Our HOI Honduras mission trip for 2016 was a heartwarming experience for us all! This year our two churches came together to form one mission team. One member was a first-timer, and the rest of us are repeat travelers to HOI Honduras Rancho el Paraiso. Our assigned village Rio Del Loro was a long drive from the ranch, with about 45 minutes over heavily rutted dirt roads, but we enjoyed using the time to rest and reflect on the toils of the day.
Here are some of the reflections of our team:
The villagers were amazing. Working side by side, we completed a large latrine and multiple cement floors, pilas, and eco stoves! We felt such a sense of accomplishment. The villagers enjoyed showing their friends the “improvements” on their homes.
Being from the village, the schoolteacher truly cares for the school and the children. She, the kinder teacher, and several of our team provided VBS daily to 40 children! Each child received a backpack filled with school supplies, hygiene supplies and a bit of fun — indestructible tennis balls! Seeing the faces on these children, enjoying their excitement and friendship, and receiving the deep gratitude of their parents was a high point of our trip. As one of our projects, we helped the villagers paint and decorate the school inside and out! They take amazing pride in their school, and we could tell the families truly support the teachers.
The work was hard, but getting to know the villagers and seeing our HOI friends were priceless. Neighbor helped neighbor, HOI staff helped with labor and translation, and the maestros (experienced masons) were seen passing on their skill knowledge to younger villagers and to the “estudiante maestro” or student mason – one of our long-time mission team members showing his skill at leveling a latrine cover.
Our team has a long history of bringing medical supplies to the HOI Rancho el Paraiso doctor. We enjoyed the clinic tour seeing how the donations are put to good use throughout the area. We also brought school supplies, dozens of soccer balls, and hundreds of tennis balls to the village school and to the HOI schools. We also provided jerseys and soccer balls with pumps to the La Venta team, who come frequently to the ranch to play friendly matches with the staff. Some of us cannot get enough soccer!
At the end of the week, it was heartbreaking for us to leave the village. We know that we cannot solve all problems, but we can “create opportunities” with the construction materials, medical and school supplies, and most importantly with our time and friendship. It is not an experience easily forgotten. We return home with full hearts and budding plans for our next trip.
Thank you, HOI, for this opportunity to serve Honduras.
by: Beverly Chernoff