By Suzy Wiesenhart
Jill Andrew, Senior Solutions Expert at Superior Residences of Brandon, located at 1819 Providence Ridge Blvd., went on a mission trip through the Presbyterian Church of Bloomingdale that she has participated in since 2006. She and 15 volunteers from the Presbytery of Tampa Bay Mission Partnership traveled to the capital of Honduras, Tegucigalpa.
Their mission, one they chose to accept, was to build relationships with Christians in Honduras, cross boundaries that divide us from each other and produce lasting changes in lifestyle and stewardship of resources and talents.
Throughout the year, supplies accumulated by Peggy Argudo of Chifles Plantain Chips, who is the trip coordinator, along with hospital beds, walkers, used sheets and blankets donated by Superior Residences, are shipped via container to Honduras. The volunteers bring medical supplies, do health screenings, eye exams, a full pharmacy and care for almost 600 people with one doctor and five nurses on the trip. Part of the group was helping build a septic system for the pastor and church in a tiny village. The villagers learn and build for other churches. Homes, buildings and such are built using only the resources available; bricks are made by hand, so it may take a year to build a house or church. Andrew emphasized, “We’re not there to change an individual, we’re there to work beside them.”
The group provides scholarships and one amazing story is Ely. She was only 16 when Andrew met her and she helped in the pharmacy. Children complete 6th grade and only continue through scholarships. Ely was given one, and has one year to go before graduating as a pharmacist. Also, the children at Andrew’s church have a group called “Kids for Kids”; they collect money all year to donate goats.
College graduates come back to their villages to help them build churches, bringing with them music, education and nutrition. They organized a youth camp attended by 220 kids, traveling all night to get to buses to camp. Through donations from Space Walk of Brandon, they brought four retired bouncy houses, called “bumpy houses” so the villagers could earn income from them.
Andrew’s job was to keep the kids busy while waiting in line for hours to get into the clinic. Andrew, who is fluent in Spanish, said, “I told Bible stories, like David & Goliath.” She said joyfully, “My personal mission is to inspire, serve and make God smile.”