Local church has heart for Honduras - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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Local church has heart for Honduras

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Posted: Tuesday, September 28, 2010 2:00 pm

There is a chance that most of us will never get to visit the country of Honduras in our lifetimes.

The same cannot be said for a group of volunteers from Mountain Park Community Church, who take the trip at least once per year.

But what they are doing is as far as you can get from a vacation.

The volunteers work on behalf of Heart to Honduras, a worldwide organization that brings much-needed support to the third-world country.

Like most of Central America, Honduras was ravaged by Hurricane Mitch in 1998. An estimated 14,000 people died in the hurricane and damages were estimated at $3.8 billion.

The effects were still being felt years later when the Ahwatukee Foothills church struck a partnership with a sister church in Honduras near the city of El Progreso in 2000.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, the government of Honduras rebuilt some of the communities, but without running water or electricity. The nearby river that residents of El Progreso relied on became contaminated after the hurricane, which caused illness and death in the village.

With people in need and a relationship in place, the first group of MPCC volunteers went to El Progreso in 2003. They started a project to give clean water to the residents. It is a project that is still being improved upon today.

Greg Battle, facility and men's pastor at Mountain Park Community Church, has been to Honduras eight different times since 2004. He has seen the positive effect their time and effort has had on the people there.

"Every time we go down there, it is very hard work, but it is very rewarding," he said. "You always come back feeling you've received more than you've given."

Early on in their effort, volunteers from MPCC dug trenches down from the nearby mountain and installed PVC piping, which now brings fresh water to the community's 4,000-plus residents.

Another major part of the effort is to build 4-foot-tall water basins in all the homes, which allows families to store clean water for daily usage. Battle said a focus for their next trip in 2011 will be to build more of these basins.

"Even with the things we have done, they still have a challenge," he said. "One of our philosophies here at (MPCC) is we don't want to do a bunch of little things. We do big projects to show we are in it for the long haul."

The Heart to Honduras effort received a big boost when they were able to connect with Compassion International, a non-profit organization that works to educate children in impoverished countries. The children in El Progreso now go to class every other day up to sixth grade where they receive food and time on a computer.

One their next trip, Battle said they are also looking to build cabins for the youths to stay in.

To help raise funds for their work, MPCC is hosting its annual charity event Oct. 2 at the Ahwatukee Foothills Country Club, 12432 S. 48th St. There will be golfing in the morning and a dinner and silent auction in the evening. The group needs to raise more than $64,000 for materials for their 2011 trip. All volunteers pay their own way to and from Honduras.

At the event last year, volunteers were greeted with a very special guest, former president of Honduras, Ricardo Maduro.

"He was very thankful for everything we had done," Battle said.

There are still spaces available for both golfing and dinner. It is $95 for a single golfer and $360 for a four-some. Dinner is $35 per person or $250 for a table of eight. To order dinner tickets or register for golf, contact Battle at (480) 759-6200 or gbattle@mountainpark.org.

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