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News from Honduras
ADDRESS FOR MAIL: REV JANET CORLETT,
METHODIST MISSION HOUSE,
UTILA, BAY ISLANDS, REPUBLIC OF HONDURAS
Lots of people have been asking ‘what no newsletter?’ so I apologise for the long gap. The lack of newsletter was partly due to a difficult period in the work here in Honduras ? and partly due to a 2 month loss of internet service in Utila. In January, HONDUTEL (government owned former monopoly) moved in on TTI (private internet company) with troops, guns and grenade launchers, confiscating and destroying equipment. A dramatic way to squash competition. Legal battles ensued but TTI has not yet made it back onto the island.
Much of my time during the last three months has been devoted to the Methodist School. At the end of the school year (November) it looked as if the school might have to close due to financial problems, with many parents unhappy with the performance of the school Director and with a School Board which had lost some of its most active members. Well, by the grace of God, we did open again on the 15th February, with a new Director, a renewed Board, and with a more involved and active Parent’s Assoc. We are particularly blessed with Reina, the new Director, who has immense experience as well as a lively faith. Please pray for her, the teacher, parents, board and children as we strive to improve the school this year.
Work on replacing the roof of Mizpah Church started in September and included dangerous work to totally rebuild the steeple. With that finished, we have turned our attention to the church annex which has been in poor shape for a long time. Demolition is now almost complete and we are finalising plans with some work teams from the US who will come to help in the re-building. It will be used for Sunday School, church and community meetings, meals, parties, performances, weddings, etc. etc. The old annex is remembered fondly by many Utilians as the place where they were educated ? since it originally housed the Methodist School, run in the 1960s by the English minister, Rev Eric Bryant.
We give thanks for all the people who have helped and will help with these projects ? with a particular ‘thank-you’ at this point to St. Mary’s Church in Fetcham.
The congregation at Mizpah was shocked one Sunday morning recently to find that we had been robbed. The church has not worried much about security because of the islanders’ deep respect for places of worship. However this pitiful robber broke into a cupboard and stole our CD player, children’s gifts, crayons and books, a small amount of money and, believe it or not, the numbers for the hymn board! We believe the thief must have been desperate for money for drugs ? but can’t really imagine what he/she would want with our hymn numbers??
The Pastoral Team, and particularly Mr James Range, at Puerto Cortes have been working hard on expanding the ministry of this church. They have started a weekly time for members to go out visiting, and have initiated a worship and teaching time for children on a Saturday evening. There are a good number of young adults in the congregation ? please pray that they will find confidence in sharing their faith.
In January I was in Belize for 2 weeks for the Ministers’ Retreat (which I led with Rev Simpson) and for the District Conference. The Conference had some hard issued to face up to ? but was encouraged by the presence of the Connexional Secretary, Rev Otto Wade, and the Connexional Vice-President, Brenda Armstrong, both of whom are from Belize. Many of the issues will sound familiar to those in the British Methodist Church e.g. short-falls in assessment payments, short-falls in superannuation payments, shortage of ordained ministers etc?. It was a real high point of the Conference to accept Mrs Elswith Clare as a Candidate for the Diaconal Ministry. She is the first candidate from the District for 20 years.
Conference approved the stationing of ministers for next year, including making me Superintendent for the Utila/North Coast Circuit from September 2007. This is a huge challenge for many reasons. I will be the only Presbyter in the Circuit, working with 3 Commissioned Lay Pastors and 6 or 7 other folk who are supported financially by the North Georgia /North Coast Mission Initiative. I particularly need to improve my language skills to be more confident in pastoral conversations and to effectively chair meetings which may be bi-lingual or predominantly in Spanish. Please pray that folk will be open to God’s call to ministry and that we will be able to equip and enable new leadership in the churches.
Thank you for keep asking about my health and particularly my back. I continue to have some residual problems with my back due to degenerated disks ? and I am currently trying both to lose some weight and build up my fitness levels. I haven’t been able to go scuba-diving for more than a year ? which is a loss ? but I still enjoy swimming and snorkelling. Travelling in the small dories is now out except for in the calmest of weathers ? but thanks to Captain Morgan’s I can travel to the Cays on their bigger and less bouncy dive-boat. Amazingly there is now a gym on the island ? so I am getting to grips with low-impact exercises while enjoying an amazing view of East Harbour!
I am having a slightly earlier and slightly shorter furlough than usual ? and will be in the UK and the Isle of Man (IOM) during June and July. As well as rest and relaxation I will be taking some speaking and preaching engagements:
15th June - World Church Event, Ramsey, IOM.
24th June - Morning service, Grangewood, Nottingham.
1st July - Sunday School Anniversary, Kerrowkeil, IOM.
8th July - Flower Festival Service, Onchan, IOM.
15th July - Evening Service, Leytonstone, London.
I will be briefly in Evesham, Birmingham, Leatherhead and Sheffield. There are so many of you I would like to meet up with and see ? but to cut down on travelling I hope you will be able to catch up with me within the current schedule.
Detrás el mundo, la cruz delante...
No vuelo atrás, no vuelvo atrás.
¡Bendiciones de la Pascua!