NEW PALESTINE — They’ve been home only a few weeks but are already talking about the work they hope to do as soon as they can go back.
Nine members of Zion Lutheran Church in New Palestine recently spent seven days in Honduras doing mission work at an orphanage through Open Door Ministries.
The Rev. Jason Taylor led the group, which included his 14-year-old daughter, Kate Taylor, and Zion Lutheran School Principal Kristie Sombke and her family.
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The main focus of the mission trip was to share their faith and provide assistance at an orphanage in Tocoa, Honduras, where 65 children live. The church sent an exploratory team there two years ago and decided then it would be a mission it would support with funds and visits.
The nine-person church mission group went to the region with supplies Monday, Feb. 22, through Monday, Feb. 29.
The orphanage is run by an American couple from Florida, Barry and Penny Compton, who started the mission 11 years ago. In addition to the orphanage, the site also has a home for abused girls and a school.
“It is a drug culture over there, and there are just some heart-wrenching stories those kids have endured,” Jason Taylor said.
He said many of the abused girls are only 13 to 17 years old but already have children of their own.
It was quite a sight for Kate Taylor. She was making her first mission trip.
“It was really eye-opening because all these kids who are my age have gone through so much more than me,” Kate said.
Still, she said she left the visit with warm feelings for the community and the children, who despite their plights seemed happy, Kate said. She left there vowing she would go back.
In addition to showing support and sharing their love of Christ, the mission group worked on the property, played games with the children and did some outreach beyond the orphanage.
They went to a couple of different places known as feeding stations in Tocoa nestled in poor neighborhoods. For many of the people living there the one meal provided is their only one of the day, Jason Taylor said. They bought enough food for the week, cooked it and served it.
They also went to a hospital in the area where many of the new moms were given a gift from the Zion Lutheran Church parish. Women from the church handmade 90 blankets for the newborns.
Sombke said the trip was her first mission work outside of the United States.
She said it was amazing the amount of good work the mission accomplished in a few days. But, she knows there is more to do. She wants to head back to Honduras sooner rather than later.
“What we did, it’s just a drop in the ocean of need there,” she said.
While the church often supports missions and people who go on trips, this particular mission is one Jason Taylor said his church is going to call its own.
“This really is ours,” he said. “This is a place we want to team with and go back.”
He left with a particular memory of a young girl who came and sat down and immediately lifted up her foot to show the Americans the wounds on her feet.
“So many of the people there don’t even have shoes,” he said.
“They had gouges out of their feet that were just caked with mud.”
The mission group went back the next day with first aid kits and tried to help as many people as it could, Jason Taylor said.
But, the need is so great, he added.
He said everyone is welcome to support or sponsor their program or a particular child.
People can support the orphanage directly by visiting odm.us.org or contact Jason Taylor at the church at 317-861-4210 for more details.