Each year in January, Clayton Eakins of Bloomfield, Iowa, organizes a Volunteers in Mission trip out of Davis County, to Honduras.
This is the fifth time he has brought a group to these areas, and this year he was joined by Steve Davidson, Penny Warren, Pastor Donna Olinger and Linda Rowe. They worked primarily in the El Negrito and Subirana areas.
Eakins likes to go back to the same place as they keep adding on to their projects and especially because of the deeper relationships formed with the people there.
None of the team members are fluent in Spanish and rely on a translator while they are in Honduras, but the relationships they build with the people transcend the language barrier.
“There were always kids waiting for us to get to the church by 8:15-8:30 in the morning,” said Penny Warren, a first-timer on the Volunteers in Mission trip. “I didn’t realize I would become so attached to the people. They are so warm and welcoming.”
The church construction project in El Negrito has been one of the many ongoing projects. The first year, worship was held under a makeshift structure. Since then a permanent church building with electricity and running water has been built. The past two years the team has helped them to build a security fence around the property which will be finished next year. A Vacation Bible School style program was also done with singing, stories, crafts and games for the children.
Three years ago, Olinger started a Restock the Flock program after the Avian Flu had wiped out chickens in the area. This project has continued to grow and this year 2750 chickens were distributed to needy families. Each family received between 10 and 15 chicks.
Linda Rowe also has distributed vegetable seeds donated by HOPE Seeds to the needy families.
Added this year was a meal packaging program to feed local children at an after-school meal. The group packaged more than 970 meals, which each feed about four people. These meals are already being used in the area. A gas stove has been purchased to aid in fixing meals for the children. The team also purchased sewing machines and the ladies there now have a weekly sewing club.
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“They have so little,” Olinger said. “If their babies have a fever, they have nothing to give them.” She is a nurse, and brought some over the counter medicines with her this year.
They attended church about five times a week. “It seems they are always having church,” Rowe said.
The Honduran church dedicated the last worship service together ‘the missionaries’, with many songs, dances, readings, and gift-giving.
“After the service there were a lot of tears shed by both parties, the Hondurans and the Americans in saying goodbye for another year,” Rowe said.