God is at work in Honduras. Our continuing participation in mission trips to Quimistan is allowing us to experience the fruits of seeds of faith planted there over the past several years.
For the last several years the Honduras Agape Foundation (formerly named South Carolina Project Agape Foundation) has provided an opportunity for contributors to participate in a mission effort in the Quimistan Valley of Honduras. The initiative began following devastation in that country caused by Hurricane Mitch in 1989. Initial efforts helped to restore and build homes for families made homeless, as well as building such things as school class rooms and medical facilities. The funds provided by mission supporters, and the mission trips by those who have been able and willing to go, have helped people in the region to regain a sense of hope for a better future.
The January trip served as a milestone for the effort. In November the first four Agape Promises students graduated from high school. The financial sponsors for each of the four were in the mission team, and at a recognition ceremony they presented a bilingual Bible to each new graduate. This was a significant milestone for the culture in which many families can’t afford the cost of schooling beyond elementary school, and many see no reason for girls to go beyond elementary school. Two of our graduates were boys, and two were girls.
Another gratifying development was to see how the children in the AP and Compassion programs are being led spiritually by leaders in the church and school we’re affiliated with in Quimistan. A few years ago the mission teams from the U.S. initiated fluoridation treatments for improved dental health, and anti-parasitic (deworming) treatments for improved general health. Last fall, the leaders there took a group of students for a “long walk” to a neighboring community to provide the treatments to another group of students. That is now part of their own mission effort.
In an effort to be more overt in our evangelistic outreach, the Foundation proposed that the Agape Church sponsor a two-day Vacation Bible School in January. They agreed. We ordered materials to be sent to them, and plans were made. But the materials didn’t arrive in time. So in the last few days before the VBS was to begin, local leaders in the church put together their own materials and made it happen. The VBS teachers were the teenage AP students, typically 11th and 12th graders. One group had VBS in the Agape Church, but three others went out to small schools in the hills around Quimistan Valley, where whole families showed up for the training. The teenagers did a terrific job! It was one of the highlights of the mission trip to see that these kids are now reaching out to the younger children, teaching them about Jesus and the love of God.
The January team once again performed eye testing and eyeglass fitting to more than 250 people from Quimistan and surrounding communities. Many of the adults needed reading glasses, and sunglasses were popular especially with the children who didn’t need corrective lenses. Even in January, the Honduras sun is bright! If you’ve wondered what the Lions Clubs do with those eyeglasses you may have discarded into the collection box, you can rest assured that those are donated to such worthy efforts as this.
As a new effort to encourage hope for a better future, the Foundation has now offered a 50/50 financial matching opportunity for funding higher education in the Quimistan Valley. Local leaders believe they can raise funds and identify by April at least the first candidate. The student must be from a poor family and must be recognized by the local community as a student who has potential to be a future leader the community can be proud of. Local citizens will make the selection and review it with a committee of the Foundation. The student will be designated a Quimistan Valley Scholar. So the potential here is great. We’re hopeful the growing pains will be overcome quickly so that every student will see a chance to be more than ever hoped for.