Honduras mission members have Tecumseh connection
When a mission team from Crossroads Community Church in Adrian flew to La Ceiba, Honduras on June 29, a little bit of Tecumseh went with them. This year’s team included Tecumseh residents Jesse and Cassie (Pringle) Turner, Peggy Romano, wife of Tecumseh High School (THS) Football coach, Al Romano, and Lee Prettyman, who grew up in Tecumseh, and his son, Raymond.
The church, founded by Pastor Scott Winstead, who also grew up in Tecumseh, works with an organization called Great Commission Latin America, and partners with Iglesia Gran Comission, a church in Honduras.
Crossroads Mission teams have been going to La Ceiba for the past three years, and each time, Jesse and Cassie have been on board. Jesse, serves as Youth Director at Crossroads and Cassie, a THS 2001 valedictorian, now works at Monroe Community Mental Health. Jesse said when he was in high school, he took mission trips with his father, Scott Turner, and recalls building a home in Jamaica for a man who previously lived in a chicken coop.
“Those trips were extremely impactful to me,” said Jesse. “They helped grow my faith and really opened my eyes to just how blessed we really are in America.” He said when his wife expressed an interest in going on the first mission trip to Honduras, “I jumped on it.”
Unlike his previous trips, in Honduras, team members stay with families from the church.
“My wife speaks fairly fluent Spanish, so that gave us a cool experience because she was my translator, since no one in the family spoke English,” he said.
Crossroads built two homes this year, and having been there before, the couple was excited to learn that people they built homes for in the past remembered their names and could reminisce. Team members also spend time at the Center for Development of Infants, a school where sponsored children attend until they are in the sixth grade.
“That sponsorship makes such a huge difference,” said Cassie. “Those kids need that money for meals and medical care.” She said they are also able to hear about Jesus and how he can change their lives, providing an eternal impact, not just a physical impact of a new home.
The group also takes a van to deliver food to villagers. Peggy Romano said that was almost overwhelming.
“I felt like I was in a storybook, and thought, ‘this isn’t real,’ but it was reality,” Peggy said. “I didn’t realize that being on a mission trip meant I had to see and feel and taste it and realize this is really how people live all over the world — and how God calls us to help those people.” Since she works as a daycare provider, Peggy planned to spend her time building one of the houses for something different.
“But God had other plans,” she said. There were too many volunteers and Peggy reluctantly said she would go to the village. While there, children crowded around her. “The others called me the Pied Piper,” she said. Peggy had done her homework and in addition to training sessions, reading books and journaling Bible verses to strengthen her through her initial fear, she had purchased a number of toys, bubbles and little items to pass out to children.
She was also able to distribute some Christian books in Spanish to the women which told about Jesus. She gets excited sharing the story of how one woman who’d pulled her children into her house at first later came running out while Peggy was mixing cement.
“She was waving the book and shouting, ‘I have Jesus in my heart! Gracias!’” she said, still getting emotional. “God used us all in big and small ways.”
Lee Prettyman, who serves as Crossroads Executive pastor, signed up for the trip last July. His son, Raymond, viewed videos from the returning team, and said, “Dad, we’re going to do this.” Raymond was 15 at the time of the trip and those under 16 need to be accompanied by a parent.
Then, in October, their younger son, Ben, passed away. Lee wasn’t sure he had the heart to go, and discussed the timing with Raymond.
“He still wanted to go, and I decided I needed to support him,” Lee said. “How awesome is it that your teenaged son wants to go on a mission trip?”
Lee said he and his son worked on building a 10 x 10 foot concrete home with a dirt floor that several people will live in. Interacting with the people, he felt a change take place and knew God brought them there for a reason.
“It’s just the attitude of the people there,” he said. “They have so little and yet they seem so content.” Lee also connected with a young translator named Josue and discovered a running connection. “Josue had run the Chicago Marathon and I’m running this year on October 13 to mark the one year anniversary of the last day that Ben was conscious,” he said. In support, Josue is also going to run 10 miles.
Raymond also learned a lot through the experience. “It taught me to be more content with what I have and not say I need the next greatest thing, like the next iPhone5, because these people are happy with what they have and they have nothing,” he said.
The experience was so life-changing that the Prettyman’s plan to take another trip in 2015, this time joined by Lee’s wife, Vicki, and their daughter, Marissa.
Peggy said that her husband, coach Romano, watched her preparations and supported her all the way. She would go back in a heartbeat, but feels God is calling her to experience other mission fields as well, and now her passion is to go to Tinca, Romania, where Crossroads partners work with gypsy orphans.
“Al saw all aspects of what I went through, and that must have really encouraged him because he said, ‘I’m going to go to Romania with you,’” Peggy said, adding that they will go in 2015. “That’s the best part, we’ll be going together.”
She said Jesse gave her some valuable advice when she was anxious on the bus as they were headed for the village.
“He said, ‘You’re going to have the experience of a lifetime, so just take each moment and live it to the fullest,’” she said. “He taught me to treasure every moment that you have and it’s a great lesson for all of us to learn.”
Jesse said living in the moment is just something he’s had to live out.
“It’s very easy when you’re in America to live with your to-do lists and priorities, but from trips I’ve taken, I’ve learned one of the best things you can do is put aside your own agenda and just really focus on the people that are right in front of you,” he said.