Catholic Mission Honduras
theme “Always There” the 15th Gehlen Catholic student mission trip
kicked off with a very moving send-off prayer service in the LeRoy Kellen
Memorial Gym on Tuesday, March 17. Sara Mayer
Westhoff, who had participated in two previous mission trips, spoke of
how special mission work is and its necessity. The thirty-two adult and student
missioners each lit a candle as Christian Leadership Team members read aloud the
reason each missioner was lighting his/her candle and the reason he/she wanted
to go on the mission trip. Family members then presented the missioners with
their t-shirts, crosses, and “junta” booklets, sending them out with their
Catholic School students and staff lined memory lane from the school door to the
bus. As the missioners carried the bags filled with donated supplies through the
human tunnel, the students touched the bags, signifying that a part of each of
them would travel with the missioners into Honduras.
"My mission trip was a good reminder
that here in the United States we live in a very materialistic
culture, but in reality, we need very little to live off."
"Though we helped the Hondurans, and they were
very grateful, I feel they gave me more in the life lessons they
taught me. Whereas we gave them a house or clothes that will only
last for a while, the mission trip made me a better person and put
my life into perspective."
~ DJ Loutsch
team’s mission was to build homes for three extremely poor families in the Nueva
Capital area of Tegucigalpa, along with ten bunk beds and three picnic tables to
be used at Santa Teresa de Jesús School. Nueva
Capital is mainly comprised of families who had to move to higher ground when
Hurricane Mitch destroyed their homes in 1998. We believe approximately 125,000
people live in the Nueva Capital area. Although many previous Gehlen Mission
Honduras teams had worked on water projects, this year’s team, like the 2014
team, was unable to do so due to the absence of water projects in the area to
which we previously traveled. The team would work in Honduras from March 18th
to March 28th.
Seivert, Julio Rivera, Marta Sosa, and Carlos Chicas met the team at Toncontin
Airport in Tegucigalpa. Francis had been in Honduras since December 2014
preparing for the team’s arrival, as well as working with various children who
have medical problems. Julio Rivera accompanies Francis throughout Honduras and
is a long-time friend of Mission Honduras LeMars, Gehlen Mission Honduras, and
Then Feed Just One. Marta Sosa, a member of the Cerro de Plata Foundation in
Tegucigalpa, handles the distribution of Then Feed Just One food in Honduras.
She also helped in the planning for the 2014 Gehlen Mission trip. Our bus driver
Carlos has become a trusted friend of Gehlen Mission Honduras over the years. He
is much more than a bus driver for our team, pitching in on all aspects of the
trip. This group quickly had the team loaded onto buses and on the way to Nueva
"The families were so grateful for
everything that we did for them. To us, it was just a tiny house,
but to them it was everything."
~ Janessa Milbrodt
"During the mission trip I grew so much more
emotionally and spiritually than I ever expected."
~ David Puhl
year’s mission team consisted of Carolyn Bickford (team leader), Francis Seivert,
Linda Reichle, Sr. Joan Polak, Dave Klein, Janet Klein, Mary Klein, Fr. Doug
Klein, Pat Jones, Bruce Kellen, Keith Bretey, JD Hunt, Mark Konz, Dennis Schmit,
Caroline Ascherl, Michaela Bretey, Abigail Chagolla, Carter Davis, Lucas Hunt,
Alex Kellen, Rachel Kellen, Nathan Klein, Nicole Konz, DJ Loutsch, Janessa
Milbrodt, David Puhl, Joscelyn Schipper, Ashley Schmit, Brittany Schmit, Melissa
Schmit, Molly Suntken, Sydnee Theisen, and Morgan Whitehead. After arriving at
Santa Teresa de Jesús School, their compound for the trip, the team settled into
their cramped quarters and readied themselves for their 10-day mission.
missioner on all Gehlen Catholic mission trips is responsible for all his/her
own costs. To date the Gehlen and Mission Honduras program combined have placed
794 missioners (36 different teams) on the ground in the second poorest country
in the western hemisphere. Five other mission programs have been created from
Gehlen Mission Honduras - the Briar Cliff University program in Sioux City, IA;
the Sisters of St. Francis, from Dubuque, IA; the high school mission teams from
Springfield Catholic High in Springfield, MO, St. Thomas More High School, Rapid
City, SD; and Bishop Heelan High School, Sioux City, IA. The Gehlen program,
along with the Briar Cliff, the Sister Water Project, Mission Honduras LeMars,
and Rotary For Life Water Project, have completed 37 water projects to date and
sent ten full scale medical brigades over the years. Clean drinkable water, Then
Feed Just One food, home building, and professional medical care, remain the
major goals of the Gehlen Catholic / Mission Honduras program. For more
information on the medical program please visit this same website for the
January medical trips. For more information on Then Feed Just One please visit
For more information on Mission Honduras LeMars go to
"The church by her nature is
She exists so that every man and woman may encounter Jesus."
for this year’s mission team began during the summer of 2014 when team leaders
met to decide the direction the team needed to take. With the lack of water
projects around the Esquias area and having one year of home building completed
in 2014, and other mitigating circumstances, it was determined two years ago the
team would take a new direction, focusing on relocating to Nueva Capital. Marta
Sosa of the Cerro de Plata Foundation, in conjunction with ACOES located three
extremely poor families in the Nueva Capital area of Tegucigalpa who desperately
needed homes. Planning then began to prepare the team in the task of the home
“lived” at the school, using classrooms as dormitory rooms. Supplies - such as
paint, construction tools, painting supplies - that the team used were stored
inside their dorm rooms also. Missioners slept on mattresses that were placed on
the floors in the classrooms. The team used the library for meals, which were
prepared each day by the hired cooks, Iris and Karen. Work days began at 5:30 –
6:00 a.m., allowing the team time to eat breakfast and finish their chores
before beginning the day’s project.
"I have never felt as happy and
as when I was in Honduras
and working with the people
~ Josie Schipper
"I loved being the reason for the Honduran's
smiles and their tears of joy. I will never forget how much the
Hondurans impacted me and made it a life-changing experience I won't
forget anytime soon."
~ Brittany Schmit
missioners were divided into groups each day to undertake the various jobs in
the area. One group taught English lessons to students in the lower elementary
grades. Each day the missioners were divided into different groups to allow
each missioner to do the various jobs. The missioners also built ten bunk beds
for families in the area and three picnic tables for the students to use. After
the homes were built, the missioners and families painted the outside and inside
of each home and installed the wiring, even if the family did not have access to
special day the missioners traveled to a feeding center in Talanga. At the
center poor children in the program are fed a noon meal when they leave school.
These children are taught to pray before meals, to wash their hands properly, to
use proper table manners, and to brush their teeth after eating. The Gehlen
missioners were quite excited to discover that the children in the center are
often given Then Feed Just One food, packed in various schools, churches,
communities and clubs throughout Northwest Iowa.
"The mission must continue, and hopefully, all who have experienced
this mission trip will continue their mission here at home
every chance they can."
"It is hard to believe that the
country we are born in can make
so much difference in who we are and what we have."
~ Dennis Schmit
overall Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras ‘Changing Lives’ program has three main
goals for each mission journey into Honduras: to do a work project of some kind,
to immerse themselves into normal Honduras life, and to experience the poverty
that grips so much of this beautiful country and people.
missioners delivered the gift bags to the homes of the Santa Teresa school
children, the poverty was quite apparent to all. The families receiving the gift
bags smiled as the missioners unpacked soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste,
lotion, toys, clothes, and shoes. Even the bag the items were delivered in was
considered a gift to the family. Seeing the dirt floors and walls of worn boards
with gaps between them, truly gave the missioners an eye-opening look at the
reality in which the Honduran children live each day. The formidable walks the
children undertake in the early morning hours to get to school by 7 a.m. showed
how important their education is to them.
"I have taken a couple things with me
from my short time
in Honduras. The first thing is to be grateful
for everything that I have, even the little things like running
water and indoor plumbing. I used to take these things for granted,
but I think twice about it now. Another thing is to love everyone as
if they were my family. I will be moreaccepting of others after
~ Molly Suntken
"A lot of people have been asking me questions,
such as 'How did the trip go?' or 'What was your favorite part?' I
don't know how to answer. I do a
lot of listening for the chickens,
dogs, and buses
at night, but most of all I listen to what God is
calling me to do next with my life to fill the piece
of my heart I
left in Honduras."
~ Morgan Whitehead
On the Thursday before their departure, the missioners had a special farewell
liturgy with the afternoon students (700 students) of Santa Theresa de Jesús
School. Fr. Doug and Fr. Patricio concelebrated the Mass. The music was led by a
talented blind Honduran youth. He played the keyboard and sang the music. The
missioners own choir group sang their theme song, “Always There” by Celtic
Thunder, as the meditation song after Communion. The missioners also excited the
school students by presenting the school with more than twenty soccer balls.
These soccer balls were donated by One World Play Project, whose goal is to
donate soccer balls to groups living in poor areas around the world. Fr.
Patricio thanked the missioners for all their work for the people of Nueva
Capital and invited Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras to return for years to
mission team definitely met the goals of their mission trip. From working
diligently on their chosen work projects, to playing with the children, to
participating in liturgies, the team received the opportunity to see what
Honduran life is like. From hand washing their own clothes in the pila, doing
daily chores, and taking one-minute cold showers, our missioners experienced a
little of what life is like for a person in Honduras. The missioners worked hard
at using their Spanish, and many students were happy to be able to carry on a
conversation with someone in Honduras. Many friendships were forged. Not a
single team member was ready to return to the States when the final day of their
"While changing the lives of the Hondurans
whom we built homes, we definitely changed ours, and we are all
better people because of it."
~ Carolyn Bickford
""I'm closer to God for having spent
with my Honduran brothers and sisters...
served the poor...
for being enriched by them."
become customary for the missioners to return home with only the clothes on
their backs. Team members sorted through all their personal belongings and
stacked them in a designated area in the library. These items will be taken by
the ladies and men of Nueva Capital, washed, and distributed among those who are
the neediest. Team members leave not only their clothing, but their shoes,
flashlights, sunglasses, and other items. That alone says a great deal about the
quality of young people with whom we deal with on our mission teams.
missioners returned home the next evening to their families’ welcome at the
Omaha airport. Though all missioners were happy to be home, every single person
shared their wonderful mission experience with all who would listen. This year’s
theme “Always There” was lived by each and every missioner as they lived their
mission journey in Honduras. Each day they let Jesus shine through them as they
worked and played among the Hondurans. They let Jesus shine through as they
served their TFJO food at the Talanga feeding center. They let Jesus shine
through as their lives were changed through their mission work. Gehlen Catholic
Mission Honduras ‘Changing Lives’ – what a fitting title!
Click above to browse the March 2015 Trip Photo Album...