Saturday, February 1, 2014


There is something about living in a city that changes the way you look at people.
Something about being able to hear the homeless people on the streets at night.
Something about listening to their conversations as you fall asleep. 
Something about waking up to their cries at 2 a.m.. 
Something about knowing that a drunken fool is messing with them again. 
There is something about watching a teenager run past in front of your apartment with an armed guard running after him. 
Something about watching that teenager turn the corner out of sight and the guard stop perfectly in your view on that same corner. 
Something about watching the guard pull the trigger, and not ever knowing what happened to that teenage boy. 
There is something about watching a mentally challenged homeless person be restrained and bullied.
Something about watching those bullies throw water on his head as he stands there helpless.
Something about knowing that there is nothing you can do about it because you are a minority female in the most dangerous country in the world. 

There is something about knowing others that will change the way you look at people.
Something about the way the guard at the fast food joint under your apartment makes sure you are safe every night. 
Something about the way your neighbor down the street offers you the last of the food in their house. 
Something about when students from a pueblo of about 20 kids come and ask your advice about how to talk to the girl next door. 
Something about the homeless man who will sit and talk with you for hours about anything and everything.

There is something about working with children that changes the way you look at people.
Something about their innocence and purity of heart.
Something about the way they search your eyes for love. 
Something about their desire for adventure, to seek, to learn, to love.
There is something about a child that's been neglected.
Something about the way you can see the hurt in their eyes. 
Something about seeing them misbehave and knowing that it is because of the hurt they have previously experienced.
Something about watching them mistrust the love that they are given.
Something about seeing these same qualities in many adults.

There is something about receiving a message from a teenage girl hundreds of miles away that says "I love you so much, and I just wanted you to know"
Something about remembering that only a year before she had said that she would never love anyone again.
Something about knowing that the message was only sent because she knew it would be well received. 
Something about realizing that she has finally learned to trust and to love again.

There is something about real and true interactions with others that will change the way you look at people. That will make you see that every human is worthy of dignity. Poor or rich, free or enslaved, man or woman. We are all One in Him. 

"Social justice can be obtained only in respecting the transcendent dignity of man. The person represents the ultimate end of society, which is ordered to him:What is at stake is the dignity of the human person, whose defense and promotion have been entrusted to us by the Creator, and to whom the men and women at every moment of history are strictly and responsibly in debt" 1929 Catechism of the Catholic Church 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

University bound

It's getting to be that time of year. If we were in the states it would be about March of a senior in high school's last year. The dreaded questions start popping up: Where are you going to school? What do you want to study? What is it that you want to do for the rest of your life? Like that's not a daunting question. As I learned in the States... what you study is not really important. The fact that you have a college degree is what matters. Therefore, majoring in sociology because you find the material interesting is perfectly acceptable. If it doesn't lead to a job, you can always go to graduate school. Unfortunately, my girls are not able to have that same point of view. Going to college is not an easy thing to do down here. Although most universities don't cost much in our eyes, students still have to find a way to pay for a living situations, food and transportation. In a country where loans are impossible to come by, this is not an easy feat. The few that do get to make it that far go in with a vision and a purpose. "I will study business because it will provide me with money so that I can eat and live." Thoughts that never crossed my mind before entering college, but probably should have!

I had the pleasure this year of living with three brilliant, funny, sarcastic, angelic and completely different girls. Each one of them has a dream of continuing their education, and after living with them, I know that they have the desire and ability to make that dream come true. They need our help though! The Farm has a College Scholarship fund that helps all kids pay the fees they need to for the University as long as they are in good standing. This year that fund will be running out. The cost of attending the University is about $1500 per year per child.
To donate to these girls' college fund please click here:
Or you can make checks payable to Farm of the Child with "University Scholarship fund" in the memo box and can send them to:
Farm of the Child
1616 Nottingham Knoll Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Meet my girls:

This is Nolvia. She's a 17 year old studying Arts and Letters at Maria Regina Institute. She is an outgoing, funny girl that will give you the pretense that she is shy before surprising you by busting out the sarcasm. The most important thing to her in her life is her family. She wishes more than most things that she could spend more time with them. Because of this, she hopes to go to the Universidad Catolica de Honduras in La Ceiba so that she can stay close to the people she loves. She is planning on studying business management when she goes to College. She is the most motivated young person I have ever met. As soon as she gets back from her 7-4 classes, she is studying and doing homework until it is time for bed. She has the heart of an angel and loves more deeply than most. She hopes one day to find a good man and have a family of her own.
Nolvia (far right) with some of her siblings. 

This beautiful girl is named Marina. She is in her third year of studying computers at the local San Isidro Institute. Marina originally told us that she wanted to be a detective (she LOVES reading mystery novels) but after finding out that to do that in Honduras she would have to be a policeman first... she quickly changed her mind. She is currently wanting to study graphic design or computers to further the education that she has already received. Marina is also an excellent writer and has been concocting stories for years now. She is a brilliant girl that works very hard and is very active in her school's religious ministry program. She was recently able to give her testimony in front of hundreds of people at the celebration of St.Isidore, the cities patron Saint!

Marina with her three younger sisters who are still at the Farm

This little ball of fire is Nelly. This was taken in some of her younger days at the Farm. She has been here since she was two. More so than any of our kids, Nelly is on her way to being bilingual. She decided at a young age that she didn't like not knowing what the missionaries were saying and made it her personal goal to learn English. After helping translate for brigades that come to Honduras, she has decided that she wants to studying the language in hopes of being a translator. Being the teenage girl that she is her mind changes like the wind. She has also talked about being a psychologist, dentist, biologist, and sociologist. (I think the last one might have been said sarcastically while making fun of my own career path) The one thing she does know is that she wants to continue studying so that she can get a good job and provide for a family one day. 
Nelly (far right) with former missionary Laura and Nolvia

Once again... please consider donating to these kids future and to a great cause... If you feel called to donate to a specific girl, you can also specify that in your donation.

To donate to these girls' college fund please click here:
 Or you can make checks payable to Farm of the Child with "University Scholarship fund" in the memo box and can send them to:
Farm of the Child
1616 Nottingham Knoll Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32225

Thank you so much for your prayer and help in this time of need for all of this. Another update will be coming soon with what has been going on here recently!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Spread love.

Dear (good) parents of teenagers:
I love you and appreciate you. You are wonderful. The job that you have as a parent is meaningful. Keep going, keep giving, keep loving!
A 22 year old that is trying her best to help raise three 17 year old girls.

It’s been a weird couple of weeks. Things have been going fine. My relationship with most of the girls is great. But something was still missing. That missing thing was building up and building up until I was sitting at daily Mass feeling completely empty and not knowing why. During communion I went to hug one of my girls and a sweet old woman that is always at daily Mass saw me. She went out of her way to give me a great big hug and kiss and a smile that told me I was special to her. I was taken aback. I didn’t know what to do. This lady had just showed me affection. I haven’t seen a sign of affection in about a month. I felt full again. Someone loves me. I had forgotten.
Just because I am getting along with my teenage girls doesn’t mean they know how to show affection. I know they care for me, but not in the way that I need them to. And that’s okay. That’s not a role that they should be filling. I’m the one that should be doting them with love.
It’s nice every now and then to remember… you are LOVED.
Not only does God love you, but so many friends and family around the world. I need to keep the times I am with them in my heart and let it carry me through: to be able to love all those around who might not have experienced it otherwise.  How many people in this world don't know that they are loved? How many have forgotten it?  

"Spread love everywhere you go: first of all in your own house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a nextdoor neighbor... Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness; kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting." – Mother Theresa 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The last couple of months in pictures

Yadira, the newest addition to the Finca family.

My two special friends Seidy and Kimberly

The missionary women. (Without Haydee)

Easter Vigil Mass at the Finca

Noliva, one of my girls, with her little siblings
Four of the five teenagers

Phase 2, without Marina

Marina with the Bishop (He's from Ireland)

Nolvia on her first day of school

Nelly on the first day

A response to fear

I’ve been reflecting a lot recently on fear. The gripping hold that danger, threats and pain cause that can leave people hopeless and faithless.
It may come with living in one of the most dangerous cities in the second most dangerous country in the world (Based on the U.N. statistics of number of homicides per capita. Second this year to El Salvador). For a long time living here in La Ceiba I was a prisoner to this fear. I was afraid to go outside alone, I wouldn’t look people directly in the eye, and any time a comment was made to me I would put my head down and walk faster. I let myself be consumed by this fear that I was in a dangerous place. The longer I’ve lived here and the more I’ve gotten to know the people in this city I’ve realized how foolish this is. Now, I want to clarify that there is a difference between fearing and being safe. I still don’t walk too far by myself and I certainly avoid certain types of people, but I don’t allow my fear to stop me from greeting the sweet old ladies that pass me or from looking people in the eye when I pass them to say “buenas”. The fear that is generated in this country is due to murder. I read about it everyday in the newspaper. Drug lords, gangs and people seeking revenge. It’s all known. There is a reason for the majority of the killings. (I’m not saying a justified reason at all, but there is a clear reason that you can point to and say ‘that’s why’) A homeless man is hungry and steals your wallet; a kid snuck out late at night and accidentally ran into a drug deal; another man stole your ‘woman’. As long as I am using common sense and following safety guidelines, the worst that might happen is someone takes my purse and make off with the $5 I have on me at the time.
To be honest, the fear that has been generated in me since being here is not for myself, but for my loved ones back home. I have nothing to fear… I know where the danger, threats and pain are coming from and I can avoid them. I’ve only been in this city 5 months but there have been mass killings in and elementary school, bombs exploding at a marathon, and threats of nuclear war. Every September 11 we hold our breath hoping that there will not be a repeat. The fear generated there is unknown, and makes having faith so much more difficult. The ‘why’ is not answered.

I made a list a few months back of the different ‘dangers’ that are in both countries, and this is what I came up with:

Honduras:                                                                  U.S.
            Dealing drugs- not consuming                       Drugs (consuming)
Murder/deceit                                                 Deceit
Poverty                                                           Spiritual poverty
Discrimination against women                       Discrimination
                                                                                   Over stimulation:(tuned out by ‘tuning in’)

At least I can see the dangers in Honduras. They are in the open. There are gangs and drug lords not because people HERE are consuming the drugs but because people in the States are. There is an open distrust in the government here. It’s known that they are corrupt. There’s poverty everywhere, but there is also generosity everywhere. I have yet to step into one of the homes (mud shacks) of our neighbors here without them offering the last of what’s in the refrigerator… without them spending the little money they have to go buy ME a soda. There is faith in this country that even if they don’t have everything they need, there will be someone to help them. I can’t say that’s a hope I necessarily have in the States. And through it all they have faith the God will be there. They trust that He is protecting them, that He is stronger than the fear, that His perfect love casts out the fear. The dangers help them to love more, and help them to cast out the fear that there is.
If I don’t know about the dangers in the U.S., who am I turning to? And once I do see danger, what is my first response? To find someone to blame. Terrorists, the government, mental facilities being shut down.
I know my fear MUST cease. I know my Faith MUST increase, but I also knows my eyes must be opened to the dangers in my own country.
It’s saying something when I feel safer in Honduras than I do in the U.S.
I’m praying today for all those affected by the Boston bombs. I’m praying for all those affected by the shootings. I’m praying that our eyes might be opened and we might be allow Love to cast out our fear. That that fear might not be turned into hate and therefore generate more fear, but we might allow Love to conquer all.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

My "job"

This is a difficult job. It is difficult mostly because it is not a job. It’s a lifestyle. People leave a job when it’s time to go home at the end of the night. I go into my room half sleeping, waiting for someone to knock on my door, or call my phone, or to hear a ruckus out on the street that causes me to worry if everything is all right.
I used to think of a job in terms of the vocation God had for me. My job was going to be where I spread His light to the world. Somewhere that He had called me to and therefore would give me the graces to succeed and be His living hands. I thought of this job in terms of what I would be doing. I believe that I would be going home at the end of the night able to let loose and be me instead of Him. I’ve been in positions of ministry where I can lead a bible study for an hour, maybe go get a bite to eat with the participants and then return home to forget about everything and bury my mind in useless social networking or the latest episode on Hulu. I had no intentional community waiting for me at home so I had no need of acting the part of a Christian while I was there. I could be what I wanted to be.
I see now how much more I am called to. I don’t get to turn my Christianity on and off to not feel guilty watching the latest trash on T.V. I don’t get to be Christ’s hand when leading a bible study, but then be someone completely different when I go home at night. I can’t just love the people it’s easy for me to love and minister to the people I want to minister to. I’m called to love everyone and respect everyone. No judgments.
This job is not a job. It’s a lifestyle. It’s being a Christian in every moment of every day. No exceptions.
It means loving these girls not only when they say cute things or help me around the house. It’s loving them in their sarcastic times when they try my patience to the point of screaming. It’s loving them when they burn the bread I was planning on using for lunch. It’s caring for them when the shut down and decide they don’t want to speak to me for a week. It’s showing them Christ even when I’m up to the ceiling in bills, lost receipts for the monthly charges and bankcards that aren’t working. This job is difficult because I have finally realized that I am being called to so much more than just ministering to teens a couple of hours a week. I’m being called (and always have been called) to be Christ in every second, and that’s HARD. I fail daily. I do get upset when they burn the bread. And they have learned to push my buttons to the point of me retiring to my room for at least ten minutes. I do lock myself in my room the last few days of the month praying that they won’t knock on my door for fear of being impatient with them when they don’t deserve it (I finally realize why parents are the way they are when paying bills.). I fail daily, but He gives me the grace to keep going. He softens all of our hearts into a relationship with Him and then with one another that helps us to realize we are human. We fail, but we get back up and keep loving. 24/7.
This job? Being a Christian. It’s hard. It hurts sometimes. It never stops. I used to think it would, but being here has taught me that God, the world and myself need something much more than that.

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” Mother Teresa.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas letter- Reviewing the year

Peace and Greeting from Honduras!

I pray that this letter finds you in good health and good spirits as we prepare to celebrate the coming of our Lord. I had hoped to write this update on my journey here a year ago, but have not been able to find the words to write to you until recently.
I have told many people that I hope this was the hardest year I will ever have to go through and I would like to explain why. I was not prepared for the drastic change in sight, thoughts, emotions and heart that God had waiting for me here in Honduras. My thoughts in coming down were: I love children, I almost know Spanish and I want to serve. Never in a million year was I expecting to experience the range of emotions that comes with working in a children’s home and declaring “Place me where you need me!”
They did in fact place me where they needed me and it happened to be the last place I or anyone else pictured me: in a school. For anyone that knows me really well, you know that I have been ready to be out of the educational system since my second year in high school. I constantly felt God pulling me to what I felt was something more: something that I couldn’t learn from being in a classroom. As always when sure that I knew what God didn’t want me to do, it turned out to be exactly where he needed me. My year teaching Math, Computers and English was difficult to say the least (My students would most likely have some other choice words).  After many lessons learned (more by me than the kids, I’m sure), we all made it out alive with only a few scraped knees. All seven of my ninth graders made it through, and most of them will be able to continue their studies. In Honduras only a sixth grade education is required, so graduating from the ninth grade is already a huge accomplishment. Please continue to pray for all of our children in our K-9 school. Living in a rural part of an undeveloped country brings challenges that I would have never been able to fathom while in the United States. We hope that by providing these children an education we are not only supplying them with knowledge that will help them later in life but also providing them with a space in which they feel safe, where there are people that they know care for them. I feel so blessed to have been able to meet so many children this year that have truly changed my way of thinking and of seeing the world.
Although I may be eternally grateful for them, I’m sure many of my students were relieved when they heard that I would be switching jobs for my second year in Honduras. A few months ago I was asked by Direction to be in charge of the girls apartment of our Phase II program. What this basically means is that I moved 3 hours away from the rest of the Farm of the Child to live in the city of La Ceiba with three lovely seventeen year-old girls. In an adjacent apartment my male counterpart, David, is living with three teenage boys. (If only David and I were about 20 years older we could be mistaken for the Brady Bunch!) It has been over a month now that I have lived in La Ceiba, and I must say, “mom duty” suites me a little bit better than teacher duty. (I think it may have to do with being left in an empty kitchen to make all the bread my heart could desire.) The girls, pictured in the attached photo, are three very unique and beautiful teenagers. I have already called my parents many times to beg their forgiveness for being the youngest of three teenage daughters that they had to live with for multiple years. Although they may be the most mature seventeen year-olds you will find, they are still teenagers and have their fair share of moments. (As do I, being a 22 year-old. Our moments simply manifest themselves in different ways) In the short month that I have been here I have already felt so blessed to be the person waiting for them when they come home from school. I am the one here to hear about the bad day at work. I have the privilege of making their lunch everyday, and making sure that all of their schedules are in order. I get to surprise them with Coke and extra-buttery popcorn when I know it’s been a bad day. I get to interpret the many different forms of scoffing that is the answer to most of the questions that I ask. I am the last person they will live with from the Farm of the Child. Next year each of my girls, Nolvia, Nelly and Marina, will be graduating from high school and will the leaving the Farm of the Child to enter into Phase III (real life). Each one of us will require an overabundance of prayers this year but I am more than certain that God knew what He was doing when he brought us into each other’s lives. I am overjoyed to be able to have the opportunity to be in these girl’s lives in such a profound way.
I would like to thank each and every one of you for being in my life and helping me on the path that led me here. If it had not been for the love and encouragement that I have received from all of you, my family and friends, I know that I would never have been able to witness the beautiful miracles that take place here.
Blessings all over you,
Sara DePhillips                                     

Pictured: (Left to Right) Top: Nolvia, Angel David, Arturo
Bottom: David, Marina, Nelly, Sara 
Not Pictured: Wilmer and Carlos (recently moved to Phase III)