ALTON - When Main Street United Methodist Church began its outreach to the Country of Honduras in 2005 by sending its first mission team, little did it know the impact the country would have on team members.

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Over the last 15 years and 8 trips to this beloved country, the team has helped build churches; taught Sunday school classes; administered over 2,000 fluoride treatments to children; shared in men’s ministry, women’s ministry, and youth ministry workshops; and taught sewing, knitting and crochet classes. Yet it is the relationships that have been forged, the love shared, the faith witnessed, and the outrageous hospitality showered on team members by their Honduran hosts (brothers and sisters in Christ) that have forever changed their lives. It is this same love that has motivated the team to organize their “Hurricane of Love” in response to Hurricanes Eta and Iota that have ravaged Honduras over the last 2 weeks and brought crisis to Main Street’s extended family.

Team Leader Greg Gelzinnis remarked, “Our hearts simply broke as reports were coming in from our ‘family’ throughout the country.” He added, “The relentless rain and 125+ mph winds tossed homes and belongings like props on a Hollywood movie set…except this was real.” Main Street’s new Directing Pastor, Alberto Ramirez, also has ties to Honduras through his first United Methodist appointment in north Georgia where he pastored a congregation consisting largely of Honduran families. Pastor Ramirez commented, “As Greg and the Team shared their hearts with me, I knew that we had a responsibility to assist our neighbors during their time of great need.” He shared, “Main Street has a long history of service and leadership in this community, and we believe this is an opportunity for our church and the community at large to help others in their time of crisis.”

The need is real, as shared by the Honduran Foreign Minister:

Hurricanes Eta and Iota have left 276.00 people evacuated

123,000 rescued from the flooding

130,000 in shelters

35,000 homes destroyed or damaged

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37 bridges destroyed

57 bridges damaged

The UN reported:

Of the 9.1 Million people in Honduras, 2.1 Million are without basic food security and

717,000 are without access to water, sanitation and hygiene services.

The Weather Company reported:

Hurricane Iota brought sustained winds of 155 mph which tore off roofs, knocked down trees, and flooded streets with sustained rains approaching 30 inches in places.

Starting on Tuesday, December 1 through Sunday, December 20, Main Street and Team Honduras will be collecting monetary donations towards this effort. Donations can be made via mail by making checks out to Main Street UMC and placing ‘Hurricane of Love’ in the memo line, and sending to Main Street UMC; 1400 Main Street; Alton, IL 62002, or by giving on line through a special LINK on the churches website – Honduras Emergency Relief https://rb.gy/0d8riu (www.mainstreetumc.net) . “It is our hope that these funds will truly be a ‘Hurricane of Love’ especially at Christmas to counteract the devastation of the tandem of Eta and Iota,” said Team Member Kathy Lipe. Lipe has been sharing messages with the team from friends who have loaded up their cars with whatever resources they could scavenge together to help those less fortunate than themselves. Lipe emphasized, “Donations of any size will be appreciated and represent HOPE!” Gelzinnis remarked, “This is normally the time that the Team would be selling their homemade apple butter and peanut and cashew brittle at area craft fairs, but because of COVID-19, these have all been cancelled. He continued, “So making lemonade from those lemons, we would like to make a special offer as our part of the “Hurricane of Love,” that 50% of the proceeds of our social media sales from customers going to our Team Honduras Homemade Goodies Facebook Page, commenting with your order, and then picking up at the church on Saturday, December 5 or Saturday, December 12 from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. will be added to the emergency fund.”

Team Honduras 2021 is faithfully preparing for its 9th trip to Honduras June 11 – 26, 2021. Anyone interested in joining the team or learning more about its work in Honduras may contact Greg Gelzinnis at 618-550-9291. Main Street United Methodist Church has been serving the Alton area for over 200 years and continues to share the Gospel through a virtual platform today via its website at www.mainstreetumc.net and its Facebook page.

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