In January 2023, a team from the Bloomfield area returned to El Negrito and Subirana, Honduras. Clayton Eakins led this team of eight. Clayton, Marisela Sanchez, Mary Jo Johnson, Donna Olinger, and Linda Rowe were returning, and for the other three, it was their inaugural trip. The additional members were Clayton’s wife, Rhonda, Vince Tyson, and Rosalee Russell. The joy of the journey began the moment the van pulled up to the Honduran church when the children and adults came out of the woodwork to greet the team with big hugs. Their relationship has been built over eight years, and those who return have watched the young ones grow up.
The team never knows what projects they will do, but there is always something. This year, a wall was constructed around the Sunday School area, then tables, shelves, and benches were built.
Several of the young boys enjoyed getting to help and use some of Clayton’s tools by building a small handicap ramp in front of the church.
Meanwhile, the ladies were doing a craft session in the morning and a Vacation Bible School-like session in the afternoon. The young ones especially enjoyed making things with beads. The VBS theme was Superheroes of the Bible, and stories were about David, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, Daniel and the lion’s den, and Queen Esther. They enjoyed acting out the stories.
Frisbees were brought and introduced to them along with other games. They also enjoyed putting puzzles together. Donna Olinger, who is a pastor, was asked to preach at one of their services. Vince Tyson provided a wi-fi subscription to the church. Donations from Bloomfield, including the Amish community, included money for supplies, 100 t-shirts with the church’s name on them, sunglasses, and lots of donated clothing. Linda took some vegetable seeds for those who could use them, to be distributed by a local woman who knows the people. Donna also continued the “Restore the Flock” project of giving 10-20 chicks to deserving families.
With the help and support from Bloomfield, the church does a feeding program two mornings a week. Local people bring containers to be filled, and they can take them back home for their families.
Rosalee Russell met a teacher who teaches in the mountains and has 24 students. She found out she could help them by buying school supplies.
On the last day of the first week, Marisela had the idea to get a cake to serve the children before they left. Many ate a bit of the cake and then saved the rest to take home to other family members!
The group stays at the same local hotel where they know the family and are treated very well. They are served local foods like tortillas, beans, rice, chicken, fried plantains, and wonderful fresh fruit and juices.
One night they make homemade pizza, which is wonderful, and sometimes attempt other more American foods. Four members went home after the first week, and the four that remained went to Subirana, a small town up in the mountains. It was coffee country, and their hostess owned a large coffee plantation. They went to see her place in the country and then toured the coop, where several farmers brought their coffee to be dried and processed into some of the best coffee in the world. Some taste-tested it fresh, and most took some back home with them.
They learned there is a lot of labor that goes into your coffee. They also attended church services there and distributed more chicks to needy families.
Then it was back to El Negrito where they finished more projects and worked with the children.
All team members agree they are treated like family and get back more than they give. These people are poor in material possessions but rich in love, family, church, and community relationships. They are more appreciative of what is done for them than most people in the United States.
“We really appreciate the support in Bloomfield, all the money, clothes, and supplies that are given, but we are the ones who get to go and enjoy all the fun and love they have to give us,” said the team members.