A letter from Tim Wheeler in Honduras
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Lessons learned over the years point to the fact that simple strategies and ways of working together make it possible for the poorest and most vulnerable to participate instead of being passed over and left out due to their lack of skills and self-confidence.
Today I got word from Gloria that a gesture of just this type took place in the village of Cerro Azul where they were implementing a chicken project. What, you might wonder, would a chicken project have to do with building the Kingdom of God? Jesus taught us to throw aside the old ways of being and to relate to each other in a new and transformed way. When confronted by this prospect, a few of the leaders of the village responded to the question posed by an agriculture technical worker as to whether they thought they were capable of building the chicken coup that was needed as a requirement to receive the chickens. “Well,” they mused, “if we can build our own houses, then we can build a chicken coup.”
Later in the day, Memo, one of the poorest of the community, brought a pole he had carried from the forest and delivered it to Digna as a donation for her chicken coup. “Now,” he said “you only need three more.” Digna, you see, lives alone with her teenage daughter and had serious doubts as to whether she had the skill and capability necessary to make the chicken coup. Once again, we witnessed an action of community solidarity that the people in this village had learned in the process of working together in the small groups to build their own houses. Memo’s gesture made our hearts leap as we saw the kindness of the human spirit at its best. Digna received her five chickens that day and kept them in her spare bedroom, knowing now that she, too with a little help from her neighbors, could build a chicken coup the next day like everyone else. She finished her chicken coop a few days later.
Work goes in cycles of beginnings and endings, and we are planning on a new community focus for 2014 in the community of La Cumbre, where several mission teams will work side by side with villagers who have become organized in small groups. Some of the participants are single or abandoned mothers, but the project implementation methodology is designed so that the most vulnerable are not excluded from the process but rather taken in and surrounded by the collective support of others in the project. As I explained in a previous letter, our mission net is designed to cast far and wide with the methodology of working together. La Cumbre even has a support committee of community members who want to help in any way needed so that the project is a success. One of them, Anastacio Soriano, rose and spoke at the meeting in the village saying; “I am an old leader, but I love development for my community.” His words truly moved us and stayed with us as we drove down the mountainside from the community. These are some of the blessings that we receive in villages, the expressions and words of encouragement and the signs of working together in community as Jesus taught.
Gloria and I spent a few weeks at the end of August and beginning of September to visit our girls and get medical checkups in the U.S. We got used to going on vacation at this time of the year when our girls were in college and we would get them set up for the year. We had a good time visiting with each of them and with their husbands. All are doing well. Marsha is finishing her PhD. in Illinois. Pamela is working as a micro lab tech in Cincinnati and taking two chemistry classes for a higher certification. Grace is a pathology resident and tells us of her varied cases that she deals with, like doing an autopsy on an elderly woman one day. Yasmin and Alonzo drove up from North Carolina to see us while in Pennsylvania, and they both are very engaged in what they are doing. By all of this we are reminded to just give thanks. Our medical checks were fine, but Gloria will need to have periodic checks on her carotid blockage situation.
We greatly appreciate the interest shown in our mission focus by so many of you who read our letters, your prayers for the Honduran people and your financial gifts for us as mission co-workers. For those reading our letter for the first time, or if you have not engaged directly with us so far, we would like to encourage you to do so through prayer and correspondence. You can also engage with us through continued learning in reading our Mission Connections letters and through financial gifts, which make possible our ministry and that of World Mission around the world. We strongly feel your connection with us as we explore and see new opportunities around us. The old is passing away and the new creation is coming into being. We witness it with words of encouragement, the exchange of smiles and willing hands.
Tim and Gloria Wheeler