Students from Highland Adventist School in Elkins recently took a mission trip and spent 10 days in Siguatepeque, Honduras.
The trip, planned by Quiet Hour Ministries in California, gave the students opportunities to serve in many different capacities. They could help by assisting with a free medical clinic, fitting free glasses to patients, participating in a church construction project and running a vacation Bible school.
"Our students were amazing," said Principal Cheryl Jacko. "Not only did they give up their spring break to attend this mission trip, but they raised all their money for the trip and worked hard while they were there. Some of our team had to travel over an hour each way daily to get to their clinic assignments. They headed out by 7:30 or 8 a.m. in the morning and didn't get home until after 10 o'clock each evening. They were a dedicated team. I never heard them complain."
Angela Volpe, Alex Engelkemier, Ashley Pudder, Stefan Bramblett and Joel Stecker are shown on their mission trip with children in Honduras.
Alex Engelkemier helps with screening a patient’s eyes for fitting him with glasses donated by the Lions Club.
Don Jacko, H.A.S. science teacher, lays block on a church construction project.
The mission trip destination of Siguatepeque, located in the mountains of Honduras, is considered a safer area of the country. However, it is still affected by the drug cartels and related crime that the Honduran government is working to eliminate. The team quickly adjusted to the sight of heavily armed guards visible in many areas where they went - outside and inside the banks, stores and grocery stores, patrolling through the city in the backs of pickup trucks and roaming the area on foot. They also adapted to local food, precautions to avoid ingesting germs from food or water, simple accommodations and very warm temperatures.
Students working at the free clinic were trained to take patient histories, check vital signs and assist the physicians. They commented on how friendly and patient the people were as they sat in the tropical heat for many hours waiting for their turn to be seen.
The clinic treated patients for parasites, colds, heart symptoms, many skin problems, digestive ailments and much more. One woman who waited to see the doctor had a lifelong problem with her legs, that resulted in her using her arms and hands as legs and feet.
The nearby eye clinic gave students a chance to conduct preliminary screening tests to assist the optometrist in fitting eyeglasses donated by Lions Club International.
Each student spent time at the construction site. In visiting local churches, students noticed that many of the churches were small and without adequate facilities. Some were meeting in buildings with walls completed only part way up, due to lack of funds. Others were teaching children's Bible classes with no teaching materials at all, only benches and plain block walls. One church appealed for $1,000 dollars to reroof the church building, which had rusted to the point that they anticipated many leaks during the upcoming rainy season. The church that hosted the building project was a small, simple block building that had long ago become too small for the growing congregation. Students learned to be mason's assistants as they mixed mortar, carried supplies and helped with applying mortar to the block, all under the hot, tropical sun.
The H.A.S. students planned and directed the evening Vacation Bible School programs in two locations. Using interpreters when they were available, the students performed nightly puppet shows, led games, made crafts, shared Bible stories and sang songs. Between the two sites, there were between 100 to 150 children attending each night.
When asked what was most memorable about the trip, students and chaperones responded with comments such as, "the kids were adorable," "the poverty was the (worst) I have ever seen" and "I want to go back again this summer."
"It is our goal to develop strong lifetime habits of service and leadership in all of our students," Jacko stated. "Our mission trip to Honduras was a great opportunity to practice those skills. I was very proud of the work of each of our students. We thank the Elkins community for the financial and prayer support many gave us for this trip."
The mission team is working to collect craft supplies to send to children's ministry workers they met in the country. Supplies that are unaffordable or unattainable there, such as stickers, Playdough-type clay, coloring markers, scissors, foam craft pieces, miscellaneous arts and craft supplies, colored paper and other items of this type are needed.
The local people described their private mail delivery system as undependable because of theft of mailed items. However, the team has made arrangements to ship supplies to a local school that does get regular deliveries. Anyone wishing to donate supplies or to make monetary donations to the students' children's ministry project can drop supplies off at the school during operating hours or call for more information.
Highland Adventist School offers Christian curriculum for students in grades kindergarten to 12. More information is available by calling 304-636-4274 or visiting www.highlandadventistschool.org.