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On the Road to El Paraiso

October 7, 2011

Sunday was a joy to wake up and think about all that was still ahead of us. Our group gathered for breakfast looking refreshed and ready to make it to the ranch. Dave led us in a morning devotional reading from 2 Timothy 1:8-14. He reminded us how God called us with a holy calling to do this work. But what is important to remember is that God is calling us not only to go out into the world, but also calling us to turn into God and strengthen our spiritual life.

Driving to the ranch, encountering a few obstacles along the way.

Our drive had taken us from the hustle and bustle of the cramped and crowded city out into the beautiful landscapes of the mountains and down into the Agalta Valley. Around mid-afternoon we arrived at the HOI Ranch and were able to stretch our legs, unpack, and explore the majesty of our new home away from home. I had been to Honduras once several years before with my previous congregation. However, coming back to the dormitories with the colorful hammocks, rockers and adirondack chairs strewn across the porch felt like coming home once again.

We gathered for lunch and were blessed to hear that a group of about 30 youth were also participating at the ranch. Since this was World Communion Sunday, I had hoped for the chance to share Communion with our teammates and whoever else from the ranch may be interested. I was thrilled to hear that the youth group would be joining us for this service. We sang together and broke tortillas together and were filled with the Holy Spirit. But more on that another time.

After the service some of our group joined some of the youth group for a pretty impressive game of soccer. If there’s one thing that these kids are incredible at doing, it’s soccer. One of the young girls was out there kicking the ball clear across the field in bare feet. Marta pulled us away from the game for a group meeting to go over the rules of the ranch and a tour. She christened us with our Spanish names for the week, versions of our own that would be easier for the village to pronounce and be familiar with. So for the rest of the week we became: Cati, Gallo Grande (big rooster), Teresa, Julia (Hulia), Kinsey, Dona, Rebecca, Oscar, David (Da-veed), Daniel (Dan-yell) aka Queso Grande (big cheese), and Genesis (Henesis).

The tour gave us an inside glimpse of how the ranch works and what HOI is all about. It’s a fully working ranch filled with milking cows, chickens, pigs, horses and more. Some rain cut the tour a little short, so we had the rest of the afternoon free. A few of us went for a run (come on, you knew I’d fit some training in somewhere) and it felt great to stretch our legs and take in our stunning surroundings.

After dinner we gathered together for our evening devotional that Ira led. This time at the end of the day was beginning to become one of my favorites. It was a chance to hear from our team members as they shared what God had placed on their hearts. It was a chance to allow each person in our group to reveal themselves by sharing their insights on the day. I gave thanks to God for this particular group of individuals who have been called together to become our one team. We closed the night with letters from family members and friends, wishing everyone well and sending love and encouragement. It was a perfect ending to another glorious day, and I felt like I was finally resting in the peace and serenity that surrounds me when I’m fully enveloped in God’s grace.

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