Day 1 (Mon):
We made 2 trips to our Little Roses in 2005 (Jan and March)
January 12, 2005
Day 1 (Wed):
We were saddened that 3 members of our group had to miss this trip - Alison and Nancy, due to illness, and Jim, due to business abroad. They are in our prayers. Our team of 14 met at Miami International Airport. We were on time for our departure, only to find out the gate had changed 15 minutes before boarding was to begin. Walking through an additional 3 terminals and 49 gates, we finally arrived at our new assigned departure gate. Then, we waited an additional hour while a malfunctioning toilet was repaired onboard.
After a pleasant flight we arrived at San Pedro Sula Airport and were met by Mayra, the assistant to Diana Frade. Thirty-one pieces of luggage were shoehorned into a pickup truck and we followed behind in an air conditioned mini-bus for a 20 minute ride to Our Little Roses (OLR). We assigned bunks, laid down the house rules, and then we were given an introduction to the Mission by Diana. This is a Mission she has poured her heart into since 1988 and is achieving miracles.
Next was a tour of the entire facility. There are two 2-story buildings housing three living quarters for the different age groups, with a kitchen, dining area, and livingroom in each building. The girls were drawn to us as we passed through each area. While the work that has been done is remarkable, the work that remains is daunting.
We were treated to a home-cooked dinner of fried chicken, homemade french fries, salad, and bread in the concina (kitchen/dining room) where we discussed the activities for the upcoming days. There is so much to do and so little time. We want to spend every minute connecting with the girls and beautifying their rooms. As the girls are on their version of summer vacation we will be able to enjoy the most, as well as the best, time of year with them. Weather is 80deg.F and we see the showers coming over the mountains into the Sula Valley.
Peace-- Rick M.
January 13, 2005
Day 2 (Thur):
We awoke today well rested and ready to accomplish our tasks. After breakfast, and a planning session, we held a Eucharist celebration in the chapel, complete with singing a hymn accompanied by Julie on the guitar. Following this service, we boarded a bus to tour Confradia. Seven women who used to live along a riverbank in shacks, constructed of pieced-together scrap metal and wood, had been moved into new housing by Diana Frade and are now examples to their children. These women were very proud to share their homes with us and we met their families. One woman had 3 children, 2 of whom were in school. Her daughter, age 9, and her son, age 13 had just completed second grade - how wonderful it was that they were given the opportunity of an education! What an eye opener and also an inspiration. Then it was back into town where we enjoyed lunch at Applebee's. Upon returning to OLR, we were all eager to apply some hands-on work. Our group split into two teams to paint and do arts and crafts. Play-Doh and drawing were a big hit and we made many new little friends. Painting brightened one room today with more cleaning, spackling, and painting to come. Father Warren rolled up his sleeves and with roller in hand, gladly tackled his share of the painting. After cleaning up we were back on the bus to Diana Frade's home, which also serves as the Our Little Roses Hospitality House Bed and Breakfast. She has a wonderful home and we were very pleasantly surprised when we heard the strains of traditional music coming closer and closer. It was a treat to be serenaded by a Mariachi band. Diana discussed her vision for a Retreat Center and the future of OLR. Then back on the bus to Don Udo's cafe-bar-restaurant in San Pedro Sula. Again, we were well fed and are now retiring to restore our energy for tomorrow. Tomorrow we should have a full day to interact with the girls and distribute all the items we brought with us. We are grateful for what we have and feel honored to be able to share it with such deserving "Pequenas Rosas" (Little Roses).
Saludos a Bethesda! Hasta manana.
January 14, 2005
Day 3 (Fri):
Father Warren departed early this morning to return to Miami. We held prayer service this morning and prayed for his safe return. A full day at OLR for the rest of us. Making paper flowers turned out to be a great activity to teach the older girls who then can teach the younger girls. Our painting crew, Betsy, Peg, Mary, Bob, Bonnie, Cecie, and Phyllis at the helm, is hard at work finishing up room number 2, as well as putting a little paint on themselves. Phyllis has done a great job keeping us all hard at work painting and keeping our standards of work high. Peggy and Betsy have been hard at work with rollers. Bob and Bonnie have been doing repairs on closets and removing doors that need to get fixed. Cecie and Mary took the bathroom part of the project by storm -- cleaning first the walls, then applying primer and tomorrow the paint.
Our bus is ready to depart for the movies where the younger girls will be seeing "Bob Esponja" (Sponge Bob Square Pants) and the older girls have chosen to see a different movie. When we return it will be outdoor activities on the basketball court and wherever they lead us. Don't worry about us - all is fabulous and we are assembling plans for the next group who will be coming in March.
The movie was a big hit. The older girls went to see Oceans Twelve, which had subtitles, with Peg and Trish as chaperones. Cordella and Rick chaperoned the little girls and discovered that they're at just the right level of Spanish comprehension to understand "Bob Esponja", jokes and all! We returned to freshen up and then crossed the street to Doug's house for cocktails. He has a beautiful home, appointed with locally made furniture. Dinner was back at OLR and then we spent time with the older girls in the covered play area outside. Some played basketball, with Mary as referee. Drills first and then they divided up into two teams and played half court. Rules were a bit lax, and there was lots of energy and enthusiasm. And, you should have seen the smiles when the basketball swooshed through the hoop! Six on six (?), good team work and some very good passing and shooting by the girls. Betsy held a Twister match but she had some difficulty remembering her left from her right. We attributed this to her not speaking Spanish. Rick was surrounded by girls who wanted to hear about his "romantico" with Cordella (how he and Cordella met)
He was also able to share his lesson of how much is "enough". Make sure you ask Rick about this story upon his return to the States. We closed the evening with Compline led by Betsy and Amy. They did a great job leading us in a mind, body, and spirit lesson.
January 15, 2005
Day 4 (Sat):
A very full day. Rooms were painted, doors were removed and sent out for repairs, three new beds were purchased. Bob assembled one bed, with the "help" of the little girls, and they immediately laid claim to the other two beds that are to be delivered tomorrow. Bonnie, Cecie, and Trish spent the morning playing with the Little Roses doing bead art and coloring. Paint was purchased so Amy and Bonnie could stencil the walls with cats and butterflies. Bobbie, Amy, and Cordella demonstrated how to apply eyeshadow, lipstick, and blush, and then distributed all the donated make-up to the girls. This was, undeniably, their favorite activity. Teenage girls, make-up, ......favorite activity? Gee, who would've guessed! ;-) Barrettes, headbands and more paper flower-making rounded out the activities for the day.
Lunch was an adventure getting Subway take-out for 16 people during the noon rush hour and trying to translate the individual sandwich orders. All worked out in the end and our hungry group had lunch. That evening we brought in some 'Power Chicken' (with similar translation difficulties) for our team to enjoy, complete with some ribs, fried rice, and yuca fries. Later that evening we surprised the girls with an Ice Cream Social. Not surprisingly, they devoured the ice cream served in bowls and quickly took off for the basketball courts with Mary. Tonight they were outfitted in pinneys made by Peggy (pink and blue) so they could tell who was on which team. More girls showed up with sneakers- but many still played barefoot, or in flip flops. Groups formed to draw with chalk, kick a soccer ball, braid hair or just to talk. There were so many things to talk about with the girls. Each day we would load our digital pictures to the laptop and display them for the girls later that night. Each evening the group would gather in our "apartment" and Betsy would lead us in a "3+/3- analysis"- a group review of what worked well during the day and what we could improve upon. This was followed each evening with evening prayer (Compline) led by a team member.
January 16, 2005
Day 5 (Sun):
After breakfast all the Little Roses emerged in clean, pressed dresses ready for church. They (63 girls) boarded a school bus and we followed in the van to church -- "Catedral Episcopal El Buen Pastor". Service was in English and Spanish. The music in the church was wonderfully enthusiastic. Many girls ventured to sit with us during the service. While several hymns were recognizable, the girls helped us keep up with the readings. The girls have a chance to see friends from other parts of the city in church school and during the service.
After the service our group went to lunch at The Arab Club, a private club whose members are some of the most elite of San Pedro Sula. We also invited some of the volunteers we had gotten to know working at OLR. This afforded us an opportunity to see the contrast of the social classes living in the area and a chance to spend some casual time with each other and with the other volunteers.
There is not much work done on the traditional "day of rest". Some of the older girls did their laundry (all by hand), watched a movie or listened to music. Upon request, Rick showed a movie on his laptop. Julie practiced songs with the girls. Cecie helped a few girls with a crafts project. Mary worked with two girls making flannel blankets, and Peggy read a cookbook to a very attentive chef-in-the-making.
That evening we provided a pizza party for the girls, courtesy of the local Pizza Hut. It was delicious and every last piece of 33 pizzas disappeared quickly. Later that evening the girls surprised us with a fiesta. They performed wonderful Honduran traditional dances complete with costumes and some of the girls dressed like cowboys to play the male roles. To our delight, the Little Roses danced a comical routine that can only be described as "Oompa-Loompas meet the Smurfs". We turned pizza box lids into signs expressing "Bravo!" and other expressions of enthusiastic applause for the performers. Our group was given a plaque and an honorary certificate for appreciation. We tried to express our appreciation to them for the love and lessons they taught us but the words were difficult to express and our emotions were running very high. Everyone cheered the surprise entrance of the Mariachi band hired by Trish and Bonnie. It was the first time a Mariachi band has performed at the home of Our Little Roses. We didn't just listen, there was an explosion of dancing, each of us being invited by a Little Rose. The girls were so excited and loved it! After a half hour of enthusiastic dancing, the Mariachi band departed and the girls donned their pinneys and sneakers for another game of basketball. Mary refereed basketball and played soccer until it was time for lights-out. No one wanted the party to end.
January 17, 2005
Day 6 (Departure):
We awoke early and started packing our bags. Doug stopped by to thank us and then departed for an earlier flight back to the States. After having breakfast (pancakes and fruit), we held our morning prayer session and prayed for a safe flight home and blessings for all of our Little Roses. It was exam day in the Holy Family Bilingual School. Before classes the students assembled outside, recited the Honduran Pledge of Allegiance, sang the Honduran National Anthem and said The Lords Prayer. The teachers were a mix of locals and volunteers from many different countries (USA, Netherlands, Canada).
Some of our group took a ride to visit the San Pedro Cathedral and shop in the local market. The others continued to prepare the suit cases, tend to last minute business and pack away the supplies to be reopened by the next Bethesda mission group coming in March. Our bags were loaded into an open-backed truck and strapped in. Friendship bracelets were exchanged and gifts of appreciation were given. So many "thank yous" and "good-byes", tears to dry, and hugs to give that we wished would never end.
Our group returned safely and on time to Miami via American Airlines.
While we did our best to help the girls in so many ways, it was they who helped us even more. It was hard to tell who benefited more from this trip. Although Honduras is a very poor country and 80% of the population live in poverty, what the girls crave most is love and companionship. They hunger for the bonds of a family and friendship. Some do not know when their birthday is and have only their family at Our Little Roses. Sponsorship provides opportunities to attend a better school, purchase beds, improve the conditions at their home and most of all share the love that Christ has given us. The past may hold sad or very unpleasant memories for these girls but we can only pray those memories can be buried and replaced by new memories full of love, compassion, and hope for a better future. Please visit the Our Little Roses site to learn more and consider becoming a sponsor.
May the Lord keep you and protect you always.
2005 Mission Trip Journal:
Plans were made, bags were packed and prayers
were said. We traveled together by charter bus to Miami International
Airport, having departed from church at 8:15 a.m. There are 17
missionaries: Cecie, Lynne, Trish, Paige, Bonnie, Rick, Cordella, Jim,
John, George, Alison, Nancy, Julie, Lexci, Ann, Brittany, and Laura
We arrived in San Pedro Sula right on time. Diana and Mayra met us at
the baggage claim and we managed to haul all 28 pieces of luggage back
to Our Little Roses. In just 2 months the girls have changed so much
and the work accomplished by other mission groups can been seen
everywhere. We are all catching up and getting reacquainted. Greetings
to all! Buenas dias!
March 15, 2005
Day 2 (Tue):
It was a FULL day. Diana Frade presented the
overview of Our Little Roses and the origins of the ministry. The
painting team tackled one of the bedrooms while other groups formed to
interact with the girls and others made supply runs. The closet doors
we dropped off in January (2005) to be refinished have not been
completed, but we checked and will return to pick them up on Thursday,
hopefully. Walls were painted, water pipes fixed, and hearts were
mended. In the evening, a birthday party was held for all the girls
celebrating birthdays in March. The party was complete with Mariachi
band, catered Mexican dinner, piñatas, gifts, and two wonderful cakes.
The Mariachis even played Cumpleanos Feliz. It was difficult getting
the girls to turn in for the night which made some extra work for the
nannies (the Tias). All said, we made some good progress today and have
plans for tomorrow. We will be visiting the location where property has
been purchased to build a retreat in the mountains. When it is
completed, it will be a renewable source of income for Our Little
Roses. We will also visit Diana's house tomorrow evening and then we
will be going out for dinner. In between, we hope to complete painting
one bedroom and begin organizing the bicycle storage room. Everyone on
the team feels very fortunate for what we enjoy in our own homes and
sometimes take for granted. The closeness everyone feels towards these
girls is so amazing to watch and is an enriching experience. Even the
caterer we hired tonight gave witness to the miracle that is so
apparent as you see the girls interact with the members of our group.
The day was filled with smiles, giggles, and many hugs. We had a few
very small helping hands in the rooms being prepared for painting. I
will always remember the squeals when the piñata finally broke open and
the glitter and candy tumbled out.
Today we celebrated 8 girls’ birthdays. To make this a memorable
birthday, we, the group, went shopping. We shopped for piñatas, candy,
cakes, and much more for a birthday celebration. One thing we could
have done better is getting 2 piñatas instead of 3. Also, when it comes
to the little girls, all they want is your love and affection. Even if
you don’t know Spanish, talk to them because most of them understand
English. Personally, my favorite part of the day was putting the little
ones to sleep. This is probably the most special time of the day. The
little ones showered (ducharse), brushed their teeth (cepillarse),
dress (vestirse), and went to bed (a dormir). Today was so much fun. I
am glad we are here to help these children. It’s a great feeling to
have the children give you a kiss before bed.
--Lexci and Brittany
We rose early for chapel, the gospel from John spoke of the blind men
seeing and the seeing being blind. Diana gave us a history of how
Little Roses started as lights in darkness.
That theme of ‘this little light of mine’ reverberated as we
played with the girls, sang “This Little Light of Mine”, and prepared
for the evening birthday party for all the girls with March birthdays.
All girls but 4 needed outfits, etc. for presents. We prepared
bubbles, piñatas, for the entertainment. Others prepared the walls for
painting 2 of the girls’ bedrooms.
Some of us toured the transitional houses and apartments (3
total) and teacher facilities, and the clinic. The doctor at our clinic
was most appreciative for the much needed medical supplies Ann Spaziani
brought from Florida. We then visited a local bakery to order the
birthday cakes and sampled many pastries, most notably the guava
We enjoyed the festive balloon-decorated ambiance. The piñata and mariachi band were wonderful fun. It was a full evening.
Wednesday morning will be a wonderful time to see the projected retreat center and countryside.
Projected activities for later this week:
- Beach day trip swimming at the shore, one hour away
- Visit the Catholic and Episcopal churches
- Market visit
Hoy nos despertimos a las siete, bajamos a desayunarnos -
panqueques y fruta rica, café también. Fuimos a la capilla (con
Jackeline y Nicole) por un servicio breve. Después empezamos a pintar
el cuarto de las chiquititas. Algunos fueron a la ferretería para
comprar herramientos. Vinieron con nuestras bocadillos de Subway.
Después del almuerzo algunos fueron a la tienda de fiestas para comprar
piñatas (una de Baby Bop, de una jaca y un gardy); después a la
pastelería para galletas y pasteles. Cuando regresamos, preparamos para
la fiesta. Empezamos con la comida deliciosa. Era una fiesta Mexicana.
Entonces, vinieron Mariachis para cantar. Las niñas pegaron a las
piñatas y comieron todos los dulces, y después el pastel para los
cumpleaños de las niñas que cumplearon en Marzo.
March 16, 2005
Day 3 (Wed):
It was much hotter today - about 90 degrees.
After breakfast and morning prayer we took a bus trip to Villa Nueva to
see the property Diana purchased to build the retreat. In addition to
serving as a nurturing and healing place where small groups of girls
from OLR will be brought for some one-on-once psychiatric counseling,
the retreat will likely be used as a hostel and meeting space for
visiting archaeologists. Income generated from renting out the retreat
center will enable it to become self-sufficient. On the way back to OLR
we ordered Pizza Hut - a good standby.
The bedroom we started was completed and we are now moving onto
bedroom number two. We will be going to Diana's house for cocktails and
then out to dinner. The day won't end until the bicycles are removed
from the storage room and the floor is swept clean. Tomorrow will be
another full day of work from sun up to sun down.
Diana suprised us with a traditional Honduran Marimba band at her home.
They played wonderful music, both tradtional and non-traditional, and
sounded fantastic. Lexci, Lolly, Brittany took a swim in Diana's pool
while the rest of us discussed the mission of Our Little Roses.
Dinner was just down the road at Las Pampas, an Argentinian
steakhouse. Everyone worked up a good appetite today and the food
really hit the spot. After dinner, Diana departed as she will be
heading back to Miami tomorrow. The rest of us are turning in early so
we can get an early start in the morning. Plans are to make pillows,
hand out the dresses and other gifts, continue painting rooms, organize
the bike barn, and then we need to save some energy for an ice cream
social tomorrow evening.
Hugs to everyone, you are in our prayers.
March 17, 2005
Another HOT day. The ""boys"" (George, Jim, John,
and Rick) launched out of bed and tackled the bike barn starting at
6:00 a.m. Rick escaped by hopping on the bus and riding with the girls
to school. Cordella showed up at 6:45 a.m. to help clean out the
storage room (a.k.a. bike barn) This was quite a task. Not only was the
room filled floor to ceiling with everything imaginable, but much of it
was water damaged from the leaky roof. Thank goodness George was there
to ""dispose of"" the 6 inch scorpion that was lurking right in the area
where Cordella had just finished carrying out about 50 scaffolding
It was a struggle trying to round up everyone for morning
prayer because the pull was so great to get work completed. However,
Cecie stuck to her guns and reminded everyone why we were here and how
important it was for the community to participate in prayer.
The room where the bikes were stored was cleared in about 3
hours. Then it was a challenge finding an air pump that was the right
fit. Jim, Cordella, Nancy, and Bonnie worked on inflating all the tires
which was hard work. George was a workhorse and wouldn't quit until the
room was put back together and in reasonable order. Shortly after that,
some of the girls arrived home from school and 8 bikes were put into
action. Rick rode double with several of the girls while the older
girls took turns riding and also giving rides to the younger ones. It
was so nice to see them enjoy the bikes and just having fun. Lunch was
prepared on-site and we didn't seem to take a break until dinnertime.
Two rooms were painted and the third is underway. Lolly, Paige,
Brittany, and Lexci really put some elbow grease into the painting
effort. The little girls pitched in helping to move bike racks,
stringing new basketball nets and even helped with the painting. There
was a mad rush to paint t-shirts with the girls right up until
dinnertime. Dinner tonight came from Ruby Tuesday's and the group
shared in our 3+ /3-. That is where we discuss what went well during
the day and what could be improved. Needless to say, the biggest
problem is that we are trying to pack too many activities into each
day. We closed with the opening of our prayer partner letters. That is
usually a very moving experience. Thank you to those who are praying
for the success of our mission.
Tomorrow will be no different as the work needs to be completed
by the end of the day and we have several activities planned. Several
girls invited Lolly, Rick, Cordella, and Nieck (a volunteer from
Holland) to be their ""parents"" tomorrow and accompany them to school
for Father's Day. Brenda asked Cordella and I (Rick) to be her parents
for the day. It is sure to be a very special day for everyone.
At 4:30pm in the chapel on-site there will also be a Father's
Day celebration that we are all hoping to attend. Bike repairs,
Father's Day, pillow-making, and packing is enough to wear us out, but
there is sure to be ""just a little bit more"" to be worked into the
short time remaining. Peace to everyone.
--Rick and Cordella
March 18, 2005
Day 5 (Fri):
The school bus left at 6 a.m. Lolly, Cordella, and Rick were looking
forward to being the girls' parents. The students performed several
traditional and modern dance numbers for all the fathers (and mothers).
It was a very special moment when the director of the school recognized
Rick and Nieck, a Dutch volunteer from Our Little Roses.
School let out early which meant the bus wasn't available to
take them home, so they walked...in the rain. It was at least 10 blocks
of walking in a steady drizzle. Nieck treated us all to ice cream.
Needless to say, a walk in the rain turned into a good time!
Back at the home, we encountered firemen. We were concerned
that something bad had happened, only to find out that they were just
beginning to fill a large plastic swimming pool with water from their
fire engine. The firemen had already filled many smaller pools that
were being enjoyed by the Holy Family Bilingual School children. The
girls were getting ready to enjoy 2 weeks off from school for Semana
Santa (Holy Week). They finished their exams and were ready to let off
Danilo, the very competent and friendly OLR bus driver, took
some members of our mission team into town to shop at the market that
sells beautiful local crafts. It's a great way to support the economy.
Honduras is well known for intricate hand-carved wood and native indian
There was another Father's Day performance put on by the
students and teachers at the OLR Holy Family Bilingual School. The
chapel was packed with parents straining to see the costumes and to
hear the beautiful voices of their children. After the performance
there was ice cream and pastries for everyone.
Work continued until late into the night as final touches were
put on the painted rooms, returning all the furniture to the rooms, and
curtain making continued without a moments rest. Rick was showing
videos and home movies to the girls who are so curious about where the
volunteers come from and what their home life is like.
Jorge delivered 300 lbs. of coffee for us to take back which turned out
being a much larger amount than we imagined it would be. 600 bags makes
a very large pile but we managed to distribute them amoung our duffle
bags. And the room smelled so good while we did it.
Trish, Lynne and Cordella finally hung the curtains in the girl's room
at 11:30 by flashlight as the girls slept. Everyone packed and finally
went to bed for a few hours sleep before it was time to leave the next
morning at 6am.
March 19, 2005
Day 6 (Sat):
We woke up to the sound of roosters crowing at
5am. Danillo had the truck loaded and ready to leave by 6am. We all
made one last check in the rooms, left notes, and gave the remaining
food and drinks away. There was a somber mood as we drove away leaving
all our new friends behind still asleep in their beds, but we know we
will be returning. Our attention now turned to getting our 300 lbs of
coffee through U.S. customs. Everything went well on the trip home, all the coffee made it and no one got lost. The bus was a welcomed site after some searching in the Miami airport and we even managed to stop for a hamburger on the ride home. As we unloaded all the luggage back at Bethesda Lolly and Page made a mad dash for the beach for a few hours of sun and surf before they had to return to Connecticut the
following day. In Summary...