Our hearts overflow with joy when we visit with Zelenes and her son Jefferson. Jefferson will be two years old in September. We have been sponsoring them for the past year. Zelenes was reluctent at first to get to know us because everyone in her life has abandoned her and she doesn't want to be hurt anymore. The time I was able to share with her was precious to me. She has grown in her faith and has become a good mother.
Exchanging cultural differences in cooking cuisine is a mutual delight for Hondurans and their visitors. There's nothing like fresh fried tortillas!
It takes many hands and feet to bring Jesus' love to life for 550 children and young adults. Young college women like Emily, from Washington State, volunteer to serve alongside permanent staff and help young mothers like Martha take care of thier own children as well as other babies in the Infant and Toddler Houses. Male and female volunteers spend from a week to several years helping the staff and young adults feed and care for the younger children in the small, medium, and big, girl and boy houses while helping on the farm, in the school, in the yards, and throughout the orphanage.
The 15 minute walk to the center of Guaimaca for groceries provides the opportunity to get to know the other volunteers, especially ones who are fluent in Spanish. It also provides a close-up look at how Hondurans live everyday life without the comforts we take for granted like floors, doors, widows, plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables and sanitary conditions. The flowers bloom in bright reds, oranges and purples. The mangos and bananas hang, rippening on the trees waiting to be picked and eaten. The have and the have-nots live together separated by decorative iron bars, coiled barbed wire, and glass topped concrete walls.
Opportunities abound to learn from the children we desire to serve. Trips are made into Guaimaca by the Discipleship group to share the food and clothes that are received by the orphanage. The older children are given the opportunity to learn how to help others out of gratitude for what they receive. When taken to the store in the center of the orphanage for a treat the children often save what they are given to take back to their house to share with their friends.
Opportunities to experience boredom do not exist unless one is just plain lazy. Curtains for the Infant House need shortening, cushions for the elementary library reading corner need stitching. A project yet to be tackled, new terry cloth bibs for the Infant house.
Teenagers in Honduras and teenagers in America both struggle with discovering who they care and what they want to do with their life. These girls are children of God. They deserve to know how special they are and to have the opportunity to know whose they are. They are silly and boy-crazy and love to have attention. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to share time getting to know their dreams and fears, their frustrations and desires. We celebrated their specialness with a balloon, cake and ice cream party in their honor. They were not allowed to help with the serving and clean-up (a difficult task for them). There was lots of giggling, laughing and balloon popping.
There are many special needs children at Orphanage Emmanuel who can benefit from one on one attention and care. It is amazing to me to see how they blossom each time someone shares by being Christ's hands and feet.
Zoe, Mike's niece from Canada, spent the past two weeks as a volunteer with me in the Infant House as part of an International Baccalaurate Program from her school to learn more about global issues. Norman is the taxi driver who frequently makes trips back and forth between the airport and the orphanage. He joined us for a Chinese dinner with Katja (from Denmark) her husband, Max, from Honduras and their three children. Who would have thought, authentic Chinese chop suey and sweet and sour chicken in the middle of Honduras! It was delicious!
Danes, Hondurans, Americans, volunteers and staff alike enjoyed the celebration on the fourth with hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks! I even made jello jigglers for the kids who enjoyed them immensely. The inflated castle was also a big hit. A joint effort by all produced a great opportunity for fun and fellowship after a hard days work.
Finger foods are a favorite treat in the Infant House where oatmeal, rice and beans, and noodles with vegetables are the staple source of nourishment. Favorites are Goldfish Crackers, Cheese Balls, Cheerios, granola bars and saltines.
There are rows on rows of houses in Tegucigalpa the capital of Honduras. Some better built than others. As they get closer together and higher up on the sides of the mountains, the less well built and smaller they are. It is hard and sad to know that 35% of the population is under the age of 14 and that there is 55% unemployment.
Still smiling as we reflect on the past two months and begin to anticipate the opportunities in store for us as we trust in the Lord. What an awesome opportunity we have experienced at Orphanage Emmanuel. We are hopeful that you will continue to be interested and supportive of our calling to the mission field. Check back with us soon to see where our journey is taking us. Join us as you are able and become God's hands and feet.