Honduras Through our eyes? February 21-28, 2009
… or through the eyes of others? That is the challenge of an “encounter mission”… to join in a pilgrimage to come to know Jesus in the poor, and to work with them in solidarity. And so our journey begins…
Finally on the ground in Honduras after 6 hours of travel, all 13 team members fit into 1 van!
Awaiting room assignments at Casal Bed and Breakfast, a simple residence that is often used by mission teams.
Sunday morning…to the mountain for prayer. Our mission weeks traditionally begin with reflection, dedication and blessing at the site of Picacho National Park, overlooking the one million-plus residents of Tegucigalpa.
Ten stories high, this statue of Christ that is visible from all over the city was funded by the people of Tegucigalpa.
Undeveloped areas scar the landscape…they are where landslides caused by Hurricane Mitch buried many victims… The survivors include members of our Fuerzas Unidas community who will always mourn their family and friends who were lost. This tiny speck is the little church of Divine Mercy, in the Fuerzas Unidas neighborhood.
The unnamed street where Divine Mercy Catholic Chapel is located.
The church of Divine Mercy, dedicated June 2008.
Divine Mercy Church, from behind and above, in its neighborhood setting overlooking the city..a lesser known holy place.
Divine Mercy in March 2006—at this point, the community had worked for six years, laboring without trucks, power tools, cement mixers... Raising the funds, brick by brick…
Prayer and liturgy were offered at the site throughout every phase of construction. For six years, the community worshipped on rough ground under a lean-to in the corner of the building.
The completed church is a testimony to the creativity and hard work of the community. Most of the labor was donated by the members.
Our shared mission: Divine Mercy and Kentucky Catholics representing Church of the Epiphany (Louisville), Good Shepherd (Frankfort), St. John’s (Eminence) –with friends from Methodist, Baptist and Pentecostal congregations.
Our first and foremost goal is very simple… … To build relationships.
Paul and Mario showed up for work and quickly discovered their shared fashion taste.
Lisa ‘s “grandma heart” is a magnet for little boys everywhere!
Steve and Angie enjoyed the sunshine and a little special attention.
Dennis and other lay leaders inspired us with their dedication.
Jim, our leader/architect/wise man…lends his aura to admirers!
Andi patiently demonstrates his status as Honduras’ most photogenic child. He undoubtedly rated the most photos taken.
Sister Larraine (OSU) and Sister Melba (CND) are both fueled by coffee!
Transportation provider Sebastian has been the guardian angel for many mission teams.
Maria never failed to enchant us with her smile.
Franciscan Fray Isidoro, who shares the pastoring of 27 communities with 2 other priests, found time to show us around his monastery. Our next team will likely be housed there.
Our second goal… To work with the members of the Divine Mercy community to achieve their goals : the discernment that reflects their shared hopes and dreams
<ul><li>A community goal: </li></ul><ul><li>To build a “pastoral house”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>a place for pastoral care— </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This week’s goal: start the foundation </li></ul></ul>
So.. on to “the backyard”, where the first task is site preparation…
Stones must be moved, and dug up, and broken, and replaced… and moved again…
Greg shows us his idea of the perfect size construction stone.
These women patiently carried on their tortilla business in the midst of the construction. Lucky for us…this is the only “street food” that Sister Larraine would let us eat!
Steve reflects on his lucky choice of dental school, while Gustavo continues to teach him real pick-ax technique.
Rosemary and Greg take a break in the back alley—and point out the challenging 40+ degree land grade.
Our supervisor Mario the Elder with his work crew. He has plenty to teach us about Honduran construction methods.
Regino seems to believe that Sister Larraine needs a little instruction in her technique.
Maria Victoria leads the bucket brigade…all materials are offloaded in the street, and must be moved immediately so that they will not be “borrowed”.
Everyone agrees…Maria Victoria needs to put a little less sand in those buckets!
Wrapped against the unseasonable chill of 68 degrees (!), Maria Victoria beams with pride in her ability to set a challenging pace.
Jose, age 14, is unfazed by 85 lbs of cement, and the steep steps ahead.
It seems that all Hondurans learn cement mixing at an early age.
Mario teaches Bill how to make the wire frames that will be part of the cement columns. He estimates “oh, about 900 or so” should be made.
TJ and his “marine tough” work crew mixed and hauled cement, bucket by bucket.
One week later, Mario surveys his work with pride.
A community goal: safe and reliable sources of drinking water. This week: The Living Water Project Ten women are chosen by lottery to become the first water ministry team, receiving water purification systems to install in their homes. They attend a morning of training, and then sign contracts to maintain the systems, use the water appropriately and share it with their neighbors. In the afternoon, they return to decorate, assemble and dedicate their systems.
Mirella and her mom were very creatively motivated. The bucket decorations included prayers of gratitude, blessings, and pictures of a beautiful world.
Cherisse and Maritza apply a little woman power to the assembly process.
This dad got in on the action…but he preferred to let his son do the decorating.
Water systems were placed in homes with children under 5 years of age—the most vulnerable to death from contaminated water. These two infants are the youngest in the program.
Each mom had her picture taken with her children, contract, and new water system.
Nine moms, one dad-substitute, ten buckets, ten systems…and a few of the many children who will grow in a home with safe water!
A few days later, Arnie and Suyapa review her system. She has already produced water for her family, and two neighbor households.
A community goal: Ministry for women and children, especially in households that are headed by mothers. This week: Crafts for Women and Kids
The “sisters’ circle” tackles their first project: an altar cloth for Lent. With a little instruction, the women had this cloth ready in 3 days…in time for Ash Wednesday service.
Scraps of ribbon found new purpose in weaving projects. Lilian (top, one of the community leaders) said, “It’s so good to have something to do besides clean and cook and wash clothes. We get so bored…we have nothing beautiful to do.” These projects got the women started in organizing a women’s ministry group, with the help of Sister Cristine.
Throughout the week, Joanne stayed busy with the children, teaching 4 or 5 crafts each day. The moms were always happy to join in. This group was waiting for dental care.
Joanne, the pied piper of pipe cleaners, can teach a class anywhere!
“ Yes, I am a princess!” It never ceases to amaze us, how children who play in dirt streets come clean and pressed, day after day. All laundry is done by hand—a significant part of every mom’s day is taken up with washing clothes and kids. Clothes are bought second hand in the market, having been imported from the US in bales from Goodwill stores.
This giant chain with everyone’s name generated a lot of excitement.
Bill discovered new capacities for beadwork and construction paper.
A community goal : access to affordable dental care for children. This week: a three day children’s dental clinic.
Nearly 80 children were registered for the clinic, which offered cleanings and extractions.
Mary Ann, Steve and Arnie have several years of mobile dental experience. Few people realize that a shop-vac can be converted to become a dental suction machine!
Paul never anticipated becoming a flouride specialist!
Cherisse never anticipated becoming a miming dental educator!
Rosemary goes beyond translating, as Steve’s new dental assistant.
Mary Ann put in long hours as the sterilization technician.
A community goal : affordable eyeglasses This Week: A 2 day eyeglass clinic : readers, sunglasses, and distance prescription.
Dental patients to the left, eyeglass patients to the right.
Brandy, who is in Honduras for several months of mission work, helped us out with her new Spanish skills.
Kentucky and Honduras… a good combination! Our Divine Mercy community hopes that we will continue to be interested in their goals and dreams. These include continued construction of the pastoral house and a convent, expanding the water systems ministry, supporting the women’s group with craft supplies, offering yearly dental and eye clinics… And one last goal…to help parents get and keep their kids in school…
A community goal: support for education of children in vulnerable families In Honduras, “free” public education costs about $100 a year in supplies, uniforms and fees. If parents can’t pay, then kids can’t attend school. Public elementary education consists of 6 school years-- four hours of instruction a day--in large crowded classes that are taught by teachers who teach two daily shifts… if kids can’t keep up in this environment, they drop out.
In the Fuerzas Unidas neighborhood, $100 is a huge amount of money—beyond the ability of many families. Those who do manage to finance their children’s education must sacrifice from other important needs, such as health care. This week and beyond: the Divine Mercy chapter of “Becas con Bendiciones” ( Scholarships with Blessings )—a church-based program that helps congregations support the education of their most vulnerable kids through scholarships. Our special challenge: a pilot project afterschool program of three hours a day, to provide tutoring and special activities. The yearly cost per child: $150 will provide for a year’s education and afterschool tutoring. The following slides introduce you to the first children in the program, who are hoping for scholarships. Please let Sister Larraine know if you are able to sponsor a child.
Regino, now aged 9, has worked since he was 5 to help support his younger siblings, his mom and himself. Here he is at age 7, delivering recyclables that he has picked up in one of the many dump sites that stand in his neighborhood. He also sells water in the downtown streets, and does odd jobs for storekeepers. Regino carries a world on his shoulder that we cannot begin to imagine. Because of the new scholarship program, Regino and his little brother Cesar are now beginning school for the first time. Lilian and Sister Cristina have made a special place for Regino and Cesar in the new afterschool program. They will receive private instruction until they are ready to attend school.
Dunia, Luis Daniel, Eric, Diana and Edwin, Giovany, Kelson, Oded and Denise… The families of all of these children are struggling to keep them in school, and they are in need of additional tutoring to help them make the most of their education. Please let Sister Larraine know if you are able to sponsor a child.
We hope these photos have helped you to see Honduras as we learned to see it…through the eyes of our brothers and sisters of Divine Mercy Community. Our next Honduras Mission is scheduled for August 15-21, 2009. Please think and pray about how you can be a part of the mission!