Sunday, June 15, 2008

We've Got Talent!

Saturday, June 14, we experienced our first annual talent show, planned and hosted by the Emmanuel volunteers. The children had two weeks to practice. There were 20 acts, including a presentation of some artwork, and the action ranged from dances to dramas to breakdancing. (yes, breakdancing) Two staff members got in on the fun with juggling and balancing things on the chin, including a broomstick, a metal folding chair and a flaming newspaper cone! My girls performed two dances and a drama. Third place was a tie between two of the other girls' houses. Second place was the staff member's balancing act, and first place went to the breakdancing boys. The grand finale was the volunteers' surprise rendition of the "Thriller" dance! It was definitely an entertaining night!

Becoming a mother...

Where do I start? Seeing as how 95% of the people I know are real-live, true parents, anything I write here will probably not strike most of you as new. Being a parent is hard! I obviously have not experienced the stress of pregnancy or the pains of labor, but coming to care for and understand a child without knowing what has happened to that child before you arrived on the scene of that precious life is pretty difficult in and of itself...times 44! I am pretty much daily amazed by the blessings and challenges that I face as I try to raise 44 girls in the way of the Lord. Please pray that I will continually seek God's help for the wisdom to do this because I can surely not even begin to be successful in my own strength...I have none. In ONE day, I had:

*1 girl who wandered over the hill behind our house and down close to our neighbor's property because she was upset about something another girl had said to her (This was in addition to the same girl ripping someone's drawing, breaking a mop handle and breaking a window pane, all within 3 weeks. Can we say anger management?)

*1 girl whom I argued with because, well, it would take too long to explain. Basically, she was disobedient to me because she was angry that she had already missed out on a privileged opportunity due to vanity and stubbornness, etc. (Of course, her version would be something totally different, right?) Teenagers!

*1 girl who was upset about I don't know what and chose to hide while I was putting the other girls into their rooms for the night, so that I thought she had run away and went out looking for her. Thankfully she didn't and was o.k.

*1 girl, one of my normally good 20-year old leaders, who refused to go into her room because she was mad about not being able to go to the planned talent show that evening because she had to stay and watch over the rest of the children who were not going.

WHEW!! Not to mention that Honduran pride is some of the toughest I have ever seen. Pretty much every time I try to help and ask, "What's wrong?" I get the back of a head, or whatever kind of blow-off they seem to think is appropriate at the time--tighter than a clamshell!

It's a pretty stressful profession/ministry/life at times. Please pray that I will allow God to help me put aside my own pride and frustrations so that I may be a pure example of His love to these children. I was thinking about my own family yesterday and how blessed I am, and I cannot even begin to imagine how these children without families or with every-now-and-then visiting families must feel. Lord, please help me to understand and love them!

"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." James 1:27

Painting the Town!

Last month, I had the privilege of chaperoning one of our 7th grade classes as they completed a community service project in our hometown of Guaimaca. The project took 3 days, and it involved cleaning up and refreshing the town's central park (pretty much every Honduran and possibly Latin American town has one). The first day, the children used their expert cleaning skills (we clean a lot at Emmanuel) to rake and pick up trash around the park. I was pleased to see an elderly man joining in the process (I think there might be one or two Guaimacans who care about the cleanliness of their environment). They also painted all of the benches in the park, and by the end of the project had painted a monument, the lamppost bases, all of the parking lot curbs, and a yellow line around the park (?). We worked in conjuction with the mayor's office, so we basically did what they told us to. The students did an excellent job. They worked diligently and offered few complaints, which made me very proud. It was a little disheartening to see the ground covered with trash again on the second day, as well as places where people had carved their names into our fresh bench paint, but just like anywhere else, there are those who protect and those who destroy. There were two elderly women who were very protective of one bench in particular and made excellent security guards, watching that noone sat on it. At the end of the third day, we had enlisted half of the jobless, stray men hanging out at the park to protect other freshly painted areas, so it really did become a community project, which was fun to see. As some of us discussed, we did our's up to the others whether they appreciate it and care for it or destroy it. My prayer is that the townspeople saw Jesus in the children and that they learned a little about serving and taking care of what they have been given.

"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:14-16

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Back to Belize

In April of 2008, I embarked on my 4th visa renewal trip, my second to Belize. Thankfully, there were no impending hurricanes, although I am grateful for the previous trip to Panama which resulted from such. Unlike my previous trips to Belize and Panama, this one was relatively calm with few glitches...unless you count having a stomach bug the entire week, which I did. Bummer!

I traveled to the small Latin American country with 4 Orphanage Emmanuel volunteers--2 from Denmark and 2 from the States. The first day, we traveled partway and spent the night in Puerto Cortes, Honduras, at a girls' home run by a former Emmanuel volunteer. This home has 15 residents of all ages, and my heart was captured by an 8-year old in a wheelchair named Gaby. Thankfully, Gaby is in the middle of the adoption process by a North American couple so that she will be able to receive the physical therapy and special care she needs for paralysis that she has as a result of fused vertebrae.

The next day, we left Honduras on a boat called the "D-Express." After about a two hour ride, we arrived in Placencia, Belize. Funny that this was the original planned destination for my first trip to the country. I must say that I kind of enjoy the long bus rides, but in its own way, by boat was definitely much better! No 32 hours straight!

Upon arrival in Placencia, we took a taxi to "The Nautical Inn." Emily and I had found this hotel on the Internet and fallen in love. Key phrases like "reading in hammocks," seaside pool, and Wednesday night "coconut bowling" had done the trick to capture our attention. Thankfully, there was no need to worry about availability, as we became the only guests at that time. The hotel was as nice as it looked on the website, the only disappointments being that it was pretty far outside of the main activity area--restaurants, shops, etc., and that they did not have coconut bowling scheduled for the week we were there. =( The first evening, we headed into the town of Placencia to check it out and to get something to eat. We ended up at "The Purple Space Monkey." Gotta love those beachside names. TPSM was a happening restaurant complete with coffee shop, free internet service, and Wednesday night karaoke which we participated in later in the week. (well, Emily that is) We ended out the night with Italian gelato from a gelateria run by a true Italian from Rome and a nighttime swim back at the hotel.

Highlights from the rest of the week were mainly the places we ate and time spent at the beach. Unfortunately for me, and rare at that, the stomach bug hit me the morning of our first full day, and it stayed with me the whole time, putting a slight damper on the trip. However, I was by the ocean, and that is always a happy time for me! Plus, it was wonderful just to have a break. The weather was actually pretty cool, cloudy and windy, until, of course, the day we left to come back when it was perfect. We had hoped to take some side trips to the rainforest or snorkeling, but those were a little too costly. The night we returned to Honduras, Emily and I spent the night with my Honduran family--my friend Ethel and her relatives.

We Love Chiminike!

Sixty excited first and second graders, 10 equally excited team members, 5 pretty excited volunteers, and one ecstatic staff member made for a busy month of February as I had the privilege of chaperoning 3 fieldtrips to Chiminike, the children's museum in Honduras' capital, Tegucigalpa. I'm not being sarcastic...I really did enjoy it. Chiminike is an amazing place--something that you would not expect to find in the middle of a still-developing country.

The museum consists of different scientific learning rooms which the children travel through, guided by enthusiastic and knowledgeable young people who are students at the university. From lying on a bed of nails, to imitating the digestive process, to climbing on an "atom," children are provided hands-on experiences for gaining a greater understanding of scientific and social concepts. During the month of February, the museum graciously provided free admission with snack to orphanages, children's homes, etc. Needless to say, we took them up on the offer. The children love the museum, and it is a great opportunity for them to experience something new outside of Emmanuel.

You can see pictures at

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Where Everybody Knows Your Name...

...and they're happy that you came. I am home! Unlike my return in February, I was so glad to come home this time! I love living in Honduras and caring for children, but it is time for a break. I have friends at the orphanage, but there is nothing like your own family and friends who have known and loved you forever.

My first happy renunion was with my family on Wed., the 12th. Granted, it was a day later than planned, but that made it even better. I slowly worked my way up by seeing one friend on Thursday, talking to another on Friday, and then Saturday was the big immersion at my Christmas Open House. Friends from all walks of life: high school, college, work, church, even Orphanage Emmanuel arrived, and I was happily surrounded by loved ones.

I am thankful to God for this time of rest and refreshment. Merry Christmas!

Visiting Rita

On December 6, I had a second blessing of visiting my other Compassion child, Rita. This time around, I traveled with a new Compassion friend, Oscar, and we went to the town of Comayagua. Our arrival was a little more anticipated there. Rita arrived at her Compassion project in a taxi with her little sister, Yenni, and her little niece, Yoali.

We first had a tour of the project, and Rita was practically glued to my hip. Oscar was very impressed and said that it is one of the best Compassion projects he has seen. Candy and Yanira, the project director, bestowed on me gifts of a scarf and bracelets that had been made by children and mothers from the project. The best gift I received was when Rita sang a song to me that she had written about God. I was amazed and so proud! Rita used to be really shy, but it appears that my "wallflower" is a blossoming flower, and I am so thankful to God, especially with my concern for her after her mother died in January of this year.

After the project, we took Rita and the two little ones to Central Park. There we viewed a big Christmas tree and the beautiful cathedral, bought cotton candy, took pictures, and went into a museum. Next, we went to Pizza Hut for lunch, which was pretty fun. The small girls had a blast on the playground. Rita and I had fun taking random pictures. After lunch, we went to Rita's home. There, I got to meet her stepfather and sister-in-law. I also gave out gifts, took more pictures, watched two little girls get blue tongues from cotton candy, and videoed Rita singing her song.

I was so touched by this visit with Rita. It is amazing to see God working in her life, giving her confidence to become the young woman He created her to be.

If you are interested in sponsoring a child, you can find more information at It is a real, life-changing (for the children and for sponsors) ministry.