Why Travel?

I am leaving for a trip to India, Kenya and Uganda in the beginning of February through March. I am so excited about this trip because I have been looking forward to it for years. Since working for HALO, it has been a dream of mine to meet all the chil…

Local HALO branch exemplifies Characterplus trait

Local HALO branch exemplifies Characterplus trait Michelle Brooks [email protected] PUBLICATION: Jefferson City News-Tribune (MO) SECTION: Local DATE: December 1, 2010 Page: 7 Compassion: “Having a heart for those in need and for people in general. The Golden Rule – If I was in those circumstances, how would I want to be helped?” That’s Jefferson City High School senior Tyler Luebbert’s …

Art auction to raise funds for African orphanage

Art auction to raise funds for African orphanage Michelle Brooks [email protected] PUBLICATION: Jefferson City News-Tribune (MO) SECTION: Local DATE: April 4, 2010 Page: 17 Artwork and generosity combined locally in 2009 to fulfill the budget of an orphanage in Uganda. From more than 75 who attended the first-time HALO Jefferson City Artreach Auction, more than $13,000 was raised. “Kristen (Vogel, …

Inspiration 2010-03-15 22:37:00

Today I got to see some of the most beautiful parts of Nicaragua. Scott, Julie and I left Managua this morning to visit the nearby Masaya Volcano. This was the first time I have looked down into an active volcano. I had seen them from a distance but this time actually got to climb to the top. We were so high up you could not see the bottom of the volcano, partially from height and partially from the thick smoke and sulfur. After the volcano, we went to the nearby town of Masaya which had a great market. We then went to Catarina to have lunch. Catarina is my favorite town in Nicaragua. It overlooks Laguna Apoyo & is the horticulture capital of Nica- beautiful flowers and tropical plants everywhere. We had lunch overlooking Laguna Apoyo while being serenaded by local Nica musicians. A great lunch despite our waiter attempting to add an extra $20 onto the bill (a lot of money there!)

After lunch, we drove to Granada where I will be staying for the next few days until meeting up with Doug & his wife Julie at their home in Jinotepe. Granada is the most touristy city in Nica. It is very charming and full of beautiful brightly colored Spanish influenced architecture. It also sits next to Lake Nicaragua.

An Invisible String Connects My Heart To Yours

Today was bittersweet. I had another successful day with the kids but had to say goodbye, which was even more difficult than I had expected. After the usual day of Art and English class, there was a little party on the patio out back where the kids got to break a pinata. The celebration was in part for some of the kids’ birthdays. It was a great way to end my time there. The kids were so excited about the pinata & candy. We took pictures, sang songs & played the ukulele together before it was time to say goodbye. I found myself wanting to ask for just one more hour. But, Scott & Julie had come back to the orphanage and I was riding back to Managua with them. And unfortunately, it was time to go . . .

Some of the kids say goodbye like it’s no big deal, fully aware of the amount of people who come and go, bring gifts, sing songs, give hugs and then leave. But some of the kids, the ones who I made a stronger connection with or got to know a little better, have a very difficult time saying goodbye. So do I. One little girl in particular, who I fell for the first time I came here, was here this time as well. She and I have a special bond, a feeling I’m sure many visitors to come here feel. When the time came for me to say goodbye to her, it completely broke my heart. She grabbed onto me around my waist, and buried her face in my side. She was crying and did not want me to leave. It was one of the most horrible feelings I have had, to leave her there in tears not understanding why I can’t just take her with me. Scott, Julie & I left the orphanage to come back to Managua and even though I’m looking forward to doing some traveling here in Nica in the next week, I am already missing the kids.

Dirt and Lolly Pop Slober

Everyday here ends the same. Dirty feet, dirty clothes, completely exhausted. I have remnants of paint, lolly pop slober, dirt and food in my hair and on my clothes but I don’t mind at all. I am exhausted everyday and everyday am closer with the kids. …

A Long Time Coming

This morning was beautiful. I had forgotten how it felt to sleep with the windows open. The weather is perfect. Warm & sunny with a nice cool breeze. I woke up forgetting I had fallen asleep in summer. I love hearing all the different bird noises in Nica, none of them I can identify. I am so happy that today is the day I get to travel to the orphanage- about an hour outside of Managua and in the middle of nowhere. I will be staying there the rest of the week. I enjoyed every moment of the drive to the orphanage and in such anticipation. Nicaragua is so beautiful. If you landed here in the middle of the countryside, you would think you landed in a tropical paradise. Until, of course, you saw how a majority of the people here live- in extreme poverty. Next to Haiti, Nicaragua is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

When we got to the orphanage, most of the older kids were still in school as it was still before noon. The little guys were still there in the preschool class though so we walked in the class just to say hi. Immediately I recognized several of the kids. I was so excited to see them doing well! Most of the little pre-schoolers were babies when I last saw them but it didn’t take long for them to latch on all over again. So happy right now . . .

When the older kids got back from school, I got to see several more of the kids who I had gotten close to before. It made me so happy to see these amazing kids and to know that they remembered me, too. I spent the day catching up with them, making up for lost time. Playing on the playground, hugging, running, spinning.

I have also gotten to know the new English teacher here. Her name is Sylvia, and she is very sweet. I brought a lot of supplies for her to use in the classroom, to assist her with her English lessons, ect. She was very grateful to have it.

I am completely worn out but can’t wait to do it all over again tomorrow.

Back in Nicaragua!

Sunday, February 28thBeing in Nicaragua feels like I have completely stepped out of my life. It is different in almost every single way. I arrived in Nicaragua tonight around 9 pm. Everything went very smooth getting here, and I met up with Scott and h…

Inspiration 2010-01-24 12:15:00

I am planning a trip back to Nicaragua in February-March 2010. I plan to update with new photos and blog entries. In the meantime, I posted a couple more of my favorite pictures from my last trip there.Lacy