2018 Team

2018 Team
2018 Team in the original church built for Suyapa

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Rest & Relaxation

Today we had a well-deserved day off. It still started at 6 AM with breakfast at 6:30, but no work was required or expected. We boarded the bus for the Basilica de Suyapa at 7:30, and shortly after arriving we toured the original church that was built for Suyapa. Approximately 3/4ths of the missioners lit candles for family members who have passed away; then posed for a photo in front of the altar. Marta let us through some of the makeshift marketplace that would be the parking lot of the church so the students could see the religious items sold. We also had a chance to see the unique items that they were selling out of the food “tents.”

We climbed back up the hill and entered the new church. It is gigantic and ornate – like the altar and windows, and yet part of it is simple – like the wooden pews. The priest welcomed our group before Mass began, telling everyone what we were doing, and we received a round of applause. Mass progressed somewhat like ours, except that it was in Spanish, of course. There was a lot more activity during the service. People were constantly moving around, heading into confession all during Mass. My favorite part is always at the sign of peace. All the little kids run to the front of church, the priest comes around the altar, and then every child gives the priest a hug of peace. He hugs every single child, also. Then, all smiles, they run back down aisle. Since the church is very large, it takes a bit of time to get that done.

Next up, we traveled to Santa Lucia to what I call “the oasis.” The buses dropped us off at the 500-year-old church so we could take a quick tour and photos. The streets are too narrow and curvy for a bus to travel from there; thus, we walked the remainder of the way. Missioners who wanted could change into shorts. Some hiked the trails. Many sat around in the shade and coolness. Marta served delicious chicken sandwiches picnic style. Then we celebrated the 5 birthdays, Linda, Mason, Carlyn, Dave, and Jordan V., a new record for birthdays while on a mission trip. After we sang “Happy Birthday,” we each enjoyed a piece of chocolate cake. YUM! Honduran birthdays require a piñata, and we’re trying to live Honduran style right now. Each birthday person was blindfolded, given a broomstick handle, spun around 5 times, and given a chance to break it open. It took a few extra swings until all the candy and MONEY fell out. No one moved much until they were told that money was mixed in with the candy. That made them a bit more interested.

Not soon enough for Abbie, we headed to Valle de Angeles to do our tourist shopping. They had less than 2 hours to get that done, and to possibly purchase an ice cream cone. It’s not a very big shopping area by our standards, so we pretty much could see each other practically the whole shopping time. Miracle of miracles, Pat’s group, which is traditionally the last one back, was on time today. Our time-keeper Juan brought in the late group.

We returned to our compound shortly after 5. It seems empty here without all the students running around, but believe me, they’ll return in force tomorrow morning.

With only two days to go, and many loose ends to tie up, we are breaking into several smaller groups. One crew will head to the houses to finish specific details. Another crew will work on bunks and tables. We’ll take our final gift bags into the homes. We need to fit dresses and girls, and Shoes That Grow to the students on Prof. Jessica’s list. We also plan to pass out candy in the classrooms, headbands, and some rosaries. Don’t worry! We still have things to do on Tuesday.

It’s going to be an emotional ending to this trip. We are already seeing signs of that tonight. Keep prayers coming our way! Looking forward to seeing our Welcome Home on Wednesday night in Omaha.

Message from Chris: Hey Family, I am glad to hear that everything went well with Queen Emma’s birthday. Sounded like a lot of fun. By the way, we had cake and ice cream too. Sounds like the dog needed a pretty expensive towel (buckskin) recently. Hope that was a joke, but if not, I will still return to the U.S. Hope to hear from you again.  Love, Chris

The girls pose before a majestic view

James, Mason, Daniel enjoy the oasis

Dave, Carlyn, Mason, Jordan, Nancy - birthday celebrants

Original church built for Suyapa

The statue of Suyapa, believed to grant miracles for those who pray to her

Celebrating Mass in the Basilica de Suyapa

Father greets the children at the sign of peace

Missioners at church

Caden receives Communion

Attacking the pinata

Grabbing money and candy


  1. Your smiles say it all! The picture of the farmers made my day. It looks like you had a great Sunday, so happy that you did. As I was reading this morning I was thinking of what an amazing group of young people you are, the chaperones probably love you! Today begins the last quarter of your senior year, so hard to believe! (Caden and Jared you can stay another year!) Enjoy these times together and those yet to come in the next couple of months, they will go so fast. I hope today was another great day and that you can really be present during your last few days of this journey. I am sure we are so much more for anxious for you to be back than many of you are. I am already praying for safe, uneventful, ON TIME, flights! God bless you all, and keep smiling! Laurie

  2. thank you to everyone that helped plan the birthday celebration for jordan and the rest. I'm sure it will be one of his most memorable birthdays.

    jordan - remember when you get back we will go out for FA-let MIG-nun (filet mignon).

    hard to believe you all only have 2 days left. lifting up prayers for you as you prepare to leave. its impossible for us to comprehend all you've experienced emotionally so remember to rely on each other these last days. love and prayers to all of you.

  3. Looks like a day of well deserved rest. So glad to see the smiles on the faces. Enjoy the last couple of days. Alyssa has started a count down not by hours yet but days. She says it not the same going to bed without both of us telling her goodnight. Don't worry she is making plans for your welcome home signs. Jordan.. I can see your eye rolls.. Mack is doing well enjoying being the oldest child in the house. Have safe travels home in case I don't get another message off. We love you and miss. God bless and enjoy the last days of your trip.

  4. Glad to see that Dave was able to celebrate his birthday since we celebrated without him last Tuesday. I loved the hats. Enjoy and soak in the next days focus on your new friendships and when you board the bus on Wednesday - then begin to focus on home. I think of all of you in that beautiful sunshine and 80+ degrees as I look out my window at the cloudy, 34 degree morning. God's blessings to all of you. Janet

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  6. Hey Missioners! S/O from English IV.... We had a good time listening to Alec read your messages impersonating each of his fellow classmates. Too bad we didn't get it on video. :) Enjoy the last couple days!

  7. Brooke
    I have enjoyed keeping track of you and the rest of the group this past week. It is amazing how much you have accomplished and how much you are helping to change lives in the short time you are there. Your rest day yesterday seemed to still keep you on the go. Usually when I hear that you went shopping, you buy make-up. Was that the case yesterday? Not much happening back here. Your mom and I finally got the flights booked for our trip this summer. So when you get back we will have to figure out what we are going to do at each day stop. Enjoy the last couple of days and take it all in. The memories you are making will last a life time. I am so proud of you Brooke and everyone else. Continued prayers until you make it back home.
    Aunt Teena

  8. Eli, hope all is going well!!! We all love reading the blogs and seeing the pictures!!! We were in Ankeny all weekend at Tessa’s State AAU Volleyball Tourney, they got 2nd!!!!! It was a long 14 Hour day of Volleyball!!! They did so well! We are all ready for you to return home, we miss you! As far as I know all is well on the Farm and with all the livestock. Can’t wait to see you on Wednesday! Enjoy your last few days in Honduras! Love and miss you!

    1. Just to prove your mom is correct, we moved the 65 and M-14 pairs to my house on Saturday morning to clear dads yards of calves because of the mud. Little did we know we would have four more calves in the next 24 hours at his house! 153, M-07, M-12, and 154. All doing well! Soak up these next couple days! See you soon.

  9. Hi Patrick! Looking forward to you coming home. I can't wait to give you a big hug!!! (Sorry, had to say it!)
    I will continue to pray for a safe return and that everyone continues to stay healthy. Keep up the great work, you are all truly making a difference for the families there.
    Love Julie and Addi

  10. Hey Addison I have big news for you!!! Mr. Schott got engaged on Friday night (our boy is growing up). He used a college basketball bracket to help him out on that one. I'm sitting in Mrs. Ploeger's room right now & we miss you so much! Only a couple more days until I get to see you & I can't wait. ps I've only lost two streaks so I think I'm doing good! Love you :)

  11. Hello missioners from the Journalism Team (Brooklyn and Ally). We miss you all! The halls are so much quieter without Alexa screaming between each period lol. Glad to see that you are all having a great time. Caden, the juniors have left you a big surprise ;). Abbie, I will have a huge iced coffee waiting for you when you get back! (Brooklyn) Kayla and Kathryn, journalism is lonely without you, but we finished the newspaper. We miss Kaylas awkwardness! Delanee, we expect your hair to look like that for prom! God Bless!

  12. What a group of missioners. Nice to see the 2018 group when you open up the blog. The smiles on all your faces says it all. Looks like you have enjoyed your trip and all your hard work has paid off. Definitely enjoy the sun, I think it has left the United States, as we have not had sun for days. There is mud, mud and more mud. Luckily we are to warm up on Thurs. and hit 50 degrees. For all you basketball fans, at least you will be able to enjoy the Sweet 16 games this weekend. Enjoy the days left there and good news, you soon will be back to those "school lunches". Mark/Susy Kessenich

  13. Hello all!!!
    Love the photos and sounds like another great day!!! Happy Belated Birthday to Dave, Carlyn, Mason, Jordan and Nancy!!! The hats are hilarious!!!

    We are well here!!! Counting down until Wednesday! We had a chat with Kara and Jules yesterday over Skype. Jules is getting so big and really seemed to love chatting with Grandpa Jer!!! :)
    Katrina and Peter arrive in FL safely. They sent beautiful photos of where they are living.

    Your Honduran friends are adorable!!! The photo of you getting a hug just melted my heart!!!

    Keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers!!! Take care all!!! Ingrid/Mom

    1. Kathryn, I love you bunches and bunches!!!

  14. Krista! Hello! Hi! You look like you are THRIVING in Honduras -- all those years of helping Dad with the rental houses sure prepared you for painting these houses ;) Anyway, keep up the good work and soak up some sun for me. I cannot wait to hear all about your adventures. Remember: just be glad you're you. Te amo, hermanita! Saludos :) - Rachelley

  15. Caden: Kevin Love is playing tonight for the first time in awhile... I’ll let you know how he does when I get home from coaching my second meet.
    Chris: This no Poker thing is hardly for me
    Eli: Too many people are not getting over themselves here, we need you back
    Lucas: You better look out for John throwing, he’s been on fire lately #jungernaut
    See you guys soon :)

  16. Hi Jared, I am glad to see you got a day of rest and fun in the sun. I am loving all the pictures. Are you using a lot of your Spanish and making Mr. Marugg proud? Sounds like you are eating good. Erica Harms was telling me how she wanted to bring Marta home to cook. You probably want that too :) Love and Miss you! ~See you soon ~Mom

  17. Hey Jared, only a couple more days until your home! I hope your enjoying these last few days- I know it’s gonna be hard for you and all the other missioners to leave. Can’t wait to see you.

  18. Steve and Jordan it has been exciting to wake up everday and read your blog from the previous days activities. It is very inspiring to see all the families lives you have helped and touched during the short time you have been in Honduras. Safe travels. Mike and Tammy.

  19. Lucas we are very proud of you and all the missioners for giving your time and talents to others in need. I’m sure there are lessons that you can take with you the rest of your lives and share with us when you get home. We know it will be hard for you to leave Honduras, but know that you have left an impression on the Honduran people just as they have on you. We will be praying for safe travels and as Laurie said, ON TIME flights! Love you and can’t wait to see you. Love Dad and Mom

  20. Delanee, I thought if Alec can let the everyone know about the basketball madness, I better fill you in on the madness also! Miss Teen USA and Miss USA is in Louisiana! Thumbs down AND it is on May 20th. The Madness!! That is your graduation day... guess God had a plan all along Love you :) Safe travels home!

  21. Hi Matyas, it is great to see that you have also some time for relax. It seems that the whole group had a really perfect day with a lot of celebrations. All the best for those having birthday. Mom, Dad, Anet

  22. Hoping you have a great birthday tomorrow Mason!! We are all missing you! #49 Blondie had a bull calf& is doing really well! Up to 30 on the ground! There has been lots of mud to deal with&sounds like it is here to stay for the week! Enjoy your last days there & praying for a safe return!

  23. What an amazing adventure! The opportunity to bond with the Honduran people and share in their joy! In building lasting relationships with new friends as you work hard together to accomplish so much with blessing three families with new homes, you are all such great examples and truly reflect God's love to those you serve and those that witness your actions! Job well done!

    We are anxious to have you all safely home and we can't wait to hear all the stories. Kathryn, did I see you looking at your sunburn? You will have to let us know what you want waiting for you to eat when you arrive. I beat mom and Kaleigh in Imaginiff, and I am now getting crushed in Monopoly, ouch! We can't wait to have you back home.

    Wishing you all safe travels, and praying for you as you say good-bye to your newfound friends. Peace and love to you all! Jerry

  24. movie review: two thumbs up for Tomb Raider. Full of action, suspense, and adventure.
    Praying that your flights home are not filled with action, suspense, and adventure. Smooth sailing!
    Good luck saying goodbye! I can't imagine trying to say goodbye forever to friends who have made such a difference in your lives. Do you have Kleenex? (This may be a new use for your bandanas, ladies!)
    I love you, Gracie! Considering taking motion medicine Tues night to prep for travel.
    Keith, enjoy your last day pretending to be a real doctor :-) I'm sure the pigs up here miss you!
    Looking forward to having everyone home, sharing a meal, and sleeping under the same roof.
    Love and prayers.

  25. Hi Abbie, Excited to hear all about your adventures and how your shopping went. How does everyone know about how much you like to shop? Hope you used your coupons! HA!!! Excited to see you soon. Hope the van is fixed by Wednesday night. It has been in getting fixed since you left. (My poor van). Have fun and hope you can get all your work completed.
    Love, Donna

  26. I'll be anxious to hear if Patrick thinks you're on schedule with one more work day in front of you. I'm sure it will all come together!
    I've heard this sentiment expressed in previous posts, but reflect on your experiences and really let them soak in. I hope your are all making some detailed reflections in your books from what you have seen and experienced. I know I go back to my book from our mission to Mississippi in 2013 from time to time.
    Praying for an uneventful trip back to the States for you all. Abbie, I've been reading stories in the papers and posts on social media about track meets and I'm excited for the track season. The Gehlen team is running in Sioux Center tonight, and one week from Wednesday, CYO at Heelan. I hope it warms up!
    Love you,

  27. Hey Everyone! Just wanted to say that it looks like you all are having a lot of fun, and keeping busy. I hope you all are taking in everything that has been thrown your way during this amazing trip. As you prepare to leave, I pray that you all allow yourselves to truly feel the love of the people, and embrace your pain as you begin to leave. Do not be afraid to shed a tear or show that you are hurting, because in all reality, you all probably feel that way. I hope the trip has been everything you ever hoped for, and far more than you ever realized it would be. The trip really takes a toll on people in all different ways, so I hope you hold onto everything you have experienced thus far as hard as you can. This trip for me, like many other missioners, opened my eyes to the kind of person I want to be. Each of you has made such a difference in so many lives during this trip; however, I pray that these lives are not the last that you make a difference in. Hopefully you all will find or have already found the meaning of this trip for you. Good luck guys and congrats on having such a wonderful trip and I wish you all the best as you prepare yourselves to embark on your journey home!

  28. Hard to believe your time in Honduras is coming to an end. Don't think of this as the end of a mission see it as the beginning of more missions to come. Use your love of helping those in need and your faith by which you carry out these missions to guide you to do more for the less fortunate. God is great
    Chris-- yes I was joking about the 'rug'. I at least got a response from you.
    Did someone have to convince you to send a message? Was someone typing it for you?? Whoever did... thank you:)!!:) We are So very proud of you and all that you have accomplished in the last week. David said that he is excited for Thursday, we ask why and he says I just am. I said it is because that will be the day that he will get to see and talk to you! He misses you! The girls miss you and Dad and I miss you!!!
    Cant wait to see you!
    Mom Dad Madi David Sarah Emma & Tessie
    Inspirational Quote for the Day: Wherever we are. Whatever we do. The world is our mission field, to act like Jesus & show his love. -Unknown


  29. Judi McCartyMarch 19, 2018 at 8:26 PM

    Lucas we are so proud of you all and all of your accomplishments. It is so nice you all are God's hands and feel. We look forward to seeing you again soon. Love. Grandma and Grandpa Irwin

  30. MaKenna
    I hope your fever is gone. It looks like you guys are getting a lot done down there. The weather down there is a lot nicer than it is here. We look forward to all of you returning safely Wednesday night. Love you and miss you.

  31. Brady,
    We're thinking of and praying for you always. We love and miss you and can't wait to see you soon. We're proud of all that you are and all that you're doing. Kinnick misses you too :)
    Dad, Mom, Syd, Ryan & Kinnick

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