2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

Thursday, March 27, 2014

We Say Farewell

And so our mission draws to a close. Today we breakfasted on scrambled eggs, ham, beans, pineapple, watermelon, orange juice, and coffee. Then we split into the work crews needed for the day. The building crew finished installing the electrical materials and wiring and put in the two windows. Most everyone else painted the blue bottom of the school building to the north of us. Groups of four students delivered cross necklaces to the second, third, fourth and fifth graders. The girls searched out several girls at recess time and gave them each a dress that Sr. Juanita had made out of pillow cases. Miranda Bunkers kept busy distributing hair bows and bracelets that her sisters had made. The Santa Teresa students really enjoyed receiving their gifts.

During our lunch of rice, stew, tortillas, and salad, we discussed the various chores that needed to be done before retiring for the evening. Missioners are still going out to the homes of some of the poorest students to distribute the gift bags. The houses have been completed, the painting is done, and we’re almost finished with packing up our belongings to leave behind. As I type this blog, missioners are showering and cleaning up what they can at this point.

We’re looking forward to a supper of enchiladas, and I’ve heard that we’re to get a special treat this afternoon – machatiadas! We’ll all be signing this year’s group mural on the wall of the building that we painted after tonight’s junta. We’ll also go through the protocol we’ll follow for our return home.
We’ve just finished an emotional junta, ending with “Lean on Me,” complete with actions. It was a fitting ending to an amazing mission trip. I went through every step of our return trip so all the missioners know exactly what will be happening tomorrow.

We’ll be up early tomorrow morning, as usual. Fr. Patricio has invited the whole team to join them in what they call formacion at 7 a.m. It is going to be an emotional farewell because everyone has made some wonderful friends here. Though we’re all excited to see our families again, we’ll all miss the friends we’ve made here. The Honduran children LOVE to hug. Everyone is going to be mobbed with hugs tomorrow and I know we’ll all be emotional messes. Then we’ll see all of you at the airport, and it will happen all over again.

There is only one message tonight from Megan for her mom: “MOM, it would be clutch if you made and brought your chocolate chip cookies.” J  (I hope she meant for the whole team!)

Adios! We’ll see you in Omaha Friday night. Thanks for following our mission trip.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

We'll Make It Work!

French toast tasted good at breakfast this morning. Afterwards we took our group photo on the steps outside our building.

Then we had to figure out who was going where and what projects we could do with the personnel and equipment available. Our orange paint disappeared from the hallway. Later we discovered the principal had given it away to the gate guard. So we had to improvise on that. With Bruce and Alex leaving, Pat needed to know what had to be done on the upper house. They made a trip up to discuss that.

Dave’s group started working on the three picnic tables because the paint for the school building walls did not show up this morning. A couple students went with Pat and Randy to the lower house. There they worked on installing the wiring, door jambs, and glass window. We are happy to report that it was finished at 5 this afternoon and the lights were on when we left the lower house.

The building paint showed up at noon. After lunch the paint crew went to work on the school wall. Unfortunately, someone told them to paint blue on the top part of the wall. After a section was painted, the principal informed them that the top was supposed to be white and the bottom blue. The crew switched gears and painted the bottom blue.

Students were pulled off their other crews to help build the picnic tables. The final nail was pounded into place at 6, just in time for supper.

We also rotated students to deliver gift bags. I cannot express with words the poverty we witnessed as we delivered the gift bags. One family deeply affected me. There were three children and a mother who lived in a shack about the size of a decent bathroom. The house had a dirt floor with one or two very small twin beds covered with all kinds of rags and other items. There were no windows, and the walls were patchworked with posters and plastic to cover the holes. A small table which butted up to the bed had some small cherry tomatoes and some other small food item. A small metal bin hung from the ceiling with a few tiny items. The mother had left the three children, ages 11, 8, and 6 alone for the week while she went to be with her sister whose husband had been killed in an accident, according to the neighbor. I have no idea how the children were able to find any food. Fortunately, they are all students and receive a small meal at the school. It was truly a shock for the whole group to see. A photo below shows the group with the children on the side of the home.

We’re all starting to feel a sense of accomplishment. The picnic tables are done. We’ve totally finished one home. The sand and rocks have been carried down the mountainside for the chicken coop project. One full building is completely painted and another will be completed tomorrow. Six gift bags were delivered by six student missioners. The second through fourth graders have had multiple English lessons. We shopped for our souvenirs after Mass in a church from the sixteenth century and visited a beautiful oasis in Santa Lucia. We helped children at a feeding center. We’ve enjoyed immensely interacting with both the school children at Santa Teresa’s and at the feeding center. Obviously, much has been accomplished by this year’s team.
I’d like to sign off tonight with a quote by Dan O’Brien. If you need any explanation, you’ll have to ask him. “There is no mission without i.”

Missioner blogs follow:

Kennedy Rolfes: Hey Mo! I am having a blast down here and can’t wait to tell you all about it! Of course, I did break the bank shopping. ;) It’s in my nature!! Missing you like crazy and the countdown is on! Love you to the moon and back!

delivering gift bags

audience for drilling

table 3

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Then Feed Just One Food Makes a Difference

It is with a heavy heart that I write tonight’s blog. Unfortunately, Bruce and Alex must return home early so they can be with their dad/grandpa, who is really missing them. We all agree that they should return, but we’ll really miss them.

Pancakes for breakfast this morning and watermelon. As soon as we finished eating, we put everyone to work. Even though we were heading to Talanga at 8:30, we definitely didn’t want any of us sitting around too much. A few missioners treated the wood that is going to be used to build three picnic tables, and the remainder of the missioners carried sand down the mountainside in gunny sacks. Actually, they formed a line and passed the sacks down until they reached the Hondurans who carried it the rest of the way.

As stated earlier, we headed for Talanga – a two-hour trip – to visit the Feeding Center. While we were touring the facility, we discovered boxes of Then Feed Just One food. Excited, we examined the labels on the boxes. THEIR FOOD WAS FROM GEHLEN, SPALDING, AND EMMETSBURG!!! The children who were in the feeding program were possibly eating the food we packed last May. That was truly eye-opening for all of the missioners. Many of us commented on that at junta tonight. Many people mentioned that now that they’ve seen the food actually being eaten by children who were probably getting their only meal of the day, they know the importance of our packing event.

Lunch was peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, chips, and granola bars enroute to Nueva Capital from Talanga. Traveling today gave everyone the chance to experience Honduran driving at its best. No one has figured out the horn honking language of the Honduran drivers. I think you have to be a native Honduran to understand it. Sofia, Marta’s oldest daughter, ate her very first peanut butter & jelly sandwich while with us today and said it actually wasn’t that bad.

As soon as we returned to the compound, we all went to work moving sand and gravel down the mountainside. The people here are building a grand chicken coop toward the back of the compound. They were slowly moving a bit of sand and gravel each day, so we told them we’d make sure the pile was moved for them. They were extremely grateful.

After a supper of pupusas (corn tortillas surrounding melted cheese and a pinch of pork paste, I think, and grilled; then you put shredded cabbage like slaw on top of it), Janet got out her guitar and we had a singalong. Tonight’s junta was thought-provoking. There were plenty of emotions after our experiences at the feeding center.

Actually, I think everyone is starting to get a little emotional because we all know our mission experience is drawing to a close. I’m also sure that some of the missioners are realizing they miss their families, though they might not admit it. I predict a bus full of tears when we leave this place.

Missioners’ blogs:

Emily Pratt- Hey mom and dad, everything is going great down here today. Going to the feeding center was quite an experience. The children there were really excited for us to be there today. I miss you guys. Shopping on Sunday was actually fun for me. I got you some great stuff. Tell Sally I miss her very much. Catherine, I hope all is going well at college, and I got a few things for you too. Tell Katie and Billy hi for me. To all of my friends, I hope you are having lots of fun at school and in the cold weather. It is very nice down here. See you all soon.

Megan Livermore: Hey family and other people! J All is well in Honduras, and I love hearing from all of you guys back home, makes part of my day! Honestly, not too excited about the weather everyone is talking about back home, but I cannot wait to see you guys! Kelsey, I miss hearing you make fun of me everyday too, but no worries because almost everyone down here is, so it’s like I never left! David, sorry to hear that posting on the blog is difficult for you, but I am beyond glad to know you are following our journey down here. It means a lot to know that all of you guys are following us, keeping up to date on our journey, and most of all praying for our group. Mom, Dad, the sibs and Kinnick: I miss you guys soooo very much and no worries, we will have plenty of stories and answers to share with you guys when we get back! This trip has been amazing so far! #omaha #yahoo

Jim and Michelle Klein: Hola to Mom/Mary, Matt, Nathan, and Emily. It was great to hear from you. We are glad Emily did great at volleyball. We are doing very well. It was fun playing with the kids at the feeding center in Talanga today. They asked us to play pato, pato, gansaje (duck, duck, goose), but they didn’t play by the same rules. We enjoyed the view as we traveled, but the driving was interesting. Emily, Dad is worried about getting his spot back. You’d better enjoy it while you can. We love and miss you and will see you soon.

Patrick (not Megan) Livermore:  Howdy.  This is my first blog so here I go.   Mother, Father, I am having a swell time down south of the border.  This might surprise you, but it is hot down here.  I miss all my family, including the runt.  Hope you guys are having fun back in God’s Country. Next topic.  Hello, Cecilia and such. I forgot you guys were still there.  I am curious if you guys accomplish anything in class. Time to go.  This has been PatRick on MH’s blog. Yahoo.  I’m out.

Adam Sitzmann: Hello to everybody that’s reading this, especially my family. It’s been a blast down here so far. I’m really missing everybody, and I am looking forward to sharing my experience when I get back. I’m missing everybody. I, for sure, haven’t been hungry so far. I also finally buckled down and ate some peanut butter, not the worst stuff ever. I also did read all of my English book down here during our siestas. See you all soon!

P.S. To Abby: Please clean off my golf clubs for when I get back on Saturday. I, for sure, am going golfing.

Carolyn Bickford: Tell Mya that I'll be over on Saturday to watch Frozen with her, and I'll give both Mya & Cayden a hug. Paige & Marshall, I'll Facetime with you on Saturday. Looking forward to talking & seeing all of you. I hope Pakka & Angel are okay. No one has given me any information on them, so I assume everything is going fine. I'll text Lyndsi in Atlanta, tell her that please.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Back to Work

This morning began, as usual, at 6 a.m. We breakfasted on eggs, ham, beans, watermelon, juice, and coffee. Missioners were divided into three groups: teachers, house one, and house two. The teaching went well. Our students are really getting into the swing of being teachers. Crews at both house sites installed two doors, cut out windows, and painted either interior or exterior walls or both. The students are definitely learning all kinds of useful skills. I think they are becoming part Honduran, as I’ve seen some of them improvising materials as needed. One item today was a paint stir stick made from a piece of rebar and bent into a hook. Then it was turned by the drill. That was Bruce’s idea, but I’ve also seen the students doing things Honduran style.

Everyone seemed to be dragging a little today. I guess shopping takes more out of them than work does. After a lunch of grilled chicken, rice, and beans, I ordered a mandatory siesta for everyone. I also forbid any soccer games so their bodies could get rested. I think it worked because I’ve noticed a lot more energy tonight. Some are singing songs with the Honduran children. Some are doing their laundry by hand. All have had their cold shower. And I think there are a few card games going on.

It’s just about time for junta now. I will finish the rest of the blog afterwards.

We had lots of sharing at junta tonight, which is nice. The students are having a great experience. They are doing everything asked of them and more; they are true examples of what Pope Francis wants us to be. What wonderful examples of American students they are showing the Hondurans.

Missioners’ blogs follow:

Mariah McCarty: Hello again! I can’t put into words how amazing this whole experience is, but I can’t wait to share it the best I can with you when I get back. I’m not going to lie, going shopping for souvenirs for family and friends made me really miss everyone yesterday. I can’t wait to see all of you! :) Good news: The kids no longer laugh when I speak in Spanish. Improvement! Ps. Mom- have you heard anything about jobs? Megan- I miss our sister talks. Love you all!!

Miranda Bunkers: Hey family! I`m starting to miss you all. Never thought I`d say that. J But everything is going good here! Yesterday while shopping, there was a young boy that was selling grasshoppers made out of a palm leaf. He said that it was for him and his brother so they could eat because they are orphans. Come to find out that the money was being used for inappropriate reasons. I will explain later. Just thought I would share one of the many stories to come! Can’t wait to see you all on Friday!! Love you and see you soon!! <3 o:p="">

Rebecca Feller: Okay, Mother, haha you are so funny. Thanks for giving me an option about the trip, but where is it? I’ll let you know if I want to go when I get back from this trip.

Dan ‘OB’: Yes, I am still alive here in Honduras. Poor Richard, sorry about the possible nightmares after you saw the pictures of me painting, thickest paint I ever had to work with. Learning a lot, but it is quite difficult. Someone forgot to tell me that almost everybody doesn’t speak English. Going as far as I can with a smile and sharing a piece of (for all those concerned – sugar free) gum. The weather here is quite enjoyable, and I have been extra attentive with the sunscreen. Ming, hope you are doing ok and not going crazy or hungry because I have been gone so long. Looking forward to sharing a smile, hug and a piece of gum with you. Living arrangements are Spartan, but we have plenty of water (cold showers) and the food is better than expected. Elen, miss you, hoping Kyle is keeping you, Abby and Hurley entertained. Tell Mom that the candles are working. The crew is starting to open up and our evening meetings are getting more productive. My distance girls you are so lucky you didn’t come with me - every hill is a 14th. I believe I could have a successful XC team here, but everybody plays soccer. Wednesday I get to teach English, so you know the students will have funny lines to share with their folks when they get home. Also, got the times from the meet on the 18th, and ladies, there is work to do and I hope that you are working hard for Gina (She is coaching you, right?).  Once again it is time for me to ‘mingle’ along with my thoughts of home, looking forward to seeing all my familiar faces again on the 28th.

Kennedy Rolfes: Hey, Mom and Dad! Bout time you blogged me…..I was waiting for you to! Trust me, I am pleasantly surprised myself that I am doing laundry, dishes, and other chores. However, that does not mean I will do them back home. ;) Yes, you are correct, I was one of the burnt ones haha. By the way, I did get asked if I could cut off a piece of my hair and give it to someone. They love red heads. ;) I am loving every moment of being here and am so thankful for you giving me the opportunity to come here. It is absolutely beautiful and the Honduran people are too. They are so friendly and loving. I especially love the children. My Spanish is coming along great too. I am surprised how well I can speak and interpret. I miss you both very much and can’t wait to see you soon. Tell Kylee I miss and love her. Love you both to the moon and back. Mariah, I’m sorry you had to do our duet alone, but on the bright side, I will be back this weekend! I miss you so so so so much along with our baby dancers. I hope they are behaving for you! Missing your laugh more than anything. I can’t wait to see you! Love you, Rae Rae.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Santa Lucia & Valle de Angeles

Sunday began a little earlier than normal because we had to take off for church. We ate French toast and watermelon with coffee and orange juice. Everyone did their chores and brought in their laundry from Saturday night. Then it was off to Santa Lucia.

In the village of Santa Lucia we attended 9 o’clock Mass at Santa Lucia Church. The church was beautiful and contained many historic artifacts that Father explained to us after Mass. He also had our whole group come into the sanctuary and explained to the congregation what we were doing in Honduras. He welcomed us and thanked us for helping his countrymen. The crucifix behind the altar was given to the church by King Philip of Spain in the sixteenth century. There was a painting of Jesus on the cross that was from seventeenth century, and a statue of St. Lucy from the eighteenth century and was given to the church by the mayor of Tegucigalpa. On the wall next to St. Lucy was a plaque of small medals that the priest said were verified miracles performed by St. Lucy, the patron saint of eyesight. She’s the patron saint of eyesight because of how she was tortured for her beliefs.

After church we walked a few blocks to Marta’s brother’s house. Her brother is a biology professor in Tegucigalpa. He’s created an oasis of six acres in Santa Lucia. There were all kinds of trees and plants, as well as fountains, in various areas throughout those acres. Each section is devoted to a specific culture. There are paths that run throughout the whole “oasis.” There was also a three-room house being used as a museum. The students roamed the paths. Some of us took advantage of the hammock or pergola, where he served refreshments. We also ate our picnic lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Unfortunately, the return walk to the bus was approximately nine blocks uphill on cobblestone roads.

Then we were off to Valle de Angeles to shop. The students were given two hours to find their souvenirs and have ice cream. Everyone tried to find the best items for their family members and friends. It is interesting to note that when given the chance to choose their shopping chaperones, all of them chose the men. Randy’s group was the largest so Dan agreed to help him. Bachelor Pat got to escort four of the girls on their shopping excursion. Needless to say, he had his hands full just trying to keep Caroline from wandering off! AND his was the last group to return to the bus.

Supper was lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, chicken, and rice. Once again, everyone dined sumptuously.

We began junta with music tonight. Janet played guitar and led a sing-along. As junta progressed, it was apparent that all are truly absorbing their mission experience. Of course, we all noticed the contrast between the poverty here in Nueva Capital and the over-abundance of money in some of the other areas of Honduras. The importance of maintaining the feelings we’re experiencing and the lessons we’re learning while on our mission trip. Many missioners already have shared that they know how difficult will be to leave here. Imagine: they have no electronic devices, are sleeping on a mattress on the floor with a room full of other people, are doing hard physical labor, washing their clothes on a washboard, arising at 6 a.m. every day, are allowed only 60-second cold showers, and they are going to have difficulty leaving. That should tell you a lot about these missioners!

Notes from the missioners:

Carolyn Bickford: Hi to all my family members. Drew, please call Lyndsi and check on how the dogs are doing. I heard that Angel had to go back to the vet for her eye. Mya, Cayden, Paige, and Marshall – I love you all very much. I hope your parents are helping you pray for our mission group. I look forward to seeing Mya and Cayden on Saturday. Paige and Marshall, I’ll get there as soon as possible. Jay, Miranda, Drew, and Ali – yes, I miss you also. I hope you’re checking out the blogs so you’re know what we’re doing. Take care of each other!

Colton Kneip: Hi mom and all, thanks for letting me know about everything. We are all having a blast, and I guess I kinda miss my family and friends at night when we’re lying in bed. Friday will come fast, and we’ll see you soon!

The Importance of Water

Saturday began at 6 a.m. Our breakfast of pancakes, oranges, and mangos was consumed at 6:30; then the groups took off for work. Since there were no students in school today, Linda kept a paint crew to do the green layer on the bottom of the school building. The rest of the missioners were split between the two building projects. Much progress was made at both sites. The upper crew got the roof on but did not do any painting. The lower crew did not get the roof on but did get some painting done. Thus, I’d say they’re pretty even on their progress.
We agreed that today’s lunch was our favorite: enchiladas with tomatoes, cabbage, and cheese. There were many happy people when we got to have a twenty-minute siesta after lunch.
The afternoon chores consisted of the paint crew finishing their green base. The rest of us strung crosses that we’ll distribute to the Santa Teresa students on our last day. Our table definitely strung many more crosses than the men’s tables.
Fr. Patricio, the head of the schools, celebrated Mass in the compound at 3. He took the opportunity to welcome our group and to point out how important it is to do service, like we are doing.
Marta then did a laundry lesson for the students so they could clean some of their clothes using the pila. Some of the girls generously offered to do laundry for the boys. Unfortunately, Kyle will have to get his laundry off the basketball hoop in the morning. Even a few of guys did laundry for some others. It’s hard to believe they actually enjoyed doing laundry
Many of the boys played soccer before we had supper. Supper consisted of grilled beef and pork on tortillas with pico de gallo. We have definitely been fed well.
As we talked during tonight’s junta, quite a few missioners expressed the difficulty we were having not giving the Honduran children our water, and how important water is. It is quite apparent in this region where we are working because they have to buy their water – not just drinking water. Water trucks drive through the area all day long selling water. Some of it is just river water that they use for laundry or making cement. We also have had to purchase all the water we are using, so we try to conserve as much as possible. We take so much for granted. Now that we are witnessing what happens in a country with a shortage of water, we can start appreciating what we do have and not waste our precious commodities.
The students are having a wonderful time without their electronic devices. They’re getting the chance to really talk to each other and play together in simple ways. It’ll be interesting to see if that continues once they return to the States.
Here are the latest missioner messages:
Randy and Sadie: Hello everyone back home! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MOM! We hope you are having a great day, and Presley is treating you well! Everything here is going pretty good so far besides some minor details. The first day Randy ripped a hole in his work pants so he just fixed them up with some duct tape; they are still holding strong on Saturday. Yesterday I realized hammers and I do not get along well! So I got moved to mixing cement instead. We finally got juice, but we had to jerry rig it and steal juice from the neighbor’s house.  We are guessing Tim and Julie got engaged! Tell everyone Hello from us and we miss them all.  Also tell Ali that baby needs to stay in until Friday. That’s the first day that works for us. ;) By the way Jake, Bruce misses you!

Megan & Patrick: Hello, family? Anyone there?! Why have we not heard from you guys lately? J We love and miss you guys (even though Patrick has not said it. I think he does anyways) and would LOVE to hear from you guys! The days are passing faster than ever, and I am learning the meaning of Honduran time! That will definitely not help out with my senioritis, at all! Anyway, we only have 6 days left here, and I am not sure how I feel about that yet. I miss you guys, yet I don’t want to leave here! #yahoo #omaha
PS. Patrick found out that Iowa lost…some words were said.

Rebecca Feller: Hello mother and I guess Les, I love and miss you tons. Umm do you know where the Senior Trip is and if I am going? Also Mother I just want to let you know that I am surviving off tortillas and peanut butter. I somewhat know how to do laundry but doesn’t mean I am going to do it at home just yet. And last but not least please have cheeseballs for me when I get to Omaha. Can’t wait to see you, Cathy, and Lyns. Love you very much and I miss you tons! Kisses!

Dave & Janet Klein:  Hi everyone, we are having a great mission.  Dave has been helping build the home, and I am doing many things – pictures and helping with other projects as needed.  We are seeing another part of Honduras – the school children have been a lot of fun giving a lot of hugs and very high energy.  During the day the children are all over in the grounds. Recess is total chaos.  Hope everything is going well at home.  Hello to all the students at Emmetsburg Catholic.  

Brady Heying: Hi mom and dad. The trip is going great. First off, I wish I could say that it doesn’t surprise me that Iowa lost. We have been doing a lot of work in the past couple days. Linda has been taking advantage of being my aunt and used it as a power to use against me. I told her I was going tell grandma on her if she didn’t start to be nice to me! Anyways, I have to shower and get ready for bed now. Goodbye, I will see you soon.

Caroline Ascherl: It’s been so great to hear from everyone! Mom and Connor, I hope you are making it okay without me there.  Thank you so much for all the prayers. Connor don’t lie, I know you miss me.J Caitlin you were completely right about everything on this trip. I have so much to do when I get back, and I don’t even care! Dad, I wish I could tell you that I’m a pro at the building sites, but I’m pretty lost on everything. Patrick has good instructions though, and he’s been keeping an eye on me just for you, Mom! Spanish Class, I would just like to let you all know that what we are learning IS RELEVANT! Mrs. Wrather, you would be proud of my speaking. I think I deserve a 5 for speaking points because I am doing GRRRRREAT! Also Happy Belated Birthday, Stefan, I hope it was great, and I can’t wait to see you! I have so much to tell all of you and I can’t wait to see you.J I think about you all. Good night!

Kelly Full: I am not sure how to greet my parents because everyone has used up all the clever ones. Hi Tony and Kristine. I miss you guys a whole heck of a lot, and I can’t wait to see you both even if I have to wait a little bit longer to see you mommy. I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot while working these past few days and all of the important lessons you have taught me to prepare myself for the future, and I’m sad to say it took me so long to realize this was a gift instead of an annoyance. Thank you for instilling in me a good work ethic and a sense of responsibility. Say hi to everyone at home for me, Rosalie Kris Emily Emilio Riley Grandma Gabriel and Lucia. I’m having a blast here, but I’m also counting down the days until I get to see you again. Dad, I might bring a mutt home.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Our Work Continues

First of all, all of us here in Honduras want to tell everyone who helped support our trip with money donations, product donations, purchasing raffle tickets, or in any other way – THANK YOU! At our junta tonight and last night we all expressed our gratitude, knowing that without your support, we would not be able to be here on our mission trip.
Our third day in Honduras began with a breakfast of cereal. It took a little adjustment on our part because the milk was warm. It’s not refrigerated until after it’s opened. We also had fruit, juice, and coffee. Then it was off to work.
We were a bit more organized today so everyone got off to work shortly after breakfast. There was no paint crew today, so the students were split into two building crews and a teaching crew. There were a few moments of anxiety when we thought we’d misplaced Caroline. I searched for her on the closer work site, but she wasn’t there. That’s when I began panicking until I returned to the school to find she’d been doing the dishes with Alex. I guess no one noticed that Alex was missing.
Once again everyone pitched right in and did whatever was asked of them. It’s unbelievable how cooperative, hard-working, and pleasant the students have been. What wonderful kids you all have! I’ve not heard a single complaint, nor has anyone tried to be lazy or hold back on the job. They try to talk with the children here and use their limited Spanish. I heard one student say he should have paid attention in Spanish last year. The Honduran students are constantly surrounding us with hugs and greeting us both with words and smiles. I believe 90 students were taught their English lessons today. All of the third graders and part of the fourth received English lessons. Both houses have the outside walls up and some of the inside walls. Tomorrow the roofs will go up and the painting will begin.
Lunch consisted of tuna noodle casserole and tortillas and fruit. The first order of business after that was to unpack all the donated items. Everyone sorted items according to the signs posted by Linda and Janet in the library. After all the items were sorted, we prepared gift bags for 36 families, which we’ll distribute on Wednesday and Thursday. We also gave a couple bags of items to a lady named Andrea who works with street children in Tegucigalpa. She does amazing work and is quite the woman!
Supper was balleadas and watermelon. Believe me, everyone was stuffed! Another great junta gave us the opportunity to share all we’d experienced for the day. As I type the blog, the students have walked up the mountainside inside the compound with some chaperones to see the lights of Tegucigalpa. It’s a gorgeous site. And now I hear them spending a little time unwinding by playing some games together. I don’t think they’re missing their electronic devices very much. It gives them lots of time to TALK to each, laugh with each other, work with each other, and enjoy each other.
We’re all anxious to get back to work in the morning. Last night we had a little better rest. Only some of us heard the roosters crowing all night, the dogs serenading the surrounding area, but I think everyone heard the bus’s horns early this morning. A couple took cold showers tonight, but none are anxious to take any shower longer than 60 seconds.
Thanks for your comments. Please keep them and your prayers coming our way. Know that everyone is healthy and greatly enjoying their mission trip. Missioners’ blogs follow:
Corey Sitzmann: Mom, Dad, Friends, and Family,  I am working very hard, mostly at playing soccer to beat the Hondurans. Ask anyone here.  Dad, you’d better be doing my chores. I don’t want my heifers dead when I get back. Miss you, mother! I will continue to work hard and see you all on Friday or Saturday. Bill Sitzmann, Adam sends a heartfelt Happy Birthday your way.

Emily Pratt: Hey everyone. The experience down here has been great. It is lots of playing and talking with the little kids. Building the houses has been work, but it pays off when you see how far you can get in one day. Mom and Dad: Tell Sally she is a really spoiled dog, and that I miss her greatly. I miss you guys too.  The weather down here has been nice, and I can say I haven’t gotten burnt very badly yet. See you guys soon. J

Jim and Michelle Klein: Hi Mary/Mom, Matt, Nathan, and Emily. We are doing very well. I (Michelle) have had a lot of fun painting and building houses. I (Jim) have worked both days at one of the houses. It was pretty neat meeting the families we are building the houses for. The kids at the school are very friendly and full of energy. It has been a fun challenge to talk with them. It is also very difficult to get them to stop touching the walls with wet paint because they want to see if it is dry or not. We love and miss you all (especially Emily, from Michelle).

P.S.: Happy Birthday, Keith from all the Kleins!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hurry Up and Wait

Rise and shine this morning occurred at 6 a.m. Everyone got up fairly quickly; however, I predict that will change toward the end of the mission trip. It IS rather noisy here at Santa Teresa. The roosters are a bit confused because they started crowing at approximately midnight, the dogs never did quit barking  (and believe me there are a lot of them), and I think the first bus’s loud horn started blaring at 4:30. Most of them didn’t need their wake-up call, except to let them know when to dress for breakfast.

We ate eggs, refried beans, sausages,tortillas,  potatoes, and tomatoes. There was also orange juice and Honduran coffee. We have definitely been eating well.

The student missioners were split into several groups for today’s work assignments. We were ready to work at 7; however, we had to wait for the translators who had a little trouble getting here. Then there was a bit of confusion as to which tools should go to which work site, where the supplies actually had been stored, exactly how to go about building, a meeting with the Honduran contractor, and the transportation for one of the building crews. Nonetheless, the two building crews were finally under way and making great progress by the time we ate lunch. The paint crew also had some difficulty getting the paint brushes to work, finding rollers and paint pans, and getting the paint to spread properly. In the end they actually finished painting the full top portion of the whole preschool building. They have only a 3 foot section along the bottom of the full building to paint green and the project that was expected to take the full time will be completed on Saturday.
The only group that encountered absolutely no obstacles or difficulties was the English teaching group. Our English teachers taught 127 Honduran second and third graders. It’s fun to hear them coming up to each of us to practice their new English skills. “Hello – good morning – good afternoon-please-thank you-what’s up?- and the beginning of the “head, shoulders, knees, and toes” song.

Lunch today was rice with chicken and vegetables, cheese, watermelon, and tortillas. Supper consisted of tacos, rice, tortillas, pineapple, and watermelon. We are definitely being fed delicious meals.

Everyone got to take a 60 second cold shower this afternoon. A few of the boys played soccer for a while after work, and the girls have been enjoying some conversation with Andrea, who is Marta’s daughter. She helped today with translating at one of the work sites. She’s fitting in wonderfully with the girls.

We had a nice junta tonight and had a bit of free time. Bedtime will be at 10 so everyone will be ready to go to work in the morning.

Thanks to everyone for their comments. Hello to my family, most especially to Mya, Cayden, Paige, and Marshall. I hope everything is going well at home.

Some of the missioners took the opportunity to write notes to you today. They follow this blog.

Miranda Bunkers: Hey everyone, everything is going awesome! Today we started our jobs, and it seems like we will be a very fast crew. We are further along than what we expected. And mom, yes, I am staying hydrated and I luckily was not one of the three that got fried. I miss everyone talk to you later!

Mariah McCarty: Hola everyone! Today was our first day here and it was a lot of work, but we accomplished a lot and had a blast. And I, unlike Miranda, am one of the burnt ones. The people here are so generous and welcoming it is truly humbling. It is a whole different world here, and I can’t wait to tell all of you the stories. Cole-thanks for watching Flounder :) Adios until later!

Megan & Patrick Livermore: Hey guys! All is well and we are working hard so no worries! Today I have learned that patience is key, and so is sunscreencurse our Irish heritage.  #yahoo #omaha  Anyways We love you guys tons!

Adam Sitzmann: Hey everybody, it’s been really fun here so far! So far I have assisted in starting on one of the houses and helping with teaching English. I’ve also been playing a lot of soccer down here. Well, see you guys in a little bit. See ya!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

We Have Arrived

As I write this message, the students are outside playing soccer. They’re using up the rest of their energy so they can rest well tonight and be ready to go to work early tomorrow. I hear them outside my window and from the sounds of it, they’re getting their butts kicked by little Honduran students.
Our day began early in Omaha – around 2:30 a.m. Holiday Inn Express had a nice breakfast for us; then we were off for the airport. Unloading our bags train-style was a sight for the other passengers. Delta checked us in very efficiently, and we were through TSA and at our gate in record time. Both flights were uneventful. There were plenty of ooohs and aaaahs as we circled the mountains around Tegucigalpa and came in for a landing. Of course, the traditional applause was given the pilot for a perfect landing.
Another positive: all the bags arrived! I believe two of them were the very last ones unloaded from the plane, but they were all there. Our greeting committee of Francis, Julio, Marta, Carlos, Fabio, and more welcomed each and every one of us to Honduras. We definitely noticed the heat the minute we left the airport. 83 degrees was 50 degrees warmer than we experienced when we left Omaha this morning. We’re enjoying it right now. However, I have a feeling we may not appreciate it as much once we start our physical labor.
The missioners witnessed the impressive poverty so apparent in Nueva Capital the moment we turned onto the dirt road up the mountainside. Santa Teresa De Jesus school sits atop the mountain and has a picturesque view of the valley below. We had a brief welcome we unloaded the black bags from the truck. We feasted on cooked beef, rice with chopped carrots, green beans mixed with eggs, and machitiadas (fry bread dessert). We then worked out proper sleeping quarters for everyone, sorted our belongings out of donated items, and learned a few of the rules for the building. For example, which is the girls’ bathroom, which is the guys, how to use the bathrooms in Honduras, etc. There is always much to learn on the first day. Many of the missioners had time to write in their ‘junta’ books, reflection journals, that we’ll use every night for our ‘junta.’
After our 7 p.m. supper we’ll have our junta to process what we’ve experience thus far. The chaperones will go over the groups for our jobs  tomorrow because we know everyone will want to get right to work.
We’ll let everone sleep in until 6 tomorrow with breakfast at 6:30. I can hardly wait to tell you our first work experiences and hopefully post our first pictures. I’ll do my best to blog as early as possible, but we are one hour behind you so it might be around supper time or later before I can get to the computer each day.
Know that your prayers and good wishes helped us to have a great first day. Parents, you should be very proud of your sons and daughters and their actions and attitudes thus far! I know all the Hondurans have been happy to see us here!

By the way, Seivert, Daniel from Marcala now lives at the school and attends school in Tegucigalpa. He asked if you were here so he could do the “South Dakota Slide” with you.

In Our Possession

Frank called at 1:38 our time and all missioners are on the bus, all bags came through, and within a few minutes they will leave for Nueva Capital. The next blog you read will probably be from Carolyn later today. You all have my phone number - call if needed.
Take Care,
R. Seivert

Wheels Down in Tegucigalpa

The mission team has just landed safely in Tegucigalpa. 11:45 a.m. Honduran time.
I will let you know when Frank has them in his possession - about 1 hour or so. Stay tuned.
R. Seivert

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Message from Frank

Hello Gehlen Mission Honduras team of 2014.  I want to apologize for not making comments on the progress here in Honduras to the blog.  I have had major problems with my computer and often do not have internet access.  Julio and I moved back into Tegucigalpa on 3 March 2014 after a week's stay in Montana de la Flor.  We are currently staying in a small hotel that is very safe, and we also have security to park our Toyota truck. It has really been hot here in Tegucigalpa with little rain.  It promises to be the same when your team arrives.  Julio, Marta, Claudia, Olga and I were on our way to Nueva Capital on Wednesday when we had some car trouble.  We had to return to Tegucigalpa for repairs.  The Toyota has been repaired and is working great.  Carlos Chickas, the bus driver for your team, was recently in Tegucigalpa for a few days.  Although we did not see him, we spoke with him 2 or 3 times each day.  He will be at the airport on 19 March 2014 to meet you.  Just a brief update on the planning process for your trip.  I have bought a number of supplies to be used in the construction of the homes.  These include, ladders, shovels, picks, steel bar for helping dig latrines, hammers, 1 wheelbarrow and other items.  I talked with Marta everyday.  Yesterday the materials were delivered to Nueva Capital, or most of them.  They were demolishing the homes.  We waited as long as possible so the family did not have to stay elsewhere.  The same group of people mentioned above will go to Nueva Capital on Monday.  ACOES will provide a big truck to carry all the supplies we have at Cerro de Plata.  We also have a portable generator and tools with us. The Aguazul truck will bring the large water bottles and smaller ones to the foundation.  You will each get 2 bottles of water to carry with you while working.  We will deliver about 1-2 of the food items on Monday.  We will deliver the fruits, vegetables, etc. on Tuesday.  We will not bring all the frozen items at once because of space problems.  Julio and I will ferry these items to the school as needed.  The cook has been hired and she and a couple other women will spend some time cleaning the kitchen and eating area.  ACOES will also provide a large truck to carry all the bags that you bring to Nueva Capital on 19 March 2014.  We will need to get everyone on the bus and in our Toyota.  I think that is all for now.  I will send out another message on Sunday or Monday.   God bless and thanks for being willing to serve the poor of Nueva Capital.  Peace. Also, the pillows, blankets and mattresses will go up as well on Monday.

Mr. Francis