence is as close as we get to an official address in this part of Honduras. When they inquire further about how to send us a care package they are more surprised to learn that there is no mail delivery service here either. It makes sense when you stop to think about it though. If there is no mail delivery service why should anyone have formal mailing addresses? Or if there are no formal mailing addresses how could you have mail delivery service? Sounds a little bit like the chicken or the egg question, but regardless, we send you our warmest greetings this month from our new home in Honduras.
Earlier this year I introduced you to Pastor Jose Maria and his family. They’ve had to endure more challenges in the first half of this year, so if you believe in the power of prayer, please include them in your prayers today. This month I would like to introduce you to another very special family, the Perez family.
Sometimes you can look back and remember the exact moment you met someone who later became a very special friend, but sometimes you meet people who you never imagine at the time will become very special to you, but that is exactly what ends up happening. That is the case with us and the Perez family. I can’t tell you exactly when we met them (other than sometime in 2010), but they are such special people that it seems like we’ve always known them.
Eusebio and Olympia have four children, Martias is their oldest daughter, Antonio (not pictured) is the next oldest, Sandra is their third, and Belky is their youngest. Like many Lenca families, they are very hard workers. They own a small family business making traditional Lenca clay pottery. The pottery is made completely from materials found in this region of Honduras. The pottery is very simple, but also very pretty, and functional.
Olympia makes most of the pottery but all of her daughters are learning the trade. Eusebio helps with the wood fired oven drying and polishing. The entire process is done by hand, without a potter’s wheel, at their home using whatever tools they have available, including old toothbrushes, various shapes and sizes of rocks, and even old plastic pens. It is amazing to see what beautiful pieces of pottery they can make with rudimentary tools, lots of skill, and patience.
In addition to helping with the family pottery business, Eusebio is a man of many talents. He is very knowledgeable about basic construction using adobe blocks and other materials and methods common to rural Honduras, and he is an excellent farmer and gardener. He grows many different flowers, fruits and vegetables. And of course, he knows how to grow coffee. His son Antonio is following in his father’s footsteps and they get to work together quite often.
It was about two years ago that we started building our home in La Campa. From the perspective of the American planner, it is incomprehensible that it would take two years. While the house is large by Honduran standards, it is just an average size American home. And it is a very simple home that does not even have central heat and air. So why did it take so long? Jean and I are both the typical American planner types so we have struggled with this too at times. As with any construction project I’ve ever been involved with there are always mistakes, decisions that get made and changed, then changed again, which causes delays. Add to that the dynamics of managing the project from about 1,500 miles away, cross culturally, and it becomes a little more understandable why it took so long. But there is more to it than that.
There are many things that were learned during this project, but I think one of the most important spiritual lessons God taught us is that He is at least as interested in the process as He is in the end result. God has two primary goals for each and every person created; first, that they understand and accept His love and gift of forgiveness for them that was revealed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second goal He has for us is that the longer we walk with Jesus, the more we resemble Him in our daily lives. So clearly the end results are very important to God. But the process of achieving these goals is important to Him too. We don’t just all of the sudden become Christ-like. It takes time, it takes us making mistakes to learn, it takes longer than we want or expect. But if we go through the process with a humble, teachable spirit, God will help us to reach His goals.
The other related lesson we learned is that God always has much more going on in every aspect of our lives than we are able to realize at the time. Our focus was on completing this construction project so we could move down here and start engaging in the ministry that God has for us. There was nothing wrong with that focus. As a matter of fact, our desires were perfectly in line with God’s plans for us. But the God we serve is the all knowing, holy, Creator of the entire universe. With that in mind it seems obvious that He would have more than one thing going on at a time. Our construction project turned out to be a perfect example of this. While we were so preoccupied with the details of the project, God was using the project to build relationships with people like Eusebio, Olympia, and their family, which is the exact thing we want to do here.
While Eusebio is skilled in basic construction there was a lot about this project that was more than he could handle so we could not hire him as our general contractor. However, as we got to know him better, we learned that he is a hard worker who does everything with absolute integrity. If you ask him to do something he will do it, he will do it well, and he will do it in the right amount of time without having to be checked on constantly. We also learned that he lives out what the Apostle Paul stated we should always do, and that is to put the interests of others ahead of our own. As soon as you give him responsibility for something he will take care of it as if it is his own. He and Olympia have taught these lessons to all of their children and they all appear to be great students.
One afternoon Jean and I were working hard trying to get the house cleaned up and set up enough so that we could start living there. It was the first day that everything in the house, meaning the electricity, water, and appliances were all working. Eusebio was working on some projects outside the house that day. My Spanish is still not very good so I didn’t fully understand when Eusebio told me that the rest of his family was going to come by for a visit that day. It did not matter that it was that day or any other day because they are always welcome in our home.
A little while later Olympia and the girls came walking down the driveway so we took a break to sit down and talk in the house. Or try to talk since, as I’ve already mentioned, our Spanish is not very good yet. Not only did they come by to talk, but they also came by to give us a gift for our house. It was a flower pot that Olympia made, with a plant that Eusebio had cultivated for us. In our best Spanish possible we thanked them for the gift and told them that we would put it on the front porch so that every time we entered and left the house we would see that plant and be reminded of them. We also promised them that if they gave us a few more days we would be able to offer them coffee, tea, soft drinks and some snacks because, at that time, all we had was a couple of bottles of water in the refrigerator.
Before they left we gathered together in a circle, held hands, and prayed for one another in the dining room. Not only are they honest, hard working people, they are also spiritual giants, and we are honored to be friends with them. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to meet these very special people. Please keep them and us in your prayers as we grow closer together in friendship and ministry.