This was my 4th trip to Honduras with Humanity and Hope and once again, I came back to reality with a bursting heart full of love for the people in these villages that we serve, as well as for the new friends I got to serve alongside with this trip. We had an amazing group. I feel like I say that every time, but it's always true! There's something about joining up with other people from around the world that share the same passion for serving God by loving others. We had an almost ALL-female trip this time around, but luckily we were graced with Tyson's awesome presence to detour it from being a sorority slumber party, as well as some not-too-hard-on-the-eyes security guards, always keeping us safe, as well ;)
This group truly was saturated with talented, intelligent, driven, kind, and compassionate individuals and I feel so grateful to have met and gotten to know each one of them!
Although a shorter trip than normal, we still got to visit all three villages and even got more quality time with them than usual, as our focus was to get to know their needs and priorities clearer and make sure we are serving them in ways that are actually achieving sustainable and prosperous change.
I feel like I am better at speaking through imagery than I am with words, so I will attempt to keep these summaries of each village brief, then let the photos do the talking :)
[La Cuchilla] We just started working in this village about 6 months ago. They were once referred to as "The abandoned hole" because nobody took the time to notice them. A few different nonprofit organizations even came through once or twice throughout the years, offering to help but never returning. Everyone abandoned them. Not us! They say that they prayed and prayed for some kind of help for their community, and then God led us directly to them. It took time to earn their trust and for them to believe that we truly cared about them, though. To see the difference from when I was there 5 months ago to now, is amazing! This village has some of the poorest living conditions I have ever seen, yet they remain so united as a community, so joyful, and so excited about the opportunity to work. It's so exciting to start providing them jobs within their own village! Tucked away, secluded, in the middle of a luscious jungle, La Cuchilla is one of the most beautiful places I've seen, and it only grows more beautiful once you meet the people that reside there. It was fun to see my friend Chanel reunite with her beloved Kendra, seeing how much progress the men have made in the fields, to see Adan's (leader of the men) pride and excitement of what they had accomplished, and to watch Danica teach the women a trade of making jewelry. Two specific highlights for me were watching Tyson play with the boys in the tree. These 5 little boys were having the time of their lives climbing up and down the tree, belly laughing as they tossed fruit back and forth to each other. Ah, the simple joys in life. Another highlight was simply watching Adan with his son. I had only gotten to witness him being a bad-ass worker in the fields and constantly striving to provide for his family, so it was a treat to see him full circle - WITH his family, being such a good father to his sweet little son.
[Remolino] is one of the more developed villages now as we have provided them clean water, secondary education opportunities, and jobs ("projects") for both the men and women. However, the demand for jobs is greater than the supply currently, so the people of the village are trading off days and several of them are only getting to work a few days a week, which is hardly enough to support their families, even at $6/day. That's why it was really exciting to visit and pray over a large piece of land that we are hoping to acquire to start planting and creating more jobs for the men. The kids in this village are always a bit timid at first here, but warm up to us by the end of the day and start following us around everywhere, and I can't get enough of their beautiful faces! Some personal highlights from this village were getting to see Owen (born with a disorder but constantly progressing every time I see him), and spending time with my friend Wendy, who seemed to be having a rough week but also seemed delighted when she saw me. She is a sweetheart, and her son is my future photography assistant!
[La Coroza] is colorful, bright, and cheerful. Always. They are probably the most developed village that we have been serving, and they don't let a day go by without thanking God for it either. When we were doing our assessments, they always said that first thing when they wake up in the morning, at 4am before they start working, is get on their knees and thank God. The kids skip around with so much joy. They literally skip. They hardly run or walk anywhere, they are always skipping and laughing and smiling. It's been a joy to witness a positive personality change in Isis in particular, a little girl with down syndrome, over my visits in the last year. Kids in the village didn't really give her the time of the day, she seemed sad, and scared of people, and now the kids are all including her in everything they do and she is smiling, laughing, and engages with all of us. Some other personal highlights from this village include reuniting with my favorite little girl, Yolani, whom is so sweet, smart, and endearing. At 10 years old, she is so motherly to all of the younger kids in the village, and I am just so fond of her little heart! Another highlight was the worship service we had in the village, which is always a highlight. To witness these people praising God in their little community is such a wonderful thing! Particularly this time, I watched little Gideon (orange romper) sway to the music with Landre, and worship her little heart out to an upbeat worship song. And then it literally brought tears to my eyes to watch her close her little eyes as the song shifted to a slower melody, and she was truly in her element with God. (see photos below!)
On the last day, we got up early before all of our flights and went to surprise La Cuchilla with donuts and orange juice. The sun just began rising over the palms, and the men in the fields were surprised to see us, and overjoyed with the treat. We got to deliver the remaining donuts to the women and children in the village, as well as deliver the good news that we will be starting the first ever women's project (chicken coop) in La Cuchilla the following week! Such a great way to end our trip.
My main highlight from this whole trip though was how much all three villages truly felt like family to me. They remember me, they call me by name, they laugh and joke with me, and they hug me like they never want to let go. As I left La Coroza hugging my sweet little friend, Yolani, goodbye, I told her I would see her again soon. This time, she asked "How soon? Last time was way too long."
You simply can't visit these villages, and never go back. They leave an imprint on your heart, and it's quite clear that we leave one on theirs as well. I'll be back very soon! Join me?
CHECK OUT MY HIGHLIGHT FILM AT THE END OF THIS POST.
YOU WON'T BE ABLE TO SAY NO ;)