By Jennifer HarrisWord&Way News Writer
A week in the mountains next to a beautiful waterfall may sound like a welcome retreat, but for the five women representing Memorial Baptist Church, Jefferson City, who recently traveled to Honduras, the trip was part of a three-year commitment to sponsor the village of Pane (pronounced PIE-uh-knees).
The women carried supplies for the village, including medicine and clothing, and brought funds to purchase building material for latrines and hygiene items for the villagers.
Memorial is partnering with local missionaries Osmany and Jennifer Hernandez, who live in the city of Siguatepeque, 10 miles from Pane. During their stay, the group assisted Jennifer in teaching a hygiene class to the women of the village.
Approximately 45 women came for demonstrations on brushing their teeth and washing their hair, and to learn about hand washing, parasites, lice, sanitation and latrines. Another day, the women were taught to wash fruits and vegetables and how to gather and clean seeds for planting. The women were given shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, combs and a brush for their families.
Although the villagers wore their best clothes for the team’s visit, Dana Vogel, a member of Memorial, was struck by the poverty. “Many of them were very dirty and their clothes soiled,” she said. “It was sad to see firsthand…There is so much need, it is hard to know where to start.”
Memorial was able to provide funds for seven latrines in the village. Men had prepared the area for most of them ahead of time, and the women of the village carried the loads of wood up the mountainside.
“They are cautious because lots of groups have come, but no one has stayed long enough to truly help them,” Vogel said. “We have a real chance to show the tangible love of God to these people.”
In addition to assisting with the class and helping with latrines, the team also worked with the children in Bible camps. They taught the children Bible stories, played games, made crafts and had snacks. One day over 150 children showed up, requiring the team to divide the two crafts they had planned between the older and younger children.
“We got a little bit worried when it came to snack time,” Vogel said. “We ran out of Kool-Aid, but had enough of our sodas left over from lunch. It was just enough. We said it was a modern-day version of the story of the loaves and fishes — which, incidentally, was our lesson for the day.”
Overall, Vogel thought it was a good trip. On the last day of the hygiene class, she commented that the women seemed cleaner and happier. “There seemed to be a small spark of life in eyes that once seemed dead and joyless,” she said. “That was a wonderful feeling for all of us. There were smiles and laughter where we had not seen it before.”
She reflected on Jesus’ words, “Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.” “It is so here in Honduras,” Vogel said. “We all felt honored that God would use us as common women in this way…We are grateful that God has provided each of us the opportunity to help with such a purpose and such a cause.”
Memorial has another trip planned for Nov. 10-17. Vogel’s husband Gary will be leading the trip.