The Rev. Alice Anderman, of the Winthrop Congregational Church, has led a number of teams on mission trips to Honduras. She always returns with people made different by the experience.
“I’ve seen people’s lives change,” she said. “They’re amazed at how people in Honduras have a sense of joy that comes from their faith. The way they worship is very uplifting and vibrant. Everyone I’ve taken has had their faith strengthened.”
Fifteen people are signed up to go with Anderman in April, when she will makes her next trip to the island of Roatan, in Honduras. The group, all members of Kennebec Valley Association United Church of Christ Congregational Churches in Waterville, Winslow and Winthrop, will provide medical, construction and educational support during their week-plus trip.
“Honduras is really having a rough time with drug cartels and gang warfare,” Anderman said. “It has suffered greatly in the last four or five years.”
The mission team hopes a fundraiser being planned for Saturday will allow it to have an even greater effect during the trip. The Caribbean Cabaret, scheduled for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at the First Congregational UCC Church in Waterville, will feature authentic Caribbean cooking by Chef Marilyn Bretscher, a native of Grenada. The buffet will include curried chicken with chickpeas and potatoes, pork roast with gravy, vegetarian curried eggplant, rice, steamed vegetables, salad, desserts, cider, tea and Honduran coffee. Violinists from the Pineland Suzuki School will play music before and after dinner.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to buy construction material for the New Life Church, the Evangelical and Reformed church on Roatan that is partnering with the Maine mission team. Money from the fundraiser also will be used to buy medical supplies for a local hospital and for the mission’s medical unit to conduct health clinics. The money also will help buy sports uniforms, computer equipment and tuition for school scholarships.
Anderman, who led a team to Roatan two years ago, said the team is returning to support the New Life Church and to maintain the relationship that began with the first trip. The goal, ultimately, is to show the church members in Roatan that the churches of Maine care about them, Anderman said.
“One way to do that is to work with the people in the church,” she said. “It’s not like we’re going down there and doing this for them. We’re not going to go down there and fix things. We’re going down there to work with the Hondurans.”
Two years ago, the team helped moved the church, a process that involved taking the building down piece by piece, then reassembling it an another location.
“We even straightened the nails and reused those as well,” Anderman said.
The April trip will include construction of a church annex. The medical unit, which includes a physician, a physician’s assistant and a registered nurse, will hold medical clinics and conduct well-child clinics at local schools. Many of the children have never had a checkup, Anderman said.
Those who went on the trip two years ago continue to maintain relationships with friends they made in Honduras.
“They’re their friends,” Anderman said. “They keep up the relationships. As they do, it’s communicating that we really care.”
That caring is expressed in other ways as well, she said. A few years ago, pastors from Honduras came to Winthrop, where they shared stores with local pastors. The Hondurans talked freely about the drug problem and the cartels, which they cannot do in their own country without exposing themselves and their families to attacks.
“We want to tell their story where its safe and it can be heard,” Anderman said. “They really want us to do that.”
Anderman helped draft a resolution, ultimately accepted by the national denomination, seeking to address the problem of drug trafficking. Members of the UCC in Washington, D.C., have pressed for action from the U.S. government.
“We feel called to try and respond,” Anderman said. “I see this trip as a way to respond to the hardship and violence that the people suffer down there.”
Craig Crosby — 621-5642 [email protected]