Thursday, October 18, 2012

Jack and Khalil (RIP)

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Haven't Been Here in a Long Time

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tough Choice

Life is full of tough decisions, and I feel like my entire summer was spent wrestling with one.

It started back in February when I heard about a full-time staff opening at Wildwood and my heart leapt inside of me. Before I had felt called to Honduras, I had been interested in having such a position. At that time, however, it wasn't available to me, and God had other plans for me first.

I went to Honduras and served there all last year, teaching Kindergarten. Then, I got hired on to work another summer at Wildwood as a wrangler. As the time to go to camp drew closer, I grew more and more excited, but started to feel somewhat conflicted, wondering if I could do both. Could I have my heart both at Wildwood and in Honduras? I wasn't sure.

It was about a week into the summer when I regretted going because of how much I loved it, and I wasn't sure that I could ever leave. I started to feel a freedom that I hadn't felt in months, not only to go out and do things without fear of being robbed, but to be who I am.

Whether from a lack of language or feeling uncomfortable expressing who I am for fear of what people would think of me, I had lost myself while in Honduras. I left it out of my blogs, but I had become depressed again for the last couple of months of being here, and it took a lot of effort to get through each day.

Throughout the summer, people would frequently ask me when I was returning to Honduras. My answer was always the same: August 8th, and I always felt a rise of anxiety about returning. I talked with a close friend about it, and she asked me what I would do if I didn't go to Honduras, and I expressed how badly I wanted to stay at Wildwood.

I eventually ended up going to my boss as well as the director, and it was more/less settled that I had a job there if I wanted it. At first I was ecstatic, but the more I thought about it and pictured it, the more of a dream it became, and the more sure I became that I wouldn't ever be able to work full-time at Wildwood. It was one of those "this is too good to be true so it can't be possible" feelings.

As summer started drawing closer to an end, my fear about returning to Honduras grew stronger, and I started to have the sense that I shouldn't go. People frequently asked me if I was excited to go, and I would honestly tell them I wasn't. When they questioned me further and I explained how I felt, they would ask why I was going if I felt that God was leading me away from there? My answer was simply that I had already committed to teaching another year, and I didn't want to let anyone down. Plus, with my emotions on high, I wasn't entirely sure that that's what God was saying.

The day before summer ended, I went on a trail ride with the other wranglers. I chose a goofy Arab named Dottie not only because she had become one of my favorites during the summer and I wanted to help her overcome her fear of jumping (caused by an inexperienced and nervous jumper on her earlier), but also because I had had a dream where we had been soaring majestically over jumps and it was glorious.

Before we left, I had a feeling in my stomach that something bad was going to happen on the trail, and felt like I shouldn't go. But, I forced the feeling down, attributing it to excitement and having not ridden all week, and off we went. Sure enough, I fell off one and a half times, and got hit in the neck with her head (still not sure how that one happened). I have plenty of nice bruises to show for it and am otherwise fine, but I definitely knew before we left that something was going to happen. And so it did.

I spent one night crying out to the Lord and praying, and that sense that something bad would happen if I went rose in me again, like before the trail ride. It was impossible to ignore, but I was still planning on going to Honduras at that point, and considering leaving at Christmas if things got bad again. At long last, I asked God if I should stay, and a peace washed over me. I was then able to calmly get into bed, and slept.

As I presented this to friends and family members, they were excited about me staying, but agreed with my decision not just based on that. I'm SO grateful to my friends and family members that were there to support me, listen, and pray for me.

Currently, I am in Honduras. I had already paid for 2 weeks of Spanish language school, and have a few items that I left here that are important to me. So, I bought myself a return ticket for 3 weeks from now, and will be starting up back at Wildwood almost immediately.

It's been sort of hard coming back. God was definitely with me. There was a miscommunication, and nobody showed up to pick me up at the airport. However, I was on the plane with a member of the church and her two sons (one of which goes to the school here), and they were able to make some phone calls for me and drove me to a friend's house who took me to another friend's house where I'm able to stay for at least tonight. A lot of the details are still up in the air about how I'm getting to Copan this weekend, but I trust that God will work all that out for me.

It's been hard because of how many people I've already seen that I'd grown to love, including the couple that I lived with, and one of my students. It did stir up some doubts in me because I did love teaching, but I know that God has me elsewhere now.

So, I guess that's it for now. I'll likely continue updating this blog, or else start a new one to chronicle my journey at Wildwood. Thank you all for your support, and for believing in me even when I didn't. I'll be seeing most of you sooner than expected! :)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Saying Goodbye

For those of you who didn't know, I have been working at Wildwood this summer, literally since the day I returned to the States. It's been quite the ride, as I knew it would be. Most things came easy because of how many years I've already put in here, but there were some things that have definitely been harder than I expected.

Leslie and I started the discipleship program at Wildwood together after working a summer together. However, we went into it not really knowing each other since we didn't actually have more than a couple of conversations all summer. Despite that, we became friends quickly, and were sisters before long. Going through the ups and downs of a two year program and seeing each other struggle as God worked in us made us close. "Sister" barely begins to describe our relationship.

After the internship, I went to Honduras, and she stuck around Wildwood and did different things around the Howell/Fenton area. We got to see each other at Christmas and frequently exchanged Facebook messages, so our relationship didn't waver at all. During this summer, she was again working at Wildwood, but only for the first half of the summer because she was moving to Los Angelos, California to do another internship, this one at the LA Dream Center, where her heart has been for the last couple of years.

Although I knew she was leaving, I hadn't allowed myself to give it much thought, because it didn't seem like a big deal to me. She was going off and pursuing her dream as I had pursued mine. We'd still be closer than sisters, and we'd see each other again sometime. We had to.

Then the day of her leaving came. I felt anxious about the time that we hadn't spent together this summer because of being in different parts of camp and surrounded by so many other people. For one terrifying moment, I thought that I wouldn't be able to say goodbye to her because I was getting the horse campers ready to go on a trail ride and cookout for the next couple of hours, and she was leaving in one hour.

But, God is good, and she was down by the lakefront, right near our campsite. I was on the wagon with the girls that didn't ride and got out there quickly, so we were able to meet on the road to talk. I was in tears before we even got close. We held each other and talked for a few minutes. We told each other we loved each other, and she headed off for more painful goodbyes before she left on her next great adventure. We didn't say "goodbye."

The more I've thought about this over the last few days, the more I realize how different it is to be on the different ends of goodbyes. When I left for Honduras, it was sad, but I knew where everyone was. They were all in Michigan supporting me as I went off on my adventure. I knew where I was going and was excited about meeting new people and having new experiences.

But sending Leslie off was painful. Of course I love and support her, but it's hard to not know what she's doing or where exactly she is. I can't picture the people she's going to be with and the places she's going to. I know that God will take care of her and I know that this is where she's meant to be, so I need to keep trusting in God as she does.

I leave for Honduras in just 2 and a half weeks, when I'll have to go through another time of saying goodbye. I've always wished that I could live somewhere with everybody I love so there's no need for painful goodbyes, but I know that that's not the way life is. I have learned what home is. Home is God. Home is family. I have homes scattered throughout Michigan, in Honduras, and now in LA. I know that wherever people I love are, that is home, so I never have to be alone.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Kids Say the Darnest Things (during their oral exams)

Well, we had our oral exams today. They went a lot better than I expected. Some of the kids that I thought weren't going to do as well actually did pretty good, and the ones that I thought would do amazing did about as well as I had thought.

There were a few technical difficulties along the way, but it worked out well. I had 4 different people that talked to my kids, and it was nice just to get to see them for a minute while testing.

The procedure was fairly simple. I had a set of 8 questions for each child, and sent them in written form to the person asking. They then went through them one at a time. If the kid answered right away, they moved to the next question. If they didn't, I had them ask the question up to 3 times. When there was background noise interference or the sound cut out, I gave them a few more tries if they needed it.

As I said, most of them did pretty well. The problem, though, is that a lot of them just follow the other kids as we've been practicing in class, or someone else whispers the answer to them. Some of them had clearly studied and knew what the questions were, and what their answer was supposed to be. Others got confused as to what the question was, or just weren't really listening. I think some of them were just trying too hard, too.

I love my kids and am proud of them, but I just have to share some of the cute mistakes that they made.

Q: What is the name of your brother?
A: Your name is Daniel.
(This is totally understandable because we haven't gone over his/her/your/etc. very well, but it made me laugh nonetheless.)

Q: How old are you?
A: My name is 7.
Q: What is your favorite class?
A: My name is English.
(Sometimes, they just get caught up in trying to get out a complete sentence and don't really stop to think about what the right complete sentence is.)

Q: What do you see with?
A: Yes.
(She was completely confused on this one, so I tried to help her by reminding her it was a science question, and even gave her the start of the correct answer: "I see with my..." But, there was a communication failure there, and she turned to the person and answered "Yes.")

Q: What do you smell with?
A: I smell with my house.
(He might have actually said "nose," but it really sounded like "house" to me.)

Q: What color is a tiger?
A: Yellow.
(This made the person asking laugh, but it's actually the right answer in that one of the pictures of a tiger we use was colored yellow, so that's where he got that from.)

Q: What do you touch with?
A: How are you?
Q: What color is Luigi?
A: I am good.
(This is one of the kids that doesn't pay a lot of attention in class, and clearly does not do much studying at home. Which is sad, because he's a bright kid. What really kills me is some of the other kids heard the question about Luigi and were whispering the answer to him. I had thought it would be easy, but I guess not.)

Q: What is your favorite color?
A: My names pink.
(Another example of getting caught up on trying to get out a complete sentence without thinking about what the right words actually should be.)

Q: How old are you?
A: I am good.
Q: What is your favorite animal?
A: I am cat.
Q: What animal do you have at your house?
A: I am dog.
Q: What do you see with?
A: I am six... I see with 5.
Q: What color is your shirt?
A: I am... It is... I am green.
(She had a couple of the basic question/answers mixed up, but basically got the answer part ok. She's just really caught up on "I am." Her homework also reflects this when they have to make up sentences.)

After we were done with the exams, they got a special treat from one of my friends back home. She put on a finger puppet play for them and sang "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" with them. Although most of the boys had lost interest by the end, they did have fun watching and singing along. I got a video of them which I hope to get posted. I have a lot of videos that I hope to post... I should get on that.

Anyway, the hardest part was getting the rest of the class to be quiet. Sadly, I wasn't able to get the TV in the hall working because of the situation of the plugs, so I let them have some free time with options like Playdoh, coloring, reading books, or doing puzzles. I warned them right from the beginning that the normal discipline system was not in place today.

Normally, they get an "x" put on the board if they choose to break a class rule. Once they get 3 x's, they have to write a page of sentences, usually "I will sit and be quiet." But today, it was made clear that any talking would just get a page of sentences. After many threats, warnings, and pages handed out, I decided to go with bribery. It was near the end of the hour or so of testing, so they were starting to get antsy.

I pulled out the movie Toy Story which I had brought for them to watch in the cafeteria, and wrote "Toy Story" on the board. Another form of discipline I have in place is on Thursdays for music class. I put 5 to 6 music notes on the board, the number of songs they get to dance to if they behave. When they're not behaving, I erase the songs, one at a time. So, I did the same with the letters in the movie.

That seemed to work well, but they still ended up losing all the letters, mostly because I realized that we had too many pages in our last book to finish to enjoy a movie for the last class of the day. They sort of all had a meltdown when they found out they couldn't watch the movie. Partly because they wanted to watch it, but also because they were hot since the air had to be left off to hear during the exams.

I also wanted to just put on a movie, but knew it was important to pound out the last few pages, which were all pretty simple anyway. With the air cranking, I clapped my hands a lot and yelled "Let's go!" as excitedly as I could at that point, and they perked up soon enough. They got eager to get through the pages, so they paid attention and did their work quickly.

They finished right as class officially ended at noon, but told them I would put on the movie anyway. Over half of them stay for at least half an hour after class ends, and I have 4 of them that are there until the older kids are let out at 1:30. That sealed their happiness, and I got to enjoy a quiet afternoon of watching one of my favorite movies with my favorite children.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Last (real) Day of School

So, today was my last real full day of school with my kids. It's technically tomorrow, but we're doing oral exams/watching a movie for most of the afternoon, so it's not really a normal day for my kids.

Tuesdays tend to be easy for me, because I only have every other class with them, and one of those classes is Art, so it just ends up being kind of a fun day for them. Their Tuesday schedule is this: Bible (w/ someone else), Art, Lunch/Recess, Spanish (w/ someone else), Reading, P.E. (w/ someone else), and English. So half their classes are electives.

And this morning, their Bible teacher wasn't here in time to start class, so I started them with Art early. This being our last art class, I just let them free paint for the whole time. They always love that. Because things have been going well in art class with only a few things to clean now that I tape newspapers to their tables for them to work on, I usually find an extra paintbrush and will do a painting of my own in between helping them with various things.

This time, one girl told me to draw a flower, and another a heart, so I opted to make a flower with petals shaped like hearts. It turned out super cute, but that tends to backfire, because then all the girls want to paint something as cute as mine, and most of them are just not that skilled of artists yet. But they don't quite get that I've been doing this for like 3 times as long as they've even been alive, so they're not going to be as skilled as me. And that's ok.

But, overall it went well and we actually managed to get to lunch mostly on time. The rest of the day also went well, and we had a spelling bee at the end of the day. We've never done anything like that at first, so it took them a minute to catch on, but once they knew what I wanted and I told them they'd get prizes, they all participated eagerly.

I put all of their names on the board in the order that they're sitting in class, and then gave the first word to the first girl. Depending on their mistake, I would sometimes pause and let them try again. Especially with the letter "i." In Spanish, "i" is pronounced like we say "ee," so they would often say "e" when they were thinking "i." So I gave a lot of leeway with that one. If they made a few mistakes or definitely said the wrong letter, the word got passed to the next kid.

If they did get the word right, I put a star by their name. Once they got 3 stars, they got a mini marshmallow, their name got erased, and they were out of the game, but in a good way. Honestly, that started when one of the kids had 2 stars and I was still trying to figure out how to incorporate the marshmallows when she asked, "What happens with 3 stars?" Since I occasionally can think fast, I whipped out the mini marshmallows and declared, "You get to eat a mini marshmallow in the class!"

That's the point when it got really serious. Not only were they getting a treat, but they also got to EAT IN THE CLASS, which is one of the things that is forbidden in class, like running. It was funny to see them sit up straighter and eagerly try to get it right once there were marshmallows involved. :)

Even though we've NEVER done this before, they did so well that I ran out of the spelling words that I'll be testing them on in the exams, so I had to think of some older spelling words that they had until everybody got 3 stars and had won the game.

At the end of the class period, it was just Emy that had only 1 star, so I decided to dismiss the class. Since the marshmallows had actually been a random gift from one of the second graders and I didn't really want them anyway, I offered them 2 each on their way out for telling me something they had learned.

The point of the "tell me something you learned today" game is for them to tell me something from that day, but most of them give me random things that we haven't talked about in a while. But, since they're giving me things in English and then telling me what they are in Spanish correctly, I count it. I had one kid who's really good at math that told me he learned "sums." We didn't even do math today, so I asked him what 1 + 3 is, and it took him all of 1 second to do it in his head. This is the same kid that declared himself "El rey de sumas" last week, and I totally agree.

At any rate, everyone else filed out of the class while Emy sat and watched, sad that she had not been able to spell enough words right. Surprisingly, she didn't cry. The funny thing was that she knew a lot of them, but couldn't come up with the name of the letter, even when I had her looking up at the alphabet on the wall.

At one point, she was trying to spell the word "pig." She got the first 2 letters, but was stuck on the "g." I kept making the sound for her, but she would just repeat the sound back to me. I asked her "What is that letter?" but she couldn't come up with it. She then started drawing the letter in the air, which is when I had her stand to look at the alphabet, hoping she would be able to pick out the letter that she was writing in the air. She couldn't.

So, after the rest of the kids were gone, I sat her down at my desk and helped her sound and spell out some letters, using Spanish lessons to help her hear and make connections. With the word "can," she got the first 2 letters fine, but couldn't figure out that it was an "n" until I said "na ne ni no nu." Because the vowels are all pronounced the same no matter what, they learn by connecting different consonants to the vowels. As soon as I said that, she knew what the letter was, and wrote it down.

I gave her 3 stars on the paper, and then gave her a marshmallow. Then she got two more for telling me something she learned, and all was right in the world.

I don't know if she's a tad dyslexic or just very visual and had a hard time saying the letters out loud and remember the names of all of them. She does occasionally write letters and numbers backwards, so I'll have to keep an eye on her as we start up again next year. She's also one of the younger 5-year-olds, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that she's having some trouble.

So that was pretty much my day. After school I got to have a good talk with one of the camp staff that I'll be working with in a few weeks. Tomorrow we have our oral exams where the kids will have to talk to friends of mine from the States, answering a few questions that we've been practicing. This will not only show me that they know them as individuals and don't just chime in with the kids that studied, but will also help me see that they do understand and can be understood in English outside of the class. It's important to me that they understand English when people other than me speak it to them. So, that will be tomorrow. I'm sure I'll have some stories to tell about that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Silent and Gifted Children

So, yesterday I was super impressed by the behavior of the kids at the school where I went to observe, and was nervous because the teachers from that school were coming here after recess. You can read more about that in my previous blog, if you haven't already.

Today, I started teaching after lunch as the two women arrived and found seats in my class. As I started with the lesson, I was shocked to find my kids to be SILENT. They were yelling out answers, but only the answers as I asked them. And when I was done asking the question, they stayed quiet until I asked another one.

It pretty much continued like that for the whole hour that the women were there. It was crazy. I would often see them glance sideways at the strangers who were watching them as they gave their answer, hoping that they were looking and impressed with their answers.

I was surprisingly not as nervous as I thought I would be as I started teaching. I just chose to ignore the presence of the other women and just made sure my kids looked extra smart and good. :) It took a lot of effort for me not to try to show up the other teachers. Your kids can sing 8 little songs in English? My kids can sound out the word "alligator." My kids are also starting on identifying the noun and verb part of sentences, which I'm really proud of them for starting to understand. :)

So, my kids were much better than I expected, and I was super proud of them. I'm also a little disappointed in the fact that they are clearly capable of behaving well, but they just choose not to every other day. Ah, well. They have some good days and some bad days. It comes with the territory. They still did pretty well after the women left, so that was good because the plans for the day weren't enough to fill the time we planned for, and I had them for another hour after that.

I just have to share one HUGE triumph for one of my kids. We were trying to identify good/bad sentences by the structure of the sentences, which was hard for them since they barely know the meaning of all the words. One pair of sentences was this:

The man sat.
Man sat the.

When I asked if "Man sat the." was a good sentence or a bad sentence, I got mixed replies, so I asked them "Why is it good?" or "Why is it bad?" I noticed Dennisito's face look especially intense as he looked at that sentence, and I knew he wasn't just guessing when he said it was a bad sentence.

So, I let him explain, and he managed to get out, "porque es no 'man sat the.' Tiene que ser 'the man sat.'" Although he couldn't quite explain why he knew it was wrong, it was clear to me that he knew it was wrong, and could easily see which one was right.

That was really encouraging to me. I can only hope that the other kids can start to get to that level by the end of the year. He's really smart so he tends to pick things up first, but it's a good indication that the other kids CAN learn it, too. They just need a little more time and practice. :)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Visiting Another School

I was informed a little while ago that come May, I would have to go to another school to observe and take notes on another Prepatoria teacher, and that someone would be coming to observe me as well. I sort of forgot about it, but last week I found out that was happening this week.

So, today was the day that I went to another school to observe. The name of the school is Trinity Christian School, and what was strange to me is that the school only has about half as many students as Eagle's, but over twice as many grade levels. They go all the way from Kinder (preschool) to 7th grade (high school). Most of their grade levels only have 1-3 students, and some don't have any.

It's a very small school operating out of a converted house, and they put at least 3 grade levels in each class. I can't imagine how difficult that would be to have to teach different things to different kids that are all in the same class, but that's the way they do it there. It was a cute and very nice little school, though.

There were 10 kids in the class, but only 2 or 3 of them were in Preparatoria. They started by singing a number of songs together by watching these videos the teacher played on her computer. They were all simple kid's songs with shapes, letters, numbers, and colors, and the kids knew all the words. Despite us watching like 8 of these little videos in a row, the kids were still attentive and singing along even at the end.

Then, they were separated by age and sat at different tables and were given counting worksheets to complete. They did so in near silence. A couple of the boys were talking, and the teacher immediately gave a soft warning to be quiet, and they were quiet after that.

It was incredible. And now I'm scared for what tomorrow will bring. Tomorrow, they're coming to my class to watch me teach. Not only are my kids already a little bit crazier than what I saw there, but the teachers are coming after recess, when they're at their worst.

Both Tammy and I have had talks with them about what's going to happen tomorrow that they need to listen and be quiet and do their work and so on, but we'll see what tomorrow brings. I just hope that they'll be shy having strangers in the room and want to be extra good to show off.

We're also doing things a little bit differently tomorrow which will hopefully keep their attention better than usual, so that should also help. We have a few worksheets for them to color and work on, which will also help keep them busy. It's usually when they're finished and I'm waiting on a few kids to finish that the rest start to go a little crazy.

So, yeah. In other news, I'm now 23 days away from being back in the States, so it's coming up fast. I'm excited, but also keeping focused in the here and now so I don't slack off at the end of the school year. We have exams coming up in just a couple of weeks, and I'm already through the planning part of that. I now just have to get the actual exams made up and then get them printed. I'm also going to be giving an oral exam next week, which should be interesting.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Saving Imagination of Kids

I just wanted to share what a blessed day I had yesterday after a pretty disappointing weekend. Saturday was disappointing because I had plans with a friend to go to a worship service/concert that they have every week at the Music Garage. I was supposed to go with her and some of her friends, but when I sent her a message on facebook she told me she was visiting her family (6ish hours away) and wouldn't be going.

The bright spot in my Saturday involved the purchasing of a new guitar from a member of the English church. It's cute and black and the strings are nice and close to the frets so I can easily hold them down. And it came with a super nice bag that I also love. And it was a really good deal.

But, it didn't change the fact that the event I was looking forward to all week wasn't going to happen. I ended up being really pouty and just watched movies all evening and went to bed early. I probably could have handled that better...

So, Sunday morning with everyone at church was a welcome relief, and a huge blessing. After church, I was invited to one couple's house, who was having another family from the church over. Pauline and Jay have 3 girls that I've gotten to know a little and love, so I was excited to get to spend time with them.

I helped MaryKay prepare the food, and managed to slice my finger with a difficult can of beans, which reminded me once again how often I injure myself doing the most mundane things, but usually come out unscathed from things that are relatively dangerous. At any rate, the meal was absolutely amazing, and the fellowship was even better.

Most of the games I played with the girls were crazy and worth mentioning. I played PollyPockets with the 8-year old, who concocted such a story line that I couldn't believe it. The first character I was playing got locked into the tower by her sister (played by Abigail), and then I played a man trying to save her who was repeatedly severely injured in his attempts. After my guy shocked by the electric fence or fell while parachuting, she would calmly announce, "Now he's out of the hospital" and he would try again. After several near-escapes and stints in jail, he did eventually save her, only to die in the process, but not before I managed to have them get married while parachuting to safety.

The next thing I played was fairly simple, but ended up being hilarious. I was playing with a baby doll with Lilian, and at first I was the Mommy and she was the Daddy, but then when the baby was hungry, we apparently switched roles because then she was feeding the baby, as she put it, "with the milk that's in my tummy." She actually lifted her shirt and held the baby to her chest, and her dad and I had a good laugh about it.

After eating some delicious cookies for desert and getting in a little more "adult time," I went outside to play with the girls. All four of us climbed onto the swing on the swingset that has the two seats facing each other and that you move by pushing on the floor with your feet. Abigail immediately informed us all that she was the "porter" and that we were taking a trip all the way around the world, via underwater tunnels. As we enjoyed various activities and ate delicious meals in the dining car, we were able to see 3 different kinds of whales, and made stops in Nicaragua, China, and many others. It was a great trip.

They then drove me home, and Lilian played doctor with me. First, I got a full check-up that involved getting a shot, checking blood pressure, and taking my temperature. After that, I asked her about a bug bite that I had gotten on my hand earlier that was red and already formed a decent welt. She said she'd take it off and found a scalpel and pair of scissors in the doctor kit. She then proceeded to remove my entire hand. When I asked her what I was supposed to do without a hand, she said she'd put it back on, and did so quickly. It was great. Whenever I questioned her methods, she always pointed to her badge and said, "Don't worry. I'm a doctor," and I always felt reassured.

Oh, the games kids play! They have such an imagination, and it's sad to me that so many people seem to lose that as they get older. Of all the things to leave behind after childhood, your imagination is not one of them. It opens the door to endless possibilities and allows you to take journeys unlike any other. I know for me, yesterday, it pulled me out of the bad mood I was in and reminded me that there's so much more to living than being able to go to concerts with friends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tree Tag

Today, I was playing tag with the kids after school. But let me back up.

Right after school, I was more tired than usual, and when just Gissel was finishing up, I asked her if I could sleep. She told me I could and scampered out of the class. I laid my head down on my desk and closed my eyes to rest for a few minutes.

Not one minute later, Dayanira burst into the class saying loudly, "Miss, no sleep in the class!!" No sleeping in class being a rule, of course, I was obliged to lift my head up. But then Gissel came back in and told me I could sleep, so I put my head back down. Dayanira objected to this once again, and asked me to come out and play with them.

Seeing as we had just been talking about what's good/bad for the body and I had made it clear that playing is good, I decided to put my words into action and got up to play outside with them. We went into the back where the swings are and started a game of tag.

The thing about playing tag with your students is that they all want to tag... YOU. So, it didn't really matter who I tagged, because chances were pretty good that they were going to turn and chase me down until I got caught again. Seeing as I was in flip-flops and was either running on loose dirt or smooth cement, running was hard enough without getting a break.

When I started feeling winded, I sat and just took a break for a few minutes. Once I was recovered, I decided to join back in. But what I didn't realize is that they had changed the game and failed to inform me of the new rules. So, when I finally let Gissel catch me because I was tired of running, I thought I was it and tried to tag somebody else, but I then had several kids running up to me and tagging me.

I was confused, but ended up just running around tagging people aimlessly as they tagged me. Then, I suspected they were playing freeze tag, since some of the kids would freeze upon getting tagged, and then run again when they were tagged by someone else. Then, I randomly got swarmed by a bunch of children and we were all just sort of standing there.

Dennisito announced that he had a flower and something about fire, and some of the other kids were also yelling random things that I didn't quite understand. Finally, I threw my hands up and announced that I was a tree. It seemed like the only reasonable thing to do at that point.

I was joined by several other kids who also declared themselves to be trees, and we stood in a little grove as some of the others still ran here and there. Shortly after that we were interrupted by the rain, and I'm still not entirely sure what we were playing.

At any rate, it was fun, and my kids are generally hilarious.

DRAMAtic kids

Ok, so it's not real drama that I'm going to talk about. It's just how dramatic kids can be about some things.

Yesterday, my kids that stay until the 1st and 2nd graders are done were outside with the older grades who had P.E. My kids were just playing soccer on the field while the older kids had class on the basketball court. Suddenly, I had Josue come in to tell me that Jazer fell and was bleeding. By the look on his face, you'd think that there were compound fractures involved, so I calmly got up to follow him outside.

When I got out there, Jazer was sitting on the ground surrounded by several kids and their P.E. teacher. He was crying and holding his leg. I walked over to him to survey the damage. There, on his ankle, was.... A SINGLE DROP OF BLOOD!!!!

At that point, I knew he would live, and I was fairly certain I'd be able to salvage his foot, too, so I lifted him up and made him walk inside. We were almost halfway to the building when he started putting weight on his injured foot. Still sniffling and spitting accusations at our entourage, I sat him down on a chair in the office and pulled on some plastic gloves and pulled supplies from our first aid kit.

First I used dry cotton to get the blood off. This apparently caused him great pain as he gasped and stiffened. Mostly I held back a laugh. Then, I cleaned it off with hydrogen peroxide, which I know did hurt some, and he reacted accordingly. Once the area was cleaned up a bit, I saw that it was not a fresh cut, but a halfway healed scab that had fallen off just in the middle.

I applied some triple antibiotic ointment, which also caused a surprising amount of discomfort, and then a band-aid, which scared him because it was "so big." Once he pulled his shoe and sock back on, he limped off to return to the game, and was running around like nothing was wrong about 5 minutes later. The amount of drama one kid can stir up with such a small injury never ceases to amaze me, and I had a good laugh with another teacher after he was gone.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

SUMMER PLANS (por fin)

I'm not going to lie. Despite my best efforts, I almost just once again forgot to post this blog... :D

I realized that I hadn't posted this while talking with my parents on Skype recently when my mom was surprised at my plans for the summer. The problem is I put something about it on facebook when I first bought my plane tickets and then forgot to put it in a blog, where more people read it, I think. I know my mom checks my blog and expects information from there more than my facebook, at least.

At any rate, here's what I'm doing for the summer, during which time you should definitely not expect updates.

I am leaving Honduras early in the morning on June 14th. That's a Thursday, and it's the day before school actually ends. I was told it was the day after school ended when I bought my ticket, and then that changed, so I'll be missing the last couple of days of school and my kids graduation. Although this makes me sad, there is a reason for my rushing to get back to Michigan.

I will be working at WILDWOOD this summer!!!!!!!! I'm super excited about it. It'll be a great way to recharge and serve during the summer while making some money. :) Staff training there starts on the 8th of June, but because I've been through it so many times before, it's not imperative that I'm there for all of it, but it was important that I get there as soon as possible. So, I'll be flying out on the 14th of June.

When I bought my ticket, I had the option of a short or long layover in Florida. I have a good friend that lives in Florida, so I talked to her and opted for the 6 hour layover so we could go have lunch and catch up. Plus, I've never been outside of the airport in Florida, so it'll be nice to say I've actually been to Florida, if only for a few hours. :) I would be getting in to Detroit around 9pm for a late night with family, and getting dropped off at Wildwood early Friday morning to catch the last day of staff training.

Sounds great, right? Well, it was. Then, the airline changed my flight time. Now, I'm not leaving Florida until around 9pm, and won't be getting in to Detroit until midnight. Even without delays, I won't be getting to my house until about 1am. And I plan on leaving for Wildwood at 6am the next morning. So, I likely won't sleep that night. But, it'll be ok. And this was all sort of off-topic. I had a big cup of super sugary iced tea after Bible study earlier, and I think it's kicking in now.

So, that's what my summer is going to be: working at Wildwood, and catching up with friends on the weekends. I will also be taking some self-defense classes on the weekends from a friend of mine who's a martial artist and was offering a really good deal on classes. So, that should be fun, and then I don't have to be as concerned about my knife getting turned against me on the off chance that I do need to defend myself. :)

I'll also be attending at least one civil war reenactment, the last weekend I'm here. I'm not sure if there are others that I can attend yet, so we'll see. I'm looking forward to the one I am going to, because I had crazy amounts of fun there when I went a couple years ago, despite getting food poisoning from eating a sandwich my mom had leftover from dinner like 5 hours before I got there. It was there that I was "shot and killed" during a skirmish between the rebs and union soldiers that took place in town. Fun times, but I've gotten off topic again.

I will be leaving the US and coming back to Honduras on August 8th, just 5 days after camp ends. The reason I'm leaving so soon (school probably won't start until the first week of September) is that I'm going to be taking 2 weeks of Spanish school at a school in Copan, which is a couple hours south of San Pedro Sula. I'll be living with a host family there for the two weeks and having 20 hours a week of one-on-one Spanish instruction, plus homework every night.

I'm SUPER excited about Spanish school. I know it'll be really good for me. I've been learning with one of the other teachers at the school (you can read about that in my previous blog if you haven't already), so I will hopefully have a lot of the verbs figured out so I can focus a lot more on fluency in Copan. And, I'll probably continue lessons with Hellen next year to keep sharp.

So, that's the plan right for summer. In exactly 5 weeks, I'll probably be on a plane or boarding one in Florida to go to my Michigan home for the summer! :D

Teaching the Bible Study Lesson (as well as some other quick updates)

Well, I have once again fallen behind in posts. We had a super busy weekend a couple Saturdays ago with our Day of the Americas celebration. I was outside pitching and decorating a tent, chasing kids, and watching the dances from all the different countries from about 7am to 4pm, so when I got home, I decided to take a nap without setting an alarm. I woke up at 9:15pm. Wow. So, yeah. That was a couple weekends ago. Plus, with all the preparations, I had fallen behind in my article writing job and ended up spending most of our Monday off working on those.

Last Saturday I went to a friend's birthday party. It was during that and stumbling through a couple of conversations with Spanish-speaking people that I finally realized that I need help with my Spanish. I've been learning a lot and have come far, but I'm really only learning a couple of new words every week, and I hardly ever actually speak to people other than with my kids. So, I've taken one of the other teachers up on her offer to teach me Spanish.

She's perfect to teach me, because she "yells" at me quite often to speak in Spanish, but is also VERY encouraging. She's been giving me lists of verbs to write out in the past tense, which is what I told her I'm having the most trouble with right now. This weekend, she has me writing out full sentences using present and past tenses of the 40+ verbs I've written out this week. It sucks having all this homework, but it's good for me for sure. :)

Last Thursday, we were talking after Bible study to determine who was going to do what for the following week. Tito asked Dona Elsa to give "the Word" (the main lesson, not just a few verses) who redirected him to me, and I smiled and agreed, thinking they were joking. I told them "it's just ONE word, right?" and thought nothing of it until Monday. On Monday, the sudden realization hit me that they didn't ask somebody else to give the Word after I had jokingly agreed to it. I realized they expected me to have something for them on Thursday.

So, on Tuesday night, I stayed up late writing out what I wanted to say. I decided to talk about tests and suffering. I wrote out 4 pages, though about half is Bible verses that I wanted to just have in front of me rather than having to look them up. I had Hellen check it for me to make sure it made sense, and she only found a couple of very minor mistakes, where I had the wrong last letter of a couple of words. One of them mattered a lot since it changed the word "silver" into "plate."

Even going into Bible study today, I was still not entirely sure if I was expected to give the Word, but I was prepared to do so. Sure enough, they were expecting me to have the lesson prepared. Because I had gone into it hoping for the best (not actually having to talk), when I knew I did have to talk, my nerves struck hard. I had practiced reading the whole thing out loud 3 times and most of what I wrote were my words, but I knew there were some words in there I had gotten from Google translate and the Bible, so I didn't know them well.

I like to stuff my talks with a lot of Bible verses, because I think it's important to be sharing God's words more than my words, and to be clear that everything I do say comes directly from God's Word. So, I had them read the Bible passages except for a couple of shorter ones that I did rather than taking the time to have everyone look them up. That way, I knew they would understand the verses, which were arranged to take everyone on a journey to explore this idea of tests and what to do about them and in them, and to look at why we have them.

So, it was a pretty good talk. I was super nervous at first, but as soon as I saw that they were taking notes and really listening, I was able to relax and just focus on reading and saying what I wanted to say, rather than being as worried about getting it all pronounced right and everything. I messed up a few times, especially on the words that I didn't know, but just corrected myself and kept on going. When I got to the important points and stressed them, there were "amens" from everyone, which was a real sign to me that they understood me.

I was super relieved when I was done and am still finding it a little hard to believe that I actually managed to do that. So, this was a really good experience for me to realize that I CAN speak Spanish and be understood. I CAN use complete sentences that make sense. That was further solidified for me when we were talking afterwards about losing things.

They asked me if I lose things often, and I said "siempre" (always). They laughed, and I then told them the story of when I lost my car/house keys. I always left them on the shelf by the door, and one day, I just couldn't find them. So, I used my spare keys for a while until I locked my keys in my car in front of the house while the car was running. Then, I had to do a thorough search of the entire house, and found them exactly where I always put them; they had just fallen onto the lower shelf. Surprising even myself, I managed to tell the whole story enough that they knew what I was talking about, though I know I didn't use a lot of the right verbs. It's still too hard to try to think of how to say what verb I need in the middle of talking. :)

So, good things are happening right now. And, I just realized I never posted my definite summer plans, so I'll end this blog now and get my summer plans put out there in another one, right now, so I don't forget again.

UPDATE: Tito and Cesia just came in, and congratulated me on sharing, so now I'm sure that I did well! :D

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Today vs. Two Day and Other Stories from Friday

Ok, so I fell behind with my updates again... But here are a few quick stories of stuff that happened to me at school yesterday that were cute/funny.

Gissel was asking me about when they could use their money that they get for good behavior to buy things from the little store in the office, so I told her, "Today." She then asked me, "La dia despues de manana?" (the day after tomorrow). I told her no, and she continued to guess more days farther into the week. Finally I stopped her and asked, "What is 'today'?" Her answer: "Dos dias." (2 days)

I laughed when I realized how easily someone could confuse the two, so I showed her the difference by writing "two days." Beneath that, I wrote "2 dias." Then, I wrote "today," and "hoy" beneath that. She studied the word in Spanish for a moment, and then read "Hoy?" "Yes," I told her, and she hugged me with joy that she could go buy trinkets with her well-earned money. I was just glad for the little English lesson we had had. :)

Last week during chapel, Zudy had lost her first tooth. And then she lost it. It was one of her lower incisors, so it was small, and she probably dropped it during one of their "let's jump around like crazy" songs. She was obviously upset about this and looked hard for it around where she was sitting, but did not find it.

This week after chapel, there was a sort of buzz among several of my girls revolving around something that Emy had pinched in between her fingers. Not knowing what it was but knowing that it was causing some excitement, I held out my hand for Emy to give me whatever it was. As she placed it in my hand, I caught the words "...diente de Zudy." Sure enough, there was Zudy's tooth, now in my hand.

I'm not really grossed out by germs and such, but something about holding a lost tooth was a little bit gross to me. But, it was really funny to me that she lost her tooth (twice) last week, and that it had now been found. I showed several of the other teachers who laughed with me, then put the tooth safely in a Ziploc bag with Zudy's name on it. I gave her clear instructions to put it in her backpack so she didn't lose it again.

In chapel, Miss Carla was talking about how we reap what we sow, and the importance of being nice to others. As an example, she was saying how it wouldn't be very nice to tell Mr. Tito how bad his hair looked. She said this a couple of different ways to emphasize the point, when Connie couldn't sit quietly anymore. She suddenly shouted out, "No es cierto, Mr. Tito! Tu pelo es bonito!"

Although Miss Carla laughed at the passion and slight anger in Connie's declaration, she was able to use her as an example of being nice to others. Connie really is a sweet and quiet girl, so it didn't surprise me that she came to the defense of one of her favorite teachers, though it was a little surprising that she so boldly spoke out during chapel. If only all the kids were that quick to be nice to each other.

So, those are my three little anecdotes from the other day. Basically, my kids are awesome. Most of the time. I did also have a kid bite and pinch another student when I stepped out of the class for less than a minute, and later kick another student. He spent an hour and a half after school writing sentences for all that.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Storytime With Mel (Part 4)

Yay! It's not yet hot enough that I can't do anything, so hopefully I can get in at least one more post.

The Youth Conference

Last week Friday I got invited to go to some sort of youth conference. So, I went with Tito and Cesia and another guy from the church, Rene. He's also the dad of one of the kids in my class. We headed out in matching t-shirts that displayed the name of the church and got there as they were starting worship. The tickets were 20 lempiras to get in (about $1), and I only had a 500 lempira bill (about $25). Slightly embarrassing, but the girl was able to find change for me.

We went and joined in worship, and as I looked around, I saw a girl walking over to me. It was dark, and hard to see her face, but I thought it looked like Jully, who was here in the fall but left in February. When she got closer, I saw that it WAS Jully, and she had come back that morning. It was good to see her, and I hope that I'll be seeing a lot more of her now!

I really wish I had brought my Bible and notebook that night, because the message was really good, and in English. Dennis translated, but I had the advantage of understanding before most people. I hadn't been sure as to where exactly we were going, so I had opted to leave my Bible and notebook at home in case we were going to be at some big outdoor place where I'd have to keep a hold of them the whole time.

The message was good, and powerful. He talked about the problems that are ever-present in Honduras, and how God is going to be moving against them. He talked about how the root of the problems is not political or economical, but is spiritual, which is why prayer is so incredibly important to battle against the darkness.

He talked about how God answers prayers in different ways, using the story of Paul's conversion as an example. As Paul was praying to God, God was telling Ananias to go to him. So, Paul's prayer was not answered by God talking to Paul, but by God talking to Ananias. It's important, therefore, that we keep an open mind about prayer and the way God chooses to answer it. Sometimes, it is directly. But other times, it's through other people.

He also talked about the Great Commission, and the impact that the life of Paul had on the entire world. And really, the impact that Ananias's act of obedience that opened up Paul's eyes was the start of that. He reminded us all that we can make a huge impact on the world and that it starts with being obedient and praying.

The next morning, we went back for the second day. The first message was once again in English, and touched me even more deeply than the night before. This message was again about the Great Commission, and focused on the words that Jesus used, and what they mean for us today.

The biggest thing that hit me was that right before Jesus commissions them, it says that the disciples were doubting and had hard hearts. The disciples! These were the guys that had seen all the miraculous healings and people raised from the dead and food multiplies. These were the guys that watched Jesus being crucified and then saw Him when He was raised from the dead, and spent time with Him after His resurrection. Yet they still doubted and had hardened hearts.

Despite that, Jesus commissioned them and sent them out. They, with their doubt and hard hearts, were qualified to share the Gospel to all the nations. That means that I am qualified. I can go out and share the Gospel to the nations. I am a work in progress, and that's ok. God can still use me.

This is something I've been struggling with, a feeling of inadequacy. I often feel like there's nothing I can really do because I'm not spiritually where I should be, or I don't speak Spanish that well, or whatever. But none of that really matters when you get down to it. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and He's not finished with me yet, but He's sending me out to the nations.

It was just what I needed to hear. I know that it doesn't mean not to move forward. Obviously, I still need to be moving forward and getting closer to God and becoming more like Him, and learning more Spanish. But I don't have to wait for that moment when I'll be "ready" to do the work that God has for me here. I am ready, or else He wouldn't have sent me. I know I wasn't ready 4 years ago when I first wanted to come. And I know I don't feel ready now, but God wouldn't have sent me if He didn't know that I could handle everything there was for me here.

There was another message that day, in Spanish, so I didn't get every part, but I got what I needed. It was the story of David and Goliath. An old and familiar story, but the preacher dissected it well and drew up some excellent points. He talked about how that time was David's time. He was made for that moment to face down the giant, and so he did. The challenge was issued to all the young people there: Will you go and stand in front of the giant? Will you embrace that calling which is on your life?

This is a generation that is living in captivity to sin, as the nation of Israel was living in captivity to their own fear at that time. It is up to the Christian people in this generation to set them free. We know the way. We know how to be free, so we must do what we can to set them free. We can be that light that leads people to Christ, but we must be willing to stand.

All we have to do is say "yes" to God. We have to say "send me. I will go." And He will respond; He will send us out. He has a special plan and purpose for each and every life, and there's nobody else that can live your life, so you have to live your life for the purpose that God has for you.

Everything had a theme, which was all exactly what I needed: You are qualified, so go and do what God has called you to do.

But I don't think it's just me that needs that. I think everyone needs to realize that God has placed them exactly where they are for a specific reason, and that reason is to reach people for the Gospel and to therefore bring glory to God. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you can live your life as an example to the nations, and you can share the Gospel. You don't have to be perfect, and you don't have to be "qualified." God has qualified you by your belief in Him and is sending you. So, go.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Story Time With Mel (Part 3)

Here's the next part of my stories. As I write this, there is a giant cicada on the porch flying around into the walls making a lot of noise. It's kind of freaking me out. The bug is a good 3 inches long and probably half that wide and if it comes inside, I might freak out. I'm not really one to get freaked out by bugs and such, but when it's a giant bug coming towards me, I get scared. I took some video of it earlier that probably sucks because I jumped when it started flying around. Just thought you would be interested that I'm actually a little tense about the possibility of the giant cicada coming in here while I'm writing this, though it may have just made it over the wall and back out into the world. I'm too scared to check.

Leading Worship

A couple of weeks ago, Tito asked me to sing a song or something like that for the following Thursday. For some reason, I agreed. Then, I started getting sort of nervous, and I wasn't sure exactly what I had agreed to. Was I supposed to lead all of our worship time, or just share one song? I prepared and practiced 3 songs just to be safe. But, I did it all in English, knowing that they knew 2 of the songs in Spanish already, and that the third was also available in Spanish.

I foolishly waited until the day of to find the words in Spanish, and only had time to run through them once or twice. If you've never had to sing a song in another language before, it's tricky even if you know it well in English because with the different lengths and positions of the words, the whole pattern of the song ends up being slightly different. Even just in English, the pattern of the songs can differ from church to church. So, I was not all that prepared by the time Bible study rolled in.

I brought my guitar and song book down with me, growing more and more nervous and wondering why on earth I agreed to sing for everyone. After Tito shared a Psalm, he asked for the guitar, and relief washed over me. He must have forgotten that he had asked me to lead, so I was off the hook. When we finished one song, he then said that I would be sharing a special song with us, and then it was too late to panic.

As the song sheets I had printed out were passed around, I laid out my own sheet with the chords on it and placed the capo in the right place. I struggled through the first song, How He Loves (or "Cuanto Nos Ama"), which has a lot of words in the verses, though the chorus is easy enough. It was a song they'd never really heard before, but they did join in on the chorus the 3rd time through which put me a little more at ease.

When I was done, I was prepared to just be done, feeling as though I had embarrassed myself enough, but they asked for another one, so I opted for None But Jesus (or "Solo Cristo"), which I know they know. The second song went much better on account of it being slower which made it easier for me to sing, there being less words which also helped me, and them joining in, which meant my mistakes were not as obvious. I still didn't do super well with it, but was uber glad for Cesia who was next to me and could follow the music well enough to help me out.

If there is a next time, I will be better prepared. But, as much as I felt like I didn't do very well, they all thanked me for singing and told me my voice was beautiful, so that was really encouraging. Tito even mentioned it to me the next morning as we were leaving for school. I know I don't have the best voice in the world, so I'm always glad to hear when people do like my voice.

After Bible study, we all sat and talked for a while. Well, they talked, I mostly just listened. They were talking about families, and who lived where, and the interesting connections between them (Tito has several family members that he's related to on both sides because of intermarrying between his dad's and mom's relatives). Sometimes I think about breaking in, but there's never a pause in the conversation and they've usually moved on to another subject by the time I form sentences in my head of what I could say.

When I did get drawn into the conversation, it was to ask me if I want to get married here. What is it about married people that are always trying to get single people married? At any rate, I did say I did, and related the story of my mishap at the grocery store (which you can read here if you missed it). Surprisingly, they did understand my whole story as far as I could tell, even though I know I made several many errors as I stumbled through it. My past tense verbs need some help.

Well, I think that's all I'm going to write for tonight. It's past 10pm, which is about when I usually head for bed, and I'm trying to stick to that so I'm not totally out of whack when school starts up next week. Hopefully I can get myself up early enough to finish all my stories and get everyone caught up before it gets so hot that I start to shut down. If not, well... I'll get to it eventually. Maybe. Hopefully...

Thanks for reading! Tell your friends!

P.S. I didn't hear the cicada flying around anymore, so I think it really did escape the porch, so that's good. I did get distracted by a gecko at one point that was by the door, and then came closer after I made kissy noises at it. When I started taking video of it, though, it ran under the chairs and then under the couch. Ah, well.

Story Time With Mel (Part 2)

The stories continue. If you missed part one, you can find it here. This is everything that happened last week Tuesday. Well, not EVERY thing, but everything important and memorable.

The Copy Machine

Last week were exams for the kids, which meant making copies was more important than usual. I, along with several other teachers, had several exams that were done by hand. Most of mine were on my computer and easily printed from the printer even though it took longer, but my math test was all drawn and written out by hand, and other teachers don't have a computer, which means everything is by hand.

We just got the copier back from the repair shop because it was leaving black smudges along the edges of the pages and the copies were become partially unreadable. It worked well enough for about 3 days. Then, it started leaving blurry streaks along a good 3 inches along one side that almost made it look like the paper was underwater. You could sort of read what it said, but it was blurry and covered in gray.

It was frustrating. The tests I had printed out then copied were hard to read/see, but I wasn't going to waste 10 sheets of paper printing them all out on the computer, so I ended up having to draw the missing pieces on the board. and putting numbers by them, and by the blurred drawings on their papers and hope they understood my directions. In math, I had to do all 4 pages of their test on the board, including 10 addition problems that were all lost to the failing copier. That was Monday.

On Tuesday, I wasn't giving any exams, but I went anyway because I was being picked up there later to go to Casita. I intended to just relax and work on my article writing job that I was still working on about the capital of Malaysia, but ended up spending the majority of the morning trying to fix the copier.

As much as I am not a computer repair specialist, I am even less of a copier repair specialist. At one point, I did have the solution explained to me by Ethan, our 3 year old Autistic boy, but he just used hand motions and sounds, so I didn't understand what he was saying. He may have just been explaining the wonders of the inner workings of copy machines according to a 3 year old, but I like to think he was trying to tell me how to fix it. I wished I had had my camera with me to capture his explanation, but alas, I had not thought it necessary when fixing the copier.

After somewhat identifying what the problem might be, blackening my hands twice, cleaning several surfaces of the copy machine, and considering paying $28 for an online expert to tell me what the problem was, I gave up and decided I could not fix the copy machine without risking breaking it. I did desperately want a screwdriver so I could tear it apart and see if I could figure it out, but I thought the higher powers might not appreciate me dismantling the machine and not being able to put it back together.

The Grocery Store

Usually, trips to the grocery store are generally uneventful, though they sometimes involve me making a fool of myself trying to go in the out door or not knowing where my ride is. Sometimes they involve free samples of toast, too. But last week Tuesday, my shopping trip involved me spending 10 minutes faking knowing Spanish to the bag boy.

At this particular grocery story, the bag boys not only bag your groceries, but they also take them out to your car and load them for you. And on that day, I had been dropped off by Dennis and was supposed to call Hermano Hector when I was finished to come pick me up. After buying my groceries and minutes for my phone, we headed outside. I made the call, mumbling something resembling "I'm finished" in Spanish, and ended the call.

The bag boy took this as a sure sign that I was fluent in Spanish and began talking to me. Between the automatic door opening and closing behind me and the traffic out on the street, I could barely hear what he was saying. And I definitely couldn't hear it enough to understand, but I put on a good show. At some point he told me he has a cousin in the US, confirmed that "I love jyou" is "Te amo," talked about sports, asked me about music and if I had friends in Guatemala and other nearby countries, and at some point asked me "Estas cansada?"

Or so I thought. Cansada means tired. So, I said yes. I was tired. He seems a little surprised when I said yes, and I just sort of shrugged it off at the time. Later that night when I was trying to think of the word for married, I realized he hadn't asked me if I was "cansada." He asked me if I was "casada." Married. That one letter makes a big difference, no? So, I told the bag boy at the grocery store that I was married. This explains his surprise at my answer. With my hair in pigtails that day, I probably looked no more than 17.

When I posted my blunder on Facebook later, one of my friends told me I'd missed out on a boyfriend, and when I told the story at Bible study the following Thursday, they exclaimed that I had missed my opportunity and laughed with me at my mistake.

That being the third stupid thing I've done there, I don't ever want to go back there again. Unfortunately, I'm mostly at the mercy of whoever is kind enough to drive me to the grocery store. I guess I at least don't have to try to appear normal, since they all know I'm weird there. :)


I touched on this when it actually happened, but now I'm going to expand a little on what happened at Casita last week. For those of you not aware, Casita ("little house") is a girl's orphanage run by the government. Most of the girls there are between the ages of 10 and 15, with a few that are older. Many of them are runaways, or their parents have stopped caring about them. A lot of them have been sexually abused at some point or were prostitutes, and a surprising number have babies.

Despite being safe from the world of gangs, sex, drugs, and violence within the 20 foot concrete walls of Casita where they are cared for by a team of Tias ("Aunts"), many of them still run from the orphanage and back onto the streets. Sometimes, they are caught again and brought back, but not before they have wound up pregnant.

Last week, there were 3 babies there, and 5 girls that were pregnant. The girls who were pregnant all ranged around 15 years old. Already, with new arrivals and escapes, those numbers could easily change.

As I looked around at the girls during our time of worship, there were a few that stayed seated, too mentally disabled to understand what was happening or to want to join in. And there was one girl who sat and looked around who had a clear mind. She looked at the girls who were singing with eyes closed and hands raised with some contempt, and my heart broke for her.

Another girl that was close to her was among those standing. She had her eyes closed and her hands were reaching out to God as she sang and didn't care who was looking or not looking. It gave me hope that some of these girls do want to change, and they can see how much they need Jesus in their lives to make that change. I didn't get to talk to either of them after, but I continue to lift them up in prayer, and pray that they would find what they are looking for.

After worship, they all get a verse that Shari prints out for them. This week was I Timothy 4:12, one of my favorites, and such a perfect one for these girls who have been told they are worthless either by action or by word and think they can't do any good. I hope they take this verse to heart like I have, and realize that they don't have to be anything special to be an example to others. They can be that example that they ought to be, because all they need is Jesus in them.

Once we had passed out all the cupcakes and cups of juice, the girls started drifting off to their normal activities, which mostly just involved sitting around. A few of the girls stuck around, and I was able to play around and sort of talk with a couple of them. Once girl came up and playfully pinched me, so her and I pinched/hit at each other for a couple minutes before I pulled her into an embrace. Another time a couple of girls were goofing off and one hit the other, and I demanded, "Que estas haciendo?!" ("What are you doing?!") They seemed surprised that I had called them out and in Spanish, and assured me they were just playing as I shook my head and smiled.

As Terry shook hands with multiple girls to prove he wasn't going to shake one of them hard, I had girls on either side of me who put their arms around my waist. We watched and laughed as Terry slowly gained the girl's trust that he wouldn't shake her hand hard, then did when she finally consented to shake his hand again. They all laughed about it, and I was reminded again of how much he's a grandfather to all of them, constantly teasing and tormenting them with a smile on his face. No matter what he's doing to them, they see the love that's behind it, and it's great to watch and be a part of.

So, it looks like I'll be able to go back every other week and be a part of their ministry there. I'm REALLY excited about that, and look forward to getting to know the girls better and just being able to love them. They recently had a room converted into a beauty parlor, so I'll let them do whatever to my hair if I get the chance. That's for sure.

Story Time With Mel (Part 1)

Ok, so a lot has been going on in the last couple of weeks. So much so that I haven't really had the time to sit down and write about it. And when I did have the time, the blistering heat kept me from wanting to do anything other than... die? It's been really hot, hitting 100 degrees every day for the last week or so, and it's miserable. Today, I laid on the couch beneath the ceiling fan and just kept switching positions to dry the sweat off of me, and that was the best I could do for the better part of 2 hours. At least it gets cool at night. So, the plan is to just start telling some stories of what's been going on. I'll probably put it in a few blog posts, so it won't be one huge one. :)

Computer Repairs and Failures - 2 Saturdays ago

So, a couple of Saturdays ago, I was doing my usual laze about the house routine that I do on most Saturdays. That day, I decided to be more committed to learning the Dvorak style of typing, which is much easier and extremely fast once learned. After several days of watching at least a dozen videos on how to remove keys from a keyboard, I got brave and got started. After I had removed all of the letters from my keyboard, I realized how dirty it was under there, so I got a paper towel and started carefully cleaning around the rubber buttons and clips that hold the plastic tops in place.

I was partway through this when Tito and Cesia came in and Tito asked me to help with one of their laptops to get on the internet. Now, the last time they asked me to do this on their old MacBook, I literally just opened the wireless signal tab and it started working like I was some sort of computer goddess. This time, it was almost just as easy. I first checked that the password was right, and that was the problem. Having fixed the problem in less than 2 minutes, and having been in the middle of cleaning my empty keyboard, I looked like some sort of computer genius.

Although I admittedly am better with computers than a lot of people, I am decidedly NOT a computer genius. I have, on more than one occasion, been frustrated to the point of tears with simple troubleshooting problems that I simply could not figure out. But, at that moment, I was feeling good, and then Tito brought me their other laptop, and said something about drivers and internet. I decided I'd give it a shot.

So, with my own keyboard still in shambles, I began trying to figure out what the problem was with Tito's computer. I quickly discovered that it had no wireless internet drivers. For those who are computer illiterate or unfamiliar with these terms, I'll attempt to explain. In order for the computer to connect to the internet wirelessly (as well as many other things), it needs something called "drivers." Most of the time, the computer knows exactly what drivers it needs and will automatically connect to the internet to download them. But the problem here is that it couldn't get online wirelessly, so the problem was not so easily solved.

For the next two hours I worked on finding the right drivers for the make and model of the laptop as well as the computer's operating system. Using a thumb drive, I would download drivers from the internet on my computer, save them on the thumb drive, put the thumb drive into Tito's computer, and install them there. Sometimes, they would just install and then do nothing, and other times I couldn't even figure out how to install them. I finally did enough research to find the exact drivers that I needed, and got them installed.

Then, a window came up, saying the computer was almost ready to connect to the internet wirelessly, but it first needed to download the correct drivers. But it didn't have the drivers to connect to the internet, so it couldn't connect to the internet to install the drivers it needed to connect to the internet. Confused? Me too. I quickly got caught in what I call the "troubleshooting loop of doom" where I go into the help menu for information, and they send me to the control panel, which wants me to troubleshoot, which finds nothing wrong, which then sends me to the help menu, which is still not helpful.

I finally had to tell Tito I couldn't get it to work, and he thanked me for trying. I was just glad they were there, because I most certainly would have been crying in anger and absolutely frustrated if I had been left alone with the computers. Afterwards, Cesia gave me some amazing Honduran lasagna, so it did end well. So, I was exalted at first, then extremely humbled. Lesson learned: I am not a computer genius. Also, it's extremely hard to learn a new style of typing when you've been using QWERTY for 18 years.

Fashion and Beauty Magazine

As many of you know, I do online writing jobs for extra income, and it's been extremely helpful to me. I was actually able to buy my ticket to/from Michigan for the summer mostly with money made writing articles. Usually the articles I do are informational and for things like tanning rabbit hides, keeping parrots as pets, and Nepal vacations. For those, I write 12 new articles with the keywords I'm given, then rewrite each of those into new articles for a total of 24 articles. And I have to find a copyright free image for each article. I get paid $50 for those.

Recently, I got contacted for a different type of article writing, and was asked to name my price. For the 400-500 word articles based off of keywords, I told her $3/each, which is on the high end of average for a keyword article of that length. She agreed, and I'll be writing a total of 30 articles for her throughout April, totaling $90 and there are no pictures, tedious rewrites, or extensive rules about the exact choice and placement of keywords.

I'm loving it. I've done the first 10 already, most in one day, and am so excited about getting to the rest of them. The only problem is I can't seem to work when it's so dang hot during the day. The other "problem" is the subject matter: fashion and beauty. People who know me know that although I have in recent years developed a decent fashion sense, I am in no way interested in keeping up with latest trends. And although I am beautiful (God made me, so how could I NOT be??), I don't really care all that much about make-up and beauty products and such.

Yet, here I am, writing articles for a fashion and beauty online magazine! Obviously, I do my research before I get started and skim through a few different webpages before talking about this summer's fashion trends (which turn out to be lots of color and horizontal stripes among other things), but it still strikes me as ironic that I'm writing these articles. I am grateful that it is also a health magazine, and I do know a lot about that, so I can get in a few good health articles as well, which will be a lot easier for me.

Unless she offers me another job, I will be taking a break from my online work for a while to focus on getting college finished, which has fallen to the side. I already let my other employer know that I won't be doing any more jobs for a while, but these fashion and beauty ones are so much easier and pay so much more that I don't want to give them up if I don't have to. So, that's what I'm doing with my online jobs.

Sidenote: I've made about $3 from you reading my blog, so thanks! Keep reading and sharing it with others, and this will be a great way for me to be able to support my ministry just by talking about it! I've also made $2 off of YouTube videos, though I'm not sure how because I read somewhere you only get $1/1000 views/video, and the video that apparently made that money only has like 30 views, so..... I don't know.

So, here's a link to one of my recent videos I posted. If you like it, you can support me by clicking the like button, commenting, favoring it, subscribing, and sharing the video with your friends!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Long story short, I got to go do ministry today at Casita. I will be posting a longer blog later, but I wanted to get this up really quick. Today was crazy, between school, grocery shopping, ministry, and Bible study. Bible study hasn't happened yet, but it's about to.

I was so glad to have gotten to go do ministry at Casita. It struck me during the time of worship (Terry and Shari put on a little service there for them every other week and then hand out snacks) as they were singing "Yo Soy Libre" how trapped they are there, and yet there they are singing "I Am Free." One girl in particular had her eyes closed and her hands up and was clearly enjoying the time of worship, and it was beautiful to see.

Another girl came up after we prayed with one girl who accepted Christ (YAY!!!) and gave a sermon. She was a beautiful young woman with this surprisingly deep voice who delivered a brief message to the girls like a pastor and then shared a song with them. Her name is Paola.

Paola told her story to Alba afterwards, who shared it with us. Paola grew up in a good Christian home where her parents were active members of a church. But when she hit 11 years old, she began sneaking out of her house every night to become a prostitute. 11 years old. 11. I can't get that image out of my mind of a sweet 11 year old girl going out and selling her body like that. Several years of that landed her there, at Casita, where she has cleaned herself up and is now sharing the Gospel to the other girls.

Hopefully after Bible study I can share more about this day, and the past week. It's been interesting, and worth sharing, for sure.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Father's Day Stuffs

Here, we celebrate Father's Day in March, so we had our kids do a Father's Day production on Friday. But first, something funny that happened on Thursday, also involving fathers.

Jeimy is the little girl who's dad died a few months back that caused a lot of craziness within the church and the family. Her and her mom were here visiting for a couple of days, so she was brought to the class to see her old classmates. We were in the middle of practicing our Father's Day song when Tito brought her in, and the kids swarmed her, of course. We did our song for them, and then we were supposed to be getting back to class, so Tito was leading Jeimy away as I tried to gather them back into the class.

Then, we clearly Zudy ask her, "Tu papi murio?" Did your dad die? Tito quickly shushed her, and I more strongly urged them inside the class as Tito and I exchanged a look of pity/horror. Although I don't know how it affected Jeimy, I know there was at least one girl in my class that knew it was the wrong question to ask and was shaking her head.

Oh, the inappropriate things kids say. Sometimes, it can be good because their brutal honesty can bring a new understanding to how things really are. But other times, it's just not appropriate in any way and can be hurtful to others. In this situation, I just had to laugh about it because there was nothing else to do. I even made a "rage comic" about it which you can see here:

Yesterday, we had our Father's Day presentation, which meant every grade did one or two songs. I was only asked to have my kids do one dance, so my kids only did one dance, but the other grades each did two. We also had William give a message on Fathers. It was a good time, and I got all of the performances on video. I'm working on editing them so they sound good (my camera goofs up the audio on videos that are longer than a minute) by putting the originally recorded song over the video, and am adding titles and credits. However, YouTube is not letting me upload them for some reason. I'm not sure what's going on with that, so I'm going to keep working with it, and will definitely be posting links when I get them.

So, that was how my last couple of days went. Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Emergency Gel Stops and Actual Emergencies

Not sure why I made the title plural. I'm only talking about one of each event, which did indeed both happen this morning.

So, on our way to school this morning, we stopped at a little convenience store and I wondered if they were picking up some needed food item or something similar on their way in. Cesia and I waited in the car while Tito went up to make the purchase. He returned with a container of hair gel, and it was then I noticed his hair was not gelled down like it normally is outside of the house.

I held back laughter when I realized we had just made an emergency hair gel stop, but that stop ended up timing us perfectly to be following mi familia a few minutes later.

As we continued on, there was suddenly a boom and that awful sound of metal scraping pavement. Sparks flew out from beneath the red SUV in front of it, and as they came to a stop, I had the thought that it looked like Dona Elsa's car. We stopped behind them and Kevin and Lindsay climbed out. It WAS Dona Elsa's car.

We got out and joined them on the side of the road. It was a side street with houses lining both sides. There's really only space for two lanes on the two-way street, and we were blocking one of them. But, Honduranos are used to such things, and had no problem going around us.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but the front left tire was twisted off but still somewhat attached, and the car was resting on it by the driver's door. There was a scrape in the pavement for some distance where something on that part of the car was dragged. At least everyone was fine.

As we stood and discussed giving rides, another car stopped and a girl in the passenger's seat called to Kevin. He ran to the car of his classmate, and that solved the problem of getting Kevin to school. Tito and Cesia quickly agreed to take Lindsay to the University, and then we continued on to the school. Don Javier had already been called and was on his way, so Dona Elsa waited there for him.

So, it was kind of a crazy ride to school today, and way more exciting than I thought it would be. I don't know the fate of the car, but hopefully it is something fixable. It did look pretty bad, though.

But, it was clear that God's hand was in it all. If we hadn't stopped for hair gel, we wouldn't have been behind them on the street. Kevin's friend showed up just in time to take him to school. And, Don Javier was still at home and able to come help out. Plus, we were in a nice neighborhood where there wasn't a safety concern either getting out of the car, or leaving Dona Elsa there to wait. God is good.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Unnecessary Fear - POST #50

Wow. 50 posts. It seems like a lot, but if I kept up with my blog as much as I probably should, it would be a lot more. :) Ah, well.

So, every Thursday, we have Bible study here at the house. It's a great time of worship and fellowship, and Tito shares a message. At the beginning, a different person each time shares a small passage of Scripture with the group. Tito just elects a random person the week before to do it, and there's not a lot of pressure to prepare anything super in depth or anything.

Last week, they decided that I should share a verse. I had been feeling good that night since when we read out loud, I had gotten verses with short words and didn't trip and fall over all the words. I shrugged and agreed to share a verse. It was something I had been thinking about volunteering for anyway.

But then I got really nervous when I thought about how I would be expected to read verses out loud. So, once I picked out the passage I wanted to share, James 1:19-27, I started practicing it. Almost every day since last Friday, I have been practicing reading this passage aloud in Spanish. There are some tough words in there, too! Some days, I read it 2-3 times aloud to myself.

It was almost painful sometimes to read because I went so slow and couldn't wrap my tongue around some of the words. Today, I practiced it again in the afternoon, then took a nap. I dreamed I was saying it, and as I half-woke up, I realized I had parts of it memorized already from saying it so much.

Around 6pm, Tito and Cesia asked me to do a drawing of Tinkerbell for something. It had something to do with Tito's sister and that's about all I got. So, for an hour before Bible study started, I was drawing a picture of Tinkerbell from a coloring book onto a poster board-sized paper while I listened to worship music. It was surprisingly relaxing, and I'm realizing now that it was just what I needed to take my mind off of the fear.

When we did go down for Bible study, I read it one more time, mouthing the words quietly to myself while the others made small talk before we started. I felt confident then, despite the churning in my stomach, and forced myself to relax. All I was doing was reading less than 10 verses, and they all knew how bad my Spanish was, so they weren't about to judge me even if I did mess up. And it's not about me, anyway.

I had to start, and confidently directed them to the passage. The wait until everyone got there was slightly agonizing, but important to be sure they understood as I read. I read deliberately slowly, even with the words that I knew, so I wouldn't get tripped up and so it would sound more natural when I had to read slowly through the bigger words. When I was done, they discussed the importance of having a pure religion, and then we prayed and started worship.

And that was it.

How silly of me to have been so worried about something so small! I do hope to be able to share again, where I will probably do just as much preparation, but only so that I can be sure I get it right, not so much out of fear. My passage actually ended up tying into the message that Cesia shared, about how we are the salt and the light of the earth, and the importance of works in showing others the Gospel.

As rough as these things are for me, it's good for me to practice my Spanish, and helps me build my confidence. Although I can understand quite a bit, it's still hard to form sentences when a reply is required, mostly because I'm not good with tenses. But, I'll get there eventually. :)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Washing Socks and Gluing Books

Things I didn't expect to do today:

1. Wash the paint out of Dayanira's sock.

2. Glue back together the book "Ten Little Ladybugs."

So, we had another adventure in painting this morning. The more often we paint and the more prepared I am, the less stressful it is. Today went well, until the end. I heard the familiar cry of "Miss!" and turned to see that Connie had dropped her red paint, and some of it had fallen onto Dayanira's sock and shoe. Her WHITE sock. I sighed and promptly removed her shoe and sock as carefully as possible. She had paint all the way down to her skin, and the streak was about 3 inches long.

We went into the bathroom, and among other kids washing out paintbrushes and trying to help clean various things, I first rinsed out her sock as best I could and put it and soap in an empty wet wipes container. I got baby wipes for her to wash her foot off and handed out wet wipes to a bunch of the kids for the floor. They then proceeded to wash every surface in the class, which kept them busy as I tried to get the paint out of Dayanira's sock, and carefully wiped it from her shoe.

Good thing I have practice hand-washing laundry. I scrubbed it vigorously and used massive amounts of soap, then would soak it for a while and let Dayanira agitate it within the container. Rinse and repeat, rinse and repeat. By the end of the day, her sock was in slightly better condition than when I started, but it's still pretty much pink. That was an unexpected adventure, but it could have been worse.

 Dayanira's sock as clean as I could manage to get it.

Not as excited, Analia brought me a book at lunch. It did not look much like a book when she brought it to me. The spine had come unglued, so all the pages which falling apart. With this book, the pages are put in like an accordion, glued back to back. So when she brought it to me, it was close to 6 feet long of torn pages coming undone. I ended up spending most of my first break this morning gluing all the pages back together and then the spine. Now, the book is good as new, and I hope it stays. I did actually enjoy this job, and now fully appreciate silicone glue.


Clearly, I should have waited until after school to write this, since I could have added a third thing to my list: Making Mario characters out of Playdoh. Definitely did not have that planned, but it happened. Here's some pictures of my masterpieces:

 Josue, Jazer, Fabian, and Dennis with their Yoshis.

 A pair of Princess Peach's.

 More Princesses.

 And another Peach. I feel like I did the best with this one. :)

 Dayanira enjoying her Princess Peach.

 Emy photobombing the group photo of "Bowser," Peach, Mario, and Luigi.

Dayanira giving Mario and Luigi bunny ears. Yes, they had the letters on their hats, and the outlines of overalls, as well as enlarged hands and they were both sporting mustaches. I wasn't given much playdoh to work with for Bowser, so he looks more like an ordinary Koopa, but it works. He later got smashed.

Also, there may have just been a small fire in the kitchen. There's smoke everywhere, at any rate. I guess this just goes to show that there's never a dull moment here!