Couple’s Lives Changed at Farmers Market

Lori Hughes is known in Scripps Ranch as a kind, nurturing teacher. She is now retired, but she and her husband, Don, have found another way to help children, especially those in dire need.

When Lori and Don married in 1976, she told him she wanted to live in or near a Spanish-speaking country, a far cry from their native Montana. He had won a trip to California one year but couldn’t get away, so Lori took their then-3-year-old daughter. She liked it. On one exploratory trip, she and Don found San Diego. She loved the weather—“It’s so cold in Montana!” she said—the ocean, its proximity to Mexico, and its environment to raise children.

They first lived in Rancho Penasquitos, a wonderful community in which to raise their two children, Katie and Andy. They eventually moved to Scripps Ranch where Lori taught 1st grade at Ellen Browning Scripps Elementary School (EBS) before she retired. “I love living in Scripps Ranch!” Lori says. The Scripps “quality of life” got even better when, after nine years in Hawaii, their daughter, Katie, moved here with her family. Katie’s daughter is in kindergarten at EBS, Lori’s old school.

The Hugheses liked traveling and visited missionary friends in Kenya in 2007. They traveled as missionary workers with their church, Grace Point, to Cuba in 2008.

Life became enriched as a result of a Saturday visit to the Scripps Ranch Farmers Market. They stopped at a booth where Shawn Plowman was selling coffee from Honduras. Lori asked why she was selling coffee from Honduras, and Shawn said it was a fundraiser for the children of that country, all proceeds going to hospitals and schools. Lori said she and Don were looking for a Spanish-speaking country where they could live for a year, and Dawn suggested Honduras.

In 2009 Lori took a year’s unpaid leave from EBS, and Don, a commercial manager with a car dealership, did as well. Both were assured their jobs would be waiting when they got back.

On that trip, the Hugheses went with a nonprofit called His Hands in Honduras. They worked with churches and other groups. One objective was to install 400 more water filters to provide safe drinking water. A big tank was being built to catch rain water for when the filter tanks were dry. Locals worked on them, joined by a group from Wyoming and Utah.

Don said their focus turned to the children: food, schools, medical care, and spiritual growth. A national requirement dictates children can’t attend school unless they have a uniform—white shirt and blue pants or skirt—which cost $90. That’s more than Honduras families can afford, so Lori is trying to get sponsors at $32 a month. Sometimes only one child in a family can go to school.

That year the Hugheses rented an apartment. For shorter trips they’ve stayed in hostels, hotels, or with pastors in Honduras. Lori said a long trip gives you an understanding of the culture of the country, and staying in a home lets you see what family life is like. During their yearlong stay, they had time to visit Costa Rica, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Panama. They go back to Honduras once or twice a year, their most recent trip being last month.

Lori plans to go to Christian schools in the local area to get classes to sponsor children their age. She also enlists friends and family to become sponsors. Lori and Don, now sponsorship coordinators for His Hands in Honduras, support five children. The group is faith-based, but anyone can help by sending money, letters, or small gifts. Lori translates the letters into Spanish for the children and into English when the children write back.

The current project is Children in Need, but it is hoped there eventually will be Seniors in Need for the elderly. Lori tends the His Hands for Honduras website at www.hishandssupportministries.org/honduras, with pictures and write-ups of the children. Says Lori enthusiastically, “You fall in love with the kids!”

Elinor Reiss