“That’s completely revolutionary. We’ve never done that before. Everybody thinks about AHMEN in terms of medical clinics,” said team leader Michael Franklin.
The group, which included 11 local residents representing three area churches, led a three-day training session in a health clinic located within the mayor’s office.
Topics covered included first aid, blood pressure and hypertension, communication, massage, HIV/AIDS and proper exams for eye problems.
Franklin said the goal was to provide supplemental education for Honduran health professionals as well as to encourage them to become community agents through Servants in Faith and Technology. The SIFAT organization empowers locals to tackle long-term problems on their own.
The AHMEN team also checked in with a jewelry school established last year in the city dump of Los Laureles. The nine women in the school, which meets once a week, received training in jewelry making as well as basic business skills and business English.
Simultaneously, youth from AHMEN were able to minister to more than 100 children in the Los Laureles community through a three-day Vacation Bible School.
In spite of the language barrier, VBS leaders were able to relay the message that God created the earth and teach the Honduran children a few songs as well as some English.
“The focus of their lessons was that the earth was pure when God made it, and then man and woman came along and started mucking it up. That was pretty profound to teach sitting in a whole community developed in what used to be a garbage dump. We were saying, ‘It’s not supposed to be like this. You don’t have to live like this. Together, we can do something better,’” Franklin said.
A third mission of the AHMEN team was to spend time with teens and young adults living in the all-female Shalom Dorm.
“‘At risk’ in Honduras could mean they were at risk of getting kidnapped or abused, not having enough to eat or not able to get an education,” Franklin said.
Teenager Tim Morris also organized an effort to distribute eyeglasses to residents in a senior citizen home after hearing there was a significant need.
Tim’s grandmother, Brenda Williams, tried several times to talk him out of going on the trip before finally becoming the last member to sign up for team “Rio de Aqua Viva.”
Williams, known to the group as “Nana,” now views the trip as the most rewarding adventure of her life.
“I’m so thankful that Tim chose the Honduras mission trip for his senior trip instead of going with my idea of plain old Disney World. We went over to help change the lives of others through love and education. Instead, those people changed our lives,” Williams said.
Hannah Bowen, who helped Morris lead VBS, said she will never forget her interactions with the children of Honduras.
“You think they just want something from you, but all they wanted to do was hold your hand or sit on your lap or for you to try to talk to them. They just wanted to connect with you so much,” she said.
AHMEN is an international, interfaith-based partnership of volunteers and missionaries that sends between 12 and 20 teams a year to Honduras. It was founded and continues to be based in Walker County.
The churches who supplied volunteers for the June mission were Pumpkin Center Baptist Church, Christ United Methodist Church and Durr’s Chapel Methodist Church.
Franklin said despite extensive preparation on his part, he was apprehensive about the trip.
“We’ve never had an educational team that has been a success. To go down there and see this develop the way it did was really remarkable,” Franklin said.
AHMEN will have a booth at the Foothills Festival in Jasper on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Information about the group’s mission and some of the jewelry made in Los Laureles will be available.
For more information or to support AHMEN’s efforts, visit www.honduranmissions.com.