Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Who’s Who Spotlight Series: “Los Maravillosos”

This summer, while we were busy pedaling our bicycles across the U.S. to show our support for the work of AJS/ASJ and the people of Honduras, there was a considerable amount of work being done behind the scenes by many unsung heroes. While introducing them to you we would also like to thank and praise them for all of the challenging, meaningful and sustainable work they are doing for those most in need in Honduras. In our opinion, they have earned the nickname, “Los Maravillosos” or Marvelous Ones.

Today's "Who's Who" Spotlight: “Los Maravillosos”

AKA (Also Known As) - the Staff at AJS and ASJ
Random facts about “Los Maravillosos”
  • AJS has two staff people, Abe and Jill, and a very active board of directors who, for example, biked the last 6 miles of the ride with us and scooped ice-cream at our end-of ride celebration. Together, they work hard to support the work of...  
  • ...Asociación para una Sociedad más Justa, the Honduran organization that carries out the work AJS support. The 60-member staff of "ASJ" includes 8 lawyers, 4 paralegals, 5 journalists, 4 investigators, 4 psychologists, 4 counselors, 2 social workers ,and more. Many of them have previous experience working for Honduras' Attorney General's Office, Court System, National Investigative Police, National Human Rights Commission, etc.--these guys have creds!

The word “marvelous” in English is defined as wonderful, amazing or awe-inspiring. The staff of AJS and ASJ are just that. They made us smile. They surprised us with homestay arrangements, phone calls and video clips from Honduras and even with visits while we were out on the ride itself. And, as is their very nature, they supported us on every mile, on every rural road, in all kinds of weather and in every town and city.

How Los Maravillosos got involved with AJS/ASJ:

Ask any of the talented and giving individuals that work for AJS and ASJ why they got involved with the work of this organization and you will likely get the same answer. They will tell you that they want to do the right thing and make a difference. They will tell you that they wish to fight injustice and transform Honduras and believe that not only is it their calling as Christians to do so but that the reason why they have won all of their legal battles against powerful and corrupt individuals and companies in Honduras is because God is on their side.

They will confirm this fact even in the face of great danger after an event such as the assassination of their beloved, Dionisio Diaz de Garcia. Faith and love truly conquers all. Los Maravillosos are the living embodiment of this truth.

Who are Los Maravillosos and what do they do:

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the inspiration that Deisy, Edward, Claudia, Orbelina and Virginia and all of the rest of the ASJ staff brought to me this summer. Your video clip, in particular, meant more than you will ever know. On one particularly challenging 100+ mile day in central Iowa when it was close to 100° Fahrenheit and the humidity and headwinds were unbearable, on one rolling hill after another I said aloud in prayer, “one more child in Honduras, one more child in Honduras…” and took your daily efforts there, as well as your kind words of support and encouragement, to heart. Stopping was never an option because of the example you set for me.

Of particular note is the fact that the Steve’s Just Ride blog and website were created and maintained by AJS staffer Abe Huyser Honig. Abe was previously a Calvin College student who fell in love with the people of Honduras years ago and decided since then to live there and devote himself to the causes of AJS/ASJ.

Abe also worked hard to obtain host families for our numerous stops and rest days across the country. I think that we may have actually stayed with most of Abe’s family members and relatives in one state or another. And, like Abe, they are extremely loving and giving folks with hearts of gold who believe in social justice and the power of faith.

We met ASJ staffer and former Calvin student Jill VanBeek in Seattle this past year when she visited us along with ASJ co-founder, Kurt VerBeek. Like Abe, Jill first caught the "AJS bug" when she was on a Calvin College semester in Honduras run by Kurt and his wife, Jo Ann. However, while Abe lives in Honduras most of the time and travels to AJS's U.S. headquarters in Michigan a few times a year, Jill does just the opposite. Jill developed the great Google map of our ride on the website, she helped with logistics of fundraising events, kept track of all the donations that came in in support of the ride, and even came and joined us for dinner at Kurt’s parents home in Cedar Lake, Indiana while we were on the ride since she was not going to be able to attend the finish line event in Grand Rapids that she actually had worked so hard to arrange for us.

Andy Weaver is an AJS intern in Grand Rapids who drafted many a press release for our ride and contacted news media in advance of our arrival in numerous cities across the U.S. With his help, we were able to get the word out about AJS and its work via newspaper, live and taped radio segments and several TV interviews. While this certainly added to my nervousness, especially, while on live radio, it also undoubtedly had an impact as was born out by listeners such as the bicycle shop employee in Sand Point, Idaho who proceeded to recount my life story to me after recognizing me from the TV interview I had done the night before. She had shared our story with her children and was particularly inspired by our ride for this cause.

All of the efforts of “Los Maravillosos” have changed our lives. We are blessed to know you, to be able to call you friends and to walk side-by-side with you in our shared efforts to serve the Lord and to transform this world according to God’s vision.

Bendigas siempre,


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