Day 7 - Friday, 9/25 - Mission Trip 2015

So long, Trujillo!

Today the team is leaving Trujillo and heading back into the city to spend the last evening with their host families from Franciscan School in San Pedro Sula.

It's bittersweet.  Not only did we all fall in love with the people of the villages, but we grew very attached to the hotel staff who took care of us when we were done with our work up on the mountain.

The people of these communities may not be the richest in wealth, possessions, or fame, but they are extremely rich in spirit.  We are all looking forward to seeing them again next year.

"...sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything."                                           2 Cor. 6:10

Day 6 - Thursday, 9/24 - Mission Trip 2015

The last day has come - the busiest day for all three clinics.  The team worked tirelessly to complete everything.  Besides being sure to see every person that came for medical and/or dental assistance, we had to pack things away but still try to look ahead for what we may need next year.  What needs to be packed and stored?  What needs to be discarded and replaced? The Logistics team was running electricity and ceiling lights in the middle of it all!  Of course, it all had to be completed before Mass, in the middle of the rain. 

God was with us for sure.  Everything was completed.  We had a beautiful Mass and we left the people of all three villages happy and anxiously anticipating the team's return next year.  After all the trucks were loaded with supplies and every last person of the team, we all knew God was with us as we went down the mountain, in the middle of the rainstorm...

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!"

Matthew 25:23 NIV

 

Day 5 - Wednesday, 9/23 - 2015 Mission Trip

Today is the day we have all been waiting for!  People came from different villages and the Mirador clinic closed their doors a little early to join the celebration of the First Communion of six excited little girls in La Colonia.  They were donned in Communion dresses that were donated by the SAOP community and white flip flops that were embellished with flowers and little crystals.  It was beautiful to see their reverence for the Sacrament.

Father Luta invited everyone to stay afterward for the festivities.  There was music, a movie, and a 200 pound pig!  The fellowship lasted well into the late hours of the night.  Next year, there is said to be over 30 children receiving their First Communion - a reason to celebrate indeed!

Day 4 - Tuesday, 9/22 - Mission Trip 2015

It was another day serving the villages of La Finca, La Colonia, and Mirador.  What made this ordinary Tuesday a little more special were the baptisms that were celebrated during Mass in the afternoon.  There were six baptisms in La Colonia and a couple more in Mirador.  Deacon Mike Mort, along with members of the Logistics Team, built baptismal fonts - one for La Colonia and one for Mirador.

It was a blessing to witness these children get baptized into the Church and to see the joy behind their smiles.  After the baptisms the entire community was invited to celebrate with cake and soda.

"...Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls."                           -Acts 2:41

Day 3 - Monday, 9/21 - Mission Trip 2015

It was a successful first day in the clinics and schools in the villages today. Some team members went up the mountain as early as 4:30 AM to deliver supplies to each location. The rest of the assigned teams joined them a couple hours later. Families walked from different 'pueblos' seeking free medical and/or dental care. They addressed their concerns and received medications for the entire family - some families of three, four, or five and even one family of six with a set of twins on the way!

Meanwhile at the local school the catechetical team spent some time with the children doing crafts and teaching and singing Christian songs.

The clinics closed around 3:30 and then the team prepared for 4:00 Mass.

It was a long but rewarding day! The gratitude that these people expressed after being cared for was priceless, and the smiles on their faces can not be replaced...just another opportunity for the Mission team to share God's love.

Day 2 - Sunday, 9/20 - Mission Trip 2015

We spent the day in the bus traveling in to the more rural areas at the base of the mountain - it took seven hours! We sang Christian music in Spanish and played some games. It was a great way for the team members to interact and bond with each other. Of course, we hit some rainstorms as we got closer to the mountain. Just about 10 minutes away from our destination, we hit a point in the road that the bus couldn't make it through due to its weight and being so close to the ground. Locals came to our aid and made a makeshift ramp...of course that only worked after everyone got off the bus! 

The adventures are just beginning!

Day 1 - Saturday, 9/19 - Mission Trip 2015

Our first day.  After stopping at a local market to pick up personal items and gifts, the mission team's first stop was the Hogar de Niños Jesus Bueno Samaritano orphanage. It was an emotionally moving first experience for the entire team. Though some team members went on mission last year, the orphanage visit is a first for everyone. We visited with over 25 residents of the orphanage which is run by the La Obra Hermanas. Some residents have lived there their whole lives - children, teenagers, young adults, and even one adult lady. Many are wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on the sisters. Besides spending some time visiting, we had the privilege of celebrating Mass with them. The highlight of the day was witnessing the emergency baptism of a four-month old baby girl with hydrocephalus who was scheduled for surgery the following day.

It was a gift to share and see God's love in these people and an honor to serve for His glory.

(At the sisters' request, pictures from the orphanage will not be posted.)

The Joy of the Gospel in Honduras

Deacon Mike Mort gave a reflection one evening on the "Joy of the Gospel".  It is our mission to bring this joy to these communities in Honduras. Pope Francis has asked us to get our hands dirty and to be with "the sheep".  We have done that!  And in doing so - Christ has revealed Himself to us time and again through these people whom we have served.

Evangelization is our pathway to sharing God's love with others.  We must first be the Samaritan woman at the well and come to Him to be healed.  Then we must share our stories to spread the word about the glory of God!

Honduras Sunset

Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, paragraph 24

The Church which “goes forth” is a community of missionary disciples who take the first step, who are involved and supportive, who bear fruit and rejoice. An evangelizing community knows that the Lord has taken the initiative, he has loved us first (cf. 1 Jn4:19), and therefore we can move forward, boldly take the initiative, go out to others, seek those who have fallen away, stand at the crossroads and welcome the outcast. Such a community has an endless desire to show mercy, the fruit of its own experience of the power of the Father’s infinite mercy. Let us try a little harder to take the first step and to become involved. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. The Lord gets involved and he involves his own, as he kneels to wash their feet. He tells his disciples: “You will be blessed if you do this” (Jn 13:17).
An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people’s daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others. Evangelizers thus take on the “smell of the sheep” and the sheep are willing to hear their voice.
An evangelizing community is also supportive, standing by people at every step of the way, no matter how difficult or lengthy this may prove to be. It is familiar with patient expectation and apostolic endurance. Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time. Faithful to the Lord’s gift, it also bears fruit.
An evangelizing community is always concerned with fruit, because the Lord wants her to be fruitful. It cares for the grain and does not grow impatient at the weeds. The sower, when he sees weeds sprouting among the grain does not grumble or overreact. He or she finds a way to let the word take flesh in a particular situation and bear fruits of new life, however imperfect or incomplete these may appear. The disciple is ready to put his or her whole life on the line, even to accepting martyrdom, in bearing witness to Jesus Christ, yet the goal is not to make enemies but to see God’s word accepted and its capacity for liberation and renewal revealed.
Finally an evangelizing community is filled with joy; it knows how to rejoice always. It celebrates every small victory, every step forward in the work of evangelization. Evangelization with joy becomes beauty in the liturgy, as part of our daily concern to spread goodness. The Church evangelizes and is herself evangelized through the beauty of the liturgy, which is both a celebration of the task of evangelization and the source of her renewed self-giving.

A Three Year Old is Healed, then is Saved

In Mirador on Monday, Dr. Dave Cooper saw three-year-old Sindi who has infantigo, an illness contracted from a mosquito bite that progresses to a very contagious strep/staff infection.  Sindi had a fever and looked very sick - not lively at all.  She had weeping skin lesions all over her body and a very rapid heart rate.  

Pope Francis asked for the parish to become a "field hospital". We took him literally!

Pope Francis asked for the parish to become a "field hospital". We took him literally!

Dr. Dave gave her the appropriate treatment and when she was seen the next day, she was remarkably better!  What a surprise God had in store for Dr. Dave and his fellow Mirador missionaries at our mass held later in the day.  Sindi arrived in a beautiful white dress!  Her dad was holding her and her parents asked that she be baptized.  She was one of five!  

When all the parents and los padrinos (godparents) brought forth candles for the baptisms, our team was in awe.  For Dr. Dave, this story was a "full circle" experience as it linked together both a medical moment and a the celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism.

When Medical Emergencies Turn Out to be Emotional Emergencies

Come to me, all you who are wary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.

Come to me, all you who are wary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest.

On Tuesday, at the end of mass in La Colonia, the children just took off running!  One might have thought an ice cream truck had magically appeared in town.  Apparently, "word" had spread through the community that a woman who lived in a hut at the edge of town had died.  Father Luta was rushed to her bedside to administer last rites (The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick).  Doctors and nurses hurried to her also.  

Dr. Lourdes Flanagan determined that Maria Magdalena, in her forties, needed to be brought to the clinic (housed in the chapel).  Carried by a stretcher fashioned out of a blanket, she was examined and determined to be alive but unconscious.  After coming to, she was stabilized and then returned home.  

The next day upon their arrival in La Colonia, our team of doctors along with Father Luta made a "house call".  They visited with Maria Magdalena and she said:  "Let me tell you the truth."  She then told them that this also happened about 22 days ago.  While talking to her, she said the attacks have happened many times over the years. She thinks this last one was brought on by an upsetting incident.  Someone had come to her house very early that morning to demand that she tell them the whereabouts of her drug-addict son.  This has caused her extreme distress and she has a constant worry about her son.  

She was given nourishment, a time of prayer and a blessing with Father and those in the small group who made this medical and spiritual house-call.  Maria's son is named Augustine and we told her about St. Monica and her son St. Augustine.  We pray that our words have given her HOPE.  Later that day, Kathleen Stahl, (who couldn't help but glance down the road several times that day for signs of life at Maria's home) noticed that Maria was up and moving about in her yard.  

Farm of the Child, aka "The Finca"

The Finca is one of the closet places to La Colonia and Mirador that has a pharmacy and actual dental chairs. Our team was able to provide medical care at The Finca for people in the villages as well as the kids in The Finca.

The Finca is one of the closet places to La Colonia and Mirador that has a pharmacy and actual dental chairs. Our team was able to provide medical care at The Finca for people in the villages as well as the kids in The Finca.

Farmofthechild.org  is the name of the organization that provides care for local orphaned Honduran children.  Missionaries from around the world apply and discern for positions there - medical and education in nature.   Their commitment is for about two years.  They must raise their own funds of approximately $15,000 to live and work at La Finca del Niño.  About 12 missionaries live in a community house where they eat, sleep, and live.  

Food and propane for cooking are rationed, meat protein is offered twice per week, and there is minimal opportunity for Internet service.  The children live in "casas" on the property that are "parented" by "Tias" with same age groups of same sex "niños".

Kit, Kevin, Natalie, and Laura - who currently live and work at Finca - warmly welcomed us and freely shared their "stories".   They believe that when we share our stories, we can bring to others an awareness about this part of the world and feelings of compassion for the people we are here to help.  They struggle daily with the purpose of suffering. Redemptive suffering versus why do I see it if I cannot help... because at home you can just "change the channel" if you see suffering.  They see physical and mental abuse, extreme neglect as well as alcohol and drug problems.  

Prayer is very important to this Catholic Lay Apostolate Group and they would say that their spiritual life is on "fast forward".  They live in a Mission House named after St. Therese - a saint who inspires us to help others "in little ways".  

Explaining Down Syndrome to a Parent

Dr. Dave Cooper and Dr. Teresa Romero worked with two families who had daughters with Down's Syndrome.  Sadly, healthcare for these girls will be limited due to their "lot in life".  Elsa gave us our first "local smile" each day since her home was at the base of the mountain.  Still dressed in a pink and white stripped shirt that missionary Laura Foy gave her early in the week, Elsa also gave us our last "adios" when we left the mountain for the last time on our last day.  

Maria Elizabeth, our sweet Down's child seen in La Colonia, especially touched the heart of Ruby Garza.  It was Ruby who helped Dr. Teresa explain to her mother in simple loving terms that:  Maria Elizabeth is the child God wanted you to have and she is normal in God's eyes!  Heartbreaking to share with another mother that her child has a  life challenge such as Down's.  Tears are a universal language. . .

A Day in the Life of a Missionary

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - Wednesday, October 8, 2014 - Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bless the Lord, O my soulI'll worship Your holy nameO my soulSing like never beforeWorship His holy nameO my soul

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning. Let me be singing when the evening comes. Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before meIt's time to sing Your song again

(10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman)

Our Mission team rose well before the sun each day this week!  😊. Here's a snapshot of "a day" in the life of a St. Anthony of Padua Honduran Missionary:

5:00 a.m.  Wake up

5:30 a.m.  Morning Prayer at the Gazebo using iBreviary (Logistics team up the mountain to set up and check road conditions.)

6:00 a.m.  Breakfast / Prepare for the Day

7:00 a.m. Team departs for the mountain communities of La Colonia and Mirador and the local orphanage La Finca del Niño.

Our 50 ?! minute journey up crossed approximately 12 miles of road with an elevation of ??? feet.  At some points, our roads had a grade of  about 32 degrees.  We used four 4 wheel-drive trucks to transport a team of 56+ team (including local helpers).

8:00 a.m.  Work begins in our three medical clinics, two schools, and two chapels.  We continued non-stop until 3:00 p.m. 

3:00 p.m.  Mass at Mirador (La Iglesia Católica de Candelaria) and at La Colonia (La Iglesia Católica de Suyapa) for the local communities together with our team.

4:30 p.m.  Down the mountain before sunset! Each night, four team members remained on the mountain to sleep in the chapels.  The reason was multi-purpose:  set-up for the next day and an opportunity to get to know the locals.  This helped extend our mission time with patients for our medical team.  One evening, Father Luta and a group of locals prepared an evening meal of roast pig (yes, from beginning to end)!

5:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.  Arrival at our base camps:  Campamento and Tranquility Bay.  Our hosts were lovely people!  We were able to enjoy cold drinks and fellowship along with delicious breakfasts and dinners.  Our accommodations were simple and clean.  Water was often (always for some) cold but wonderfully cleansing!  The opportunity to take a quick dip in the ocean was a great way to have a "first rinse" and to release our energy!

6:30 p.m.   Evening Prayer at the patio in Campamento.  We also had a chance to share some "glory stories" with each other!

7:30 p.m.  Dinner is served!

9:00 p.m.  Showers and Bed!

Snapshots of Grace

"The shepherd must smell like the sheep. That is why they follow him when they hear his voice." -Pope Francis 

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Cecilia teaching the kids how to pray the Rosary. 

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A packed house for Mass!

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Deacon Mike leads worship

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Fr. Luta doing what he does best, ministering to people's hearts right where they are. 

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Fernando left Houston a good Catholic. He returns a fisher of men!

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Outdoor worship with Deacon Mike Mims!

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Monday, October 6

Our first day "on the mountain" began bright and early.  Reflecting on Fr. Eamonn's words from last night's mass, we know that being a missionary means three things:  Prayer, Sacraments, and Service.  We are well to be here.  Our hope is to bring Christ to the people we meet today - but it is us who will encounter Christ through their simplicity.

Three teams were delivered to "the mountain" to bring medical care, catechesis, fellowship, comfort, prayer, and the Sacraments to the people who live in or near the villages of La Colonia and Mirador.

Some special encounters for us today were:

Our mission team was able to help a patient bring her daughter to the local hospital in Trujillo so she could deliver a baby.  The patient herself had walked for over an hour to get to La Colonia.  The pregnant daughter had been carried by villagers down the mountain in a hammock - her "transportation" from home - a place unreachable by truck.  The steep and bumpy ride only added to the tension of the need for a rushed trip to town.  Comforted by pillows that had originally been used to transport parts of a new altar for chapels in both Mirador and La Colonia, young Hannah breathed her way through strong and frequent contractions.  

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Franklin Marsan carefully drove us - Hannah, her mother, and this contributor (Therese Abib) rapidly down the mountain.  With inspiration surely brought to Franklin by the Holy Spirit, he led us all through several prayers.  This brought a sense of peace and calm to Hannah and helped us to focus on God's glory and the beauty of the gift of life.

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We decided we would visit some of the local people in their homes.  One of our visits in Mirador was to the home (shelter) of Felipe and Maria.  Felipe is 67 and suffered a paralyzing stroke five years ago.  He is also thought to have a stomach tumor.  By his bedside, Father Eamonn offered this suffering family a prayer blanket, a rosary, prayers for healing and a blessing.  Tomorrow, Dr. Dave Cooper will make a "house call" to see what other assistance we can offer.

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We were sweetly invited into the kitchen of Suyapa, a resident and leader of the community of La Colonia for atole de maiz - a warm drink made with corn grinds, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.  Mmm - Laura Foy had a second cup!  We were also offered freshly cooked corn for an afternoon snack.  Seconds were had on that, too!  Our corn cobs were passed along to the clucking chickens just outside the door awaiting their portion.  We are in a different world here - one must help chase piglets out of the houses!  Table conversation covered all things moms might say.  Suyapa also expressed concern for the welfare of her neighbors - concerns about their health, education, and availability of resources.

In La Colonia, after a day of doctoring and teaching, we gathered together to celebrate an outdoor mass.  It took so long to set up our medical clinic in the chapel, Father Luta thought an outdoor mass would be a wonderful idea!  It was very emotional as the children of La Colonia arrived well before mass was to begin bringing with them the excitement of the opportunity to praise and worship together with our mission team.  Because the preparation necessary to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist (for those we are here to serve) has not yet happened - only our mission team could receive Our Lord at communion.  

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We witnessed that it seems to be "our children" who bring us closer and closer to Christ and The Sacraments.  One boy cried out "Yo quiero a Jesùs." ("Jesus, I want Him!")  To every prompt that Father Luta gave, these precious children answered joyfully . . .  Then, warmly coaxed and invited by our missionaries, almost every child came forth to Father Luta for a special blessing during communion.

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Let us pray:
St. Anthony, your love for the infant Jesus made him present to you to see and hold in your arms. Help us to see and love Jesus in all the poor and suffering of the world. Move us to clothe, feed and help Jesus, in all unwanted, abused and abandoned children and people. Lead us, for the sake of Jesus, who became a child like one of us, to reverence and protect all human life from its beginning to its end. Amen.

Est 4: 17  Within Your will, O Lord, all things are established, and there is none that can resist Your will.  For You have made all things, the heaven and the earth, and all that is held within the circle of heaven; You are the Lord of all.

Sunday, October 5 - From Host Families to the Mission Field

Sunday, October 5th, began with breakfast in the homes of our host families.  Delicioso!!  We gathered back at the school to load our caravan and prepare for our eight hour journey to Trujillo.  Our first mission stop happened within the first hour as Father Luta, Deacon Mike Mims, and Dr. Teresa Romero stopped to aide an injured woman on the roadside.  It was like we were "living in" the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Our ride to Truillo, our mission home base in Honduras, was a "community building" adventure.  You, our "home community" were included in the intentions of a bilingual rosary enroute.  When we arrived late in the afternoon, Larry and Linda, our hosts at Tranquility Bay and Campamento, welcomed us with smiles and beverages.  We unloaded, prepared supplies, equipment, and medicine for tomorrow, transported items to the communities of La Colonia and Mirador, shared a meal, celebrated a bilingual evening mass, and "fell" in bed.

Love this reflection from a fellow missionary:  "When we drove up today, we prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet and then prayed a rosary with the Luminous Mysteries.  So when we read the reflection and started reading the part about how Christ took the apostles Peter, James, and John up the mountain to pray - and how at that point Christ was revealed to them in a special way . . . how He was transfigured . . . it all hit us.  We all kinda got chills.  For us, it's like "WOW!" We're going up this mountain.  Christ is taking us up there and we're disciples of Christ and He is going to reveal Himself to us through these people - through this work that we're going to do . . . "

Matthew 17:4    And Peter said to Jesus.  It is well that we are here . . .

Saturday, October 4 - And So It Begins

Buenas Noches from Honduras! 

Our St. Anthony of Padua Mission Group arrived on Saturday, October 4th in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.  After claiming and loading luggage and supplies, our group traveled in a caravan (two buses and four trucks) to the Franciscan School.  New friends from the school and the mission greeted each other like old friends!  We celebrated a bilingual mass together and enjoyed a 7th grade student presentation sharing the ancestral heritage of the Honduran people.  The welcome was warm and gracious!  Our evening was filled with dancing, laughter, good conversation, and a very delicious meal.  At evening's end, we each departed with a host family with whom we would spend the night.  What a blessed beginning! On a personal note, this contributor's host family had two teenage daughters that sweetly kissed my sister and me goodnight.  We now have "family" in Honduras!  God's journey for us here is rich and rewarding already!

Matthew 28:19    Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

I Have Been to the Mountaintop!

About three weeks ago I had the opportunity to travel with Deacon Mike Mims and go to Honduras. I saw the communities that we will be serving. This is going to be one of the most exciting trips you will ever take in your entire life.

And this is ALL MOUNTAIN!

The treks to La Colonia and Mirador are straight up a steep dirt road. You can only get there via truck and the truck has to be fully off-road capable. This is going to be an incredible feat, which is why we have a dedicated logistics team.

The people that we will be serving are poor, but they're not in destitution. Their homes are extremely humble, but at least they have homes. They have a little farming land and little chickens running around everywhere. They are incredibly generous with what they do have, opening their homes to receive all of us fancy Americans. 

When we travel up there we will be staying in a resort at the bottom of the mountain called Tranquility Bay. This is run by two Canadians, a husband and wife, and they are absolutely delightful. The accommodations will be great and the food even better.

When I first went up there I was nervous about the water situation. But because were staying in Tranquility Bay, we will always have access to bottled water and filtered water. So that means every morning when you head up the mountain you will always have clean, fresh water.

So there are no worries! It will be a beautiful time to receive God's gifts and be Christ's hands and feet.

 

 

Latest news from Deacon Mike Mims

Dear Fellow Missionaries:

Since we last met, I have been down to Honduras on a scouting mission and to deliver supplies for the Franciscan University mission which Mike Gormley and I will leave on this Saturday.  I'm happy to report that the chapel in La Colonia is progressing nicely and will be almost completely finished when we arrive next week.  Fr. Felipe was thrilled with the makeup of our team for October and I've made the necessary contacts for our lodging and transportation needs.  I've also accepted an invitation from the families at the Franciscan School in San Pedro Sula to host us this year and to possibly send missionaries with us on our trip.

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Our next large group meeting will be on April 2nd at 7pm in the Adult Meeting room at the church.  At that time, we will begin setting down firm plans for each of the elements of our mission and begin discussing specifics of our fund raising and material needs for the trip.  Please make every effort to be at this meeting.

I will update you further upon my return from next week's mission.  Please keep me, and all of the FUS missionaries, in your prayers.

A few photos from February's trip are attached 

Peace

Deacon Mike