2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

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 maƱanitas - 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.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Palm Sunday and Second Work Day

Since we returned so late Sunday night, I am writing both days together. It will be a long one. Just for your information, Sam has admitted that she has not missed texting too much but it has been somewhat difficult. She thinks there will be a major withdrawal on Saturday or Sunday.

Our day began at six with a breakfast of oatmeal. Then we all dress in our church clothes and walked to the other side of Esquias. There was a young man dressed as Jesus and lots of children dressed in robes with long palms like in Jesus`time. Padre Bonilla began the procession by blessing all our palms. Then Jesus said a few words and they helped him mount the burro. We walked through the town singing and occasionally someone would shout in Spanish Vive Jesu Cristo and everyone would shout Vive. Once we were in the church, we had our regular mass. Of course, that would be the regular mass for Honduras. For those of you who have not experienced that, there is a lot of movement. Children going to various people so it is hard to tell to whom they belong. There could also be dogs joining us for a bit. The characters from the procession sat behind the altar and at one point a young boy decided to visit one of his friends. Then he returned to his seat. The sign of peace is chaotic but fun. Everyone goes all over church hugging each other. The little ones go up to the priest and give them hugs. At the end of mass there is usually a big discussion about which day and at one time the next service will be. All of that lasted around an hour and a half or more. Padre Bonilla then met with Sr. Juanita, Miguel, and me as well as his church committee. We both expressed our gratitude for each other. I for allowing us to stay in Esquias with out students every year. He said how much he admires our students and adults for sacrificing and coming to his country to help the Hondurans. He hopes that we are able to participate in more church activities during our stay.

We loaded the bus and truck and started on our way to Sulaco where the malnutrition center is located. It was a hot and bumpy ride. Those of us who were riding with Julio in the truck finally decided to wait for the bus when it did not seem to be with us. We discovered they had had a flat tire, so we sat on the side of the road to wait for them. It was at that time that a lady I will call the stick lady from now on came walking around the corner of the road. She was carrying a huge load of sticks to use for cooking. She stopped a bit to rest then continued up the hill. When she spotted us, she threw the sticks aside and continued toward our vehicle. The first thing she said was a comment to Miguel, something like his mother had fed him too much milk. She talked with Julio for a bit. I guessed she was asking for money. With Julio`s permission I gave her some money to use for food. She commented that it would be enough for ten days of rice. Julio warned her of an approaching bus, so she went to retrieve her sticks. She carried half of them up the hill to a house we had not noticed. It looked like long sticks pounded into the ground to stay upright. It was not very big, maybe as big as a large bathroom for us. The roof was scraps of boards and tin. After she deposited her firewood in the yard, she crossed the road to purchase rice from the neighbor. It left us quite thankful for our own homes and food.

By then the bus caught up to us and we finished the drive to Sulaco. At the malnutrition center we were met with eleven small children standing on the porch. One of them called Poppy to Tim, and sister said it was rare that they received a visit from a man and he thought it was his dad. The team went right to the children and patiently awaited until the children would come to them. All of the missioners  hearts were touched for these poor children who are quite sick. The team voted to spend sixty percent of the money they brought along from donations to purchase new high chairs and possibly cribs for the center. They are badly in need of many other items, but our money will not fund all of it. We had brought some shoes and sandals with us. When the little children saw them, they all gathered around to get new shoes. They wanted to wear them right away. The students discoverd that the elastic that connected the sandals fascinated the children, so they put the elastic on the little kids arms for bracelets. After that all the children became attached to the missioners. Our group discussed how something as minute as a piece of elastic became special to these little ones who have pretty much nothing. As I knew it would be, it was very difficult to get everyone to leave. Some of them cried, both missioners and children, on our part knowing they will probably never see them again and we hope they can return  to good health.

We stopped at Dulce`s house for our lunch of tortillas and peanut butter and jelly. The bus needed to get a tire repaired. Then we began the long bumpy ride back to Esquias. We had gotten a late start, so our supper was late last night. The park was rather active so we hung around the compound. Some sang songs while Tony played the guitar. Some sat and talked in various spots in the compound. This group of missioners has been one of the most willing to volunteer to help out and they seem to be bonding quite quickly. It is fun to watch the friendships forming in this group. They are also finding lots of friends in La Florida.

We arose at five-thirty this morning, Monday, and ate our breakfast of eggs, watermelon, and pineapple. Then it was back to work in La Florida. It was a balmy ninety-two at the village today. Now that we are back in Esquias, we have discovered it is over 110 degrees in the sun. Just a bit toasty.

The group prayed that no sand and rocks were left to carry and that prayer was answered. However, there were approximately 1,400 bricks to be carried up down the road and then up the mountainside. We carried from two to ten bricks apiece to the first deposit site. Of course, it was Cole carrying the ten. Then we formed an assembly like of missioners and Hondurans to pass the bricks up to the second collection site. After a couple breaks, we reformed the line to start at the second site. The men tossed their bricks and then we women and children handed them up the rest of the way. Francis suggested at one break that we each carry a load up instead. After trying that once, we again formed the assembly line. We all discovered it is much easier to breathe on a mountainside at 4,000 feet above sea level while standing still and handing bricks to each other than to carry them up individually. The Honduran men continue to work at the dam site. There is a spring that comes from the mountainside and they are working to make the water collection site.

Now for our next problem- we have 92 ninety-five pound bags of cement that need to be moved up that same mountainside. We will see what they can devise to do such a job because I know that I am not carrying a 95-pound bag of cement anywhere!!! Angel, the Honduran man in charge of our water projects, said we will be able to begin digging trenches tomorrow. We also plan to celebrate a mass with the villagers tomorrow. They have no church so we will use the school instead. We hope to practice some music tonight in preparation. The villagers of La Florida have invited the neighboring village of El Junco, the site of last year`s water project, to join us for mass.

Well, that about does it in a nutshell. It is so hard to share everything that is happening here. Bruce said every student should have an opportunity to do mission work like this. Just to see the poverty is such an eye-opener for everyone. It is also surprising to see how enterprising they can be - making needed items out of whatever they can find. And we find everyone of them so welcoming to us. I can already foresee some tearful good-byes on Sunday.

Continue to pray for the success of our mission trip - both for the villagers of La Florida and in the hearts of each missioner.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

They Just Returned From Sulaco

Just letting you know the team has returned from Sulaco. Spoke very briefly with Carolyn. They had a late start leaving Esquias this morning and then a flat tire along the way. She said the visit was very powerful at the malnutrition center and a very hot day again. Everyone was well and doing fine. They were going to have supper in just a few minutes.
Carolyn wanted me to tell all of you because they were so late she missed her window of opportunity to use the internet. Thus she told me to tell everyone she will blog tomorrow afternoon around 4:00 - a preset time. She will give you details on the visit to Sulaco and their 2nd day of work. Hope this helps.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Missing Bag Mystery Solved

Frank and Monchin have retrieved 9 bags and in the process solved the 1 missing bag mystery. It belongs to Paige - our young lady that had to return with us to LeMars. They evidently targeted the bag once she did not make the flight. How they knew which was her personal one and which was not I have no idea.  In either case it is back in Omaha and we will retrieve it sometime this week. At least we got one extra bag into Honduras in her name - 50 pounds of supplies.
The next blog will be that of Carolyn right from Esquias.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Seivert From Gehlen / 8:00 Sunday Morning

As the team prepares for Palm Sunday Procession through the village, Frank and Monchin are on their way to Tegucigalpa to retrieve the bags. There seems to be a mystery surrounding the number. The airport says they only have 9 to retrieve - the team says they only had 46 (3 different counts). Hopefully when Frank and Monchin get to the airport they will solve the mystery of the missing bag. As Carolyn said in last nights blog the team will travel to Sulaco today to visit the malnutrition center. The sites they will see on the way, along with the actual visit, might prove to be an emotional day. 
By the way, Monchin is the former mayor of Esquias, a good and loyal friend of Mission Honduras. He lives just across the street from the Church and does many projects for us - he and his nephew were the ones who built the cross last June in memorial to my sister Mary Ellen Kellen, following her death last January 09 in a tragic auto accident.
Carolyn won't be able to blog again until late afternoon or early evening today so if I do solve the 1 missing bag mystery I will let you know.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Saturday, March 27, 2010

First Day in La Florida

I will apologize in advance for typos. I am using a Spanish keyboard and it has already taken me 20 minutes just to get to this point. Please bear with me.

We began our day, well some of us, at four fifteen a.m. because someone forgot to change her clock to Honduran time. Everyone else was awakened at five thirty for a breakfast of pancakes, bananas, and fresh squeeze orange juice. Students did their chores after that and we were soon on our way to the village.

We had decided at junta the night before to do our initial prayer service as the cross dedicated to Mary Ellen Kellen Seivert in El Junco, last year`s water project. Fr. Cosgrove did a great job with it. The village of La Florida was all assembled and waiting for us when we arrived. The village leaders and Angel give a little welcome, and I thanked them for allowing us to help them. Angel divided the students into two groups and the work began. By the way, Miguel did a super job of translating in both languages!

I know last year`s missioners will love hearing what I have to say next, this year`s work is not as difficult. There are mountains to climb, but they are not nearly so difficult nor steep. We carried rocks in both directions. One group carried bags of sand downward to where they will make the water collection site. After that sand was gone, they pulled rocks out of the creek bed and stacked them in preparation for dam building. The other group carried rocks and sand up the mountain to where the platform for the water tank will be built.

The missioners were great about trying to talk to the villagers. It was not long before practically every missioner, both young and old, had a trail of Honduran children working alongside them or trailing behind them. It looked like a mother duck with her ducklings.

We saw a few villagers from El Junco who came by to say hello. Alvin was the first to show up.

We ate chicken, rice, and tortillas which was cooked by the ladies there. Then we visited with everyone for a bit before climbing onto the bus for our return trip. That trip was a little noisier than the one on the way there. I think they all know they have made friends with these villagers. The people of La Florida are very hospitable and friendly. I can already foresee a tearful goodbye when we leave.

This afternoon we rested a bit and then tackled the chore of emptying the bags of the supplies we packed last Sunday. We are still short the ten bags but hope to fetch them soon. Liam, Pat, and Bruce are being very good sports about it. The unpacking went quickly. Everyone pitched in to make short work of that job. When I left the compound to do this blog, most of them were in the courtyard visiting or playing cards. Some were taking their first shower of the trip, while being teased about possibly running out of water by some of the men.

I will try to blog tomorrow after our trip to the malnutrition center. Oh yes, I almost forgot. We took along a thermometer so we would know the heat we were enduring. Today it was one hundred nine degrees in the sun and ninety two degrees in the shade. Most of our time was spent in the sun. Our rest breaks were in as much shade as we could find.

Everyone is healthy and starting to mix together with their fellow missioners. I believe they are forging some strong friendships through their common mission in Honduras. I look forward to keeping you abreast of the news.

Team In Esquias

Greetings from Gehlen.
It is early Saturday morning and just wanted to update everyone on our mission team in Honduras. But, first let me say that Paige Ellensohn is feeling much better. I spoke with her parents and Paige last evening and she is going to be fine. The doctor was not able to determine what might have precipitated this reaction. This is dissappointing for her but she will get beyond it - I have promised that anytime in the future when possible she can go with one of our teams.
Had a nice long visit with Carolyn after they arrived in Esquias. They had already hauled in all the 46 bags they had and were getting adapted to the compound area. The personal bags for Liam, Pat, and Bruce did not make it - all the rest had their bag. Those three will adjust - we plan just for this scenario. Carolyn said everyone on the team was fine and feeling energized even though it was a long long day. Tacha (our main cook) was preparing dinner for the team as Carolyn and I spoke. Carolyn was also going to the home of the mayor to inquire as to the internet / obviously she either didn't go or there was no access.
As I write it is Saturday morning 6:15 or so (5:15 Honduras time). Frank will be rousting them out of bed and getting them to breakfast at about this time as they prepare for their first work day in La Florida - and the mission is ON. I am so proud of the young people on this team - The Power of Young People.
Will write more as I know more.
R. Seivert

Friday, March 26, 2010

Team Arrives Safely in Tegucigalpa / One Member Short

This is R. Seivert writing on Carolyn's blog.
The team had a great day yesterday and a good overnight in Omaha.
Everyone awoke at 3:00 A.M.
Paige Ellensohn, one of the Gehlen seniors has returned to LeMars and did not make the trip. Paige had quite a serious allergic reaction this morning at the airport. Do not know why. She was treated by emergency people right in the airport and eventually got better throughout the rest of the morning. She has also been seen by her own doctor here in LeMars and returned home to her parents care for the day. She seemed to be much better by noon and hopefully will come out of this totally.
As most or all of you realized, the team landed safely in Tegucigalpa a few minutes late.
I have spoken with them 3 times since their arrival. 46 of the 56 bags came through. They will arrange to get the other 10 in the coming days. I have no idea which ones made it and which did not.
At 2:30 this afternoon they were north of Tegucigalpa enroute to Esquias. Will probably arrive around 5:00 to 5:30.
Probably no more blogging tonight unless Carolyn finds time. They will be busy on reaching Esquias.
I will keep you posted if Carolyn cannot. Remember, my cell is 712-540-3062.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Our Mission Begins

Time until we are in Honduras: 13 hours, 50 minutes

What a gorgeous Send-Off ceremony Seivert put on this afternoon! Everyone who was there had to get some sense of the importance of our mission - bringing clean water to the village of La Florida. Sara sang beautifully. Watching the kindergarten group carry in the cross and the senior and junior students bringing in the rest of those bags and placing them around the cross was quite touching to me. In fact, I was so entranced by what was happening in the moment, that I forgot I was to start the group moving our bags inward to the cross. It was just a super beginning to our mission.

We've have since loaded the bags onto the trailer and ridden the bus to Omaha. We ate supper at the Golden Corral, eating American for the last time until our return to the States.

After returning to the hotel, Seivert had a meeting to go over all the last-minute details of our trip. There are so many things to remember, but we always seem to pull it off. The students have been polite and attentive. I look forward to working with them over the next ten days.

We all have 3 a.m. wake-up calls. That call is going to come very soon. We'll be at the airport by 4 and in the air by 6. (Aaron is watching to make sure I make no errors.) Hopefully, there will be someplace I can blog tomorrow, but if not, a call to Seivert will have to suffice. He will carry on the blog for us.

Please keep all of us in your prayers.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Last Night at Home - for a bit

Time until we are in Honduras: 1 day, 12 hours, 33 minutes, 29 seconds

Holy cow! We'll be on the ground in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, probably gathering our bags in just 37 hours! It seemed like forever until we reached Send-Off Day, and now it's just around the corner. I know I'll have trouble sleeping tonight; I can hardly control my excitement. I also can hardly wait to see the difference this trip will make for you.

Francis has been quite busy during his time in Honduras. With the help of our Honduran friends, he has everything ready for our arrival at our 'home away from home' in Esquias.

Tomorrow I ask that you totally immerse yourself in the beautiful Send-Off ceremony that Seivert has spent weeks preparing. Really listen to what he has to say, tune in and focus on the words of the music selected just for the Send-Off (including our 2010 mission theme song), look at all the photos on the 2009 Student PowerPoint presentation, and pray for everyone involved - both Honduran and American. I have to admit that it will be the best Send-Off ceremony I've ever attended - and I've attended quite a few of them. ALL the missioners will be present but Francis, since he is already in Honduras.

Remember to leave your electronic devices with your parents when we head for the bus after the Send-Off. Our hope is that you will spend the time without those earpieces connected to your head socializing, meditating, and truly seeing the world around you.

I hope you spent a little extra time with your family tonight. Students, thank your parents for allowing you this 'chance of a lifetime' experience. I'll see you at the Send-Off.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Last-Minute Preparations

Time until we're in Honduras: 2 days, 11 hours, 30 minutes, 37 seconds

I know we are all doing our last-minute projects for school, home, or work. Try to take a little time each day to just BE. Let some of that stress you are most likely experiencing drain out of you so you can enjoy the anticipation of this mission trip.

One item that could be useful, if you can get it into your carry-on, is a good English/Spanish dictionary. Don't forget to put your work outfit into your carry-on, as well as any items you will need in the hotel on Thursday night.

Think ahead to what you would like to get out of your time in Honduras. Set some personal goals you would like to accomplish. Think of ways to use your Spanish. Maybe you could learn a few new Spanish words or phrases each day. Shake someone's hand. Smile - it works in any language. Be open to a new culture and try to absorb as much as you possibly can. Teach a Honduran a few words of English. Interact with as many people as possible. You won't regret it.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Past Missioner Shares Her Thanks

Time until we are in Honduras:  3 days, 19 hours, 3 minutes, 49 seconds

If you are like me, thinking of our mission trip is monopolizing my time. It is hard to concentrate on little else at this time. One thing I'm going to do to make sure it's my best mission trip yet it is to get some good rest this week. There is nothing worse than being sick when you are gone from home, and it would be even worse when you are trying to do mission work and can't because of illness.

Quite often Seivert and I receive notes from past missioners with thoughts and memories of their time in Honduras. We received permission from one of last year's missioners to share her letter in our blog. She does a beautiful job of sharing what her mission trip meant to her. Here is her letter:

Mrs. Bickford and Mr. Seivert,

This is Caitlin Ascherl! I hope this letter finds you very well. It is the end of Spring Break here at Saint Mary's and everyone is returning back to class. As the weather starts getting warmer and smelling more and more like spring, I can't help but begin to think of Honduras and everyone with the mission. You know how different seasons have different smells, well this past week it has really been smelling like spring here in Indiana and for me the smell of spring and rain has become directly related to Mission Honduras. Certain smells, whether it is food, clothes or rain, trigger different memories of Honduras. I wanted to let you know that I was thinking of you and praying for you all as you soon will be leaving on another trip. I will be lighting a candle at the grotto for you, for a safe and inspired trip.

I was looking at the website today and saw that you now have a blog up! This made me smile.

I am so happy for all of the students that are getting to experience and travel to do something that will truly impact the lives of others, and one another, in ways that I am still discovering. When I traveled to Honduras, I knew what I was doing was important but I wonder if I had any idea what an impact I was actually having. Even after not been in Honduras for two years I continue to learn and grow from the experiences I gained in the country.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about Solidarity. Along with our actual mission, standing in solidarity, was one of the greatest things we did. The time we spent in Esquias and the two other villages with the people was such an important part of what we did. Standing in solidarity with other human beings, who spoke a different language, who had different backgrounds, needs and general understands is so amazing to think about.

I don't know how often you are thanked for all of the time and dedication you put into the programs but I want to thank you! What you did for us and continue to do for students and the people of Honduras is awesome. You offered us the opportunity to help and grow from one another, which is a wonderful and beautiful gift. Through sharing your gifts, dozens of students, myself included, have been able to share theirs. The two trips I took to Honduras, have been the most important work I have done.

Again I hope this finds you well and I just wanted to let you know that I am thinking of you and praying for you. Take care! 

Caitlin Ascherl

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Packing Day

We had a great packing day! Wasn't it amazing the amount of materials we stuffed into those bags! You will have a wonderful time re-sorting those materials in Esquias and then packing bags of those goodies for families in La Florida. The families are always grateful for whatever we give them. The children are excited for even the smallest toys. AND, the little girls - and older girls - LOVE to have their nails painted with bright fingernail polish.

It is extremely important to stay rested this week. I know how hard it is to do because we are all excited, but the heat and hard work will be exhausting for us. It is not fun to get sick while we're in Honduras because your body needs the rest and hydration. BE SMART. Take care of yourselves so you can have a wonderful mission trip.

In a few weeks you are going to be changed people. I remember vividly my first mission trip and the difference it has made in my life. I guess that is pretty obvious, since I'll be making my eighth trip into Honduras in a few days and continue to be as involved with MH and KAH as I possibly can. Take time in Honduras to meet new people - both fellow missioners and Hondurans. You'll not regret it.

Remind all your friends and families that I will be blogging daily, if at all possible. If it is not possible to do so from Honduras, I will relay all information to Seivert who will do the blogs for us. I'll do my best to give everyone a snapshot of what we are doing at all times.

Time until we are in Honduras:  4 days, 15 hours, 47 minutes, 54 seconds!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Francis Seivert Arrives in Honduras

We are just a week away of beginning the Gehlen Catholic part of our mission. Francis arrived in Tegucigalpa safe and sound around 12:30 p.m. Le Mars time (11:30 Honduras time). He was met by Julio and Marny. They picked up Angel and worked on plans for our water projects most of the afternoon. By the time the first team arrives in Esquias next Friday, Francis will have everything arranged. We'll have the dorms ready for us, the food purchased, the drinking water we will require. The water tank, pipes, shovels, and pick axes will have been acquired and be ready for our use. It takes quite a bit of organization, both on Richard Seivert's part here in the States AND on Frank's part in Honduras, to get everything just perfect for each of us missioners. Our trips would never run as smoothly as they do without their preliminary work!

Gehlen missioners - you should have taken your first malaria pill today. We will be packing on Sunday, March 21, in the back gym at 1 p.m. Make sure to bring your own packed bag with you so we can fill it to the brim with all the collected materials.

I've heard that Springfield has been doing some major collecting of their own. There will be lots of items in Honduras for those who need it.

Gehlen team, you will be in Honduras in 7 days, 18 hours, and 1 minute. Check back often to hear of our exploits during our time in La Florida and Esquias, Honduras.