Sunday, 26 April 2015


Saturday, April 25th , 2015

Departure Day.

How did it get to be time to go home already!  As we stood at the beginning of the week, we knew that there wold be lots for us to do and we worked hard during the week to accomplish what we could. We had an amazing team that fit into so many areas to make so many things happen.  We covered many areas – the workshop for the teachers who appreciated the new ideas for their classrooms, reading testing of the new kids, updating of the art room, help in the classroom, helping in the medical clinic with ailing kids, all the crafts, replacing and updating some important light fixtures, assistance with the election, the art project which will go back to Toronto for a fundraising event, but most of all – the interaction with the children.  Our hearts melt when they come around with huge smiles on their faces for us – one of the precious rewards and memories for us after this week.  There are some who don’t smile very often, as they have suffered much in their young lives, but there is hope for their future now in the opportunities they will have here and as their lives change with God’s transforming love.  We are inspired by the Director and all the teachers and support staff that love these children and nurture them, as they share their time, their love, compassion and faith with each child.  Claudia tells us that on the days that she feels overwhelmed she is inspired by the kids and that they give her energy.  We understand exactly what she means.  Her faith is deep and she prays each day for God to use her to better the children’s lives. 
Breakfast was at 8 which could potentially mean a possible sleep in day, but we were all up early as we packed and swept and cleaned (which was a little difficult with no water again this morning).  

We had pancakes for breakfast with cantaloupe as did the children.  Here are a few of the littlest girls lining up for their pancakes.

 Still found some time to spend with the kids before we left for the airport and to say our goodbyes and a chance to debrief and share with Matt, the Executive Director. He is always wanting to hear about our week and our thoughts and suggestions.  It was a good sharing time. 

We had time for our annual team photo.

With luggage tied down on the roof of the van and us all piled inside we cautiously made our way to the airport and Raul was with us until we headed to security.  We said goodbye to Bruce as he headed off on a little earlier flight back to Colorado.  Erika was with Raul as part the farewell team, and we were envious of her being able to stay behind and continue in the ministry of this place.  We found some clothing items and some shoes in the bodega for the baby and the 4 year old that we met at the home visit yesterday and she will see that they get to the family.  The baby who must have been near one cannot leave their little shack with its dirt floor, for the property around them was unsafe for a child who did not have shoes. 
This is being written from the plane.  Our departure was late as we had to wait for the winds to be favourable, due to the full load, SHORT runway and HIGH surrounding terrain – one of the wildest airports in the world!  After about 30 minutes the winds turned in our favour and off we went and are now over the Florida panhandle.
Now on our second leg after having left Tom and Jane and Lynne in Atlanta for their connecting flights.  Had time for a nice meal in the airport and will get home at midnight.   
We will gather more pictures to add to this blog.  There are such beautiful and priceless photos that you will love.  Stay tuned.
And thanks to all who have supported us and upheld us in prayer and in your many ways of support.  We do not do this alone.

Posted by Janice

Saturday, 25 April 2015


Election Day!

This was Election Day for the student executive, and an important civics project that the teachers have been working hard on with the students for the past month.  It’s not just a student election,  it is an in-depth exercise to teach the children how the democratic system should run in this country including all the principles as well as all the practical aspects of campaigning and voting.  Today was the culmination of the vote, run according to the rules of national elections and applied to the election here for the student executive.  The polling stations were run much like civic elections in Canada, complete with polling clerks running three stations.  Even the littlest people were very much into it.  We volunteers acted as international observers.  Well done, El Hogar!

The new president, Renee and his party are swearing their oath of allegiance after being announced as the winners of the election.  

Since the election took all morning, plans changed and after lunch we all went on a home visit which happens most years and helps us understand the whole story of some of the children that come here. Today was a heart wrenching story with a happy ending.  This week, Terry and Carrie decided to sponsor Orlin, a young man whom they had connected with during the week.  Today on our home visit, we actually went to his home and met his step-father.  (The mother was at work as she cleans houses to supplement their meagre salary). The father works as a gravedigger and they live at the edge of the cemetery in a small tin shack. The father was so receptive, welcoming and appreciative of El Hogar and we enjoyed our interaction with him.  He was pleased to meet Carrie and Terry who would be sponsors to his child.  (The shack where they live is in the picture at the left of Carrie's head.)
We then walked through the junk yard to the neighbour’s house and met a mom with her two young children.  She also has a child in El Hogar and showed us into her house.  A simple dirt floor shack with a stove of which the pipe ended under the tin roof at an opening in the wall and the smoke billowed dangerously back into the room. The pain of seeing this poverty was relieved by the happiness we felt in the appreciative parents whose children now have hope for their future because of El Hogar
After we had been inside her home and saw how this family lived in extreme poverty, we walked outside and Jane noticed a sign of  life and hope in a small tomato plant growing amongst the rubble and the dry dusty earth.

Meanwhile Lynne, with Ros' help is giving  a workshop to the teachers.  Whenever you saw Lynne, she was making notes, on her computer or preparing in some way for this.  Ros has been doing a whole lot of translating this week for the presentation and the testing.

From there, we headed straight to Valle de Angeles – a small artisan community which is our favourite place to shop for Honduran souvenirs when we get a chance to get there.  Our friend and driver Raul, took a coffee break from all his work and our million questions while we shopped.  Santa Lucia where the teen girls live, is very close and so we arrived there just after they got home from school.  All these girls have come through El Hogar and so we know them and enjoyed meeting up with them again.  They have changed so much as they all have grown into beautiful young ladies.  We also took up suitcases of donations today and it was just like Christmas for them - New jeans and clothes and all sorts of little surprises.  It was a joy to see them so happy and to know that they are all doing so well in school.   

 The location of this residence is in a beautiful spot with a breathtaking view, but today, as well as being so dry and brown, it was very smoggy and smoky with all the brush fires happening and so we couldn’t see well across the valley.

After supper was the Despedida, which is a farewell for us, put on by the children.  What a show – the students put on skits, modern dance and also a folk dance (they won third in a competition last summer), the Marimba band played and we also had a guitar duet.  There was appreciation for the voluntario team and we felt loved.   These kids are talented and their talents are nurtured and developed here. 

Our gift back to them was a treat of ice cream which they love.  In spite of their excitement, they lined up orderly to wait their turn. 

Our last mediation and devotional tonight was emotional with some beautiful sharing and we give thanks for this place and for each other.  

posted by Michael and Janice

Friday, 24 April 2015


Our Honduran friends are complaining about the heat! We've been remarking on it too, but figured we just weren't used to it.  It's been about 34 degrees C every day as the dry season nears an end.  Apparently April is the hottest month, and sooo dry.  Rains are due in a week or so.
Half the team was off to the Agricultural School near Talanka, which is an hour plus form the Elementary School.  We travelled through the city and saw more of life in Honduras along the way.

When at the  school, we had a good tour of the crops, including, plantain, yucca, papaya, beans,  tilapia (nearly the end of the growing cycle because the ponds are drying up, but soon to be replenished), pigs, cattle, chickens, and more.

This is Jorge who St Luke's has sponsored since he was in first grade at El Hogar and loves learning about Agriculture

  Not only have we been eating papaya here, but we were able to see it grown at the farm.
 The calf is a new one.  Fifteen days old!

The boys coming back after a long morning in the fields.  Off to lunch and then they will spend the afternoon in class.

It is gorgeous out here and even though it is so very dry, the setting is lovely and it is so very peaceful.

We delivered gifts and cards to several of the students who are sponsored by St Luke's parishioners and others.  We also had a chance to chat with some students whom we have known since their time at El Hogar.  As well, we delivered two suitcases full of donations.

Lunch was freshly cooked talapia, with salad and rice and a delicious fruit drink.

The other half of the team stayed at El Hogar to work on several projects, including finishing the painting in the Art room - Alan and Louise; dispensing in the clinic (quite a number of kids with sniffles, fevers, cuts and one to the hospital for stitches) - Louise; and preparing for a workshop with the teachers - Lynn and Ros; organization activities (meetings with Directora Claudia, etc) - Ros; light fixture replacement and misc. electrical repairs - Tom.

What at day, now time to play with the kids, give out some gifts to our sponsored kids,

  Louise with Brendy

Alan with Cesar and his two brothers received new Canada T shirts as well. 
Lynne with Jose Angel.

Carrie and Terry with Orlin.and Rafael

The Skafels with Sergio.

 Oscar is delighted with the pictures and the cross that Stuart has sent him.

 Ros with Rony who is sponsored by St Luke's.  She is showing him the cross that Stuart has sent. 

Rony's sister Nelsin who is also sponsored by St Luke's. 

 Tom and Jane with Elibe Angeli who is sponsored by the Reycrafts.

For dinner, out to a nice restaurant with some of the senior staff.
The dinner was lovely (Argentinian restaurant), and we got lots of 'back stories' from Claudia, Raul, and Padre Mateo.

Tomorrow we look forward to the student elections (starting at 0700) and will serve as international observers.

Posted by Michael

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Happy Earth Day!

We smiled when we walked up to the dining hall for breakfast and saw that all the children were wearing the green shirts for Earth Day that we had pulled out of the storeroom (Bodega) last night.  A wonderful smiling sea of green.   Erika, who lives in the residence with the children says that the noise level this morning was much higher than usual as they all tried to find green shirt for each child.    Not only that, they all seemed to fit perfectly.

This place is such a busy place.  Already there are numerous loads of laundry on the line.  The cooks and kitchen staff have been working in the kitchen for hours. Finally the water truck has arrived with drinking water.  We have been out since last night.   


Jefferson (also a graduate of the El Hogar schools and now almost ready to graduate from University) is washing the Director’s car who is arriving back in Honduras today.  Padre Matt, the Executive Director, moves back and forth between the US and Honduras and we are pleased that he is here for a few days of our week.

This is Wednesday and so it is the day to travel to the Technical School.  The four newcomers, Carolyn, Terry, Carrie and Bruce went with Rick and Erika to see the school to get a chance to see some more of life in the country.

On the hour drive, we saw two housing areas rebuilt after Hurricane Mitch 17 years ago (one of them by Habitat for Humanity).  The fields are being burned off in preparation for the rainy season and the new crops.    

We had a tour of the workshops - welding, carpentry and electrical, as well, the computer lab, the residence and the beautiful chapel with the amazing mural.  The new comers were impressed and inspired by what happens there.  Seeing the second step of the education of the El Hogar students helped complete the picture.

And we are always moved and in awe of the mural on the front wall of the chapel - painted by one of the graduates of El Hogar.

Carrie and Terry are with Junior who we have known at el Hogar and who is  sponsored by Caroldean.

Back at El Hogar, those of us who decided to stay behind went back to finish some of our jobs.  Varnish arrived for the floor painters in the art room.  Janice emptied the donation suitcases with all the clothing and supplies and found places for everything in the Bodega.. 

  Lynne and Ros were back testing some of the new children on their reading  skills – only 12 left to test.   

Tom’s supplies and his electrical helper Ramon finally arrived so they could get to their repairs. Beforehand, he was able to help Janice sort all the donations in the store room until he had to get to his jobs. 

At the morning break, it was time for all of us to take an Earth Day picture.  Somewhat chaotic getting 100 kids plus volunteers in place but we ended up with a round world and then a pine tree.  What fun!   

There would be nothing ‘cooked’ for lunch and so we had the most marvelous tropical fruit salad – mango, papaya, melon, etc   The children have been working on the Earth Day theme all week including workshops  and we have witnessed all sorts of displays throughout the campus.

We have been asked to act as the election tribunal to oversee the student elections.  This is a very serious event here.  The teachers use it as a very important civics lesson in this country, still developing it’s democratic processes.  There are 2 parties running, each with a slate of officers, election platform, and slogans.  There were political rallies yesterday, a candidates’ debate today, and an assembly about the importance of studying the issues and voting for the most qualified candidate, regardless of gender.  The debate was particularly impressive with the presidential candidates answering questions from the students through a moderator.  The candidates were dressed up for the event, presented their ideas very well and demonstrated real leadership.  
Some were having a hard time staying awake throughout the debate.


On Friday, election day, we will be observers at the polling station, checking ID (issued for the occasion), Inking a finger so they cannot vote twice,   Claudia, the director, has said many times she expects a graduate from El Hogar to be President of Honduras someday.
 Posted by Rick and Janice