Wanting to do something in Paul Langel’s memory, Paul’s
wife Karen and his sister Lisa believed that a mission trip to Honduras would be
perfect. When they presented their idea to family and close friends, everyone
totally agreed that a mission trip was exactly what Paul would have wanted. From
their hopes to do something that Paul would do himself, Project Paul – Pay It
Forward was born.
The Project Paul mission team began with an Ash Wednesday
Mass at St. James’ Church in Le Mars, IA. Fr. Kevin Richter, a member of the
team, met after Mass with the team and family members to bless them as they
began their mission. Each missioner was presented with a personalized hammer to
use during the trip and a cross made by Fr. Kevin from the nails of the old St.
Joseph’s Church in Le Mars. Paul had been a very active parish member and worked
on several church projects, including moving the main altar into the new St.
No act of
no matter how small,
is ever wasted.
After Mass the team boarded a bus for their hotel in Omaha.
That evening Bruce Kellen and Lisa Sitzmann split the mission group into four
teams, one per house. Each team was challenged to build and paint their house by
following the rules written in their folders. Timers would keep track of the
amount of time it took to build the house. One team member was designated as the
team’s leader, and another member was chosen as the person to make sure the
rules were followed properly. Each team wore kerchiefs in their team’s color,
which helped the judges to tell them apart. Quickly, the teams formulated their
plans for winning the house building contest in “Paul Langel” fashion – doing a
quality job quickly, creatively, but having fun while they worked.
Project Paul – Pay It Forward missioner members were
Francis Seivert and Carolyn Bickford, mission team leaders; Bruce Kellen,
construction leader; Karen Langel, Heath & Heather Langel, Jesse & Jackie Langel,
and Daniel Langel, Paul’s immediate family; Lisa & Todd Sitzmann, Desiree Langel,
Doug & Jackie Langel, Jeff & Char Langel, Ryan Langel & Diana Feldhacker, Mike &
Kelli Langel, James Langel, Kay & Chuck Kellen, Drew Kellen, Terri & Russ
Holzman, Mick Sitzmann, Fr. Kevin Richter, Jeremy Sitzmann, Eric Kellen, Corey
Sitzmann, Scott Hoffman, and Eric Kellen, family and close friends. Relatives
and family members who could not make the trip gave generous monetary and other
donations to help pay for the construction of the homes and to provide product
that could be given away to various families by the team.
We must use time
wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do
~ Nelson Mandela
The capacity to care is the thing
which gives life its deepest meaning and significance.
~ Pablo Casals
The team boarded a United Airlines flight early Thursday,
March 2, and arrived at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin Airport by 12:15 p.m. Team
members loaded their black flight bags into a transport truck and then piled
into their buses for the brief trip to Nueva Capital. They wasted no time in
unloading the bags once they arrived at Santa Teresa de Jesús School in Nueva
Capital, ate a quick lunch, had a short orientation, and went to work. Some team
members unloaded the black flight bags and sorted the products into large trash
bags for distribution to extremely poor Honduran families. Others began sorting
wood into what would be needed for each home.
Their first night in Honduras team leader Carolyn Bickford
explained the purpose of a junta – a chance for them to share thoughts and
feelings of the day to help process such an emotional and physically draining
event. To make it more relevant to this team, each night she posed only one
question or statement that she asked them to ponder and respond to if they would
like. The first night’s request that each team member share a memory of Paul, or
a way in which they were impacted by Paul, helped to set a mood for the entire
mission team that made sure everything was done in what all called “Paul’s way.”
are those who dream dreams and are ready to do whatever it takes to
make them come true.
~ Leon Suenens
work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord,
not for men.
~ Colossians 3:23
Their first full day in Honduras team members enjoyed
breakfast shortly after sunrise and then immediately loaded as much wood as
possible into the military transport truck. As soon as the wood was delivered,
the truck returned to the compound and was again loaded with wood for the
remainder of the houses. Hammering could be heard all over Nueva Capital as the
houses’ frames rose quickly. Team members met the Honduran families of their
homes and enjoyed getting to know them as they built houses together.
That evening Fr. Kevin celebrated Mass for Beau Langel,
Paul’s and Karen’s son. That was a nice way to center everyone for the night’s
junta, which focused on what each person did that day that reminded them of
Paul. Missioners were already being impacted by the Honduran people, especially
the family members of their particular homes. Although the temperature for that
night was to be 57 degrees, one man stated that he was planning to sleep on the
concrete floor of his new home, which still had no roof, because he was so proud
of his new home.
Unbelievably, all four homes were completed by the end of
the work day on Saturday. In two days four homes measuring 20’ x 20’ and divided
into three rooms were constructed, roofed, and painted. On Monday the wiring
will be installed in the homes, whether or not the families have electricity at
this time. Missioners took some time in the evening to build bunk beds for the
four homes and to make sure all gift bags are ready for scheduled deliveries on
Monday and Tuesday.
to bring cheer to others
will be the beginning of a happier life
~ Helen Keller
action of our lives
touches on some chord
that will vibrate in eternity.
~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin
The missioners celebrated Sunday liturgy at San Rafael
Church in El Guante. Alongside his brother Scott Langel and brother-in-law Todd
Sitzmann, Paul had helped to lay the floor tiles of that church during his
mission trip. It was after that trip that Paul had stated his desire to return
on another mission trip with one of his sons one day. Celebrating Mass for Paul,
his son Beau, his brother Jami, and his dad Marvin made the liturgy a special
memory for all missioners, but especially for Paul’s family members. The team
took some time before Mass to tour the original compound where Paul’s team had
stayed during their mission trip. Just before Mass ended, Lisa asked everyone to
think of someone who had been with them in good times and then to think of
someone who had been with them in times of trouble. Then each person in the
church was given a candle to light in memory of those people while music played.
It was a powerful moment.
The team ate lunch at a beautiful restaurant on the
outskirts of Valle de Angeles. Some missioners stayed there to relax and visit
while others ventured into the village to do some tourist shopping. The evening
ended back at the compound with a brief climb to the back of the compound to
view the lights of Tegucigalpa.
The world is
a living image of God.
~ Tommaso Campanella
When we are
by goals that have deep meaning,
by dreams that need completion,
by pure love that needs expressing,
then we truly live life.
~ Greg Anderson
Monday morning started early but team members were ready to
take on their activities of the day. Missioners grouped themselves by family
members into gift bag delivery crews. Those deliveries, totaling more than
thirty, allowed the missioners to see the utter poverty in which many Hondurans
live. They witnessed homes with dirt floors, walls of wood and sections of metal
patched with pieces of plastic, no latrines, washboards made of rocks, and much
more. All families who received gift bags of soap, clothing, shoes, shampoo,
toys, diapers, and the other products donated by all who supported the
missioners, were overwhelmed with gratitude for the items we Americans take for
When not delivering gift bags on Monday and Tuesday,
missioners worked on projects that would make their homes “special” by adding
little creative touches that would have been “Paul Langel approved.” Tables,
shelves, pictures, benches, were just a few of the items that the missioners
created to give their homes that special touch.
The final afternoon in Honduras gave the team a chance to
visit every home that they had built as they participated in a special home
blessing ceremony at each one. Fr. Kevin blessed the homes both inside and out
with holy water. One of Paul’s family members read the special cross/plaque that
Lisa had created and mission team members had carried into Honduras before
placing it on the wall of each house. The cross included the names of all
missioners on the back, as well as special prayers in Spanish on the front and
English on the back. Family members signed their ownership papers to become the
legal owners of their beautiful homes, and the door keys were handed over to
needs no translation.
~ 1 John 4:8
nothing so gentle
as real strength.
~ St. Francis de Sales
The team had a wonderful final junta and celebration on
their last night in Nueva Capital. The final mass in Honduras was celebrated on
the anniversary of Paul’s brother, Jami’s passing. It was a nice way to end a
day that had been physically, mentally, and emotionally draining for every
missioner. Prof. Jessica, the principal of Santa Teresa, expressed her gratitude
for the extra projects the missioners completed in the compound on their last
day – picnic tables, coat hooks hung in the kindergarten rooms, and a fence
alongside the school building.
As the Project Paul – Pay It Forward mission trip drew to a
close, all missioners agreed that they had “nailed it” for Project Paul. It had
been an awesome way for Paul’s family and friends to honor his memory and to
share in his love for Honduras.
Click above to browse the Project Paul 2017 Trip Photo Album...