Today I’m recapping the second half of my week in Honduras. If you missed the first half, it’s over here.
Day Five – The one thing I like best about traveling Wednesday-Wednesday is that Sunday is a natural break from the chaos in the middle of the week. On this day, we were again able to sleep in a bit before breakfast. After that, we gathered with the children in the chapel for Mass. Sharing this spiritual experience is always very powerful for me, and I love listening to the children sing. After Mass, my group drove once again into Tegucigalpa so that we could visit Reyes Irene, a educational and vocational center for women, many of whom work as domestics or selling items on the street. The women there shared their stories about coming on their two days off of work each week to study and learn how to improve their working conditions. Hearing their stories was even more powerful than what I’d already witnessed at Mass that morning. After our visit, we drove to Valle de Ángeles, a tourist town (you can find airbnb rentals here) that is northeast of Tegucigalpa, and just southwest of the Parque Nacional La Tigra. We first had lunch at Las Tejas, a restaurant I had eaten at the previous year. We then had time to do some shopping. I’ve been shopping here on each of my four trips, but I always look for something new or unique to bring home. This year my favorite purchase was a painted wooden house that has blocks that can be rotated to show the month and date. We didn’t stay long, though, because we wanted to get back in time for the Super Bowl. Yes, that’s right, we watched the Super Bowl in Honduras! One of our Honduran friends graciously hosted the gringos for a night of football. As I was with all Colts fans who were rooting for Peyton Manning, the night ended well. The only downside was that we got the Latin American commercials, not the ones our families and friends enjoyed at home.
Day Six – After walking the kids to school, it was my turn to lead reflection for my group. I can’t pretend mine was the best, but I will share this one piece that I found in one of our reflection books that I used:
“Each day I must open myself up to the splendor of God. If you greet sunrise with God in your heart and a prayer on your lips, your day stands a better chance of reflecting God’s love, mercy, and justice, and you will be better able to treat others the way God would. When you give God your heart, He gives you His eyes, so you may begin to see things the way He sees them – through eyes of love, mercy, and compassion. Compassion helps us from clinging to ourselves; it helps us see our kinship with all living beings.”
We made progress on the wall so that I was laying bricks at my eye level, and we had to break early in the afternoon so that the cement could be poured for the columns. It’s not an elaborate task: nail some boards as a mold, fill buckets with cement, throw cement into the molds, wait for it to dry. Since there was extra time in the afternoon, I helped sort of gifts for the kids that are sent by their sponsors, which we then delivered in the evening. I was able to give the sweater I bought as a birthday present to the girl Nick and I sponsor (her birthday was February 13th, and she turned 14!) After that, we were once again ready to unwind with social time in the evening.
Day Seven – Our last full day in Honduras had us scrambling to get the final tasks complete. While most people furthered progress on the wall, I helped write thank you notes to our hosts, the women who cooked for us, the women who cleaned and did laundry for us, etc. I can’t describe how wonderfully welcome and taken care of I feel when I’m at Nuevo Paraíso. That’s just one of the many reasons that leaving is so difficult. When everything was accomplished, we paraded over to the kids’ homes and called them out for a concert. Our four talented musicians had a set list of over half an hour, and even though it was chilly by Honduran standards, many kids hung around dancing and singing along. You can see a little bit of the encore here. After dinner, we sat around talking about what we liked most that week. The first-timers asked the veterans how to transition back to life after Honduras; it’s no easy task. I’d have to save that for another post, if I can ever even put it into words. One of our group members surprised us with wooden cross necklaces that she’d had blessed by Sister María Rosa; it’s one of the most meaningful momentos I’ve brought back with me.
Day Eight – We had reflection, breakfast, and our final goodbyes at Nuevo. It’s always funny saying, “See you next year!” to the kids, but they’re used to it. Once all our bags were loaded, we headed into the city. The original plan called for surprising me with a visit to the Basilica, since I have never been and have been itching to go so badly, but there was too much traffic and we had to go straight to the airport. I was disappointed, but I suggested that maybe next visit I stay an extra day just so I can make sure it happens. At the airport, we said our final final goodbyes to our hosts. There was some time to shop in the airport stores, and I found a Honduras tank that I purchased (and have already worn twice.) Like American airports, before going to the terminal, you must go through security. However, as you are about to board the plane, carry on luggage is manually checked again and passengers are patted down. It’s thorough, but I don’t mind; in fact, I appreciate it. Once I got on the airplane, I was ready to be home, but we still had to go through customs and re-check our bags in Atlanta. My group and I both had two hour long layovers, so we had one last meal together. I was sad to say goodbye to them, but I was also anxious to see Nick and sleep in my own bed.
Again, if you have any questions about Honduras or about my trip, please let me know in the comments below!