Adios Honduras

I like this picture. I think its because we weren't just posing.  We, in fact, rode to the airport like this. :-) Ha!Ha! Just kidding! We shut the door as Don Calixto is such a stickler for safety!

We, the Seven People.  We weren’t just posing. We “kinda” rode to the airport like this. Except, killjoy Don Calixto made us shut the door. 🙂

Seven people.

Seven weeks.

One adventure.

We did it!…well…rather…

I'm "cheersing" God by the pool of our hotel  on our last night. "God, job well done! Thanks for letting us be a part of it!"

I’m “cheers-ing” God by the pool of our hotel on our last night .  🙂  “God, job well done! Thanks for letting us be a part of it!” (And, not gonna lie, this is ‘pre-game’ as I’m thinking about a LONG travel day with 5 kids starting at 3:30 a.m. the next morning. 🙂

GOD did it!

HE made it all possible.

HE cleared the path.

HE provided for every need we had (which included Mennonite ice-cream more times than I care to acknowledge).

HE gave us strength and endurance.

HE gave us rest.

HE blessed our relationships. HE healed our broken moments. HE took us to Honduras and brought us home safely.

HE did it! HE did it all!

After an amazing 7 weeks, we landed back on U.S. soil with 7, fully intact, Darkes. Other than needing some Cipro after we got home, I think we are good! (Oh, the irony!) We are even past the 4 day Dengue Fever incubation period. Yahoo!

God is Good!

"Ceeee- le-brate good times, come on!"  That's right kids. Burn off that energy. Don't be scared of the rain. Just keep swimming. You have all day to sleep on that plane in the morning!

“Ceeee- le-brate good times, come on!” That’s right kids. You are definitely a Gang & and you are very Kool! Great summer. We are proud of you.

And, before going much further, I’d like to say thank you to all of you who have read about our crazy adventure, helped get us there, and prayed for and encouraged us throughout our entire time in Honduras! We are forever grateful!

I find it quite humorous that I even attempted to blog because 1.) I loathe writing and 2.) I loathe computers, internet “glitches”, and “delete all” keys situated too closely to “return” keys (from my perspective, at least). I just didn’t see how blogging could be therapeutic for me in any way.

However,  I truly felt it was important to share about this incredible place in a far away land and you all gave me such a great encouragement to keep on writing. So, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU! 🙂

By the way, thank you person in Madagascar for reading this! Who are you and what are you doing there? Probably something very cool. Please reveal yourself and we can be far away friends too.

The Wrap Up

Our beloved staff.  THEY ROCK!!!  We love you all and will miss you terribly!

Our beloved staff. THEY ROCK!!! We love you all and will miss you terribly! Did you hear me say that I think that you are “so special”?

Our trip was AMAZING.  It was all we had hoped for and more.  I now know my “Honduran Family” and understand the “flow” at La Providencia a bit more.  They are

Special.

Special people.

SO SPECIAL!

We also had the extreme privilege of meeting many more incredible people while we were there.  God’s world is so BIG and so BEAUTIFUL!

Malia: " I love you, Savannah. I have always loved you! Savannah:  "Ditto." If there is one thing I learned from Demi Moore it is that a potters wheel can bring 2 people close together

Malia: ” I love you, Savannah. I have always loved you!”
Savannah: “Ditto.”
Thank You, Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze for your great example to my kids.

The other “hope” we had for the summer was great bonding within our own nuclear family.  I’d have to say that about 99% of our bumps and bruises that we incurred in Honduras were self/family-inflicted wounds. The good news is that we worked/screamed through it and I think we came out stronger, closer, and probably more deaf by the end of it. 🙂

We created memories for a lifetime and have something so dear to our hearts to always be able to draw from in the future. What a priceless gift!

Carla, me, Beatriz, and Bessie, on one of our last nights together. Beatriz cooked up some mean "campo beef" - DELISIOSO!

Carla, me, Beatriz, and Bessie, a few of my senoritas, on one of our last nights together. Beatriz cooked up some mean “campo beef” – DELISIOSO!

The last couple of weeks we tried to “wind” down and do some “LASTS“.

Last dinners with friends.

Last recesses and lunches with the kids at La Providencia.

Last time to church.

Last time to have coffee and smile with Ana.

Last time for Drew to mix concrete with Tomas, Josue, or Alfredo.

Last soccer games.

Last trip to Mennonite ice cream.

And so on and so forth.

They were full days. They were beautiful days.

And, they were actually somewhat emotional for the “emotionally challenged” person that I am.

I truly fell in love with these people.

Darn it! I just made myself tear up again. It’s crazy! I will take this as a great sign from God that 1.) I am human after all, and 2.) God did a great work in all of our hearts this summer.

Our La Providencia Family threw Phil a huge surprise birthday party a couple nights before we left. It was incredibly special. Again, weepy woman cried. They all thought I knew about the party, but I didn't.  I was surprised too. ;-)

Our La Providencia Family threw Phil a huge surprise birthday party a couple nights before we left. It was incredibly special. Again, weepy woman cried. They all thought I knew about the party, but I didn’t. I was surprised too!

We will sorely miss our Honduran family and friends, but we all know that  the relationships continue and when God sees fit to bring us together again, He will do just that!

Plus, I’m quite motivated to continue “Espanoling” so that my relationships can go deeper with my senoritas. Rosetta Stone here I come.

Oh, and by the way, I do have a couple more blogs that I didn’t have a chance to write on yet. I’ll add them when I can. At the very least, there will be one on Drew’s and my amazing excursion to Copan (the ancient Mayan Ruins) with Katherine the Great and Marvelous Megan. And I’m hoping to also write one on the wonderful world of coffee and drinking responsibly.  🙂 Stay tuned!

Until then…. Hasta Luego my friends!

Now, how about some more “Adios’ ” to close out with? So fun!

(for the record… this is NOT an exhaustive list!)

Savannah is never one to miss a dancing opportunity.   Gracias Douglas and Carla for an amazing time!

Savannah is never one to miss a dancing opportunity. Adios Douglas and Carla! See ya in a few weeks?

Yes! I finally made a decent tortilla!  Adios Elsie and family!

Yes! I finally made a decent tortilla! Adios Elsie and family!

Tungo was also our very own Spanish speech therapist! Justin loved his "Tungo-time

Adios, Tungo! Tungo was also our very own Spanish speech therapist! Justin loved his “Tungo-time. And, isn’t “Tungo” such a cool name!?! Tungo. Tungo. Tungo. Love it! 🙂

Adios, Don Calixto, best bus driver in the universe who has never been in an accident - according to himself.

Adios, Don Calixto (yet, another cool name!), best bus driver in the universe who has never been in an accident (according to his definition).

Adios precious kids at La Providencia!  Adios teachers! Keep up the great work!

Adios precious kids at La Providencia! Adios teachers! Keep up the great work!

Adios macaws searching for food in my child's hair. (I really hope that is food)

Adios macaws searching for food in my child’s hair. (Oh! I really hope that is food!)

Adios, yoked beasts of burden that I finally got a picture of!

Adios, beautiful, yoked, beasts of burden that I finally got a picture of!

Adios, "Curve of Death". Thank you for the warning.

Adios, “Curve of Death”. Thanks for the warning!

And… the last one for now…

Adios, police men and detained criminal in the back of the the pick up.  Adios, clown man trying to sell your clown suits to the on-duty policemen in the middle of the highway.

Adios, police men and detained criminal in the back of the the pick up. Adios, clown man trying to sell your clown suits to the on-duty policemen in the middle of the highway.

Well, maybe not.

Adios old-school, rusty,metal playground equipment that my kids had soooo much fun on all summer and I wish could make a comeback in the U.S.

Adios old-school, rusty,metal playground equipment that my kids had soooo much fun on all summer and I wish could make a comeback in the U.S.

 

Ok, for real this time…Adios Honduras!

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Blooper reel

This post is dedicated to some of the “points of interest” that made me laugh while we were here.

Who doesn’t love some good bloopers and/or “extra” ordinary moments? 🙂

Locked out! Good thing Malia can fit through the bars.

Locked out! Good thing Malia can fit through the bars and that Superman is on stand-by, just in case.

She is still a little upset about the whole thing.

She is still a little upset about the whole thing.

Yes, I found this amusing.

Yes, I found this amusing.

Top 2 rules at the pool.   1. No guns. 2. You must swim with your shirt OFF. I think I will like them on Facebook.

Top 2 rules at the pool.
1. No guns.
2. You must swim with your shirt OFF.
I think I will like them on Facebook.

Drew teaching Lorena (LP teacher -left) and Luz (LP prinicipal) "Speed Stacks".  Bloopers everywhere!

Drew teaching Lorena (LP teacher -left) and Luz (LP prinicipal) “Speed Stacks”. Bloopers everywhere!

Driving will be so boring when we get back home!

Driving will be so boring when we get back home!

I kind of want to try this.

I kind of want to try this.

And this!

And this!

How our friends "rolled" into church one Sunday.  No lives were lost.

How our friends “rolled” into church one Sunday. No lives were lost.

Dengue Fever faker!

Dengue Fever faker!

No comment. :-)

No comment. 🙂

Sign reads:  "Bridge in bad state".

Sign reads: “Bridge in bad state”.

Slight understatement.. Again, I'm thankful that Phil can read Spanish.

Slight understatement. Again, I’m thankful that Phil can read Spanish.

Nothing like a bad itch on the back,  floured hands that can't help, and a child with your camara that would rather take a picture than lend a helping hand. :-)

Nothing like a bad itch on the back, floured hands that can’t help, and a child with your camera that would rather take a picture than lend a helping hand. 🙂

Malia helps Doctora Turcios realize her dream of being Rapunzel.

Malia helps Doctora Turcios realize her dream of being Rapunzel.

Wheels? I don't need no stinkin' wheels.

Wheels? I don’t need no stinkin’ wheels.

My sink fell off the wall! Here it is.  I was merely turning the handle and, BOOM. Down it went. The pipes severed and Justin and I were a wet mess in about 2 seconds.

My sink fell off the wall! Here it is. I was merely turning the handle and, BOOM. Down it went. The pipes severed and Justin and I were a wet mess in about 2 seconds.

Water blew out of this hole and flooded our house within 10 min. After the initial shock wore off, I decided to panic.  My sweet wonderful new neighbors eventually found the main water turn off that was burried in their "yard".  It was the craziest thing.

Water blew out of this hole and flooded our house within 10 min. After the initial shock wore off, I decided to panic. My wonderful  new neighbors eventually found the main water valve  that was burried in their “yard.” It was the craziest thing.

Tungo and his son, Joel, got the word and came over to cap the pipe. "No hay problema!"  Apparently this is not the first time a sink has fallen off a wall.

Tungo and his son, Joel, got the word and came over to cap the pipe. “No hay problema!” Apparently this is not the first time a sink has fallen off a wall.

The next day. YES, the next day, Kirsten broke a water spicket off. I laughed, even though I wanted to cry. Another flood.  Sigh.  Turn off water, find Tungo and Superboy,  make brownies and deliver them later as a peace offering. :-)

The next day. YES! THE NEXT DAY, Kirsten broke a water spicket off. I laughed, even though I wanted to cry. Another flood. Sigh. Turn off water, find Tungo and Superboy, make brownies and deliver them later as a peace offering. 🙂 And WHY this all happens when Phil is gone, I have no idea.

Seriously, Child?!?

Seriously, Child?!? I. Just. Gave. You. A. Bath! Doctora said that I would need to de-worm him after this. 🙂

I

Lempira who?

Two Saturdays ago, I knew that we were going to spend the day at a “cultural event” where some of the La Providencia kids and families would be. It sounded like we would all enjoy some cultural dance, eat local fare that we were told would be safe to eat, and cheer on our LP boys soccer team to a hopeful victory.

Savannah with her friends and SO wishing she could be wearing a dress like theirs.

Savannah with her friends and SO wishing she could be wearing a dress like theirs.

Awesome!

Sounded like a fun day to me.

Especially because I didn’t need to pack a lunch for the family and because nothing beats a good cultural day in a foreign land.

When we arrived at the local park in Aguas del Padre (the “neighborhood” that LP is in), I was amazed at all “the production” that I was looking at.

However, I still had absolutely NO idea what any of it actually was.

If nothing else, what I soon discovered was that A LOT of work and planning went into the day.  And, I had no idea, but it was our very own  La Providencia parents, students, and teachers who put on the entire event! They did such a great job!

Parents from "Kinder" serve up some tamales for Kirsten and coffee for me.

Parents from “Kinder” serve up some tamales for Kirsten (she’s so excited, can’t you tell!) and coffee for me. So fantastic!

I also learned that organizing a fun community day like a “Dia de Lempira” celebration helps to promote LP’s cause and relationships in the community. Not to mention, the food sales help to bring in a little revenue to LP as well. Fundraiser, anyone?

Even Awesomer! 🙂

I loved it already.

(And I hadn’t even made it to the taco bar yet).

Now, I thought “Lempira” was just the fancy name for Honduran currency, but that day I learned that there was a little more to it.

 

July 20 is called “Dia de Lempira” in Honduras.

 

Mighty Chief Lempira.

Mighty Chief Lempira.

It is named for the handsome man to the left, “Chief Lempira,” who was an important figure in Honduran history. So much so, that every year on July 20, the Honduran people celebrate him with dance, costumes, and food.

Since I knew nothing else about said Chief, I vowed to Google him later.

Which I did.

Now, so that you won’t need to “phone a friend” to win your millions, here’s a quick bio.

Chief Lempira was an indigenous warrior who banded together many tribes in the 1500s to fight the Spanish Colonization of what today is Honduras. “Lempira” roughly translates to “Lord of the Mountains” and he is considered a hero to the Honduran people, if not a legend.

So there you have it. (I so wish I could’ve condensed information like that when I was in college!)

Please, go win your loot and then proceed directly to providenceworld.com. 🙂

All in all, it was a fantastic and very special day for all involved and I think the best way to share it is through pictures.

Enjoy! 🙂

Mizael starts the festivities off with a prayer.

Mizael starts the festivities off with a prayer.

And then he morphed into a clown.  Who knew he was so talented? :-)

And then he morphed into a clown. Who knew he was so talented? 🙂

Some of our teachers with their students.

Some of our teachers with their students.

The kids preferred this food tent.  I also like the Honduran version of a ''pop-up'' shade.  They use all natural materials. So beautiful in its own right!

The kids preferred this food tent. I also like the Honduran version of a ”pop-up” shade. They use all natural materials. So beautiful in its own right!

Savannah and the girls are practicing  their moves.  There was some beautiful traditional dance performed by both adults and our LP children.  I'll post those pics when I can.

Savannah and the girls are practicing their moves. There was some beautiful traditional dance performed by both adults and our LP children. I’ll post those pics when I can.

Beautiful Costumes!  Everything was made with all natural materials. They were all exquisite!

Beautiful Costumes! Everything was made with all natural materials. They were all exquisite!

imageimage

Wanted to show the detail work on the costumes.

Wanted to show the detail work on the costumes.

Aw... they found the choco-banano tent.

Aw… they found the choco-banano tent.

Orlando and Elsie, et al. They are precious!

Orlando and Elsie, et al. They are precious!

Mario and Beatriz, et al.  Our families at LP are amazing.  Please keep them all in your prayers!

Mario and Beatriz, et al. Our families at LP are amazing. Please keep them all in your prayers!

The kids and I are allowed to bang around on the old xylophone which I'm sure has another name that I don't know.

The kids and I were allowed to bang around on the old xylophone which I’m sure has another name that I don’t know.

Malia getting strangled. :-)

Malia getting strangled. 🙂

Seriously, Mizael was awesome and blew up about 1,000 balloon creatures before the day was over. He was committed!

Seriously, Mizael was awesome and blew up about 1,000 balloon creatures before the day was over.  Talk about comittment!

It appears someone got a shot of me from behind. Beans and rice have been good to me.  :-)

It appears someone got a shot of me from behind. Beans and rice have been good to me. 🙂

La Providencia dukes it out in penalty kicks. It turned into quite an amusing finish.

La Providencia dukes it out in penalty kicks. It turned into quite an amusing finish.

This is the amusing finish.  The whole town converged to ''discuss'' whether or not the PK went in. It was a good 5-10 mins of  a very heated "discussion".  I remind you that this was a "friendly" boys match.  Hysterical! Can you see Justin? :-)

This was the amusing finish. The whole town converged to ”discuss” whether or not the PK went in. It was a good 5-10 mins of a very heated “discussion”. I remind you that this was a “friendly” boys match. Hysterical! Can you see Justin? 🙂

Hey-yey.

Hey-yey.

Thanks for coming out to the party!

We were all so blessed to be able to share in such a great day!

Go Chief!

Building bridges

*We interrupt this program to bring you breaking news.

We think Malia (our oldest) has dengue fever which is basically a bad flu. We will confirm this today (Thrs) once we visit the doctor and get blood drawn. She is in good hands and we expect a full recovery soon. No need to worry, but please keep her in your prayers. It’s not fun. Thanks.

Our new neighbor, Rob, just happens to be a family physician was was happy to make a house a call. Thanks, Rob!

Our new neighbor, Rob, who just happens to be a family physician (God is always taking care of us!), was  happy to make a house a call. Thanks, Rob!

And, now, back to your regular programming. 🙂

Throughout the year, teams from the U.S. come down to visit La Providencia, and the vast majority come during the summer.

Drew is having some fun with some Nashville gents.

Drew is having fun with some Nashville gents.  I think the “4 man tower” is illegal in CA too!

I know that many of you have had the great opportunity and pleasure to come with a team, but some of you (like me) have not.

Often, people ask, “What will we do there?”

Well, I don’t know much, but this I DO know.

You will build a bridge.

(definitely figuratively, maybe literally)

And your bridge will look different and be different from any other person’s or team’s.

WHY?

Because when you come, you bring the greatest gift that only you can bring.

YOURSELF.

Your special God-given purpose might be to be a zombie and perform M.J.'s "Thriller".

Your special God-given purpose might be to be a zombie and perform M.J.’s “Thriller”.

And, we know that God has already planned out His great purposes and work for each one of us. (Brilliant!)

The caveat, however, is that we just don’t always know what God’s agenda looks like. 🙂

Aww.. the fun begins.

Case in point.

Two weeks ago, we were down teachers at the school. Maestro Ariel was out with dengue fever (darn mosquitos!), others were out for various reasons. (Btw, Ariel has fully recovered and back to school now.)

God knew this would happen and totally provided.

Marvelous Meagan also frequents Kirsten's beauty salon - as do some others. I personally love the soccer cone hat fashion.

Did someone say, “FUN?” Marvelous Megan also frequents Kirsten’s beauty salon – as do some others. I personally love the soccer cone hat fashion.

Three women on the Dallas team (2 wks ago) were teachers in some capacity and were able to fill in.

Plus, we have Marvelous Megan (Nashville intern) here for the summer who was hoping to spend some time in the school.

HA! Little did she know!

Little did any of them know. 🙂

God’s agenda.

Not ours.

Depending on your personality, this can be either fun or frustrating. Either way, I can guarantee you that it will be faith-building!

Some teams DO have highly specific purposes, though.

For example, we have had a group of eye doctors come to our clinic and provide eye surgeries.

We’ve had dental, cardiology, and pediatric teams.

We’ve had educational teams and business teams . . . the list goes on.

And, God willing, other such teams will come in the future. (Bring your ideas!)

Specific reasons. Specific “tasks.”

Typically, though, the teams will come down for a week with no “highly” specific “task-oriented” purpose other than the

very. important. work. of. building. bridges.

Building Bridges.  This one happens to be a real concrete one. :-)

Building Bridges. This one happens to be a real concrete one. 🙂

Chicken dance anyone? Fellowship night is every Tues.  Games, music, skits, dinner, and usually an impromtu soccer game make for a fun and dangerous evening.  :-)

Chicken dance anyone? Fellowship night is every Tuesday. Games, music, skits, dinner, and usually an impromtu soccer game make for a fun and somewhat dangerous evening. 🙂

The “projects” that you may or may not do are always secondary.

The dishes will be there tomorrow, so to speak.

I had mentioned in an earlier post that we fully enjoyed getting to know great groups from Dallas and Nashville.

Here’s a glimpse of what we did.

We SHARED in a Monday devotional.

We LAUGHED a lot on Tuesday Fellowship night.

We VISITED Doctor Chris, and nurse practioner, Amaya, (both Nashvillites) at the medical clinic.

They came to do well checks on the LP kids, and the Darkes just had to get their bumps, bruises, and bites checked out too. (Thanks again! My “hematoma” is healing – AND I have a new vocabulary word to use!)

Drew and Malia learn how to make a "volcano" while mixing concrete.  Malia decided she likes helping wit Great work, Dallas!

Drew and Malia learn how to make a “volcano” while mixing concrete. Great work, Dallas!

We SWEATED while actually building a bridge (a real one) with some strong Dallas folk (Ok, truthfully, I only fetched water and took pictures of “them” sweating a lot).

We APPLAUDED the Nashville crew (high schoolers), who built some much needed sound boards for the Comedor (horrible acoustics in there) and laid the foundation for future teams to finish that work.

We ENCOURAGED the aforementioned Dallas mujeres who helped teach (math, p.e., and English) at the school.

We PLAYED soccer with the LP staff, and

we all tried to exercise godly self-control. 🙂

(Always a challenge during any sporting event, I find.)

Relaxing at nice waterfall with the teams after a great week of hard work.

Relaxing at nice waterfall with the teams after a great week of hard work.

We RELAXED and RELISHED at a waterfall/recreational park at the end of a beautiful week together.

In 3 days, I’m THRILLED to welcome our dear friends from Harbor Church in Folsom and our Davis, CA friends.

Along with them, we have a very, VERY special guest coming from Mission Viejo, CA.

“Mi Suegra”!!! (look it up :-))

We are all very excited!

The groups are fantastic! My family and I have so enjoyed each person who has come to Providence. Not only are we building friendships with our Honduran family, but we are also building special relationships with incredible people from all over the USA.

It’s so cool. The impact on my kids, especially, has been incredible! We are thankful. It’s always a sad a moment when we have to say goodbye at the end of the week.

Dave (Dallas) gives Justin a few swimming pointers.  I can't emphasize enough how much everyone touched our lives! It was a privilege. THANK YOU!

David (Dallas) gives Justin a few swimming pointers. I can’t emphasize enough how much everyone touched our lives! It was a privilege. THANK YOU!

This also puts into perspective what our La Providencia families and staff have to go through week after week, year after year.

Wonderful people coming down for a week or so, building great friendships, and then saying goodbye.

They truly love everyone who comes and visits, and I imagine a little piece of their heart gets on the plane with the teams every time they go.

You must know that our brothers and sisters at La Providencia feel greatly loved by you.

And you must know . . . that you are very loved back.

image

Build a bridge.

Fall in love.

*Please share a comment on a special experience you have had at La Providencia.  We would all love to hear.

Beautifully broken

(*written Monday morning)

I wanted to run away to the nunnery today.

The storm is brewing.

The storm is brewing.

This morning was quite broken, but it ended up more beautiful than I could have imagined.

All things considered, the kids have been doing “ok,” minus a few incidents, here and there. I realize that they also are experiencing a lot of adjustments and “sacrifices” (if one could say that). MUCH grace is in order here, and, frankly, we have given them that.

Today, however, it was too much. I could see all the “brouhaha” building over the last couple days. It was starting to cast dark shadows over each of us and over our home.

Oppressive.

On top of that, Phil’s computer crashed yesterday (Sunday) so he’s more than upset and has been desperately trying to recover his work, photos, and videos. OUCH! Patience is SHORT. And he knows it.

Justin got sick last night and continues to be sick (nothing major). He’s not happy.

Ugly attitudes.

Disrespect.

Disobedience.

Hatred.

Defiance.

Complaining.

Uncontrollable screaming.

Hurting one another with words and actions.

The list goes on and on . . . Ugly, ugly, ugly.

We’re tired. We seem to all be a bit more broken than usual. And… well… I have started to daydream of habits and of rolling hills in Austria.

image

I looked around and thought, “Who are these kids? And, what terrible parents they must have!”

So, I did what any good mother would do . . . I Googled the nearest nunnery :-). But the best I could come up with was the Mennonite farm up the road from La Providencia. At least I could get some good raw milk. (Only $2.50/gal! Unbelievable and legal!)

We didn’t exactly have a plan, but we knew we needed a change of scenery and a moment to “simmer” and think. So, off we went. Raw milk, here we come.

On the way, I told the kids to think about their actions and attitudes the last couple of days and that we were going to go somewhere (didn’t know where yet) for our own extended family devotion and a time of confession. Phil and I were included in this, because, of course, we were guilty as well.

imageThen it hit us. The perfect place to go was to the cross (literally and figuratively) at La Providencia. It was erected a couple years ago and sits atop the hill overlooking the campus and surrounding mountains. PERFECT!

So, we went to visit the Mennonites, got our milk, and then drove to Calvary. 🙂

It was very cool. Looking out over La Providencia and into the beautiful, lush Honduran mountains instantly caused us to stop and consider the great works of the Almighty.

We were humbled.

The light breeze that brushed our faces whispered of the presence of God.

“Yes, God, here we are.”

What a perfect place to have a little Darke revival. (And maybe twirl around with a guitar – even if it’s only G chord.)

During our time at the cross, we all took turns confessing to one another our grievous ways.

Hugs.

Hugs.

We hugged.

Some cried.

And we all forgave.

Nothing like awkward forgiveness moments.

Nothing like awkward forgiveness moments.

It was so beautiful.

The journey gets tough and we accumulate junk without knowing it. Our burdens and souls get heavier, tangled in sin. Time to purge.

Before we got to the cross, during our hike up to it (couldn’t drive the whole way), I had asked everyone to find a rock.

After our confessions, we laid our rocks at the cross to represent giving our sins and our burden to Jesus.

We prayed for clean hearts and renewed spirits.

We were cleansed.

Contemplative Kirsten.

Contemplative Kirsten.

Even sweet, little Kirsten contributed. She has just so much wisdom for a 4 year old. On one of her “soap box” moments (she had several), she held out her hands, palms up, and simply said,

“You know, God has got our family in His hands. He’s got the whole world in His hands!” (reminded me of a song I once knew)

She looked me square in the eyes with those big blues, and then, she sat down.

She pierced my heart. Such deep truth from a little one.

Savannah is an especially sensitive spirit and VERY detailed oriented. She went on and on, and ON and ON with her own prayers and confessionals (let’s face it, she had a lot to confess).  🙂

Drew got real and shared some stuff that he was really struggling with, and then Malia, who is much more guarded, felt safe to open up as well.

I thought we were finished but the kids kept “remembering” something else and were eager to purge more.

“What?”

“She has been bribing her sister?”

“What?”

“He has been sticking boogers in WHAT part of her head at night?” (ok, I made that one up – but that probably did happen)

As a mom, I was very touched and thankful (for PUBLIC confession, that is).

They truly were taking this seriously and being quite sincere, and, at the same time, TOTALLY competing for the “last confessional.” So typical. 🙂

A Davis, CA team helps erect the cross back in 2011.

A Davis, CA team helped erect the cross back in 2011.

What I thought would take 20-30 minutes max turned into over an hour. We could’ve gone longer but poor Justin was simmering in a diarrhea diaper and getting dehydrated so I had to put the kibosh on the revival. 🙂 Sorry God.

We are beautifully broken people.

This morning God not only reminded us of our brokenness, but also that he eagerly waits to renew us, transform us, and strengthen us for the journey set before each one us.

That is GOOD NEWS for all of us to hear!

Now, I think I will go sing some Sunday school songs and twirl around in the backyard. 🙂

Parting shot of Justin.  Justin says, "Shape up or ship out!"  (Good thing Justin didn't bring out his firearm when we were stopped at the Honduran military "road check".)  PHEW!!!!

Parting shot of Justin.
Justin says, “Shape up or ship out!”
(Good thing Justin didn’t bring out his firearm when we were stopped at the Honduran military “road check.” 🙂 PHEW!!!!

Falling in love

I have come.

I have seen.

I am falling in love.

I'm out at first recess with Lorena and her class. They are precious!

I’m out at first recess with Lorena and her class. They are precious!

Allow me to first give a little context. La Providencia is a Christ-centered, best practice, family model orphan care commununity just outside of Siguatepeque, Honduras. It started to take shape in one man’s heart over a decade ago, has beautifully grown over the years, and has lots more growing to do.  Our family has personally been involved for 7 years.

La Providencia has SO MANY facets to it.  I certainly can’t write about it all in one blog.  I will write as it comes and hopefully, by the end of the summer, all the “pieces” will have made a somewhat decent picture of what La Providencia is about.  Maybe.

According to my amigo, he and his posse beat me 53-3 in our little soccer game at recess. I'm protesting the results. I'm pretty sure I had at least 4 goals. (to protect the kids, we cannot publicize names)

According to my little amigo, he and his posse beat me 53-3 in our little soccer game at recess. I’m protesting the results as I’m sure I had at least 4 goals. (BTW, to protect the kids, we cannot publicize names)

PLEASE check out providenceworld.com to get a complete overview and understanding. Be careful though, because you might want to jump on a plane soon. 🙂

Seriously, look at this cutie pie to the left!

I last visited La Providencia 6 years ago. I came for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the medical clinic and first home, and also to view the blueprints for the other homes, the comedor, widow’s home, the school, etc. It was a beautiful day filled with joy and great expectation, and included tours of the two buildings. But, of course, all the halls were still very empty.

NO people.

No families, no teachers, no students . . . nothing but buildings and a bare-bones, off-campus staff.

But a lot happens in 6 years.

Savannah and Kirsten are loving the girls and the teeter-totters. Maddie, one of teachers, is in the background.

Savannah and Kirsten are loving the girls and the teeter-totters.  I’m pretty sure teeter-totters are illegal in California. 🙂

I’m not one to cry easily and I’m certainly not one to ADMIT that I’m even crying when I’m crying, but here I am, crying. Darn it! I just wanted to jot a few thoughts and send pictures. 🙂

I’m “tearing up” because I’m thinking about the day (maybe 2 weeks ago Friday?) when we first got to the site. Orlando and Elsie (house parents), and their brood, met us at the house. I was proud to use the Spanish that I know.

“Hola! Coma esta? Donde esta el baño?”

It rolled off my tongue with a perfect gringo accent.

We meet for the first time while Kirsten is strategically holding her “hoo haa” and doing the potty dance. No time for pleasantries. Where’s the bathroom?We can hug after. 🙂

Orlando and Elsie (both in middle) are performing a song with their family at fellowship night (every Tues night) inside the comedor.

Orlando and Elsie (both in middle) are performing a song with their family at fellowship night (every Tues night) inside the comedor.

They understand, they have 7 children ranging from 7 yrs to 10 months.  Elsie gives a quick tour after Kirsten finishes her business.We were’t looking for a tour, but she gave it nonetheless.

I took a deep breath.

I felt a tear form in the corner of my eye.

Last I saw, this was an empty, hollow home waiting to be filled.

Six years ago my voice echoed off the walls and my feet swept up the fallen dust from the aftermath of all the construction. Now, beautiful, yet simple decorations fill the walls, a pot of coffee brews on the kitchen counter, kids’ toys are neatly stacked in the corners, books are strewn out on the “well loved” coffee table. . . .

And the very best part, joy and laughter fill the air.

Drew and his buddies after church on Sunday.

Drew and his buddies after church on Sunday.

Their kids could not get our attention quick enough. Then, as quickly as they had our attention, they were gone.  And so were our kids.

Vanished.

My moment of reflection turned to a moment of panic.

Where are my kids and what are they breaking?

A quick check revealed that some were outside playing soccer, some were in a bedroom, and some were goofing around out on the portico. They were playing as if they had all been friends forever – and they all spoke the language of “laughter.”

It was beautiful and totally chaotic.  Perfect!  Just what I’m used too!

I’m falling in love.

Mario and Beatriz and their family outside "Punto de Gracia" Church (Point of Grace)  where Mizael, LP Director,  also preaches.

Mario and Beatriz and their family outside “Punto de Gracia” Church (Point of Grace) where Mizael, LP Director, also preaches.

Across the way are Mario and Beatriz and their 6 kids. They are the other beautiful family. Drew has totally connected with Jose Mario, their eldest (11 yrs), and is often found hanging out at their house in the afternoon. As my Spanish improves I will be able to connect better with all of them.

I’m excited to do a day out with the ladies this week. We might go to the market (maybe I’ll learn some tricks of the trade) and do some cooking together. I think that would be fantastic. If you saw my tortillas last night, you would think that was fantastic too. Yes, I admit. I need some pointers.

La Providencia is a very special place.

I’m just touching the tip of the iceberg because that is all I know so far. Slowly we are getting to know the teachers, students, and the rest of the staff.

We have enjoyed playing soccer with the kids as well as the adults. Everyone plays. It’s awesome. In fact, I’m still very sore (5 days later) from Thursday’s game at lunch.

We also have totally enjoyed getting to know the teams that come through. This past week was awesome with groups from Dallas and Nashville. More on that later. 🙂

So much to say and so little space.

I’m so glad we came this summer.

I’m falling in love.

Parting shot of Justin.  Justin is under the impression that construction is a "ride in the park".   Jared, our new friend from Texas, was a awesome "big bro" to the kids last week.

Parting shot of Justin. Justin is under the impression that construction is a “ride in the park”. Jared, our new friend from Texas, was an awesome “big bro” to the kids last week.

I have a what?

I have a HELPER. 🙂

Her name is ANA.

She arrives around 8:00am and leaves around 1:00pm. We give her 160 limpira  ($8/day) which is a fair and just wage here. (It’s important to stick with the local economic structure.) Mark Fittz (our neighbor and gracious host) set us up with her this summer.  I don’t know much about her because, quite frankly, I can’t speak Spanish very well.    But this is what I know.

IMG_3845

Ana is outside her new home with Megan Kersey (good friend and summer intern at La Providencia), 3 of her 4 kids, and one “extra” kid who wanted to be in the pic – don’t know which kid is which.  🙂

Ana is a young widow.

She has 4 children, ages 15yr – 2yr, and we are guessing that she is about 26 yrs old.

She is super, teeny tiny. I think I could fit her in my pocket.

Her husband was murdered when she was 2 months pregnant with her youngest (no one knows how).

Most likely, she has been living on the streets her entire life, and it hasn’t helped that she cannot read.  Mark says, “She has always just survived”.

Mark visited Ana’s “house” a while ago and realized her “house” was a small, abandoned, and dilapidated “structure” (if you could even say that), with no water, hay sprinkled on the floor for beds, etc.  You get the picture.

Mark helped provide a new house for her recently through “HOPE” coffee, which is yet another wonderful coffee initiative in which all proceeds go directly to homes for widows.  (I think I will devote an entire blog to coffee and “drinking responsibly” in the future.)

So… She is THRILLED to have a home now.

These  "Estuvas" (a global Stove Team Int'l project) are a MUCH safer and healthier way to cook -  less fuel, less harmful smoke, and less chance for kids to burn themselves.

These “Estuvas” (a global Stove Team Int’l project) are a MUCH safer and healthier way to cook – less fuel, less harmful smoke, and less chance for kids to burn themselves.

She has running water and a sink for the first time in her life. She was just given a new “estuva”  which is a squatty little stove type thing that you fuel with wood and cook on top.  She has no electricity, and, of course, as for 99% of Honduras (my estimate), no filtered water. (The fact that we have, incredibly tasting, filtered well water at our home is like totally, ridiculously, awesome! :-)) But, make no mistake about it, she is “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” right now.  What perspective!

Ana also needed a job.  (Honduras’s unemployment rate is about 53%.)

Would I like a helper this summer?

Well, does Justin need a haircut?

YOU BETCHA! That’s a no brainer. (BTW, I’m not going to cut Justin’s hair b/c it’s way too beautiful – and, I think I’d be sinning again God :-))

This is my dream! 🙂 I have to admit, though, even $8 /day adds up. Can we budget for this?  It seems like such an insane luxury to me.  However, as I learn more about employment needs and Ana’s particular story, I think, “We HAVE to make this work!” This is even more life-giving to her than it is life-giving to me (and believe you me – it’s life-giving both ways!).

Mark is taking some bunk beds to Ana's house. Kirsten and Justin join in the fun for their first ride in the back of the trailer. It was a good day - no one fell out.

Mark is taking some bunk beds to Ana’s house. Kirsten and Justin join in the fun for their first ride in the back of the trailer. It was a good day – no one fell out.

Ana is blessing me with the freedom to be able to play more with my kids, make sure they are not making poisonous cakes and playing house with “pretty fuzzy caterpillars”, be at La Providencia most mornings, study Spanish, cook a good meal (she doesn’t cook much as you can imagine why), chat with the neighbors, get to the store, and, of course, simply be able to just do what I came to Honduras to do.

If I didn’t have her, I know that I would NOT be able to step foot out of this house for a  minute.

THANK YOU, GOD, for Ana.

Ana inside our "pila".  She climbs in  (jean, shoes, and all) and stands in about a foot of nasty water (after cleaning) in order to drain it. This is normal.  I look at her funny and we both laugh.

Ana inside our “pila”. She climbs in (jean, shoes, and all) and stands in about a foot of nasty water (after cleaning) in order to drain it. This is normal. I look at her funny and we both laugh.

Ana arrives by bus in the morning. She lives about 20 minutes away by car, but yesterday we learned that it takes her 2 HRS EACH WAY to get to our house.

WHAT???

So, apparently she walks a bit to get to the bus stop, waits for the bus that is on “Honduran time” (which makes sense given the condition of the roads and vehicles, etc), and then walks from the bus stop to our home.  WOW!  She has to leave her babies around 6:00am and gets home around 3:00.  Her 15 yr old always has taken care of her siblings so that Ana can work. It’s all they know. That means her daughter does not have the opportunity to go to school either, because she is needed at home.

The cycle does not break.

When we can, we take Ana home (which has only been once), and one day soon, hope to have her family over for the entire day and get to know them.  I also hope that she might invite us over to her casita.  I think that would be great.

So, Ana came to help us last Monday.

She will be with us until we leave.

She’s wonderful.  She is part of our family now.

I love to give her coffee in the morning and make her sit and have lunch with us in the afternoon.  If she is here while we are doing a family devotion, we invite her to join us.

I think she likes it.

I don’t know though.

She is quite polite and just smiles a lot.

I smile back. 🙂

Parting shot of Justin.  I will not disclose how long we let Justin ride like this :-)

Parting shot of Justin. I will not disclose how long we let Justin ride like this. 🙂  ADIOS!