Our Northlake Honduras Team, Chad Caldwell, Doris Clark, Leslie Reed, Megan Reed, and Jim Wagner, was met at the airport by Tony, one of Predisan’s drivers. We loaded up in the Land Cruiser and began our journey to Catacamas by climbing out of the crowded bowl of city housing, through the surrounding hills plastered with slums, and onto the winding road that leads through the mountains and valleys until we arrived safely four hours later in Catacamas, home base for Mission Predisan.
Missionary Kyle Huhtanen with little three year old Mia met us for dinner and began our orientation process. Early the next morning we joined the staff at the Good Samaritan Clinic for their morning devotional in the Dayspring Chapel and then observed the clinical staff in action. By late morning we were repacked into the Land Cruiser and headed over graveled, winding roads to CECECO, the rural dormitory and training center also affectionately called Charlie’s Inn (named in honor of Charlie Walton.) I discovered we had new mattresses, so camping out was in higher style and included solar electricity!
We spent most of 4 days in the village of El Cacao, a 45 minute adventure drive with many expansive mountain top views and opportunities to need 4 wheel drive. The travel time was not wasted each day as our new teammates– health promoter Alvaro, chaplain Juan, nurse Angela, driver Gil, and translator Teresa –all loved to sing as much as we did! The exchange in songs in English and Spanish and valiant attempts in conversation kept us all occupied as we traveled. El Cacao is a village of 37 families living in houses scattered on hillsides and in valley ravines.
The community is served by Predisan’s health care system and community development programs. They received us warmly in the town meeting held at the school and thanked us over and over for being the first group of North Americans to visit their community. They spoke of our sacrifice to get there. Later after we had walked up and down hills for 30 minutes in a rain storm to a family’s home, we understood their sacrifice to come to town meetings, go to church, and especially for the children to attend school.
Our contributions included having provided the funds to purchase the cement and hardware supplies to construct 9 improved latrines that are being built in homes and at the school. We shared in some of the labor by learning to mix cement, make cement blocks, form rebar netting to reinforce the cement floor slab, as well as carrying cement blocks to the skilled workers. I can’t say we built latrines, but we learned the process, enjoyed the friendship exchange as we were the good natured entertainment for those who knew what they were doing.
This village school has 43 students, first to sixth grade. With Alvaro at the lead, prayer began our activities, Juan shared a message from the Bible, and our team contributed special songs, different Bible stories acted out in drama, and fun activities with the children to reinforce the messages of blessing that comes when we obey God, love one another, and learn to forgive one another. In addition, we participated in the Health Package for the students — measuring height and weight, giving parasite medicine and vitamins, demonstrating personal hygiene care– while the nurse was doing the physical check-ups on the kids. We were pleased to find no one had head lice and only one student was not in normal height and weight range.
Sunday was a change of pace as we were back in Catacamas and participated with the patients and staff at CEREPA in their morning devotional. Later we joined them in a team building experience on the new “ropes course.” Working with people who speak two different languages was a challenge but we found that given the right motivation and support we can accomplish things together that we cannot do on our own. The fun activity quickly bonded us in new ways, and we could see how this will be a useful spiritual tool for staff, clients, and community groups in the future.
Finally we got to witness the special program to honor outgoing executive director Martha Rivera for her 15 years of service with Predisan. She passed on the symbolic Predisan Key to Dra. Amanda Madrid who is chosen by the Board of Directors to lead the Predisan ministry into future years. The staff and invited guests bestowed appreciation on each of them and glorified God through special songs and prayers.
For more details and stories about our mission trip talk to Jim, Chad, Leslie, Megan or Doris!