Blog: Day 4 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Axel Gumbel

Blog: Day 4

Anyela, one of the kids with Down syndrome Anyela, one of the kids with Down syndrome
Rui doing a reading exercise with Brayan Rui doing a reading exercise with Brayan
School court yard School court yard
Kindergartener Kindergartener
kid at the daily feeding program kid at the daily feeding program
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Day 4

I'm actually beginning this entry in the morning of Day 5. This after I wasn't able to write up yesterday's experiences due to another power outage. We all had a very trying night. We didn't have water for most of the day yesterday (shower/toilet/faucet water that is). Then the water pump was actually fixed and the water was back on right after supper time, so we were all looking forward to our much needed showers. However, I think only Maddie and I were able to get our showers in, as shortly thereafter the power went out. And of course that meant the water pump wasn't working, either. My wife, Jennifer, as well as Jeff were in mid-shower at the time. Yikes! Not to mention the complete darkness at the Children's Home. Luckily a few of us had little flash lights. And Dilia gave us a few candles, as well. Originally we were supposed to have a movie night in the church building, but without power that had to be cancelled.
Eventually we all met in one of our bedrooms by flash and candle light and had a little party. We sang campground songs and cracked each other up until it was time to get to bed. Maddie and Becca were excellent entertainers.
The enjoyable evening came to an end when many of us couldn't get to sleep. I should mention that the power did come back on around 10pm or so, but a circuit breaker for the power supply that fed all the outlets in our rooms, which supplied our many fans did not work. So you can imagine the agony of laying in bed with heat and humidity weighing in on you constantly and not even much of a breeze coming through the windows. I am not sure about the others, but I think I only got in about 2 hours of sleep and am tempted to just nod off as I am typing this.
Kudos to Jeff, though, who fiddled with the circuit breakers and managed to find a working one last night. But he was unsuccessful finding enough extension cords to connect a few fans. Thanks for trying Jeff.

Working with the kids

Ok, now back to the actual Day 4. Yesterday was the first day our therapists did work sessions with our kids with special needs. We had Angela, Bryan, Ingrid, Jennifer and a new girl named Marilin. We still haven't seen Alex, who was part of the group last year, or Kensie, but I hear her mother got sick and couldn't make it to the Children's Home. We also didn't see Diana, who was a new girl on Saturday (she has CP), but I am not sure why she didn't come.
Anyway, we had many work stations set up for the kids. There was a craft station, a speech station, a activity station for playdoh etc, and an activity station outside to play with balls and ropes. I have to apologize for not knowing the exact therapy terms. It's all very new to me and Rachel can easily explain it much better. I roamed around the different stations and enjoyed seeing our therapists really working hard with the kids. It's a joy to see them so dedicated, even though they'll only see the kids for a week. And you can't help but feel well when you see the kids smile, chuckle and laugh all the time. I think they really enjoyed the attention, games/activities and structure they got.
Speaking of structure, it was evident that our group may have had a little bit too much planned for each kid. The plan was to work with them from about 8am until noon (with breaks of course), but their attention span just wouldn't hold up to working at an individual station for 45 minutes. Many of the kids would gravitate to the playground after a while, so Rachel and her team decided to restructure the day for tomorrow a little bit.
By the way, the kids also stayed for lunch before they went back home.

Trip to school

Earlier in the day Dago took me along to drop off the kids at the local schools. This was another eye opening experience for me. I had a chance to go into what would probably be the equivalent of an American grade or middle school. Imagine three long buildings, forming a U and each divided into same size, simple classrooms. On the "inside" of the U was what I would call a courtyard, only that it resembled more of a construction zone. There was debris everywhere, dirt piles, rocks, old rusty metal, trash and something that's probably used as a basketball court at one point. Not to mention the backhoe working just yards from the kids. Since it was Monday morning, all the kids (maybe 300) lined up according to their classes to listen to a talk from who I think was the principal and some teachers. They prayed, sang the national anthem and listened to a talk about the importance of family and respecting your parents.
As I stood in the back observing the activities I thought about how blessed we are with the American school system. Sure we struggle with flat funding or even budget cuts in the U.S., but hey, here are hundreds of kids, dressed in their neatly pressed uniforms, standing in the dirt, covered in dust, listening to the weekly "rally call".
The class rooms are only marginally better, by the way. They have the basic supplies, like a chalk board, some books, games etc., but the surroundings are rather dismal. The paint is falling off the walls and the chairs and tables remind me of something I'd see maybe in a World War II movie. Imagine heavy looking iron made chairs with scratched up wooden backs that have seen much better days. Ironically, these chairs and tables are probably of top notch quality and could probably withstand another who knows how many years in the rugged Honduran school life.

Feeding Program

We also witnessed our first feeding program today. Every school day around noon up to 60 kids from the community come to the Children's Home for a free lunch. It's all part of
Dago's commitment to help disadvantaged children in the area. He uses his school bus to bring the kids to the home every day. It was a sight to see. Dozens of young kids, maybe 3-8 years old, most not very well clothed came running from the school bus into the church building, where the kitchen team had set up 4 rows of tables where each kid would find a seat. This was a highly organized event and it was amazing to see the orderly fashion in everything. While the kids where loud, nobody really misbehaved. They just sat there waiting for their food. On this day it was rice with some kind of meat stew, which looked really delicious. Our group helped serve the food, which meant colored plastic bowls for the young kids and oval-shaped (plastic?) shapes for the older kids. When the kids were done they had to drop off their dirty dishes in a big bowl and on their way out they received a cup of rice milk, which was spooned out of a big 10 gallon bucket by the door with the help of one of the Children's Home kids.
The kids had some more play time on the playground before they were brought back to their homes. Overall, this operation lasted only about an hour. It happens on every school day, so we'll get to see this a few more times this week. Again, I can't help but be impressed with the simple joy these kids appear to just radiate every minute. They smile at you and hug you at random and the most basic interaction with them seems to make their day. It's the basic human spirit in all of us.


Jeff and I were invited to partake in the weekly soccer match in the afternoon. Of course our skills were nothing compared to those of the guys, who came from the area. We both ended up being goalies and quickly became skilled at picking up the ball from behind us. It was neat experience nevertheless.

Skyping Home

Becca, Maddie and Rachel were able to skype home to their girl scout friends, as well as brother Josiah and grandma. I already posted some photos on our facebook fanpage if you haven't seen them already.

The end of Day 4 already marks the halfway point of our trip. And the individualized work with the kids has only really begun. I am convinced our therapist team will truly max out their time with each kid and get the most of the little time available to them.
As for me, this trip continues to be a great mix of witnessing the way of life in a new country in non-tourist way, while enduring some unforeseen challenges and catching a glimpse of the great work a group of missionaries can do in a place like this.

It will be an exciting rest of the week.


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