HONDURAS RUN FOR SHELTER
Saturday, February 22, 2014 from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM (EST)
Join our family at QUICK FIT GYM to support one of our very own - MICHAEL MORAN to help with expenses for his upcoming trip. Please read his story below -- after reading this you won't need anymore incentive to participate in this great cause!! -- PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE TO READ. THANK YOU!!!
AWARD'S CEREMONY, DOOR PRIZES and SNACKS/REFRESHMENTS immediately following at Quick Fit Gym.
I will be traveling to Urraco from April 22nd through May 1st. This will be my 6th trip to Honduras. A group of men from Point Pleasant Methodist Church, including my father-in-law, were going down a couple of years ago and -- for one reason or another, many of them began to back out. Worried about my father-in-law traveling to a third world country, my mother-in-law asked if I would be willing to go. I had such a wonderful experience, that -- as they say: the rest is history.
Typically, there are from 5 to 15 of us. Grace the Americas (formerly ProPapa Missions) is the sponsoring company that arranges these trips with their counterparts in Honduras. Why Urraco? That is where their contact person lives. Each time I fly down to Honduras, there are usually 5-10 'native' Hondurians on the plane...and the rest of the people are volunteers coming from all over the U.S. and going all over Honduras! There is such a need there which one would expect in a third world country. They have serious government problems (corruption!). You can't mail anything to Honduras because the postal workers simply open the packages up and take what they want. As a matter of fact, every time I have gone down, either MY suitcase or a suitcase of someone in our group has been opened with items missing. The poor of the country have no one to count on except the goodness of volunteers.
Going on mission trips is not new to me. As a student at Wheeling Jesuit University, we were always taught that 'service to others' was as important as the education we were receiving, if not More. The reason I prefer to go to Honduras as opposed to down-state WV or Louisiana to help Katrina victims is that I feel that people in the U.S. can get help more easily than in Honduras. Plus, not everyone speaks Spanish; not everyone can put up with the 100 degree+ weather; not everyone can afford the plane fare or deal with the culture shock of being in a third world country. I am lucky enough to be able to do these trips (and a wife loving enough to let me). Although I am not fluent in Spanish, I know enough to 'get by' without a translator being at my side while working. It's amazing how much you can remember from high school Spanish class when you are forced to!
Grace the Americas puts together yearly medical brigades, optical brigades, and construction brigades. Of the construction brigades I have gone on the past, I have built houses, a birthing suite at a local clinic, and worked on two bridges. Urraco is located in a valley that floods every year during the rainy season. Because of this flooding, we build houses up on cinder block 'stilts' like one sees along the shoreline of a beach. Bridges are also important so that people can get to work, to school, to church and to town for provisions. A typical day of a construction brigade consists of getting up early, having breakfast and hitting the work site before the heat gets too bad. Lunch and a noon-time siesta is a time to relax before heading back to work. Dinner is usually around 6 p.m. We eat at a local restaurant (lots of fresh fruit, black beans and rice and tortillas). The rest of the day is ours to do as we please. I normally play soccer or other games with the local children before it gets dark. At nightfall, most of the village 'shuts down' because most people have no electricity. The home where we stay (owned by a Urraco native and Grace the Americas worker) DOES have electricity and running water so after a cold shower (no hot water), we sit in front of a fan and talk, play cards and dominoes and just enjoy the fellowship of the group. We're normally out like a light once our heads hit our pillows.
I often joke that working on a mission trip is harder than any workout I've ever done at a gym. I normally come home 10 pounds lighter, sore and very tan. Like most of the workers that I travel with, I have no construction experience. We do what we can to help. Carrying cinder blocks, moving cement bags, mixing concrete, nailing boards...this I can do. We work along side Hondurian workers who are paid through G.T.A. We have a great time trying to understand one another since they speak VERY little English (usually NO English). In the past, we normally had a translator that would come with us to the worksite. But one of the volunteers I always goes down with is Also in charge of the scholarship program and she visits all the local schools and the students within the program. She has a bigger need for the translator than we workers do, especially since they have me. I am not afraid of butchering the Spanish language while trying to get my point across to the locals. LOL! I make these two points (the lack of experience and not being fluent in Spanish) because I feel that some people would Love to go on a trip but are hesitant due to their lack of work experience and not knowing the language. It doesn't matter in the least. We take all the help we can get.
It is worth mentioning that a few months ago, there was a Jeopardy question that listed San Pedro Sula in THIS COUNTRY has the highest murder rate in the world: yep, you guessed it -- Honduras. And San Pedro Sula is where we fly in and out of and is the closest 'big city' to Urraco. Yes, I've seen guns and scary looking people. I've seen strung out teens on street corners (drugs and glue sniffing are two huge problems in the cities). And I've had two mission trips cancel due to 'political unrest' in the country. You know it's bad when the U.S. withdraws all Red Cross and other agency volunteers from the country for their safety. But I truly believe that God watches over me every time I go down to help.
--All work and no play makes Michael a grumpy boy. On two of my longer trips (of 12 days), we took time off to visit Tela beach and I've also got to visit the Mayan ruins of Copan! INCREDIBLE!!!
These trips are life-changing. It really opens my eyes to the difference between WANTS and NEEDS. "I WANT a new shirt but do I really NEED a new shirt?" I collect donated shoes and clothes from friends and from churches, pack some old suitcases to the breaking point, and return with only the clothes on my back. Literally. I leave EVERYTHING there except what I am wearing home. I am thankful for ALL of my blessing and I learn to donate as much as I can because there is So Much Need in this world. What I love MOST about these trips are the people. They are So Grateful. But they don't sit there and watch you build. They work right along side of you. And when they offer you a drink or something to eat, it's like they are offering you all that they have because it often IS all that they have. But they are a people of strong faith. Church is always packed on Sundays. As for the kids, they are starving for attention. Many of their parents work hours away, assuming they haven't snuck illegally into the U.S. and are sending money back to them. Adult supervision is a scarcity. School is not free, so unless they can afford the $50 for the uniform and supplies for the year (a king's ransom to them), these grade-school kids are wandering the streets all day. These are the ones that sit and watch me work all day just waiting for me to finish so I can play soccer with them. I happily oblige, no matter How tired I am.
Every dime we raise goes to the $4000 that pays for the supplies of the house (cement blocks, concrete, wood, nails, etc.). It sometime blows me away that we can build a house for 'so little' when, to them, we are building them a palace. Most people in Urraco live in stick lean-to's made from the dried palm leaf stalks of the local palm oil and banana trees. What we build for them is Priceless.
There is a boy named Jose Armando that lives there but everyone calls him "Miguelito" ("Little Michael") because of the bond we made on my first trip. My wife and I sponsored he and his brother so that they, too, can go to school. I truly consider the people there part of my family".