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Bowling Over Hunger in Honduras

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Thanks for checking out this special sneak peek of a featured article in the July/August 2015 issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.

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Travel with us to Honduras with Rice Bowls, an organization that has focused on one bowl, one soul at a time for 35 years

“Honduras is the murder capital of the world!”

This was the first thing I discovered about the country I’d be spending a week in, and I made the mistake of telling that little nugget to my wife before the trip.

(She let me go anyway.)

I’d never been on a missions trip before, and I didn’t know what to expect. But when Johnny Ramantanin, director of operations at Rice Bowls (ricebowls.org), asked me to join one of their “Go Give Yum” trips, I was excited for the opportunity.

Rice Bowls started back in 1980 when Dr. Alistair Walker saw firsthand the devastation of hunger around the world and decided to create a proactive solution. That solution was the rice bowl-shaped coin bank, similar to the one the organization uses today. The concept is simple: Families and churches fill the banks with coins, and when they’re full, they send Rice Bowls a check.

That money provides food for orphanages around the world; food which, according to Bryan Martin, director of design and marketing for Rice Bowls, constitutes as much as 80 percent of a children’s home’s operating budget.

“The directors we partner with don’t need our help managing their homes, teaching their kids about God’s Word, or our advice on how to be a Christian in India [for instance],” says Bryan. “They need help with money for food. With this essential need met, the home directors can focus on the children’s spiritual, emotional, and educational needs.”

Rice Bowls recently began offering trips to some of the children’s homes they sponsor around the world—trips that deliver food and bring bags full of supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, sports jerseys, and balls. One of these trips is how I found myself in Honduras, traveling to the Good Shepherd’s Children’s Home on a beautiful farm in a fertile valley surrounded by mountains—and extreme poverty.

A COUNTRY IN NEED

As we left the airport in the capital of Tegucigalpa, I couldn’t help but notice the mountains covered in shanties, 10×15-foot “homes” made of cobbled-together metal and wood. Makeshift trails and steps made of old tires weave throughout the hillsides. Vilma, our interpreter who lives in Tegucigalpa, told me we were driving through an extremely poor part of a very poor country. It represents a cycle of poverty that many kids live in—and can’t escape from.

Good Shepherd’s is far from the capital, though—an hour ride over the mountains on a two-lane road where drivers regularly pass on blind curves. It’s a large property with fields, cows, pigs, tilapia ponds, and citrus and banana trees. On one end of the property there are 10 casitas arranged in a circle around the playgrounds. Kids live in the casitas with others of the same age and gender. Each house has a few tias—women who live in the casitas with the kids and help care for them. Some of the tias have families living elsewhere and may only get to see them a few days each month. But their commitment to Good Shepherd’s is a beautiful thing. And these women know the negative alternative for these kids; being part of the home seems to make the tias’ time away from their families worth it.

As we toured the facilities on that first night, exhaustion from the day of travel melted away as we looked into the eyes of these kids who were so excited to see us—and who knew we’d come just to spend time with them. Before our arrival, the joyful cry had been, “The gringos are coming!” They were especially excited to see Johnny. Groups have come through before, so the kids are used to visitors. But when someone comes back to see them, that’s especially meaningful. And they love to see Johnny. He tells me, “So many of them have never felt the love of a father figure in their lives. To be able to be a small part of their lives is very special to me—one smile, one hug, one game of Tag at a time.” [end of article preview]

Thanks for checking out this special sneak peek of a featured article in the July/August 2015 issue of Children’s Ministry Magazine.

Now subscribe today and get more great articles like this one—delivered to your mailbox and tablet—all year long!
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Children's Ministry Magazine

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