For the past seven years, our own Ken Johnson has served missions in Honduras helping to build new housing for families with very limited means. He's part of a group from Raleigh comprised of N.C. Baptist Men, which organizes mission trips for church organizations and performs global relief work after natural disasters.
Ken returned this month beaming with pride and gratitude for the opportunity. We caught up with him to discuss his trip and commitment to philanthropy.
“I am so blessed, seeing and experiencing the families we served share their love and appreciation,” he said. “I enjoy the opportunity to give back.”
To begin the mission trip, his group flew into Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. They then drove about three hours to Choluteca, one of 18 “departments” in which the nation is divided.
The region is surrounded by the Gulf of Fonseca to the west, and the country of Nicaragua to the east and south.
About 30 miles from the center of Choluteca sits a rural village made up of about 200 residents. Nearby land is mostly used for sugar cane, cattle ranches and melons.
The mission team was made up of eight volunteers from the Triangle, with two permanent missionaries in Choluteca and a local pastor to guide them.
This year, Ken's group was tasked with building a house for 92 year-old Ms. Maria, who shares her home with six great-grandchildren.
He shared that many Honduran homes are basic shelter, typically made of thatch, sticks and mud, with a metal or fiberglass roof. Most houses had dirt floors and families sleep in hammocks, he said.
He also mentioned that residents typically cook and bathe outside, and even though there is very little wealth in the village, the people are very happy and friendly.
“Interacting with the children was such a blessing, and everybody was so welcoming and friendly,” said Ken.
Every day, about 30 local youth came and played under the matriarch’s mango trees. And once the team began construction on her house, a crowd of children would gather around the worksite.
The team worked together to construct a sturdy concrete block house with a metal roof. Features included secure windows and doors with locks. It's seen as a luxury to have a concrete floor.
As one would expect, all materials were sourced locally. With the windows and doors made by a local welder, featuring heavy screen (no glass) along with security bars. Sand mortar is sourced from the nearby river.
According to Ken, the trip was much more than ‘all work and no play.’ His group mingled with other missionaries, women and youth volunteers as they hosted bible school.
Everyone enjoyed spending time with the children playing soccer, jumping rope, throwing Frisbees, and creating art projects.
As has been the case every year he's participated, Ken said that by the end of the week, strong bonds with the children were formed.
He also said it was wonderful to observe how grateful the families were to have a safe, dry home.
Having an employer who believes in the importance of mission work is also a blessing, said Ken.
“I’m thankful that Jon encourages us to go on mission trips and treats it as a typical work week, not vacation,” said Ken.
“I believe it’s Rufty Homes’ way of helping to build housing for families in need,” he continued. “In this case, our custom homes are on the other side of the world.”