Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lenca Pottery

Recently, we took a field trip to the home and business of a local family of sisters. They are gifted potters and demonstrated their techniques for creating the traditional Lenca artform. The Lenca are the indigenous people of this region of Honduras and their pottery's black and white design makes it unique and prized throughout the world.

Here are some photos from our tour:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Holy Experience

Every Good Friday communities, churches and families take to the streets in major cities across Honduras to create an incredible piece of artwork. The installation takes days to complete, but the finished piece will last a mere moments when the parades of Catholic revelers march through it on procession to the church. It is an observation of the walk Christ made to the place of his sacrifice. And although much of the significance of what He endured for our sake is lost in the pomp and ritual, the beauty of the art and the joy of the process takes my breath away. Strolling the streets and admiring the sawdust carpets, I encounter my creative, beautiful, relationship-desiring Heavenly Father. For me, it is a holy experience.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Best Day

I know it sounds weird, but making a real piñata has been on my bucket list for years. Ever since I first saw the row of shops with their brightly colored creations hanging outside in Tegucigalpa, I’ve been fascinated. So when I got to take a field trip with two of my Spanish teachers to a local piñataeria, I was excited. And the trip did not disappoint. I had my best day in Honduras so far.

Appreciating Art & Culture
Here in Honduras, piñatas are insignificant things—toys for children. But the creativity and artistry it takes to make just one is nothing short of inspiring. And my new friend, Blanca, makes thousands every year in her living room. To her, it’s a job that provides for her family. To me, it is a beautiful expression of the Latin American culture.

Resourcefulness to Admire
Blanca is one of the most successful piñata makers in Siguatepeque and she gives much of the credit to her resourceful use of materials. I think her methods are ingenious. Not a scrap of paper goes to waste. At the end of the day she sweeps the floor to gather small bits of tissue paper that have fallen. She puts the colorful mixture of scraps into baggies and sells them as confetti to her customers. When shiny papers became expensive and too hard to find, Blanca asked the local elementary school to save the chip and cookie bags left after snack time. Now she washes them, turns them inside out and cuts interesting shapes from the shiny foil inside. These shapes add sparkle to car hubcaps and glitz to princess crowns. Her neighbors and friends save newspaper for her and the local party store gives her damaged mylar balloons so she can paste popular children’s characters on some of her creations. Not only is Blanca a smart businesswoman, she’s an innovative recycler!

Passion Unleashed
There’s one thing that creative people have in common, no matter their culture—passion. The more Blanca talked about the process of making a piñata, the more animated she became. She could barely contain herself as she explained how to make a complex shape or how to choose which colors of paper to use. She prides herself in bringing delight to the children who receive her piñatas, but it’s clear that they bring her just as much joy.

Overworked & Underpaid
Blanca spends 5-8 hours creating each work of art (not including drying time). And she works like an Energizer bunny. She cuts fringes from tissue paper at an unbelievable pace while carrying on a conversation and not even looking at her hands. It’s absolutely mesmerizing to watch. To save time, she uses her hand to apply the homemade paste rather than delicately applying it with a brush, as you’d expect. She can shape wire into a Mickey Mouse shape in a matter of minutes. In April, she’ll begin preparing for Day of the Child celebrations to take place in September. She’ll work seven-days-a-week making hundreds of piñatas for the holiday—no two exactly the same. For all her effort, she’ll sell the larger, more complex piñatas for L. 200 (about $10). What a shame that a Van Gogh goes for millions while these imaginative pieces go largely unappreciated. Crueler still is that Blanca’s art will be destroyed in a matter of minutes! Still, there isn’t a child in the world who wouldn’t squeal with happiness at the view of a piñata hanging at their birthday celebration. And to Blanca and me, that’s worth far more than a Van Gogh.

I learned a lot about making a real piñata at Blanca’s house. And it was an experience I’m grateful for. But the real reason I’ll look back on that day as one of the best is that as we immersed our hands in paste or transformed hanger wire into meaningful shapes, we talkedmy teachers, Blanca, her mother, her friend and me. We talked as women do. We talked about our kids (all boys as it turns out). We talked about cooking and laundry. We talked about struggles and blessings. And for the first time in a long time, I wasn’t thinking about language or culture. I wasn’t concentrating on every word I spoke so hard that my head hurt after two minutes. I wasn’t thinking about how different I was or how I stand out. I was just laughing and talking with my friends and making something beautiful. This day was special, not because I got to cross something off my bucket list, but because it’s the day I realized that I am finally at home in Honduras.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Birthday Bummer

This year Steve's birthday present was getting to move into our new apartment in Sigautepeque―all by himself. Oh I was here to direct and slowly unpack boxes and suitcases. But Steve did the heavy lifting while getting accustomed to the hot and humid weather again. No cake, no presents. Just a whole lot of sweating and being bossed around by the wife.

And if a birthday of hard labor isn't bad enough, disaster struck when we finally settled in for the evening. While trying to cut a piece of cord with a sharp knife, Steve sliced into one of his fingers. It was bloody and deep. Imagine being in a new city where you know no one. You don't know where the hospital is or even if there is one nearby. And you know you need medical attention quickly. Now imagine that you don't speak the local language well. And that's where Steve and I found ourselves on his birthday in our new home in Honduras.

Thankfully, classes at our language school start on Monday and we've already been introduced to the directors. So we called these complete strangers and asked for help. Mark rushed right over to drive Steve to the clinic. Three stitches and a lot of humility later, the day finally ended.

It wasn't the birthday celebration we'd have liked, but at least we'll never forget it!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Tragedy on Day One

We had just arrived in Honduras when we learned that one of our former students, Jose Daniel (left in photo), had been killed earlier in the day. He was serving in the military and refused to give up his military-issued firearm during a robbery.

Immediately, the weight of our burden to care for and reach the young people of Honduras for Christ has been burned deeper into our hearts. Pray for Jose Daniel's family. But also pray fervently for the next generaron of this nation's leaders. They so desperately need peace.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

I'm not the only parent

I'm not the only parent who has ever had to say goodbye to an only son, but today it sure feels like it. Tonight when I hug Nick goodbye, it will hurt more than any other time before. I know it's part of being parent to let your kids go. But what about when you're the one going? Sending him off somehow seems easier.

We're missionaries. We're supposed to understand leaving family behind. We've done it many times before. But no one ever prepared me for today. I'm not sure I really understood sacrifice until this moment. I'm not sure I understood what trusting the Lord with all your heart looked like until I had to trust him completely with this treasure. I'm not sure I'm doing this right.

But I am absolutely certain that no matter how it feels, I'm not the only parent who has had to say goodbye to their only son. And today I'm just doing my best to lean into the One who did it so well.