Thursday, July 28, 2011

7670 days with my best friends.

From about the age of 4 until I was 9 or 10, I thought that I was supposed to be an only child (or at least not one in a set of quadruplets. Siblings yes, but one in a set of four…nope.) As long as I can remember I have hated any attention on me in public places. This happens quite a lot when you are a quadruplet, and especially when your family does commercials (not the Hollywood type, just a local insurance company.) I can remember from a young age people staring at us when we would go grocery shopping, people stopping us and asking my mom questions about us, and even people coming up to us saying how cute we were and that they loved watching us (this is no longer happens today haha.) When things like this would happen I would hide behind my mother while Mary Elizabeth and Caitlin would smile and even carry on conversations with complete strangers. They were meant to be quadruplets not me. I also really struggled growing up with wanting to be independent. When we were younger it was easier I guess for people to say the Haynes Quadruplets or the Alfa Quads. Rarely did people (except for family) address us by our first names, or as individuals. I did not like this at all. I remember telling my mother that I did not want to be know as I quadruplet, I wanted to be known as Sarah. I also wanted to be different than my siblings. I loved that I was the only one to have blonde hair when we were young and the only one with green eyes and while everyone got rollerblades, I decided I wanted roller skates instead. Through this stage in my life my mother always told me that I was so blessed to be a quadruplet and that one day I would realize that. I would say it was in fourth grade that my attitude about being a quadruplet changed dramatically. In fourth grade we moved schools. It was driving to school the first day, when I realized how thankful I was not to be alone. I was nervous and it was so comforting knowing I had my three best friends with me and I have had them with me ever since.
I honestly cannot put into words how thankful I am to have Will, Caitlin and Mary Elizabeth as siblings. It is with these three that I have experienced twenty-one years full of adventures and laughter. It is my siblings (Anna Lee included) who have put up with my dramatic self for 21 years, and have accepted and loved me despite all my quirks.  It is my siblings that have always had my back, and when I experienced my first taste of heartbreak cried with me and listen to me talk for hours. It is my siblings who know everything about me, my hopes, dreams and fears. We have experienced everything together and always been there for each other. I now can clearly see just how fortunate I am to be a quadruplet and I would not have it any other way. So HAPPY BIRTHDAY Caitlin, Mary Elizabeth and Will!  I love you all so much and I cannot wait to spend another 21 years with ya!  

-warning: there are a lot of pictures. 

Our First Birthday Party. 

We used to love to hide in my parents shower and wait for mom to find us. 

"The ALFA Quads"

We spent most of the summers outside all day. 

Our Tenth Birthday- 2000

Freshman Spring Break

Last Summer

Hiking in Tellico Plains, Tennessee

National Championship Celebration- War Eagle. :) 

Spring 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

the best surprise ever.

Well I am back in the good ol' U.S.A. Caitlin and I got back on July 2nd and headed straight to the beach for a week. I am now at home, and I have to say it is so weird to be back. I have continued to journal and hope to share in the near future all the Lord taught me while in Honduras, but for now I am going to share the story of the best surprise ever. 

On Saturday morning it was still not real that my time in Honduras was over. I hate goodbyes, so I am pretty sure that I was in denial, I might still be. For our last breakfast Karla (one of our awesome translators) brought us Dunkin Donuts and fruit drinks. After breakfast, it was time to load up our suitcases and take some last pictures at the Humuya Inn (our home for the month of june). On Friday, I saw a text on Karla's phone to one of our CTC students. It was telling her what time we were leaving for the airport. I didn't really think much about it on Friday, but on Friday night I had a dream that the CTC students surprised us at the airport. When we got to the airport on Saturday and they were not there, I thought maybe Karla had texted them just to let them know when we were leaving. With the thought of them being there completely out of my head, we got our boarding passes, checked our bags, and got cleared by immigration. In Honduras you have to pay to leave the country. We were all standing in line when an airport worker told us that one person could pay for us all. Mary Elizabeth (our awesome leader) was in charge of all the money, so Kimberly, Caitlin, Sarah and I decided to go sit down and just wait on her to pay. As I turned around I saw Daniel (one of our CTC students) with a guitar and a group of people. After a couple of seconds I realized that the group of people standing in front of me were all from the CTC. They had come to surprise us and say goodbye! :) I immediately started to tear up. They then told us they had something for us...that is when they started to sing "Joyfullly" by Kari Jobe in the middle of the airport. I do not think that I have ever heard that song sound better. After giving each of them four hundred hugs and saying goodbye to Louie, Karla, Sarah and Mary Elizabeth, it was time for Kimberly, Caitlin and I to head through security. I am pretty sure we were all depressed by this point and I will admit I cried at random times on the plane. I do not know if they will ever know how much it meant to me that they came to say goodbye. I have told them a hundred times and now I am telling you- I honestly got to spend a month with the nicest people in Honduras. I cannot wait to see them again. Here is the video of them singing to us in the airport. enjoy. :) 

This past week for me has been hard in many ways. I have really struggled with my attitude about being home. I know that the Lord is sovereign and that I was only supposed to stay in Honduras for a month, but my flesh wants to be back in Honduras badly. Please pray for my attitude in the following weeks. I do not want my sin to get in the way of the Lord using me in the mission field at home. Also pray for Maria and Carlos (the kiddos I talked about in an earlier post) they were sent home last Saturday. Pray that they would be protected from any physical and emotional abuse from their parents, and pray for their parents' salvation. 

Friday, June 24, 2011


Maria and her brother Carlos were at the orphanage today. Their mother came to visit today again and brought them a ton of things. I am guessing that she was denied custody today since Maria and Carlos did not leave with her. Please continue to pray for Maria and Carlos, I was told that there is a possibly that they will get released next Friday. Pray for Maria, I know that she has some anxiety about when she will leave the orphanage. I know the uncertainty is hard, especially on someone her age. I am excited; however, to get to love on Maria and Carlos for one more week. :) 

prayer request.

Last Saturday, Maria and her brother Carlos came to Casitas Kennedy. Mary Elizabeth was the first to notice the bruises on her arms. In conversation Maria let Mary Elizabeth know that the bruises were from her parents. Later on that day, I met Maria and the first thing I noticed was the amount of bruising on her arms and how bad it was. This past week I have gotten to know Maria better. She is precious and has such a sweet spirit. On Wednesday Maria came to me and told me she was getting to leave on Friday. Most of the children that have left are excited to get to leave. When I asked Maria if she was excited she told me no. It broke my heart that she would rather be in an orphanage than at home with her parents. I cannot blame Maria, I too would want to be at the orphanage safe from the physical and emotional abuse. Yesterday I was playing with toddlers when Maria and a lady walked in. I could tell Maria's demeanor was different, so I asked Luis if the lady was Maria's mother and he told me no. The tia had told Luis that the lady with Maria was a teacher at the school. Kimberly (who can understand a lot more Spanish than me) heard Maria say that the lady was her mother. I immediately felt myself getting upset. I was sitting right next to the lady who was responsible for abusing my sweet Maria. I wanted more than anything to take Maria away from her and tell her mother that she couldn't have her back, but of course I didn't. I did however call Maria outside and with Luis' help, made her promise me that if either one of her parents hurt her at all that she would tell someone. She told me that she would, and said again that she didn't want to go home and that it was so much better here. As I was hugging her for the last time, I felt the tears starting to come but I knew I could cry in front of Maria. I did not want her to be anymore nervous or upset about having to go with her parents. After about ten minutes of hugging her and telling her how much I loved her we had to leave. I am not sure if Maria will be gone before we get to the orphanage today. A part of me wants to get to say goodbye once more, but another part of me knows how hard it will be to see her walk out with her mother. I ask my family and friends to please remember sweet Maria and Carlos in your prayers. Pray for their protection as they return to an abusive situation and pray for their parents. Pray that they might come to a saving faith. It is so easy for me to say that I would never be like her parents, but the truth is apart from Christ I am just like them.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." - 1 Corinthians 15:10

I also ask that you pray for the babies and toddlers at Casitas Kennedy. They are passing around the chickenpox( thankfully we have all had the chickenpox) and Rotavirus. There are also two little boys, Arnold and Edgar who are in the hospital with bronchitis. Kimberly, Luis and I have been working with this age group all week. They informed us yesterday of the children's sickness and told us that they were in quarantine. Please pray for our health as well, since we have kissed, loved on and even been sneezed on by these sick babies.

Friday, June 17, 2011

now that i have seen.

This past Thursday as we were getting ready to leave the orphanage, I passed a teenage girl, an older lady and a baby.  At first I had no idea what was going on; all I could see was all three of them crying and the baby screaming "mama." The baby looked to be around two and was hysterical. I have never seen or heard a baby cry that loud or hard. We finally realized that the teenage girl was being dropped off at Casitas Kennedy and the baby was hers. As I watched the mother and baby give each other one last hug, the grandmother leave with the baby still screaming and the young teenage mother walk off with a orphanage worker my heat began to break. I have never seen anything like this. Since Thursday, my heart has been heavy for this girl and her family. I am not sure why she came to Casitas Kennedy, but if I had to guess it would be for protection. It is my hope that we are able to minster and love on her these next two weeks and share with her the hope and comfort that comes from knowing Christ. 

On Friday I was able to meet four of the men who are responsible for bringing the children to Casitas Kennedy. Kimberly, Luiz and I spent about 45 minutes talking with them and asking them questions. One of the men told us that he had lived a rough life much like the kids in the orphanage when he was younger, but now lives a completely different life for the Lord. He made sure to tell us he is the person he is today because of God's grace. From talking to them I learned that most of the children in the orphanage are social orphans, which means that they have at least one parent living or other family members. I would say the majority of the kids are in the orphanage due to abuse, neglect, or poverty at home. When talking with the men, I had a lot of questions about how they find out/ know about the children's living conditions. They told me that a lot of the time that the government will get phone calls from neighbors and the government then calls them to go and check it out, or they will see children on the street and start conversations and try and find out about their home life. One thing that was very encouraging was that the governments main goal is to try and educate the parents in order for the family to stay intact. However, when the situation is to severe the children are taken from the home and put into a government facility (Casitas Kennedy). In order for the parents to gain back custody of their children, they have to go through a government program which includes many processes. They are required to meet with a psychologist, a social worker and many times an economist. The psychologist assesses the mental and emotional aspects of the situation. The social worker, the physical aspect and then the economist often tries to help them find work and a way to support their families. After the court believes the parents are in a place that they are able to take care of the child physically and emotionally the child, the parents gain custody. From Caitlin and Mary Elizabeth working at Casitas in San Pedro Sula last year, I knew that many of the teenage girls were there for protection. I asked if it was the same situation with the teenage girls at Casitas Kennedy, and the men told me yes that many of them came voluntarily and involuntarily in order to protect themselves. I have so much respect for these men and what they do. I know that I could not see the things they see on a daily basis. They told us that it was hard what they see, but they also know that they are helping these children. One of the men actually holds a church service for the kids on Monday nights. 

Knowing now that most of the kids at Casitas are there because of abuse or neglect  it makes me even more excited to get to show them the attention and love that they did not know at home. I ask you to please pray for these kids. They have been through more than we can imagine and pray for their parents as well. Also, pray for the teenage girl who came to Casitas Kennedy and her little girl. Pray that the Lord would comfort them both. I cannot imagine what they are going through. 

- A funny story that has nothing to do with what I posted above. The other day we were driving to the orphanage and all of a sudden we saw a truck with men in black masks. At one point in my life I was obsessed with watching Gang Nation (embarrassing I know), so I was convinced that they were gang members. My heart was beating fast thinking that I was that close to "actual" gang members. As I was taking a  picture of them,  our translators informed us that it was not gang members, but the Honduran Swat team. Although I was a little sad they were not who I thought they were, it was still cool. It is safe to say that the swat team looks a little different here in Honduras than in the good ol' United States. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

casitas kennedy.

Yesterday was the first day that I got to spend any time with the older boys who are between 9 and 12 years old. There are a lot more girls at Casitas Kennedy than boys, so I feel like the boys kind of get overshadowed. This made me really excited to get to spend some time with them today. We decided to play soccer since every Honduran boy is basically obsessed with soccer and those boys had some energy!  We had a blast!  I  also now know that I cannot kick a soccer ball with my left foot, but I am a pretty sweet goalie. :) It was really evident spending time with these precious boys that they were in need of some attention. I am not sure how many males they come in contact with.I am hoping that we will be able to spend so more time with these awesome boys. We also spent time yesterday with the little girls that are between 5 and 9 years old  (all of the children are spilt up by age and gender into different casitas). I have really grown close to all of these little girls. This is the group that Kimberly( one of my fellow interns) and I have spent the most time with. I could write pages on each of these little girls, but for the sake of time I am going to share about one that I have grown especially close to. First, there is Jessi. Jessi is 9 and therefore one of the oldest in her group and definitely the leader. One thing I noticed about Jessi from the beginning is that she has a lot of anger and aggression towards people. The first time I remember seeing Jessi she was twisting another girl Katherin's ( who is probably 30 pounds lighter) arm because Katherin had hit her. After telling her to stop twenty times I realized she had no idea what I was saying. It's safe to say I learned the Spanish word for stop (alto) pretty quickly after that. :)  I have such a soft spot in my heart for Jessi and have really tried to encourage her whenever we are with them.  I have also made sure to tell Jessi how much I love her and show her that I love her. Whenever I tell Jessi that her coloring is "muy bonita" or that she has done a good job at something her face lights up. I feel like Jessi is misunderstood by a lot of the workers and other little girls which makes me sad. She really has a sweet spirit and is just longing for someone to show her love and attention. My prayer is that Jessi would come to know her Heavenly Father one day, she has such an influence on all of the girls. I can see Jessi passionately telling everyone that she can about Christ. :) 

I have also gotten to work with the special needs children this week. When I first found out that we would be working with these children, I was a little nervous. They are severely handicapped and a couple of them have seizures pretty regularly. I spent most of my time working with a little girl Erika. Erika is 8 and has severe CP. She spends most of her day laying on her back on mattress. Mary Elizabeth and Caitlin had worked in the special needs room the day before and told me that Erika loved having a stuffed animal bounced up her stomach until it reached her cheek. They could not have been more right. Erika loved it and I even got a couple of laughs out of her. She also loved hitting the balloon I held in front of her face.  Another special needs child, Alexander, who has Hydrocephalus, is in the orphanage because his parents used him to get money from people on the street. Alexander is pretty shy, but really opened up when our translator Luis hit a balloon with him. Alexander also thought it was hilarious when Kimberly and I hit Luis in the head with balloon. He has the sweetest little laugh. 

Some exciting news is that we are going to get to spend some time with the older girls on Saturday. I am so excited! We have planned some relay races and games so it should be a lot of fun. 

There are so many children that I could tell you about and more stories than I can count from the past two weeks at Casitas Kennedy. I have been journaling everyday, so hopefully I will be able to share in more detail when I get home and have more time. 

"Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation." - Psalm 68: 4-5

Friday, June 10, 2011

first week teaching english.

On Monday morning we headed to Buckner's Community Transformation Center. When we got there the director showed us around a little and then informed us we would be teaching English for 2 1/2 hours during June. We then walked down the road to a local school, where we were greeted by about 40 children, their mothers, and around 30 volunteers. After a brief introduction, we were invited onstage. For anyone who knows me in the past, crowds, stages and microphones have not been my friends. At first I thought we were just going to stand there smile while she introduced us, but no after her introduction she handed the microphone to Mary Elizabeth. That is when my heart sank and started beating fast at the same time, throat was immediately dry and I completely forgot how to tell my name in Spanish. Thankfully our translator Luis was beside me and told me how to say "My name is Sarah Haynes." One by one Mary Elizabeth, Caitlin and Kimberly introduced themselves and finally it is my turn. With my voice shaking I manage to get out, "Mi nombre es Sarah Haynes." Everything would have been fine except after saying my name I awkwardly let out a yay and started nervously laughing. I am praying that there are no more stages or microphones in my future while I'm here in Honduras. :)

I am teaching English with Mary Elizabeth to a class of about 25 people ages 14 to 28 with a couple of older students. When I was first told that we would be teaching English I wasn't too nervous. I mean English is my first language, how hard could it be? can be pretty difficult when you don't know and can't pronounce the Spanish words which are necessary in order to teach the English words. :/ I am so thankful that Mary Elizabeth is teaching with me. She is pretty much a pro at Spanish and has really done most of the teaching. I cannot tell you how many times I have butchered the words while teaching, but thankfully our students are so sweet and show me a ton of grace and have begun to even help me with my Spanish. :) Please pray that I would be able to overcome being nervous and feeling inadequate when it comes to teaching English. I know the Lord has me teaching English for a reason.

In our English class this week we taught them the lyrics to "Joyfully" by Kari Jobe. I have probably listen to this song hundreds of times, but while teaching the lyrics one part of the song really stuck out to me.

I will sing from the mountain top
I will sing, I am overcome,
I will sing making melodies
I will sing from the valley low
I will sing because of Your love I will sing
You're my King, I will sing

As I was listening to our students sing this part of the song, I thought about how so many times my joy depends on my circumstances. It is very easy to sing praises when I am on the mountain top and things are going the way I want them to, but is it as easy to sing those same praises from the valley? Isn't God the same God on the mountain and in the valley? Most of the students in our class live in less than ideal situations. On the drive to the CTC center you see the unbelievable poverty, yet they are able to sing from the valley low because their hope and joy is found in Christ not their circumstances. It is my prayer that I to would find all of my hope and joy in Christ and not in my circumstnaces. It has been so encouraging getting to know these wonderful people, and I am so excited for three more weeks of English class!

We have also been working in an orphanage Casistas Kennedy in the afternoons, but to prevent this post from becoming a novel I will post about that later. I will say though that these children have stolen my heart already. Mom and Dad if you are reading this there are about 150 kiddos that I would love to have as siblings. :)