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By Axel Gumbel

Blog: Day 7 & 8

  • By Axel GumbelBlog: Day 7 & 8More>>

  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 1

    Blog: Day 1

    We arrived safely here at the Children's home in Azacualpa last night. The trip was a bit of an endurance challenge.More >>
  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 2

    Blog: Day 2

    After more or less rushing through the first blog, I've now found a much more efficient way to put my impressions on (cyber) paper. It's Saturday night and I just tried to connect to Dago's wireless internetMore >>
  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 3

    Blog: Day 3

    This was our only Sunday at the Children's Home, and it was another day full of great experiences.More >>
  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 4

    Blog: 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.More >>
  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 5

    Blog: Day 5

    Tuesday was kind of a low key day. Well, at least for me. I am sure our therapy team would say the opposite. They had another great morning with the kids.More >>
  • By Axel Gumbel

    Blog: Day 6

    Blog: Day 6

    This blog may be cut short due to another power outage. It's been going on for several hours now and I am almost out of battery power on my laptop.More >>

Day 7/Day 8

I'm writing this final blog on our trip at Miami International Airport, where currently we are about 4 hours through our 6 hour layover. It's actually not as boring as I expected. It's fun to hang out one final time with our group that has done some great work over the past week.

We enjoyed our final full day at the Children's Home to the fullest. Becca and I accompanied Dago one more time, as he dropped off the kids at their schools and picked up the kids with Down syndrome for their final day at our day camp. This gave me one more chance to soak in life and lifestyle in Azacualpa.
The rest of our group got to milk a cow meanwhile. I haven't heard any big stories about it, so I'm assuming it all went well and the cow treated everyone well.

The last day of our day camp for the DS kids included another variety of crafts, such as flower pot decorating, name flag decorating, a pin the tail on the donkey game and a big piñata. (oh, I've never seen my keyboard automatically adding the squiggly sign to the n). I think everyone really enjoyed the piñata. You could really see everyone's personalities shine through by the way they swung the bat at it. No one was actually able to completely open it (due to its sturdy structure), so our own Kalia had to finish the job. And she loved it.
I really tried to soak in whatever I could by watching the kids interact with one another and with our therapists. Even though I didn't work with them directly, I did feel more and more attached to them, simply because having seen them every day and seeing how far they've come. I'm really proud of our team. They really did some great work and it was hard to see the kids leave for the final time yesterday. It was sad to realize that two of the expected kids never came, but how great it was to have three new kids. Even though our team didn't know them before, they quickly developed the right approach to work with them. And here is the best part: Dilia has agreed to host a monthly support group now for the parents of our DS kids, so they can come back to the Children's Home regularly to share stories and concerns, while their kids play with the kids at the Home. I really hope I can come back next year to see all the progress that's hopefully been made by then.

Our last afternoon brought a trip to a roadside market to buy souvenirs. I think it's a place Dago has taken all of his mission teams to, so some of you know which one I am talking about. They had some great original art, fashion, jewelry and trinkets. The best part was that Dago was able to negotiate the price down for each one of us, so we made quite the saving.

After our final dinner, which ironically consisted of hamburgers, we took showers, packed up and got ready for a little good bye party with the kids, who live at the Children's Home. Each one of them presented a song, either alone or in a group or said a few thank you's. Our group did the same with some campground songs, thank you's and a prayer. At the end Rachel and Maddie handed out some gifts for each kid, which they really loved. I think each one of them got some kind of lotion or soap, along with plenty of candy. One item that really seemed to fascinate the kids was the candy hearts with the little messages on them. I remember little Vanessa right now, who waved me over to show me something. I sat down next to her and she carefully untwisted her gift bag, dug out the candy heart box, picked out one of the hearts, showed it off with a big smile, ate it, and carefully put everything back together. Way to appreciate the little things.

The toughest part came after the party, when we had to say good bye to the kids and their house parents. I'm really glad that part of the evening was really chaotic, because otherwise I'm sure there would have been many tears. There was lots of horsing around and many final pictures were taken. I'll post some of them after I get this blog done.

Our trip back to home started at 5am on Day 8, when we left for the airport at San Pedro Sula. Dago and Dilia brought us there and invited us for one more breakfast at the Wendy's there. Then it was time to say good-bye to them, as well, which was very hard. They are such loving and gentle people through and through.

Our flight to Miami was flawless and the 6 hour layover there was actually a lot of fun. Our mission team really meshed well, and the long wait gave us all one more time to hang out together. The evening ended on a sour note, though, when Jeff, Rachel, Becca, Maddie, Kim, Jen and I had to wait for over an hour for the airport shuttle to bring us back to the hotel, where our cars were parked.

By 1:45am, Jen and I were back in Le Roy.

Final Thoughts

This was a deeply emotional trip for me, even more so than I expected. I always had great expectations for this trip, but I also always thought that I could not wait to come back to the U.S. to take that hot shower and be back in my comfort zone. I still look forward to it, but also have found a new comfort zone in Honduras. One that's not based on materialism but on the simple human spirit of love.

Some things I will never forget:

Dago & Dilia: Two loving "parents", who knew how to realize their vision of caring for kids without parents. Their dedication is amazing and inspiring. They started with a bare lot in Azacualpa about 8 years ago and have turned it into a loving and caring environment, where kids can be kids and grow up to be responsible adults.

The Children's Home Kids: They are the heart of the home. Curious as buttons, they embrace you without conditions. It doesn't matter if you don't speak Spanish. If you can smile and show them you care, that's all you need.

The Feeding Program Kids: Probably the face of young Honduras. Their smiles will stick as much in my mind as their dirty clothes and rotten teeth from drinking too much pop. But their gentle spirit prevails.

Our Kids With Special Needs: They've come a long way. What a joy to see them "develop" in 6 short days and to hopefully have planted in a seed in their parents' mind. It's ok to have special needs.
I won't forget little Angela waving at our bus each time we were still a block away before picking her up…and her stubborn nature which earned her the nickname "little Napoleon". Or Ingrid, who is quite the spitfire, but very loving and caring at the same time. I won't forget the day when she hugged Diana, the new girl, who has CP. Kids definitely "see" through their disabilities and can teach us all a lesson. Then there is Bryan, who threw quite a few fits, but I also remember how he gently helped everybody off the bus. And Solita, who doesn't talk very much, but has a very friendly demeanor. And Marilin, who didn't have a very long attention span, but impressed me with a fleeting smile every once in a while. Or Diana, who went from a shy girl to a great playmate for the others. Her cognitive abilities definitely beat out her physical disability.

The Children's Home: A beautiful place, where sharing real estate with chickens, goats and cows has become second nature.

Power/Water Outages: As agonizing as it was the first time, it didn't really bother me the rest of the week. You just make it work.

Puppy Love: Rocky, the Husky and Monjeka (sp?), the German shepherd gave many demonstrations of "making love". PDAs must be a part of dog world in Honduras.

The wash basin: A good reminder of how far we've come with technology. A basin of water that served as laundry water and dish water at the same time. One focal point of the kids' daily chores.

The food: Amazing… plantains, squash, pineapple, papaya…the list is endless. The missionary team made fun of me for taking so many pictures of our meals.

Azacuapla: A town so poor and run down, it's depressing. Emaciated dogs and livestock everywhere. Houses that would only resemble garden shacks in the U.S.

The people of Azacualpa: Weathered faces, worried looks, but also many "ola's", "welcome's" and smiles. They are proud of what they have and appear to appreciate missionary teams, who bring more money to town.

And a few thank you's to our team:

Rachel: Your vision made this trip possible. I can't thank you enough for the experience. We may have only tackled the very surface of a big problem in Honduras. But it's people like you, who can get the ball rolling.

Jeff: Thank you for taking me along as media minister. I had a blast. Videotaping this great experience was the icing on the cake. Can't wait to see your new movie. Thanks for making the connection and introducing me to the Children's Home. When are we going again?

Becca: You have down syndrome. So what? Your joyful nature and curiosity is inspiring. Your jokes were a blast. I don't think I'll ever get "Hey Ax!", "What are you doing?" and "Why?" out of my head.

Maddie: I really enjoyed getting to know you on this trip. Your gentle spirit and maturity is refreshing. The way you interacted with the kids is a great lesson for everyone. I told Jen in the car last night, if we could pick out kids from a store shelf, we'd pick Becca and Maddie.

Jen: So glad you came along. I know you were worried about not having a pre-determined role, but in the end you were as busy as everyone else. Proud of you! Pato, pato, pato….. ganso!

Rui: What would be have done without you? Our resident translator! Thanks for all your hard work with the kids and their parents. You must be exhausted.

Kym: Our art teacher. Way to come up with craft ideas for the kids. Still remember your long night of drawing faces with different emotions for Diana. Does your back still hurt?

Mariel: I still remember your first day with Diana and how you helped her on the playground. Very heartwarming to see. Your love for these kids was very evident. I'm going to count on your help to organize our summer get together

Kalia: I remember you "wrestling" Bryan from the playground back to the church building one day. Goes to show that working with these kids wasn't all songs and crafts. Thanks for giving your all! Ukulele's are cool.

To all the fans of "Honduras Mission Trip 2010"… thanks for reading the blogs and posts and checking out the photos. Be sure to check back for more photos especially. Thanks for your notes and comments. I hope this page gave you at least a rough idea about what we did over the last week and more importantly, I hope it gave you a good idea about Honduras as a country. If you can leave behind materialism, Western. comforts and drive for wealth and instead focus on the human spirit, this place is for you!

Blessings!
Axel

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