Empty Tortillas

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Larry and Angie Overholt

In WGM Compassion‘s blog post, it states the dire need of the people in a community of Honduras for food, water, shelter, and God’s love. Read on for a story of how God used His people to give to those in need and what you can do to help the cause.

Larry Overholt and his wife, Angie, have been involved in various aspects of community development in Honduras since 1982. In this post, Larry highlights the challenges found navigating between relief and development, and the Overholts process some of these hard and challenging issues. What have been your challenges as you walk this fine line between relief, rehabilitation, and development?

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Photo Credit: Larry and Angie Overholt

“Our church has been helping build a new house for Francisco and Yolanda in one of the communities where the Shalom Church has been developing a church plant. A Hispanic church in the States had donated funds to help with construction materials. Church members from our Shalom Church in the city of Choluteca, Honduras were supervising the construction and local workers from the community were volunteering to help with the labor needed to build the house. With everyone working together, it would take about two and a half weeks to build a small secure cement block house.

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Francisco and Yolanda standing next to their house under construction. (Photo Credit: Larry and Angie Overholt)

“Francisco and Yolanda were selected by community leaders as the most economically needy people in the area. Their old adobe house had deteriorated over the years and the rainy season was about to arrive. With a leaky roof and broken down walls in the house, the couple did not look forward to enduring another rainy season.

“Francisco is older and has chronic health problems. He is no longer able to work in the fields or go fishing along the coast like most of his neighbors do for a living. He and Yolanda have a few garden plants planted around their yard but it was not enough to sustain them.

“One of the guys working on the house construction said, ‘Yolanda and Francisco have been eating empty tortillas.’”

To read the rest of this great story and learn how Francisco and Yolanda were supported, check out the WGM Compassion blog at wgmcompassion.wordpress.com.

To donate to the cause of building more homes, visit www.wgm.org/community-development.

 

What Went Right?

Larry and Angie Overholt are missionaries serving in Honduras by helping with the Choluteca Vocational School, the Community Health House Project, and other ministries like the medical brigade. Even as two missionaries who have experience on the field, they are still finding things that God can teach them about, like new methods of effective health and wellness, home building, and community building techniques. Read on to learn about the things God is doing in Choluteca, Honduras, and click on the Overholts’ name above to read the entire blog post.

Larry and Angie Overholt

Larry and Angie Overholt

“In our learning experiences as adults, we still take everyday tests of our accumulated knowledge and our application of that knowledge. The tests come in very different forms than we are used to taking in the formal classroom. The tests that we take in everyday life are actually much more effective in helping us learn. We learn to combine our classroom learning with experiential learning. Our life tests actually help us form, reform and transform our worldview which includes our belief systems, our values, and our perspectives on life. Transformative learning takes place when we go through the ‘process of examining, questioning, and revising’ (Taylor & Cranton, 2012) our perceptions of our own experiences.

“Some of our greatest learning opportunities take place when we go back and reflect on the mistakes others have made, as well as our own mistakes. We can also learn from what we ourselves and others do well. We learn from failures and successes. Hopefully, in the end, our experience will create purposeful learning, as well as, good teaching opportunities.

“The negative experiences in life tend to draw most of the attention. We only need to take a look at today’s news articles to confirm that emphasis is placed on the negative news events. Relatively little television prime time or newspaper front page space are dedicated to reporting the good news or in suggesting how we can improve on a bad situation.

“As lifelong learners, we need to be open to new ways to broaden our experiences. The Ohio State University, Cedarville University, and other universities offer study abroad programs to southern Honduras. Study abroad for university students is often under-appreciated, but it can be a valuable opportunity for students to learn outside the formal classroom. Learning does not come without risks, especially when traveling to certain countries outside the US.

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Study abroad students in Honduras

“Though learning can be costly, the experiences with Study Abroad students in Honduras has been overwhelmingly positive. Through the experience, university students, faculty members, project hosts, and local community members have all gained new valuable knowledge. The study abroad experience cannot be evaluated simply by analytical methods. There are just too many experiences that cannot be measured quantitatively. Most importantly, part of the learning that takes place comes through long-term relationships which are being built.

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Study abroad students and Honduran women making spaghetti together

“It’s impossible to know who learns the most when a group of US university students joins a group of ladies in southern Honduras to cook spaghetti over an earthen-stove fueled by firewood. The learning experience has little to do with the activity of cooking. Everyone knows how to cook spaghetti. The method of cooking is not the most important part of the contribution to learning. Learning takes place between university students and Honduran ladies because of the experience of building new relationships. The spaghetti will soon be forgotten but the memories of people from two very different cultures coming together for a few hours will be remembered. Even though language difficulty is a partial barrier to communication, the sounds of laughing together and stirring the spaghetti in an unbearably hot kitchen will remain fresh in everyone’s minds for years to come.

 

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Girl getting her teeth checked as part of a medical brigade project.

“The value of the fluoride being painted on children’s teeth will be unapparent to the casual observer. Maybe someone ten years from now will notice that the teenagers from a few villages in southern Honduras have healthier teeth than others, but more importantly, those teenagers will remember that someone cared enough to invest in their lives. Those who came as students will always know that they have impacted lives in a way that is not measurable by any regular classroom assessment. Both will remember the important lessons that were learned together.

 

Honduran women coming to the medical brigade to have checkups

“Though few people who have never experienced being on a medical brigade will truly understand the importance of that visit to local villagers, the knowledge gained by a few minutes of interaction with an OSU Nursing student may greatly improve their health. Once they are detected with a high blood glucose level they can begin to use that knowledge to make lifestyle changes or obtain the medicine that they need. Women who are detected with early stages of uterine cancer can often be cured.

 

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House built by university students with advancements for better healthy living.

“The house that is built by university students alongside local community members is much more than a technological improvement over the cardboard and plastic houses that many people live in. The construction of the new house that includes an efficient wood-cooking stove and a new latrine provides valuable learning experiences to villagers and university students alike. The knowledge gained involves more than designing and building a house. The improved lifestyle and better health are not the only positive outcomes from the experience. While many local villagers have not gotten the answer to “Why ?” someone from another country would come to help them, they continue to reflect on the experience. Every day the answer becomes a bit more understandable.

“Together, we continue to learn.”

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Healing in Choluteca

Sarah Larson is a Missionary Volunteer Partner in Honduras. In a recent blog post she shares stories of God’s people whom she met through a medical brigade. Stories of hurt, pain, confusion, laughter, and healing come together to make a moving testimony of what a difference a few people can make in the lives of those who need them so desperately.

“As I am writing I hear an iguana running over the tin roof above me, and occasionally a mango drops, sounding like gunfire. There is laundry on the line, and if I look back I see palm and mango trees. There is a fan going, but it’s still very hot here. Very hot. I was told Choluteca was hot, and they were right. I spent my morning baking lots of chocolate chip cookies. I didn’t count how many I made, but I used 8 cups of flour and spent almost 4 hours in the kitchen if that tells you anything. I put them in bags and they are in the freezer waiting on the next work team to arrive.

“I spent the last week here in Choluteca translating for a medical brigade. Although I lived with a Honduran family in language school and have been living in a Spanish-speaking country I felt in some ways that this was the first real test of my Spanish in the outside world. I was nervous the first day, but I felt better as the day went on.

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Local people receiving treatment in the medical brigade treatment area. Photo Credit: Sarah Larson

“Some of the main health concerns I saw throughout the week were diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of the patients were new diagnosis, and others who were there for testing. The mobile pharmacy we had with us was able to give people months of medicine that many of them would not have been able to afford otherwise. Many people came in looking for help with pain they experienced from overuse of joints due to walking long distances or very hard work.

“Certain people from this week will be stuck in my mind and remembered in my prayers. One of them was a little boy with a very bad case of scabies. It was so sad to see how much pain he was in when they were looking at his rash, but he smiled SO big when I gave him bubbles and talked to him. He told me he was 6 and learning his letters, so my failed attempts to sing my ABCs in Spanish were hilarious to him. He came back when we were leaving and gave me a hug (don’t worry, hours of exposure is needed to contract scabies).

“Another case that struck me was a teenage girl who came in because she had had an itchy rash on her neck the day before which had already gone away. Before she left she also mentioned that she’d had a white tongue since she was a child. When she opened her mouth it was clear that she had had a fungal infection for a very long time. She was given a prescription for 3 pills that will take care of the fungus. Only 3 pills, and she will be cured of something she has had since she was a little girl.

“Others were difficult to see because they needed more help than a medical brigade could provide. Two parents brought in their young adult children who needed psychiatric evaluations. They came looking mostly for help dealing with their child’s insomnia, but we saw how they needed so much more. A little boy came in with a significant hearing problem. He could only hear very loud talking and voices, and at three years old he was struggling to learn to speak a language he couldn’t hear. When people came in with problems that couldn’t be handled by a brigade, they were given referrals to a good doctor, who should be able to treat or make any further referrals needed.

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A medical brigade treatment table. Photo Credit: Sarah Larson

“As I sit here pondering this last week I feel a lot of emotions: joy, sadness, frustration, hope. The mangoes are still dropping. An iguana has almost fallen off the roof. Twice. The world I am living in down here is very different from my world in the US. Being a part of this week was more than a chance for me to use my Spanish, it was a great chance for me to see needs in the communities up close and see the challenges many are facing. Although I pray for physical healing for the people we saw, my greatest hope is that they will come to know the love of the Great Physician.”

Will you join Sarah Larson in prayer? The needs seem overwhelming; yet, God answers prayers and cures the sick. Praise God for His grace and mercy in the ministry of the medical brigade in Choluteca. If you’re interested in getting involved or being one of the team members who travels there to help, click the word help. Don’t miss out on what God may have for you.