Honduras mission trip is set to begin

Published 9:01 am Thursday, October 30, 2008

Work projects at an orphanage in Honduras are the focus of a foreign mission trip sponsored by Albert Lea’s First Baptist Church. A group of nine local people will leave early Saturday on the long journey by air and road to Azacualpa, Honduras, a small farming community whose orphanage needs some work.

It is the first foreign mission trip for the church since 2004, when several church members traveled to work on projects in Nicaragua. Rev. Clayton Balsley said it is always a joy to share the love of Christ in foreign countries.

“We feel called to reach out to our neighbors all over the world,” Balsley said.

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He will lead the trip to Honduras in coordination with the Rev. Dagoberto Zelaya, a native Honduran who works as the Hispanic minister at a Baptist church in Marshalltown, Iowa. Zelaya will join the Albert Lea group in Honduras after driving down there from Iowa.

The mission group will live at the orphanage for the duration of their weeklong stay, returning home on Nov. 8. Plans call for the group to work on four projects during the trip. Foundations will be laid for water tanks, a closet will be installed, cabinets moved and an old house will be torn down so the pieces can be used for salvage. The privately owned orphanage in Azacualpa comprises three separate houses on one site. About $900 will be spent in Honduras on building materials for the projects. These funds and most of the cost of airfare were raised by church members, through contributions and fundraisers.

Work projects will be done in the morning, and a youth program featuring craftmaking and Bible lessons will begin in mid-afternoon. The youth program is very flexible, said Balsley.

“We want the kids to have fun, so we’ll do things they like to do.”

Forty to 50 kids will be involved in the activities. Community service gatherings will be held in the evenings.

The local group going to Honduras comprise five men and four women — one a student at Albert Lea High School. One member of the group was a longtime resident of Central America.

Jonathon Green grew up here and graduated from Lea College in 1972. Green worked as an elementary school teacher in the former Panama Canal Zone for 20 years, as part of a Department of Defense program designed to educate the children of U.S. embassy employees. He returned to Albert Lea in 1992 to care for his mother, then spent six years working as a substitute teacher at area schools. This is Green’s fourth mission trip, having previously worked in Peru, Nicaragua and Jamaica.

Balsley said he believes the area in Honduras where the group will be working is more prosperous than the area of Nicaragua he previously visited.

“The people we met in Nicaragua were terribly poor. They had nothing. If a house had a roof made of black plastic, that was considered a luxury,” Balsley said. “This will be better than that.”