Below is a testimonial written by Noel, a sponsor from our Northwest Region!
If you ask
my tween and teenage daughters what was the highlight of their summer they will
instantly and without a moment’s hesitation reply “the week we spent in
Honduras at the Ranch.” But I’m getting ahead of myself because this wasn’t our
first trip to Rancho Santa Fe. NPH
Honduras is so special that this was a repeat visit for us!
ago I heard about NPH and that there were trips to the homes in the different
countries and thought “that would be a neat thing to do.” Little did I know
that I would end up opening my heart to children thousands of miles away,
develop a relationship with two children there, sponsor them, and eagerly look
forward to their letters updating me on their lives.
daughters and I had the opportunity to return to Rancho Santa Fe; our
experience the summer of 2013 was so amazing that we couldn’t wait to go back;
it had just taken us two years to do it!
So on July 17th we settled into our red eye flight eager to
land the next morning in Tegucigalpa and get back to the Ranch. We knew we would have a great week, but would
either of the girls we sponsored remember us like we remembered them?
arrived at the Ranch it was a Saturday and after quickly unpacking in the guest
house, San Cristobal, we headed off to mass.
What a wonderful way to start our week at NPH with Father Reynaldo, the uplifting
music, and the beauty of the outdoor chapel.
My girls quickly scanned the crowd and picked out one of “our girls”. We had several occasions to see Sarah*
over that week. We had dinner with her
and her hermanas in their hogare (the building on the ranch where the 20 or so
girls that age live), we saw her perform in an evening of cultural dances, we
went to the school and were treated to an assembly full of Honduran traditions
that she was a part of, and she and her two younger sisters visited the guest
house one afternoon and we got to play cards, blow bubbles, and color. But my most special time with Sarah was one
afternoon when I visited her after school. She could have easily played with my two
daughters who speak Spanish (I don’t) and all of the girls in their hogare, but
instead she took me by the hand and the two of us went out to the swing set and
monkey bars near Hija Maria, where she lived.
We swung on the swings, went down
the slide, and finally just sat, perched atop the monkey bars enjoying each
other’s company. While Sarah always
welcomed me warmly whenever I saw her by giving me a hug, the fact that she chose
to hang out with me when I could barely communicate because my Spanish was from
so long ago – that meant the world to me.
As the saying goes, “your presence is your present” and Sarah didn’t care
that I couldn’t speak her language, she valued me being there.
was full of special times like the evening our group was invited to Father
Reynaldo’s home and sat out on his porch in the evening with candles lit and
had the opportunity to talk with him and some of the leadership students;
students selected to come to Seattle to study for a year’s time. Then there was the afternoon we went for a
hike and got to cool off in a watering hole after our steep climb through the
woods and hills that make up the Ranch. A
few days later I cooled off in La Posa (the watering hole) behind the
farm. The farm is home to the four-legged
critters on the ranch; there are cows, chickens, and rabbits. One of the great things about visiting an NPH
home is in addition to spending time with the kids, you get to actually help
out – whether that be with maintenance around the home, chopping up vegetables
in the kitchen for that evening’s supper, weeding in the garden, or helping
Donya Gloria make tortillas – they estimate she has made millions of tortillas
over her 28 years working at the Ranch.
So this day we were to go to the farm and collect the eggs. While my kids were excited to do this, I was
a city girl and not so sure about hoisting up a chicken to search for eggs
underneath! While it was a bit unnerving
– I was worried about getting pecked, the chickens were very used to it and
obliged my prodding good-naturedly!
afternoon during some down time I went with another woman in our group to Casa
Eva, the home for elderly people who had no one to care for them and had come
to live at the Ranch. I recognized some
of the residents from our prior visit and we were warmly welcomed into their
beautiful courtyard. I met a younger
woman who was staying there while she recuperated from surgery she had had at
the clinic. She was appreciative of the
medical care she’d received and passed the time waiting for her next surgery by
crocheting. Before I left she had given
me a pair of booties, the perfect size for my daughter’s doll back home!
clinic and meeting the orthopedic doctor there, a former Pequeno (boy who grew
up at the ranch) was a highlight. The waiting room was packed when we got there;
we were treated to a tour of their state of the art operating room, and saw the
dental clinic that is being built. The
clinic hosts medical brigades monthly and offers needed care to those at the
Ranch as well as surrounding areas/towns; care that wouldn’t be available
otherwise. What a gift and how special that a boy who grew up at the Ranch came
back to serve as one of their doctors.
We saw this too when we toured the workshops where all the kids learn a
vocation. A couple of the instructors
grew up on the Ranch and came back there to teach; I tell you it is a special
we were treated to dinner and conversation with the Volunteers. Every year people come from around the world
(quite literally, we met volunteers from Germany, Australia, Spain, the United
States) and spend a year (or more) working at the Ranch. Through an interactive game of bingo we got
to know these special young people and I could see the wheels turning in my
older daughter’s head as she took all this in.
From her visit to NPH Honduras in 2013 to her visit to NPH Guatemala in
2014 and then on this return visit to NPH Honduras in 2015 she has consistently
said that she wants to volunteer at a NPH home when she’s older – the challenge
is going to be which of these special homes to go to!
first trip to an NPH home, I was nervous.
I had traveled to Europe but never to Central America and I had lots of
questions. Also as a single mom I
thought do I really want to spend my one week of summer vacation at a home for
kids where I’d be doing some work – was that what I needed to recharge?
Wouldn’t lying on a beach be more the ticket?
There was nothing more restorative for my spirit than a week with the
amazing kids and staff at NPH. Everyone told me “you will get so much more back
from this trip than you give” and boy were they right.
If you’re thinking about visiting NPH, as Nike
says, “Just do it” I guarantee you that it will forever change you bringing
much love and happiness into your life.
The world now seems a little smaller with part of my heart residing in
these two girls who live in a different country but who I consider to be part
of my family. In this fast-paced society where finding connection can be hard,
NPH is an oasis. If you take the time to learn about NPH and visit one of their
homes where amazing transformations happen, you will have had a positive impact
on a child’s life; what a neat remembrance of your summer vacation. And who knows? Like us, maybe you will make a
forever connection that will enrich your life on a daily basis and bring you
coming back for more. I can think of no
better wish for you!
*Name changed to protect privacy.