Summer 2019 "Communities of Holistic Impact" Second Trimester Update

This summer, the Heart to Honduras initiative "Communities of Holistic Impact (CoHI)" is well into it’s second year and brought opportunities for formation and practical application to the villages of Las Lomitas, Lomas del Aguila, and Caliche. The local leaders have been participating in workshops every month as well as organizing and executing their “Genesis Project” which is their ongoing challenge in the program for 2019. You can read about the Genesis Project in the 2019 first quarter CoHI update, and we will give a full report of the inaugurations of each of these in our next update but know they are in full swing, lots of hard work on the ground by the locals this summer building a school fence, addressing community health, and bettering drainage and road issues.

Genesis Projects in the works

Our Corazón Para Honduras/Heart to Honduras (*CPHTH) team traveled to each village every month to share important topics in their current development. We stayed overnight to spend relational time together listening to them, attending church services together, eating their food, encouraging and valuing them. The Eldridge family was in Honduras for the summer and had the privilege of working face to face with CPH staff and the CoHI community members for three months. Our whole crew enjoyed being in fellowship again.

Our Community Development team (Fredy, Otto, Kaleb and Stacey) develops and executes the CoHi curriculum of workshops and community-building activities in interactive and locally appropriate ways. We were blessed to again see how well we complement one another and give God the glory for the work He is doing in lives and communities.

In May we covered “How to Protect Healthy Development” which included prevention, reaction, and resistance to threats that affect community health, unity, sustainability, and empowerment. We connected the concept of community defense to our own body's physical defense systems in order to better understand potential problems as well as the need to work daily to prevent illness, react when we do inevitably contract an illness and build up resistance to illness once you have experienced it. These processes can affect the life and development of a community just as easily as they affect a human body.

We walked through specific examples in dynamic ways to make it real and practical for local community members. One example is when a community has a politician come in and try to give away materials (in actuality trying to “buy” votes). Our goal is for a community to be able to say "no thank you" and not fall prey to a “selling your birth right for a plate of hot food"- Esau situation. This one situation crosses through multiple areas of holistic development (spiritual, social, intelectual, and material). Another common occurrence that we addressed is the scenario of organizations bringing in material donations or presenting projects they think need done but that locals do not identify as a real priority. Such project often create division to the community.

Our goal, in working through these scenarios, is for local leaders to be empowered to approach and address the outsider with the local protocols for how initiatives are formed and executed in their specific context. We empower and encourage them to speak truth in love from their heart and experiences as to what will bring true health to their community or not. The practical application came in their assignment for the month to write a local “Defense Plan” stating how each community member is to respond to these types of threats to healthy development and how to redirect the outsider to their established local leaders and processes.

How to Protect Healthy Development

In June the topic was “Running a Healthy Community Meeting." This comes out of a common issue of unproductive community meetings that many times end in fighting/disagreement. We covered many topics from a basic outline of a meeting to how to handle questions, concerns, and disagreements.

"We have always done it wrong, in most of our meetings we lose control because of comments people make or disagreements that arise. But now, little by little we will put into practice what we learned in this workshop." Jose Molina “Galo” (Lomas del Aguila)
As a part of CoHi, we create, personalize, print and provide the community leaders with practical materials based on the workshop topic for them to use to improve their organizational capacity and effective execution.

One practical feedback Pastor Eduar in Las Lomitas gave us was, "it seems leaders always have invited families to community meetings at the last minute, sometimes the day of. We now know it is best and most respectful to give them at least a week notice. We started to use the simple invitation note provided and this has given some formality to our meetings."

The action step given to each community was then to plan and execute a healthy community meeting putting into practice some of the concepts and ideas presented in the workshop. They are to invite us as CPHTH staff and local government representatives to be present.

How to organize and run a healthy and productive community meeting

In July we dove into one of the biggest problems in development - lack of Conflict Resolution! Because cultural norms differ, we strive to find common ground in the Bible and address topics like conflict through a Biblical point of view through passages like 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, Matthew 5:22-26 and 18:15-20. We walk through steps to take when a conflict arises which was very helpful because as Genero from Caliche said, "we have always had conflicts in our communities and most of the time we want to ignore it or accept it. But, now, thanks to the our brothers and sisters at *CPHTH we know how to resolve a problem or situation be it personal or comunal."

We laugh because we talk openly about the realities of conflict and how it allows lack of development. Once we can admit the truth, we can begin to deal with it.

Many times material poverty is rooted in relational brokenness. Examples range from community council presidents being at odds with a local pastor and until they resolve their differences a local initiative is on hold. Or, if there are political differences between the local mayor and a village leader, permits, materials, or other recourses are not given until the conflict is resolved. We at CPHTH regularly serve as conflict mediators attempting to give an example for local leaders to then replicate.

The most practical take-a-ways from this topic for the community leaders were lists we made of things "to do" and "not do" when in a conflict. We talked about how to listen to multiple sides of issue and not to involve unnecessary people because in small villages a small interpersonal conflict is known by all in just a few hours or days. We ended our time role playing a few different common local conflicts and implementing the concepts presented in the workshop presentation.

Please pray for these 3 communities, each local CoHi comision of 9 leaders, and all the activity going on. Pray for the specific topics we mentioned from this summer, that God would use this to do a work in and among the people. That they would draw closer to HIM and each other. That through this process true development would continue in personal ways and at the community, municipal, and even country level. We believe that has true holistic development happens- poverty, in all of it’s forms, is slowly and sustainably alleviated.

Some of you may have additional questions about CoHi, HtH, or just Honduras and the people themselves. Please always feel free to email us: seldridge@hth.org. We are always ready to continue the discussion and field questions.

We will leave you with a last story from this summer...

Immediately following a CoHi workshop Adonías from Lomas del Aguila approached us and in his quiet, humble way began to share deeply about how many concrete changes he has made in his personal life the past year and he attributed it to Heart to Honduras allowing him to be a part of this program. He listed off thing after thing that opened his eyes and taught him. He shared who he used to be and that not long ago he was disengaged, apathetic, and indifferent to his family and even the communitiy’s direction; now he saw his potential to actually make some changes and the possibilities all around his village. After listening to him for a while, I looked at him and asked, “do you know where this change is coming from? Who is doing this?” I told him it wasn’t us as CPHTH facilitators nor the CoHi program itself. He responded, “God himself.” I responded with an enthusiastic, “Yes! It was God who was invading his heart and opening his eyes.” We continued to talk about God, his power and the Holy Spirit. How through the Holy Spirit we have the power to love and make practical, holistic changes at home and in our communities. People and conversations like these continue to give us hope in the ONE who has always been at work in Honduras, is working NOW and always will be. Praise be to HIM, great things HE is doing.

Coming Soon! In the next CoHi update...All three communities celebrate the inauguración of their Genesis Projects - with some truly amazing results!

HtH : Heart to Honduras - the stateside organization composed of North American and Honduran staff living in the States. Website: www.hth.org

CPH : Corazon Para Honduras - the Honduran organization composed of all Central American staff in Honduras. Website: https://ministeriocph.org/es/

CPHTH - Corazon Para Honduras with Heart to Honduras - Though technically we are 2 separate legal entities, we work so closely and desire to work in unity that we identify ourselves many times as one team = CPHTH. You can see our full combined staff and their roles here.

CoHi - Communities of Holistic Impact - initiative launched in early 2018 digging deep into holistic development with 3 specific communities as a pilot program.

Thanks to all of you who read, pray and give to make this CoHi initiative possible!

A special thanks to our US HTH Partners in Transformation that give financially to make “Communities of Holistic Impact” possible!

  • Upper Arlington Lutheran Church in Columbus, OH
  • Canonsburg United Presbyterian Church in Canonsburg, PA
  • Bayside Community Church of God in Safety Harbor, FL