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.

 

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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.

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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.

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She even went down the big slide at one point!

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

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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.

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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!

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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 ❤

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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!

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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: Heydi’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-6

Click here to see yesterday’s post: Day 6: Helen’s Home Visit.

After Helen’s home visit, it was time to visit Heydi’s home. I had the pleasure of riding with Allen, the patriarch of the Sowers family, who was finally feeling better after a week of being knocked out by a bad illness going around. The Sowers family are the ones who run Sowers4Pastors, the people doing the amazing work on the ground in Honduras every day, that Manna 4 Lempira is partnered with. We were with his son, Russell, who is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen, all week, but it was nice to be able to meet Allen as well. Heydi, my translator, and I loaded into his truck and we took off to her home.

Meeting Heydi was very special, because she was my first Manna sponsored child. I had sponsored her for over 2 years at this point, and I had fallen in love with her quiet, gentle heart from her letters and photos. Meeting her in person, she was just as I expected, and such a sweet girl.

I was surprised by what a far drive it was to Heydi’s home, very aware that she and her siblings have to make this significantly long walk to the church and back regularly, but all the more amazed at their dedication to doing it. I will admit that there have been weeks in my life where I’ve viewed going to church more as an obligation. But in visiting two countries in Central America now, I can say that the people there very much view it as a privilege. Even Allen, who knows the churches well, was surprised at how far we had to drive.

Heidy’s home visit was another where her parents were not expecting us to come that day. I felt bad, especially when we learned that both her parents were sick, along with 2 younger siblings who had stayed home from school. They were still very happy to have us, though, but we kept the home visit shorter, because I knew that they needed to get back to taking care of the children and resting themselves. We sat outside of the house, but I could see from the outside how great her needs were, as I had figured, especially in a family with 10 kids. The large number of siblings she had was a big part of what drew me to sponsor her in the first place. There were some trees right by the house with gorgeous blooming purple flowers, though, and I loved how pretty they made the view.

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I am so impressed and proud of the beautiful young lady Heydi is becoming. She still wants to be a teacher, just like she did when I sponsored her around 2 and a half years ago. She definitely has the heart for it, and she is very smart, too. She’s also already defying the odds by now continuing past the 6th grade in school, a grade most children in rural Honduras don’t make it past.

The family even offered me a live hen before I left, and I was once again humbled by the amazing generosity and love I was experiencing in Honduras!

Click here to continue on to Day 6: Junior’s Home Visit.

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 Heidy

Heidy is an amazing letter writer as well, and you can just feel the love in everything she sends. She has such a huge heart, and she was my first Manna child, so she’s very special to me. I’ve been sponsoring her for over two years now, and I’m so thrilled to be able to meet her and give her lots of hugs!

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Heidy is 12

“Dear Alisa, How did you celebrate Christmas? All went well with my family. Thanks for everything that you have sent me. I am very grateful. I hope you and your family are well. My family and I are well. I hope that you are also well. My mama is Nely, and my papa is Vincent. Blessings! I greet you and your family very affectionately. Thank you!”

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“Hello dear sponsor! How are you and your family? Thanks for all that you have sent me. I am very grateful. Have a Merry Christmas with your family. I hope that you are well and that you have a Merry Christmas with your family. I love you very much! What is your favorite color? How old are you? I tell you that I am going to 6th grade. I like bunnies. Which is your favorite animal? Thanks a lot for everything. May God illuminate your way. Thank you! I am praying for you and your family. I wish you success in your life. God bless you wherever you go. How old are you? To my loving sponsor. Heidy”IMG_1274

“Hello! How are you? I am very happy to write you. Thanks a lot for the things you have sent me. Thanks also for the supplies and everything else. We are all grateful for our sponsors. I tell you that we go back to classes on February 30. Greetings to your family. Happy 2018! I love you. Thank you sponsor. God is love. Blessings! With love, Heidy”

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“Holy Week is important because each Holy Week God has me alive. For vacations my family likes to go to Gracias and to the hot springs with my siblings. Typical Easter foods are chicken and rice. Traditions of my country are that my country is beautiful, and I love it. My favorite part of the fiesta is going to some event that I enjoy. God is faithful. I dedicate Ephesians 6:17 to you. I thank God every day for putting you as my sponsor. Thanks a lot. My rabbit is named Liebre. She is black. She is very nice. How old are you? Which animal do you like the most? Thanks for the backpack you sent me. Behold, I have a pretty cat. I also want to know which is the animals that you like second most. I love you. I hope that you have enjoyed Holy Week with your family. I love you.”

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Her letters are so adorable! I love that she talks about February 30th and my second favorite animal. 

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!

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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!

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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! 🙂

 

Letter from Heidy

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Heidy is 11 and lives in the Mi Betania community of Lempira, Honduras.

“Hello Alisa! How are you? I tell you that I have a rabbit. Here it is raining. Next year I will be in 5th grade. Which is your favorite animal? I like all that you have sent me. Many thanks, godmother. Each day I pray for you. Will you pray for my family and for my studies and for my dear church. Thank you for the beautiful letters that you have sent me. Many thanks I give to God for having a sponsor like you and also for my parents and for my teachers at school and church. This program is a blessing for the church. Many thanks for all. With love, Heidy. Blessings.”

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