Saturday, February 27, 2010

Restorer of the Streets in Which to Dwell

A couple of Saturdays ago my 13 year old son David and I volunteered with a group from our church as part of a community cleanup day. Our church meets in an old grocery store that sat vacant for years in a run down part of town. The leadership chose the location in an attempt to "be where the need is" and, consequently, has attracted a diverse body of urban minorities, white suburbanites, and college students, most of whom recognize their own spiritual needs and are willing to help others shoulder their burdens. This unexpected composite is an imperfect image of a transcendent beauty which, prayerfully, reflects well on our common denominator: Jesus Christ.

The aim of this program is not only to help those in need to repair, clean, and beautify their neighborhood, but also to spark a sense of community, a sense of ownership and responsibility, and to impart hope through a helping hand. It's not just a hand out, it's a hand up.

My friend Mark was there leading out. That day we were cleaning a corner and power washing a house in need of paint. You can see the flecks of white paint on his face, but what you can't see is the water droplets in his hair, or the water-soaked gloves that made his hands numb on this windy winter day. You can't see (or can you?) his compassion and selflessness, or his humility. Neither do you see the coaching, support, and entrepreneurial insight he gave Ryan and I as we began our business, or the countless other ways he has served in our church. What do I see?

I see a man that fulfills what the ancient prophet Isaiah wrote of 2700 years ago:

"And those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations; and you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell." - Isaiah 58:12

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Hole

I have been reading Richard Stearns's "The Hole in our Gospel". The hole to which the title refers is our responsibility as Christians to care for the weak, the poor, and the defenseless. I have been challenged.

Mr. Stearns is the president of World Vision, a huge non-profit organization that does all kinds of good for all kinds of people in need all over the world. For example, they help AIDS orphans in Africa with schools, food, and other care. When I first heard about the book I though it would be an encouragement to me. Perhaps I would receive kudos and encouragement for the work I do in Honduras. Yea for me, that kind of thing.

But this book has been "in my face" and "in my business" more than I expected! It's challenging. As a taste, let me quote a bit of it here. As if the story of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25) wasn't challenging enough, Mr. Stearns has paraphrased it taking aim at the modern American church (and me):

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."


On Honduran Television

Ryan and Brent have been in Honduras for ten days now. They have had an eventful time (though there were no earthquakes or changes of government like last summer). They spent several days in Tegucigalpa, the capital city and home to our collaborative organization, AHPPER, a non-profit organization to promote the use of renewable energy sources in Honduras.

They also performed a repair on the hydro generator system in Danta Uno, bringing the system back online after one of our employees performed a "quick disconnect" of the generator to remove it from the river during a storm. Instead of disconnecting normally, he cut the wires. Apparently he was risking life and limb to do even this.

But after the storm, when the generator was put back in the river, the wires got crossed! This blew a circuit breaker (and perhaps something else - my data is a bit vague here) and they guys were left unsure of what to do next. Fortunately, Ryan was able to fix it in an afternoon. The reason this is fortunate is because the next day a television crew came to the village. AHPPER and other groups came and filmed a promotional piece that was shown on Honduran television a few days later! If we can get a copy we will post it.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Ryan and Brent Move to Honduras

As of Thursday, February 4, 2010, Ryan and Brent have relocated to La Ceiba, Honduras to launch our business operations there as Energía Para Aldeas, which means Energy for Villages. The first task was to prepare for a meeting with a Honduran non-profit organization, AHPPER, with whom we applied for and won a large grant from the Inter-American Development Bank and GVEP International. Saturday night they met with AHPPER and went to one of our village systems, Danta Uno. A television crew came along and took video for use by the granting agency, GVEP International. In the evening they went back to our favorite restaurant in La Ceiba, a place called La Ponderosa. Our favorite waiter, Jorge, took care of them.

The plan for Sunday is for them to travel to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, to work with the AHPPER attorneys to get Energía Para Aldeas (EPA) legally incorporated and begin the process of getting residency for the guys.