2007 Mission Trip Journal
"Bienvenidos! Our trip began January 2, 2007!",
Tuesday, January 2, 2007
We're off to a great start. Although, coordinating a trip for 28 people can have its challenges. Everyone arrived at Bethesda on-time and we were under way by 8:00am. After a quick stop at Trish's house for her medicine, we had a very easy ride to Miami International Airport. Luckily, there was very little traffic. We off-loaded 42 of our 48 bags and we went inside to check-in. Shortly thereafter, Nancy and Kate arrived at Miami International Airport with their 4 duffel bags, bringing the total to 52 bags for check-in. But wait! We left 6 bags on the bus! After some quick dialing on the cell phone, we called the bus back to the airport and recovered our 6 missing bags. Everyone checked in, cleared security, did some duty free shopping and then we took off right on-time. After a quick 2 hour and 20 minute flight, we arrived in another world. The San Pedro Sula airport was crowded, but the last challenge of claiming our bags wasn't too bad. Strapping all 52 of our bags to the back of the pickup truck was much more of a challenge (see picture). We were determined to make it to OLR in one trip. As we arrived at the gate we knew we had finished the most difficult part of our trip. Of course, we were avoiding the thought of hauling all our bags up the flight of stairs to the apartment. The girls were so happy to see us and to meet the new people who were visiting for the first time. Diana Frade, Xiomara, and Mayra welcomed us, gave us an update on the latest news about the home and then took us for a tour to see the latest changes. With all the girls in tow we roamed through the new bedrooms and saw the work done by other groups since our last visit. Our wall mural in the TV room, put up during the 2006 trip, still looks great and blends perfectly with the sponge painted walls done by a different mission group. Miriam served us a wonderful fish dinner with sweet potatoes and then we spent the rest of the evening playing soccer with the girls. With the exception of Troy and Eric not being able to find their clothes (Rick swears he packed them), our travel plans went off without a hitch. Troy and Eric may be feeling otherwise! As the group turns in for some rest, the people with more energy are organizing the supplies and playing the card game, UNO.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007
Everyone slept well and slowly awoke to face the work we had planned for the day. By 8:00am we gathered everyone in the chapel for morning prayer. The words from the prayers seem to take on a much deeper meaning when we are in the middle of living out the word instead of just reading them. Everyone was assigned to a team and we tackled craft projects and painted the little girls' bedroom. Everything turned out perfect. The girls enjoyed the craft project of painting t-shirts and the painters brightened up the bedroom. Miriam prepared a fantastic lunch which everyone devoured. Our planned 1 hour siesta after lunch turned out to be a really good idea and afterwards everyone felt refreshed and ready to finish their jobs. Cordella, Rick, Troy, and Eric headed for the airport with Danilo, our driver, and Don Hector, our guard, in search of the missing duffel bag which they were so happy to find waiting for them at the American Airlines counter. With all the craft supplies and a bag full of clothes, Troy had a new enthusiasm to return to OLR and get back to work. The bedroom painting project was completed and the beds were back in place for the girls. Meanwhile, a second painting crew, led by Clay, improved our outdoor movie screen and turned it into a real outdoor theater. As soon as it was dark, we enjoyed watching the movie "Akeelah and the Bee" and a few music videos Rick recorded from MTV. Everyone gathered one more time in the chapel before the day ended. Julie organized a very nice program of music in Spanish and English, and Cecie led the group and several of the girls in prayer. With everyone locked in the apartment and ready to sleep, the younger members of the team had one more burst of energy and carried on until midnight. Most of the tired adults retreated to their rooms and waited for peace and quiet which came at right about midnight.
Thursday, January 4, 2007
The people who stay up late at night seem to forget the approaching morning and with it another round of work. We gathered in the chapel by 7:45 and held a 30 minute prayer service lead by Cecie. Everyone was given an assignment and with one day under their belt seemed to get off to a more organized start to the day. One crew headed for the dinning hall to do crafts wiht the girls and the other crew were heading for the kitchen but got detoured to the study hall for the second painting project. The study hall turned out perfect and was put back together by noon. The crafts went very well as Cordella lead beading and flower necklace projects. Trish, Cecie, Julie, Ann and Sarah made a trip to view progress at the retreat center. They were amazed by the progress and said it should be completed within 3 months. Diana told us OLR was granted title to the property behind the retreat center which will be turned into a green space for planting and walking to the river. It's siesta time now but the music doesn't seem to be any quieter. We're busy resting in the air conditioning and planning the rest of the day.
Friday, January 5, 2007
The first few things on our schedule finished right on-time up until it was time to leave for El Cajon. John stayed back at the home to work on the kitchen painting project. Paige and Cecie took care of the buying plates and supplies for Saturday's dinner party with the girls. Ann made a trip to the medical clinic to drop off all the supplies she brought. Our bus ride to El Cajon had all the older girls in one bus and our team in another bus. We were stopped at the edge of the city and were waved on after getting an explanation on a few of the new regulations and transporting groups in Honduras. We stopped twice asking for directions to El Cajon and finally arrived at the army check-point by 2:30pm. We managed to make it to the dam, only after 2 hours and several rounds of explaining why we wanted to see the site. The dam is a carefully guarded part of the Honduran infrastructure. Since we arrived late we did not have a guide but Rick and the guard were able to give an explanation for most things and some background on what we were seeing. We didn't get to enter inside the hydroelectric plant itself but we did walk out onto the dam and view the structure from several vantage points. The ride home seemed much quicker with fewer surprises. When we arrived back at OLR it was 7pm, giving us 30 minutes to eat, conduct evening prayer and prepare the movie. We watched a very entertaining movie called Take the Lead. By the end of the evening the girls were looking for dance partners and copying some for the dance steps they saw in the movie. Tonight we handed out our prayer partner letters and held complan in the room. Everyone started running out of steam by 11:30 but Rick and Cordella managed to stay up later than anyone else as they organized crafts and updated the website.
Saturday, January 6, 2007
After staying up late, our group started a tiny bit later on Saturday. Breakfast was at 8am and morning prayer was at 8:30. There was just a little time to try and do some work before it was time to go to the market. Everyone enjoyed shopping in the craft market buying handmade items. Part of the group went to Catholic Cathedral and later made it to the market. By 12:30 the group finished there shopping and returned to OLR. We had just enough time during the afternoon to finish the projects and prepare for the closing party with all the girls. We had dinner in the courtyard inside the girls home. They made decorations and cooked paella for us. Rick setup his video equipment and showed photos from the trip and played music. Jasmin sang for us, Heather presented the group with a certificate of appreciation and we celebrated the birthdays for the month of January. While everyone ate cake the boys helped Rick move his equipment to the concha and setup for a movie. After much debate the girls selected Pirates of the Caribbean II. Rick handed out candy and everyone enjoyed the movie. It was very nice seeing how close everyone had become both with the girls and within the mission team. The movie was long (2 1/2 hours) so when it ended it was time to call it a night. The girls returned to their building and the group went upstairs to begin packing. If all goes well the group will leave OLR at 10am tomorrow, join the girls at church at the Episcopal Cathedral and depart for the airport by noon to make the 2:30 flight. There was a large group sitting outside on the room on the veranda listening to the sounds coming over the fence from El Bordo and several people stayed up later than expected trying to get an early jump on packing. It will be a real feat if the group is ready to depart by 10am. Some people are hoping to finish up just a few tiny things on the rooms we painted and of course good byes will be difficult and will take some time.
Sunday, January 7, 2007
Our last day. Everyone awoke early and the room was very busy as everyone made their last preparations for the return trip home. Everyone was locating the last of the donated items to leave behind, packing the souvenirs purchased from the market and looking everywhere to make sure nothing is forgotten. We decided to load our bags into the truck by 10am so we could attend Sunday service with the girls and leave for the airport directly from the church. It was very difficult to say goodbye to all our friends. Being so busy packing and trying to fit in one last activity (church) may help lessen the sting of such a sad goodbye. Everyone sat with the girls in the church and we stayed up until the beginning of the baptism. We tried to sneak out the back as best we could and then said our final goodbyes on the step s of the church. A few tears being shed as Rick pushed everyone onto the bus making promises to the girls that we will be back. We made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Our bags were checked, everyone received boarding passes and an envelope containing the departure tax. There was just enough time to eat a Wendy's hamburger, do some last minute shopping in the airport and still board the plane in time. As the plane lifted off we looked out the window and watched Honduras slip out of sight. Eric collected everyone's memory cards from their cameras so Rick could make copies which he will compile into a CD for everyone.
There was one more adventure left - getting our bags, making it through customs and finding the bus for our ride back to Bethesda. All 25 people on our team made it through without any trouble. After 8 elevator trips everyone was down on the first level in time to meet the bus as it pulled up to the curb. The team worked together one last time and they loaded our bags and hopped onto the bus in record time.