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Seabees Build Friendships with Honduran Children

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS120629-14

By 1st. Lt. John Quin, Missouri National Guard Public Affairs

MORALES, Honduras (NNS) -- Seabees of Mobile Construction Battalion 23 conducted a ribbon cutting ceremony June 26, for a new school they constructed for Honduran children.

When the Seabees were ordered to Honduras, they knew their missions were to build a clinic and school, but the Navy engineers took on a third building mission - building friendships with the local children, said Petty Officer 2nd Class Tynita Russell, of Philadelphia.

"The kids were the best and the hardest part of this mission," Russell said. "Every day, when they came up to you, you wanted to stop and play. But we had to complete our mission. It's hard not to fall in love with them."

Despite the language barrier, friendships began forming on the first day of construction in April. When the 20 Seabees arrived to the work site, the children greeted them like rock stars. Some of the children shouted out the names or nicknames of particular Sailors. Others exchanged high fives.

"It's really easy to connect with kids," Russell said. "When we pulled up the first day, they had already picked mangoes to give us."

The Seabees returned the favor by handing out candy and small presents to the children.

The Seabees and children used signs to get their points across. While two of the Sailors spoke Spanish, others tried to learn some key words and phrases. The children remembered each Sailor by a particular characteristic or action, said Petty Officer 2nd Class LeAundra Toney, of Suitland, Md. The children remembered him for his version of the Carlton Dance from the TV series, "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."

"That's the one thing that being here for so long really pushed through," said Toney. "There is a language barrier, but we found other ways to communicate."

The little girls particularly liked spending time with Russell and fellow female Seabee, Petty Officer 2nd Class Karen Anislag.

"They really took to us," Russell said. "I think it was empowering for them to see women working the jobs we were."

The overall Beyond the Horizon-Honduras mission is scheduled to end in early July.

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