LB's visit was very short...only a few hours. They had booked an excursion so we tagged along on their little tour and shared a quick lunch. We were most excited to finally meet our little niece for the first time. She will be 2 years old in July. Unfortunately, kids this age aren't really very interested in new people and we are complete strangers to her. The visit was so short, she didn't get the chance to warm up to us. Still, she was adorable and very smart. After they left, we stuck around a took a little snorkeling tour out the reef. We didn't see as many fish as I had hoped, but the water was crystal clear and the reef was beautiful.
The rest of our time on Roatan was spent with the missionaries and getting to know their ministry. They work with a youth center in a part of the island called Punta Gorda. We had the opportunity to spend time with group and get to know them. We were surprised to see Wilfred, one of the El Sembrador boys we met last year. We barely remember him. Afterall, we were only here two weeks and there were 150 boys here. So, you can imagine our shock when he walked right up to us and not only remembered our names, but also the project we worked on while we were here! I don't think we realized how much impact the work team visitors have on the boys' lives until we came back this year and had experiences like these. We thought we just came and worked and hung out a little with some kids, but they remember us like we gave them a kidney or something! Wilfred is now driving a taxi on Roatan and saving up money to go to college. He seems to be active in the youth group and attends the church regularly.
On Friday night we attended a Bible study with the group and played games. CT immediately made friends with one of the boys. On Roatan, most people speak at least 2 of the 3 languages common on the island: Spanish, English and Gurifuna. So, we were able to communicate somewhat better there than we can here on the farm. The next day we helped out with a car wash and tamale sale to raise money for the youth to go to a conference. Yes, I even made a couple of tamales for the cause!
In between all the youth activities, we managed to hunt down the families of the El Sembrador boys. First, we met the parents of Renan. They were excited to see us and wanted to see photos of their son at El Sembrador. We could tell that the miss him terribly, but they are so proud of him. His mom made Renan his favorite food called pan de coco (coconut bread). It smelled so good right out of the oven. She even made a couple of extra loaves for us! Next, we met the mother and aunt of Rusbel. His mother works as a tour guide for one of the cruise lines, so she spoke quite a bit of English. She told us that Rusbel's father had an accident while building their house and died. But Rusbel told her that one day he was going to finish that house for her. She was so proud and filled with hope. She also packed a care package for us to bring back for him. Finally, we found Justo's family. Justo's mother abandoned him years ago and lives in Belize. He doesn't know his father well. He has grown up int he care of his aunt and cousins. We found them on the beach next to a bar. They were drunk, loud and obnoxious. We spoke to them briefly, but they seemed to care very little about hearing from or about Justo. At least one cousin did sit down with us for a moment. He asked us about being a "real" Christian and we told him about God's plan for Justo and for their family. We prayed with him before leaving him on the beach. We left discouraged and saddened...and determined not to let Justo return to that life.
We were lucky to get a rare opportunity to see one of the communities our students come from. That's why even through some difficult times, we can be assured of God's purpose for us and El Sembrador. We are more committed than ever to make a difference in the lives of these youth.
CT, PK and I with Renan's family.