Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moving In and The Great Fridge Adventure

From the time I was born until I moved out of my parents' house at the age of 21, I lived in 3 different houses, 2 of which were before I was 1 year old. So, I really didn't have any experience with moving until I moved out of my parents' house. Since moving down here just over a year ago, I have no lived in 3 different houses and just finished a brief stint staying with the pastor's family.

Moving in to this new place has been quite the adventure, much more than I had anticipated. First of all, the apartment has been vacant for several years, so it had become a storage space for the owners of the house, who are the pastor's parents. Here's how my week has been going...

On Tuesday, we went over to the new apartment and helped a couple of guys from the church/school move several many boxes of books and bags of clothes into other storage spaces. Then, we picked up my bed from my previous residence along with a couple random bags I had there. We were supposed to grab our suitcases from the pastor's house and stay at the new apartment that night, but it was after 5pm that night, and I was able to reason that we had no fridge or food and would still have to sweep and clean... And so we were able to stay another night with the pastor's family.

On Wednesday, we packed up our suitcases and headed off to school. While there, Hermano R moved all of our stuff to the new apartment. Thank God for him. After school, the director took us on a couple errands she had to run, and then to the supermarket where we were able to get much-needed sustenance. Then, we got back to the new apartment and went to work.

I began by cleaning out the fridge, since there was so much ice built-up you couldn't even use the small freezer compartment. In the process, I stabbed a small hole in the metal freezer compartment, but didn't think anything of it, even though there was a hissing sound and air escaping.... I was really just more focused on the ice and don't know much about how mini fridges work.... But more on that later.

My roomie was able to cook us dinner in the meantime, and sweep out the bedroom. So, we moved our beds in first. Then, I arranged a few of the things that were left behind so that they weren't in the way, and decided to take off the loud, not-well-attached, and slightly-in-the-way closet doors. The ceilings in the bedroom are high so there was plenty of space on top of the closet to store them.

Then, it was go time. While my original plan was just to clean the bedroom, get stuff that Hermano R left outside inside the house, and call it a night, I started realizing how much needed to be done and how much I didn't want to spend the next week or so slowly getting the house put together. So, I started working, unpacking boxes, hanging the shower curtain, cleaning kitchen cupboards, and taking down the shelves above the kitchen sink.

Here's the thing about this apartment. The bedroom is nice and big. We were able to quite easily divide the room into two parts and each have plenty of space for our things. The bathroom is cramped and the sink is pretty much in your lap when you're on the toilet, but I'm not planning on spending too much time in there, so I'm not worried about it. The living room is small, and it's hard to quantify it right now since there are still boxes in there, but I suspect the kitchen table will still fit comfortably in there if we are able to get the couch in.

Then there's the kitchen.... The kitchen is tiny. It's in the walkway as you come in, and I just have a feeling that whoever designed this house has never actually cooked anything ever. There's a sink with a small amount of counter space on either side, and the other side is where our mini fridge is along with food shelves which will hopefully also fit all our pots and pans and dishes and such. Above the sink side were three shelves, the two above the counters at about eye level and the one above the sink a little higher.

My roomie had already put a couple loafs of bread on one and two cartons of eggs on another. But, as I went around cleaning and organizing the whole house, I decided to take one shelf off so we could actually access the counter space without there being a shelf in our faces. The shelf wobbled as I took the bread down, and I soon discovered that the wire shelf was attached to the metal brackets with bent over (but not twisted together) twist ties and that several of the metal brackets were screwed into rolls of paper that had been used in place of plastic anchors, so they came off with a little bit of effort.

So, part of the housing renovations involved pulling all the shelves off of the wall. Now there are a dozen holes in the wall, but there's an ACE Hardware in the mall that's within walking distance, so there will be spackling and painting happening soon.

On Thursday morning, I opened the fridge in the morning and found it still warm.... I had broken it. As far as I can tell through what happened and through talking about it to someone else, I had caused all the gas to leak out of it. So, I pulled out my soldering iron once again, the same one I had started using to melt the ice after I stabbed a hole in it with my knife. I managed to solder over the hole so that when I turned it on, there was no longer a hissing sound of escaping gas.

I was feeling super handy and maybe like I had saved the day, but when we got home after school, the fridge was still warm. So, even if I did effectively fix the hole, it didn't actually matter because there's no gas left to cool anything anymore. Live and learn, right? But we were out of luck, because we still didn't have a fridge. The good news was I had an awesome excuse to cook and eat the entire package of bacon I had bought.

On Friday, we told the director about our predicament, but the pastor wasn't coming home until late that evening, so she promised he could take us the following day. We had already tossed most of the refrigerated foods at that point, so one more day wouldn't really matter.

On Saturday, we went to the discipleship program through the church, and then to the used appliance shop afterwards, which is actually where I got my first fridge. They were closed, since they're only open until 1pm on Saturdays and it was nearly 5pm by then. So, we opted to go to a discount new store to see what they had. I insisted on not paying more than $300 for a new fridge, primarily because that's all the cash I had saved up at that point. The plan was to get a new mattress or maybe a TV, but fridge takes priority.

As soon as we walked in, a small fridge caught my eye, and I fell in love with it. As I got closer, I found the price to be just under $300. Just to be certain, I made a quick tour of the other fridges in the store, but only one other one was cheaper, and it was an off-white mini fridge. It took less than 5 minutes to confirm my decision on the pretty little white one that I first laid eyes on. The pastor, ever the diplomat, talked them into giving us a missionary discount, so the total ended up being about $270. Since my roomie chipped in 1/3 of the price (she won't be here after June, so it was unfair to ask her to pay for half of a fridge she's only going to use for 5 months), it was a sweet deal.

The guys from the store wrapped it up, wheeled it out, and refused to put it in the car because I guess you can't put a fridge on its side because of the gases and such. So, we had purchased a fridge, but couldn't bring it home quite yet. The pastor planned on asking someone at the church the next day who had a truck.

On Sunday, we went to church, and then the pastor did ask the guy after church. However, he had a cap covering the bed of the truck and seemed hesitant to take it off for whatever reason. As the pastor and he discussed it, another woman spoke up and offered the use of their truck, which they hadn't driven to church, but did have. They also have kids that go to the school, so the plan was the following day after school. I mean, we'd gone this long without a fridge....

On Monday, the couple along with a couple guys from the school went and moved the new fridge to our house near the end of the day. So, we got to come home to our new fridge, all wrapped up in plastic. We pulled all the plastic off and it felt like Christmas Day. We still had to wait to plug it in for whatever reason, so that night before bed, I plugged it in after making a solemn promise to not stab a hole in it, filling the ice cube tray with water to test it's functionality.

You would think that that would be the end of the story, right? That the fridge worked and we all lived happily ever after? I wish it ended there.

On Tuesday, I went to check the fridge and found the ice cube tray filled with slightly cool water and it was decidedly not cold. The problem was the electrical outlet. I should have known better since the electric burner that is our stove didn't work well in that outlet, and neither did the soldering iron for that matter, but I thought I would give it a shot, primarily because the location is absolutely ideal and there are really no other nearby outlets.

So, before school, my roomie and I moved the fridge into the living room, pushing the table to the side and moving the chairs to the other side of the room. We plugged it into the outlet there and were pleased to find that it made a lot more noise there than it had in the kitchen, and were hopeful that it would actually work there.

Well, we got home from school and I was certain that we couldn't possibly have any more bad luck with fridges.... AND I WAS RIGHT!!!!!! There was a breeze of cold air upon opening the fridge, and inside the freezer compartment was one tray of completely solid ice cubes. I have never in my life been so excited about ice cubes. I may have jumped up and down and hugged the fridge several times.... Ok. I totally did that.

It's now Tuesday afternoon, and although the fridge is currently located in a slightly awkward location in the living room, it's working. And I'm so thankful for the way it did all work out, even though it was one issue after the next. But as I remember the whole story, I also remember how many people came together to get this fridge: the director and the pastor, the couple from the church/school, the guys from the school, and the couple we're living with, who brought us 1 - 2 meals every day since they knew we were without refrigeration.

I'm feeling super blessed, and all for a fridge, something most people take for granted.


One of the hidden benefits of having a roommate is that they will make you a sign to hold up when you do stupid things so the world can laugh at with you....

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Transitions

Things have been pretty crazy over the last month or so...

It started near the beginning of December as we began preparing for our school's Christmas program. It meant spending a lot of class time practicing and occasionally having one of the other teachers come and pull my kids out of class to practice... Which threw my whole planned schedule off, but I managed.

During the last two weeks leading up to the performance, things had started settling into a routine, and I would go help manage the kids during their practices for a couple hours in between their two recesses. Somehow, I still managed to get all their classwork in, though it took some effort.

The Christmas show went well. I filmed it all by setting up my camera on a tripod near the back of the room, so although there are occasional parents standing in the way (and a minute or so where there's actually a head blocking 1/3 of the screen), it actually turned out pretty well. I'm hoping to get in soon to edit it and put each song up on YouTube separately... They should be up by next Christmas.... ;)

So, the weekend after our Christmas show, I spent packing up the entirety of my belongings here in Honduras. The room I was staying in was just barely big enough for me (if you consider having to share my bed with my clothes normal), so when a friend made plans to move down to teach with me, the school decided to move me so we could live together in a larger space.

I hate packing. With the passion of a thousand burning suns. So having to literally pack everything knowing that I didn't actually know when I would be unpacking it was torture.

Here's the thing... They were planning on putting us at the director's mom's house. But, there were only 3 apartment rooms there. Two were occupied by young men who have less-than-ideal reputations, and the third is kept open for visiting family members.... So they were going to add another room to the house... And we were going to stay with the pastor's family in the meantime.

As of right now, the room hasn't even been started yet (to my knowledge), either because they're running on Honduran time or because they found a different home for us with the pastor's parents, which is bigger and already exists, which therefore makes it better.

But.... his parents are in Texas visiting family right now, so we we haven't been able to move in quite yet.... They're supposed to be coming back tomorrow, so hopefully this weekend we can move in to our permanent home. Yay!

It's been kind of hard simply because most of my stuff (including most of my clothes) are still at my old place. And there are random other things that I want to do or think about doing but realize that I can't because it's in a box.... At another house.... So I can't get to it. I mean, we do have exams this week, so I have been keeping busy planning exams, checking exams, and planning classes for next semester, but it's still frustrating to realize that you can't transfer all those video files onto your external hard drive because it's.... In a box.... At another house....

I have been realizing lately that although I do ok when I'm in transition and am fairly flexible in that I can be content wherever I am, it is really important to me to have a place that I call my own, even if I know it's temporary. The last place I stayed felt like mine as soon as I stepped inside, and even though there were a lot of things I didn't like about it (cold showers, no sinks, one electrical outlet...), it felt like my own little corner of the world where I was free to do whatever I wanted, so I loved it. And although I love all the conveniences of living with the pastor's family (delicious free food, hot showers, reliable wifi....), I'm excited to get into "my" house, about which I'll get to create a new list of likes and dislikes, but I can call it mine.

Also, I went to Michigan for Christmas and it was pretty okay....

Just kidding. It was AWESOME. I was only there for a little over a week, but I was able to see a TON of my favorite family members and friends.... I was going to make a list of some of the things I did while in Michigan, but I realized I pretty much only saw family and friends.... Which is way better than just doing things.... But I did do some shopping, a lot of eating, a couple puzzles, a game of bowling, a bit of churching, a little gaming, plenty of singing, and a lot of eating.... Yes. That was twice on purpose, because I really feel like all I did was eat while I was there.... I'm pretty sure I gained like 5 pounds that week.... I have no regrets.

It was weird to me because the last two times I visited my family, I really wasn't thrilled about going, primarily because I was missing school and didn't like that part of it. But this time, after the stress of so many Christmas show practices in which I was responsible for supervising all 50+ kids while doing choreography.... I was ready for a break. Even that was a weird transition for me, to be in Michigan and then back to Honduras so quickly. It was definitely a part of this whole last month feeling like a transition, and it's not over yet since I'm moving in a few days...

While I was in Michigan, I realized something important: No matter where I am, I will still be me, which means I will have the same issues to deal with. And at the same time, God will still be with me to help me through them.

Something I've been asking myself lately is this: Do external factors affect our internal states more or less than our internal state affects our external factors? Should they? I really don't know the answer to this, but it's something I've been thinking about.

Anyway.... Congratulations if you're still reading this, as I've sort of been rabbit trailing and may have lost sight of the original idea of the post at this point.... Please be praying for me as I move toward the end of this time of transition, that I keep relying on God to get me through, and that I remain strong in Him. And please be praying for ministry opportunities for me, that I can pursue a ministry that's even closer to my heart than teaching.

Thank you, and God bless!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ESL Stories

As promised, I'm going to begin to share quick stories and funny things that happen during class. I jot them down as they happen so I don't forget. I tend to think that I'm going to remember something, only to try to think of it later, and only remember that it was something funny.... So here are a few anecdotes from the last couple of weeks....

I'm going through the Christmas story one character or element at a time with First Grade (today we talked just about the angels and their involvement). The other day we were talking about sheep. So I asked: "What do sheep have to do with the Christmas story?" One girl answered something about dancing, to which another replied, "No! Sheep can't dance. They don't have hands."

During a rainy lunch/recess time, Preparatoria (Kindergarten) was eating in the class and playing a guessing/I-spy type of game, asking "What's red and a circle?" and answering "A ball." They mostly used pictures or objects that they could see around the class, which made it easy for me to guess because I just had to look where they were looking.... So at some point one of my class clowns looks directly at me and asks, "Who has a mouth and glasses?"

With Christmas coming up, we're doing a lot of practicing of Christmas songs and dances. One of the boys excitedly exclaims to me in class, "Miss! Ya entiendo que es Merry Christmas! Es la cumpleanos de la escuela!!" (I understand what is Merry Christmas! It's the birthday of the school!) He went on to explain his reasoning being that one of the songs contained the phrase "Happy Birthday." I'm not sure which song he's referring to, but I did manage to explain to him that it is the birthday of Jesus we celebrate.... not the school.

Sometimes kids and their language skills just make me laugh. I had one of my First graders come up and ask me all in Spanish: "Can I tell you something? But can I tell you in Spanish because I don't know how to say it in English?" I ignored the fact that she had just asked me all of that in Spanish and let her continue.... I didn't entirely follow her story, but it was something about Santa.

In both grades, we've been talking about bees. In First Grade, we read a story last week all about Honey Bees. I would ask at each page the jobs of the different types of bees that the story discusses. We get to the drones, the only male bees in the colony. In the book, it says "The drones help the queen." So I ask the girls, "What do the drones do?" Their answer? "The queen."

In Preparatoria, we're reading a story about flowers, so I took some time to explain nectar, pollen, and bees. Not sure if they got it, but they got some of it... So then I explained the difference between bees and wasps. I drew a bee with honey and a wasp with an arm showing a stinger and a sad face... I asked what bees make, and the answer was a resounding, "Honey." Then, as I worked on the drawing of the arm, I asked what wasps make. One girl hesitantly responded, "Sandwich?"

More to come soon!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Quitting Time

Sometimes, it's just time to quit, so that's what I'm doing... Not my job..... Facebook. I'm quitting Facebook.

Last night, I was still up at 10pm, and instead of either reading my Bible or just going straight to bed to get a "full" 7 hours of sleep at that point, I signed on to Facebook.... I used the excuse that I was chatting with someone to keep scrolling aimlessly through my feed, reading, liking, and commenting on things I didn't necessarily care about and could have done without knowing.

When I finally got off at 12:30, I had an epiphany, and finally admitted to myself that I was addicted to Facebook among other things. After doing some journaling, praying, and declaring myself free of these things, I decided to quit Facebook.... I felt the same sense of overwhelming relief and freedom that I've felt on several occasions when I made decisions to get out of unhealthy relationships.

So, today, I made my last post (a birthday greeting to my brother, although now that I think about it, THIS will be my last post, but this feels more like the shutting of the door), will soon be updating my cover picture to direct people here, and then it will be time to close that tab for the last time. I am asking my cousin to change the password so I can't get back in, but people can still get in contact with me if necessary.

The good news is that this will give me more time to pursue real relationships with people rather than searching for personal connections in a long list of posts. I'll also have more time to devote to the ministry I'm doing here and the work I do from home. It will provide me with more time to sleep and get into the Word.

While this one victory over this one addiction tastes sweet already, I know I still have a long way to go, but am grateful to know that God is still willing to work on me, and that He hasn't given up on me, and that He isn't finished with me yet! Defeating this one addiction will help me get the strength to continue breaking the others, one by one if necessary.

The other good news is that I will be updating my blog more often since I don't have a better way of keeping the "general public" informed of all my happenings. :) Please feel free to check out my Facebook page to get my contact information. If you don't know me and desperately need to get in contact with me for some reason.......... Leave a comment? That will work.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Back to ESL Business

So.... I gave up on this blog a long time ago because of the Google takeover of Blogger and I couldn't figure out how to get back into my account.... Then today I was trying to figure out Google Adsense and found that this site was still making (a bit of) money, so I tried signing in for the heck of it, and it worked! I'm not sure how, because I just clicked on the "sign in" button and it took me to my home page.... But I'm glad it did. This blog name is a LOT easier to remember. So, I will be writing in here from now on.... As often as that happens....

So many funny things happen throughout the day when teaching English to little kids, so I've started jotting them down in my iPod during class so I don't forget them. Here are the stories I have collected at the moment.... Enjoy!

I was with my Prepa (Kindergarten) kids, and their new favorite phrase is "I love you." It's usually adorable, unless they say it right after they've just done something they know they're not supposed to.... I was on my way out of the class when they surrounded me, saying "I love you," one at a time, and of course I told them I loved them back.... Then I turned to one of the girls who looked especially eager to tell me how much she loved me and she asks me, "Can I go to the bathroom?"

There's a song we sing in chapel called "One Way." It's a very upbeat song and the kids love it. The chorus goes like this: "One way, Jesus / You're the only one that I could live for / One way, Jesus / You're the only one that I could live for." The tune is very catchy. We are also doing "Let it Go" from Frozen for our Christmas show. So, I had just announced that we were going to practice (which gets them super excited, because who doesn't love dancing to Frozen?), and one of the girls starts singing to the tune of "One Way." "Frozen, Jesus...."

I was in First Grade, where my girls get stickers for using their English. For some reason, the phrase "Can I go...." sticks with them. So one of the girls asks me, "Can I go to the sticker?" This was quickly followed by another girl asking, "Can I go to the bathroom?" And a third looking at me thoughtfully before saying, "Beautiful."

As much as the chaos that often comes with teaching young kids drives me crazy, it's the little moments like these that reminds me why I love what I do so much.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jack and Khalil (RIP)

Jack is among the few horses that were here from the beginning. His name still hangs in the little barn in its original place when WWR started their horse program some 25 years ago. Khalil arrived not too long after that. During the last 10 years that I've been here, we've relied on these two as our "A list" horses, the ones that could go out and handle the littlest day campers and the most terrified residential campers without us worrying over the results.

As they got older, their health started failing. Jack was nearly blind as a result of an eye injury a few years back coupled with cataracts, and Khalil had some pretty severe arthritis that made it difficult to get around. They had this whole past summer to mill about in the pasture at the little barn as a good long retirement, but on Monday was their time to move on.

They went down together and without a fight, clearly ready for this life to be over. As sad as it was, I saved as many of my tears as I could with the thought that they're better now. They get to be up in heaven now, where Jack can look around and see the beauty around him, and Khalil can gallop through golden fields with the horses that have passed on before them.

Life goes on. While the mares that were pastured with them aren't sure how to come in anymore without the boys to guide them, they'll soon have other horses moved up to keep them company. Their stalls at the big barn were filled during the summer with younger horses that will hopefully take their places along the "A listers." Whether it's the loss of a human or equine life, we must always look to the future and seek to raise up the next generation to be as great or even greater than the one before it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Haven't Been Here in a Long Time

I would say it's about time I update my blog, but it's probably way past that time. I do plan on updating more often as I come across new adventures, but I tend to get busy with other things and forget. :(

So, I am back at WWR, and have been for over a month now. Wow! I can't believe it's really been that long! I'm LOVING it here, and picking up a bunch new hobbies, such as various things involving the milk goat I bought, and tanning animal hides. Who would have ever thought me of all people would enjoy tanning hides? Ah, well. I guess some people do change.

There's not really a whole lot to report. I'm getting into the swing of things here, and keeping busy with a couple of online writing jobs, including a book on fly fishing. If you do need to know anything about fly fishing, let me know. I'm about a third of the way through writing the book and already know way more than I ever thought I would about fly fishing.

The other job is ongoing and involves burlap. I recently got a shipment of burlap from the company I'm writing for, and will soon begin to make crafts with it and do DIY tutorials about burlap crafts. That should be a lot of fun, and my friends and family can expect to get a lot of burlap for Christmas, because I'm not sure what else to do with all of the crafts once I've made them.

On that note, I am beginning to try to sell crafts online. I have a couple pairs of feather and bead earrings that I made up for sale, and will eventually add other items, such as binder twine bracelets, which are popular around WWR, but maybe not elsewhere. We'll see, I guess. I also have 15 other pairs of earrings that I've made, but are lacking the actual earring piece. I'm waiting until I finish writing the book to buy them, so I can actually devote the time into making more of them. They should all be online by the end of November in time for people to buy them for Christmas.

Well, I have a whole pasture to go through and pull out all the wood and branches that are out there. We're borrowing a wood chipper from someone, so it's the perfect time to get the pastures cleared of logs and such, and have good use for the rotting wood. Back to work!


Just because I'm trying harder to get more pictures put up here more often, here's a picture of a saddle that was donated here years ago that we haven't been able to use. I cleaned it up, and put it for sale on craigslist. The money I get from it will help out with other expenses in the barn, like repairing the saddles we do use. I have some better pictures of horses and pretty skies and such on my other camera, so I'll try to get those in the next one.