An Ode to Ponytail Holders

Estrella, Giselle, Nahomy and Addison

Estrella, Giselle, Nahomy and Addison

Our family beach trip to Tela last week was a tough time for our daily rescuing team. What to our family was a relaxing and rejuvenating trip ended up taking its toll on our force of nonhuman help. It may be, that we were too enthralled with the fun waves, the magical rustic wooden house, and the amount of new places to explore, that we did not pay enough attention to all of our small attendants.

Saraí

Saraí

On our beach house vacation during our numerous trips to the ocean, our invaluable assistants did everything in their power to hold it together in violent waves and disabling current - the very same waves and current that ended up taking at least a dozen of them from us. The sand, salt and sun that inspired games and pure relaxation to us, only seemed to wear out our dear friends - for some to the point of retirement. The various bathrooms adjoining every bedroom were to us an indescribably luxury, but to our faithful companions they seemed doorways to a mythical country with no gateway back. Obviously we have had visitors impersonating girls borrowing hair ties because no one has any recollection of ever borrowing a hair tie yet everybody’s explanation for the missing hair ties is that they lend them out to a sister in need.

Yolani, Michelle and Aracely

Yolani, Michelle and Aracely

We have obviously taken our ponytail holders for granted way too long. Not only the ones that stand by us week after week, but also the ones who may only be with us for a short time before being sacrificed to the various Bermuda triangles around us, or who simply lose the fight against the strong willed and unruly hair they are up against. With 22 girls in the house hair accessories seem to vanish any day. This past week we just made sure to give the ones that wished, every chance to escape. With no TV or internet, the girls tried out new hairdos and braids lending ponytail holders to each other all the time and with half of them having way too much fun in the ocean to hold onto their hairbands, there was even more lending and loosing of elastic bands going on. It is a small price to pay for the amount of quality family time and fun we had though. We might have to make a beach trip a yearly occurrence.

Asly

Asly

To our beloved ponytail holders: Whether you are enjoying a beach in Tela or taking a cruise around the world on a hot wave, we hope you are happy and have found peace, that’s all that matters.

Asly

Asly

Dance Outreach

Since we have started doing dance for outreach, the perspective on dance has developed for the girls. Shifting their focus from ‘performing’ to 'reaching out’ has made such a difference, well helped by the recent dance workshops they attended. Inspired by the testimonies of fellow christians, they themselves have had a wish to shed light into other people’s lives through their own testimony, and this is a great opportunity to do just that.

Before even starting on the choreographies, Allison sat down to talk with the girls about what they wanted to share through the dances and outreach. They talked about the situations they themselves come from and what they would like to give to people in the same conditions. Unifying topics for the talk were shame and hope, and they all agreed that wanting to bring hope and eliminate shame was core for their message. That is where their dances come from and that is what they want to share through their entire outreach.

It takes an effort to keep remembering any perspective all the while focusing on getting every step and position exactly right, but when they are fully focused on God and the message they want to bring to their audience, their presentation is captivating.

We have been so blessed this semester with having our very own ballet teacher volunteer with us. She has been able to work with the girls all afternoon three days a week and even more when needed. While some girls are more dedicated dancers and workers than others, they have all had their struggles and frustrations during the dance journey over the past 4 months, and they have all learned immensely!

Realizing that everything they have been given is from God, a gift to share and serve others with, these dance outreaches have been some of the best outreaches we have had. The performance part might be the least of it. After their show, they do a group lesson on the basic ballet positions and a few steps. That transitions into splitting up the group with each girl relating to one or a few kids, teaching ballet to those interested and witnessing to, laughing with, and just loving every kid present.

With music blasting out of the speakers the dance space turns into an outpour of kids, cartwheels, laughs, splits, chatter, bridges, dance steps and moves. It is incredible seeing how much both groups of kids enjoy and gain from the interaction.

We have great hopes of acquiring a dance teacher for next semester who can build on this firm foundation and take them to the next level. Let us know if you are interested.

“Don’t tell anybody, but you are my favorite!”

The answer is most often a giggling: “You say that to all the girls.” It is obvious, that they love to hear it anyway, and Allison loves telling them. Even with so many children, every single one is special to her. She loves seeing each of them turn into independent, compassionate, and creative beings, and the majority of her spare time is spent watching every one of her dear girls and finding ways to stimulate them in their growth.

Of course taking care of sick children, breaking up the fights that are ubiquitous between siblings, and making sure there is always food on the table does take a lot of her time. Still, that is just water under the bridge in between the joy of finding each girl’s learning style for their school work; encouraging them in giving their best in everything they do to grow and blossom; and showing every one of her 28 favorite children, that they are worth all that.

While time and money create natural but very strict boundaries, Allison, like any other mom, knows nothing better than doing fun things with her kids. Even more so when the activity has beneficial elements as in swimming, walking, or learning about cultural sights around the country. She had the ideal Mother’s Day taking the girls to a quaint swimming pool nearby watching them laugh, play, and fall asleep on the way home after a perfect day.

Dancing a Story

Ballet Magnificat’s performance was such an experience for the girls. They were fascinated with how much the dancers could express through their dance; the story they could tell and how clearly the sentiments of the dancers shone through the performance.
The girls’ favorite part of the workshop was the drama lesson learning how to act out a story.

The girls have been working really hard on technique in ballet the past months. It is clear that they are developing in that area; getting the steps more exact and improving their flexibility. During dress rehearsals for the dance outreaches, they were so focused on getting the steps right, that they forgot to smile. Luckily they went to the Ballet Magnificat workshop and performance in between dress rehearsal and our first dance outreach. One girl said: “I had never known you could express such sentiments through dance (…) Before I was so afraid of what people thought of my dancing. Now I know that it doesn’t matter, I am doing it for God anyway.”

It was obvious on the day of the first outreach that they had all taking that one thing with them from the the performance and workshop they had been to. They were spirited and living the story through the dances. But more on dance outreaches later. For now, we are so grateful for everyone who helped them go to the workshops and performance of the past weeks. They have been eye openers to the girls.

Pila, noun \ˈpēla:\ Cement basin collecting water for a variety of purposes

The center of a party is in the kitchen - unless the water supply is elsewhere. The past few weeks, our meeting point has been by the pila in our back yard. It is where we clean teeth, wash hands, rinse the plates and wash the tights before ballet practice. The babies take half their showers there and everybody else is having showers whenever there is enough water for it.

While we do have water in the taps under normal circumstances, there has not been much water recently. Occasionally a bit of water will trickle out of the faucets, and we have the faucet over the pila open at all times desperately trying to fill it up. With 20+ people sharing the water supply, our pila does not hold much water to go around, and just yesterday it ran out of water completely again.

The silver lining for the younger ones is that they cannot wash their own dishes after dinner. Belkis and Mariela are not fond of that, but they in turn enjoy earning a bit of money taking all the clothes to the pila at the Learning Center to wash by hand.
Please keep us in your prayers as living on limited water creates unwelcome stress, not to mention sanitary issues that arrive with not being able to keep everything and everyone clean.

Cooking for 20+ People

Yolani(11) took a swim in the pool with the frozen packaged ham for pizza the other day. It took a few minutes to find the ham afterwards as half the girls were enjoying the pool all the while. Nevertheless, it worked. If there were not 20 girls who love to steal our attention, we would have remembered to take out the ham to thaw earlier. As it is, it is hard taking the time to cook for 20-30 people three times a day and plan so far ahead that things are actually bought, thawed and ready.

There are benefits and drawbacks to having help in the house. There is a bigger chance of always having food ready at the exact hour and it definitely frees up time having someone focus on that very task. On the other hand it is nice having the privacy of our home and family intact. Also when the girls are not in school, dancing or doing other activities, we are able to have fun cooking with them.

Giselle(4) is slowly picking up on breaking an egg without losing the entire egg on the table and floor. Asly(7) was so proud of being able to form rolls for sandwiches and Yolani put such an effort into spreading the pizza sauce evenly unto the crust, and of course they all had a blast playing with the ham in the pool. All small things that give an extra laugh to the day even if it is not the easiest course of action.

They are Loved

Today as I was struggling with the blog post, trying to figure out what I wanted to say with it, I had to stop up and ask God, what He wanted to say about these girls. The answer came very clearly:

  • That they are loved!
  • That they are worthwhile!
  • That they are mine!

God’s love and care for each one of the girls became so very clear. He does not settle for survival. He loves the girls as He loves every other person on the planet, and His words are spoken directly to them:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jer 29;11) 

It is such an encouragement, that our love for the girls, Allison’s love for the girls is surpassed by lengths by the Creator of all, the girls’ true Father. We may do what is in our power to love the girls and give them a family and a Mom who believes in them and cares for them. But God’s plans and his power to carry those plans out are far greater.

Easter Fun

Rarely have we seen the girls so exhausted. Aracely could barely lift her head from the couch and a bunch of the girls had simply gone to bed in the middle of Sunday afternoon. We usually have a more traditional Easter Celebration with new dresses, rejoicing in church and enjoying a nice meal back home. This year, we had the chance of celebrating in a different way.

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While everyone had a blast with the action packed weekend, they each had their favorite part. Ruby (16) loved the waterpark and especially the thrilling water slide (a simple construction that made everyone from age 4 to 32 scream with excitement). While Denia (13) loved the boat ride on the lake and Giselle (4) could not get enough of dancing to the live marimba band on board, Paola (12) was all about the Easter candy, and Gaby’s (15) favorite part was spending time with our Easter visitors.

The couple visiting for the holidays definitely did everything to make the girls feel special. They invited us out for meals and fun activities making spring break an amazing cocktail of sun, water, games, and delicious food. They also made sure to seek out every single girl getting to know each one of them. We are so grateful not only to our newest friends, but also to all of you who show your love and care for us in visits, support and prayer.

Ana, we found your birthday!

“Ana, we found your birthday. It is April 1st, and you will turn 15.” Ana’s whole face lit up while all the girls around her started jumping up and down in delight for her. Back in class her classmates kept talking about it and laughing with her over the new discovery. The neighboring class spent their music lesson preparing a piece to play in celebration of the happy day. More than learning her birthday, Ana’s great joy came from learning that somebody cared enough about her to rejoice with her.

Ana is looking for her forever family. Another ministry asked if she could stay with us for six months while they found a family for her. It has been more than a year, and the family hasn’t been found. Most families prefer younger children and it is a challenge finding families for teenagers. As well as any other girl, Ana needs a forever family who loves her and can care for her needs. Please keep Ana in your prayers as we keep looking for that special family that will be lucky to have her.

Meanwhile, we are happy to celebrate her birthday with her and show her, that she is worth all that.

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The Difference Sponsors Make

Paola loves dancing. She always has. Her passion radiates when she is dancing. She has technique, flexibility, and the finish that makes the audience live the story with her. On top of that, she has a sponsor who cares and believes in her. We are so grateful for every single sponsor. They not only make it possible to live here and feed, love and care for the girls. They go beyond that allowing us to provide extracurricular activities such as dance and crochet classes for the girls to explore their passions and develop hobbies.

We love our sponsor’s commitment to the girls. Paola’s sponsor comes visiting, has cards and pictures of her around the office, which naturally makes Paola and EFP come up in conversations every so often. That turned into an article in the company newsletter, which the director of the company responded to by offering Paola an invitation and full scholarship for a three week intensive ballet summer school at Next Generation Ballet in Tampa, FL. For Paola it is an amazing chance to pursue her dream of actually becoming a dancer. She needs challenges, role models, and intensive training to be able to move on, and this is a great opportunity for her to reach her goals. With her sponsor’s offer to cover her trip up there and the program scholarship in hand, we are asking you to come along in prayer for Paola’s paperwork to come together and her visa to come through.

We want to thank all of our sponsors for your amazing support and your faith in each girl. None of this could happen without you.

You Know I Love You, Right?

Staying at Allison’s is as fun as it is exhausting. The exuberant girls take as much energy as they grant hugs and happy times. In the midst of this, the volunteer room is a Sanctuary of Tranquility. One summer a couple of years ago, eight year old Aracely apparently discovered the magic powers of the site, and as I helped her out the window every time she managed to climb back in, we had a minor discussion about whos sanctuary it was. I have to admit, that my patience was slim with her, as she seemed to have done everything in her might to annoy me all summer. Still, I could not help smiling at her parting remark: “I’m gonna tell Mom!” I was not sure what part of the afternoon’s events she would dare mention to Allison.

Of course she got in trouble, and I could not help feeling bad for the little girl who first got rejected heavily by me and then got in trouble. When she was told to come over and apologize, I had to hug her with a: “You know I love you anyway, right?” She lifted her eyes with a hesitant look in them, kept my eyes for a bit, and turned to run away. From that moment, her whole attitude changed though. The following weeks, she would come sit by me holding my arm, fetch my purse or phone anytime she thought I had forgotten it in the kitchen, and generally do anything she could think of to please me.

The event has stuck in my head ever since as a reminder of the lengths children will go to to be liked - or at least to be noticed. It is also a testimony to me about why children need a loving and consistent mother to be able to prosper, and why Eternal Family Project is worth it all.

- Tabita, Honduras

What to do When You are Bored

What would you tell someone who is bored? The answers came quickly from the ever active and ever engaged girls:
- Do art with me. (Saraí)
- Come play with the Babies. (Paola)
- Let’s have a water balloon fight. (Jency)
Their enthusiasm and imagination is contagious and you cannot help wishing to have their joy and zest for life. While it is hard not to laugh at Asly almost jumping up and down while suggesting going to the doctor, you have to take away from it that everything can be made into an event with the right perspective.
So, if you still need inspiration to overcome boredom, let’s share the list of suggestions with you:

Mariela: “Find your sister.”
Aracely: “Count the bricks at the school”
Michelle: “Cook with a friend.”
Sarai: “Do art with me.”
Paola: “Play with the babies.”
Asly: “Go to the States. ….no, go to the Doctor!!”
Giselle: “Go to San Pedro Sula.”
Jency: “Have a water balloon fight.”
Ana: “Play hide and seek.”
Addison: “Play hide and seek with Ana.”
Emely: “Let’s go to the corner store.”
Yolani: “Let’s play tag.”
Denia: “Let’s go play ball.”
Belkis: “Get out, go some place nice”

God knew what he was doing when he brought me to Honduras

I had been in Honduras for two months when I met the girls of Eternal Family Project. I was able to spend time with them after my school day teaching. The very first thing I noticed was how happy they are. We ran, played games, and jumped on the trampoline. I realized I hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time. I may have been tired from so many piggy-back rides, but I knew I would be back. From that point on, I took every chance I got to spend time with the girls. I grew to know them and thought how great it would be if I could spend every day with them.

Fast-forward 3 months later. I am now sitting in their Learning Center as one of their teachers for this semester. I smile as I look around at their artwork on the walls, the timeline my class made, and the cutout Denia decorated for her birthday. God knew what he was doing when he brought me to Honduras. Even if, I admit, I didn’t always know. I found my way to Eternal Family Project by way of several stepping-stones in the process. I have the privilege of being a part of these amazing girls’ lives and education.

As I look forward to my remaining three months with them, I want to embrace each and every opportunity. Although I am technically their teacher, I realize I am learning so much more from them and this experience than I could ever have imagined. We discuss long division, the scientific method, and parts of speech in class. But my favorite conversations are hearing them talk about what they want to be when they grow up. How they want to help others in their community and around the world. Their hopes and dreams inspire me and are a daily reminder to live life to its full potential. Their family and all that they have overcome inspire me. The EFP Family is an incredible life-change for these young women and being with them has changed my life for the better as well.

- Maria, South Carolina

The Beauty of Honduras

“Honduras is part of me, just like my eyes are. I see Honduras every time I look in a mirror.” -Belkis, 19

Flying in over Honduras, the first thing that strikes you is the beauty of the country; the ungroomed woods, the proud and untamed mountains, and the bursting wildlife everywhere underneath you. The shade and humidity from trees making the hillsides ideal for coffee farming. Walking through the village in the afternoon the coffee production is everywhere from the numerous pick up trucks stuffed with workers driving home from the mountains to the ubiquitous smell of fermenting coffee berries, and the coffee beans drying in the sun in front of every other house.

Meanwhile the village kids are playing around and taking care of the small fires by the roadside burning the day’s trash, the emaciated dogs are scavenging for edible leftovers amongst it, and the women are making their way to the nearest pulperia (corner store) to buy a few eggs or a packet of shampoo, and of course to make sure they get the latest neighborhood news. All of this reminding you, that Honduras has no way of saying “No hurry!”, because when would they ever need to.

A trip to the city makes the stark contrasts of the country apparent though; honking cars, exhaust fumes from antique taxis, fancy malls, street acrobats, gang graffiti, business men in SUVs, begging children and the homeless, pimps picking up small girls and boys from the street, venders walking between the cars with everything from sliced mangoes and sweet cookies to wiper blades, armchairs and toys.

No matter where you look, there is life; vegetation, animals or human beings. While Honduras might be known for being the murder capital of the world, there is hardly a place more alive than here, and we are lucky to be in the midst of it!

What is News? What is an interview? What is advertising?

As a teacher of Social Studies for 2nd and 3rd grade you have to be creative. Standing in front of the whiteboard and talking about the government, the departments of Honduras, or something similar doesn’t really work. So I decided I had to focus on something the girls know, and at the same time make it concrete and interesting for them. Therefore, I told the girls we were going to make a newspaper about EFP. They seemed excited but at the same time I sensed from the expression on their faces they weren’t quite sure what a Newspaper or “un periodico” meant.

After some discussion it was great fun to see how the girls started to understand what the news means, what making an interview means, and what advertising means as the week passed by. It made me smile when I heard them telling their sisters and the other teachers in an enthusiastic voice how we were making “un perido…”, “un periodo…” or “un, un….What is it we are making, miss Karina?” But even though they spent some time learning the difficult name of the thing we were making, it was obvious they started understanding the concept of a newspaper, and thereby also, how we in society can communicate with each other.

Most of all it was wonderful to see how proud my four students were, when they showed the newspaper in it’s final form to the principal and the other teachers. Even though I think we now have to work on other projects, their exciting question: “Can we do another newspaper next week?” made me seriously consider continuing just that. It surely is a blessing to me for the little time I have to be part of the education the girls receive at the EFP Learning Center!
-Karina Borcher, Denmark
 

Evening Activities

Watching the girls in the evenings is amazing. While Denia(13) is teaching Chloe(2) her first ballet steps, Saraí(11) is crocheting clothes for all of her barbie dolls, Paola(12) is reading her Christmas gift: “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and Addison(4) is doing a spontaneous interpretive dance in the middle of the living room. It is a patchwork of each girl’s personality and likings.

They are so filled with life, creativity and curiosity. It is beautiful watching how the girls develop into healthy, self confident people; how they engage in people, games, sports and everything they can throw their energy at. Observing the change in them from the day each of them arrived until now is a testimony of love.

The power of family is the foundation for everything; love, security and someone believing in them have given them courage to fully live; to explore the world of dance, cooking, human relations and bracelet making. That is the power of family, that is why we believe in Eternal Family Project.

A Testimony From Yuri, Buford, GA

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My prayer today is that the testimony I am about to share will bless others. This story has made a big impact in my life. As this is part of my story now I want to share the goodness of God. On Thursday January 8, 2015, I was babysitting for a family. After dropping the three year old Nehemiah off at school I stopped at the parking lot at the school to draw a heart on Georgia’s hand to remind her that her Mommy and Daddy love her. I was heading to the library to go read and look at some books with baby Georgia. After stopping at a stop sign, I approached the intersection, and a man ran the stop sign and crashed into my car. As you can see on picture, the left side of the driver and passenger door glass were completely broken. I can see the pieces of glass blowing in the air and hitting my face. At the time of the impact Georgia had her blanket over her head because she likes to put it over her head and take it off. This was so amazing because of a simple blanket she did not see the accident happen. There were not pieces of glass on her face or even cuts on her body. God is so good. We did not even get hurt besides minor stuff. There were angels around our car watching over us. I am sharing this because I want you to know how good our God is.

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After the accident I was talking to the mother of the kids, one of the questions I asked her was; Why do these things happen? Why don’t people pay attention on the road? Her answer was: “I think the only reason why these things happen sometimes is because God wants to show his power and his protection to us.” Even sometimes, when we do not think about everyday detail, when we get in our cars, when we go to work anything can happen and God is in control of all off it. I even told her: “What if I had not stopped at the school parking lot to put a heart on Georgia’s hand? This is reminder that God is in control. He knew that this would happen. We do not know what is going to happen to us, we just need to trust God every day. We went to the hospital and even the doctors were amazed that we were alive. My car is totaled but praise God we are OK. God is in control and I am trusting Him to provide another one.
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My challenge for today is to be encouraged and trust God because He is the only one that is in control of our lives.  This Bible verse always reminds me of God’s goodness and His plan for our life: “For I know what I have planned for you, Yuri. I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with HOPE.” Jeremiah 29:11 When God has a plan for your life, nothing can be against Him. You just need to believe that God has a plan for you. You just need to believe and trust him. If you allow Him, He will show you the way. I am so thankful to Him for giving me a second chance to live. I praise God for this miracle. I am so thankful for all of my family and friends, for their prayers, love, support, and their encouragement.