Saying Goodbye

Dear Family and Friends,

On Saturday night, eight lovely ladies received their degrees from The Leadership Center. Five were awarded Business Degrees (3 years) and three awarded Leadership Degrees (2 years). Almost 100 people, friends, families and staff attended this celebration. Some drove 6 or 7 hours to attend. Yolany’s family, all 14 of them, arrived just minutes before the ceremony in a minivan built for 9 persons.

The seniors had decorated the salon perfectly. They improvised many wonderful decorations.

The freshman students worked all day to prepare a wonderful meal for everyone. Baked chicken (18 whole chickens) , rice with vegetables, salad (lettuce from Yolany’s family farm and cucumbers from campus) and of course plenty of handmade corn tortillas!

image1The 8 students processed in their gowns and caps to great applause. After a ceremony that included singing the Honduran national anthem and very encouraging speeches by a former Honduran teacher and Director Joseph Rahm, the diplomas were individually presented and awarded.

Each student personally thanked the organization for the gift of their education. There were some tears and a lot of big smiles. The girls all spoke clearly and confidently – we were impressed by their comments. TLC Director, Joseph Rahm, reminded the girls that education is a lifelong process that should be continued until we breathe our last breath.

After chocolate cake and fresh fruit, Maholy shared her singing talents with an hour or so of impromptu praise singing which was enjoyed by many. Quite a blessing!

Everyone left campus at 5 a.m. Sunday morning as we said a tearful goodbye to ladies we have worked with for 3 years. How they have blossomed! They are heading home where 4 will soon begin small businesses in their communities, 2 will teach and 2 are still seeking their opportunity. But all will hopefully begin to change attitudes about women in this country and take on community leadership roles.

On Sunday afternoon, we held a free yard sale for the 11 first-year students. They enjoyed making selections from teas, candies, toiletries, shoes, clothing and luggage. We North Americans definitely have too much stuff, so it felt great to share a little. The girls were giggling and very funny as they shopped!

Today we are packing and cleaning. We are chasing the lizards outside as we move things about- some had gotten pretty comfortable in the casita. We leave TLC tomorrow and are excited to be reunited with family and friends. But we will really miss these wonderful young women and the very caring staff of TLC. Thanks to each of you for your support and prayers. We look forward to sharing more with you in person.

See you soon.

Love,

Chris(tine), Mom, Grandma

 

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Graduation

Dear Trinity Friends,

Our Trinity congregation has sponsored three young women here at TLC over the last two years, Daniela, Judy and Dayana.

Daniela, Jose, Dayana

Daniela, Jose, Dayana

The photo to the right shows Daniela on Jose’s right and Dayana on his left.

Judy is out of the country right now because of a security threat. She is safe and we have had emails from her thanking her for our continued support. We hope she can rejoin classes next quarter but we are not sure at this point.

Dayana continues on with her education in business here at TLC and hopes to start a business when she graduates.

image5We had about 90 people here for the graduation last night- including families of all graduating 8 students.

Daniela graduated last night. She gave a wonderful speech at graduation. She expressed appreciation for all her teachers and classmates and for you Trinity as her sponsor. Daniela will be teaching at White Dove Bilingual School beginning March 7. She will be teaching elementary school. She is excited and nervous!

Daniela gave us this note this morning as she left campus for her Trinity family!

Blessings,

Dan

Students and Graduates Planning for the Future

Dear Friends and Family,

image2Our wonderful Mission friends from Virginia and Florida headed home yesterday and made it safely, despite weather issues.

It was a perfect mission team experience here at TLC. A lot of fun, a little project work, but far more importantly it was sharing time and experiences with the students both in class and outside of class.

The students just crave time with those of us who are able to serve here. It’s pretty simple stuff really, just basic encouragement and love for those in need is at the heart of it all! And I don’t need to tell you, we receive so much more than we give. Always. God is good.

Please ask one of the great team members – Jose, Sharon, Kathy, Bill, Peter or Pilar (or even Chris and I) about their time here and the relationships that are made and the impact of their service on their lives.

We accepted 12 new students from poor families and they will begin at TLC on April 1. This team that just left has sponsored 4 new students plus 2 existing students. If you think you might want to sponsor a young woman and help change her life, please consider it. More info is available at www.leadershipmissioninternational.org

After classes, Chris and I took an afternoon trip today to a small local community -Los Valles -with several of the girls. They showed us a community development water project that they had planned and implemented a few months back. They built a small dam on a mountain stream so as to increase water pressure through a pipe from the dam to provide water to pillas about 1/2 mile away. Very impressive as an example of our TLC students helping others. The hike down the mountain to the dam was very steep and slippery with pine needles and I wish I had brought cleats. But we made it!

image3The seniors are getting close to graduating this Saturday. They are quite excited. We intend to fund and launch 4 of the 5 graduating students’ business plans. Total investment of about 200,000 lempira – only $9,000. We also hope to get Olga’s pharmacy operating very soon.

I want to close with a letter I received from our second-year student , Yudy, earlier today. Yudy left campus last week due to a threat she had received in her home town. It’s complicated, but she is very appreciative of our love and support.


 

Dear US Friends and Trinity Church,

God bless you!

I am here in Belize with a friend’s uncle and his family. They are hosting me at their house while everything is upset at home. I am very discouraged about what is happening in my life, I am shocked because nothing that I was planning is happening. Life in Belize is very expensive! I couldn’t have afforded if you and TLC hadn’t helped me.

The man is not in prison anymore and the court has let him go free. My mom told me that a woman went to my house and said that he doesn’t want to see me in the community if he sees me he will do something bad against me. To be honest, I am very afraid and sometimes I want to scream. My heart is broken and my family is worried.

I know this is temporary and a part of me tells me that I made the right decision and God is not going to leave me alone, which makes me proud of myself. I also realized that I did the best by not going to the courthouse because I would not have had time to leave the country. I did the best when I testified but the justice in our country is not good. God knows the plans he has for me.

Here, I been observing and seeing how people do business here. Many businesses are very unique. Everything I learned at TLC is helping me. The second day I got here I started making bracelets and earrings to sell to the tourists I see. The first day I ran into a lady that was walking and when I showed her the things for sale she bought them all! Also, in the mornings I go to work shoveling. I earn a little bit of money. My boss is surprised at my working and he says “small body but very strong.” One day while I was working on his land a couple was walking by. I knew he was trying to sell the property so I told the couple about the property he was selling and they were interested. After that the owner showed them and talked with them about it. I hope he sells it. He was very thankful I did that.

I meet people here and the first thing I talk is about TLC and the help I am getting from you. I’m looking forward to going back to TLC if I can stay in Honduras. If I can’t I will apply for a scholarship to hopefully study in another country.

Pray for me!

Thank you for everything!

Yudy


 

image1So, I will close with this. Thank you all for your support of Chris and I and particularly for the students of TLC. I assure you – we are grateful and the students are very grateful.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

Mission Team returns

Jose and the mission team returned around midnight last night. They brought back more photos and a video from worship.

 

 

Photos of the Week

Our mission team at The Leadership Center in Honduras sent some photos of their week.

Journey to Heart to Heart Children’s Village

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a wonderful trip to Heart to Heart Children’s Village last weekend. See photos in yesterday’s post.

Heart to Heart is home to over 100 children and youth, most from the streets or broken homes. The ministry includes a school, a medical clinic and a community church.

With the 5 senior business students, we left campus at 6:30 a.m. on Thursday in the TLC van. After much winding and climbing through the mountains and then traversing through the largest city of San Pedro Sula, we arrived in the small coastal village of Omoa. We stayed at a family owned small hotel, the Flamingos, pleasant, modest and friendly. The girls walked down to the beach immediately! They were quite excited. For a couple of them, it was there first time ever on the beach. We had a wonderful shrimp and chicken dinner at the hotel and retired early. The girls stayed up late though – watching TV, which is an albatross for them.

The next morning, we went to Heart to Heart’ s bilingual school. Each TLC student , as well as Chris and I, were assigned to a classroom as teacher assistants.

I was in a math classroom that was taught by a young Honduran. Oh boy, fractions were ok with the younger kids but polynomial equations with 11th graders was rough! We ate lunch at the school and had a terrific time interacting with the kids.

After a wonderful dinner of chicken and fish at the hotel, we drove back to Cortes for cafe and dessert with the Serranos, the directors of Heart to Heart. Their home is where all the teen girls live- about 15. It’s a very busy place. Our TLC students and the Heart to Heart girls had a great time together. It was very neat to see the expressions on the young H2H girls faces as our business students talked about their plans to start businesses after graduation.

We toured the San Fernando Fort in Omoa the next morning. It is 256 years old and represents one of five Spanish forts in the New World. Spanish used conscripted natives to build it over about 15 years. Its purpose was to protect their Caribbean coastal commerce area from pirates and the British who sought gold and other resources. The fort is a massive triangular bastion with original cannons. It is almost completely accessible and we toured it for an hour or so. It was interesting to hear the girls talk about history of the Spanish in Central America – not fondly, I assure you.

On the way out to the Children’s Village we stopped and picked up a dozen frozen chickens, bread, melons, limes and cookies! The kids always need more food. The house mommies do a great job preparing food but more of it is always welcome.

We spent Saturday at the Children’s Village and just enjoyed playing with the kids. Games of Uno, some soccer, swing sets and a lot of just talking. We ate lunch in the boys’ house – three small tacos and some juice! The kids really enjoyed the TLC young women and there were some hugs and tears as we left.

After a quick dinner we were back at church in Cortes. A delightful worship service of praise music and a very long sermon of bringing “first fruits” to God from Genesis 4.

Sunday morning we headed back to TLC. We stopped for bananas, fruits and many vegetables for campus. The van was loaded to the ceiling by the time we got back about 4 p.m.

It was great to get back to TLC and the students all welcomed us generously.

About 50% of the adult population here is un employed or under employed. Wages are very low. Average worker wages are 6-7000 Lempira a month- that’s $300 or so. (office, teachers or factory workers are more like 8-10,000 Lempira a month).

Chicken is about $1.10 a pound. Melons are $1.50-2 each. Bananas are $3-4 a complete stand (full set). Gasoline is about $2.25 a gallon. A burger fries and Coke at Wendy’s is $5-6.

It takes an incredible percentage of workers’ wages just to feed their families – frankly almost 100% for agricultural workers. Rice, beans and eggs are the main foods at most every meal.

That is a key reason why we are so focused on education for the young women at TLC. With more education comes more opportunity. More education will empower them to better themselves, their families and their communities.

The mission team led by Jose arrived late yesterday. We were all excited to welcome Jose, Sharon, Bill, Kathy, Peter, Pilar, Aaron and Caroline! They are fully in the swing of things here at TLC and loving it!

It’s cold though. Very unseasonably cold. But I bet it’s warmer than where many of you are now!

Thanks for your continuing prayers and support.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

 

A Visit to Heart to Heart

Dan, Chris and some of the students from The Leadership Center made the journey to visit our friends at Heart to Heart Children’s Village. They shared these photos.