Monday, June 28, 2010

Not Mine

One of my fondest memories of church was when it was time to pass the offering plate. I would get so excited because usually during the blessing prayer my mom would slip a dollar bill into my hand. There was always something special about being able to put that money in the plate all by myself. It made me feel important and like I could contribute something. As I got a little older, there were a few times when I thought I could just slip that dollar in my pocket instead of the plate. But I never did, not once. I don't know if my mom ever explained it to me, but somehow I knew that was God's money that I was entrusted with and I was so proud to give it back.

We have continued this tradition with CT and as he's gotten older he's even tossed his own allowance in the plate a time or two. When we got to El Sembrador, we noticed that so many kids have nothing to give when the basket is passed. They've probably never had that satisfaction of knowing that God is going to do something great with that dollar bill. So, every week we take out a handful of bills and discreetly pass them to the boys around us who have nothing to give. Every week I watch closely. These are kids that have nothing...have had nothing and this is an important decision to make. Should they stick this bill in their pocket or will they somehow know the empowerment of a giving spirit? Not once have I been disappointed.

I have learned so much from these youth. They have nothing to give yet they give so freely. I am inspired by them. When I look back at this year at El Sembrador, I hope these memories will remind me that the blessings I am given do not belong to me. I have been entrusted with them and I am faced with the same important decision we face every week when the offering plate is passed. Do I slip it in my pocket or do I give it back to my God?

Yesterday morning in church, I took out my little wad of bills and looked around for the boys who needed it this week. I found none...because the boy next to me took out his wallet and silently slipped a bill to each of his neighbors. Thank you, Lord, for these moments.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Rainy Season

I love rainy season, not just because the sudden downpours cool everything off for a few brief minutes. But because they bring work to a complete hault and turn our front porch into one of the few dry sanctuaries on campus.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Talgua Caves

Catacamas is famous for the Talgua caves and it is the only real tourist attraction in the area. In honor of the start of summer vacation, I asked permission to borrow a car and drive to take a group of us to the caves for a little day trip. We packed a lunch and headed up the mountains outside Catacamas to the park. First, we took a tour of the largest cave. Luckily, ST was along and could translate for the guide. We had a few frightening moments, first when the elecricity went out (as it usually does in Catacamas) and we were left in the cave darkness with only a couple of flashlights. And then when we didn't recognize the exit route and thought we were lost for a split second. It didn't help matters that the guide had just finished describing the ancient burial grounds found in the cave with bone that glowed an eerie green due to the mineral deposits. Thankfully, that part of the cave is not open to the public and we were spared the horror movie scene. We made it out safely much to everyone's relief.

After our spelunking adventure, we had lunch and went to a nearby swimming pool to cool off. When the pool was overrun by two dozen little kids, we took a dip in the nearby Tagua River instead. It was a great day to unwind and spend time with our friends.

Jairo, Mirna, PK, CT, SV (Sports Volunteer), Santos, Eddy, ST and AT at the entrance to Talgua Caves

Thank goodness we had CT to hold up the cave ceiling for us!

Eddy in the pool

SV and CT in the Talgua River

I just needed to soak my feet for a few minutes

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Honduras World Cup Game

 The entire El Sembrador campus crowds around the television at 5:00 in the morning to watch Honduras take on Chile in their first World Cup game.

Final Score: 0-1 Chile

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Joy of the PB&J

Sometimes you take the little everyday things for granted until you are reminded that they were once miraculous events. For instance, I had forgotten how absolutely magical the peanut butter and jelly sandwich can be. It took our friend, Eddy, to take me back to the pure joy that I found in my Care Bears lunch box when my mom made me this tasty treat for lunch and how special it made me feel.

Eddy tasted his first PB&J this weekend. He was absolutely enchanted by it. He even asked me for the "recipe" and when I just laughed, he carefully peeled apart the pieced of bread to identify the myserious ingredients. It was so much fun to watch him marvel at this creation that so many of us take for granted.

Eddy and his very first PB&J

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Student Becomes the Master...err, I mean teacher

Today I taught my first 8th grade English class. Finally, I got to be the one that understands what's going on! 8th grade is a challenging class because its students are generally the loud, obnoxious bunch with a sprinkling of the too quiet and shy to speak crowd. I think I managed to get most of them engaged in today's lesson though. Of course, my giant bowl of candy which I liberally doled out to anyone who attempted to participate didn't hurt. I did have to send Justo out of the class for misbehaving and refusing the pay attention. I'm not naive and I know he acts like that for all of his teachers, but it really hurt my feelings that he treated me like that on my first day. The rest of my boys were pretty well-behaved, though, and that encouraged me.

I decided to teach the names for animals. So, I began by having a volunteer read Genesis 2:19-20: "So he took some soil from the ground and formed all the animals and all the birds. Then he brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and that is how they all got their names." Then, I wrote the new vocabulary on the board and we practiced saying each word while they copied it into their notebooks. I had them try to guess what the Spanish word for each animal was. Then we played a game to help us practice saying the words out loud. First I taught them to say "I walk in the woods and I see a _______." Each person had to repeat the phrase and fill in the blank with the animal they see and the animals of each person who went before them. It was like a memory game. Every time they got it right, they got a piece of candy.

Tomorrow I'm going to play a different game and teach the story of Noah's Ark at the same time. For homework, they'll have to draw a picture of the ark with animals from their vocabulary list and label them correctly. It may sound a little babyish for 8th graders, but I think they need a little diversion from the usual memorization routines they're used to. Besides, it will give them a chance to be a little creative, which they rarely get to do.

I never pictured myself as a teacher, but after class several of the students told me how much they enjoyed the class. I think they paid attention and had fun...and maybe accidentally learned some English too!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Even a special place is just a place

Last week I was reminded that a house doesn't make a home and a bell doesn't make a school. The boys were on vacation and it was much quieter around here. We are so in love with this place. The campus is surrounded by majestic mountains and the flowers are always in bloom. Everywhere I look my breath is taken away by awesome beauty. But I didn't realize how much this El Sembrador depends on its students to make it truly special until they were missing. Somehow the heat seemed more oppressive and the rain seemed more despondent. The bell didn't ring because there was no one to ring it and we almost didn't know what to do with ourselves without the reminder to eat or sleep. It wasn't just that everything was quieter and less chaotic. It was like the heart and soul was sucked away on vacation too. I am reminded that even a place as magnificant as this one is still just a place. El Sembrador needs its boys to breathe life into it and make it the home that we love so much.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A New Tradition

Friday was CT's last day of 7th grade. It's a tradition at the MK school to burn the books on the last day. It's a strange tradition, but CT and ST (Super Teacher) were excited and invited us all to watch. Afterwards, we roasted marshmellows and sang campfire songs. We were joined by several boys and CT was delighted to teach them how to play his favorite campfire game, Chubby Bunny, with the leftover marshmellows.

I can't believe middle school is over. CT has had an amazing 7th grade that he'll never forget. We are so proud of all he has accomplished and the way he has handled his ministry at El Sembrador. He's quite a young man!
CT and his bag of fire fuel collected from school.

CT and ST feeding the fire

Hey, I think that's my Spanish did that get in there?!?

Justo plays in honor of CT's 7th grade year.

Elvis Renan in his first Chubby Bunny game

Darwin (Pinky) is the champion with 18 this is a ministry!

Yep, soooo proud....

Saturday, June 05, 2010

How to Start Your Summer Break Right

The boys of El Sembrador have just started a one-week school vacation and to kick it off they got a much-needed and much-dserved study break. In the field outside the school, a complex obstacle course was set up comeplete with pies to be thrown and a kiddie pool full of some kind of brown sludge. It was so much fun to see them let loose for a change. I just feel sorry for all the moms that have to do their laundry this week!

Of course, CT couldn't resist joining in the mess. But I was a little surprised when PK pulled off his socks and shoes to race Reyes. And, in case you're wondering, a 15-year-old boy can still be outrun by a slightly older U.S. Marine on an obstacle's just that he's little more tuckered out at the finish line!

Edwin Alberto and Henry on the obstacle course

Rusbel headed for the finish line

Elvis Renan and Jorge after the race

Luis at the finish line

PK and Reyes in the race

PK, Reyes and Elvis Renan in the pool of sludge

PK and Reyes at the finish line

PK after the race

Thursday, June 03, 2010

The Hoseman

No, it's not a job title. Hoseman is the name of one of our students at El Sembrador. He is from a remote region of Honduras called La Mosquitia. This area of Honduras is secluded from the world by swampy rainforests and is only accessible by air or boat. La Mosquitia is populated by Native Americans called the Moskito.

Hoseman and I have become good friends because we have one very important thing in common. Neither of us understand a single word of Spanish...ok, maybe a few words, but that's not the point. Hoseman speaks the Moskito language and, like me, is perpetually lost in the sea of Spanish that surrounds him. We are forever wandering in a fog of confusion never quite sure what's going on or why. But now we are friends, comrades brought together by a common language...not Spanish or Moskito or English, but the language of bewilderment spoken with the shrugging of shoulders and a sympathetic smile. We share the bond of our language deficiency and we offer eachother sympathy and understanding without words.

I love Hoseman because I can look at him and know that he is just as confused as I am. Every day we laugh at eachother when we attempt a conversation and end up giving up after "Hello, how are you?" Sometimes I seek out this little moment of shared bafflement. Somehow it's a little comforting to know that I'll never understand Hoseman and I don't have to. Most of all I love Hoseman because every day when we pass his smile brightens my day and lifts my spirits.