Author Archives: Laurie Willing

Give Hope this holiday season

This year, you have helped us:

-Care for 14,000 at HOI clinics
-Bring clean, potable water to more than 5,000 people
-Touch 3,500 with our marriage ministry
-Preserve 2,000 smiles at HOI’s dental clinic
-Allow for 375 students to pursue a greater education

Because of you, every year thousands of children we serve have access to dental care, clean water, quality education, and spiritual education, and spiritual leadership. We cannot thank you enough for your impact!

Help us reach our goal to improve the quality of life of those we serve in Central America by donating to our end of year campaign today!

Click here to give

“…and you shall call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people…” Matthew 1:21

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Celebrating Success

The school year is winding down this month in Honduras and HOI’s 45 graduating middle school students are poised to move on to their next challenge, high school!

Throughout the year, HOI provides educational opportunities beyond the normal national middle school experience. Our students have access to a computer lab and internet, allowing them to do research and to become proficient in all Microsoft Office applications. Our health care staff provides health screenings and dental checkups for all students.  By providing English classes, a door is opened to more opportunities for future employment. Music and art classes contribute to a well-rounded education and builds their self esteem and pride in their accomplishments. Through HOI’s spiritual development program, students are exposed to God’s message in Bible class and have opportunities to receive Christian counseling.  

93% of our middle school graduates continue on to high school each year.  This compares to 68% nationally!  Over 25 communities are represented at the middle school and parents now make sacrifices to make sure their children attend our school. They understand what it will mean for their child’s future to have a quality education, one that helps them reach their full potential and prepare them to be productive citizens.

HOI 9th graders

HOI also has an elementary school with over 130 students. The 20 graduating 6th graders are excited to be moving up to middle school in February. Currently in the community schools of the Agalta Valley, 43% of students finish elementary school. The HOI elementary school has a 98% graduation rate!

Our school offers a daily, nutritious mid-morning meal, which improves cognitive development and educational outcomes. Our lower school students also have opportunities to learn computer skills, English and have access to a campus library.

HOI 6th graders

Through our Pathway Education sponsorship program, U. S. sponsors have the opportunity to influence and encourage the students to remain dedicated to their studies. The funding from these sponsorships assist us in providing educational resources, all school supplies, internet access, school meals, quality teachers for each grade level and facilities for recreation.

Students who 10 years ago didn’t have dreams for their future beyond the 6th grade, now have aspirations of becoming nurses, doctors, engineers, agriculture specialists, business owners and computer technicians. We are excited to see what the future holds for these bright, young scholars!

Divine Appointments

It all started when I was on the way to build a pila with the Forest Hill team at  the Lopez family’s house. I didn’t really know the family, all I knew was that they truly needed it. On our way there, I looked at our team members who had traveled with me. I thought of how blessed I was to do what I do for a living — to do great work in the company of our volunteers who pay to do hard labor with us. Our volunteers have hearts of gold and they what they do all because they love Jesus and believe in the work HOI is doing for Him.

But my blessings don’t stop there. Soon, we had made it to Lopez’s house to start our work — or so I thought. As we stepped off the bus, we were greeted by a mother, Maria Exaltacion and her daughter, Elida. They were very welcoming, but I had a feeling they were going through a rough time. As I looked closer, I could almost see the tears in Elida’s eyes.

Maria Exaltacion with Leslie infront of Maria’s home.

She suddenly pulled me aside and told me that her mother, who was going to die soon had never gotten to know Christ.  I knew in that moment that God had brought us to these women. Elida said she had been asking God to send someone special to share the love of Christ with her mother, because her mother did not want to see anyone from the community. In that moment, I could feel the power of God. He had made an appointment for the HOI volunteers to be the ones to intercede and pray for Maria Exaltacion.

It was not an easy battle. We all prayed together for Maria that day, and when we left, we kept on praying. For two whole weeks we prayed that Maria Exaltacion would be left with the Lord.   

Forest Hill mission team praying with Maria.

The team left, but kept praying and about 2 weeks later Maria Exaltacion left to be with The Lord. Elida knew that God had used the HOI volunteers to bring her mother to God. Elida expressed her grief at her mother’s funeral, but spoke of her hope as she now knows that she will see her mother again one day.

At her funeral, Elida shared how God had used the HOI volunteers to bring her mother to Christ. She was sad she had lost her for a while but she is sure she will see her again.

Elida and Maria Exaltacion story serves as an example of the most important aspect of HOI’s work – strengthening communities. I love my job, not because of the construction projects which help many, but  because I work towards the goal of building communities with a sense of ownership and citizen pride. Above all, the work we do at HOI is for people to realize they can have a personal relationship with Jesus, our Savior. After all, he has promised to provide for our every need if we just seek His kingdom first!  

If you want to really be transformed by touching the lives of others and the love of Christ, please consider coming to serve at our San Lorenzo location in Southern Honduras! 

HOI School Graduation Celebrations

HOI is very proud of its newest elementary and middle school graduates!  Celebration ceremonies were held this past November to honor the accomplishment of these students.

 

 

9th Grade Class

Graduating 9th Grade Class

During the ceremony, students were given the opportunity to speak and share their thoughts. It was a very emotional time as they expressed their gratitude to their parents, teachers and U.S. sponsors.

 

Sponsor Tommy Phelps and 9th Grade Graduate, Wendy Ortiz

Mentor, Tommy Phelps and 9th Grade Graduate, Wendy Ortiz

This year, 98% of our graduating middle school youth are enrolling in a high school!  Through the efforts of our excellent teaching staff and many education supporters in the U.S., the HOI schools are able to provide quality educational experiences that encourage the students and create a love for learning.

This graduating class now has aspirations and dreams to continue in their education process and become successful adults with opportunities for financial security.

2016 will bring new opportunities and challenges to the HOI schools. The education staff is expecting a 25% increase in enrollment!  We are thankful for the opportunity that God has given us to reach so many children and pray that through these efforts they are one day able to provide a better quality of life for their families.

Laurie Willing

Laurie Willing
Executive Director

Clean Water Efforts Underway in Central America

“Water, water, everywhere, and not a drop to drink”

by: Laurie Willing

The line from the poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, may have been written over 200 years ago, but it remains a fact for the HOI communities in Honduras and Nicaragua.

When impure water creates sickness, disease and even death, opportunities for education and employment diminish. Contaminated water becomes a catalyst for poor health which creates and continues to feed the cycle of poverty.

“Worship the LORD your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you…” Exodus 23:25

For many years, HOI has partnered with the Honduran government, local communities, U.S. mission teams, and other organizations to install water lines from reasonably clean sources to villages and individual homes to improve potable quality. However, the water can still be contaminated through poor handling and storage, as well as breaks in the lines from the source.

St. Andrew's Presbyterian Mission Team

The HOI mission team from St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Dunedin, FL, decided three years ago to make clean water its church’s mission focus. Through discussions with the HOI Ranch staff, a plan was made to supply an entire village with in home water filtration systems. This pilot program proved to make a significant improvement in the health of the village! The cases of waterborne illnesses dropped dramatically in the village of El Mico and the results are life changing for the families!

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HOI is committed to continuing efforts to purify water in the homes, so beginning in 2016 it will be one of our focus areas. Major fundraising efforts, support from U.S. Mission teams and personal investment from the locals will help the organization with its goal to have purified water in homes where we serve in Honduras and Nicaragua. Along with the filtration system, families, schools and communities will be provided with hygiene education, installation training and equipment maintenance instruction.

Clean water will transform lives and communities for generations. We hope that you will partner with us in 2016 to make a difference in the life of a child, a parent, a village.

Laurie Willing
Laurie Willing
Executive Director

Building Relationships Through Prayer

For the past 17 years my church, Simpsonwood UMC, has been partnering with HOI. I have had the opportunity to participate with many of the in-home visitations over those years, but I never expected the experience I had this year.

It starts with our HOI pastor, Wilmer Padilla, meeting with the village’s local pastors to arrange visitations to families who wish to have part of the mission team come to share in prayer. The prayers may be a need for themselves, their family or even their community. Each visit is unique, as is the experience.

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My group’s first visit was to the home of a woman, Maria, who told us of her physical ailment, pain in her knee and leg. She wasn’t able to walk around the village much or to even attend church. Of course, living in the conditions they do and the hard labor of everyday activities this didn’t surprise me. As we continued our conversation, she shared with us that she had given birth to a total of 15 children! We were astounded by that number but then she added that only 8 of them were still living. She had lost 7 of them to either illnesses or accidents. My heart broke for this mother. I couldn’t even imagine losing one child, let alone 7! Her physical pain may be something that can be remedied, but this emotional pain would be a part of her life forever. God uses this process of sharing our life story to impact others and I can definitely attest to that!

Our last visit was sitting with the family of a 20 year old, disabled young man, Nixon. His mud-caked legs were withered and he could not audibly speak. As his grandmother brought out chairs for us on the porch, the young man dragged himself across the porch floor and into the house. Pastor Wilmer and our team motioned and encouraged him to sit outside on a chair with us. He smiled and once again slowly made his way to the chair and up into the seat. The family spoke about his condition and asked for prayer. As they did so, the young man smiled with joy and his piercing, dark brown eyes locked with mine. His gaze did not let up and I could feel God’s spirit through him and God’s peace and love for this boy. It was the most amazing spiritual experience I have ever had on a trip. I told his grandmother that I could feel his kind and gentle spirit. She confirmed my feeling by saying that his personality is always one of joy and happiness.

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Many of our mission teams have similar stories from these prayer visits, where we think we are going to offer comfort and support through our prayers, but God meets us head on instead and gives us the most faith enriching experience we could imagine. May God continue to help us grow spiritually by participating in His mission and with His children of Central America.

Laurie Willing

Laurie Willing
Executive Director