Sunday, 21 April 2013

Saturday, April, 20.

We can't believe that today is our departure.  There was lots to do as we packed up and cleaned out the guest house (all the team was wonderful in pitching in) and saying our goodbyes to the children.  We can't quite imagine waking up tomorrow without them or without each other, but know that our ministry will continue on in various ways until we come another year.

We did have time to get a few pictures of the kids.

These two little guys seem to be comforting one another.  We know how  some of them must have very sad times if they have left some family behind. 

Mostly we see LOTS of smiles!

Even during chores!

Some of the girls with the dolls that Phyllis Brandon and Kay Rutty made.


  We got in a photo with Jorge, who is the child that St Luke's sponsors.  This is now 4 years into the sponsorship and we have seen him grow so much and excel in school.  We have a special place in our hearts for dear Jorge!


Erika got in a folk dance lesson with the kids and with teacher Heyser.

 We love to hear the Marimba band and they entertained us in the last evening, getting us all up to dance.

They were really supposed to be taking out the garbage but decided to become "Transformers" to get the job done!

Our traditional group farewell photo in front of the El Hogar logo.

Matt, the Executive Director who lives out in Santa Lucia where the girls are located, came in to say goodbye and help by taking some of our luggage to the airport in his car.

The rest went on top of the van.

Always a few forms to fill out to get out of the country, but Raul was there to the end to make sure that we got through all the procedures and to the departure gate OK.  He has been a wonderful friend and guide and we get a glimpse of Honduras through him and all our questions.  We are thankful for him, keeping us safe and keeping us busy!

While at the airport, Jane and Janice had two opportunities to talk to strangers (Hondurans) who would be interested in volunteering and getting involved in the work of El Hogar.  Let's hope that they follow through and indeed connect with El Hogar.  

The travel day went well, and we had a 4 hour stopover in Atlanta to enjoy our last meal together.  We said goodbye to Jane and Tom as they headed off to their flight back to Cincinnati.

As we waited for our last call to board the last leg of our journey, they called for volunteers to get off the overbooked plane and catch a flight in the morning getting $600 Delta dollars credit for doing so.  Erika was the first to volunteer with Chris, Darla and Louise following.  They arrived home, with luggage, on Sunday and with credit for next year's trip already!

As Janice, Ros and Lynn stood shivering after arriving back to Toronto, (minus1 temperatures) sometime after midnight waiting to load up our bags for the last time, we remembered last night - barely able to get to sleep with such hot humid weather!


Our week ended and we know that our lives will never be the same because of our experiences and because of the children.  While the week was busy and hot and hard physical work, loads of emotion and loads of fun, we go to serve knowing that everything that is done at El Hogar either by us or any other Service Team makes a difference in the lives of these children.

"God hasn't called us to do great things, but to do small things with great love."  - Mother Teresa

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Good evening from Honduras. Our day started off after opening ceremonies with a breakfast of corn flakes and cold milk. Many members of the team were looking forward to this all week.


Allan is enjoying special moments with his sponsored child, Cesar.

First on our schedule was a visit to Marvin's home. Marvin attended El Hogar and his sister still lives here. His mother was scheduled for back surgery today, but was too weak for the procedure. The group decided to purchase a box of groceries which would help her get through the next month. While they didn't have much, they were very proud of their home.

We then loaded the van for a 40 minute ride which took us to elevations of 4600' on our way to Santa Lucia where the older girls live and go to school. There has been a lot of work completed since we were there last including a vegetable garden and composting. This fits in with Millennium Development Goal #7, Environmental Sustainability. While they are able to successfully grow spinach, Matt informed us the girls are not particularly fond of it. The feelings that come to mind when you are here are safe, spiritual, relaxing, calming and healthy.


Matt recommended a fabulous place to have lunch before we headed to Valley of the Angels to shop for the afternoon.

It was great to spend some time with the children before dinner, then we were treated to a lovely send off including singing, dancing, music and some very kind and touching words from the children.  After the "Despidido" (farewell celebration) the team treated the children to ice cream.

Today we went through an entire spectrum of emotions, from very sad to overwhelming joy. It will be a tearful good bye tomorrow morning before heading to the airport. It has been very hot week, but we understand that is not the weather we will be coming back to!

Thank you for all your kind words and support.

Darla & Chris  


Friday, 19 April 2013

It was actually a little cooler this morning, and as usual we were all at the opening ceremonies with the children at 7 a.m  Most of the group was headed to the farm early this morning while Jane, Ros and Lynn stayed behind to do various jobs.  Ros and Lynn are catching up on student evaluations in ESPANOL!  Jane ended up in the kitchen peeling and grating GIANT carrots, onions and tomatoes for lunch.  In the afternoon, she was mending clothes and with 104 children that is one huge job, especially when the sewing machine doesn't work.  Tom, who is the fixer of everything  tried his best to get it fixed.

Meanwhile Chris who had stayed behind to finish up some of the painting on the administration building, had to improvise when the promised paint didn't arrive til late afternoon.  But he got the job done and it looks beautiful.

We always enjoy the visit to the Agricultural School.  The hour and a half drive takes us through many aspects of life that are so interesting.

 Once out of the city, we are amazed at the beautify of the countryside.

The chickens, cattle, goats, pigs, horses and crops provide learning opportunities for the 60 students farmers and food for all four school locations.

This past year there has been a new experiment of farming Tilapia in their ponds and one of the students is fishing to check the size, as is done weekly.

 It is wonderful to see a few of the boys that we knew in El Hogar and because of the opportunities that they have had for an education they will be able to find jobs in the agricultural field.


It is a long drive out to the farm and was very hot, so a few of us were glad for a little nap on the way back.


Julio Cesar Almandares, the first student sponsored by St. Tim's, is now on staff at the Technical Institute and is quite an impressive man.

We got back from the farm in time to get the second and last coat of paint on the walls.  Lesley, who is just six weeks post ankle fracture, has done an amazing job on the work front with her foot in a brace and works as hard as the rest of us.  The job is done! We have painted the administration building with two, and in some areas three coats of paint.

We have traditionally taken some of the directors and teachers out to dinner while we are here and enjoyed being together at a very lovely restaurant where we continue to share stories and enjoy our week together in Honduras.  

As well as Directora Claudia and her husband Raul, our trusty driver and friend joining us, we were delighted to have the Executive Director Rev. Matt Engelby.  He is from New Jersey and spends about half a year in Honduras and the other half in speaking engagements in North America. We had met  him previously when he visited St Luke's several years ago.

Jane and Tom enjoy spending time with Heyser, teacher and marimba band leader at El Hogar.  Heyser visited St. Tim's with seven boys in the band in 2006.

It has been a long day and walking back cross the property from the computer room is a treat.  The evening is cooling so beautifully and the grounds are quiet ....  so different from the hub of activity in the day with 104 children.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

As two new members of the El Hogar team, we were most impressed with the enthusiasm and compassion Claudia, the Director, showed towards the children during her morning address.  She was talking to the children about emotions.

After breakfast we were ready for the drive to St Mary’s Technical Institute, forty minutes from El Hogar.  All of us together in one van.....

En route we passed by mountains, valleys and cliffs with roads winding up the hillside before us.  Rick pointed out the housing developments that were built after Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

Arriving at the Institute we drove past a brick wall built by previous St. Luke’s volunteers  (done in 2012).  This scenic property was purchased by the El Hogar Ministries enabling the students to move from the crowded facility next to the church in Tegucigalpa to fresh air.  On the property we toured though the welding shop where Chris demonstrated his skills much to the delight of us all.  


The boys at the Tech School love to have visitors and always love posing for a picture.

Waiting for lunch after a busy morning in the shops and before they head to class.

 Following the carpenter shop, and the airy student residence, We entered the new beautiful chapel with windows looking out to the lush vegetation.

 Behind the altar was impressive mural painted by a previous student.

After lunch, we drove back to El Hogar in time to continue the painting project of the old manor which is now the office.   Manning the ladders were Rick, Chris, Michael and Alan while toiling below were Gillian, Janice, Louise, Darla and Lesley.  Note all the children relaxing and watching as we painted!

Ros and Lynn meet with the teachers in the morning and Jane continued the English instruction with the help of Erika.  

"Three little girls from school are we....."


The clothes donated by St. Luke’s parishioners were unpacked in the storage room for future use.

As usual we provided a craft for the children’s activities and this was the night we prepared a snack for all 104 students.

Hasta Luego,  Gillian and Lesley for the team!