Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Closing Of One Chapter And The Beginning Of Another

After more than nine years at Casa de Esperanza, today was Karen's last day.  It is so sad to think of Casa without her.  It has been an honor to work with her for the last nine years.   I cannot imagine what the kids are feeling right now.  Some of them only know their mommy as Mommy Karen. 

We have big shoes to fill.

After much prayer and discussion, the board has hired Luci Mondragon.  Luci is our preacher's wife.  She has worked for Casa since February  She has been taking the kids to Teleton.  She did not know it, but I was watching her closely as the board considered her.  I liked the way she interacted with the kids and the way she loved them.  I watched the kids interact with her as well.

I am sad to see Karen leave, but I look forward to working with Luci and expect good things to happen.

Here's wishing all the best to Karen and Dorian in their new life. And to Luci in her new position.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Finishing Strong

December 27.  Another year is essentially gone.  Normally, I would say where has all the time gone?  I am glad this year is nearly over.  I want it in the history books.  It has been an awful year.  Through the awfulness and through the sadness, a lot of good things have happened.  I choose to remember the good about this year.

I will start with the good things in my personal life.

After studying the Bible for many months with my sweet granddaughter, I not only got to be in the States for her baptism, I got to baptize her.  Tears of happiness still flood my face when I think of that joyous day.  It was Easter.  Both of my kids and their families were together that day.  There are very few opportunities for me to be with both families at the same time. 

I was at Nathan's house when Julia found out she was expecting another baby.  And now, I get to close out this year with them and the new baby, celebrating Christmas and Camille's birthday

In September, I got to visit many churches and many friends and family.  I was blessed to visit with some very old friends and some I have known for not so long.  Some of those friends I was reconnecting with after several years.  It was a delight.  I went to my class reunion.  And, I helped Nathan and Julia move to New Hampshire.  It was work, but I had fun being with them and helping them.

I was loved on and encouraged by family and friends.  And groups.  I received an outpouring of love from everyone and I needed it.  I allowed myself to receive that love. 

Baptisms. Babies. Celebrations.  Holidays.  Family.  Friends.  Love.  All important and good things, but the most important of all, my walk with God was strengthened.  Who could ask for more?

I was not sure I had the strength to continue.  Yet, we saw an outpouring of blessing on the ministry as well.

In March, Fernando was baptized.  And, what a difference that has made in him.  In July, after a drowning accident, we witnessed Brayan make a complete recovery.  We stood at his bedside in the hospital thinking there was no way he could survive this.  We serve a great big God

My friend, Donna Griffith, has made three trips to Honduras and is teaching the girls to sew.  The older girls made an outfit and then modeled for us.  They were so proud of these garments.  These girls need this skill and need the self-confidence that came by learning to sew. 

Five of our children graduated from sixth grade.  The children were challenged to make 85% or better for the year.  Two of them rose to this challenge and were treated to pizza and ice cream.

Through none of our efforts, two new churches were planted.

In Santa Ana, Ojojona, Los Pinos and Lomas Diamante, ladies Bible studies were started.  Our friend, Michelle Goff did ladies' seminars for these ladies. 

Fewer and smaller groups came.  And they were ready to work and share the good news of Christ.  There were men's workshops, marriage seminars, VBS, Bible studies.  It was an exciting time and most of the churches were crying for more.

In addition to sharing the good news, our groups showed Jesus as they built houses, fed in the dump, distributed food in poor communities and loved on children at Casa de Esperanza, the feeding center and every community in which they entered.

Our devotionals were rich with singing and sharing and fellowship.

Some new churches and some new individuals became supporters of this ministry, blessing not only the ministry, but themselves as well.

The employees of Casa de Esperanza and Honduras Hope have always stepped up and done what was necessary.  This year was no exception.  Richard and Yesenia and Dorian were willing to do whatever they needed, whenever it was needed.   And still are willing to do whatever.  But, I just do not think we would have survived without Luis.  He went way above and beyond the call of duty.  He is a valued employee.   And friend.

I cannot say enough about the job Matt and Nicole did.  They stepped into the roles of leading and organizing the groups in a tremendous way.  Yes, they are my kids, but I would have been proud of the job they did no matter whose kids they were.  I had no idea my fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants-daughter could organize anything.  She did an amazing job.  Matt and Nicole brought a spiritual focus back to the groups that had been missing for far too long.

And none of us could have accomplished anything without depending on God.  He made this a great year.  I am thankful for the blessing of this year.  I look forward, with eager anticipation, to see what God will do in 2015.

Thanks to each and everyone that prayed, encouraged, and/or contributed.  You helped to make 2014 a great year in spite of all the bad things.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Traveling Day(s)

It has been a long busy week.  I did not get much paper work done and I did not start packing until very late last night.  I am on my way to New Hampshire for Christmas.  Back in April, I asked Nathan and Julia if I could spend Christmas with them. They said yes, but they had no idea where they might be living. 

I have spent very few Christmases with Camille.  And, now there is another baby.  Thatcher was born Thursday.  I cannot wait to meet him.  I am sure I will fall in love with him at first sight.  I think Camille and I can work a few puzzles.  And, make our guacamole.  At least once. 

Christmas in New Hampshire.  It is going to be so much fun.  I have lived in Central America for seven years.  I am sure I do not own anything that can keep me warm in New Hampshire in December.  We may have to stay inside and love on the baby and work puzzles.

We all left my house at 10:30 this morning.  I was on the 4:00 Delta flight.  Matt and Nicole were on an earlier flight.  I was okay until they left.  Then the tears began.  Again.  Tears of happiness, tears of tiredness, tears of sadness.  I have cried a lot today.  I said good-bye to Karen last night.  I could easily start crying again just thinking about that. 

I have never traveled this close to Christmas.  I have never left Tegucigalpa so late in the afternoon or arrived in Atlanta so late.  I am really glad my connecting flight is in the morning and not tonight.  I might not have made it.  I stayed in the international terminal to eat because I thought there would be a better chance of more things being open.  That was a good plan.  Several things were closed and closing in that terminal.  They definitely were closed in other terminals.  Even though, I have plenty to read, I was sure hoping for a good browse in a bookstore.  That was not to be.  But, at least I got to eat. 

I am in the Atlanta airport tonight.  My flight to La Guardia leaves in six hours.  And, then on to Manchester.  And, then the hugging will begin.

None of my checked luggage arrived in Atlanta with me.  There were two Delta flights today.  There is a chance that my luggage will arrive in Manchester with me tomorrow.  If not, at least I have a toothbrush,
 hairbrush and makeup with me.

Hope I get some sleep tonight.  This Grammy has a busy day of seeing kids and grandkids tomorrow.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Karen's Despedido

Yesterday I had many errands to run.  Rarely do I leave Tegucigalpa until they are all done.  But, yesterday was an exception.  Karen's despedido (going away party) was yesterday and I was going to be back for it.  Due to December traffic, I was a few minutes late, but I made it.

The nice things said to Karen were all so true.  The children were crying.  The employees were crying.  I don't need much of a reason to cry so I joined in. 

Karen has been here 9 years.  She came before Casa de Esperanza even opened.  She helped build the place.  She was here when those first five children arrived in June, 2006.  She has seen kids come and go.  She has been the mommy and loved each and every one of the kids in a great big way.

I have been here seven years.  I did not go hand pick Karen to come down here and work in this children's home.  I did not know Karen until she decided to move down here.  I could not have hand picked a better person, though.  God knew that we would make a great team.  Her strengths enhanced my weaknesses.  My strengths enhanced her weaknesses.  On most issues, we thought alike.

We have laughed together.  Remember when Daniela went to the bathroom at the market.  We have cried together.  We have sat in the office holding hands and praying.  Sometimes praying for each child by name and sometimes for only one who was having a difficult time or making bad decisions.  We met at the hospital when we thought one of the kids would not make it.  Praise God the child lived. 

We have encouraged each other and we have been discouraged together.

I have seen Karen give of herself.  She has lived the life that was the greater example than any words she could have spoken.

I cannot imagine this place without her.  But, I do know God is in control and He will continue to lead us and provide for these children.

Today we met in the office for a few minutes.  We talked of personal things.  Of Casa things.  We held hands and prayed together for the very last time.  My voice could just barely speak the words that were on my heart.

It has been a privilege and an honor to work in the trenches, side by side with Karen.  We will miss her.  I wish her, Dorian and Korbin all the luck and all the happiness that God can bestow.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas With The Fitzgeralds

To share Christmas with Nicole's family, it always has to be before or after.  If I was going to cook, it had to be on day off.  That meant last night.  We did something very untraditional and had fried chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole and biscuits.  And making its first appearance at one of our meals was a red velvet cheesecake cake. 

I made the cake before I left here, but did not get it frosted.  I had wanted to leave here at 2:00, but that did not happen.  I was loading the car, when Haley called and said Grammy I am on my way from school to help you.  All I wanted was to get to Nicole's house and get the girls' presents under the tree before they got home.  I managed to do that.  Then I unloaded the car. 

I peeled the potatoes and got them on to boil.  Haley had to do her homework before she could cook.  Haley was working on homework and she said look Grammy.  I thought she wanted me to see her homework.  I looked.   Emma was sitting there opening the presents.  As soon as Haley finished the homework, we made the frosting for the cake.  Then I began to show her how to batter the chicken.

She never minds getting right in there and getting her hands messy.

Everyone was cooking and talking and laughing.  We had so much fun.  In addition to being the chicken batterer, Haley helped Nicole and Emma make cookies.

Emma had several important jobs.  Tasting the cookies, tasting the mashed potatoes, and watching TV.

It has been so long since I fried chicken and made gravy.  It was so good.  After a couple of bites, Nicole said I think we have a new Christmas tradition.  Fried chicken.

We decided to have cake after the presents.  Nicole wanted me to have mine first.  We nearly always let the girls have theirs first.  I thought that was strange.  I was so excited when I saw it.

A world series shirt.  Yay Giants.

Two little girls sat watching in eager anticipation.  I picked up one present for Emmy and one for Haley.

Emma got a Hello Kitty Doll
and Haley got a giant art set.  Both girls were very pleased with these gifts.

Next Nicole gave the girls a gift from her and Matt.  World Series shirts for both girls.  Matt and Nicole are teaching those girls to cheer for the right team.  Emma had to put hers on immediately.  Nicole wanted to take a picture of the three of us, but Emma was way too busy with Hello Kitty for a picture.

Nicole began opening the art set and I began to try to unbind Hello Kitty.  Hello Kitty was not intended to ever be released.  As I diligently worked on unbinding her, Emma was beside me jumping up and down saying, " Emma Hello Kitty.  Emma Hello Kitty.  At last Hello Kitty was free.

A 1500 piece art set that had sticker, markers and all sorts of stuff, Haley wants to try the paints first.  Nicole was not wanting paint out that late on a school night, but she said ok because it was her Christmas present and who wants to be told no when it is a Christmas present.

There were still two presents remaining to be opened.  Both presents were for both girls, some blocks and some candy. 

The candy did have to wait until today.

Then it was time to have dessert.  Emma is two and has not quite learned the concept of this sharing thing.  But, she loves Hello Kitty so much that she shared her red velvet cheesecake cake with Hello Kitty.

By the time the cake was gone, Hello Kitty looked like she was bleeding from her mouth and her nose and other facial features.

I am so thankful that I could share this time with Matt and Nicole and their little girls.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


When Brayan and Pamela finished sixth grade, they were taken to Chili's to celebrate.  Since then, that has become a tradition.  The first year there was two kids that graduated sixth grade, the second and third years, there was one.  This year there was six. 

After the carnival and the fried chicken feed, the remainder of the Jesus Banquet group took these six to Chili's.  It was quite an event. 

Oops.  I almost forgot Karol and Kelin. 

We all rode in the van and it was a fun trip to town.  I loved hearing the kids laugh and talk.  We got to Chili's before the crowd, thankfully.

There were a lot of smiles.

The burgers were so big.  The kids did not know how to eat them.

We ordered two moltens for six kids.  That was plenty.

So much fun.

The kids were happy on the way to town, but on the way home, they were ridiculously silly.  Cindy kept getting more and more wound up.  There is no telling when she settled down and went to sleep. 

Our kids' grades have never been great.  Passing, but not great.  Most of them can do better.  Back in February, I challenged them.  Anyone that could 85% all year would be treated to pizza by me.  At first, I thought it was just going to be Josue going for pizza.  I thought he might not have too much fun with just me, so I invited Matt, Nicole and the girls.  Then I found out Rosy's grades were better than Josue's.   Yay Rosy!  She got to participate in all the celebrations.

I ordered 2 great big pepperoni cheesy-bite pizzas.  And, there was not much left.  I ordered one super sundae for the kids, Haley and Emma Kate as well.

I think Josue needed a spoon for each hand to eat that ice cream.
I hope that next year I have a great big group going with me to celebrate good grades.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Fried Chicken At The Feeding Center

Five days a week approximately 200 hundred children are fed at the feeding center in Buen Samaritano,  Two days they receive beans and rice, one day soup, one day spaghetti, and one day arroz con pollo (chicken and rice).  There is no meat in the spaghetti and very little chicken in the arroz con pollo.  Along with this, they receive 2 corn tortillas and a glass of water.  Most of these children receive no other meal during the day.  Just think, if this is what you ate every week, how good some fried chicken would taste.

The day after the carnival this is what the children were served.  We bought 500 pieces of fried chicken from Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The two cooks that prepare the meals every day made mashed potatoes.  They still got two tortillas and instead of water, each child received a glass of coke.  For these children, this was a feast.

Thankfully, things were much calmer and more organized than the day before at the carnival.  There were many smiles, from both the children and the servers.



You know how good this looks.  Can you imagine how good it tasted when you are used to beans and rice or not eating at all?

Getting ready to eat.

Other happy faces.

A big thank you to those who came and made this day special for these children and a big thank you to all those you donated to this meal.  It was a special day for everyone.