Mission Trip Journal
Thursday, Feb 28,
Eveyone gathered at Bethesda by 8:30am and we departed on
time for Miami International Airport. Jim, Richie, and Ross drove our
members without incident and, thanks to a helpful porter, we were able
to check-in our 17 pieces of luggage without any worries. With that
stressful part of the trip behind us we were relaxed as we boarded the
plane for a 2hr flight.
We made it through Immigration and Customs easier than any time in the
past. Belkys and Danilo were waiting in the Our Little Roses shuttle
van right outside. We loaded the luggage and we were off for a 20
minute ride to the home. Rick described some of the scenery and
Honduras as we drove through town. Upon arrival on site we all
helped carry the 17 bags upstairs to the apartment. Mayra and Belkys
in our apartment, they spoke about the recent changes in the home and
we reviewed the rules of the house. We then spent 30 minutes
organizing our donated items, work supplies, and craft supplies.
Belkys returned and then we went on a tour of the home. The girls
were waiting with big smiles and big hugs. Even the new girls were
eager to get a
hug and learn the names of everyone on our team.
After spending time getting acquainted with the girls, we joined them
in their dining hall for a traditional meal. Everyone enjoyed lively
discussions with the girls as we ate. Afterward, we played in the
courtyard. The girls could not get enough attention and had so much
energy to burn off probably because there hasn't been a group here in
over 30 days. We took a walk out to the large, covered playground
(cancha) which has undergone several improvements, including: 2 rows
of seating along the fence, a full wall behind the stage, and all
overhead lights have been fixed and are now functional. Time slipped
by and before we realized it, it was time for the girls to return to
their building, do homework, shower, and rest for tomorrow. Our group
returned to the apartment and had our "3-Plus/3-Minus" meeting. This
is where we discuss the "good" and "needs improvement" areas of
the day, with the intentions of making it better each time. Ross and
Rick plan to ride on the bus that takes the girls to school in the
morning. After an exhausting, yet successful day, we will see who is
first to wake tomorrow morning.
Dinner: refried beans, queso fresco (Farmer's cheese), scrambled eggs,
sausage, homemade tortillas, avocado, soda, water
Friday, Mar 1, 2013
As planned, Ross and Rick were on the bus by 7:15am to ride to
school with the girls. It was a pleasant ride through morning
traffic. At both stops, they walked the girls to their classrooms. At first stop however, a parent/teacher meeting was being held warning that the school may be closed the next day due to the teachers not being paid by the government for the past 4 months. A strike was very likely.
Upon arrival back at the home, the team had breakfast and prepared to
leave for the
retreat center later in the day. After breakfast, we all moved
furniture and pews in preparation to paint the chapel. The girls
returned from school early in the afternoon and our group (11 team
members, 1 Tia, 15 girls) left for the retreat in Pueblo Nuevo. We first stopped at a grocery store and our group plus all the girls went inside. The little girls don't get to go to the store too often during their normal routine of school and home. We thought it may have been the first time for a few of the girls. It was a challenge for Rick trying to keep track of everyone in the store and getting them all back on the bus so we could continue our ride.
It was a relaxing ride outside the limits of the city and
into the mountains.
The retreat center is about one hour outside the city in the mountains and is a welcomed escape from the congestion and noise. The girls get to relax and sometimes receive counseling there. It's an opportunity for our group to spend special time with the girls, play games, go for walks and enjoy the country setting. It was a beautiful night with cool clean air and everyone slept well.
Breakfast: cereal (Corn Flakes and sweetened corn flakes), toast,
butter, peanut butter, jelly, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, bananas,
milk, orange juice, coffee
Lunch: shredded chicken subs, cheese, tomato, avocado, homemade French
fries, papaya, watermelon, soda, water
Dinner at the Retreat Center: fried eggs, refried beans, spicy
chorizo, avocado, queso fresco (Farmer's cheese), homemade tortillas,
Saturday, Mar 2, 2013
After a much needed rest, we awoke to the smell of breakfast and
the sounds of roosters. Rick accompanied Darlene and Ruth to the
river so they could do their morning jog. It was a beautiful, cool
morning. We ate breakfast and then prepared to go for a walk into the
small village of Pueblo Nuevo. We went inside the new Shilling house
which is where the caretaker for the retreat lives. It was dedicated
by the OLR Board of Directors two weeks ago in early February. We
walked to the church and continued on to the top of the hill
overlooking the farms. We even saw a couple of women making tortillas
on a wood-burning clay oven. On the walk back, we stopped to purchase
24 one-pound bags of fresh, ground coffee. It was the largest purchase of
the month for this coffee shop. This helps the local economy in the
town and it is excellent coffee. It started to rain so Rick organized six 3-wheeled covered
motorcycle taxis to take us back to the retreat center(see photos). It was a real treat for everyone, and
the girls enjoyed the novelty of riding in a taxi. We returned to
play a few games and then had lunch. After lunch, our group went down
to the river where Ross crossed the narrow river by stepping from rock
to rock, Katherine and many of the older girls posed for photos on the
river rocks, and Ruth, Darlene, and several girls kicked around a
couple of soccer balls in the open field. The temperature was cool and it was a fun
time playing in the fresh air.
Time went by quickly and by 1:00pm we were packed and ready to return
to San Pedro Sula. We arrived in time to meet the delivery from the
paint store and started painting the chapel right away. Everyone had a
job to do and the work went by quicker than planned. We patched the
walls, removed blinds, sealed windows, painted the trim, removed
electrical covers, cleaned the woodwork and started to paint. Rick
set up the movie equipment and everyone worked until 6:00pm when it
was time to stop for dinner. After dinner we looked at photos and then
watched the movie "So Undercover" featuring Miley Cyrus, Jeremy Piven,
and Kelly Osbourne. We really had a good time sitting with the girls
and laughing at the silly movie.
Breakfast at the Retreat Center: scrambled eggs with ham, refried
beans, queso fresco (Farmer's cheese), rolls, avocado, milk, orange
juice, coffee, water
Lunch at the Retreat Center: stewed chicken, yellow rice, green beans,
queso fresco (Farmer's cheese), homemade tortillas, soda, water
Dinner: chicken cutlets, refried beans, salsa, avocado, queso fresco
(Farmer's cheese), homemade tortillas, soda, water
Sunday, Mar 3, 2013
This morning was church with the girls at 9:00am. Our group
piled into the schoolbus with all the girls and a couple of Tias for
the 10 minute drive. Our Little Roses was quite a presence as we filed
in and filled the pews. Ismelda was an acolyte and Nataly and Claudia
sang in the choir. The youngest girls, and there are many, had Sunday
school in another room and then returned later in the service to receive a blessing.
Following along was made much easier for us because the service was
projected onto a large screen. Almost everything felt very familiar,
with a few exceptions: a couple, who was married for 10 years, renewed
their vows - the husband gave a heartfelt and loving account of
married life; the Peace lasted about 15 minutes and even included a
song; a woman gave a very personal testimonial about being grateful for her family; and the entire
church service lasted about 2 1/2 hours. We returned to the home, ate lunch, changed into
our work clothes, and headed downstairs to the chapel to continue
cleaning and painting. Rick brought his laptop and provided the music
to keep everyone moving. Let's just say there was a bit dancing going on while we worked.
At 2:30pm, it was time to take about 15 girls swimming at the
Hospitality House. Even though the water was ice cold by South Florida
standards, we had a great time swimming, playing water volleyball and
keep away, and Frisbee. Katherine, Cordella, Rick, Mike, and Ross
braved the icy water! A few girls including Guadalupe even learned to swim for the very first time. We stopped at a store on the
way back to the home to pick up a few more supplies for our painting
Breakfast: pancakes with margarine and syrup, papaya, watermelon,
mango, pineapple, milk, orange juice, water
Lunch: hamburgers with sesame seed buns, mayo, mustard, ketchup,
tomato, homemade French fries, watermelon, soda, water
Dinner: fried fish, mashed potatoes, beets, vegetable medley
(broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, potato), soda, water
Monday, Mar 4, 2013
Darlene and Ruth were the first ones dressed and out the door to get in an early morning jog around the property. They did several laps around the buildings. Rick and Ross made it just in time to ride on the school bus with the girls. It was interesting going to see were the girls go to school. At our first stop the school was closed. As warned the teachers were on strike. The girls were not overly happy. We then went to the next school where tia Paula works with special needs kids. A few girls attend this school to receive special care. we went inside, took pictures and saw the classrooms. Then we returned to the home in time for breakfast.
Today was our first full day to work on our painting project. Everyone pitched in cleaning, scraping, patching, sealing and painting the walls. There was so much to clean and prepare before we could paint. The fresh yellow paint immediately made the room look fresh and new again.
As the day wore on, some people took breaks to play with the girls, Rick and Cordella took turns being the DJ playing music to keep the painting crew moving along. After a long day of painting we had dinner and then moved to the concha to look at photos from years gone by and to see a movie ().
Tuesday, Mar 5, 2013
Today was a full day of work. Rick was the only one to ride to school with the girls. Unknown to him the girls were to get vaccinations. It took over 2 hours but it would have been even longer if Ricky wasn't with them. In the mean time, the group got to work right away painting and cleaning the chapel right after breakfast. There are 2 coats of paint on the wall now, the trim has been painted, the alter is clean, the doors are coated with varnish and work is really progressing. work continued until 10:30AM and then the group went out to run errands. We went to the craft market and bought gifts to take home and share with our family and friends who supported us on the trip. We shopped at two stores for a dining room table for the transition home. We went to the mall and a shopping center. We bought Danilo ink for his printer and some supplies for our work project. Ross bought a new basketball backboard for the playground. We went to Pricemart and bought cake, soda, and supplies for the birthday party later tonight. And we stopped for lunch at La Cebollina where the group enjoyed a well deserved break and time to share stories about the trip.
After lunch we headed back to the home and got right back to work.
Wednesday, Mar 6,
Departure for Florida. This was our last day. As expected, it came too soon. Everyone awoke before 6AM so we could prepare our bags, store our supplies, finish last minute work items and spend as much time as possible with the girls in the home. After breakfast our group enjoyed a morning prayer and giving thanks in the chapel with Spenser. We were surrounded by the results of our work. The chapel looked terrific with a coat of fresh paint and everything back in it's place just in time for Holy Week.
We returned to our chores so we would be ready to leave by 10:30AM. We loaded our bags, said good byes, received hugs and wishes from the girls which always makes leaving so difficult. We stopped by the transition home where Heather and Mayra were waiting for the delivery of the dining room table. The table arrived by 11:30 and the workers unwrapped and setup the table in its place. It looked better than we had hoped. The girls were so happy to have a table sturdy enough to enjoy their meals and do their homework. We said good byes and headed for the airport. Check-in went smoothly, departure tax was $28.71, and e all relaxed in the waiting area. But the trip was not over yet. When it was time to board, Arthur was taken by the airport security to inspect his bag which held cans of beer Rick had packed to bring home. This brought back memories of 2012 when Rick brought home the unused plaster of paris which triggered a special hand inspection of his bag. No, problems, Art was onboard without any problems and now has a special story to tell. The flight was smooth and we landed in Maimi, but there was one more surprise in store. At the baggage claim a man asked to take a picture of Ross' t-shirt which read, "I survived a Mission Trip to Honduras". As it turned out, the man is the president of the chamber of commerce in San Pedro Sula Honduras. He thanked us for our work, gave us his card and offered to help us bring our donated items through customs on our next trip. His wife and daughters asked about volunteering at Our Little Roses and we spoke long enough for the customs line to clear out by the time we shook hands and said good bye.
Our rides arrived on-time and we all had a safe ride back to our homes. Katherine was greeted by her mom and sister, complete with balloons and hugs at the front-door. It was a very successful and satisfying trip.
It was a very successful and rewarding trip. For half our group it was their first visit to OLR. We became a close knit team very quickly. It was satisfying to see the amount of donated items once we delivered them to the office and saw how big the pile was. It was satisfying to see the results of our painting project. But, as always, the time we spent with the girls brought the strongest feelings of success and purpose. It's difficult to sum up in words how the visit to OLR touches each member of our team but it is safe to say everyone felt GODs presence in ways they did not expect. Our planned activities are what we expect form the trip each time. The unplanned little details like the taxi ride, or school bus ride or knowing which girl is going to bond the closest to each of us are the things we can not plan and feel like a gift from a guiding hand. Meeting Spenser and seeing the preview for the movie being made on the day it was released with the girls who are in it. The unexpected encounter with Jim Ellis. Meeting the President of the San Pedro Sula Chamber of Commerce in the Miami airport. Looking at the stars with Naomy. Dancing gangnam style with Ismelda. Helping Eduvijes with her homework. Those are the memories that last. Thanks be to GOD.