AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Elena*

Elena* is strong, outgoing, sharp, funny, and kind. She has a personality all her own. Elena also has a sparkling laugh. No matter the situation, you can find her quick with a joke to bring a smile to those around her. Amigos de Jesús wouldn't be the same without Elena's wit and energy! 

Read more about Elena in her interview below:

  1. Age: 13
  2. Birthday: December 15th
  3. Grade/School: 5th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? English, Spanish, and art.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Mr. Tim (2016-17 5th grade BECA teacher) and Profe Kathy (2015-17 Honduran volunteer teacher) because they are very nice and don't yell at us.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school recently? In science class, we learned about eclipses with Mr. Tim. An eclipse is when the moon covers the sun.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Sleep, put relaxing music on the stereo in our dorm, and relax on the couch. Oh, I like to sing, too.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? A doctor -- the type that takes care of babies, because I like babies. I also want to be a teacher, an English teacher.
  9. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful because I have everything I need to live, and at Amigos de Jesús I'm taken care of.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? When the madrinas let us play, and when I play with Josefina* (one of the younger girls in her dorm), because I love Josefina.
  11. Who is your biggest role model? Madrina Karen (the madrina, or Honduran caretaker, in Elena's hogar (dorm)). She always gives me good advice about boys so that they don't bother me.
  12. Favorite music: Shakira, Romeo Santos, and "Me voy" by Julieta Venegas
  13. Favorite color(s): Red, blue, black, white, light blue, and lime green
  14. Favorite food: Fried chicken with french fries, and tacos flautas
  15. Favorite book: The Magic Tree House books
  16. Favorite movie: Hansel and Gretl and Beauty and the Beast (the new one and the old one)

*name changed to protect privacy

Elena* helping make tamales on the morning of Christmas Eve - a tradition in Honduras and at Amigos.

Elena* helping make tamales on the morning of Christmas Eve - a tradition in Honduras and at Amigos.

Elena (far right) and friends on the first day of school in August 2016.

Elena (far right) and friends on the first day of school in August 2016.

REFLECTION FROM A VOLUNTEER ~ Amelia

Damian* and I work on his English together everyday. His nephew, Ignacio* (who is more like a little brother to Damian) always waits for us to be done so we can do more fun things together; like the two boys running back and forth across the yard while I time them, or making up our own make-believe town with wood blocks and dirt mounds. But today, in lieu of English lessons or play-time, we all went up with a group of kids to pray the rosary by the big cross on the hill.

Throughout the rosary, amidst all the seriousness of our prayers, Ignacio was completely unable to sit still. He ran between people praying, looking for someone to giggle with. He made motions across the way. He tried to point out grasshoppers and birds to the people trying to pray around him. He would not sit still. I did my best to ignore it, not to give his behavior any attention, but then a felt a little hand on my arm and he began whispering to me to look at the trees… Do I tell him this isn’t the time? Do I ignore him? Do I give him a stern look of disapproval? I decided to ignore him, making a mental note to have a talk with him after prayers. He tapped a little longer, then heaved a sigh of disappointment, and moved on to the next person. Before walking down, I decided to have a talk with him. I sat him on the ledge to make us eye-level and said:

“Hey buddy… we need to talk about something serious, ok?”
He nodded.
“When you pray for something, is it important?”
He nods.
“Ok, and if it is important, doesn’t that mean you want other people to think it’s important, too? And even if they don’t think it’s important, they should respect that you think it’s important, right?”
He nods.
“Ok, sweetheart, then you have to do the same for others! When other people are praying, it is coming from their heart! Their prayer is so important to them! And they’re giving you the honor of sharing what’s deep inside their heart, hoping that maybe you will pray for what they pray for, too! So it isn’t very nice or respectful to them to be talking while they pray, or giggling or playing or running around when they pray, right?”
He eyes left my gaze and he looked down…and nodded.
“There is a time to be serious, and a time to play, ok? …Now… *I tickle him* Don't be serious all the time, because hat's no fun either!"
He giggled and looked up at me as I said, “But there are times to be serious. And prayer, whether it’s you praying or someone else, is one of those times. You have to be respectful, ok?”
He nods.
“Ok. You promise we’ll work on it?”
He smiled and nodded and reached over to hug me.

I walked down the hill with the boys when I suddenly felt overwhelmed (God moment) to ask Damian if there was anything he’d like for me to pray for. After a short, but very meaningful request on his part, I asked if he would rather pray separately tonight before we each went to sleep, or if he would like to pray together. After he asked to pray together, we noticed the other boys were still near. I quietly pulled Damian to the side and asked if he would be comfortable asking his nephews to join us in prayer or if he preferred to just pray with me.

“The more help, the better!” he responded. We asked them to join us, and then we all sat down and closed our eyes in prayer. Damian prayed first- sweet prayers of a 10 year old- even remembering to pray for a friend of mine who had recently had a baby that I had briefly mentioned during our time at the cross for the rosary. Holding back tears, I prayed next. When I was done, Damian began to start the Our Father for us to all pray together in closing.

Wait! I need to pray for something! I hear.
Oh my gosh. Ignacio! I hadn’t even realized, throughout mine and Damian’s prayers, Ignacio had stayed quiet and still, head down and eyes closed, listening to our prayers. And now, here we are, a boy who an hour earlier was more concerned with grasshoppers than the prayers of others- let alone his own prayers- was upset that he had been skipped and stopped us to make sure he could pray with us. Happily stunned, I nodded to him to begin. And what followed was the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard. He thanked God for many things. And he prayed for many things, one of which being for Ms. Amelia, that she knows I love her and that she is safe when she goes home. and for her friend with the baby. and for her grandmother because she’s old, and for her mom and dad. and her friends.”

He finished praying, and hand in hand we all prayed one Our Father, one Hail Mary, and one Glory Be all together and then raced through the rain to the office porch, giggling, to go play and practice English.

Needless to say, I came back to my room and cried for a… good little while. And I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God.

Thank you, God, for the opportunity to know them. Thank you God for the opportunity to pray with them- to see their needs and cares and to know their hearts in that way, through you. Thank you God for their trust in me, their openness. Thank you God for helping me teach Ignacio a lesson about prayer, and thank you God for allowing me the opportunity to see the fruits of that lesson immediately. Thank you God for all that THEY teach ME; all they’ve taught me.

But mostly, God, thank you for the opportunity to love them. and thank you, THANK YOU, for the honor of being loved BY them.

You are everywhere, truly IN everything and I will carry You in this experience with me everywhere I go for the rest of my life.

 Gracias Señor.

I was recently able to go back to Amigos during Christmas break (5.5 months later). On the Christmas trip, on my very last morning there, I sat down for breakfast with these same boys (and some others) before loading up on the van to leave. They were already seated by the time I got there and had already begun eating. I sat down, closed my eyes and did the sign of the cross, when I heard a gasp. I looked up to see this:

Ignacio, realizing he forgot and now silently praying before his meal.

I’m excited to see what else we can work on together when I go back this summer. Thank you God for lessons that last.

Amelia Sierra- Summer Volunteer 2015 & 2016

AMIGO OF THE WEEK ~ Humberto

Humberto is the talented head of carpentry and maintenance at Amigos de Jesús. He has been part of the Amigos de Jesús family longer than most of our current staff in Honduras. In fact, this month, he will be celebrating his 16th anniversary with Amigos. Humberto is humble, loving, and hard-working. He plays an intrical part in keeping the Amigos grounds running properly and is a wonderful male role model for our kids.

Read below to learn more about Humberto and all he is to the Amigos family!

  1. Hometown: Azacualpa, Santa Barbara, Honduras
  2. Joined the Amigos de Jesús family in: April 2001
  3. Role at Amigos: Head of Carpentry and Maintenance
     
  4. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I found out about Amigos de Jesús through Padrino Ubil. He was working on constructing the building that is now the comedor (cafeteria) and he had hired me to make some wood pieces that they needed for the kitchen. So I made those pieces and I came to Amigos to install them, and that was my first time here. While I was here, they told me they were also looking for someone to install some doors and trellises in the comedor. I offered to do that job and they hired me. And that was how I began here.
     
  5. You came to Amigos in 2001, just three years after it was founded. How has Amigos changed from that time? 
    Wow. It has changed in many ways. When I first came, there were just 8 boys here [compared to the 120 boys and girls who make up our home today!]. Also, the only buildings that were here were the office building and the comedor which was in the process of being built. The school, the new dorm buildings, the volunteer house, none of that was here yet at that time.
     
  6. How has your job changed since you first came to Amigos de Jesús? 
    In 2001 when they first hired me full time after the comedor project, I actually began as a padrino. I worked in that position for 16 months. Then, I found out that they were interested in starting a wood shop at Amigos and so I offered to help with that. Or really, everyone knew that I had experience as a carpenter, so I think it had already been decided that I would help in that area. But anyway, after 16 months of working with the kids, I left my position of padrino and I moved to the wood shop.
     
  7. How did you learn carpentry?
    I first learned in 1997 when I went to a vocational school near here. After learning there, I went on to work as a carpenter and I have continued learning over time.
     
  8. What kinds of things do you make in the wood shop at Amigos?
    The things we make the most are window frames, doors, trellises, tables, and benches. And then most recently we've been working on making different things for the new chapel, which has been a big job.
     
  9. How many people work in the wood shop at Amigos with you?
    Well, before recently, it was just me, along with two of our jovenes (young men), Nane and Ariel. But now there are six of us total. Nane and Ariel, plus three other employees: Mario, Edin, and Martín.
     
  10. What is your favorite thing you have made in the wood shop at Amigos?
    One of the hardest things I've made in my time here, because I'm a carpenter not a wood carver, was making some angels that Fr. Dennis had the idea for me to elaborate. Fr. Dennis told me about the project and it caught my attention, but I wasn't sure at the time that I would be able to do it because it required detailed wood work. However, I discovered through that project that I did have the ability to do that type of work.
     
  11. What is your favorite part of your job?
    My favorite part is always working with wood, of course, but I like Amigos de Jesús because I don't only do wood work, but I am able to work in other areas, too, like maintenance, and of course always working with the kids.
     
  12. Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Amigos? 
    I don't even know which one to tell you because I have so many. I have enjoyed very much working with the jovenes who help in the wood shop. We have had a lot of special moments together.

    Also, I just thought of a memory from when I was in my first 16 months working as a padrino. I remember one day it was Sergio's turn to get his hair cut, and it was my job in those days to cut his hair. But he always would hide form me in agro (the farm area at Amigos) because he hated getting his hair cut. He said that the kids at school made fun of him when his hair was buzzed short like we did it. So that day it was his turn for me to cut his hair and I finally found him after walking through all of agro. And of course he was upset saying he didn't want his hair cut short. So I said, "Okay, let's do it like this. First you buzz my hair and then I'll buzz yours. And tomorrow I'll take you to school and we'll both go together with our hair short." And that's what we did!
     
  13. A fun fact about you is that your son attends the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School. Can you tell us a little more about how that came to be?
    Yes. I actually have two kids -- a daughter, Kenzy, and a son, Alex Daniel. Alex Daniel is in 5th grade at the Amigos School and I'm very happy to have him in school here. I know he has learned a lot. I wanted my daughter to be able to go here too, but when the BECA bilingual program began at Amigos in 2013, my daughter was already in 6th grade, and the school only went up to 2nd grade at that time. So she was too old.
    But with Alex Daniel, he was the right age for the 2nd grade class. I had heard that the BECA program was very good, so I wanted to make sure Alex was able to go there, but it was a little tough to convince Alex at that time. He was already in public school and he told me he didn't want to leave his friends. But eventually I convinced him that he would make new friends at Amigos, and of course he has. I knew that BECA provided a high quality education and that Amigos was an excellent organization, so I knew it was the best decision for him. So now we are both at Amigos every day!
Humberto walking with one of our girls and one of the jovenes from wood shop (blue shirt). 

Humberto walking with one of our girls and one of the jovenes from wood shop (blue shirt). 

Humberto (back left, green shirt) during October vacations this past year. He and his girlfriend Maritza took to his home the two jovenes who work with him in the wood shop (right side, red shirt and green shirt), as well as our youngest girl at Amigos (dress). Also pictured is Humberto's sister (pink and black shirt).

Humberto (back left, green shirt) during October vacations this past year. He and his girlfriend Maritza took to his home the two jovenes who work with him in the wood shop (right side, red shirt and green shirt), as well as our youngest girl at Amigos (dress). Also pictured is Humberto's sister (pink and black shirt).

AMIGUITA OF THE WEEK ~ Maria*

It's easy for us to forget that Maria* is only 12 years old. With her bright mind, gentle nature, and keen insightfulness, she is wise beyond her years. It does't help that she is also one of the tallest girls at Amigos! Maria has a fun side that makes us smile and her caring spirit makes her a great role model for the younger girls in her dorm. Maria is also athletic -- you can often find her playing soccer after dinner alongside the boys!

Read more about Maria in her interview below:

  1. Age: 12
  2. Birthday: October 27th
  3. Grade/School: 5th grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Computer class and English. I like computer class because we learn how to type and I like English because I like languages.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? Profe Ingrid and Profe Kathy
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? In science, we learned about magnets and in math, we learned about addition, subtraction, and multiples.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Play soccer, sleep, talk with my friends, and dance Zumba.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? A flight attendant because I like to go on trips to many places and meet new people.
  9. What are you most thankful for? I am thankful because I have all the necessities that I need and because I am learning English and that makes me feel good.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The cross. I like to walk up and see how big it is. Also, there I can see Jesus and it reminds me of when Jesus died for us.
  11. Who is someone who is a role model for you? Fr. Dennis because I find Jesus in him and because he is very special for me. He is a fun person and I like when he smiles and tells me good advice. He has a big heart and we can count on him for anything we need.
  12. Favorite music: All songs by Dulce María
  13. Favorite color(s): Black and purple
  14. Favorite food: Catrachas and Mexican tacos
  15. Favorite movie: Me Before You
  16. Favorite book: Romeo and Juliet

*name changed to protect privacy

Maria (left) and friends hanging out at Amigos

Maria (right) and a classmate visiting the Mayan ruins on a school field trip last year.

Maria receiving presents donated by her padrinos from the U.S. on Christmas last year

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Stephanie Fore (2015-17 BECA volunteer)

Stephanie Fore (known here at Amigos as "Miss Stephanie") is in her second year of service as a volunteer teacher though the BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) program at the Amigos de Jesús School. Stephanie has a natural talent for teaching that shines in her 4th grade classroom of diverse personalities and learning levels. She is always thinking of new and creative ways to inspire a love of learning in her kids. Outside of classes, Stephanie takes on an active role on the home side of Amigos. She can often be found helping her students with homework or simply spending quality time with them. Miss Stephanie's deep dedication and love for our kids make her a valued part of the Amigos family!

  1. Age: 25 (but I'll be 26 this Saturday!)
  2. Hometown: Saint Paul, MN
  3. University: Knox College in Galesburg, IL
  4. Majors/Minors: Anthropology-Sociology with minors in Spanish and Social Services
     
  5. What have been your roles at Amigos during your time as a volunteer teacher? 
    Last year, I was the 4th grade teacher. I taught English, math, science, art, and computers. This year, in addition to my responsibilities as the 4th grade teacher, I'm also the Instructional Lead and a resource teacher for the BECA program at Amigos. As the Instructional Lead, I meet with the first-year BECA teachers at least once a week to talk about their goals and progress as educators and do occasional obersvations of their classes. As a resource teacher, I assist the 5th grade and Prepa (kindergarten) teachers in their classrooms a few times a week. I also teach the Honduran teachers English twice a week after school.
     
  6. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús?
    I applied to teach in Honduras through BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) and was then placed at Amigos without knowing much about it. I was a little nervous to be part of such a small, rural community, but once I moved here, I couldn't believe how lucky I was. It's such a beautiful campus and I love being part of such a close-knit family.
     
  7. What were you doing before you came to Amigos? 
    Before I came to Amigos, I had graduated from Knox College and was working in the Office of Admissions there. I knew I wanted to stay in education, but I made a huge leap from university students to elementary children.
     
  8. What made you decide to stay a second year at Amigos?
    Although it took me a lot of time to commit, it was never really much of a decision. I knew a few months in that I would regret not giving myself the opportunity to improve as a teacher and form deeper relationships with the children if I left after just one year. Being here as a second-year teacher has presented its own unique challenges, but I feel so lucky to be welcomed into the Amigos family for a second time.
     
  9. What is your favorite part of your job? 
    Oh man, that's a tough one! I love (almost) everything! It's especially fun to be a part of all of the BECA classrooms this year. I love having the chance to teach my 4th graders about subjects and predicates, then help out Mister Tim as he teaches his 5th graders division with decimals, support Libian as she teaches her Prepa students to write their numbers, observe Mister Brian teach a lesson on finding the setting in a story, and then play with all of the students at recess. It's amazing to see how different each student, class, and teacher is. It's incredible how much the kids learn and grow in the matter of one school year. My other favorite part is all of the sweet artwork that I'm given by the children.
     
  10. Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Amigos de Jesús?
    Every October, all of the children from the home take trips around Honduras. This year, Miss Ashley (2015-17 Amigos volunteer) and I were lucky enough to travel with seven of the kids to their hometown of Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras). It was a little bit hectic traveling over seven hours with so many small children, but it was so great to spend some quality time with them and learn more about their lives before Amigos. Four of the boys that traveled with us have since been reunited with their families, so I'm especially glad that I was able to create that memory with them before they left.
    We also recently celebrated our 100th day of school by doing art projects, eating snacks, putting together a 100-piece puzzle, and making homemade ice cream. Only about half of the 4th graders were able to successfully make their ice cream, but it was a lot of fun making a mess!
     
  11. Fun Fact: When I was two-years-old, our family got our first cat and my mom let me name him. His name was Baby Kitty Meow Meow Fred. Another fun fact is that I once won free Buffalo Wild Wings for a year!

Miss Stephanie (far right) and Miss Ashley on their trip to Tegucigalpa with the kids in October. Here, they are also joined by one of the caretakers at their old home.

Miss Stephanie and her 4th grade class from last year.

Sponsoring Our Children ~ Ann's Story

Ann and her son, Alan. Alan was a volunteer at Amigos de Jesús from 2008-2010. He returned to the hogar in 2011 and has been living there ever since. 

Ann and her son, Alan. Alan was a volunteer at Amigos de Jesús from 2008-2010. He returned to the hogar in 2011 and has been living there ever since. 

Amigos de Jesús is a place that truly lives up to its name. We are humbled and honored that our son has chosen this place as his life’s vocation and has drawn us into this place of love and hope.  Alan joined the Amigos family as a volunteer in 2008. We have had the privilege of getting to know many of these wonderful special children (as well as the Padrinos & Madrinas, staff and the volunteers) who are a part of this amazing family. Nights end with prayer circle in which God’s presence is truly felt. From our first visit in 2008 to recently, this circle has grown by a HUGE amount— from just 50 (with volunteers) to over 150 now!

We met Juan* on our very first visit. He had arrived at Amigos a few months earlier. As a ‘newcomer’ he had no sponsors yet, so we got the honor of being his sponsor and because of our frequent visits, have had the pleasure of watching him mature into a wonderful young man.

Juan* and his younger brother.

Juan* and his younger brother.

Ann, her husband and little Juan* during one of their first trips to the hogar.

Ann, her husband and little Juan* during one of their first trips to the hogar.

He had a difficult young life— as most of the Amigos children have— and education wasn’t a real high priority for him. We encouraged him to study and work hard and always told him that if he went to high school, we would come for his graduation.  (We had this wonderful experience just a few months ago and we are so proud of what he’s done in the short time we have known him— he is college bound in another year!). The children write to their sponsors and sponsors are HIGHLY encouraged to write back.  Because of our unique connection, we’ve been able to do more than that and it is a blessing that I count among my treasures in life.

Ann, her husband and Juan* who just graudauted high school this November and is now college bound! 

Ann, her husband and Juan* who just graudauted high school this November and is now college bound! 


For more information on sponsoring a child, please visit our website.

AMIGUITO OF THE WEEK ~ Felipe*

When Felipe* first arrived to Amigos de Jesús in 2010, he was a feisty nine-year-old who had received very little prior schooling. These days, it is hard to remember the young boy who walked through our gates just six short years ago. Today, Felipe is a teenager known for his wide smile, love of jokes and pranks, and propensity for learning. He is an excellent student with a big imagination. He is constantly exploring the world around him and can often be found taking things apart to analyze how they work. This past December, Felipe graduated from 6th grade at the Amigos de Jesús School and two weeks ago, he began classes at the local public junior high. He is thriving in his new environment. We can't wait to see where his curious mind takes him!

  1. Age: 15
  2. Birthday: June 4th
  3. Grade/School: 7th grade in 'colegio' (junior high) at the local public school
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Home Ec. class. We have it for 2 hours every Monday. Right now, we are learning how to cook, and we wear aprons. This week we made fruit salad with apples, watermelon, grapes, bananas, and pineapple. We spent class cutting up the fruit and then we got to eat it in our own cups at the end. Next week, they are going to teach us how to make pizza.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? My teacher for Home Ec. who is also my science teacher.
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? In Home Ec., we learned about how to properly wash ourselves before and after handling food.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Mostly talk to girls :) No, just kidding. I like to talk to my teachers, play soccer with some of my friends, walk around the Amigos property, and watch the other kids play.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? Math teacher. I will have the kids call me "Profe Mango." (Almost all of the kids at Amigos have nicknames that they use among themselves. Felipe's is "Mango" because of the size and shape of his head. We tell him his head has to be so big to hold all of the brains in it!)
  9. What are you most thankful for at Amigos de Jesús? I am thankful that I am alive and that Amigos gave me the chance to live. I am thankful for my education and for the volunteers. I am also thankful for the padrinos (Honduran caretakers) because they make sure we eat and give us good advice.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The soccer field because I like playing soccer there.
  11. What do you like to do with the volunteers and the madrinas/padrinos? With the volunteers, I like to practice Spanish and English, and I like to do my homework with them. With the madrinas and padrinos, I like to go on walks, talk with them, and have convivencias ('get-togethers' that the kids have in their dorms every so often).
  12. Who is a role model for you at Amigos? Jaime* (one of our boys with special needs) because even though he is different, he wakes up every day with a lot of energy and is always making the most out of life. Also, he knows everything that is going on and everything he is doing. He is smart.
  13. Favorite songs/singers: Michael Jackson and the song "Tu poeta" by Alex Campos
  14. Favorite color(s): Red and black
  15. Favorite food(s): Fruit cocktail, pizza, chocolate-covered banana, hot dogs
  16. Favorite movie(s): Pan's Labyrinth and The Book of Eli
  17. Favorite book: Oh the Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss

*name changed to protect privacy

Felipe "blessing" Deacon Patricio, who in June will be ordained a priest for Amigos de Jesús.

Felipe and Madrina Ruth at Felipe's 6th grade graduation in December.

Felipe (third from left) and friends on their first day of 6th grade last September.

Sponsoring Our Children~ Pat's Story

Little did I know that my involvement with Amigos de Jesús would start with a promise made by my friend, Ann. While visiting Amigos de Jesús, Ann was speaking with one of the little boys who had recently arrived to the home. This little boy didn't yet have a padrino, or sponsor. She promised to help him get a padrino of his own. Upon Ann's return, she asked me if I was interested in sponsoring that little boy. As it turned out, instead of one padrino, Elmer* now has an entire group of people from my office who joined up to sponsor him! We organize fundraisers at our office to raise the money for his sponsorship and send cards to him throughout the year. I have a bulletin board with his photos and letters he sends to us displayed proudly in our office. We spread the word about the wonderful work that is being done to help the children at Amigos de Jesús.

A letter from Elmer to all of us who sponsor him. We love reading his letters to us.

A letter from Elmer to all of us who sponsor him. We love reading his letters to us.

This is a water bottle sale sign that we have in our office. We sell water to raise money for the pizza that we purchase when we arrive in Honduras. After arriving in the airport, we order hundreds of slices of pizza and bring it to the hogar on our visits! The water sales are unbelievably popular and we raised several hundred dollars over the year.

This is a water bottle sale sign that we have in our office. We sell water to raise money for the pizza that we purchase when we arrive in Honduras. After arriving in the airport, we order hundreds of slices of pizza and bring it to the hogar on our visits! The water sales are unbelievably popular and we raised several hundred dollars over the year.

During my latest visit to the hogar in December 2016, Elmer proudly showed me a stack of every card, picture and letter that we sent him over the past few years. My heart was touched that he kept the letters and that they mean so much to him. He treasures the messages of encouragement we send him. It's equally exciting for us to receive his letters and hear about the progress he is making in his classes, especially his fluency in English. 

A photo I took of Elmer holding a white box that contains all the cards he receives from his padrinos. 

A photo I took of Elmer holding a white box that contains all the cards he receives from his padrinos. 

I know that not everyone who sponsors a child will get to visit the children in person. It is a true blessing to be a sponsor and have the opportunity to be a positive influence in the life of a child! I want to give a shout out to Amy, Wilson, Alan, Suyapa, all the staff, volunteers and BECA teachers who dedicate themselves to these wonderful children. They are angels of God – doing His work on earth. 

My favorite photo is of me on my first trip to Amigos de Jesús when I got out of the van. I was greeted by Elmer*, Rocio* and Wilbur* (all children Pat sponsors). I don’t believe I was ready for the sincere, loving greetings I received from the children and staff.

My favorite photo is of me on my first trip to Amigos de Jesús when I got out of the van. I was greeted by Elmer*, Rocio* and Wilbur* (all children Pat sponsors). I don’t believe I was ready for the sincere, loving greetings I received from the children and staff.


For more information about sponsoring our children, click here

AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Profesora Viviana

In 2014, Profesora Viviana was among the first of our Honduran volunteer teachers to be hired as a permanent teacher at the Amigos de Jesús School. Today, two other volunteer teachers are now employed along with her, joining our three original paid school staff (our principal, school psychologist, and kindergarten teacher). Profesora Viviana has a special talent for working with kids. In the classroom, she skillfully masters the balance of love and firmness. She captivates her kids' attention, pushes them to be the best they can be, and makes them feel safe and accepted. We are so grateful to have her as part of our long-term team of educators at Amigos!

Read more about Profesora Viviana in her interview below:

  1. Hometown: Santa Bárbara, Honduras
     
  2. Joined the Amigos family in: January 2013
     
  3. Current position at Amigos: 1st and 2nd grade teacher in the BECA (Bilingual Education for Central America) program at the Amigos school, teaching Spanish, Social Studies, and Art.
     
  4. How did you first hear about Amigos de Jesús? My father was a classmate of Padrino Ubil in university, and Padrino Ubil was the one who told my dad that Amigos was creating a volunteer teaching program for Honduran teachers in 2012. My dad and I came out to Amigos one day to see what the program was about, and I began here in January 2013 as a volunteer teacher.
     
  5. How has your position changed since you first arrived? When I very first came, Amigos had not yet partnered with BECA to become a bilingual school. So I worked with a few different grades -- I was the 3rd grade teacher for awhile and I also later worked with 5th grade. Then, in September 2013, the BECA program started and I have now been teaching 1st and 2nd grade in that program for 3 years, working alongside U.S. volunteer teachers.
     
  6. How has the Amigos de Jesús School changed since you first arrived? Wow, it has changed so much. When I first came, we were a much smaller teaching team -- only 5 or 6 Honduran teachers, and the BECA bilingual program didn't exist yet. Then, when the BECA program did start, it only went up to 2nd grade. Now BECA goes up to 5th grade and we also have the EducaTodos program for our kids with specialized academic and/or behavioral needs. I've also been able to watch the kids advance through their grades and grow both academically and behaviorally over the years. It's been amazing to see my kids who were in 1st grade when I came now in 3rd and 4th grade. Overall, the school has really changed a lot, and it continues to change! It has been beautiful to be a part of it.
     
  7. What is your favorite part of your job? I think it is when I get the chance to talk to the kids and relate with them about their behaviors and struggles, not in a way that is strict or firmly a teacher-student relationship, but in a way of someone who can give them advice and really be there for them. Those moments of being able to connect with the kids are my favorites.
     
  8. Do you have a favorite memory of your time at Amigos de Jesús? Well, I've had so many students over the years, but one special group was the group that just graduated 6th grade this year and moved on to 'colegio' (junior high at the local public school). Those students were some of the first ones I taught when I first came to Amigos and despite all of their behavioral challenges, they were a special group for me. I remember when I first came and those students had the habit of yelling, saying bad words, and generally misbehaving. And then I remember the moment when I could see those students begin to change in the classroom. Seeing them graduate this year and comparing them to where they were a few years ago....it was beautiful to see.

    Another special thing that Amigos de Jesús did for me in my time here was that a couple years ago when I got married, Amigos decided to have a "Families Day" for the kids. Two couples of madrinas/padrinos (caretakers) on the home side of Amigos got married the same year I did, so Amigos held a wedding celebration for all of us as a way to show the kids a bit of an example of what marriage and family life is like, since they are growing up in more of an untraditional and group-like setting. All three of us couples wore our wedding gowns and suits, and Amigos invited both my family and my husband's family to celebrate. They had wedding cake for us and everything. It made me feel like part of the family here and it was nice to be able to share in that moment of my life with the kids.

    Apart from that celebration, many people from Amigos attended my real wedding ceremony, too -- Amy and Wilson, the Honduran teachers, and many of the U.S. volunteers at Amigos at the time. That was also a wonderful experience.

Profesora Viviana with staff and volunteers from Amigos de Jesús at her wedding in 2014.

Profesora Viviana (right) and one of her 1st grade classes.

Profesora Viviana (right) with some of her first students in 2013.

Dressing up as a superhero for Children's Day at the school.

This year, Viviana received a special surprise from her students on her birthday.

Teachers can have fun, too! (Profesora Viviana is on the left)

Accompanying our students on a field trip last year. (Profesora Viviana is in sunglasses)

AMIGUITO OF THE WEEK ~ Claudio*

Claudio* is daring, bold, witty, and oh-so-smart. He is forever catching us off-guard with his newest insights and opinions, and he is not afraid to question the world around him. Claudio is a mover and a shaker and we know that he has the potential to one day be a strong leader! Claudio currently lives at Amigos with his two older brothers and is in 3rd grade at the Amigos School. He is one of the best English speakers his age at Amigos.

Read more about Claudio in his interview below:

  1. Age: 8
  2. Birthday: November 19th
  3. Grade and school: 3rd grade at the Amigos de Jesús Bilingual School
  4. What is your favorite class in school? Physical Education because we get to play soccer.
  5. Who is your favorite teacher? I have two. Mr. Sean (2015-17 BECA volunteer and Claudio's second grade teacher) and Miss Maddie (2014-15 volunteer and Claudio's first grade teacher).
  6. What is something interesting you learned in school this week? We learned about the Cardinal points in social studies -- north, south, east, and west.
  7. What do you like to do in your free time? Play soccer and play tag.
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up? I want to be a police officer because I want to help people make sure people live.
  9. What are you most thankful for? For the Amigos family, for school, for clothes, and for food.
  10. What is your favorite part of Amigos de Jesús? The farm ('agro') because there are animals there, and also the Cross because Jesus is there.
  11. Who is a role model for you at Amigos de Jesús? Madrina Berenice because she is the madrina (Honduran caretaker) in my dorm and she loves me.
  12. Favorite type of music: Temerarios
  13. Favorite color: Yellow and orange because those are the colors of tigers and lions
  14. Favorite food: Chicken with tajadas (fried plantains), fried chicken and french fries, and Mexican tacos
  15. Favorite book: Green Eggs and Ham
  16. Favorite movie: Un Gran Dinosaurio and Storks

*name changed to protect privacy

Claudio* (front right) with Mr. Sean and friends at the local parade for Honduran Independence Day.

Claudio (second from left) on Christmas with Padrino Antonio and other boys from his dorm.