Week 3 from Honduras, February 2022

Our almost 4 weeks comes here at TLC comes to a close tomorrow. It’s been a real blessing to be here.

We have had a small team from Virginia here with us this last week and it has been terrific. The students have embraced them and really gotten to know them in a short time. Last evening, Kathy Albarado and the team led a seminar on Social Capital, how the students might build their network of fellow students, alumni, community members and so on.

We watched the Super Bowl on Sunday and enjoyed pizza and guacamole together. Yesterday we celebrated Valentine’s Day as well!

Business plan presentations have been completed. The 14 young women did an outstanding job over two days and I think we have at least a few future entrepreneurs that will start businesses later this year!

Many other activities and fun in the last week… “English Cafe” for the first-year students, a bonfire sing-along, a wonderful church service on Sunday, corn harvesting, rounding up loose cows on campus, sewing and knitting projects – the list is varied! But the constant is these wonderful young women with strong kind hearts and an eagerness to learn. It’s a pretty intoxicating environment to be a part of for sure.

One of our graduates from 2021 stopped by to visit us; Yennifer lives in nearby Los Valles. Her cousin Helydi is a first-year student here at TLC now. We are very proud of Yennifer and her engagement in her local community. She is now on the local patranado (a group of 11 municipal leaders) and she is an officer. Things are changing!

We just took our covid tests (online telemedicine at its finest) and thankfully we are negative. So, we are cleared to fly back tomorrow evening.

We thank you for your personal encouragement and your support of this ministry.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan and Chris

Week 2 from Honduras, February 2022

Buenos Tardes!

It’s been a busy week here at TLC. An outstanding week.

The students are doing well.

Second-years are progressing on their community business plans. We have an Organic Plant business, a Finance Cooperative, several markets, a barber shop and more! We will see how they play out. We have been in two classes a day this week with business.

First years continue their ESL studies and small reading groups most nights with Mrs. Chris. This past week was a Hemingway short story, The Old Man at the Bridge.

Coffee harvesting is still in full swing. But with 20 or so picking most mornings they are about caught up!


Our local Honduran staff are terrific – this is Don, husking the just picked beans. They are separated in two piles, beans to dry/roast and husks which are composted.


Some of our local alumni did a project in the local community of Los Valles last week. They met with 18 local women and gave a seminar on women’s rights and taught them how to make a few craft items. They enjoyed soap making lessons.

Mr. Jeff and I have been busy today making two sets of shelves. Things are a bit challenging without a Home Depot, but we will persevere. (We are repurposing old whiteboards for shelving material).

Sewing and knitting projects are in full swing with Mrs. Chris. The girls love time with her and are learning a lot. They are making blankets, bags, beanies and more.


We send each and all of you our best wishes and greetings from the 37 wonderful students here at TLC!

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan and Chris

Week 1 from Honduras, Jan. 2022

Good morning Friends and Family,

We have been here a week and it seems like it just flew by.

There are 37 young women here – 23 first year students and 14 second year students. The first-year students are in 4 classes a day learning English. And the second years have 4 classes a day in community development, Leadership, business and agriculture.

I am teaching business and we are working on profit margins, break event points and beginning work on their business plans. Each student will prepare a PowerPoint presentation of their business plan and an excel financial forecast.

Chris is working with the first years in a short story reading group, 3 evenings a week. And she has all the girls sewing and knitting in the Crafts Room.

This has been a big week in Honduras – especially for women. The new president was inaugurated yesterday and there is much hope and excitement for their first woman president, Xiomara Castro, who has promised to stamp out corruption in this country. The students held a celebration after our devotional yesterday, with flags and singing of the Honduran national anthem.

On Wednesday it was Honduran Women’s Day. The second-year students presented the life stories of 7 influential Honduran women. It was very well done.

The nights have been quite cool but the days sunny and hot. It provides the right temperature to dry our coffee beans.

The coffee harvest on the farm is in full swing with over 20 of the girls harvesting (cutting they say) coffee fruits each morning. The coffee is then shucked (husk removed) by a machine and the beans dried. Then we take it to a roaster.

It has been wonderful to get to know some of the new students. I spent time with Jasell earlier this week. All are from rural communities, and most have challenging backgrounds. They are so appreciative of the opportunity to study and learn here. Jasell told me that her family could never afford to provide her an education after high school. And she is so grateful. (Trinity UMC is her sponsor).

Things are well here a TLC. Everyone is healthy. Covid remains a problem in the country of course, several students have lost family over the last 2 years. We require all students and staff to be vaccinated. But once on campus we all feel safe.

We appreciate all of your personal encouragement. And we appreciate your continuing support of these wonderful young women.

Blessings from Honduras

Dan and Chris

Week 5 from Honduras

Buenos Dias Familia y Amigos,

Well, it has been a wonderful 5 plus weeks here at TLC. We fly back to Virginia later today.

We had our final exam yesterday in the Business Planning and Finance Class.  And after our 50th and final class we celebrated with donuts, chips and Coca Cola. All the young women passed the class, and I can assure you it was a blessing to teach them.

The students did their final business plan presentations earlier this week and that was a lot of fun. I bet we have 3-5 students who will seriously consider starting a business later this year (after their graduation in June and upon completion of their internships in September.

The first-year students gathered at our casita yesterday to thank Mrs. Chris for all their sewing projects. Many smiles and hugs.

Last weekend was a pork fest. We slaughtered one of the pigs and filled the freezer with pork. Here are a couple of the girls frying pork for lunch earlier this week.

We had a special visitor to campus this week, a Trinity church friend who has been working here in Honduras for 3 years with USAid. Sergio is responsible for primary school education through Honduras. He was very impressed with what we have accomplished over the last 10 years and is going to make a few introductions that might benefit our students and alumni. But most importantly, he graciously spoke with all our students and strongly encouraged them in their educational pursuits. Here is Sergio with our second-year class.

As we get ready to pack up our casita, here is one of our friends that I won’t miss too much.

It’s always a bit of an adventure here. For the last few days, we have had about 5 horses on campus. Neighbors’ horses who are very interested in our gardens. They were last drinking water from a laundry pila!

I know we have shared with you before about the love and gratitude these young women express every day. It is such a blessing to be with them and teach them and learn from them. They really have their priorities right. They know what is important in life – and at such a young age. They are always hopeful, always grateful and always loving.

We wish you all the best and thank you for your support of these young women!

Blessings from Honduras.

Dan and Chris

www.leadershipmission.org

Week 4 from Honduras

Dear Family and Friends,

Today marks 28 days in Honduras for Dan and myself.  I feel as though I just arrived and yet we will leave in a week.

Business students will begin their presentations tomorrow. Each student will share her business plan as a power point presentation with fellow students and staff. They (and Dan) have worked hard on their presentations and regardless of whether they start a business soon, at some future date, or not at all, this learning process has been so valuable for them.

For me, sewing classes, weekly reading groups and Algebra tutoring continue in earnest. Second year students are completing a blanket project. Sairah Tovar, wife of our campus director, will continue to teach sewing after I leave. She is an accomplished seamstress and the students love working with her.

Last Friday several students cleaned the large aquaponics tank on campus. First, about 80% of the water was pumped out. Next students jumped in to begin catching the fish with weighted nets. Two hundred small fish were then transferred to a secondary tank and full cleaning proceeded. Quite a process. Hopefully there will be enough large fish for a meal in a few weeks.

I consider it a privilege to be here among so many young, hard-working and lovable young women. They are inspiring. Their stories are heart-felt. They and their families often struggle but their futures look promising. You, our family, friends and TLC supporters are making all this possible.

 

 

 

Blessings to you,

Christine Moore

Leadership Mission International

Week 3 from Honduras

Buenos Dias Familia y Amigos,

It is a glorious morning here on our mountain campus. Very bright and fresh. A wonderful way to begin our Friday.

As our third teaching week draws to a close, the second-year students are working with me on individual business plans and the first-year students are getting ready to take their usual Friday English test (written and oral). And everybody is looking forward to the weekend and hopefully a bonfire tomorrow night!

We lost power for a day and a half this week. Late afternoon storms most days and one took down a power line about 45 minutes away. But no matter, evening activities including Bible Study, Reading Groups, etc. went on – a bit dimly with flashlights and small lanterns. But the students unfortunately told me they just could not complete their homework the other night. Amazing!

My 15 students are working hard on their business plans. We have 2 markets or bodegas, 2 chicken farms, 1 pig farm, a clothing store, 2 school supply / paper stores, a bakery, a laundry, 2 internet services/ cafes and 2 auto/ motorcycle parts businesses. (This picture includes one of my 4-legged guest lecturers earlier this week).

The type of businesses generally reflect the sorts of needs that these girls and their families have in their mostly rural communities. Many of them are from communities with less than a couple hundred families. And most employment in their families is as farm or field workers. So there is very little disposable income for wants, just basic needs.

We grow many of our vegetables here on campus, red beans, green beans, corn, carrots, onions, and cilantro – to name some. Thought you might enjoy a picture of our young pineapple plantation.

There are two larger farms very nearby. Right now, both farms are harvesting tomatoes. Workers from nearby communities come most mornings and pick the tomatoes (including women and children). Typically, they are paid 4 Lempira for a 5-pound bucket of tomatoes that they pick. I am told a good worker can pick 60-80 buckets in a full day. So maybe they earn 250 or so Lempira – $10, while there is harvest work. To put that in perspective, eggs cost about 3-4 L each (one bucket). Gasoline is about the equivalent of $3 a gallon. School supplies that are required for a student to attend public school are about 7-800L each year. Chicken meat costs 25 L a pound. A bag of chicken feed to feed 15 chickens for a month or so costs 400 L. So, this is a bit what real poverty looks like here and in many rural communities across Honduras. For hard work, people can make some money, but life just seems to always cost more than they can make. That is the sort of hard reality that our students come from. But honestly, the hope and faith they all have in God and in a better future for themselves and their communities is inspiring. It’s a genuine feeling that they express in many ways and it surely motivates me every day.

But back to the tomatoes. Most of the farmers’ tomatoes go to market as they are picked. But of course there are many picked that are not able to be sold. They are left in piles along the road. So two days ago a few of the students, one of our workers and Chris and I headed to a pile. Our objective was to glean what we could for the kitchen and gather a lot for the pigs and chickens.

Many were spoiled and not usable. But we sorted some for the animals and a bucket or two for the kitchen.

When we put the tomato piles in the chicken pens – the chickens ran away. But a couple days later they were pecking away at the bugs that had come for the tomatoes. The pigs ate all their tomatoes.

And best of all, Mrs. Chris made real spaghetti sauce (Italian/ with a touch of Honduran) that we all enjoyed yesterday at lunch. For most of the students it was their first taste of Italian (other than pizza)!

Well off to my morning class soon. So we will say goodbye for now.

Thanks for your continued support.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

Week 2 from Honduras

Dear Friends and Family,

The second week of classes is coming toward a close. It’s been a great week, weather is hotter 80 or so with occasional hard rain late in the day. Students are in the groove for the quarter.

My second-year students have their first test Friday. Profit Margins and Breakeven Points and Target markets are swimming around in their heads! We have had extra evening classes this week just to confuse them a bit further!

They really are working hard. Most students who come to us after graduating local high school need a lot of supplemental math. So this year we added a second math class before their business classes begin. It has helped.

Here I am working with Alicia on her idea for a school supplies store in her community.

Here’s some of the second-year students at well-deserved lunch break today!

These young women are very grateful for their opportunity here. Chris and I spent an hour or so with Evelin and Jesley – two first year students who are sisters. They told us their story. They both worked for two years after high school. Their work was picking mangos, papaya and other fruits and vegetables on a farm in their rural community. They got up at 4:30 every-morning to make tortillas and food to take for their day of work. They walked about a 1/2 hour to the farm and would begin picking at 6 a.m. Their days would end at either 2 p.m. or as late as 9 p.m. depending on the harvest. In the evenings after dark, they would wash the fruit for packaging. They would earn 3- 500L per day depending on the amount of time they worked. That’s about $16 a day. They would take all the money home to provide family support. But that allowed the family to save enough for the girls to apply to school here at TLC. They are so appreciative.

Today’s morning devotional was a nice message about sharing small acts of kindness with others.

Here is Jennifer picking some green beans this morning in the work time.

One of the special things happening on campus is that we are building our first ever two-story building. The lower floor will be for sewing / vocational teaching and also will host the student run mini mart. The second floor will be an open air roofed pavilion for the students to have a special place to study or gather in small groups. 

Mrs. Chris taught two business sessions on Negotiation this week. I am a little worried that she explained to the chicas how she negotiates with me! And here is Mrs. Chris with first year student Martha with her just completed yarn hat project!

Best wishes to all and thanks for your support of these wonderful young women.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

Greetings from TLC in Honduras

April 8, 2021

Dear Friends and Family,

We arrived here on campus 8 days ago. It’s great to be back and we personally appreciate all your encouragement.

There are 30 students here now – 15 first year students and 15 second year students. (We lost 4 students due to covid issues in their families over the last 6 months.)

The students and staff were in a one-week break between quarters when we arrived last week. Normally, of course, they return home to their communities across Honduras, but with covid, we have them stay on campus between quarters. So instead, they had a “stay cation”.

Easter Service on Sunday afternoon was wonderful. While we missed being with family on Easter it was very nice to be here.

On Monday we began classes for this last quarter of the school year. I am teaching Business Planning and Finance Classes twice a day to second years. It’s challenging for them of course but they are working hard.

Mrs. Chris has evening reading groups going for both first year and second year students. They read and discuss short stories. They also eat cookies and drink well sugared tea!

Sewing projects are also underway, within hours of Mrs. Chris arriving on campus.

Days start here early. Noises begin about 5:30 – mostly roosters and many types of birds! Breakfast at 7 usually beans, vegetable and fruit. Then devotionals that are student led. Today Denia spoke to James 1 about perseverance in the face of many trials. The students work on the campus , farm, animals and so on until 9 a.m. Then they prepare for 4 classes a day that begin at 10.

This is such a special place. The students are so very grateful for their full scholarship opportunity to study and develop their minds, relationships and experiences. The teachers(present company excluded), are all young post college grads, with big hearts and who really care about our mission. The Honduran staff here are also wonderful and focused on developing future leaders for this country.

It’s a bit different this year with covid. We are “relatively locked down “but in a safe remote part of the country. But the vaccines are not here yet and the meager health care system has been overwhelmed. So we are being as cautious and safe as possible.

Well, I need to “post” this, while the WiFi is stable!

Thanks so much for your interest and support for these young women. It’s what makes this mission and ministry possible.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

https://leadershipmission.org/

Saying Goodbyes

Dear friends and family,

We head home later today after 6 weeks of teaching here at The Leadership Center. Our heartfelt bonds to and relationships with the 35 young women here are fully refreshed, but we are excited to rejoin all of you!

You know our mission here – it’s to empower young women from rural communities with education, leadership training and community development experiences. Our hope and prayer is that after graduation they return to their communities as changed agents.

This country is so beautiful but so challenged. Women are particularly at a disadvantage in a machismo society. But progress while slow, is happening, I think. At least with each of our graduating classes of young women. Fourteen new graduates, strong and confident, are almost done with their two years at TLC. They will begin three month internships at NGOs and other entities and then be ready to claim their future.

Our final exams were yesterday. The students are very glad. Cindy was studying hard for it, as evidenced here.

I think we have 4 second year students who will start small businesses this year. I believe several of the new graduates will become teachers in their home communities. And a number are interested in working with local NGOs helping children and women. We will see. But I assure you that your excellent support and encouragement has enabled another fine group of young women to help themselves, their families and their communities.

Jeff finished the Ethernet system; the classrooms and library are now internet capable. (Bandwidth is still a challenge, but we are increasing the learning opportunities with the access points)

Speaking of Jeff, it’s hard to see how TLC exists without him. Cabling, electrical work and most importantly guitar lessons and playing for the girls. He led our TLC praise band on Sunday.

Chris and I hosted a special dinner for the 14 second year students , celebrating their final exams in our classes. We made (mostly Chris made) Chicken Parmesan a la Honduras, garlic bread and salad. They loved it. A first here. Brownies for dessert with whipped cream (also a first for many students). The sugar high and craziness that followed two cans of whipped cream was a bit scary!

Well, we are headed to the airport. Again, thank you so much for your help and support on this beautiful mountain campus.

Let me close with a refrain from a praise song the girls love to sing.

“From the mountains to the valleys

hear our praises rise to You,

from the heavens to the nations

hear our singing fill the air!”

 

Dan, Daniela and Chris

Blessings from Honduras!

Dan and Chris

 

 

We Must Lead the Changes

Good evening friends and family,

It’s been another wonderful week here at TLC.

The students are making nice progress in their classes this quarter. The second years are busy writing research papers for Mrs. Chris, revising their business plans for Entrepreneurship Class and struggling through my profit-margin problems.

In devotionals this morning, Daniela and Dania spoke about how important it is to this country that the students and graduates take on leadership roles in their communities and throughout Honduras. They feel and embrace that responsibility.

Tonight, at dinner, one of the girls shared a story about a close friend who had a baby while they were in high school and how it changed her life. I asked how many of their friends had children at such a young age. The answers varied a bit depending on their home community, but collectively they said many girls have babies as early as age 13, and 15 was typical. Expectations for the girls and young women in rural areas (like where most of our students are from) is just so modest or honestly really low. Start families and stay at home. So, I think that explains the importance of Daniela’s and Dania’s message this morning. “We must lead the changes.”

Meals are a production here. But they always start with grinding the corn for the tortillas. Frijoles, broccoli and eggs are standard fare.

We had two young Honduran men here to speak with the students about their own businesses. Glen Evans, who many of you know was the founder of TLC, brought the guys here. They were great and offered the students many ideas. They told us they were extremely impressed with the girls’ English and their confidence.

We have some really special birds on campus. Turquoise blue jays, many red throated woodpeckers, bright yellow fly catchers and the occasional road runner. Really quite a place on this beautiful mountain of pines and coffee trees. Consider coming here to see for yourself – not for the birds – but for the relationships these young women will share with you!

Have a great week and blessings from Honduras!

Dan