LWR Is Changing the World in Honduras

I’m in Honduras this week for a Board Meeting of Lutheran World Relief. Most of our Board Meetings, I should probably say, are not in Honduras, but in Baltimore, Maryland, the headquarters of LWR. But every three years, the staff plans a Board Meeting and retreat at one of the sites where LWR is doing work so that the Board can gain a more three-dimensional sense of the importance and challenges of this work.

After two full days of meetings and reports and strategic planning and all the rest, today we went to visit one of the project sites where LWR staff and their Honduran partners are working to help those Jesus refers to as “the least of these,” those the world often overlooks or has forgotten but who, at least according to the logic of the kingdom Jesus proclaims, are blessed.

While I’ll say a more about LWR tomorrow when I’ll have a little more time to write, I wanted at least to share a bit about the visit we made today. This morning we visited several cooperative communities that focus on giving indigent Hondurans opportunity in agriculture, education, and health. A cooperative community, at least in this case, is one that was formed when land was first granted to people to come and work. Over time, they made their homes and built their communities here as well. They are, in a very real sense, twenty-first century homesteaders.

Interestingly, although “Relief” is in our name, LWR, partnering always with local organizations, actually goes well beyond relief to provide sustainable means by which persons can improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors. And so in this particular community, for example, LWR and its partners were able to help farmers who traditionally grow only coffee to diversify their crops, which has proven essential as a major leaf rot has devastated much of the coffee bean plants in the region. In addition to continuing to cultivate coffee beans, the farmers we visited are now growing sweet potatoes, squash, onions, carrots, corn, and a variety of local root plants that both feed their families and are sold at market to provide additional income. LWR has also supported local farmers in developing organic fertilizers which are not only better for the land and better for the health of the people eating the vegetables grown, but also is something they can learn to make themselves, re-using and preparing compost rather than buying expensive chemical fertilizers.

LWR and its partners have also set up multiple test sites, where local farmers can experiment with various farming techniques as well as with breeding more drought-resistant plants. As farmers discover what works at the test site, they are able to share what they are learning with other farmers throughout the region.

One of the things that impressed me most – and as soon as I write and post this I need to be back to our group! – was that in each project we visited a variety of people shared leadership. And so we met the president and treasurer of the local community banking association that made one-year microloans to families in the association. We also met the president of the local farming cooperative, another farmer who worked to organize several cooperatives in order to receive a better price for their produce. And each of these persons showed not just gratitude for our partnership with them but pride in their ability to contribute to making their communities stronger. The women and men we met share leadership throughout the community, stress education for their children, and are constantly eager to learn how to improve their lives and the lives of their neighbors and the health of their community. And across the board they gave thanks to God for the opportunities they have to use their gifts and provide for their families.

Once again, more to come later, but for now just a moment for me to give thanks to God for the people we met today, for all the local agencies and partners we have in Honduras and around the world, for the dedicated and talented staff of LWR, and for all of you who support this work and these people through your prayers and financial gifts. LWR is changing the world, and we get to be a part of that. Thanks be to God.