Category Archives: Spiritual

Remembering Michael Aguilar

In 2014, Michael Aguilar and Daniela Solano stepped out in faith to begin a Young Life ministry in the Agalta Valley, Honduras. Over the last three years, God has used them to build a growing, vibrant, and fruitful ministry that has led hundreds of youth into a deeper relationship with Christ.

On Monday, Michael was fatally injured in an accident. We ask the entire HOI community to be in prayer for Michael’s wife, Daniela; his family in Nicaragua; the HOI staff in Honduras; and especially the young people of the Valley who were touched by Michael’s passionate commitment to Christ.

While Michael will truly be missed, we take comfort in knowing that he is resting in the loving arms of Jesus.

Christ is Risen!

The air is cool. The sleep was good. The smell of coffee, the anticipation of a new day and a feeling of gratitude greets you at the sun rises above the mountains of the Agalta Valley. Light pushes through mountain mist and breaks over the cross reminding you that you’re here because of him. It is sunrise in the Agalta Valley where every morning feels like Easter morning.   

Christians are often called “Easter people.” It is right that we should be called such. When Jesus rose from grave hope grew in the hearts of his followers. Jesus had kept an impossible promise and his followers began to live lives of faith, hope and love. Jesus has risen, so his promise that we will live eternally is true. Jesus has risen, so the pronouncement that our sins are forgiven is real. Jesus has risen therefore his teaching that we can have a personal relationship with God can be trusted. Jesus has risen and his vision for the way the world will one day be is now our vision. From that moment on we have dared to hope and we have built our lives around the promise, power and presence of Jesus. 

All of us at HOI want to wish all of you a faith-filled Easter. We pray that you experience his presence in worship, family and reflection. We are so grateful the opportunity to serve alongside of you and the people of Honduras and Nicaragua as we work toward God’s preferred future in our lives and theirs.   

“…Your Lord Has Washed Your Feet…You Should Do the Same…”

Today, we remember when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet the night before he was crucified. Following the Lord’s example, we are called to do the same for one another in humility and love.

For nearly 30 years, HOI has been “washing the feet” of the Honduran and Nicaraguan people by working alongside them towards a better future. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve with them and our North American partners, and are honored to be an active part of God’s plan for Central America.

“…And if your Lord and teacher has washed your feet, you should do the same for each other. I have set the example, and you should do for each other exactly what I have done for you. I tell you for certain that servants are not greater than their master, and messengers are not greater than the one who sent them. You know these things, and God will bless you, if you do them.”
John 13:14-17 (CEV)

Investments in Opportunity Lead to Transformation

Sometimes transformative change can only be sensed, but other times one is blessed to witness and experience the dramatic difference a change makes in a person’s life firsthand. Thanks to partnerships with U.S. churches, individuals and civic groups as well as our corporate partners and communities in Central America, we are sensing and seeing transformation!

Here are three examples of how HOI staff in Honduras and Nicaragua worked in 2016 to engage families and communities in making significant steps toward an improved quality of life:

• Over 7,000 people now have access to clean drinking water because of the installation of water filters in homes and schools. Clean water provides better health for adults and children, resulting in less school and work-place absenteeism. This translates to more learning days and increased household income. HOI continues to partner with U.S. churches in 2017 to offer the life changing gift of water filters in another 13 villages.

• HOI’s Spiritual Development Ministry offered marriage seminar training to local pastors and communities. The goal was to strengthen the family unit by creating core values for improving relationships with a focus on keeping Christ at the center of marriage. The response from other communities has been encouraging and exciting, as they are requesting this program in their villages.

• Our Agriculture staff works with local farmers and ranchers, demonstrating techniques which will lead to increased harvests and production. Most notable improvements have come from silage production to feed the cattle in the dry months when pastures fade. Training local ranchers about silage storage means better health for their herds and increased income from sales.

As family relationships strengthen and confidence grows with education and improved income, we sense where the real change is happening: in the hearts and minds of the people. What once seemed to be unattainable dreams is now becoming life changing opportunities; children and adults share the common desire to learn. God continues to guide and bless HOI’s endeavors. The transformation is not only taking place in the people of Central America but also in all of us who are a part of His great plan.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6


Laurie Willing
Executive Director

How Can You Make an Impact This Year?: Pray

Everyone has a part to play in the Kingdom of God. Similarly, everyone can get involved with HOI on some level and make a real difference. This can be accomplished in a number of ways.

One of the easiest, most impactful ways to make a difference with HOI is through prayer. We encourage all of our supporters to pray for Honduras, Nicaragua, HOI, and our mission teams. Your prayers help sustain our organization on a spiritual level and enables us to continue on this God-inspired journey.

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This year, we’re asking you and your prayer partners to keep HOI and its mission lifted up before the Lord. Also, pray that many people, young and old alike, come to know Christ through the witness of our love.

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Visions for the Future, Major Initiatives Ahead

2016 promises to be a year full of exciting new initiatives and the continuation of ongoing effective ministries. Here is a sneak preview of what’s ahead:

Clean Water at Point of Consumption

There’s a tsunami of clean life-giving water coming! Following the initiatives of the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church (Dunedin, FL) in Honduras and Comunidad Connect in Nicaragua, HOI has validated that the implementation of in-home water filter systems has a dramatic effect on the reduction of water-borne illnesses in our areas of operation. In response to this acquired knowledge, HOI has launched a major initiative partnering with groups and villages to implement a comprehensive hygiene education and filtered water program for hundreds of families in Honduras and Nicaragua. This effort will be jump-started by a generous grant from GlobalX, funded by the annual North Point Community Church “Be Rich” Campaign. Additional financial support will come from the recently launched Family Health Partnership program ($39 per month if you’d like to join) at HOI, and also from group community development support. The plan is to work with select mission teams to help provide education and materials for this effort. Local participants will commit financial resources and also invest time in training to learn the value of good hygiene, clean water consumption, and care and maintenance of their filters. Teams will help construct support tables and also assemble the filters and buckets for delivery. Our goal in 2016 is to install point of consumption filtration systems in at least 1000 homes. We have enlisted support from public health experts and the CDC to advise and monitor our program and results.

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Honduran family with a water filtration system in their home

Expanding corporate partnerships in Southern Honduras

HOI has executed a third corporate partnership in southern Honduras, joining forces with another outstanding corporate organization that wishes to help improve the lives of the people living in that area of the country. An agreement of mutual support was signed with the Chorotega Foundation, the faith based philanthropic arm of the Chorotega Credit Union in Choluteca that is dedicated to helping start and nurture small businesses in Honduras. Chorotega will assist HOI teams with the logistics of working in the South, and will help our local staff build relationships and partnerships with the people we’ll serve. We hope to send a few teams with our new partner in 2016, so if you’d like to be an early adopter, just let us know. These are wonderful people to work with, as are our initial two partners Agrolibano and LUFUSSA, so we know you will have very rewarding and impactful experiences. We still have room for about 7 more teams with our partners in southern Honduras for 2016 if you’d like to help us in that area.

Camila Reina, HOI Director of Development and Gov't Relations (Honduras); Jerry Eickhoff, HOI CEO; Jorge Nuñez, Chorotega

Camila Reina, HOI Director of Development and Gov’t Relations (Honduras); Jerry Eickhoff, HOI CEO; Jorge Nuñez, Chorotega

Increasing medical support in the South

One of our medical team partners will be making a trip to San Lorenzo and Choluteca in 2016. In addition to these professionals, HOI would like to increase its logistical support to the two major hospitals in the area, Hospital San Lorenzo (HSL), and The Hospital of the South (Hospital del Sur, HDS). HSL is a smaller, well run institution that is becoming a model for the country, due in large part to of the efforts of our partner Agrolibano Foundation and other corporate sponsors.

HDS, on the other hand, is a very large public hospital that is underfunded and in desperate need of additional resources and support. Although the corporate partners are also helping this large organization, they are in need of significantly more resources. Upon a recent visit the massive over-crowding, lack of supplies, and equipment were heartbreaking to witness. The maternity ward, for example, delivers on average about 6,600 babies per year.  As a result of the hospital’s poor conditions, it has become the norm for two women and their new born babies to share a bed with no sheets or pillows. There is also no potable water in the 250 bed hospital. HOI would like to play a catalytic role with local and international resources to help continue improvements at HDS so the health care professionals on staff can be much more effective serving the people of Choluteca.

Our goal is to help both of these hospitals initiate a combined MAP (map.org) medication shipment in early 2016. Agrolibano will arrange the financing fee for this shipment.
We would also like to work with MedShare (medshare.org) for a medical supplies and equipment shipment to the Hospital of the South. We plan to work with Honduran corporate sponsors and other supporters to make this a reality. We are currently working on inventory needs, internal controls, and accountability to ensure efficient implementation.

Expanded educational and sports programs and ministries

Due to the success of our elementary and middle school programs, and growing demand for higher education and skills training in our area of influence, HOI is investigating the feasibility and advisability of developing a high school and career academy near Rancho el Paraiso. The flame of learning has been ignited in Olancho and almost 100% of our Hope Middle School graduates now desire to continue their education beyond the 9th grade. Building on our early economic development successes motivated by our catalytic agent, Smoke Rise Baptist, HOI places a high priority on job creation for the people of Olancho. To that end, our initial thought is that any additional educational offerings should include skills and career training.

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Our evaluation will also consider the potential for a robust faith based athletic program that would be focused on soccer for boys and girls.  We are considering a sports and family life complex that would be used for the school activities, leagues, faith and skills coaching, Young Life, and community gatherings. This planning and review is in its initial stages and there are no determinations yet. However, we wanted each of you to know the types of initiatives we’re considering if you’d like to join us in the effort.

As a wonderful 2015 comes to a close, and an exciting 2016 looms in the future, I wish you all a blessed Holiday Season and a healthy and happy New Year. Thank you for your continued generous support and unceasing prayers.

God bless,

Jerry

Jerry

Jerry Eickhoff
CEO

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

Young Life Central America: A Ministry of Passion and Investment

 

If you stop by HOI’s office in Tucker, you’re likely to catch something.  No, you won’t catch a cold or the flu (thankfully that season has passed!).  You’re likely to walk away feeling more passionate about ministry and transformation in Honduras and Nicaragua than ever before.  Passion and excitement for ministry is contagious and it’s a beautiful thing.

We picked up a small case of the “Young Life Passion” last week after we spent an evening with Young Life Central America leaders, Hollman Mendoza and Kevyn Suwyn.  Hollman (Director of Young Life Nicaragua) and Kevyn (Director of Young Life Central America) have been touring the States meeting with donors and supporters.  They took time out of their busy schedules to meet with a few members of HOI’s staff and board to share some of the great things that God is doing in their ministry.

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They shared with us how Young Life Central America is growing by leaps and bounds.  New clubs are forming in different communities and young people are growing in their passion for Jesus.  They are tackling areas that have been hard hit by gang activity.  The annual Young Life camps continue to attract hundreds of students and they have developed a reputation for being a center for transformation and change.  There’s a lot to be excited about!

We learned that Young Life Nicaragua, headed by Hollman, has emerged as one of the models for club growth and development and produces some of the finest Young Life leaders in Central America.  It’s exciting to know that Nicaragua Young Life is sending missionaries throughout Central America.  We believe this to be true as we can see evidence of this in our own Young Life Olancho leaders, Mike and Daniela.  They are both products of Young Life Nicaragua and have brought their expertise and excitement to the Valley and have shared it with our young people.

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Hollman shared a personal testimony about how he came to know the love of Christ through the ministry of one North America man.  This man was so passionate about serving Nicaragua’s youth that he was willing to make an investment in their lives with his time and resources.  Through that small investment, and hundreds of other investments like it, Young Life Nicaragua was born and Hollman came to know God for himself.

These kinds of transformative experiences are happening everyday with HOI’s ministries and partners and you can be a part of it.  What areas of ministry in Central America are you most passionate about?  What touches your heart so much that you are willing to make a small investment that will yield a great return?

To learn more about HOI’s ministries click here.

 

Transformation in Honduras’ Youth

 

God is doing so many wonderful things in Honduras and Nicaragua that at times it seems difficult to keep up with it all. Transformation is taking place over the Agalta Valley of Honduras and is beginning to take root in San Lorenzo as well. Needless to say we’re excited! However, one of the most beautiful transformations that we’ve begun to see is the change taking place in the lives of the young people near the Ranch.
The partnership between HOI and Young Life is about a year old now and we’re more than pleased with the growth and progress that has taken place. Young people from all over San Esteban are coming to know Christ and beginning to develop a relationship with Him. Not only are the youth beginning to become serious about their walk with the Lord, but they are emerging as ethical leaders will a moral consciousness.

Honduras Outreach
Mike Aguilar and Daniela Perez were only a week into their marriage before they made the move to Olancho from their native Nicaragua. In the beginning they were a bit nervous and uneasy, but God assured them that this was the call on their lives in this season. Soon after moving in at the Ranch, they began to feel more at home and a part of the family. With the help of HOI’s Ranch pastor, Pastor Wilmer, they began meeting influential people and making connections. God began to show himself as confirmation that His hand was on their lives and on their ministry.
Since its inception, Young Life Olancho has grown in ways that many thought impossible. Young Life coming to Olancho is a bigger deal than you would imagine. If you’re at all familiar with Young Life then you know that the ministry primarily operates in the city and suburbs, not in rural places like the Agalta Valley. To everyone’s surprise the club is growing exponentially and the ministry has been so impactful that they are looking to start a second club in San Esteban.

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These students travel to HOI’s ranch from all around to learn about the Good News of Jesus and how to become leaders in their communities. These students are learning that they are the future and hope for Honduras as a nation, and the Agalta Valley in particular. As these students age into adulthood and begin to pursue their vocational and academic dreams, we are confident that they will carry the lessons they learned from Young Life Olancho with them and will transform a nation from the inside out.

“Start children off on the way they should go,
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6