PSALM 51: 2 & 10 - "Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me."
Helping Hands in Honduras
By Sarah Sessa
From April 22 to May 1, a group of 13 high school students and three leaders had the opportunity to serve at Casa Cielo Orphanage in La Ceiba, Honduras.
The Honduras team was lead by teachers Ms. Debbie Ayars, Ms. Julie Brink, and Mr. Jesse Wright. The students were Tania Avila, Morgan De Marco, Austin Doehler, Jessica Hoogerhyde, Jenny Jo, Alyssa Kuiken, Kristen Lindsay, Josh Mas, Cleveland McDaniel, Jamie Van Buiten, Sara Schoenig, Sarah Sessa, and Michelle Van Dyke.
While in Honduras, the team worked with ROC Ministries. They helped "Mama" and "Papa" Jones, the directors of the orphanage, take care of 18 children, all under the age of six. They also helped run many different outreach projects in the surrounding community.
The team had many opportunities to help with the kids in the orphanage. For example, team members served the kids their meals, showered and dressed them, and played with them. Also, the orphanage took advantage of all the extra help and had the team take the kids to the beach. This was a special treat since there are usually not enough adults to chaperone and to make sure the kids are safe.
Throughout the week these kids stole the hearts of every team member as close personal relationships were formed. Sophomore Tania Avila said, "The kids were so different than I had expected them to be! They were so full of joy and happiness, and they were so open."
The team also performed many work projects around the orphanage. For example, the artistic talents of freshman Michelle Van Dyke, sophomore Jenny Jo, and teacher Jesse Wright were put to good use as they, with the help of the other team members, decorated the children's bedrooms. They transformed the girls' room into a princess fairytale, and made the boys' room into a jungle. Michelle said, "I was so excited to have this opportunity because pictures can tell a story, and I was able to create a picture that the kids will continue to use their with imaginations to make it what they want to."
In addition to painting the inside, the team worked together to repaint the entire outside of the orphanage. After two days of paint brushes, rollers, and mango paint, the task was completed. Kristen Lindsey said, "I loved being able to see the final product, and know that we helped them do something that they would never have been able to do on their own."
One of the more challenging tasks that the team had was to treat the village children's heads for lice. The team had been able to form relationships with these children the day before through a Vacation Bible School program. The team came back to play soccer with the kids while the other team members de-liced the children's heads. Morgan DeMarco said "Really challenging, and I was a little bit nervous at first; but throughout the whole process the kids were smiling and overwhelmed with joy for what we were able to help them with."
This trip left a lasting impact on every person that went. Alyssa Kuiken explained how she was excited that she could, "build more relationships with the orphanage children and the children in the village." The image of joy seen on all of the children's faces is one that will never be forgotten.
Inspired by a mission trip to build a medical clinic in Uganda, Eastern Christian High School students work as a collective called Boiler Room Bombers to create a time-lapse art video bringing awareness to the plight and hope of displaced people in Uganda. AMAZING project for an ESSENTIAL cause. To learn more please visit us at www.easternchristian.org. THANK YOU
Eastern Christian Builds Hope for Uganda
Eastern Christian High School's new Experiencing Missions class taught by Ms. Debra Ayars is taking one very long field trip. From January 15th to the 25th, eight students and two teachers will be going to Uganda to combine real life experience with their semester-long class learning.
This is the second year that Eastern Christian (EC)is sending students to Uganda, although it is the first time the trip is a class activity. Last year, students met EC's sister school, St. Stephen's Academy, visited a IDP (internally displaced people) camp in Gulu in northern Uganda, and St. Mary Kevin's Orphanage in Kampala, Uganda's capital city. This year, after training for and discussing missions for a semester, the class will revisit the orphanage and IDP camp, where they hope to break ground for a new water filtration system and medical center. As they plan for the trip, the students have been video conferencing over the Internet with Touch the World Uganda missionaries Jesse and Andrea Kroeze about what the students should bring with them and what work they will be doing. It's sure to be a field trip that changes lives.
The Experiencing Missions class is inspiring other classes as well. Mr. Jesse Wright's Design Tech class cleaned up rough plans of the medical center, while learning the skills of drafting and architecture with AutoCAD. The plans have been submitted to the architect working on the project who will be asking the class to help with the blueprints of the medical center.
For their next step. Mr. Wright's class designed and physically built a symbolic model of the medical center. Originally planned to be a small scale project, EC Principal Jan Lucas encouraged the class to think larger. A few weeks later, a 6' x 8' wood structure was built in the school basement. During the entire project, Mr. Wright's class has collaborated on the project with Saint Peter's Prep School in Jersey City. Together, the two schools have worked on the architectural design for the medical center, and the two schools will come together for a culminating project.
After Mr. Wright's Design Tech class built the model building, his Art Advanced Placement class painted it. They painted the symbolic structure with images representing the culture and political issues facing Uganda. The class hopes to bring the model to juried art shows, as well as build miniature works that can be sold to raise money for the EC Missions Fund which is helping to finance this trip and the new water filtration system and medical center.
During the entire process of the design, building, and painting, a video camera documented the work. Visitors to the EC web site http://www.easternchristian.org will be able to see a sped-up video of the entire project (type "Uganda" in the Search box).
The model is to inspire the mission team and get them excited about the trip. "I am excited seeing three classes coming together and working together for one good cause." Mr. Wright said.
Eastern Christian High School is also planning other trips for this school year. During the March spring break, students will have the opportunity for service projects in Newark, NJ and Belize in Central America. In April, other Experiencing Missions class students will visit Honduras and work with missionaries and an orphanage there.
The Experiencing Missions class and teacher Debbie Ayars are excited to be able to tell others about their projects and trips. They are happy to speak at churches and small groups about their experiences and project plans. They are also trying to raise money for the projects and trips. The EC Missions Fund was established last year to provide money to make these ambitious plans a reality. For the trip to Uganda, the team is still seeking financial donations to cover the costs of the trip. Those interested in donating, or hearing more about the projects, can write Debbie Ayars at
or send a check made out to Foundation for ECSA with Missions Fund in the memo line to Eastern Christian, 50 Oakwood Ave., North Haledon, NJ 07508.
For more information about EC's Experiencing Missions please visit www.easternchristian.org and type "experiencing missions" in the search box.