By Drew Sheppard
For 16 years, service teams including members of Worthington Presbyterian Church have traveled to Honduras to give their time and talent to the community of Montaña de Luz – a home and school for children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. I was lucky enough to go this year and share the trip with family: my daughter Lucy and nephew Alex. They both had just graduated from Worthington Kilbourne High School.
Our mission budget was able to offer scholarships that helped four of the mission travelers this year. In our service team of 10, we had five young adults, so the scholarships helped. I’m certain, also, that the scholarships will help in the future, too, as we are nurturing the next generation of givers.
Many of you, as well as the trip participants, were able to gather and donate items from a wish list so that we could deliver the goods in person. They included everyday household necessities including clothes and toiletries.
Our particular service project was working on the home for older boys down the mountain from Montaña de Luz (“Mountain of Light” in Spanish). We spent time working to create an outdoor kitchen, which is a standard way to prepare meals, especially if wood is used as the heat source. We were able to enjoy the benefit of an existing outdoor kitchen when a previous Montaña de Luz employee opened her home and hosted our service team for a traditional Honduran dinner.
Our church mission budget provides $7,500 of direct support to Montaña de Luz. This helps the children, as well as the staff, all of whom are part of the local community. Our activities with the children ranged from playing cards (they love Uno!) to a bible study, from yoga to making sweet treats in the kitchen, and from making bookmarks to the obligatory soccer. All these activities let us give them both time and attention – as well as receive the energy, smiles, hugs and connections they shared with us.
Due to overlapping schedules, two former long-term volunteers were there at their own expense to give additional time to visit and reconnect with the children. We got to see how excited the children were to spend time with those volunteers and see a bit of the long-term legacy they created with their time at the orphanage.
Because of the generosity of Worthington Presbyterian Church, the children, staff, volunteers and mission trip participants are all being positively affected. I am very proud of the way we make a small community in a distant impoverished nation better with our effort and financial support.
I am also proud to say that my daughter Lucy is planning to head back down to Montaña de Luz for an extended volunteer project in 2018, based on her experience from our trip. This is a perfect example of how our generosity as a church has a ripple effect.