feature story

Karen & Paul

   Project Paul - Pay It Forward
2017 Trip

Wanting to do something in Paul Langel’s memory, Paul’s wife Karen and his sister Lisa believed that a mission trip to Honduras would be perfect. When they presented their idea to family and close friends, everyone totally agreed that a mission trip was exactly what Paul would have wanted. From their hopes to do something that Paul would do himself, Project Paul – Pay It Forward was born.

The Project Paul mission team began with an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. James' Church in Le Mars, IA. Fr. Kevin Richter, a member of the team, met after Mass with the team and family members to bless them as they began their mission. Each missioner was presented with a personalized hammer to use during the trip and a cross made by Fr. Kevin from the nails of the old St. Joseph's Church in Le Mars. Paul had been a very active parish member and worked on several church projects, including moving the main altar into the new St. Joseph's Church.

No act of kindness, no matter how small,
is ever wasted.

                                      ~ Aesop

After Mass the team boarded a bus for their hotel in Omaha. That evening Bruce Kellen and Lisa Sitzmann split the mission group into four teams, one per house. Each team was challenged to build and paint their house by following the rules written in their folders. Timers would keep track of the amount of time it took to build the house. One team member was designated as the team’s leader, and another member was chosen as the person to make sure the rules were followed properly. Each team wore kerchiefs in their team’s color, which helped the judges to tell them apart. Quickly, the teams formulated their plans for winning the house building contest in “Paul Langel” fashion – doing a quality job quickly, creatively, but having fun while they worked.

Project Paul Team

Project Paul – Pay It Forward missioner members were Francis Seivert and Carolyn Bickford, mission team leaders; Bruce Kellen, construction leader; Karen Langel, Heath & Heather Langel, Jesse & Jackie Langel, and Daniel Langel, Paul’s immediate family; Lisa & Todd Sitzmann, Desiree Langel, Doug & Jackie Langel, Jeff & Char Langel, Ryan Langel & Diana Feldhacker, Mike & Kelli Langel, James Langel, Kay & Chuck Kellen, Drew Kellen, Terri & Russ Holzman, Mick Sitzmann, Fr. Kevin Richter, Jeremy Sitzmann, Eric Kellen, Corey Sitzmann, Scott Hoffman, and Eric Kellen, family and close friends. Relatives and family members who could not make the trip gave generous monetary and other donations to help pay for the construction of the homes and to provide product that could be given away to various families by the team.

We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right. 

                                         ~ Nelson Mandela

The capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest meaning and significance. 

                              ~ Pablo Casals

The team boarded a United Airlines flight early Thursday, March 2, and arrived at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin Airport by 12:15 p.m. Team members loaded their black flight bags into a transport truck and then piled into their buses for the brief trip to Nueva Capital. They wasted no time in unloading the bags once they arrived at Santa Teresa de Jesús School in Nueva Capital, ate a quick lunch, had a short orientation, and went to work. Some team members unloaded the black flight bags and sorted the products into large trash bags for distribution to extremely poor Honduran families. Others began sorting wood into what would be needed for each home.

Their first night in Honduras team leader Carolyn Bickford explained the purpose of a junta – a chance for them to share thoughts and feelings of the day to help process such an emotional and physically draining event. To make it more relevant to this team, each night she posed only one question or statement that she asked them to ponder and respond to if they would like. The first night’s request that each team member share a memory of Paul, or a way in which they were impacted by Paul, helped to set a mood for the entire mission team that made sure everything was done in what all called “Paul’s way.”


Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to do whatever it takes to make them come true.

                    ~ Leon Suenens

Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.

~ Colossians 3:23

Their first full day in Honduras team members enjoyed breakfast shortly after sunrise and then immediately loaded as much wood as possible into the military transport truck. As soon as the wood was delivered, the truck returned to the compound and was again loaded with wood for the remainder of the houses. Hammering could be heard all over Nueva Capital as the houses’ frames rose quickly. Team members met the Honduran families of their homes and enjoyed getting to know them as they built houses together. 


That evening Fr. Kevin celebrated Mass for Beau Langel, Paul’s and Karen’s son. That was a nice way to center everyone for the night’s junta, which focused on what each person did that day that reminded them of Paul. Missioners were already being impacted by the Honduran people, especially the family members of their particular homes. Although the temperature for that night was to be 57 degrees, one man stated that he was planning to sleep on the concrete floor of his new home, which still had no roof, because he was so proud of his new home.

Unbelievably, all four homes were completed by the end of the work day on Saturday. In two days four homes measuring 20’ x 20’ and divided into three rooms were constructed, roofed, and painted. On Monday the wiring will be installed in the homes, whether or not the families have electricity at this time. Missioners took some time in the evening to build bunk beds for the four homes and to make sure all gift bags are ready for scheduled deliveries on Monday and Tuesday.


The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.

                         ~ Helen Keller

Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.

                       ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

The missioners celebrated Sunday liturgy at San Rafael Church in El Guante. Alongside his brother Scott Langel and brother-in-law Todd Sitzmann, Paul had helped to lay the floor tiles of that church during his mission trip. It was after that trip that Paul had stated his desire to return on another mission trip with one of his sons one day. Celebrating Mass for Paul, his son Beau, his brother Jami, and his dad Marvin made the liturgy a special memory for all missioners, but especially for Paul’s family members. The team took some time before Mass to tour the original compound where Paul’s team had stayed during their mission trip. Just before Mass ended, Lisa asked everyone to think of someone who had been with them in good times and then to think of someone who had been with them in times of trouble. Then each person in the church was given a candle to light in memory of those people while music played. It was a powerful moment.

The team ate lunch at a beautiful restaurant on the outskirts of Valle de Angeles. Some missioners stayed there to relax and visit while others ventured into the village to do some tourist shopping. The evening ended back at the compound with a brief climb to the back of the compound to view the lights of Tegucigalpa. 

The world is a living image of God.

                    ~ Tommaso Campanella

When we are motivated
by goals that have deep meaning,
by dreams that need completion,
by pure love that needs expressing, then we truly live life.

                                        ~ Greg Anderson

Monday morning started early but team members were ready to take on their activities of the day. Missioners grouped themselves by family members into gift bag delivery crews. Those deliveries, totaling more than thirty, allowed the missioners to see the utter poverty in which many Hondurans live. They witnessed homes with dirt floors, walls of wood and sections of metal patched with pieces of plastic, no latrines, washboards made of rocks, and much more. All families who received gift bags of soap, clothing, shoes, shampoo, toys, diapers, and the other products donated by all who supported the missioners, were overwhelmed with gratitude for the items we Americans take for granted.

When not delivering gift bags on Monday and Tuesday, missioners worked on projects that would make their homes “special” by adding little creative touches that would have been “Paul Langel approved.” Tables, shelves, pictures, benches, were just a few of the items that the missioners created to give their homes that special touch.

The final afternoon in Honduras gave the team a chance to visit every home that they had built as they participated in a special home blessing ceremony at each one. Fr. Kevin blessed the homes both inside and out with holy water. One of Paul’s family members read the special cross/plaque that Lisa had created and mission team members had carried into Honduras before placing it on the wall of each house. The cross included the names of all missioners on the back, as well as special prayers in Spanish on the front and English on the back. Family members signed their ownership papers to become the legal owners of their beautiful homes, and the door keys were handed over to them.

needs no translation. 

             ~ 1 John 4:8

Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength.

                         ~  St. Francis de Sales

The team had a wonderful final junta and celebration on their last night in Nueva Capital. The final mass in Honduras was celebrated on the anniversary of Paul’s brother, Jami’s passing. It was a nice way to end a day that had been physically, mentally, and emotionally draining for every missioner. Prof. Jessica, the principal of Santa Teresa, expressed her gratitude for the extra projects the missioners completed in the compound on their last day – picnic tables, coat hooks hung in the kindergarten rooms, and a fence alongside the school building.

As the Project Paul – Pay It Forward mission trip drew to a close, all missioners agreed that they had “nailed it” for Project Paul. It had been an awesome way for Paul’s family and friends to honor his memory and to share in his love for Honduras.


Contact Us
 Mission Honduras LeMars
 709 Plymouth St. NE
 Le Mars, IA  51031
Phone: 712-540-3062
Fax:     712-546-9384
Email:  rseivert2@yahoo.com