Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Mathew 19:14
Dear Partners in ministry,
We want to thank you for all your prayers and support as we recently ministered in Honduras from January 16-31.
Our goals for this trip were:
- To conduct a Vacation Bible School Event for the children of the region.
- Prepare our remote base and national staff for a large medical event happening at the end of February.
- Report on how the base systems are functioning (such as infrastructure, IT, generator, water)
- Visit our MAG missionaries who are in language school in Siguatepeque (a different region still in Honduras).
This year instead of a significantly North American team we shared leadership with Hondurans from the interior of the country as well as with our leaders from la Misquitia. This is our 4th year working with many members of this team- we love each other well and seek to make things better each time. We are so thankful for our Honduran co-worker Esau. He has been serving alongside of MAG missionaries for 6 years and is now serving as the President for our Honduran entity. Carmen and Esau interact quite a bit each week as he manages the Honduran hospital staff and Carmen serves as the Spanish speaking liaison between him and MAG headquarters. Esau met us at the airport and traveled with us doing circles around Honduras. Since we were weren’t bringing a North American team this year to share expenses with, we traveled a bit different. We used Spirit Airlines to get to Honduras and tried bus transportation for our in country ground transportation. All this got us where we needed to go, but we are eager to have our MAG Cessna back in country and helping with events such as these. The kind of travel we did highlights the necessity of reliable small aircraft to get in and out of our remote base.
Our focus this year for the Vacation Bible School was the Life of King David and our theme verse was Psalm 27:4, “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Carmen was encouraged and stretched to do the VBS teaching in Spanish. The Lord provided and everybody seemed to understand reasonably well. Many of the young children in the area do not speak Spanish yet, so we often also had translation into Misquito. Our ministry focused on three villages:
- Rus Rus (where the Missionary Air Group base is located)
- Mahbitah (around a mile from our base, but a 40 minute drive on rough roads. This is also the home of a Macaw Sanctuary)
- Suhí (this is a larger community on the Coco River which is the border to Nicaragua).
Overall we were able to engage around 130 children in the events. Children’s ministry is quite different in these remote areas. One of the most obvious contrasts is simplicity. When we have to travel such a great distance we don’t have elaborate decorations. We make do with simple things, but also try to incorporate things that will be special to the children and bring delight. Also, there is less paperwork. In the US we are always filling out release paperwork for our children to participate in any event. Often in developing countries children will walk a significant distance to bring themselves and younger siblings to our event. If they come, that means their parents have given them permission. Twice we even transported 30+ kids in the back of our Kia truck to another village so we could do VBS all together. They were so happy! There was no paperwork and no fussing, just smiles!
We’ve found a flow to events that works well for this setting. Every day for VBS we would open our time with coloring sheets as children arrived. Next we would do singing and worship with lots of movement. This would be followed by our Scripture lesson and a response time. Then we would finish with a craft that coordinated with the lesson and some free play activities such as jump rope, soccer, baseball and paper airplanes.
In this setting where simplicity abounds it is a joy to introduce new artistic mediums. One of the aspects we love about the children’s ministry at our current church in Durham is how creativity is fostered. Our first grade daughter is delighted every week to work with water color paints and use pipe cleaners to reflect on Bible stories. Seeing her crafts gives us some ideas to try as we plan for VBS. This year we were able to introduce the children to water color painting, working with model magic clay, tempera painting on rocks (this went along with our day on Goliath) and color scratch paper. It always stretches our Spanish to figure out to explain these crafts, but then it is a great joy to see the kids catch on and try something new.
We also love to engage the teenagers of the community in VBS leadership. They enjoy being part of the team and are a great help with interpreting from Spanish into Misquito. We have also started the tradition to have a special ministry with them at the end of the week to minster to their hearts and bless them for the time they spent. This year we had a special event for the teenage girls who helped and then a bonfire for all the teenagers in the community. We have found that all the children respond so eagerly to God’s Word. The difficulty is as they transition into even more challenging circumstances as a teenager for them to really own what they have learned and put it into practice. The village where our base is only has a one room school for elementary students. So beyond the 6th grade they need to go to the port town for their education if they can afford to do so, but often they are not well looked after there and fall prey to a host of temptations around them. So we are glad for opportunities to encourage them in their faith and their pursuit of the Lord Jesus.
We also had the opportunity to minister to the local soldiers who are based in the village. All 5 said yes to Jesus’ call on their lives and received a new Bible. Having the local soldiers committed to Jesus and serving their country in an honorable way makes all the difference in the well-being of the community.
Carmen had the opportunity to preach in 2 of the villages. We are thankful for a great relationships with the churches in the area that help us to do ministry together. Sean was able to share some special songs and even joined the men of the church in singing their special in Misquito. When we were back in the USA the following Sunday we missed worshipping in the midst of the macaws and parrots, but thanked the Lord for indoor plumbing!
Sean did a good and thorough job of attending to the technical and physical needs of the base. He was able to get the satellite internet working our first full day there, assed the current problems with our infrastructure, and wrote a 3 page report upon our return.
Once we had completed our ministry events in La Misquitia, we still had significant travel ahead to visit our MAG missionaries and get to our departure city for our international flight. But all of the travel was well worth it to check in on the Hoblits and their progress in language school. This family is so special to us in many ways. They were one of our pilot apprentice families that lived in our midst in Burlington and then felt God’s call to apply to be MAG missionaries. From there as the MAG Mobilizer Carmen helped them through the application and pre-deployment process. While they are in language school Carmen checks in on them 1-2 times a month with a video call. It was great to see how much language acquisition they had accomplished in 3 months and to get to know firsthand about their life in language school. We toured the campus and met the language school director. We were very pleased about their approach- they care well for missionaries as they begin life in a new culture and country and their one on one approach for teaching keeps instruction specialized and on pace with each individual. We will continue to recommend the Spanish Institute of Honduras to our other MAG families who are preparing to serve full-time in Honduras. It was sweet to get to know the town of Siguatepeque and dream about what MAG ministry will look like once they are done with language school and our new MAG base is central Honduras is operational. But details about that are enough for another newsletter!
We are so grateful for all of you and the many ways that you help us live out the call God has placed on our lives.
Yours in Christ,
Sean and Carmen Garrigan