Tomorrow night is Packing Night.
We leave at 5:30 the next morning.
We will travel almost 2 full days to reach the Agalta Valley of Honduras.
The forecast is "hot, humid and muddy!' Or normal, if you will.
There is rarely internet service at the ranch where we stay, no cell service
and limited facilities in the villages.
So why do we go?
I think that we have as many reasons as we have people on the team.
Everyone is called to serve in a different way. At a different time. And in different places.
But at this time and for whatever varied reasons this group is called to serve together.
As a team.
I think stories like this one are one of the reasons we serve so far from home,
at great expense for some, and in difficult situations.
Last Monday afternoon, we met Katherine Hernandez at the Atlanta airport.
She is 16 years old.
She left the Tegucigalpa airport Monday morning
with a borrowed pink suitcase and a few clothes.
She flew to Atlanta.
She speaks a little bit of English.
Two years ago she had never been out of her village in the Agalta Valley.
The village has literally one lightbulb and one spigot with occasional running water.
When we arrived in her village in June 2014
she had aged out of the one room school in the village and there weren't any jobs or options for a young girl in that situation.
But this beautiful girl came to the school house where the team from Hillside UMC (and a few additional members from Wesley Chapel UMC) were teaching VBS on the 2014 trip.
It was time for the story and Tom Schnepf was about to read ... but he turned to this young lady who was standing nearby hoping to be helpful
and asked her if she wanted to read.
And she said, "Yes"
Tom and Katherine began to talk and, over the course of the trip, Tom learned that Katherine wanted to go to school more than anything. Her mother worked hard to provide for the family. Her father was dead. The school that she needed to attend was too far to commute. Too expensive for them. She would need room and board. It seemed impossible but she dreamed of doing it anyway.
And Tom saw the possibilities for her and not the roadblocks.
He began to plan and talk to people who could help him make Katherine's dream of getting an education come true.
Her tuition was sponsored, her room and board.
She received money from team members to help with expenses like supplies and uniforms.
And Katherine went to school the next term. She lived away from her family with strangers.
But she loved school and worked hard.
She excelled as Tom knew she would.
She has received a scholarship to continue her education.
She has won awards and honors at school.
And on Monday she really spread her wings and flew.
All the way to Atlanta to tell her story to hundreds of people.
To tell people that there are so many young people like her who have no hope of breaking the cycle of poverty, lack of education and opportunity .
Who live in such remote places that going to school seems impossible.
But it isn't.
Not if a team serving with HOI shows up in your village
and Tom Schnepf asks you to read a Bible story.
And you say, 'Yes."
So that's one reason we go.
We'll tell you more as our week goes on.
"Be a Doer of the Word."
Posted by Marcie