Well, today we finished up. The last bits of trim on the walls, the final patching of the missing plaster, the remaining masonry blocks moved from the street to safe storage (well, most of them), the last words with Honduran friends.
Because it’s Valentine’s Day, about 3/5 of our party – Margaret, Lorain, Bill, Pete, Brendan, and Steve – went up to the school in San Rafael to make Valentine cards with the younger kids. They were a big hit with the children, even though they never broke out the glitter glue. The valentine cookies Margaret brought were also a highlight!
Meanwhile, the rest of us – Oakley, Tom, Lee, and me – went to Espiritu Santo to finish up the work there. There wasn’t that much left to do; but the weather was hotter today, and the accumulated fatigue of several days of hard work made the morning seem awfully long. By lunch time we were slow and sore and ready to be done. And then after lunch, after about an hour more, suddenly we were. The folks from the school had joined us for lunch, we’d done all we could do, and our ride back to the hotel had arrived. It was time to go.
And as the physical labor wraps up, it’s time to take a mental step back and think about the larger work here. We travel here to build church buildings and to build relationships, to repair and improve properties and to deepen our understanding and partnership in the mission of God among these people in this place. But our joining in God’s mission here goes far deeper than just these mission trips. There are things we can do back home, there is support we can offer all year long, to join God in this neighborhood, to partner with these sisters and brothers in Christ.
There are twenty-six congregations in the Maya Deanery here, served by one priest, three deacons, and several lay leaders. The rector, Padre Hector, has worked hard over the last year, ever since he was assigned here, to build up the organization and cooperation between these congregations. He travels to each one, celebrating with them, teaching them about the Prayer Book and the Lectionary and the Episcopal way of being Christian (which is really quite distinctive from both the prevailing Roman Catholicism and the popular Pentecostalism), baptizing and marrying and praying. He has also instituted a pattern of gatherings, in which congregations come together in three regions once a month, and throughout the whole deanery every other month.
He’s helped me to understand that our real mission relationship here is not just with Espiritu Santo or Santa Maria or Mision Santa Cruz, but with the whole deanery, with the work of God in each congregation and each of the communities they serve. When I get home, I want to give some careful thought to how we can expand this mission relationship – both how we can connect with more congregations throughout the deanery, and how we might bring more people from our convocation and our diocese into this work. I can’t imagine yet just what that might look like; but I do foresee emails to Padre Hector, no doubt translated by Oakley, and conversations with Bishop Mark as well.
Trinity’s Honduras mission has been going on for many years now, more than a decade, and has already reached to more places and communities than anyone had imagined when it began. We have an opportunity now for a new kind of growth, and a farther reach, with the deanery-wide leadership Padre Hector brings. I am excited to see how the Spirit will lead us!
So now our work here is over; and now the work begins.