Friday, April 30, 2010

Our Visit to the Islands

Last weekend we made a visit to the island of Roatan to visit LB and his family when their cruise made a quick stop on the island. There is a mission there so we took the opporunity to visit the other missionaries and see their work. We also have three boys at El Sembrador from Roatan, so we wanted to get a better idea of their backgrounds and meet their families.

LB's visit was very short...only a few hours. They had booked an excursion so we tagged along on their little tour and shared a quick lunch. We were most excited to finally meet our little niece for the first time. She will be 2 years old in July. Unfortunately, kids this age aren't really very interested in new people and we are complete strangers to her. The visit was so short, she didn't get the chance to warm up to us. Still, she was adorable and very smart. After they left, we stuck around a took a little snorkeling tour out the reef. We didn't see as many fish as I had hoped, but the water was crystal clear and the reef was beautiful.

The rest of our time on Roatan was spent with the missionaries and getting to know their ministry. They work with a youth center in a part of the island called Punta Gorda. We had the opportunity to spend time with group and get to know them. We were surprised to see Wilfred, one of the El Sembrador boys we met last year. We barely remember him. Afterall, we were only here two weeks and there were 150 boys here. So, you can imagine our shock when he walked right up to us and not only remembered our names, but also the project we worked on while we were here! I don't think we realized how much impact the work team visitors have on the boys' lives until we came back this year and had experiences like these. We thought we just came and worked and hung out a little with some kids, but they remember us like we gave them a kidney or something! Wilfred is now driving a taxi on Roatan and saving up money to go to college. He seems to be active in the youth group and attends the church regularly.

On Friday night we attended a Bible study with the group and played games. CT immediately made friends with one of the boys. On Roatan, most people speak at least 2 of the 3 languages common on the island: Spanish, English and Gurifuna. So, we were able to communicate somewhat better there than we can here on the farm. The next day we helped out with a car wash and tamale sale to raise money for the youth to go to a conference. Yes, I even made a couple of tamales for the cause!

In between all the youth activities, we managed to hunt down the families of the El Sembrador boys. First, we met the parents of Renan. They were excited to see us and wanted to see photos of their son at El Sembrador. We could tell that the miss him terribly, but they are so proud of him. His mom made Renan his favorite food called pan de coco (coconut bread). It smelled so good right out of the oven. She even made a couple of extra loaves for us! Next, we met the mother and aunt of Rusbel. His mother works as a tour guide for one of the cruise lines, so she spoke quite a bit of English. She told us that Rusbel's father had an accident while building their house and died. But Rusbel told her that one day he was going to finish that house for her. She was so proud and filled with hope. She also packed a care package for us to bring back for him. Finally, we found Justo's family. Justo's mother abandoned him years ago and lives in Belize. He doesn't know his father well. He has grown up int he care of his aunt and cousins. We found them on the beach next to a bar. They were drunk, loud and obnoxious. We spoke to them briefly, but they seemed to care very little about hearing from or about Justo. At least one cousin did sit down with us for a moment. He asked us about being a "real" Christian and we told him about God's plan for Justo and for their family. We prayed with him before leaving him on the beach. We left discouraged and saddened...and determined not to let Justo return to that life.

We were lucky to get a rare opportunity to see one of the communities our students come from. That's why even through some difficult times, we can be assured of God's purpose for us and El Sembrador. We are more committed than ever to make a difference in the lives of these youth.

CT, PK and I with Renan's family.

Rusbel's Mom and Aunt

Wilfred in his taxi

Me helping with the tamales

The kids at the car wash

CT on the pier in Punta Gorda

CT and a parrot

Our adorable little niece

Me and LB....I mean a monkey (I get them confused)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A New Look

Living out at the farm with a bunch of boys can be hard for a lady....especially a lady used to living in the city and having her own car! But today, I got the opportunity to spend the day with the gringas in Catacamas. We took our time, did some shopping, had lunch and got haircuts.

The best part about shopping in Honduras is that everyone here is short like me. So, unlike my marathon shopping expeditions in the states, I had no problem finding a new pair of jeans that fit me. I also bought a new pair of sandals because the ones I brought with were completely worn out and disgusting. It's too hot to wear the tennis shoes I brought, so I really needed to find a new pair. Like I said, everyone here has a short stature. So, it should be no surprise that all the ladies wear extremely high heels, which are not very practical for life on the farm. It took some shopping around, but I finally found a comfortable pair of sandals with a more modest heel.

The best part of the day was our visit to the salon. I desperately needed a haircut and we found a very nice salon with a very talented hair dresser. And I paid under $10! You would never get this kind of service in the States and everyone was so friendly and patient with our attempts at Spanish.

It was a great day with some great friends and I'm already looking forward to our next escape!

My new do:

BTW, I'll never get it to look like this again!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Little Denis

As I write this, I am sitting on the porch of the conference center at Escuela El Sembrador. It has been raining, but the sun has just come out. I am watching little Denis Yoel trim the hedges. I spent most of the morning consoling him while he cried.

Denis was one of CT's first friends at El Sembrador and he spends a lot of time at our house when he's not working or studying. Little Denis is a sweet kid. He's got a lot of energy and I hear he can be quite a handful in class. When he's not at school, he lives with his grandmother. He has been a Christian for as long as he can remember. He doesn't know his parents. He knows that they live in the United States, but he doesn't know where. If you ask him how you can pray for him, he will ask to you to pray for his them. Little Denis hugs me every time I pass him on the road or at the tienda. He loves to be outside and he always sits in the front row at church.

This week was special for little Denis. A work team was visiting the school and it included a family with three boys. He spent all week with an entourage of gringo boys following him around while he worked. Even though they don't speak the same language, Denis managed to make friends and I watched them working together and laughing together throughout the week. Then, on Wednesday, the boys' parents made the decision to sponsor Denis at the school. They will provide a full scholarship for him to continue his education here. More importantly, they committed themselves to writing to and praying for little Denis. They will continue to build on the relationship they have started with him. Little Denis was overjoyed and spent every moment possible getting to know them as best he could.

I have already learned that the hardest thing about being a missionary is always having to say goodbye. I hadn't thought how hard it must be for the boys to say goodbye. This morning the work team left to return to the United States. Little Denis lingered as long as he could and waved as the van pulled away. Then he cried.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Birthday Fiesta

I suddenly remembered during the week last week that Luis' birthday is in April. After some investigation, I confirmed that it was on Sunday. So we asked Eddy to call him and invite him to our house for a little birthday party this past Saturday.

I managed to get a ride into town on Friday to a little store where a lot of our boys shop for their necessities. Shopping is very different here. Everything is in a glass case or behind a counter...even the clothes. It's very hard to chose a shirt or pair of jeans from a folded stack in a glass case! I settled on a ball cap with an American Flag embroidered on it. It is a custom in Honduras never to open a gift in front of the giver, so I don't know how he liked it.

On Saturday after lunch, I managed to find several boys on campus that were friends with Luis when he was a student here and I invited them to join us for the party. Luis took a taxi from town to the school in the afternoon. We didn't have a translator this time, but I was feeling particularly confident in my Spanish that day so the conversation never lagged too much. We had cake and all the boys got such a kick out of the trick candles. Then some of the boys got interested in the Soduku book on the table and PK taught them how to work the puzzles. After a couple of hours, I gave Luis some money for the taxi home and sent him home with a piece of leftover cake for his mom. Before he left, I invited him to meet us at church in town. Again, he said he was too busy. So I promised to call him and invite him again this week.

It was such a little thing to host this little get together, but it meant so much to us that he took his time and money to come see us. I am always amazed at how seriously the boys take their relationships with their sponsors. If only more people understood this, they wouldn't take this opportunity to make a difference for granted.

Reyes, CT, Jorge, Eddy and Luis

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Don't worry, the Easter Bunny found us in Honduras

Easter isn't really a big holiday in Honduras. In fact, even the church service was strangely devoid of anything having to do with Easter. Even though the entire country comes to complete halt during "Holy Week", there's really nothing "holy" about it for most people.

So, Easter was different this year for us. But that's not to say it wasn't good! On Saturday, we joined the other redheads on campus to dye Easter Eggs. PK headed over to the chicken coop and attempted to dye a few of the chicks as a joke, but the dye was too watered down to work and he only succeeded in irritating the little guys.

Much to CT's surprise, the Easter Bunny managed to find him all the way in Honduras. On Easter morning he woke to find his eggs hidden and a basket full of goodies on the coffee table. It's clear that the Big Bunny must have lost his luggage on the trip down, because he had to substitute the usual bounty with some trinkets from the Honduran Dollar Store. The odd little basket included a refrigerator magnet, two ball-point pens, a squishy ball toy and a ceramic parrot knick-knack....oh, and most importantly, a ziploc bag full of gummy bears.

We did go to church and even found a restaurant open to have lunch out with our friends. The restaurant didn't have any electricity and was out of what we wanted to eat, but the company was good and it was nice not to have to cook. In the afternoon, we were treated to a downpour that cooled everything off. We tried to Skype with our families celebrating at home, but the weather made the connection almost impossible. So we gave up and spent the rest of the day welcoming back the boys from their vacations. We have gotten so used to having them around, that it was a relief to have them all back safe and sound. We capped the night off watching them play soccer.

So, it wasn't our typical Easter, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. I am reminded that this year things will be completely different for our family. But I know we'll look back on this Easter as one of our favorites. This year, we are content to serve the living Savior in Honduras.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Our Honduran Son

Since we arrived, we've been trying to find Luis. Luis is the young man we sponsored last year, but he was not accepted back to the school this year. We knew he lived in Catacamas, but we didn't know how to contact him. Luckily, Eddy recognized a photo of his good friend, Luis, at our house and called him for us.

Today, Luis finally came to visit us. We feel like Luis is our Honduran son and have looked forward to seeing him again all year. It was good to see him, but also a little awkward. Once we got past the "HI. How have you been?" conversation, we didn't have much else to say. We played a couple of hands of Uno and made lunch. He stayed for several hours, but we really had a tough time relating to eachother. It wasn't at all the reunion I expected and I'm a little sad tonight. I did invite him to join us for church on Sundays in Catacamas, but he declined saying he didn't really have time for church. He did promise to come again soon and I hope we can get past the weirdness and reconnect again.