Sunday, December 18, 2011

AFE's "Gran Fiesta de Navidad 2011"

There were fond, familiar faces. There were new faces. There were faces we have not seen for a while. Here a few snapshots of AFE's Gran Fiesta de Navidad, 2011....revealing the success of our labor in the garbage dump, and the great deal of work that is left to do.

A Night to Remember

December 10th was a night to remember at AFE. It was a night to remember the past, and how far the graduating seniors have come, and simply to remember the evening itself and the beauty of an unfolding miracle.

A diverse crowd of roughly 50 loved-ones gathered in a salon in Chiminike, the beautiful children’s museum and meeting facility. A slide show presented pictures of AFE’s seniors when we had first taken them out of the garbage dump. They were skinny back them and malnourished. Their faces with darkened with grim determination instead of the light of innocence children’s faces should reflect.

But God had has his way in their lives….thanks to donors like you and the committed staff of AFE.

When the music began, nine handsome young adults walked confidently down the aisle to the sound of ringing applause. Now their faces betrayed hope, self-confidence, purity and grace.

Rene Daniel Elvir Giron was the student chosen to give a speech to his fellow graduates. Rene was the first child Pastor Jeony rescued from the garbage dump.

When Rene stood up to speak, his did so with his usual confidence and teenage-boy bravado. But then something happened when it came time to thank the people who had invested in his life.Rene’s strong face melted into tears. His hid his face from the audience and his began to cry. Rey and Jesi stood beside him to give him support. After many moments of silence in the auditorium it became apparent that Rene could not go on. But he did not need to. His tears of gratitude spoke more than his words could have.

Pastor Jeony then addressed the graduates. He charged them to remember what God had done in their lives, and that their feat was not accomplished by their own power and strength. He encouraged them to always remember where they had come from, and where they are going. His final charge was to remember this night forever. I think I can speak for the graduates when I say: they (and we) always will.

Rene with his parents, garbage dump workers
who supported his education at AFE

Monday, November 21, 2011

Count Down to Graduation

The clock is ticking. 20 days remain. In 20 days, something the community never expected will occur. In 20 days something WE at AFE had hoped in faith was inevitable will be...

On December 10th nine excited young men and women will throw their caps in the air, and they will graduate high school.

Graduating high school may seem a small thing to us in the United States. It is almost expected of us and our c
hildren. Not so here. Not in a community with a third-grade education on average. Not in place of hopelessness like the garbage dump.

It will happen in the ballroom of a beautifully constructed science museum dow
ntown. The affair will be formal. Their parents will receive a hand-made invitation, delivered to their door any week now.

The young men and women, with the world at the feet, and the light of aspiration in their eyes, will walk in front of their friends and family with pride and receive their diploma.
It will be an event unlike any other. In the spiritual realm, it will be a huge victory. Because children and parents who have given up, have thought: “Why should I continue in school? What´s the point?” They will know that it is possible to
go to college and better your life, because of the courageous stance of these young champions.

*** If you would like to contribute to this event to make it EXTRA special
for our 11th graders, you can do so with your credit card online at: AFE´s Cart. Please write choose the option of "You Choose" and write AFE Graduation in the note.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Place to Lay Your Head

---Report on 121 Community Church Mission Trip with Orphan Outreach, by Bob Beams---

Several months ago, the leaders at AFE discovered the Castro family (see blog: "You Are Not Alone") To review, the alcoholic father of this family had burned down their home and abandoned the family. They were all living in the garbage dump using old plastic or anything they could to keep out the rain. They ate what they found in the trash and felt constantly threatened by the men in the dump. None of the kids were in school and all scavenged through the trash daily to find recyclable to sell to middlemen.

AFE found a business group from the United States called "LMSPI" to come and build a home for the family. Additionally, all of the Castro children are enrolled at AFE, learning in the after school program, and attending church on the weekends. When we arrived on our trip we found the family had no furniture and were sleeping on the concrete floor without even one blanket. We built three bunk beds with new mattresses, a table and some benches and shelves. It was a huge joy to see them lay down on their beds, flip around to find a comfortable position, with big smiles on their faces. It was so wonderful to know that tonight, for the first night in ages, they would have a good night's sleep. Believe me, the impact of this experience--and also the experience of the whole week---will never leave us. Our lives have been enhanced richly, deeply, and eternally.

To learn more about taking a mission trip with Orphan Outreach, visit: OO Mission Trips

Online Yearbook

Many have asked if there is an online database with pics of every AFE student. This is harder to do than you would think :)

However, here are our most current pictures of our current AFE students: AFE Yearbook on Picasa. Enjoy, and remember to pray for them!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Why Books IN SPANISH are the Greatest Treasure

By Adam Macenczak

Last semester, I was given the opportunity to teach PUBLIC SPEAKING to our High School students. To make it more interesting (and less intimidating), I decided to mix up the assignments and have them speak in front of different crowds. One of those assignments required them to read a children's book to our kindergarten class at AFE. Yet, as the teenagers at AFE went through our library here to find a book to read to younger children, they encountered a surprising difficulty. Of all of the books we have at AFE, the majority of them are in English!

What has happened is that when teams visit from the States, they often bring donations in the form of books---but in English. The motivation has been to offer books that can help our kids learn English, but these books have quickly taken over our library. And in Honduras, children’s books are unfortunately, a scarcity.

This need has been weighing heavily on my heart. I think back to when I was a child and all of the books I had at my fingertips. These children are missing out on such a wonderful and necessary component of their education. We want to offer them the kind of library that we had growing up and give them the opportunity to open their eyes to a new world. The love of reading is often where the love of learning begins.


AFE does not have the funds to makeover the library. At this point, we are lacking the most basic need...the books. We want to ask you to consider being a part of this project and help our kids receive new books in their language. WE NEED BOOKS FOR ALL AGES: beautifully illustrated books for children…more challenging books for early readers, and classic novels for the older children.

If you would like to participate in this way and donate books, we currently have two "drop zones" where you can bring them (or mail them):

6015 Old Stone Mountain Rd.
Stone Mountain, GA 30087

2485 Scenic Highway South
Snellville, GA 30078

Or, if you are further from Georgia, you could bring them with you on your mission trip! Even just one book will be able to help many of our children.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Filming of AFE Documentary In Progress

In 2010 a moving documentary rocked a film festival in Southern California. The twelve-minute film showed footage of Hurricane Mitch (which struck Honduras in 1998); it explained how many families were forced to scavenge when they lost everything, and how AFE began in response to the growing number of children in the trash dump.

The producer of “Awaken Honduras” took footage in the dump and spent the night with the Paz family to see first-hand how an average family from the garbage dump lives. Viewers were aghast when they saw Jefry Paz sleeping on the floor, his head propped up against a cement wall, and his younger sister sleeping on top of garbage bags.

In response to this film, the Paz family was one of the first AFE families to receive new, dignified housing. The mother of the Paz family has become a leader in AFE’s women’s co-op, Luz y Esperanza, and does well enough to provide for her family. The tanned toddler who sat in the dirt has become a sweetheart of AFE’s, charming everyone with brilliant smile. And the oldest daughter in the Paz family makes the best marks in the eighth grade.Not only has the Paz family prospered from their participation in “Awaken Honduras,” but the film has been instrumental in AFE fundraising across the country.

Now JJ Starr, Awaken’s producer, is back to shoot a longer documentary and tell more of AFE’s story. His new project, loosely titled “See You at the University” will be 50 to 90 minutes and highlight AFE’s first group of students to go on to study at college. He is focusing the story on two extraordinary students: Rene Elvir, the first child Pastor Jeony rescued from the garbage dump, and Merlin Valladares, who has gone to great lengths to continue studying at AFE.

JJ Starr and Lindsay Jernigan have donated their time and expertise to make this movie.

The documentary is scheduled to be completed in 2012, depending on whether more footage is needed. In its completion, this film will be instrumental in the long-term fundraising task of finding college scholarships for AFE students as they graduate high school.

Look for it on JJ’s website, Falling Kid, and see some of the other amazing projects whose stories he has told through film.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Specialized Science Teachers Come to AFE

AFE is excited to welcome Ryan and Erika Lewis as our newest volunteers. After two months of intensive Spanish study in Copán, Ryan and Erika arrived last week to begin their time of service at AFE.

The Lewis’s are both graduates from the University of Idaho and have been married for two years. Erika graduated with a double major in Biology and secondary education while Ryan received his civil engineering and then a Master's degree in geo-technical engineering. They have come to serve with AFE at a crucial time as more and more students move up to higher levels of math and science and we have lacked the personnel qualified to teach such classes.

Ryan and Erika have visited AFE several times over the years working with construction and medical teams with their home church, Lake City Community Church in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Yet it was on their first trip to AFE in March 2010 that they both felt God leading them to uproot their lives and move to Honduras to serve as teachers. One and a half years later, they are here with us, full of energy and ready to see what God has in store for them.

This enthusiastic young couple will serve as a great example of a godly pair to the young people of AFE. When asked what they hoped to get out of their year-long term of service the poor country of Honduras, Erika replied:

“As a couple we hope to create a foundation for our marriage where God is the leader...and to put ourselves in a situation where we must rely on God and each other to work through ‘the good and the bad.’ We also hope to be mentors and encourage the students of AFE in their lives at school and at home. We have said that next December will be the end of our time in Honduras [we will be with the students the entire school year], but we are going to be flexible to what the Lord has planned for us at that point. We don't know what God has in store for us this year, but we know already that He is going to be using us and stretching us in ways we would have never dreamed possible.”

We are so blessed to have this couple bring their talents, enthusiasm and compassionate hearts to serve AFE. Please pray for Ryan and Erika as they adapt to life in a new country with a new language and begin to play a part in rescuing children from the trash dump. For more updates, you can visit their blog at

Monday, September 19, 2011

Breast Pumps Save Babies

At AFE we strive to meet the healthcare needs of the students and their families while extending our reach to other patients in nearby communities. A large part of what I (Hollie Macenczak) do as the nurse at AFE’s clinic relies on donations of medical supplies. Recently, the Health Resource Center (HRC) from Washington Cathedral (WC) donated two high-quality, manual breast pumps to two women in need with two very different situations. A mission team from WC generously transported the pumps when they came to serve at AFE for a week.

One of the leading causes of infant mortality in Honduras is diarrhea. Moms who use formula often mix the powder with contaminated water, which causes diarrhea and dehydration. Often times they over-dilute the powder in order to save money and babies suffer from malnutrition. These breast pumps were such a blessing to combat these easily-solved problems and to improve the health of babies in situations of desperate poverty.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how these women would respond to using a breast pump because this type of thing is practically unheard of within this cultural group. Neither woman had seen a breast pump before nor known another woman who had used one. The good news is that most women who live here breastfeed for financial and health reasons, so both women were willing to try this new method of pumping.

The first woman (I’ll call her Stefany) is a 16-year-old new mom who had mastitis. Mastitis is a painful, and sometimes dangerous, infection of the breast tissue and nipple often caused by a bad latch and not emptying the breasts completely with every feeding. It is always a challenge to breastfeed for the first time, especially as a young mom, so when Stefany initially came to me with this infection, I knew I had a small window of time to encourage her to continue providing healthy breast milk to her baby. At her first appointment, Stefany successfully pumped two ounces of milk all by herself! After seeing how easy it was to manage the pump independently, she continued to breastfeed regularly and to use the pump in between feedings. After only two days of regular feeds and pumping, Stefany was recovering physically and still able to provide breast milk for her baby.

The second woman (I’ll use the name Maria) is a mother of six children. She works in the trash dump, collecting and recycling materials for a living. After having her baby, she had to return to work, but still wanted to breastfeed. In the past Maria could never have done this without a breast pump!

You might be asking yourself, “How can I help?” Donations of medical supplies and medications are always needed. Also, monetary donations are great for buying antibiotics and other prescription medications that are more economical to purchase Baby Johanna (pictured here with her cousin) is
one of the babies to benefit from the breast pumps
here in Honduras than transport from the U.S.

If you are interested in making a donation to the clinic at AFE, please feel free to contact me at and I will send you our current needs list and let you know how you can help.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

You Are Not Alone

I sensed them before I saw them. The garbage dump had descended the hill and was now standing in our doorway….the flies buzzing in near proximity, the smell overwhelming. Of course they smelled like the garbage dump. They had been living there the last couple of months.

Their father, in a fit of anger, had set their house to blaze and their family to flee. They found sanctuary in the garbage dump…but not much. Their sanctuary was pieces of plastic mounted waist-high. On rainy nights the young mother, her 15-year-old daughter, and other children of twelve, eight, and six years, huddled together in the mud and trash and tried their best to sleep. They found discarded, rotting food to eat and bottles that still had some soda left in them, and they survived. The mother did everything she could to protect her children, but it would not be enough for long. Men in the garbage dump had noticed her fifteen year-old daughter. They each promised her a place to live and food to eat, if she would come and “be his wife.” It seemed an attractive proposition in light of their situation.

Angie, the six-year old, was the first member of the Castro family we met, in an outreach event to feed the workers of the garbage dump. Angie told us of her situation then hauled her whole family down to AFE to see what we could do. AFE’s leadership met with the mother, listened with empathy to her tale, and knew that we would do the same if the lives of our children were threatened.

“You are not alone. God knows about the trials your family has been through and He has cried with you. He brought you here, to a community that takes care of one other. And He is, right now, in the process of rallying people to help. Let’s go find out who he has called to help you.”

Five minutes later, a visitor who had come to Honduras for other purposes but stopped by AFE for the day went up to AFE’s computer lab. He took out his credit card and charged $5,000 to AFE’s online donation website to pay for a house for the Castro family, to whom no credit is available.

We began work immediately on the house. The children entered AFE’s after school program and begin coming to the church, where the Honduran community takes food offerings for those in need. We put them up in a house, rent-free while their home is being constructed. And Jesi Ordonez, AFE’s principal sat the oldest daughter down, in front of mirror.

“Katarin,” she told her lovingly, “I want you to take a look at yourself. Look at how beautiful you are. Not just on the outside, but the beauty deep within your soul that shines out of your eyes. You are too beautiful, too wonderful to give yourself away to a tyrant in the garbage dump who will use and abuse you. Wait…and pursue the plans that God has for you. Because he certainly does, he would not have brought you to us otherwise.”

*** Katarin, Alexandra, Brian and Angie are all available for sponsorship. Contact for more information or give online at:
AFE's Cart

Monday, September 5, 2011

List of Needs

Many have asked: what are AFE's needs? What can we bring down to help? We can get things donated in the States, we can pack our suitcases. What do you need?
Here is the list, for the next couple of months, of small things that would be a great help to AFE.

- Ringed notebooks – 1, 3 or 5 subject
- Small non-ringed notebooks for elementary school
- Dry erase markers and eraser
- Masking tape
- Poster board
- Pencil sharpeners
- Construction paper
- Staplers
- Educational posters in Spanish
- Hole punchers
- Microscopes
- Any educational decorations such as posters with multiplication table, alphabet, etc

EDUCATIONAL GAMES - ideally in Spanish
- Scrabble
- Boggle
- Monopoly
- Memory
- Bingo
- Uno

- Set of 10 books for 7-11th grade. For example 10 copies of "Chronicles of Narnia" for 8th grade (in Spanish, of course).
- Books to read aloud for beginners in Spanish

- Baby shampoo and conditioner
- Baby powder
- Baby oil
- Towels
- Lotion
- Wipes
- Diapers
- Fitted sheets for cribs
- Baby bottles
- Shoes for Baby – ages 2 - 4
- Shoes for Girls – ages 3-6
- Thermos for making baby bottles
- Plates and cups for children
- Underwear for boys and girls
- Puzzles for children
- Hand sanitizer
- Curtains for nursery
- Clothes for nursery (sizes 6 months to 4 years)

- 400 mg Albendazole (Worm medicine)
- Hydrocortisone cream
- Sun screen
- Bug repellant
- Allergy medicine – Not Benadryl, but Zyrtec and Claritin – For adults and children
- Liquid Tylenol or Liquid Ibprofen – No pills

- Computer covers
- Keyboard covers for typing
- Extension cords
- Curtain rods
- Air compressors

- Cooking Knives
- Spoons
- Forks
- Plastic bowls
- Plastic cups
- Cutting board
- Vegetable Peeler
- Cheese Grater
- Industrial size pots and pans
- Rags for cleaning
- Curtains and curtain rods
- Hand soap for bathroom
- Mirrors for bathroom
- Toilet paper

If you have any questions about this list, please contact Thank you so mjuch for your help!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Valesca, Katarin and Angelica Return to AFE

This Sunday my worship was more joyful than usual. I had the opportunity to share the experience with someone long missed. Valesca Mondragon sat next to me at church and smiled at me as we danced together unto the Lord.

About two months ago we received news that Katarin, Valesca, and Angelica had returned to Tegucigalpa and were back living with their aunt near the garbage dump. We were not sure why this decision was made, but the girls were back at their old home, happily hanging out with their extended family. Mysteriously, the aunt who had once forced them to work in the garbage dump was no longer doing so. Perhaps this was one of the prerequisites for her taking them back. Thank God that the girls did not go back to picking garbage, but they were still not in school.

AFE needed to tread carefully.

This aunt knew that we were partly responsible for taking them away from her and moving them to Catacamas. After friendly visits the aunt began to see that AFE did not wish her any ill harm, and was only acting out of love for the children. Then a medical brigade came to AFE and the aunt found herself in need of medical attention. When she experienced the expert care from the doctors a

nd free medicine for her family, she began to think: AFE is here to bless us, full of benefits for peo

ple in need. It would be ridiculous to miss out on these things. Jesi Ordonez, AFE’s director, met with her and asked if the three girls could come back to school at AFE. The aunt agreed, but mentioned it would be difficult with the increasing costs of transportation. The girls live about 2 miles from the school, on a dangerous road, and walking to and from school was just not proving feasible. We worked out a situation in which our volunteers could

pick them up in the mornings and then AFE would provide bus fare for their way home.

Since then, the girls have come to AFE and church and quickly fallen back into their old places….the centers of our hearts.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Fonseca Family Builds Their Own House...with Help!

Julio Fonseca is a construction worker in Tegucigalpa, one of thousands. Several years ago Julio could not find work so he moved his family to the country. This meant withdrawing his children from AFE. But work was also scarce in the country. With no other option, the Fonsecas came back to Tegucigalpa, this time to work in the garbage dump. Their two older children (once AFE students) came back to Tegucigalpa with children of their own.

When the Fonsecas returned, we immediately accepted the four school-age children into AFE (the young girls with babies preferred to stay home to take care of their babies). Tania, Maria, and Julio became students again and children available to sponsor. Around the same time a team from Washington Cathedral visited AFE and fell in love with the Fonseca children. Tania’s sponsor learned that the family of nine huddled together in a one-room shack susceptible to the elements.

Tania’s sponsor did not have a lot of money herself, but she did have retirement savings. She leveraged that savings to provide a house for the Fonseca family. The $5,000 cost to build a house included salaries for laborers. AFE hired Julio to build his own house, along with his oldest son. But the construction was not limited to the Fonseca family. Other fathers who had received house-help from AFE joined in. And a team of young people from Washington Cathedral came to Honduras to help as well.

The Fonseca house truly was a community-of-God endeavor…a community that stretched across several nations. It began with a church mission trip, moved to Sponsorship, then to providing the stability of a home. It was beautiful to see the Washington Cathedral teenagers taking pictures of the Fonseca children as they marveled at their “mansion” (as they called it), knowing that they would share this experience with the children’s sponsors, who are also part of the church.

Isn't it amazing what happens when we all get
together and push? Washington Cathedral has adopted the Fonseca family. If your church would like to become involved in a similar endeavor, contact

Monday, August 15, 2011

Uriel's Miracle

For the last two years, Lake City Community Church in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho has been sending mission teams to Tegucigalpa to work on the Learning Center for AfE’s church (see previous article). The teams have partnered with Honduran construction workers on AFE’s payroll to labor together and put up the walls, slowly but surely.

One of the construction workers they met and became fond of over the years is Ozman Uriel Medina Lagos. Uriel’s story was not unlike the stories of many other young men in Honduras.

Uriel’s father abandoned his family when Uriel was young. His mother, without skills and education, scraped by making and selling donuts, and tried her best to feed her three children. The youngest brother, William, was sometimes mock

ed in school for wearing Uriel’s old shoes, which looked like clown shoes on his feet. When Uriel was old enough, he dropped out of school so he could work in construction and help put food on his family’s table. Years went by. The Medina Lagos family became strong members of the Amor y Vida church in the Miller, where they live. Pastor Jeony learned of their situation and looked for opportunities to hire Uriel and help this family in any way he could.

Soon Uriel was a regular member of AFE’s construction staff, but he secretly dreamed of continuing his education someday. Then he encountered the members of Lake City. Another they lived in a land far way, the people from Lake City took immediately to Uriel with his cheerful disposition and humble attitude. They noticed how intelligent he was and became curious why he was not furthering his education. When Pastor Jeony relayed Uriel’s story to the team, they decided they would chip in together to provide a scholarship for him.

When Rey Diaz (AFE’s U.S. Liason) told Uriel the team from Lake City wanted to meet with him, Uriel’s first response was: “Oh no, did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble?” Rey drove him to the team’s hotel where they had dinner and Uriel was very nervous.

Pastor Jeony asked Uriel to share his story with the group and asked him if he had a life dream. Uriel replied shy, “I would love to go to a university someday , study engineering, and attain a career to better support my family.”

At this point the team shared with him: “Uriel, God wants to make your dreams come true. We would like to give you a scholarship to study at a university and a stipend to take care of your family’s living expenses while you are studying.”

Uriel did not utter a word. His mouth dropped open. The group waited in joyful expectation. But Uriel did not say anything. He looked around the room, confused, perhaps searching for the signs of a joke in the team’s faces. When he saw nothing but smiles of excitement the truth set in. Then the tears came, flowing down his face in joyful grattitude to God.

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. 18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and cloth” (Deut 10:17-19)

Thank you, Lake City, for serving as the instruments of God to make one young man’s impossible dreams come true.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Replicating AFE

The situation in the Tegucigalpa Garbage Dump is not unique. Other garbage dump communities exist in Choluteca and in San Pedro Sula, Honduras….and in many other places of Central America. If a town in poor country like Honduras does not have an organized trash dump, it still has children scavenging the streets to survive.

AFE’s success in rescuing children from the garbage dump has been tremendous and inspiring. And when God began opening doors for AFE and Pastor Jeony, the question arose: how can we replicate what God is doing at AFE in similar situations of children at risk in Latin America?
It wasn’t long before God called and formed a team for this vision. Three years ago Lake City Church in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho visited AFE and shared their heart: “We are interested in training church leaders to meet the specific needs of their contexts….especially if that context is extreme poverty.” Then Pastor Jeony was awarded the position of mission coordinator for his denomination. He began speaking about AFE at many different churches in the region and after his talk the line to speak to him was long. “How can we do what you are doing at AFE in our own communities?”

The vision for Amor y Vida’s Learning Center was born.

The idea is that pastors from poor communities without a lot of training would come to the learning center (beside AFE’s church in the Linda Miller community) to receive practical training in how to reach their communities and maybe even a trade with which to survive. (In these poor communities pastors cannot live on the offerings of their church and must be bi-vocational). The focus will be on how to manifest the transformational gospel in their community to meet the needs that arise out of extreme poverty.

The dream for the Learning Center is in the same stage and the actual building of it. The structure and frame is set-up, but it is not finished.
Would you pray for this vision, that God would guide the planning process, that He would bring the right people onto the team, and provide funds to finish the building?

$3,000 (at least) is needed to finish construction. If you would like to be part of this project in any way, please contact

Monday, July 25, 2011

Reaching Out to the Carias Family

Two years ago they came from the country to the city looking for work. When every hoped for opportunity did not pan out, like many before them, Ana and Norlan Carias found themselves in the garbage dump. On the weekends they would return to their family’s home in the country but then on Monday it was back to Tegucigalpa to sort through trash. On weeknights they would find shelter in the garbage because they had nowhere else to go. The young couple would huddle together amidst the trash and hope that the dangers lurking in that place at nightfall would stay far away.

Soon Alexandro was born and as a baby he joined his mother in the trash dump. This is when AFE met the Carias family. An AFE mother introduced us to Ana and Alexandro because like us, she did not want any baby to grow up in the garbage. We took Alexandro into the nursery where he receives proper nutrition, health care, and thrives in a clean facility and loving care. With the added economic benefit of not having to pay for milk and diapers for Alexandro, Ana and Norlan were able to rent a small shack outside of the garbage dump. Their situation was looking better and better.

Ana and Norlan joined AFE’s church and then AFE’s adult education program in the afternoons. Ana is at the 6th grade level and Norlan the third. It is a courageous move, especially for the father in this culture, to admit that he needs help and wants to learn and grow.

This last week Ridge Point Church in Lakeland, Florida (and Trash Mountain Project) built a new house for the Carias family. The property and the house are in AFE’s name, until Alexandro turns 18. The Carias family finally has stability, and a home of their own. Tears of gratitude cannot even begin to express how thankful Ana especially felt for how God had blessed her family.

In her house there is only one adornment. It is a picture of the Last Supper and it says, “Where there is faith, there is love. Where there is love, there is peace. Where there is peace, there is God. And where there is God, you will never lack for anything.”

In faith Ana put this reminder in her home, and this week she has seen it come to pass.

*Ana and Norlan are still available for sponsorship in AFE’s afterschool program. $36 a month pays for their education at AFE. If you would like to sponsor either of them, please contact

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hello and Goodbye

June is the month of transitions for AFE as we say “Nos Vemos!” (See you later) to some of our beloved volunteers (Paul Sloan, Leah Kooy, Johanna Novoa); and “Bienvenido” (Welcome) to new volunteer friends.

Steve Poulson (from England), Keith McCollough (from Idaho), and Matt and Tracy Ulrich (Gainsville, Florida) will be with us for one month this summer, sharing their time and talents with AFE.

If you would like to volunteer with AFE, positions open after June 2012 but now is the time to get your applica

tion in as positions close quickly. For more information, contact

Monday, July 4, 2011

Progress in AFE's Clinic

In January AFE’s nurse, Hollie Macenczack, began working toward a clinic for the children and families of the garbage dump. The task, while seemingly simple, is a complicated and daunting one. In the garbage dump of Tegucigalpa (and all over the world), sit many abandoned clinics, which began with flash and excitement, but eventually became vacant when the international do-gooders who started them returned to their homeland.

We did not want this to happen with AFE’s clinic. Along with AFE’s overall vision, we dreamed of building a clinic that would be long-term sustainable, that would incorporate local (Honduran leadership), and that would meet the needs of garbage worker in a holistic way.

Hollie began the task by learning about the health needs of the garbage dump community and making connections with medical personnel in the area. She has also set up a small clinic/office near AFE’s administrative offices, at which she attends to the daily health needs of AFE’s students and stores medical supplies.
During the week Hollie helps families to make appointments for AFE’s clinic hours, in which a Honduran doctor (Carlos Escobar) sees patients.

More and more patients are coming as they learn about the availability. And more and more connections are made, both locally and abroad, as people get behind this beautiful idea of a locally-led, sustainable clinic for garbage workers.

For more information about how you can help, contact:

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Earth is the Lord's

Reflections on Stewardship, by Elise White Diaz

This week I returned to Tegucigalpa. I returned to a day spent in traffic, just trying to get home. I returned to a faulty phone and internet connection. I returned to a house devoid of running water (until we could get it fixed). I had been spoiled in the United States for a month and forgotten what life was life for the majority of the world’s population.

In 2005, half of the world’s population lived on less than $2.50 a day ( 80 % of the world’s population lived on less than $10 per day. Recognizing how differently the majority of the world lives has important implications for how we steward the Lord’s resources.

Psalm 24:1-3 says it well: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.” And just as God once called Adam and Eve to take care of the garden, he also calls us to be stewards of the resources he made available to us on the earth. Stewards are people who manage another’s property or financial affairs (the Lord’s). They are not our resources to begin with. This is a scary proposition.

On Sunday Rey shared a story with AFE’s church congregation. It was the story of the chicken and the pig. One morning the chicken and the pig were hungry and brainstormed putting a breakfast together. The chicken said: “How about this? We each need to put in something, so it’s fair. I’ll put one egg in. All you need to do is supply the bacon.” “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” said the pig. “That is hardly a fair proposition. It costs you next to nothing to supply the egg, but for me to supply the bacon is a whole other story. I would have to cut off a leg, or maybe even give my very life!”

What happens to us, Rey continued, is that we start just giving God our eggs, instead of our whole being, because it seems easier at the moment. But God calls for our everything: our time, and talents, and resources, our imaginations, our very selves. They were his to begin with and they will be his in the end, when we meet him face to face and he asks us how it went, how we stewarded all that he gave us to use for the expansion of his kingdom.

Daily, moment by moment, I am finding that I must remind myself that every blessing from God is not for my own enjoyment, but to invest in the work to which he has called me. I encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

AFE's New Teachers

As more and more kids move on to high grade levels there has been an increasing need for more teachers. This last year we have been delighted to welcome three new members to AFE’s staff and two new short-term volunteers.

Oscar Manuel Rosales Hernandez is a young father and new Christian, who is seeing his life-long dream to teach become reality. Pastor Jeony was impressed with Oscar when he first met him. He jumped into church-life with fervor in his faith and action. He is a likeable young man who finds his joy in teaching. He travels nearly an hour across to town to come to AFE, then returns home to care for his six-month old baby. Oscar teaches 4th grade in the mornings and 4th and 6th in the afternoons in our adult education program.

Many will recognize Jose Arturo Lopez Valladares from the Amor y Vida Church. On Sundays he is often in front of the congregation helping to lead worship with evident passion for his savior. Arturo was hired to teach 2nd grade at AFE because he is “an exemplary husband and an exemplary father,” (says Jesi Ordonez) and AFE’s children desperately need positive male role models in their lives. In the afternoons Arturo also serves as a good role model to our older students in the adult education program.

Jeymi Johana Figureroa comes from good genes. She is the cousin of the famous Figueroa siblings: Roger and Wendy (who now serves as AFE’s social worker). Like her cousins, Jeymi is a grounded young woman…something the children of AFE truly need. Jeymi came to AFE to teach the sixth grade highly recommend from her church, in which she was a leader in Christian education. She can often be seen hanging out in her classroom after the bell rings, chatting with students who need someone to listen to them.

Vannesa Nicoll Romero Ordonez has been a part of AFE for the majority of her life, working alongside her parents Jeony and Jesi Ordonez, to help as needed. Now she is excited to work more directly with children from the garbage dump, teaching biology and chemistry as she herself studies medicine at the university level.

AFE is excited to welcome this new staff and to see the impact they have on the children of the garbage dump!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Makes an Effective Mission Team?

Many scholars in the field of World Missions have recently been noting the ineffectiveness of short-term mission trips. In their book When Helping Hurts, Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett question the effectiveness of short-mission-trips, partly because the total cost to send the team abroad could be used instead to hire indigenous workers for a year! This investment is often justified because we expect the visiting team to continue giving to missions when they return. Yet findings prove otherwise. “Kurt Ver Beek’s data indicates that there simply is not a significant increase in long-term missions giving for either the team members or their sending churches” (Fikkert and Corbett).
As a long-term missionary who receives more than 20 mission teams a year, I can see their point. When some people visit, we enjoy their company for a week (or for a day if they came to serve at other project but just visit AFE); we see that they are touched or moved by the children of AFE, but then we never hear from them again. My hope for these people is that they plug in somewhere else, to be used by God to help the poor in some other capacity. But Fikkert and Corbett suggest that this is often not the case.

This begs the question, what makes an effective mission team? What happens on a team so that its participants experience long-lasting change from their time abroad?

It is difficult to measure how much impact a visit to AFE can have on team. I believe the job of follow-up falls on the leader of the trip, or the pastor of the visiting group. Did the participants make a covenant with God while they were here? What happened with that covenant when they returned home? How are they doing spiritually a year after their trip? Are they still spending themselves on behalf of the poor once they return, either by supporting a ministry or more direct involvement?
One way to monitor the long-term involvement on trip participants is by child sponsorship. Sponsorship is a commitment that lasts a year after the mission trip ends and it involves Americans supporting the poor from their personal resources. It is not the only way to determine long-term impact, but it helps.

With the last mission team that we received, a family team of 25 from Washington Cathedral in Redmond, WA, the results were quite astounding. Of the 13 families who made up the team, 10 sponsorship relationships emerged from this trip. The rest of the families contribute to the church’s auction which raises money for AFE. Every single person on this trip is involved in a long-term relationship with the poor of the Tegucigalpa dump. How did this happen?

I interviewed the trip leader, Debi Raines, who is a Holy Yoga instructor and member of Washington Cathedral to find out more information.

Where did the participants come from?

Most of those who go on our mission/work trips are from Washington Cathedral, but we usually have a couple people who come from other local churches. Those who are not from Wa Cathedral typically have a friend who went on the trip in previous years and spoke so favorably about their experience it encouraged them to join the group.
How were they involved in God’s kingdom work before coming on this trip?
We encourage all to be plugged into church in some way. Most are involved in small groups, bible study, involved in some sort of leadership, or discipleship program. Several members of our team have been to Honduras on previous trips and have formed such a bond with the kids and staff at AFE, that they return every year.

What kind of preparation did they have?

We start meeting as a team 2-3 months before the trip. As a group we learn about the Honduran culture and customs. We talk about the different levels of social status and the difference between about where we live compared to those who live in the dump community. The team is encouraged to be open about the Honduran ways and not to think that our way is better. We also prepare to work as a team and we spend time getting to know one another and setting the intention of the trip clearly before we step on the airplane.
What kind of follow up did they have?

We do follow up with emails and phone calls when we return home. We also gather for a dinner together about a month or so after arriving home. This reunion gives us an opportunity to talk to each other about favorite memories, what we learned about ourselves, what God has been speaking to us about the people and ministries in Honduras. The team leaders try to follow up with the team members encouraging them to follow through with the plans God laid on their hearts and continue to pray for AFE and the kids and staff. The annual Honduran auction is also a great follow up and reminder to our team. The annual benefit auction raises money each year to support AFE and the team is strongly encouraged to support and attend the auction.

What makes this group of people different than other mission trips?

Washington Cathedral requires each team member to personally invest in the cost of the trip instead of allowing mission trip members to fundraise to cover their travel cost. We think that the personal investment in the trip helps each member to reap the most rewards. As Jesus says, “where your treasure is, your heart is also.”

(This is also what Fikkert and Corbett suggest to improve the effectiveness of a short-term trip. They write, “Require every member of an STM to pay for a portion of the expenses from his or her own pocket. Why? Remember, this is a learning experience, not a trip to save the world. Learners are more likely to value their training if they are paying for a portion of it.”)

How would you say the group was impacted during their time in Honduras? What made the most difference?

The group was greatly impacted on this trip and I believe it came from the personal relationships that were formed as well as the team project (building a house for a family). Having one-on-one time with the AFE kids during VBS and when the kids joined us after school for meals was a wonderful way to get connected. I don’t think I have every received so many hugs and smiles. Another huge impact on our team was the project. Building a home for a family, even if we were just a small part of it, was an amazing experience for our whole team. Being part of something that so significantly changed a family’s life is something we’ll never forget. Seeing the gratitude on the parent’s faces and the smiles of the children knowing that have a roof over their heads and a place to call their own.

How have you personally been impacted by sponsoring a child?

Having a sponsored child has been one of the best things we’ve done for our family. Our kids remember Elen every day in their prayers; they know that she is also praying for them. Our children have become pen pals with Elen and it was the most amazing thing to see my daughter (Rachel, 9 years old), meet Elen the first day we were in Honduras. They had an instant connection that lasted the whole trip. Praying for Elen reminds us every day how blessed we are and how important it is that we care for others. We feel like Elen is part of our family, we look forward to her letters and I know she looks forward to ours. Elen was carrying the pictures that we sent her of our family when our team arrived at AFE. She was just as anxious to meet us as we were to meet her. Rachel has been talking about going back to see all her friends in Honduras since the day we returned home and our other children look forward to one day meeting her as well. Knowing that Wa Cathedral will continue to have annual trips down to AFE is such a blessing because we know that Elen will be part of our lives, through prayers, letter and visits for years and years.

* If you are interested in increasing the effectiveness of your shot-term mission team, contact or for resources.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Last Leg of the Journey

For ten years AFE and its friends have looked into the eyes of their students and said, “See you at a university!”

We are on the cusp of seeing this dream realized. But to the children who wait eagerly for graduation day (Dec 10th, 2012), the date couldn’t be any further away.

Before they graduate AFE’s seniors must complete 240 hours of community service (a requirement from the Honduras government). Not just any community service. 80 hours of construction. 80 hours of farming. 80 hours in health care. “The idea behind this”, says Jesi Ordonez, AFE’s principal, “is that young people would get some work experience before they graduate.”

But AFE’s young people are tired. And their grades are slipping. With the difficult subjects of biology and chemistry, this year’s classes are the hardest. “Will, we ever make it there?!”

AFE is working hard to motivate its students for the last, most difficult haul upward. Next week they will visit local colleges to get inspired. Then they will begin studying for their admissions exams. But the next six months will need a lot of prayer. Please pray that AFE’s students will not lose sight of their goal and that they will work hard and sacrifice to see their dreams become reality.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Be Somebody

Each has his or her own obstacles. One man works from 6 am to 7 pm every day in the garbage dump to support his family. One girl flunked first grade three times. One teenager has no one in her life to support her and runs a small business on her own. Yet, they all have something in common….they want to “be somebody someday.”

That was the general consensus when I asked the students in AFE’s after-school program why they sacrifice and give up work to study in the afternoons. Sometimes their heart-felt response was met by laughter by others from the dump community. It takes courage to have vision.

It also takes courage to be the oldest student (fifty-one)in the second grade. And to try again, once you have failed so often.

But I am proud of the students in our afterschool program. When I heard their humble confession of hope, I responded in the only way possible: “Si se puedas.” (Yes you can!)

The reason they can is because they have an advocate in you and me, and in AFE. Their teacher provides an inspiring example of hard work and wise choices. AFE’s church, Amor y Vida, is reaching out to them in discipleship. They have community and they have hope, two ingredients have time and time again changed the world!

*** If you would like to sponsor a student from our after-school program, please contact

Friday, May 6, 2011

Housing the Homeless

Last August strong rains tore apart the city. They caused tremendous damage…craters twenty-feet deep, businesses destroyed by avalanches, houses flooded. Some people were rendered homeless. Yet, when you lose your
home and you are a garbage-dump worker, you are in a particularly precarious situation. Not only do you lose everything you have, but you have to pay high rent prices (at the expense of food) or live in the garbage dump.

This was the case of one our hard-working families at AFE. Even when they lost their home to a landslide, the hard-working mother and father kept their children out of the dump. The two girls continued in school and sold candy door-to-door in the afternoons to support the family income. But life was hard with high rent prices…and the loss of everything they owned.

In Steps Community

One church in the United States with a long-term relationship with AFE got wind of the situation. It just so happened that the woman sponsoring one of these girls was planning a mission trip with the church in March.…and she had a friend coming on the trip who wanted to support a larger project. A month later a new home was completed for the Navas-Paz family. The father and four-year old boy joyfully helped the North Americans build it. The team etched “Christo Te Ama,” above the doorway to the home and I can guarantee that the Navas-Paz knows this to be true.

***** There are many more families in equally desperate situations. If you would like to help AFE house the homeless of the garbage dump, contact

Monday, April 25, 2011

AFE Children Dance About Their Freedom

On March 26th, AFE held its second annual dance competition, entitled “Quite Manchas,” (remove stains) in light of God’s redemptive work in the lives of its children.
Last year the competition was intense, with tears marking the finale and the winning team. This annual event is so important to AFE’s children because it is one of the only opportunities they have to dance and express themselves in this way. In Honduras, Christians do not dance, unless it is unto the Lord. And it is easy to understand why. In a sub-culture of generations trapped in garbage-dump poverty, most dancing is associated with drunken parties that last though out the night and the huge mistakes that change the course of a person’s life during these parties.
But this dancing was quite different. It was done with joy and pride in oneself, pride in the person they are, pride in the person they are becoming. The weeks and weeks of practice leading up to this event were grueling, but well worth it. During the practice time leading up to the competition AFE’s children learned to work hard even though they were tired, to persevere when they wanted to give up, and to see the beautiful reward from their efforts.

Three different teams performed two dances, and in the end everyone was a winner. The prize included the important discipleship that happened during the training. One team was entitled “New Generation,” and in effect it was. These young men (and one young woman) gave vision to the future leadership of AFE. The group, “Extreme Power” danced about how they will never return to the garbage dump, and “Ecc 11:19” showed the confidence they gained to each dance solo in front of a packed assembly hall.
Stay tuned for a video of these great dances! We can’t wait to see what comes of this competition in the coming years.