Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hotdishes and Casseroles

I managed to make it through the entire weekend without having to cook. Today after church we went out with the mossionaries to a hotel for lunch. I didn't realize how stressful it is to never quite understand what's going on around you. It was such a nice change to have a menu printed in English. It felt like a luxury. I had the fish which is so fresh and wonderful. It was served with french fries and a cold bottle of coke...that's right glass bottles. It was such a delicious meal.

This evening we were surprised to find out that it was time for the monthly potluck that no one remembered to warn us about. So we had to scramble to come up with something to bring. Luckily, we had a huge bottle of salsa and a bag of chips. We also had a fresh pineapple that we cut up. I could've eaten the whole thing by myself. It was the best pineapple I've ever had. Lucky for us, everyone else seemed better prepared for the potluck and we were treated to some very interesting hotdishes and casseroles, as well as some strange kind of corn dogs, pork ribs and a meatloaf.

Hondurans talk a lot with their hands. They are constantly gesturing and waving their arms around when they speak. This became a problem at dinner when the pastor was in the middle of a very dramtic story and he somehow managed to fling his arms into one of his students who was carrying the cake for dessert. Needless to say, the ants got more cake than the rest of us and the poor student had nothing to offer the potluck! We told the pastor that he should save the exciting stories until after dinner in the future.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

International Cuisine

Today we attended a farewell lunch for one of the office ladies who accepted a different job. We were surprised to find out the menu was Chinese take-out. It was about the same as Chinese food back home...except the meat look especially suspicious here.

Then for dinner, we convinced another missionary to give us a ride into to town for dinner. We ate pizza at the Texaco, which is the fast food of Catacamas. It tasted about how you would expect gas station pizza to taste, but it was nice to be out for a change. Apparently, the Texaco is the place to be on a Saturday night because there was a large crowd and loud music in the parking lot. CT was especially excited to be out because he got to ride in the back of the pick-up, which is common practice in Olancho. However, we did have to pull over once because our Honduran friend who rode with him convinced him to stand up. This may be perfectly normal in Olancho, but is not acceptable for this gringo mom who almost had a heart attack!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

No Appointment Necessary

This week the medical team is visiting El Sembrador. This is a group of doctors and nurses and even one dentist from all over the U.S. who come down and provide physical exams for all the students and employees at no charge. Most of the boys rarely, if ever, see a doctor, so this is a huge undertaking. Almost all the boys are infected with parasites from poor drinking water. So, the first order of business is medication to rid them of the parasites. Their eyes, ears, teeth and any other obvious issues are also examined and treated. This team brings down suitcases filled with the most common medications.

After they see all the boys and families on campus, the team climbs on an old school bus and ride hours up into the mountains to remote villages. They set up a clinic at the school or church and see the entire population. PK and I were lucky enough to ride along with the team for a couple of days. The drive was beautiful, but bumpy. In fact, we encoutered a stream with no bridge and had to drive the bus right through the water. The villages are small and dusty and almost inaccessible by car. The mountains are steep and the houses seem to barely cling to the side of cliffs. Trash litters the ground everywhere and dogs roam in packs occasionally breaking into snarling fights over a scrap of garbage.

My job was to give out the de-worming medication to all the young children. My heart breaks to know that the medicine will only last a few weeks before the kids are infected again. They rarely have clean drinking water in the remote villages. The main condition the doctors see is many, many pregnancies. Everyone in town seems to be pregnant. We saw many teen mothers including two twelve-year-olds. Otherwise, the complaints are pretty similar...headaches, backaches and coughing and congestion. Most of this is attributed to carrying water for miles on the head or cooking over fire indoors with no chimney to allow the smoke to escape.

After they see the doctors, the families are sent to the dentist, which is usually set up a few feet away from the main clinic. They waste no time with fillings. Instead they pull rotten teeth. One lady had 10 teeth pulled in one sitting! Then they make their way to the pharmacy, where most are given ibuprofin for pain and any other medication the doctors prescribe.

When the doctors come, it is a real event. Everyone in town comes. Vendors set up stands to sell lunch and trinkets. The Bible School students went along with us and entertained the children while they waited. They brought puppets and books and even sang songs. Some people wait in line for hours to see the doctor. No one seems to mind though. They're in no hurry and seem to enjoy the time spent among friends and neighbors. Everyone dresses in their best clothes. It almost feels like a party.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What Day Is It?

Someone told me that tomorrow is Valentine's Day. At El Sembrador, we never know what day it is. They are all the same, except for Sundays. When I say every day is the same, I mean that they are the same in that they are all different. I mean we never do the same things from day to day, but they feel the same, if that makes sense. There is endless work here and you never know what you'll find yourself doing from one day to the next. But it sort of all runs together...kind of like when you're a kid and the summer seems like endless days of adventure.

There's no time clock to punch or commute at El Sembrador. The work day never begins or ends and we're always on call. In fact, all the clocks run at different speeds because of the inconsistent electricty, so we never know what time it actually is. If it weren't for the bell that rings at mealtimes and bedtime, we wouldn't even know if it was morning or afternoon. We have no car and we rarely leave the school campus. We are working harder and longer than we ever have before. It sounds like a prison. But there is freedom like I've never experienced before. There's freedom in doing what you are meant to do. I am profoundly aware the most people don't get to experience this kind of freedom and I am so grateful for every moment.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Worshipping Honduran Style

This week we loaded all the boys onto buses and went to Catacamas for church. It was quite a different atmosphere than we're used to in the States.

So far, we have witnessed 13 young men accept Christ at Escuela El Sembrador. This week when you settle into your favorite pew, think of us and the boys at El Sembrador. We are worshipping alongside you. Even though we are thousands of miles away and even though we are speaking a different language, we are all worshipping the same Great God together.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Family Resemblance

Yesterday morning PK, CT and I went for a walk in the jungle. On our way back, we discovered that PK is part Honduran as we met some of his cousins along the path.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

You Just Had to Be There

It's hard to write about El Sembrador. I don't want to make this blog just a list of things that happen, but so much happens here! When we first considered coming to El Sembrador for the first time, our friends told us "We can't tell you. You have to be there yourself." The more we are here, the more this rings true. As difficult as it is to describe the atmosphere here, it is nearly impossible to describe my feelings about it. I am so passionate about this ministry and the boys here that I can't do them justice with words.

I don't want to blog a list of events, but I know everyone wants to know what it's like to live here. Just know that these experiences are just the beginning of life at Escuela El Sembrador. To get the full picture, you just have to be here.

This weekend, most of the missionaries went into Tegucigalpa leaving us as the lone Americans on campus. Last night, we were surprised by a few of the Bible School students at our door. These students are in school for ministry and are usually in their 20s. They asked if they could use our electrcity and showed us a long extension cord. They tried to tell us what they were doing, but we didn't understand. About an hour later, they were back with a bag of groceries they asked us to put in the house for later. Well, I had to sneak a little peek! It was several bags of marshmallows. By supper time it was clear that we were hosting a large bonfire in our front yard! The extension cord was to power a microphone and a large collection of wood suddenly appeared in the yard. We're learning that this kind of spontaneous activity is just the typical day at El Sembrador. Someone brought a guitar, so we all sang of which required us all to join hands and make a circle, then skip around in the circle. We still don't really know why, but the boys seemed to love it. Then we played a game similar to hot potato. The difference was that the potato was made of paper and the one stuck with it when the music stopped had to open the paper and answer a question on it. Wouldn't you know that PK was the first one stuck with the potato! Lucky for him, I was able to translate the question and he apparently gave the correct answer. At least, I think he did, because everyone clapped. But Hondurans are known for being very polite, so I guess we'll never know.

I know it may sound like a typical impromptu campfire for over 100 people, but you just had to be there.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Must've been something I ate

I haven't felt very well the last few days. I think my stomach must be adjusting to the different foods. PK and CT are fine, so it must not be my cooking! I spent most of yesterday afternoon in bed. But it wasn't long after supper (which PK cooked for himself and CT), that a few boys showed up to play games at our house. I can never turn down a game with the guys, so I managed to make it through the evening.

Reyes is one of the boys we know from last year. Our friends back home sponsor him here at El Sembrador. He has stopped by several times already to visit and play games. He seems to look after the younger boys, including least he tolerates them and they seem to hang on his every word.

I'm still not 100% today, but I'm determined to stay as productive as possible. Of course, PK never stops working and is busy installing lighting in a new storage area above the office. We have a meeting with the director today to talk about his vision and plans for us while we're here.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Lost in Translation

I had my first translation faux pas last night. In our Spanish classes, we were taught that "tonto" meant silly. So, when I learned the word for monkey ("mono"), I immediately gave CT the nickname "mono tonto". After using it several times in public, I realized that I was getting some pretty strange looks. So, I asked one of the boys why. Apparently, in Honduras the word "tonto" has a different connotation. I had been calling my child a "stupid monkey" all evening! Not exactly the example I intended to set!

I'm able to communicate a little with the boys if I can get them to speak slow enough, but I'm disappointed that I don't understand as much as I thought I would. Yesterday, PK and I were called to a staff meeting...which was entirely in Spanish. The director wrote some notes on the whiteboard and I was able to understand most of that (with the help of my handheld translator), but I didn't get most of the commentary. I got a recap from one of the other missionaries, but I think we're still missing a lot of important information and I wish I could understand a little more. The other missionaries assure me that I will learn quickly and that I'll be almost fluent when by the end of the year, so maybe there's hope. In the meantime, the boys are more than happy to correct me.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Playing Possum

PK tried to make a new friend....but this guy was more interested in a nap. Don't take it too personally, PK. You're not that boring!