Thursday, 16 November 2017

 The team of 2018 is thinking ahead to their trip to El Hogar in February, but before we get there, there is a lot of work to do in preparation.  Much fundraising is to be done first that will cover the cost of the project fee that we need to take with us that will cover the work project that we will do when we get there.  We also raise this money to cover the sponsorship of three of the children that St Luke's sponsors.
We know you are waiting for our famous Gingerbread Churches - now our 10th year making them.  We have such fun doing them and it is a team builder for sure.
This year we tried something different - engaging the Culinary students in the kitchens of Robert Bateman High School.  We were welcomed by the staff and the students who helped us make, roll and bake our dough for 160 churches and houses.

Oh, yes, in case you were wondering, one of those days was Halloween!

We were able to show them a video of our work in Honduras and they had many questions for us as well.  It was a pleasure to roll out our dough in a large space with many tables and many hands.  Needed to complete our project - 1,120 building parts needed for the churches!

We were most impressed by the size of the mixers, the large ovens and the helpful and willing students.

After that, it means constructing and decorating - each with a unique look done by our crew - both present team and past teams and Friends of El Hogar.

Our first completed church off the assembly line and all packaged and ready for the St Luke's Christmas Market this Saturday!


  We also had a night of making our famous Christmas Bark.   The team was on hand again with our wonderful teacher, The Chocolate Doctor who has given much of her time to us to help us make the bark with her amazing chocolate equipment and huge cooking trays.  Check out Kerry's website:                                                                                    
All now packaged up and ready for sale.  
They will be for sale this Saturday at the St Luke's Christmas Market.  Come and pick up yours!                   

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Sunday, April 30th, 2017

Introducing Ana Nicole
We were able to meet our newest St Luke's sponsored child, Ana Nicole while at El Hogar.
She is just the teeniest bit of a thing and is only 5.  She is from a rural area of Honduras that is isolated from the outside world.  There is no access to services or medical attention within the area.  Many children have infections and do not receive vaccinations. There is no clean water, electricity, or toilet facilities. The houses generally have mud floors and are made of pieces of carton and plastic.  Most residents have only access to beans and tortillas for food.  She now has new hope for a better life with a new large family and is now settling nicely into life at El Hogar.  

Ana joined her older sister Heidy at El Hogar and they are very happy to be together.  Read the story that Erika wrote about her in Notes from Honduras and Ana's first days at El Hogar.  You can sign up for these monthly updates from El Hogar.

You can also find her on this week's El Hogar's Facebook and Instagram  post.

Sarah and Ana Nicole have struck up a special relationship and we would often find the two of them together.   

Saturday, April 30th, 2017

We had to leave El Hogar by 9 this morning to get to the airport for our flight. This left a little time so that we could briefly check out the souvenir shops, and stand in the long lineups for security.  All the luggage is packed on top of the van for our 15 minute journey to the airport and notice Jonathan who is peaking out behind Alan. Erika called him to come along so he could help unload the luggage from atop the van.  
We were all going to Miami to catch our connecting flights but Dave and others were bumped to leave 1/2 hour behind us.  The wind had changed on the single runway we use out of Tegucigalpa and so they needed to unload some of the plane so that we wouldn't have an argument with the cross winds when we took off! It is a tricky enough takeoff with the mountain at the end of the runway!
The seven of us left Dave behind after our goodbyes and were able to spend a time over dinner in Miami before we parted from Peter who returned to his home in Rhode Island.  The plane was an hour late and so all in all, it was 3 a.m. before we even saw our beds.  Longing for a shower and at the same time, a hug and a smile from the children.  We are so far away now, but we carry with us the memories of an amazing week, where we shared love and laughter with the team and with the children.  

Friday, 28 April 2017

Friday, April 29th, 2017
This is our last day at the Technical Institute.  We can't express enough the welcome and the care we have been given here.  Many details have been looked after for our comfort.

We got one last morning in to finish up the painting that completed all we could do without having to get scaffolding up for those high ceilings.  And what a view we had out our window as we painted.

But is was hard work and sometimes we just need to get in a bit of a siesta when we can.

Before we left we were invited to the chapel where all the boys and staff awaited us with a wonderful send off.  About 5 boys got up to express their thanks for our stay and for teaching them new things like baking cookies and art and games.  But thy have taught us much as well and we will not forget their expressions of gratitude and love through their actions and hugs.  After this, they gathered around us and one of the boys prayed for us.  It was such a touching moment.  But that was not to be the end, as they lined up and we got hugs from all 58 boys and the staff!  A time to be treasured in our hearts always.

We had time for our team picture - the team of 2017 and we have shared fun and work and stories and are grateful for each one and all that has been contributed together as a team.  As a family really.

It was hard to say goodbye and so we just kept taking pictures!

This is Milton who Ros and Rick sponsor and were so pleased to be able to spend so much time with him this week.

Dave and his new friends.

On the way home Erika took us along new roads that we hadn't been on before and it was wonderful to see different parts of Tegucigalpa.  And along the way being able to see life in the city.

You never know what is in Erika's job description.  She seems very comfortable unloading the luggage from atop the van.  We appreciate how she looked after us all week.  

 On our last evening, we were able to share our week's journey with each other and discussed about being God's hands and feet in this place. But mostly how we have received so much in return. We have been privileged to be here,


Thursday, April 28, 2017.

Today's afternoon adventure was to the Canadian Embassy in downtown Tegucigalpa.  But before that trip, we got in a morning of painting again in the residence.  We are now finished the downstairs rooms and surveyed the second floor to figure out what we needed to do in our last morning tomorrow and if you go to the top floor out the balcony, there is a lovely view across the valley.
This morning there is a strong coffee smell in the air.  Not far away is a coffee roasting factory and sometimes, the aroma is very strong.

In the afternoon we went to a meeting at the Canadian Consulate to hear about their work to build a stronger Honduran version of a  "Children's Aid Society.".  The Canadian Government has committed to a $19 million dollar project for UNICEF to help this new government organization bring itself up to international standards.  Several of the officials had visited El Hogar and were very impressed. They had a number of questions and several more from the consulate plan to visit now to better understand how their project can better coordinate with organizations like El Hogar.  We were impressed with some of their other projects such as promoting reproductive rights to juveniles given  the average age of first pregnancy age is 14.

On the way back, note the heavy traffic on our little road into the institute.  We had to make sure that we gave him plenty of room on the dirt road we were sharing with him.
Tonight being our last night at the Institute, it meant that our crafts were wrapping up and we have had a great time. The mosaic of paintings are of the canvases that the boys painted.  There are some amazing artists here.

Ros and Rick made keys chains from gimp and that table was pretty busy all night.  There was an ESL card game that gave us plenty of opportunity to teach English, but again, the consistently popular activity was the jigsaw puzzle.  Note the huge crowd gathered around the table with Peter,,

At the end of our day, we just wanted to add a few pictures of the boys you might enjoy..

posted by Rick and Janice 

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Hello everyone!

It is Wednesday, April 26th, and what a beautiful day it was. The team woke up bright and early at around 6:30 to have a traditional Honduran breakfast and prepare for the long day ahead.

Well maybe Sarah's breakfast today is not a big one but  this is some of the things we have for breakfast.  

Our first mission today: home visits!
Three boys from the Technical Institute were kind enough to let us visit their homes here in Amarateca. The first home we visited was about 2 minutes from the Technical Institute, and only 10 feet off the major busy highway. It was such an eye-opening experience to see where this boy calls home. His mother was out working making tortillas, making $4 a day, while the father is working to finish building a section of their new house which is just back from the original small house they are living in.. Brayan, the son, showed us inside his house and his room, which was small and crowded, however I have never seen someone so happy to show something off. He even showed us a project he had worked on previously which looked like a small city with paper buildings, army men as the people, and Styrofoam to hold it all in place. He showed it off as if it were a trophy, which really warmed my heart how something so simple and inexpensive can make someone so happy.
After viewing Brayan’s room, along with their kitchen and storage room, we walked down the hill to see what the father was working on. He was so humble and welcoming and proud to show off his hard work. Their infrastructure was quite interesting and very different than anything we have in Canada. For example, the bottom of their shower was made of bottle caps and concrete. After thanking the family for letting us explore their home, we were off to the second home.
The second home was not far off from the first. It was a little bigger, however we did not go inside. There were two women, both seeming to be mothers. The older mother was extremely welcoming and insisted that we all sit down. She even brought out extra chairs for us. She had a huge smile on her face the whole time, as did the other mother and the children. They all looked so happy and content. On their property they had chickens, two donkeys, their home, a shack, clothing lines and much more.

The last home we visited was the biggest out of the three. They also had chickens and other animals, and they even grew their own fruit such as papaya and mango. It’s incredible to see how different the culture is here compared to back home in Canada. Overall, the families seemed incredibly happy, humble, and welcoming. It was an amazing, eye-opening experience to see the environment that these families live in, and how they make so much out of so little. Some have next to nothing and are still the happiest most joyous people I have ever seen. I thank God for how blessed and fortunate we are, and I pray that these families remain happy and humble throughout life’s journeys, and live a long, healthy life.

The afternoon was designated as another paint session and we finished all six dorm rooms on the ground floor,  A very hot afternoon, but we got them done!

At the end of our paint day.

The boys lined up for dinner and listening to a devotional before they go in.

 A few of the El Hogar boys that we have known for so many years, now out at the institute.  It has been fun to spend time with them.

Our planned activities again tonight worked out well and the boys loved everything they did, though the jig saw puzzle with Peter and Alan seemed to be the most popular. At the end of the activity time, the weary team strolls back down the path to our lodging and after getting a cup of tea, settles in for our debriefing of the day, the mediation and sharing time.  We look forward to a new day tomorrow.

Posted by Sarah Ford

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

It is truly beautiful here and there was time to take a walk about the property early in the morning before Erika arrived to take us on our day.  The nights are quiet here, though I think the roosters here  are up earlier and most certainly the birds are!  The place we are living is the original house that the owner had built,  Lots of room with a nice centre sitting area for our sharing time in the evening.  

At the edge of the property just over the ridge is a lovely stream in a peaceful setting.  

A few eggs are needed to feed 58 hungry boys.  These eggs have come from the farm.

Ros and Rick enjoying a little relaxing time in the pool, 

" Act justly. Love mercy. Walk Humbly with God."  Micah 2:2
We left about 9:30 to head to hear and learn about the Micah project.  There is a new beautiful complex built in the country which is a group  home to house 20 boys and young men who have all had anguished childhoods on the streets of  Tegucigalpa and have mostly been addicted to street drugs.  It has been an amazing and wonderful ministry as these kids have had their lives transformed from  street kids to engineers, teachers, missionaries and good husbands and fathers.  We were most impressed with the facilities and the work they do there.

On to the farm and were were greeted by Abraim who we seem to see each year.  He teaches English to the boys and so likes to practice on the North Americans.   It was lunch time and yes, we were hungry.  A delicious lunch before Abraim took us on a tour.  Along with the crops that are grown there, there is a full compliment of farm animals and we saw chicks who  were just a few days old   As well, a 1 day old and 5 day old calf.  All fascinating to us city folk.  
The morning finds the kids working in the fields and gardens, but the afternoon, they are in class,   We were on a number of new roads today and this year, there seemed to be more rain than we have seen in the past at this time of year and so many areas were much greener than we are used to.

En route, we get to see alot of the city and the countryside.  We are amazed at how hilly it is and the work that must be involved in getting up to one's homes on the hills.

 Craft time was a little more chaotic tonight but fun. The boys had a great time making duct tape wallets and puzzles and painting and also baking Rice Krispie squares with Ros.

When it came time to share the goodies, there was a stampede to get to the kitchen.  Meanwhile Peter and Alan worked with the boys on a jig saw puzzle, Dave was n the kitchen helping Ros, Sarah was doing art and Michael and Rick were trying to help Janice keep the duct tape from sticking everywhere.  Not very successful!.   

Tonight in our time together, we prayed for the children of the Micah Project and for the children of El Hogar, being thankful for all those who care for them, nurture  and love them.