Wednesday, December 2, 2015

School Stories: Thanksgiving, the Secret Garden, and Animal Friends

The past (insert however long it's been since my last post) have been filled with a lot of activities. We're still getting ready for our Christmas show which is now LESS THAN TWO WEEKS AWAY, and we also had Thanksgiving, and finished preparing and planting (for now) our "secret garden." Here are some more school stories for you.

Since Thanksgiving is primarily an American holiday, not that many people actually celebrate it here, except for the bilingual schools. After doing the smoothie challenge with my kids (which you can see here), they had some time to play and then we all sat down together as a gigantic crazy family to eat Popeye's chicken, fruit, and various snack foods. It was a lot of fun despite the natural insanity that comes from trying to feed 60 kids and 15 adults in such a small space...

Normally we have everything in the church so there's a bit more space to work with. Last year, I actually had a dance battle with a couple of the boys while we waited for the food to arrive, but there was only enough room for a turkey sound-alike contest this year... I should have won, but the kids were too excited about our very reserved director making some turkey noises, so they all cheered for her instead of me... But I'm not bitter about that at all... Mostly because there wasn't a prize involved... Anyway, the reason why we weren't able to have it in the church is that we are expanding the church to double its size, so there's currently a very large hole in one of the walls. Here is the empty church right before they took out the wall.

The whole wall by the stage up to the first air conditioner is now just a tarp.

The garden has been a big project that both third and fourth grade have been helping with immensely. I definitely wouldn't have been able to do it all myself. It started as a science project about how plants grow, but then when they actually started growing I wanted to plant them somewhere, and then I also solved the problem of where to plant my own growing tomato and pepper plants after getting permission to plant a garden in the gated-off area between the school and the wall of the soccer field. So, after a lot of weed-pulling, digging, and finding bugs, we've got plants in the ground and they're doing GREAT!

Fourth grade working hard at pulling weeds and digging.

Third grade working on digging to loosen up the soil and get out the big rocks before planting.

We found some wildlife while we were at it, and these two worms were just the tip of the iceberg.

The miniature rock wall that we built with all the rocks we found in the ground.

The tomatoes and bell peppers I've been growing at home ready to go into the ground.

5 of my tomatoes from home and the 3 that sprouted at school in the ground!

We set up an old gate as a trellis for the tomatoes and to hold the seedlings that are still growing. I made sure to rope off the area to prevent accidents.

Little sunflowers planted in a row. :D

This is some type of flowering plant that one of the girls brought. My policy with the garden is: if you bring it, we will plant it.

These are the strawberries that have sprouted at my house from strawberries that I bought at the store... They're tiny little guys, but are getting bigger slowly but surely every day! (Yes, you have to squint a little to see them, but there are about a dozen there.)

The other morning, I saw something adorable happening outside, so I went out to take a picture. It's hard to see, but this is a little poodle-y dog and a cat hanging out. The dog is actually somebody's pet, because they came around the corner and were looking for him/her right after I took the picture, and I'm assuming the cat is a stray. But, they were hanging out together for a bit and I thought it was cute so I snapped a picture. The distance was pushing the limits of my phone's zooming capabilities, but I'm glad I was able to get some sort of picture before they both slipped into a hole in the wall that's below the half-wall they're both sitting on.

Best friends. :)

Thanks for reading!

Please be praying:
- That the construction on the church is completed before our Christmas show.
- That everyone comes together to make our Christmas show amazing.
- That I continue to seek God in everything I do and put Him first in my life.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

School Stories - Pinatas, Rainbows, and Poems

This week, I decided to focus more on my third grade class since last week was all about fourth grade... Quite on accident, I assure you. Sometimes, one grade is just more interesting than the other. As crazy as things are already getting as I have to leave my kids to work on their own while I practice for Christmas with the older grades, we're still finding plenty of time to have fun and keep things interesting.

Here is the saga of the 3rd Grade piñata... Which I documented through the daily vlog I'm doing over on my YouTube channel.

First, you see my kids begging me to do a piñata because they apparently hate the Lion King... Who hates the Lion King? It's the best movie EVER!

Then, when it came to actual piñata-making day, none of them had brought the balloons they were supposed to, so I sort of rant about that and describe the version of a piñata we did that I wasn't sure would actually turn out....

Then, I managed to use masking tape and pure magic (I guess) to keep it all together, and somehow we had an actual piñata that actually survived a few blows....

They're all smiles (and rabbit ears) so they must be happy about how it turned out!

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We're also doing a unit on poetry in third grade, so part of their homework involves them writing poems. Although I only require 4 lines, I sometimes get more, like this masterpiece about cooking, done as a shape poem (which we did in Spelling class).

I am cooking
If I don't cook I don't eat.
My mom don't cook because
she don't lik and my brother to
is not in the house. I love
cook because I can do pizza
cake and spagety.

(by Angeles)

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This picture I took from right outside my bedroom one morning. It was raining as I was getting ready, and then as I was rushing to go downstairs where my ride was waiting, I caught sight of this beauty and decided there was always time to take a picture of a rainbow.

Sidenote, the easy access to other rooftops often makes me think of Aladdin....

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My third graders have also been working hard on a science project in their own homes about the needs of plants. Unfortunately, I only got pictures of two of their finished projects which they brought to present to the class, but here they are:

Angeles bought two similarly-sized flowers and put one in a bag and didn't water it...
She determined that plants need sunlight and water.

Juan Jose chose to grow plants from seeds, one of which was placed in a plastic bag. This gave me a good opportunity to talk about how seeds hold nutrients so that plants grown from seeds don't actually need sunlight at the beginning. I further showed that with Jahir's project, which was basically the same as this one. But, his plant that had sunlight was bright green whereas the other was much more dull in color.

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Last Monday, it was the director's birthday, so they had a surprise party here at the house. I decided to spend most of the afternoon painting my nails rather than doing any writing work, so here is the result of that.....

Yes. That's a feather on my ring finger.
No, it actually wasn't that hard to do.

That's it for this week. I'm expecting this next week to be just as exciting, because when you're working with kids, you just never know what's going to happen next!

Please be praying:
- That God continue to move in the hearts of the kids as we have daily worship and prayer times.
- That everything continue to come together smoothly for the Christmas show, which is in less than 4 weeks already!
- That I continue to seek God first in everything.
Also, quick praise report: Last week, I was suffering from some pretty intense lower back pain, but thanks to a chiropractor friend in my Bible study, I am now completely pain-free once again! :D

Sunday, November 8, 2015

School Stories - Science Project, Twins, and More!

I meant to start updating this weekly, but totally forgot last Sunday, so here's two weeks worth of fun school stories, with pictures!

In science, we were learning about plant reproduction, so they were all asked to bring in two flowers so that in case some of them forgot, there would potentially be enough for everyone to do one.... One girl remembered and showed up with two roses... They're lucky I love them and wasn't actually giving points for it. So, it turned into a group project and competition (boys verses girls, of course) to find as many different parts of the flower as possible.

Opening up the rose to prepare to tear it apart.....

..... And the rose has been destroyed in the name of science.

If you couldn't figure it out, the girls' project is on the left and the boys' is on the right. :)

The boys technically one with more parts labeled......

But I also considered the girls winners for pure artistic work.

In reading class this past week, we were reading about weird jobs, including line waiters, egg smellers, chocolate engineers, and.... zombies. Since the beginning of the year, a couple of the kids have been stumbling across this picture randomly and insisting that it was my boyfriend, so at their request, I sent it to my actual boyfriend and said that it was my real boyfriend. He responded with a series of angry faces and guns, then said my boyfriend was disgusting.... And then a few hours later sent me a picture that said "I'm so glad I know you" so I'm pretty sure he was over it by then.... :D

Probably no reason for real jealousy here......

This precious young lady is Gissel. Her and I apparently are twins or at least psychically coordinate our accessories before coming to school...

Matching pink headbands....

.... and it's hard to see, but we're both sporting butterfly earrings.
(that's Kyle photobombing our twin selfie)

If I've learned anything teaching, it's that kids are crazy, and they have some pretty interesting thoughts on the way things work. This masterpiece was done by Dennisito. It's apparently me, accidentally pooping out a baby.... As much as I wish it were that easy right now, I can imagine a future me will wish it even more.....

Also, I'm a little concerned because it appears that the baby is going down the drain....

That's all I got for you this week. Hopefully I'll have some more fun stories and pictures for you next week.

Please be praying:
- That everything goes well with organizing, planning, and practicing the Christmas program.
- That the construction on the church continues to move forward so we can be in our bigger sanctuary very soon.
- That God continue to fill me with Him and everything that I need to pour out more of Him onto the kids.
- For the school, that everything works out with the math teacher position.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Back to School!

Ok... Yes, it's nearing the end of October and actually we've just finished up the first semester so we're already 1/4 of the way through the school year.... But close enough, right?

In my last "real" blog post, I talked about a really cool opportunity that I had to teach at a school in a poor area where I could really make a big impact. However, that opportunity fell through for several reasons that were not related to me. It was devastating at the time, though.

I spent a nice 6 weeks visiting family and friends in Michigan during the summer. I was also working during that time which sort of sucked, but I feel like I also would have gone crazy if I wasn't doing anything productive while I was there. It was mostly the online writing jobs that I normally do, so it was only a couple hours a day.

Anyway... I also spent a lot of the summer just feeling like I was adrift and had no real direction or plan for what I was going to do upon my return to Honduras. I had several more opportunities with other ministry groups, but there was always something that just didn't allow it to work out, so I just met more and more disappointment... It was a little rough.

Finally, after much praying, I realized that God had me right where He wanted me, so I have returned to the same school, though I have been given different grade levels. I'm now teaching 3rd and 4th grade, which is a million times easier than the little ones. We've been having a lot of fun, and if you haven't seen some of the videos we've made, then you should check out my YouTube channel...

Right now I'm doing daily vlogs throughout October, so that's been fun. I may continue through November, but we'll see. I'm also planning the whole Christmas production for the school, so there's a lot that I have to do for that... Including choreographing a LOT of songs.... Which is my fault for picking songs that aren't super popular, but I'm trying to get a point across and need songs that go with the skit, so.... I've already choreographed 5 or so, but need another 3 or 4...

So, that's pretty much what's going on with me right now. I am going to be updating my blog on a weekly basis with weekly highlights. The posts will be shorter and will hopefully have more pictures in them, but I want to get better about keeping people updated on my life here in Honduras.

Please be praying:
- For preparations for the Christmas show to go well.
- For a member of the church/school staff who just lost his son.
- For missionary friends that are moving back to the States after 9 years of serving in Honduras.
- For my relationship with my boyfriend to be honoring to God and continuing to grow.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

I'm Officially Honduran Now!

Well, it's official. I am a Resident of Honduras! My paperwork finally went through after months of waiting, and I went to Immigration on Tuesday where I paid the final fee, handed over my paperwork, got fingerprinted, and then was handed my official paper that says that I am a Honduran Resident. Eventually I'll get an actual ID card that I can more easily carry with me, but in the meantime, this paper means that I don't have to leave the country every 90 days and that I don't need to have a "return" ticket when flying out from the United States.

It makes me feel like an official Honduran.

Monday, May 25, 2015

The Door is Open...

The door is open, but whether or not I will be able to walk through it is still up in the air.

I currently have an opportunity to work at a different school that is in the works by a missionary friend of mine. They have a sponsorship program in a poor community where they get kids into schools that wouldn't otherwise have a chance to go. They now have so many kids enrolled in the public schools that the schools are refusing to take more of these sponsored kids, so they have decided to open their own school.

When they approached me about it, I had already been seriously considering a move to another amazing ministry far outside of the city. There, I would be primarily in charge of the animals and help create a sustainability program with the local community, and would also be able to help with the trade school where women make jewelry among other things.

I visited them over Easter break and LOVED it because it was a lot of working with my hands and the animals and great people, but something just didn't quite feel right about it. I honestly can't explain it, but I just didn't have an absolute peace about going there. But I was still thinking about it and wrestling with my decision when J offered me a teaching position at their school.

Of course I then spent several weeks going back and forth and not being completely sure about either, and frequently joked about just tossing a coin to decide. As it would turn out, there were a couple of seemingly minor events that confirmed my direction.

One night, I did actually pull out a coin and flipped it. While it was in the air, I knew I wanted it to land on the school, on staying here in San Pedro Sula and working with the kids that I love, the ones that don't have another chance to go to school, the ones that I've already been working with on the street.

There's a large Coca Cola sign on the side of the mountain that can be seen from a number of places around San Pedro, and there's also a trail that goes up the mountain so that you can go behind the sign. My roomie and I conquered said mountain trail one Saturday morning and as I took in the breath-taking view of the city beneath me, the thought that bubbled up along with a strong sense of belonging was: "This is my city."

I've never considered myself a city girl, despite the fact that I spent the majority of my life in the suburbs of Detroit, but there's something about this city that just makes it feel like my city. My heart is here. I don't know how this big city stole my heart, and I certainly don't know when, but somewhere along the way, it happened.

And so... If all goes well with the paperwork process involved in starting a school here, I will be taking a teaching position starting in February. The school year here goes from February to November, although a lot of bilingual schools are on the American schedule of September to June.

Here's the catch: I will be teaching Spanish reading and writing.

This is slightly terrifying. In a recent blog post, I talk about Corner School, where I have been teaching the street kids Spanish reading and writing. So, I know it's something I can do, but on the street corner with 2 - 3 kids that have no expectations and are not going to be tested on anything is a heck of a lot different from being in a class of 10+ kids that do have to learn everything and will be tested on it. And it's something I will be getting paid for and have to prepare for and all that jazz.

So, after I head up to Michigan to visit family and friends for the summer, I will be returning in August to begin one-on-one Spanish tutoring. My original plan was to attend a Spanish school, but after much asking around, I found a friend who is a great Spanish tutor (she's tutored several missionary friends of mine who all recommend her) who's going to charge me less than half that I would pay in an actual school.

So, since I won't be getting paid (except in online work if I can keep getting it) during that time, I'm looking for donations and any assistance that I can. Here is a breakdown of my anticipated expenses during that time. I don't yet know where I'll be living, so that is estimated, but here is my budget during that time:

Tutoring - $6.50/hour for 10 hours/week - $65/week - $260/month
Housing/Utilities - $150/month
Food/Etc. - $100/month
Misc. - $100/month

Total: $610/month
For 3 months: $1830

If you are interested in helping, here are some ways that you can help:

Donate directly to me though PayPal:

Donate through my GoFundMe campaign:

Buy some of the jewelry I have for sale:

Hire me over the summer!
   - Babysitting
   - Painting
   - Yard work / Gardening
   - House Sitting / Pet Watching (possibly my house with pets)
   - Summer tutoring
   - Spanish lessons
   - House / Garage cleaning (I'll even haul away the junk you don't want.)
   - Pretty much anything else you could possibly need help with!

More than anything, though, please continue to pray for me as I step out in faith every day and try to follow God's plan for my life. Pray for the legal process involved in starting the school, that they would have favor and that everything would fall into place. Pray for me as I transition to being back in the States for longer than I've been in over a year and for transition back to Honduras after that. Pray for every student that God has already planned on placing in the school that they would get sponsors and be able to come and learn and be loved.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

ESL Stories - Part 2

This is the second installment of some cute and funny ESL stories that I have gathered from school. Kids are funny to begin with, so when you throw in a language barrier, things get hilarious. It can be frustrating at times, of course, but the moments of frustrations are far outweighed by the moments of joy and hilarity.

Click here to read my first installment of ESL stories!

First, a quote from me: "Ok... No more dance. It's exam time."

For some reason, one of my first graders simultaneously got stuck on "2005" and Beethoven's 5th symphony (the one played in the movie about the dog with the same name for those who are not overly familiar with classical music). This resulted in her singing "two-thousand-five" repeatedly to the tune of Beethoven's 5th. Still not sure why that was happening, but eventually one of the other students picked up on my mild annoyance at it and decided to tell her to stop by using the same tune to sing "no-thousand-no...."

In Kindergarten, things can get very weird very quickly as a result of their limited English combined with their endless desires to amuse and entertain and be the centers of attention. One day, I was asking what something was called. I'm no longer sure what I was referencing, but it had nothing to do with the Lord, sheep, or green pastures. However, one of the girls responded by quoting the Psalm they're memorizing: "The Lord is my shepherd... Even though I walk through the valley...."

In first grade, we do journal entries almost every day. It gives them a chance to do something a little different and we can talk about whatever I want rather than having to stick just with the book lessons. During the month of February, we made a paper chain that contained words on it that had to do with love, pulling mainly from I Corinthians 13. One of the words therefore was "believe." So as we made a list together of things we believe in, one of the girls started singing: "I believe I can fly."

In Kindergarten, we were working on learning future tenses of verbs, and despite the similarity between English "future" and Spanish "futuro" they were having a hard time remembering what future was. So it happened that one day in class I asked, "What is future?" to which one student replied, "Octopus." After rejecting her answer, another student thought for a moment and replied, "Future is Wednesday."

During chapel on Fridays, we sing a variety of songs, one of which is called "Jesus is my Superhero." The chorus consists of singing "Yeah.... yeah... yeah... yeah...." then declaring that Jesus is better than [fill in name of superhero]. One day in first grade I asked a student if she had a pencil and rather than simply answering yes, she answered by singing, "Yeah.... yeah.... yeah... yeah..." complete with hand motions.

I have a personal rule about laughing at students. I simply do not do it, no matter how poorly or badly they mispronounce words. The last thing I want is for them to think that I'm laughing at them and I know how it feels to be laughed at for bad Spanish. However, I broke that rule a while ago because I was completely caught off-guard by the word that was mispronounced and because of the way it was spoken. In Kindergarten's vocabulary class, they had the phrase "put on your clothes" as part of the lesson on what your day looks like. We hadn't studied it much in class, but they had been given flashcards with the words on them to study at home, so I hoped that at least a couple of them might know the cards when I pulled them out in class. One boy did... sort of. When I showed him the card and asked him what it was, he got excited because he knew it from studying with his mom (who doesn't speak any English) and loudly proclaimed, "Put on your CRAP!" I lost it, regained my composure to correct him on it and get the kids to say it correctly several times, and we moved on. As we went through the cards a second time, it came up for the girl sitting next to him. She couldn't remember it, so he helpfully whispered it in her ear. Like him, she loudly proclaimed it to be "Put on your CRAP!" Again, I lost it. That time I also tried to explain that it was a bad word to discourage them from making a habit out of it, but I'm not sure they caught that. At any rate, I was able to correct them on it, and no longer had them say it unless I read it first to them.

Hope you enjoyed them! Thanks for reading!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Corner School

It's been a while since I've updated as per usual. A lot has been happening since then which has kept me busy. Teaching remains as busy as usual, and I've added a couple of personal blogs that keep me busy in my off time, PLUS my roomie and I started up a little ministry which we call "Corner School."

Corner School happens at the intersection by the mall where a bunch of street kids (and a few homeless guys) hang out. It happened one day that on our way out of the mall, we decided to buy baleadas (my favorite Honduran food) for the handful that were out that day, and while we waited for the women to make them so we could pay, we discussed what we could do for these kids to sort of make them work for their food.

So, I asked them if they went to school. One of them was in school, another had gone to school through 3rd grade, and the other two were not in school. We asked if they wanted use to teach them since we were teachers. The one who had gone through 3rd grade asked in English or Spanish and I said whatever they wanted. He was eager to learn English, so we agreed to teach them starting soon.

A couple weeks went by before we were able to actually get started, and the day before we planned on starting was a Sunday. We were walking to meet a friend at Denny's when we found about 10 of the boys hanging around the corner. They gathered around us at the urging of one of the older boys and I made the announcement that we would be teaching English and Spanish starting the following day at 4pm.

And so it began.

We now go Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday at 4pm. We have 15 notebooks that we carry to and from the mall each day, but rarely have more than 6 to 8 kids show up. Most of them work in Spanish with me, and a few of them work with English with Dana. She now has a guy our age who sells fruits in the streets who wants to learn English that she works with.

I don't know how much of a difference it's going to make in the long run, and I don't know if these kids will ever be able to read or write fluently since many of them don't come consistently, but I know that some of them are starting to learn and they are eager to learn and work hard when they do come. But what is more important than teaching them to read and write is the time that we're investing in them that will hopefully show them God's love.

One day, my star student Walter got hit in the side by an older boy as we arrived. I didn't really see it happen, but I did see Walter sitting on the ground, crying and upset. Knowing that the other boys would do nothing to comfort him, I went over and sat beside him. I put my arm around him, asked him what happened, and gently rubbed his head and back as he vented about what the other boy had done to him. Since the boys don't really have supervision and there's not really anything I can do about it, there was nothing much I could say, but I was able to comfort him.

The thing is, even if years from now none of them remember me, I will remember them. Even if I don't end up doing anything for them, they did something for me, probably more than they'll ever know, and probably more than I'll even realize.

You see, my Spanish sucked up until a couple months ago. Sure, I understood a lot and could even order food for myself, but when it came to having an actual full conversation in Spanish, it just didn't happen. I have some social phobias, and because I knew my Spanish wasn't the best, I tended to get super fearful when it came time to talk in Spanish and whatever Spanish I did have suddenly disappeared and I couldn't come up with any words and just felt more embarrassed.

So, I never really spoke in Spanish which meant it never got any better which meant I still got nervous when I had to speak it. I had also been teased about it by a guy, which made me feel even more incompetent... But because I was in a teaching environment in which I was comfortable and talking with kids that weren't judging me on my Spanish or making me feel bad about it, something clicked. It was like all the Spanish that was locked up inside me had become unlocked and I began to speak it more freely and without fear.

One day in particular stood out to me. It was the only day (so far) that I've gone to Corner School by myself, but my roomie had a massive migraine and I wasn't going to let the kids down. That day, a young woman approached me and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. I told her and invited her to join us anytime, but she worked until past the time we usually started. Another woman stopped in her car and asked about what I was doing, and I sent my phone number to her (via one of the kids).

Then, on the way home, a guy who had seen me on the corner was coming out of his business and asked me about what I was doing with the kids. We ended up talking for nearly 5 minutes about it, and I only tripped over my words a couple of times, but just kept going. I exchanged names with him, became Facebook friends, and started hanging out with him.... He's now my boyfriend. He speaks virtually no English.

No no matter where I go or who I'm talking to, my Spanish just flows more freely and I don't worry that much when I don't have the words right because it doesn't matter as much. Sometimes I stumble and fall in my words, but I just keep getting up and plugging along. I definitely have those kids to thank, who were willing to open up to me to allow me to teach them. I hope that I can continue working with them and maybe someday I can repay them for what they've done for me.

Please be praying for me in these ways:
- I have a HUGE decision coming up as to where I might be doing ministry next fall. Please pray that I make the right decision based on what God would have me do, not based on what I want to do.
- Pray that my new relationship continues to bring glory to God and that we continue to seek God's will in our lives.
- Pray for the kids that come to Corner School, that they would recognize that we're there because they love them and that we love them because God loves them.
- Pray for the older guys we've met at the corner who want to get clean but don't know how (I am talking with a friend about getting them to a rehab center).
- Pray for the kids at Eagle's that they would continue to work hard in the final semester and that God would continue to give me the patience I need to get through the rough days.
- Pray for traveling mercies as I am currently in Costa Rica renewing my visa and will be traveling back to Honduras tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Moving In and The Great Fridge Adventure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, January 15, 2015


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you, and God bless!