TWIN FALLS • The puppets made by sisters Jeanne Bunch and Judy Pitts may look like ordinary toys.
But these puppets have helped pay for five missionaries to educate children in India.
Bunch and Pitts started Honey Bunch Puppets in 2006 — not to make money, but to help people around the world.
All the money raised is donated to “Gospel for Asia,” a Christian program that supports children, missionaries and other projects in Asia. Gospel for Asia’s website says it has trained missionaries for 30 years to help in their homelands, in areas where Jesus Christ has not yet been heard.
The missionaries have proven extremely effective, Bunch said, because they know the language, culture and live with the people they serve.
Every month, Bunch and Pitts send $30 to a missionary in India. A missionary’s expenses are $120 a month. Once a missionary is established or starts a church, Gospel for Asia stops sending them money.
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Bunch and Pitts said they had been making puppets for years before they learned about the program from a local pastor.
Bunch conceived their full-body puppet pattern after Pitts asked her to make puppets for one of her speech students when she was teaching at Magic Valley Christian School.
Bunch also has taught a puppetry and puppet-making class at O’Leary Middle School. Pitts has taught puppetry at Jerome High School. They both teach a one-day puppet workshop at Magic Valley High School.
“They are a good fine arts tool. We have learned a lot from the kids,” Bunch said.
They also contribute $35 a month to support one child through “Bridge of Hope,” a school for the children of Dalits, or “Untouchables.” The money helps a child get schooling, clothing, one meal a day and medical check-ups. Students graduate when they turn 16.
Recently, Bunch and Pitts received a letter informing them that Nuna Srujana, a student they supported, had graduated. Then they got a letter from the next student they would support, a girl named Rontala Reshma.
The students and donors correspond, Pitts said. “They become like your own kids.”
But once the student graduates, they often lose touch.
Through Honey Bunch Puppets, the sisters have supported five children and five missionaries since 2007.
In 2009, Bunch went to India with Gospel for Asia. She said she took two small versions of their puppets, which they call “preemies.” They also went to Bridge of Hope Centers and did shows for the children. Bunch said she gave away 250 finger puppets.
“Sometimes that’s the only toy these kids get. It’s something that makes them smile,” she said.
In August, Pitts went to Bulgaria with Amazing Grace Fellowship and put on puppet shows for children in gypsy villages.
The sisters said they have donated puppets to missionaries in Brazil, Japan, Honduras and Russia.
“In the U.S., we have so much,” Pitts said. “We live in a bubble, and we could easily forget about the rest of the world. To spend all money on ourselves is not what we wanted to do.”