Honduras Day 4: Ludvi’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-4

Click here for the previous post, Valery’s home visit.

My third child that I was supposed to visit, Ludvi, wasn’t at the church, because somehow along the way she got left off of the list of children whose sponsors were visiting. But another sponsor had teen girls there that day who lived nearby Ludvi and knew where her home was, so they said they could show us. Ludvi lives in the small, very in need community of Ollada in Mercedes. I had known a little about Ollada before the trip: basically that it is an area of very high poverty and the children have a very long walk to get to the church. But experiencing it for myself was a completely different story…

I piled into the back of the Land Cruiser with 4 children and one staff member while my translator and another staff member, who was a driver, got in the front. I was told early on in the trip how the Land Cruiser was the worst ride, probably because it has just two long benches that face each other for everyone to slide around on. I also mentioned earlier how Mercedes has the bumpiest roads. Now I’ll mention that the drive to Ollada has the worst and bumpiest roads in Mercedes! So you can start to imagine what this trip was like.

As we were bumping along, my knuckles white with my grips on the bench, getting air time over the biggest bumps and getting actually stuck on the biggest hills, tires spinning, I had a little time to also register just how long of a drive this was. And if it was a long drive, it’s SOO much longer of a walk- a walk that these kids are making. That Ludvi is making. The kids in the Land Cruiser with us were having a great time, laughing and smiling, as they obviously aren’t used to being transported home like this. I noticed that they didn’t need to hang on as tightly as I did either. I’ll blame it on my higher center of gravity 😉

Finally, the girls told us we had arrived. We got out of the vehicle, and I was relieved to be on the ground. Then they directed us down a very very steep hill. The girls were sweet, a hill like this being commonplace to them, and they stayed close by as we went down. I was bound and determined not to fall and hurt myself this trip, especially as I’m entering the home of one of my sponsored children, so I took it very slow, holding onto tree branches or the barbed wire in between the barbs whenever I could. That starts to paint a picture…

As we arrived and introduced ourselves, Ludvi’s mom called for her. When she came out, I noticed how tiny she was for a girl who had just turned 10. Yes, everyone in Honduras and Central America as a whole are smaller than in the US, and malnutrition is a real and common cause of this, but she was remarkably petite standing there, with her sweet smile, just like in her photos. Her mother graciously invited me into their very small home, even though we came unannounced. There were children everywhere! Ludvi has 9 siblings, but not all of the children there at the time where her siblings; some were neighbors. Not even all of us could fit inside the main hall of the home, but they put chairs out for my translator and me and everyone stood around us. Ludvi’s toddler brother playfully smiled at me and touched my leg throughout our visit. Her mother was holding a sweet child with cerebral palsy, who I believe is a cousin of Ludvi’s.

In talking with Ludvi and her mom during the visit, what stood out to me the most was how much Ludvi’s education meant to both of them. I realized that she was another child who would not be able to be attending school if it wasn’t for being registered in the Manna 4 Lempira program and receiving the backpack with school supplies and school shoes. Her mom asked if I would continue supporting her in school, and I said absolutely I would. She wants to be a teacher, and I was happy to tell her that I’m there to support her in that and any goals she has. She thanked me many times during our two days together for the school supplies. It’s something that most kids here in the US take for granted. Many even dread going shopping for them. And here, they meant everything to this beautiful girl.

We got some more time to talk, but we didn’t stay as long as some of the other home visits, because we did come unannounced and her poor mother had a lot going on with a lot of kids. I knew that she didn’t have a father, and I found out that he died. It wasn’t until the next day at the pool that I would find out more details. God bless this beautiful woman raising her 10 sweet children on her own.

Before we left, we asked about taking a photo, as always. There was actually not enough space outside of the home for all of us to stand. So we went down another, smaller hill, while my translator stayed up above to take the pictures. I realized that this lack of space meant lack of opportunities for the children to play outside the house.

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The first picture started out serious, but quickly the smiles evolved!

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Thankfully, the walk back up the very very steep hill was easier than the walk down. You may think this is where my adventure in Ollada ended, but actually, it was far from over. Because, due to a miscommunication among the Sowers staff, I actually ended up spending another at least 2 hours parked in the Land Cruiser in Ollada with several of the children. When we first parked, the girls and the boy who had ridden up with us curiously climbed back in. As time went on, though, more and more siblings and neighbors started joining. What resulted was 2 precious hours that I wouldn’t trade for the world in the back of a hot vehicle with children whose language I barely could speak any of. But smiles and laughs are universal, and we shared a lot of those. I got out my phone, and they each wanted their picture taken.

 

Then they took the reigns on my phone, even learning how to play some of the games. Their favorite app was snapchat, though! I wish I could have taken video of them experiencing it for the first time! There was so much laughing coming from the back of that Land Cruiser up in the hills of Ollada that afternoon.

 

By the end, they figured out how to save some of their snapchat pictures.

 

Finally, the staff figured out no one was coming to meet us, and it was time to go. Looking at these kids, it’s easy to see the need. This is the most needy community I saw in my time in Honduras, and it’s probably the most needy that Manna serves. But I got to see way past all that, to the smiles and personalities and hearts that are so big! And for that, I wouldn’t have had the day happen any other way.

Driving out of Mercedes in the rain:

 

 

Click here to continue on to the Mercedes Fun Day.

Honduras Day 4: Valery’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-4

Click here to read the first part of Day 4: Brayan’s Home Visit.

The next home visit I went on was Valery’s. She and her mom were both excited and timid to meet me. I noticed how young her mom is, and later found out she is 24 years old. To rewind a little bit, back to the church, while we had time to sit together before home visits, I received some gifts from Valery’s mom that couldn’t be more thoughtful!

This is how the first gift was packaged, so adorably:

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It was a mug, which had a picture of Valery on one side, and on the other, a picture of my family that I had sent with a letter! On the other side, it says “Alisa y Valery Bendiciones”, meaning “Alisa and Valery, blessings”. Inside were chocolate coins and a cute little envelope with some pretty quilling and chocolate kisses in it!

After I was totally blown away by this gift, she pulled out a second one: a basket she hand-made out of newspaper! It’s beautiful and very well-made! The bottom of the basket was a CD- such an innovative idea in using what she could find. On the front she put a picture of me that I had sent with a letter.

On the inside bottom was taped a picture of Valery. And the contents of the basket contained a picture from Valery’s coloring book she had painted for me (on both sides) and lots of pictures of Valery and the two of them!

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When I told her how much I will treasure these gifts, I truly mean it. It’s funny how you go excited to share joy by giving gifts, never expecting any in return. But receiving them, especially ones given with such care, thought, and love, is such an incredible feeling that it’s hard to properly describe.

After I got back to the church from Brayan’s home visit, they were ready to take me to their home. It wasn’t too far away, so we walked. I was amazed again to see that they had brought an umbrella for me so I could have shade from the sun while we were walking. Such a small thoughtful gesture that means everything!

Valery’s home is actually her great-grandmother’s- her father’s mother’s home. The front part of it is a small little store, and it’s nicer than some of the other homes I visited. It’s still very small and simple, but at least they had tile flooring and thick, sturdy walls. It makes me thankful that they have the opportunity to live here.

When we got there, her mom had a meal prepared for us of two sandwiches each. She said how she wasn’t sure what to make, since I’m from the US, which I thought was cute, and I would have been happy with any Honduran food she would have prepared. One of the first things Valery did was bring her bunny, Toto, to show us. I remembered reading about Toto in her letters 🙂 She carried that big bunny well with both hands!

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After looking through the gifts with her great grandmother in the bedroom as I could hear excited giggles coming through the curtain, she wanted to change from her pretty dress into one of the shirts I got her. She proudly paraded in in her new shirt. Soon after, she showed me her coloring book. I flipped through the pages with her, telling her what a good job she’s done. And it’s true. Valery had just turned 4 less than a week before I arrived in Honduras. I’m a pre-k teacher, and not many 3, 4, and even 5 year olds color as well as she does. She recently started painting too, and also does a great job with that. You can tell that her coloring book and art set are two of her most prized possessions.

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As she started coloring next to me, I loved watching how each time, she’d flip through and pick the perfect picture, then tap it a couple times before beginning. Valery does an excellent job at staying in the lines for a brand new 4 year old. They said how whenever she’s not in school, she’ll just color or paint all day long. I said that maybe she’ll be an artist as she gets older! I also know what to include plenty of in her backpack!

I asked about school, and thought it was funny when her mom said that the first day of school, Valery got in fights with the other kids, but after that, she was fine. Again, as a pre-k teacher, that sounds typical! I had a really great visit with them. I could tell by how many things that they had referenced from my letters, that they clearly studied them. By the end of the home visit, I had a feeling that we are going to be part of each other’s lives for very many years to come, and that’s awesome to think of. Meeting Valery’s mom was also so special. She’s so young, several years younger than me, but she does such a good job with Valery and was so incredibly kind and thoughtful in every part of my visit. I’m excited to get to offer her encouragement and continue to build the relationship with her, too, though our letters!

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Before leaving, she gave me a bag of plantain chips from their store to take with me, and the grandmother had cut up a mango in a bag to take, too. They got the umbrella back out as they walked with me back to the church ❤

Click here to continue on to Ludvi’s home visit.

Honduras Day 4: Brayan’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-4

Click here to see yesterday’s post, Day 3: Tablon Fun Day

Seeing this view every morning never got old. In fact, I really wish I was back there now…

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This was the day I would be meeting my children from Mercedes! I got all my gifts sorted and packed for them the night before, and I was so excited to meet these special children.  Mercedes was the first church that Manna 4 Lempira started working with for their sponsorship program. It started out as one small church, which is now the main church, but it has grown so much, that they have been able to plant several more smaller churches around the community! Mercedes is further away than El Tablon and much more into the mountains. In fact, it’s the ride that everyone who had done it before warned us newbies about at the beginning of our week. “Just wait until the Mercedes ride!” they’d tell us. I have to say, I was intrigued. It did live up to the hype, with the bumpiness all the way up the mountains. We drove through water, around very narrow bends, and through parts where you couldn’t see if someone was coming the other way. To think that past that whole adventure of a journey lives this beautiful community of people is kind of incredible ❤

When we arrived at the church (the main church), I saw Brayan and Valery and their moms immediately waiting to greet me! We had some time while the staff figured out everyone’s home visit schedules, so I got to sit with them. They knew each other, because they attend the same school for kinder, although since Brayan is older, I’m not sure how much time they spend together. It was great getting to talk to them with the help of my always present translator! For the purposes of this post, I’ll focus on Brayan first.

Brayan was my second child with Manna 4 Lempira, but since I sponsored him less than a week after my first, you could really argue that they were both my first. It was 2 years in May that I’ve been sponsoring him, the longest out of any of the kids I had met so far. In those over two years, I’ve received lots of photos of him, and he was one that I was quite sure was going to be shy. I was right, as he cuddled closely in his mom’s lap in the church 😉 As a former shy child myself, I probably would’ve done the same thing!

We were told we’d be going to his home first, and we piled in the back of an already full truck. I let my translator and Brayan and his mom get in first, but then I remember looking at it and thinking, how am I going to get in now? I found room in a corner, though, where all I could do is squat down and put my arms along the sides of the truck bed for support. Luckily, it was a short ride, and you gotta love Honduran adventures!

I had a really lovely visit with Brayan’s family. His parents were so kind and some of the best conversationalists I met all week! They had lots of questions for me, too, and told me some more about life there, and we never lacked for conversation. Brayan is the youngest in the family with several older siblings, who are all (or at least most?) part of the program as well. I noticed some photos from sponsors up on their wall. I also noticed a Christmas bunting on one wall and realized that they must keep it up year round for decoration and as something to brighten their home up. The family is very involved in the church, and they have been for many years.

After I had mentioned to Brayan’s mom about how serious he is the photos I receive, she later showed me some pictures of him that she had on her phone where he was being silly 🙂 Brayan first spent time in the bedroom, closed off by a curtain, as was the standard in the homes we visited, looking at the gifts I brought him, and came out to join us later on. The family has so many animals, but amazingly they don’t seem to bother each other. The dog was coexisting peacefully right next to the chickens while we were outside. His father even offered to give me a live chicken, which just speaks to the generosity of these families and how big their hearts are!

I met two of Brayan’s siblings, a brother and a sister who were there when we were there, but they didn’t end up coming in our photo, nor did his dad, for some reason. His oldest sister got home from school just before I had to leave, and she did make it in the photo though. Later on, back at the church, I was asked if I minded her coming along to the pool day the next day. She had walked over there to ask if she could come with. I said of course not, and we could run it by Russell, but I knew by then what his answer would be!

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Click here to continue on to Valery’s home visit.

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Honduras Day 3: Tablon Fun Day

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(If you want to see yesterday’s posts, click here to see the home visits for Maria, Yeyson & Greysi, and Cristian).

What I love about how Manna 4 Lempira structures the sponsor visit week is how much time you get with your sponsored children! Because they are such a small organization, along with many thanks to hard work from Sowers 4 Pastors staff, you get to do home visits with each of your children along with bringing them to a fun day, equalling TWO days together! This is something that isn’t possible with the larger organizations. Not to mention how nicely it is spread out with fun days, as I have children divided among different churches, so I was able to spend time with them in smaller groups throughout the week and not feel too overwhelmed.

When we arrived at the pool, located in Gracias and just about a 5 minute drive away, the kids were there waiting for us! It was fun to see them again, ready to go, and get to pass out swimsuits and start blowing up pool toys.

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I spent the entire day with them in the water, just enjoying these 4 precious children and the time I had with them. (I ended up with a really severe sunburn on my wrist, but that’s another story… and worth it). So pictures were taken kind of sporadically, every so often when I’d be out of the water and I’d grab my phone to snap a few. I wanted to preserve the memories, but I also really wanted to be in the moment.

Greysi and I bonded very quickly. 3 year olds are my jam; it’s what I do for a career and I love ’em. But I’m incredibly in love with this 3 year old in particular, and I think the pictures will make it evident. This little girl adored the pool, most specifically the shallowest one with the small slide. She never wanted to get out, whether it was to go to another pool, to eat lunch, or to get dressed.

Greysi is fearless. Her mom had come along, but I realized quickly that I couldn’t let this little one leave my sight. Since her favorite pool was obviously different than older kids, who also wanted my attention, I’d have to carry her over to the others with me for as long as I could keep her there. Eventually, though, she’d always end up scurrying back to the pool she adored. I’d ask her if she’d want to go to the other side, and she’d always say no, at which point we’d playfully argue back and forth, giggling as I carried her. My limited Spanish got me through more with the kiddos, especially the younger they were!

Is she not adorable? Soon into the day, she began saying “mi niña!” (or “my girl!”) when she wanted me. I was her niña, and she eagerly soaked up all of that attention in our time together.

At lunch, she was the first one to finish, and she was getting antsy, so I pulled out my phone to entertain her 🙂

Nope, not shy at all, this one!

It was also fun to watch Yeyson and Greysi together and seeing him be a sweet big brother. I love joy that sponsoring siblings has brought!

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I always thought Yeyson seemed like a gentle, sweet boy before I met him, and I can say he definitely is! I loved playing with him and watching his huge smile all day as he had so much fun.

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Yeyson and Cristian being such good friends was also an unexpected but awesome benefit! They are a few years apart, but as cousins who are neighbors, they understandably are very close. Let me tell you, both of these boys are FISH. They were excellent swimmers, with no problems in water way above their head. They were even doing flips into the pool to impress me! I got to spend a lot of time playing with the beach ball with them, which they loved. True soccer players as they are, these boys were headering and kicking the ball every chance they got! 🙂 I had a blast keeping up with them!

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At one point, they wanted to go see the animals there. Yeyson was braver than I was, even touching Lola the monkey’s hand.

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And speaking of brave, there was the time when Cristian had climbed on top of the cave by one of the pools, and then proceeded to jump off of it…

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This kid has such a great smile, and he definitely had a great day. I loved when he would lay on one of the rafts or inner tubes in the deep pool, sometimes the only one in there, with hands behind his head just relaxing and smiling away!

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Maria was the most unsure about swimming, I’m assuming because of her location up in La Azomada. But she got more comfortable as the day went on, and she even came in the deeper pool with me for a little while, as she held onto me. 🙂 She had a couple younger cousins who were also there, and I think they helped with her comfort level some, too.

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She did change back into her clothes before the day was done, but I get how a day like that could be very overwhelming and tiring if it’s such a completely different experience, especially for a quieter personality like hers. I know she had a great time, and I wanted her to be comfortable and happy, which she was. She got to spend some time after she changed talking to Yeyson and Greysi’s mom as they sat together in the shade. I don’t know what they talked about, of course, but it was sweet to watch them together!

The kids and any family members that came with them all got huge meals of fried chicken and french fries, but they ate those meals up! A meal like that is a real treat for them, as is every part of a day like this, and it was just so special to be able to provide that to them! I got the meal each swim day that was gluten free, the beef, and it was delicious, too.

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At the end of the day, popsicles were purchased for all the kids, which they gobbled up! I unfortunately didn’t get a picture of Maria with hers, as she was sitting farther away. Greysi sat right next to me and dripped purple all over both of us, but I wouldn’t trade those drips for anything!

Saying goodbye was the hardest part, without a doubt, but we all left there with full hearts and lots of wonderful memories! This picture, with all of the kids wearing shirts I gave them just the day before, happy and tired from a full day, makes me so happy ❤

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That evening, after we had all gotten a chance to shower back at the hotel, we went out for dinner to a local restaurant called Asados Anahí, where we got TONS of meat and plantains! It was delicious, and even though there were a lot of us, we didn’t even finish close to all of the food. We were able to box it up, though, and bring it to family of a former sponsored child of some of the team!

 

Click here to see Day 4:

Brayan’s Home Visit

Valery’s Home Visit

Ludvi’s Home Visit

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Honduras Day 2: Cristian’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-2

It was only a year in the spring since I sponsored Cristian, but it feels like so much longer. It was so good to see that smile in person that I fell in love with in his photos. I’ve put extra time in worrying and praying for Cristian after my Deilin and his older brother left the program because they were no longer in school to work, among many other children. I wrote to Cristian, and my other older children, sharing my hopes that they would finish school and how it would create so many more opportunities in life for them. Every time a round of photos come through, I’m relieved to see his smile and know he’s still attending school and the church the program.

Here he is leading us down to his home:

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And a look inside:

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Cristian’s family was a delight. In his Christmas letter, he had written how his mom was expecting a baby. It was so exciting to arrive and see healthy baby Lesly in person! She slept through our whole visit, but his mom said she has blue eyes. Cristian looks just like his mom, who was just as smiley as he is. His younger sister was also there, and his dad and older brother were working. I had noticed Cristian’s kinder diploma hanging on the wall and commented on it. They took it down to show it to me up close, and even showed me his siblings’ too. Later, Cristian asked me to take a picture of his 🙂 Clearly they are very proud!

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Speaking of proud, imagine how proud I was when Cristian’s mom told me he is on the honor roll in school! Not only that, but when I asked him what he wants to be when he grows up, he told me he wants to be a lawyer! This is the boy who has always said he wanted to be a mason, like his dad, and to hear that he is dreaming bigger made my heart so happy. I want all of my kids to believe that they can accomplish anything, and it’s something I try to instill in them over and over. Because believing you can do something is often the biggest hurdle. Now, he may still leave school after he finishes 6th grade next year, a common time to stop (I think there was even a brief mention of the possibility, although I didn’t want to ask). And if that happens, I’m sure he can still have a happy and fulfilled life, but I do continue to pray for his future.

As we were sitting and talking, enjoying cold drinks that his mom had brought for us, I noticed he had brought out a set of small legos I sent him previously, which he had made into a pyramid. He said how he really liked making things out of them, and his brother helped him think of things, like the pyramid, too. Time after time, it never got old to see things that I had previously sent the children with or on them. You never have to doubt the legitimacy of Manna 4 Lempira as an organization or the fact that everything is going straight to these children!

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After our home visits, we had a little time back at the hotel. This would be the longest day of home visits, because of the 3 separate churches, and it was a very hot day, too. We ordered pizza for dinner from a local pizza place. It apparently does taste different, but since I cannot eat gluten, I ordered from the hotel restaurant instead.

That evening, we attended a church service at the Guanas church, the second one we visited earlier in the day. We were late, but they hadn’t started yet. Hondurans very much run on “Honduran time”, and it’s something you have to adjust to early on! The service was a children’s service, which they do once a month. The children do everything, from the songs, to the Bible readings, to the preaching. It was cool to see how excited they were for their turns up in front, and how their families were there supporting them!

I made friends with these two little sisters, who quite enjoyed waving to me and getting the attention of me waving back and smiling at them 🙂

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Enjoying the calm of sitting above Gracias in the restaurant at night:

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Click here to see the previous Day 2 posts:

Maria’s Home Visit

Yeyson and Greysi’s Home Visit

Or here to continue on to Day 3: Tablon Fun Day!

Honduras Day 2: Yeyson and Greysi’s Home Visit

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Click here to read the first part of Day 2, Maria’s home visit

After we finished in La Azomada in El Tablon, we traveled a little further down the mountain to Guanas, the second church. I don’t have any sponsored children at this church, but a couple of the other sponsors did. While they went on their home visits, the rest of us watched the kids rehearse for their service that we would be attending that evening. It was fun to see the happy and smiling kids singing and dancing, and I recognized many of them from photos over time that have been posted by Manna and shared by their sponsors.

Next, we traveled down to the last stop, the main church of El Tablon. This was the first church that children were registered from, and it is closest to the main road. I have 3 children here, and the first two are my set of siblings, Yeyson and Greysi. I sponsored these two together a little under a year ago, and it’s been great getting to support and know the whole family. They came walking up with Cristian, my other sponsored child from the main church, and I only found out at that moment that they were cousins and the boys were very close! I have sponsored Cristian longer, and I had no idea when I sponsored the other two that they were related, but it turned out to be awesome! They live nearby each other and not far away, so we walked.

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the road down to their homes

The boys were a little shyer at first, as Maria had been. It’s a little intimidating meeting for the first time, which is why I love that with this trip, we get two days together. It’s funny that going into this day, I had assumed Greysi would be shy. But as I got to know this little delight, she turned out to be anything but! She came right up to hug me, and once we arrived at their house, she first timidly peeked in the bag of gifts I gave her, but then eagerly started playing with the toys.

It’s cultural to not want to open gifts in front of the giver there, so many children saved the bag of gifts for later or opened them in another room during the visit if they couldn’t wait 🙂 I did get to see a few children open and go through their gifts though, and it was so much fun. With backpacks, you use their photos and letters as clues, hoping they liked it, trying to discern what their favorite things were and what to send again. I thought about how just a couple days before, those gifts had all been sprawled out in my bedroom as I worked to sort through and then pack them all, and now they were coming to life through the vivid imagination of an adorable 3 year old. I got to see the toys and gifts through her eyes.

She adored the Barbie doll, which was obviously her favorite. She also loved the two ponies with their long mane. I watched as she carefully undressed and redressed the doll, combed her and the ponies’ hair, put the doll on the stuffed deer to ride, used the reversible sequin bracelet as a small blanket for them, and more, and I wanted to preserve that moment in time forever.

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Yeyson, who had put his bag away when I gave it to him, pulled it out after a little while of his sister playing with hers. He was so cautious with everything. He tried out the harmonica, briefly in front of us, but then later I heard him just outside the house playing it again 🙂 He took out the kite to try, although there was no wind that day, and carefully put it back away when he was done. He put on the bracelet right away, and played a lot with the fidget spinner, knowing just what to do with it. I remember last year when I brought one to Evelin’s brother in Guatemala and her mother had told me he had been wanting one. They’re definitely popular in Central America, too! Sitting there in the cool of their home, a strong contrast to the unrelenting heat that day, sipping on juice that their mother brought us, watching the kids play, I couldn’t imagine being any happier, and I could have sat there for hours more.

Their mother was also so kind and grateful. Their father is not in the picture, I don’t know why, but she has remarried now. She told me that when Greysi was born, they both almost didn’t make it. It’s such a blessing seeing how healthy they all are now!

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Both kids were wearing things I had sent them in their backpacks, which made me so happy to see. Their mother said it was a way to show their appreciation. Aren’t they a sweet family?

As much as I didn’t want to leave, I was also excited to get to visit Cristian. He came over, and he and Yeyson walked me a little way down to his house.

Click here to continue on to Cristian’s home visit.

Honduras Day 2: Maria’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-2

Breakfast started every morning during the week at 6:45 am, but really, the birds made it pretty difficult to sleep much past 5:30 anyway. I never sleep well the first night in a new place, so despite how tired I was, I got very little sleep. I also never cooled down from being in the grocery store and then scrambling to pack all of the bags of gifts, and of course there is no air conditioning there. But it was okay, because I was up and ready to go Sunday morning- I was going to meet four of my sponsored children and visit their homes!

On the way to breakfast, I got some pictures of the beauty that is Hotel Guancascos…

El Tablon is the closest to Gracias of the communities that Manna 4 Lempira works with. It was just a short drive away. It is made up of 3 distinct churches based on location: La Azomada, Guanas, and the main church. We started our day in La Azomada, the furthest up in the mountains and the one of the least well-off communities with Manna 4 Lempira. This is where Maria, my oldest of my Honduran children, lives.

The drive up to La Azomada was very bumpy! It was incredibly beautiful, though. This is what the views look like for Maria where her home is. I was struck by the contrast of how much beauty there is in the views but how in need the community is.

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When we got to the church, several of the kids were there waiting for us, including Maria, whom I spotted right away!

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Meeting your sponsored child for the first time is a bit of nervousness mixed with a lot of excitement, as I’m sure it is for them, too. I always feel ahead of time thoughts of “I hope they like me” and “I hope I live up to their expectations”. In all of my experiences, though, I’ve never had anything to worry about, because God knows what He’s doing when He brings a sponsor and child together, and it’s such an awesome thing to witness. If you ever go on a sponsor trip, take time to look around at how perfectly matched everyone is. It’s one of my favorite things!

We took one of the trucks to Maria’s home, along with a couple other sponsors and their children who were traveling to those children’s homes. Throughout the week, if the homes were farther away, we took trucks to get there. They were easier, safer, and more time-effective, and we had them available. But let’s not forget that however long the journeys were (and for some children they were VERY long), these children and families are walking those roads every day, because they don’t have any other options available.

At Maria’s house, her mother and younger sister were home. Her mother wasn’t expecting us, she had thought the pool day was that day, but she graciously welcomed my translator and me with open arms. Maria is the second to youngest of several children. Her parents had thought she was the last one. But then a little surprise blessing, in the form of her youngest sister, who has Down Syndrome, came along. This little one was absolutely adorable and put on quite the show. She asked for water from my translator’s water bottle, and after her mother told her no, she went to find her own bottle that looked similar, which she would take drinks out of and then purposely spit the water back out into the plants. She tried lifting up very heavy rocks, I’m assuming to show off her strength 😉 She wanted to come with us, and got quite upset when she couldn’t. First, she kept trying to get out of the gate and start walking down the road by herself. When that didn’t work, she grabbed a small piece of wood and tried to secure the gate closed with that, so that if she couldn’t leave, none of us could!

She even had Maria laughing, who is a great big sister. Maria’s mom was so kind and appreciative for all the help provided for Maria. She told me that I looked very fancy in the photographs I had sent, but in person I was very humble. I could take that different ways, but I know it was meant with love as a compliment 🙂 She told me how I had brought a blessing to their home by being there, which is so humbling and almost mind-blowing to think about, because I’m just a very ordinary person from Illinois. To realize how much you mean to people you have never met in person before can blow you away. But then I think about how much these children mean to me, even way before I met them.

I learned that Maria would not have been able to go to school without the backpacks provided by Manna 4 Lempira and Sowers 4 Pastors, something I had heard was the case for many Honduran families that Sowers 4 Pastors provides backpacks for. She said that she told Maria they weren’t going to be able to send her to school, but Maria was determined, and she told her mom that she had to and she was going to. Well, where there’s a will there’s a way, and now this 13 year old is thriving in school at an age where many Honduran children stop attending. A backpack full of school supplies and a pair of shoes are things that seem so simple to us, but they are literally the difference of an education and a different future or not for children like Maria.

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Continue on to Yeyson and Greysi’s home visit here.

Click here to read about Day 1: Traveling to Honduras.

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