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.