Honduras Day 7: Betania Fun Day

ADVENTURE-7

Click here to view yesterday’s post, Day 6: Diego’s Home Visit.

Waking up this morning was definitely bittersweet, as we would be saying goodbye to Hotel Guancascos and Gracias. It was our last fun day, and Sowers 4 Pastors team decided it would be best to have us packed and loaded up before we got to the pool, so that we could leave straight from there. After I finished up the last of my packing, I spent the rest of the morning taking everything in one last time.

 

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4088UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_408dUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_408c

I think since this was was the smallest group for a fun day, it was definitely our calmest group of the week. It was nice to end the week this way, because as excited as we were to spend time with these children, we were also a bit exhausted and some were sick. I wasn’t sick, but it was a fantastic, quieter last pool day. Unfortunately for the Betania children, though, we had far less pool toys than we had the other days. This is due to a combination of some getting broken due to “big kids” (aka translators) using them on the slides and also some getting mysteriously taken by another group at the pool. We salvaged what we could, and thankfully the kids didn’t really know the difference.

The only downside was that my translator had an exam that day, so she couldn’t be there. I had gotten spoiled by her always being around to help translate on pool days, because she was excellent, so I was on my own with my limited Spanish this day, going to get other nearby translators at times I really needed help.

Helen was the loudest child at the pool that day 😉 But her enthusiasm and excitement were so fun to watch and take part in. Here are some of her poses for me. Shy is not in this girl’s vocabulary!

 

Helen’s cousin and one of her closest friends, Amy, is sponsored by one of the other sponsors visiting, so they had a great time playing together.

 

We took a girls walk down the bridge when I went with Helen, Amy, and Heydi. Even without a translator, it was fun spending a little girl time together enjoying the gorgeous views, the fish, and the flowers.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fa1

Quite the opposite of Helen, Heydi is definitely on the quiet end. But she is such a sweet, loving, easygoing girl. She loved just floating and relaxing in the water, and we got to spend awhile playing catch together, in addition to the time I got to spend together in one of the smaller pools with all my kids.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f87UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_40b2

She even went down the big slide at one point!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4099

Diego was as adorable as always. I mean just look at this smile…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fb5

He definitely wasn’t scared of the water, showing off his swimming for me and even going underwater!

 

 

And Junior was just smiles from start to finish! I was a little worried about him going in, if his vision would be off and then with his burns, but Brayan and Ayumi, his brother and nephew, looked out for him the entire time too, along with all the sponsors helping me out with keeping a closer eye on him, because he was everywhere! He is such a joyful kid.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4230

 

 

One of the other sponsors was great with the boys, and they ate it up!

 

I had already pretty much fallen in love with Ayumi from the day before on home visits, but if I hadn’t, I completely did on this day. He kept coming up to me throughout the day and giving me spontaneous hugs. I knew enough about his life to know he’s had an especially difficult one, but he was so happy this day and it was incredibly easy to bond with him, too!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_409a

Here are Junior and Ayumi jumping in together.

 

Speaking of the boys, I couldn’t stop talking about how impressed I was with them. Seriously. The group of Junior, Brayan, Ayumi, and another Bryan sponsored by another team member, impressed me all day long. They were so respectful, helpful, and polite. I got to see a lot of kids over the week at the pool, and kids in Honduras act just like kids in the US or anywhere. Boys will be boys. And while these boys knew how to have fun, they were conscientious, never obnoxious, grateful, loving and affectionate, and they even gladly helped me deflate the inflatable toys at the end of the day. All in all, something about this group of boys was exceptional ❤

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4223

Instead of popsicles, today, they decided to do a mid-morning snack of baleadas. Baleadas are a traditional Honduran dish, consisting of a folded over flour tortilla containing beans, cheese, and crema. The kiddos gobbled them up!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3faf

After swimming was done and everyone got changed, we hung out and took a few pictures before it was time to leave.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f9dUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f95UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f9fUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f8e

Again, with my limited Spanish, I showed them pictures of my family and cat and parts of my life that I had on my phone. Thankfully another translator came around and helped translate our goodbyes, maybe the hardest ones yet, since there were no more days this trip to look forward to seeing more children.

While waiting for the cars to load, some of the kids got some last minute playing on the playground. Here are Junior and Ayumi on the seesaw.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f78

And Helen on the swings with an expression of pure joy…

 

We left straight from the pool, feeling a little gross, to begin our 5 hour drive to San Pedro Sula, where we’d spend the night. By this point, after another full day in the sun, my sunburn was even worse and incredibly painful. At one rest stop, I got a bottled water mostly so I could put the cold bottle on it. I also had trouble keeping my eyes open as we once again bumped along in the large van for all those hours.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f8d

Finally we arrived in San Pedro Sula. For dinner, we went to Pizza Hut, a frequent visit of Manna teams. However, this wasn’t any kind of Pizza Hut you’d see in the States. It was a nice, sit-down restaurant. Several team members commented that it had the best wi-fi we’d experienced all trip. We sat on a large, leather bench and waited to be seated. We agreed to sit in the kids area, since we had several kids in our group. Yes, this Pizza Hut had a kids area and a play place! A big one! The menu also contained many more items than just the pizzas, pasta, and wings we’re used to here. One thing they didn’t have, though, that I’m used to here, is gluten free pizza. Not that I needed a whole pizza just for me, anyway. I got the salad bar. And wow, it was a great one and FRESH. The pineapples on it, still stand out to me as being delicious and wonderfully fresh, not the canned pineapples we’re used to here in salad bars.

The hotel room was huge, and my room was very high up. Although it didn’t have the charm and upkeep of Hotel Guancascos, but it was fine and a nice, safe place to stay for the night.

 

A view of San Pedro Sula at night:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fb0

And then a funny thing happened a little after I got into bed. Fireworks started going off right outside the hotel! They weren’t on my side, so I couldn’t see them, but other team members staying on the other side of the hotel even had sparks land on their balconies :O Here is a short video I took of the noise. It was just something you could only laugh about!!

 

 

Click here to continue on to Day 8: Leaving Honduras.

Honduras Day 6: Diego’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-6

Click here to see the previous post, Day 6: Junior’s Home Visit.

While I spotted Helen, Heydi, and Junior all right away in the small Betania church, I did not see Diego when we came in. I mentioned it to Russell when he asked if everyone was accounted for, and started on my other home visits. I didn’t know much about Diego, due to the fact that I don’t always receive letters from him in each mailing or photos of him in each round of updates. So I knew his attendance had to be more sporadic.

Later, though, in between home visits, he and his mom were at the church! We found out that they actually live in town in Gracias, definitely a drive from Betania and not within close walking distance. Now I knew why he wasn’t always there for letter writing or photos. The Manna staff talked to his mom and they decided that since she lived in Gracias, where we were staying and headed back to for the evening, we’d do my home visit later with him. His mom had a car, and my translator agreed to come back, so for the time being, Diego gave me a super sweet gift and I told him I’d see him later!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_405c

The bag, which translates into “someone who loves me very much has brought me this little bag from Honduras”, contained tissue paper wrapped little cookie bites and a handmade woven sombrero keychain. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift ❤

While I had some time before my last home visit, I spent some time enjoying the beauty back at Hotel Guancascos on our last full day there.

It’s safe to say I fell in love with this gorgeous, gem of a place! Even with all of the countless mosquito bites I got, I was in constant joy and wonder appreciating so much diverse and natural beauty there. I can’t wait to go back!

Finally it was the time that we were supposed to meet Diego’s mom. My translator met me back at the hotel. Now, Hondurans are notorious for being on “Honduran time”, or in other words, late. This case was no exception, as Diego’s mom actually came about an hour after the scheduled time! The positive side, though, was that it gave me more time to talk to and get to know my translator, who is a great person with a huge heart and did an excellent job all week!

Diego and his mom picked us up in their car and took us to their home. It was definitely nicer than most of the other homes we had visited throughout the week, but still very modest. I loved Diego’s adorable little “garden” outside of several potted plants. And Diego himself couldn’t be more adorable, either! He is so sweet and has great manners, but he isn’t shy at all and likes to give his opinion, too. The school he attends is a bilingual school, so he was even able to say some things to me in English, including the Our Father prayer, which he was very proud of!

We talked for a little while at the home. I know that Diego has a sister, but she wasn’t there and there was no mention of her, so I didn’t ask. Yes, at first glance, it seems like they are more well off than the other families, and in many ways, they probably are. Diego’s mom is a teacher. They used to live near Betania, and still have family there, which is why they still attend the church there. But it’s clear they still have needs as well. And our first evening in Honduras, during our dinner together with the Halls and Russell, it was explained that in the Manna 4 Lempira program, they do accept children who may not be as financially needy, too. They know better than anyone firsthand that these children still do have needs, and furthermore, their philosophy is that these children, when given the supports and care through the Manna program, are the ones who will hopefully grow up to be future leaders in their communities and churches. Even though Diego’s only 6, I can definitely see him as a future leader 🙂

The cool thing about this special home visit is that it ended up being a couple hours! We were going to go to a mountain nearby, but I don’t think they realized how long of a walk it was going to be. Thankfully, it was no coincidence that none other than the Hall family drove by us as we were about 15 minutes into the walk, picking us up in their truck. They were on a mission of their own, so we rode with them for a little while, until they dropped us back off at the car. Gotta love how perfectly that worked out!

Next, the family took us to the newly renovated park in Gracias. It’s beautiful, modern, and a great, safe place for families to go to have fun, relax, or get some exercise together. They even have guards outside to keep it safe.

Diego’s mom really liked the exercise equipment they had.

While Diego loved climbing. He said his favorite subject in school is physical education, and he is definitely very athletic. One of his school friends was also there, so they played together for a little while.

Finally, we had to say goodbye. My translator had to get back for a class, and it was getting late. Diego’s mom even offered to drop her off at her home after she dropped me off at the hotel so she didn’t have to walk back, which was really sweet. We took some pictures together before leaving.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3fd3

This was my final home visit of the trip, but it was a very unique and special one!

Click here to continue on to Day 7: Betania Fun Day.

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:

rbthvuOUTS6bPkqNW7bodA_thumb_3f3b

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:

Y1XY3dFnR6mnCrnmcLhg3A_thumb_3f33

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:

nyVRCDaqRRaQVVdiwG%kXw_thumb_3f32

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:

U9Ui01NlQvSSvcKEp789sg_thumb_3f34

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:

beb3OOpBRbONcaUZEz16BA_thumb_3f3f

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):

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f37

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:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f39

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:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f3d

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:

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f36

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:

TajnbZxIQJG1zOVHpky+NQ_thumb_3f2c

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!):

6qvp2t7%Qn++TXB1FEPdug_thumb_3f2b

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:

AxSkHnbUSHWkn9ep4IJRKA_thumb_3f30

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):

DrmJel0xT%2G0joQdP1GyQ_thumb_3f2f

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:

pqLYJvJgS8q1eZ7METWQAw_thumb_3f40

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:

yHaExJ5sQTKA7OJkeZ8w2Q_thumb_3f38

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:

iXfLY1U%TwWVeCAbGMh4VQ_thumb_3f42

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!

SaveSave

Letters from Diego

Diego is another one of my children from the Betania church through Manna 4 Lempira. He’s 6 years old.

27503942_946839455466326_4936914833816878965_o

“Dear Sponsor, I hope that my friend, Jesus, blesses you and guards you wherever you are. I tell you that I always pray to God that this project be a blessing to this church, Betania. Through it, we already share with a lot of children. I tell you that I am out of kindergarten. My dream is to be an engineer when I grow up. In the name of Jesus, I will achieve it. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. Diego”

IMG_3978

This next letter came untranslated like one of Brayan’s. But since Diego wrote it himself ( ❤ ) and it’s very basic, I was able to translate it on my own! Plus it was kind of cool to actually be the one to break the seal for the first time on the envelope that he sealed.

“Hello Dear Sponsor, I am happy because God loves me, and so do you. God bless you very much and let us know how you are doing soon. Bye. I am Diego.”

IMG_9487

Photo Friday: New Photos of my Manna Betania and Quelacasque Children

15 days until I arrive in Honduras with Manna 4 Lempira! It’s exciting how close it is! I leave tomorrow for another trip, and then when I get back I get to start packing to go see these awesome kids. I hope everything fits!

Heidy, 12, was my first sponsored Manna child, so she’s very special to me. In the over 2 years that I’ve sponsored her, I’ve watched her grow and blossom into a more confident young lady. She still has the kindest heart. In both of these pictures, which were taken on separate days, she is wearing a dress I sent her.

Junior, 10, has never stopped smiling in the 2 years I’ve “known” him. He is such a joyful personality and I can’t wait to see it in person! He is looking so much more grown up in these latest photos.

Diego, 6, is the one out of all of my Manna children that I’ve seen the least photos of and gotten the least letters from. I’m hoping getting to meet him and his family in person will strengthen their attendance at church and the program. I didn’t receive a photo of him this time.

Jenny, 8, is my only Quelacasque child. I won’t be there for the church visit and fun day for Quelacasque, unfortunately, but thankfully she still will get to join along on one of the other fun days so that we still get to meet each other. I haven’t sponsored her for very long, yet, but sometimes she looks like she bears a burden. I’m so happy to see her big smile here!

30656929_983319715151633_6099192729592397824_o

Photo Friday: New Photos of Heidy, Junior, and Diego!

The next new Manna 4 Lempira photos I’m sharing are of my children who attend the Mi Betania feeding center in rural Honduras.

First is Junior, who I’ve had as a correspondent for over a  year and a half, and I have never seen this boy without a smile. He is just amazing!

27503322_945139972302941_6382266787126408584_o

I was blessed with some extra photos of my 9 year old Junior. I love getting to see him open his backpack! Two of the other boys in his very large family happen to be sponsored by the family who runs the Manna program. I didn’t know this until after I chose him, and it has often meant extra photos, which I happily treasure!

Next is beautiful Heidy, my first Manna child. This newly 12 year old girl has my heart.

Her confidence in that smile and pose mean the world to me. Last year, the barbie doll was definitely her favorite of the things I sent her. This year I picked out an Anna from Frozen barbie, because I know she is an Anna fan!

And then there’s Diego, a more recently sponsored child and one I actually have the fewest pictures of. I was so eager to see new pictures of him, and these certainly did not disappoint!

Diego is 5 and so stinkin’ cute. I hope he loves the soccer ball. He had been waiting a long time for a sponsor when I chose him, so to see him with my letter and the backpack I sent him makes me very happy. Plus he’s wearing yellow and a dinosaur! Clearly we’re meant to be connected! 🙂

 

Introducing Diego!

164-1-1

In early October, I had the opportunity to add two more Manna 4 Lempira children to my Honduran family. I was thrilled and blessed to be able to choose two sweet children, but how to only choose two was the hard part. I knew, though, that Diego had to be one of them. This sweet smiling boy had been on my heart for awhile, and he was one of the longest waiting children. I knew I couldn’t bear to pass him up with the opportunity I was given, and he was meant to be mine!

Diego is 5 years old and lives in the Mi Betania community of Lempira, Honduras. Other children that I have in this community are Heidy and Junior. He is in kindergarten, and his favorite subject is English. I wonder if that means he attends a bilingual school? His favorite color is orange, his favorite activity is playing soccer, and he wants to be a firefighter when he grows up. Diego lives with his mom and his sister, who is also enrolled in the Manna 4 Lempira program and has a sponsor. His mother is a farmer.

Considering I sponsored him shortly after backpacks were due, I was prepared to just get a letter together for him and Velery, the other child I sponsored with him, in time for the upcoming due date. Imagine my excitement and slight panic when I was told I could send backpacks for them if I was able to send them out quickly! The next day after work, I went shopping for their backpacks and items to include and was pleased with what I was able to find so quickly! I got everything sorted and put together in the backpacks, made labels with their names and pictures, packed everything into a box, printed out a shipping label and loaded the box in my car. The following day on the way home from work, I dropped it off ad the FedEx store and once I was finally able to catch my breath, I was thrilled that these two sweet children would be getting some extra love at backpack delivery time!

I look forward to getting to know Diego better as I receive letters and photos from him and our relationship develops!