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Going global to lend a hand

Going global to lend a hand

The Miami Herald reports on churches and synagogues traveling to the world to offer their hands and their skills to help others. One featured congregation is St. Philip’s, Coral Gables:

From St. Philip’s, Blanca Farnadas led a team of 15 in June on its annual trip to Our Little Roses residential home for girls in Honduras. Within concrete walls with electric wire in the gritty factory town of San Pedro Sula, an average of 54 girls live on the welcoming campus, which includes a fountain, courtyard and chapel.

Girls attend its bilingual school or a public one and also receive medical and dental care at its clinics. Mrs. Farnadas first accepted an invitation to visit the home eight years ago, her first mission trip, by the home’s founder Diana Frade and board chair, Bishop Leo Frade of the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida, and has returned ever since.

“We have a presence with the girls. (It’s) to know people are praying for them and caring for them and consistently visiting them. It’s like an extended type of family,” she said. “For me as a woman I see the potential these girls have. They will be able to fulfill their capabilities. To educate women, that will have an impact in this country.”

This year the team led vacation Bible school, tutored, baked pizza and cookies and took the children on beach and dinner excursions. Mrs. Farnadas, chaplain at St. Philip’s School, noted the need for more services for girls who are more neglected than boys in Honduras and are at risk for human trafficking and other dangers. And in addition to studying Christianity and academics, girls learn everything from job search skills to soccer to etiquette.

“Every year I find the ministry developing even more, the girls becoming more assertive, they are speaking more English…I see them more polished and growing up and learning more about the world versus their limited area…You sit one on one with them and they ask you what it was like to be a teenager. They are hungry for guidance.”

St. Philip’s is in the Diocese of Southeast Florida.

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Christopher Cooper

OLR is a ministry that was founded by Diana Frade and her husband Bishop Leo Frade when he was the Diocesan in Honduras. He is now the Diocesan in SE Florida where Diana and he continue their direction and support of OLR. Diana spends a large part of the year there. Bishop Frade is known throughout the Episcopal Church for his leadership on issues of justice and mercy, including his work with OLR, Mariel boat lift refugees (he was imprisoned for this), his support of the full inclusion of all members in the life and leadership of the Church, among many others.

From http://www.ourlittleroses.org

“Little girls begging for food is a common sight in Honduras.  Our Little Roses girls who have been  rescued from the most impoverished situations now receive healthy advantages in our loving home that include a good education, balanced diet, medical and mental health care and opportunities to learn how to succeed. We do continually receive new girls who have no one to care for them and who will also realize a life of hope. We rejoice when Our Little Roses girls graduate to enter the job market or achieve professional careers. OLR ministries are far reaching affecting many relationships beyond the girls including sponsors, families and people in Honduras who are served by Holy Family School , medical and dental clinics and our other outreach ministries. We believe that God calls us to raise up and serve the poor for a better life and we are connected through Christ.

The truth is that without financial support to keep the Our Little Roses Home open we would be guilty of unspeakable harm. It is our mission to work to eliminate the curse of poverty as best we can by preparing girls that God gives us so they as adults are a force for change upward in Honduran Society. This can be accomplished by equipping and inspiring each Our Little Roses girl to make a difference. We need you financial help to do the possible.”

Mary Caulfield

I agree with what Laura has said, and I also share John’s concerns about the “paternalistic baggage” of the term “mission.” Rather than using a different word, however, I think it would be more useful for us to think about how our host country thinks of mission. When we visit, even for a week, how are we supporting the long-term work of our sisters and brothers within the country? Are our activities during a visit helping to strengthen the work of people who have dedicated their lives to a particular community? Do we feel good because have contributed to the work of those who are receiving us? Or do we feel good because those who receive us are being gracious and hospitable?

John D. Andrews

Spending a week in the Dominican Republic with an exploratory team from the Diocese of Nebraska changed me forever. My faith was strengthened and my commitment to mission was solidified. It was and is important to me that missions be partnerships with the receiving entity being in charge. Also, as I shared in my EFM group last night, I have a problem with the word mission. To me it has paternalistic baggage. But, I don’t know another word to replace it; any ideas?

Ann Fontaine

Important to learn those things and not just going because it is exotic. Little Roses in Honduras was started by the bishop’s wife when they lived in Honduras. I think it has a great program to use volunteers in a good way that supports girls to take charge of their lives.

LKT

This sounds commendable. However, I hope that churches will take time to learn some important guidelines for what is and is not helpful in volunteering in another country. The blog Good Intentions are Not Enough has a great series of posts on this question, starting here: http://goodintents.org/volunteering-overseas/guideline-1

Laura Toepfer

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