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Missionary witnessed Mitch's wrath

At the end of October, Hurricane Mitch passed over Central America dropping 60 inches of rain in some areas.

At his home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Donald Wunderink watched houses being swept off their foundations and washed away in a torrent of mud and water.

The raging river cut a four-block swathe through the city. His home was safe. It sat two blocks away and two blocks higher than his unfortunate neighbors.

"The mudslide took everything with it," Wunderink said.

"Businesses were destroyed. Cars floated away from car dealerships. A factory was washed away."

The storm killed thousands and left a shortage of food, water, gasoline, clothing and shelter.

In Honduras, Wunderink works for Christian Reformed World Missions, where he teaches English to Spanish-speaking students in Grades 7-9 at Polivalente Juan Calvino, a technical school.

In the school shop, Wunderink also helps students study electronics and computers.

When he returns to Honduras next week, Wunderink and his students will turn their attention from English and electronics to shelter. As part of a countrywide commitment to reconstruction, students and teachers will build pre-fab panels for new houses in the school shop.

It's a job well-suited for Wunderink, who has a bachelor's degree in construction technology from Purdue University.

At 6 p.m. Sunday, at Hudson Reformed Church, Wunderink will show a video and talk about his mission work in Honduras, a city of 1.5-million people.

He is winding up a holiday vacation in west Pasco, visiting his dad and other family members and sharing his message with local reformed churches.

Before moving to Honduras, Wunderink, 42, his wife, Mae, and their children, Alex, 7, Lance, 5, Calvin, 3 and Daniel, 1, worked in Costa Rica for 2{ years.

They learned of the teaching opportunity in Honduras in 1995 when Wunderink spent two weeks with a team from his DeMotte, Ind., Christian Reformed Church helping to build the school.

Since Hurricane Mitch, the school has been home to many people whose homes were destroyed. Fortunately, that worked well with the school's regular closing from November through the first part of February.

The period allows everyone to work in the annual coffee bean harvest. When school resumes, its occupants will have to find new places to live.

World Wide Christian Schools, the actual builder of the school and its biggest funder, has committed to building 200 new homes for those hit by the storm.

The school has committed to helping provide materials and labor for 20 of those homes.

"We are opening up a shop class where the kids will work on constructing pre-fab 4 by 8 panels," Wunderink explains.

He says the panels already will have windows cut into them so it's just a matter of erecting them on a foundation.

When the Wunderinks left their home, things were looking brighter. Water was back on, at least a couple of times a week, and it was clear.

Toilets could once again be flushed and clothes could be washed. The Wunderinks say they are fortunate.

Many in the city still have no water or it still is muddy, and many were left without even the clothes on their backs.

Hudson Reformed Church is at 7723 Maryland Ave., Hudson.

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