I apologize for the lateness of our final blog, but our day has been a full one.
I agree with Seivert, we could not do this without Francis and Julio. They make everything run smoothly for us from the moment we step out of the airport in Tegucigalpa until we leave on that final day. However, I need to point out the countless hours that Richard Seivert puts into this program. We also, wouldn't be here without all the work he does in the background, and of course, all the stress and worry for him until we are home safely. Thanks, Seivert, from all of us here in Esquias.
The missioners got to sleep in again this morning - 6:30. After breakfast we loaded all the gift bags into the truck and also packed some candy and little toys to distribute. A few of us went with a couple local teachers to tour an agricultral project their school is doing. The students have agreed to fund their project, which will help the students for years to come. They will be learning how to plant and raise vegetables, howto raise chickens and fish, and how to provide for themselves in the future. We were impressed with their planning and vision.
We left for the village a little early because we wanted to get a group photo on top of the mountain and in front of the water tank. The view rivals any I've ever seen. The villagers began arriving for our little celebration around 11. The village leader thanked the team for their efforts in the water project and for working with them as friends. My speech to the village of El Picacho is as follows: On behalf of Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras, Richard Seivert, our director, Francis Seivert, and myself, I'd like to thank yiou for allowing us to work with yiu for a short time. Special thanks also to our friends Angel, Julio, and Carlos for their help. We pray today that the village of El Picacho will always have clean water, and even more, that people everywhere have access to clean drinking water. We hope you will hold us in your hearts, as we will hold you in ours. Thank you! God Bless You!
We distributed the gift bags to every single person of El Picacho. The bags included shampoo, bar soap, clothes appropriate for the ages of the family, hair items, toys, shoes, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and lotion. You'd think it was Christmas day the way everyone was excited to get their gifts. The school received loads of notebooks, pens, pencils, rulers, chalk, reading books in Spanish, etc. The group from El Picacho sang their national anthem for us, so we sang our national anthem for them. That brought smiles from everyone. The villagers also presented us with gifts, as they tied bracelets in the Honduran flag colors onto each of our wrists.
We surprised the missioners on the return home when we stopped at the fiesta the mayor of this area was giving in our honor to thank us for our hard work. We had a delicious picnic lunch by a small river. They grilled bits of marinated pork and chicken. We also ate salsa, tortillas, refried beans, and red cabbage in vinegar ( not our usual picnic fare). A large part of this afternoon was spent relaxing.
As soon as we returned to the compound, clean up began. A handful of us toured the local high school and chicken farm. Supper was served at 5:30, and then everyone rushed to shower, clean the salon, pack more items, and just general get-ready-to-leave activities.
Mass began tonight at 7 with the fire on the road just below the church. The first hour was spent singing songs around the fire (You could call it church campfire.). Then we lit our candled from the Easter candle and processed into the church, Oh yes, we got all 7 readings tonight with reflections and singing in between. We also renewed our baptismal vows, had the blessing of water, went up to bless ourselves with the newly blessed water, as well as the regular Mass. We dragged back to the compound at 10:25 to begin our final junta. It was important to take everyone through what they'll need to know for their return trip. I still wish I could bring them home to you! So, give them extra hugs for me. Linda and I will be following their flight until we get the call that you've got then in your arms.
Thanks for lending your children to us for a while. I have enjoyed every minute with them.
As they leave Honduras, their mission here is complete. However, they now have a much larger mission to carry out, and each of them will have to find his/her way to carry it out. May God be with them!