I am thankful for this bridge which we crossed each day to begin our hike up to the village where we worked. On this very spot, on Monday Sept. 28, we gathered in a circle for a short memorial for our friend and brother in Christ, Elder John King, who died suddenly in June. John enjoyed mission work and he loved mission trips to Honduras. John’s sister Tammy, who had been encouraged by John to go on the trip for years, came with us this past week as a way of honoring her brother. We began with a reading of a quote by Frederich Buechner, placed in a card to Mary Geil by her prayer partners Kim and Alan Klein (friends of John who had been on previous mission trips to Honduras):
“When you remember me, it means that you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. “
Following this reading, Tammy took some of John’s ashes, which were hidden in a small black pull string bag inside a pair of Brigid’s socks 🙂 , and walked to the middle of the bridge where she said a few words and a prayer. And with tears running down her face and deep sobs in her throat, she released the ashes into the water and said goodbye. Watching her do this from a distance, Greg Thurlow said, “Travel well my brother.”
I’m thankful for this beautiful thatch hut that the villagers of Brisas del Valle built for us a week prior to our arrival. It was a place where we could rest from the scorching sun and hard work that involved carrying nearly 600 bricks up this hill, laying foundations for homes, mixing cement, making bricks and building roofs. It was also a place where community was built through stories, laughter and play with the kids of the village (crafts, tickling games, sharing toy cars, bubbles, Bible stories and puppet shows, and a hand-held battery-operated fan).
I’m thankful for this girl and the smile she shared and how she looked after the children smaller than her.
I’m thankful for these two men, particularly Mario (the man in the red cap watering the dirt and cement) who graciously allowed me to help him lay the foundation of his house, a row of stones, a row of cement, a row of stones, etc., and also showed me and Cody Goss (whose story I’ll share later) make cement bricks.
I’m thankful for Marc Antony, a sweet and adventurous 8 or 9 year old boy, who I played a game of “catch” with a tennis ball for an hour. He would often “head” the ball like a soccer player whenever I threw it to him. He elevated the game a bit by convincing us to throw the ball while standing on two piles of cement bricks, his about 4 bricks high and 3 rows deep; mine 6 bricks high and 10 rows deep. Both piles were about 30 yards from each other. It was awesome!
I’m thankful for Greg Thurlow and his harmonica. I felt a sense of joy and comfort to hear him play and to see all of the children gather around him as he did. And I’m thankful for Greg’s gift of teaching, encouraging and supporting the team. He’s the duct tape of the group.
I’m thankful for being a witness to this scene of utter excitement and fun as Rob Keith tossed candy into the air and children scrambled to grab a piece off the ground. I’m also thankful for Rob’s sense of humor, much like my own, as well as his kindness and friendship that enabled us to bond during the trip.
I’m thankful for Mike Goss and his daughter Cody (a student at Warren Wilson in Asheville, NC). I’m thankful for Steve Kunkel’s friendliness and hospitality that brought Mike and Cody into our lives. Steve ran into Mike and Cody (who are on a father-daughter trip in Honduras-Guatemala till mid October) in the town square of Copan–just a few minutes before we got on the bus to begin our second day of work in Brisas del Valle. Steve told Mike and Cody about the work we were doing, and they asked to come along. They instantly became a part of the group and they worked very hard. Mike is fluent in Spanish and once spent five years in the Peace Corps., serving in the Dominican Republic. He brought a lot of ingenuity and know-how to the work we were doing in the village, and when the children learned he was a school teacher, they brought him their homework to check. They also brought him books for him to read to them during our daily lunch breaks–sacred fellowship times that will not be forgotten.
I’m thankful for being able to play with the kids in the village. They were a lot of fun to be around, neat kids.