, Muskogee, OK

July 29, 2013

Students go to Honduras to deliver milk cow to woman with 11 children

— By Miranda Anderson

Times Correspondent

The Fort Gibson High School Alpha and Omega club and the Fort Gibson Church of Christ recently raised money to buy three cows for charity.

Several of the high school students and an adult sponsor were also able to personally deliver one of them to a family in Choluteca, Honduras.

Gracie Vanlandingham, incoming president of Alpha and Omega, said the group went to Honduras two years ago with the church.

They discovered then they can buy cows to give to families there through an organization called Mission Lazarus, she said.

“It’s a really big deal to receive a cow there, or any farm animal,” Gracie said. “We saw their poverty and we wanted to help, so we started announcing about Cash for Cows. Kids really caught on to that and donated money for over a year.”

Hayden Hackworth, incoming treasurer, said the group went out and asked people if they had any cash for cows and people responded well.

“It came by really easily. We didn’t have to go out and force people to give money,” Hayden said. “They just gave.”

Krista Keeley, incoming vice president, said it was completely eye-opening to go to Honduras.

“I’ve always been thankful for what I have, but it is totally different when you personally see what people go through,” Krista said. “It showed me what true joy is.”

Hunter Hackworth, outgoing president, said the Alpha and Omega club had donated to Wishing Well in the past.

But they decided it would be “a little more profitable for God’s purpose if they changed things up” he said.

“My mom was the one who organized the first mission to buy a cow for a family with her third-grade Bible class and the rest of the kids at church, so we had a direct person to go to,” Hunter said. “I was actually sick on the day we delivered the cows.”

But Hunter bore it and went ahead to deliver the cow because he didn’t want to miss the “life-changing” event, he said.

“The lady’s face when she saw the cow was amazing. She was clapping her hands,” Hunter said.

Gean Hackworth, the adult sponsor, said the students are always trying to find ways they can make money to buy cows, whether it’s doing chores for parents or grandparents or something else.

“I have kids bringing in big coffee cans of money,” he said. “And our adults have been just as excited because they see the benefit. All of the cows we were able to take this year were pregnant, so the families are getting a double blessing.”

The members of Alpha and Omega and their sponsor said there are many contrasts between life in Honduras and life in America.

“To get there we had to drive down the worst roads possible, so rocky, in these white, 15-passenger vans,” Gracie said. “Some of their houses are four posts with tin on the sides and a dirt floor, maybe a hammock.”

Gracie said the people of Honduras were very friendly.

“You can feel the difference right away. I walked into the Honduras airport, and the people were so ready and willing to help me, even if I wasn’t asking for help,” she said. “I got to the U.S. airport and people just walk by and ignore one another. We could take some lessons from the people of Honduras.”

Krista said on some days during their trip they had to carry water, because the city shuts it off some days and only turns it on a few days out of the week.

“When they have it, it’s not even clean,” Krista said. “As Christians we should really want to go to church, but sometimes we’re tired. There is a family who wakes up at three in the morning and walks four hours just to make it to church at 9 a.m. And they have so much joy being there.”

Hunter said the roads were bad and some of the housing was terrible.

“Some of the houses were made literally of sticks and trash bags,” he said. “They were all completely accepting of each other no matter what, including us. They were all looking for God’s love.”

Gean Hackworth said another cow went to a woman who had four biological children. Her sister had died of AIDS and so she had taken in her five, he said.

“Mission Lazarus told us that a family in Honduras receiving a cow is like an American winning the lottery,” he said. “They choose families who will be willing to share the cow with their neighbors. They also make sure the family is ready to receive the cow. These people have never had a cow, so they don’t know how to milk it or take care of it. Mission Lazarus teaches them those things.”