25 March 2019
Hello friends. After a long and delightful visit in Alliance Ohio, I am back in Honduras for a short time, I was blessed by the opportunity to worship with you all in Alliance, to renew many old friendships and to make some new ones. As always, I am “at home” when I am at Alliance Friends! I was able to see and experience snow and cold for the first time in 20 years, and this winter was definitely long on both! It was a real shocker coming back to Honduras last week - 28º when I left Homeworth and 95º when I arrived in San Pedro Sula. The weather here has been gorgeous, as is usual here in February and March - highs in the 80s, lows in the upper 50s, clear skies almost every day, UV factors of 13 to 15. So I have renewed my tan in short order. I will be returning to Alliance tomorrow to continue with the process of cleaning out my house in Homeworth and selling the house, and am looking forward to having more time to visit and chat with you all there.
We have begun the school year here in Honduras – it runs from early February until November here, and we begin our full teaching and feeding schedule beginning the first of March, after the student populations have stabilized. This year, we are teaching in a total of 32 projects, and will be teaching about 2900 students each week, based on the enrollment figures we have in hand.. 25 of the 32 are projects in kindergartens (about 1800 students), 7 reach a broader age group, up to mid-teens (about 1000 students). We are feeding the children in a total of 22 projects. Five of the projects are new this year, and we have also begun feeding in several projects where we previously have taught but had not been feeding the children. We now have 5 teachers who teach with us in the kindergarten and Saturday projects: Waleska Garcia, Vanessa Lopez, Ester Lara, Denis Ramirez and Yenci Campos (new this year). In the projects we do at Alvaro Contreras ( the local high school), we have 12 volunteer teachers from various local churches, and are now teaching both the 7-9th grades that we have previously taught (27 sections), and the 10-12th grades (12 sections), new group this year. The changes we have seen in the behavior of the students in the short time we have been teaching there have been amazing, and visible to the administration and teaching staff as well. Many of the teachers at Alvaro who were very resistant to our presence on the campus at first (and resistant to the Gospel as well) now are welcoming us and are opening up their hearts to our Lord Jesus Christ.
While our main focus continues to be in Santa Rosa where we live, we also have teaching projects in a number of nearby towns - Dulce Nombre (4 projects), El Pinal, Dolores (2 projects), El Pinalito, San Juan de Opoa, Trincheras, Los Naranjos, Agua Escondida and Yarushín. With the new projects, expanded feeding in former projects and a new teacher this year (plus the always present effects of inflation) our monthly budget is expected to be about $2700 per month, with about 60 % going directly to buy food for the feeding projects, the other 40% goes to pay our 5 teachers, pay transportation costs to get to the projects, and teaching materials. The only costs associated with the 2 projects in Alvaro Contreras are materials for teaching – in these two projects we do not pay any teachers or transportation costs, and there is no feeding done at these two projects.
Our children are well into the swing of the new school year. John is in 3rd grade this year, Allison in 5th, Elias is in 8th and Samuel in 9th. Samuel and Elias continue at Alvaro Contreras this year. Both Allison and John moved to a different, public school when the Christian school where they were registered decided to close for lack of students 4 days before the start of the school year. It was "panic time" for us, finding a school that would accept them both at that late date, but God is faithful and they have both adapted well to the change, new environment, new friends and new teachers.
Odilia continues with the healing and recovery process after her illness and surgery last year. Her doctor has told her that full recovery often takes a year or more, so she is doing well. She does get tired more easily and has some pain, but generally, that does not seem to have slowed her down a bit. She has been pretty tired out during my absence, since many of the things I normally do, she now must cover while I am in the US. This weighs on her. In addition to managing the household, helping the children with their homework and all of the project supervision and teaching that she does, Odilia manages to be involved with the parent groups for ALL of the children, sometimes as president, vice-president or treasurere. She is amazing and can successfully juggle all of these activities.
I've spent my time here trying to catch up on all that has not been done in my absence and take care of the preparations for the coming months when I will be in the States again - both to cover project activity as well as the household, and the time has flown by. I will be coming to Ohio tomorrow, the 26th and ask you all for your continued prayer for Odilia and I, in our lives and ministry, for our family, for our teachers, for all of our activities. We know full well that you are the basis for our ministry here - we run on your prayer, and as a result, God is blessing this ministry and growing it year by year. We can't give an exact count of how many children have come to Christ through our ministry, but it is certainly in the thousands, and grows each year as we continue to minister as the Lord leads. We are grateful to you all, for your prayers and your financial support, which makes feeding the children and teaching them possible. We love you, and I will see you soon!