Monday, August 16, 2010

Dr. Andy

Ok, so Dr. Andy is a bit of a stretch.  Well, maybe a HUGE stretch.  However, I did get to spend some time observing at a private medical clinic in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  It's run by a missionary organization called His Eyes.  Trevor and Valerie Colby run the mission organization and the clinic.  The clinic is called Clinica Cristiana Cuerpo de Cristo (Body of Christ Christian Clinic).

It was amazing to see the work that they're doing at the clinic.  They have a medical doctor, a dentist, an ophthalmologist (that's Valerie too), and a number of other nurses and support staff.  Working together, they're able to care for a huge number of patients everyday.  The dentist told be he sees up to 20 patients a day, and the doctor will see around that just in the morning.  They really worked well together, and were able to offer high quality care to people who otherwise would probably not have access to it.

I also appreciated the opportunity it afforded me to be able to meet a number of different missionaries who are working in Honduras as well.  I got to spend time talking with Valerie and Trevor about the various ministries they are involved in (you can read about them here and Trevor's blog here).

I also got to meet Jim and Frances Martin of the mission organization Honduras Ministries.  Jim is from Kansas, but has been living in Honduras for about 10 years.  Their organization provides food, clothing, and the opportunity for children to go to school. All this with the ultimate goal of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I feel extremely thankful to God that I crossed paths with Jim, and he invited me to have dinner with his family the final evening I was in Honduras.  I was thankful to hear more about their ministry, but even more so because I ended up needing a place to stay that final evening.  I was accidentally locked out of the Casa Lamb, and fortunately Jim lived only about a 5 minute walk from there.  If it weren't for us meeting and me having dinner there, I would have ended up sleeping on the tile porch of the Casa.  Instead, I had a comfortable bed (and even a brand new tooth brush to use!).  Jim and his family were gracious hosts.

All in all, I got to hear about and witness many ways that God is working in Honduras.  It was an honor to meet so many dedicated people serving there to bring God glory.  I look forward to seeing how I will be able to support all of the new friends that I made while in Honduras.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

How you can help

Visiting Orphans from Amanda Lawrence on Vimeo.

Here is a video about the organization we worked through. While we were in Honduras, we worked with a branch of The Orphan Institute. Their purpose is to speed the process of getting children declared ¨paper ready¨ so they can be adopted. Without their work, it can take years for a child to be declared available for adoption. By that time the child might be too old to be likely to be adopted. They have a staff of social workers, lawyers, psychologists, and support staff to help speed the process along. They´re also beginning to try to work with the Honduran government to change the adoption laws to make less red tape.

What is great about their program is that they´re working to get children into a loving family and out of the orphanages before they´re beyond age 5. Once a child is older than 5, they are much less likely to be adopted. Therefore they will spend the rest of their adolescent life in orphanages. The Orphan Institute aims to intervene in as many children´s lives as possible.

If you´d like to support the Orphan Institute´s program in Honduras you can go to this link. After you enter the dollar amount, on the following page you can choose to designate the money. Add a designation to "Casitas Kennedy Office in Honduras" and the money will go directly to them.

Thanks so much for all of your support!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Andy's Wild Ride

So, I'm here in Honduras by myself for a few days. The medical mission I am working with told me I could go with them to Lepaterique to do a clothing distribution. I obviously have no idea where that is, so I just assumed it was nearby and would kind of be an uneventful day without much to blog about. Boy was I wrong. Therefore, you will be getting a blog about today instead of how to help the orphans. That will still be forthcoming.

So, I went to church this morning with the family that runs the mission. It was all in Spanish, so I didn't understand too much. The worship was great though, and I could figure out what most of the songs were saying.

After church, a group of women from the US arrived. They are distributing clothing this week to different areas. I helped load the truck, and we were off. I rode in the truck bed and laid on top of the huge bags of clothes. We drove on a dirt/gravel road through the mountains for about an hour and a half. We passed through tons of small villages and saw some beautiful scenery. Here are a few photos I took.

I rode up by the cab, not hanging out the back.

The views were incredible. It was tough to get a good photo though because I was usually bouncing around too much.

Here's what the road looked like most of the way. Where the Land Cruiser is ahead there is a bunch of mud.

Here is a really old looking bridge we crossed. It was a little nerve racking.

The view from the bridge.

As we neared our destination, you could see the storm clouds gathering.

This is the church we distributed the clothing and shoes at.

Oscar (one of the workers from the mission) explaining to the people how it would work. About 1 minute after this, there was a mad dash (Black Friday style) for the used tennis shoes. It was humbling to see people so excited about getting some used clothing. If 2 people got only 1 shoe out of the pair, they kind of did this waiting game to see who could last longer before wanting to just give their shoe to the other person so they could leave. I thought it was kind of like a staring contest, but with shoes.

Apparently this kid had had enough of the chaos. :)

Well, the storm finally came and I ended up riding back in the rear of the Land Cruiser. I took a video of it, but it's too slow to upload to YouTube here, so I'll post it later. The ride there wasn't even close to how wild the rainy ride home was. Making turns while driving down a mountain in the rain doesn't exactly settle your heart. I did quite a bit of praying on that ride home. Thankfully we made it back safely.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Final Day at Casitas Kennedy

Just a warning, this is probably going to be a really long post. I don´t have much to do today, as I am staying 4 days longer to work at a medical mission in Honduras. So, I have nothing but time to blog, and TONS of photos and thoughts to share. :)

Our group´s final day at Casitas Kennedy was one of mixed emotions.  It is very tough to say goodbye to all the kids, but we need to realize that us being there is not going to be what makes the children happy.  There were a couple of events yesterday at the orphanage that kind of threw a wrench into what we had planned for the day.  While we could have been frustrated, we just kind of rolled with it and hung out with the kids.

In the morning, there was a group called Simply Help there.  I think there were also representatives from the Honduran government as well.  The kids put on a big show for the visitor with a lot of dancing.  Then Simply Help distributed clothing, toys, and shoes.  We were allowed much more freedom yesterday to take photos, so we all snapped away.  Yesterday I wrote about the young girl Katrine and her baby.  While I wasn´t able to talk with her today, I did snap a picture of them during the performances.

I got kind of bored of sitting in the performance/political spectacle (especially since I couldn´t understand what anyone was saying), so I decided to go to the baby´s house. Here is a photo of me with Jose. He was so precious, and just loved being outside. When I set him down, he started crying. It just broke my heart.

After lunch, a group of what looked like college students (or that age at least) came to entertain the kids. I hung out there for a while, since a lot of the kids were there. It was a good opportunity to see and realize that our group isn´t the only source of joy to these children. That sounds kind of bad, but I think we felt that way a little bit throughout the week. It was kind of nice to see that we are just one little part of bringing joy and God´s love to these kids lives.

The child closest in the photo is the sister of the 2 girls in the middle (the floral dress and aqua shirt) and the young girl in the dark pink shirt in front of them. 4 sisters from one family here together. They were always with one another, and very reserved. It was nice to see that they were able to rely on one another so much.

The girl in the pink is named Brenda. She was such a sweetie. Her front teeth were rotten, probably from having a bottle (or something) in her mouth too long as an infant. Quite a few of the children had the same problem.

This is Senia. She had a hilarious personality. She would make tease us, and also mimic things we said. She just loved the new dress she´s wearing.

This is Karen. She is deaf and just started to learn sign language. The day that we gave her new clothes she signed that it was the happiest day of her life, and that she would never forget it. Fortunately, one of our team members, Carrie, knows sign language so they were able to communicate.

We bought a couple of mobiles for the baby´s cribs. When I put them in, they immediately started to play with them. It was so cute. I hope that they´re able to get a lot of use out of them.

This is Ramon. He has special needs, and was often just kind of wandering around. I saw him swinging on his own and went over to push him for a while. He seemed to enjoy it a lot.

This is Rixty (probably spelled wrong). She was kind of a tomboy. She followed me around quite a bit during the week.

I´ll continue to blog throughout the rest of this week while I´m in Honduras. We appreciate all of the prayers, support, and encouragement from all of our friends and family. Tomorrow I´ll tell you how you can get involved in helping the orphans.

Here are all the photos from our final day.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Light suitcases and heavy hearts

When our team began planning the logistics of our trip, we decided to pack all of our clothing and personal items in our carry on bags so we could fill our checked baggage with donations for Casitas Kennedy. While this made packing for the trip a little more challenging, it was worth the extra effort to bring all the crafts, clothes, toys, soccer balls, candy, etc. We handed most of our donations out yesterday and today, and seeing the kids proudly wearing their new clothes was so sweet.

So today as we left Casitas Kennedy for the last time, we packed our empty suitcases into the van. Transporting our luggage to the airport tomorrow morning will be a breeze, but I'm pretty sure we'd all take a couple of heavy suitcases over the sadness we have over leaving the kids we met this week. We knew before we even started this trip that the goodbye would be difficult, but the reality that we will probably never know any more about these kids than we do right now seems pretty cruel. But that reality is part of what spurs us on to continued action, which is a very good thing. As for the reality these kids face every morning, we are hoping and praying that there will continue to be others who cross their paths, showing them love and hope. We are certainly not the first group to come to this orphanage, and it helps to think that we aren't the whole story, but just a small part of God's plan to take care of His children.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Day 6 - Los niños preciosos

I'm sure you guessed it, but the title means "The Precious Children". That is the best way I could think of to describe today (and the whole week). We spent the entire day at Casitas Kennedy today. This morning part of the group finished stenciling the last rooms in the baby's house. There was a young girl named Katrine in the house. She was visiting her one month old baby. The girl lives at Casitas, and she is only 16 years old. Her baby was so precious. I got to hold him for a few minutes. I'll try taking a photo of him tomorrow so you can see how cute he was. I hope one of us from the group can talk with her tomorrow and hear her story.

While we painted, the rest of the group sorted through all the clothing that was donated by people back home. We separated it out so we could deliver it to the different houses.

After we finished painting, we went to the toddler classroom to perform a puppet show, sing a song, and then let them bust open a Sponge Bob pinata full of dulces (candy to us gringos). They seemed to enjoy the puppet show, though I couldn't really tell since I was behind the curtain straining to keep my arm above my head and keep the puppet's mouth moving a little (it sounds much easier than it really is). We sang the Itsy-Bitsy SPider in English, then the kids sang it to us in Spanish. It was so cute when the little kids tried to break the pinata open. The 3 year old kids could barely swing the stick. Once the candy started falling out though, it was like bedlam with screaming little ones filling their shirts up. Our group was busy holding the older kids back, trying in vain to convince them they would be getting candy later in the day. It didn't help that none of us knew how to say that in Spanish. :)

Performing our puppet show. I was the girl puppet.  :)

Getting the piñata ready.

After lunch we split up again. Part of the group went to the cafeteria to have the kids do some crafts. It was set up with different stations to try to minimize the chaos that occurred during bracelet making with 30 kids at once.

This is when the craft time was ending.

While they did crafts, the rest of us went around and delivered clothes to the different groups of kids. It was so amazing to see the look on their faces when we handed them new socks and a used dress, shirts, and pants. Every kid got at least one whole outfit. We were telling them "probarse" (try it on), and many of them reacted with a pout and reluctantly went to try them on. The little girls came out to show their new clothes off. A lot of the kids wore their new outfits the rest of the day, displaying them proudly wherever they went. One of the little boys named Roy was also SOOOO excited when he got a pair of shoes that light up. He was equally excited to get new socks. When was the last time you were excited about new socks???

There is a group of 7 older boys (ages 8-11) who have really touched the hearts of our group. Most of the clothes that they wore this week were dirty, shredded, and with broken zippers. Many of them ran around barefoot as well. When we went shopping, we decided to get that group a special gift. We bought each boy a some sandals, shoes, clothes, underwear, and socks. We also made salvation bracelets for each boy. We gathered them in their Casita to let them open their packages. Every one of their faces lit up as they opened them up. They all were smelling the clothes, looking amazed that they don't have the grimy smell that permeates everything there (probably from being washed in dirty water). They were smelling the shoes, jeans, and even the underwear. It was both funny and sad that they were amazed to actually have underwear that hadn't been worn before. We were allowed to take some photos of them at this time, so here are several.

Here are all the photos I took today.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Day 5

Today we visited an orphanage run by some nuns from the same order as Mother Teresa. There were about 30 kids there, mostly under the age of 5. The facilities were much worse than the government run center we've been at. They don't have wipes for the children, no sheets for their beds, and most of them didn't have shoes. It seemed like the nuns give them as much care and love as possible, but with no money and few workers it is a challenge. To top it off, 3 workers were sick with dengue fever (along with many of the kids) so they were short staffed today.

Since this orphanage isn't run by the government, they are not as strict about taking photos. These two boys are Dustin (on the right) and Alexander (on the left). They were SO naughty. Alexander kept opening the gate and running across the compound, making me chase after him. They certainly knew how to get attention. I realized how starved for attention these kids must be, with so few people there to work with them.

I'm not sure of his name, since he couldn't speak, but the boy at the center of this photo was so precious. He has something wrong with his legs that caused him to have to kind of bear crawl instead of walking. I picked him up and carried him around for a while, and his face just lit up. He'd probably never been that high up in his life. He was touching everything he can't normally reach. Then I lifted him above my head, and he just laughed and laughed. I hope I never forget the joy I saw on his face.

So much happened today that it is difficult to put it into words. I hope that as I process it all, I'll be able to articulate it clearly.

This afternoon we went back to Casitas Kennedy to work some more. We showed the older girls the movie "Enchanted" and fed them pizza, popcorn, and coke. This was a special treat for them, and they really enjoyed it. I think they enjoyed the good food more than the movie though. They're the group that is the most challenging to interact with, and they seemed to talk more with us after that.

I've learned that I make an excellent jungle gym for these kids. Within about 10 seconds of walking into the orphanage this morning I had 2 boys climbing up me. At Casitas Kennedy, there are a few kids who always want me to carry them or put them on my shoulders. Jessica and Kimberly are always fighting over which one will be carried, so today I thought I'd see if I could carry both at once. I found out I could, so I spent the rest of the afternoon with a kid on each shoulder. One of the older girls gave me the nickname "papa grande" or big daddy. :)

Another funny thing happened while I was setting the movie up. The older girls were talking to Janell about the baby, and Janell told them that I was the daddy. They all started laughing so hard. I'm not sure what exactly they were laughing about, but their reaction was hilarious.

Here are all the photos I took today.