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!