2019 Team

2019 Team
The 2019 Team and Honduran Families

Friday, June 4, 2021

Day 5

This morning got off to an interesting start - we had our Covid tests. The clinician actually came to the hotel, which made it lots easier for us. Some of us were a little worried, but we did not need to be. All tests came back negative, so we'll all be returning on time.

Upon our arrival at Santa Teresa de Jesus school, we went right to work to finish what Bruce called our bunk bed kits. We made the tops and bottoms of the bunks, stacking them together along the wall. In the bottom bunk section we laid the 4 legs and then the ladder sides and rungs. The bolts must be left locked inside the principal's office so the students don't take them as toys. Bruce trained Ruben, one of our house receivers, as to the process of assembling the beds. Hopefully, Ruben will be there to help every family that receives a bunk bed this year.

We met members of all four of our families this afternoon. We presented them with gift bags full of donated materials. In the photos below you can see each family member receiving their donated gift bag. They will receive more items after their homes are completed. Each family will then receive a chair, broom, dustpan, plates, cups, silverware, wall clock, a tortilla maker, and other household items that we either carried with us or purchased here. These items will be presented to the family members on the day they receive their house keys.

We did travel back to the house sites to see if anyone was repairing the concrete floors, but no one was there, again. That has been very frustrating because we know that the four houses would have been totally built by our team had we all been able to be here.

The military returned late in the afternoon to retrieve the tools we were using. They took them to our secure storage area so they'll be ready for next year, when we'll again be able to bring a full team.

There was no school today; thus, we saw only a couple children in the morning. John had brought a few shirts with him, and we carried some of the bracelets many of you make for us, as well as some that said I love my school. Once we started handing those items out, children magically appeared until our items ran out.

Tomorrow we'll take a little tourist day to explore a different side of Honduras. The five of us have enjoyed our time together in Honduras, but we've realized that this is nothing like a real mission trip. We've missed the craziness of hundreds of students all around us as we built the beds. We didn't here children chattering throughout the school buildings, which were pretty much empty this week. We definitely felt the lack of hugs, especially those mob hugs from children swarming through the school gates twice a day. We truly pray for an end to the pandemic so we can once again truly share in the lives of the Hondurans.

Day 4

 We made some good progress today. All the bunk bed boxes were finished by the time we returned to our hotel. It was a bit strange to be able to work on bunk beds without swarms of children gathered around to watch the process, climbing on the incomplete beds, and trying to play with the power tools. We did have a couple students who stopped by to witness the process, and a couple lent a hand for a bit, but otherwise, it was a pretty calm procedure.

I stopped into the principal's office to renew scholarships for several students and to start a few new ones. The school is so grateful for those of you who continue to fund educations for their students who might not be able to get one otherwise.

With the donation from the class of 2020 I have paid for the education of one student at Santa Teresa's, covered the cost of the tin for the roofs of 4 houses, and covered the extra cost of wood needed for the homes and the bunk beds. Just like in the States, building materials have increased in cost. Thus, that money was very much welcome this year.

Friday will be our final day in Nueva Capital. We are hoping that someone will be repairing the damaged concrete floors so we can watch that process. We are also supposed to be meeting all the families so we can give them gift bags of clothes, shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, flip flops, etc. 

We hope to have one complete bunk bed ready for assembly before our final departure from Nueva Capital on Friday. It's important that we train people in the reassembly of the beds before we leave.

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Day 3

 Everyone was feeling fine today so we all were able to work. We headed to our storage unit to fetch all the tools we would need to make the bunk beds. While we were there, the military transport truck arrive to go to Nueva Capital with us. They carried our tools, but our real purpose for asking them along was to transport the house wood from the school to the work site. Unfortunately, there was no house wood in sight when we arrived at the school. Again, the construction people had not arrived. It was quite disappointing for us.

Since they were not there, we went to work cutting wood for the bunk beds. That took almost all day. We still have to cut the slats that hold the mattresses tomorrow.

At 2 PM Enrique, the head of the construction crew who is to build our houses, showed up at the compound. He speaks English so it was easy to speak with him. He did apologize for not showing up earlier but said that there were lots of problems with getting lumber at this time. We can understand this because Bruce said that it is also difficult back home. We spent a lot of time talking about how his crew would build the homes for us; then we talked about the problem with our concrete floors. Due to the way they were made, and being exposed to the elements for a year, the floors have had sections of concrete break away, like erosion. We could leave them that way, but our team agreed that we do not want the Hondurans to feel that we would turn over a home to them that was not made correctly. Bruce and Enrique discussed the best way to repair the damage, and it will cause a delay in building the homes. So, tomorrow and Friday they will be repairing the concrete damage, and on Monday the homes will be framed up - after we've left.

Team members - this would not have been a typical mission trip for you. We would not have been able to build any homes until the last couple days. We have seen very few children at the school or even anywhere around the school. It's really pretty sad and very different from what we have seen in the past. We have barely had enough work to keep the five of us busy, but we are setting some plans for future trips and how we want them to work. At least, that seems to be developing in a positive way. We truly pray that our future mission trips will again be productive and meaningful.

Our group meets Enrique, whose crew will build the homes.

John handles the table saw

John cuts boards while Carolyn holds

Anne helps with board cutting

Bruce prepares to cut a board

Linda with Victor & Daisy

Giving Juan's gift to Cindi and family

Linda & Jonathan

Anne & friends

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Day 2

 We got off to a slow start today because a couple people were feeling under the weather. Thus, we had a smaller crew going to Nueva Capital than we originally thought we would. 

Two of our families were working on leveling their plots when we arrived. Our house wood did not arrive due to another complication. Bruce tried his hand at chipping apart a huge rock so it could be carried in manageable pieces. I believe he was able to get a couple pieces off before giving up. We transferred smaller rocks from the area of the yard that will have the pila, kitchen, and outhouses. 

We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches in a room set aside for us in the school. While eating lunch, we were told our house wood would not be arriving today. So, another change of plans - we sorted the bunk bed wood and hope to work on those tomorrow. We also delivered to the school's principal several bags of clothes that Marta had set aside for us, as well as a small bag of school supplies. Needless to say, it was a day of frustrations; we had to keep changing our schedule to adapt to items beyond our control.

Marta's mom made us a delicious supper of pork roast, sweet potatoes, vegetable salad, tomatoes, and cucumbers. She made the meal in a typical Honduran fashion. Marta's mom is definitely a great cook. Marta said this is the meal her mother makes for special holidays, which made us feel very special indeed!

The late afternoon and early evening were mostly spent socializing. By 8 p.m. everyone was preparing for bed. We're hoping for a more productive day tomorrow.

Lourdes with her two children.

Leveling the yard

Ruben and Vanessa with their children.

John & Bruce helping remove a large rock.

Carolyn carried rocks.

Bruce chipped away at this monster rock.

Gate Guard Luis sanitizes children's shoes.

Monday, May 31, 2021

We Have Arrived

 Our"mini" mission team of Bruce, John, Linda, Anne, and me arrived in Tegucigalpa this morning shortly before noon, For Bruce, Linda, and me, it was so great to be back in Honduras.

Francis and Julio met us outside the airport. Due to the pandemic, only passengers are allowed inside the airport. After loading our 10 black duffle bags into the back of the green Toyota, we headed to the Florencia Hotel, our home away from home. This is definitely luxury compared to staying at the compound,

Marta delivered sandwich fixings to the hotel for lunch and later brought chicken and rice for dinner. Both meals were delicious. Linda and I took Bruce, John, and Linda on a tour of the area. We did do a little work - we emptied all the black bags and sorted the materials in preparation of packing "gift bags" for our house families and a few others.

Tomorrow we are heading to Nueva Capital to see how far our construction crew has gotten on the first house. We believe the frame is up on the first house. We'll join them tomorrow and hopefully make good progress.

Please share the news that even though the whole team is not with us, we think of you constantly. Each one of us has stated during the day that we wish the whole team could be with us. We know you're all here in spirit. Thanks for your support.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Meet Our Families for 2020 & 2021

Because of a lot of Covid in the area where we work, this year’s 2021 team, which had combined with the 2020 team, was cancelled. Instead, a small contingency of 5 missioners is traveling into Nueva Capital to work with a Honduran 4-man construction crew to build our 4 homes and 20 bunk beds. We’ll also be carrying as much of the donated supplies as we can carry in our 10 duffle bags. Please pray for our “mini mission” team while we are in Honduras. We truly wish our whole team could have made the trip, but we had to do what was best for the Hondurans in Nueva Capital, as well as the missioners themselves.

I’d like to introduce the families that will be receiving our homes. They are all quite excited. Three of them have been waiting almost two years for their home. By the end of June, the Honduran construction crew will have their homes ready for them. We’ll try to keep you updated on their progress, even after the mini mission team returns home.

Family 1 consists of Vanessa and Ruben and their 2 elementary aged children. They sell used clothes to make a living. They rent a 1-room house for $25 per month. It has a wooden floor.

Family 2 is made up of Lourdes Xiomara, who does laundry for several families to support her children that are in elementary school. She does not have a husband. She has a 1 room house where they all live.

Family 3 lives in a 1 room house rent free. Lidia is the head of the household. She has 4 children, ages 6, 7, 13, and 16. There is no father in the house. Lidia does laundry and house cleaning for others for her job. Her oldest son quit school for 4 months to help his mom support the family. We currently have no photos of them.

Family 4 fills the house where they live, a shack made of old tin. Both parents live there with their 9 children, ages 6 – 22. Maria, a housewife, and Jose, a builder, are the parents. Their children are named, Sergio, Keydi, Denis, Alenisa, Katherine, Maria, Nancy, Genesis, and Roxanna. Sergio has graduated from Santa Teresa de Jesus School and works there. In return he is given food to take home for his family.

The lots where our homes will be built. New home owners cheer!

Lourdes lives here with her 2 children.

Lourdes' 1-room house.

Lourdes stands in the doorway of her current house.

Vanessa keeps her house clean.

The home of Vanessa & Ruben & 2 children.
The laundry area for Vanessa.

The bedroom area of Jose, Maria, & their 9 children.

The current house of Jose & Maria and their family.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Someday Maybe - Message from Richard Seivert, Director of Mission Honduras LeMars

Someday Maybe, Someday Maybe, for Both You and Me

Sunday afternoon, the day you packed the black bags at Gehlen, I received a call in the afternoon from my brother Francis in Honduras – he was there in advance preparation for your trip. He asked me if I remembered a little girl that he had told me about just before this past Christmas that we had helped with a sizable donation – Francis was in Honduras over Christmas as well. I struggled with remembering who he was referring to, and only later, in an effort to placate him, I said I did remember, when in reality I didn’t have the foggiest idea who he was talking about, at least not until he sent me a photo later that night that confirmed my knowledge of her.

You see, Her name was Genesis Abigail Martinez, and she was 1 year old – and in the photo she was being held in her mother’s arms, but unfortunately, if you saw the picture, Genesis was stunted in many ways. At this point I am asking Mrs. Bickford to explain ‘stunting’ to you in the malnutrition and brain development sense that we talk about all the time at presentations – and underscoring the importance of a program like Then Feed Just One and proper pre-natal development in countries like Honduras.

(Mrs. Bickford’s Explanation of Stunting)

Now, back to this reflection. First of all let me comment about my own transgression here – not remembering Genesis in the first place – a great self indictment and tragedy all wrapped in the same package of ‘too many to even focus on’, let alone remember. What a shame – The Lottery of Birth. (pause) And only if Mrs. Bickford wishes to explain the LOB.

But in actuality, this isn’t about my own failings but rather about her, a young girl who had little to no hope for a future who was loved by her mother Fermina as much as you are and/or were loved by your own, and by extension I fear, a comment about way too many young Honduran boys and girls, and again by extension to the remainder of this world. This is definitely about HER and HER Memory but also about YOU, and about all those little children you have come to know and care about at Santa Teresa de Jesus School in such a short period of time.                                                                                                         

Thus, after once again seeing her photo I did vividly remember that time, a day or so before Christmas, that Francis and I had spoken by phone about her medical condition and how we might be able to help her and her loving mother. We had even sent the information along to Dr. Tom Benzoni in Des Moines for his comments about little Genesis’s condition and a shot in the dark for some good results. And thus, we did what we could at the time. Francis, through ‘Mission Honduras LeMars’ helped the mother with money for food and further medical analyses.

And now on the phone that Sunday afternoon he was telling me how she had gotten worse, much worse, and how the mother was in Tegucigalpa with her at Hospital Esquela, and how she was being cared for the day before you arrived in Tegucigalpa.

Time out at this time in this reflection: I am currently sitting in LeMars during a beautiful time of a late afternoon winter day, glorious actually, and now I am wondering about this little 1 year old girl Genesis and what happened to her. Gee, how unfair it seems to me that now my focus and my feelings must be on someone else and not on myself and this glorious day – how unfair. (hopefully, my rather rude self sarcasm is appreciated and understood at this moment).

But you see, such is the state or condition of thousands and thousands and thousands of young children all around the world this day – and unfortunately every day, beautiful late winter day or not. Genesis was one grain of sand on a very vast and expansive beach of similar children. And of course, by this time among your team I would imagine that you have been made aware of the death of Genesis – at 2:15 a.m on Friday, March 15th. Sad, but very much as they say, a blessing in many ways. I’m not sure I have ever fully understood why things are the way they are and wish I knew sometimes, and I’m not even sure I understand, ‘a blessing in many ways’. But I guess that is one of those things we accept under the heading of ‘faith’.        

And now to you. So, here you are in the midst of all kinds of young people in a place called Nueva Capital, Honduras. You have successfully completed the designated requirements of this mission. You have done the homes (they are functional and beautiful), the bunk beds (they are wonderful and soft), the hanging gardens (they are amazing and will be nutritious), you passed out dozens of gift bags to different families, and you have undoubtedly hugged and been hugged by an immeasurable number of kids – and the moment you arrived at Santa Teresa de Jesus on that first day, you probably thought you were a magnet and the kids of Santa Teresa were of the opposite polarization. They and you just couldn’t quit hugging, could you? I understand, I really do, I have been there so many times – but I would ask you young people tonight, this last night in Junta, this last night in Honduras, if you are able to communicate that feeling, that moment, to others. That ‘hug moment’ that you shared with one little girl or boy, the moment in time when you felt like you never wanted to leave these young children, that gut wrenching realization that tomorrow you come home, but they don’t come with you, and now this wonderful mission that so many never get to experience, is coming to an end. And it is in that understanding that I share with you, sort of like our own bond of MISSION, that I wish you the best on your return to the United States, and by the way, a place where they, the kids of Nueva Capital Santa Teresa de Jesus School –like most Hondurans, a place, the United States, where they all want to be. You see, if you have not realized it yet, THEY     ARE    YOU. They are you but with only one difference. They were born in Honduras, into poverty, a poverty that most of them have no chance of ever escaping – the Lottery of Birth – repeated over and over and over again millions and millions of times, and in my best Latin, ‘ad infinitum’.

And then there was Genesis. Genesis, Genesis, Genesis – a little 1 year old girl, who struggled for life but had little to no hope, and the story of Genesis all becomes something like reading a very long and bad novel, repeated in perpetuity that never ends, and we in Mission Honduras and Then Feed Just One, know this drill all-to-well.
So, here you are on your last night of this wonderful mission. As usual in these reflections, I ask one question. If you could have done anything for Genesis, and the millions she represented, WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE? How does this experience of MISSION change your understanding of poverty, of others in a different country, a different culture, of a different language, and maybe even a different religion. WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE? Or was this just another ‘short term mission’ (STM) that once it is over ‘it is over’ and you have done your duty to the world. Or, and my sense is this about Gehlen Catholic Students, that you see your Christianity more broadly and that it never stops with one experience or one moment in time. In other words, you are ‘becoming’ more Christian, maybe even more Catholic, day by day, moment by moment, experience by experience, Genesis by Genesis. Will you ever get to True Christianity? I must confess, I am not there, but continually on the road, continually working on it each and every day -  Someday maybe – Someday maybe, for both you and for me. And for Genesis, isn’t it rather ironic that her very name is a Greek word, meaning ‘Origin’ – beginning. Something new. Maybe the genesis (little g) for children like Genesis (big G) is YOU. Maybe you are the new beginning for the millions of others like her. As I have always believed deeply in my heart, there is great great power in the young of today, and I especially find it true in Gehlen Students. Please never shy away from a Christ Like Responsibility and what YOU can do.

I lied just a bit I guess. I do have a second question. What do you suppose Jesus meant when he said, “The Poor Will Always Be With You.” Do you suppose he meant little Genesis and the children of Santa Teresa de Jesus? I don’t know about you but I sense that most Gehlen Students realize there is this inseparable bond between our faith and the poor. I hope you not only see and realize that but that you never once abandon that bond, and if you never abandon that bond, then ‘GENESIS, and a New Beginning, WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU.’

And because of Genesis, I thought of Jean Vanier, a Canadian Catholic Philosopher and humanitarian who founded L’Arche, an international federation of communities for people with developmental disabilities and Genesis certainly had many of those. Jean Vanier once wrote, “To live with Jesus is to live with the poor. To Live with the poor is to live with Jesus.” Honestly, You’ve lived with Jesus for quite a few days now – I hope you knew it.

Well, Tonight will be a long night for you. You will have trouble getting to sleep because you have so many thoughts running through your mind and heart. Good for YOU. You have my permission not to sleep. YOU are THERE. A Place Where Most Will Never Be.

God Speed Gehlen Catholic Mission Honduras and Thank You For All You Have Done. The world is a little better place today because of you.

a humble servant, r. seivert