Hi everyone! Steven and I are nearing the end of our trip to the States and we are loving it. It goes without saying that we miss our kids but we are getting caught up on sleep, eating a wide variety of foods, fundraising, and great conversations with friends, family, and supporters. We have visited a number of groups and organizations and one of the biggest questions that people have is “what is life like in Honduras?” Unfortunately, unless we are sitting down to a leisurely cup of coffee or meal together, there simply isn’t enough time to give a full answer. After a couple times of not being capable of eloquently summarize an entire year into 2 or 3 sentences, I thought it would be a good idea to attempt a written summary for those that are more interested.
In a nutshell, this year was challenging, exciting, frustrating, aggravating, brought many tears, but was full of joy, laughter, and growth. Steven and I arrived in Honduras in September 2015, just 88 short days after making the decision to move down there full time. We didn’t have much (read: any) time to get settled before we were serving in our new role as on-site directors of the House of Hope in Puerto Lempira. The best part of the transition was that we already had a good framework with the children living at the House of Hope. Since we were able to serve as volunteers for a year in 2011, we had been able to forge relationships with most of the children and staff. We quickly jumped into setting structure and discipline. Things were going relatively smooth until late October.
In October, a special needs, mentally challenged woman was dropped off at the hospital from a very distant village. She was pregnant and was on bed-rest for one month before the birth of her twins. The two baby girls were born seven weeks premature and a few days later the mother and her 3 day old, 3 pound twin daughters came to live with us. The nurses and doctors at the hospital were concerned that she would be unable to care for her twins on her own. They asked us for help to evaluate the mother (Marta) to see what she was capable of doing. It became obvious very quickly that she needed a lot of extra help. Marta arrived at the house frightened, untrusting, and convinced that her babies weren’t going to live. The next several months were the hardest of my life. It is still beyond comprehension to me that our home would be the safest, cleanest place to put twins born 7 weeks premature that weigh only 3 pounds each! I tortured myself thinking of the care they would be receiving in the United States; thinking of the nurses, the incubators, the monitors, everything that we could not provide to them. I was not only scared, but truly and deeply frightened and certain, above all else, that God made a mistake when he placed me in the position to care for these fragile little lives.
These beautiful twins, Marta (named after her mom) and Nila (named after her grandmother), were born fighters and I thank God every single day for that. They got sick, very, very sick. They had diarrhea, infections, vomiting, high fevers, and pneumonia. They would gain a pound, then get sick and lose two. We couldn’t figure out what was happening. We boiled everything in case it was the water, they still got sick. We coached the mother on proper hygiene before breastfeeding, they still got sick. We had them under the full-time care of a nanny, they still got sick. We were very, selective and intentional about who could handle the twins. I would estimate that Marta and Nila spent about 2 months of their first 4 months admitted to the hospital. The doctors finally suggested that we insist that Marta discontinue breastfeeding. They ran some tests and decided that she was passing some sort of infection into their tiny systems. This decision did not go over well with Marta. She still didn’t trust us and with this decision we lost any progress we had made.
In the spring, something started to change; the girls would go longer amounts of time before getting sick. They weren’t getting as sick, they would gain more weight and lose less when they had a bout of diarrhea. Marta started to see that they were improving, fattening up and starting to show their sweet little personalities. She started to trust us as we continued to make adjustments to the girl’s daily routines. They got fatter, more active and we all collectively sighed a breath of relief. I still wasn’t confident that they were both going to make it but I didn’t fall asleep each and every night begging God to just give us one more day with them. I didn’t have to quietly wipe away tears as I was kissing them goodnight convinced that they wouldn’t make it until morning. Instead, I could give them their kiss goodnight and get teary at the progress that we saw happening before our very eyes in these precious lives.
Finally, it all clicked. The twins are out of the danger zone and will probably both be walking by the time we get back to Honduras. Marta trusts us and we love her and her twins deeply.
For us, the twins are a prime example of our first year in Honduras; their ups and downs mirrored our ups and downs, their challenges were our challenges, and their successes were celebrated by all. We made constant adjustments, we were constantly learning and doubting and praying. Just as Marta had to learn to trust us, a white couple that didn’t speak her language, we had to learn to trust the doctors, our employees, ourselves, and God. It was a very rocky and slippery slope, we backtracked more times than I can count but in the end we made it to a beautifully rich and intertwined relationship with our children, staff, and local agencies. There was heartache; we lost a little one in March which shook us to our core. Even out of those days of pure grief and utter sorrow, there was growth. There was rejoice and excitement as kids learned to read, I attended our first high school graduates ceremony, Steven and I became Honduran residents, more children joined our family, other children were reunited with their families, and we made the House of Hope our home. We will never be done learning, new challenges will always find us. There will be days of grieving and days of praise. It will be hard, harder than we ever imagined, but we are happy and most importantly, we are home.