Students participate in Mission Honduras
LE MARS – Gehlen Catholic School’s Mission Honduras just completed another trip.
This year’s mission team arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, on March 26. They were met at the airport by Francis Seivert, one of the team leaders, who had spent the previous week in Honduras making final preparations for this mission. This was his 65th trip into Honduras and the 55th representing Gehlen’s program.
There were 29 team members - 20 high school students and nine adult chaperones - representing four school systems and came from three states.
They chaperones were: Francis Seivert, Elkton, S.D.; Carolyn Bickford, Bruce Kellen, Tim DeLarm, and Elizabeth Rogers, LeMars; Father Jerome Cosgrove, Sioux City; Sister Joan Polak, Omaha; Linda Reichle, Alton; and Pat Jones, Orange City. The 20 high school students were: Cassie DeLarm, LeMars Community Schools; Kayla Frey, Sarah Liewer, Tony Tran, Emily Weber, and Miguel Lopez-Campos from Bishop Heelan Schools, Sioux City; Katy Freidel and Liam Duffy from St. Thomas More Schools in Rapid City, S.D.; and Jordan Sitzmann, Cole Heissel, Drew Kellen, Rachel Koopman, Shaun Ryan, Sarah Jentz, Samantha Woerdehoff, Tera Langel, Leah Ruhland, Aaron Schlesser, Paige Ellensohn, and Sara Mayer, from Gehlen Catholic Schools, LeMars.
Gehlen senior Sara Mayer called it an amazing experience and said she was grateful that she had the opportunity to go.
Carolyn Bickford, Gehlen chaperone, said, “Even in their poverty the Hondurans are always so generous with all they have – and they give it so joyfully that I sometimes feel selfish for having all the things that I do. I have never met a more giving people.”
Tim DeLarm, LeMars chaperone, called the trip a life changing event.
“It was a blessing for the students and chaperones to be able to participate in this mission. It certainly opened a few eyes on the difference between needs and wants,” he said. “I think it would be great if all seniors were required to participate in a trip like this prior to graduation. We gained many new friends from the states and Honduras. I was very proud of everyone. I was fortunate to be able to share this with my daughter Cassie, something I know I will never forget.”
The main focus of this year’s work project was working on a new water system in La Florida. The community has always had surface water for all of their needs but when completed, the project brings clean drinkable water to the small village that consists of 39 families – 166 people.
The project consisted of building a huge reservoir to capture water from a natural water source, constructing a brick and cement 5,000-gallon water tank atop a hillside, the purchase of new gas-powered pumps, digging trenches from the tanks to each home in the village and more.
Members of the team were also able to pass out items that had been donated to the people of Honduras ranging from toothpaste to shoes.
They also had chance to visit a malnutrition center and purchased emergency food supplies to help villagers of Tolupan, who are suffering due to a drought. Additional food resources were provided by Kids Against Hunger projects from the diocese.
The theme of the trip was “Watching Over Me.”
Father Jerome Cosgrove, a Heelan chaperone who was made his third trip, said, “Watching Over Us was such a meaningful theme for our trip. As we celebrated the liturgy, we lived the message in all that we did during the time we were there.”
He worked with the students on the water project and celebrated Mass several times.
Leah Ruhland, a Gehlen senior said the people of Honduras taught her so much about the importance of having gratitude and appreciation for all that she have been blessed with in her life and to never take anything for granted.
The Gehlen program has three main goals for each mission journey into Honduras: to do a work project in a poor rural village, to immerse themselves in Easter Week religious celebrations, and to experience the poverty that grips so much of Honduras and the world.
The mission team returned home on Easter Sunday.
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