The past six months have been full. Such as life, no matter where you are. The moment that we purchased our tickets for our visit to the states our family has been in hyperdrive. Discovering and developing programs while planning on who to see, what to do ……… only to return to re-acclimate to island life. (something which we gave no thought to.) Nonetheless, this sense of being so busy is in all of us. Our interpretation of being busy is individual. We always have a choice in what we choose to occupy not only our time but our thoughts as well. One week after we returned from the states, a team of 12 students (14-18 years old), along with 4 of their teachers/mentors were coming to help teach local teachers and students a biblically based conversational english program, assist in our recycling project and of course, play soccer.
Team Mexico’s journey to Roatan actually began 5 months ago when Penny, Kimi, and Victor came to visit. They had come to kickstart our english program. Only now do we see that the purpose of their visit was to lay the groundwork for a later visit from Team Mexico. Penny trains others to teach english through her biblically based, conversational curriculum that she shares all over the world. Penny has been working with Victor’s school in Mexico for the past 10 years. Victor, himself the Principal, translated material & was proof that her program worked: 12 very well-behaved, bilingual teens, full of joy, confidence, humbleness, and love for others.
In order to make a long story not so long, we are happy to report that their visit was nothing but spectacular. The time and effort put in by this team enriched the lives of all who were around them for the two weeks that they were here. As expected, there was time to be serious and then time to have fun and just be kids. They tackled the tasks of teaching and bottle filling during some pretty hot days with “Foo-ahh.” (giving the extra) For two weeks the team taught english to students and teachers while using the same methods that Penny shared with them years ago. Relationships immediately began to flourish.
Their common love of soccer made it quite easy to put together a soccer game. Word quickly spread that a team from Mexico was in Sandy Bay and was ready to take on the locals. Selection of the Mexican team was pretty easy. If you were Mexican, you were on the team. The Hondurans on the other hand were a bit more methodical. They had more than a 100 kids to choose from. It did not take long to see who had the advantage in not only personnel, but experience in the playing field’s surface. The quick and aggressive play took its toll. Within a short period of time many of the players onTeam Mexico were coming to the sidelines with huge blisters on their feet. As team Mexico fell behind, their cheerleaders cheered louder and waved the Mexican flag higher in the sky. In the end the home team prevailed with 5-1 win.
As exciting as it was to witness the kids laughing, sharing and playing together, the most memorable comment from the soccer game came a few hours later. While standing in line at a store we overheard a few Honduran kids talking about the big game. They said, “Those Mexican kids were polite. They played fair while getting beat and did not want to fight.” Even in the heat of battle Team Mexico kept their composure.
On paper, our team from Mexico came to Roatan to teach English and assist in community service. As the classes were taught and bottles were filled, we could check them off of our list. The hindsight that we now have, reveals that the most important lessons that were taught came from non scripted interaction between the individuals. Every kid that came to Roatan as part of Team Mexico came to share “the all” that had been bestowed upon them in their young lives. Should we have been surprised to witness the positive exchanges? Probably not.
Our family made out especially well in the sense that we had the opportunity to see first hand how faith in a child’s life makes a difference. Their faith was as much a part of their lives as soccer, guitars, and all other hobbies that make up the fabric of who we are. Team Mexico made time within each day to look deeper into what it means or what it looks like, to be a Christian. So important not only for us, but our kids especially. So much more was absorbed when the message came from someone who is like age, gender or culture.
The past few weeks have been full of surprises as we have had two families join us at the Mazapan. They have come to us through other local ministries on the island. As God would have it, both families include not only teachers, but bilingual teachers who are willing to assist us in our classes. They are planning on being with us through the end of the month. This additional help has allowed us to maintain the momentum that we had gained from Team Mexico’s visit. We really hope that this trend of sharing mission team members continues.
Our recycling/sports courts continue to make progress as teams and locals fill bottles for the wall. Currently we have used close to 12,000 bottles! We are also beginning to construct a retaining wall out of tires. As the location begins to take shape, more people have shown interest in helping and learning. Recently, a graduate student was here on the island and surveyed the community about their knowledge of recycling. The number two response behind “I don’t know.” was “Recycling is when you take a plastic bottle, put it in the bin, and they put sand in it and make a wall out of it.” Funny but true for recycling on Roatan.
Photos of the Team Mexico’s visit and other projects can be seen at our new Facebook page: care4communites