There we were met by Phyllis and Galen Groff. They drove us across the Honduran border to La Ceiba. We arrived 33 hours after we left OW. Half the fun is the journey, right? Phyllis and Galen have been missionaries in Guatemala for "forever". They took 9 months off and are now going to be living in Belize! (Yea!!! So glad to have them close.) The Garifuna church in Dangriga has invited them to come and encourage the church to be all they can be for the Kingdom.
Phyllis and Galen Groff
We stayed at Pico Bonito. It is a beautiful "jungle lodge" half-way up a mountain. It was quiet, peaceful and rainy. It rained the whole time (I pity the Hondurans who planned beach vacations), but we had a great time relaxing, visiting with each other, learning, praying, eating, resting, reading the Bible and swimming in the rain.
Our speaker was Linda Witmer. She is a registered nurse and administers the EMU Lancaster Campus nursing program. Linda was a missionary in Guatemala for 23 years before returning to the US ten years ago. Recently she has also focused on giving "spiritual direction" to people who want guidance or suggestions for reflection. The highlight of this retreat for me was meeting her. I had known "of her" but we had never met. I appreciated her transparency and thought, "Gee, if we were in the same town, it would be so much fun to keep sharing like this." She agreed to fill the "pastoral role" that I do not have filled by someone on my MST.
The interpreter this year was Saralyn Murray. What a thrill to meet her! Long ago, when I was twenty-something I did voluntary service with MBM (now Mennonite Mission Network) in Wayne County, Ohio. Back then during the school year I administered a preschool for Deaf children, but during the summers I worked at Camp Luz. The Mennonite camp was run by Randy Murray. During my time there he fell in love with Amy Yoder and married her. Together they have three girls and two adopted nephews. My memories of Amy and Randy are so cherished. I went back to visit several years ago and met Saralyn when she was about 10. What a surprise that she later chose to study ASL at Goshen College and is now an ASL interpreter. Having her at the retreat was like having a 24 year old version of her mother with us! They are so much alike: both love laughter and fun. It was a blessing to have Saralyn interpret!
I was also thrilled to get to meet Melanie Nofziger, her husband and their four children. The Nofzigers work in Telgucigalpa, Honduras. They are brand new to our team. Melanie and I had communicated by email and had sent each other newsletters, but it was wonderful to chat face-to-face. I also wish that Melanie lived "in the neighborhood". Other members of our team include Bobby and Amanda Peoples. They are getting ready to have their first baby in May. We had a surprise baby shower for them and enjoyed playing some games and joining in their excitement. I thank God for this holiday with other missionaries. It made me feel refreshed and linked to a whole cloud of witnesses.