Posted by: bartandannie | September 5, 2008

Top Ten Mission Awareness Trip Moments

Right now, we are sitting in the project’s meeting hall. It is 95 degrees, we are sipping coffee, and our jeans are clinging to our legs. Despite all of this, we now know why many people remark that Ocotepeque enjoys a más fresco (cooler) climate than much of Honduras. Last week, we visited two other CFCA projects – El Progreso and Santa Barbara – and over the course of eight days, we lost a combined total of 25 pounds in water weight. OK, so that’s an exaggeration, but it was really hot…

From Aug. 23-30th, we interpreted for 21 CFCA sponsors who were visiting Honduras through a Mission Awareness Trip (MAT). The trip offered the group an opportunity to meet their sponsored friends and families as well as learn more about CFCA programs in the field. We enjoyed seeing more of Honduras and meeting the sponsors, who had traveled from states such as Arkansas, Wyoming, Montana, Wisconsin, and Texas.

Instead of giving you the “play-by-play” on our trip, we’d rather just share a few highlights with you and encourage you to take a MAT -no two trips are the same. Click here for more information on CFCA Mission Awareness Trips. 

Below, you can watch a video of our group’s arrival in the community of Los Naranjos in Santa Bárbara. The children are all holding up heart-shaped signs with their sponsor’s name. They welcomed us as representatives of all CFCA sponsors. You can hear fireworks and marimbas in the background.

 

Top Ten Mission Awareness Trip Moments

 10. Copan Ruins in 60 minutes or less Unfortunately, both of us could not visit the ruins since Annie helped translate for sponsors who wanted to go shopping instead. So, Bart offered to accompany the group going to the ruins (poor guy-he so wanted to shop). Upon arrival, the group obtained a guide fluent in four languages and eager to share every last detail about the history of the ruins-which would have been fine if there had been more time. After spending the first 45 minutes discussing native vegetation, the group had to speed-walk through the rest of Mayan city in about an hour. We’re already planning a return visit so that we can give this archaeological treasure the time it deserves.

A view of the Mayan ruins at Copan.

A view of the Mayan ruins at Copan.

 9. “Francisco” Sinatra sighting in San Pedro Sula Though our hotel in San Pedro was very nice, each night during dinner, we became an unwilling audience for a “battle of the bands” between a Honduran lounge singer doing Frank Sinatra covers and a local marimba duo pounding out traditional Honduran tunes. We sought refuge in the slightly quieter lobby where Jingle Bell Rock shared air time on the hotel radio with Kenny G.

 8.  Buy! Sell! Trade! In the subproject of Guajoco (Santa Barbara GJ), we enjoyed our first opportunity to buy authentic souvenirs from some “crafty” sponsored mothers. They weave everything from baskets to purses to sombreros out of dried palm leaves. Consider our Christmas shopping done.

 7. Honduran Idol While in Santa Barbara, we were treated to performances by CFCA sponsored children, their families, and the project staff. What a talented bunch! Despite the sweltering temperature and a crowd of around 300 people, the performers kept everyone entertained with their songs, skits, and dances. Even Simon Cowell would be hard pressed to criticize those brave performances. Enjoy the video below of two of the many performances that night.

 6. Honduran History (the unabridged version) Throughout the MAT, we translated various presentations for the sponsors. One evening before dinner, we translated a presentation on Honduran history which began with the voyages of Christopher Columbus and ended with a discussion of current political events. Annie’s voice gave out sometime during the War for Independence and it still hasn’t fully returned.

 5. Bob Sing-A-Long During the trip, we really enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time with Bob, Annie’s great uncle and CFCA president, and his wife, Cristina. They are a fun couple whose example inspired us to volunteer. Bob is a talented musician and it’s always fun to hear his latest songs. He never fails to get everyone singing.

 4. Splish-Splash On the second to last day of the trip, everyone had the chance to cool off at a water park not far from the Copan Ruins. There were water slides, fountains, and diving boards. Our language skills were not in high demand since play doesn’t require any translation. It was a special day for sponsored children and sponsors alike. Everyone left the park as happy as they were sunburned.

A view of the water park near the ruins at Copan.

A view of the water park near the ruins at Copan.

 3. Green Eggs and Ham OK, so this didn’t exactly happen during the trip, but it’s still worth mentioning. On the drive back to Ocotepeque from San Pedro Sula, Luis pulled over to a roadside stand advertising Huevos de Tortuga (Turtle eggs). Apparently, it is a sign of manhood in Honduras to drink raw turtle eggs from time to time. Bart, of course, was up for the challenge. After first sipping at the eggs, which were swimming in a spicy, green salsa, he downed the remainder. He swears that the salsa tasted worse than the eggs. No negative side effects to report so far.

 2. There’s no place like home One of the most powerful experiences during a Mission Awareness Trip, and during our time as volunteers, is the opportunity to visit with sponsored families in their homes. Their houses are made of either cement block, mud bricks, or adobe and often contain only one or two rooms. Roofs are made of tin or clay tile and floors are either dirt or concrete. The kitchens consist of a cement pila (sink and washboard) and a wood-fired oven. The bathrooms are often located in a wooden latrine behind the house. These are humble homes. However, during a visit with these sponsored families, we find that the surroundings will often fade to the background as the mothers and children share their powerful stories with us. As we translated during these home visits, sponsors shared their new appreciation for their own homes and their new understanding of how many of the world’s families live each and every day.

 1. Bookstores with BOOKS! We have mixed feelings about putting this as our number one experience during the MAT, and, to be fair, it actually occurred just after all the sponsors had left. However, we’ve found that here in Honduras, simple things are often the most pleasing. As many of you know, we both like to read quite a bit and we’ve had the tradition of picking up books as we travel. Here in Ocotepeque, however, this has proven to be quite a challenge. Every time we enter a store marked librería (bookstore), we have been sorely disappointed to discover that librería appears to be the term here for paper warehouse. So, instead of poetry and politics, we find the shelves filled with Dora the Explorer wrapping paper and Coca Cola stationery. So, imagine our joy when we entered a librería in San Pedro Sula and found that it actually contained libros (books)! Bart soon found a few paperbacks on Honduran history and Annie selected the works of a Honduran poet. Now that our bedside stands are stacked with a few books, our little room here in Ocotepeque feels a lot more like home.

  

We hope that everyone had a great Labor Day Weekend and is enjoying the transition into the Fall season. We can hardly believe that football season has begun…updates on KU and Mizzou will be welcomed. Here in Ocotepeque, the schools are preparing for Independence Day celebrations, which begin on September 13th and run through the actual holiday, September 15th. We look forward to a day or two off from work.

 P.S. While the internet made a brief appearance for two weeks, it is once again on the fritz. So, we are updating our blog from the internet café in town. In addition, the power has been off and on due to some storms caused by Hurricane Gustav. If you are trying to email us or are hoping for a response to your comment, please be patient. We’ll try to check our email once a week until the internet returns to the project.

Bart makes a new friend in the community of Los Naranjos, a subproject of Santa Barbara.

Bart makes a new friend in the community of Los Naranjos, a subproject of Santa Barbara.

Sponsor, Darryl Rezak, distributes food provisions to mothers of sponsored families.

Sponsor, Darryl Rezak, distributes food provisions to mothers of sponsored families.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Annie translates during a presentation by sponsored fathers and mothers at the Santa Barbara project.

Annie translates during a presentation by sponsored fathers and mothers at the Santa Barbara project.

 

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Responses

  1. B & A –
    It is great to hear from you! I think I saw some dance moves in the videos quite similiar to the dance moves I saw at your wedding!!! Wonderful update – Thanks!
    Peace & Love,
    AJeanie

  2. Hi Aunt Jeanie,
    You’re right–looks like our dance moves have gone international! 🙂 We hope all is well with you and Chalupa in Idaho. When we get back next year we promise to visit. Take care.
    Love,
    Bart and Annie

  3. Annie and Bart, it sounds like you are having a wonderful and moving experience. I love reading your blogs, thanks for keeping us updated! I am really excited to see you at Emily’s wedding! Have a safe trip back!

  4. Annie and Bart,
    Loved this update. I know how crowded some of those events can be but it all fades away when you see the love and care the families put into getting ready for their big presentations. I’m sure the kids enjoyed it as much or more than the sponsors. I’m always in awe of all the hard work that goes into making the sponsor visits very special. It’s always a special time.

    We had a staff encuentro yesterday and Bob was in KC for that before he left for Africa. He loved having you two on the trip and said you were a huge help! We talked about you two getting over the Guate for one of their trips. It will be a chance for Bart to see San Lucas….the place that stole your heart at 16 years old.

    Love you both. Take care. Stay healthy and continue to enjoy the adventure.

    Mom

  5. September 18th, 2008
    Happy Birthday = = = May you celebrate with lots of sunshine!
    Peace & Love,
    AJ and CDawg


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