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.
Trinity UMC is planning a trip to the Heart To Heart Children’s Village next summer. Planned dates for our mission trip are June 30 to July 8, 2017. Heart to Heart is home to over 100 children and youth in Porte Cortez, Honduras. Most of these children have been orphaned or abandoned over the last 8 years. This ministry provides food, shelter and a Christian education to all these children and has been supported by Trinity through donations, prayers and mission trips since 2011. Our mission team will participate in a project as well as spending much time with the children and youth. Anyone interested in participating in this trip should contact Pastor Keith Lee or Chris and Dan Moore.
It has been a really nice week since we forwarded our last epistle.
The weather has moderated considerably. Evenings are comfortable and afternoons are very warm now – about 75-80. The warm weather has brought some new friends to our casita. Did you know that Honduras is home to over 20 different types of lizards? Fortunately there are only about three or four that have become our close friends. While colorful, surprisingly they are a bit noisy.
A mission team of 11 arrived last Saturday afternoon, headed up by Ira Lucia, one of the officers and directors of TLC. Ira, his wife Sara and their daughters, were living at TLC when Chris and I first came here in 2011. Ira and Joseph were roommates in college and had worked with Glen Evans of Art for Humanity to launch TLC. Ira’s team, composed mostly of Ira and Sara’s family members and friends, are working on building a new coffee processing facility. It’s great to have them here for a week. As they depart this Saturday, Jose, Sharon and Victoria will arrive and we are really excited for that!
Last Sunday, Chris and I took a wonderful hike up the river for a couple miles. We came upon an old abandoned one room home, along a bend in the river. The roof was mostly caved in and the thatch covering was long gone. One homemade brick wall was partially collapsed, but the three and a half remaining walls were strong and well supported still. A few colorful red and purple flowering bushes partially surrounded the house. There was good evidence of the family that once lived there. A child’s shoe in the corner. A heavy wooden front door with a faded name. A rusted metal bucket under the window. An empty, but functional pila and washboard outside in the yard area, as well as a still standing wooden bano nearby. It seemed to us like a big family once lived here. Maybe 4-5 kids with their parents, because this property was large enough that it would have had to have been worked. They raised citrus and there were many lemon trees in full glory, still baring large yellow fruits, the size of grapefruits. A wooden and barbed wire fence around the large perimeter probably kept the few cows the farmer owned away from the home. About 150 yards from the house were the remains of a small wooden barn, mostly caved in; it would have held several cows and undoubtedly a number of chickens! We admired the property and walked around for 30 minutes, wondering what had happened to this family. We gathered some lemons and headed back to campus, still wondering.
On Monday we had a minor scare on campus. The workers were burning a field (to encourage regrowth and fresh grass for the cows) and the fire got swept away by the wind. It burned up two of the five coffee bean drying facilities before it was extinguished. The coffee dryers are made of PVC piping and covered with clear plastic covers – each about 60 by 30 feet. They are being rebuilt now. It could have been worse.
Chris’s junior class gave a presentation yesterday to all of the TLC assembly using their newly acquired PowerPoint skills. They each presented a few slides about Honduras, their home Departments (regions or states) with pictures of its history, geography, beautiful nature and foods.
Highlights for you:
Did you know that one of the largest and most spectacular carnivals in Central America and South America happens each May in Trujillo?
Did you know that Honduras has only one natural lake, Lake Yojoa?
The three largest export crops of Honduras are coffee, bananas and palm oil.
Baleadas, pupusas and orchata are favorite foods.
Semana Santa is Holy Week and it includes elaborate parades that process on beautiful carpets made of colored sawdust and many flowers.
The girls had fun with their Honduras presentation and it was enjoyed by all. The students are so very proud of this country and that was on full display yesterday.
My business students are in a full court press on their business plans now. We have a first draft together for each student but are now working hard to gather supplier and costing information.
One thing that has struck me in this business research – is how expensive many things are in Honduras. A good oven that many of us have in our homes in Virginia that could cost us $500-800, costs about that amount here. Even a pint or liter bottle of Coca Cola here is 20 -25 lempira – about $1 or so. Seems also similar to the States. But the disparity in earnings is huge, o things relatively (actually) cost so much, much more here. An average worker makes 160-200 lempira a day- that’s about $200 or so per month. Would you be able to buy an oven if it took 3 months worth of wages to acquire it?
A brief sharing of our devotional this morning, led by Hailey, as an encouragement for us this week: Psalm 139: 23-24 – where David asks God to search his heart and lead him forward. Something we can all do today.
Dayana Romero is truly one of blessings here at TLC. She is a Trinity-sponsored student from Puerto Cortes, and about to complete her first year. I am handing her the iPad now for her to share directly with you!
Hi God bless you! For me, it’s a blessing to have Trinity Church and Mr. Dan and Mrs. Chris Moore as sponsors and friends. I have shared many good moments with them and I appreciate them. They are a blessing for me and my classmates. Telling you something for me being at TLC it has been one of the best things I ever had. I’m glad I have met Mr. Dan and Mrs Chris, I have spent time with them and I have laughed with them. As Mr. Dan says, “I’m little concerned,” because when the quarter ends they are going to leave TLC and I’m going to miss them a lot. They are so especial, but I know they will come back soon ☺. I’m looking forward to meeting more members of Trinity Church this weekend. Thank you all. Dayana
We thank you all for your prayers and support. We do appreciate it.
We are back from a four-day excursion with the class of 6 second year students; a visit to Moholy’s home town of Tocoa and a side trip to Isletas. A long trip with 10 people in a small van, but rewarding in so many ways.
We departed TLC at 6a.m. last Friday, a bumpy ride at dawn off campus to begin the 10-hour trek. Heading north and descending from our 5,000-foot elevation, we passed through Comayaga, and Siguatepeque and then stopped for breakfast. The girls enjoyed ordering different foods at the roadside restaurant including some fried chicken and chorizo at 9 a.m.!
Next we passed Lake Yojoa, through El Progreso, Tela and then to La Ceiba on the northern coast for lunch around 2 p.m. Fried chicken, tostadas and fast, plentiful internet made for a great lunch. A quick Face Time with family was wonderful. (I miss my grandchildren!)
We arrived in Tacoa about 4:30 in the afternoon at the home of relatives of one of our first-year students, Judy. The students settled in while we, (Dan, Joseph and myself) located neighbors who had graciously offered to house us. We then connected with Marta, (a graduate of TLC 2 years ago) and had quick dinner of baleadas and fruit smoothies, then off to church; long, loud and passionate.
Marta now works for Clean Water Missions and she is truly a TLC success story.
Tocoa is a relatively large town, about an hour from the coast line. It is busy, with many stores, gas stations, restaurants and so on. The homes surround the busy main road in small neighborhoods. The main street is paved but most of the side streets with homes on them are not.
The next morning, Dan, Joseph, Marta and Chris headed to Isletas to visit Olga and Yanetzi who many of you know from their visit to the USA in December. The hour or so long trip to Isletas was enabled by traveling through the Standard Fruit (Dole) banana plantation that surrounds the community for many miles.
Isletas is a very modest community with one main road that is not paved. The area is surrounded by water, streams that regularly overflow so many homes are elevated.
Yanetzi’s store, El Classroom is up and running and did 10,000 limpiras ($500)of business in the first week. Initial customers include students who need school supplies to attend school, workers who need copies of documents (1 Limpera each copy) and even teachers who need curriculum developed. By spending several hours in her store we can tell you she is poised and confident. Her Internet and administrative services are becoming a significant part of her business. She has been invited to the local school to discuss her products and services. She is also a leader in her church. Can you tell that we are proud of her?
We also spent time with Olga trying to determine the best way for her pharmacy or medicine store to proceed. We have several ideas now that we have spent time in Isletas and Dan is working hard on this business plan. We were at Olga’s home for several hours talking and enjoying her family and drinking coconut water from her trees. Olga’s Mom fixed lunch for us and we were able to meet many family members.
That night we attended church with Yanetzi and were the overnight guests of Nidia’s family in Isletas. The hospitality and generosity of people with very modest resources is humbling.
Isletas is a very small community located in the very center of a vast banana plantation owned by Standard Fruit Company (Dole). As such it is a company town, almost everyone works for Standard Fruit. The company controls the road in and out of town and the limited healthcare that is available. Though not “well off” by US standards, most men in Isletas are employed.
We returned to Tocoa the next morning to join the second-year students as they presented the second day of seminars to a small community just outside Tocoa. The goal of these training sessions was to inspire a group of community leaders to begin to address some of the problems facing this very poor community. The students did a wonderful job with the seminars and left with promises.
Another evangelical church service on Sunday night featured Joseph and Maholy singing Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord, and Si Senior, most inspiring! (We have a video to share later.) The service was attended by about 400 people and was loud, joyful and very long! We arrived back in our homes for the night tired and ready to sleep.
We left for home very early the next day (5 a.m.) and although it was touch and go several times, the van made it home. We rented this van at a cost of $350, a significant cost for TLC. A lack of reliable vehicles continues to plague this ministry. The construction truck has been on its last legs for two years, bumper falling off, inaccessible driver’s side door, faulty electrical system and broken floor boards. The TLC van has been in the shop for over 4 weeks receiving a rebuilt engine costing $2000. The director’s vehicle is an 10-year-old SUV with more than 200,000 miles. The motorcycle’s headlight does not work. To say that this ministry needs better transportation vehicles is a leading contender for understatement of the year. Much is being accomplished here despite regular setbacks and daily frustrations.
When we reflect on how two young women who were educated here at TLC might begin to change and improve the small village of Isletas, we can really see the impact this mission might have in Honduras in the future! That is encouraging and we thank you all for being a part of this.
Classes resumed today and we are hard at work again, teaching, tutoring, leading discussion groups, sewing, reading and working on business plans. Definitely earning our salaries. 😊
The picture above is one of the first completed quilts! 4 done and 19 to go! The girls love this project and it is very fun.
We are looking forward to Team Jose’s visit in a few weeks. Keep us and the TLC students and leaders in your thoughts and prayers. Till next time.
Chris and Dan
Click on a thumbnail to scroll through these images at a larger size.
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.
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,
First, 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.
We 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!