Honduras – Day 10, Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sunday would be a day of worship.  We had our driver take us to a Church.  Obviously, it was all in Spanish, but it was nice to be there worshipping along with the Hondurans.  They welcomed us with open arms.  After the service, we went to the Coca-Cola Jesus, more formally and properly known as Cristo del Picacho, on top of a mountain.  It looks very much like the famous Jesus on the mountain in Rio de Janeiro as it overlooks the city.  The park is actually quite beautiful and there were many families there with their picnic lunches.  We spend quite a bit of time there and took loads of pictures.  As we were standing below the statue, a couple of American guys were standing there and we talked to them.  They then respectfully asked our pastor if he was a gang member.  We laughed, but they explained that the brand name on his pants was a gang member sign – Dickie.  Apparently, the gang MS-13 uses this as a sign of a fellow gang member.  We also learned that the Monster logo was a gang member sign.  We had remembered seeing that on a tuk-tuk a day or two earlier.

We sadly left the park and had a very late lunch at a family restaurant in town.  I think the name of it was the Crab House or something like that.  We packed later that afternoon for our trip home the next day.  No need to to another blog post leaving the country, except to say that Rolando met us at the airport to say good-bye.   This was a wonderful way to end our trip.

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Honduras – Day 9, Saturday, June 24, 2017

It was bittersweet this morning, getting up early to say goodbye to friends going back home from our mission trip. 5 of us decided to stay for a couple of extra days and so we had breakfast with our friends, said goodbye to them just before they loaded the bus and then looked for our driver. We found him, then loaded up our van and headed for the Valle des Angeles. We ran into some traffic, but finally made it up the mountain. Our driver, Omar, dropped us off at the car park and then we headed out to explore. We shopped and then looked for a place to eat lunch. I had remembered having lunch at Virginia’s Pupusas, but knew I couldn’t find it. As we rounded the corner, there it was! We went in and sat down and she brought us menus. We ordered drinks, then cheese and mixed puposas. After lunch, we went on a scavenger hunt, which I will explain about in the future. We shopped some more and explored, then it was time for dinner. Our driver, Omar, suggested a restaurant and we went there. It was the same restaurant that I visited in March with Cindy, Frank and Jan! I took another look at Omar and decided he was the driver from before.  

Honduras – Day 8, Friday, June 23, 2017

We were to have our bags on the porch at 6:00AM, so people were up just a little earlier. We all finalized our packing and then headed to the dining hall for breakfast, which was delicious. We met at the cross and had a short sermon from the local pastor, translated into English and sang a Spanish hymn. All the Ranch employees went around our circle shaking hands and hugging people. Then we loaded the bus land vans and headed towards Tegucigalpa. We blew the horn as we passed La Esperanza. I realized that I had left my Honduran wallet, but they found it and met us in Jutecalpa with it. How nice was that!! I think I must have accidentally pulled it out when I took out my cell phone. We had a good lunch at the Mennonite bakery and I spoke with the owner, then we shopped at the outdoor market. Each year, it has gotten a little more expensive — the old rule of supply and demand — demand being high. We always hit Tegucigalpa at the height of traffic, but I don’t think it really matters too much. We will all have dinner at the hotel restaurant.  

Dinner was great as always and it was nice to have a final dinner together.

Honduras – Day 7, June 22, 2017

Once again we were up for breakfast at 6:15AM, then afterward, we were given a talk on animal husbandry and agriculture by the agriculture manager for the Ranch. They keep 85 head of cattle and use artificial insemination. They teach good practices throughout the valley. They have found that the Brahma cross does not help with the milk production, but it is more for beef cattle. They are working to produce more Holstein-type or Jersey-type cattle. They can’t just import them because they do not do well in the conditions in the valley. They have to cross-breed a valley cow with a milk-producing bull or cow. It was a very interesting talk. After returning back to our dorms, we did find that Gerald had shingles. He did not sleep well last night and did not feel well enough to join our devotional. We left for La Esperanza without him.  
We were greeted as always by the children and many of the villagers. The VBS continued today in the morning as always and the workers heard that there were 3 floors to pour. Me, Danny and Johnny were put on one detail and we found that we were going to do Orlando’s house. We had plenty of help, but it was a big job – 10 bags of concrete. We had Edwin, who is Orlando’s son as our mason and we had Franklin Fabian as our mason and worker. He can flat make some concrete. Orlando had told us that he had just built the house, so the mud had dried and looked like tiles. We were told that they would come behind and fill it in again. The interior was 2 bedrooms and a hallway, as well as a living room. The entire house was to be concrete, except the living room. The Cucina or kitchen would be on the open porch. We tried to talk him into doing a latrine inside in the hallway, but we are not sure if he will do that. We had 11 workers total — the 3 of us, Orlando, Edwin, Franklin Fabian, Carina, Nora, Dixieanna, Jose and Tao. I butchered the spelling of the names, but this is the best that I could do.

We finished the house at noon and Orlando gave us a ride in the back of his truck to lunch. It was like being a kid again when we used to ride in the back of the neighbor’s pickup truck in Atlanta. Before we left, though, Nora gave me a beautiful little vase.
We ate lunch, then headed backwards to the school for our fiesta. The music was loud and we played outside with the children. They had all their gifts and were running everywhere. It was a happy day for all of us. We went inside the school and everyone danced for quite a long time. It poured down rain so hard that it was hard to hear anyone. They sang their national anthem and we sang ours. We exchanged gifts, then left. We went down to the house that had hosted us for every lunch – “grandma’s ” house and thanked her for our hospitality. We found out that she was 97 years old, but was getting around very well. She spoke to me in rapid Spanish and I was happy that Marta was there to translate. We left about 3:45PM and came back to the ranch.  

Honduras – Day 6, June 21, 2017

Again, we were up and eating breakfast at 6:15AM. We left the Ranch about 7:00 or 7:30 and went to the elementary school to visit. The children gave us a singing program, then we visited them in their classrooms. I noticed that the bathrooms had been re-done since March and that there was soap at the sink and toilet paper for the bathroom. We walked across the pedestrian bridge to the middle school and Angela and Virginia met their student. We also met with Myladis for a few minutes and I told them the story of the computers installed 5 years ago. I was able to go behind the school to see the basketball court. They have built quite a bit more and the plan is to put in a goal at one end, so they can at least practice their shooting. I also noticed that there were some volley ball poles out there, so they may be playing volleyball on the court as well.
We left the schools and headed back to the work and VBS site at La Esperanza. The children and adults were literally jumping up and down waiting to see us. We wondered how long they had been waiting. After a song from them and then all of us singing Jesus Loves Me in English and Spanish, we dispersed to our various work sites, including VBS.
Teresa and I were put at a home on the side of a mountain. We had to walk up a steep hill to get to the house. It was Nora’s home, who was a widow and had 3 children. She was 29 years old. We had Franklin again, which we found out was Orlando’s son, and __________. Hilo was our brick mason. We spent the entire morning shoveling gravel, which was more like dirt, and then taking it by 5 gallon buckets into the house. As the mason got closer to the door, one of the Hondurans were able to shovel it through the door directly to the floor. We needed some more gravel and one of the neighbors brought 4 sacks of gravel, which was draped across his two horses. We were able to finish that morning and there was some cement left over, so Nora asked that we use it for the back of her house. When we walked back there, we saw that her adobe house was being eroded away by the rain. The mason got a 1×12 board to make a form and used the extra cement to build it up from the bottom. We left La Esperanza and headed back to the Ranch. Our pastor, Gerald, had a rash on his chi, neck and under his arm. We gave him some Benadryl and cortisone cream, but we are worried he may have shingles.

Honduras – Day 5, June 20, 2017

We began the day as always at 6:15AM having breakfast. We had already put our bags on the bus, so that we could take a tour of the clinic. I will never miss another tour again because I learned something new. I was surprised at the number of clinics in the valley, which I had never raised before. We now have a physical therapist, a dentist (female) and, of course, a doctor and nurses. We loaded the bus and headed out to La Esperanza – a 50 minute bus ride. We arrived at the village and, again, the villagers greeted us with smiles and hugs. They sung a song for us and we sang “The Whole World in his Hands” and “Deep and Wide”. Our team added Campbell, a young man that did not want to stop working. He’d take a shovel from one of the Hondurans and start shoveling. We were to put in a floor in 3 rooms that day. We had 3 Hondurans with us and we were working on a tiny porch, which was mostly covered by sand and cement. With a lot of help from our 2 teenage boys and Franklin, our 22 year old Honduran helper, we were able to nearly finish the 3 rooms before noon. We had a picnic lunch and returned to work at 1:00PM. We passed by our original Pila and they had accomplished quite a lot of that. Mike remarked that they had a door. Hmmmmmm.  I found out later that they were adding a shower to the Pila.  Anyway, we walked on down the road and then turned right down a long dirt road to get to our next project. We knew we would have too many workers. I was put on roofing detail because there were too many on muddling detail. Fortunately, we were not to get on the roof, but only had to hand the tin up to the man on top. I was not needed as we had others that were taller that were able to get it up to the roofer. I tried to do a little mud, but again, there were too many. I was only able to do a little bit. The Hondurans mixed up the mud (yes, real mud) inside the room with lots of dirt and water. They would shovel a load onto a canvas bag and then bring it out to the people outside to put on the wall. The wall was made of their Honduran studs and then bamboo strips on the horizontal. They made their strips by ripping the bamboo with a machete. We left about 3:20PM and then headed back to the Ranch. Many wanted to go to their village that they had worked in for the last 3 years, so a van took them (and me) back there. As we were coming into town, I saw 2 girls running across the field to meet us. It was very heartwarming. I took movies of the children playing and then played it back to them with my IPad. They loved it. We returned about 6:40PM and ate dinner, then took a shower and had our devotional time. All in all, a good day. 

Honduras – Day 4, June 19, 2017

Day 4 brought clouds, which we were thankful for. We ate breakfast at 6:15AM, then had a devotional with the staff at 7:00AM. We then loaded up the bus for the 50 minute ride to La Esperanza, where we would be working with the villagers. We were greeted at the highway by all the children and villagers. They sang us some songs and we responded with a couple of songs ourselves. We then divided into teams to go to VBS or a house in the village. Mike, Jack and I went with a lady to help them build a Pila in her yard. We walked down the highway and crossed over to get to her house where we were greeted with sand, bags of concrete and cinder block. The Pila, which will look like a cement trough when we are finished, had been dug out and we were to place stones and build a footing first. We mixed concrete and filled in the footings with stones and concrete. Another gentleman came by, which we later found out his name was Orlando, and it was obvious that we had forgotten something — the drains. So we cut out two areas for those and then the discussion began as to how to do it. During this discussion, a truck with a load of green bananas drove by and wanted to sell us some. He said he’d take 50 limperas for them, but I only had 40. He took the 40 and brought back 2 bushels of bananas. We were shocked as 40 limps are worth less that $2.00 and I had no idea what we were going to do with them.  I thought we might get 5-6 bananas. We left one bushel at the house and sent the other back to the ranch. Fortunately, we saw some of our group headed towards lunch, so we took our leave and followed them to lunch. We all ate lunch at the school, then returned to our work. The VBS was over for the day, so we had additional workers. We continued working throughout the afternoon until the rain came. It started slowly, but then grew so intense that we had to come onto the porch. The covered the Pila as well as they could with plastic and sheet metal. Just about the time that the rain let up enough to go back outside, we saw our group heading to the bus, so we said our goodbyes and went back to the bus. On the way back, we stopped at the hardware store to get some supplies and then a small grocery store to get some snacks. We got back to the ranch and took showers and then had dinner. After dinner, we sat outside and discussed the day, then sang songs with the two Jacks playing guitar.

Honduras – Day 3, June 18, 2017

We began our day early with coffee and breakfast, then were bused to the city center where the towns people and the Catholic Church were celebrating Corpus Christi.  ?????  They had decorated the street with flowers, leaves and lime in front of the Church. There were pictorials of Christian symbols throughout. They were beginning to sweep them up when we arrived. We wandered the square for a while enjoying the locals and their beautiful square, then headed to the store for provisions – Jutecalpa’s answer to Walmart.  The last time I was here, we went to the regular grocery store.  When our trip leader said we were going to Walmart, I thought she was kidding, but we passed the regular grocery store and then stopped at a huge grocery store, that was much like Walmart.  We spent a little bit of time there, then headed to the Ranch where we were greeted by the staff. We had lunch immediately, then tried to get settled in. We have 14 women in our group and 9 men. Our ladies’ group worked out the vacation bible school supplieswithout 4 of their bags and then we went to bed early as we were pretty tired.

Honduras – Day 2, June 17.

We met downstairs for breakfast and then went across the street to do a little shopping before the shuttle to the airport came, We boarded the shuttle with all our bags and traveled to the airport to meet the rest of our group. They came through customs and immigration, but had lost 4 bags. We did the necessary paperwork, then had lunch and boarded our bus for the long drive to Jutecalpa. The drive was just as easy as it was in March. We got a snack at the Mennonite Bakery and drove on in to Jutecalpa. Several of us had some room issues — bugs or dirty sheets, but they were soon resolved. We met for dinner, had some instructions and went to bed early. I roomed with 2 wonderful women, who were very easy to be with. Thank you, Angela and Teresa.

Honduras – Day 1 – June 16, 2017

5 of us left Atlanta headed for Tegucigalpa, Honduras. We landed without incident and were met at the airport by our hotel shuttle. Once we were settled into our rooms at the Maya, we met downstairs and visited for quite awhile. We could not decide on a restaurant, but we finally went to a restaurant called Roja Verde something, which we were able to walk to. We arrived early and did not have trouble getting a table.  Sea Bass seemed to be the meal of choice and we really enjoyed it. We went to bed early in order to meet our group early the next morning.