Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Travel Journal Entry #2

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal from our first mission to El Sembrador, Honduras.

January 25, 2009

We had to get up early again this morning - 4:30 a.m. We had to leave the guesthouse by 5:00 in order to get to the school in time for church. It was hard to get up so early for the second day in a row. I didn't sleep well. The noise continued all night. Then I awoke to the sound of a crowing rooster. Convinced that we had overslept, I woke Steve up to ask if he had heard it. Of course, he had not. I checked the clock and it was only 2:00 a.m. I decided that I had been mistaken. At 2:10 a second rooster further away was also confused about the time. By 3:30 I realized that roosters in Honduras do not wear watches.

The drive from Teguc was pretty and mountainous, but not much different than NW Arkansas. People lined the route waiting on the primary transportation, the bus, to arrive. Drivers are pretty crazy here and show no fear. They also have a particular fondness for their horns. We stopped at a gas station along the way. It was relatively neat and had the usual variety of snacks and beverages. It was, of course, guarded by a large man with an even larger machine gun.

Immediately upon arriving at El Sembrador, which also hosts a working dairy and beef farm in its 2000 acres, we had to get ready for church. I wore one of the skirts PKBS sewed for me and got many compliments. At church, we saw the boys for the first time. There are about 90 boys enrolled so far, but school has not officially started yet and they expect 120 by next week. They began showing up last week, some all alone and some with their family members. They come from all over the country and all different stories. On boy arrived by foot and had travelled a great distance alone. He came with nothing, but he was welcomed at El Sembrador.

These first few weeks the boys are put to work. They cut the grass using machetes and perform other duties to prepare for classes in the coming weeks. Some of the boys work extra in order to earn their spot at the school. These boys either have little money or no family to support them. They wear uniforms to church and sit in the front pews. We sat at the back. More than 2/3 of the students are here for the first time. So they have never seen Americans and speak no English (except for some curse words!) Some had never been inside a church before. Since this was their first Sunday, some of the boys looked just as confused as us about what was going on.

The service was loud and everyone clapped and danced to every song. We did our best to participate when we could. I didn't understand a single word of the sermon. Except I did manage to hear the words "opportunity" and "El Sembrador" frequently. I think he was discussing what a great opportunity these boys have been given at El Sembrador. The pastor must have been Southern Baptist, because he spoke with his hands and yelled a lot. I think I heard he was from Guatemala.

After the service, the boys filed by and shook our hands before leaving the chapel. We ate separately from the boys for lunch (BBQ chicken and baked potato). Then we all met at the baseball field. Some of the boys had never played baseball before, so it was fun to show them. The men especially bonded with the boys throughout the game. After a short break and a coconut-flavored soda (yummy!), we had a short orientation and were told how the school is run and what we can expect over the next few days. Then, PK and I got cleaned up and wandered around to make some new friends. I'm surprised that it's been difficult for me. The language barrier has made me shy. Everyone else seems to have taken well to the pointing and sign language method of communication, but it feel awkward to me. Even PK seems to be a little more friendly and outgoing. I hope I'll have the courage to be more open when I'm not so exhausted. I've been told the boys love to play Uno. I think that will be a good forum for me. In the meantime, I've made friends with MK (age 8) who seems to like to hear stories about CT and about snow.

After our break, we had dinner - good pizza. At every meal they serve fresh-squeezed limeade which I am guzzling by the gallon. After dinner was church. It was pretty much the same as the morning. Except tonight nine boys went down front for the invitation. ML said she didn't really count one boy because he re-dedicates on a regular basis - probably for attention, but who can say how the Lord works? The rest were all brand new students - and now brand new Christians!
After church, there was a brief, but stinky run-in with a skunk. The boys were very excited and chased it through the camp.

In general, I have a hard time remembering names, but Spanish names are going to be a real challenge! I'm going to try harder though. Lights out. Buenos Noches.

Names I'm trying to remember tonight:
  • Ceasar - speaks a tiny bit of English and loves to test it out on us.
  • Daniel - his name is embroidered on his uniform...should be easy.
  • Dennis
  • Miguel - quiet and played Uno at our table
  • James - speaks a tiny bit of English, but is shy about it
  • Abet - Abbott in English; very outgoing
  • Victor - helps Rueben the maintenance manager [turns out Rueben is Victor's uncle]
  • Luis - 17 years old and in the 6th grade; said a curse word at the Uno table and was completely embarrassed when he realized I understood it.
  • Darwin

Monday, May 18, 2009

Twinkle Toes

It's amazing what a cute new nail polish can do for your outlook. Last night I got a new bottle of cocoa colored nail polish with glitter. Spring has finally arrived and I can wear my open-toed heels to work. Every time I look down and see that little twinkle, I can't help but smile. Yep, glitter nail polish can work wonders on a Monday.b

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Licking Walls

We're trying to get our house ready to rent out. In order to get enough to cover the mortgage payment while we're in Honduras, we need to finally finish the downstairs bathroom. As some of you may know, the bathroom has been a blight on our marriage. After 8 years of fighting, we finally have incentive to kiss, make up and install a toilet. Anyway, this week PK is building walls. I'm not exactly sure what building walls entails, but apparently there's something to do with sanding. Lucky for us, the new bathroom is located right next to our ventilation, so there's a fine layer of dust on everything in our home. And when I say everything...I mean everything. PK resembles Casper more and more every hour. My hair is more gray than usual and I think I just sneezed a cloud. In short, I can now tell you what a wall tastes like....and it isn't as tasty as you might think.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Travel Journal Entry #1

The following is an excerpt from my travel journal from our first mission to El Sembrador, Honduras.

January 24, 2009

-16 degrees this morning.

Our trip to Honduras started out a little ominous. CT has been sick and I hated to leave him. At least he has Mom to take care of him.

We had to wake up at 3:40 this morning to get to the airport. I'm looking forward to warmer weather. At the airport, a member of our group had a passport problem and was not allowed to board to the flight [passports must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned return]. She's going to have to make an appointment with the passport office in Houston. Since today is Saturday, she'll have to wait until at least Monday to resolve the situation. I called Uncle Sonny and he agreed to met her at the airport and help get her where she needs to go. What a heartbreak to miss the first few days of the trip! She took it surprisingly well. Luckily, another one of our team members has had a similar experience in the past and he knew exactly what to do.

The flight to Houston was uneventful, but the sunrise was incredible. I had a window seat. The colors reflected off the snow. I've never seen a sunrise from quite that perspective before. It was stunning.

I haven't decided what I think of our little group. They are all much older than us with grandkids. So far, I have found very little in common with any of them. It doesn't help that they all know eachother and are comfortable in eachother's company. I can't imagine becoming close friends with any of them, but they are friendly enough and they have good hearts. I may have to put a lid on my sarcastic humor though. It doesn't seem to go over well. [I was mistaken when I wrote this. We became very close with our group and we have shared a lot of laughter and tears together. We are blessed to have each of them in our lives.]

82 degrees this afternoon.

We arrived in Tegucigalpa this evening. Teguc has the shortest runway in the world. In fact, last year it was shut down because a plane ran off the end. So I was a little nervous about the landing. I knew about the short runway, but no one had told me about it being nestled in a valley between some very high mountains. It was a little scary, but the pilots must be very skilled because we didn't seem to have any trouble. It was actually quite a pretty view as we came in. The city is spread out and runs up and down the hillsides. The housed are very close together, but they are brightly colored and almost cheerful.

The guesthouse in Teguc is pleasant enough. We're not allowed to drink the water here, but they've provided plenty of bottled. The building is actually like several houses stacked on top of eachother and built into the hillside. We have a private room and even a bathroom to ourselves. Everyone else has to share. In Honduras, the people do not flush their toilet paper. Instead they drop it into a waste basket - ick! Lucky for us the guesthouse is American-ized and everyone is asked to flush their used tissue.

Tonight, the director of the school drove us around and took us to the mall. Only a few of us went along. PK has been so great. He went with us even though it was just girls. We were warned that it was dangerous to drive around at night. I think PK could tell that I was nervous, but I wanted to go. So he came along to guard the ladies. My knight in shining armour!

The mall was a lot like an American mall. It had a Radio Shack, Baskin Robbins, TGI Fridays and tons of cell phone stores. There are two noticeable differences: 1) the exorbitant prices here in Honduras and 2) the armed guards in each and every store.

We all gathered together at Pizza Hut for dinner. I was a little disappointed because I'm anxious to try local food. But it was a treat for the missionaries daughters. They rarely get to eat out - much less American food. Steve and I are such heathens! We started munching before the blessing. We'll have to be more careful in the future!

We're ready for bed now. We have to get up really early in order to get to the school in time for church. The air has cooled off a bit and there's a little breeze from our open window....and a lot of traffic noise! Goodnight.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Leave of Absence

My Blog's been on vacation for quite a while now...more like a leave of absence. I'd like to tell you that I've been relaxing on a beach somewhere remote with no internet access, but I don't think there's any such place anymore. Besides, the truth is that I've just been Blog lazy. It's not that my life hasn't been interesting. In fact, there's been more drama and excitement in my life than ever lately. And it's not that I haven't had plenty of time to Blog. I think it's fair to say that I've been a bit overwhelmed. Sometimes we go through a period in life where everything changes and everything happens at once. During these times it's very hard for me to write. When you'd think I'd have a lot to say, that's when I can't seem to put a sentence together. It's kinda like a profound writer's block. I just don't know where to start.

Well, eventually you'll get caught up on what's been happening in my life and in my heart. In the meantime, I want to thank whatever blog readers I have for checking back in. Rest assured I'm still alive and well.

Since you're already here, let me just fill you in a little. PK, CT and I have been appointed to the mission field in Honduras. We'll be going for an entire year as Missionary Volunteer Partners at Escuela El Sembrador. I'll be keeping the Blog world updated on God's plans and how they're shaping up for us. In the meantime, I'm taking a crash course in Spanish and trying to figure out how I'm going to survive with no air conditioning.

Buenos Noches and Beef Nachos!