2017 Team

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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Karmen Betsworth First Week Reflection from Mother Teresa's

Hola Dick. I am doing fine. I have met so many people and everyone has been so nice. It's amazing.


I am staying at the Pulpulorum (like a dorm house) at Colonia Monterrey. There are about 24 Honduran girls that live there. They are so very hard working girls. They are the poorest of the poor. Their day starts out very early. Maybe around 5:00 am. They are cleaning, studying, making their own meals (they all eat together at one time) and getting ready for the day. I hear them in the chapel every morning about 5:30 or 6:00. They pray and sing. Their singing is beautiful.

The Pulpulorum (our house) is a 3 level building. The first floor has like an office area (one big room) where there are a lot of desks and old computers. I think the girls and boys (the boys live in a different building) work on getting scholarships, work with sponsorships, and I am not sure of what else. There is a lot of business there. Also, Fr. Patricio parks his small pick-up in that room as well. On the second level of our building is another study area where the girls and boys will attend some classes. Their classes must start pretty early - I think 7:00 or 7:30. Fr. Patricio (who is in charge of this entire organization) wants the kids to be their best in education so classes are provided in the Pulpulorum as well as the kids going to a university. They study a lot. Also, in that same room is a long table where the girls all eat their meals together. They eat a lot of the same foods such as: rice, beans, eggs, tortillas, rice soup, veg. soup.... All of the girls take their turn in preparing the meals. They each do their own dishes as well.

Also, on the second floor is the kitchen where they prepare the food, two bathrooms which both have a sink, shower and a toilet. I always use the shower on their floor as the shower has warm water. Get wet, turn off water, soap up, turn water back on and then rinse off. Water is a precious commodity here. I don't want to be wasteful. The toilets do flush but toilet paper doesn't go in the toilets. There is a waste basket in the stall for the toilet paper. No big deal. There are also two big rooms that have bunk beds in there. Twelve of the girls live on the 2nd floor.

The 3rd level is where I sleep. The chapel is on the 3 floor too. It is a big simple room with a big cross and Jesus. I like going to the room to say my rosary. Also, on the 3 floor is another room where the girls do their homework. There is a balcony too. The laundry gets hung up out on the balcony. There are no dryers in Honduras. Line drying which I do back home in LeMars anyway. My room is shared with 5 other volunteers. There are 3 bunk beds and I have the bottom bunk - thank goodness. I don't want to climb up to the top bunk :) Most of the volunteers are from Spain. Some of them speak English. They are so nice and friendly. It's been great. They will be gone in December as most of them only do 3 months of volunteering. Then more will come. Also, on our floor is a pila (I think that is what it is called?) I am learning Spanish a little at a time. That is where we do our laundry. Use a cement scrub board with clean water. We do buy bottled water here as non-Hondurans we have to drink that. No big deal.

I have been working at the orphanage (Mother Teresa's) in the mornings. I love the kids. They are so adorable. There are about 40 little ones ranging from 1 year old to 5 years old. Busy place. I walk there in the morning. It's about 4 blocks from where I live. Shannon (the volunteer here from MN) went with me the first few times. I am now comfortable walking there by myself. I was told not to walk alone anywhere, but the volunteers from Spain said that after a week or two the neighborhood recognizes us and we are ok to walk alone. So I have been doing that. I am not scared. There are a lot of others walking, women, women with their kids. etc. I just ‘Bueno Diaz’ to the people I pass. There is always this older lady making tortilla's on the corner. Always a smile and Buenos Diaz :) I have learned several of the kid's names. I try to learn a couple a day. They like it when you call them by their name. When I get there between 8:00 and 8:15 it is time for breakfast. I help feed the little ones (about three or four of them) that need help eating. It is so cute as they are at short little tables (about 4 of them) with little chairs. I just sit right down by them. After that they wash their hands they play outside on their playground or out in front on the patio. The playground area is really nice. They have swing sets, plastic houses, little cars to ride on. etc... They really like being outside. When we play on the patio there isn't much for them to do so I want to buy some little books for them. I want to have story time with them. All little kids like to be read to. It's kind of funny as I can't speak Spanish. The kids try to talk to me but I can't understand them. I try to talk to them and they can't understand me either. I think we both get frustrated. I just try playing with them. Let them dance on my feet, play with my tennis shoes string (they knot them all up - it's too funny). I tried skipping, hopping, whatever. Play ring around the rosie....... I need to think of other games to play with them. Any ideas???? It will be fun when the Heelan students come down. The little kids will love them. I love the little kids. Can't wait until I can converse with them more. There are a few nuns and a few Honduran ladies that care for the children 24/7. There is so much work for them to do. Amazing. Lots of little clothes hanging out on the lines drying. Lots of cribs for the little ones. Last Friday I helped put them into their beds and the little munchkins knew what crib was theirs. That was too funny. They are so little. Love them!!

Also I have been to San Franciso, It’s a school building where the kids, from maybe grades 3 to 6, go before and after school to keep them busy and off of the streets. I walk there with other volunteers (from Spain) at 8:00. It takes us maybe 15 minutes. They call this place ‘the hole’. It is a nice facility that is a climb to get to. There are many steps so if one needs to get into shape, that'll do it. One day I helped paint wooden tops with the kids. Loved the kids there too. They know I can't speak Spanish and they try helping me out all of the time. They also want to learn English so I help them out. There are other people there teaching them English classes too. Also Spanish classes, painting, etc. They eat lunch too. The food there is pretty good too. I had rice soup with like a dumpling in it. It was good. Last Friday all of the kids took a bunch of supplies (food) up all of the steps. It was quite the process to watch. The kids have recess time. They play soccer. I want to teach them some other games too. So maybe when the Heelan students come they can teach them games too. I did teach them 4 square and they really liked that. I like going to San Francisco.

There is another popular food here called a baleadas. It was very good. It is a tortilla with beans and like a sour cream. Tastey :) I was already invited to one of the kids' house (his name is Misa - 12 years old) and they served us baleadas. I am going to sponsor Misa for school. He is done with the 6th grade this month and his family doesn't have any money to send him to further schooling. So for $20.00/ month I will send him. His Mom (Gloria) and Misa are so happy and so very grateful. That is why we were invited to their house. They were so hospitable. I met Misa at San Francisco. A nice boy.

I was invited to mass last night (Friday night). One of the Honduran boys (Vergilio) spoke English with me and told me that he plays the guitar and sings at mass. I said I would go. The church is right up the block from where I live (1/2 block). Fr. Patricio and the boys live in a building right next to the church. Right before mass started Fr. introduced me and welcomed me to Honduras. He said that he didn't speak English, but he tried a little. It was funny. After mass a Honduran boy stood up and spoke in English. He said welcome, thank you for coming and they were glad to have me here. He said that I was a part of their family now. If there is anything I need, to just let them know. Amazing. It made me feel so good. While sitting there during mass I thanked God for this wonderful experience. I feel I am a very lucky person

Went with Fr. Patricio and Louis (a man from Spain who can speak English as well - very nice guy) to a school called Santa Maria. That was fun to look around and meet more people. They have invited me to go and visit the other schools next week. Everyone has been so awesome. So friendly and helpful. I think my stay will be very nice. God is looking out for me :)

Well, I need to go for now. Luna (volunteer from Spain) has gotten a movie for us to watch tonight. Also some popcorn :)

Until Later Dick,

Karmen

Springfield Catholic Video's From 2010 Mission

Greetings from LeMars, Iowa and Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras. This past week I was pleased to watch two video presentations produced by students from last springs mission trip. They are wonderful and I wanted to share them with everyone. Please go to the following youtube sites to watch and listen to these wonderful presentations. They are from Megan Haller and Stephanie Rice, both seniors at Springfield Catholic. We are pleased to have both of them back on Springfield Catholic Mission Honduras 2011. Excellent job girls.
Richard E. Seivert
Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras
Director
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fALTtv3Sgiw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SL6VO5qIKXQ

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Message From Fr. Cosgrove

Hello to All,


The following is taken from a book, The Jesuit Guide by Fr.James Martin, S. J., and it might be good for us to reflect on what he has to say as it relates to our mission next spring. What you will be doing is very wonderful and prayerful. You need to be aware of your gift and responsibility.

The author is talking about how we can care for and learn from the poor. He mentions three things at first.
1. Being grateful for what you have
2. Helping out in a church community
3. Really stretching yourself when you give charitably.

You will all be doing those three things. As members of our mission trip you will be doing all three. Get ready to learn what is before you as you prepare and during the days you are there.

The author adds a final goal when working for the poor. Get to know the poor one-on-one, rather than as objects of charity. The poor are able to invite the wealthy to think about God in new way.

Finally he suggests to prepare to serve the Lord in the Poor by carving out a time for prayer and a time to be alone, finding God around you, practice a degree of detachment from the “things” of your life. As you prepare for the trip you will grow from the trip in years to come.

It is great to have you all with us. Remember to get your passport, save up some money, get used to living with lots of new people and to enjoy a short shower with cold water.

Heelan Students: We have five that have signed up for Don de Maria. We need eight. Any questions or if you wish to sign up let Fr. Cosgrove know soon. Give it some thought and talk it over with your friends. Both places will be great times to serve the Lord in the people of Honduras.

Fr. Cosgrove

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Mission Honduras / Items Needed

Springfield Catholic, St. Thomas More, Heelan, and Gehlen,

Greetings again from Mission Honduras.
I hope you have been able to read my first email.
I wanted to let you know a few more things and then send you an attachment.
Please open, print, and keep.

Our chosen theme this year is: Heart So Full - Can't Explain

As we go forward I wanted to share with you the 'Items Needed' information. These are the things we would like to carry in your travel bags when you go to Honduras. I think the theme fits so well this year and what we try to do. Within each of our schools I hope we can collect a great amount of things. If we collect too much we will simply ship it later or hold onto it for the future.

As in my first email remember to get your passport as soon as possible. Then, please send a photocopy of it to me. I will need it to secure your seats with the airlines. Do Not get a 'passport card'. These cannot be used for international air travel.

If you already have a passport you may send it to me anytime. If you want to scan and send it by email to me that is fine. If you don't feel comfortable doing that then just photocopy it and get it in the regular mail. For all of you veterans - you do not need to send another photocopy. I have yours from previous years.

If you have not sent your final application please do so promptly.

I have placed both of these emails of today on our blog for your parents and other family members to read. Please keep all of them informed as we progress toward our mission.
Take Care,
R. Seivert
Mission Honduras
---------------------------------------------- Items Needed List Below
List of Items Needed for Honduras 2010-2011


Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras ‘Changing Lives’ continues to need the help and support of everyone. Please consider helping our trips this year with the following items. Nothing old please.

Soap, shampoo, skin lotion, toothpaste, toothbrushes, vitamins of all kinds especially childrens chewables and prenatals, tylenol (cannot be outdated), flip flops and sandals, shoes and socks, childrens clothes especially baby clothes, cloth diapers/rubber pants, baby blankets, other shirts and blouses, underwear, shorts, t-shirts, caps, small toys, bubbles, stickers, gum, hair ties for girls, fingernail polish, soccer balls, twin size bed sheets, and school supplies of all kinds: notebooks, paper, pencils, pens, crayons, coloring books, rulers, glue, Spanish childrens books, and erasers. Just contact Gehlen if you would like to donate items to one of the trips.
Concerning all trips this year, Seivert commented that on his classroom wall at Gehlen is a quote from Mother Teresa that continues to motivate this entire program. It reads: If you pray - you will believe, if you believe - you will love, if you love – you will serve.

Contact: Richard Seivert, Gehlen Mission Honduras, 709 Plymouth St. N.E., LeMars, Iowa 51031 712-540-3062 (cell) 712-546-4181 (school)

First Message To All

Greetings from LeMars, Iowa and Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras 'Changing Lives.'


On behalf of our entire school, Gehlen Mission Honduras, Mission Honduras LeMars, and Then Feed Just One, I would like to welcome all of you to our mission program next spring. It promises to be hard, challenging, and hot. But, make no mistake - worth it. Worth it beyond measure. From those I work closely with I also extend a warm welcome: Francis Seivert, Carolyn Bickford, Sister Joan Polak, Linda Reichle, Fr. Jerome Cosgrove, Merica Clinkenbeard, Mary Casey, and Katie Falkowski.

To the 22 students and chaperones from Springfield Catholic High, Springfield, Missouri, thanks for your commitment to this program, and stay in close contact with Mrs. Clinkenbeard.

To the 20 students and chaperones from St. Thomas More in Rapid City, South Dakota, thanks for your commitment to this program, and please stay in close contact with Mary Casey and Katie Falkowski.

To the 16 students and chaperones from Bishop Heelan in Sioux City, Iowa, thanks as well for your commitment to this program, and please stay in touch with Fr. Cosgrove.

And finally, to the 24 students and chaperones from Gehlen Catholic, LeMars, Iowa, thanks for your commitment to this program.

I have placed all your cell numbers in Carolyn Bickford's phone. When I wish to communicate with you by email I will notify you by text message from her phone. Please stay close to your email from here out. Very soon I will activate our 'blog' at www.gehlenmissionhonduras.org

I will post many of my communications right on the blog so that parents and family members can keep up to date with all the information.

We have a great deal of work ahead of us. I will be in touch with you on a regular basis and keep you posted on all developments. We are still in pursuit of the actual flight arrangements but I do not see a great deal of problem from here on out.

At this time I would ask all of you to get your passport process started. You may also look into your shots. To all Missiouri and STM, I have sent the main packet of information - please get those from your directors. All information concerning the shots and med's you need is in the booklet. I will get copies of the packet out to all Heelan and Gehlen missioners very soon.

Remember the deadline for paying for the trip - it is in the packet. There might still be some changes in cost because this is a group ticket. I will keep you posted and let you know the final cost sometime yet this fall.

On the front wall of my classroom, sandwiched between two large cut-outs of Mother Teresa, I have one of her famous quotes. It reads: "If you pray you will believe, if you believe you will love, and if you love you will serve." Keep praying for the good people of Honduras and around the world that so much need our help. I deeply believe in the 'power of young people like you.' You are a great testament to your generation.
Once again thanks for your belief and trust and welcome to this program.

Take Care,
Richard Seivert
Mission Honduras

Saturday, July 10, 2010

From Seivert - Home In Iowa

Greetings to all blog readers from LeMars, Iowa.

We arrived home very late Thursday night. Very tired but energized by the wonderful experiences we had this past week. A great deal of work to do in the coming days, weeks, and months.
Many thanks to all of you that keep us in your prayers and thoughts. Knowing that we are not alone in these missions gives confidence and hope.
The planning mission review: thoughts.
Representing Gehlen Mission Honduras, Mission Honduras LeMars, and ...Then Feed Just one (fulfilling to say the least).
It seemed like we were always on the road - physically hard.
Many emotional moments.
Emotional memorial Mass for Illich. All of his family were present. A great reunion with them.
Lots of very poor, destitute, and sick children and adults.
A great deal of dengue fever in Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula. None or very little in the outlying villages. Very Hot and humid - hard to deal with.
Many children being taken care of through Mission Honduras LeMars and the Illich Foundation.
Gift of Mary Don de Maria children's home run by Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity is amazing - many volunteer opportunities if you would like to go. We can make arrangements. 4 of Mother's Sisters are stationed there at all times.
Hole of la Pena San Francisco is also amazing - right in Tegucigalpa - run by Fr. Ramon from Spain - many volunteer opportunities here as well.
Introducing Plumpy Nut and Supplementary Plumpy to the medical people and the Minister of Health was awesome.
The visit to the Tolupan was special. It would take hours to explain the significance. Received a 'peace pipe' from Jefe Julio, chief of the Tolupan. In return I gave him one pack of Marlboro Lights as a sign of the strong bond between our two peoples. We then smoked a cigarette together - amazing feelings knowing we are the only people that have full access to the Tolupan. Loved hearing Tolupan being spoken between the people. Introducing Dr. Kemmer - nutrition specialist (retired military colonel and now professor) and Dr. Coello (U.S. Military base at Soto Cano and Task Force Bravo) and the new health initiatives was gratifying to us. Francis has been working toward this end for years. Amazing stuff.
Seeing the completed water projects just finished by an international Rotary water grant - 4 projects completed. The 5th will be done next spring by high school teams - we made that deal with the village.
The Cerro de plata foundation and the work they are doing for us and ...Then Feed Just One meals into the country. 3 full containers this past spring. Wow!
More requests for water projects in MDLF - will probably begin another application with Rotary.
Some of the children we are helping: These are all very severe medical cases - we will continue to work with them throughout the year through Marny Rivera and the Illich Foundation.
Jarmi, Nelly, Santos, Francisca, Yesenia, Cynthia, Alexi, Pablo, Oscar, Franci, and Kelvin
We got to see most of them on our trip.
Meetings with various groups all went well - as productive as we have ever had.
One of the most emotional experiences occured Thursday morning - we left Esquias very early and stopped for a small breakfast break in Dona Blanca's village. Much to our surprise in walked Ligia Erazo and her father. Ligia (23 three years old as I remember) was a young mother of two that Mission Honduras LeMars brought to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland four years ago for a stem cell transplant. The pics of this reunion are amazing. I remember sitting in El Guante 5 years ago when she and her entire family came to our compound for help - otherwise she would die. Much thanks to Frank who pushed and pushed for this to happen. She comes back to Bethesda once a year for a check-up but is very healthy and well. She cried and cried before we had to leave.
Great things but a whole lot to do. Will send numerous photos via your email address when I get a chance. Will try to place just a few on this blog when I figure out how to do it.

Take Care,
Richard Seivert

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

In Esquias

Hi All,

Good day yesterday into Esquias. Very ill little boy. We saw him yesterday afternoon. Today we had a long day of bumpy travel to Vallecillo. Made a deal for next year's water project. Then drove to La Florida to check the water project. Everything is fine. Next we visited El Junco to check their water project. Things are okay but they need a little work after the heavy rains. Visited numerous sick people along the way that are being helped by Mission Honduras LeMars. Look forward to putting up more information tomorrow. We have awesome photos. We will try to blog or email tomorrow.

Carolyn

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Montaña de la Flor


Hello Blog Readers,

What a spectacular day we had. As you can see from the above photo of Richard and Francis Seivert, the 2 docs, and the chiefs of the tribes, the meeting with the Tolupan in Montaña de la Flor ended on a very positive note.

Our day began at 4:30. Those Seiverts really like to get going early. It was a very smart thing to do, though, as Francis well knows. It took us around 4 hours to drive to the mountain over very rutted roads. We drove through streams approximately a dozen times. Once Sr. Val came close to getting stuck, but she gunned it, and we shot right out  of there. We all breathed a sigh of relief because pushing a truck through one of those streams would not have been fun, and we'd all have gotten quite wet.

Dr. Miguel Cuello - medical doctor with Task Force Bravo, Dr. Teri Kemmer - USD nutrition professor/retired military, Vanessa - a nurse, Marny - Illich Foundation, Marta - Cerro de Plata Foundation, Sr. Val Knoche - translator who spent 32 years as a missionary in Honduras, Richard Seivert - president of MHL, Francis Seivert - team leader of all mission teams, Linda Reichle & Carolyn Bickford - representatives of MHL travelled in two trucks. After a brief stop for a breakfast of fruit, yogurt, and sandwiches, we continued to a small village where we visited a little girl with osteomyelitis. She has a rod in her leg and it is much shorter than her other leg. The doctor examined her, and Marny will follow up with the required work of scheduling appointments and arranging for the girl's and her mother's transportation into Tegucigalpa.

Upon reaching La Ceiba, our friend Julio reintroduced Richard and Francis Seivert to Chief Julio. Chief Julio presented a pipe he had made to Seivert in thanks for his continued support and the support of the Le Mars Rotary and Mission Honduras LeMars  for the water projects, and to MHL and Kids Against Hunger for the life-saving food packages that have been sent to them. After greeting the other chiefs - Thomas and Alvero, all moved to the meeting room. Francis, Richard, Dr. Cuello, and Dr. Kemmer welcomed everyone to the meeting. They then spoke in turn to ask permission of the Tolupan to allow them to do a nutrition study of the children, and to bring medical teams in through Task Force Bravo. MHL also plans to bring in Plumpynut, in conjunction with Drs. Kemmer and Cuello. Pumpynut is a nutritional supplement for extremely malnourished children, of which there are quite a few on the mountain. The Tolupan leaders were extremely grateful for this opportunity for their people. All people in the meeting signaled their agreement through a show of hands.

We spent some time touring the school on the mountain and speaking with some of the people. Two village leaders requested water projects for their villages. The village leaders of the three completed water projects voiced their gratitude, relating that MHL and Rotary has done for them what their own government has not.

The trip down the mountain was also bumpy, but the treks through the various streams proved quite easy for the drivers. However, Seivert and Linda were almost bounced out of the back of the truck and into the stream. Fortunately, they were holding on tightly enough to avoid being bucked out.

We said a farewell to all of our Honduran friends. I am sure we will be seeing more of all of them, as we all work together for the poor in Honduras.

This evening we enjoyed a meal at Chili's. At this point most of the group is either already in bed or taking a much needed shower after that dusty ride. I plan to join them shortly. It was a wonderful day. The agreement that was reached today with the Tolupan promises to greatly improve the health and well-being of the people of Montaña de la Flor, thanks to the efforts of a group of caring and dedicated people, most especially Francis and Seivert.

Tomorrow Francis says we can sleep in a bit. We'll eat breakfast around 6:30 and then head to Esquias for the next leg of our journey. Hopefully, I will be able to continue these blogs there, but there may not be internet service there.

Adios, Amigos!

Carolyn

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Eye-Opening Sites


It is Saturday; well, not for much longer as I write this blog. It will be hard to tell you about some of the things we saw today. If I can get it to work, I will upload a couple photos. I hope it will work.  (Photo on left was taken in the place called "the hole" in Tegucigalpa.)

This morning we met some Honduran friends who would take us to a place that was in Tegucigalpa, but way UP on the edge. It was the home of Cynthia, a little girl who suffers with a heart condition. At this time Cynthia is living at the orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity. The doctors are unable to help her, and they say she has months, perhaps a year or so to live. Her mother would like to take her home to die. However, the mother requires a latrine and pila - a place to do the wash - so she does not have to leave Cynthia alone. Cynthia needs someone with her all the time. Marta took us to visit her home. It was a small shack with a hotplate for a stove, a table just large enough to hold it was the kitchen. There was a table just barely large enough for two. A sheet hung from a string to hide the twin size bed that served the mother and 2 children who are living there with her. The mother was off working. She does laundry for some families in the city and makes very little money. With that money she pays her bus ride to work and buys drinking water for the family and a small amount of food. Marta is getting funding for a pila and latrine. We are hoping to help her family with enough money so the mother can stop working and stay home with her children until Cynthia dies. It is a very sad situation.

The priest who is also helping this family and many others - including the school I blogged about yesterday - showed us another place he is building in that area. They showed us the progress on that building. Then the volunteers and Marta took us to another school that is what you could call a supplemental school. All the children must be in extreme poverty to be there. 1700 children attend that school. Some of the older children stay on after a certain age to work and teach the younger one, as well as take care of the grounds and go to university themselves. It was an amazing place to see.

This afternoon we picked up Dr. Teri Kemmer, the professor of nutrition from USD, and her son Nick. They attended Mass at the Basilica with us. Afterwards we all went to Marny's house, which she share with her parents, Fabio, and Graciela. They served us a delicious supper of chicken, beef, rice, bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and more. We had cake for dessert. We all enjoyed lots of conversation.

It is now 10:30 in Honduras. The rest of the team is sleeping. We will rise at 4:30 a.m. to start our drive to Montaña de la Flor. It will be another special day for us. We hope to meet with all the chiefs of the Tolupan to set up a medical/nutritional connection of some type that will help the Tolupan with much better health. It was raining when I came to the computer. We hope it will not be raining in the morning or we will not be able to travel up the mountain.

Until tomorrow,
Carolyn

Friday, July 2, 2010

Welcome to Honduras

Hi All,

Our trip from Houston to Honduras was fairly uneventful. All of our baggage arrived; a rather new experience for me. Sr. Val and Marny met us at the airport and we all headed for Leslie's Place, our bed and breakfast.

It is a little toasty here, but not too bad. It is definitely cooler than when our team was here at Easter time for the water project. AND, we are staying in comfort for the first three days as our room has air conditioning!

Our first project was to visit the Sisters of Charity and their orphanage (as well as a place for sick elderly people and pregnant teens). We toured the facility, visited with Marta, who supports the orphanage, discussed our continued support through our food packing programs and plumpy nut, and played with the children for a bit. We then took an eye-opening ride to a place called "the hole." I have been many places in Honduras, but this place was still something new for me. There is a school that is run pretty much by volunteers from both Honduras and Spain. They run a before and after school program. The teachers there give them more instructions and they are fed a small mid-morning or afternoon snack as well as a lunch at noon. The children who attend morning public school come to this school in the afternoon. Those who attend afternoon public school come in the mornings. It keeps these children from roaming the streets and gives them a better overall education. I am glad we had the chance to see it.

After returning to our hotel, we prepared for Mass. This was a Mass for the little 4 and a half-year-old Illich, who died on June 10. The family was in attendance and many friends, as well. We gave them a DVD of photos of Illich and a Shutterfly book full of pictures of him. We hope they will treasure these keepsakes. Seivert gave a nice speech to let them know how special Illich was to all of us. He will never be forgotten. And his Aunt Marny also expressed how Illich will live on through the Illich Foundation, which will help many other young children with special medical or other needs.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Burger King and ate like Americans. PLUS, Linda had a chance to get her ice cream fix. With the travelling both in the air and on the busy, crowded, bumpy streets of Tegucigalpa, we are all ready for a good night's rest. Our saga continues tomorrow.

Hasta mañana!
Carolyn

Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Our Way

Hey Everyone,
We left Le Mars around 9 a.m. enroute to the Omaha Airport. Francis likes to go through security early and Seivert likes to wait until the last minute. Linda and I stayed 'middle of the road.' We all went through security without a hitch; however, Linda got the experience of the full body scan. There is just NO privacy anymore.

Our airplane was a small one. We experienced a few bumps, but altogether, it was a pretty uneventful ride. We were in the Houston Airport, picked up our luggage, and were waiting for the hotel shuttle before 5. After settling into the Country Inn & Suites, we all walked down the block for some beverages. It's cloudy and extremely humid here in Houston. We noted that the temperature was a bit cooler than last year, and I'm pretty sure it's a lot cooler than what we'll be experiencing in Honduras the rest of our trip.

While waiting for our shuttle at the airport, we all met a newly ordained priest from Kentucky. Before leaving on the shuttle, Seivert had told him all about our mission trips - both student and medical. We left him with a business card with hopes that he will be checking our websites.

After resting tonight, we'll head for the airport at 6:30 a.m. Our flight leaves for Tegucigalpa leaves after 9. Sr. Val will meet us at the airport. It will be great to see her again and to spend some time with her. She has a wealth of Honduran experience and will be our translator throughout the trip.

Ah, you may be interested in knowing that Seivert gave us quite a history lesson as we relaxed this evening. Thus, I'm pretty sure we can already call this a 'work' trip because Linda and I worked very hard at learning our Texas history tonight. Seriously, the real work begins the minute we step foot on Honduran soil. We can hardly wait.

I promise to keep you updated to the best of my ability - as long as I can find a computer with internet. Please keep all of us, as well as those we hope to help, in your thoughts and prayers over the next week.

Hasta luego,
Carolyn

Planning Trip

This morning Seivert, Francis, Linda, and I are heading for Honduras to do some preparatory work for the upcoming mission trips. It will be a busy week of visiting many people and places. I am really looking forward to visiting the Sisters of Charity Orphanage in Tegucigalpa. I have heard a lot of this orphanage but have never had the opportunity to see it in person.

There are also quite a few sick children that we will be seeing. We hope that we are able to help all of them so they can live healthier lives one day.

Friday evening we'll attend a Mass for Illich, the little 4-year-old boy who passed away on June 10. If you do not know Illich's story, I hope you'll take the time to read his story at the http://www.missionhonduraslemars.org/ and click the 'Special People' link.

Weather permitting, we will also be traveling to Montana de la Flor to set up health and/or medical trips for the Tolupan. Dr. Kemmer and a doctor from Task Force Bravo will join us for the trip to Montana.

July 5th we'll head for Esquias to stay at the compound for the remainder of our time. From there we will meet with the mayor of Esquias. We'll also travel to El Junco and La Florida to check the past two student water projects. It gives us the chance to see the completed projects and observe how they are treating the water. It's nice to be able to see the completion of a lot of hard work by students and chaperones.

Finally, we'll make our best effort to find a water project or projects that will keep our upcoming mission trips busy. It becomes ever more difficult to find water projects in the vicinity of Esquias because we have completed so many of them already. I guess that's a good problem, but still a problem we must solve if we are to continue our water projects.

Please keep our little group in your prayers over the next week. Whenever I can get to a computer, I will update you on our progress.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Seivert From Gehlen Sunday, April 25th. Re: La Florida News

Greetings from Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, LeMars, Iowa. Great News!
Just this afternoon my brother Francis was able to contact Angel Paz - we have been trying for days. After the Springfield Catholic team left, Angel remained in La Florida to help the village finish the water project. I can now report the project is complete and working beautifully - Angel said it was great. He reported the water collection site, pump, and tank were perfect. Angel said there is water to each home and the people of La Florida are extremely happy.  He has one meeting left with the village leaders - presumably to deal with chlorination and then he will return home.
I hope this finds everyone well, rested, and somewhat back to normal life.
Take Care,
Richard E. Seivert
Mission Honduras

Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday, April 12

I cannot believe that this will be my last post from Honduras.  We are so sad to leave, yet so anxious to see our families and friend.  However, that is the only things they have talked about missing.  It is amazing to see a g´roup of teenagers away from ipods, phones, and computers and cars, and they have not missed these things one bit! Our time is spent working hard, and communicating with one another.  It is amazing how much fun you can have without these things.  They are all at the park as I am typing this playing frisbee, soccer,and talking to the local children.  At night we play cards.  Word of advice.....do not play BS with a nun, especially one named Juanita!

WE had a lot of laughs last night which was nice since it had been such an emotional day for the students.  ONe thing they did was fix Megan up and made a mug shot out of her to further tease her for stealing the toilet paper from the malnutrition center.  They made it quite authenic so yes this mug shot will end up in lots of places once we return.

We loaded up for our last day of work this morning.  We dug for about 2 and a half hours, then we gathered with the village for a photo and final goodbyes.  Several key people from the village said some very nice words of thanks to the group, and then I read a speach I had written in Spanish for the Hondurans.  Turns out, we thought we came here to give and to help, but we were the ones to recieve.  To end the ceremony our students stood hand in hand and sang Sanctuary.  The last thing we did was present the village with a huge bag of childrens vitamins.  Unfortunatley we could only give the team a few minutes for quick hugs goodbye then we ushured them on the bus.  As harsh as is may sound, it is the best way.  It is a VERY emotional moment for the team and the Hondurans, and otherwise we would never get anyone to leave.  So....it was a quite ride home, at least for a little while!

Once we got back we had lunch and showers, and then gathered in front of the church for a team picture.  After that  we packed what little we are taking home, and gathered up the rest of our things we are leaving.  We will be up by 5 am tomorrow, and off at 6am for the 3 hour ride to Tegucigalpa. Our flight does not leave until about noon. 

I would like to thank all of you who have supported us.  Wether that be through money, donations, or your prayers, they are much appreciated.  I would also like to thank Richard Seivert for putting this trip together for us and letting us become an extended part of the Gehlen family.  And of course Frank Seivert who put up with us and guided our mission while in Honduras,

Richard, I would like to take a moment to tell you to relax and quit worrying about how to thank Carolyn and I for the bog idea.  I know you are so happy with its success, and it must just be killing you to try to show your gratitude.  We are fine, we know you appreciate us, however I think flowers and some sort of dinner certificate for Carolyn would be nice. 

Good bye Honduras!  We will be back!

Seivert from Gehlen Monday afternoon 4/12/10

Message For Springfield Catholic Mission Team
Sunday, April 11, 2010 1:50 PM
From: "Richard Seivert" rseivert2@yahoo.com

To: mericac@yahoo.com

Merica, please read to your team on Monday night. Seivert
----------------------------
Dear Merica and Springfield Catholic Mission Honduras,

On behalf of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras 'Changing Lives,' let me be the first to say thank you, to each and every one of you, for all you have done for the good people of La Florida, Comayagua, Honduras, Central America. This program, this school and all its people, have been watching your mission each and every day through the blogs. We are very very proud of each of you and we know how proud your own families, friends, and school are with your dedication and commitment to the poor of Honduras. Let it be said today that fourteen young people and adults from Springfield Catholic High School have made a huge difference in the lives of many. Let it be said that you have stepped out of your comfort zone and into the harsh reality of life in the developing world. Let it be said that from this time forward you will never look at anything the same again. Let it be said that you have lived out the words of Christ in the Gospels and served. As Mother Teresa said, "If you pray, you will believe. If you believe, you will love. And if you love, you will serve." I encourage each of you to keep the spirit and love of mission work in your young lives. As you grow older be open and let this mission experience mold and guide you to always help the 'least of our brothers.'

Special thanks to the president and committee from La Florida that has given this group the chance to work side by side with you – two countries – all Americans. Special thanks to Angel Paz, Francis Seivert, and Julio Martinez for all the prepatory work in advance of this team. Special thanks to Sister Joan Polak and Linda Reichle for all the love and continuation they have shown this past week in moving from Gehlen to Springfield. Special thanks to the Rotary Clubs of central U.S. along with International Rotary for their trust, faith in Mission Honduras, and belief in this project – their wonderful financial support has made this possible. Special thanks to Fr. Bonilla, Tacha Alverado, and the wonderful people of Esquias for their continuing support and hospitality – we always know our teams are taken care of.

May the bond between Gehlen Catholic and Springfield Catholic schools, found in the dirt, sand, rocks, cement, and water, but most especially in the people of La Florida, be forever strong. Please continue to pray for the wonderful people of La Florida and the poor of the world. As Christians this is what we are called to do; this is what we must do; as Christians this IS who we are.

With Sincere Regard for You and your Families,
Richard E. Seivert
Director Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras

Seivert from Gehlen Monday April 12 - 7:12 A.M.

Greetings from Gehlen Catholic and Mission Honduras. Obvioiusly from Merica's blog of Sunday the Springfield team had quite a day.
I wanted to use this forum for the next bit of news involving both teams, Gehlen and Springfield, along with their families, friends, and schools - as I know all will be interested and excited for this news.
Frank and I just spoke 15 minutes ago. The team was up and getting ready for their last day in La Florida.
It will be another emotional day for all of them.

He called to give me an update on the food purchases for the Tolupan people of Montana de la Flor.
Let me begin by identifying Julio Martinez: Julio is one of our closest friends and has been with all our teams over these many years. He is the oldest son of Chief Tomas, one of the five Chiefs of the Tolupan.
Julio stayed in Sulaco yesterday and did not return to Esquias with the Springfield team because he was leaving for the mountain this morning to deliver the food purchased from the students and the wonderful donation from a Kids Against Hunger packing event that occured in Churdan, Iowa a few weeks ago (that was the group that had $2500.00 left over after packing and when they heard about the desperate situation in Montana de la Flor they asked if we could get emergency food aid to the Tolupan people).
Julio and Frank purchased the food in Marale, Honduras, just yesterday. The combined monies from the two groups was just under $3,000.00. With that money they purchased 3000 lbs. of corn, 2,000 lbs. of rice, 4,700 lbs. of cooking oil, 860 lbs. of sugar, and 1,600 lbs. of flower. In 35 minutes from the time I am writing this Julio and the truck we have rented for this purpose will leave Marale for the 2.5-3.0 hour trip to the mountain. Julio has made all the arrangements with the 5 Chiefs and they will all be present for him to execute his plan. Wonderful things are happening because of these two groups of high school students.

On a related note just last Friday I shipped a full container of Kids Against Hunger food (285,120 meals) to Honduras. I have been doing this for years into Honduras, Haiti, and Tanzania. Our container arrived in East Gulf Port, Mississippi yesterday and was loaded aboard 'Dole Ecuador' for transshipment to Puerto Cortes on the northern coast. It will be there in about 7 days.  Once it is in country it will be taken out of customs by members of the Cerro de Plata foundation who work closely with the Sisters of Charity of Mother Teresa. We have a close relationship with them. The entire food shipment will go into Tegucigalpa for eventual transportation into Montana de la Flor. I will be sending a second container within a couple of weeks destined for all the orphanages run by Cerro de Plata and the Sisters of Charity.

Pray for a good last day in La Florida for the Springfield team. They have done amazing things.
Late this afternoon I will again post a message - before Merica's blog. You will understand when you read it this afternoon.

Take Care,
Richard E. Seivert
Gehlen Mission Honduras

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday April 11

Exhausting, heartbreaking, and fun.  Three words to wrap up this day.  Because this was a no work day we all got to sleep in a little.  Mass was at 8 but we walked over a little early so everyone could see the church.  Two most memorable moments of the mass were the dog on the altar before mass began, and the way the Hondurans do the sign of peace.  In a Honduran church, you get out of your seats, move all around and hung everyone.

After mass it was on the bus for 2.5 hours to Sulaco.  Our first adventure happened on the way to Sulaco.  Last week the Gehlen group had a flat on the way.  While waiting for it to be fixed, the encountered a lady carrying sticks on her back.  They saw her house she was walking to up on the hill and that it was made of sticks also.  Well, the Gehlen group wanted to help her so they arranged to send supplies to her via our travels.  Today she was delivered rice, beans, sugar, salt, flour, lard and laundry soap.  We had the experience of delivering these items up to her house.  I have never been so stunned.  The structure and conditions she was living in stunned us all and it is indescribable.  Hopefully the pictures will be able to tell the story.,  From here we went to the malnutrition center.  It was touching and emotional to the team to hold these children, and I was distressed to see two of the children I saw there last year were still there.  We had the honor of delivering brand new high chairs to the center that was purchased from the Gehlen team which was here last week.  Gehlen, we were honored to deliver your gift and very proud of your contributions.  The chairs look great, and I promise we took lots of pictures.  The most emotional moment came when it was time to leave and several members of the team had to put the children down and the children cried and clung to them.  The children at the center are in their 3rd stage of malnutrition and if not reversed they will die.  Holding the victims of world hunger in their arms will leave a lasting impression.  Our group has set a goal of raising money for cribs that they so desperately need because apparently they are expecting many more children in July.

We also delivered medicines and supplies to the local hospital, visited the sewing school, woodworking school.  The day ended with a visit to a friend of Sisters for tortillas, sodas, and the most fabulous bread we had ever had!

After such an emotional day, the ride home was full of fun.  For one thing, Chastyn drank a coke, and for those who know her know what that can mean.  Also, we teased Megan relentlessly because it appears she stole a role of toilet paper from the  malnutrition center.,

Dinner of fried chicken was served soon after we arrived, and that brings you up to date.  I would like to stress again how proud I am of this team.  Bob Becker and Chuck and Kim Donica have been amazing, and the students keep surprising me with their strength.  They have yet to however beat Sister in poker!  Tomorrow we say goodbye to the people of La Florida.  As sad as that will be it also means we are one step closer to being back with our family and friends.  It will be a bittersweet day  Thank you for the comments, we love reading them. Hasta Luego!

Seivert from Gehlen Sunday 1:10 P.M.

Good afternoon from Gehlen. Just spoke with my brother Francis. The Springfield team was a few minutes from their visit at the malnutrition center in Sulaco. Am writing this blog in advance of Merica's tonight because of the photo I have posted here. The Gehlen student team named her the 'stick lady.'   Like the Gehlen group on their way to Sulaco the Springfield team just had their emotional encounter with the lady. I will let Merica tell the story when she returns tonight. When she does, the picture is posted here.
Take Care,
Richard Seivert
Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras

Saturday, April 10, 2010

saturday April 11

First of all, thanks to all of you who left comments!  The girls were all surrounded around the computer and got to read them with me and they ment so much!  Then they got too loud.....imagine that, and have left. 

The fish last night was a hit.  I lost track of the number of eyes eaten.  The only excitement last night was a short power loss, and then the return of Fred and Ethel.....I named the roaches.  Kim killed them for us, but Kirsten reminded us that they would have children and friends.  I informed the girls I met the children at 5am!

Today was a hard work day of digging and pick axing.  The ground was very dry and full of large rocks so it was challenging.  The kid were out of school so we had a lot of help and onlookers.  We decided the way Kirsten swung a pick ax today that she has to be part Honduran at least!  WE discovered some angry ants and a taranchula while digging.

After lunch was special today because we got to distribute some items to the villagers.  Our group brought brightly colored frisbees which were imprinted with From Your American Friends in Spanish.  We lined all the children up and passed them out.  They were a hit!  The girls in the group also made up special purses filled with goodies to give to some of the girls who have followed us around all week and have done as much or more work than we have.  Some goodbyes had to be said because we may not see some of them on

every one is feeling fine, but we have a few blisters on the team which are being treated with duck tape and spider man bandaids!  I got some good pictures on the bus on the way home because a few missioners dared to fall asleep!  And the Hondurans are speaking English, their favorite phrase is OH MY GOSH.  It is so funny to hear and they love using  it!  The other phrase is WHATS UP MAN! 

Once again everyone should be so proud of this team.  Their work ethic is amazing, and the benefits we are receiving are truly amazing.  Spanish is being spoken, but our favorite quote for the trip has come from Stephanie Rice.  She told us one night.......It does not matter what language you  speak, a smile is something everyone can understand.   I will leave you with that.  Tomorrow will be mass at 8am, then on to Sulaco to the malnutrition center.  It will be a beautiful and heartbreaking day.  Love to all of our family and friends.  To my boys, I love you and will see your soon.  Bob, please clean the house......and I love you too!

Hasta manana!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday, April 9

Hello SCHS Mission followers!  I know Carolyn filled you in on our day, but just a few more things before the night ended.  Bob Becker ended up feeling a little sick, so we just named yesterday the ´Bad Bob Becker Day.  Also, as the girls were brushing their teeth to go to bed they got to meet 3 other part time missioners........roaches! 

Our day started eary as usual, and we were afraid we would not make up all the way up the mountain on the bus, but we did.  Thankfully the rain gave us a cooler overcast day, which was needed since the job was once again carrying bags of sand up the mountain.  We all realized our calves were a little angry with us as we climbed up today.  The most special thing about today was the help we recieved from the children.  They did not have school today so they were all around.  Some of them brought their own sand buckets and carried sand right up the mountain with us.  Some of us had followers that literally took the sacks off of our backs just to give us a break.  Never have we experienced such generosity.  We actually finished by 11 30 and we usually stop at 12.  We used this time for bubbles and some rounds of duck duck goose, or should I say pato pato ganso, and the children had so much fun playing this.  All the girls have special friends that go with them everywhere, and I am afraid hearts are going to break on Monday.  We teturned home hot and very dirty.  Some showered right away, others of us did some more sorting.  Well, unfortunately the water ran out for us sorters. so I am hoping it will come back on!  Tonight we will have our fish dinner.  This is Tilapia served with the head on and the eye looking right at you!  I will keep you posted on how many eat the eye!

Since there will be no school tomorrow, we plan on taking lots of gifts to the children tomorrow.  We have frisbees and a bag of toys, and the girls made purses full of trinkets for the girls in the village.  There is supposed to be a lot of rain again tonight so I hope we able to make it up.  Tomorrow we will dig, whicb will be a welcome break from two days of mountain climbing.

We are safe and happy.  We miss our family and friends and cannnot wait to share with you more our experiences.  Please leave comments on the blog.  I know the students would love to hear from your.  Trace and Bob, thanks for writing.  Trace I love and miss you too.  I am able to check the blog and it looks like now write on it, so we would love to hear from you.  That is all for now!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Thursday, April 8

Hi All,
Unfortunately, the internet is not working in Esquias, so Merica has shared lots with me and I will do my best to give you everything that is going on in Honduras with our newest missioners.

The missioners had a great day. They brought a load of school supplies to the small school in La Florida. They had the sweetest little teacher there, and everyone had a chance to visit with the teacher and the students.

The 107 degree temperature didn't slow our missioners down. They carried bags of sand up the mountainside where the Honduran men are building the water tank of bricks and cement. Everyone was excited to do the work, knowing the difference clean water is going to make in the lives of the people of La Florida. The missioners were awed with the work ethic of Alex & Max. They worked hard at digging trenches today. There just was no 'quit' in them. The adults are extremely proud of all the missioners, but these two young men have been a head above when it comes to working hard.

Mary had a little trouble with dehydration. She got down some gatorade and Francis fixed her up with some rehydration salts in her water. That heat can zap you before you realize it, so I know Francis will make sure she gets fixed up and back to work soon.

On the way up the mountain this morning, Carlos, the bus driver, picked up a man and his young baby. They were glad to help him when they heard he was taking the baby to the doctor.

The missioners took along a couple small bags of ball caps for the workers today. They loved them and immediately began to wear them. It was a blast to see how excited they became over such a simple gift. The girls also took the opportunity to remind everyone to eat just a little less so they could hand out the left-over food to the villagers. The girls enjoyed seeing the pleasure everyone got from sharing food together.

Merica discovered a lot of the children from El Junco were hanging around La Florida. They remembered many of the missioners from last year's trip, especially Merica, and wanted to join this year's missioners in La Florida. Merica admitted she felt just a little guilty when she heard they'd skipped school today to join the missioners, but they did pitch in and dig trenches with the missioners.

Due to the extreme heat, some of the missioners discovered that some of the trees were dripping little bits of moisture and they were enjoying the coolness of it. However, when they discovered that the little bits of water they were exeperiencing was locust pee, they soon cleared out of those areas. Right now the country is full of locusts. They buzz so loud in the late afternoons that it sounds like loud buzz saws all around you. The children like to chase the missioners with the locusts because many of the missioners scream when they see a huge locust in front of their faces or clinging to their arm.

On the return trip to Esquias, the bus became stuck. They figured it must be because of the weight in the back of the bus. So everyone told Kaitlin to move to the front, and sure enough, the bus was able to get out when Kaitlin moved to the front of the bus! I guess even a little person can make a difference.

Once the missioners were back in Esquias, they headed for the little store and purchased some ice cream. It was delicious and a great way to cool off. They also spent a little time in the park with some children.

Coach White: All the soccer girls want you to know they are NOT sore.

Bob Becker had a few problems today. It seems like trouble followed him all around the compound today. The cement bench broke while he was sitting on it. And when he tried to improve the clotheslines after he'd washed his clothes in the pila, that also broke. Bob was afraid to touch anything after that.

Merica sends a big hug to her family at home. All the missioners want everyone to know that they are doing great, loving their mission trip, and making the most of their opportunity.

Please continue to pray for our missioners in Honduras. They will have amazing stories for you upon their return to Missouri.

(Carolyn substitute blogging for Merica today.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, April 7

Hola from Honduras!  I am writing this blog from a police station........but its not what you think it is the only place with internet access.  Today was our first day of work.  After a early breakfast of pancakes, it was on the bus for a 1 and a half hour drive to la florida.  The group enjoyed all the sights on the way, there were lots of smiles and waves from the Hondurans.  Not to rub in in to the previous group, but the temp was very tolerable today.  Even though the themometer read 100, we had lots of cloud cover and a breeze.  The work was tough.  Nothing but digging and pick axing.  Parents, teachers, friends and family of this group, you would be so proud.  I was so impressed by the work this group did today.  They worked hard but seemed to enjoy the process.  It did not take long to have many followers and helpers by the children of the village.  WE were all touched by the way smalll children would come take shovels and axes from our hands and take over the work to give us breaks.  Chastyn and Kaitlin sang, we blew bubbles, and I once again fell down on my first day  Nothing hurt but my pride, and Alex said I did not need that anyway!  It was a quiet ride home, but once we got back the students went straight to the salon to sort all of the donation.  Under the leadership of Kaitlin and Christina, it was done quickly!  I do not have a lot of time with this computer, so unfortunately I will not be able to be as detailed as Carolyn, but here are a few things i need to say.

To the Gehlen group, my girls loved and appreciated the letter you left.  It really made them feel good and laugh and I thank you for that!  Chastyn wants to give a shout out to Peyton, Shelby and Lyndsey, and hello to All my  SPanish classes.  Kolt, your parents are doing a great job.  This keyboard is challenging so please excuse any errors or grammar.  WE are safe, we are having fun, and everyone is loving Honduras,.  The kids are about to go down to the park to play with the kids, they have quite a following here!  To my boys Trace and jack, I love you and miss you!  Hopefully the internet will be back up in the library tomorrow so I do not have to rush, but for now I think the policeman wants his computer back.  Until tomorrow, adios!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Springfield Catholic Team Arrives in Esquias

This is Carolyn Bickford blogging for the Springfield Catholic Mission Team. Obviously, they are unable to get to the internet tonight, so I will do it for them.

The time in Honduras is now 6:12 p.m., which makes it 7:12 p.m. here in Iowa.

The team stopped in the village of El Guante as they drove from Tegucigalpa to their home base of Esquias. It gave them an opportunity to tour the clinic built by Mission Honduras LeMars and local villagers in 2002-2003. They enjoyed looking at the scenery and seeing various birds along the way. It was a nice drive, though bumpy once they got to the gravel road.

The team arrived safely in Esquias at around 4 o'clock U.S. time. Seivert has been in touch with them by phone multiple times. All team members are fine. As soon as the team arrived, they unloaded their bags (all arrived) and got set up in the dorms. They were pleasantly surprised to find such nice accommodations. The girls were really excited when they found a note left by the girls from the Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras team. The note welcomed them to their mission and told the Springfield girls how much their mission trip has impacted their lives already. It also gave them a list of do's and don't's to help them with their mission experience. It made the Springfield team feel right at home.

Though Tacha had told them supper would be at 5, she rang the bell early. After supper they walked down to the park where they discovered some young boys. It gave them a chance to play a little frisbee with them.

Merica planned to have their 'junta' meeting at 8 to go over the chore list and the tips she has for them. She would like them to retire early and get some rest because it has been a long day. Many of them were up at 3:15 a.m. She wants to make sure they stay healthy by staying hydrated and well-rested.

I hope you find these blogs as helpful as the Gehlen group did. Seivert and I will make sure the blog gets updated if Merica is unable to get to the internet.

Best of luck, Springfield Catholic Mission Team! You are going to have the experience of a lifetime!!
Springfield Catholic Mission Honduras
Group at Fayetteville Airport
5:00 A.M. 4/6/10

Monday, April 5, 2010

Two Days in Tegucigalpa

Hello to all Tegucigalpa,
Frank, Sr. Juanita, Julio, Carlos & I (Linda) have been spending the last couple of days in Tegucigalpa doing a little shopping. We are staying at a nice hotel - I think the mission students would be jealous.  We were able to take a nice hot shower! What a treat that is!!

Yesterday we said some sad good byes to our group of students and fellow team leaders. We watched as they boarded the plane and prayed for a safe journey for them as they were  anxious to see their families again. I already miss them and think of all the fun times and teasing all day. What a great group of people!!

Next we went to an orphanage where Frank wanted to check on a little girl named Cynthia who has been ill for quite some time with a heart condition.
They discussed the different options for Cynthia as far as her medical condition is concerned and her personal care.

We also took the orphanage a few supples and visited and played with the children. They loved having their pictures taken, and held on tight as we tried to put them down.  As usual, they long to be held and loved by anyone that will spend some time with them. They were so very cute and adorable.

Later Marny took Sr. Juanita and I to a few places to try to buy some high chairs for the Malnutrition Center in Sulaco. We did not have any luck as one place had only one chair, and another place had only two chairs. Another place was closed.

Today, Monday - we got to sleep in until 7!  We went to a market to buy some groceries for the poor woman we met on our way to Sulaco with the stick house. I want to stop at her house on our way to the Malnutrition Center and take her some groceries. We bought rice, beans, coffee, sugar, flour, and laundry soap. I will be sure to take a picture so we can show all of you. I hope she is around when we stop.

After the market, we went shopping again for high chairs and were lucky enough to find some at the second place we went to. We bought 12 high chairs. We waited for about 1 1/1 hours for them to go to their warehouse to get them, but at least we were able to get some that we were happy with.

On Tuesday, we will buy some groceries for Tacha to use for the second group. We will then go to the airport and meet the group from Springfield. Will be exciting to be the greeter this time!!

It will be exciting to go back to La Florida to see the children on Wednesday again.

Must get to bed as tomorrow will be another very long day and many new people to meet. It will be exciting to see Merica and her group and continue the water project that Gehlen Mission Honduras has worked so hard on.

Peace and Hugs to All,
Linda

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Our Honduras Mission Ends

This morning began at 4:30 a.m. Miguel had purchased one of those cow horns in Valley of the Angels on our shopping day, and he thought he should test it before returning to the U.S. Thus, at 4:30 A.M. all of the guys gathered just outside the girls' dorm window for the blasting of the horn. I have to admit that it was hilarious to hear all those girls jumping quickly out of bed at that hour. It was definitely the fastest they ever climbed out of bed any of the mornings in Honduras.

Though Tacha was told she didn't need to make breakfast for us, she wanted to be there. She, Sylvia, and Noriela made us a final breakfast of pancakes. We all removed the sheets from our beds, did last minute cleaning up, and Fr. Cosgrove did our final prayer before boarding the bus.

There was a cheer when we drove off that gravel/dirt road for the last time. Except for the speed bumps, the ride into Teguc was fairly smooth. We did have one check-point to contend with, but Carlos finally got us through.

At the airport everyone had a chance to look at the shops and purchase something to eat. Many of them headed for McDonald's.

Our plane from Tegucigalpa into Houston was right on time. We had a couple minor glitches getting through immigration and customs, but we made it to our gate in plenty of time. Everyone had time to grab a snack and restroom break before boarding our flight for Omaha. We had already discussed how we would disembark in Omaha as a team. Wearing our mission shirts, we exited the plane last and went up the ramp together to meet our welcoming committee. It was wonderful to see all those faces waiting to meet us. There were lots of hugs and both tearful greetings for their families and friends and tearful good-byes to their mission teammates, especially those from schools other than Gehlen.

It was an amazing trip - a life-changing event for all. Thanks for everyone for reading this blog. I hope you will check out the website in the coming weeks so you can see all the photos and the story that Seivert will write for us.

Finally, thanks to the students and my fellow chaperones. It was wonderful working with all of you. Special thanks to Francis Seivert for having everything ready for us upon our arrival and getting us around safely in Honduras.

Most of all, thank you to Richard Seivert, without whom NONE of this would have been possible for any of us. He puts in countless hours of work preparing for these trips and continues to work on the trip even while it is happening. And then he even does the work required to wrap it up. On top of that, he never gets to actually join us in Honduras and participate with the missioners. So Seivert, though we might forget to tell you in person, I hope you know we all appreciate the opportunity you gave to us!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Farewell to La Florida

Everyone rose a little sad this morning, knowing it would be our last day in the village of La Florida. Tacha and the other cooks made french toast for breakfast. We loaded the 39 and a few extra bags to take to La Florida. That meant we all had to squish into the bus, but we did not mind today.

We spent a couple hours digging more trenches and laying some pipe. Some people even starting covering the pipe. They still have close to three weeks of work to complete the water project. We only got to be a small part of it.

At ten we stopped working to have a small celebration. The leader of the water project for the community, the president of La Florida, the paternoster, the leader of the village women, Angel, and I gave speeches. I basically read in Spanish the speech that Seivert had written. I made only minor adjustments to it. I am going to put it here in its entirety. For our blog readers, I will write the English version only.
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(Today I would like to read a message to all of you from Richard Seivert, Director of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras & Mission Honduras LeMars, and me. Please excuse my poor Spanish.

To the wonderful people of La Florida, Comayagua, Honduras, Central America.

Greetings from Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, Le Mars, Iowa, U.S.A.

On behalf of our team and our families, friends, schools, churches, clubs, and communities, Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras says THANK YOU to the wonderful people of La Florida.

Thanks you for welcoming all of us into your life through this water project. The kindness and love yopu have extended to each of us has been felt in the homes of hundreds throughout our communities in the U.S. Make no mistake: the bond that has been forged between the people of La Florida and our team is strong, and Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras will continue to help you in whatever way we can.

Special thanks to the president and committee of La Florida that has given our group the change to work side by side with you - two countries - all Americans.

Special thanks to Angel Paz, Francis Seivert, and Julio Rivera for their prepatory work for this team. Thanks to the Rotary Club of the central U.S. along with International Rotary for their trust, faith in Mission Honduras LeMars, and belief in this project - their financial support has made this possible. Thank you to Fr. Bonilla, Tacha Alverado, and the wonderful people of Esquias for their support and hospitality - we always know our teams are taken care of. Also thanks to Carlos for driving us safely each day.

We have one other request for you. As our team leaves Honduras tomorrow and returns to our homes in the U.S., we ask you to welcome the next group of young people from Springfield Catholic School of Springfield, Missouri. Please welcome them into your lives like you have our group.

On behalf of our team and our families, Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, and Mission Honduras LeMars, we promise to pray for you and your entire community. May the bond that has been created in the ground of La Florida between our two peoples, last forever. God bless all of you.)

The villagers surprised our birthday three with two cakes and a happy birthday song in English. We all got to eat cake and drink soda. The cake was delicious.

The weather was quite cooperative this morning. It was in the nineties by the time we returned to Esquias. We now have cloud cover with possible rain on the way, but we are hoping for nice weather to take our group photo in twenty minutes. After that, we hope they get lots of rain because it is sorely needed.

We are celebrating an Easter vigil mass here in the compound at 5 p.m. We will try to have our meeting after that. We have lots to process tonight to get ready for our return. Supper of hamburgers is planned for 7. If needed, we will meet again. We are also trying to prepare for our return. A pile of our clothes, shoes, and other items is piling up next to me in the salon.

Tomorrow we will rise around four forty-five, eat a little, and load the bus. By six we should be on our way to the airport. The plane leaves around noon and we should be in Omaha around eight. We are anxious to see our families there and at home.

I will write the final blog upon my return to Le Mars that will wrap up our trip. As soon as possible I will get done with the new trip on our website. That page will include up to 250 photos from our mission trip. All missioners will also write a reflection which I will put together into a reflection book for them. Finally, I will create the PowerPoint presentation for our mission trip and we will set a time when we can all come together to view it on the large screen. I look forward to that day.

Please read our final entry on Monday. Thanks for being with us through this blog,. Look for the Springfield trip to start shortly after.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Good Friday

Students had been told last night that they could sleep in until seven thirty this morning. We were on our own for breakfast to give the cooks a morning off. Would you believe that they were pretty much out of bed by six thirty. Parents, you might want to keep that in mind when you have them back home. They can get up quite early.

At eight thirty we headed for the opposite side of Esquias to join the Stations of the Cross procession. That was to begin at nine. As we awaited the nine a.m. start of the Stations, we searched for shade wherever we could find it because it was already quite hot. As we progressed, it got even hotter. Our liters of gatorade were polished off quickly.

The procession proved to be one of the most interesting we have witnessed. The children were dressed in robes and soldier outfits as well as Mary, Veronica, Simon, Pontious Pilate and, of course, Jesus. Jesus was portrayed by a teenager. As Jesus carried his cross, he was whipped, mocked, and had rocks made of tin foil thrown at him. They placed a crown of thorns made from vines upon his head. They had smeared tomato paste,ketchup on him for blood, which looked pretty realistic. When his face was wiped, it revealed Jesus face on it. When he was nailed to the cross, they actually nailed in the nails and then tied his arms to the cross and he grasped the nails. They also had the two robbers who were side by side with him on their crosses. They gave him the sponge with vinegar. When we returned to church, Jesus was wrapped in a burial cloth and placed in the prepared tomb. As well as that performance this is the way the Stations worked.}

Around the village of Esquias various houses decorated a table outdoors with a white cloth, flowers, palms, candles, etc. They placed the Station which usually hangs in the church on that table. The procession begins at one of those homes. There are readings, prayers, songs, and ending prayers. Then we processed to the next house, following Jesus as he carried his cross. As we walked, we sang different songs. Then we would stop at the next Station and do the songs, readings, and prayers for that one. After thirteen Stations we had been participating for three hours. The last Station took place in the church and only took fifteen minutes. They then had the benediction for those who wished to stay. We had to leave. All of that took place in mostly sunlight. As soon as we returned to the compound, I checked the thermometer. It read ninety five in the shade and when I moved it into partial sunlight, it shot to the top of the thermometer, which is 120. With this kind of heat, we are having great difficulty staying hydrated. We had originally planned to play soccer with the local youth this afternoon, but the chaperones quickly nixed that idea. Our bodies needed to stay out of the sun. The soccer field is all sunlight.

Our lunch consisted of tilapia, fried bananas, and melon. This tilapia is gutted, floured, and fried head and all. That makes for some interesting facial expressions when the missioners enter the dining room for their Good Friday meal. The tilapia is delicious if you can handle having that eyeball staring at you. Many rested afterward. Then we filled our gift bags.

Each person received one or two bags to fill for a family from La Florida.Francis Seivert had found the amount of people in each family and listed the boys and girls ages. The bags were filled with shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, school supplies, toys, clothes, sandals, etc. We prepared thirty nine bags to be distributed tomorrow on our final work day in La Florida..It will be an emotional day for all of us. We also have a stack of books in Spanish from our Book Fair that we will present to the school there.

After supper but before our nightly meeting, we are hoping to go to the park for a while. We hope it will allow us to cool off a bit in the little breeze there is.

Here in the compound our water supply has been sporadic. More than once people have been caught in the shower with no water to rinse with. We have never lost electricity though. The toilets do not always flush properly either. So we then carry buckets of water from the pila to pour into them.

Every year our group brings their own clothes, towels, and sheets to use in the compound. We go home much lighter because we go home with only the clothes we are wearing. Everything else is left here to be used where needed. We leave shirts, shoes, our extra hygiene materials, sheets, lotions, etc.We leave flashlights, batteries, towels, you get the idea. We pretty much carry home the souvenirs for ourselves and our families. Most importantly, we all return with a greater appreciation for all that we have been blessed with, and I do not mean just stuff. We all realize how much our faith and families make a difference in our lives. We ALL return better people because of our mission trip to Honduras.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Shop Til You Drop

I am running a bit late tonight. We returned to Esquias from Valley of the Angels at four thirty. Then I had a few items to take care of before I could blog. It is now five thirty here, six thirty in Iowa.

All the missioners had a great time on our tourist day. We have chosen Valley of the Angels for our shopping day because of a few reasons. It is a beautiful drive, it is much easier to get around in that village instead of the huge city of Tegucigalpa, and it is much safer for all. They have lots of shops with items made by local artisans. The students were given two hours to shop. Some of the male chaperones were not too excited about that, but afterwards stated that it was not too bad. I saw lots of t+shirts, beaded items, machetes, etc.

At noon we ate a lunch of pizza at a local place. Everyone agreed that it was delicious. Then many went next door to purchase ice cream. The weather was pleasant, so it was great for all.

On the was to Valley of the Angels we made a quick stop in El Guante. For those of you who do not know, the mission teams originally stayed in El Guante. We also have a clinic there which was built by Mission Honduras LeMars. We walked down to the clinic and I explained the background of it to everyone.

At this time most of us are doing a little relaxing or writing in our junta booklets, which are our journals. Supper will be served soon. Mass tonight is at seven. Fr. Cosgrove will say some in English and have Miguel translate. Five of our guys will have their feet washed.

Tomorrow we will participate in the Stations of the Cross. It is a very unique celebration that I will describe in detail tomorrow.  We also p´lan to put together our gift bags and ´play a little soccer. There is not much time left on our mission.

Oh yes, I wanted to let you know that our hour and twenty minute drive to La Florida is approximately sixteen miles in length. That lets you know the type of roads we travel and the speed at which we drive.

As Seivert told you, the money that Heelan started has grown. Today we met with our friend Marny, who met us in Valley of the Angels. Francis asked her to price high chairs for the malnutrition center and to prepare to buy food for Montaña de la Flor. They will take care of everything next week. Thank you to those who have added money to our small amount. It is going to make a big difference in some very desperate lives.

We feel your prayers as we continue our mission. Though we took a break today, we have not lost sight of our real purpose in being here.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Caritas in Veritate (Charity In Truth) / Seivert From Gehlen

Greetings from Gehlen. Just returned from Kids Against Hunger packing at Kuemper Catholic. I left a little early to write this blog but they were on target for about 300,000 meals / all to Honduras.
Obviously Carolyn has just posted another blog for you to read.

I titled this blog 'Charity In Truth' because I wanted to tell you a short story - part you know and part is new. I communicated the new to Carolyn this afternoon and she will communicate this to the team tonight at Junta.

If you remember, a week or so before the team left Fr. Cosgrove called one day and said he had all this money - $325 from the student body at Heelan to help with the trip. We decided the best thing would be to use the money in the malnutrition center in Sulaco: I suggested maybe new high chairs, new beds, potties, etc., but that they would have to make that decision once they got there.  Then if you remember the Heelan money became like a snowball rolling down a hill. By the time the team left for Omaha on the 25th they were carrying about $1100.00. 
In getting into Honduras on Friday one of the very first things this team did together was meet and discuss what to purchase for the children in the malnutrition center - prior to the teams arrival I had Frank and Julio inquire as to their greatest needs.
Then to Carolyn's blog of Monday where she related how they decided to spend 60% of the money in the malnutrition center. Her next blog of last night explained the other 40% - To be spent in Montana de la Flor to purchase direct food aid for the Tolupan because so many had absolutely nothing to eat. According to Carolyn this team of young people is extremely worried about the Tolupan and what might happen to them - one of our most trusted drivers and workers is Julio - oldest son of Chief Tomas of the Tolupan. All the young people adore him - he will inherit his fathers position someday.
A further explanation: Almost 100% of  the time I am on the road with presentations on Honduras or Kids Against Hunger, I refer to the 'Power of Young People.' That is sort of where this story has gone. While at Kuemper today and making arrangements with all my contacts in Florida, Louisiana, and Missouri, to ship a load of Kids Against Hunger food from LeMars the middle of next week I learned that the people of Greene County, Iowa, and in particular Wendy Pittman, representing an ecumenical group of people from various locations in Greene County, wanted to add to the snowball started by the Heelan students - the people in Greene County had recently packed KAH food in Churdan, Iowa, and had over $2000.00 left. They and Al Vonnahme have now read Carolyn's blog and want the money to go to MDLF. Wow! What a wonderful donation and at such a critical time.
For over two hours on my return from Kuemper this afternoon I kept thinking about this donation from the Heelan student body, how it has morphed into a much larger sum, how it will more than likely save the lives of many, I kept thinking of the power of young people and what they can accomplish, and what they are learning about Caritas In Veritate. This feels a little like the touch of the Holy Spirit working in these young people.
Just wanted you to know.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Another Scorcher in La Florida

This morning we had a special treat - las mañanitas - which is a morning birthday wake-up. We celebrated the three birthdays for Drew, Sarah L., and Sam by waking everyone at 5 a.m. with singing and a man playing the concertina. We dragged them out of bed as quickly as possi ble, which was not fast at all. They all groaned about losing that extra thirty minutes of sleep, but I know it will be a neat memory for them later. Many of them scrambled for their beds as soon as the three songs were over. This evening will have a bit more music and a big cake at 6. That will be a real treat for everyone.

When we put the thermometer in the sun today, it went to the top. That was 120 degrees, but it was only 92 in the shade. We have been pushing them to drink to their limits and beyond. Tomorrow will be a good break from work. Three days of hard labor is tough on everyone. Today a group of people finished carrying the bricks to the top of the mountain. Everyone else dug trenches and shoveled out dirt. We made a lot of progress, we felt. Our trench is just a few feet short of the top of the mountain.

As soon as we finished, all missioners and villagers of La Florida posed for our group photo. That allows us to print out the photos with a small camera printer we keep in Esquias so we can leave a booklet of photos with our friends in the village. As I type this, Linda is printing photos for our 100 picture booklet. We will present that booklet to the villagers at our little celebration on Saturday, our final work day.

You might wonder what we do when we are not working in La Florida. Well, we do need a little time to just rest and possibly siesta. We sort the goods we brought for others. Some people do laundry. That is a bit more difficult than throwing it in the washing machine. You use something called a pila, pronounced pee-la. It looks like a big vat of water with a cement scrub board on either side. You wet the clothes and scrub a cylinder shaped bar of laundry soap onto the piece of clothing. Then the real fun begins. You scrub and you scrub and then scrub some more. If there is a Honduran around, they typically laugh or take over at that time. If you are alone, you finally rinse by scooping water out of the pila and wrining the clothing by hand. Then you hang it on the line. The heat dries the clothes in a few hours, even if it was dripping wet. If a Honduran helped with the laundry, the white shirt is white. If not, the white shirt is usually a tannish color. We all do our best at laundry, though.

The students all have chores to do at the compound. They vary from dusting the pop bottles and stocking the fridge to emptying the waste baskets next to the toilets. You see, we are not allowed to put paper into the toilets, so that job is one that is avoided. They also refill water jugs from the five-gallon jug, sweep the floors, wash tables, set up for our nightly meeting, and clean sinks. In the evenings we head for the park and have a meeting

Gotta go. The battery is almost dead.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

In the Trenches

We were up again at 5:30. Breakfast was french toast and papaya. Everyone seemed to have slept well. I have to admit that I get a little joy out of waking those girls at 5:30. You should hear the groans when I announce that the light will be going on momentarily.

Leah seems to be feeling a bit better. I put her in charge of playing with the little girls and taking lots of photos today. She was also in charge of supervising water bottles and sunglasses. It helped her to feel a part of what we are doing.

We did not have to carry bags of cement, sand, or bricks anywhere today. There were some Honduran men that took over the task of hauling bags of cement and sand. I also saw one burro making that trip multiple times. We began digging trenches. Almost everyone had a chance to try their hand at using the pick-ax. That task pretty much fell to the men after a bit. The rest of us helped by shoveling out the trenches when the guys needed to rest for a bit. Cole kept breaking handles on his pick-ax, so we all had a chance to watch the Hondurans make new handles.

I noticed a lot more conversations going on today. The students recognize each other and call each other by name now. There are lots of hugs when we arrive and when we leave.  The villagers are at work on the water tank. I have been told that the water tank will hold five thousand gallons of water and they are making it of brick and concrete. They were also working at the water collection site today. That is harder to explain. They had a cement water-holding tank already. They are building another support with that. Inside that cement holding tank, they have dug deeper to catch the spring water properly, cemented the spots that allowed water to leak out and placed pipes inside it. Rather ingenious, I think. The motor will set atop that.

Some of the village ladies cooked lunch again for us. All of their meals have been delicious. Today we had pieces of chicken, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and tortillas. Then we invited all who wished to join us to mass on the soccer field. Some of the villagers went home to quickly clean up. We had no choice and attended mass in our filthy clothes. Part of the mass was in English, and Sr. Juanita translated the sermon and latter part of the mass. Tony played the guitar and we sang some of the songs Mrs. Klein had assembled for us.

On our return drive we picked up a group of Hondurans who were waiting for a ride to Esquias. They climbed on top of the bus to ride. In one village sister pointed out the white flowers, called Isota I think, that people chop up and put into their eggs for flavoring and iron. Miss Rogers expressed a desire to have some. Carlos, our bus driver, asked a local villager walking by if we could have one and he assented. So one of our friendly hitchhikers climbed the tree and cut it off for us. We will let you know how it tastes.

At this time everyone is taking their showers. An extra person always goes along to the showers with the girls and they coordinate turning on the water. They are very careful to not go over their sixty-second of shower allotment time.  Perhaps we´ll go to the park this evening and then begin preparing the gift bags for the village families.

Tomorrow we will have another work day in La Florida. Once again Angel has told me we will be digging trenches. Today we were extremely fortunate. Though my thermometer has disappeared, we felt the temerature was around the mid-seventies. I am sure it won´t last, but it sure was nice today. We did not need to escape the heat as much while we worked. We had cloud cover most  of the work time and many were hoping for rain, but it never materialized.

It seems many of you are reading the blogs. Please feel free to post comments for us. I will pass them along as I can.

I cannot remember if I reported another item the group voted upon. Julio had mentioned that there is absolutely NO food in Montana de la Flor. He is very worried about it. We also know some Kids Against Hunger food is going to be shipped soon. But we are afraid some may die before it can arrive. Thus the group also voted to purchase some bags of rice, beans, and corn (used for tortillas) to take to the mountain so the people have some food, little as it is, to sustain them until the KAH food arrives. We hope it can make a difference.