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Church parishioners devote time and effort to Honduras mission

Posted: January 19, 2018

by John Benson

 

Brecksville resident Dwayne Ranta recently returned from his 20th St. Basil the Great Church mission trip to Honduras, where the retired carpenter volunteered his talents and time to help residents in the developing nation.

 

“God blessed me with certain gifts, and I want to give those gifts back,” said Ranta, 61. “The people are awesome. Their hearts are full of joy, and you get more out of going down there than you do giving, truthfully.”

 

The Brecksville church started its Honduras mission trips around the turn of the century, after a missionary from Honduras came to Northeast Ohio requesting assistance in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch. 

 

Since then, the mission project has built a growing, lasting relationship with the people of San Francisco de la Paz and surrounding Honduran villages. St. Basil’s Rev. Walt Jenne said the church sends volunteers to Honduras three or more times a year, with the next trip scheduled for Jan. 18-27. 

 

Team leaders Ranta, John Ruhrkraut and Don Kishmarton oversee the installation of water purification systems.

 

“The water is contaminated, and this leads to various illnesses for the people,” Jenne said. “We provide safe drinking water.”

 

Parishioners have installed over 50 water systems in villages, said Jenne.

 

“We also install latrines [toilets] in villages,” he said. “We have nearly 300 in place at people’s homes.” 

 

And the work doesn’t stop there.

 

“We’ve constructed chapels in villages, as well as homes,” said Jenne. “We serve at an orphanage and nursing home, providing maintenance improvements on each trip. We provide medical teams of doctors, dentists and nurses that set up shop in the villages, schools and local health clinics and provide health screening with medicines.”

 

Ranta said the number of participants on trips varies from 12 to 20; however, over the years, it’s been determined, logistically speaking, that a dozen volunteers works out best. 

 

“It’s making sure everybody is getting the experience, as well as everybody is safe and getting what they’re going for,” Ranta said. “That’s my priority when I go down.”

 

When visiting a country like Honduras, the simple things stand out. Ranta pointed to the St. Basil the Great Church fresh-water mission as a project that is far reaching. 

 

“Water affects the whole village,” he said. “It’s the things that people need the most that we take for granted here. We’re trying to impact their lives. 

 

“I take the joy of going down now knowing the kids are doing well and they’re succeeding because there’s been people from the States that have been able to give them chances to go to a private school or get into schooling. It’s just great to see the joy in a kid’s heart when they don’t have anything. They just have each other.”

 

Jenne added that the benefits to the church team members are just as significant.

 

“You cannot help but be touched by serving such absolutely wonderful people,” he said. “It’s a life-changing experience to be with people who have so little by way of material things, but bring so much joy and hospitality to our team members. The children are absolutely priceless.”

 

For more information about the mission, visit basilthegreat.org/honduras. 

 

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