Wednesday, 28 February 2018

This is our day to visit the Technical School, but first breakfast and already the kids are on their way to class.
We all climbed into the van and headed out of the city about 45 minutes to Amerateka where the school is located.  

The Technical School is the trade school for the children who have graduated from the elementary school and are looking to move onto the next step in education. The boys can get a diploma in welding, electricity or carpentry and many young graduates from this school have moved onto successful lives with their skills learned here. Because there have been changes in the organization, it means that all the boys that were at the Agricultural school are now at ITSM and grade 10 is now offered. This means that the number of students has grown at ITSM, and there are now 85 boys there. Lazaro, the Director was there to greet us and to take us on a tour. He has been part of the organization for nearly 40 years and is a truly dedicated teacher and mentor to each of these boys. When we suggested about what has been added to enlarging the student body – more staff, more food, more concerns, more kids to keep on top of, etc, Lazaro in his wisdom and kindness said “more smiling faces to look at”

. We got to see the kids in their workshops, including Rony who is sponsored by st Luke's


Wonderful to see a female profesora who teaches electrical courses.  Will the girls be far behind who are in the EL Hogar school system? 

We recognized alot of the boys from our stay last year and remembered as we were there why we enjoyed it so much – the beauty and the serenity of the place – and the good food!

Jose Angel, Moises and Cesar who have been at El Hogar, now taking electricity at ITSM and doing a computer assignment together.

 Of course, we can't leave without a most reverent and special moment in the chapel.  The mural is painted by a former student in 2010, over a period of a month.

The lovely chairs behind the altar were made by the students - and are metal!  They look amazing.

After lunch we headed back into the city to Villa Olimpica to see some of the kids in their sports classes and today it was Judo/Martial Arts, Ping Pong, Baseball. The park contains a number of stadiums, gymnasiums, tracks and swimming in a sports complex that was designed to serve as the city's main sports centre.  The kids love going to learn a skill and they were pretty good!

These children are waiting to start their Judo classes

There are several young girls who have become excellent at ping pong and it was wonderful to watch their skill and rhythm at the ping pong table.

Erika has been so good to take different routes any time she takes us somewhere so we are always seeing new parts of the city or the country. A wonderful way to learn about the country, its culture and people.

The main evening craft class was the Plasticine molding class and there were a number of girls who loved it.  The boys had to do extra chores tonight and so missed out on any activities we had!  

It has been another special day here.  

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Tuesday – Day 5

On our second day working, we finished our 18 post holes and got half of the posts for the fence concreted in place, but not before a hearty and typical Honduran breakfast of eggs bean, plantain and tortillas!  

Don Adrien, the senior maintenance person, showed us how to hand dig those holes.

and Junior, who was sponsored by a parishioner before he graduated 2 years ago, helped mix the concrete and run the wheel barrow to the posts. Junior is an excellent example of the fine young people that have graduated. He is continuing his education with university plans while working at El Hogar to support himself. He is doing well in school, is an accomplished soccer player and musician,
and has such a pleasant personality.

Another highlight was sitting in on a talk director Claudia had with all the children under a tree in front of the dining hall. She asked some of us to be part of the talk as she asked them about their dreams for the future. She got quite a list, from president of the country, to a fireman, pastor, policeman, doctor, soldier, and teacher. She encouraged them to work hard to achieve their dreams and asked about what the habits would be for these successful people. Did they work hard in school, learn to treat other people with respect, even eat with a knife and fork and not with their hands? The children were amazingly responsive, listened carefully, and there was a line of kids coming up to her for a hug afterwards. We realize this is so much more than a school.

Another evening of crafts and games with the children ended the day.

Monday, 26 February 2018


This was the start of the work week and so today the apparel was work clothes, sunscreen and hats. The kids were already gone to class and cleaned up in the dining room by the time we got to breakfast at 7:30. Our job this week is to put together raised garden beds with the idea of planting those things needed for the kitchen – vegetables and herbs. Some of the work had been started and so the team (i.e. Rick) was able to put together the plan and ideas Erika gave us to make it work for a team project. We cut lumber, dug post holes and worked the ground preparing for the soil which is to arrive from the farm tomorrow (maybe) and even got one of the other gardens cleaned up. It will be good to have the rains come to invigorate the gardens. There will be a fence go around the new raised garden, so those post holes had to be dug and with such hard ground, it was not an easy task!  Some of us learned how to use a pick axe for the first time and how to measures 8 ft board with a 6 ft tape, etc. Some required two supervisors to make sure the job got done right! The work area is right behind the volunteer house and so close to the coffee pot and the snacks!

Meanwhile life was going on around us. Workmen coming and going. Supplies arriving, the eggs and chickens from the farm, the children moving to and from their classes. One of the classrooms is close by the casa de voluntario and we could hear the sounds of the children answering the questions of the teacher, or their laughter in the class and it was all wonderful to hear.
Nan and Bob got their picture taken with Dr Nora, the resident dentist.  Donations of many dental supplies (toothbrushes, etc) came from their generous dentist.

We got as much done in the afternoon as we could and then had lots of time to plan our crafts for the evening. The auditorium where we usually do our crafts is now out of bounds as it is used as the music room, so we had to find spots all around the campus to make the thumbprint animals or the artistic banner or the paper bag puppets, by far the favourite craft of the night. We were spread out all over the place, but it worked out fine.

I am not sure who enjoyed the paper bag puppets the most!

 One sweet little girl just wanted to be off by herself playing with the dolls and was very happy.

We are not sure if this little guy got the laundry mixed up and got the tall guy's pants by mistake!

Another work day tomorrow.  The nights are cool and perfect for sleeping. 

Sunday, 25 February 2018

What a joy to  awaken and enjoy a late breakfast and some quiet time under the trees in the main yard before heading off to church. It was the beautiful sounds of morning – a lone bird singing, the kids in the distance as they started their chores. It was a contrast from dogs barking all night and noisy cars driving by. The guest house is close to the campus gate and a main road, so it sounds like they are driving right through our rooms in the night.
Erika picked us up for church in one van and Claudia took another van of children who accompanied us and swelled the Sunday School.   We were warmly greeted by the people there. It was wonderful to worship in our Episcopal tradition but in another language and with lively music. A joy.

It was the plan to head up to Santa Lucia after for the afternoon to spend with the teen girls, so picked up some pizza on the way. The drive is wonderful with great views of valleys and mountains one the way.  Santa Lucia is a picturesque little village with lots of ups and downs and Erika took us on the most scenic route which had the largest inclines.  Quite a ride!

The location of the school has the most breathtaking view you can imagine.  We spent the afternoon doing puzzles, and colouring. Amy had a great craft making stars 

and Nan helped the kids make bracelets from a loom.

We loved how the girls wanted to intact and spend time with us in the crafts. They live in this lovely residence with a den mother and get a drive to their high school on the edge of Tegucigalpa each day.  They are a close knit group of girls who look out for each other and care for each other

Our time after supper, back at the main campus, was such a fun time and I am sure every one of the children were on the centre square involved in something. Again we found ourselves in separate areas plying with groups of kids, Janice playing Tengo with several, Ros helping them make paper airplanes, Rick doing a puzzle with several kids, Dave reading with some, Alan and Bob spending the whole time turning the skipping rope for what seemed like hours with kids queuing for their turns!  Amy had bubbles and wand out which is always popular, Nan with a card game for some interested girls and Michael pumping up soccer balls, basketballs and throwing balls. In addition, there was some loud and danceable music on and the kids had a wonderful time moving to the music at a very high noise level. They were having a great time, but we were glad that it wasn’t us that had to settle them down for bed tonight.But sometimes in the wild and crazy, some of the big boys just want to sit down and chat, as they did with Ros.

It is our special time and place, after the day’s work is done to share our meditation, reflection of the day that we have had and plan for the next day. We look forward to tomorrow when we start the work project.

Saturday, 24 February 2018


It couldn't have been a more beautiful day today. The weather was a perfect temperature for playing and working. With it being Saturday, there is less structure but yet lots of organized activities to do. Before activities and play, there are chores to do and this group of kids are ready after being given their tasks.  

We as a team are deciding what we have to do next too, but there was time for a team picture first. 

 There is a group of young university students who come in to teach English to the children and we noted that the kids are speaking better English this year.  We were glad to see one of the former teachers who left El Hogar to study languages, come to teach the kids practical English. Some of us sat in the classes and experienced the English class with them assisting in pronunciation and conversation. 

 In between their classes, they took breaks with free time and that is where we came in, with our Frisbees and soccer balls, colouring, origami and games. The morning went quickly and the kids were interested in hanging about with us, as well as practicing their English with us: “How are you?” What is your name?” “Where do you live?” 

 Alongside this activity, Nan and Ros were doing an inventory of all the items brought with us and we are grateful to parishioners and friends and professionals who donated so much toothpaste and toothbrushes, soap and deodorant!

In the distance, we could hear music lessons being done from the recorder classes to the drumming classes. In another corner, we watched Joshua giving a haircut to one of the younger boys. Joshua is one of the high school boys and an excellent artist and so he was being very artistic with the haircut. You never see a bad haircut here, so whoever is doing them all, knows what they are doing! 
We also spent time in the evening doing the same activities and loved how the kids interacted with each other and with us.

The children are priceless and love to have their photos taken:

 Julio, on of the activity students is teaching some the game of Chess.  I am not sure we want to take on some of these kids in some of the chess skills,

 These two were determined to get this puzzle finished.

 Junior, one of the high school students who lives on campus, was accompanying some o the girls doing their crafts.  
 One of the highlights of the day was spending an hour with Claudia, the Director
who updated us on the changes at el Hogar. After 27 years here, she is as passionate as ever about her job. She is mother and mentor to every child in this place and to those who have lived and studied here in the past. The focus here now is to make this more of a family atmosphere for the children. Dinner as a “family” setting with siblings sitting with each other rather than in age groups or classes. They serve each other at the dinner table with their own food and pray together as a table family rather than in a large group in lines outside before they enter the dining hall. The birthday of each child is celebrated on the day rather than once a month and on those days the child gets a card and a cake and balloons as we would do with our own family. Lots of little things that are important to each child to make them feel important and loved. She is most inspiring to us with her visions for this place and her dedication to the children.

We have busy days, but when we can, we nip up to the office to get some WiFi, so we can  catch the Olympic news - and are proud of Canada and all their efforts. 

Our reflection, meditation and sharing time are becoming more interesting and meaningful as we get to know each other better and share our faith and our feelings.  

Friday, 23 February 2018

We left Toronto this morning just as the sun was coming up and could hardly believe we were on our way again. To Honduras. Toronto airport seems much easier to get through these years and probably due to automation of bag checks and customs. Though the amount of people seemed to remain the same. Lots of them. Must be all heading south like we are. The biggest lineup was to Starbucks for our morning coffee! We had about an hour layover in Atlanta and met up with Dave from Kansas City who joins our team for the week. Other than one bag (thank goodness not a personal one, but one filled with crafts) not making it, there were no incidents worth sharing! The bag is on its way from Atlanta and will arrive tomorrow.  We are waiting for Dave in this picture hoping he made his connection.
You will remember us telling stories about the runway of Tegucigalpa. The shortest runway we have ever seen with a mountain at the end of it. Always a tricky and exciting landing! Today the pilot assured us we were in great hands as he used to land big planes on aircraft carriers in the navy! Sure enough – a good landing with lots of heavy breaking well before the end of the short runway and the mountain.
Erika and Gustavo met us with the big bus and the big boys from the school, to load it and it was a joy to be back and to show the new members of the team the sights and sounds of the city.  Got all the luggage on and us as well.  With the new big bus today, we and all the luggage fit!
It is fun to see familiar faces and new ones. The children that we know are growing and we will learn what the year has been like for them as our week progresses.

It was lovely to have Erika take us on a tour, for it seems there are lots of changes - in the classrooms, how they use the buildings, times of classes, shifting of timetables, etc. We met up with Nora, the resident dentist, who told us about the dental clinic. The equipment of a full dental clinic being donated by a volunteer dentist a number of years ago and how she looks after the teeth of 250 children from all of the schools. This also includes many family members of the children who come to have dental work done. What a wonderful program.

It is different arriving here on a Friday, for the children are in class, but we are planning and preparing how we might do our activities with the kids. Tonight after supper we checked out the situation and found all the girls in the art room and we will plan our crafts for that space as we think we have some fun activities for them.

A cooling rain tonight and the evening temperature is perfect. Alan has started his routine of making us all a cup of tea when we get a moment to sit. It has been a long day since all of us got up at 2:30 when our alarms went off.    But the night was not to end too soon, as we wanted to have our sharing and meditation time.  This got delayed by the demonstration that went on in the street just a block away from our campus!  There are still much upheaval in the country after the election that took place in November and while the country has settled somewhat since then, there is the odd demonstration that takes place.  Tonight it was close by El Hogar and we could watch it over the fence!  It was peaceful and there was singing and cars honking, but no incidents but we were grateful to be safely inside the campus and the walls of this place.  

We look forward to tomrrow and all that it will bring!

Monday, 19 February 2018

 It has been a busy week for the team looking ahead to our fundraiser and the trip.  We all got together and started the production for our handcrafted, fondant-Belgian-chocolate-covered Easter eggs! 345 eggs have been made and we will chocolate coat them in March - available for sale on March 11th until Palm Sunday.  

But it is very messy business.  Rick does his best by trying to keep the powdered sugar in the mixing bowl!

On Sunday, we felt the congregation supporting us as we were commissioned for our trip.  Stuart's prayer gave us courage:      Make them ready for every situation they will face.
Give them hearts and minds which are open to knowing the presence of your son Jesus in the faces of the poor and the orphaned. Let their lives be changed and enriched through their relationships with the children of El Hogar.

The picture Ros holds is of the team and of Amy and Dave, who were not able to be with us, living afar, including the U.S!

This year, we are requested to bring hygiene products and school supplies to El Hogar instead of clothes and we were very pleased to get lots of good stuff to put in our suitcases.  Thank you to each of you who have helped us fill our suitcases.  
Each of our extra bags are full and carefully weighed so as not to go over our bag limit.  Along with this, several suitcases full of crafts, games and other activities that we will use with the children.