I have been back home for a week now. I have returned from my third mission trip to an orphanage, The Garden of Love and Hope, in Santa Barbara, Honduras. Every time I come back, the transition is difficult and I spend a lot of time reflecting on the journey and experience with some of the most beautiful and loving children that I know.
Often when people ask about the trip they want to know what was done or things that were accomplished. For everyone there, we would say that most important thing that is accomplished on these trips are the development of relationships. On this third trip, I continued important relationships and even started to develop some new ones!
Javier y yo.
This is Javier and I on my first trip in 2011. At this time, he was recently recovering from a nearly fatal experience when he had a stick lodged in his foot for several weeks. This picture was also taken the first week that the orphanage was open! As the orphanage was beginning to open, Jheny and Daryl (from Footsteps Missions) went house to house looking for children to include in the program, they found him with a large swollen foot. Footsteps Missions jumped in and saved his leg and life by getting him the medical attention he needed. The first day the orphanage was open, Javier hobbled in with a smile!
This is Javier and I on my second trip in 2012. I just love his HUGE SMILE in this photo. I remember clearly on this trip how awesome it was to see the significant changes in all of the children. With Javier, his love, his smile, and his joy a year later at the Garden of Love and Hope were just exhuberent. This trip he was all giant hugs with a joyful spirit!
This is Javier and I at "el campo," where everyone plays soccer, on my third trip this summer. This summer I didn't get to see Javier as much at the orphanage because he had school during the day and he worked in the afternoons/nights on making fireworks at a factory nearby to raise money for his family. He will be back at the orphanage more once this seasonal work is over. This sometimes happens as children get older and want to help provide for their families financially. Javier has a large family with nine siblings that all live together. I think it is awesome to see him growing up and demonstrating responsibility with school and work. He made several special trips to see me in Honduras before I came back home. I just love him and am very proud of him! :)
Because of the Garden of Love and Hope, all the children that are part of the program get to go to school. Not only do they get to attend school, the orphanage also supplements their education with "extra" education. This includes a Bible class and an English class everyday. There are also special educational supplements too. For example, last week they had a science camp at the orphanage. In this photo, I am helping one of the teachers teach a Math and English lesson about geometrical shapes. We taught the children how to say the shapes in English. After we practiced saying the shapes in English (and Spanish), we played with Play-do and constructed the various shapes. Some of the kids were very detailed with writing the English and Spanish words next to their Play-do creations as well.
From various donations, the orphanage has a library of children's books. ALL of the children were absolutely obsessed with reading the books. They would ask everyone at the orphanage to read to them. Or, if people were terrible at Spanish like me, the kids would help me read or read to me. SO PRECIOUS.
Different from other times I have visited, on this trip I had the opportunity to visit a school for the first time. The school was located high up on the side of the mountain, in a rural neighborhood, close to some of the childrens' homes. There was one teacher, a small room, no bathrooms, and children of many grades. They did not have many resources. They had a chalkboard that was worn out and two tables with children crammed around them. The room was brightly decorated and one could tell that this was a well-loved classroom. The teacher shared her challenges of meeting the needs of the many children, not only of varying ages and grades, but also the challenges of meeting children that are behind. The children had composition notebooks, and would write rule of mathematics or Spanish, and copy problems into this notebook. It actually reminded me of some of the historical research of cyphering books near to me. I was honored to visit the school; however, I also felt sad that I couldn't do more to help the teacher and the students. The teacher also shared that to become a teacher in Honduras you need to graduate from high school. During high school, you may receive some preparation to become a teacher. All of these factors, the challenging atmosphere, the work load, and teacher training, has really been on my heart upon my return. I think it would be great to talk with these teachers more and find out what their needs are. I think it would also be a great experience to observe more at these types of schools. Perhaps in the future ...
One of my favorite parts of all mission trips are the UNEXPECTED lessons. Daryl, from Footsteps Missions, on the second week of the trip shared his vision for the future and growth of The Garden of Love and Hope. With more donors and more involvement, he plans on purchasing two acres of land behind the orphanage and gaining road access. A road will then be extended to the orphanage. After this, he plans on building an over night facility and rooms for a dorm family. He also plans on building a coffee shop along the road. With this will come opportunity, not only for revenue, but an opportunity for job training and skills training for older children in the program. As he shared this vision, I felt inspired to think about visions, in general, of lives. What could I learn from his revolutionary visions? He started this orphanage completely on faith two years ago. It was nothing, and now it has bloomed into this beautiful diamond in Santa Barbara. He shared that he saw the Garden and Love and Hope as a way to revolutionize orphanages in Honduras. He wants to build up 10 more orphanages just like this around Honduras and for this one to be the role model for all the others. All of this built from FAITH and DREAMS...
I really learned this trip how to dream big. I learned to not be scared of this big dreams and to just step out on faith.
I feel called to support The Garden of Love and Hope as much as a I can for my lifetime. I also feel called to share their mission and what they are doing because I truly believe in what they are doing and how they are serving.
1) If you would like to hear more about my trip, then I would love to share! Just message me. Maybe we can even have some coffee and chat!
2) Right now, this orphanage is running each month in deficit. They need at least 40 MORE sponsors just to break even. To become a sponsor is just $35 dollars a month. Or, if you feel called to help, in any small way, you can visit their website or you can contact me and I can give you some details and specific contact information.
3) If you have ever felt called to going on mission trip, but just never had the opportunity to, I LOVE LOVE LOVE to recommend Footsteps for you!