Introduction and History
In the spring of 1999, a group of 13 persons, largely Ohio Valley College students, went on a mission trip to Honduras. The group, which I led, included a registered nurse, was composed of several students with reasonable although limited Spanish skills, and one student who speaks fluent Spanish. The last of the group signed on just as Hurricane Mitch wreaked devastation in much of Honduras at the end of October, 1998. Until the hurricane, the group did not know with certainty what direction God would design for the work in Honduras, only that here was a group of Christians willing to go. Each student raised funds for travel and personal expenses, the Grand Central congregation in Vienna, WV helped with the funds for several students, and Dr. Terry Capel helped with the vaccinations which were needed for going into the country after the hurricane.
Identifying the Needs
With the help of a missionary family in Catacamas, Honduras, two major activities were arranged. One activity involved Predisan and the local clinic where medicines donated after the hurricane were sorted by the nurse and relabeled in Spanish with the help of a translator. General maintenance, painting, and upkeep were also done to keep the clinic in repair after a period of intense use.
The second activity involved helping the church in Santa Maria del Real, a small village about 8 kilometers from Catacamas, in the preliminary stages of construction of a new church building. Their old building was suffering from the huge amounts of water in the hurricane and from the aftermath ground water which was eking into the mud walls. In addition, the church had so effectively reached out evangelistically after the hurricane that they were in need of a new facility since their current building was filled to overflowing. The preacher was worked diligently with several new congregations in the surrounding area, in total helping with the work in six or seven small surrounding congregations in the mountains.
To make this second activity possible, the group raised extra money to help with construction materials, and the Grand Central church voluntarily contributed to provide help. About $800 was available and used to assist with the construction materials costs.
Santa Maria del Real
The group that went to Santa Maria del Real in the spring of 1999 was the first North American group that had visited that church. Individuals had visited, but no group had made Santa Maria del Real their primary work during a missions trip. The preacher for the church is Rocendo Antunez (Chendo).
On Sunday after we arrived on Saturday, we worshiped with the church in Santa Maria del Real, and were very warmly received. It was our first opportunity to see the work site and the project before us. That evening, we shared a gringo worship with some of the Americans working in the Catacamas area. During the week, between the works in which we were involved, we visited the orphanages in the area, surveyed the continuing evidence of the devastation of Hurricane Mitch, and had a chance to visit various other missions efforts in that area.
As a result of the initial work of the Ohio Valley College group, along with help from the Christians in Santa Maria del Real and some area Christians, much of the initial work on the building was completed during the spring break trip. The foundations were already dug upon our arrival and supplies had been purchased with money sent ahead of time. Rebar was available and the church members had made hundreds of concrete blocks by mixing cement and filling forms for the blocks. During the week, the foundations were poured and blocks laid. By the time the group left, approximately half of the block had been laid.
The Continuing Need
As of early 2001, the church building in Santa Maria del Real is still unfinished although it is being used by the local congregation. Over the past eighteen months, the church has continued to progress. Photographs sent by Chendo (the preacher) verify that progress. The walls are in place, the blocks for the stage laid, and the basic interior usable. Iron framework is in place for the roof, but the roofing has not been purchased. The last pictures I saw had tarps in place to protect from the sun and to make the facility usable. The tarps are not as workable during the rainy season. The church still needs the roofing materials, and would like to finish the floor and add some other finishing items.
The total American contribution to this building at present is something less than $2000. With the original group we raised and took about $800. An additional $750+ was provided toward the construction in May, 2000. I took this money to Honduras personally and delivered it to the church, along with some support for the preacher and his expenses in facilitating the construction, in attending the Baxter Seminar, and multiple trips to Tegucigalpa for the church. Pictures of the building were also updated.
The building can be completely finished for about another $2000 US as long as we act before the inflation in Honduras continues to raise the price. I would like to bring this project to completion as soon as possible so we can avoid the "tower complex," having started but not being able to finish.
If you are interested in this task, I solicit your prayers and final support to complete the task we have begun. Please contact me, and I will put you in touch with Grand Central church which assists with this work. I will be returning to Honduras in May, 2001 and hope to facilitate the effective completion of this work.