Brothers and sisters,
My name is Molly. I am the daughter of Bob and Tamara Augustine. I am 23 and a pediatric nurse at MUSC Children’s Hospital in Charleston, SC. I have a brother, Matt who is 20 and we both grew up at St. Luke’s Church. We were both very involved in the youth group and still love coming back to St. Luke’s whenever we are visiting home.
I was blessed with the opportunity to join the St. Luke’s mission team in Honduras this year and am excited to share some of my experience with you. As a first timer on an international mission trip, I did not know what the week would entail other than the daily devotionals, building a chicken run, and spending time with the children. I am thankful that I did not have preconceived ideas for the time we spent there because I would not have taken away as much from the trip if I had.
People often say that they get more out of a mission trip than they feel they gave to those they went to serve. This sounds cliché, but I believe it was true for this group of eight people. The children at Jericho Villas reminded us all what having the faith of child truly means. During their morning devotionals, the kids ask questions, share their thoughts and experiences freely, and are excited when it is their turn to pray aloud for the group. One night the girls performed worship dances, and it was amazing to see how excited they were to be able to share that with us, strangers. At the end, they invited the team members up to join in the dances. Meredith and I joined in, and at least for me, it was difficult to let go of the feelings of embarrassment and fear of being judged by those watching. Once I did let go, I enjoyed myself and bonded with the girls. We all need to have confidence, like that of children, that is possible through Christ and not be shy or embarrassed, especially when it comes to our faith.
Painted on one of the walls in the villa is 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. Every child there has been through things no child should have to go through, many of them are separated from siblings and other family; but still they are thankful. One of the devotionals our team did together asked how we are spending our free time and if it is glorifying the Lord or drawing us away from Him. I realized that one of the ways I can give thanks to the Lord is by being more intentional in the way I spend my free or leisure time. I have been given that time and should give it back to God.
It would take many more pages to fully describe our experience at Jericho and the inspiring faith and lives of those children, but I hope what I have shared gives you a glimpse of our time in Honduras. Each team member would love to share with you if you want to know more. If you don’t already know about Betsy’s ministry, I encourage you to find out more because it is truly miraculous. Thank you for your support and prayers while we were away, it meant a lot to us all.
by Tom Green
To begin things here I must say “All Glory to God in the Highest” for He masterminded this trip taken by the St. Luke’s Honduras Missions Team. To show His amazing love and mercy He delivered the greatest gift Christians receive when giving themselves to Christ – the promise of everlasting life in Him.
I believe it was Thursday afternoon, the day the water pump quit on us. The water pump is actually down at the bottom of the driveway - well this driveway is long, winding and very hilly. The pump pumps water from the bottom of the hill to the top where it is pumped again to wherever it is needed. As a side note, I am really hoping that our Missions visit next year will be complete with hot water in the apartments as is the case in the Villa.
So, God and the Holy Spirit had led us through a tremendous three days already; what could He possibly do to top this! His answer was to show us his powers by fulfilling another promise. God always wants to add more believers to his Army and on this day we claimed two more souls in the name of Jesus Christ. Here is how it happened:
Betsy Hake of Jericho Ministries called a company she had used to fix the very same problem in the past year to see if someone could come out and fix our water pump problem. Well, soon here came two men in a small pickup. The two men explained to Betsy that the part to fix the pump would cost about 300 Lempiras.
Then, after a bit they returned after fixing the pump and remained in the pickup. They proceeded to explain to Betsy that the price was now 2500 Lempiras. Well, Betsy wanted to talk to their supervisor because of the dramatic rise in the price of the repair. Then the man in the driver’s seat called his boss who was not immediately available to talk.
Betsy then sensed that it would be a good idea to share the Gospel with these two men. At this point in time I was next to Betsy as we were talking about the additional Lempiras they wanted for the job. Betsy asked me if I had the additional Lempiras, I said “Yes, I do. I’ll go get it and be right back.”
While I was away, Betsy began by asking them “How do you get to heaven and did you know you can have everlasting life?” Bill was near the pickup watching the whole thing unfold and I showed up with the extra Lempiras to pay for the water pump repair. Then both men bowed their heads and asked Jesus to come into their hearts.
It was truly a remarkable time and day. I had never been so close to something like that, it gave me chill bumps and the tears of joy were rolling. The man sitting in the passenger seat especially was looking like he was pretty tough until the Holy Spirit claimed him. Everyone in the front yard of the Villa was truly affected by what had just happened. We had witnessed the most beautiful thing on earth, as Betsy called it “The Altar Call in the Pickup.”
Did you ever see an individual or maybe a family and thought, “I wish there was some way to get to know them, a way to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them”? Paul prayed for open doors for this very reason. Have you ever had the thought, “I’d be so embarrassed if my friends came over just now”? Maybe the house is in disarray, we’re having a bad hair day, or fill-in-the-blank. One day, having returned to Haiti after a prolonged absence, these two thoughts ran into each other! I was confronted with a family’s sense of indignity (not to mention total discomfort!) at not having bathroom facilities. I saw how my visits to families in this situation stirred their feelings of shame. Then I saw it ... the very thing that was hindering could become the open door!!
Directed and coordinated by Bito (one of our dear brothers in Haiti), we’ve begun digging pit latrines, double-seaters which are strategically placed to serve several families together. Such a simple thing, such a BIG DOOR to share the love of Christ! I have to laugh when realizing I’m suggesting people join me in throwing their money down the toilet! We have completed nine projects so far, and our next one is for a school in Tovà. Their lack of facilities has been blocking receipt of much-needed aid available through World Vision. We’re excited and grateful for the privilege of restoring a sense of dignity to these precious people, and excited too that so many of you participate through prayer and financial support.
Looking ahead, we’re studying dry-composting toilets ... much smaller, less expensive individual units which make possible the conversion of waste to soil-enriching compost. More open doors for us to walk through, bringing hope and light and good news to those in darkness. To God be the glory; great things He has done, and continues to do!
Candy Rieger, Field Coordinator, Missionary Ventures Int’l.
Candy Rieger is a Missionary in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. She left the U.S. in 1996 for the Dominican Republic after being called to Missions and has been there ever since.
Around six weeks ago I hopped on a plane to begin volunteering with Light Gives Heat in Jinja, Uganda. I had followed the organization closely for years, constantly reminding my parents that I could just take a year off of school and spend a few months abroad. God began working all around me, people’s generosity pouring out to make this experience possible, something I will never express enough gratitude for. Light Gives Heat employs 93 women to make beads for a cooperative business called SUUBI and seven tailors to make bags and other goodies for a cooperative business called EPOH. Both are Ugandan managed and western influenced (and they make great Christmas presents if you’re in a rut about that! Sorry - shameless, LGH promotion). Our artisans live in two villages on the outskirts of Jinja called Walukuba and Danida, some of the poorer areas in the city. I spend my days here at a primary school across the street from our house, hanging out at an orphanage in Walukuba, sipping tea with the tailors, attending buying meetings for SUUBI, and really getting to know the men and women we employ. My role here is small, just make quality friendships within the city, love people I interact with, immerse myself in Ugandan life.
There’s something about moving to a third world country that we often romanticize. It’s as though we are so used to seeing pictures of mud huts and starving children that we expect it to be magical when we walk in and feed those children and rebuild the cracking huts. Though I do feel my life at the source of the Nile River is romantic, especially when my housemates decide to pay a fisherman to take us out on a sunset boat ride on Lake Victoria, mud huts and starving children are simply homes and children. It’s easy to begin to compare life here to life in America - most of the people I interact with daily would be considered extremely needy in the states - but that’s not a fair comparison. Human beings are dignified beyond their living conditions. They aren’t “the poor” any more than they are “the children of God”, their lives are absolutely important and certainly being lived with purpose and I am blessed beyond words to be a temporary member of such a community.