Sunday, December 18, 2011

So.... I Kind of Failed to Update. Here's Why.

It's been 2 months since my last update, almost to the day. Please accept my sincerest apologies, along with this explanaion.

There was stuff going on. After the 2nd car theft that I talked about in my previous entry, Dona Elsa and Lindsay decided to step back from doing ministry at Los Bordos for 3 months. It was extremely hard to watch them explaining this to the women and children that they minister to. There were few dry eyes by the end, but the women understood our need to focus on the church for a little while, to rebuild there before going out to build other places. I believe we will be headed back there mid to late January.

Everything else sort of fell into a routine. I taught in the mornings, and then hung out in the evenings. I got a few more online jobs, which paid for a computer program that will allow me to make songs and edit audio for videos, and Christmas presents for my family which were ordered and paid for online, and sent directly to their house. I love that I can do that with the internet today. I qualified for free shipping on my order, so all I had to pay for were the gifts themselves.

Here's the main reason I did not update: I was depressed. I didn't want to update because I didn't want to admit how I was feeling. I didn't want to be honest about it, not even with myself for a while. But, I finally realized how bad I really was, and I feel like I need to be totally honest with everyone that reads this, my friends and family that truly care about me. (and possibly some random other people)

I've always been a shy person, and somehow, having great parents and extended family members, years in the public school system, involvment and youth group, and spending years at the camp which was focused on building relationships did not cause me to be very socially adept. Yes, I can maintain a conversation, and I do have friends, but I will rarely start a conversation on my own, and it generally takes some time for me to make friends. I'm sure there's some psychiatrist's word for this, but I always follow the lead of the other person. If they don't talk to me, I don't talk to them. If they're friendly and open with me, I'm going to be friendly and open with them.

So, it's been really hard for me here. It would have been hard anyway going to a new place with all new people and trying to make friends, but the language barrier makes it harder. I don't feel right moving to a foreign country and only talking in English to them, but I don't know enough Spanish yet to feel comfortable having a conversation. So, I just don't talk.

That means that I don't have many friends. There are a few people that I call "friend," and I have had some really good conversations with people who do speak English. But for the most part, I was alone. This made me sad, which meant I pulled away even more, which meant even less socialization, which meant even more feeling of lonliness, which meant even more sadness and pulling away, and so on and so forth. Such was the path that I was on, but I didn't admit even to myself how bad it really was.

Not being able to go home for Christmas to see my family was also a burden. I missed my family, but there's more to just that when it comes to Christmas. Christmas is a time of traditions, where you can expect to do the same things that you've done for years, and it's comfortable to you. It's home.

Last Friday night, I hit a particularly low point, and started talking (to myself and God, I guess) about all the traditions we have at our house: decorating the house, me setting up the nativity, singing Christmas carols together with the living room lit only by the tree lights and candles, going to the Christmas Eve service together, heading downstairs at 8am on Christmas, starting with the stockings which always had mini Reece's cups at the bottom, passing around presents, watching Mom open hers because she always had the most, making donuts together, going to Grandma's house, the huge exchange with the whole family, playing games together, eating Mom's jello salad, Aunt Sue's cheesy potatoes, Aunt Sammie's devilled eggs, and Aunt Elva's chocolate-covered rice crispy treats. Every memory and tradition hit me that night, and I wept for each new thing I would be missing.

I eventually started praying about it, asking for comfort and peace, and for an excitement for getting to experience Christmas here.

The next day, I helped out with a big pastor's conference, helping set up and then greeting people as they came in. It was kind of fun but also fairly boring, especially as we waited outside during the talks, which were mostly in Spanish. Having only gotten around 6 hours of sleep, I lacked the will and concentration to even try to understand. Despite being surrounded by so many people, I still almost started crying when I thought about the crying I had done the night before.

Sunday, I got to go to the English-speaking church. I don't know how, but Terry knew to talk to people about me. In his typical easy-going way, he told several people that I "need to get out of my box." I exchanged numbers with several couples, and talked about being able to do ministry with them or just hang out otherwise, and got to go out with the pastor's family after church. Then, I spent the rest of the day on Skype with my cousin, and went to bed feeling ok.

On Monday, I went to school as usual, and then when I came home, I got online. I wandered the internet aimlessly, reading a number of funny posts on a couple different blogs I found. This continued until around 5pm, as it started to get dark. Dona Elsa came upstairs, and I got a lecture about the state of my living room/kitchen.

The sink was full of dirty dishes. I had run out of clean dishes over a week prior, so was washing them as I went. The island counter was piled high with everything from loose papers to colored pencils to DVD's. I just kept stacking stuff as I was done with it, without even trying to organize it. And the floor was filthy. I don't actually have a broom upstairs anymore, but instead of borrowing the one from downstairs or buying one, I did nothing. As soon as she left, I started crying.

I felt ashamed of the way I had let things get. And more than that, I finally saw why I had let them get that way. It wasn't busy-ness or laziness. It was apathy. I had fallen so far into depression that nothing really mattered to me. I didn't care that food was rotting on plates in the sink; I didn't care that there was a pile of things on the counter that made work difficult; I didn't care that there was a visible ring of dirt surrounding the chair where I sat when on my computer. Nothing mattered to me, and I had lulled myself into a state of total apathy. Then, Dona Elsa shattered that thought that nothing mattered.

As I cleaned everything up, I let the tears fall, and finally admitted to myself that I was sad, much more so than I really thought. When I was done cleaning, I pulled out my guitar, and turned my thoughts and heart to God.

A sense of peace settled over me, and I just knew in my heart that everything was going to be ok. I could feel God's comforting hand upon me, and that mattered. The most of me that felt dead began to awaken, and the pain slipped away.

I'm not going to say that everything is totally great and that I have amazing friends, and can supernaturally speak Spanish now, but things are definitely better. I wake up with a better sense of purpose, and am feeling a little braver with my Spanish. When watching Beauty and the Beast (in Spanish, of course), I pointed out the fact that Chip is Mrs. Pott's son, yet he's a very young boy and she's an elderly woman. When Dona Elsa asked Lindsay what I had said, I was able to communicate it to her, and she also found it funny. God has been showing His love for me in real, tangible ways, (like the PERFECT care package I got from home which included a mini Christmas tree and Reece's bells and trees!) and now I'm excited about Christmas.

So, I can't promise that I'll be updating more often, but I'm definitely making it a priority.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BIG Update - Part 2 - Car Thefts

Just a few days after all of that happened, someone told me at school that Dona Elsa's car had been stolen. I found out later that that was true, but not the whole story.

She was leaving a store somewhere, when the thief (thives?) came up and robbed her. They took her watch and her wedding ring, her purse with her wallet inside and all of her credit cards and license, and then her car. When she got to the school after Tammy went and picked her up, she was still pretty shaken.

This was also a bit of a wake-up call for me. I knew it wasn't safe here, but something about being in a house protected by electric wiring and being within view of several huge mansions while you spend a few hours a day just cruising the web on the house's wi-fi signal tends to lull you into a false sense of security. Even the murder a few days before that didn't increase my fear too much, because they lived in an area surrounded by several gangs. I had begun to question whether Honduras was as dangerous as people seemed to think.

I still go to bed at night feeling safe, but I'm more vigilant when we're out and about, always having a plan in case something happens. Maybe it won't matter because I don't know that I could actually fend off an attacker if it really came down to it, but I think about it. I'm staying more alert, and am more aware than ever of the people around me. I've always been somewhat alert with my surroudings, so the change isn't huge, but it's there.

Just a few days ago, there was another car theft of a different church member. Her car was stolen from right in front of her house, but nobody was robbed there. I can't decide if that makes it better or worse, to have your car stolen from in front of your house, or while you're out on the streets. Either way, there are some crazy things happening against the church right now.

They had an extra car here, probably for one of their two teenage children who are around the driving age, that Dona Elsa now uses. It's an automatic, so it's funny to see her make the switch from a manual. Well, that's it for now, I guess. I'll be posting a few more updates tomorrow.

BIG Update - Part 1 - A Death in the Church Family

So, I haven't posted in a while, and not because there wasn't anything going on, because stuff was definitely happening. There are several reasons that I haven't really updated in over a week. First of all, because of what happened and I wasn't sure how many details I can share. Second of all, because there were so many different things happening I was having a hard time knowing what to talk about. And thirdly, I sort of fell into a "funk" where I didn't want to do much of anything. But, I'm better now, and will start the updates. I'll post a couple different blogs today, and then a couple more tomorrow to get everyone caught up. Sorry about that.

I'll start with the events of a week and a half ago. I was over at Tammy's house, trying to play Mario with her son (who's in my class at school), which is hard because he spends half of the time trying to throw your character off a cliff and the other half of the time running ahead, which will get you killed if you don't keep up. Tammy came in and told me Jeimy's dad had been killed, so they were going to go to the house. She asked if I wanted to come, and I did for Jeimy's sake, because she's in my class.

So, we went. I didn't know what to expect, but I was too afraid of the answer so I didn't ask. When we got to the house, the police, and the medical examiner were still there. I followed mi familia through the gathered crowd (why do people always gather when something bad happens?) and under the "DO NOT CROSS" police tape. We embraced the members of the family members that were there and offered our comfort the best we could.

There was a lot of standing around after that. Several members of the family had some severe break-downs, and the members of the church were quick to step in and hold them while offering quiet words of comfort. It was hard to watch. I felt helpless. I couldn't offer words, but I did embrace those who I knew and didn't hide the fact that I was crying. I didn't really know the young man who died, but I did know two of his daughters and some of his other relatives, including his nephew who I worked with.

While we were there, they took the body away, wrapped only in a yellow plastic bag. I realized how much I've grown as I didn't get as nervous as I thought I would, seeing as bodies used to completely freak me out. The police left then, and the crowds got bored and dispersed.

Among all the pain, I think the worst was little Jeimy. She was running around hugging people without a tear on her face or any indication that she had been crying. I don't know that she understood what had happened, and I continue to pray for her that she grows to understand and accept what happened, and to make God her Father.

As it began to grow dark, we gathered to pray for the family and then said our good-byes. I wish I had known it was a real good-bye.

At church the next day, none of them were there. I didn't realize how big the family was until they were all gone from church, and the congregation was nearly cut in half. We also didn't have a worship leader, or band. The entire service that day was prayer. Although I didn't understand most of the words, I could hear the passion and sincerity, and was so moved by the way the church acted the way a church is supposed to act. As a church, we are instructed to mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15) I was amazed at the way the chuch responded so Biblically. I feel like most churches would have solumnly announced it, said a sincere prayer for the family, but then moved on with their normal Sunday morning activities, not wanting to bring down the rest of the church. But aren't we instructed to mourn with those who mourn? In the same way, we are supposed to be rejoicing with those who are rejoicing, and I don't see too much of that in a lot of American churches today.

When by Tuesday nobody from that family had shown up to school, I asked someone when we could expect them back. Being without all of the kitchen staff and two teachers was difficult for the rest of us. I didn't know if there were certain traditions of mourning, or what, but I found out that they were gone for a different reason. The gang that had killed Jeimy's father had threatened another member of the family. Not knowing why the gang was after them, or how far they would go, the entire family up and moved away.

Because of that, we are permenantly down the two teachers, our cook, and our entire worship team. At the school, we're just managing as best we can. I've taken over teaching the Bible class and P.E, and Lindsay has taken most of the other classes. We did hire a new cook, so that part is working out fine. Last Sunday, worship was led by a friend of Tammy, who just played music off the computer and sang in a mic. It was a great time of worship, but I just feel like live music is better. Maybe that's just me.

So, that's what went down two Saturdays ago. Deep sorrow, but great response from the church.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Update

I just wanted to update really quickly to let everyone know what I've been up to. There's been a lot going on, so I haven't had much time for anything, and have been distracting myself with fun things when I did have time. Because I spent all day Sunday hanging out with mi familia and babysitting, I didn't really get to work on my 20 articles yet this week. So, once I get caught up with that, I will be posting a longer blog on the subject of the passing of a beloved member of the church family here. It's been really hard, but really amazing at the same time to see the church's response. So, off to work!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Drawing Beggars and Crayon Thieves

Today, we went to Los Bordos to teach school, and Lindsay had me go in with the littlest ones. There are four different classes at our little school there: 3 and under, 4-6, 7-13, and adults. Dona Elsa takes the women into the building next to the school to teach the various subjects, and today, we had the 7-13 year olds that Lindsay teaches outside. The youngest two groups sat around 2 tables inside the school.

I thought that having the little ones would be easy, because Lindsay implied that the hardest part of my job would be making sure nobody tried to steal the crayons. I quickly learned that that was not the hardest part of my job. As far as problems went, stopping the crayon thieves was actually the easiest one to solve.

All the little ones do is color these big pictures from Blue's Clues. But most of these kids don't have crayons and such at home, so even the older kids wanted to join in and color the pictures. I had to tell them no, because there wasn't enough for everybody, and they had their own classes to focus on.

As much sibling love as there usually is there, it was sad to see this lacking. There was one girl who claimed to be 8 but looked older (she also tried to tell me she was 5 when she first talked to me, so I wasn't very inclined to believe her the second time around) who had a little brother, who was probably 5 or 6. When I turned her down because she was big, she had her little brother ask, and I went ahead and gave him a drawing and let him take some crayons. When I looked over at the table they were at (because the little kid table was full), I saw that they boy was standing there looking sad while his older sister leaned over the table coloring the drawing that was meant for him.

When the older kids started finishing up the test they were taking, they started coming in and asking for drawings. Even the slightly older group started asking, and they had gotten to glue balls of tissue paper into the shape of the letter A, which was probably a new experience for them, and was definitely more grown-up than the coloring that the littlest ones did. I turned child after child down, and most of them would give up after a couple of "no"s.

But there was one little girl, whose name I don't know, who was desperate.She was in the oldest group, but I'm guessing she's around 7. She kept asking me for a drawing, telling me it was for her sister. After telling her her sister wasn't here several times in Spanish, I gave up trying to be rational with her. As she continued to (more and more loudly) demand a drawing, I started telling her why she couldn't have one in English. At one point, as she said "hermana" over and over, I repeated it back to her, saying "I can say it too: hermana!" The girl who had taken her brother's drawing came over, too, and they both were talking to me. She told the smaller girl that I didn't understand Spanish and only talked in English.

The small girl didn't give up, though, and went outside, then came back in telling me someone had said she could have one. Maybe someone did, but not someone in charge. Eventually, we got in the car and left, and she didn't get a drawing.

There were a couple of boys that came in that wanted to draw, too, or just steal crayons. One of them sat at the table for a bit coloring with another little boy, then was asking me for more crayons. I noticed immediately that he was sitting strangely in the seat, and I knew that there had been at least 4 crayons on the table near him just seconds earlier. When I asked him why he didn't have crayons, his impish smile and a little girl confirmed that he did indeed have several crayons. All four, to be exact, tucked in between his legs. I took them all forcibly from him, except for a purple one, which he tossed back into the bag anyway.

Later, him and his friend were in the corner eating oranges near a little boy who I had given a drawing and 6 crayons to. When I went to collect the crayons from the boy that was done, I got 5 back, and my little theiving friend had his arms clenched at his side, quite unnaturally. I put out my hand to receive the crayon, and his guilty smile gave him away again. I tickled him, and he eventually revealed where he had the red crayon hidden - under his arm, as I suspected.

As I gathered all the crayons and started stacking chairs because it was time to go, he said goodbye and walked out the door as I was returning from putting chair away. He had, beneath his orange, a crayon. Why he thought he could hide it there, I don't know, but this time when I held out my hand, he walked away quickly. I caught him by the arm, and as he wiggled, the crayon fell, and he ran off as I calmly bent down to pick it up. I'm not sure why he thought he could get away with it a third time.

As I was telling the small girl, and several others that they could not have a drawing, even for their "sister," part of me felt guilty for not giving them what they wanted. After all, this little girl comes from this poor villiage and they can't afford coloring pages and crayons, so it's wrong to withhold something like that from her.

But then I thought some more about it, and realized that it would have been wrong to give in. By her angry reaction to my "no"s, I'm guessing that she usually gets exactly what she wants, which means that she has little or no discipline at home. A lack of discipline is a lack of love. To give in and let her continue to think that she can get what she wants when she gets angry and yells is only going to further cripple her. Maybe I didn't teach her respect or anything like that, and she probably doesn't see my act of refusal as being loving, but I hope that eventually, she'll realize that she's worth something, and not because some richer people came and gave her stuff, but because God loves her and created her to do great things in His name.

Don't get me wrong, here. It's good to go into a villiage that's suffering economically and give them gifts for their children that they couldn't give them themselves. It's good that we're going in and spending time and money on teaching them reading and writing, and english. But too much of a good thing is a bad thing. If we give them everything they need all the time, they'll become dependent on our goodwill and won't be able to do anything for themselves.

Imagine a child who grows up never having to make their own food, or wash their own clothes, or wake themselves up to get ready in the morning. If that continues until the child goes off to college, they're going to have an EXTREMELY hard time adjusting and being able to take care of themself.

It's the same way with these villiages. If we come in and provide everything, they'll just sit around waiting for the next thing to come, and won't do anything for themselves. They begin to believe that they are good for nothing because they aren't providing for themselves, and the mindset of dependency and worthlessness will continue to cycle.

I know that's not what we're causing with them, and I don't think giving the girl a drawing or letting the boy steal a crayon just so he could have one would have caused them to spin out of control into dependency and worthlessness, but it's a cycle that's been going for generations, and if that's one way to possibly start to break through and be able to show them that they can do things for themself and that there's more to life than waiting around for the people who have more than you to come and give you drawings and crayons, then I'm going to have to keep telling them "no."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Why I'm a Missionary

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a missionary, because I don't really feel like one. All I'm doing right now is working at the school, teaching English, Math, and Music to 3-5 year olds, and going to do ministry (more teaching and occasionally handing out donations) at Los Bordos with Dona Elsa and Lindsay. Essentially, I am doing what Lindsay is doing.

When that thought first occurred to me, I was disappointed and a little frustrated at the lack of "real" ministry I'm doing. But then I got to thinking, and I realized I'm not a missionary by the usual definition. I'm not a missionary because I live in Honduras; there are 7.5 million people living in this country. I'm not a missionary because God sent me here; God has placed every person exactly where they are right now. I'm not a missionary because I have a purpose in my life; God has given a purpose to each and every person. I'm not a missionary because I serve and follow God; every Christian ought to be doing the same thing.

The reason I am a missionary is because I am showing God's love to each and every person I meet. I am pouring love onto my students at school, even when they won't stay in their seats. I am displaying how much he cares when I hug the grubby little boy at Los Bordos who always tried to get me to lift him off the ground and who once threw dirt at me. I am a missionary because I am exactly where God wants me to be, and I am serving Him in the exact way that He wants me to serve Him. I am a missionary because I am going out and loving people the way God loves them to the best of my abilities.

When it comes down to it, that makes us all missionaries. God sent you to your place of work to be a light to the people around you. There's no one else He wanted in that position, because you have unique gifts and talents that you can use to reach out to the people around you. You are a missionary because you are showing God's love to the people in your family, and to your friends.

The Great Commission is simple: "Go out into the world, and make disciples of all nations." We're all in a nation somewhere, and that's where we're supposed to be making disciples out of men, women, and children.

I'm realizing now how insignificant I am. Who am I? Not some amazing gift to the Hondurans sent by God to lead them to the path of righteousness. No. I'm just one person serving Him to the best of my abilities, and it's Him working in me that will get things accomplished. It was only through Him that I was able to realize I was handling my class the wrong way. On Friday, I didn't even have to draw the sad face to imply that someone's name was going to have to go there. Even at the end of the day, they quietly read books or did puzzles when they finished their work. That wasn't me. That was God. All I did was listen. That's what love is: putting words into action. And love for us means taking the words that God gives us and putting them into actions.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baby Steps

On Tuesday, I wanted to take my kids outside for a break, to get all their energy run out, so they could actually learn something. I had them line up and tried to work on ordering with them (learning first, second, third, etc.), but they couldn't focus enough to stay standing through that, choosing to push each other until the all fell to the ground laughing. So, I sent them back to their seats, and they wrote instead.

Yesterday, I tried once again to take them outside, using the same method of lining them up and having them follow me in a single file line. This time, they remained standing and focused through the ordering review, and made it out of the classroom. However, as soon as we were in the open play area that's right out of our door, they broke free from the line, running and yelling. I made several attempts to get them back in line, but they wouldn't listen, so we went back in the class to do more work.

Today was marvelous. The title of a book came to mind that I remember from my library days. "Catch Your Dog Doing Something Right." Although I never read the book, the back cover explained the concept that if all you ever do is yell at your dog when they're doing something wrong, all they'll ever learn is what NOT to do, and how bad they are. But if you praise them for doing something right, they'll learn what they're supposed to do, and how good they can be. This can be applied to working with kids as well. If all you ever do is scold them, they'll alway just try to avoid being bad, rather than trying hard to be good.

Normally in class, I put a sad face on one side of the board and put kids' names underneath it when they're making me sad. The name is a warning, and then I begin putting tally marks by the name as "strikes." When they reach 3, they have to stand facing the wall with their hands up in the air. I also did that when two of my boys started wrestling. Today, I realized that all I was doing was firefighting. When something went wrong, I was stamping out fires. What I needed to do was manage. (Thank you WWR's behavior management that I've been through 5 times, and it's finally sticking.)

Today, I began with a smilie face on one side of the board, and a sad on the other. As soon as a couple of kids were paying attention and had gotten out the book as I had asked, their names went under the smily face. The rest of the kids immediately sat up straighter and got out their books. I left the room to make copies with instructions to stay seated, and they were all seated when I returned. Usually, less than half are still seated, with some wrestling or hiding in the closets or running around the room. I praised them heavily and immediately put everybody else's name on the board, and gave a tally to the two kids that already had their names there.

And so continued the rest of the day, so far. There's a little bit of competition between them for who has the most, but hopefully that will lessen as these marks become more normal, and they'll not be so worried about other people. There are 6 kids (of the 8 here today) that have earned 5 or more tallies, and there are only 5 names on the sad face side, and those were pretty minor infractions, so I'll probably erase them when I get back to the kids at the end of the day, provided the other two teachers that have them don't need to add to them.

We started out taking baby steps, making it a little further to getting to play outside, and then we made a giant leap forward.

So, a few weeks ago, I got to participate in a Bible study led by William. It was with mi familia, so it was all in Spanish. I remember sitting there and trying to take it in, but only got the gyst of the whole thing. Last night, William came over again for Bible study, and I was amazed at how much more I got. I knew when he was talking about being in the world, but not of the world, sin, same sex marriage, how different people study the Bible in different languages, and about differences in culture. Although I'm still quite a ways from understanding exactly what was said about each topic, I'm thrilled that I was able to mostly follow what was being said.

I'm taking baby steps towads understanding and speaking Spanish. I don't know that I'll ever be able to take a giant leap forward like my kids did with their behavior, but I'm satisfied to know that I am moving forward. It's a slow progress, but it's steady. Like the tortoise and the hare (which I recently taught the kids), slow and steady wins the race.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick Financial Update

I just wanted to quickly report that I found a job online that may prove to be a good source of income. I'll start by re-writing 20 short articles for a website, and get paid $50 for it. If I do well with these first ones, the work will be ongoing, which means I could be making an extra $50/week, which is AWESOME!

The work is pretty easy, since I'm not having to come up with articles on my own; I just have to reword and play with what's already there. So, I'm really excited about this opportunity, and thankful to God for providing it for me!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Home Again, Home Again... and Thoughts on Christmas

Well, I'm back home. Sorry for the lack of updates. I was without internet access at the house I was staying at, so I only got on at school long enough to keep up with my email and facebook. :)

Last week was pretty boring, honestly. School got crazy, but I realized it was more my fault than the kids, so I fixed that real quick. I spent almost an hour one night praying for each of my kids individually, as well as for their families, and the class as a whole. And myself. The next day was a thousand times better. And today, when it started to get kind of crazy I just started praying out loud for my whole class. There was one kid who was watching me, but I'm not sure if he knew I was praying until I said "Amen." Then, I put my hand up to get their attention, and class continued very smoothly. Prayer works.

I spent a lot of time in worship last week, and I also read a novel. Although it was a secular novel, there were a few parts that spoke to where I am, and I was amazed that God spoke to me through this book. The main character/narrator is a young girl, and at one point, she's talking to an older woman. The older woman tells her that no matter where she is, she has to make that place home. Home has to be where you are. I want to go "home" for Christmas, but I need to be careful as to where I call home. Home is where God has me, and right now, that's Honduras. Because of the Christmas break, I'd only be able to be home for two weeks, and the cheapest flight around that time was $400. But those flight dates wouldn't actually work, now that I better know when my break is.

So, I've decided not to go to Michigan for Christmas. In the words of Jesus, "Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." So, I will be surrounded with family for Christmas. They'll just be mi familia from Honduras.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Craziness that is School

Well, a lot has happened in the last few days. I moved to Terry and Shari's house for the week. They're in full-time ministry here, and were incredibly helpful in connected me with people before I moved down. My parents were in a small group with them a few years back, so they've been good family friends for a while now. At any rate, they're in the States visiting friends, families, and churches, and wanted me to stay with Alba at their house. Alba is a young lady from Honduras who lives with them. So, I'm now there to be with her. She doesn't speak any English, so that's been a little challenging, but it's been forcing me to speak Spanish, so it's also really good for me.

School is still difficult, and is actually getting slightly worse as the kids get more comfortable with each other. I did get moved to a much larger room, where all of my students actually fit. There are closets where I can now keep all of the extra supplies, as well as shelves where their books are kept for easy access. The closets are proving to be a bit of a problem because they like to hide in them when I have to leave the room to make copies of workbook pages.

Today, in order to maintain order and get all of my kids to finish their work, I had to close one girl in the bathroom, open a closet door so that two kids couldn't look at each other, and remove one girl from the class to finish the page we were working on. And some of them still didn't finish, so I sent it home for homework with them. It's frustrating, but I get gain some attention when the air conditioner had been off for nearly 20 minutes (and believe me, it gets hot fast in there), and I told them if they listened I would turn it back on. They managed to give me their full attention for almost 10 whole minutes. I was impressed. I don't know if they'll remember any of the English words I was teaching them, but they did remember "boy" and "girl" that we went over yesterday, so that was encouraging.

So, yeah. It's been rather crazy at school. It's hard, too, when all the kids use workbooks, but some of them don't have them. Then, I have to leave class to go make a copy of the page we're working on, and even when I give them work to do, they get up and go crazy when I'm gone. Would it be wrong to duct tape them to their seats? Probably. I've decided to give them a second recess, in the middle of the afternoon classes, where they're expected to sit through two and a half hours of classes. Hopefully, a 15 minute break to run wild in the middle of the afternoon will prevent the half an hour of free time I have to give them at the end of the day, when they've all snapped and are no longer capable of paying attention. I'll have to think of some educational games to play outside, maybe.

Because I have some more free time this week, I'm planning on spending a lot more time than I usually would in prayer and digging into the Word. It's been a while since I really dug in to God's word.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Today I Got Lost in the Grocery Store...

So, this morning I was thinking that I need to get some groceries, now that I'm expected to provide food for myself more often. I had bought some just to have in case I was hungry when they weren't eating, but now I need actual food. Also, now that I've discovered the wonder of my rice maker that makes more than just rice, I want to try some of the recipies I found online.

Then, early afternoon, Dona Elsa asked me if I wanted to go to the supermarket. I tossed some clothes on, brushed my hair, and we were soon on our way. It was just the two of us, and Dona Elsa doesn't speak very much English, though she tries, so it was a quiet ride. I went off on my own almost as soon as we got there, having a list and a determination to find everything on my own. And so I did, with a few unimportant exceptions.

When I was done, I started looking for Dona Elsa. But, it was a decent sized supermarket and EXTREMELY busy. Finding a Honduran woman there was easy, but I was looking for one in particular. I gave up after doing a couple of laps around the store (and stumbling across some graham crackers - yay!), and decided to proceed with checking out and just wait for her by one of the doors, or outside.

I was still looking around for her as I waited in line, but didn't see her. I felt like a kid who'd wandered away from their parent, and suddenly every adult looks like they could be that parent. I wanted to walk around calling for her, but I had enough people staring at me based on my Gringa-ness, so I didn't want any more attention. I told myself that she wouldn't forget me, and it was going to be fine.

And so it was. She found me as I was just finishing up paying, and we went out to the car together. What a relief.

On the way back, I saw a car that was the same color and model as mine, though I think it was a different year. I pointed it out and managed to say something about it being my car and an accident in the US, and we had a major fail in communication, but that's ok. When we got back to the house they got it all figured out. I'll have to remember to show her the pictures of my car before and after the accident on my computer later.

Well, that's it for now. My first experience shopping by myself here was a bit scary but good. I feel more confident in being here after doing such a simple task on my own, but it also didn't require too much communication, except at the register when I just had to read the number when she told me. Big numbers in Spanish are not my friends.

Friday, September 16, 2011

What I Did During My Independence Day Vacation

Seeing as yesterday was the Honduran Independence Day and we therefore didn't have school Wednesday through Friday, there wasn't a whole lot of anything going on this week. That worked out to my advantage, as I was able to finish rewriting a 60 page book in just 3 days. Other than that and frequent facebook breaks, I didn't do a whole lot of anything this last couple of days. But, I did make $50 from rewriting and editing the book, so that's good. I also put in a couple other proposals for some other online jobs that I can do to make sure I have plenty of money when ministry opportunities open up for me.

I did get to Skype with my family for a couple of hours yesterday, which was amazing. I mostly talked with my mom, but also got to talk a lot with my dad and my littlest brother. I also got to see my dog (who didn't even acknowledge me) and my mom's now 3-legged cat, who got very excited when I whistled to her. That was funny.

Although seeing them did make me a little homesick, it was nice to be able to see them, and as I talked about the ups and downs of teaching school here, I was reminded of how sure I really am now that I'm supposed to be here. It's so comforting to know that I have their support, and it's also great to know that I can still see them and talk to them, which makes it seem like they're not so far away after all.

We did talk a little about people coming down to visit. I would love to see a few groups of people come down at different times to do ministry with me, and serve the Lord here for a week. There are lots of ministry opportunities here. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. I have a facebook page devoted to organizing such groups, so if I haven't already added you, please just send me a request, and I will add you in.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Animal Adventures & LOVE

So, today I had a couple interesting things happen with animals. We were teaching at Los Bordos, where it was insane. I though school was bad, but this is just crazy. The kids that do have notebooks and should be working are talking to each other and totally not paying attention to Lindsay talking, and they're not doing the work that they're supposed to be.

Lindsay was really frustrated with it today, and didn't know what to do. I suggested telling them to leave if they weren't going to work, but she'd already done that and they claimed to want to be there. And there were quite a few kids that were just there to observe and make trouble. I spotted one boy in particular who was just hitting the other kids. He clearly had no interest in learning.

At some point, Lindsay had to leave, and left me in charge of the kids for "5 minutes." Even one minute alone with these kids seemed like it would be too much. She told me to keep an eye on the notebooks, not the kids. As if to prove her fears were legit, one boy literally took off with a notebook and pencil as soon as she was out of sight. I managed to catch him by the arm before he made it out the door and pulled the notebook and pencil from his hand before releasing him to run off. Oh, children.

A lot of the kids that were just there to watch ran off when Lindsay left, and my first order of business was to clear out the rest of them. I quickly kicked out every kid that wasn't working, beginning with the boy in the black striped shirt that was just torturing people. He was very defiant, and didn't think I was going to follow through, but did leave when I put my foot down. He came back several times, but the fifth time he came back, he wasn't as distracting, and actually wanted to find out when the English class was.

So, that was class today.

At some point near the end, there was a crowd gathering outside, and I saw a teenage boy carrying an armadillo. On one of my trips down, I think I saw one run past late at night, but I'd never seen one for real, and never up close. So, I joined the crowd of fascinated kids to get a look at the little armadillo. It was about the size of a guinea pig, or a dwarf rabbit. I had to touch it, and it was sort of leathery, like you would expect it to be. And it was super cute, but I'm pretty sure it was going to get eaten.

So, yeah. My first encounter with an armadillo. It was really cool.

Then, we walked through the barrio, to do something that involved a stack of lumber that a woman had. Nothing was explained to me, so I'm not sure what was happening with the wood, exactly. On the way there, this beautiful torbie cat walked by, stalking a hot pink chick (they paint the white ones, though I'm not sure why). I think she would have caught it, too, because the chick was not as concerned with the cat as he aught to have been, but one of the girls walking with us chased the cat away.

Once we got to the lady's house who had the wood, there was a horse there, hooked up to its cart still, but munching on something green. It looked like it could be leaves from corn stalks, but I'm not entirely sure. I went and stood near him, but out of range of feet and teeth. He seemed to accept that I was there, and I was informed that he would bite me if I got any closer. He proved that by pinning his ears at me when I did take one step closer to get a better look at the harness, which was basicallly just made of whatever string could be found, I guess. I gave him his space, and assume that he bites because he was beaten. Most horses that were abused lash out at people because they're reacting in fear.

The other times I'd been down, I had seen the thin and beat down horses, but hadn't looked closely enough to see life in their eyes, that spark of character that I love about them. But watching this one eat and seeing him react to me gave me hope.

I tend to see the way the animals are as a reflection of the people. When I think about animals in America, I think about fat, spoiled cats and dogs that are treated like people, sometimes so much that their owners pour more love into Rufus and Fluffy than they do the real people in their lives. But the animals know they have value and act like they're the most important part of life. But here, so many animals roam the streets, starving and desperate for anything: food, affection, acknowledgement. It's the same with a lot of the people here, and it shows up most clearly in the kids, who are more likely to display their emotions. The kids there at Los Bordos may not be focused enough to do the school work, but you can see the desperation they have for love.

There's one little boy that has become attached to me, Christian. He's two at the most, but he's big, and hangs all over me, wanting me to pick him up and swing him like I mistakenly did the first time I was there. And there's a little girl, Isol. She's closer to 4, I think, but is small for her age, and absolutely adorable. She's also quite attached to me, and is constantly trying to get me to do the handclap games that she sees the older girls doing, but she can't keep a rhythm and I can't follow her sporatic movements, so our attempts at playing usually fail.

Whenever I smile at them, or just pat them on the head, they light up and give me a hug. It's the same with all of them. There's such a joy that fills them when they feel the love of God that I'm giving them, and you can see it so clearly on their faces. They don't care that I can't speak the language and that I don't understand them, because they do understand one thing: LOVE.

Love is a universal language, and can be expressed by so many ways other than words. I'm so thankful that God is teaching me all about this with these kids. It's something that I can continue to use when working at Los Bordos, but also in every area of life. There's not a single person in the world that does not desire and need love. And there's not a single person in the world that God does not love; He wants us to share that love with everyone we meet.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Work News

So, starting tomorrow, all the lesson plans will be made by me. The teacher's books I'm using have pretty solid ideas and guides for what to do, but it's still hard to know what my kids can handle, and how much time everything is going to take up. And I don't know how much homework is too much for 5 year olds. Maybe any, but I think it's necessary to continue the learning process at home, and I'll hopefully have free time at the end of the day when they can work on their homework, so they might not have to take any home. We'll see how they do with it.

The hardest part about trying to plan based on the suggestions in the books is knowing that I won't be able to do a lot of it, because I don't know enough Spanish to explain it. And some of it is having them just listen while I read something, and I already know they can hardly do that when there are pictures to look at. So I have to change things around, but I think I did a good job at coming up with alternatives.

Also, I had my offer accepted for a writing job online, so I'm now working my way through rewriting a 60 page book on helping seniors learn to date online. It's fun because I'm changing a "how to" book into an "I've been there, so let me show you how I did it" book from the view point of a senior citizen. So, I get to pretend I'm an old woman as I rewrite this book, and tell people all about the success I've had with online dating sites. It's fun, but can be a bit tedious. But, it'll be worth it once I get paid, and it'll make my profile look better so I'll have a better chance of getting other jobs at the same site.

I also signed up for a few different sites that pay you for reading emails with sponsor ads, and for taking surveys. I don't usually get to take the surveys because I rarely qualify, but the paid emails are nice. I probably won't make more than $100 with that in a year, but it's pretty easy and fast, and there are other things I could be doing that won't make me a few cents, so I might as well. Some people do that as a full-time job, and are signed up for hundreds of such sites, but I don't have the time or patience for that nonsense.

So, that's a quick update on my work situations. I've started a group on facebook to get people to come do a mission trip and visit me, so we'll see how that goes. Hopefully I can get a few people out. I do have one friend that wants to come for several weeks in the spring, which is really exciting.

Church - Choking Children and More Dangers of Pinatas

Today in church, there was a little girl who started choking during the sermon. Her dad and another woman were rushing her to the back of the sanctuary, hitting her on the back when she coughed up a piece of hard candy. They had her take a few sips of water, and then took her outside. I'm guessing they then took her into the school to calm down and relax some. It was really scary for a second, and the pastor paused to pray for her. I almost started crying, realizing once again how ridiculously sensitive I am with everything.

Afterwards, we had a celebration for the Kid's Day. There were two pinatas here for the kids to hit, and things were the calmest here since there was the smallest amount of kids there. I also further realized the dangers involved in pinatas, as a young man from the church climbed about 30 feet up into the tree to adjust the rope holding the pinata in place. All I kept thinking was, "If he fell and got seriously injured, there's no way he could say that it was worth it." But his tree climbing skills were impressive and nearly matched those of a monkey, so I had nothing to worry about. He came down safely a few minutes later.

We ate there at the church, having real tacos. They were amazing. There were cut pineapples to put on them, which seemed a little odd to me, but it was the best thing I've ever done to a taco, and I'm not sure how I liked tacos before pineapples.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Danger of Pinatas

Yesterday, we celebrated Kid's Day at the school. We had a pinata, and pizza and cake, and let them just play for most of the day. It was a lot of craziness, but the kids had a lot of fun, with the exception of the boy I had to hold back from running in while the other kids were swinging at the pinata, and the little girl who was terrified of the teachers dressed like clowns and the balloons. I hadn't really realized the danger of pinatas before, since all of my experiences were here in the US, where we like them, but don't get as intensely excited about them as they do here. As one kid stood and swung the short wooden pole full force at the colorful pinata, the other kids waiting anxiously at the sides, and would rush in when even a single piece fell. And the kid with the stick was usually still swinging. There was the one little boy that I had to hold back because he kept trying to run in to get the stick, and would have gotten hit several times had I not been keeping him close. And of course, when it finally completely breaks open, there's a rush to the center where a free-for-all fight for candy insues. When you have big 7 year olds mixed with little 3 year olds, it's a wonder that none of them actually got hurt.

We also went to celebrate at Los Bordos. We took a bunch of pinatas there and gifts and had some fun. We did the "Doctor Skit" which I had done and seen a number of times at Wildwood, so I was very excited to participate in that. I now want to introduce them to some more camp skits, because they're so much fun for the kids and the participants. :)

If the pinata at school was dangerous with 30 decently well-behaved kids, it was even worse at Los Bordos with closer to 200 kids that were desperate for the candy and a chance to get a whack at it. Some of the little girls that went up there took these swings where they spun the stick in a full circle for maximum power, and just barely missed hitting the kids that were all crowded around. And then when the candy came out... pure insanity. There were people at about 5 different points that were throwing the candy in handfuls out to the crowd to keep them spread out, but it was still ridiculous.

After that came the handing out of gifts. We had them divided by age and gender, and gave them each a small bag with some toys and necessities in it: soap, a toothbrush, washclothes, flip flops, pencils, crayons, a little notebook, an etch-a-sketch, etc. They lined up in long lines and we marked their hands with Sharpie as they came through, but they were pushing to get to the front, and we had parents demanding gifts for kids that weren't there and cutting in line. I saw a couple of parents trying to wash the marks off their kids so they could get another gift. We finally just had to stop handing out gifts, before pure chaos broke out. It's so sad that people can turn a good thing into something bad. We come to them with generosity, but they ruin it with their greed. It's hard to help people who just want to take what you have, and don't seem at all grateful.


I have a good friend from Wildwood named April. Before she worked at camp, she spent a couple of years living in Honduras, in a small town a couple hours south of San Pedro Sula called Copan. She also taught at a bilingual school and lived with a host family. She was one of the first people I went to when I first heard God's calling on my life to go to Honduras, because I knew she would be able to help, and she was actually the first to suggest working at a school as a good source of income.

She was down for just a couple of weeks, visiting her host family in Copan, and wanted to come see me last night before she flew back to the states. So, we were able to hang out for a few hours, and I told her everything that I'd been feeling, with language struggles and wanting to just give up. She told me that she'd felt the same way after two weeks, and she had taken more semesters of Spanish than I had, as well as having visited several Spanish-speaking countries.

She told me that as long as I knew that God had me here, I'd be fine. Struggles were normal. It took her 5-6 months to become good enough with Spanish to communicate, and another 6 months to really get good at it. Although it was a little discouraging that it's probably going to take longer than I'd thought, it was also encouraging to know that she struggled, but is bilingual now. Now, I'm prepared to put in the work it's going to take to learn the language, and I know that it's going to pay off eventually. Practice makes perfect. Or, as April told me "poco de poco." (little by little)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The life and death of Paco

Sorry it's been a few days since I updated. It's been a rough few days. I've been struggling to feel at home, especially with the language barrier and not being able to communicate very well with anyone.

Then, on Tuesday, a little kitten wandered into the school during lunch. They chased it towards the door, but he ran into the office instead and hid beneath a shelf. I had everyone step back, and went in to get him. I reached in tentatively, but he just looked at me, and allowed me to grab him. I handed him to the security guy, and didn't think about what he might have done with him.

Not even half an hour later, we were outside during recess, and one of the boys ran to me, "Miss! Miss! (insert string of spanish words here)... gatito!" I looked to where he was pointing, and there was the little kitten, crouching near the corner of the building. I picked him up and decided that there was no point to throwing him out again. So, I took him inside, and put him in the shower that's in the bathroom of my classroom. I let the water run so he'd have some water, and fished some leftover tortillas out of the trash and gave them to him. He dug in.

He was mostly white, with a black tail and a black patch over one ear. His eyes were green, implying that he was probably around 4 months, but he was so small and thin that he could easily lay on one of my hands. I could feel all of his bones, and his bloated stomach was filled with worms. Every time I checked on him, he cried and came eagerly to me, and it wasn't just about the food. He smelled like pee and was coated in grease and dirt, but there was trust and affection in his eyes.

I got permission and took him home, agreeing to keep my room clean in exchange for keeping the cat. I worked with him that evening, using an old toothbrush and water to try to get him a little cleaner. He purred for a few minutes, and then got anxious and started wandering. I had given him more food, but he threw most of it up. By late evening, he had lost interest in food and wasn't active at all. I put him on my bed next to me so he wouldn't overheat being on me, but he crawled into my lap anyway.

I tucked him into the drawer of my nightstand for the night, and was pleasantly surprised to find him alive in the morning, though his condition had not improved. He no longer had an interest in drinking even, and had yet to go to the bathroom. I knew he needed vet care, but had no way of taking him on my own, and school comes first. I was able to take him that afternoon, getting dropped off on the way to get Kevin from school. By then, he had wet himself and was laying on his side, all bad signs.

The vet wasn't in, and won't be until Monday, but the clinic was still open because they sell dog food and supplies as well. I (and Lindsay, my interpreter who I'd be lost without) convinced them to give him some fluids anyway, and I went into the exam room with the old man who was the tech, who gave him fluids under the skin. I trusted that he knew what he was doing, but a little alarm went off in my head when he was done. There were too many fluids given.

By the time we got home (a 10 minute ride), little Paco was open-mouth breathing and cried with a gurgled sound. He had too many fluids for his body to absorb, so he was drowning.

As he lay dying in my lap, everything came crashing down at once: my feelings of utter lonliness, my past failures, and my lack of feeling like this place is home. To me, Paco was more than just a little stray. He was going to make this place feel like home. I've never gone more than 6 months in my entire life without at least one cat around. I thought he was an answer to prayer for this place to feel like home. I blame myself for his death, because I should have known how much he needed, or at least known when to stop. I was the one in that room with knowledge and experience, but I did nothing.

Many times in the past, satan has brought up my failures and used those to label me a failure. The biggest one was my failure of the vet tech program and resulting termination of my job. And that following summer, I failed at really being a staff member at Wildwood as I blatently broke almost all of the rules just because I wanted to. And now I feel like I'm failing here. I was so sure that I'm supposed to work with the girls at Casita, but I don't know if I'm going to be able to do that. I have no way of getting there, and I don't speak enough Spanish to be able to be of much use at this point. It's frustrating to know God's calling, but not be able to fulfill it.

Anyway, when my poor little cat finally stopped breathing, I put him in a box and let the emotions hit me. I cried on my bed for a long time, calling out to God for answers and help. Before I got my answer, I was going to just curl up and sleep, like I usually do in such situations, but I knew that wasn't the right thing to do. So, I picked up my guitar and started playing. The first song I played was "Born Again" by Third Day. Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1

Today I found myself,
After searching all these years,
And the man that I saw,
He wasn't at all who I'd thought He'd be,

I was lost when You found me here,
And I was broken beyond repair,
Then You came along and sang Your song over me

Verse 2

Make a promise to me now,
Reassure my heart somehow,
That the love that I feel,
is so much more real than anything
I've a feeling in my soul,
And I pray that I'm not wrong,
That the life I have now,
It is only the beginning


It feels like I'm born again
It feels like I'm living
For the very first time
For the very first time

It feels like I'm breathing
It feels like I'm moving
For the very first time
For the very first time


I wasn't looking for something that was more,
Than what I had yesterday,
Then You came to me,
Then You gave to me,
Life and a love that I've never known,
That I've never felt before

The words from that first verse hit me. I saw who I am, and it wasn't someone that I liked. It was the same person I'd always been. I'm in new place and doing new ministry, but I've still got the same skeletons in my closet. I was sure I didn't pack those, but there they were.

I went through about 12 other songs, singing and playing for an hour straight, ignoring the pain in my left fingertips and right shoulder as I went on playing and singing and crying. Every song I played was a worship song, and so many lines were hitting me about restoration and trusting God no matter what, and following him through the storm. As I sang about being held in His arms, and asking Him to be my shelter, I finally heard Him speak: "I am home."

Now I know that I don't need a cat for this to feel like home. I don't need to understand every word spoken to me, or why they eat beans for breakfast. All I need is to understand that my home is in His presence. It's where He is, and He's everywhere, all the time. There's nothing else I need in this world but Him. I took a huge leap of faith by coming down here, so I'm not sure why I didn't think He'd catch me. But He did, and now I'm back on track.

I still miss my family (actual relatives, and close friends), and I still feel sort of out of place, but I know that this is where I'm supposed to be, and I'm in a process. Being called to do mission work doesn't mean that I'm perfect, that I've arrived. I've only just begun this journey.

Thank you all for your prayer support. Please continue to pray for me as I'm on this journey of God changing me as I allow Him to work through me to bring His love to the people of Honduras.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Women's Conference

Last night, there was a women's conference held here by Tammy's church, that connected women from all over the Latin American area. We had a couple women from Mexico, a group from Guatemala, and a pastor from El Salvador come in. There were about 200 women that attended.

Although I didn't understand most of it, I did come to a huge personal revelation, and that's how frustrated I really am that I don't understand most of what's being spoken to and around me. I don't know why it hit me so hard there, but it did. I've begun praying hard for understanding, that God would open up my mind and allow me to not only understand Spanish, but also be able to speak it with boldness. So far, I've only been brave enough to speak to my students in Spanish, as well as with the couple I'm living with, but they don't know more than a dozen words in English, so it's really hard to communicate with them.

At any rate, it's difficult living here when I don't know the language very well. I would say I only actually know what's going on about 10% of the time. The rest of the time, I'm clueless. For the first couple of days, the people around me would be talking in rapid Spanish, then turn to me and say, "vamos," so I would go. I am continuing to pray about it, and will look forward to the day when I understand. Don Jose told me this morning that I'd get it all in 3 months. That's about the time frame I was thinking, so we might be right. Perhaps in 3 months I'll be able to write a blog fully in Spanish, just for the fun of it. :)

Other than that personal revelation, there wasn't much else to be learned from the conference for me. It was definitely different from anything I've been to in the states. They had food that was just in the foyer, that you could go out and get at your leisure. The speakers did a lot of yelling, and at the end, there were a lot of women crying. Not crying so much as openly weeping. There was a team of pastors that would zero in on some women, and start praying for them until they fell to the ground, upon which time they would lay a piece of cloth over them, like a blanket. It was very strange, but I guess it's pretty normal here.

Today is Sunday, so we went to church this morning after a breakfast of tortillas, eggs, and beans. I was trying to listen and understand the sermon up until I realized he was talking about angels, and how they help us with our ministry. At least, I think that's what he was talking about. I sort of stopped listening at that point and drew a picture instead. Then, I got to thinking about why I objected to the thought that angels might help us with ministry. It makes sense, I suppose, but I guess I really just don't like when people focus on angels, and rely on them for help rather than God. That might be way off from what was said, but I still don't like the idea of focusing on and giving credit to anyone or anything but God, because we can't do anything without him.

Well, that's all for now. I might post again later if something else happens today. Please be praying for me that I gain understanding of the language, as well as the boldness to speak it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Finally, a break! So I can talk about work... :)

So, yesterday was insanity. I took a half hour long nap during the only legitimate free time I had yesterday. :)

The first day of school was scary. We weren't given any sort of directions as to what to do. The beginning of the day was easy because it was just a group Bible time where I learned about the Honduran flag. Then, they had recess, during which time I held the swing set together. After they had lunch, the bell rang and they ran to their classrooms. I asked Lindsay what I was supposed to do since I had 6 students sitting in my classroom, and had not been told what to do with them. She told me something along the lines of "Go in there and work with them."

So, I went in and greeted my class, speaking first in broken Spanish and then in slow English. Having no idea what I was supposed to do, I went around the room and had them say names, then pointed to all the letter pictures on the wall and had them say all the pictures in English. Most of them knew a lot from last year. I was quite impressed. Then, we went over colors in English, and class was finally over.

Today was much better because I had an actual schedule of things to go over today. It was a list of about 7 different things and I had an hour with them, but the first thing was simply "introduce yourself." That took about 30 seconds, with me stretching it out and encouraging them to speak in English. I had to skip the next activity because they wouldn't do it. They were supposed to walk around the class, and stop when they heard me clap my hands. But they were all feeling awkward and shy, so they didn't leave their desks.

Onto teaching them the difference between their right and left hands. After a "rousing" version of Father Abraham in which I sang while most of them did the motions and one just laughed at me, I marked their hands with sharpies, red for their right hand and green for the left, and we sat in a circle and slapped alternating hands into the middle. We did another one with learning up and down, lifting their hands up and then down. I started each activity in Spanish with motions, then switched to English, keeping the motions and the rhythm. Hopefully, some of it stuck. Time will tell.

There is one girl in my class by the name of Gissel, who's mom didn't come to get her at 10 like she was supposed to, and came at 12 instead. After the other kids left (whose parents were also late, or who worked there and so they didn't leave yet), I hung out with her for about half an hour. She had this green bead that she got from somewhere that she was playing with. When she first brought it to me, she was palming it, so I started showing her some magic tricks, making the bead appear in one hand after waving the other above it. She did it, too, and did very well for a 5 year old who just learned to palm stuff. It was so much fun just playing with her, and working around the language barrier. It proved to me that it can be done, and that it's giong to be ok. This year is going to take a lot of work, but I'm ready for it. I will teach my kids English, and I will learn Spanish.

In other news, I got a job from a freelance site that I'm signed up with. I need to get on to take another look at it, but I'll be getting paid $50 to edit about 60 pages of writing, turing a case study of sorts into a story. They guy said it should be easy, and I really hope so. I tend to go into things thinking they're going to be easy, then finding out there's a lot more work and time involved than what I thought. Oh, well. I'll be getting paid to do it if it takes me one hour or ten. I'm just grateful for the opportunity for a little extra income.

I also helped Lindsay teach an English class at the bordo yesterday. There wasn't much to that experience. She pulled me to the front suddenly to pronounce the words more correctly for the 38 children and women gathered there to learn. I did love seeing the eagerness to learn English, especially in a couple of older women there. It's good to see that they want to learn, so they can better themselves and hopefully break the cycle of poverty they're stuck in.

Well, that's all for now. Tomorrow, I'm going to a HUGE women's conference where women have gathered from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Costa Rica. Four of them are staying in our house tonight. I'm sure there will be some amazing things I'll learn and be able to share. I'm not sure that I'll get on because it's in the evening, so we're bound to get home late, but I'll definitely post something as soon as possible!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Day 3 - Casita

This morning was similar to yesterday morning. I went to work at the school. I worked with a wonderful young woman today who's bilingual. Although she is originally from Honduras, she spent about 6 years living in the states, so she's fluent. Today, as we were talking about getting tan, we discovered that my arms are darker than hers. I felt satisfied to know I was darker than a Honduran, and she now wants to go tanning. She also invited me to a water park, and I'm really excited about this friendship that sprang up. It feels good to click with someone that quickly and well.

After an amazing meal of rice, salad, and BBQ chicken, I headed off to help Shari with her bi-weekly Bible study at Casita. I had forgotten how much the girl's orphanage resembles a prison, with 20 foot walls and barbed wire around the top. It's partially to keep them in or else they'll run and go back to drugs and sex on the streets, and it's partially to keep gangs out or else they'll come in and rape the girls inside. I can't imagine living under such conditions and with such constant fear.

There are a lot of babies there, because of the "loose" culture of Honduras and sexual abuse. I got to hold a little boy (who had thicker hair than I do) who was born on the 16th, making him a little more than 2 weeks old. What a precious boy! I was a little intimidated to be holding such a little one, but who can resist such opportunities?

As the Bible study started, I instantly made a new friend, a young girl with cropped hair and a green dress. I didn't get her name, but she was as touchy and sweet as they come. I handed out small sheets of paper with the verse on it that we were going over, I Peter 2:9. We said it several times, reading together and repeating each phrase after Alba (a young woman who lives with Terry and Shari). I don't think the girl knew how to read, but I followed the words with my finger as I read the words to the best of my ability. I can read Spanish pretty well in my head, but have trouble with the bigger words when reading out loud. But, by the end, she was able to say some of the phrases with the rest of the group. I stumbled through the last word, which ends in "able," which I was naturally pronouncing like I would table, or any other such word. But they pronounce each letter, so she was giving me funny looks. I asked her, and she corrected me with an encouraging smile. It's remarkably humbling to be corrected by a child, but it also feels good because she did it kindly, genuinely wanting me to speak better.

After Bible study, I helped pass out the cups of juice and cookies, and went to look around. They have a garden that someone came to help them plant, but it's not much. There are maybe 10 papaya trees scattered throughout a side yard of grass. The enclosure where the chickens were was empty. Shari had told me the other day that all the chickens were gone. When she'd called the director about what type of food she was supposed to get for the chickens, the woman told her they had all died. It's still a mystery to us as to how that happened. The chickens were something I was looking forward to helping with. :(

I then played with one of the toddlers as she ate her cookies. Mostly, we just made noises back and forth at each other and made faces. When I asked her her name, she said "Cinco" and held up two fingers. She's 3 years old and her name is Nicole, so I'm not really sure what was going on there. She was laughing at the time, too, so I suspect she was just being silly. But when I did call her silly, she insisted that she was not. I suppose not everything 3 year olds say can be trusted.

On the way back, the rain started coming down in buckets. It's crazy. You can see a video of it on my facebook. If I upload it to youtube, I'll be sure to put a link in here.

In other news, I got a list of students. I have 6 students, all age 5, and that's the biggest class there. There's a total of 20 students enrolled in school, but that's including Tammy's daughter who's only about 3, so I think she'll mostly just be hanging out. I also found out that I will be teaching science class, but that's only twice a week, and I have the book for it, so that shouldn't be a big deal.

Also, I had a scare with my camera. I replaced the batteries (old, dying ones with brand new ones), and suddenly my camera would shut off every time I held the picture button half down to focus. Then it started shutting off as soon as I turned it on. I was so upset because I just got the camera like 2 weeks ago so that I could be taking pictures and putting them up, but then I thought it was broken. So, I put the old batteries back in, and it worked. I put some different new ones in, and now it's back to working just fine. Yay!!! I'm not sure what the problem was before. I guess one of the new ones was defective or something. Oh, well. It's behind me now, and I can start taking pictures and posting them here, and on facebook!

Well, that's all for now. I'm sure I'll have more stories for tomorrow about the first day of school! :)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Day 2

As per usual, things didn't work out quite the way I expected. I went to Eagle's Christian Academy thinking I'd be in training all morning, learning how to teach, and what was going to be happening with the school. But I spent the first half of the morning working on a big poster with information about Honduras on it with another teacher.

Then, I did spend some time talking with Miss Erin, a young woman who grew up in Indiana and is now living here. She showed me the book I'd be teaching out of, going over what a normal day in the class would look like, warning me about this and that, and preparing me for a year of teaching young children who don't understand what I'm saying or how to properly behave in a classroom. I did find out that I will be teaching "preporatoria" which is actually kindergarten: kids about 5 years old. Many of the kids I'll have were at the school last year, so they should be pretty ok, but there is at least one girl I'll have who hasn't ever been to school before, and likely has never heard english before.

I did find out that I will be teaching all in english, and the only subjects I'll be teaching are all language related, grammer and phonics and language arts. There are math, science, and art classes that the kids also go to, but I won't be teaching those, though I might be teaching science. I guess we'll see.

After that, we had some amazing soup for lunch, some kind of tortilla soup that tasted like tomatoes, and was really good. Then, we headed out to work with the bordo that the family I live with works with. We picked up our pastor friend on the way, as well as another woman who works at the school. At some point, I will start learning names. :) I recognized this bordo from one of my mission trips several years ago. I remember doing a pupped show on the steps outside of thier small school/chrurch. And it was in that small building (that fit about 30 people, though not very comfortably) that the pastor gave a message, and Linsey made announcements about future classes that she's offering to them. She speaks very good english and is teaching it to the people in the villiage there. They also introduced me, and I stumbled through a few lines in Spanish and gave up.

Then, we went outside and prepared to hand out donuts to the kids, who miraculously multiplied when the food started coming out. They rushed the truck, pushing and shoving each other to get to the front of the line. I stepped in to stop several shoving matches before the pastor stepped in and got them all to calm down and move back. I do love seeing the older siblings protecting their younger siblings, putting them right in front of them in the line. The donuts we get are donated from a local Duncan Donuts, put into a large garbage bag. Smaller bags are filled and handed to mothers, and then the rest of the bag is given to the kids, and there are plenty for everyone.

My mother insists that it's God-given, so I suppose it must be. I think it's just because I take the time to give them a smile, but kids are attracted to me. Many of the young ones ran to Linsey when we got there, and then some to me as well. The people here are naturally very touchy with each other, so the kids have no problem latching onto me. I have learned quickly to not be afraid to hold them, play with their hair, scratch their backs, or just keep my hand on their shoulder as they stand near me. They always respond to my touch, either leaning in, or looking up and smiling. I just love them.

After the donuts were gone and the children scattered, I noticed that the pastor was nearby talking with a woman and holding a small green parrot. I do love animals of all kinds, and birds are in my top 5 list for sure. Maybe top 10. I like a lot of animals. At any rate, I don't usualy rush in to see something that's only here in Honduras because I don't want to look like a gawking tourist. Especially since I'm here to stay now, I don't want to act that way. But I couldn't resist, and the pastor was there, so I went over to see the bird.

He was beautiful, and would occasionally call out, and was answered by another bird in a nearby house. The woman handed him to me, and I let him climb all over my hands, and put his beak around my finger to steady himself. Birds just facinate me. I think because I didn't get to interact with them a lot when I was young, so they seem exotic to me, and I suppose they are. Later, someone brought out the bird that had been talking with him the whole time, and I was shown the difference between the male and female birds. I was then introduced to the woman's two young children, Jennifer and Luis. Jennifer was one of the girls that had been hanging on me earlier, so it was nice to have a name to go with her face now.

I'm looking forward to doing more work with this bordo. I'm thinking about helping out with the english classes on Thursdays.

Well, it's storming now, but I think I'll head downstairs to see what the family's doing. It's difficult sometimes, surrounded by Spanish all the time, not really knowing what's going on or what people are talking about. But it'll get better, I suppose, as I learn the language and get brave enough to actually speak to them. I'm finding myself understanding a lot. And at the bordo today, I explained what the blue thing on my neck was (chiropractic tape for my car accident neck injury) and I think the girl understood. I don't know. I'll get there, I guess.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Here at Last

So, I got in late last night. It was strange to hear the flight attendents announce that we were leaving Florida at 11:45pm, and then that we had arrived in Honduras at 11:46pm. Despite sleeping through most of the flight, it felt like more than a minute. Thank you, two hour time difference. :)

On my way down, the first flight from Detroit to Florida was filled with sorrow. I cried before I left my house as I said goodbye to two of my closest friends. I cried in the airport as I said goodbye to my family. And I cried again as I waited to board as I wrote about how I had to say all my goodbyes. All I could think about were the people I left behind, and the life I could be having.

I ran the words of a letter given to me by my roommate and fellow intern of the last two years (someone who's gotten to know me quite well). She told me that no matter how sad it was to leave everything behind, it'd be even worse to not go where God has called me and the place that my heart breaks for.

As I sat in the airport in Florida, surrounded by Hondurans on their way home, those words that had been running through my head finally got to my heart, and I realized I was on my way. I wasn't just leaving behind friends and family; I was heading off to a new life, to meet new friends and form new "families." The excitement hit me, and the sadness left.

Terry and Shari, who are the missionaries that I visited on my previous trips to Honduras, and who have been close family friends for years, picked me up at the airport. I almost cried from joy at seeing her. We got back to their house around 1:30am, and after a snack, I made it to bed around 2am.

Mondays for them are ministry days, and they start right away. If I had really wanted to, I suppose I could have gotten out of going, but I didn't see much of a point of sitting around the house all day, so I hit the ground running. We went shopping, then went right to the Sanctuaio de Esperenza, where we began preparing a meal for 90ish people that gather from the streets.

Then people started showing up, and we went out to interact with them. I was almost immediately handed a 5 month old boy to hold while his mother sat nearby and colored in a coloring book. She had brought her neighbor's daughter with her, who was nervous about me at first, and then making running leaps into my arms less than an hour later. I then began helping another woman with her girl and 2 boys. Her youngest was also 5 months old. I forget who handed him to me or when, but I held him all the way through worship (with his older sister hanging all over me), the message, and the meal. He got fussy near the end, but I held onto him while his mother was eating. After the meal came clean-up, where I helped wash dishes from the 70 people that were there that day.

I should also mention that during the fellowship time, when I mostly just hung out with the kids that speak about as much Spanish as I do (except for them it's because they don't speak much of anything yet...), I had a young guy come up and talk to me. I conversed as much as possible, spending a lot of the time looking confused and shrugging in apology, but I did know enough to politely refuse when he offered me a "besa." He then asked me if I had a "novio." I told him no, which may have been a mistake, because he then asked me several times why I didn't have one, because I was "bonita." Fun times. He then tried to impress me with his knowledge of America by saying things like "California" and "Washington." Guys are the same wherever you go, I guess; they just have different ways of going about the same thing.

At any rate, once we were finally done with our 10 hour day and made it back to the house, I proceeded to take a nap on the couch, which was interrupted by Shari telling me that the couple who hired me to work at Eagle's Christian Academy were on their way to pick me up to go to the house where I'd be living. I packed up and headed out a few minutes later.

Tammy and Dennis are so amazing. They're both bilingual, so communication is so simple. There was a pastor friend from Guatemala in the car with them when they got me, and we then went to thier house to pick up a young woman who lives with them, and they had yet to tell me what was going on. As they talked in rapid Spanish, I marveled at the fact that I had no idea what was going on. I eventually found out we were on our way to a discipleship meeting at the school (which is also a church), and would go to Tammy's parents' house after, where I'm staying.

So, I got to listen to my second sermon today, all in Spanish. I got the gist of it, I guess. I told Tammy what I thought it was about after, and she said I was sort of right, so I guess that's good. It was something about the church and strength and pastors and the Bible. I'll get there eventually. We finally got to the house where I'll be living for at least the next year, and I'm amazed at how big it is. There are two parts to the house, and I'm staying in the separate part that's just an upstairs, 3 bedrooms and a small kitchen/living room with no fridge as of yet. My room has a feel of a hotel, with a window that goes out onto the balcony and my own bathroom. I do have internet access, and a couple of the girls here are bilingual, so I can go to them with any questions.

After I got settled in, we had some Popeye chicken, and I listened in to the conversations. One part of one conversation was translated for me, so I was mostly clueless. I did understand when the pastor who had spoken earlier essentially said, "The church is inside of you." It was so profound, and I'm so glad I know enough to understand it. At some point, they were also talking about defective shoes and trying to get them shipped here to help the bordos, which are squatter villiages filled with people that live in cardboard homes and no running water or electricity. A couple of the girls I'm now living with are doing ministry work there a couple of times a week, teaching classes and trying to help the people in one particular bordo become more independant and find work on their own, rather than relying on help from other people.

Self-worth is something I'm finding is really lacking here. So many people have been told so often that they're worthless, so they believe it. Many of the people Terry and Shari minister to that come of the streets think that way, you can tell by the way they interact. They don't seem to think that there can be anything better for them than begging and starving, doing drugs and having sex. It's amazing to see the light that appears in the eyes of the little kids when I'd look at them and smile, hold them tight, and give them kisses. I have no doubt that in that moment, they knew they were loved. It's the same with many of the people who live in the bordos. They have been there for generations, washing clothes in water that's mixed with sewage and fighting for a bit of rice or a shirt brought to them by gringos, and they don't think they can rise above it. So they just keep sitting and waiting for the next rich person to walk by and throw them a bone. They've been reduced to dogs, and they're fine with it.

I pray for a revival in the hearts of the people of Honduras, that they would see how much God loves them, and how much they're truly worth in His eyes. He sent His Son to die for them, not only so they could have something to look forward to after death, but so they could have a full and abundant life here on earth.

Tomorrow, I begin training for teaching at the school, so tomorrow should be another interesting day. I'm guessing that most of the instructions will be in Spanish, which means I'll get less than half of it. Please pray that my mind will be opened, that I'll continue to rapidly learn Spanish and be able to understand it, and that I'll have the boldness to speak what little I do know.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Last Minute Preparation

As I finally got around to packing on Thursday, I realized that I had only one bag full of clothes, and I already paid for two checked bags, so I had a whole other bag to fill. Using the money given by friends and family, I was able to go shopping for some much-needed items at Casita. I got a lot of feminine products, some bar soap, as well as some craft supplies. Of course, as my mom and I packed everything into the second bag, we realized that it was too heavy and too full, so I will have to leave some here, to be brought by a visiting group of friends? :)

At any rate, I feel like there's still a lot to get done tomorrow, but I'm not worried about it. It's mostly little things that I keep remembering I need to pack in my carry-on, that won't be a huge problem if I do forget them. It's strange to think that in less than 24 hours, I'll be in Honduras. I'll probably be there already as you're reading this.

Friday, August 26, 2011

An Answer to Prayer

Yesterday had been a trying day. Only 4 days until I leave, and my plans for the day were to go to Wildwood to help with the horse activity, have one of my good friends pray over me, and go to lunch with the girl that I roomed with for 2 years and call my sister. It was going to be the last time for a long time that I was going to Wildwood, a place that has been a huge part of my spiritual development for almost 10 years now.

Then, I got rear-ended about 20 minutes out. Traffic came to a sudden halt, and the truck behind me didn't even brake before swerving onto the shoulder to avoid hitting me. This, however, didn't leave much time for the car behind him to slow down, and she ran into me. Despite being a respectable distance behind the car in front of me, I bumped into him as well. God was there, and no one was hurt. I've got some neck pain, and the woman who hit me had slightly hurt her arm (probably on the air bag). Since there was gas leaking out of my car, I had to have it towed home.

So, after that trying morning, I spent the afternoon sorting and preparing clothes for packing and writing thank-you notes to the families and individuals that attended my party last Saturday. Then, I got online to check facebook (of course), and got a message from someone I had friended because they were mutual friends with the Sorah's and the woman who runs the school where I'll be working.

His name is Justin Ross, and he and his wife are missionaries in Honduras with a ministry called Sparrow Ministries. He said they were starting up a new ministry aspect at Casita, teaching the girls there how to sew and therefore allowing them to have a trade when they leave the orphanage, to keep them from going back onto the streets and continuing the cycle of poverty.

This is something that I've been praying about. I knew God was sending me to love the girls at Casita, but I wasn't sure what that was going to tangibly look like. And here was the answer. I've been playing with sewing machines and making things to sell for most of my life. I remember being about 10 and getting a pattern to make something for my doll. I recently made my dad a blanket, and over Christmas break, my mom and I put together a dress for civil war re-enacting in a day. It's something that I've always loved, but never really had the time to put into. And I wanted to be able to do something with the girls at Casita that would have a lasting impact on their lives.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Almost time

I know it's been forever, but I've been busy. Summer camp means working 16-18 hours a DAY, and that leaves little time for anything other than camp.

I have been doing some preparation when I could during the summer, and feel like I'm ready to go down to Honduras and get started. Mostly.

My plane leaves next Sunday, August 28th, at 7:35pm. I'll be working at the school, teaching english, and I still have to figure out the specifics of ministry at Casita. My bags are ready, and my clothes are sorted, and I have an idea as to what else I'll be packing. It's all a work in progress.

On Saturday, my parents had a going away party for me. There were lots of family members and friends that came to support me and the work that God has called me to do. It was a lot of fun, and the generosity that I experienced was beyond what I had anticipated. I feel so supported, and so much of God's love, and all the fears that I had about finances melt away. I feel like I have people behind me that love me, so I'm not longer afraid to leave everything behind to start this new adventure God has me on.

So, as I continue to finish up getting ready to go, please pray for me for safe travels, and to quickly settle in and be able to figure out all the specifics of what I'll be doing with the girls I'm ministering to at Casita.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

So, I've decided officially to live with the missionaries at the house provided by the school where I'll be teaching. They're charging $25/month, and have assured me the house is safe. The couple I'll be living with there are my age, so that should be fun.

That's all for now. I did get more information from the school, but I'll put that in another post. Hopefully sometime next week. :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Plan G

I don't know how many plans I've actually had that weren't going to work out, but I think I may have settled on one that might work. Finally.

I got in contact with the woman who owns the school that I can work at. I'll be talking to her about pay, what the classes look like, and what will be expected of me. The school normally provides housing for teachers, and therefore pays them $250/month. However, my current plan is to live with the missionaries, so they suggested I ask for more since they won't have to cover my living cost.

That would make my budget (without support) look like this:
income + 250 (teaching)

expenses - 150 (living)
                 - 50 (food)
                 - 20 (phone)

That leaves me with $30 per month that would probably go to transportation to and from work and I'd have no money leftover for any mission work.

But, if I live at the school, that leaves me with $200/month that I won't be spending on living expenses, and I wouldn't have to worry as much about the amount of support I have to raise. I definitely still want to raise support from friends and family, because I don't know what random extra expenses are going to show up.

So, I'll have to think about this...

Monday, March 14, 2011

Some Plans/Ideas

So, since my breakdown in my cabin, I've been doing fine. I bounce back pretty quickly. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do, and I still feel a little lost, but I'm not worried about it now. I've got a few ideas and things that I think might work, but mostly I'm waiting on the Lord to direct me and praying that He guide me in the plan that He has to provide for me.

Idea 1: Work
When reading through the epistles of Paul, I found something that he says in several of them. While he was planting and then growing the churches in several different cities, he worked among them so that he didn't become a burden for them. (II Thessalonians 2:9) 

So, what entered my mind here is that it might be better for me to find some work down there with which I could help to support myself. I talked to Shari, and she said as an English teacher, I would make about $300/month, which is not enough by my estimation. That would probably barely cover living expenses, and I wouldn't have enough left over to do any actual mission work, so I'd still need support from individuals or a church.

Idea 2: Other Church(es)
My initial plan was to go to Grace to get some funding, and also ask for friends and family members to help me out, and that would have probably been the easiest way to go. But I always tell people that nothing easy is worth doing, so maybe I should listen to myself. :) So, I'm thinking of approaching some other churches for support.

Perhaps the church my dad grew up in where much of my extended family goes and my mom works might be willing to help, but I have a feeling they have some policies in place that might be similar to Grace that would prevent me from being supported there.

There's also the church I attend now. I don't have many connections, and have only been attending for a couple of years, and not very frequently because I work a lot of weekends. They're really into missions and outreach, so it wouldn't hurt to ask.

Idea 3: Grace
I'm still really set on working with Grace, because I've gone there my whole life. So, I'm thinking if I did get under a mission board somehow, and got my own funding from friends and family, they might act as a funnel for funds for me, accepting donations on my behalf and forwarding them to me. This is something my dad is willing to do for me, but I'd rather go through a church so supporters can get tax deductions, and it's way more legit that way, people won't feel like they're funding my hanging out in Honduras when it's going through a church. There's more accountability, I guess, is what I'm saying. And I'd prefer that.

Idea 4: Win the Lotto
Ok, so I'm not serious about this one, and have never played the lotto in my life, but it's something I joke about frequently and so I thought I'd throw it in here anyway.

Idea 5: Work Online
I've found a few websites where I can work online, and make some money, but most of them take a lot of time for not a lot of pay, and are more like paid boredom busters, where I find answers to questions, or locate restaurant information on web pages.

I've also found a couple of freelance sites, where I can try to find work as a freelancer. I've "applied" for a couple of the writing jobs there that I thought I could do, but I'm competing against people who have masters in English and have made thousands on there, and have a high standing on the website, and pay to have their offers on the jobs put higher on the list. So, I haven't had any luck there yet. It's hard to break onto the scene of something like that when my resume is basically "I like to write, I'm good at it, and I've got good grammar, but I've never been published." People don't generally get too excited about someone like that.

Anyway, if I get more diligent and look at some other sites and try looking into some other ideas from the "101 ways to make money online" article I found, maybe I'll find something where I can actually make some money to where I can support myself, by making my own hours, and I won't have to worry about getting to/from a job there in Honduras, or making enough. It's something I'll have to look into some more for sure. If only Honduras had a craigslist...

So, that's about it for ideas. I guess my only real options are: work to fully support self, work to partially support self while accepting donations, and be fully supported by donations. More than likely, I'll have to get support, so I guess I'll go back to working on my support letter.