Pictured here from a mission in 2016 from front to back are: Carol Fontenot, Sela Fontenot, Tim Fontenot, Wayne Fruge, Sylvia Fontenot, Warren Fontenot, and Winston LaFleur. LaFleur again this year is leading the group on another mission trip to Honduras. (Photo courtesy of Winston LaFleur)

Pictured here from left to right are: Back row- Sophie Fontenot, Tiffany Fontenot, Winston LaFleur, and Warren LaFleur; Front row- Terry Fitzgerald, Ann Fitzgerald, Chino, Savannah Fontenot, and Sela Fontenot. (Photo courtesy of Winston LaFleur)

Into the mission fields

Local electrician Winston LaFleur shares his time and talents with the less fortunate of Central America

For the last nine years, Winston LaFleur has been making a yearly trek to a little town that is in the mountainous country of Honduras. The purpose of the trip each year is to help in mission work.
“It’s been something that I wanted to do all my life,” he said. “I just didn’t have any idea how to do it.”
It was a local nun who first got LaFleur into going on the missions. She “went on one two years before I did, and she told me how exciting it was and how rewarding it was for her, so I thought I would try it.”
“I’ve been going since 2009, and where we are at right now, I’ve been going since 2011,” he continued. We missed 2010 because of a coup that they had.”
When LaFleur first made the mission trip, he was in a group of 40 people. Over the years, the group has grown and, as a result, has splintered off into different groups. “Normally, we’ve been 36 to 40 people, but it’s too much for the one person that’s in charge to handle it,” he said. “Now we break it down between 20 and 25 people. The group that I started with back in 2009 has broken up into six different groups.”
LaFleur now leads a group of people from Ville Platte called the Ville Platte Christian Mission. “We do all kind of different things,” he said. “It’s mostly painting and changing roofs on schools. The big focus over there is on education.”
“There’s a lot of work involved in it, but as far as myself, I don’t feel that it’s that much,” he continued. “I do whatever has to be done, and I’m truly grateful to God especially.”
He shared a story that stands out from a mission trip in 2014. “One of the neighbors came and asked us for some old roofing that we had taken off of a school,” LaFleur said. “We had some extra sheets of metal, and we told the guy we would bring it to him. We brought it up to the top of the mountain, and, when we got there, we found a lady with two little kids who was pregnant for her third child.”
LaFleur described the kind of house in which the family was living. “The house was made out of mud,” he said. “She had rice cooking on her stove that was made out of mud and with three bush knives or machetes that had been worn out. She had a pot of beans on there with a little fire underneath it, and it was about an inch of beans left in the bottom of the pot.”
“The only thing she wanted more than anything was a five-gallon bucket,” he continued. “We promised her the next morning we would bring her some five-gallon buckets. All three of us got together and bought 10 buckets. When we got there with those buckets, the people came down in droves because it was like gold.”
LaFleur explained what is so special about the five-gallon buckets. He said the people “take the five-gallon bucket, go down the mountain about 200-yards to the river, fill it up with water, and put it on their head to walk back up the mountain.”
He added that enough money was raised the following year to build the family a house out of concrete blocks because the termites eat the houses made out of wood. “It’s amazing the gratitude that people have over there,” LaFleur said. “It’s unbelievable. They were tremendously grateful for the work we have done.”
The money used on the mission trip comes from contributions from the people in Ville Platte and other places in the area. According to LaFleur, his group raised $15 thousand last year. “The little bit of money that we raise is not enough to support anything,” said the humbled LaFleur. “It’s just a big help. All of the work that we do is no more noticeable than a tear in the ocean, but it’s a start. That’s what it’s all about.”
“I’ve had a lot of good support from people in Ville Platte and people out of town also,” he added. “This year we’re planning on having a benefit dance. We’re going to have a meal and a band playing at the Civic Center on May 5. We’re not going to charge anything to go in. It’s just going to be a benefit, and people can donate whatever they feel they can do or whatever is comfortable for them.”
For LaFleur, the reward of doing the mission work is great. “No matter how much I give, it’s still not close to what I get out of it,” he stated. “The reward is mostly spiritual, but it’s a lot of a financial award too. God blesses us when we come back. Since I came back from the mission trip this past year, my business has actually more than doubled.”
He concluded, “You work hard, you play hard, you pray hard, and the reward is unbelievable.”

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