The Adventure Continues

Our Church Council granted me a sabbatical for three months during the summer of 2010. My intention was to learn Latin American Spanish and to explore Latin American cultures here and abroad. Now that I have had some opportunities to lead mission trips to Yuscaran, Honduras, and to visit Mexico three times, the adventure continues.

Seeking New Horizons

Seeking New Horizons

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Understanding Honduras in Joy and in Grief

   My most recent trip to Honduras was April 16 through 23.  April 15 was the day of the bombing in Boston, and we were just getting the news as that infamous day was ending.  I wondered how much news I would be able to get while we were in Honduras, since we had no internet, TV, nor radio.  Yet, we had people on the street, and they consoled us when they heard we were from the Boston area, and they gave us news updates as the week went on.  Even though we were far from home, I felt like we were one community, and the people of Honduras grieved with us.
   Our group spent more energy than usual getting to know the people of the town, Yuscaran, and the village where we were staying, Los Tablones.  We made many new friends to go along with the ones we had already made on previous trips.  While I was the translator for most of our Spanish conversations while we were there, the people in our group had little trouble communicating with hand gestures and a limited vocabulary.  I never cease to be amazed at how people who want to, are able to communicate over language barriers when they care about each other.
    The work we are continuing in Yuscaran is the construction of a new church building for the Episcopal church there.  While the work has seemed to be nearing completion, the plan has now changed to include an additional third floor.  The original plan called for a meeting room in the "basement" and the sanctuary on the floor above.  Now the plan calls for an additional story that will be used for offices or for the residence of the local pastor.  While this may be a good use of limited space, it also means that the sanctuary will have little light or ventilation that would have come from dormers on the roof.  The new plan needs some more discussion, but has already been a part of the continuing construction.  The work we did this year was to mix cement on the floor and to help haul it up about 15 feet to be poured on parts of the new ceiling of the sanctuary, which is also the floor of the third story.  As in the past, we used muscles in ways which were new to us.
   One of the people I look forward to seeing when I go to Honduras is a young man who is now 17 years old.  His name is Selvin and he helped me with my infant Spanish on my first trip in 2010.  He wants to be a translator and is learning English.  In 2011 I brought him a Spanish-English, English-Spanish dictionary to augment his studies.  This year I learned he cannot study at night because he has no electricity at home, and batteries are very expensive.  He uses candle-light, but has been advised that this is not good for his eyes.  So I gave him the money to purchase a solar light that uses bright LED bulbs, and is powered by the sun during the day.  (Solar power is really catching on in Honduras.)  Then I asked him what he is using for a textbook, and he told me the only book he has is the dictionary I gave him three years ago.  I know the kinds of resources I need to learn Spanish, and my three dictionaries are only part of the list!  My heart goes out to the students of Honduras who would give just about anything to have the educational resources we in the USA can take for granted.
   My friendships with people in Honduras are getting stronger.  Part of this is the frequency with which we have been able to get together.  Part of it is the ease of e-mail with which I can communicate with some of my friends there.  Part of it is my growing familiarity with their language.  This year, part of it is the grief and caring I saw in their faces and heard in their words when we in the Boston area were experiencing violence and mindless terror.  It's a long way in miles to Honduras, but it does not seem so far in my heart. 

Canon Kathy Pennybacker and Pastor Dagoberto Chacon

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