Honduras Day 4: Brayan’s Home Visit

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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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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 Brayan

I’m pinching myself that in just 4 days, I’m going to be arriving in Honduras!! This is a trip that I’ve been dreaming of for 2 years, and I can’t believe it’s actually happening and that I’m going to be meeting so many of my sponsored kiddos that I love so much. I’ve developed so much love and respect for the Manna 4 Lempira and Sowers 4 Pastors ministries over the past couple years, that to get to see them in action is going to be amazing. The first team is there now, and I’ve gotten some glimpses through photos! Some of them will be staying for the second week, which I’ll be arriving for with a few others, and some of them will be going home.

I’ve realized that I’m behind in posting my Manna letters, though, so in these final days leading up to my trip, I’m going to be sharing the letters I’ve received from the last 2 mailings from my kiddos. Today I’ll be sharing the letters from my children from the Mercedes church, starting with Brayan.

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Brayan is 5

“Hello Dear Sponsor! How are you? I hope that you are well. I am very happy because next year I am going to my first year of classes. I will be going to kindergarten. I want to know more about you. It is almost Christmas. I hope to have a good one with my family and friends. I hope that you also have a great Christmas full of blessings. Many hugs for you. A greeting through the long distance. Thanks for everything. We have prayed for you and all the world. Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!”

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“Holy Week is important because we spend time with family, friends, and neighbors. On vacations my family likes to go to church and to swim. Typical Easter food is fish and honey. Traditions in my country are Independence Day and Indian Day. My favorite part of the feast is the sea. I am very important for me and my family. I am a treasure of God.”

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This last letter did not come translated and google was very little help. I know basic Spanish, but certainly not enough to translate this. The Manna team was very busy getting ready for their trip so I didn’t want to bother them at the time. So this is what I have for now. I’ll update it when I have a better translation…

“For my Sponsor Alisa, From Brayan, I hope you have enjoyed a Holy Week with your family- me and my father went to bapario I felt very happy in my bacasiones. We meet with my fighters (?). I hope you are well and I start my classes again. I have 3 very lottery (?) pets. One sema pingui, the other was called Rok, and the other sema Cosita. I hope to write you again. God bless you, those who surround you, many blessings. Much love and affection and hugs. Brayan”

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Photo Friday: New Photos of My Manna Mercedes Children

We recently received new photos of our Manna 4 Lempira children receiving the letters we sent them and new Bibles. I’m going to break them down by church, starting with Mercedes. It’s hard to believe that in just 29 days, I’ll be arriving in Honduras and seeing these children very soon! I still have some more shopping and lots of packing to do, but I’m so excited to meet them and spend time with them in person!

Brayan, 5, usually always has the same serious face in all of his photos (except one). But this time he attempted a smile! 🙂 He’s also wearing a shirt I sent him, which is very big, but at least he’ll grow into it.

Ludvi, 9, seems to be wise beyond her years and I love the peaceful look on her face with the natural background outside.

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Velery, 3, has her hair is blowing across her face, but she has the most adorable curly hair. I have a feeling she’s going to be a big personality.

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Angie, 3, is my newest Manna child. The Mercedes fun day is definitely going to be my busiest day with 3 little ones!

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New Photos of Brayan, Ludvi, and Velery!

Last month, the Manna 4 Lempira team visited Honduras to distribute backpacks, shoes, and letters to the children. All of the photos are now posted, and it’s such a joy to see these children with the items I lovingly picked out and packed for them!! I’m going to post the pictures by center, so first up is my children who attend the Mercedes feeding center.

Here is Brayan, who is still sticking with the grumpy photo face… It’s his signature! 🙂

Brayan just turned 5 this month, and I will have sponsored him for 2 years this spring!

Next is Ludvi, who I started sponsoring over the summer when my previous child, Deilin, left the program. She is 9 years old.

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I just love how she’s beaming with the gift of her backpack!! Ludvi lives with her unemployed mother and 9 siblings, so she has very little. I was so excited to treat her and give her special things to call her own!

And finally is little Velery, who is one of my more recently sponsored Manna children. I fell in love with her spunk in her photos and video, and she’s still letting it shine through!

Velery is 3 and she just couldn’t be any cuter! Those curls are precious, and I love the dress. She seems to be happy with her baby doll!

Letter from Brayan

I found it adorable how little Brayan’s letter was all decked out with pretty, flowery drawings… clearly he got some help from one of his older sisters! 🙂

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Brayan is 4 and lives in the Mercedes community of Lempira, Honduras.

“Hello dear sponsor! How are you? I hope that you are well with all your family. I have been having a good time with my friends. I am happy because we celebrated the Day of the Child in September. I like to play,  to sing, and to eat sweets. I like to go to church. The song that I like to sing is the one that says- I give You glory, glory; to you Lord I give; glory to You Lord- it is my favorite song. I pray for you and your family. May God take care of your life and pour His power on your life. I liked the things that you sent me. Thank you. Cordial greetings through the long distance. Many hugs and kisses from all my family. Blessings! See you soon!”

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Photo Friday

On this Photo Friday, I have new photos of Brayan and Velery to share!

I sponsor both of these children through Manna 4 Lempira. This was at the latest letter distribution.

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Brayan was giving his typical photo face.

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And Velery was looking adorable. These letters were from before I sponsored her, so she was given a coloring sheet. Next time she’ll have an actual letter from me!