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Information for Teams and Volunteers

I have planted,  Apollos watered;  but God gave the increase. I Cor. 3:6

SHORT  TERM  TEAMS  AND  INDIVIDUALS

First Things First:   All volunteers must obtain (1) official approval to come and (2) official approval of calendar dates (from both the sponsoring missionary and the Field Visitor Coordinator) before proceeding with any other plans. To begin this process, see the Application Process for Short-term Volunteers. If approved, then each volunteer should next follow all the steps and directions outlined in this Logistics section.

Hospital Loma de Luz has grown into a fully functional 24/7 in-patient hospital (as well clinic and outpatient facility). Qualified medical and nursing volunteers augmenting and assisting this ongoing care are usually very helpful, sometimes vital. While the  ”medical brigade” format no longer meshes with our needs, we can benefit from individuals or small groups with a specific skill that can meet a specific need (e.g. an orthopedic surgeon coming with an OR nurse and an anesthesia provider). Plan on speaking Spanish (interpreters are available if necessary at a small cost), plan on being flexible, and plan on being used by the Lord.

Guiding Principles: The two most clear-cut principles are that we want visiting volunteers to…

  • Fit into and augment the ongoing work, and in a way that is defined by a specific focus.
  • Develop  relationships—relationships with the career missionaries, relationships with the Honduran staff and community members, and relationships that will both impact the volunteer’s life and make him or her more able to pray for, remember, and support the work for the long haul.

GUIDELINES

  • Short term missions don’t have to be done in a “team” format.   Consider coming as an individual, as a couple, or as a family to work with the long-term committed missionaries.
  • Teams should be purpose defined (built around a specific purpose, e.g. the kitchen cabinet building/installing team, the limb prosthesis team, the automobile repair team); and that purpose should be determined from the needs of the ministry.
  • Teams need to be sponsored by one or more on-site long-term committed missionaries.
  • Group members, as much as possible, should all arrive and depart on the same day. And, that day should be determined with input from the sponsor.

LOGISTICS

Air Travel. Continental, Delta, American and Taca Int. are some of the major airlines that service the country of Honduras. Your final destination in Honduras is La Ceiba (the closest city to Hospital Loma de Luz).  You can book a flight to La Ceiba (LCE), or you can fly to San Pedro Sula (SAP) and, once there, purchase tickets for a short regional flight to La Ceiba or take the bus (Hedman Alas Bus Line) from the SAP airport to La Ceiba. Coordinate with your sponsor and volunteers@lomadeluz.net about your travel plans.

Luggage:  Check with your airline—luggage regulations are constantly changing. Make sure your carry-ons also meet airline regulations.  It is wise to carry a change of clothing and the most basic toilet items in your carry-on since lost luggage is a frequent problem in Latin America. It is extremely desirable to book direct flights, because this greatly reduces the risk of lost luggage.

Exit Fee: There is an exit fee (tarifa internacional / impuesto de salida) currently of $39.24 per person charged by the Honduran airport on the day you depart Honduras to return to the US. The exit fee can be paid in US dollars or Lempiras only—they do not accept credit / bank cards.

Customs:  You will go through customs at your final destination airport (where your luggage is ticketed for) but should be prepared for airport security checks if your itinerary includes changing planes before reaching your final destination.  When it is your turn with the customs agent, hand the official your passport and customs papers (those are the papers the flight attendant would have handed you during your flight and which you should have already filled out en route). If you are staying for more than 30 days, make sure you ask the customs official for a 90 day visa. The customs official will look at your passport and stamp it.  Then go to the baggage claim area to get your luggage. You may get it yourself or pick one of the men may be standing around who will want to help.  You (or he) will take the luggage to the counter for an official to open and look through. You (or your helper) will then be able to take your luggage outside.  Tip only the person you have designated as your helper (about $1 per bag).

If you do not see the person who is supposed to meet you and take you to Loma de Luz, wait at your pre-determined meeting place.  If you become concerned about the waiting time, call Cornerstone contact person, Howard Pandy, in La Ceiba, at: 3380-5953 (cell phone). A back-up number is Iain McKenzie, in Balfate/Loma de Luz at: 9828-9444 (cell phone). Use those phone numbers if you have big problems (like missing a connection) when in Honduras.

Ground Transportation in Honduras: We provide or arrange ground transportation from La Ceiba to the hospital. Contact the Volunteer Coordinator: volunteers@lomadeluz.net

Accommodations. Our primary accommodations facility for short term volunteers is the staff-housing facility which has showers and bathrooms and kitchen/laundry area with sinks, stoves, oven, refrigerator, freezer, and washer and dryer. Housing costs start at $16 per person per night.  For couples, families with children,  and those who are staying longer, rates are usually a bit lower.  Please contact the volunteer coordinator at  volunteers@lomadeluz.net  for more information about the estimated cost for housing for your specific trip. You may need to spend the night in a hotel in La Ceiba on the eve of return to the US, so bring enough money to pay for a hotel room (approximately $70 for one person, but the price fluctuates somewhat).

Food:

  • Families and/or Individuals: Take your food money with you.  You will be taken to purchase your own groceries in La Ceiba before heading out to the hospital compound.  Food costs about the same in Honduras as it does in the states, perhaps a little more.  You can pay with American dollars, credit card, or debit card.  You will cook your own food in your own apartment or staff-housing community kitchen. You will pay Cornerstone only for your lodging ($16 per person per day)–Families and/or Individuals should not fill out the meal plan mentioned below.
  • Teams: We will purchase your food / groceries prior to your arrival for you to use to prepare your meals in the Staff Housing Kitchen at Loma de Luz. The cost for food per team member  per day is $7.50.  Most groups like to designate a cook or small cooking-committee.

Each team leader (or the head cook) should follow these steps for team meals:

    1. Select meals listed on the Loma de Luz meal plan which you can access via this link: Meal Plan. Choose only meals listed on the Meal Plan, as not all food items are available in Honduras, plus you also want to keep your meals easy and basic.  There are a few recipes listed at Team Recipes
    2. After  the meals are chosen, download and fill out the meal plan document and email it to The Volunteer Coordinator at volunteers@lomadeluz.net .  A copy should also be sent to the Cornerstone office with your visitor fees. This meal plan document is needed one month prior to the team’s trip.
    3. If a member of your group is diabetic or has a food allergy which would require special arrangements, let us know well in advance and also note it on your meal plan.
    4. There will be a hard copy of the Team Recipes in the Staff Housing Kitchen.
  • Volunteers/visitors may want to bring along a few comfort food items in their suitcase—there is no grocery in Balfate.  Don’t forget to bring money for eating out on your travel days.  Communicate with your sponsor about how many meals you should plan on. Meals in a restaurant in La Ceiba cost about the same as meals in the US, perhaps a little more.

Special note to teams & cooks: Occasionally there may be a few guests (1-3) staying at staff housing that are working on specific projects during your team’s stay. These guests have already paid Cornerstone for their part of the food. Since there is only one kitchen it may be necessary for these individuals to join your team at meal times. Please make these guests feel welcome, they will be happy to help in cooking /cleaning and join your team in fellowship.

 

Additional Money. In addition to airfare, one-night’s hotel accommodations, and Cornerstone accommodations/food, the only other cost is whatever spending money volunteers may want to bring (mementos, local items, special food, etc.). It is also very helpful if a group can raise money for some of the building supplies to be used while they are on the job (e-mail us to know the cost of the specific project which your group would be involved in).

Church. Volunteers / visitors are invited to join the hospital staff in weekday morning devotions (at the hospital chapel) and to join the full-time missionaries in their Thursday Evening Fellowship service and in their Sunday Morning Bible Study service (both usually held at “ the Cabildo” near the hospital). Volunteers may additionally be invited by the career missionaries to join them at local Honduran churches or Bible studies (these often meet at times other than Sunday morning or even on other days of the week).

Passports. Volunteers need to have a valid passport.  Information can be found here from the US State Department related to obtaining or renewing US Passports. The necessary forms can be obtained from many US Post Offices.  If you have a passport, be sure to check the expiration date because Honduras will not let you enter the country if the expiration date is less than 6 months from day of departure from Honduras.

Health / Immunizations. Hepatitis A and B:  Generally required for health care workers, and not a bad idea for everyone.  There are no other shots required other than an up-to-date tetanus shot (within the last 10 years); a tetanus shot within the last 5 years would be even better, esp. for construction volunteers. Malaria prophylaxis is recommended.  Please consult with your family physician and make sure you tell him where you are going and for how long.  Bring a water bottle to drink from. There will be plenty of good water to drink at the hospital site, but you may often find yourself in other places (on the road, in La Ceiba, etc.) where the water is not to be trusted. In a restaurant, you can ask for “agua purificada” to obtain bottled water.  Any prescription or over-the-counter medicines you are taking should be brought with you in sufficient supply, as volunteers/visitors will be staying and working in a remote area. If you need additional information contact volunteers@lomadeluz.net for our “Details for Travelers” document

Clothing and Supplies. Clothing should be conservative and functional. We recommend that you bring a hat, work gloves, sunscreen, insect repellent, ear plugs (both for work and perhaps for sleep purposes), small flashlight, a swim suit, one pair of work shoes/boots, and one pair of tennis shoes. At least one pair of jeans is a good idea (even for the women) in case you do any walking through brushy areas (there are venomous snakes and scorpions in the area). If you come during the rainy season, bring a light rain slicker and/or light sweater or jacket, and shoe-wise, be prepared for mud.  Visitors find that a bandana or small wash cloth can be almost essential for a multitude of uses. Ladies / girls should bring a dress or skirt in case they attend a Honduran church service or other cultural situations.  A Spanish phrase book or English-Spanish dictionary (or even an English-Spanish New Testament) may be helpful.

Language and Currency. This is a Spanish-speaking country. Although some Hondurans, particularly the better educated, may speak English, the majority of people you will meet speak only Latin American Spanish. The currency is the Lempira. The rate of exchange fluctuates some but currently is about 20 L/$1.

Interpreters. Though your missionary sponsor will be conversant in both English and Spanish, he/she will also be carrying on his/her normal full-day’s-work in addition to working with you / your group; and, naturally, he/she can’t be everywhere at once. You thus may desire to have an interpreter with your group (full-time or perhaps on specific days). If so, your team would need to hire an interpreter. A good estimate for a “going rate” for interpreters is $10 / day. If your team needs or desires to hire an interpreter, contact volunteers@lomadeluz.net.  We need to know in advance.

Minors/Youth. All youth/minors require pre-approval. (For our purposes a minor is anyone under 18 years of age, and a “youth” is anyone under 21 years of age.) If you want to include minors/youth in your group, contact volunteers@lomadeluz.net for pre-approval and any additional information or clarification. If minors under the age of 18 are traveling with only one (or no) parent, a notarized letter signed by both parents giving permission for the child to travel outside the US in the custody of a named group member (even when it’s one  parent) is required by the airline. We can provide a sample letter. Remember also that for every 3 persons under the age of 21 in a team, there must be an adult age 30 or older.

Solo Traveler / Group Leader. The Group Leader is a very important role to fill. If coming with a group, please let us know whom to regard as the Leader. If coming as an individual, you ARE the group leader (in your group of one). The Group Leader is responsible for seeing that all group members have read this Short-Term Missions Information and that they turn in their money and paperwork (see Application Process for Teams and Volunteers) at least one month prior to departure from home.

Conduct. Each visitor/volunteer must read and sign the Cornerstone Foundation Standard of Conduct. This is the same standard to which we hold the full-time missionaries working at the site.  Additionally, please read and be aware of our Guidelines for Photographing Patients while at the hospital.

Insurance and Medical Release. Medical insurance that would cover an emergency or injury in Honduras, including emergency medical evacuation,  is required.  You can buy such insurance – at (www.gomissionstrip.com) or (www.imglobal.com) or any other reputable source of your choosing.

Summary of Expenses Other than Airfare:

  • Money to be paid to Cornerstone in advance of your trip: Lodging per person per day ($16) and  food for team members ($7.50)  per person per day.  Check with volunteers@lomadeluz.net for the discounted lodging amount due if staying more than two weeks. Individuals or families staying in the apartments pay only for lodging which varies according to availability as well as length of stay—you will buy your own food. The money is to be paid in advance to: Cornerstone Foundation; 18384 W. Lake Dr., Saucier, MS 39574 and accompanied by a note specifying that the money is for your / your group’s expenses. These fees, along with the required forms (paperwork) should be sent at least one month prior to your or your group’s departure date.
  • Money to bring with you: Each person will need to bring about $40 (in small bills) for customs/immigration and exit fees, $60 (just to be on the safe side) for a night’s hotel lodging in case it is needed, enough money for up to 3 restaurant meals in La Ceiba and whatever money may be wanted for souvenirs/mementos/tourist items.  Remember, if coming as an individual or family, bring a credit card, debit card or cash for buying your groceries. You may be able to take back some portion of your money home with you depending on whether or not you have to spend the night in a hotel or buy meals in La Ceiba. Other possible expenses depend on whether your group plans to hire an interpreter and whether you raise money to help fund the purchase of the materials for your project.

FOR MORE DETAILED INFORMATION

“Details for Travelers to Honduras” information is available from the Vistor/Volunteer Coordinator -  volunteers@lomadeluz.net.   The Cornerstone Foundation Administrator is Kathleen Jones: kathleen@crstone.org; phone:  228-328-1579.