Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Saturday, April 21

How the week has flown by and we find ourselves packing up to leave today.  It is an emotional time for us, as we leave behind friends and memories and unfinished work.  All of us have had our own unique experiences.  We had time to spend with the children before we headed off to the airport.  And time to take our official and traditional team picture at the El Hogar logo.  (Be sure to click on the pictures to get the full size)
We were called to gather with the children who had grouped together in the large play area.  They had an opportunity to say their thank yous to us - through their teacher Arturo and with special cards they had made for each one of us.  Ros responded for our group in Spanish.
At the end of all this, the children (all 100 of them) gave us hugs and we were touched and overwhelmed.  For all that these children have endured in their lives, they have so much love to give away and we were recipients of that. 

We got a chance to sing one of our silly songs for them, since last night's 'talent' show was cancelled due to the long day that they had had.  We had been practicing and all in Spanish so were glad to finally be able to sing!

Heather listens as Ros tells Guillermo Jose that she is part of the family that will be sponsoring him from St Luke's.  He seems very happy.

Some of the dear little faces that we have grown to love this week.

We were happy to have a little visit with Mirna, Jorge's mom who had come into El Hogar to work here on Saturday.  She was so thankful to us for his sponsorship and is so very proud of her son.  He is doing well in school and was happy to pose for us in these pictures
It seemed like an easy job to get all our suitcases onto the van this time, having left behind all the donations of clothing, medicine, uniforms, school supplies, etc. 
Jefferson, one of the teenagers who lives at El Hogar, opened the gates for us as we left this wonderful place for the last time - at least for this trip.
THE NEXT PART OF OUR ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE!  Erika, Heather and Jane have departed on their American Airlines flights ahead of us and the rest of us prepare to depart on Delta a little later.  If you have heard about the Tegucigalpa airport, you will know that it has one runway with a mountain at the end of it!  As we were sat at the end of that runway, the winds had changed direction and so we could not depart until the winds had changed back again and favourably for our take off.  They didn't seem to alter at all and so finally all the cargo was taken off for a lighter plane and the passengers were eventually asked if there were 35 volunteers to come off and take a later flight.  For a free hotel and $400 Delta airline dollars, we decided as a team that we could do this as we had one day to spare before having to be back home and we were not going to make our Atlanta connection anyway.  This meant that 5 of us who had been bumped up to first class had to give up our lovely seats that we enjoyed for 2 hours sitting on the tarmac and at the terminal gate.

When we got off, we found out that we were going to receive $600 Delta dollars AND a 4 hour bus ride to San Pedro Sula, the capital city and the next major airport!  Not quite what we bargained for, but we were all together and would make the best of it. Seeing more of Honduras appealed to us in that drive, except by the time we got on the road, the sun had set and so we drove over those beautiful mountains in the dark! 

Waiting for our van to head to San Pedro Sula

There was a meal waiting for us all and a very comfortable bed in the Crown Plaza Hotel when we got to San Pedro Sula.

Flying out of San Pedro Sula gave us a chance to see a flatter and more fertile Honduras and this seems to be where the big crops are grown - bananas and pineapple.

Erika and Heather made it home on time, as you will have read Erika's Friday entry into the blog from her flight (Be sure to check it out with more pictures).  Jane got stuck in Miami with some sort of airline work stoppage issues and so she didn't get home to Cincinnati until the next day as well. Our travel day on Sunday was uneventful and just long - 16 hours in transit and home finally safe and sound.

We have had a week of hard work, doing what we can to update, repair and build.  There is always much to do at each site and they rely on volunteers to do much of this work.  We were also building relationships, with each other as a team and with the children and teachers.  They need our attention, our love, but we get so much back in return.  We were witness to God's transforming love in these children, knowing their stories and their difficult beginnings in life.

You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.

                   - Amy Carmichael, Missionary to India

Monday, 23 April 2012

This is being written at 0200 on Monday and we have just arrived home from Honduras via Atlanta, 24 hours later than we had planned, but all safe and sound.  More details on that - to come later, perhaps tomorrow.  It was a special week for so many reasons and we were privileged to be there.  Thanks for your support and your prayers.  Later...

Sunday, 22 April 2012


 Hola, faithful blog readers. We wanted to let you know that we are all doing well. The internet connection was down at El Hogar last night so we could not write an update.

Today has been a busy day in transit, but as I sit on the plane thousands of feet in the air on my way back to Toronto, I thought I'd tell you a bit about our Friday, our busiest day of the week.

The day started off with a group of us attending the children's morning meeting, followed by a breakfast of beans and eggs. At 9:00 we all piled into the van together and as usual, saw bits of Honduran life and the lovely countryside, dotted with poverty everywhere.
  We drove to Santa Lucia, a town about 25 minutes outside of Tegucigalpa. A quaint village with cobblestone and steep streets.

A piece of property has been purchased, just at the edge of the village, and will be the new girls' residence when they graduate from El Hogar.

When we arrived, a group of boys from the agricultural school were there on a retreat, and who always love getting their picture taken.

The property that was purchased has a breathtaking view and we were in awe of the beauty and the silence in this serene location.
After some pictures of the residences, the view and of each other we got back into the van and headed down the same road to Valley of the Angels, an artisan village.

There, we had lunch at a pizzeria that came highly recommended by our trusty leader, Raul. Raul is our driver, project manager and friend.  He got us safely though the streets of Tegucigalpa and the countryside. He is so patient and puts up with our endless questions and we have learned much about Honduras from him.  Here at a cafe, while we are shopping, he is working on the many other aspects of his job.  As well as being the husband of La Directora Claudia, he is involved in all four centres of El Hogar Projects.We also got a bit of time to do some "chopping" (aka shopping) for Honduran souvenirs. Michael and Rick found some Honduran sombreros that they liked.  (Rick is storing his new one over top of his loved older hat worn on many, many trips to Honduras.  Will it be replaced by the new hat?

 Our timeline was tight though, because we had one more stop to make.

About 50 kids from El Hogar went to spend some time with kids at a school for the blind. When we arrived, El Hogar's popular marimba band was playing and our kids had their kids up dancing.

We wasted no time in joining them. It was wonderful to see the children from El Hogar making a difference for other children.
 Some of our girls gathering around their new friends below. All our children were amazing as we watched them overcome their shyness and reaching out to these children.

When the marimba band packed up, the director blindfolded three of our kids and three of their kids and had them pass a ball that made noise along the ground for the other team to try and stop. After a number of kids got to try, they had the El Hogar volunteers and teachers from the school for the blind give it a try. It is harder than it looks! 

Our new friends had one more surprise for us. We were lead into a multi purpose room where there was a mini concert. A gentleman who was visually impaired played the piano and the kids sang a number of songs for us, including a Spanish rendition of Do Re Mi. It was all very touching and overwhelming.

The day was not over yet. We arrived back at El Hogar for a late dinner and soon it was time for ice cream. Our Canadian friend Josh sent a donation to buy ice cream for all of the kids and staff to enjoy. It was a huge treat and all of the kids were very grateful. Thanks Josh!

It was a busy day full of experiences that all made us grateful to be a part of El Hogar. We will all leave with our hearts a little more full of love and hope.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Thursday, 19 April

Again the team divided into the home and away team.  The home team stayed at El Hogar and worked with the children on remedial reading, special education and testing all day.  The children start classes at 7:30 and finish at 1 pm with only a 15 minute break.  How do they do it - the volunteers were exhausted!!


The away group had it easy - a leisurely (well not exactly) drive, thanks to Raul, through the city and countryside to the agricultural school.  There they were treated to a tour of the farm (pineapples, yucca, plantain, beans, cattle, pigs, coffee,...).  All the things the boys need to learn about farming.  They then were then served a delicious lunch (the main meal of the day), and then the drive back to El Hogar.


Thursday evening is the traditional evening we go out for dinner with those directors who can join us at a lovely Honduran restaurant.  We continued that tradition with Raul, Raul and and Claudia's daughter Takerly, and Lazero from the technical institute joining us.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Wednesday in the Rain

Hola, amigos!  We hope you have been enjoying reading about our adventures.  We have enjoyed having them!

After some of us early risers went to the childrens' morning gathering, we were back to our usual breakfast of beans and eggs.  Then, we split into a home team and an away team.  The home team consisted of Ros, Lynn, Jane, Janice and Louise and they stayed at El Hogar to spend some time with kids doing one-on-one reading practice.  Lynn continued to work on her education plans and provide suggestions for some of the kids who need some extra attention.

The dolls that Kay and Phyllis made were handed out to some of the girls today as a reward for being on the honour roll.  They were all very happy to receive them.  Thanks Kay and Phyllis!

The away team consisted of Rick, Michael, Geoff, Chris, Darla, Heather and Erika.  We headed to the Technical Institute once again.  Chris started out the day helping the teacher in the welding shop, but he didn't get very far because all the shops lost power... 

The rest of us continued to build the wall around the property.  We mixed mortar...

We became expert brick layers...

And, we played volleyball!  The boys initially challenged us to a soccer match, however we decided that we wouldn't get beaten as badly if we played volleyball.  The match was set to start at 3:00pm, and at about 3:01pm it started to pour, but that didn't stop us.  Chris and Darla play in a volleyball league, and the rest of us couldn't remember the last time we had played, so we had some help from a couple of the boys, Maynor and Jorge Daniel.  We were glad they were there!

While we were certainly not the stronger team, nobody will know because we didn't keep score! It was a lot of fun and the boys enjoyed laughing at our attempts at volleying, serving and spiking.

After a group photo, we headed to the van to go back to El Hogar, but Raul wouldn't let us in until he found some plastic to cover the seats.  The rest of the team was surprised to see us so wet because it did not rain in the city.  We gave them all big wet hugs and then hung our clothes out to dry.

We spend the evening in the auditorium with some of the older boys doing more crafts that our creative team had come up with.  The boys seemed to really enjoy the crafts and made some really great artwork.

There is a nice tropical rain coming down outside.  We're going to finish up and make a mad dash to the volunteer house.  We don't want to get wet anymore today!  Buenos Noches!