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