“Bob’s notes” are reports from CFCA President Bob Hentzen, who regularly accompanies mission awareness trip participants. You can see Bobís full Aug. 13 update on his Facebook page.
Honduras is a special place for many of us at CFCA.
In her indigenous roots (Maya, Lenca, Tolupane, Pech, Chorti), blending of cultures, and centuries-old struggle for independence and democracy, Honduras continues to call her people to the greatness of hope. Great pride is found in being ìcatracha.î
For us at CFCA, Honduras is honored as the missionary formation land of our co-founder Jerry Tolle. Jerry encouraged opening our CFCA sponsorship program in El Progreso, Yoro, in 1982.
It is also the birthplace of my wife, Cristina, and her wonderful family. Cristina and I are delighted to be in Honduras with 32 CFCA sponsors, all eager to listen and learn.
Fathers Casimiro and Ivan: Martyrs
Honduras has had many martyrs. I will mention two.
On June 25, 1975, Fr. Jerome ìCasimiroî Cypher, O.F.M. Conv., U.S. missionary, and Fr. Ivan Betancur, S.J., Colombian missionary and six others were killed in Juticalpa, Olancho.
I find impressive these words of the martyred Padre Casimiro:
ìWhat is important is not that we wait for a revelation in some book or in some saying, but take the revelation we have in our everyday life. And the revelation in our everyday life is to use the talents God gave us. Lazarus had no ëtalentsí ó but what he was, he was. And that was all.
ìThere is beauty in life if we only worry about living completely and just being truly what God meant us to be. We miss it when we worry about not being really great, about accomplishing things we cannot accomplish. When we want God to make us greater than we are, we become smaller, because we neglect what we have and what we are already.
ìRemember this Gospel. It is a sort of warning: Donít look too far into the future. When you look into eternity, donít look on forever; you will stumble over your own life. Look for eternity in those who are near you right now. For eternity begins today; it begins this moment. It begins right NOW!î
Realities of our sponsored friends in Ocotepeque
Source: CFCA Staff
- Last year in Ocotepeque, students had only 70 percent of scheduled classes, because of teachersí strikes and other unrest. This year so far has been better in the 80-90 percent range.
- Forty percent of sponsored children in the rural area are in single-mother households. This percentage tends to be higher in urban areas.
- The majority of breadwinners in the families CFCA serves strive to earn a living as day laborers.
- Few long-term jobs are available. For day laborers, earnings are about 120 lempiras (or $6 US) daily.
- During coffee harvest (December, January, February, March) workers can earn up to 200 lempiras (or $10 US) daily. This allows the prudent to save for leaner months.
- Staff estimates that in Honduras 80 percent of the food is imported.
I reminded the sponsors that their presence and participation in this mission awareness trip is a symbol of love and solidarity on behalf of all CFCA sponsors. The promotion of dignity includes the respectful acceptance of gratitude.
After breakfast one day, we drove to the Sandoval Water Park to welcome sponsored friends and their families and staff accompanying them from Santa Rosa and Juticalpa. Luis Jaco, Ronald, Cristina and I headed up mountainous back roads to visit our sponsored young man, Jose.
After a serious farming accident, Jose is fighting to regain some feeling and control of his body from the neck down. His mind and spirit are as bright as ever.
The roads are always challenging. Today we also had the challenge of lots of mud. To reach their newly constructed adobe home, we had the privilege of doing mountain trekking with Joseís mother, brothers and 30 or so nephews and nieces.
To see Joseís happy attitude and determination to continue improving was most encouraging.
We were also treated to welcome placards, home-grown coffee and a rooster meal. Original poetry by children and parents topped off the day. What a privilege and joy to be invited into this family.
The weeping of strong mountain men
During Walk2gether through the Ocotepeque region of Honduras, I came to know and love the G.C. family.
Great was my surprise and sadness when one year later in the desert of northern Peru, I learned of the death of the family’s father.
For several days and many kilometers, Don Jose and his musical church group had led the singing all along our route in Honduras, in spite of high wind and cold.
I will always remember how these strong mountain men wept like children when we had to say goodbye.
The mother, Maria Elena, and their three children (Marvin, Elmer and Iris Guadalupe) have demonstrated great faith and hope in organizing their lives after the loss of husband and father.
With the CFCA community’s encouragement, they were able to put a roof on their home, grow vegetables and open a small store out of their home. All three children are doing well in school.
We headed toward the Salvadoran border to visit the CFCA community called Nueva
Esperanza (New Hope) in San Rafael. Actual population is 645.
In the past, San Rafael was considered one of the poorest villages in the Ocotepeque region. The 67 sponsored members and their families sincerely thank their sponsors and the devoted CFCA staff.
Many area families are headed by single mothers.
Those who live here tell me it is amazing how the Hope for a Family sponsorship program has unified the community. Each place where we stopped was decorated with bright signs, many of them written phonetically.
They have a strong sense of community, coupled with a strong identity with CFCA.
Our program in San Rafael included prayer, words of welcome, firecrackers, participation by little children and parents, who obviously spend most of their time working under the sun, wind and rain.
We shared a nice lunch in the community chapel, followed by a visit to the family of little Mirtala.
This little preschooler, youngest of five, lights up any space around her. We are honored to be invited into the inspiring lives of these families. One homemade sign reads:
ìOur children and families will never forget this day, August 10, 2011. This is the day when our friends came here and showed us how much they love us.î
On Thursday of our trip, we heard the testimony of the C.H. family.
Reina and Oscar, the parents, and their two sons, Kevin, 14 and Darlen, 3, were able to be with us.
Their daughter, Kenia, 16, is sponsored and a CFCA scholar. She is doing her practicum as an aspiring elementary teacher and has been sponsored for 11 years.
Kevin is sponsored, loves soccer (futbol), smiles easily and is shy about speaking in public. In an easygoing and natural way, Kevin watches over his little brother. They impressed us as a united and hard-working family.
Reina manages the home front while Oscar runs a small business, selling vegetables purchased directly from producers.
Reina reminded us that without the encouragement and help of their sponsors and
CFCA community, their children would probably not be in school. With good management of their meager income, they now hold a title to their home.
Hereís the staff write-up about the Hogar:
“When we make a commitment to ìget closeî, we discover that some of our sponsored children, youth and elderly in Ocotepeque are living in situations of alarming risk.
“Due to these situations, we have built Casa Hogar. The goal is to offer these children and aging a safe environment to grow and develop in a loving, secure and stable environment with personal attention.”
The children and staff of Casa Hogar seem to really enjoy preparing for the sponsors’ visit.
The home decorations, the quality of their hymns at Mass, the dances, songs, poems and cultural presentations, their special way of relating to one another as a family, speak of a wholesome second home.
The more time I spend in Casa Hogar, the more I want to share its beauty and potential with others.
Sponsors who have children sponsored in the Ocotepeque area were able to visit them in their homes on Thursday afternoon of the Mission Awareness Trip.
In our evening conversations about the day, a good number of sponsors express that they are quite ready for volunteer outreach.
To all involved in the adventure of CFCA, please know of our thanks and love.
Aug. 13, 2011