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