St. Mark’s sent its first youth trip to Honduras in 1989. For the past twenty years, this relationship has evolved and grown and is now a deeply rooted expression of our mission as a parish “to engage boldly in the struggles of life and care for others with love, justice, and compassion.”
Originally, under the inspired leadership of parishioners Collie and Betsy Agle, our focus arose from a companion relationship with churches along the North coast of Honduras. St. Mark’s teens built desks and benches for several public schools and performed programs of storytelling and drama for the local children. Since that time, St. Mark’s parishioners have gone to Honduras roughly every other year. Most have been teen trips but there have also been adult trips and mixed teen and adult trips. Projects have included constructing classrooms, planting trees, building homes after Hurricane Mitch, building a cemetery wall, repairing and repainting San Marcos Church and building pews for the church. In addition, every trip includes opportunities for more people-to-people connections in the non-project moments: art projects and reading in the schools, skits to dramatize the importance of dental care, field days and time hanging out at the beach or in town center with the children.
In 2007, St. Mark’s created the Trinidad Conservation Project, an effort to support an exceptional Honduran agronomist – Roy Lara – to work with families to protect fragile mountain forests. In 2008, TCP became a part of a U.S. non-governmental organization, Sustainable Harvest International and expanded to include training families in sustainable agriculture as well as reforestation. St. Mark’s and other churches are now supporting Roy and his work in five villages, as they work to improve nutrition, protect community forest and water resources, and learn a way to improve their income.
In 2010, one adult group traveled to Honduras in February and, in June, a group of adults and young people will go carry on this work. To provide financial support to our partner organization and to assist with scholarships, we held our biennial Wake Up the Earth fundraiser in April, featuring great food, a legendary auction and the talents of our young people.
For 2014, St Mark's continues its support to the farmers and their families who are part of the Trinidad Conservation Project and Roy Lara. Currently adult and youth trips are not planned due to the deteriorating personal security situation.