What? Celebrate New Year’s Eve with over 400 children... Where? In Honduras - you’ve got to be kidding! Nope, that’s what we did, and it was fabulous! The evening began with a special dinner prepared by the high school, university, and year of service students. In fact, all of the work on the Ranch at this time of year is done by them. After dinner there was a chocolate bar (they all seem to love chocolate!), time for photos, a dance, a huge bonfire (our godson helped build it), the traditional burning of the old man (an effigy for the old year), fireworks, lots and lots of firecrackers, and sparklers. The festivities last until 3:00 am if you can make it that long! Of course, all of this was accompanied by many smiles, hugs and wishes for a “Feliz Ano Nuevo”.
My name is Marcia Van Vreede, and my husband, Dale, and I have been fortunate enough to have made several trips to NPH Honduras since September 2010. That is when we finally made the trip to meet our godson, Bryan. We had been exchanging letters with Bryan since the year 2000. Our trip was a life changing experience and we decided that building this relationship with Bryan and NPH was something we wanted to do. What a rewarding journey this has been.
In his letters, our godson had told us how Christmas and New Years were celebrated at the Ranch. Last year (2011), his letters became real. In Bryan’s words, "It was the best Christmas ever!" Sharing this experience with Bryan, our new goddaughter, Estefany (we added another godchild in June 2011), their siblings, their friends and all of the children at the Ranch was truly remarkable.
Since I was a young girl, my cousin and I wanted to help orphaned children. We believed that every child deserved to be loved. (We might have been influenced by Shirley Temple movies!) Anyway, what a privilege and honor it is to be a part of Friends of the Orphans and NPH. They have made my dream come true - providing shelter, clothing, food, education, faith formation, family, and love to orphaned and abandoned children. Whether your special place is in Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador or one of the other homes, it is the same in this way – the children are laughing, growing, learning and loving. God’s love is a powerful thing.
"To us, family means putting your arms around each other and being there" – Barbara Bush. While we are at the Ranch, we share in the simple things that bond all families together – watching soccer games, playing water balloon toss, watching movies, sharing meals, attending Mass together, playing cards or Farkle, letting your goddaughter style your hair, making and eating cookies and bars. All simple yet profound!
The homes and children still need our help and support. There have been some huge budget cuts in the past couple of years. We can attest to some of those cuts in Honduras. They are eating less meat and more rice and beans! More budget cuts are impending in 2013 and although eating less meat is a hardship, having to cut staff and educational programs is worse. Our support is needed more than ever. While many of you may not be able to share the same experiences that Dale and I have, please be assured that your participation in this worthwhile endeavor is appreciated and put to its best use. May God continue to bless all of you in your generosity and support.