Laughs, Exams & Tears

Dear friends and family,

Well, the 10 weeks here in the beautiful Honduran mountain is coming to a close. We fly home to later today.

It’s been a very busy last week!

Friday afternoon the second-year students all gave a PowerPoint presentation to the campus on a leadership or community topic of their choosing. Each presentation lasted 10 minutes or so. They did just great in their longest ever individual presentations at TLC.

Friday night we had a Honduran cultural celebration! The first-year students performed Latin folk plays which were outstanding. Then 10 of the students performed traditional Honduran dances to wonderful music. They were terrific. The colorful traditional dresses were all made by the girls here at TLC and they danced so well. (4 girls had to play the guys )

 

Saturday morning we began our clean out of the casita. We held a free yard sale and the students came by to choose items until everything was gone. (lottery) Tupperware, books, shoes, extra material, DVDs, water bottles, shampoo, chocolates, some clothes, cookie mixes … it all had to go. We had enough items for each of the 32 students to get two “treasures.” No one wanted my old beat up tennis shoes however.

There was a lot of studying Sunday and Monday. Final exams began Tuesday.

My business students were relieved to be done this on Wednesday . They did great on Entrepreneurship and Marketing exams. Final exam in accounting took its toll I am afraid. But as I told them, accounting is an acquired taste.

Chris’ tests are done as of yesterday as well.

English went well I heard. Two 2 of the 16 first-year students will need more help apparently. Next quarter it’s pretty much “English only” on campus – so it gets tougher as they progress.

All Chris’ second year’s passed math, but three or so will need more work, especially if they want to consider business in their third year. Math is just not taught well here in Honduras. For five years we have seen the same thing. Most high schools just are not giving these young people a reasonable chance with basic math.

Last night the girls had a nice bonfire for us. It was bittersweet to hear all the kind and generous things they had to say about our time together. There were tears, especially for Chris, by the first-year students. They have become so very close. But as I told them all – they are in our hearts forever and their pictures on our refrigerator at home for us to see every day!

It’s been a much-blessed 10 weeks at TLC but we are ready to be at home with kids and grandkids! But I can tell you, these young women will stay with us every day until we come back!

Maybe you will join us next time?

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan and Chris

We Arrived in Honduras

June 28, 2017

Good evening Trinity family,

Our team ready to leave Trinity and go to the airport on Wednesday morning.

I think our team is constantly putting photos on Facebook. Unfortunately, my phone is not connecting to the local wifi … only my laptop.

I will keep you updated as events unfold.

Tomorrow, we’re going to Children’s Village. We will meet the children and be introduced to them.

We have a full day ahead and we need a lot of rest and grace.

Blessings!

Keith

Delicious Food, Successful Alumni, Intense Classes

June 22, 2017

Hello Friends & Family,

Three meals a day for 32 students plus 6 of us staff and the Rahm family of 5 is a lot of food to prepare each day. The meals are modest, but nutritious. We have three local women who prepare the meals Monday thru Friday. (The students take turns cooking on the weekends). Candida, our long-time cook and very good friend of TLC, is now joined by Lourdes and Marie. TLC provides support to their families via their employment.

Last Friday we took a road trip! Along with the Rahm family and Mark Irwin (a terrific young man, volunteer teacher from Baltimore who has been here all quarter), we headed to Pena Blanca, a small town near Lago de Yajoa for a change of scenery and some relaxation. We stayed at a small motel and microbrewery called D&D. Very modest, sort of a backpackers’ joint. Outside dining, American music, hamburgers, beer brewed on premise (in a container in the parking lot), all in a beautiful, very tropical setting. Moist and humid, but a great change of pace.

We were joined by one of the alumni who had not been able to make the alumni weekend on campus. Yudy graduated last year and now works at a call center in La Ceiba for 8 hours a day, goes to university every night and runs her own online make up business as well. She is a dynamo and is going to be a great leader and role model.

On the way back from Pena Blanca, we stopped at another graduate’s home near Tauluabe, in a very rural community. Karla also graduated last year. She is starting an organic egg and meat business that is needed in her area. She has built a small home, chicken coops and now has sheep. She hopes to begin to sell protein in the coming months. Karla is one of 11 siblings and we met many of them as several live with her now. She is a church leader and serves on her local community council. TLC provided Karla and Yudy with micro loans to begin their businesses.

The last full week of classes began on Monday. I still have a few important business topics still to cover. I have been explaining a bit about free markets and capitalism – using Milton Friedman video clips. Pretty exciting stuff. Honduras is a free market economy, but there are many issues with property rights here which certainly impede progress. We have been discussing issues like government corruption and business ethics. These young women have strong personal values and we can all hope they will positively impact Honduras.

This morning I gave them a thought exercise before class discussions – could they lower and then levitate a thin wooden stick. Did they do it?

Also, Tuesday night was June birthdays celebration. The comedor was flooded out by more crazy rains so we carried all the tables and chairs and food to the salon for the dinner. It was a great chicken dinner with music and dancing.

Well that’s it for now. Off to my afternoon classes.

We are excited to be headed home at the end of next week. The quarter is almost over. It’s been wonderful but we are ready to be home.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan and Chris

p.s. I found a problem with my planned tomato harvest…

Sheep, Goodbyes & Games

June 15, 2017

Buenas Tardes Amigos,

It’s Thursday afternoon, about an hour before dinner. I think it’s rice, beans and tortillas again. I hear the sheep next door to our casita “baaing” loudly and I am thinking just a bit about medium rare lamb chops, (but they are my friends – I feed them banana peels each day).

Two of my third-year students left campus early this morning.

Jondia, who has been dealing with family issues most of the quarter, decided to take a teaching job at a bilingual private school. There was an opening and she felt she needed to take the opportunity to earn money for her family. Her father just can’t work in the fields any longer. Jondia led our Bible Study last night (Philippians) and she shared how grateful she was for her time at TLC and how excited she was to begin teaching 7th graders next week!

Doris also left TLC today as well. She wants to start a small-retail business, but has been struggling with the commitment required to continue her studies. She decided to leave TLC and marry her fiancé in two weeks. I do believe she will be in business someday.

Both young women earned 2 year degrees in Leadership and will participate in graduation ceremonies next March.

Speaking of Jondia, she won the spaghetti eating contest last Saturday. We had an afternoon of “field” games. The competition was a lot of silly fun for all. Chris and I were fortunate enough just to be the judges. Three-legged races, water balloon tosses, orange face dancing (particularly hysterical), Coca Cola chugging contest and more!

We have had a lot more rain this week. Rainy season here is mostly May and June. Good for the coffee trees and plants! But the water runs down the mountain very hard and fast.

Chris is doing such a great job with these young women. A few are working particularly hard as learning a language or math is challenging. Many evenings there’s a soft knock at our door and someone wants help or just to talk. The girls love being with Chris, in the crafts room, sewing and doing projects, in the kitchen baking cookies or especially at her short-story reading group.

Ingris, one of the first-year students and I sat next to each other at Bible Study last night. She has a loud distinctive voice and is quite funny! (We are seated on chairs that arrived last week donated by our Virginia INDUS friends). And yes, I know I need a haircut! Soon I hope.

In other TLC news this week, Rapunzel, had 8 puppies (good news is they are all healthy, bad news is the sofa cushion cleaning project took 3 days).

We are really looking forward to getting home in a couple more weeks to be with family and friends. Thanks to all of you for your support, notes of encouragement and prayers.

Blessings from Honduras

Dan and Chris

Exams, Tilapia, Service & Alumni

June 1, 2017

Buenas Tardes Friends & Family,

It’s hard to believe it’s June 1! We are almost at the end week 6 of our 10-week teaching quarter here at TLC.

We had a special dinner in Comayagua (about an hour and a half drive) last Saturday night with the third year students and Joseph and Hailey Rahm, the directors of TLC. A wonderful meal and afterwards ice cream cones in the plaza! A fun evening and treat for sure!

Big accounting mid-term today for the business students. Lot of hand wringing. This is a picture of the in process test. It does not look too hard does it?

Of my nine third-year students in business and entrepreneurship classes, I am thinking at this point that three or four might actually start businesses. Two are very interested in healthcare, maybe nursing studies. Two are going to begin teaching internships this summer. Two or three are presently undecided about their likely plans after graduation. Starting next quarter (July) we are requiring the third-year students to do a 2-3 month internship to gain practical experience in their main interest area. We are focused on empowering them to lead in their communities, whether as business women, teachers, NGO or other employees.

Chris’ classes are going well. The first-year students’ English is now progressing to the point that some of my Spanglish allows some communication. These young girls are so sweet and hardworking. After classes, for practice they are reading English children’s books out loud. See Spot Run and The Cat in Hat are popular.

We had a big day on campus on Tuesday. We had to drain and clean out the Talapia tank. Bad news for the 100 plus fish.

But good news for us at lunch yesterday!

One of the students had a family emergency late last week and she had to go home. We are hoping and praying that her family’s situation resolves itself and allows for her return soon. This is a difficult, but not unusual situation here at TLC. And unfortunately, even in very large families it feels like the parents often place a burden on their daughter at TLC to come home to help. But, in a society that honors parents and family so much, we feel it’s important to not stand in the way of the students’ sense of obligation. One of my students, Yondia, told me yesterday that she has 14 siblings. She is the youngest. Her father still works in the fields at age 82. She seems increasingly distressed that she is learning at TLC while her father is laboring on.

We have been planning our first ever TLC Alumni Weekend- this weekend. Of our 34 graduates, we expect 15 or so to make it to campus tomorrow night for a Saturday of seminars and discussions. We believe an alumni organization could be a “success network” for them after graduation. We will see what they think. I am sure it will be a lot of fun and I hope more than that!

Plans are underway for a student-led trip on Sunday to a nearby community, higher up on the mountain, Los Mascales. About an hour or so walk, it’s a small community of 15 homes, all farmers and laborers. Two of Chris’ second-year students, Riccy and Meiren, are coordinating taking a special lunch to the community and bringing toys for all the children. Toy blocks are being painted and 15 cloth bears and dolls are on the girls’ assembly line. These young women at TLC have such generous hearts. 26 of them will join Chris for the fun service trip.

Well I am an hour a half into the accounting exam and no one has left. I think I need to sign off now, maybe a few hints are in order!

Thanks for all your support for TLC and these terrific young women.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan

Www.leadershipmissioninternational.org

Weather, Food and Friends

Dear Friends and Family,

It’s early Thursday morning, almost at the end of our third week here at TLC.

The weather has been interesting over the last week. Several evenings and nights with torrential downpours which make quite an explosive noise on our metal roofs. The rain has brought out some interesting insects and many rana (frogs) even a few land crabs! My garden in front of our casita is beginning to be pretty wet.

It’s been terrific to have our good friends (tres amigos) here from Virginia this week – Jose, Jim and Bill.

It was sort of funny, my third-year entrepreneurs class, recognizing an opportunity, made cheeseburgers after Church on Sunday afternoon and targeted gringo sales prospects. For 30 lempira (about $1.40) they provided very tasty and somewhat American cuisine as an alternative to rice and beans. They sold over 50 burgers, here on campus and at Los Valles, the small community about 2 miles down the road! Profit margins of 60% were reported!

This week my eight business students presented the results of their home community market studies. Each gave a power point presentation of their local market and a couple business possibilities. Ideas from needs in their communities generated a possible Kinder-care, bodegas, internet services, eggs and poultry business and a butcher shop.

We will try and see what makes sense over the next month or two.

Bill and Jim have been working with my business class this week in class and out of class. Bill has been doing a lot of accounting tutoring (some late nights) as the class anxiously prepares for their first test tomorrow.

Jim has led a couple discussions including a class yesterday on NGOs and service organizations. That topic is particularly interesting since several of the girls want to start organizations to provide social services in their communities. Abigail is focused on young people with Down’s syndrome particularly and wants to create vocational opportunities for them. She explains that in their class-based society these people are seen at the very margins and that by providing employment opportunities she can help them and also help her community see their worth. Pretty remarkable and a bit humbling to see a young woman with so little herself, be so concerned about others.

Chris’s classes are going well. Jose has been helping her students with English and reading. The girls love Jose and his Puerto Rican accent! And the chocolates he brings them!

Jose has also been leading the four of us guys in a project this week. We are making benches for the comedor. The Honduran workers tell us we will not get our workshop diploma if we don’t complete 6 benches by tomorrow. (two are complete, but we have the wood cut for the other four – might be close depending on hardware constraints!)

Dinner last night was a bit modest, beans, cabbage and corn tortillas. But the students surprised us with pineapple pastalitos for dessert. Very tasty!

Chris has begun coaching four of the students who are going to serve in July medical brigade from the states. This is a team of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who come and serve in very rural areas for several weeks. Our students, with their excellent English, serve as translators and assistants on the teams. Chris is teaching them medical terms and a bit about general principals of health care.

We will all be sorry to see our team leave Saturday. The students just love having teams here. But I am happy for them to get back to more food choices and their families!

Saturday morning many of the students will leave TLC to celebrate Mother’s Day at home. Those who within three – four hours of campus, will head home for Sunday time with family.

Blessings from Honduras!

Dan and Chris

Joy: Flat Tires, Hugs, Pigs and Roosters

April 27, 2017

Dear Friends and Family,

We arrived back at TLC last Friday, excited to teach the next ten weeks and very sorry to leave family behind for so long.

We met the new class on the way in from Zambrano -18 smiling and apprehensive young women from all over Honduras – our largest class in our 6-year history. They – along with 16 upper class women – mostly bussed to Zambrano and we all piled into the three TLC vehicles to make the 45-minute, dusty ride to campus. (one flat tire – not too bad)

The arrival on campus was a sweet reunion – many hugs and stories to share.

Chris and I settled into our little casita on the far end of campus – unpacking 8 bags (including much that many of you sent for the school).

We are pretty near the pigs and sheep – so a lot of wonderful sounds and aromas on occasion (a lot).

The weather is hot and sunny – near 90 most days, but cools to 55-ish here on the mountain at night.

We had a wonderful orientation session on Saturday – team building games and exercises. Sunday a beautiful worship service with over 40 of us attending and singing praise songs (in Spanish)

TLC is English immersion but with 18 first year students (most with no English) we are doing morning devotionals, daily work assignments and so on in both Spanish and English for a while.

We are very busy teaching each day. Chris is teaching ESL with first years and math class for second years. I have 8 third year business students – and am teaching them 4 hours a day- general business, entrepreneurship and accounting/ finance. (their heads are spinning – mine too)

Chris can almost name all 18 of her first-year students, I am a little fuzzy on most at this point. They change the names they wish to called often, it seems to me. Not sure why, other than to confuse us.

Meals are modest here – beans, rice and vegetables mostly. But we have fresh eggs from our chickens as well. This morning we killed 6 roosters – very exciting meal to come this weekend!

Thanks for all your support and prayers for these very deserving and precious young women.

In my class today, I asked each student to talk about the needs and concerns in their home communities.

It was hard to listen without great emotion. Crime and corruption takes a huge toll on people – in many ways. As one example, 5 of 8 girls mentioned that there were no decent public health clinics in or close to their communities. What we are attempting to do at TLC is educate these young women to make the changes they need for themselves, their communities and their country.

Blessings from Honduras,

Dan