Lives Transformed

A Reflection on the Christ Church Denver Service Trip to El Hogar in Honduras

By Christi James

Doughnuts?! I did not expect to see the children of El Hogar in a baking class. Yet there they were, donned in aprons, their cheeks dusted with flour, carefully mixing their ingredients and kneading the dough. “Keep working the dough,” their teacher coached, “or the doughnuts will sink like rocks when you fry them!”

These junior chefs, boys and girls alike, were learning valuable skills, and making breakfast for their fellow students on El Hogar’s elementary campus.

A mix of the right ingredients and a skilled and dedicated staff. That is what the service team from Christ Church Denver discovered on its recent trip to El Hogar in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The purpose of the trip was not about “doing for” the children at El Hogar but rather to “walk with” them. 
During a visit to the home of one of the students, we were able to see the reality of poverty: the one-room house was made of scrap wood with barely enough room for a couple of beds and a small table. No running water. No electricity. An old tire had been re-purposed into a flowerpot. Colorful plastic bottle caps had been pressed into the dirt floor. The eldest son, an accomplished artist, recently graduated from the El Hogar technical school, and his younger brother is following in his footsteps. The mother, whose warm smile and openness made us feel at home, works at the elementary campus on weekends. She expressed how blessed and grateful she is and that God has provided everything she needs.

We met a young man who had run away from home as a child. His drunken father abandoned the family. Despair and hunger cast him out onto the streets of Tegucigalpa where he slept under bridges, scavenged for scraps of food, and like countless street children in Honduras, began to sniff glue. He spoke of his drug addiction and his involvement with gangs not to elicit pity or horror but to depict his reality. He thanked us for volunteering at El Hogar, a ministry that he believes prevents countless children from having to suffer life in the streets.

And those doughnut-making children? We played games with them, learned new songs, visited their classrooms, and encouraged them as they completed their sweeping, dishwashing, and laundry chores. We even got to cheer them on as they participated in a variety of sports at the Honduran Olympic Village. “These are the athletes who will represent our country someday,” commented Gustavo, El Hogar’s bus driver who accompanied us on our tour of the Olympic Village. The day we left, the cooking class was busy mixing, baking, and frosting tres leches cakes for a celebration — 21 children were to be baptized the next day! As our team finished our service project, painting one of the dorms, we overheard a trio practicing a song for the baptism. “Diós está aquí y te quiere amar,” they sang — “God is here and He wants to love you.” There is no doubt that God is present at El Hogar, transforming the lives of children.

Christi James is an El Hogar Board Member and serves as an El Hogar Service Trip Leader at Christ Church Denver where she is a member.

Are you interested in joining an El Hogar Service Team?

Christi James, El Hogar board member, will be leading an inter-generational diocesan trip for Colorado Episcopalians next summer.

July 28–August 6, 2017. $1800 includes airfare but cost may vary depending on rates. Contact Christi James at cjames_618@msn.com for more information.

If you would like to contribute to The Episcopal Church in Colorado El Hogar Service Trip Scholarship Fund, please write checks out to The Episcopal Church in Colorado and send to 1300 N. Washington Street, Denver, CO 80203.

if you would like members of the Christ Church Denver Service Team to visit your church, please contact Christi James at cjames_618@msn.com.

About El Hogar

El Hogar provides a loving home and education for abandoned, orphaned, and extremely impoverished children — breaking the cycle of poverty within their families and enabling them to become productive Honduran citizens. Founded in 1979, El Hogar works with 250 boys and girls each year on four campuses: an elementary school, an agricultural school, a technical school, and a residence for high-school girls. Our vocational training gives students a chance to join the workforce with valuable skills that benefit them, their families, and their communities. El Hogar is a mission project of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras.

El Hogar Ministries, Inc. (EHMI) is a 501©(3) nonprofit organization located in Woburn, Mass., outside of Boston. It was formed in 2001 in response to the growth of El Hogar Projects in Honduras. EHMI is the central office for all aspects of donor support, communications, networking, and fundraising. With an annual budget of $1.5 million, El Hogar raises these funds every year, primarily through a child-sponsorship program and various fundraising events held throughout the United States and Canada. All donations to EHMI are tax-deductible.