2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

21 Home / Safe and Sound / From R. Seivert

Most know the 3 flights from Houston all arrived late last night. The 8:30  P.M. flight to Omaha was about an hour late but made it. The 11:03 flight to Omaha landed after midnight, but they made it. Corinne and Bailee did not make their connecting flight in Chicago but were met by Corinne's aunt who overnighted them. They left Chicago on the 6:00 A.M. flight and are 10 minutes from landing in Omaha. Their families are at the Omaha airport.
We have a small group coming into Omaha tonight at 8:30 P.M. Their families will be at the airport to get them.
One big request of families - for all those on Thursday's three flights. Please write a comment on this blog if you will be at the airports to get your son or daughter. If you cannot comment please give me a call sometime today. 712-540-3062
If you cannot be at either Omaha or Minneapolis airports I have two vehicles that can return them to LeMars and Sioux City. So please let me know of your plans. No sense in taking vehicles from here if all family will be there to pick them up. Please let me know.                                                                                          One additional item: Many of you left coats, sweaters, etc. on the bus the morning we left Omaha on April 15. I have all of those in my possession. I have no idea which item belongs to whom. So when you all do get home please call me sometime and I can get the correct item to each person.

Monday, April 25, 2011

In San Pedro Sula

We have arrived in San Pedro Sula. We are eating supper at the moment. You would NOT believe the amount of food they are serving us right now. Our group is going to gain 10 pounds apiece by the time they finish eating.

If you have tried calling the hotel, please wait for us for about an hour. The hotel has us registered as Pal Tours since our travel agent booked the rooms. The minute I arrive the students will be booked into rooms. THEN they will be ready to received phone calls. Thanks for your patience. We plan on getting them into their rooms and down as soon as possible. They are tired from shopping and a long scenic bus ride. I'll blog from the hotel as soon as possible.

Confirmed Flights for Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday

Dear Students, Parents, Family Members,

As you probably know the team is on their way to San Pedro Sula. In a different blog I gave you the name and phone of the motel. But, they won’t be there for quite some time. Below is the final list from Continental to return our mission team involving Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I am sorry if it isn’t what some or many of you hoped for. It is not ideal but it will get them home. Carolyn and Frank also have this list and I will be going over it again in the morning. So, here goes. We don’t have Frank booked just yet. Hopefully soon.

Tuesday 26 April into Omaha: CO 1139 arriving at 11:03 P.M.
Becca Vonnahme
Julie Hagen
Mary Henrich
Al Vonnahme
Kate Walsh
Kyle Walsh
Nick Wankum
Patrick Washburn
Rachel Heuertz

Tuesday 26 April into Omaha: CO 2314 arriving at 8:38 P.M.
Jeff Adam
Sam Ahlers
Mitch Christoffel
Mary Kate Dougherty
Mitch Duckwitz
Ashley Ellensohn
Pete Fitzsimmons
Fr. Cosgrove
Jenny Rehan
Linda Reichle

Wednesday 27 April into Omaha: CO 2314 arriving at 8:38 P.M.
Sr. Renae Hohensee
Brittany Jaminet
Mike Jaminet
Anthony Moreno

Thursday 28 April into Omaha: CO 1139 arriving at 11:03 P.M.
Sana Naqvi
A.J. O’Brien
Greg Probst
Bailee Schultz
Corinne Spears

Thursday 28 April into Omaha: CO 2314 arriving at 8:38 P.M.
Becca Swalve
Steve Swalve
Sister Joan Polak

Thursday 28 April into Minneapolis: CO 616 arriving at 9:59 P.M.
Mary Klein
Matt Klein
Eric Loutsch
Brittney Tegels
Megan Tentinger
Josh Vaske
Carolyn Bickford
Joe Loutsch
Zach Maxey

Motel and Phone

The name of the motel where the team will be staying tonight is the Hotel Sula in San Pedro Sula.
The phone number is 011-504-2552-9999

Will blog in just a little while with all the flight confirmations.
R. Seivert

Walmart Honduran Style

Seivert is right, we are sitting at the Mall right now. Pretty much everyone has purchased new underwear, since our clothes were left in Vallecillo, and some have gotten a new shuirt to wear. Though we are not in an ideal situation, everyone is having a great time doing a little bargain hunting. Sr. Renae just showed me her new red rubber shoes. The guys showed me their baseball shirts, purchased for $5, and their brightly colored flowered shorts. Believe me, it will be quite the fashion show at the hotel in San Pedro Sula. Many of the students have volunteered to be in the last group to return. I think they just want to miss more school. We had a great breakfast at the hotel. McDonalds was our restaurant of choice for lunch. We haven't even thought of supper yet, but I'm sure we'll be well-fed. I'm going to attempt a photo upload from the Mall so you can see how totally relaxed we all are. I couldn't be more happy with the behavior of the students at this point. They are enjoying their new adventure, and our taxi group decided to name this year's mission project Task Force Agua - similar to Task Force Bravo, the military operation that did a health study and clinic in Montana de la Flor. NOTE: The Gehlen students want Miss Rogers to know that her Spanish phrases, such as 'so much smoke' are finally coming in handy!

Spoke With Carolyn at 2:00

They were at the mall and would stay there waiting for the bus from SPS to pick them up. They think it will be there at 3:00 their time.
Fr. Patricio and Marta Sosa met them and the Tegucigalpa 10 introduced he and Marta to everyone. Carolyn said they had a really good time.
Every person on the team understands the situation over the next 3 days. They also understand we are trying to get the 15 Heelan names into Omaha tomorrow night. I do not have this confirmed yet. I know Continental was working on it.
That is the latest. I told her to let them phone if they wanted.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

12:35 P.M. / San Pedro Sula

Donna called a few minutes ago and she continues to work on this issue until it is resolved. She is not sure if the 18 seats will be all Heelan or not. She is trying to get them re-issued with those names. We will just have to see how it all happens.
I have also learned that over the next couple of days the rest of the group would be brought to Houston but probably not into Omaha. I have given her a couple of airports that would work for everybody. Kansas City and Minneapolis. I also gave her Sioux City and Sioux Falls. Thus, I wait to hear more.
R. Seivert

Phone Calls/ Bus

Will let you know when the bus arrangements are made but right now we are looking at taking the group to SPS yet today - so they would be there. I hope this part works out right away. Frank is in touch with Gustavo Publanc who owns the bus company. We have been friends with him for many years. He will do anything for us. He is also getting us a good safe hotel for the night - if this all happens.
Donna is working on the Heelan names but as yet cannot confirm that - I reviewed every name with her. It could be any group of 18 (18 was the number she said she could get out tomorrow).  Thus, Heelan plus a few.
I will inform Carolyn to let them call home when they can. That might not be for some time. They might not get to SPS until 8:00 tonight.
I will keep you posted.
R. Seivert

10:50 A.M. or So / Newest Information From Frank

It is not real great news. Toncontin Airport is closed. No flights in our out. Donna keeps working with American and Continental with the Miami connection but if we cannot leave Toncontin it does the team no good - we can't get to Miami. Frank actually thinks the air is worse today than yesterday. He saw all kinds of people being turned away at all counters. All kinds of people leaving the airport.
So, and here is the latest plan, actually given to Frank by the Continental supervisor.
He wants us to bus the team to San Pedro Sula. It is a 5 hour trip by bus up a major highway (a good highway). We would use the same company that provided the bus and van for all the kids during the mission work. Maybe even the same drivers. They have expressed how bad they feel with our situation - the drivers are actually from San Pedro Sula. I have personally been in San Pedro Sula twice and there should be no issue with flying from that airport. It is totally flat and long.
Donna has said she can get about half our group on a Continental flight from San Pedro Sula tomorrow, through Houston, to Omaha. I believe the same day - tomorrow (I will check this out and make sure of this in a later blog).
Thus, if we go with this plan we would try to send the Heelan group first - that was the group's decision. That would be tomorrow.
Right in the middle of this blog Carolyn called with her update. The team is having a good time at the airport, playing cards, getting massages, etc. She promised she would blog to everyone very soon. She said the air around the airport is much worse than yesterday. So, she is all behind the new plan - sounds like everyone is.
What I don't know is when the other half or third (because this could be over 3 days) would leave San Pedro Sula but I will follow up with this as soon as I know.   
Donna just called and I gave her the names of all the Heelan group along with Fr. Cosgrove. She is specifically requesting they go first but she wont' know until she tries. She has also agreed that this is the best course of action.
At least we would get this process going.
To all of you: we could stay in Tegucigalpa and keep trying this each day but quite honestly it doesn't look good for the near future. About 8 years ago Toncontin got shut down for 10 straight days.
Thus, I have given Frank permission to make the call in Honduras. He will let me know and I will blog. Carolyn said that everyone was in great spirits.
Sorry I have no better news.
Please call anytime. R. Seivert

spoons and cards


Just to let everyone know we are at the airport waiting for our 12:20 pm flight and also waiting as Frank negotiates with the airlines for our trip home.  As I write this, I am witnessing a mean game of spoons as well as numerious other card games.  The group seems to be in great spirits and everyone is behaving well and are very helpful.  We appreciate all your prayers and support and special thanks to Dick and Frank as they try everything possible to get us home.  As difficult as this is, it is hard for me to imagine going through this with a better group of people.  Thanks and keep praying!  Al  PS-The Teguc skies look really hazy and foggy.  Double those prayers!!  Al

Just Spoke With Frank

Just spoke with Frank. It is complicated and he, Donna, and Continental continue to work on arrangements. The team is leaving for the airport reasonably soon in hopes they can all get on American Flight #954 to Miami. Once in Miami, Donna will work out arrangements to get them to Omaha or an airport close. But, and here is the big but, we booked this flight yesterday just in case but now American and Continental are dueling over how many seats they gave us. Last night we were told we had them for all 41. Now we are being told something different. All this of course depends on whether the airport is open for traffic in and out. We will see.
I did check the regularly scheduled Continental flight 755 for today and even though the seat map shows 7 empty seats Donna is telling Frank the flight is completely sold out. She simply said the map has not been updated.
I spoke with both Carolyn and Fr. Cosgrove about 1/2 hour ago and they all had a wonderful breakfast and were in good spirits. Looking to get to the airport to see if they can come home.
Will keep you posted.
R. Seivert

Air Guard Sioux City / Steve Swalve

Steve Swalve has just spoken with the adjutant at the Air Guard in Sioux City. We pursued this in hopes that if we got back in the country that they might be able to help us. Steve said they were very good about him asking but all assets are currently committed overseas and would not be able to assist. Thanks for trying Steve.

To The Mission Team / Students and Chaperones

Dear Students and Chaperones,
At 7:00 A.M. I spoke with Carolyn. When I asked how all of you were holding up she said you were doing fine and was 'moved' by the great number of you that have come to her and asked if there is anything you could do. To everyone reading this blog: how does that sound for the character of the young people on this team. Did we expect anything less?
Needless to say you didn't buy into this when you signed up for our mission trip this year and even though I have apologized numerous times on this blog, I am coming right at you with this apology - I apologize to all of you for these circumstances. Overnight I have also come to learn that even when the skies over Tegucigalpa finally cleared early last evening, the pilots could not take off because they had circled so much they were out of 'duty time.'  So today, and even if it is a couple of days,  I ask you to deal with this in the best way you can. There are a great many people working on this for you. Yesterday alone there were 2300 hits on this blog - lots of people that love and miss you. I ask all of you students to help the chaperones in every way possible - they too desire to return home.
I have inquired about the current weather conditions and I know it is already hazy over Tegucigalpa. I can only continue to work with the airlines, our travel agent, and Frank, and hope that we are given a good option. I am going no where, doing nothing, until you are all safely home. Take Care, R. Seivert

From Richard Seivert

Spoke with Frank at 6:15 A.M. our time. I did give him one other option. If Continental does fly today and if there are even a few seats, we will try to get a few of them on that regular flight. Then he will shift to the American to Miami option, if they fly, and if Donna works out the connecting flight to Omaha, even if it would be Tuesday. Both Frank and I agree the most important thing at this point is to get them back on U. S. soil. If we take a chance and wait for Tuesday with Continental and those 35-36 seats, we cannot guarantee they will fly and we would have passed up maybe our best option.
He does believe if things don't work out well today that we should begin sending them in small groups with a chaperone with each.
Frank plans on visiting with Donna at 8:00 our time this morning and he will be at the airport with Carlos the Continental supervisor. I will post a blog once I have further information.

Monday A.M. Message

I have read all your comments and be assured we will begin again today with the hopes of good news for the team. One of the main reasons we didn't want to split them up was it involved up to 5 different airports in the U.S. They looked at Kansas City, Denver, Minneapolis, Atlanta, and Miami and then on to Omaha either the same day or a day later. None of them presented great options. However, I promise to keep this fresh in my mind as we begin today.
Will try to bring you up to speed on everything. Our travel agent in Oklahoma began working on this with Continental yesterday afternoon and into the evening. She called me at 9:30 right after I got home last night. She said they are looking at two options for us: both hinge on the smoke clearing and the ability to fly out of Tegucigalpa. Option 1: fly to Miami on American Airlines flight #954 on Monday. Then make a connecting flight to Omaha. Last night she was confident they could get this done, but they would probably have to overnight in Miami and return on Tuesday. Option 2: stay another day in Tegucigalpa and take the regular Tuesday Continental flight back through Houston, all in the same day - just like we were scheduled yesterday. However, not all could return. They only have 30 some seats. As of last night she thought we could get maybe 35-36 on that flight. I know that some of the chaperones would stay back for the kids.

Here is our morning plan: Frank is to call Donna Bench, our travel agent in Oklahoma at 8:00 this A.M. He will be at the airport early this morning talking to the Continental supervisors and together with Donna make a decision for the team. Hopefully, the smoke will clear and we will have and be able to use one of these options.   

I know you are anxious to get your sons and daughters returned and no words of mine will placate your feelings. I am anxious to have them return as well. The team sounds very resilient and quite able to adjust to circumstances. I promise to be here throughout. I will keep the updates going as soon as I hear anything. Please feel free to call.
Richard Seivert

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Here Is The Latest

Just spoke with Frank. He is with the team at The General Hotel. Nothing is working very well at all - they have worked on this for hours already. There are very few good options. There were some options for tomorrow from San Pedro Sula if we would split up the team into multiple airports in the U.S. - 4 or 5 here, 4 or 5 there, etc.  Frank rejected all those options knowing full well that would not be good.
Continental realizes they are duty bound to get this team home but the options they have in Tegucigalpa are very limited. I really don't know tonight whether they can get out even tomorrow.
I have contacted our agent in Oklahoma for help. She began to work on this right away and will be in touch with Continental. Hopefully she can get this worked out. Then I will let you know.
My cell number is: 712-540-3062
The two cell numbers in Honduras are: 011-504-9781-4235
and 011-504-9669-4657
Carolyn and Frank will purchase more time for both phones and let your sons and daughters call.
I don't know what else to say. We are doing everything possible to ensure their safety and get them home as soon as possible. I am very sorry.
Richard Seivert

Not Good News Yet

Frank is at the airport working with a nightmare scenario of flights - he is with the Continental supervisor. Right now nothing is working. They have tried every conceivable plan so far and nothing keeps this entire team all together. There is only one flight for tomorrow, on American to Miami, then to Omaha, that has enough seats. But, that still hinges on if they can fly out of Tegucigalpa tomorrow. He is still with the supervisors and is doing everything he can do. Will just have to keep you posted. I certainly hope this doesn't run into more than a day. R. Seivert

At The Hotel General

It is 5:50 P.M. Spoke with Carolyn about 20 minutes ago. The team was already at the Hotel General and she was in a hurry getting them checked in. Frank was still at the airport working with officials from Continental. Will keep you posted. Hope we have called or left messages with everyone.
R. Seivert

It Is Cancelled For Today

Just spoke with Carolyn. It is 4:55 here. There flight is definitely cancelled for today. Reason: only 2 Kilometers of Ceiling - they need 5. Just too dangerous to try. The same thing could occur tomorrow.
Frank and Carolyn are acting promptly with all things. Here is the plan:
Frank has buses lined up to take the entire team to a fine Hotel over on Embassy Row. It is nice, very nice.
Frank and Carolyn will be transporting the team over to the hotel very soon. It is very safe, no problem. Carolyn will allow each of them to make a telephone call tonight from the hotel - hopefully they will get hold of you.
I don't know the plans for tomorrow just yet. The Continental supervisor is trying to make a deal with Delta Airlines through either Miami or Atlanta. We would probably have to be bused to San Pedro Sula for that to happen. The reason it is the best option is simple: this low ceiling over Tegucigalpa might not clear for days. We just don't know. Thus, the next best thing is this plan if we can make it work. If I do hear of a final plan for tomorrow I will let you know. Frank said it could be another hour before they make a decision.
R. Seivert

The Late Flight

I have checked the late flight. It is United 4650. It is scheduled to leave Houston at 8:55 and arrive in Omaha at 11:03. However, when I tried to check the 'seat map' to see if there were even 40 seats on the flight it said it does not publish 'seat map' for that flight. I have asked both Carolyn and Frank to check the seat availability on that flight but no one seems to give them any answers. I will just have to keep you posted. Right now I really don't think there is a chance of getting into Omaha tonight, but, we shall see. I am asking all kinds of questions. R. Seivert

Another Change

They have now changed the departure time from Tegucigalpa to 3:30 Honduran time (4:30 our time). They now have arrival time in Houston at 7:42. Am still checking the late flight and will let you know. Seiv

Confusion From R. Seivert

I just published that last message about the flight being cancelled. I then just rechecked the internet that now says 756 is scheduled to arrive at 2:14. So, they have changed their mind. I called Frank, he is at the desk and here is the situation. The plane circled the airport for quite some time before they sent it back to San Pedro Sula to refuel. They are bringing it back to land, according to Frank. If that is the case and they do take off,  the scheduled arrival time in Houston is now 6:20. Obviously they will miss their flight. I am checking on the late and second flight into Omaha - I doubt if there will be 40 seats on the late flight but I will let you know. At least if we can get them into Houston it would be great. Will keep you posted. R. Seivert

Message From R. Seivert / Flight Cancelled

Dear Everyone, obviously if you have been watching the internet, the flight to Houston has just been cancelled. Frank is in the airport and I have just spoken with him and he is on the way to the Continental desk. Carolyn has my other Honduran cell on the other side of security and I just spoke with her as well. They have just been informed of the cancellation. Frank will call me back in a few minutes and give me an update. Carolyn said they were informed that a Continental representative would be visiting with them soon. I will let you know what she knows via this blog. If this is true we will get them safely to a hotel for the evening. It will be the same one Frank and I use when we are in Tegucigalpa. It is over on Embassy row and very secure and safe. I will keep you informed.

Message Richard Seivert

It is 2:25 our time. Spoke with Carolyn 2 minutes ago. Continental 756 has still not landed. I highly doubt they can make the connecting flight to Omaha, but we shall see. I hope Continental errs on the side of caution even if it means a night in Tegucigalpa or Houston. I will check out the late flight from Houston to Omaha and report back to you.

Message From R. Seivert

It is 1:18 our time. 12:18 Honduras time. Just spoke with Frank again. The plane from Houston was diverted to San Pedro Sula. For what reason they would not tell Frank. The desk clerk did tell him that flight 756 (Houston to Tegucigalpa) (which is 755 on the return), was only 30 minutes from Tegucigalpa. That conversation was a good 10 minutes ago.
If that is the case, and they do get off even at 1:32 P.M. Honduran time, it would leave them only 41 minutes to make their connecting flight in Houston (not impossible but highly unlikely) since they have to go through immigration, reclaim bags (they only have 8 - they gave everything else away), go through customs, go through security, and then get to their gate. It is not impossible so we simply must wait until we know more. There is a late flight from Houston to Omaha. That might be what happens so just be patient and we shall see what happens. I will keep you informed.

Message From R. Seivert

As you can see on the internet it does not look like they will be on time. Currently the the flight status says they will leave 1 hour and 32 minutes late. At this time I have no idea why. I just spoke with Frank and he assures me there is traffic coming in and out of the airport. I wonder if the flight from Houston, which is the same plane they return on, was delayed in Houston. He is on his way to the Continental desk to inquire. Will blog you as soon as I know anything.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good-Bye Honduras

Today was our final day in Vallecillo. It gave theTeguc group a hance to do some digging. We had a nice fare well with the villagers. Then all were invited to mass to celebrate Easter. Most of the students changed their clothes so they could give their new friends their own shoes and clothes. It was hard to say good-bye to our new friends.

The afternoon was spent at the park in Esquias. Fortunately for the other passengers on the plane tomorrow, all of us were able to take showers this afternoon. From earlier blogs you know how special that is for us. Everyone has done a great job of packing as much as possible into their carry-ons. At our final junta we talked about our return trip. I’m sure everything will go smoothly.

We’ll see all of you at the airport!

Toncontin Airport / Message From R. Seivert

Wanted to give everyone another update concerning Sunday and Toncontin Airport. If you used Continental Airlines Flight Status before it should be easy for you to check the weather conditions in Tegucigalpa at the time they are supposed to fly. And remember, the time is to the local airport, thus, they are supposed to fly at 12:00 noon Honduras time ( 1:00 P.M. our time). Follow these directions:
1. in a search engine like Google type in Continental Airlines Flight Status
2. click on Continental Airlines - Flight Status and Information (in blue)
3. in the big box called 'Check Flight Status and Gate Information' type in the flight number 755
4. make sure Sunday is marked as well and then hit Continue - the yellow box
5. on the next page 'Choose a Flight Segment' - click on TGU to IAH Intercontinental
6. on the next page it will give you their flight status and information
7. 3 lines down from the box you will see Weather Conditions - click on TGU
8. then, under the weather report, click on 10 Day Forecast
9. at this point you will see the weather situation for Toncontin
By the way, it does look good for Sunday. I think the rain is helping a great deal.

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Was a GOOD Friday!

We got to sleep in today- if you count 6:15 am as sleeping in! It really is because tomorrow morning we will get up an hour earlier and Sunday we will get up even earlier than that! We dressed in our Sunday best and headed out to participate in the Stations of the Cross. This is a unique experience as we process through the town of Esquias to different Stations at various homes. Each one was decorated by the family of that home using flowers, pine needles, saw dust or any other materials they could find. The children were dressed in costumes and played the various parts of the people who are a part of the Way of the Cross. The gentleman who looked very similar to Jesus played the part well. Each Station consisted of readings, music, explanations, and the actual acting out of the Station. 3 and a half hours after we started the Stations, we trudged back to the compound to discover no electricity or water. The lack of electricity left us with few options for lunch so we began with peanut butter sandwiches. As we were finishing up, the electricity came back on and we were treated to grilled cheese sandwiches made by Tatcha.

We did our group photo in front of the church and then everyone changed to head to the real, dirt soccer field. It was a friendly international game of soccer and as usual the Americans got their butts kicked. Everyone agreed it was a great time anyway until the rain came and everyone had to leave. We were grateful for the rain since it helps clear up some of the smoke from the fires. The group was treated to a traditional Good Friday meal of pescado (fish) complete with the heads, fried bananas, and vegetables. We had an excellent junta and came to an agreement on many important decisions.

We’re heading to bed early so we’re ready for our last day of hard work in Vallecillo. It will be tough to say goodbye tomorrow since we’ve made such good friends with the people, but we’re excited to say hello to our families on Sunday.

Sam Ahlers: Hello everyone! As the trip is winding down I am ready to be back in America, but at the same time I could stay forever. The acceptance here is unreal no matter where we go, even if we can’t understand each other. Mom and Dad I hope your vacation living without me is going okay. Only two more days of being bored. I took over 600 pictures so far so I can show everyone how beautiful this place is. P.S. Save me food on Sunday.

Steve Swalve: Nich and Bob- Got your cigars. Only got Hondurans. Got Brandon 7 for $20. Haven’t heard from you on the blog- what’s up? Your Mom is on every day. Anything new at home? Connie- Nice to hear from you every day. Miss you lots. Got a wind chime. Stations of the Cross was cool today. Love, Steve.

Bailee Schultz: Happy Birthday, Spartz! Hope you had a great day. Pray the airport will be open on Sunday so we can come home and see everyone! Love and miss you all.

Katelyn Walsh: Today was a long day for all of us. Can’t wait to see everyone. Hope the airport is open on Sunday!

Julie Hagen: Mom- TELL GRANDMA TO PRAY THAT THE AIRPORT IS OPEN ON SUNDAY. If it’s not… There just aren’t words to describe it. Erin- do a rain dance! I AM COMPLETELY SERIOUS. Mom- if I’m not home, call OU and tell them I won’t be at work Monday.

Corinne Spears: Hey mama! If we get stuck another day, can you call Opportunities Unlimited and explain, please! I miss you all. I am ready to come home.

Katie Daugherty: I can’t believe we only have one more day in Honduras! It’s kind of bittersweet. It seems so weird to return to America when everything is so opposite here. I can’t wait to see everyone, though! Love and miss you! Happy Birthday Emily Spartz! P.S. Tell Ryan I saw a lizard just like “Lizzy” today!

Becca Swalve: Awh give Callie a kiss from me! I am so ready to come home and if we get stuck here one more night you might hear my scream in Oyens. Tell everyone hi and miss you all so much. Taylor- 2 more days! See you in Omaha SUNDAY… hopefully.

Father Cosgrove: Good Friday has gone well. The Stations of the Cross were celebrated in procession through the streets of Esquias. It started at 9 am and we finished in the church at 12. This year was no problem. It was only 109 degrees at noon. Many of the team members still had the strength to play soccer. We went to the big field and there were two teams with lots of Hondurans teaching the Iowan kids what it means to be humble. Saturday morning we have on more opportunity to dig trenches. We shall also have mass in the village. Saturday evening we shall have our Easter Vigil. Many Easter Blessings to all.

Kyle Walsh: Hi Mom and Dad. We have one day left and we were talking about some of the things we were missing. So Cos and Nick and I were wondering if you could bring a jumbo pepperoni El Fredo’s pizza, some Krispy Kream Doughnuts, and some Dove bars to Omaha? See you on Sunday!

Message From R. Seivert

With all the forest fires in Honduras there is a remote possibility Toncontin Airport might be closed on Sunday - smoke and visibility. We have faced this one other time. I will be in constant contact with my brother Francis on Sunday. Keep watching this blog but also the flight information I sent to all of you months ago.

United We Shopped Till We Dropped

Because the guys were so excited about shopping, we got up extra early to ensure there was enough time. Little did we know that we should have gotten them up two hours earlier since the guys were such slow shoppers. The drive up to Valley of the Angels was scenic. Unfortunately, we were unable to see much of it because of the smoke from many of the fires going here. We did see some bomberos (firefighters) who were attempting to put out some grass fires. Hopefully the rain we got tonight will help clear some of that up.

When we arrived in Valley of the Angels, we immediately connected with the group from Tegucigalpa. We are now ONE! Everyone was really excited to see one another- you’d think we hadn’t seen each other for months. The highlight of the day was pizza and ice cream for lunch. Shortly after that we headed back to Esquias armed with bags full of souvenirs. The Esquias group, who are already quite experienced at riding on the bumpy Honduran roads, enjoyed watching the reaction of the Tegucigalpa group as they drove through their first stream.

Since today was Holy Thursday we attended mass with the local parishioners. Last night, mass was said to start at maybe… maybe… 6 OR 7. Today, we finally figured out that it “started” at 7. The actual start time of mass was around 7:30- a prime example of Honduran time. We all agreed that the Hondurans enthusiastically participated in the service. This rubbed off on some of our students who began to sing with the congregation in Spanish.

We’re really packed in the dining room for both meals and junta, but we’re surviving. Tomorrow we will participate in the Stations of the Cross which will be a new experience for the students. Afterwards, the students will finally get an afternoon off to go wear off some of their energy down at the REAL soccer field. We also plan to go back to the homes where we put in the cement floors so that everyone can see how they look. We’re beginning to pack some of the bags full of souvenirs so start getting ready for our return!

Mitch Duckwitz: Hello Mother and Father. Sorry I did not write sooner. We have been very busy working and playing with the kids. We have done many things for the poor people here; mainly digging trenches, but I find it fun- it’s a lot better than McDonald’s even though it may be easier. I have missed home and feel I am ready to come back. I hope you have not enjoyed having me gone too much even though I bet it was nice. I can’t wait to come home and see you. Love, Mitch.

Becca Swalve: Hi Mom! We went shopping today so of course it was my favorite day!  Can’t wait to show you everything. Miss you and love you. Can’t wait to see everyone. Miss you too, Taylor!

Connie Spears: Hi everyone! I miss you guys. Today was full of shopping and rejoining with the rest of the group. Can’t wait to see you soon! Love you!

Julie Hagen: Dear Mom/Erin, I feel much better. Please don’t worry! And don’t tell Grandma/Grandpa. Yikes! Much love. 72 hours.

Katie Doughtry: We have arrived in Esquias! The terrain is even prettier here and we have finally met up with everyone else! I can’t believe we only have 2 days left. See you all soon!

Jenny Rehan: Hey Mom, Dad, and Bren. I miss you three! We went shopping all day so I’m right at home. See you soon, love you guys!

Bailee Schultz: I’m actually starting to miss home now. Today was fun because we rejoined with the other group. Sorry Grandma, but I’ve already pet 5 dogs since I’ve been here. Love and miss everyone!

Marry Henrich: I was finally able to meet Gissela for the first time! After about 9 years of waiting, we were so happy to finally meet. I’m glad that the team is finally back together. P.S. Dad, I’m still waiting for those frogs. 

Megan Tentinger: Today it rained which felt great! I’m loving the weather here! Yes you are right- the roads are making me feel icky. Only two more days. Can’t wait to see you. Love you Dad and Mom and Duke and Patches! 

Ashley Ellensohn: So today we went shopping and it was wonderful. I tried to find something for everyone. I even bartered for the first time! I’m still trying to find a little kid to bring home.  Love and kisses.

Mary Klein: Jim, Michelle, Nathan, Emily- We had a fun morning of shopping for you in the Valley of Angels today. Tonight we went to mass in Esquias and I thought of you too. Love you and am anxious to see you, Mom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April SHOWERS Bring May Flowers

It was another hot one today with temperatures similar to yesterday. Everyone was moving a little bit slower this morning and the muscles took longer to warm up. We had all eaten a good breakfast including plenty of fruit and the peanut butter is not really being used because we’re all eating the Honduran food. If our blog seems a bit silly today, it’s because the heat and lack of electricity and water is starting to get to us. However, we’re all lucky to get a shower today- trust us when we say this is a big deal.

We headed back to Vallecillo for another day of hard trench digging, but not quite as hard as yesterday, except for one sport. Victor gave everyone a hug as we got off the bus and once again thanked everyone in the group for helping his village. Today we had another mass with the village, and we were all entertained by the little boy who decided to go under the altar where Father was saying mass. We deviated from our normal path, thanks to Carolyn, and took a much more serpent type route home. The girls were unhappy with Brittney when she asked Carlos to go faster down the curvy road, but we obviously made it home just fine.

When we returned the girls headed for the Salon to pack up the last of the bags for the villagers and the guys headed over to the other house to lay cement. The guys were very impressed with themselves when they were able to create a perfect “cement volcano.” They were considering opening their own construction company- don’t worry, we encouraged college first. We finished this project and everyone was able to come home and shower and enjoy another great meal prepared by Tacha, Sylvia, and Noelia. At the end of the meal, our luck ran out and the electricity went out for the night, but we still got to shower! (Again, can you tell this is a big deal for us?) Thanks to Jeff, our drawing for this group is now complete.

Tomorrow, for the first time in their lives, the guys are excited to go shopping in the Valley of the Angels. We have an earlier wake up time tomorrow morning and by the looks of this blog I think you can tell we need our sleep so we’re ending it now! Goodnight!

Zach Maxey: Hey everyone! Honduras is great and a lot of hard work! It got up to 127 degrees yesterday! Holy Toledo! We also laid a new cement floor for a family in Esquias. This is the best experience and I love no snow! Miss everybody and can’t wait to see you guys! Love you Mom and Dad. Love, Zach. P.S. Haley Holton- These kids agree that you should go to prom with me! ;)

Jeff Adams: Dear John, Happy Birthday! Luv ya, Boog

Linda Reichle: Hello to all my family and friends back home. I am doing great and loving all the Hondurans and all they have to share with us. It has been very hot and very hard work but all worth it when you see all the smiles on their faces and their sincere gratitude. Miss you all and will see you soon.

Father Cosgrove: The Crusaders are anxious to meet up with the rest of our members at the Valley of the Angels. Rumor has it that they have had a wonderful time meeting the Cardinal of Honduras and going out to dinner, but most of all, working with the young people of the orphanage. We continue to thank the parents for the gift of their children not only at this time during the mission trip, but during all the years they have been a part of our system. Looking forward to seeing you all on what will be a special Easter for all of our families.

Teguc Day 6!

Sr. Renae: Sr. Kathy, is it too early to go to bed? Miss you. See you soon.

Corinne: I miss everyone! Today was by far the hardest day we have had here. Saying goodbye at the school and at the orphanage was absolutely heart-breaking. They all said ‘Hasta Manana” and we all broke down. The orphans especially have been abandoned already so many times, and leaving them behind hurt a lot. I am so excited to meet up with the rest of the group, but I think we all wish we could stay in the city for the rest of the days. I miss everyone back at home and I think about you all often. We were all worried about not being able to get out of the airport on Sunday since the airport was closed today. Luckily it rained tonight so we should be fine. The atmosphere here is so lively and it’s going to be tough saying goodbye. Love you all!

Katelyn: Today was definitely tough on all of us emotionally. Saying goodbye was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do. All the kids expected us to be returning tomorrow, and it broke our hearts to tell them we weren’t. On the brighter side, we got to see the food we all packed at Heelan get dropped off! We unpacked the boxes labeled with Bishop Heelan on them and took lots of pictures. It also rained so maybe all the smoke will lift! It also allowed us to wash off considering I haven’t showered in two days. Not kidding. Everyone else uses up the water (Julie). We are doing really well with one minute showers, but water is so scarce here. Julie’s not the only one. We are looking forward to going to Esquias tomorrow. Love everyone at home. Xoxo

Julie: Hello everyone! So I got my first IV today! And in Honduras no less! Guess what los estados unidos? The Honduran doctors say I don’t have dengue! Woot. Woot. Anyway, I wasn’t able to go to the school or the orphanage today, but in a way I feel blessed. I’m sure that would have drained me even more; having to say goodbye to all the kids I have fallen in love with here in Teguc. The girls brought me back pictures of little Alexis, and they brought me to tears. I was feeling much better by the time the food we packed at Heelan for Feed Just One arrived, so I was able to help unload the food. It was truly an amazing experience, especially because it was raining. I feel so blessed to be here and would not trade this experience for the world. I’m especially blessed for all the amazing people I am here with. Al was such a blessing today! He really helped me out! Talking to you today, Mom, made me feel so much better. I can’t wait to see you Sunday at the airport. I miss and love absolutely everyone back home! Erin, you know how sometimes I’m dramatic and say I think I might die, yeah I said that today… but I wasn’t being that dramatic. But look at me now world!! I’ll be up and at ‘em tomorrow!!

Jenny: Hi mama and family I miss and love you more and more each day. I was sad when you didn’t comment…start thinking of a good excuse! And Lexi! I just saw your comment today, why did you comment in such a random spot, dork! I miss you so so much can’t wait to see you! Thanks for cleaning the fort, I love you very very much!I really tried to prepare myself for the all the emotions today, but I did not do a good job. Right when we got to the school this morning, there was a line of about 50 kids waiting for us- talk about intimidating! We got it under control though, and I ended up playing “pato, pato, ganso” (duck, duck, goose) for over an hour. The morning went way too fast, and before we knew it, it was time to go. I didn’t think I was going to cry until a little girl named Jamie said “I love you” in English! Then I totally lost it. I wasn’t the only one though, we were all crying almost the whole way home. Then we went to the orphanage, and of course on our last day there, the kids were perfect angels. We all cried when we left then we came home, fell on our beds, and cried some more. These girls here have become my sisters (and Josh, of course). They are all so inspiring; I’m so blessed to be here with them. Lastly, I’ll miss you Tegucigalpa. No es adios, es hasta luego. (It’s not goodybye, it’s see you later) <3

Katie: Today was our last day in Tegucigalpa and it was extremely sad- so much more emotional than I was expecting. We had to say goodbye to the school children and the kids at the orphanage and it was absolutely heart-breaking. However, we leaned on each other and built even stronger relationships. I also realized that meeting the kids was worth the pain we felt today and this trip was even more than I had hoped for! I will miss Tegucigalpa SO much but I know I will return someday. Love to everyone back home!

Bailee: We knew this day was coming, but just as our arrival, no preparation could actually prepare us for the feelings we have endured. We may be saying good-bye to the special people who touched our lives in Tegucigalpa, but it is only “see you later” to Honduras, because I know I will be back one day. The most heart-breaking thing, for me, today was having a little boy at the orphanage run up to me and give me a big hug and said “hasta manana” (see you tomorrow). I didn’t know how to tell him that we wouldn’t be coming back. The children along with everyone else we met on this journey were so precious and touched my heart in more ways than one. I am sad to be leaving Teguc, but it only means I am just that much closer to seeing it again. Love and miss you mommy and daddy and Sammie. Nolie and Kal—I hope you’re not spending all your time playing COD. Sid—I guess I miss you too, but don’t sleep in my bed.

Josh: Hey everyone! It rained today! at any rate, we’ve all made it through all but one night of our stay in taygoose. I’m doing well, staying healthy (unlike some, pobre Julie). Hope everyone’s doing well, and I’ll see you all this easter!
ps. right after I finished, it started raining. HARD. I love this country.

The Food is in!

The food arrived at Marta's compound about 5 PM.  The kids had a great time helping unload the food.  They even found Heelan food as you can see from the pointing of the girls.  We will blog more later!  Al

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Is It Hot Enough?

If you consider 127 degrees hot enough, then the answer is a resounding yes! It was business as usual this morning, although we were hoping that a man playing the accordion was going to show up at 5 am to play music in honor of Nick’s birthday, as is the tradition here in Honduras. Lucky for the kids who got to sleep an extra 30 minutes this morning!

We were slightly more sluggish after yesterday’s first “real” work day- the muscles were definitely feeling sore. We drove out to Vallecillo and it was great to see the kids saying hello to familiar faces within the community. Today’s mantra soon became, “Depth over distance,” as the terrain proved to be rockier and more compact than the day before. The group made great progress (with the help of some very strong Hondurans) and were proud of the work at the end of the day. Another neat experience today was seeing how everyone tried to take less portions of their lunch so there would be more food left at the end to feed the villagers. They are definitely learning the importance of the food they have so readily available.

On a typical day we would have the afternoon to ourselves and would be filled with showers and relaxing, but not today! The girls remained at the compound and continued putting bags together for the families in Vallecillo while the boys went to a home in Esquias to replace their dirt floors with cement floors. This was quite an experience for everyone as they do not have the same resources as we do in the US. They all learned how to mix cement by hand so parents, if you ever need that job done, you know who to ask!

After a very long day of working, we had a nice dinner followed by junta and a celebration for Nick’s birthday complete with a birthday cake and candles. We’re trying to head to bed early because we know tomorrow will be another full day of tough terrain, cement work, and preparing gift bags for Vallecillo families. We hope everyone is surviving the snow in Iowa.

Fr. Cosgrove: While you were enjoying a spring snowstorm, the Honduran team was experiencing 126 degrees and very difficult trenching. The students here at the water project are not only doing a great deal of work, but also a wonderful job of making friends with the families of the village. This evening we shall celebrate Nick Wankum’s 18th birthday. It is a surprise, so don’t tell him. The party is a surprise, not the fact that he’s 18. Many of the students are surprised at just how fluent they are in Spanish. They all expect to be given A’s on their 4th quarter grade. After returning from the water project, a group of the men helped lay a concrete floor in a home of one of the villagers of Esquias. The Crusaders can be proud of their team members.

Becca Swalve: Becca, Sana, and Megan propose we will stay here as long as it is snowing in Iowa. We are enjoying the 127 degree weather so much! Nic and Bob- I used a pickaxe today and I worked it. Constance, tell the kids at Guardian Angel hi! Taylor, I miss you too; 5 more days! I really need a good back and head scratch.  MUAH!

Mary Henrich: Thanks for the advice Dad! Please send a dozen frogs to Honduras, priority shipping preferred.  We are enjoying this 125 degree weather while all of you are shoveling your driveways. I also broke a pickaxe today. Whoohoo! Also, please tell everyone at home that I miss them. Please have someone tell the track team that I miss them too.

Ashley Ellensohn: Tell everyone hi for me and that I miss them! Can’t wait to see everyone and tell them about everything. Tell Nate I’m craving a Bob’s tavern! <3

Matt and Mary Klein: Jim, Michelle, Nathan, and Emily- The food is very good here. We you’re not starving with Dad’s cooking. Our muscles are a little sorer tonight. We were surprised there was close to a 100 degree difference in temperature in Iowa and Honduras today. Love you, Matt and Mary

Brittney Tegels: Mom and Dad- this was definitely the right decision for me to make. I have been loving every minute of it. Best part of the trip so far was seeing Christin in Honduras! I miss you guys a lot (you too, Brent) and can’t wait to see you on Easter Sunday. Hello to all of my Minnesota loves- I hope there is no snow up there when I get back! Ranjani- don’t worry, I’m still alive and am planning on coming back to work Wednesday!

Carolyn Bickford: Jay, Miranda, Drew, Ali, and Mya, I hope all is well with everyone. Give Mya a big kiss from me. I miss all of you. Fabio, I know that Drew is probably keeping you busy with video games, but make sure to get all your homework done. Drew, please check on Pakka and Angel at some point to make sure they are doing fine, though Seivert has been checking in. I love you guys!

Teguc Day 5

Teguc-Day 5 – Tuesday
It was another busy day in the great city of Tegucigalpa.  After breakfast, we again went to St. Teresa’s to work with the children in Fr. Patrecio’s  school.  After a slow start, we soon were entertaining about 50 children.  Crafts, music, English lessons, and outside games were utilized to keep the children entertained.  Bubbles, Frisby, jump-ropes, along with a mean game of “duck-duck-goose-goose” seemed to be the favorite activities.

The afternoon included a visit to the orphanage where we set up the “Infocus” machine and played with the kids.  Marta asked us to leave the “Infocus” machine with the Missionaries of Charity so other volunteers can utilize the machine along with the DVD’s we left.  I offered to purchase a DVD player so the “Infocus” could be used on a regular basis.  Marta said the Sister’s would not be interested (Marta has already tried) because of the need in their Order to keep life as simplistic and humble as possible.  I was familiar with this belief of their Order and accepted the answer.  Tomorrow we will show video’s and leave the projector there.

After another wonderful meal (as all have been) we had Junta (group sharing).  Many of the team commented they were very sad to leave their new friends and this new life they have found.  This is typical of those who “are getting it” and I was glad to see the tears beginning to flow tonight.  The girls especially don’t know how to say good-by to their new friends and I have little good advice.

Fr. Patricio invited us to Mass tonight and we were glad to attend this beautiful service.  He was even gracious enough to pick us up in his truck so once again all of us piled in the back of his truck, checked out the Teguc night life, and went to Mass.  Even though I could not understand the Mass, I always knew where he was,  and the parishioners were very engaged in the Mass.  Fr. Petrecio’s reverence moved me.  It’s obvious he is much loved in his parish.  No Mass in Latin America would be complete without a local dog lounging in the middle isle.  This collie-lab mix also really seemed to enjoy the Mass as well.  Fr. Patricio drew the line when the dog tried several times to go to communion!  I love the Church in Latin America!    

The food packed by Heelan and others is ready to be released from customs tomorrow.   Marta stated it should be released between two and three in the afternoon.  I have arranged for a bus to pick most of us up at the orphanage and take us to the food.  Like everything in Latin America, it could still fall through at the end, but it looks very promising.  Marta has worked extremely hard to make this happen.  She is the Latin American version of Dick Seivert.  I will close for now as others wish to blog as well.  Al
Julie: Today was beyond amazing. I have had some of the best times of my life in the orphanage. I love all the kidlets and wish I could take them with me, especially Cynthia and Alexis. Mom, they mean so much to me and I wish you were here to see them. I think Alexis has autism. It’s so sad for me to be here and realize there really aren’t any opportunities for him, and there’s no one like you to be here to make his life amazing. Cynthia touched my heart because her name’s almost your name! She was so shy at first, but I started spinning kids and then she ran right up to me. Tomorrow is going to be so hard to say good-bye. I got the most adorable yellow dress with a big peacock on it for Stella! I’m not having as much luck with you, F.J. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many video games here. Erin, I’m having much better luck with the kids then with Princess Flutterfly. Yikes. And I made us matching bracelets! Can’t wait to see everyone but leaving will be far from easy.

Corinne: Words can’t even explain how well today went. I am so happy down here surrounding myself with these children. They have so much need but they are so happy and it is so contagious. Everything is so simple down here and it is so relaxing. You all would fall in love with these kids, I definitely have. Tomorrow is the last day we get to spend with them and saying goodbye will be hard. I’m excited to reunite with everyone up in the mountains, but I am so fortunate I was able to spend six days in Tegucigalpa. These people I am with are so fun and they have taught me so much. I am so fortunate to have them with me and they really have emphasized this trip. The other volunteers down here are helping us out so much and it is nice to have them in our life. I miss you all so much! Love you guys.

Jenny: Hi Mom, Dad, Bren, and pets! I miss you guys more than anything, but I hope all is going well. How’s the snow? In case you’re wondering it’s 90 degrees and sunny here with a slight breeze and perfect. Sturge- My Spanish is improving, by the time I get back I’ll be in Spanish X. Not a big deal or anything. I should start being serious now, Today was amazing. We went to the school first thing in the morning and I drew pictures with about 15 kids. At times it was a bit hard to control, but in the end I came home with about 20 new drawing so it was worth it! I met another girl named Jenny today, but here it is spelt Yeni. After that, we went to the orphanage, and I am seriously falling more in love with these kids each day. The kids seriously are so hard not to attach to, I don’t really know what’s going to happen when we say our final goodybyes tomorrow. I love Tegucigalpa I do not want to leave! Hopefully Esquias will be just as rewarding. Miss you family and Crusaders can’t wait to see you all!

Katelyn: Here comes goodbye! We are all dreading tomorrow because we can no longer say “Hasta manana.” We have all grown so close to the children here and saying goodbye for a final time is going to be hard for all of us. We all agreed that today was very successful. We split our time between the orphanage and the school and found our time to be very rewarding. We are looking forward to having a successful final day here tomorrow. Esquias here we come! Love to the family and friends. Miss you all!

Katie: Today was another amazing day in Honduras! One of my favorites but it is so hard to pick! We worked with over 50 children today and several families in need and it was just amazing. Tomorrow we will have to say goodbye which we are obviously dreading! I am very excited to see more on the country, however. I can’t believe it is snowing!! It is actually really nice here and not too hot (so far). We are adjusting to the life here so easily it will be so hard to return to America. Love to everyone including Lizzy! (I don’t want to make her jealous, otherwise I would bring a lizard!)

Bailee: I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE!!!!  Today at the orphanage, a little girl by the name of Betsy was sitting on my lap, she is my absolute FAVORITE, and I just started thinking about how hard it is going to be to say goodbye. My eyes started watering up and I tried to hide it but she looked straight at me and said “Why are your eyes raining?” (In Spanish, of course) The kids here are so unbelievably precious. I know tomorrow as we say our goodbye’s, we’ll be leaving a big part of ourselves here and taking a big part of Honduras home. Needless to say, tomorrow will be bitter-sweet. Mom and Gramma—it would be nice if you would “learn how to comment”, gracias.

Josh: hey everyone! Here I am, at the end again…

First point: Sam, I think a few comments for you got tacked onto my post. Might be worth a look.

Anyway, so I hear you guys are having some rough weather, despite directly stating I didn’t’ want to hear about it. My sympathies. The weather has been very nice here . Kat, if you could let me know if you got in touch with LAMB, that’d be great. Other than that, I’ll let you go, cuz I’ll get to bore you with my day to day here some time in the future! Chao!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Josh's Post

Josh: Today I taught a Honduran how to read tabs. How much this will help him I’m not sure, but I think I started a fire that might lead somewhere. To that end, I’d like to thank my dad for letting me use your bass while I was first learning, then for getting me one for my birthday. And for helping me find opportunities to play. I’ve realized that we’ve never jammed just the two of us, so I think that’s something that needs done J. At any rate, hope this finds you all at least as well as I am, which is pretty good and, as much as a I’m loath to leave this place, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone again. Take care.

P.S. it looks like my request to have Kat email Lamb didn't go through so just copy and paste this...

Sorry I didn't get this to you on time. the honduran internet is roughly as reliable as thier sense of puntuality. and I can't send emails from down here, so I'm having my sister send this on from the blog. Yes, I would love the part :) thank you for giving me another opportunity for this. It'll probably be my last show before college, and it'll be a great way to end highschool.

yeah, just copy/paste that. Thanks!
also spell check it for me. ours is in spanish.

4 Football Fields

Once again the students jumped right out of bed at 5:30 a.m. Parents, remember that for when they get back home! After a breakfast of pancakes and pineapple, we began our 1-hour drive to Vallecillo. We found the villagers hard at work. It didn’t take the missioners long to grab the pick-axes and shovels and start working on the trenches. The students were undaunted by roots and large rocks. They chopped and dug through anything and everything. They also spent much time working on their Spanish with the Hondurans. The final result for today was a trench measuring 4 football fields in length, 18 inches deep, and a foot wide. We all felt good about our accomplishments.

On Saturday the villagers had requested that we have Mass in their church, since they very seldom get to have Mass. When we reached the church, which is where we also eat lunch, the lady had prepared our lunch to eat before Mass. The students felt very awkward about eating in front of the villagers who were waiting for Mass. We had to encourage them to eat something, and then everyone filled a tortilla and fed the crowd. The students commented at junta tonight that it was similar to the loaves and fishes. Mass was bilingual. The Hondurans sang loudly and energetically. We noticed even the dogs like to come to Mass in Honduras.

The excitement in the compound this afternoon involved the boys catching a fairly good-sized iguana. After scaring Tacha and a few girls, they released it in the park. We ate a typical Honduran meal of eggs, rice, refried beans, and tortillas.

Tomorrow promises to be a challenging day. We’ll dig trenches and then install cement floors into two homes of some extremely poor people who have dirt floors. There will be some sore muscles tomorrow.

Sam Ahlers – At this point in the trip I definitely wish I paid attention in Spanish class, but I still love talking and playing soccer with the kids. Everything here is great. Everyone is welcoming and happy. I hope all is well in Sioux City, and Happy Birthday, Jack.

Steve Swalve – Nick & Bob, Not to worry. The girls are working just as hard as the boys, even your sister. I have pictures. Enjoying myself. Life is peaceful. Connie: Wish you were here. You would really love the kids. Love, Steve

Fr. Cosgrove – Your children worked very hard today. We had Mass up in the mountain today and a wonderful meal. We shall be putting a cement floor into two homes here in Esquias. That means they will be working even harder on Tuesday and Wednesday. The student have made a very fine impression on the people and especially the children they have worked with. It is a joy to be with and work and pray.

Megan Tentinger – I miss you Mom and Dad. I haven’t gotten burned yet. Love you.

Becca Swalve – Constance, if you read this text Taylor, Linden, and Haley, Hi from me. Miss you all! Loving all of the kids so much. I want to bring them all back to Guardian Angel. Love, Becca

Greg Probst –Dear Dad, Please send tractor.

Mary Klein – Jim, Michelle, Nathan, and Emily, We are doing great and so glad we came! We dug four football fields long of trench today. I even used a pick-axe for re


Tegus- Corinne, Julie, Katelyn, and Bailee

Corinne: Hi Mom, Dad, Con and Tuck! I miss you all so much! Everything is going so well on this end. Every day brings new experiences and we all grow a little more as an individual. I am so excited to come back and share my experiences. Mom and Dad, I can’t thank you guys enough for giving me the opportunity to go on this trip. I have learned so much and this is unlike anything I have ever experienced. I think about you all so much and you’re in my prayers. I love you guys, be home soon! And Carli, I miss you! I hope I get to see you at the airport chica. Love you!

Julie: Hi everyone! Mom and F.J., I hope you made it back safely from D.C.! Grandma and Grandpa, I hope you are both feeling well. Hopefully, Stella, Jim, and Jana get there safely tomorrow! This experience is beyond amazing. I’m so grateful for the opportunity. I have learned so much from this trip about the world we live in, and how I want to change it for the future. I thank all of my positive influences for helping to shape me as individual. And Erin, I need you to sing Soft Kitty. Figure it out, Chica. Much love!

Bailee: Today I realized how hard it is going to be to say goodbye come Thursday morning and travel to Esquias, and then an even bigger challenge to completely say goodbye to Honduras all together. These friendships here are probably the most pure friendships any of us have ever had. The people here live such a simple life and I love it. Everything seems to move a lot slower over here, the complete opposite of the United States and I am definitely getting used to it. Today I taught two 15 year olds how to say certain animal names in English such as pig, horse, puppy, owl, goat, etc. And I now realize teaching is the best way to give. It gave me such an amazing feeling. Hope all is well back home. Love and miss everyone. P.s to anyone that knows how hard it is to wake me up in the morning, you will be happy to know that the roosters do in fact, wake even ME up. Yeah, it’s great.

Katie: I don't know how to begin to explain the last days here! Sorry I haven't been blogging, the internet is terrible here! Every time I try it goes out!! But everything is great! It is such an emotional roller coaster but the feelings that stand out the most are hope, faith, and friendships. The people here are unbelievable- they are becoming apart of all of us. It is amazing how universal body language and religion is in the world. It is going to be so hard to say goodbye!! Can't wait to tell all about my experiences and the people here however, I'm sure it will be hard to put into words. Love you all and see you soon!! To my little hermanos- "It's so much to HANDLE" :) Miss you! P.S. I have so many awesome surprises!!

Katelyn: I haven't been blogging either like Katie. It seems like there is so much to do and not enough time to do it! We all had so much fun today teaching the school kids English and doing crafts with them. We are already sad about leaving this place on Thursday. There are so many stories to share; too many to write down! Can't wait to share all of them with you when we return! Love to everyone back home.

T&T Teguc-Jenny

Jenny: Hi Mom, Dad, and Bren! I’m starting to realize how much I miss all 3 of you. College is going to be hard, we need to learn how to skype. Today we went to the school and taught about 7 or 8 kids English, crafts, and music. It was such an amazing experience. I feel like everyone here has such a desire to learn, and they just love school (what!?). I met a girl named Gloria who I just love she is so amazing. Her fifteenth birthday is tomorrow so we got her a present. I taught her some English and she is doing very well! This experience is teaching me so much, and I’m already preparing myself for some pretty hard goodbyes. The people here are indescribable. I automatically fall in love with everyone I meet right away! I know there is so much more to write, but I can’t think right now! Love and miss you more every day, family. I will be getting you all presents soon!

pics from Cardinals and roses blog

Cardinals and roses

Monday in Tegus-Cardinals and Roses

Today we went to Fr. Petricio’s school (St. Teresa’s) again in Nueva Capital in the north art of Tegus. About a dozen children were there to meet us and we spent the morning doing crafts, playing music and visiting with the children. Since it is Holy Week, the school is closed as are all schools in Honduras. The students seemed to enjoy their time with the children doing various activities.

After about 30 minutes at the school, Julie started to feel somewhat poorly. Like me, her system is not completely agreeing with the local food. She has been resting and is feeling better as I write this. While she was resting I was next door reading my book when Sr. Juanita called me down. We received a Today we went to Fr. Petricio’s school (St. Teresa’s) again in Nueva Capital in the north art of Tegus. About a dozen children were there to meet us and we spent the morning doing crafts, playing music and visiting with the children.

Since it is Holy Week, the school is closed as are all schools in Honduras. The students seemed to enjoy their time with the children doing various activities.

After about 30 minutes at the school, Julie started to feel somewhat poorly. Like me, her system is not completely agreeing with the local food. She has been resting and is feeling better as I write this. While she was resting I was next door reading and Sr. Juanita called me downstairs since we had a

surprise visit from Cardinal Maradiga, the Catholic Cardinal of Honduras. He met with the group and me and he was very nice. He did know where Sioux City was and made me feel he was interested in me and thanked our group for our good works. He has known Sr. Juanita for many years.

We tried to visit the blind boy who is the good musician again. He was not at home but we did visit the family anyway. Katie was admiring a rose bush outside the home. As we were leaving, the mother found a sharp object and was able to cut off some roses and give them to Marta because she knew Katie liked them. I pulled the kids together to point out what I see so often with the poor. They will indeed try to give you whatever they have if you only will acknowledge them. It was a powerful moment. A few minutes earlier they had just met the most powerful Catholic in Honduras yet this impressed me (and possibly them) more. Will go to the orphanage this afternoon to visit and set up the DVD program. Al

Sunday, April 17, 2011

40 Miles & 3 Hours Later

Amusement parks should create an amusement ride called “Honduran Roads” so everyone would be able to experience the bumpy and curvy roads we have been experiencing! Our bodies get a total workout just traveling to our destinations.

This morning we lived the example of ‘hurry up and wait.’ All were up by 5:30 a.m. Hard to believe, huh parents? We ate French toast for breakfast with various fruit choices. Then we rushed to make the 7:30 procession, which actually didn’t start until some time after 8. Everyone met at the edge of town. Many of the town’s children were in costume. After Fr. Bonilla blessed all the palms we were holding, Jesus mounted the burro and we processed through town, shouting ‘Viva, Jesus’ and singing as we walked. After we arrived at the church, the Passion was read and Mass continued. When the sign of peace starts, our group is generally surprised as the Hondurans walk all over to hug each other with the sign of peace. All the little children go to Father behind the altar to give him hugs.

Immediately after Mass we climbed aboard the bus for our ‘amusement ride’ to Sulaco and our visit to the malnutrition center. I believe many hearts were touched by those cute little children. Each missioner had the chance to hold a little child. Some of them coaxed a little boy to kick the soccer ball back and forth with him. It was hard for both missioners and little children to say good-bye. Our next stop was at the sewing academia and wood carving school for a few handmade souvenirs. Our last stop in Sulaco was at our friend Dulce’s who provided us with her delicious sweet fried bread and ice cold sodas. What a treat!

On our return we stopped at the homes of two extremely poor women. Pastora, who is quite elderly, expressed her gratitude for the food we gave her. Our final stop was a return to the house of the ‘Stick Lady.’ Her photo appears on this page. As soon as Linda gave her the new outfit she’d brought, Virginia put the clothes on right over her ragged clothes. Linda gave her a bag of staples, soap, and shampoo and she thanked the group.

We arrived in Esquias at 6. The students were overjoyed to find that Frank had returned from Tegucigalpa with all the missing bags. Even though they were shaken, both emotionally and physically, everyone pitched right in to empty the bags. Enchiladas were served at 7. Our junta followed. As I finish the blog at 10, I can’t hear a sound. I think they’ve all gone to bed. Many of them have written to you –

Ashley Ellensohn – Love you Mom and Dad! Everything is wonderful. Mom, you would love these kids. Xoxo

Britt Jaminet – Who knew it could take 3 hours to travel 84 km? The rock roads and narrow roads combined with the steep mountains could make anyone sick. Love you Mom. Dad and I miss you!

Sana Naqvi – Miss you and love you Mom & Dad.

Becca Vonnahme – Hey Dad! How is Tegucigalpa? How are all the girls treatin’ ya?  Everything is going great in Esquias. I’ve never been so sweaty and dirty in my life. Love you and can’t wait to see you Thursday!

Mike Jaminet – We got to experience forest fires firsthand. The smoke and damage is unreal.

Becca & Steve Swalve – Miss you and love you Mom, Nic, and Bob!

Zach Maxey – Hey everybody! It’s amazing here in Honduras! Everybody is so welcoming. Playing soccer w/the Hondurans is really fun and they are all really good. Miss you and love you Mom & Dad & the family!! Happy 18th Jack!! Love Zach

Fr. Cosgrove - We celebrated Palm/Passion Sunday with the parish. The procession came into town with palms from the trees and all went to the church high on the hill. The procession began at 8:00 a.m. and Mass ended at 10:30. The church was full so many of our students stood outside. The Holy Week celebration will be a highlight for everyone.

Days 2 and 3

Katelyn: We experienced a lot of different emotions today. Somehow we found joy despite all the poverty we witnessed. We enjoyed passing out food to people living around the school. The blind boy we met who showed us his piano and singing skills really moved us all to sum up the details of Bailee’s post (: All of the children were a joy to work with. I would like to think that we are touching these people’s lives, but they are truly touching mine. We cannot find the words to thank them enough.

Josh: GAH! Today was AMAZING! Can’t wait to show the videos… anyway, some stuff I need…

Becca: if you end up watching, could you try to record Dr. Who? That would be fantastic.

Kat: I cannot send emails from here. Please tell Mrs. Woolley that I’ll take it 

Mom: when I read what you said about Aunt Joyce and can’t wait for the 4th 

Whoever sent the toilet thing: AWESOME!

Al-Day 2 and 3

Everyone is still doing well. Day 2 was filled with visiting Spaniard priest Fr. Patricio’s school of 1600 students and visiting the orphanage at Mother Teresa’s. The students and Fr. Patricio hit it off right away. He has built a high quality 1600 student school from scratch and with his charismatic personality, is probably part of the reason. The students seemed to bond with Fr. and his students in no time at all. In fact, I had to practically drag them out of the school as the local students were organizing a soccer game with the kids participating. Pictures and blogging in general are difficult. I can not seem to keep a connection. Thus pics and blogs could be limited but we are taking tons of pictures. There was a blind keyboard player in a dirt floor home near the school who really touched everyone. His talent, his positive outlook, and his willingness to share his talents with our group moved us all. The group also gave out free food from the school to these poor homes as well. In all my travels, I have NEVER seen worse poverty.

Mother Teresa’s orphanage really drove home for the girls the need for all humanity to be loved. While their material needs are mostly met, their need for love is huge and our students saw this right away. We spent about 2 hours there and plan on going back early next week.

Sunday was Palm Sunday and we participated in an hour long procession as well as a 90 minute plus Mass. The Mass was beautiful but the procession did wear all us out. The truck rides to the school and Mass are brutal. Bailey represents the uncomplaining attitude of all our kids. As she says after this brutal ride; “I can no longer feel my butte!” but never complained about it! Katie laughed when the wind in her face was so strong she could not open her eyes! I find it irritating, they are amused!

On the back of all Heelan football jerseys is the word PRIDE. All these students are representing pride in their faith, their families, and their schools and in themselves. This pride is based on service and humility and not on their own accomplishments. They give me hope for the future and I need that.

Our scheduling continues to be a challenge. The kids have bonded so well with the Fr. He is making all kinds of plans for the kids! We need a better agenda next year as its hard for the adults to proper manage this situation this year. The school has dorms and many projects the kids could do so it may be an option in the future to have this as our base. Al

Palm Sunday in Tegus

Day of rest except for Mass.  Internet not working well.  Everyone fine.  Will try more later.  Al

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Tegus-day 2

Day two is coming to a close and it was quite a day!  Everyone is safe and in great spirits!  This will be short as we need to do the Junta meeting yet and get ready for bed.  Here is a brief recap as more will come tomorrow.

We spent most of the day in Fr. Patricio's school north of Tegus.  fr. is a diocesean priest from Spain who runs a school of 1600 students.  He is very likeable and he and the girls hit it off right away.  We also spent time visiting homes whose poverty rivaled what I saw in Haiti.  I was quite taken back.  Once again, our group embraced the families and the experience clearly moved them.  They indeed are changing before my eyes.  We also went to The Missionaries of Charity's orphanage and had another nice experience with the students.  Will send pics tomorrow.

Julie: Happy late birthday, F.J.! Wrote you a note yesterday! Love to everyone. Mom, I can't explain yet but thank you for raising us. You are amazing. Miss you Erin! Writing lots of notes. Kisses Grams and Gramps.

Corinne: I can't believe this is only day two on my journey. We are all adjusting so well to this new lifestyle. We got to see lots of kids today and it is so weird to think that even though it is us that is bringing all the material things, we are the ones at the end of the day walking away with joy and happiness. It feels so selfish. We'll be writing lots more tomorrow. Miss everyback back home. I love you family.

Jenny: We did so many amazing things today I cannont even begin to describe it. It was the first day we got to meet the kids from both the school and orphanage. The Hondurans are so friendly and loving and I wish i knew more spanish! I'm definitely investing in Rosetta Stone soon. God is present through every single person I met today, and I can't wait to see what the rest of this journey holds. Mom you better be reading this. Send my love to dad and Bren and Macy and Ollie too.

Bailee: I think I speak for all of us when i say that today really moved me. We came across two blind people and both have touched my heart, details will come soon enough :) Today was wonderful, I don't want this trip to ever end. The people here have so much potential and we say "Hola" and "gracias" about 500 times a day--no joke. p.s the driving here is absolutly NUTS! No rules, i swear. Kisses from Honduras to Iowa :)

Bienvenidos a Vallecillo!

Our morning started much earlier than most of us generally arise – 5:30! I didn’t hear a single groan when I did my wake-up call. Since we still had no electricity, breakfast had to be adjusted. Thank goodness for gas stoves. There were scrambled eggs, bananas, fresh squeezed orange juice, and bread.

Shortly after breakfast we gathered in the central courtyard for a prayer – joining hands as we prayed for many of you back home. Then it was on the bus for the hour-long ride to the village.

Many young children run to the road when they see our bus coming. They love shouting to the American youth and waving to them as we drive past. Carlos, our excellent bus driver, is ready to stop at a moment’s notice for anyone who wants to take photos.

Just as it has for the previous two mission groups, from Springfield Catholic in Missouri and St. Thomas More in Rapid City, SD, the villagers gathered together on the soccer field to welcome us to Vallecillo. Angel Paz, the engineer of the water project, spoke. The president of the village and a few other villagers spoke, we had a prayer together, and I briefly thanked them. Then, we went to work.

Our first project was to carry two plastic 2” water pipes approximately 1 – 2 miles (when walking up and down mountains, the distance is irrelevant) to where they were needed in the trenches dug by previous missioners. After placing them into the trenches, they were glued end to end and we all filled in the trenches.

The missioners had great fun with the children. They worked together, played a little, and tried to speak Spanish to each other. The children kept calling our students “loco” which means crazy. It was their favorite saying today.

One of the village ladies prepared a lunch of tortillas, rice, potato salad, and chicken that we ate in the church. It gave all a chance to stay out of the sun. I believe our temperature today hovers around 99.

Even though we rested well last night, many people had a nap on the bus. I think the altitude and the high heat is really sapping our energy. We were happy to find the electricity on in the compound. We hope it stays on. But the latest news is there will be no water after 6 p.m. We’re rushing to take our 90 seconds or less showers before that.

A group of us took a walking tour of Esquias – the village where our compound is located. Some of the boys had noticed what they thought were large mangos growing on a tree. We found one on the ground and took it to Monchin, one of our Honduran friends, to ask him if we could eat it. After laughing at us, he showed us how they cut it in half, clean it out like a pumpkin, and then use it as a type of scoop for water. We’re always learning something new in Honduras. We did relax a bit at the park and take care of a few chores around the compound.

We want everyone back home to know that everyone is healthy, happy, and enjoying their first 24 hours in Honduras. We ask your continued prayers for a successful project. Adios.

Friday, April 15, 2011

All Arrived Safe and Sound

Our day began early at 3 a.m. We had a quick bite at the hotel and were off to the airport. Our flight took off from Omaha on time, but we were delayed in Houston. We finally arrived in Tegucigalpa thirty minutes late, missing 43 of our bags. Needless to say, some of us are doing without tonight. But we are all sharing to get them what they need. As is typical in Honduras, we are without electricity. We ate supper by candlelight in Esquias. Everyone thought it was quite romantic. We've unpacked a few belongings. The students cooled off for a bit at the park. Soon we'll have our first junta meeting and head for bed. We have a big work day ahead of us. Though we are all tired after our long day, we are anxious to beging work. Pray for lights tomorrow. We have water!!!

First Day in Teguc

Greetings from Teguc! We landed safely, and quite well, on the smallest landing strip in the world. We set a new record for the most baggage lost on a mission trip. We only received 32 out of 78 bags. Thankfully, most of the personal bags were retrieved and we have what we need.

Living conditions are tight but adequate. We are seeing the town with help from Marta Sosa, and she is wonderful! Also, we met Cathleen, a Canadian volunteer, who showed us local sights. She was very engaging and welcomed us into the community. We are already bonding! -Al
p.s. Just got a call from Caroline, the Esquias group is there safely!

Julie: I'm so overwhelmed! This is a completely new experience and I hope to make the most of my ten days. I want to utilize every opportunity to do something to help someone. Hopefully, this trip helps shape me as an adult in this world. Love to Mom, F.J., Grams and Gramps, Jim, Jana, Stella, and Erin!

Corinne: Being here is unlike any experience I've witnessed before. It amazes me how much we all take for granted in America when people here have absolutely nothing. It's been fun trying to utilize our Spanish and we use every opportunity we get. One crazy thing was running into a girl from my old middle school in San Diego. Miss you Mom, Dad, and boys. Love you.

Bailee: Definitely not at all what i was expecting when we arrived, but then again I'm not quite sure what i did expect to begin with. But the Tegucigalpa Team survived the first day being locked out of the "popular" ;) It was kind of a wake up call to see two young boys playing with an old, flattened soccer ball, and here we are needing money every weekend to have fun while they make the most out of anything and everything they do have. Excited to meet with the orphanage tomorrow! Love and miss you family and friends!!

Jenny: Tegucigalpa is absolutely breath taking. There are so many colors and the city is so vibrant. Despite the poverty, the city has a spirit that gives it so much beauty. Our first day was just about getting aquainted with where we are going to live for the next week. We walked around the town for a couple of hours, and I was introduced to a completely new lifestyle. I love this place I'm already dreading leaving! Love and miss everyone!

Katie: Even though we prepared for months, no one can truly understand the lifestyle here until they experience themselves. The city is beautiful and has so much potential! It is a little overwhelming at first, but the Tegucigalpa group had an incredibly smooth transition. Our living quarters are quite pleasant and we all can't wait for the orphanage tomorrow! The moment I stepped off the plane, I knew we made the right decision. Love to all the Doughertys and the class of '11!!!

Katelyn: I still can't believe that we're here. It seemed so far away and yet here we are. It's been a long day, including the landing which was really intense! Immediately after getting off the plane, I think it's safe to say we all so thankful to have taken up this opportunity. The people here are incredible and we are on a continuous journey learning something new every minute. We're really trying to make the most of our Spanish skills! Looking forward to meeting all the kids tomorrow!!

Josh: I'm keeping a pretty through video journal, so I'll keep this relatively short. Hi, mom!

Message #4 From Richard Seivert

Spoke with Carolyn Bickford at 2:10 our time (1:10 Honduras time). They were all out of the airport. Only 44 bags arrived. The Mother Teresa group had already left with those from ACOES and were on their way to Don de Maria's. The Esquias group was just finishing boarding the bus for the long ride to Esquias.
I would imagine we will hear from both much later this afternoon.
Al Vonnahme will blog from Tegucigalpa for that group and Carolyn Bickford from Esquias.
But please, don't expect anything for quite some time. It has begun.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And We're Off...

The Gehlen / Heelan Catholic Mission Team had a beautiful send-off at Gehlen Catholic School this afternoon. Shortly after that we were on the bus and heading for Omaha. We had a huge meal at the Golden Corral; then it was off to the Country Inn & Suites. We had our team meeting at the hotel to make sure everyone is on the same page for tomorrow - the day we have all been waiting for! Our wake-up calls will come early: 2:50 - 3:20 a.m. Seivert will update you on our flight on Friday. We'll put up a team photo from Esquias once we've unloaded the bus and gotten settled into our dorms.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Adios Honduras.

Our last day in Honduras was full of adventure and many hard goodbyes.  We worked for two hours this morning, and it was great to see how much we had accomplished in the short time we have been here.  Today we laid pipe and filled in some of the trenches that we had dug.  When we had completed this we headed to the Church for a farewell.  We were greeted by the school children clapping at our arrival and many of the villagers coming to say goodbye.  The teacher of the village bid us farewell  and thanked us for all of the work we had done.  KFal practiced her Spanish and thanked them for welcoming us into their homes and promised that we would remember all of their smiles.  After the farewell ceremony we celebrated mass in a packed house.  It was sad to leave the village of Vallecillo, and it was hard to pull our students and the Honduran children apart (especially after we gave them candy!).  The entire day was full of hard goodbyes, but we are also leaving with a renewed sense of the reality of the call to help the least of our brothers and sisters, and the joy that comes from enjoying the simple things in life.  We had a great, life changing experience in Honduras, but are excited to see our families and share our memories with them.  What a blessing to be able to return to such an amazing community.  We are so grateful for all of the people who helped us along the way, especially Dick, Frank, Carolyn, Sister Juanita, Linda, Tacha, Julio, and Carlos-we can’t thank you enough.  We will keep these people, along with the people of Honduras, in our hearts and prayers.  Goodbye Honduras… Rapid City, here we come.

Message From Richard Seivert

Greetings from Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras. As I look forward to the Gehlen / Heelan / Kingsley team entering Honduras this coming Friday morning, I must take a moment and speak about a very special group of young people and adults from St. Thomas More, Rapid City, S.D.

It is Monday afternoon and you have just returned from your last day of work in Vallecillo. I imagine that emotions were running high and you had a very hard time leaving the children and people of the village. In your own thoughts you can probably sense the change that is taking place in all of you, even though you might not be able to explain it to anyone. As you look forward to coming home and seeing family and friends, you know there is a part of you still in Honduras, and maybe a part of you forever. A part of you in the dust, pipes, trenches, rocks, and mountains of Vallecillo. But just as important, a part of you in the lives of so many you have touched, those who have very little to nothing and the bond you have forged in the heat of Honduras with such a beautiful people. We at Gehlen know all these thoughts very well and encourage you to give yourself time to process everything once you are home. I doubt if you will ever look at water the same, clean clothes the same, smooth roads the same, a ten minute shower the same, food the same, and even technology the same. I suspect a lot of you will experience a simplification in your life, sort of a re-focus on those things in life that are really important; family, friends, school, faith, and love. You have been given a great gift by your school leaders who took the risk for others. I want to thank Mary Casey and Katie Falkowski for the wonderful leadership of this team. I want to thank Frank, Sister Joan, Linda Reichle, Carolyn Bickford, Julio Rivera, Angel Paz, Carlos, and Tacha. I want to thank each one of you mission students and chaperones for all you did for the people of Vallecillo. Thank you for the time, the effort, the planning, and the faith to go look, hold, smell and live with poverty. I say the same to St. Thomas More today as I said to Springfield Catholic 10 days ago: The world is a little better today because of St. Thomas More High School and the work you did. I wish each and everyone of you the best in the future. Please stay in touch in the years to come. Take Care St. Thomas More, Richard E. Seivert, Director.

P.S. check this blog for updates about their return home. I will try to post everything I know and hear from Frank, Mary, or Katie.