Honduras Day 1: Arriving

ADVENTURE

As you can see from this post, the packing of gifts for so many children, plus clothing and basic necessities for myself for a week, was a small adventure by itself. But somehow I got everything to barely fit, and I was up dark and early at 2:30 am the morning of June 23rd to get ready for my trip to Honduras. I was more nervous for the travel part of it all than I was for the actual trip, which I really wasn’t nervous for at all. So I was anxious to get my day of traveling started and get there already, safe and sound, so my week could really begin!

When I arrived at the airport and used United’s scale, my suitcase weighed in at 49.5 lbs, and I couldn’t be more relieved! I had brought along a small, empty, collapsible suitcase just in case I was over the weight limit, but thankfully it wasn’t needed and I was able to send it back home with my family. The crazy thing is that even if you’re one pound over, the fees get way more expensive than it would be to check a second bag.

I had a connecting flight with a short layover in Houston. I was a little worried about having enough time there, and that worry increased greatly when my plane from Chicago to Houston was late to take off. Upon arrival, our gate wasn’t ready for us, so it took even longer to deplane. By the time I got off, I was doing a very fast walk through the airport, riding the skyway across terminals, to finally make it to my new international gate, where everyone else had already boarded. Thankfully they were waiting, and there were even a couple people to board after me, but it was still a close one!

On the flight to Honduras, most of the plane was composed of Americans on missions teams. I sat next to some interesting people and enjoyed hearing their stories. Once arriving in Honduras, the customs line was extremely long and slow-moving. I was able to find and meet up with another member of the team in line who had been on the same flight, though. Once we finally made it through, we weren’t quite sure where to go, as we couldn’t find Russell or any of the Sowers 4 Pastors people. We met up with another team member, but as the wifi in the airport wasn’t working and we didn’t have anyone’s phone numbers, we were kind of stuck. Finally we spotted Russell, the other Sowers staff, and our two other team members arriving that day, and our travel group was complete! After getting some Wendy’s at the airport, we began our 4 hour journey through Honduras and into the mountains.

The team that had arrived the week prior had gotten held up by protests on their way down, and although they stayed safe, it took a very long time to arrive, which I think was in the back of all of our minds. But we made great time with our drive! The driving and the roads in Honduras are certainly interesting! They were even bumpier than Guatemala, though not quite as winding going up into the mountains. Everyone passes everyone, and all of the traffic rules seem to be more “suggestions” than actual laws.

Since my day began at 2:30am (1:30 Honduras time), I was so glad to be arrive in Gracias, Lempira at Hotel Guancascos at around 6pm. It was a long day of traveling, but the beauty of the hotel, the excitement of being there, and the warm welcomes from the team members already there kept me perked up! We got our bags in our rooms and went right to dinner.

I ordered chips and salsa for dinner, which would become one of my favorites for the week, as they were the best and most fresh tortilla chips I’ve ever had. It was great getting to meet everyone at dinner and hear a little more about the week. One of the many wonderful things about Hotel Guancascos is that all of the food is prepared with water that is safe for us, so things like salsa and fresh fruits and vegetables are totally safe to eat there! They also have water coolers around the hotel to fill up your water bottles!

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the view from dinner that evening

After dinner, we took a walk to a nearby grocery store to purchase some groceries for families we would be visiting the next day. I pretty much fell in love with Gracias right away, walking the streets of this charming town in the evening, seeing some of the sights pointed out to us. The grocery store was small and very busy, and it had a mix of things we’d see at our grocery stores and Honduran things. The groceries were very heavy, but Kim graciously helped me carry mine, which she did not have to do 🙂

Before going to bed, I still had to go through my luggage and get all the gifts ready for the following day. I would be visiting my four El Tablon children: Maria, Cristian, Yeyson, and Greysi. As I previously shared, to make everything fit in my luggage, all the gifts were mixed together in vacuum bags. I used the pictures I had on my phone of what gifts went with each bag for what child, and eventually everything was ready to go and I was able to finally crawl into bed!

Click here to Read about Day 2:

Maria’s Home Visit

Yeyson and Greysi’s Home Visit

Cristian’s Home Visit

Honduras

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I’m home from Honduras with such a full heart. I couldn’t have asked for a better week. I’ll be posting a lot more about each day soon as I’m readjusting back and taking care of things at home that need to be taken care of. I can’t wait to share my joy!

Bringing Gifts to my Sponsored Children

I leave for Honduras tomorrow!!

Long before I was ready to pack for this trip, the thought of it just stressed me out. I can tell you now, actually having been going through it, that the act of packing is no less stressful. It’s funny to me now that I was worried about packing all of the gifts for one child and for centers when I went to Guatemala. This time I had to pack gifts for 13 children, plus small family gifts for each of their families!

I did have a blast shopping for all of them, though. There are some things that are consistent for every child. Each one is getting two shirts, a bathing suit, and a stuffed animal (I figure any age loves a stuffed animal to hug, right?) I went through and assembled each bag, took pictures of its contents, and then disassembled everything to pack it as tight as possible. The pictures will help me to reassemble everything when I get to Honduras! Here is what I packed for each child, starting with the boys:

Brayan, age 5:

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a purple shirt (his favorite color), a striped shirt, a pair of swimming trunks, a toy train, a blue superhero cape, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a stuffed goat, a fidget spinner, and a paw print bag (these are the same ones my students got at our school picnic, which I figure the kids will get a kick out of)

Diego, age 6:

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a dinosaur shirt (he’s a dinosaur fan), a Chicago Bears shirt, swimming trunks, a large toy car, a blue superhero cape, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a stuffed dinosaur that makes noise, a fidget spinner, and a paw print bag

Yeyson, age 9:

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a blue shirt (his favorite color), a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, swimming trunks, a stuffed dog, a harmonica, an Angry Birds kite, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paw print bag

Junior, age 10:

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a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, a future rocket scientist shirt, swimming trunks, dominoes, a harmonica, a stuffed horse, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paw print bag

Cristian, age 12:

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a Rainforest Cafe from Downtown Disney shirt, an Old Navy shirt, swimming trunks, a stuffed dog, glow in the dark stars with removable putty, a bag of marbles, a fidget spinner, a Jesus loves me bracelet, dominoes, and a paw print bag

And now onto the girls… Angie, age 3 (and the youngest of all my children):

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a pink bathing suit, a kitten shirt, a yellow floral shirt, a stuffed cow, a mermaid doll, two ponies, a reversible sequin bracelet, a Shimmer and Shine doll with a locket keychain, and a summer tote bag

Greysi, age 3:

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a pink bathing suit, a red and white striped shirt, a rainbow shirt, a stuffed deer, a Shimmer and Shine doll and locket keychain, two ponies and hair accessories, a barbie, a reversible sequin bracelet, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a summer tote bag

Valery, will be 4 by the time I meet her:

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A stars bathing suit, a blue and white daisy shirt, a planets and sun shirt, a stuffed rainbow tiger, a reversible sequin bracelet, a barbie, a Shimmer and Shine doll and locket keychain, a mermaid doll and some little fish friends (when she mentioned in her latest letter that the animal she wanted to see in person was a mermaid, I had to find something related to give her), a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a paisley tote bag

Helen, age 8:

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a rainbow bathing suit, a Frozen shirt, a chambray and lace shirt, a stuffed pegasus, a Minion journal with a lock and keys and extra stickers (more on the back, too) and a pen (I loved these sets from Walmart!), a turquoise choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a barbie, a flamingo tote bag

Jenny, age 8:

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a pink bathing suit, a white tribal shirt, an Olaf Frozen shirt, a stuffed horse (she has a real horse at home), a Frozen journal with a lock and keys and a pen and extra stickers, a turquoise choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a barbie, and a flamingo tote bag

Ludvi, age 10 (as of yesterday!):

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a tropical bathing suit, a chambray and lace shirt, a blue floral shirt, a journal set of 3 notebooks of different sizes, a turquoise choker, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a barbie, a stuffed unicorn, a Jesus loves me bracelet, and a pink striped purse

Heidy, age 12:

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a mermaid bathing suit, a black shirt with an attached necklace, a tribal fringe shirt, a stuffed dog, a brown choker, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a set of 3 pouches/cosmetic bags of different sizes, a journal set of 3 notebooks of different sizes, a Jesus loves me bracelet, embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets with instructions, a black Old Navy purse

Maria, age 13 (my oldest Manna child):

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a pink tie-dye bathing suit, a polka dot chambray shirt, a coral draped tank top, a pineapple “pura vida” journal, a set of 3 pouches/cosmetic bags of different sizes, a stuffed penguin, a brown choker, a Jesus loves me bracelet, a set of 5 rolls of washi tape, a thirty-one bag (really excited about that find)

Then there were the family gifts, which I needed 12 of, because Yeyson and Greysi are the same family, so they only need one family gift between them. I’m giving each family a set of 4 plastic cups, a bamboo wooden spoon or spatula, and a dish towel.

I’ll be assembling them once I get in Honduras, and they’ll look something like this:

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I also made tags for each child’s bag, but I forgot to attach them before I packed the bags, oops! So they’re packed, along with more ribbon, to attach in Honduras:

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When you look at each of the individual pictures, it doesn’t seem like much, but when you put it all together, it really is!! This is a glimpse at what only part of my suitcase looks like:

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Yeah, yikes! Here’s hoping my bag doesn’t weigh over the weight limit… I can’t wait to give these gifts to my beloved children and most importantly spend time with them!

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Letters from Jenny

I don’t know Jenny as well as some of my other Manna kids yet, because her program at her church, Quelacasque, is the newest opened, and I’ve only sponsored her since December. But from what I can tell, she is very sweet and a little shy. Something she said her latest letter truly touched me, which I took a picture of to have saved on my phone. I was also blessed to get some photos of her from when the team visited Quelacasque on Wednesday and Thursday! Here they are:

I just love that smile in the first picture. Jenny is 8.

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And this is the walk to her community! :O

“I greet you very affectionately, wishing you success in your daily labors. i am grateful for the support that you give us. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. These are my sincere wishes.”

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“My favorite animal is the rabbit. I like them because they are soft and pretty. I also like squirrels. I would like to see an elephant in person. I have a horse at home. I love you very much. I love you with all the strength of my heart. I hope you love me the way I love you. I would like to meet you in person. I am very happy that all is going well.”

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These sentences: “I love you with all the strength of my heart. I hope you love me the way I love you.” are so touching to me from an innocent 8 year old with so much love in her heart to give. I can’t wait to meet this beautiful soul and assure her how much I love her!

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Letters from Greysi

Greysi is the younger sister of Yeyson, and you’ll notice a lot of similarities between her letters and his, in the previous post. He obviously helps her with her letters, which I think is very sweet. I love getting the opportunity to sponsor siblings. It will be fun to not only get to know them individually, but also see their interactions together!

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Greysi is 3 (and seriously adorable…)

“Hello my dear Sponsor! I wish you the maximum blessings. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am very grateful with you, thanks to God. I want to meet you very soon to introduce you to my siblings, my parents, and my friends. I hope to see you in person very soon. May God give you many years of life. I want to tell you that you fascinate me. I am very happy. TKM (te quiero mucho)- I love you very much!”

“Dear Sponsor, I hope that you are very well. I am very happy that you are very good. I hope to meet you in person or in more photos. I am very happy. I am 3 years old. My parents are Tina and Omar. I am happy to have a brother named Yeyson. I love to play with my friends and my brother. I love your name, Alisa. I like that name. Thank you! I am always going to pray for you and my family. I will write again.”

“My favorite animal is a lion. I like this animal because it is ferocious. Other animals that I like are a dog and a cat. An animal that I would like to see in person is a lion. I have a cat in my house. Thank you for all and that you will be my sponsor. I love you a lot. i am always thankful to you. I want to tell you that I am praying for you. May God bless you. I love you very much.”

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I should note that all the envelopes from Greysi and Yeyson were handmade from pieces of paper ❀

Letters from Yeyson

Yeyson is the older of my siblings at the El Tablon church with Manna 4 Lempira. It’ll only be a year next month that I’ve been sponsoring Yeyson (and his little sister Greysi), but already I have so much love for him.

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Yeyson is 9

“Hello my dear sponsor! I wish you the maximum blessings. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am very grateful to you, thanks to God. I want to meet you very soon to introduce you to my siblings, my parents, and my friends. I hope to see you in person very soon. May God give you many years of life. I want to tell you that I am very happy.”

“Dear Sponsor, Hello! How are you? I hope that you are well. Thanks for choosing me, but I hope to meet you in person or in more photos. I am very happy that you are my sponsor. I hope that you write me. I am going to have a birthday at Christmas. I have a sister and my parents. My parents are Tina and Omar. My sister is Greysi. Thanks for being good to me. I will pray for you and for my family. I have aunts and uncles. I have a grandmother. I love her very much. I dismiss you, but not forever.”

“Holy Week is important for me because we celebrate by swimming and sharing with family. During my vacation, my family likes to go swimming. The typical Easter meal is ticucos, tamales, fish cakes. Easter traditions in my country are Lempira Day. My favorite part of Easter is singing. I dedicate this verse to you, Haggai 2:9. Thanks for all that you have done for me. I love you very much. i am always thankful to you. I want to tell you that I am praying for you. May God bless you. I love you so much! Thanks for the backpack that you sent me! May God bless you today, tomorrow, and forever.”

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Letters from Cristian

I could feel even extra love in both of these latest mailings from Cristian, both of which times he sent two letters! I love how at 12 years old, he still enjoys writing to me. Cristian is another child I’ll be meeting at the El Tablon church!

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“Hello dear Sponsor! In this letter, I tell you that I am happy to have a sponsor from the US. I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas. Here in Honduras, I am well with all my family, safe and sound. From the first day that you sent me the photos, I felt happy to see all your family. I like the flowers you made. They make me happy. Also the trees. My siblings are Milton, Angie, and my mama is expecting a baby. I pray to God that it is well and living. My papa had a motorcycle accident, but thanks to God, he is okay. He didn’t get hit too hard. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!”

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“Dear Alisa, I am happy to write to you. I hope that you are well and happy with your family. I am well here. i hope to learn more about you through your letters. I have two siblings. My parents are Ada Luz and Jose. I like to play soccer. I love to write. My favorite color is red. I wish I had a soccer ball. God will bless you for the things that you have done for me. With a lot of love, Cristian. Happy day to you and your family!”

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This letter was written before he received his backpack, so it makes me so happy to think of him opening it to see the soccer ball he wanted! Also, isn’t this a great picture?

“I am very grateful for the help you give me and for the backpack and the supplies. I hope that you continue well with your family and children because God is the only God who protects us wherever we go. He protects my family and your family wherever we go because He is the only One who takes care of us. I love you very much, Alisa. Thanks for the gift you have given me. I am very grateful for all that you have done for me and my sister, Sofia. I love you very much, Alisa. May God bless you all the days of the year. TKM”

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“May God bless you all the days. I always think about you. Thanks for the things you sent me. I am happy because you sent me a ball. May God bless you and your family. I love you very much!”

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“Holy Week is important for me because we can enjoy it with our family. During my vacation, my families likes to go to the river and the church. I play soccer and swim with my friends. The typical Easter meal is tamalones (ticucos). Easter traditions in my country are dancing. My favorite part of Easter is to go to the river and be with my family. I dedicate this verse to you: Romans 3:23- I love you Alisa. Hello Alisa! I feel happy for the cross you sent me. I love it and I feel happy. I liked the photos that you sent me. They are very nice. In the United States the stickers are very nice. I like the drawing that you sent and I read the other things that you sent. All that you sent is very pretty. I would like to learn to make it. I love you Alisa. My mom was a girl called Lesli. The eyes are blue. With love, Cristian. This bird is a toucan.”

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Isn’t he a great artist? Cristian’s so sweet and appreciative. I know he and his brother work hard at home, so I can’t wait to see him having fun with the other kids at the fun day!