Progress in Honduras

Buenos Dias Amigos y Familia,

It is cold here on the mountain! (We are at about 5,000 feet elevation here at TLC). Not to complain too much, as most of you are enduring snow, but it was about 42 degrees last night and with no heat – it’s pretty chilly! The sun has been hiding last couple days so electricity and internet are struggling a bit. Who expected a polar vortex in Honduras? The girls all are wearing ski caps, sweatshirts, scarves and even blankets. But the good news is the sun is peeking out a bit and we expect warmth and electricity soon!

We have some good news from Isletas, Yanetzi and Olga’s community on the other side of Honduras. These were the two young women who graduated from TLC last year and stayed with us this past December. Many of you met them and helped capitalize the TLC Investment Fund to help launch TLC graduates’ businesses.

Yanetzi received initial capital from TLC two weeks ago and signed a lease for El Classroom, her educational supplies store. She purchased initial inventory and began to install shelves and fixtures last week. She will be ready to open the store in a few days. School starts back up in Honduras next week (public schools are generally off all of January), so she wanted to be ready as parents must buy supplies for their kids to be able to go to school. Yanetzi says that people in Isletas are very excited about the store opening and that they will start buying supplies this weekend. She is very grateful for the opportunity.

Olga is continuing her work to get to the point to start her Isletas’ community pharmacy. She is working with a doctor in San Pedro Sula to try and get licensure and other requirements handled. We are optimistic but she is still a ways away from getting this business started.

Our classes are going well. Chris has the second year students and I (Dan) am teaching and working with the seniors. Chris and I leave campus tomorrow with the 4 seniors for a senior class trip! They and we are very excited. We will get a ride off the mountain to Zambrano and then take a chicken bus to Comayagua, a couple hours away. Comayagua was established by Spanish conquistadors in 1537! We will spend a couple nights in a hotel and do some “market research” for their business plans. I think that means research and talk with suppliers and competitors to their businesses, but I think the students believe that means “go shopping”! (Chris is most excited about the prospects for a hot shower.) More to come on our trip next week.

Judy, Daniela and Dayana this morning

Judy, Daniela and Dayana this morning

This year, Trinity UMC has sponsored three wonderful young women, all first year students. Trinity is providing financial support for the education of Daniela, Yudy (Judy) and Dayana at TLC. They are lovely young women, excited and grateful to be here. All three students study English for four hours each day. In Honduras, the ability to speak English provides improved job opportunities. Dan and I (Chris) work with these ladies several times weekly on their pronunciation, reading and speaking abilities. Their favorite question, “Can you use that word in a sentence for me?” Daniela is the more quiet of these three students, but she is always thinking and processing new vocabulary. Daniela likes to play volleyball and draw pictures of flowers and butterflies. Today is her birthday, the bulletin board is decorated for her and we all sang Happy Birthday to her at devotionals this morning. Judy is petite and lively. She approached me (Chris) on the very first day to listen to her oral reading which we do together at least twice a week, we are almost finished with The Little House in The Big Woods  [by Laura Ingalls Wilder]. Judy makes jewelry to sell in her community to raise money for her transportation to and from campus. Judy enjoys listening to music, taking pictures and acting. Dayana is from the Cortez region of Honduras and knows of The Heart to Heart Ministry. With prior classes in English, she is the most fluent of the first year students. She leads worship services in English and Spanish and is passionate about her faith. She will be responsible for weekly worship (Iglesia) here at TLC beginning in April. She preached last Sunday morning about putting on the armor of our Lord. (Here’s a video of a song sung during worship.)

One last thing to mention quickly. Last Thursday, Dan drove us into Tegucigalpa. We followed Joseph Rahm in a vehicle as we needed to drop one at a mechanic. The road from TLC to Zambrano is rutted and steep in many places – more like a river bed. But we made it! In Teguc we had a nice lunch at the American Embassy with Hal Constantine and his wife Stacie; both work at the embassy. Hal is an economic advisor and commercial officer and we are quite excited that they have shown interest in TLC. It sure is a small world, as we met Hal at a missions meeting in Arlington at Little Falls Presbyterian Church about a year ago and then he was stationed here!

Well we are off to lunch soon (when the bell is rung) for plates of frijoles, vegetables and corn tortillas!

The sun has come out and all is good here!
Blessings from Honduras,

Chris and Dan

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The Adventure Continues…

Dear Friends and Family,

As we are nearing the end of our third week here, I am happy to report that we are busy, working hard and very fulfilled. Aside from missing family and friends, things at The Leadership Center are great.

scalded leche

scalded leche

We have had several new and fun things to eat this week, corn flakes with scalded fresh milk, a whole banana roasted on hot coals then peeled and covered with Nutella and fresh fried tilapia from the Aquaponics garden. All very good.

Our teaching schedule continues to challenge us. As first time teachers, we spend a lot of time preparing for class. Additionally students seek us out for tutoring, pronunciation practice, and reading aloud practice. Add to this staff meetings, a little time for craft projects and we are exhausted by the end of the day and thus sleeping well.

Dan & cowWe have made peace with the cows, they have their space and we have ours. Our paths no longer cross and that is good for everyone. Unfortunately, we are now contending with a few pesky mice at night who are good at extracting the peanut butter from the trap without springing it.

The director of TLC, Joseph Rahm, instituted an English language only policy at the beginning of this week that is unpopular. Students must speak English, with few exceptions, all day and everywhere on campus. The first day was very quiet but slowly they are attempting more conversations.

The computer lab is thus far successful and enjoyed by the juniors. Each day they learn new skills with various Office applications, we are beginning just with Office Word. They so appreciate the donated laptops with Office software for them to practice with. We hope to install a small printer in the lab tomorrow so they can print some of their documents.

We had a pretty interesting Bible Study last night. We are reading and studying Acts. We discussed Acts 19 and how Paul taught and encouraged people to learn or know Christ by meeting them where they are with their own faith. We also discussed evil spirits and evil. Of course the culture and tradition here in Honduras does pretty much believe in active evil spirits. It was a very interesting discussion.

In Dan’s Entrepreneurship Class we are learning different business models and discussing which specific business might make sense for the graduates to start. (This class will graduate at the end of March.) So far we have 12 different possible entrepreneurial businesses among the 4 seniors and I need to work with them to get them down to 1 viable business each. Then we can begin more market research and develop plans. We have a variety of possibilities now including bakery, internet cafe, agricultural supply store, super market, water purification and more businesses in the exploration stages. Trying to narrow the field is a process!

photo 1Yesterday afternoon, we had an entrepreneur from the Copan region present his business to the students. His family owns and manages a farm near the Copan area (Maya ruins). He has added an “agri-tourism” to the family business to supplement their income. Tourists can visit and stay at the farm, work in the fields (cacao, coffee, corn, bananas), ride horses, and enjoy the nearby hot springs. The girls really identified with this Honduran entrepreneur and it was quite fascinating.

Well that is it for this report. We miss you all and are enjoying our service. We are learning much!

Blessings,

Dan and Chris

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cornflakes

cornflakes

Settling Into Routine

Dear Friends and Family,

We have had quite a first 10 days or so!

Classes started last Friday and we are pretty much in the swing of things now.

photo 2Typical days are: up at 6 with roosters and light, breakfast with all the students and teachers at 7, devotionals at 7:30, the students work on the campus and coffee farm from 7:30 to 9, two morning classes at 9:30 and 10:30 (we prepare them for our afternoon classes), lunch at 12, afternoon classes at 2:30 and 3:30 (we teach), crafts or tutoring from 3:30 until 5:30, dinner at 6 and then tutoring or meetings or Bible Study at 7 p.m. We have been going to bed most nights about 8:30.

photo 1It’s a long day but so good. The students are very appreciate and loving. It is such a joy and honor to be here both teaching and learning at the same time.

A few glitches and small problems here and there – but after all “this is Honduras!” We have had some cow trouble up until today. But now there is a solar powered electric fence around our casita to keep them off the porch (or maybe it’s to keep us in?). A few days without Internet have been disruptive, but ok in some respects. Composting toilet plumbing still a work in progress. And I still get tangled up in the mosquito netting most nights. I tell you these things to maybe bring a smile and share some really humbling experiences. It’s good for the soul!

Our student led Sunday worship service was very special, lots of praise music (English and Spanish) and a message about how God speaks to each of us individually, chooses us for His service, even in surprising or unusual circumstances. Think of the stories of Saul (Paul), Gideon and Samuel – not the ” usual suspects” for leadership – but God spoke to them and chose them.

photo 3In my business class this afternoon, one of the seniors (Betis) asked me “how is Don Jose?” When I told her that Jose planned to bring a small group from home to visit TLC in late February, my class was so exited! If you have any interest in experiencing and participating in Kingdom work here in Honduras – first hand – let us know, we would love to serve with you!

Now a word from Chris: Speaking of not selecting the “usual suspects,” I feel a bit like many in the Bible who wonder why they have been chosen for a specific task; two tasks for certain come to mind-teaching Psychology and Computer Literacy. As some of you know I took my first psychology class on-line just this past September and my literacy with regards to computers is limited to say the least. But with a lot of effort and support from many, I have 4 classes completed. My students are bright and enthusiastic; I must work hard to earn their respect.

We are blessed in so many ways to be here, a complete change of routine and totally disconnected from television and politics. The weather is delightful so far and many at home are struggling with a cold winter already.

Blessings from The Leadership Center,

Chris and Dan

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A New Semester, New Friends

Honduras

January 8, 2015

Dear Friends and Family,

groupFirst, Chris and I want to thank each of you for your support and prayers for this 3-month mission service in Honduras at The Leadership Center. We could not do this without family and friend support.

We arrived Monday afternoon at TLC. Our 4 checked duffle bags had been packed to the max limits, plus two carry-on bags filled with text books and curriculum and 2 backpacks jammed with everything else necessary, including laptops and popcorn.

Monday evening was quiet, just us and the Rahm Family on the campus, as the students were not coming back from holiday break until Wednesday. A pleasant dinner of beans and eggs and an early night.

cowsWe are staying in a 2-room casita just off the main campus and yesterday we spent cleaning it up – Mosquito netting, composting toilet hook up, clothes line set up, putting away supplies and clothes… a pretty full today. The most interesting thing though was when we were awakened by two new friends on our front porch Tuesday very early, two cows had set up their day camp. At first cute, it’s become a skirmish as they see us as encroaching!

Yesterday afternoon and today, we spent in welcoming the students, various orientation activities and setting up a new computer lab for Chris’ computer literacy class.

There are 23 students here at TLC. It’s a three year free educational program provided to young women, to learn English, leadership and entrepreneurship.

Beans, cauliflower and tortillas for dinner and a great conversation afterwards with about 6 of the students – lots of laughs and stories.

Tomorrow classes start, so we are headed back to the casita – to see if our cloven associates will let us in tonight!

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan and Chris