Sisters: Lucre and Florine’s Journey

Florine and Lucre reflect on their relationship over the past 8 months.  Though both from NPH, they had never met before the plane ride from Miami to Seattle last September.  How do we move from strangers to sisters?  

“Hi! Are you Florine?”, asked Nelson. “Yes, it’s me”, I replied.

Magda was seated by the window, Lucre in the middle, and Nelson…you can imagine where he was sitting?  The four of us shared some cookies, and tried to know each other in the plane from Miami to Seattle.  Nelson was translating for the girls what I was saying in broken English.  Well, you know how communication is important, so we decided to do our first intercultural communication which was quite interesting and friendly.

Landed in Seattle, it took us more than ten minutes to find our suitcases. Thank goodness we were all together!  Were we lost?  Hmmmm…not really, we were just excited to visit and exploring this big airport.  Would you do that for a first time?  Maybe not, but we were just adventurous and curious.  After taking a couple laps at the airport and finding our suitcases, we were surprised to see how many people were waiting for us. Our host families and friends. We loved it, and we were happy.

One time at the beginning of the year, we were at Malia’s place for a get-together with some of the NPH volunteers, and Lucre was taking pictures of the whole group.  I wanted to delete the pictures that she took of me.  I did not know how to tell her in Spanish that I want to only delete mine, and she did not either understand in English what I was telling her. We both got angry because we had a misunderstanding in that conversation. She thought that I wanted the camera, but I did not need it, I just wanted to delete the pictures.  That was our first hard time.

Did we have a second one?  You know, we were all different from each other, so working as a team was kind of challenging.  But, we took time to get to know each other, we learned how to speak “Spanglish” because that helped us most of the time, and we even used sign language to communicate.  As time was passing, things got better.

Lucre and I are maybe not the best friends in the world, but we are really good, true friends and most importantly, sisters.  We now support each other every single day, we share stories, secrets…who does not share secret with a special friend?  Lucre says that I am humble, but I think that she is more humble than me.  She also thinks that I am bossy, and well, she is right and I am working on that.  I love her. And…she says that she loves me too.  Last Saturday, I forgot to take my passport with me to the ELS for my TOEFL test. Lucre took the bus and came all the way to downtown Seattle, and brought me the passport.  I was able to take it because she was there for me, I won’t never forget it.  Thank you mi Lucrecita!  Te  amo mucho!

At the end, we have struggled, we found difficulties, we were mad at each other sometimes, but we finally saw a sister in each other.  Now, we only speak English, but I do speak some Spanish words sometimes just to let her know that I can speak Spanish while she is speaking English.  “Hurry Florine, hurry!”  That is what she says when she comes over to the Fonsecas’s place, and she has to make sure that we do not miss the bus.  “I am almost done Lucre, give me five minutes and we won’t be late because we have class at 1:00”.  I should ask for ten or fifteen minutes instead of five. Why? Because I take more than five minutes to be ready, so I make her run every morning to the bus stop since she is staying with me, and if we miss the bus, we will be in trouble.

The End of Lucre and Florine’s story…just for now…

How a Year in Seattle Transformed my Life

By: Jacinto Arias, Class of 2013 (NPH Guatemala)

Jacinto graduated from The Seattle Institute in 2013 and is now serving as the Year of Service and University Student Coordinator, while he continues his University Studies in Guatemala.  Here he reflects on his time in Seattle and how it impacted his life.  

It´s been almost 2 years since I came back from Seattle. When I look back I realize that I am not the same person that I was before. I experienced ten months filled with hard work, joy, games, homework (grammar), and meeting so many people. I met really good people. I don’t remember some of their names, but I have their faces in my mind.

In the beginning, it was really hard because I was really far from my friends and my family, and of course the language made my first weeks harder.  During my stay in Seattle, I could find unconditional love from my host family (the Callans) and in their house I felt for the first time in my whole life, a real family. But now you will say: Why are you saying that? You are in NPH and NPH is a family and its true, but there I experienced having a mom and dad, where they took care of me very seriously. I remember this phrase from Cathy Callans: I take my role very seriously. She told me when she saw that I was doing something wrong or something good, as well.  They treated me as a son and their kids treated me as a brother. Their kids (Jonathan, Matthew and Molly) always had time for me and they argued with each other in order to know who had the best Spanish.

I was used to having so many people around me and when I went to Seattle it was really different. I lived in a big house for 5 people and for me it was really difficult to get used to it. Sometimes I got frustrated because I was alone at the house and I had just one channel in Spanish, but because of that experience I got to learn more about myself. I realized that at NPH I did not have enough time for myself, and in Seattle I had that time and I could know more about myself: goals, objectives, fears, etc.

No matter where I went, I found good people; people who were and still are interested in NPH. Something that really impressed me was that even though they didn´t know NPH, they believed in us, they believed that we would be successful and we would change the world. I admire NPH USA a lot because they work so hard every day in order to help us and get more people involved.

Kara King, the coordinator of the program, always trusted in us. She is an amazing person and always listened to us and gave us advice.  She is totally convinced that this program is worth it, which motivates me to keep working and helping others. I know that I cannot do everything, but I can do something and that something I will do well.

People from the States and all the people that help us, thank you so much for your support. I have no words to thank you nor a way to pay you, but I am truly convinced that one day YOU will have your compensation.

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“I would do it again in a heartbeat” ~ A Reflection on Hosting an NPH Student

By Cheryl Goodwin

When we agreed to be a host family for one of the Leadership students this year, I knew that I would be glad I had done it. My family has been involved with NPH since 2007, when my oldest daughter worked at the regional office. She invited us to a Faces of Hope event that introduced us to NPH, its founder and the children who are part of a large, loving family.  Shortly after that we sponsored our first godchild from Guatemala, and then a second one.

I have been a Table Captain at numerous events, volunteered in the office, and am currently serving on the Regional Board.  This past summer, I visited the home in Guatemala and was able to meet my godchildren and see first-hand that everything that I had heard about NPH was true. I remember clearly driving through the entrance of the grounds and being brought to tears by the beauty of it all, especially in contrast to the poverty we had passed through on the trip from the airport.

During this trip I was able to visit with several of the young men and women who had been through the Leadership program in the past few years.  It was good to see them living out what the program was aiming for – providing leadership and support to their sisters and brothers at NPH. I was also introduced to Luisa, who was planning to come as one of this year’s students.

Paul and I have always opened our home to others.  Our children’s friends were (are) always welcome, extended family members have lived with us for several months, holiday gatherings are frequently at our house, and we have had weekly meals with a  large group of friends for nearly twenty years.  However, in recent years, I kept feeling the call to show “hospitality to strangers.”  We had been asked to consider hosting a student the prior year, but for several reasons had decided it wasn’t the right time.  The idea had stayed in my mind, however, and my visit to the home in Guatemala made everything so much more real than it had been before.  So, when Kara King asked us to consider it again this year we said yes.

To be honest, even after saying yes, I was nervous and uncertain about whether or not it was a good idea. Our student, Magda, is from Honduras and she spoke very little English.  Since neither my husband, my mother, nor I speak Spanish, I was worried about how we were going to communicate.  The first couple weeks were a bit of a challenge, communication-wise.  The translation programs on our cell phones were a life-saver, allowing us to at least get the basics of what we were trying to say across. However, we were able to laugh as we fumbled our way through unfamiliar words and as Magda’s English skills increased and we learned a little Spanish, communication became easier.  We now have long, detailed conversations with only the occasional look-up of a particularly difficult word.

I had also worried that we wouldn’t be exciting enough for her – we don’t have kids at home, we aren’t soccer players, and are pretty busy with work commitments.  But we can, and did, provide an opportunity for her to be part of our family, with all of our quirks and goodness. Our friends and church family have loved getting the chance to get to know her.  I was rather surprised at how quickly Magda began to feel like another daughter to us.

As I mentioned earlier, I knew that I would be glad that we had agreed to be a host family and that it was the right thing to do.  What I hadn’t counted on, however, was the joy I would experience in the midst of it.  I love introducing her to our family’s traditions, taking her to our favorite restaurants, participating in holiday activities, spending the evening watching a movie at home, and even helping her with her homework.  I am humbled by the fact that she has been willing to share her life story with us and that she trusts us to love and care for her.  I am blessed by her generosity and kindness towards her brothers and sisters at the ranch. I am impressed with her hard work to learn a new language and a new culture. I know she will take a piece of my heart with her when she returns to Honduras at the end of June, but am comforted by the knowledge that I now have another reason to visit the NPH ranch there.

An added benefit of being a host family is the opportunity to get to know the other five students and their host families. Each of them, Luisa, Samy, Lucre, Florine, and Nelson, are wonderful individuals who challenge and bless me.  As I near the end of this year, I am saddened by the fact that I will miss them all and so very encouraged by the good work that I know they will all do in the future.

I am grateful that I have been able to play a small part in their lives. I would do it again in a heartbeat.

A New Partnership with iLEAP

– By Nelson, NPH Honduras

The Leadership Program students had the opportunity to spend five days in a special iLEAP program.

What does iLEAP mean?  iLEAP is an international nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire and renew social leaders and global citizens through integrated leadership programs that ignite hope and transformation in the world.

This is the first time the NPH Leadership Institute has partnered with iLEAP, so I would like to share a little about this wonderful experience that the leadership students had at iLEAP.

We started on Friday, March, 27th.  We arrived at 9:30 am after a tiring week where we had fundraising activities with NPH USA.  Even though we were tired, we had the attitude to start working for the next five days in different topics, and take advantage of this iLEAP program.

First of all, we worked in many interesting topics that really caused us to think about what it means to be a good leader in our respective societies. One thing that really caused us to think about leadership was when we visited two places: Theo Chocolate and Farestart. Both of them are social businesses that are working with people to improve their lives and find the best version of themselves.

The following are our personal reflections about our week at iLEAP:

Nelson Alvarez: For me this program was helpful in many ways. By working in many topics I learned that leadership is not position, it is because whatever you are working you are demonstrating leadership, it does not matter if you work, for example, as a teacher or as a policeman you are demonstrating leadership as well. It helped me to clarify my own vision for the next years.

Lucrecia Guadamuz: I think iLEAP is a good program because it is focused on understanding yourself first and then you can lead others. The leadership concept that they teach is based in a practical and real way.

Florine St. Eloi: I think it is a really good organization which helps people developing their leadership, and to make it in practice with others and for others not just for ourselves.

Luisa Riquiac: In my own opinion iLEAP inspires you how to work in a reasonable leadership style and to make good decisions for a group not only for yourself.

Samuel Chavez: iLEAP changed my ideas about leadership and it re-opened my eyes after having a bad situation and wondering about my abilities as a leader.  Now I feel more confident about myself and I am sure that I can be a leader in different ways.

Magda Altamirano: iLEAP is an interesting program where you discovered abilities and characteristics that we have as leaders, it helps us to learn how we can improve other qualities and help others.

And a reflection from Kara too…

Kara King: For me, it is exciting to embark on this new partnership with the wonderful folks at iLEAP.  Since the first year of our program here in Seattle, Britt has been a guide for me in developing the program.  It is good to be working together, for I have seen their good work over the past four years and feel so grateful to have our emerging NPH leaders experience the iLEAP way as well.  I think we are all looking forward to dreaming together and seeing how we can make our partnership even stronger next year.

~ ~ ~

As you can see this program was helpful for all of us, the leadership program students, in different ways and I am sure that we will share all this knowledge with our brothers and sisters of NPH.

Thanks to our NPH family and our new iLEAP family for making this possible!