We began the day as usual with breakfast and then out to the various worksites. Many of us went to the middle school – Instituto de Esparanza – to work on the soccer field. The work started slowly as we didn’t know how far away from the field we were to plant our hedges. Oh yes, I forgot. This field will also be “between the hedges”. At first we worried about having a straight line of plants. Then we worried about having the line run exactly parallel to the field. Then we worried about whether or not the field was a true rectangle. Guess what!!! We had a team of engineers with us that had surveying equipment! They had come here to work on the possibility of a bridge across the road between the elementary school and the middle school. Once the road was paved, it was very obvious that it brought traffic and fast moving traffic. It won’t be long before we have a casualty. Anyway….. we were able to get them to come over, even though they were packing to leave that afternoon, and survey the area to remove all the problems we had come up with. We spaced our bushes 3 feet apart and dug them in rock hard ground. They plants came in probably 4 inch containers, so they were small. The ground was hard and dry, so we worried about watering them in. As I had gotten to the end of the line, I went back for some water and found that each bush had been staked. I wondered why in the world they were staking bushes. Trees, yes, but bushes?? My query was answered soon when we saw our friend, Jesslar, cutting the bottom off of 2 liter coke bottles, then tying them to the stakes. They filled the upside down bottles with water and then loosened the bottle tops until water trickled out at exactly the right speed. We thought it was brilliant. When it did rain, the bottles would collect water and then slowly drip from the bottle. We call it “drip irrigation”. I also worked again at shoveling the gravel into the ditches for an hour or so. I found, strangely, that I was getting stronger, as is the case if you don’t overdo the first day. We were able to get the north end of the hedges completely planted – 60 plants – before they called us in for lunch. This would be our last work project.
After lunch we all went in different directions. Some went to San Esteban, the largest town in the immediate area and some went to a small village to see some interesting woodworking that my pastor, Gerald Varner, instituted several years ago when he was over economic development for HOI. My group went back to the village that we worked in last year, Las Delicios, to see some of our old projects. We stopped by to the the kilns that the Potters for Peace had put in and noticed that they were making tiles. We weren’t sure what they were using them for, except perhaps flooring. We gave out candy and little toys to all the little kids that came by to see us. We walked on down the road to see a Christian church in the area. It was very simple, but beautiful. We walked a little further just because it was so beautiful and peaceful. If it weren’t for all the poverty surrounding the area, I could easily live right there. We turned back and headed for the village and asked for people that we had remembered. They didn’t know Christina, but they did know Dena. I gave Dena a big hug and went into her house to see the floor we had put in the year before. It looked beautiful. I also noticed that she had a new washing area for clothing. It was brand new and very nice. I asked her about Christina and she pointed which path she lived on. As I walked toward the path, I saw her and called her name. She had little Sylvia in her arms, but we hugged tightly. She called me her amiga. She was friendly with everyone there and soon we all were amigas. Daryl and Meryl came over and were handing out toys to all the children and pretty flower barrettes to the women and girls. They even had tiaras and wands, sunglasses, slinkys and noses and glasses for the boys. It was a zoo. I had taken Richard’s chocolate bars for them and they had gotten pretty soft, but the kids still wanted them. I asked them to pick up their trash and they did, along with other people’s trash. We did take a look at the ditch that we had dug last year and I am sorry to say that it seems to have solved nothing. Unfortunately, there was still a swamp at the bottom of the hill and a ditch across the road filled with water. We could see a pipe had been laid, but it had not been filled in, so water and debris collected in the trench. I must say that this was the only disappointing thing in the entire trip. We returned to the ranch to clean up and prepare for dinner.
Dinner was an amazing affair. Bob Hope, as usual, went over announcements, which included a special thank you to everyone on the trip. We then were treated by the workers at the ranch to a wonderful concert with a violin, guitar, rainstick as maracas and, believe it or not, a large turtle shell as percussion. It was absolutely wonderful. They finished with “La Bamba” and did a great job. We then took a short break while Byron Small set up the video that he had taken last year and which was shown at the Miraposa Miracle fundraiser in January. I had seen it before, but many had not, so it was wonderful to watch it all together. We are now all packing for our very early departure tomorrow morning. I believe we have to get our bags out by 6:00AM and we will have breakfast about the same time, then a devotional and thank you by the staff at the ranch, then off to Tegucigalpa. It will be a 7-8 hour bus ride that I am not looking forward to. But we are invited to a dinner provided by Covenant House, which we are all looking forward to.
We had numerous projects going on, including moving a “mountain” at the elementary school for the landscaping project, sewing classes, making bird feeders to sell as a fundraising project, cleaning the repairing book trolleys for the library, medical clinic, audiology screening and installation of hearing aids, new concrete floors in a couple of houses and a church, Dooley Field, computers, a music project at the middle school and probably others that I am forgetting. It was an amazing week and we got much accomplished. I did everything that I wanted to be a part of, so I feel fulfilled this year. As Ken Bernhardt says, it puts the rest of the year in perspective. Hasta manana!!