2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

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,

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.
(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 MontaƱa 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.