Little Claps of Thunder
A couple of years ago, I had just returned from an amazing Global Village trip to Zambia and was talking to my Dad about the experience. I told him about the kids, the build site, the country, the hard work and of course, the two families we worked with building their two new homes.
Dad smiled as he listened to me go on and on. When I was finally done telling my story, he paused and then said, “Isn’t it amazing how all of those little interactions and experiences come together? There was nothing big or overwhelming. There were just little claps of thunder that made the trip so wonderful.”
He was spot on. It was those little things – the experiences, interactions and smiles – that made the overall trip a glorious experience. Those seemingly small moments that touch your heart and soul, reminding you to take in every experience, sight and sound. Fast forward and here I am, having just completed my fourth Global Village trip. Now it is time to reflect on the little claps of thunder from Gracias Lempira, Honduras.
After a few short hours on a plane, our team landed in San Pedro Sula and hopped in a van for a 5-hour drive to Gracias, a 500-year-old colonial town of about 20,000 people. Rain forests, cloud forests, winding roads, coffee plantations, small farms and roadside houses and markets were everywhere you turned. The drive was amazing (even though a few of us were a little motion sick from the change in altitude and the numerous hairpin turns!). By about 7 p.m. and in the dark, we arrived at our hotel and got settled in. We enjoyed a wonderful traditional dinner, talked about what the next week would bring and made it a very early evening.
The first day in Honduras provided an opportunity to explore the city we would call home for the next week. A walking tour took us to a great coffee shop in the middle of a botanical garden and then to the city center. In the afternoon, we hiked through Celaque National Park, taking in the beautiful mountains and cloud forest. Little did we know that we would be building in the shadow of one of those mountains all week.
On the first day of our build we were greeted by the local Habitat for Humanity staff, our site supervisor, and the lead mason, Russel, and his assistant, Chilo. Then we got to meet the future homeowners: Maria and her four daughters, Ester, Yeni, Lillian and Mirian. The oldest, Ester, spoke English and translated for her mother. Through tears of joy, she told us that they were so happy we had come to Honduras, and that they felt so blessed to be chosen for the program and to have the opportunity to meet and work with us for the week. We were all struck by the joy that the family was feeling. In that moment we all knew it would be a great week.
The work was strenuous, but rewarding. We moved gravel and rock, shoveling and tamping the ground to make a smooth floor; mixed mortar and laid cinder block for the walls; dug a trench around the house for plumbing. We all found our tasks and things that we enjoyed. We even came up with team names: the Brick Chicks, the Trench Crew, the Wire Woman and (my team) the Mortar Makers!
The final days of the build were combined with cultural experiences that allowed us to really learn about the people of Honduras. We met artists and potters who created amazing pieces by hand, and a local healer/medicine woman who toured us around her garden and loaded us up with fresh lemons and limes. We played with the local kiddos, talked to the neighbors, and took pictures of the random horse that would wander by the work site looking for some tasty grass. At the end of the week, we had a celebration with Maria’s family and the Habitat Honduras team. We wrote messages on the wall of their future dining room. Even though they will be covered by stucco, the family will know our love and well wishes are always with them.
I think it is safe to say that as we look back at this amazing adventure, we will all feel those little claps of thunder that touched our hearts and souls.
Program Specialist/Global Village Team Leader
Habitat for Humanity of Omaha