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: Helen’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-6

Click here to see yesterday’s post, Day 5: Mercedes Fun Day.

Waking up on Day 6 was bittersweet. I was very excited to meet the rest of my children, but I knew the week was very near the end.

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The last church we had to visit was Mi Betania, which is the smallest out of the four. Most of the other other sponsors only had about 1 child on average to visit, and I definitely had the most with 4! Even before visiting, just from the photos and from the letters I’ve received from my Betania children expressing their love for their church, I’ve felt a special affinity to this church.

We arrived and I saw Junior outside right away! I told him hello and gave him a hug, and it was so great to see his smile in person. Entering inside, I got to see and hug Heydi, and then meet and introduce myself to Helen, who was my first home visit.

As you can read more about here, I sponsored Helen only 2 weeks before arriving in Honduras. She hadn’t received any letters from me yet or seen any photos of what I looked like. She had only been told she had a new sponsor and that I was coming to visit. So where, with my other children, there was already a relationship there through letters, Helen and I were just getting to know each other. But this bubbly girl was the biggest joy to get to know, and I am so glad I felt led to sponsor her!!

Whereas some other children I had visited lived very far from their churches, Helen couldn’t live any closer! Her house was probably no more than half a football field away. Furthermore, the little café where her mom works and where we sat for our visit, sits in between their home and the church, so it’s even closer than that. I thought it was great when I found out how close she lives, because I know that it will allow her to stay very involved in all of the activities there!

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Helen was so much fun and she had us all laughing throughout the visit! Her parents were incredibly kind and loving, too. She is their only child, and you can tell that she’s their world. Sitting out in the shade on the cool of the patio, visiting with this lovely family, was one of those home visits that I could have easily stayed for hours.

Helen wanted to know everything about me. I loved hearing her say “Chicaaagooooo” whenever she’d ask again where I was from. I gave her her bag of gifts, and she took each thing out with so much excitement. I had gotten her a few Frozen things, and she is a big Frozen fan. She even sang a little of “Let it Go” for me 🙂 She absolutely loved the barbie doll, changing her clothes, switching out her accessories, doing her hair… Her giggles were infectious, and she is such a little ray of sunshine.

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One of the other gifts I had given her was a journal set, a Frozen one, with a lock and keys and some accessories like stickers and a gel pen. She loved writing in it right away, and had each of us write our names in it. She wrote hers, and started writing out a whole string of numbers, which she concentrated really hard on. She was so proud to show them to us!

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Helen’s parents shared with me how school is a challenge for her. Now in the 3rd grade, she struggles with reading and writing. She has such an energentic personality that I don’t think she’s one to sit still for long. I was able to talk with her parents a little about different types of intelligences and learning styles. As a teacher, I’m used to having similar conversations with parents, so I was glad that I had something within my “realm of expertise” to offer. Helen is clearly gifted in her social skills and making others happy. This is where her strengths lie the most, and she can go very far in life with them. Furthermore her parents do still continue to make school a priority, which is awesome. The teacher works with her individually, her mom and dad work with her at home, and they’re doing everything they can at their end to give all the support she needs. I just can’t say enough how much I fell in love with this sweet little family!

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Later in the afternoon, before we left Betania, we ate lunch at the Cafeteria Betania, where Helen’s mom works. I had some delicious tacos, although Honduran tacos are very different from Mexican tacos that we are more used to. They are like what we would call taquitos, with a corn tortilla rolled up around the meet and fried so it’s crunchy. Helen also came out to bring me pineapple juice, which was really good and even had little pineapple pieces in it.

 

Click here to continue on to Heydi’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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Introducing Helen!

I thought 12 kids to pack for was a lot… but then it turned into 13. Helen has been waiting for a sponsor through Manna 4 Lempira for a few months. I remembered her from her photos even before she needed a sponsor, and loved her joyful smile. I’d been watching and praying, hoping she’d find somebody soon. I actually figured if I sponsored a 13th child, it would be during or shortly after the trip.

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But then, there was a post featuring Helen on the Manna page, and I kept thinking about her. I figured she’d be sponsored right away though. But she wasn’t, and the following day there was another post, this one with more detail, all of which described everything I adore in a child.

“Spunky Helen is a delight. She is a 100% at whatever she does. She is a hilarious mix of wild child and sweetheart, and you never know exactly what to expect. Her smile can light up a room, and giggles are never far from her lips. If you hope to sponsor a perfectly obedient child, well, Helen may not be the child for you—but if you hope to sponsor a child who is hungry to receive love and affection and then return it tenfold, Helen is your girl!”

Now, all of this was going on while I was out of the state and very distracted and busy, but I still could not stop thinking about Helen. I told myself after a certain time, if she wasn’t sponsored, I’d ask about her. I ended up waiting even an hour or two after that. The rest unfolded in only a way that could have been meant to be, and now Helen is my newest sponsored child. I’m thrilled to be visiting her and loving on her!

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I can’t wait to hear that giggle in person. And this last picture is when she was told I’d be visiting next week!

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