Connecting Across Cultures

In September of this year, Ed Apffel of TerraMica spent a number of days in Thessaloniki, Greece speaking to refugees and Independently Displaced Peoples from a number of Arab countries about business ethics and entrepreneurship. He incorporated biblical principles into the business presentation, speaking to Muslim men and women who are learning how to make a living in a new country and culture… and he had a number of incredible interactions after the seminar and the following days. Here is one of the most moving:

One global narrative would have you believe that Mohammad and I should not be holding hands and praying together. For you see, I am a Christian from the West and he is a Muslim from the Middle East. Yet, I firmly believe Mohammad, his wife, and daughter were created by and made to reflect the image of God. Mohammad was blinded after a bombing raid destroyed his house in Aleppo. He and his family fled Syria for their lives, leaving everything behind. I am thankful to have spent that Sunday, in Thessaloniki with Mohammad, quietly listening about his journey and his aspirations and hope for his family. During our long conversation, I realized his belief was that Allah was not a relational god, but distant and demanding god. I asked if I could share my experience of who God is, and afterwards asked if we could to pray together for he and his family. I was humbled that he agreed and said yes. Together, we held hands firmly and I asked for God to pour His love upon Mohammad and his family. I then asked God to pour out His wisdom and reveal His Truth to Mohammad and lead him throughout the remaining days of Mohammad’s life. Afterwards, we sat there silently, a Muslim and a Christian holding hands.

It was Mohammad (blind), who eventually broke the silence and said, “I sense God’s love here and in you.” I confess, it is ONLY because of God’s immeasurable love for me that I was able to love Mohammad, my neighbor, as myself. The two greatest commandments ever are “love God with all your heart, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” When we finally turn our focus from ourselves to knowing and loving God, that is when we can truly begin to love our neighbor as ourselves. ~Ed Apffel~

Ed with Mohammed and his family, post-seminar

Oaxaca Earthquake Relief

Patrick & Stephanie Aguirre are passionate about the people of Oaxaca, and spearheaded a fundraising effort for humanitarian aid and relief for the people of southern Mexico most impacted by the recent devastating earthquakes, followed by huge storms. They spent time in Oaxaca evaluating the needs, determining best options, and returned to oversee distribution of funds, to pray and minister to those who were negatively impacted by this situation. TerraMica was honored and blessed to support the Aguirre’s compassion project! Here’s their story:

 

A phone call at 1:00 in the morning is never good …

Sure enough, on September 7 that phone call brought news of the Earthquake centered off the coast of Chiapas and its devastation!
As we listened to our friends and ministry partners in Mexico recount the terror of that first earthquake and all the others that followed, we comforted them, encouraged them, and prayed over them.  And all the while, thinking how we could send help.
So we did what anyone would do, we got on Facebook!
Social Media definitely has its benefits, and publishing the personal stories of tragedy and long lists of needs for the victims in Oaxaca is what we did.
The response was overwhelming! Between generous individuals, TerraMica, and Whittier Area Community Church, a total of almost $14,000 was raised for the needs of the Oaxacan people!
So we went to work!
We visited the most devastated areas, like the town of Juchitan and as we spoke with the people and were able to see the damage firsthand, we decided that the funds would be well utilized in buying cots for the people to use as beds.

After meeting with local craftsmen, we were able to order 400 cots!  This had a two-fold benefit, not only did the people not have to sleep on the wet floors (since, the torrential rains had also come) but also it bolstered the local economy which always has a far-reaching benefit in rehabilitating an area.

It is so often said that one does not have the words to describe what it feels like to bless another person … well it’s true!  Words that come to mind are: grateful, humbled, happy, humbled, fulfilled, humbled ( you get the picture!)

We were very deliberate in handing the cots out to those that seemed forgotten … we partnered with local church members so that they would take us to the elderly and the widowed first.  We walked down long alleys and hidden areas to find them, and the joy on their faces is life changing!

kids sitting on donated cots!

The work continues first and always in prayer for them, their needs and their knowledge of Jesus as the One who loves them and also continuing to be a part of their lives as a source of help in their time of distress!

Read more

Building a Dream

He is a passionate man – passionate about his family, his home, his work, his coffee. Isabel Ramos Mejia is a coffee farmer in Honduras, devoted to his wife, Sofia, their seven children, and three grandchildren. Living for decades in a two-room adobe house, he dreams of improving the quality of life for his family.

Isabel and Sofia in front of their houses – new on the left, old on the right.

 

 

Working hard on his farm, he diligently tends to the trees that provide for their living, and he has little spare time. The coffee cherries grown on his coffee trees are harvested and processed, then sold, providing an annual income. Though they have just enough to make ends meet, Isabel continues day by day Read more

Don’t Shoot the Horse

“You know, you don’t throw a whole life away, just cause they’re banged up a little … “

from “Seabiscuit”

It’s an incredible juxtaposition. The beauty of the animal trained and well suited for its task. Every element of this creature is working at full capacity. Fighting for the lead and focused, the animal digs in deeper and presses its limits, risking all. Then, as quickly as the sound of the gun that started the race, SNAP! Somewhere along the track, the animal goes down. It’s a mess. It’s ugly, and by all intents and purposes, it’s over.

The animal has been hauled off the track and is being restrained and held down, so that the shot to the head will be clean, quick, and effective. Our rational to end this life is that the animal is incapable of performing its task to race … it is limited and compromised.

So, now the shooter stands over the animal and is ready to pull the trigger, when from out of the crowd, a handler walks up Read more

It’s a First … and Not the Last!

I honestly had no idea what to expect before my first missionary journey. It was far more difficult yet far more rewarding than I thought it would be. During our first team meeting I was told that I was going to be a dental assistant. Keep in mind I am 20 years old, on my first service trip, and barely floss. I have seen more of the human mouth than I ever hoped, but with that came the warmest smiles that were able to give me butterflies. The expression “it’s like pulling teeth” had nothing on the Honduran people: they were tough as nails. I witnessed one of TerraMica’s dentists, Marlon, pull out dozens of teeth, two tumors, and still receive nothing but gratitude from every single person.

There was one patient who couldn’t have been more than 8 years old and Read more

The Long Road to Serve

As I sit down to write memories of this trip, many come to mind. Memories of smiling children, feverish patients, muddy rivers, karaoke over breakfast, and amazing people.

For me, service trips are always about honoring the Lord, but also about the excitement of travel and seeing new places that most never get to experience. I love the opportunity to be taken into a local family’s home and learn about different cultures first hand. This was to be my 20 year-old daughter’s first mission trip, and I was excited for her. The night we drove to San Francisco to catch our red eye for Houston where we would rendezvous with the rest of the team, my daughter looked at me and said, “Mom, this is such an answer to prayer. I get to go and devote the next five days purely to Read more

Enhanced Senses

In my limited experience, I have come to find that there are two types of traveling. The first type of traveling is driven by the want to escape. Whether you’re escaping from your job, family, or just the stress of life, the point is that you want to escape your current location. The second type is driven by the need to explore. It is not motivated by the want to leave your location, but by the need to see, feel, and experience another. It is this kind of traveling that awakens your senses and opens your mind; and if you allow these experiences to change you, they will. Read more

Stepping Out …

Steven picking coffee cherries on a family farm in Guajiquiro, Honduras

It was in January that my fiancé and I decided to save for a service trip to Honduras! Although my Dutch passport had expiration issues, we still made it work for travel at the end of April. I was very excited as we were going to help build water reservoirs for impoverished coffee farmers in rural Honduras. As our departure date came closer, I began to feel concerned as I read and researched what to expect in Honduras. Two of the main cities have been rated amongst the most dangerous and violent cities in the world, so my worries were not unjustified. That being said, I have traveled quite a bit in my 26 years and I have never hesitated about visiting a new country – so these worries were a first for me!

The day we were leaving came fast, and both my fiancé and I were eager to get to Honduras, as this was also our first airplane ride and trip outside the country together. We had our checklist of what to bring and to wear – so we felt ready and in great hands as TerraMica operates there 52 weeks a year with full time staff on the ground.

Anne, Steven, and Jorge exploring Honduran roadside shopping

The descent into Tegucigalpa is very exciting and fun because Read more

Random Acts of Kindness?

It’s a phrase that has become popular … random acts of kindness. It sounds good … no, it sounds GREAT! Like a lot of people, when I first heard it, I loved it. What a great inspiration to randomly act in kindness!

So much in this world feels dark, oppressive, overshadowing, why not randomly shine a little sunshine into someone’s day? A random act of kindness feels good to the giver and certainly is nice for the receiver. So, whenever the motivation randomly hits you, do something kind.

I like it. A lot. But … as good as it sounds, it leaves something wanting. Could there be something more?

We’re all inhabiting space on this Earth, and every random act of kindness makes life here just a tiny bit better. But what if we could do something better, something deeper, something … Keep Reading!

Working Together – Pila Project

Not me, not you, just us!

After a long flight, my friend Andrew Gwin and I arrived in Honduras for a short trip to support rural poor coffee farmers by joining TerraMica in building “pilas” (water reservoirs). Exhausted but excited, our small team had much to accomplish … I admit, I felt a bit of pressure to get the most done with the amount of time allotted to us!

We arrived later in the evening so most of the first day was spent traveling and planning the next few days itinerary as we drove from the airport to our hotel with Jorge Sosa, TerraMica’s Honduras Country Manager.

How much could we possibly do with just the three of us? Keep Reading!