Serving Our Partners in Honduras

Serving Our Partners in Honduras

by the Rev. Andrea Baker, Assistant Rector, Faith Episcopal Church, Cameron Park

Bishop Barry Beisner asked me to represent The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California at The Episcopal Diocese of Honduras’ annual convention in Tela, Honduras on May 23, 2015. This was my first visit to Honduras in four years, and it was a wonderful reunion with old friends and colleagues, as well as an opportunity to rekindle our partner diocese relationship. Our connections with our partner diocese in Honduras run deep. Several people from our diocese have traveled to Honduras for mission trips over the past ten or more years. (Pictured here from left to right are the Rev. Andrea Baker, Bishop Lloyd Allen, the Rev. Olga Barrera, with the youth at The Episcopal Diocese of Honduras' Convention Eucharist.)

Many of you know the Rev. Olga Barrera, who served in our diocese for six months as a deacon, prior to her ordination to the priesthood. The Rev. Barrera is now the principal of Holy Spirit Episcopal Bilingual School and Rector of Iglesia Espiritu Santo (Church of the Holy Spirit) in the small seaside town of Tela in Honduras. Under her leadership, the church has moved from mission to parish status. In June 2010, I led a mission trip to work with the Rev. Barrera and the teachers at her school to develop Camp Holy Spirit for their students. This was a dream she desired to fulfill after visiting Camp Noel Porter. We worked side-by-side with the school staff to initiate and host a three-day summer camp, which nearly 70 students attended. The school continues to host a three-day camp for the students in the spring. I, then, served in The Episcopal Diocese of Honduras during the 2010-2011 academic year, working with Bishop Lloyd Allen, the Rev. Barrera and the other bilingual schools in their diocese to help strengthen the curriculum and other programs at the seven bilingual schools in the diocese. My work with our partners that year affirmed what I imagined to be true, we are really missionaries to one another in a partner relationship. They have much to teach us about faith, resilience and God’s abiding love. In what I call “mutual missiology,” God sends us to one another.

Our diocesan Millennium Development Goals Committee has granted funds over the past few years to enhance the ministry at Iglesia Espiritu Santo, with the specific goals of empowering women in the community and alleviating poverty. Through one project, the church created a bookstore where women from the church work and sell handmade gifts to mission teams that visit the church and school. Another project enabled the church to purchase appliances and furniture for the school’s new cafeteria, which is also staffed by women from the church. Both of these projects offer women living in poverty an opportunity to earn money to help support their families, and provide some income to the church as well. In addition to empowering women, these micro-businesses are helping the church in Tela support the ambitious goal of the Diocese of Honduras to become financially self-sustainable by 2018.

During my brief visit, I was able to attend the Diocese of Honduras Convention on Saturday and Sunday worship at Espiritu Santo on Pentecost, a Spirit-filled service where Bishop Allen confirmed several members of the church. At convention, Bishop Allen invited me to speak about the importance of education in developing countries. The point I stressed is that we desire to support our partners in ensuring that children in Honduras achieve primary education. I was pleased to learn when I began serving at Faith Episcopal Church in Cameron Park that the church has been sponsoring several children each year with funds to purchase uniforms and school supplies so the children can attend public school in the area surrounding Omoa, another small town in the diocese where numerous families live in poverty. There are many ways our diocese can work with our partners to help them educate children, empower women, alleviate poverty and achieve other Millennium Development Goals, as well as their goal to become self-sustainable.

If you are interested in learning more about how to work with our partners in Honduras to strengthen our ties, support them in their ministries and learn from one another, I would be happy to talk with you about possibilities.

For more information, please contact the Rev. Andrea Baker via email at andrea@faithec.org.

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