Today we had a well-deserved day off. It still started at 6 AM with breakfast at 6:30, but no work was required or expected. We boarded the bus for the Basilica de Suyapa at 7:30, and shortly after arriving we toured the original church that was built for Suyapa. Approximately 3/4ths of the missioners lit candles for family members who have passed away; then posed for a photo in front of the altar. Marta let us through some of the makeshift marketplace that would be the parking lot of the church so the students could see the religious items sold. We also had a chance to see the unique items that they were selling out of the food “tents.”
We climbed back up the hill and entered the new church. It is gigantic and ornate – like the altar and windows, and yet part of it is simple – like the wooden pews. The priest welcomed our group before Mass began, telling everyone what we were doing, and we received a round of applause. Mass progressed somewhat like ours, except that it was in Spanish, of course. There was a lot more activity during the service. People were constantly moving around, heading into confession all during Mass. My favorite part is always at the sign of peace. All the little kids run to the front of church, the priest comes around the altar, and then every child gives the priest a hug of peace. He hugs every single child, also. Then, all smiles, they run back down aisle. Since the church is very large, it takes a bit of time to get that done.
Next up, we traveled to Santa Lucia to what I call “the oasis.” The buses dropped us off at the 500-year-old church so we could take a quick tour and photos. The streets are too narrow and curvy for a bus to travel from there; thus, we walked the remainder of the way. Missioners who wanted could change into shorts. Some hiked the trails. Many sat around in the shade and coolness. Marta served delicious chicken sandwiches picnic style. Then we celebrated the 5 birthdays, Linda, Mason, Carlyn, Dave, and Jordan V., a new record for birthdays while on a mission trip. After we sang “Happy Birthday,” we each enjoyed a piece of chocolate cake. YUM! Honduran birthdays require a piñata, and we’re trying to live Honduran style right now. Each birthday person was blindfolded, given a broomstick handle, spun around 5 times, and given a chance to break it open. It took a few extra swings until all the candy and MONEY fell out. No one moved much until they were told that money was mixed in with the candy. That made them a bit more interested.
Not soon enough for Abbie, we headed to Valle de Angeles to do our tourist shopping. They had less than 2 hours to get that done, and to possibly purchase an ice cream cone. It’s not a very big shopping area by our standards, so we pretty much could see each other practically the whole shopping time. Miracle of miracles, Pat’s group, which is traditionally the last one back, was on time today. Our time-keeper Juan brought in the late group.
We returned to our compound shortly after 5. It seems empty here without all the students running around, but believe me, they’ll return in force tomorrow morning.
With only two days to go, and many loose ends to tie up, we are breaking into several smaller groups. One crew will head to the houses to finish specific details. Another crew will work on bunks and tables. We’ll take our final gift bags into the homes. We need to fit dresses and girls, and Shoes That Grow to the students on Prof. Jessica’s list. We also plan to pass out candy in the classrooms, headbands, and some rosaries. Don’t worry! We still have things to do on Tuesday.
It’s going to be an emotional ending to this trip. We are already seeing signs of that tonight. Keep prayers coming our way! Looking forward to seeing our Welcome Home on Wednesday night in Omaha.
Message from Chris: Hey Family, I am glad to hear that everything went well with Queen Emma’s birthday. Sounded like a lot of fun. By the way, we had cake and ice cream too. Sounds like the dog needed a pretty expensive towel (buckskin) recently. Hope that was a joke, but if not, I will still return to the U.S. Hope to hear from you again. Love, Chris
|The girls pose before a majestic view|
|James, Mason, Daniel enjoy the oasis|
|Dave, Carlyn, Mason, Jordan, Nancy - birthday celebrants|
|Original church built for Suyapa|
|The statue of Suyapa, believed to grant miracles for those who pray to her|
|Celebrating Mass in the Basilica de Suyapa|
|Father greets the children at the sign of peace|
|Missioners at church|
|Caden receives Communion|
|Attacking the pinata|
|Grabbing money and candy|