Sustainable Housing Project

Friday, October 6, 2017

Cheaper than expected

Wouldn't you be excited if the estimated cost of a major construction project was reduced to 61% of the original rough estimate? We are very excited with the news that it will likely cost must less to build our new classrooms than we had originally thought. 

Our Choluteca ministry team has been praying and studying possible options for how we can continue with our vision for adding another grade to the high school next year. We feel that there is only one option available to us. In order to continue with our vision, it is necessary for us to build new classrooms before February.

We came to several conclusions. We can not build on the new property that we are purchasing until we have finally paid for the property. Our only option for construction on the original property that we own (located next to the new property) is to build 3 second-story classrooms over our parking area. By building on our existing property, the value of the property will increase and the use of the property will be maximized.

Hector, our architect, explaining his drawings
to our teachers. 
Stepping out on faith, after concluding that our only feasible option is to build on our existing property, we contacted an architect to come up with the design and cost analysis for the project. We now have a set of plans and a budget of materials and labor for the project.

As soon as we have the economic resources, we can begin the initial construction phase of putting the footers in place. The second story classrooms will be over our parking area and total 406.2 square meters for both floors. The construction cost is calculated to be around $85,000 total. We always hope we can be more efficient in the end, but the calculated cost per square meter comes out to a little over  $200/square meter for both floors.
Arq. Obed Velásquez

Friday, September 29, 2017

Celebrating a Vision Becoming Reality-Larry Overholt

It was an honor to participate in handing
out diplomas. 
Sometimes, with all the activity of our daily routine, we get complacent in celebrating successes. Yesterday was graduation day for 19 women and young ladies, and one young man. It was a true celebration for them. It was a time of real reflection for me.

While the ceremony was taking place, my mind kept bringing up memories of my call to missionary work. Seeing the graduates reach an important goal, I thought, "this is really what it's all about." Women and Men are learning vocational skills that will serve them and the entire community in the future. We are going to be able to build on the success of our first mobile course in Apacilagua. Next year we expect to add new courses. The Gospel was presented in the classroom daily by Melba, our instructor. Our health promoters gave a weekly class to the students as well. In combination with vocational education and health care teaching, most importantly a church is being started.

The dream of us creating a vocational education program in the region goes back to 2000, immediately following Hurricane Mitch. The region had been devastated by the destruction of infrastructure and the loss of hundreds of homes, along with thousands of lives. Work was hard to find, and the future looked bleak, especially for young people who were in the middle of their best years for obtaining an education.

After Hurricane Mitch, a new church had been started by the Evangelical Holiness Church in Choluteca. We had been recently assigned by World Gospel Mission to support the new ministry. Due to the need for jobs in the region, many of the church members thought that we needed to start a vocational education program. They were new Christians and had an abundance of faith. I found myself in a real struggle. My faith was being tested. The reality of starting a vocational school was nearly overwhelming.

I had no doubt that God could do whatever He wanted to do. I just fell back on the old "cop out" that I just wasn't convinced yet that He wanted to do it. It was a good idea, but if God really wanted someone to start a vocational school, He probably had someone else in mind to do it. It would be a huge task and I had no idea where to even begin. After all, we did not have buildings. There were not teachers. We did not have a curriculum. We had no money.

Melba taught our first class in 2002 in the
community center. Four years later we officially
started the Vocational School. 
The church members finally convinced me to make a move. The simplest option available would be to set up classes in the community center. The building was available and we had a qualified teacher in the church. The Honduras government vocational education program had teaching materials available for us to use. It would not be hard to get a few used sewing machines donated. That pretty much covered all the excuses I had for not going ahead with a plan for beginning vocational education. After all, I thought this would be a great way to show the church members and the community that it really was not that easy to start vocational education courses.

Melba did a fantastic job and the students excelled in our first experience at vocational education. The members of our church congregation concluded: "See, we knew we could do it." At their suggestion, I began, half-heartedly, to look for a property to build on. We still did not have the finances we needed or the teachers.

Finally, we were offered a property in El Limon de la Cerca, a community that had been built six miles outside of Choluteca after Hurricane Mitch. I assumed that it would take considerable time to raise the necessary funds to construct buildings and add the equipment for vocational education.

Just as I was getting a little bit excited, another organization came and built a vocational school in the exact location where we had considered building. I vividly remember my reaction. It was a time of real confusion and personal frustration.
  • I had been reluctant to get involved in vocational education.
  • God convinced me that vocational education was important. 
  • Then, someone else began to take over our dream. 
I completely withdrew from any further talk of vocational education. Instead, we helped start churches in other communities. We were involved in construction projects. A property was purchased by WGM for setting up a medical clinic and to provide missionary housing. I tried to forget all about vocational education. 

The vocational school in 2006.
THEN, in the summer of 2006, a fellow missionary David Hawk called me. I was walking downtown with Chacho. David asked me if I was aware of the vocational school that had been built in El Limon. I was certainly aware of the school since I drove right by it on the way to one of the churches we were helping build at the time. I will never forget the feelings that came over me when he said: "It's yours, if you want it." Admittedly, I wasn't even sure if I wanted it at that point. It was one of those special moments that we experience as missionaries. As I explained the phone call to Chacho, we both broke down in tears right in the middle of the busy city sidewalk. We knew without any doubt that God had spoken to us through the circumstances. 

His way is always better than our way. Once again, I could not have imagined or planned how things would work out. 

Current school director Osman Echeverria discussing
the program with the Master of Ceremony
Pati Rodriguez.
The school was donated to World Gospel Mission in 2006. I am grateful for the team that I have had working with me at the school. We learned together as we began sewing classes in September 2006, and added refrigeration and auto mechanics. Around 1,500 students have attended the school since then. We are excited to see what new plans God has for us. 

Today, the school continues with the programs in sewing and in auto mechanics. 

Friday, September 22, 2017

Holistically supporting Apacilagua to reach their full potential - Would you join us?

Apacilagua whose name means "Still Waters" with a population of 9,700 inhabitants is one of the nine municipalities of the department of Choluteca located 36 km to the Northeastern part of the departmental city of Choluteca. Apacilagua was founded in 1831; according to the categorization made in 2016 by the Secretary of the Interior and Justice, it is in the category "D" where all the municipalities declared "Without Progress" are categorized.

The high school agriculture talking about
the vision for the future. 
The main economic activity of the municipality is based on agriculture and livestock. The crops of greater production are the melon and basic grains as maize, sorghum, and beans. Because it is an area with little rainfall during a long season of the year and technology level of the small producers is low, the yield of basic grain areas is much lower than the national average which is already low. This scenario makes it a subsistence economy that in many cases is not even enough to nourish the nuclear family.

The inhabitants make much use of natural medicines due mainly to the economic situation prevailing in the municipality and the limited existence of professional health services. Some of the most widely used treatments include Chamomile tea and eucalyptus leaves to control coughs and colds, garlic as a dewormer, basil tea for a toothache, among others.

Apacilagua is a town where the religious beliefs still remain influenced by the Spaniards Conquerors with very ingrained traditions. It is estimated that 93% of the population professes their Catholic faith and only 7% claim to be newborn evangelicals. There are many traditions and customs that are practiced such as not eating red meats during Easter Week, visiting the cemetery every November 2nd to put crowns and flowers on the graves of their relatives who are dead, prayers or novenas at nine days, six months and at the end of  the first year after a relative or friend has passed away.

World Gospel Mission through its ministries in southern Honduras has been working to encourage positive changes in the population of Apacilagua. Through the health promotion program, we have been working with children and young people from schools and training to create a culture of healthy and nutritious food. With support from missionary groups, students and professors from Ohio State University, water projects have been set up for the population's consumption and for the development of agricultural education programs. Also, through the vocational education center (CEVTI) we have been training in areas such as sewing.

What is the approach for the next two or three years?
The plan is to provide holistic support to the community of Apacilagua by placing at their disposal resources that God has provided and will provide to WGM -Choluteca. Also, based on felt needs, we will develop various workshops through the Vocational Education Center and plant a church with the support of the Shalom Church. We will continue the health promotion program for a period of 2 or 3 consecutive years. We are also considering the possibility of starting pilot programs like 4-H with children and FFA with young people attending school in order to encourage and develop leadership, citizenship, cooperation,  patriotism and other skills. We consider that the settlers and leaders of Apacilagua have all the potential and desire to transform their community. Our goal is to accompany them in the process by providing them with tools that will stimulate the integral growth of the individual lives, their families, and their community.

We are aware that to develop this plan will require a lot of effort and human resources, time and financial resources, but we are relying on the provision of God. We invite you to join this dream through your prayers, contribution of knowledge or financial support; we cannot do it on our own!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vocational Education, by Osman Echeverría

It is a great blessing and privilege to be able to be a small part of this great project. In a country like ours with few opportunities and in which there seems to be no hope, God has opened an oasis and a life training camp where young and old, men and women are trained every day with greater and better skills for life and work. This preparation allows them to opt for better opportunities and join in building a better country through their contribution to private enterprise, public sector or entrepreneurship.

Unemployment and underemployment are phenomena that greatly affect our country. The lack of economic opportunities is reflecting on the growth of a sector of young people who neither study nor work called "ninis". According to a World Bank report published in 2016, in Honduras, there were 300,000 young ninis in 1990, and by 2016 this population had increased to 500,000. In Latin America, Honduras is the country with the highest rate of ninis representing a 26.8% of the general population. The young people in this group are more likely to join or become victims of criminal activity.

According to the Honduran Social Forum of External Debt and Development (FOSDEH) up to July 2017, Honduras registers an 8% unemployment rate and a 56% underemployment rate; however, the reality may be even worse.  All this labor market scenario of the country confirms that we must continue to strengthen our training areas, to bring our students closer to the workforce (through internships); in addition, entrepreneurship must be strengthened and promoted. This would allow greater opportunities for generating income and creating new jobs

In pursuit of holistic growth, our goal is to stimulate the spiritual growth of students and to
Osman and Leslie have a passion for reaching youth
for Christ.
educate them in life skills. It is endowed with other knowledge such as computing while fostering the values and competitiveness of the graduates. It also promotes innovation and entrepreneurship through the identification and development of business ideas for later execution. All of this is possible thanks to alliances with different institutions but also, thanks to the unconditional support of donors and sponsors who have believed in our ministry. They have become major drivers in the transformation and positive change in the living conditions of hundreds of young people and their Families. There is still a lot to do and although the process is often slow we believe that our Heavenly Father and his people are with us in the entire process, therefore, better things are yet to come. 

Follow this Link if you would like to make a donation to the vocational school.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Every plate helps

Our Shalom Church women cooking the beans and rice. 

The Shalom Church members are working together to sell plates of food every month to help raise money to purchase the property. Last Saturday, 144 plates were sold for a profit $350 or nearly $2.50/plate. Every little bit helps us reach the goal together. 

The purchase of the project is a strategic goal for use by the Shalom Church and by the high school. It will be an important tool that we will continue to develop for the goals that we have for impacting the people of Choluteca.

It was encouraging for us to learn that the seller of the property recognizes the importance of us developing the property for the goal of transforming Choluteca. Even though doña Beti is physically unable to get out very often from her house across the street, she has often commented on the activities that she sees and the sounds that she hears coming from the property. Numerous times, she has told us that she enjoys the singing that takes place during our church services. 

The men cook the meat.
This week, doña Beti inquired about what all the activity was about on Saturdays. She could see the activity of a dozen people hurrying around. They brought in firewood and cooking pots. The aromas that spread throughout the community gave a good idea of what was taking place. The mixed smell of sausage, fresh pork, and chicken would attract anyone. 

When doña Beti found out the purpose of cooking the meals, she informed us that she wanted to participate in helping raise the funds to purchase the property. She wants to make sure that we include her in the list of people who will buy plates of food each month. 

Following the sale of the plates of food for raising funds, this week has been a time of prayer and fasting for the church. Members have been encouraged to fast as they are able and participate in nightly prayer meetings at the church. There were many topics that we prayed for: health needs, family needs, our outreach ministries, and the development of disciples in the local church. 
Enjoying coffee and bread after church.

One of our main topics of prayer was to continue to pray that God will provide the funds necessary to purchase the property. This property will contribute to the transformation of the church's ministry and of the health care in the region.

Our 50% property payment is due on September 13th. We have already raised $28,000 toward the payment. In order to meet the deadline, we still need 62 more people to commit to donating $100/month for the next 16 months. (Or, if my math is correct, we need to sell 40,000 more plates of food.)

Recently, Dan Shafer, the president of World Gospel Mission, commented "Our God-powered efforts will always succeed! Therefore, Satan can only defeat us by convincing us not to act." We invite you to help us pray that all of our acts will indeed be "God-powered" and that we will never be convinced to not act on what God wants us to do. 

On-line donations with World Gospel Mission-

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Preparing for Transition

We never know how many years of active ministry we have left as a missionary couple. Even though we are not thinking of retiring, we both turned 62 years old this year. We have spent 37 years of service with World Gospel Mission. During that time, we have been involved in many transitions and have participated in numerous projects. We have developed deep friendships and have been involved in the spiritual growth of people’s lives. We have had a great support team made up of people who have faithfully prayed for us and have financially supported the work in Honduras. Many of our champions have visited us in Honduras to give a helping hand and a personal word of encouragement.

We are not simply turning nostalgic, but are looking forward to the next challenge in which God wants us to be involved. Every morning when we wake up we are anticipating what God has prepared for us. Realistically, we realize that this may be our last major project as missionaries.

Fulfilling a dream for Choluteca and all of Honduras.

For several years, we have been dreaming of starting the nursing school. We believe that implementing a high school nursing program in Honduras will radically transform health care across the nation.

It’s a huge dream for the Choluteca ministry that has been implemented, but we will not be able to see it finished. Younger missionaries and local church members share our vision and have expanded the vision. We want them to be able to continue building on the firm foundation that has already been established. We believe that God has prepared great things for the next generation of leaders in Choluteca. Would you consider joining us in leaving a firm legacy for the next generation of faithful leaders?

God has opened the doors for us to establish the very first nursing high school in Honduras. When classes for the nursing school began in February, we knew that we had a lot of work to do. The remodeling of our present “clinic” property would be a short-term immediate solution to the space we needed. A second year of nursing students would not fit on the property. We need room for expansion.
  • We have considered building second and third stories on our existing buildings, but that would be extremely difficult with classes already taking place on the property. We have a huge challenge just learning the ropes for the new high school program. 
  • We also thought about purchasing property in other locations, but nothing seemed suitable. In most cases, we would need to tear down existing buildings and start over. 
  • We have asked all our neighbors if they were interested in selling the property next to us. Finally, after years of praying, the neighbor who owns the property where our Shalom Church meets offered to sell the property.
The Property is for Sale

Over 16 years ago, I told the Choluteca church that I would get involved in starting vocational education ONLY IF God provided the resources necessary. At the time, I knew God could surely provide all the needed resources, but I admit that I had some doubts if He would provide what was needed. God provided then by giving the property and buildings.

For seven years, we have been asking doña Beti to sell us the property where the Shalom Church meets. The property is next to our clinic property and is located on the corner of the city block. Just like when we were given approval by the Ministry of Education to begin the nursing school, we were given a short timeline to act. 

We would like to stretch things about a bit more, but  one of the conditions for purchasing the property include paying for it in one year. We believe that God will once again provide beyond what we are capable of imagining. 

Another condition includes purchasing both adjoining lots, and not just the lot where the church meets. The second lot includes a milk-processing plant, and the equipment goes with the sale of the property. My first thought was that I have no idea what I am going to do with a milk processing plant and all the equipment. We wondered if we could sell it but probably would not find a buyer.
The purchase of our next door property seems like the most reasonable option.
  • For security reasons, it is best to have one larger property rather than oversee two smaller properties.
  • We recently drilled a new well for water on our clinic property and we can use that well for both properties. 
  • The property is strategically located and we have built a positive reputation in the community.
  • The purchase of the property wold allow us to add and extension education project in Choluteca.

Our plans
The property will focus on three areas of ministry:
  • Shalom Church-Our local Shalom Church has been praying for years to be able to purchase the property where we have been meeting. The owner has been very gracious in letting us use the property without paying rent. Using the property without being able to develop it for our use has been a bit like wandering in the desert. We were never really settled and could not build class rooms or build anything permanent. The church meeting area will also serve the nursing school as a multipurpose auditorium for school activities.
  • Nursing School- The nursing school is part of the Professional Technical High School plan in Honduras. We hope to add other professions in the future. Following our vision for adding a complete high school for grades 7-12 in the future, we also plan to add 7th grade as well as a second class of nursing students to our school next year. This will allow us to better prepare students for entering high school. We presently have classroom space for our first-year class of 16 students. Next year, we plan to have three classes of students totaling around 75 students. We need to immediately build three classrooms and expand our science laboratory. 
  • Milk processing plant- We will not actually be going into the milk processing business, but we have agreed to allow the business to continue operating on the property for a while. In fact, this may open a new area of ministry for us. The milk processing plant offers an intriguing educational opportunity for us. The business is a co-op made up of several dairy producers. We have talked with the administration about ways we can work with them in extension education as well as developing new products for specialized markets.

Would you join us in establishing a legacy for the next generation?

 As always, we depend on your prayers to guide us. Pray that we will continually find favor with the governmental officials who must approve our educational programs. We need your continued support financially to meet the deadline for the down payment of the property. 

 Besides praying and donating for the purchase of the property, we also need a team of construction workers to help us build three new classrooms by the end of October. We invite you to come and personally give us a hand in building for the future.

Dr. Cano (Ohio State University associate professor), presenting a seminar on "course planning" and "assessment" to our teachers and other teachers from around the city. 
Urgent Notice: We have a very limited time opportunity to make a down payment on the purchase of property that would be used to expand our nursing school and for use by our Shalom Church.  We have one week to obtain $12,000.00 of the $25,000 down payment or this opportunity will pass and we will need to consider other less desirable options.

The property beside our school is for sale for $250,000. It is ideal for what we need and is comparable in price to other similar properties here in Choluteca.
Would you consider helping us raise $12,000 over the next 7 days? Please send us ( a note letting us know of your donation so that we can keep track of the progress.

-Secure online donations: 
-Donations may be sent to:
World Gospel Mission
P.O. Box 948
Marion, IN 46952-0948
Account #255-35493

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Angie's trip to Honduras November 14-19, 2016

The trip to Honduras with Dr. Kathleen Stone and Dr. Elizabeth Barker was filled with productive meetings and many PR moments. We originally had more plans for our time, but we were in meetings with Aleyda Spetnagel and Rosa Margarita Rodriguez much of the time. Aleyda is the director of the new nursing school and Margarita will be our nursing instructor. 

On Tuesday, we had a meeting in the morning with the Director of Hospital del Sur, Dr. Saúl Júarez, to discuss the new Nursing High School and how we can collaborate with the hospital. We also checked on the progress on the lactation project that we have been working on. Dr. Juarez expressed his enthusiasm for the new nursing high school program. He stated that he is willing to help us by allowing our students to do their practical hours in the hospital.

The Lactation project is in collaboration with the company Medela. They donated 5 lactation pumps earlier this year, along with the one donated through Dr. Kathy Stone. Both Dr. Stone and Dr. Barker helped seek funding for the construction of a room to take care of the lactation equipment. Part of the agreement between Medela and the Hospital del Sur was the hiring and training of a nurse who would be the Lactation Coordinator of the Hospital. That will be fulfilled in January when the program will officially begin. We did training last March with the head doctor (Dra. Martha Cano) and a nurse on the Educational committee of the hospital (Lic. Iris Lorena Rodriguez). 

The pumps arrived in May, but we have been in the process of collecting baseline data as part of the research involved in this project. The Hospital del Sur data is being compared to data that is being collected in India. In India, they have found that the increase of the amount of milk that a mother produces at 6 months and a year post-birth is directly related to the use of a lactation pump within the first two hours post-partum.

We were excited to see the Lactation room that has been built. There is a refrigerator (eventually, a milk bank will be set up), microwave, sink, and water storage system. We still lack a shelf unit to be built, and we are checking into a water filtration system for the room. All of this was bought with donations.

In the afternoon, we met again with Margarita, the nursing coordinator and instructor for the nursing high school. We discussed the proposed curriculum and schedule for the 3-year program. We met for several hours on Tuesday and Wednesday, adjusting the program (combining some of the courses and rearranging the classes from simple to complex) that we would later propose to the Minister of Education.

We enjoyed the opportunity to meet with the proposed instructors for the new schoo. It seems to be a great group of teachers, who are open to suggestions from us on how to integrate nursing principles and examples into the curriculum of each course.

On Wednesday afternoon, we went to the Sémesur Hospital to meet with a group of nurses and the administration to also talk about the nursing high school. We have already received an agreement with them to use their hospital for part of the practical experience for the nursing students. They are very excited about the program. They requested that we continue to do continuing educational teaching with the annual nursing brigade, and also to involve the nursing school.

Angie was not particularly excited to be seated at the front table. 
On Thursday morning, November 17, almost 100 specially invited guests came to the Hotel Rivera hotel to learn about the new High School Nursing program as presented by the Ministry of Education. 

Interviewing with the local TV stations. 
There were around 12 different television stations represented at the gathering, where Gloria Arieta, Laurie Potter (as representative of the mission), Quintin Soriano (the mayor of Choluteca), the Regional Director of Education (Lic Lennin Enrique Burgos Arce), and the Regional Director of Health (Dr. Jose Maria ), and I were interviewed. There was a lot of excitement about the new program.

In the afternoon on Thursday, the specialists, such as doctors and nurses, and health care personnel were given an opportunity to ask questions and express their opinions about the program proposal. There was a good dialogue and exchange of ideas.

Then, at 5 PM, Dr. Barker, Kathy Stone, and I met with the Education committee, who had worked on the program, to propose the combination of some of the classes, and a different order of the classes, from simple to complex. We also discussed the proposed idea of a four-year program, with the fourth year being the practical experience. We suggested that the practical experience will be completed at the time of the theory of each class (Pediatrics theory, with Peds clinicals, for example). We also suggested that we offer a specialty nursing year for their fourth year, which would be optional (For example, School nursing or Agroindustrial nursing). 
Meeting with Quintin Soriano, Choluteca mayor. 

On Friday, November 18th, specialists from all the different curriculum areas came to validate the curriculum. They worked all day on this. Some of the areas were not represented, so the following week, Margarita had to go find help at the Hospital del Sur to complete the validation.

We went to Tegucigalpa in the afternoon and then flew back to the US on Saturday. It was a very positive trip. We were able to complete and contribute to the validation process for the nursing school.

We can't wait to get back to Honduras to get directly involved again.