Friday, December 29, 2017

Leaving Honduras

In September, 2007 my second, third, and fourth blog posts were about moving to Honduras and leaving Illinois.  It was hard to say good-bye.  I had lived in Illinois three years.  I lived in Honduras ten years, longer than any where else I had ever lived as an adult.  It was hard to say god-bye.

I had not prepared for this move.  It came upon me suddenly and there was a lot to be done.  I was still running a children's home and shutting it down as I prepared to make an international move.

I began with the books.  My dear friends, the books.  I removed all the novels and begin to box the others.  That was easy.  Five boxes of books were going back to the States with me.

I began to sort paper and files.  Hundreds of pounds of paper and other unnecessary items were not going to the States with me.  Yay.

Then I went to the DHL store to buy boxes.  They had little boxes and great big boxes and no good packing boxes.  They had no idea when they might get some more.  Okay that was a bit of challenge.  At Casa and Honduras Hope there were tons of suitcases that people had left.  Some were in decent shape.  Maybe I could use those.

I began to sell some of my furniture.   And created huge messes in my house and I got things out to sort and pack.

I left huge messes in my house that needed sorted and packed and started sorting clothes in the children's home.

My mind was running at full speed all the time.    When I was in the girls' house, I would begin cleaning out the inside bodega.  If I got to the office before the guard every morning, I would spend a few minutes cleaning and sorting in the office.  I would try to sort things in the dorm at night.  We had accumulated clothes and toys for 11 years.  I had visions of selling all of that in one garage sale.  Visions is right.  Then I woke up.  Even after four garage sales, we did not sell it all.

Then I just had big messes every where.

We had people coming and going to help us with all of this.

Nicole contacted a company about moving our big stuff.  We found out we were not supposed to pack anything.  The State Department needed to know what we were taking back.  That's nice.  I did not need to worry about boxes or suitcases any more.

I need to get some of my furniture in the second garage sale.  We had allowed the mission house to be used over the weekend so I could not start taking my stuff up there.  I unloaded shelves and cabinets and set my dishes and pots and pans in the floor so that I could remove my furniture for the garage sale.  Ugh.  Extra work.

Then one Monday morning I learned I had to have all my stuff at the mission house to be packed and loaded.  I had to have it there that day.  We put dishes and pots and pans and such in laundry baskets, took it to the mission house unloaded it and came back for more.  Not very efficient, but we got it done.   Sort of.  Until the day I left, I found things that should have been on that container.  And discovered a few things got packed that should have stayed.

I am still trying to work in my office and the Casa office as are Kelin and Dina.  All the while, we had Thanksgiving, end of school, end of school parties, graduations, counseling appointments and a few other appointments as well.

I was sleeping at the mission house and working at Casa every day.  Many days I would discover something I needed during the day was at the mission house or something I needed at night was at Casa.  Sometimes, I ran back and forth.  Sometimes, I did without.

With each passing day, I became more frantic.  I worked into the night and started early.

I was so happy when I finally got that inside bodega cleaned out.  With empty area, it motivated to get more empty areas.

Furniture and things were disappearing out of the kids' houses.  Missing furniture.  Empty bookshelves and closets.  All houses were beginning to feel less like home.  There were tears daily.  From me.  From the kids.  From the employees.

On Monday, December 11, we began moving the kids to the mission house.  That was hard, but it had to be done so that we could remove everything and clean.  It was logistically hard, too.  We slept and ate breakfast at the mission house.  We would load up and go to Casa to work all morning and have to go back to the mission house for lunch.  Load up and go back to Casa for the afternoon.  As soon as the guard arrived, we would leave for the mission house again.  We would eat supper, shower and go to bed.

At night, I was packing up the store.  The tears fell freely as all those boxes of inventory were carried away.  A lot of me was invested in making that store successful, with every dime of profit going back to Casa.  As hard as that was, saying good-bye to the store was nothing compared to saying good-bye to the people I had come to love over the last 10 years.

I would think that most people move to a new place and invest themselves in other people's lives and have their lives invested in.  That happened in Honduras.  I invested myself in the lives of the Casa kids, the employees, my church, the dump, Los Pinos, Lomas Diamante, Tierras del Padre, Santa Ana, Ojona and probably other places.

Most articles on leaving the mission field say to leave well you need to say good-bye to the people you love.  And it is okay to messy cry.

Messy cry I did.  Several times.

I thought the children would be placed in new homes by November 30 and that I would have time to clean and remove the final things and say good-bye to everyone and messy cry.  I am thankful for the two more weeks with the kids, but I did not get to say good-bye to everyone.  I wanted to go to the dump one more time.  I wanted to see Johana and Sonia one more time.  I wanted to go to church at Los Pinos, Lomas Diamante and Tierras del Padre one more time.

Of course, I said good-bye to the kids, the staff, the neighbors, my church in Ojojona and many others.  Everything did not happen as I planned though.  I did not go to the dump one more time.  I did not see Johana and Sonia.

Timoteo brought several people from Los Pinos, Lomas Diamante and Tierras del Padre out to see me.  Yes, I messy cried.  They prayed over me and we sang.  And, they gave me gifts.  Gifts I will cherish forever.  I have always loved to watch Wendy and Olga worship.  I got one last chance to do that.  They let me choose two songs.  One I chose was "Yo Te Busco".  I have always loved watching Timoteo sing that song.  I could not see for the tears.  My tears.  I hugged every single person that came that day.  And messy cried.  Later that day, four of my precious girls were baptized.  That is a great way to end.  To witness that.

Siomarra, Linda, Josselin, and Erica also came to see me.  It was during a garage sale and I did not have as much time as I wanted to spend with them.  I had intended to get to town and buy Linda a present for graduation.  The unrest in the city made it difficult to get to town many days.  Present or no present, the time I spent with them was precious.  We circled up and Linda prayed before they left.  We all messy cried.

Kelin and I cried several times over those last few weeks.

I wept as the children left and as I said good-bye to each employee.  I wept my way through my last Sunday at church.  I ate lunch with Richard and Yessenia.  And then I began a franticness above all franticness to finish getting  my things ready to leave the next morning at 3:00 a.m.

Friday morning we were cleaning and removing things from the offices.  Many things in the offices I needed until the last minute.  When the Harpers showed up to get the girls, we had to go to DINAF.  There was so much to be done.  I left employees to finish.  I walked down to the house.  Ernesto had big plastic bags scooping things from my desk into them.  I nearly had a stroke, but there really was not a choice.  I tried on Sunday afternoon to reorganize those things.  I tried to back my three suitcases to 50 pounds each.

Kelin and others were going to San Pedro Sula with me on Monday.  Kelin showed up at the mission house at 8:00 p.m.  I am not sure if she thought she was going to sleep or not.  We worked all night.  She reorganized some things for me while I packed.  About 2:30 Sunday morning, we brushed out teeth and hair and freshened up a bit for the long ride to San Pedro Sula.

The announcement of who the new president was was supposed to happen on December 26.  But it happened on December 17, just a few hours before we left for San Pedro Sula.  There were riots and protests and fires.  People were mad at North Americans.

Willy showed up at 3:00.  We loaded the van.  Besides Willy and I there were 6 other people going.  My heart was deeply touched that these people wanted to go to San Pedro Sula to tell me good-bye.

Things went well for a couple of hours.  We got to Siquatepeque and police were cleaning up from one protest.  We got through that without a problem.  Soon there was another one that was not cleaned up.  And another.   And another.  Willy found a way around.  But there were more and more.  In Villa Nueva, the van was surrounded because there was a North American inside.  It was scary.   And, I was surrounded by people that loved me.  No one said, "I wish I had not come."

We finally made it to the airport and all flights to and from the US had been cancelled.    I messy cried.  I bought a ticket on Avianca that would eventually get me to JFK in New York.  Via San Salvador and layovers and such.  That is another story.

After buying a ticket and checking my luggage, I bought pizza for everyone.  Denis prayed for me and we all messy cried.  I walked upstairs by myself as I said good-bye to people and a land I dearly love.

To everyone I love in Honduras, you will always hold a big piece of my heart.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Big Shout Outs

The last two months have been very difficult on everyone: the Casa kids, the staff, Matt, Nicole, their girls and me. We always want to thank the people who prayed for us and encouraged us. We know there were hundreds praying for us through the process of shutting down Casa de Esperanza. 

The November group came to do a carnival in Tierra del Padre, which they did, but they also spent a day at Casa sorting clothes and cleaning. A great big thank you for that service. Stephanie, Alan, Lanetta, Kim and Pat (aka Kimypat) came and cleaned and moved and helped with garage sales and many other things. You are heroes. You lightened our loads and encouraged us along the way. There are some people we could not have done this without their help. First of all a big shout out to our board. There were difficult decisions to make all along the way. Our board always showed their godliness in every decision. I am sure there were times Kent and Trey did not want to answer their phones when they saw our numbers. But they did. And, they never knew if they would be met with weeping, the need to vent or extreme elation. There were not many happy calls.  They held up our arms. And then there was our lawyer. He lived at DINAF trying to get the children placed. Tara Garcia and Trisha Lawrence deserve special thanks all of their own as they spent a day networking on our behalf in the final days as desperation set in. Bobby Moore and Donnie Anderson have long been friends of Casa de Esperanza. Not only were they there to encourage and assist, they purchased many things (some of which they did not need) to help us with the shut down expenses. Richard and Yessenia went way above and beyond the roles of friends and pastor to help us. They were with us when we told the kids and staff what was happening. We now know what hell sounds like with the weeping and gnashing of teeth. Richard and Yessenia counseled and consoled each and every one. They ran errands, they hauled trash, they moved big heavy things, they cleaned. They did everything. When time began to run so short, they made sure the kids received their MAGI boxes because they would not be around when the MAGI boxes were handed out to everyone. They were there the night I told the kids that some would be leaving the next morning, again praying, counseling and consoling. They went with me, more than once, to DINAF and were with me as we took kids to their new homes and said good-bye.

We do appreciate everyone who helped in any way.  As always we appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement, too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

God Showed Off

We were heartsick and heartbroken when we learned Casa de Esperanza had to leave the property which it had been housed for over 11 years.  We really did not have sufficient time to buy another property or to build some where else.  Our board met a couple of times and made the difficult decision that we had to close Casa de Esperanza.  This was a horrible thing and I do not ever want to have to close a children's home again.

It is a known fact that things do not happen quickly in Honduras.  But, in this case, time was of the essence. Our lawyer lived at DINAF, the agency that places children.  We thought some things were beginning to happen before the election on November 26.  All of that seemed to disappear after the election.  There were protests and riots.  Many government offices were closed for days on end.

As I cried out to God, I had a sense of abiding peace that God would take care of these children.  I knew He loved them more than I did.  Many others were praying, too.  On Sunday, the 10th, I asked many churches to pray for the placement of these kids.

I had had three garage sales to get rid of clothes and other things we did not need.  Before December 9th, I was hoping that would be the last garage sale.  There were too many things I could not sale before the children left.  December 9th came and went.  We had a garage sale, but it was not the final one.  All the kids were still at Casa on December 9th.  We had to be off the property by December 15th.

On the 11th, I began to move the children, food, cooking utensils and everything we still had.  Everyone was working and everyone was tired.  We moved to the mission house.  The first night, the kids thought they were on vacation.

I had to go to the bank and run some other errands.  I decided Wednesday would be a great day to do that.  On Tuesday, I learned that I had a meeting with the lawyer at DINAF.  The meeting started at 10:00 and I left about 20 minutes later.  I was on my way to another meeting.  The only thing I learned at DINAF was that nothing had been done, no order had been signed.  Nothing.  It was December 13.  And, the clock was ticking.  Rapidly, I might add.

We went to another meeting.  I was left in the waiting area.  My lawyer came out, almost 2 hours later and said all the kids would leave on Thursday.  I was so happy.  Until.  Until I found out the order was them all to go to Casitas Kennedy.  This is not a good place.  I was as low as low could be.

The lawyer told me to go back to DINAF.  I went without the lawyer.  The lawyer at DINAF said they were not going to Casitas Kennedy because it was full.  I was not sure how I felt about anything at that point.  The DINAF order wrote transfer papers for seven of the kids to a home that we knew would take very good care of the children.  He wrote transfer papers for 2 more of the kids to a home that I knew nothing about, but was supposed to be good.  Two parents were supposed to meet me at DINAF at 8:00 on Thursday morning.    I left DINAF at 3:45.  I still had a whole day's worth of errands ahead of me.

I got some lunch and reprioritized the errands.  I had to go to the bank.  A couple of other things had to be done.  I got to the mission house at 7:00 and told the kids that nine of them would be leaving at 6:00.  There were a lot of tears, of course.

Richard went with me to take these kids to their new homes.  First stop DINAF.  Orders were written and signed for Daniela to go with Pamela and Suami.  I was happy for Daniela.   Guadalupe was going home to her mom.  After all those papers were signed, I told the families I would see them in the afternoon.

We left for Didasko.  They were all sitting on the lawn waiting for us.  This whole thing was so horrible.  But, to see those kids and adults sitting there to welcome our kids into their family, warmed my heart.  We unpacked the van, signed papers and said our good-byes.

I was a mess.

We drove over to the other children's home.  Even though I had papers from DINAF, they said there was a mistake.  They did not take boys that old.  I was already in terrible shape.  I called the lawyer and I sobbed.  I sobbed.

We had to go back to DINAF to take some more papers.

At 3:30, I bought empanadas and granitas.  That was lunch.  After eating, we headed back to Santa Ana.  The mood was heavy.

I had reached out to a couple of people that could help us find homes for these kids.  They networked all day on Thursday.

On the way back to Santa Ana, my phone rang.  "Hi, my name is Chuck Harper.  I live near San Pedro Sula.  I have heard about your situation.  I will be there in the morning to talk to you about your special needs girls."  Thank you very much was about all I could say.

The news was reporting more expected riots and protests on Friday.

Meanwhile at Casa, we were still moving and cleaning.  The Harpers did get detained by a protest, but still arrived at Casa.

Early Friday morning, my phone rang.  It was a home called Por Los Ninos.  They wanted to come on Sunday and talk to me about possibly taking the two 13 year old girls, Maryuri and Katy.  I said come on.  

A few minutes before 9:00, DINAF called and said papers had been signed for the rest of the children.  I was to take them to Olancho to a place just like Casitas Kennedy.  I felt sick.  Because of the protests taking place,  I was not sure I could get to Olancho.  I felt sick.

A few minutes later, the Harpers rolled in the gate in a great big truck.

There was some discussion and they said they definitely wanted to take Reina and Doris.  Both of these girls are pretty special needs.  Then they said they wanted to take Katy also and not split up these sisters.

I pulled Katy aside and told her what was happening.  I said these people want you to go with them and your sisters, but another home is coming to talk about taking you and Maryuri.  What do you want to do.  With tears in her eyes, she said I want to go with my sisters, but I do not want Maryuri to have to go someone new by herself.  Both Maryuri and Katy are 13 years old and both have lived at Casa for over 11 years.  I hugged her neck and went to talk to the Harpers.  They said Maryuri could go with them, too.

Then our lawyer arrived.

He asked me to go ask the Harpers if they could take the other two girls, Ana and Sisi.  I took a strong liking to the Harpers when they arrived.  I just did not think they would say no when the Sisa and Ana were standing there waiting for an answer.  I prayed with Ana and Sisi and Yessenia talked to them, too.

The Harpers were in one huddle, we were in another.  They approached us and said they wanted all six of the girls.  The girls had been together for a long time and they did not want to split them up.  A huge cheer went up from our huddle.

Then they said they would temporarily take the 3 boys, too.  This is at noon on December 15.  My God is big and powerful and He showed that all things are possible with Him.

The lawyer called DINAF and got things rolling.

I said, "I don't look very executive directorish today.  I am a trabajadora.  I need to change clothes.  Richard said no you don't.  I felt someone tapping on my shoulder.  I turned around and looked into Katy's face, with her eyes as big as plates.  She said, "Terri, you do need to change clothes.  None of us want to go to DINAF with you looking like that."  Leave it to Katy.  Richard says, well then, maybe you do need to change clothes.

We left for the mission house.  I had to change clothes and the girls had to get their things.  And, a lot of things there were.  I told Chuck that we tried to pare this stuff down.  He says this is very difficult for these girls and if they need their things to feel better, then they can have them.

We paraded to DINAF.  Since the lawyer left for DINAF before us, everything was ready when we arrived.  We signed and hugged.  And cried.

The name of the children's home where the children were going is Mision Jeremias 29:11.  You should look up Jeremiah 29:11.  You don't have to, I will tell you what it says. "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

The lawyer looked it up as we stood outside of the DINAF offices.  The girls were getting in the truck to leave.  That was good for a few more tears and a few more hugs.  It was after 2:00.  All government offices were starting to shut down for Christmas vacation.  My God showed up and showed off just in time.

I was so sad to see the last of my kids leave, but so happy that God showed off for all of us.  He provided good homes for all of the Casa kids.

I went to the bank, bought granitas for Richard and me and drove back to Santa Ana.  Some employees were waiting for me outside the gate.  We hugged and cried.  Kelin, Karol and I went to eat.

Sunday morning, when I saw the first scripture was Jeremiah 29:11, I cried.  Richard wanted to share with the church how God showed off for all of us.

Thank you God for coming through for all of my children.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Curtain Closes

On the stage of life, Casa de Esperanza has been quite a production.  What kind of production, you ask.  At times it has been a comedy or a comedy of errors.  Other times a drama.  A mystery.  A horror show.  A documentary.  Reality show.  Probably a few more if I thought about it.

The last couple of weeks, thousands of memories have flooded my mind.  Beach trips and the looks on the faces of the children the very first time they saw the beach and the water.  How much fun we had on those trips.  And how much work they were.  It usually took me 3 years to want to do it again.  Thanksgivings.  Christmases.  Graduations.  Mother's day programs.  Late night trips to the emergency room.  Emergency surgeries.  Broken bones.  One child drowning and being alive to tell about it today.  Tears over parents not coming to visitation.  Holding their hands and praying.  Lost keys.  Stolen mangos.  Sitting in the counselor's office and holding hands with one them as they sobbed out their story.  Zip lines in the trees.  And more broken bones.  Villa Navidena and hot chocolate.  Burning the old man.  How scared and confused each child was as they entered Casa de Esperanza for the first time.  How they eventually learned to love and trust us.  Birthday parties.  When Santa Claus came a couple of years ago.  The carnival and the clown and popcorn and cotton candy.  Lost homework.  Bicycles for Christmas.  How one child was hurt really badly and the others sat with tears streaming down their faces.  Taking three little guys into the hospital at the same time for appointments.  I have been here ten years.  I could list memories for hours.

There have been tears and hugs for weeks.  Today there were more tears and more hugs.

I had to leave to go to DINAF.  I left people cleaning and emptying my house.  I got back at 5:00.  Five people( employees that have become friends) were waiting outside the gate.   We cried.

As I drove away from Casa for the very last time, I heard the music fade, I saw the lights dim and the curtains close on a great production.  I cried.

A piece of my heart will always be with these children that I have loved so much.  Through the good times, the bad times, anger and tears, love and forgiveness, what a production this has been.

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Graduation That Wasn't

On my very first mission trip to Honduras in 2003, we built the church building at Los Pinos.  We were in Los Pinos almost every day for  two weeks.  There was a special little family that lived across the street from the church building.  All these years, they have remained special to me.

This little family consists of a mom, Siomara and her daughters, Josselin and Linda.  For a short while, Siomara worked at Casa de Esperanza.  Josselin and Linda came with her.

Linda finished high school this year.  Like I said, this is quite an accomplishment in this country.  Linda invited me to her graduation.  It is always an honor to be invited to a graduation.  This graduation was to be on Friday.  Of course, I planned on being there.  Linda called on Thursday night and said that because of the political unrest and the things happening in the city, that graduation had been moved to Monday.  I still planned on being there.

Then the curfew was put in place on Friday night.  I knew that I might be in a bind to get from Tegucigalpa by 6:00 and began to rethink this.

Yesterday afternoon, Linda called again and said because of protests and such, that there would be no graduation.  My heart hurt for not only Linda, but all of her classmates who had worked so hard to reach this milestone and could not have graduation.

I am still proud of Linda and wish her well in all she does.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Another Graduation

Brayan no longer lives at Casa de Esperanza, but he is still a Casa kid.  He is the first one to graduate high school.  Finishing 12th grade is quite an accomplishment in this country.  It was an honor to be invited to this graduation.  I started crying before graduation even started.  That has been the norm for me lately.  Thinking how far Brayan has come, brought he to tears.

As class president, Brayan gave a speech.

After the speech, his mom and I hugged and cried.  Messy cried.

Some traditions are the same in Honduras as in the States.

Throwing graduation caps and taking family pictures afterwards.

It has been an honor and privilege and, most of the time, a pleasure to have been involved in Brayan´s life for the last ten years.

Congratulaions, Brayan.  Now on to bigger and better things.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


This is always a busy time of the year.  This year certainly is no exception.  There are a lot of graduations this year.

On December 19, Josue graduated from kindergarten.  This was a very special event in a nice place.  Dress was formal.  Everyone at El Faro worked hard to make this a wonderful event for the kids and the parents.  Josue was quite handsome.

Today was Daniela`s ninth grade graduation.  A few years ago, the government changed the law requiring students to complete 9th grade instead of 6th grade.  Daniela was all smiles today.  There were not as many photo oppotunities, but I got some good shots of her.

Olman`s kindergarten graduation is Thursday morning.  Maria is going to that one.  I will be getting everyone else`s grades.  Brayan`s high school graduation is Saturday and Linda's is also soon.

Congratlulations to everyone on these accomplishments.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


As an American,  from an early age, I learned of the first Thanksgiving.  Today I will tell a story of the last Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is an American holiday, but it is also a Casa de Esperanza holiday.  And, for many years, we have celebrated in a big way.  Preparations have always been an exciting part of the meal.  There was excitement as we  began, but it was bittersweet this year as we all knew this was our last Thanksgiving together.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we felt  we needed to do Thanksgiving early.  Nicole and I chose November 18.  It was both happy and sad as we also called it the despedida para todos (the going away part for everyone).

Friday afternoon I took the cheese, onions and celery up to the girls house.  Everyone wanted to grate cheese and chop celery.  Daniela graciously said she would do the onions.

The onions were strong.  It was not long before Daniela had a tear or two running down her cheeks.  There were tears sliding down my cheeks, too.  I kept saying those onions are strong, but it might not have been the onions that were causing my tears.  I wanted to break down and sob, but I was able to control that.

The cheese graters finished first and moved to celery.  Daniela continued to work alone.  I began doing dishes.  Soon the celery was finished and I did more dishes.  Some of the girls left.  Dani, Ana and I finished the onions.  Dani left when the onions were finished.  Ana and I finished cleaning up.  Then we hugged and hugged and hugged.  Those onions.  They got to me again.

Later, Haley and Emma showed up with pizza.  We had pizza and coke.   Then we began the pumpkin pies and cornbread.

Emma got to use the mixer this year.  She giggled and giggled and exclaimed, "this is so fun."  Haley made the second layer of the pumpkin pies.

Emma went to bed after the first of the cornbread was in the oven.  Haley stayed up and finished the cornbread.  I did dishes and some things and crashed around 11:30.  The alarm went off at 3:00 and I got the first turkey in the roaster.   I went back to bed, but it was not long until Emma was saying, "Grammy, are we going to start cooking soon?"   I groaned and said, "yes, Emma,  We are."  

It was a while before Haley rolled out of bed.  

Emma learned to saute the onions and celery while Haley crumbled the cornbread and biscuits.  They must be the best sauter and crumbler around.

The smells coming from my house were delicious.  Kids were running in and out of my house all day.  Nicole made banana pudding with the girls and cookies with the boys. The first turkey was perfect.  But, there was a heaviness in the air.  

Haley "painted" the second turkey and stirred the white sauce for the macaroni and cheese.  When Haley got tired I stirred two pots at once.

At last the meal was ready.  We all changed clothes.

Those onions were getting to me again.

Denis led us in prayer and then I said what I had to say.  Then Nicole talked.  We opened up to anyone that wanted to say anything.  Three or four of the employees chose to speak.  And Brayan, did too.  

Those onions had me into a big blubbering mess.  The onions were getting to some of the girls, too.

The line formed and we filled our plates and began to eat.  Music lightened the mood.

They even got me to dance.  That was the funniest part of the whole day.

It was a special day.  A special Thanksgiving.  A special despedida.  There were lots of hugs and tears.