It’s been a little over a month since I arrived in Honduras! So much has happened already. We had our orientation the first week where we learned more about what our life will be like as a missioner; doing ministries, community life, prayer life, receiving our schedules, learning the rules of the house (need them when 20 people live in one house!), and other things like this. After our orientation, we entered right into the life. Most of this blog will consist of pictures and their captions so you can see some of the places and people I encounter daily, and plus pictures speak more words than a long blog does haha. My time here has been an amazing blessing but also super INCOMODO (uncomfortable). Even though it seems contradictory, my discomfort that I feel here, has actually been the great blessing. Still I’m learning Spanish slowly, only being able to communicate and understand simple sentences, conversations in large groups can be hard to keep up with, sometimes I don’t catch all the jokes that are said, my natural reserved self took a while to warm up to the community, the ministries are stretching me which I’ll talk more about later.. This may all seem like I’m complaining, but really, I’m thankful to have this opportunity to grow in places where I feel completely uncomfortable and weak. I believe this is exactly where God is going to meet me, and show that He’s the one in charge and not me. If great things can come from my service here, it has to be from Him.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
On a lighter note, now that it’s been some time here, I’m starting to make friendships, fall in love with the people of Honduras, becoming used to the schedule we live here, I’m discovering my call and want to be here, and all at the same time, I feel that I’m drawing closer to God more than I have ever before. There is a great struggle and sorrow that the people experience here in Honduras, it’s also a struggle for me in this time of adjustment into the community, but these struggles that I encounter have brought me to go to God even more and also draws me closer to the people in their reality of their humanness. I pray I will grow more in compassion and understanding!! Please continue to pray for me and the Missioners of Christ here! And now, please enjoy the following pictures from my time here 🙂
When I returned from Guatemala, we celebrated all the September birthdays at the end of the month and since my birthday is Sept 1, I was one of the celebrants! It was awesome, we had homemade baked chicken (meat is for special days and Wednesdays and Sundays only), mash potatoes, and cheesecake.
Here’s a picture of room, I share with a Honduran named Zaira!
A picture of my weekly schedule with my different ministries.
Our chapel with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. We begin and end every day here.
The weekend after we returned, the community headed to El Salvador for a silent retreat. One of the younger missioners, Roger, passed away from cancer who had been with the community for 9 years. It was difficult for many especially those who were close to him. The retreat was a chance for rest and recollection after this sudden and emotional time. The retreat was in the beautiful quiet mountains in El Salvador which had a perpetual adoration chapel and was absolutely incredible. The retreat house is built and ran by religious sisters. The ride was about 6 hours in truck and our brave men of the house took on the sacrifice to ride the back of the truck enduring the hot sun and even rain, so the women could ride on the inside. Men of God!! The Missioners own only these type of trucks and its very normal to ride in the bed of the truck to get to and from places!
Here is us at the border exiting Honduras in order to enter into El Salvador. This isn’t all the missionaries from the community, but most of us who went on the silent retreat.
The US missionaries crossing the El Salvador border.
The retreat center also has a famous monument dedicated to reconciliation and peace because in this village, there was a terrible genocide in the 90’s, where hundreds of innocent and poor families were massacred in cruel terrible ways by the local military.
A view of the mountains at the retreat house. GORGEOUS!
Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament in the perpetual adoration chapel. I had the chance to sign up for a holy hour in the middle of the night where I could be alone with Him in silence.
Another view from the path to the adoration chapel. The roofing is the top view of the retreat house we stayed in.
A selfie pic of the missionaries who went on the silent retreat!
Back at the mission house, every Monday we have “Casitas” where the guys and girls split up and have activities for the night separately. One Monday, we had a spa day where we painted our nails, had facials made of homemade cucumber mix, and foot baths. I love these nights because the girls can bond just with each other and be “girly” without the men haha.
Teresa and me painting our nails. We dared each other to paint our nails the craziest, brightest colors since we both don’t like wearing nail polish.
So she ended up painting her nails a bright hot pink and my nails are painted in different colors haha
The nature that surrounds the mission house is absolutely beautiful! We have mountains that surround us, and one day this HUGE rainbow showed up. The picture is taken from the second floor of the mission house. (It’s a double rainbow if you look closely) I’ve never seen one so bright and close.
One night we had dinner at the convent of the Franciscan Friars who live a couple minutes from us. We prayed holy hour, ate dinner with the postulants (men discerning to become a friar), sang karaoke, the postulants shared about their time in Honduras (since all of them were from all different countries!), and then the friars sang songs with the guitar for us to end it.
Group picture of the missionaries with the friars and the postulants!
One of the local ministries we have every Tuesday is at a local orphanage called Hogar Nazaret. About 80 girls live there ranging from 2-25 years old. They are either sent there or rescued, almost all of them come from rough pasts. Either they were abused, abandoned by the parents, or for many, sexually abused within the home. This ministry has been the hardest for me so far. Not only is it hard that these girls come from these situations, but also the girls have built up high walls of defense because of it. and because of this, anyone new (including missionaries), they will treat coldly first until they establish trust. The first few weeks have been difficult, because the girls are still getting used to me, and the past missionaries told us that they all had to go through it. We have to prove that we’re here and we’re here to stay, not just leave or hurt them like people have in their past. This ministry has been teaching me a lot. I think God is breaking down my “ideals” and dreams of what it means to be a missionary. Some may think (and I used to think also) that being a missionary is all about going to this poor country, helping the people, then being completely loved and adored by them because of your charity. But in reality, most of the time this isn’t the case. In Mother Teresa’s case, when she moved to India to live and serve the poor, they rejected her. They did not want her to be there or teach them about her God. It’s really a test, will I continue to serve even if I don’t receive any good feelings in return? Will I do it solely out of love for God and love for others, with no reward for me? It’s been a hard but eye opening experience. This retreat we put on annually for the older girls at Hogar Nazaret. It’s overnight and full of games, talks, dances, small groups, soccer, a movie, and other fun activities. The theme for this years retreat was “My Life Is Mission”. We encourage the girls to continue seeking God in their most crucial decisions they are facing in their age: to choose to follow the ways of the world where they can become pregnant young, date a man who can treat them poorly and possibly leave or abuse them later. Or they can choose the ways of God, a life of virtue, a life lived for others and not for themselves. A life with goals. We help them see their identity as daughter of God and also help them see their potential to be great, more than what is expected of them in Honduras. The retreat was incredible and powerful for them.
Playing soccer at the retreat, these girls (and the Hondurans in the community) are competitive!!
I had the opportunity to give a reflection and sing a song (in Spanish!)
Group pic at the end of the retreat, they are so beautiful!!
At our Tuesday ministry, the girls go to Hogar Nazaret to spend time with the girls at the orphanage, plan activities for them, and relate them to spiritual topics to draw them closer to the Lord. This Tuesday in the picture, we printed a letter from God the Father, with bible verses that was compiled into a letter. It was all about the Father’s care and how you were created out of love and God has a great plan for you and you were not an error. It touched the girls so much, and I can only imagine how much this would mean to them, coming from their situations of abandonment or abuse in their previous homes. This day reminded me of the great work God is doing through our ministries.
Singing a song for the girls called Good, Good Father.
Group pic! (Sofia in the orange and Teresa in the green are the two missionaries I help with for this age group at Hogar)
Sr. Ana from the retreat center in El Salvador came to visit stay with us for 3 days. She shared with us more about the vocation to the religious life and about her community during our dinner.
On Nov 1, the Church celebrated All Saints Day, a big celebration in Honduras. They don’t celebrate Halloween due to its un-Christian origin. So at Hogar Nazaret that day, the girls dressed up as different girl saints and shared a small biography about each one and then we ate cake. Sophia is my favorite (with the big white veil) – she is St. Catherine Laboure, the sister who the Miraculous Medal was revealed to. She had a crazzyyy veil lol
This is Zaira my roommate 🙂 and I’m dressed as St. Josephine Bahkita.
Sophia sharing about St. Catherine Laboure to the girls.
Teresa, Sophia, and me. Teresa is dressed as Blessed Kateri Techawitha
Another ministry we do on Wednesdays is at a orphanage for girls with mental disabilities. This is one of my favorites because these girls love without limits!! They’ll climb on us and and run to hug us as soon as we walk into their house. They just cuddle and laugh with us, and always try to tickle us. They’re beautiful reminders of what it looks like to love without reserve. I’m learning a lot from them! This day we played Just Dance with them to get them to have some exercise and another week we wrote on the pavement with chalk which ended up being a battle of them trying to draw on each other haha.
At Casa Misericordia, the orphanage for girls with disabilities.
At the mission house, the missioners dressed up as different saints and shared about our chosen saints. It was hilarious seeing everyone dressed up.
Omar, one of the Honduran missioners, dressed up as St. Omar haha.
One of the events the Missioners put together was a magic show at 2 local schools. We asked the students to bring school supplies as donations for us to bring to the schools in the poorer mountain villages that we go on mission to later in the year. As a thank you for their donations, a magician came and put on a show for all the students. We had 3 shows in 2 days.
HUGE crowd of screaming kids! They loved the magic show!
The cutest boy who volunteered to participate in one of the tricks.
This past weekend, Teresa, Sophia, and I put on a retreat for our age group of girls at Hogar Nazaret. We started with a game of soccer, introduced the theme “Created For More”, played Just Dance, had 2 talks about our identity as daughter of God and knowing our true dignity in it, watched a movie, played games, and had a pajama sleepover.
The girls with their decorated sign with the theme on it, Created For More.
My first “talk” in Spanish!
Walking to mass along with my pig friend 🙂
Here’s a small glimpse of my past month being in Honduras, hope you got a taste! A few other ministries I partake in weekly which I don’t have pictures of are:
On Tuesdays I help tutor at a local program for kids who are being sponsored by donors from the Missioners of Christ so they can attend and finish school. Wednesdays are house visits, where we visit different people in our neighborhood and just spend time with them. We get to know their lives, what struggles and joys they are going through and then pray with them and share the gospel. Thursday mornings are self formation where I either study my Spanish or study church teachings and spirituality. Thursday afternoon is a program for the mothers of the neighborhood to gather and share time together. We have a different topic each week, the last one was about the mercy of God and each mother shared an experience of God’s mercy in their lives. They’re honest about their struggles in their poverty, but they rejoice in the many ways they’ve seen God alive and at work! Fridays are days of prayer for the community. Saturday morning I help answer the door to the house where many people come knocking, but usually asking for food or money. We aren’t able to give them it but we are able to give them a cup of water and crackers and offer to pray with them. I’ve enjoyed this one because I’ve gotten to meet more of the people in the neighborhood more personally and talk to them one on one. Saturday afternoon, I help with a children’s catechesis program ran by the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order. Then Sunday is a free day. We’ve found time to play cards together or play basketball. It’s also a day to catch up with phone calls or go on Facebook. Mondays are cleaning days, and my roommate and I are in charge of the kitchen, which pretty much takes half a day to fully clean it! It’s a kitchen meant to cook for and feed 20+ people daily, it’s bound to get messy! It’s a packed week every week, but they pass so fast, doesn’t feel like I’ve been here for this long, I feel that I arrived a week ago!!
I’m now on my way in a plane as I type this to a wedding for two of my good friends, Victoria and Chris, from the Catholic Campus Ministry at UCF! Please say a prayer for this awesome couple if you can, for the grace to respond courageously to live out a holy marriage and be witnesses in this world! It will be interesting returning to the states even if it’s for a few days. I give thanks to God for my time I’ve had so far here and for my time to come. Yes, uncomfortable, but It’s the stretch I exactly need to continue growing in my relationship with God and his people here on earth! Thanks be to God for all things, struggles, joys, the ordinary, the extraordinary, and everything in between!!
Check out this video my friend Nick made that shows some daily encounters in our life at the mission house, enjoy!