Honduras Day 8: Leaving Honduras

ADVENTURE-8

Click here to see yesterday’s post, Day 7: Betania Fun Day.

So I woke up in the morning, went to shower, but when I looked inside, I became perplexed. I started wondering where the water was going to come from, because I didn’t see a shower head. And then I turned the water on…

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f7f

Yep.

There was no shower head indeed. The water came out of a hole in the wall. At this point, I had to be very carefully showering already, only using cold water and being careful with the water hitting my sunburn. Of course it was another one of those moments, like fireworks the night before, where all you could do was laugh. And in talking to other team members at breakfast, I found out other rooms didn’t have this problem. I was the “lucky” one 😉

When I was packed, I went back out onto the balcony.

6TWtTESLTIWp7QQUN0P6zQ_thumb_4017

I could see San Pedro Sula much better in the daylight!

0UBVfJK9RHq1OgMU4xFKRA_thumb_401ch1wEoZXeS3a5QWvYThgt3w_thumb_401bUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f80

And down to the hotel pool.

jvwviuiMSAWtaaUWXbNqgg_thumb_401a

We sat by the pool for breakfast, which was nice, and thankfully we found spots in the shade. Yes, Gracias was hot, but even in the morning, San Pedro Sula was already scorchingly hot being at a lower elevation level!

OwffQOQoRSaEyIaxXNHjXg_thumb_4015

Soon we took off towards the airport. It’s tiny, so it didn’t take long to check in at all. We had some time to kill, and I got to shop for the first time, along with getting some water for the flight. We also had to say our goodbyes. Since the airport was so small, even though we were all on several different flights, our gates were all still right next to each other! Another family from our team was on my flight, so it was nice to have some familiar faces when landing in the US and going through customs.

Whereas last time when I landed in Houston, I had to run through the airport just to barely make it on my flight that had already boarded, this time I had a little more time and actually was able to stop and get some food for myself. The shop I stopped in to buy my food was interesting because there was literally no one working in it! You checked yourself out using a machine. I’m sure there were more security measures in place that I couldn’t see, but at first glance, it seemed very trust-based.

Finally, I arrived home in Chicago. While I was missing Honduras and my sponsored kids like crazy already, I was glad to be safely home and see family!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4224

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.

Honduras Day 6: Junior’s Home Visit

ADVENTURE-6

Click here to see yesterday’s post, Day 6: Heydi’s home visit.

After Heydi’s home visit, it was time to visit Junior’s home. The Hall family, who has sponsored Junior’s brother and nephew, had just done their home visit at the house before me. As I had mentioned a few days before my trip, I found out days before I left for Honduras that Junior and his family had gotten in a bad truck accident the month before. Miraculously, they were all okay, but Junior was one of the worst injured, and has lasting effects with his vision. After hearing the news, I was really grateful for the timing of my visit to be able to offer some extra love and encouragement to him and his family after the accident.

I was welcomed into the home by Junior’s mother and other family members like I had been a part of their family my whole life. It was an incredible and special feeling, and one that I won’t forget. His mother was so happy and so loving towards me, and I still marvel in the bond that sponsorship creates across the distance, even before visiting. I always tell my new sponsored and correspondent children when I start writing to them that we are family now and I love them already, and I mean it. I start loving and praying for all of them immediately. Having the privilege to meet several of my sponsored children, I can say that the feelings are definitely reciprocal.

I was humbled by the generosity and love of this family as I learned more about the accident. They were on their way home from one of the older daughters’ weddings, all riding in the back of a truck. About 20 people in the back of a truck is a common sight in Central America. The truck was trying to pass a motorcycle, also common, and ended up flipping and rolling with the passengers loosely in the back. It truly is a miracle that they all are okay to tell about it, and this is a family of very strong faith. It’s their faith that got them through in the aftermath. We talked about how God is protecting them and has big plans for their family. Junior told me about his dreams for the future, which include being a firefighter.

36888030_1043563432460594_3647644127387975680_o copy

Junior was in the hospital for a week after the accident for head trauma. He does still have lasting effects in the burns on the side of his face and his eye being crossed, but it could be SO much worse. It made me so happy to see Junior, the perpetually smiling boy in all of the photos, still smiling in person. He is the one, along with his family, who was praying for my arrival to Honduras before my trip was even a reality, and he is very special ❤

Along with Junior, it was very easy to fall in love with his older brother Brayan and his nephew, who is actually the same age, Ayumi. Both boys were kind, thoughtful, and eager to share love, just like Junior.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4050

Junior and Ayumi are less than a month apart, and attend the same class at school. Since their school is a very short walk away, they asked if they could take me there. Of course I said yes! The class even went to visit Junior when he was in the hospital, which I thought was very sweet.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4218

As far as schools in the area go, it was one of the nicer ones. My translator asked and confirmed that it was a school that received money from the government, as some do. I asked how they decide which schools receive the money, if it goes to ones who need it most, and she said sometimes, but that’s not always the case. Here, though, this is a community that’s clearly benefiting from it.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4212UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4213

The classroom actually has 5th and 2nd grades in it together. Junior and Ayumi are in 5th grade. When we came, all the students were learning math together. As a teacher, I’m impressed by these teachers who can teach such different ages simultaneously. The teacher was very sweet, stopping class for our visit, and the kids were happy and well-behaved. Junior ate up all the attention he got for bringing me, and he was loving every bit of it 🙂 Walking through the school as the only gringo there, I did get quite a bit of attention!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4053

Back at the house, I spent a little more time with the family before I said goodbye. We all got a very good and refreshing sweet rice milk drink, and I got to meet a few other members of the family as well. Meeting them was a pleasure, and I can’t wait to visit them again!

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

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.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_420f

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.

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.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4206

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!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_3f76

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.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4208

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!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4207

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!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_420c

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.

Honduras Day 5: Mercedes Fun Day

ADVENTURE-5

Click here to see Day 4’s home visits for Brayan, Valery, and Ludvi(I’ve been having issues with WordPress in my browser, which caused me to not be able to write for awhile. And then I started a new job and have things have been busy and stressful for awhile. So sorry for the HUGE delay in posts!!)

Because of when my trip started, the team who was there for Week 1 did home visits and a fun day for Quelacasque before I arrived. I had the option of coming 2 days earlier for these, but I wanted to arrive when others were, and everyone else coming for Week 2 was all arriving on Saturday. I preferred not to be alone coming into the airport, which turned out to be a good thing, considering how long it took us to find the Sowers people. Also, experiencing the at least 4 hour ride one way, I’m glad that no one had to make a special round trip just for me. I have one child in Quelacasque, Jenny, and even though I wouldn’t be able to visit her home, she was still going to be able to come along to one of the other fun days. That turned out to be the Mercedes day, and a couple other kids from Quelacasque who were newly sponsored by another team member came along, too!

I woke up very early in the morning of day 5 and realized just how swollen my sunburned wrist had become. It had been bothering me quite a bit the day before in terms of pain, and it seemed to be getting worse. Ouch!

I was very excited to meet Jenny for the first time, and the Quelacasque kids were at the pool waiting for us while the Mercedes kids hadn’t arrived yet, which allowed me to spend a little time with just her first. She was such a sweetheart from the start.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4192

Not too long after, the Mercedes children arrived. I met up with Ludvi and her brother, Valery and her mom, and Brayan and his sister and passed out swimsuits to everyone and blew up the pool toys again. Like the first fun day, I spent the day primarily being in the moment with the kids enjoying our time together. Every so often I’d get out and take pictures quickly, and then rejoin them again.

Valery had a great time, and so did her mom. Her mom was great and attentive with her the whole time, and I could see her enjoying herself too. I was glad when I saw her go down the large water slide near the end.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_403eUNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4199

One of her friends from school was also there, as she’s sponsored by another sponsor as part of our team, and they had fun playing together.

Brayan was still shy with me again, but he ADORED the water. So I had a blast just watching him play and have fun all day. This is the child that only received one smiling photo of in all the photo updates over the 2+ years I had been sponsoring him, so to see him smile so often, in person, was such a special and wonderful treat!!

His sister, Lourdes, was a great big sister looking out for him, but she also still got to have fun with some of her friends that were there!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_41ca

Ludvi reminded me of Maria on the previous fun day, as she was also the most unsure of the water, staying in the shallow area, and ended up changing back into her clothes before the day was done. Ludvi also comes from an area that is even more so in need and higher up in the mountains, like Maria, so it’s very understandable for a day like this to be overwhelming and tiring, especially if it’s a completely new experience. Her smile was undeniable, though!

I got some alone time with her too, when we took a walk down the bridge. She was fascinated by the fish in the water, and started saying how her father used to have fish ponds. I knew that she was being raised by her mother, but she shared with me that her father had passed away a few years ago, due to an accident at work. It sounds like the family moved to their current home in Ollada after he passed, probably because it was what they could afford. With one parent and 9 children living in rural Honduras, Ludvi’s needs are so great, to a point it can be hard for us living in countries like the US to comprehend. But to see her, and her brother, just be kids for the day, having a special day of fun and love with a big meal is something that I know was even extra special for them.

Here, Ludvi is wearing a top and a necklace I gave her the day before, along with her birthday Tiara. It was her birthday just days before I met her, as with Valery, so I gave both them a birthday card and a tiara along with their gifts. She wore that tiara all day after she changed back into her clothes like the princess she is ❤ Even though she’s not smiling in these photos, as smiling for pictures is not a part of growing up for Ludvi like it is for many of us, she was smiling a lot in person.

And then there was Jenny, the biggest fish in the water of the day! I was worried if Jenny would be shy not really knowing anyone, since she was coming along for the Mercedes fun day, but it turns out I didn’t have to worry at all. She has such a fun, curious, adventurous personality! The sweet girl is just full of life and an absolute joy to be around!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_4043

I also got some nice alone time with Jenny as we walked along the bridge and into the greenhouse. She picked flowers for me, made a flower mosaic in the sand, told me which flowers she liked and which ones she didn’t, and even fearlessly walked right up to the geese! 🙂

krlPWvytQQ6D2MmLZI3q5Q_thumb_41ac

I had put the flowers she gave me for my hair in the outside pocket of my backpack. When flying home, I forgot to take them out, but somehow they made it fine through security, and I’m glad to still have them.

It also warmed my heart to see Ludvi and Jenny interacting together and making friends. They are right around the same age, but never would have met otherwise, as they don’t live near each other. I had brought pipe cleaners and beads in my backpack, a hit when I was in Guatemala last year, and I was very glad I had them. I brought them out after Ludvi had changed, for something for her to do, and she and Jenny really enjoyed it. One of the other sponsors also used some with her little girl who was injured and couldn’t play much. And what I didn’t expect was how much fun a few of the younger moms who joined us would have, too! Ludvi’s mom and another mom had a blast making bracelets and pipe cleaner flowers, which I showed them how to make. I loved seeing their joy with the crafting!!

In the second picture, both girls are standing next to each other, and you can see how much taller Jenny, who is actually a little over a year younger than Ludvi, is. Ludvi is especially tiny for a 10 year old, which typically goes hand-in-hand with nutrition in countries like Honduras.

I absolutely love this picture, taken by another sponsor. I could feel how Ludvi needed extra love and attention that day, and I tried to never leave her for long, while also giving  attention to all my kids. But this picture perfectly sums up the unspoken joy and bond that was created between us this day, and I look at it with a full heart, knowing God used me to make His daughter feel extra loved.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_40bc

At one point, we all went to see the animals.

Jenny, in per pipe cleaner creation that perfectly complemented her free-spirit, was curious as always.

Valery, her mom, and Ludvi preferred to watch from a distance.

And Brayan’s sister Lourdes kindly helped him reach.

Lunch was a huge treat for everyone who attended again! Ludvi brought along the purse that I had brought her gifts in the day before, and everything was handled with such care. I later saw the very carefully wrapped leftovers of hers and her brother’s, leaving nothing to waste, to bring back home to the rest of the family.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_41f7

At the end of the day, we got popsicles for all of the kids again!

Saying goodbye was the hardest part again, although by this point in the trip, I was convinced that I was going to do whatever I could to attend again next year. Valery’s mom told me how hard it was for her to say goodbye, and that she felt like she was saying goodbye to and leaving a family member. And Jenny’s goodbye’s were the hardest. She was the last to leave, since the small group from Quelacasque had to be transported back separately, and she said goodbye to me about 4 times before she actually left. Each time her hugs got tighter and longer, to the point where I was holding back tears by the last one, because it’s just amazing how quickly and strongly a bond between a sponsor and child can form, and how much love is felt on both ends ❤

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_41f9

I left with another full heart and an armful of bracelets!

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_41fd

Click here to see the previous posts:

Day 1: Arriving

Day 2: Maria’s Home Visit

Day 2: Yeyson and Greysi’s Home Visit

Day 2: Cristian’s Home Visit

Day 3: El Tablon Fun Day

Day 4: Brayan’s Home Visit

Day 4: Valery’s Home Visit

Day 4: Ludvi’s Home Visit

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