Our 2008 Journal
DAY 1: January 8, Tuesday
The group assembled at Bethesda right on time. After rounding up some extra duffle bags to carry the donations Trish Donnelley received, we were underway by 8:30am as planned. The ride to Miami always feels like the most dangerous leg of the journey. Rush hour traffic on I-95 is insane. We caravaned down in 3 vehicles (George Payne and Sebastian Kent) and one driven by Rick's dad towing a utility trailer full of our luggage. Everyone arrived safely to the airport, all baggage was accounted for and we made it to the check-in counter with 2-1/2 hours to spare. Good thing too, we needed almost all of that extra time to make a few adjustments to the tickets. After a few name corrections and a little patience we were on-board and ready to take-off. It's a 2hr flight with a 1hr time difference, so we landed one hour after we took off. All 26 pieces of luggage made it through customs in San Pedro Sula, Mayra met us at the gate and Danilo safely transported us to the home, where the girls ran up to greet us. It's amazing how much the girls can change in 12 months. There are 6 new girls and we are still learning their names. Mayra and Xiomara welcomed us and gave us a tour of the home. Right off the bat we were struck by how clean everything was. The girls work constantly doing chores cleaning the home. Some of the work done by Julie's group last week really stood out and looked so nice and fresh. There are new faces, 2 new puppies and more than we can explore in just 5 days.
We ended the day with a service in the chapel conducted by Charles and one of the girls from the home, Cindy. Charles read in English while Cindy provided the Spanish translation. Everyone had nice things to say about the first day.
DAY 2: January 9, Wednesday
Our group is really functioning as a well organized team. After breakfast, everyone hit the ground running and completed all the work we had planned in less time than expected. Despite a small rain shower we managed to paint the stairs outside the apartment which now look really nice. Cordella ran a greeting card craft project and Elise and Jethro found a storage room that desperately needed their attention. Rick took care of the shopping for the painting supplies, snacks for the apartment and he even managed to purchase a few items people forgot to pack.
Miriam, one of the wonderful cooks at the home, prepared a nice dinner for us and afterwards Charles held a prayer service just for our group. Then it was time for a movie outside on the "movie wall" of the cancha (covered playground). The girls selected "She's the Man" (Amanda Bynes) and we set up the portable theater outdoors on the playground which finally gave everyone a chance to sit and relax. Two hours of Spanish with English subtitles and everyone was ready to call it a night. But first, we reviewed the day's work we completed and shared some of the moments we experienced. It's amazing to step back for a moment and see God working through us and it's such a wonderful feeling to see the effects of our presence.
DAY 3: January 10, Thursday
Today was a full day of work:
- One group tackled the bathrooms in the little girls' part of the home
- One group walked a few blocks to the transition home to give it a coat of paint (a.m. group - Rick, Trish, Rob, Cordella) (p.m. group - Patty, Elise, Charles, Allison, and Judy)
- Jethro and Elise finished organizing the storage room and
- Darlene and Ross prepared to conduct the psychological testing
Everyone really came to appreciate the reason we schedule a 1 hr siesta each day. From 1-2pm we plan to do n-o-t-h-i-n-g. On the first day most people sat and talked but today it was nap time. We're in danger of having another small rain shower but we came prepared and can adjust to whatever conditions arise. What may have first seemed like minimal comforts have now taken on a much higher value when the wear and tear of a marathon painting project set in. The sense of accomplishment and value of the work we are doing brings such immediate appreciation.
Tonight's movie on the cancha was ""My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (Nia Vardalos, John Corbett). We're pretty sure it was a hit because all the girls were laughing...a lot. But we also heard from the guys in our group - time for an action movie after 2 chick flicks (secretly, we think they enjoyed them!)
DAY 4: January 11, Friday
Today was our big field trip to Pulhapanzak Falls which is about 1-1/2 hours from the home. The girls, the Tias, and Rick, Patty, Elise, and Ross rode in the big yellow school bus and the rest of the group rode in the air conditioned "blue bus". It was an absolutely gorgeous sunny day - perfect for spending the afternoon experiencing nature...in more ways than you can imagine. But more about that later. First we had to test the temperature of the water at the upper falls - a bit chilly but certainly not a deterrent to the girls. They were ready and eager to play and swim in the clear, shallow water. It was also a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge to walk across the approximately 1-meter high, concrete dam (weir). Although the water was flowing fast, the cement wasn't slippery. The girls had a spectacular time swimming, jumping, splashing, and getting piggyback rides through the water from Jethro, Ross, and Rick. Then came the adventurous part of the afternoon - the "experiencing nature" part. We hired a tour guide to take a group down to the big waterfall. Pulhapanzak Falls is almost as high as Niagara Falls and quite beautiful. Several members of our group, plus lots of the older girls accompanied them through the park and down the stairs to a lookout point near the bottom of the waterfall where spray from the falls was so heavy they were soaked in a matter of minutes. Those of us who weren't going on the guided tour waved goodbye and watched the others climb along the cliff until they disappeared into the mist of the heavy spray. Where were they going? Behind the waterfall, of course. They walked single file along a narrow trail which ends at a 8ft. deep pool. Everyone had to jump into the pool and paddle across to the other side. They climbed up the rocks to the last passage way where they were rewarded with a view from behind the falls. They watched the water crashing down while Rick silently prayed nothing other than water would come falling over the side of the falls. There was a small cave which 5 people could fit into and also gave them a break from the noise of the water. On the return trip everyone jumped from a higher point back into the pool and swam back across the pool. Offered one final thrill, Lillian and Rick took a leap of faith off a 25ft. high ledge into the river below. Having experienced every thrill the group returned to solid ground to find Allison finishing her ride on the zip line. The Zip Line is a series of 5 cables stretched across the river and the falls where you ride suspended by a harness. Imagine slidding down a telephone wire over niagra falls. Rick quickly took up te challenge and strapped on the harness for one more thrill. As soon as Rick returned from the ride Trish strapped on the harness and took a ride as well. The group didn't miss out on one dare or thrill ride. The girls had a wonderful time playing in the water and watching the crazey americans. The ride back offered everyone a chance to take a nap or to just ponder the scenery of the Honduran countryside.
Apon returning from Puhapanzak the group had dinner and enjoyed a movie (Evan Almighty) outside withe the girls. In addition everyone enjoyed watching a slideshow of the photos taken by the group.
DAY 5: January 12, Saturday
There were a few sore mussles this morning. The group sprung back into action right after having a great breakfast of scrambled eggs. There was work to be done finishing the painting on the transition house, hanging curtains in the transition house, painting bathrooms, and doing crafts. All was completed in time for dinner. And what a dinner it was! The group went off-site to La Cebollite. The "little onion". In addition, Beth from the bilingual program, tia Belkys and 9 girls went to dinner with the group. That doesn't sound like much but looking back on the day we happily relaized all the projects are done and now we are left to doning craft projects tomorrow. 10am everyone needs to be on the bus for church.
DAY 6: January 13, Sunday