I just love being called a missioner. It is, of course, interchangeable with missionary but according to Google dictionary ‘missioner’ is the one in charge of a mission. Considering my wife, Mindi, and I are both missionaries on the same mission, the question becomes which of us is the missioner and which is the missionary. The debate continues…
We are indeed looking for missioners and missionaries. We need both those that can lead and those that can assist. Since we were brought into the diocese this past January, we have been creating a database that matches the offerings of the churches in Mississippi to the needs and offerings of the churches and congregations in Honduras.
After attending Council in January in Mississippi, we attended the conference of the Episcopal Diocese of Honduras in Muchileana in February. Bishop Allen and staff treated us like honored family. We met with the deans, put on a microindustry workshop, and began the process of assessing needs. The result was that the bishop wanted a microindustry in all of his churches to help support them. Historic external funding has slowly been withdrawn and without a way to support them, church doors will have to be closed.
For those that were not at Council, we are Teach Them To Fish Microindustries. Prior to January, we’d spent the last 20 years coming to Honduras to start microindustries for individuals to support themselves. Our new directive is to not only create microindusties for individuals but to create them for the churches here as well. Additionally, we are building teams to come to Honduras to provide for other needs of the churches and their communities. These needs include construction, medical, dental, education, and clean water. We connect churches willing to start a microindustry or mission to the churches here that need them.
Happily, Trinity Episcopal in Natchez has taken up the charge. It has raised money to send a team down this fall to see how they can help. We will be hosting them for a week on the island of Roatan to introduce them to the people and culture. It is our hope that it will be the prototype for other churches in the diocese to copy and fit to their needs and resources.
We want to thank everyone in both dioceses for helping us get this new diocesan cooperation going. Both bishops and their staffs have been so generous with their support and time. We are very excited for the Natchez group and the rest that follow to see God’s hand in this country.
Our email address is email@example.com and website our website is tttfmicro.com. We have a facebook page called Teach Them To Fish. Our contact numbers are (251) 404-3312 in the US and (504) 9511-0346 in Honduras. We would love to come see and speak with your congregations at Sunday School or Wednesday night worship.
God’s blessings on you all.
John and Mindi DeLancey
Greetings to everyone! Mindi here! We hope this finds you all well and healthy and happy and looking forward to a beautiful summer! Things have been so busy with Teach Them to Fish that the time really got away from us between blogs this time, but we now have several important and truly motivating updates.
First and foremost, we are so happy to announce a new partnership between Trinity Episcopal Church in Natchez and Teach Them To Fish. After their enthusiastic response to our workshop at Council in January, we have been working and planning with several members of the vestry at Trinity, and I had the opportunity to visit and give a short presentation to them during their Wednesday night dinner last month. Trinity is holding their annual fundraiser, Claws for a Cause, on May 21. This is a fun event with live music, lobster dinners, and a street party atmosphere. 75% of the funds raised during this event will go toward funding Trinity’s Honduras mission with Teach Them to Fish, and we can’t wait! They are in the process of assembling a mission team to come to Roatan to launch a sister relationship with a church here, as well as to start new, and support existing microindustries. John and I will be traveling back to Natchez to attend the fundraiser, and we would love to see all of you there! Please see the flyer attached for details. I have it on good authority that, even though the initial deadline for lobster dinner orders was May 7, if you contact them soon, they will be able to accommodate some extra orders. We would love to have you come by and introduce yourselves to us if you’re in attendance! We cannot wait to see what God does with this amazing new relationship we have with Trinity Natchez!
Closer to home here in Honduras, we are continuing to work closely with the Diocese of Honduras to compile a “menu of missions” with a list of the most pressing needs within the churches in Honduras. We are working toward getting this translated and organized as soon as possible so we can offer different service experiences here on Roatan and on mainland Honduras to interested mission groups. We are investigating the logistics required to form some small optical shops affiliated with individual Honduran churches to provide low-cost prescription and reading glasses while also providing an income opportunity for the churches. If you are an ophthalmologist, optometrist, optician, or know someone in this field who would like to become involved with this mission, please reach out to us!
Things with Microindustry Missions Market and our core microindustries on the island continue to flourish. As of the first quarter of 2023, sales across all microindustries were up roughly 40% compared with the previous year. Our ladies on university scholarship continue to learn and grow and are using their newfound knowledge in the bookkeeping and management of the store and their microindustry. We are also excited to announce that we have a new microindustry from a church in Tegucigalpa, Resine Art, which produces beautiful keychains and larger items made with resin. We are in the process of bringing at least 2 additional mainland microindustries into the store to help improve the economic stability and the lives of even more Honduran people.
As always, I will close with a few words of gratitude and a couple specific prayer requests. We are so grateful for the enthusiasm and support of Bishop Seage in Mississippi and Bishop Allen in Honduras, and for the love and warmth shown to us by Father Ken Ritter and the folks at Trinity in Natchez. We are incredibly grateful to the folks who regularly support our mission through our scholarship program.
We ask for your specific prayers over the fundraising effort at Trinity on May 21. Even if you cannot attend, please cover the event and the organizers in prayer for a safe, fun, and productive environment for everyone. Please continue to pray for the pastors of the churches in Honduras, who are struggling daily to find the funds to keep their churches open to their parishioners and communities. Please also pray specifically for the daughter of one of our priests in La Ceiba who recently underwent surgery to remove her leg below the knee due to a cancerous lesion in her bone. She is recovering now, but we are researching options to try and help her be fitted for an adequate prosthesis so she can continue walking without crutches. If anyone has a contact within an organization that could help this young girl, please reach out to use!
We love serving God, the people of Honduras, and the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. Your prayers, love, and support are what make that possible!
Wishing you God’s greatest blessings,
Mindi and John
Greetings to everyone! Mindi here. We hope you are having an incredibly fulfilling and productive Lenten season! We are just now taking a little time to update everyone about Teach Them To Fish’s outrageously busy but very exciting start to 2023!
In January, John and I travelled from Roatan back to Mississippi to attend the 196th Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi in Natchez. After MUCH writing, revising, and condensing (how does one distill 20 years of mission work into 10 minutes?) we gave a short presentation to the entire Council on Saturday morning, introducing our ministry to the Diocese and sharing a few opportunities for service. We then hosted over 20 people in a breakaway workshop that afternoon to discuss in more detail how people in Mississippi can become involved on Roatan and in all of Honduras. We are very excited to become a part of the entire Diocese of Mississippi, and look forward to continuing to get to know people from each parish and find ways to provide opportunities for mission-minded folks to serve Christ in Honduras.
After we returned to the island, Bishop Allen of Honduras graciously extended us an invitation to present our ministry to the entire Diocese of Honduras at their Council meeting in late February. We spent 2 days meeting with the deans of the Diocese, meeting with Bishop Allen, and having wonderful fellowship and worship with the entire group! I also loved practicing my “really-bad-but-I-won’t-stop-trying” Spanish speaking, and am grateful I was shown a tremendous amount of grace in this area.
As a result of these two meetings, the deans of the Diocese of Honduras are helping us compile a “database of needs” across all their churches. With this, we will be able to identify specific needs of Honduran churches and communities with estimated manpower requirements, financial needs, and timelines. This will become our “mission menu” for potential mission groups from Mississippi (or anywhere else, for that matter!) to review and select a church, community, or specific project that appeals to them. We will then work to coordinate fund-raising and eventual travel arrangements with mission groups to help meet these needs.
Additionally, we are beginning to offer our store on the island as an outlet for church-based microindustries from the mainland. In the last 2 weeks, we have already gotten information on four new microindustries that will begin selling their goods through Microindustry Missions Market here on Roatan. This arrangement benefits the artist/creator of the products that are sold, as well as their home church, thus working toward the goal of self-sufficiency for individuals, families, and churches in Honduras. We are expecting a really big response from churches on the mainland, as there are countless talented and creative artists who produce beautiful products, but lack a reliable sales outlet needed to make a living selling their products.
Needless to say, we are only slightly overwhelmed, but always grateful for these new and additional opportunities to share the love of Christ with the beautiful people of Honduras. We covet your prayers in a few specific areas.
Please pray for clarity and direction as we transition some administrative and accounting parts of TTTF over to the Diocese. We are praying that God puts exactly the right people in our path to help us grow and expand in the ways He wants us to.
Please pray specifically for the priests and pastors of the Honduran Episcopal Churches. Almost all the parishes in Honduras rely on some type of external funding to pay their priests, pensions, and education. If this funding dries up (as it is predicted to do very soon), it will mean dozens of churches shuttering their doors and no longer serving the spiritual needs of their communities. Efforts toward self-sufficiency are desperately needed, and we want God to direct our efforts to be efficient, focused, and successful.
Please pray for discernment and guidance in your own congregations. If you feel lead to help the people of Honduras, reach out to us! It only takes one impassioned individual to create excitement and interest for many. The needs are many, and the workers are few! If you don’t see coming to Honduras in your future, but still want to help, consider a tax-deductible donation. John and I are both always loathe to ask for money, but there are so many needs here that even just a small donation would help. Because of this, we are setting aside our discomfort and encouraging you to pray about sending a one-time or a monthly donation (directly to the diocese or at our website tttfmicro.com). We are forever grateful to the several people who do regularly give to help us continue sharing the love of Christ here.
Finally, we send you our deepest gratitude and love for following along on this journey with us. Thank you for your prayers and your support, for sharing our information with others, and for continuing to love as Jesus loves us!
Happy New Year from Roatan! We are excited about how 2023 is going to unfold for this mission, for Mississippi, and for the people of Honduras.
The most pressing and exciting news we can share with you today is that we are headed back to Mississippi next week to attend the 196th Annual Council of the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi. (For our non-Episcopalian friends, this is the annual meeting of leaders from every single Episcopalian Church in the state.) In November and then again in December, we met with Bishop Brian Seage and shared with him how much our mission had grown in the 4 years since John was awarded the United Thank Offering Grant in 2019. Bishop Seage was so gracious to invite us to address the Council briefly on Saturday morning and to lead a workshop on Saturday afternoon for anyone interested in learning about our mission and how they can become involved.
We are preparing diligently, and praying constantly that God will use this opportunity to connect in a way that will further His Will for both Mississippi AND Honduras. We look forward to meeting delegates, pastors, and members from mission-oriented congregations around the state who are looking for a way to serve others internationally, whether it is by helping to form new microindustries, by sending mission teams to Honduras, and/or by partnering in any other ways God has in mind! Please be in prayer with us about this exciting opportunity. We cannot wait to share with our home state what a joy it has been to watch our adopted Honduran families become so much more self-sufficient through the education, vocational training, and most of all, by the love of Jesus Christ that we have been honored to be able to give them through this mission. We are praying to connect with others just as excited about these things as we are. We can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next!
Right now, we are enjoying busy season with multiple cruise ships docked every week, which means busy times at the store that serves as the outlet for all of our microindustries. Our store manager, Carmen, is excited that she gets to be enrolled in a marketing class as part of her university studies this semester, and we are looking forward to the creative ideas that are born from her educational endeavors. Rolando and his apprentices at Tropical Wood Works had a restful holiday vacation and have returned to the wood shop with a formidable list of orders to fulfill. All our other microindustry team members are busy producing their products for sale to the onslaught of tourists, and we are staying busy updating the business license at the municipal building, ordering supplies for Roatan Glass Art and Tropical Wood Works, and making sure everything is running smoothly with all 10 of our microindustries. We have a list a mile long of things to finish this week before we fly back to Mississippi, but we are anxious to see familiar faces who have been so supportive of Teach Them to Fish over the last 16 years. Mississippi – Here We Come!
John here. I just renewed my passport for the second time. I got my first passport to come down to Honduras on a medical mission for the Diocese of Mississippi. In case you are not aware, that means I have been coming here for twenty years. I have been in love with the people of Honduras from the beginning. I never imagined then that I would be living here now.
Four years ago, my dedicated group of ladies and gentlemen and a grant from the United Thank Offering made it possible for me to move to the island of Roatan to start another microindustry. They sent me down with a kiln, tools, glass, and a lot of faith. The priests at Emmanuel Episcopal, Nelson and Kara Mejia, provided the people, a place to work, and translation to get us going. Father Browning, a retired priest from New Jersey, provided me with a place to live while I was settling in, showed me around the island, and introduced me to the expat community. Of course, I am grateful also for Mindi and Ella, who showed up down here at the perfect time to complete not only our mission team, but my family as well!
That first microindustry on the island has grown into what is now known as Roatan Glass Art with six supporting members. The ladies of RGA have grown in both art and business. Three of the ladies are attending the local university and taking English classes three times a week. They are also running and managing our store that hosts ten microindustries. They are truly amazing women for whom I am grateful every day. To watch them grow and flourish as they are coming to understand their worth as a children of God and the dignity of a good day’s work is beyond humbling to me.
Our other micro industries are growing every day as well! We were able to get a large glass kiln crated and shipped from Mississippi, and are working on refurbishing it now. We are all excited about the new opportunities we will have to make bigger pieces and to fire more pieces at once with this “new” kiln. Tourism has also picked up again as we enter our busy season, and we are grateful for every customer who comes into our store to hear the stories and see the products made by our teams with such love and care!
We have set up some exciting meetings both in Honduras and back in the US over the next couple of months. We humbly ask for your prayers over these meetings, as we are working on some partnerships and expansion opportunities that have, until now, been the stuff of dreams for us. We hope to have some exciting announcements from this soon! We appreciate your prayers and love so very much. Wishing God’s greatest blessings on you all as we enter this Advent season.
Hello and God’s Blessings to you all from me (Mindi), John, and the whole TTTF family! Again, I cannot believe the time has gone by so quickly and we are already in the middle of September before getting another blog post out to you! Suffice it to say, we have been BUSY, but busy in wonderful ways!
A quick update on each of our core microindustries
Roatan Glass Art continues to make their final strides toward self-sufficiency, despite low season persisting longer than expected. The ladies of RGA have now become almost totally independent in their inventory-ordering process. They also created an official “logo” to use on their website and creations. They are becoming more creative and efficient with their work, and they continue to excel at learning English. This has helped them tremendously with their sales in the store at Macaw Market, and they are getting more comfortable each week communicating in English and telling the stories of the various micros represented in our store. We are so proud of them!
Cositas Preciosas (Precious Little Things) is growing and diversifying! Stephanie has begun making beautiful picture frames with sand and seashells, and has been using a lot more sea glass in her creations, which have become increasingly popular. We had a client in the store last week who came in specifically looking for her wind chimes because she couldn’t find anything similar on the island! Way to go, Stephanie!
Billie’s Gift microindustry was finally able to make its debut in the Microindustry Missions Market store this month and we couldn’t be happier! Dayana and Mindi have been working to make “Naked Sandals” (anklets that attach around the ankle and extend to the second toe, to be worn barefooted at the beach or pool). Having finally sorted through all the amazing things donated by Billie Davison, we are still in awe of the generosity (and organizational skills!) with which we have been gifted. Both an anklet and a naked sandal were sold the first day they arrived in the store. We are so excited to have Dayana as our newest TTTF family member, and she is going to fit in beautifully!
Tropical Wood Works has had a banner month this month after only a single facebook advertisement. Rolando is doing a fantastic job teaching David and Christian the trade of outdoor furniture making, and their creations are becoming more complicated and more elegant with every new job! TWW was recently awarded a contract with a new small hotel on the island, and this project will keep them occupied through much of October! John is continuing to write a software package to help track quotes, orders, invoices, payments, and production schedule for TWW with hopes to then expand the software to use with all our micros. We are so thankful for his many years of experience and expertise in the computer programming world!
Speaking of programming, we are also so grateful to report that TTTF was gifted 2 refurbished and updated laptop computers AND a refurbished desktop computer. (I am pretty sure these “refurbished” versions are nicer than any I have bought new before!) These generous donations from Sid and Barbara Sytsma in Hattiesburg, MS have made our work in each of the microindustries faster, more efficient, and much more secure than previously. We hope to use one of the laptops in the store for point-of-sale and inventory tracking soon! Thank you so much, Sid and Barb! If anyone else has an old laptop or tablet they would like to donate, we can definitely find a student or someone in one of our microindustries who would be more than grateful to use it!
Our most exciting update
This exciting new development will affect both our Roatan Glass Art AND Roatan Glass Recycling microindustries. Thanks to a cooperative (and very sweaty) effort from John and several of our most ardent supporters in the states (here’s looking at you Ken Jordan, J Michael Bennett, John Marsh, Anthony Jordan, and Joe Molnar), we were able to make an incredibly secure plywood crate to ship a LARGE GLASS KILN to the island! The crate with the kiln and various glass supplies was trucked to Miami, and is now on a container ship making its way to Roatan! Up until now, Roatan Glass Art has been making all their beautiful creations in a tiny counter-top kiln (about the size of a small toaster oven) that holds only 4-5 small pieces at a time. The new kiln is about the size of a dorm refrigerator and is able to accommodate several shelves, increasing the space at least 20 fold compared with the current kiln. This is going to open the possibilities for creating larger pieces such as decorative plates/platters and other larger fused and slumped glass art. Roatan Glass Recycling will also use the kiln to work with the myriad of recycled glass bottles we have collected. One of the first endeavors will be to make glow-in-the-dark paving stones from recycled glass. We truly think this is going to be a game-changer for both these microindustries, and we are so thankful to all who helped make this seemingly insurmountable feat possible!
John and I will be making our way to the mainland next week to attend the annual conference for the Honduran Fellowship of Missionaries and Ministries (HFMM). This is an important time to network with other missionaries in Honduras, to get any of our logistical/legal questions about the mission answered, and to worship and pray with and for the others with the same heart for Honduras that we have. We would covet your prayers for safety, productivity, and spiritual renewal while we are there.
We are praying for you, and we appreciate your love, prayers, and support more than you can imagine!
God’s Blessing to you all!
John, Mindi, and your TTTF family
Hi to everyone! John here, reaching out to update you all a bit on how things are going here at your mission on Roatan.
Missionary life is not at all what I expected. One day you’re doing the professional 50 hour a week, 50 weeks a year in corporate America and the next you’re living on a small island in the Caribbean with very random hours, unexpected barriers and difficulties, cultural challenges, and faced with prioritizing goals in the face of overwhelming need. . Resources are few and far between but when a good one comes along you say a prayer of gratitude and celebrate it. Honduran Fellowship of missionaries and Ministries (HFMM) is just such a resource.
Next month, it will be four years since I first came to the island. Other than the priests I came to help, two of the first people I met here were Bob Canter and Father Robert Browning. Father Robert has been with us from the beginning but It was Bob that told me about HFMM.
HFMM is an organization founded in 2008 by John and Adriana Mattica. It provides spiritual, emotional, and legal support to its members but is non-governing in nature. They say they are there to ‘serve the servers’ and they do that in a number of phenomenal ways. Not only do they help their members secure residency but they also provide a means to get medical and life insurance, provide counseling unique to mission work, will lend assistance in forming an NGO here, and basically provide an ear and assistance when its missionaries run into obstacles with the government. They have several collective meetings during the year that provide networking and spiritual support for members and their families, and even help organize a missionary “respite” weekend periodically.
HFMM (and the Episcopal Diocese of Mississippi) were instrumental in getting my legal residency approved here. It is an expensive and tedious process that the Diocese of Mississippi made affordable and HFMM made effortless. We are currently pursuing permanent residency for Mindi and Ella through HFMM, and are so grateful for their guidance. They also provide a community of like-minded people doing God’s work and make us feel like we have a community, even when we feel isolated out here on the island.
I cannot say how comforting it is to have a local organization that does as much as they do. I am sure I am not the only one that includes this wonderful organization in prayers of gratitude. It is genuinely a blessing to be a part of this group dedicated to the advancement of God’s kingdom.
We continue to push through slow season here, but the girls are doing an amazing job engaging the customers we do get into Microindustry Missions Market. Tropical Wood Works is continuing to do well, and David and Christian continue to learn their craft and become more efficient and proficient. We are also excited to announce we have our first participant in Billie’s Gift jewelry microindustry. Dayana can’t wait to get started, and we are working diligently to prepare the space and prototype jewelry designs for her to learn.
Hello, dear friends! This is Mindi, writing again to update everyone on the goings-on from the beautiful country of Honduras! We sincerely hope that everyone’s summer is starting off happily, peacefully, and not-too-swelteringly-hotly in South Mississippi!
Here on Roatan, summers are somewhat different than in the States. It brings to mind that old Bananarama song that goes like this: “It’s a cruel, cruel summer……Leavin’ me here all alone…..” (You can tell I am a proud Gen X’er…. 80’s music forever!!!) But seriously, summers here are the most difficult time of the year, as it is low season for tourists. The number of cruise ships docking and sending visitors to Microindustry Missions Market is quite dismal for the months of May and June.
We are so incredibly proud of all our teams for their perseverance and patience this past month. By God’s grace alone, we were able to come up with enough to cover the rent for the store and continue to meet payroll, but not without a lot of faith and prayer! A couple of blessings along the way did help us meet our goals. Tuition fees for the ladies attending UTH were not required for the month of May, and an unexpected personal insurance reimbursement proved to us (again!) that God will supply all our needs! We are faithfully looking forward to August/September, when tourism historically begins to pick up again, and we can hopefully begin to save for the lean months of next summer
All is not doom and gloom here, however! One of the brightest spots currently is our ongoing English classes for several of the ladies in our mission. We are so grateful to Natalia Walsh and Kara Mejia who have been co-teaching this class for free every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday morning at the church in Coxen Hole. The focus is on learning English to communicate with customers and vendors since most of the tourists visiting Roatan speak English. It has been amazing to see how much these ladies have learned in such a short time! Walking into the shop or the store, we are always greeted now with “Hi! How are you doing today?”, and they are beginning to understand a significant amount of English as well. (I hate to say their English has been coming along more quickly and easily than our Spanish, although we are still working diligently!)
Another bright and unexpected benefit we have noticed is a renewed interest in and focus on children’s education. As Carmen, Ingress, and Jessie continue to work on their full-time classes at the local university, we have seen them take a real interest in making sure their children attend school, do their homework, and progress satisfactorily in their studies. Of course, the COVID pandemic interrupted schooling for so many of the children on this island, but it is thrilling to see these kids finally back in real classes, determined to make up the time they missed over the last 2 years. It is absolutely humbling to see what God is doing in the lives of these families involved with TTTF. Carmen’s daughter Naomi is enrolled in a local private Christian school, and Jessie’s two boys are doing really well in their local public school! Rolando’s children are in public school and attend classes in the afternoons (which is why you see pictures of Ikar “helping” in the wood shop so often in the mornings!)
Occasionally, I get overwhelmed with the vast needs we encounter in the beautiful people we have met here. It is hard not to try and help every single person. When this happens, I always turn back to God and ask if we are doing enough. What He seems to be telling us is that even though we may not be able to help thousands of people , the people in our TTTF family are learning the importance of education, the dignity of work, and the need to share the love and grace of God with others. These are values they are also passing down their children. These multi-generational blessings may not even come to fruition during our lifetimes, but the seeds have been planted, and we believe will continue to grow in these children, and their children’s children! These folks truly have become our family here, and we are cheering their kids on to success right along with their parents.
We would humbly ask that you pray specifically for our students at university, Carmen, Ingress, and Jessie. Pray for stamina, clarity, and the organizational skills required for them to work and study, and, in the case of Jessie and Carmen, also be present for their children. Anyone who has done this knows the daunting nature of trying to squeeze more hours out of every day to get it all done well. Although these ladies have been champs at it, your continued prayers will help bolster them when they need it most! Please pray for the children in our ministry. Pray for safety and health and continued opportunities to learn and grow in their school environments. Please pray for all on the island who depend on tourism for their livelihoods, as summers are challenging for all of us!
We appreciate and love you all for the support given by your prayers and your remembrances. We are grateful that Trinity allows us the space to communicate with you all. We pray for you regularly and look forward to seeing you during our short furlough in early August!
Hello and Happy Easter to all our wonderful partners and friends! Mindi here.
We pray that you all had an introspective and fulfilling Lent and a joyful Easter! John and Ella and I had a great, if short, furlough back to the States and we were able to visit the wonderful people at Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg where we got to meet, face-to-face, our new priest, the Reverend Carrie Duncan! We are really looking forward to a renewed and stronger relationship with our home church and the people in Hattiesburg.
We are writing this post today to share an incredible blessing that Teach Them To Fish has been given. As you all know, the focus of TTTF is to support Hondurans (particularly single women and the people of Roatan) in their efforts to break the generational cycle of poverty and to become self-sufficient, understand the dignity of work and, most importantly, to come to understand their worth as a child of God and brother/sister of Jesus Christ. We have been able to help support, with varying levels of involvement, 12 different micro-industries to date. Roatan Glass Art and Tropical Wood Works have been the micros to which we have been able to give our most focused efforts and support, and they are both flourishing by God’s grace and a lot of hard work and generosity.
We are really excited to share that we now have the makings of a completely new micro-industry, thanks to the selfless posthumous generosity of one wonderful lady, Billie Davison. Before I reveal this amazingly-timed gift, please let us tell you a bit about Billie, as described by her husband, Gary Baskin.
Billie lived in Mandeville, Louisiana, near New Orleans. In her professional life she was a veterinarian and was Board Certified in Laboratory Animal Medicine. She spent most of her career in biomedical research and eventually had her own research program in the maternal-fetal transmission of malaria and HIV (AIDS).
Since childhood, Billie was passionate about arts and crafts as well as everything to do with water. She enjoyed drawing, painting, jewelry making, paper making, and numerous other crafts. Billie also loved all water. Her husband Gary introduced her to diving and to Roatan in 2011 on a vacation trip. She was hooked on both from the first day. Billie and Gary eventually built a house on Roatan and were spending about 4 months a year on the island. Billie loved diving, snorkeling, underwater photography, and socializing with friends and family. Unfortunately, Billie also suffered from chronic spinal degeneration and fibromyalgia. As she was becoming progressively more debilitated, she was collecting craft materials so she could keep herself occupied in her craft room after she could no longer easily get around. Sadly, she passed away before that time.
Here is where TTTF comes into the picture. Gary explained that years ago, they attended one of the Festivals for the Angels (a large music festival with accompanying craft booths). While there, they met some island ladies who were selling jewelry they had made. They explained to Billie and Gary that they were part of a program that taught island women craft skills so they could make things to sell for income. Right then and there, Billie told Gary that when she died, she wanted her jewelry-making supplies to go to a similar program. After Billie’s passing, we were put in touch with Gary by a mutual acquaintance on the island who knew something of what our mission does. What Gary didn’t know at that time was this: The “island ladies” they met at the Festival for the Angels were, in fact, the ladies of Roatan Glass Art, the first micro-industry born of Teach Them to Fish on Roatan! So, not only did Billie get to donate her jewelry supplies to a “similar program” to one they saw on Roatan, but to the EXACT SAME program to which she was introduced at the Festival. God certainly has his hand in every situation of our lives, does He not?
Although we were touched and pleased to hear that Gary wanted TTTF to have Billie’s jewelry-making supplies, I don’t think anything prepared us for what we received once all four GIANT boxes were delivered to us. Thousands of dollars-worth of painstakingly inventoried and organized supplies arrived and we were speechless as we sorted through everything. This is literally a “micro-industry in a box” (well, boxes!). To make things even more providential, this generous donation came at a time when TTTF has a brand-new full-time missionary moving to the island. It likely won’t take you long to guess in what she has a significant background. If you guessed jewelry-making, you would be correct! Jerri Lee James will be joining the mission next week (look for a blog post about her soon!), and she is excited about delving into this amazing gift and finding some local ladies to whom she will teach the art of jewelry-making as well as business practices that will allow them to use their art and trade to become a self-sufficient micro-industry of their own.
Please be in prayer for Billie’s family which includes her husband, 2 sons, 4 grandsons, 2 brothers, and her sister. We here at TTTF are so humbled and grateful for the generosity of this whole family, and because of this, we are proud to name our newest micro-industry BILLIE’S GIFT, so that her legacy will live on in the changed lives of the people of Roatan, a place that was truly and well-loved by Billie Davison.
Wishing God’s greatest blessings on you all,
Mindi and John and all of the TTTF Family
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year! Happy Valentines Day! Ok, it has been too long between updates but we have stayed so busy the time has gone by so quickly. We did manage to get back to the States over Christmas for a couple of weeks and we really needed it. It’s hard to be living so far away from our family and friends there, but we all understand the need and importance of our mission here and we are committed to continuing what we believe God wants us to do.
As I sit here, thinking of how to “catch you all up” on what is happening in our Teach Them To Fish world, I realize that some of you may not know how we got to where we are today, so I thought I would share a little history of our mission.
Almost 20 years ago, a group from Trinity Episcopal Church in Hattiesburg, MS started coming to Honduras on medical missions and I fell in love with the country, the people, and the culture. I continued as a part of the medical mission team, then the advance team for a total of 4 years. The more time I spent in Honduras, the more I felt a calling to devote a larger part of my life to the needs of the beautiful people of this country. At that point, Chris Tardy (who had been involved with the medical missions as well) and I discussed it and decided to do something a little more permanent and uniquely ours. We formed a small group at Trinity and called it “Teach Them to Fish”, with the goal of sharing the love of Christ and learning various crafts in order to teach them to the people of our sister diocese in Honduras. We raised money by selling the things we were making and used that money to send people down with tools and supplies to teach the crafts we knew or learned.
Bishop Allen from Honduras came to Trinity and visited with us about our mission. He came by my glass shop and asked if I could put some stained glass windows in some of his churches. True to the ‘Teach Them To Fish’ strategy, I told him I thought it would be better if we taught the people in Honduras how to do it themselves. We’ve been working toward that goal since.
Over the years, we have gone to several churches in Omoa, Tegucigalpa, and finally, Roatan to teach stained glass, glass painting, jewelry making, and fused glass.
My ladies (and gentlemen) at Trinity Episcopal have all gotten busy with other things or retired but I will always be grateful for their love and support. Chris, Jo, Jane, Bridget, Larry, and Karl met with me every Wednesday night for many years to plan, construct, sell, laugh, and cry towards this goal. We were a family and still are. They will never know how much they mean to me.
I moved to Roatan, Honduras three years ago to have a ‘presence on the ground’ for Teach Them To Fish, and to facilitate, full-time, the development of more microindustries to help local Hondurans (mainly single women) learn how to be self-sufficient and to help break the cycle of poverty that plagues this wonderful country. It was here that I met Nelson and Kara Mejia, pastors of Emmanuel Episcopal on Roatan. They helped find a group of ladies in need and we formed “Roatan Glass Art” to make fused glass sun-catchers, jewelry, and ornaments. Kara translated instructions as I taught the ladies how to make fused glass items. They have grown by leaps and bounds and are now truly artists and make beautiful work! They have also learned about running and maintaining a business. We are so excited that we are now sponsoring 2 of the members of Roatan Glass Art as they attend university here, majoring in computer science and business.
Almost 2 years ago now, I was joined by another passionate missionary here on the island. Mindi and her daughter Ella stepped out on faith and moved here in June of 2020, and Mindi became my wife in March of 2021. Mindi is now helping facilitate two of our microindustries, including Tropical Wood Works, which makes outdoor solid wood furniture, and their production schedule is now full through April with orders to fulfill!
Another major development has been renting a retail space. The store, Microindustry Missions Market, now provides an outlet for the sale of items produced by all the microindustries we support and we have a total of 10 microindustries represented in the store. The ladies from Roatan Glass Art run the store, manage the books, and continue to make beautiful fused glass items. Roatan Glass Recycling is beginning to make hummingbird feeders out of wine bottles and putting together plans for casting and blowing recycled glass this summer, and Mindi continues to learn and improve her woodturning skills with the goal of teaching this to a group on the mainland.
It has been a wonderful journey and we are so blessed and happy to be here. Thank you all for sharing our vision but also for your love, prayers, and support. Come see us! God bless you all. We love you.
John and Mindi