Click on each title to view the post I wrote right after I returned. They're worth the read and are full of pictures!
Day 1 - Traveling On My Own
I remember unpacking and re-packing my bags about a billion times in order to get everything to fit. I regret not bringing more but as it was my first time going with Compassion, I wasn't sure what to bring or how much. More importantly, I didn't want to overwhelm Fady and Ali. However, next time, I think I will bring more stickers and bubbles for the kids that I meet at the various Compassion centers.
I got the window seat on the plane which was very important to me because I wanted to take pictures as we descended into San Pedro Sula. Two bags didn't arrive with us and I was scared to death that one was mine. I remember praying that I would have a humble heart and that I wouldn't be upset if my bag of goodies didn't arrive and I had nothing to give my kids. I wasn't going to Honduras to bring my kids gifts! I was going to hold them in my arms and to spend time with them. And while my bag was actually on the ride, I'm thankful that God had prepared my heart and not only was I able o hold my kids but was also able to give them their gifts.
Day 2 - Visiting HO364
I remember waking up feeling pretty inadequate because I didn't know Spanish so I wouldn't be able to communicate with the kids that day. However, God quickly reminded me that he was providing and wanted me on that trip for a reason.
The day was incredible hearing from moms and kids in the Child Sponsorship Program. We learned that Compassion was providing resources for these moms so that they could better provide for their children at home. Things as simple as drawing pictures at the Compassion center full of vibrant colors and taking them home to teach their toddlers definitely stuck with me. Afterwards, I spent the morning coloring with some insanely adorable toddlers. They could barely speak so I didn't have to worry about using my broken Spanish. God providing once again!
We then visited a sponsored child and his family's home and learned how Compassion was providing for them and their neighborhood.
Day 3 - Visiting HO372
On this day, I remember feeling inadequate all over again and extremely nervous because I had been asked to do something prior to the trip. One of my sponsor friends wanted me to take pictures of the day (especially of her own sponsored children at the project) but after the beautiful church service, we were doing home visits. I realized that I wouldn't really have an opportunity to meet with all the kids. However, God was certainly working. The house that my group went to for our home visit belonged to her newest sponsored children Astrid. I was able to tell her personally that her sponsor loved her and was coming soon to see her.
Back at the hotel, we heard from three incredible students in the Leadership Development Program. They shared how Compassion had changed their lives and how each intended to return to their communities to serve and spread the Gospel.
Day 4 - The Best Day of My Life
I will NEVER forget this day or the emotions I was feeling. This was the day I met Fady and Ali for the first time!
The drive to the beach (where we were having the Fun Day) was probably around two hours so I forced myself to stay awake so that I could pray. We arrived at the beach before the kids which gave us some time to look around and be nervous together. When the buses arrived, I couldn't see Fady or Ali but they both saw me! In a recent letter from Fady, she told me that she had seen me from the bus and had yelled "That's my sponsor!"
I remember seeing Ali first and giving him, his mom, and his center director big hugs. We took pictures and then Fady arrived. She had brought her little brother, her mom, and her mentor along with her. It was a very special moment meeting Fady's mom because for the first year or so that I had been sponsoring Fady, her mom was the one who wrote the letters. Afterwards, we found our table and I gave the kids the first of their gifts - swim suits and shirts! Poor, Diego (Fady's adorable little brother) was impatient to get in the water so we changed into our suits and ran in. Fady's suit fit her perfectly (which I am thankful for because she hadn't brought one) but Ali's was way too big. However, his mom came prepared and had brought his suit.
That day, we went on a boat ride, splashed around in the water, ate a delicious lunch, asked each other questions, and before I knew it I was giving them their gifts. I gave Fady her gifts first and have included the video for you all. I will never forget how happy Fady was when she saw her doll. After, she carried her around while she played soccer with Ali and the doll was still in her arms when she climbed on the bus. I also shared with her why I chose to sponsor her and how much I loved her. I also prayed for her.
I gave Ali a soccer ball which he also adored. After letting me pray for him, he and Fady and Diego went out in the sand to play around with it. Just from this video, you can see he's a quiet, internal processor. He zipped through all the gifts but treasured his soccer ball. I think he's written to me about it once and has also told me that he's enjoying "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."
Right before the day ended, I took a very sweet video of Diego...being Diego. I will treasure this video forever. I miss each of them every day.
Day 5 - My Last Day
Final day in Honduras. After doing some souvenir shopping and getting some gifts for my family, we headed to the airport. I remember the plane was having problems and we had to sit on that poor plane for hours and by the time it took off, we had all missed our connecting flights. The people sitting next to me were part of a large youth group that had gone to Honduras for a mission trip. They hadn't heard of Compassion International so I was able to share why I was there and talk nonstop about how amazing Fady and Ali are.
Arriving in Miami was problematic with all of us tired, frustrated, and needing to book connecting flights. I was so thankful for all the sponsors that helped me figure out my flight and then get me to my hotel. Around 3am, I headed back to the airport and finally made it back home to my family safely.
What Did I Learn??
Before the trip, I asked God to share something special with me while we were there. I was hoping it'd be about my future and what he wanted me to do with my life and I guess that, in a way, he did. The biggest lesson that I learned while in Honduras was to trust God through EVERYTHING and never forget that he is always in control. Every time I was worried, he came to my rescue and also gave me a beautiful day with my sponsored kids.
Looking back, I am still in awe at all that God accomplished for the 36 of us on the trip. I'm sitting here in my room looking around at all the pictures of my kids hanging on my wall. I have their first sponsor pictures, special moments from Honduras, and also a Honduran cross hanging by my door. Most importantly, I have Psalm 46:10 (my favorite Bible verse) by my bed that reminds me every nigh and day of how I need to trust God in everything.
Do I hope to return to Honduras? Absolutely. I would love to go back for Fady's 15th birthday after I finish college if I can. And maybe one day, I'd love to work or teach in that beautiful country.
I also learned the importance of writing letters to my sponsored kids. It's not enough just to send in the $38 a month. In order to build that relationship and to help encourage their walk with God, you must enter into their lives and allow them to enter into yours as well.
Thank you once again to all of you who donated and prayed for me on this trip one year ago today. I'm so thankful God provided you all for me. And I pray that you were blessed and challenged reading about the journey.
Please click on the titles above to read the full stories OR click on the "Honduras 2015" tab above to read all my posts on the journey leading up to Honduras.
Happy one year anniversary, Fady and Ali. I love you both so much.