Hasta Luego Honduras

Well the night leading up to the last day was uneventful.  We arrived in Tegucigapa after a rainstorm, cleaned up, stood in awe in the hotel lobby and felt like we were at the Ritz, ate dinner at Chili's while watching the United match, got the run around from some locals in the parking lot and had a closing circle night in a hotel meeting room.  There were some profound words spoken within the circle.  Thoughts to meditate on, to contemplate and to hold close.

Holly and I were room buddies and we talked and talked and jumped on the beds and then we crashed.  Hard.  We slept well.  Then we woke up to a gluttonous buffet in the hotel breakfast room.   It was wonderful.  All of us ladies chatted some more, shared more and I think cried more.  At least I did.  Walking through the airport was surreal.  We actually had to leave.  Time to return to our families and the many roles we play.  Or at least I did.  

Take a look at some photos from the hotel lobby.

 Holly and Me
 Holly, Willie and Me!
 The team, filling out hotel surveys
Kacy and her sweet Mom, Janet
There were more goodbyes in the airport after check ins.  The team from the Mission left us on our own.  We spotted a football team, Club Montagua, and I watched a bit of the Barca match with them.  Good times.   Security was an adventure to navigate and we waited at the gate patiently for the first leg of our flight.  The next part of the journey home.  The take off from Teguc was not quite the nail biter that the landing was.  Uneventful thankfully.  It was bittersweet to watch the city fade into the background as we left.  When we landed in Miami I was hungry.  Sushi was on the menu and it was a treat to share yet another meal with a few of the ladies.  Another flight and then home in Nashville. 

For me, a sweet sight was when we deplaned in Nashville, there were husbands waiting for their wives.  As soon as they were spotted the ladies went a runnin.  Wish I would have had that on video.  For me it would be another night before I was reunited with my familia.  I did get to visit some more with the Adams family though.  I'll take that any day of the week. 

A short coffee meeting with one Ms. Julie the next morning and I was on my way, there just never is enough time for chatting with girlfriends.  Back to the Things and Husband Jared.  The last flight was too long most likely due to my anxious spirit.  I was ready.  I wanted to share all that we had seen and done and experienced.  Hugs were handed out excessively and I inhaled their sweet Thing smell. 
Enough for now.  More on that later.

Thankful Thursday #73

* Holly and I in Honduras, outside the church in Las Pitas

673. friends who listen
674. friends who let you be you
675.squeezes from Things in the morning
676. hot chocolate for breakfast, or dinner or snack, or whenever
677. sunsets taken in while driving Things to and fro
678. family prayer before our day begins
679. tears, they are collected by One who cares
680. soulful music playing throughout the house
681. recorders, the musical kind, being practiced on everywhere
682. photographs that conjure memories

Oops, I forgot...

On our way to Tegucigapa, we made a quick stop in San Marcos.  It is here that the boot maker works and it is here that yet another extension of Mission Lazarus functions.  There is a school that was given over to the Mission to use by the government.  Within the walls is an elementary school a sewing school, storage and office space.  The community is here.  Together.  Seeing how the "body" operates.  Back to the boots.  Feet were measured earlier in the week and custom orders placed for those that were interested.  And then just a few short days later the finished product.  Wow. 
 Red boots for Wendy. I love, love, love!

 Sewing school tour.  Their work was so intricate and detail oriented.  They did smocking and embroidery and made gorgeous clothes.  Very talented women.

 Boot maker's shop

The Boot maker, I couldn't resist. 
And I will leave you with that.

Farewell at the Ranch and Some Horseback Riding

The Group

Our last day at the ranch was really only half a day.  It began as always with breakfast and fellowship and beyond great coffee.  I miss the coffee.  Or maybe I miss the people I drank the coffee with.  Or the environment in which I drank the coffee.  Outside, in the mountains, in front of a firepit, birds chirping, women talking, and singing.  All of it, that's what I am lonesome for.  Back on track now.  We were going horseback riding.  Before that though, a tour of the Refuge.  The Refuge is home to about 39 Honduran children that live on the ranch in homes with Tias, (translated as Aunt).  Tias that love them and take care of them and grow them up Honduran. They learn how to wash clothes on a pila, how to cook outside and they go to school.  The Mission works hand in hand with the Honduran CPS.  It is a beautiful program.  The space is beautiful.  Take a look.

 Refuge Garden

Refuge Homes, seven in all

The tour on the property also included the administration offices, the clinic and the barn.  In it's entireity the Mission tries to be sustainable.  To witness this sort of effort and commitment is awe inspiring.  Truly.  A beautiful relationship.  From here it was on to the barn and horseriding.  We were scheduled to see one of the carpentry and sewing schools where leather goods are made.  This site also houses a school where GED classes are made available.  The students are able to complete two years of work in just one.  Which means they will be able to enter the "work force" sooner and provide for their families. 

Am I back in TN?

 Men at the carpentry school cutting glass, they make these neat drinking glasses
 from recycled glass soda bottles.  It is a site to see, and they showed us the process from start to finish.  Wow.

 The hides hanging, waiting to be used for furniture and leather goods.

 School Room

Hand stitching on a leather bag, phenomenal

Now a little bit about the horseback ride.  It was rough terrain.  Up and down rocky, mountain paths.  Through deep streams that soaked us and our horses.  Stubborn horses that wouldn't move or wanted to move away from the herd.  Never a dull moment.  My horse didn't like the one in front of her and she decided to back into the horse behind her.  On a muddy, mushy hill, squishing my team mate's leg.  Incident one.  Then when sweet Linda was mounting her horse after our tour of the schools her horse decided to buck.  She held on to the neck of her animal and didn't let go.  If  I wasn't so busy staring in disbelief and praying that she didn't fall off I would have photos to show you.  Oh my.

Part of the group on the horses

From here we traveled on much safer ground.  Flat.  No water.  We arrived at the barn and then the skies were about to open up.  I ran up the hill and back to the posada for safety.  Here I found the three team mates that didn't join us on the ride happily swaying on the hammock.  Pleased as all get out that they enjoyed banana milk shakes and saw San Marcos.  Good and good. 

We all prepared for the three hour trek to Tegucigapa, where we would spend the night and fly back to the States the following day.  Lunch and then packing and loading the trucks.  Thank you's to the sweet ladies that cooked our meals each and every day and good bye's to everything else.  All in all a great last day.  A tour of the coffee plantation was scheduled but due to time constraints and the looming weather forecast that was cancelled.  Would have loved to see the place in action and thank the people that are responsible for producing such incredible coffee.  You can go to this site and have the coffee delivered directly to your home, Mission Lazarus Coffee.  It is so worth it.  Trust me.  Most days I drank my coffee black, it was that good.  When I wanted to live on the edge a bit I poured some FRESH milk, no homogenization or pastuerization.  FRESH.  My mouth is watering now.  Sorry.  Really wish I would have taken a picture of that.  I digress. 
That's all for now folks.  I think I have one last post in me from our last night in Honduras, the airport, the football team we saw and security.  Sure to be a read, or something.

Apple Orchard and Pumpkin Farm

That was our day yesterday, we surprised the Things and headed to Stillwater for an apple orchard and pumpkin farm.  I was determined to find us an actual pumpkin farm.  You know the kind where the Things could wander rows and rows of round squash vines and find the most perfect pumpkin of their choosing.  No such place existed.  At least not in my search yesterday afternoon.  I did find us an apple orchard.  Only when we arrived we were told we had missed the window for picking our own apples.  Oh well.  The Things still found something to do.  And of course we sampled the apple donuts and apple salsa.  Then it was on to the pumpkin farm. 

Thing 1 wasn't too keen on this idea!

 Thing 1 took this photo, talented

Look at that face

Husband Jared took us on a scenic drive.  The leaves were colorful and lined the highway with beauty.  We also stumbled upon this bridge.  I couldn't pass by without taking a photo. 

After a short detour we found Bergmann's family farm.  Complete with pumpkins, already picked, a hay ride and corn maze. 

 Is it the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown?

 Finding the perfect pumpkin, or at least trying to

The Things changed their minds at least three times each, all except Thing 1.  She was quite decisive.  It was fun to watch them roam the aisles and consider what they wanted to carve and the character they wanted for their pumpkin.  When I told them they had to clean their own pumpkins that  weighed in on their decision making, a bit. 

My Things preparing for the corn maze

Pumpkins were chosen and weighed and paid for and then it was time to wander through the corn maze.  The Things paired off .  One team started at the entrance and the other at the exit.  They were off.  Husband Jared and I could hear them strategizing.  After a few failed attempts and a wrong exit they found us and helped some younger kiddos along the way.  Not sure if their efforts were entirely faultless though, I think they took a short cut somewhere along the way.  Regardless, fun was had.

 Corn maze

Our bellies were letting us know it was dinner time.  Husband Jared drove is into the quaint downtown area where we were in search of some grub.  Before finding a restaurant that appeased the Things we saw two inticing hills that we were requested to drive up and down, fast.  Fun.  We saw the main street and the park and some old buildings with such character.  A perfect place for exploring in warmer weather.  With Wisconsin just across the St. Croix river and a drawbridge in the distance we had some more driving to do.  So off we went.  Squeals of delight were echoing from the back seat.  Simple things. 

Sign at the entrance to the drawbridge

Thanks to the internet availability on my phone we found a local pizza place and ate us some good food.  We shared our highs and lows and headed home.  Such a great day.

State Champions

Thing 4 and Coach Simon - receiving his trophy for the league

Last weekend Husband Jared and Thing 4 headed to Rochester for the U11 C3 State championship tournament.  They came home finalists.  Actually Thing 4's team won the entire tournament.  An impressive feat for boys that are in the U10 age group.  They may be smaller than most of their opponents, but only in size.  These boys are a special group and watching them play is quite a treat!  From what I gathered it was a great two days of football, fun and lots of goal scoring.

 After the match

The goalie, way out of his box

The camera was left at home, once again so all these photos were taken with Husband Jared's phone.  Not too shabby.  Looking forward to Spring season already!

Final Day...In Las Pitas

I unfortunately do not have a wealth of words for this day.  Or fortunately, depending on your perspective.  A skit was prepared for our time together.  The story was the sinful woman annointing Jesus' feet.  There were Pharisees and Simon and a Disciple and Jesus and the Sinful Woman.  I was Jesus.
Preparing for the last day
 Linda, telling the story
The stage for our reenactment- poor Kacy played the part of the Sinful Woman
 and had to pretend that she was kissing my feet and annointing them with her finest perfume.  Thankfully the perfume helped to mask the foot funk.

Entering the stage

When we finished our skit it was the children's turn.  Today's lesson was about Noah.  An ark, the animals and the rainbow.  Again the children sang and colored and ate animal crackers with us.  Their joy was infectious.  For me it was a revelation that the women's creativity was sparked just as much, if not more, by the coloring sheets as well. 
 The waters receded and the rainbow was seen

 Coloring is fun for everyone

 Hope and sweet baby

Coloring for the first time

Once the lessons were finished we gathered for prayer and fellowship together over a meal.  Outside, playing with the children, sharing more of our stories with the ladies and soaking it all in.  At least I was. 

 Clinic Sign
 Lunch time
Playing the hokey pokey - I think Holly stole my camera!

I wonder who had the camera here?

We had prepared gift bags for the women we studied with all week.  Totes filled with toiletry items and special treats just for them.  Not to mention there were clothes stitched together with love and dedication for the children.  Suitcases full of them.  They were handed out to the ladies as well.  And then it was time for goodbyes.  Sad, bittersweet goodbye.  Not my favorite, as I may have mentioned before.  How about see you later?  Will that work.  Let me just say a piece of my heart was definitely left behind. 
 The clothes
 Our Group
Singing Praise

 Leaving the Church
And how could I forget, Ms. Trina drove down the mountain. 
 I was in the truck directly behind her, she did fabulously!
Check that smile out, love it!

It was actually an incredibly long drive down the mountain this day.  We stopped intermittently to visit with the children we passed.  Kemala handed out the clothes that were made.  When the truck would stop the children would wait sheepishy until someone was out and then they swarmed, all wanting something.  A chord was struck, and I am not sure in a good way. I just don't have words to describe what I witnessed.  So after all the stops we were on our way to the ranch.  Although a herd of cows had a different idea.  They were being moved to a new pasture and very much taking up the road.  Another deterrent on the longest trip back ever was a terrential rainstorm that hit us once we were down the mountain.  Oh and multiple bathroom stops.  The memories.  So grateful for those.  How could I complain?  I can't.  The entire experience of this day is priceless.  

Day Five, Part Two

I think I left you after lunch. Filling more than just our bellies kinda lunch.  From the cafe we drove through town and to the clinic in Sardino, also referred to as the "treehouse clinic".  It really did remind me of being in a tree house.  There was a community kitchen and restroom.  Cashew trees and a wealth of space and supplies to serve the people with.  Meredith shared with us the history behind the land there and how mountains have been moved to provide for the people there.  Beyond what man could do alone.  After our pit-stop we were planning on hitting the open air market but it was closed.  It was also starting to rain.  The fruit and veg stands reminded me of Turkey.  This day we drove with Cameron and he was a store house of information and laughter.  His sense of humor had me rolling.  Really.  His love for the people was contagious.  And his candidness was admirable.

 Fruit and veg stand, from the car

Linda collecting water to flush the toilet in the clinic

Boy playing football at on the clinic property

The church we were going to was in Santa Rita.  On the way we were able to visit the house that the group from 4th Ave. helped to build on their last visit. 

 The finished house with the "helpers" and the
son of the family that lives there

 Wendy with the children in Santa Rita

Sweet girl through the window

So the preacher, Carlos, here at this church delivered a word that is still very much with me.  The story told of how monkeys are captured in the wild.  A bowl of rice is placed in a cage, the monkey reaches for it and WON'T release it.  The trap is complete.  Monkey captured.  I wondered how many times I have been like the monkey.  Ahem.  Or when have I not been the monkey?  There was a testimony from a mother whose son was prodigal, then that same son stood and shared and then there were songs and prayers.  Oh my the prayers.  I do believe that they shook the earth.  Truly.   The community of Santa Rita is special.  Our sisters there hugged us and sent us away with benedictions that rocked me to the core.  What a sweet gift.  What an honor.

Once again we were back at the ranch.  Only tonight after dinner there were special treats, marshmallows.  Mmmm.  Kacy and I hunted down branches for roasting and the experts went to work.  We all gathered round and shared in the ooey goodness.  I ate more than my share, of course.  Then there were preparations for our final day with the women of Las Pitas and hair cuts for Cameron and Riley and Meredith and organizing and good nights and good conversations. 

 Roasters extroardinaire

Haircuts for all