Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Beacon of Light

You know, those filled backpacks don’t distribute themselves! And that’s why a team from Lighthouse Church in Maryland is on the ground and hard at work in Western Honduras.

When setting up a sister church partnership, Allen and Russell spend a lot of time finding the right Honduran location to match the North American church. They factor in the current size of the church, as well as the potential for growth. Lighthouse Church is currently Sowers4Pastors’ biggest sister church. They are so large that, instead of working with a single Honduran church, they are working with multiple pastors, helping all of the children in nine separate schools! Every child in each school is in the sponsorship program. As more and more people at Lighthouse Church want to sponsor children, the program on the ground in Honduras can grow right along with them.

The first year of Lighthouse’s partnership, students from Kindergarten through 4th grade were registered. There was no need to register 5th and 6th graders because, generally, almost all of those children drop out of school at around that time. Now, because of the backpacks filled with school supplies, the student retention rate has increased. Each year, more sponsors must be found as more kindergartener start school and more children are continuing their education through 6th grade and beyond. Trish speculated that there will be a point where the growth will stabilize, but they don’t know when that will happen. For now, there is still a growth pattern. Allen and Russell recognized that Lighthouse is experiencing a time of explosive growth and they chose a location where more schools can be added to the program.

Just to give some frame of reference, the smallest sister church has 98 sponsored children. Lighthouse is the largest sponsoring sister church with a whopping 597 children. If you, like me, are astounded that one community has so many school-age children, Trish explained that the Lighthouse program is actually working with a cluster of communities within a larger area.

As we’re passing out the backpacks during this time of year, the schools are just starting a new school year (the Honduran school year runs, typically, from Feb 15th through Nov 15th). When teams come during the summer months, schools are in session. Team members are able to do a VBS type program in the schools. They schedule time for team members to play with the children and to even visit the children’s homes. Team members are often surprised when that means trekking up and down several mountains and fording a creek, frequently for 3 miles or more each way!

Teams arriving during this time of year are working the entire time at backpack distribution. Many of the backpacks are designated for a specific child and the logistics of that must be worked out. The teams also fit children for their new school shoes. There is a ton of work to be done and not a lot of time to play. Both types of teams are important, but it is something to consider if you are planning a short-term mission trip with Sowers4Pastors.

This team from Lighthouse shook things up a bit. Teams usually have a day or two of fun at the end of their trip. This team opted to take their leisure time in the beginning. They flew into Roatan and the Sowers family (excluding Trish) took the ferry to meet them. They all enjoyed having some time on the beach and scuba diving. Normally, the teams stay closer to the area surrounding Gracias, for the touristy part of their visit.

Let’s hope they can remember their downtime because Trish said they are all business now. The team heads out at 6:00 each day and comes home looking dirty and tired, but full of joy, each evening. There are a lot of kids in the program and they are determined they will complete the task before them.

Three more teams from Lighthouse are scheduled to come in the summer. Two of them will be doing VBS programs in the schools, and the third will be working on some construction projects. Lighthouse Church is assuredly sharing the Light with the people of Western Honduras.

 - posted by Christi

1 comment:

SchrefflerFamily said...

It gives me an idea of how rural the area is that they had to work with so many communities to get to 600 K-4th graders (ish). Our elementary school has 800 students K-5th -- with a feeder pattern of two neighborhoods and a couple apartment complexes