The last week of July brought an unforgettable experience for our family. On July 21, we traveled with two of our children (Lydia, 16 and Eli, 13) from our home in Grand Rapids, Michigan to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We planned to spend a week engaging some of the students of Jubilee in an art camp that would take a small time within their daily school schedule. We did that. And God did so much more, as is His style.
Honduras—a Rich and Beautiful Country
Our first sights, sounds, and smells in-country were that of deep red dust, tropical birdsong, and majestic mountain vistas framing the roads busy with diesel-fueled traffic and commerce. In the hills of El Picacho, we viewed up close the towering statue of Christ, arms outstretched over the valley. Pondering on that sight now, Psalm 46 and 121 come to mind; as we grasp for stability in a confusing world, we know that Jesus is our ever-present help in times of trouble.
What we did at Jubilee
Along with Jeffrey and Kathy DeJong and Amy Haroff, who translated for us, we led twice-daily 45-minute workshops Monday through Wednesday. We then organized a performance for the rest of the student body and teachers on Thursday. We also joined Jubilee’s church in leading worship on Sunday and Wednesday on guitars, drums, keyboards, and vocals. What a foretaste of heaven to sing praises to our God with believers of another “nation, tribe, people, and language” (Rev. 7:9)!
We created a structure for the week with different facets which were intended to come together at the end in one holistic presentation. We chose a song, “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong, that became the central theme for the week: “The Names of Jesus.”
Knowing the main theme was about Jesus being the name above all other names, we needed something to tie it all together. To do this, we facilitated a daily devotional for the children that complemented the main theme. In the devotional, we presented the fact that names are important, have meaning and significance, and can affect what we do. We then divided into our four groups.
Art, Music, Dance, and Photography Classes Created Opportunities
Paul led a photography class of 10 students for whom God provided exactly 10 donated digital cameras for them to use that week. The students enjoyed exploring their world through the eye of a lens. We anticipate that the school will continue to use the cameras for future classes. View a slideshow video of photos the kids took that week.
Manda led a choir along with the music teacher, Ms. Paola. The band was made up of Manda on piano, Eli on drums, and Ms. Paola on guitar. Manda introduced the song “What a Beautiful Name” by Hillsong to the school and church. The kids learned it in Spanish and Manda taught two of the choruses to them in English. Both the church and school have added this song into their regular worship times.
Lydia’s dance class included some basics of dance and stretching, culminating in a performance of the “What a Beautiful Name” song, accompanied by the choir and band. Though she is a well-trained dancer, she had never taught before. Through this experience, she saw God’s empowerment of her gifts in this opportunity. Jubilee church has a newly-formed worship-dance group, so it is exciting to see that there is already a foundation in place for this expression of praise.
Kathy led a visual art class, assisted by both Lydia and Eli. Together the group made a felt fabric banner that now hangs in the worship space. On it are placed only some of the many names of Jesus that the kids had named that week: King, Redeemer, Glorious, Powerful, Victorious.
Eli played drums in church and for our Thursday presentation. This freed up Pastor David, who normally plays drums with the band, to be able to pray with and minister to church members better before and during the worship services. Eli also enjoyed the 200-some hugs he received on a daily basis as kids arrived at school in the morning.
The Power of Names Holds New Meaning for Students
As we explored our theme of Jesus’ names, we wanted to encourage the kids to be empowered in the Spirit, and to think about how God has gifted each of them. He knows each of their names, too, and has a plan for each one. Throughout the week, we researched the meaning of their names and shared those words with them on the final day of classes. There were many wide eyes and even some tears running down small faces at the realization at the powerful meanings of each of their names. We encouraged them to live out the call that God has put on each of their young lives to live and move in that power for Him. What a joy and blessing to share this knowledge, encouragement, and many hugs and tears with them in our final moments together.
Prayer, Faith, and Brotherly Love Abound
As the week progressed, we sensed a strength unique to this place and its people. Without much government assistance, trustworthy law-enforcement officers, or easily-accessible medical services, a resilience surfaces. In Honduras, there are fewer regulations and precautions than we erect in the USA. In some sense, however, that which we might have previously seen as risky or even irresponsible, started to reveal itself as resourcefulness in the hearts of the brothers and sisters we met who were determined to live by faith.
We were encouraged by the faith of children throughout the week. Their spiritual vibrancy and their open love of others and Christ inspired and encouraged us. When we prepared to leave at the end of the week, Ms. Gabriela, their principal, encouraged the kids to tell us “hasta pronto” (see you soon) rather than “goodbye.” Many of them came up to the microphone to thank us and to encourage us to return, reminding us there is always a place for us at Jubilee.
We do hope to return with our younger two children to share more of God’s love and learn more of His grace through the diverse and inspirational body of Christ at Jubilee Centers International. We bless God for their love and faith.
Photos and video of the trip
A short video summary of the week’s activities
Video of the photography class photos
Photographs, writing, and video by Paul and Manda Hart