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On Wednesday morning, July 6th, the newly built kitchen at the Benito Montoya School and 36 households were blessed as part of a dedication celebration less than one year in the making.

Messiah Lutheran Church has sponsored the school children’s lunch meals through the Lunches For Learning (L4L) mission for over six years.  Messiah took up the challenge of raising money specifically for the kitchen at the beginning of this year. Lunches for Learning was a mission near and dear to the late Gerard deJong, an active Messiah member.  Along with visiting the school many times, Gerard raised the funds enabling the construction of the kindergarten building at Benito Montoya which was named in his honor .  Gerard died suddenly on Ash Wednesday, Feb 10, of this year. An outpouring of gifts in memory of Gerard was instrumental in getting the funds to build the new kitchen.

The school is located in the rural community of El Barrial, Honduras. Pastor Scott Peterson made the trip in early July accompanied by Rudy Lind, one of the Directors of Lunches For Learning, who lives in Marietta, GA.  The dedication and blessing ceremony included a ribbon cutting and lunch held with students, teachers, and families of the school all in attendance.

Dedication Program

The kitchen dedication program began with the national anthems of both Honduras and the U.S. The new kitchen is the cinder block structure on the left.

Parents and family gathered under the shade.

Parents and family gathered under the shade of trees near Benito Montoya School.

Ribbon Cutting Photo

Pastor Scott Peterson about to cut the ribbon at the entry door of the new kitchen.  On the  left is Rudy Lind, a director of L4L, and on the right is Senor Nelson, president of the parents board at the school.

"Thanks Be to God!"

“Thanks Be to God!” for the new kitchen.  In the background is the Gerard deJong kindergarten building.

Cutting the ribbon on the new kitchen, built with donations from Messiah Lutheran Church in coordination with Lunches for Learning.

Cutting the ribbon on the new kitchen. The girl on the right is the president of the student body.

Pastor Scott and children inside the newly built kitchen building.

Pastor Scott and children inside the newly built kitchen building. The kitchen was built through the generosity of members and friends of Messiah Lutheran Church.

As part of the dedication celebration, the children gave a dancing demonstration. Dance is new in the school curriculum this year.  Also new to the curriculum is soccer.  The children were thrilled to receive two new soccer balls from Messiah Lutheran—one for the girls and one for the boys.

Honduran Children in Traditional dress.

Elementary School children in traditional dance costume.

Following the dedication, each member of each household was personally blessed as they received a wooden cross painted and decorated by children participating in Messiah’s annual music camp, which takes place in June.

Blessing Photo

Pastor Scott Peterson blessing students and family members following the dedication.

Pastor giving a cross to a child.

Pastor Scott Peterson presents a wooden cross to a family. The crosses were hand painted by children during Messiah’s annual Music Camp.

Pastor Scott presenting a Bible to the principal of the Benito Montoya E.S.

Pastor Scott presenting a Bible to Principal Rene of Benito Montoya School.

The celebration concluded with lunch which was prepared by the mothers of the children and served out of the newly dedicated kitchen.  The special meal consisted of fried corn tortillas; some covered with re-fried beans with cheese and others covered with fresh sliced cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes.

Mothers volunteer to serve up the lunch from the new kitchen.

Mothers volunteer to serve up the lunch from the new kitchen.

Celebration Lunch!

A delicious Celebration Lunch was enjoyed by all!

Messiah Lutheran Church will continue to sponsor lunches at the school through dedicated Lunches for Learning offerings and fundraising events throughout the year, such as the annual Hand Made Market which this year will take place on Saturday, October 15th.

The kitchens built at Benito Montoya School allow the meals for the approximately 60 students to be prepared onsite.  This relieves the burden of mothers having to prepare the meals at home and haul the ingredients and meals back and forth to the school daily.

The Lunches for Learning program was created in 2004 and incorporated in 2005 as a 501(c)(3) and with it, a tradition of hope, empowerment and dignity arose. Today more than 1,500 children are fed a nutritious lunch at 29 rural elementary schools in the Valle District of Honduras. With the strength of God and the support of strategic partners, Lunches for Learning hopes to continue breaking the cycle of poverty in rural Honduras.