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.
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!
We send you the very best wishes from The Leadership Center. Chris and I have been here a week now. We arrived with a great team from Arise Campus Ministry of George Mason University. The team also included a couple friends from Floris UMC and Trinity UMC. The team has had a great week, really jumping in and working with our 30 students, attending classes, and tutoring/mentoring students.
We have 16 first year students and 14 second year students here at TLC. The first years are finishing their last full quarter of English immersion classes. The second year students are taking Community Development, Entrepreneurship and Latin American history classes.
Chris and I are team teaching entrepreneurship- two classes a day. I am working with the students on starting some business plans, which interestingly include a number of “social businesses.”
The young women here are wonderful and so grateful for the opportunity for further education. They really appreciate spending time with visitors and teams. I think one of the blessings of spending time here is the realization that they are so appreciative and so grateful for what they have – and it really is very humbling.
One of our graduates from three years ago arrived Friday afternoon – Judy C. She came really to visit with Chris. Judy is an impressive young woman. After graduation from TLC in 2016, she started a retail resale business on Facebook. She fully repaid her micro loan from TLC in 12 months. She worked for 2 years at a call center – doing medical translation services. She also volunteers with US Medical Brigades – taking teams into rural communities. She told us that in one week – a recent team saw over 800 patients. And she has started a cooperative of women/stay-at-home mothers in two communities making and selling jewelry. Finally, she is taking classes at University. Her future is limitless and she will definitely brighten the future of Honduras.
Our weekend was very full. Friday after classes was a campus soccer game, and Friday night was Movie Night featuring My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Saturday afternoon was a hike to the waterfall and that evening was a bonfire – marshmallows, games, singing, skits and general silliness. Yesterday we had a picnic lunch along the river – it was a very beautiful sunny day. The girls made chicken salad. Last night was our praise worship service and a wonderful message from the book of Luke.
So we are back to classes this morning!
The GMU Arise team leaves tomorrow and a team will arrive from Lafayette College. Teams are very important to ministries and missions for many reasons – but honestly its so wonderful to see the experiences and benefits that participants on teams receive. For many it is a life changing experience.
We know the snow has been challenging for many of you. The TLC students have really enjoyed seeing the pictures and videos some of you have sent of snow activities. They are jealous! Can you imagine if you never experienced snow in your life?
Chris and I have been here at The Leadership Center for a week now. We are happy to be back and are getting to know the newest class of students, the first years.
Honduras is very much in the US news lately. Immigration, caravans, violence, poverty … many opinions.
And it’s also a topic here at The Leadership Center as most of the 30 young women on campus have family or extended family in the states. Most of the stories we hear about people that leave Honduras for the US, are very sad. They love their country but feel they have no other option to escape desperate poverty. Families break up as often fathers or mothers leave with some children but not all. Their intent generally is to make money to send home. But the continued societal problems here in Honduras are the root cause of the issues that force people to desperate actions. That is exactly why our educational mission and ministry here is so important. We want to enable these young women to make positive changes in their communities and in their country. And believe me, our students and our graduates are doing that in real ways. Over 90% of our graduates are employed and helping their families and their communities.
The first year students are a very lively bunch. They have four English classes a day and are doing well. I was reading with Eva, the student we sponsor, this afternoon after her last class. Actually she was reading to me!
The picture is of the first year students eating a plant, La Penca, that grows behind a couple of the casitas. It’s a cactus type plant. They skin it and put it in a mixture of cumin, hot sauce, lime and salt. It’s very tasty.
Chris has been sewing with the second year students and they have also enjoyed knitting caps, which they are all wearing at night since it’s been cold.
Right now Chris has a reading group in our casita so I am hanging out in the Staff House as I send you this note. The girls love to read short stories with Chris and hot tea and cookies are enjoyed as well!
Second years are studying community development and leadership this quarter. They are working on a clean water project in a nearby community. I did a couple entrepreneurial warm up classes with them earlier this week. A prelude to coming back to teach business classes in January.
I thought you would enjoy this picture of the guy on a horse riding through campus yesterday. He was delivering some kitchen supplies (Amazon light!).
We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for – so many blessings. And that is how these grateful young women feel and act every day here at The Leadership Center.
Dan and Chris Moore announce their next trips to The Leadership Center in Honduras. They would love to share this experience with you.
The destination, The Leadership Center, is a post-secondary school for women unable to afford University schools. We offer a two-year residential program in English, Leadership, Community Development and Liberal Arts.
The next trip is scheduled for November 9-26. Interested persons could join Dan and Chris for all or a part of the trip.
Another trip is scheduled for January, leaving about the 9th and returning on February 5. Again, joining the team for part of the time is possible.
The cost for the trip is between $500-$750 plus airfare. Partial stipends are available for Trinity members.
We would love to share this experience and interested persons should contact Dan or Chris.
Another week has flown by here at The Leadership Center and it was a busy one.
Last Sunday, I gave the message at the worship service. A big step out of my comfort zone, but as I continually encourage the students here to always be looking to try new experiences, I felt I must do the same. I spoke about “The Hands of The Almighty” and how they are often to be found at the ends of our very own arms. I give myself a solid C for my first sermon.
Our dear friend Dan Price was here for 5 days. He came specifically to paint the Catholic Church in our neighboring community of Los Valles. This undertaking was a huge success that involved many community members and students from TLC over a 5-day period of hard work, fellowship and a lot of laughter. The finished product is lovely and the community is very grateful.
Dan Price also brought Sweet Virginia shirts for all the students, they are very interested in his bee business.
Jeff Hayes, our wonderful brother-in-law also arrived last week. Jeff is a multi talented man and is making many friends here at TLC. He is a carpenter, electrician, painter and accomplished musician all rolled into one lovable guy. The ladies gather around in the evenings to enjoy his guitar and harmonica. He’s now giving several of the students guitar lessons.
The second group of applicants are now on campus for their interviews. Selected students will begin studies in April as Cohort 9. We hope to accept 15-18 students and will be looking for sponsors very soon.
My short story discussion groups continue and it is a time with students that I treasure. We meet in the evenings over a cup of tea to talk and share time together. It is amazing how perceptive they are of the nuisances of these stories which they read in their second language. I admire them so much.
Business classes continue with Mr. Dan and a quiz is on deck for today. Break-even analysis is a challenge in any language. I am supplementing this class with a reading and discussion of “Who Owns the Ice House,” a guide to the entrepreneurial mindset. Students are enjoying the book.
Cirse Cruz, a third-year student, was here last weekend to consult with Dan about her business plans. Third year students are currently off campus for most of the time, working at internships and following a plan of independent study. Cirse now has a fledgling internet business selling perfumes on What’s App. She is applying for a loan to expand this enterprise and she still has a long-term plan to start a day care center to support working parents in her community. She truly is an entrepreneur in action.
That’s all for now, thanks for your prayers, encouragement and love.
Chris and I arrived Tuesday afternoon, along with a team of 10 students and 2 faculty members of Lafayette College.
They are terrific young hearts and minds and have immediately kindled relationships with the young women who are here studying at TLC.
The quarter is just underway this week. First years are completing their last quarter of English Classes- 4 hours a day. Second year students are taking Leadership, Law & Justice, Microsoft Office and Entrepreneurship Classes, a pretty full plate. There are also a few third year students here, completing their independent study classes and writing up their final internship papers.
The new electricity is terrific. It’s been on 24 / 7 and it’s so good not to rely on solar. The internet however is struggling. We have had very little bandwidth. The satellite service engineer was here yesterday (again) but I think we may need divine intervention. So I am not sure when you will receive this. But I won’t attach pictures so maybe the cloud will process it.
Chris has been swamped by her fan club of students for all sorts of help- reading club, sewing projects and just talk, love and encouragement.
I began Entrepreneurship class Wednesday. It’s going well but it’s a lot of material to cover in a month. I see some lively affirming faces and some dazed looks- so we will have fun together!
The Lafayette team has been terrific. They have been helping the students before classes each day with their daily chores. Cleaning pig pens, building a new chicken coop, picking coffee, raking the pine needles – many things.
It’s quite a change for the team participants of course. From all we have every day in the states to very modest food, cold showers and no Facebook. But it always brings out the best in people. Every time.
The TLC students are seeking out the gringo team for homework help and reading time. It’s been great.
Damarias gave a wonderful devotional yesterday morning – on her 23rd birthday. She spoke of the new year and encouragers us all to make those changes in our lives that we know we need!
The weather has been quite cool in the evening (sweatshirts) but hot and sunny by about 9 a.m. No rain in sight. Been a lot of birds around, saw a heron of some type this morning take a small tilapia from the fish tank!
Bonfire this evening – always great!
Well that’s it for now and we thank you all for your support and encouragement!
Our days begin when the sun comes up, about 6. First we hear the sheep and then the birds. (Roosters on and off all night). Coffee at 6:30, breakfast at 7. Daily devotionals at 7:20 and the girls work for an hour and a half beginning at 7:30. Showers and clean up at 9 and classes begin at 9:30.
The new class of 18 young women is getting into the swing of things with 4 English classes each day. They are benefiting (I hope) from hearing 3 distinct English accents; American, Australian, and English with a slight French accent. First test is Friday.
Dan’s eight third-year business students are showing some level of anxiety about accounting class and he is trying to find ways to keep them interested and awake in class.
The sewing/craft room opened last Saturday with 18 students making hair accessories. They had such fun and will be introduced to sewing this Saturday as we attempt to make 18 travel pillows. Dan is on call for all sewing machine repairs.
We had a lovely surprise visit from TLC graduate Roxana at lunch today. She is continuing her smoothie/snack shop business at orphanage Emmanuel where she grew up. Roxana is saving money to hopefully attend nursing school someday.
Nice break from the rain today.
Looking forward to a visit Saturday from friends Jose Rivera, Bill Goodman and Jim Wilson.
Headed to Wednesday night bible study now. We feel blessed to be here and thank you for all your prayers and loving support of this ministry.
It’s hot and sunny here today in the mountains of Honduras. We have had a lot of rain the last few afternoons and evenings which has challenged our solar power and internet connectivity! But it is very nice now – about 78 degrees.
Four of our seniors left campus yesterday for a week to translate for a US-based medical brigade who is providing free health care to poor people in Tegucigalpa. The girls were excited about their first ever visit to an airport to meet the medical team. It’s a nice validation of our English teaching here at The Leadership Center that these girls were hired as translators.
The second-year students just returned from a day trip to El Saccoro, a nearby (2-hour walk) village of 40 homes. The girls are beginning to plan a community development project there – perhaps a small high school or a clean water source.
The first-year students are working hard at learning English. They have 4 classes a day. Chris is teaching an afternoon class. They also have evening reading and an English Cafe – where we all help in the afternoons and evenings. The students are now supposed to be only speaking English on campus, except for their rooms in the evening where Spanish is ok. They learn well in this environment. Four of the graduates last February are now teaching English at small elementary schools, a great first job. They typically earn about 4-6000 lempira a month – about $200 to $300.
Business plans for seniors are coming along. Just finished working some with Dessy, who is planning to start a coffee processing and sales business. She will buy green coffee from local farmers in bulk and dry it, and have it roasted and ground. Dessy will bag and market the coffee locally. She will have about 15 lempira (75cents) a pound in costs and sell it for about 35-40 lempira. It’s interesting to think about – a coffee business in Honduras! Imagine that.
We killed the last few meat chickens yesterday and had them with rice for lunch today. Very tasty. Egg layers are producing about 60 eggs a day so we have plenty of eggs!
We had a great bible study last night – John’s third letter about hospitality. 14 of the girls participated and they had some interesting ideas and encouragements for us. The overwhelming feeling that I experience as these young women talk about their faith is amazement for their strong witness.
Well that’s it for now. I am hoping the internet will speed this to you today, but it’s possible it may be tomorrow!
Well, we are coming down the home stretch – just about two and a half weeks to go. We are excited to see you all again soon.
At Bible Study last night we had about a dozen of the students. We closed the fellowship with each person witnessing a bit about how God is engaged in their lives right now. Some of the girls had some very powerful and emotional things to say. What struck me was that despite some very poor circumstances and even difficult home lives, these girls are so thankful to God for the opportunity to be at TLC and to have the chance to change their lives for the better through education and leadership development. However, even with the free education provided by TLC, some students’ families feel their absence at home as their daughters are not there to help or to provide support. A number of the girls talked about that pressure and concern and their seeking of God’s direction. One of the first-year students left campus about 6 weeks ago to care for her sick mother. We all hope and pray for her mom’s recovery and for Helde to be able to return to TLC.
This afternoon my senior class delivered their business plans to an assembly of classmates and teachers. While not quite done, it was the culmination of about 3 months of work. These 4 students will graduate March 22. Today each student made a 20-minute PowerPoint presentation and outlined their addressable market, financial forecasts and operational plans. Each of the 4 retail businesses will be in a different very small rural community, where no similar business exists-an agricultural supply store, bakery & coffee bar, a dairy store and a fast food restaurant. Each business may be started for $3-4,000, most of the capital goes to initial inventory or equipment. It’s interesting to know that operational costs are typically modest, as rent and labor is inexpensive. However goods, such as equipment and merchandise, is relatively expensive. This is one of the challenges of Honduras- low wages but fairly expensive “things.” Over the final couple weeks we will tweak the business plans and then consider how to launch and fund the businesses. The girls did a great job; they were much relieved this afternoon and at the same time very pumped up.
We have a very special treat for you now. One of our sweet and beautiful freshman is Judy Canelas. She is one of Trinity’s sponsored students. She is in my vocabulary group and she and Chris read a book a couple times a week. She has a wonderful sense of humor and is a joy to be around. I am handing the iPad to Judy now, for her to write you a message. Here’s Judy!
Hello! My name is Yudy Canelas, I am from Francia, Limon Colon. I am twenty years old and this is my first year in TLC.
Thank you for sponsoring me, I am very grateful for that. God bless you all of you.
Here at The Leadership Center we are grateful for all the members of Trinity Church, thank you so much for helping us and helping in the development of this country.
A couple months ago I met Mr. Dan and Mrs. Chris, they talk about Trinity Church.
Mrs. Chris brought materials from Trinity for pillows, blankets, hairpins and curtains. I made a blanket and two hairpins. Also she sent material to make earrings and necklaces and I am starting to make them and I sell. I discovered that I am good in that.
My spiritual goals for this quarter are read the Bible and go to church on Sundays.
Also I have academic goals, they are read books with someone else, improve my pronunciation and listen to English music. I have been reading books with Chris and we have almost finished the last one, it tittle is “Little house in the Big woods” Mrs. Chris said I did not need to read aloud with someone else, I can do it for fun. I was very pleased with that because that means I am improving my pronunciation.
Every Monday in English class the teacher gives us vocabulary words. Afterwards two classmate and I have pronunciation with Mr. Dan.
Every morning and afternoon my task is to feed the fish and check the water, I like to do that.
This is my last quarter of English and I am excited to begin the leadership year.
God bless you, and thank you again for your support and prayers. I hope to meet more members of Trinity church, it will be a pleasure to have you here because this is your house and you are very welcome.
I would you like to know about you and the church.
P.S: especial hello to Jose, Victoria and Sharon! Missing you.
With love… Yudy!
Well I hope you can get a sense from Judy’s note about how we all are playing a role in these wonderful girls’ lives. Whether it’s your prayers, financial support or donations of goods – we are all playing a part here.
The wind is whistling just a bit tonight, we can hear it in the mountain tree tops. The stars and the moon are very bright, I wish you could see it. Someday?