Sunday, December 20, 2009

Through the Eyes of Children

As you know, we have been hosting Honduran retreat groups in our house on weekends. This weekend we had a group that has been coming for several years. One of the women that was attending the retreat brought her three young kids along. As I have the natural habit of befriending children, they were my buddies throughout the weekend. Basically, that means I had four boys following me around for three and a half days. They were some of the most adorable and sweet children I have ever met, which made me willing to let them use our games and watch movies.

I was particularly impressed by an eight year old boy named Daniel. One night, I was walking to my room and he was laying in a hammock. He said hi to me and asked me a question, so we started talking. He said, "tell me about your life." I asked him what he meant and he said he wanted to know all about my life in the United States and in Honduras. He was genuinely interested in my life, not just asking questions the way kids do. I told him all about my life in the states and he hung on every word and really tried to understand about snow, my big family, my job, etc. I seriously felt like I was talking to an adult. He even clarified what I was saying by saying, "oh, so you mean..." Those are listening skills that most adults don't even have.

I asked him what he wanted to be when he grows up and his answer was probably more well thought-out than most high schoolers. He told me he wanted to be an artist (the way he colored showed me he was a good artist). He said that is what he loves to do and he can't imagine doing anything else. However, he also said that he knows that he has to make money for his family so he will be a taxi driver too. But he will work for himself because the taxi drivers that work for the companies have to give some of their earnings to the boss. He will drive taxis in the day and paint at night and sell his paintings to different people. I mean, really. This kid has his whole life planned out and he is eight! I know that some kids have dreams about what their future will be like, but usually they are about being a movie star or professional athlete. This little boy's dream is actually realistic and given the way he carries himself, I think he will achieve it. At first I was kind of sad because I thought that part of a being a kid is having big dreams and believing that you can be anything you want to. However, when I thought about it, I realized that part of it has to do with what you consider being a successful person. In the US, many kids think that you have to be famous or rich to be successful and happy. But doing what you love and still being able to make money for your family is considered success in the eyes of this little boy, so in a way, this is a dream just as big as those of kids who want to be famous. The difference is that this little boy is much more likely to achieve his dream than those kids who dream of being famous. And I firmly believe that this little boy will be doing just what he dreams and I pray that achieving this dream which others may seem as simple will make him and his family very happy in the future. I also pray that we all learn a lesson from this little boy about what makes a person successful and happy.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Cero Azul

Hola Amigos!

The kids and families left for Christmas vacation a couple of weeks ago and will be gone until January 8th. This is actually like their summer vacation because the school year is over. One mother and her three kids and one girl from Guadalupe are still here so we have been spending some good quality time together.  This has given me some more free time though. Alicia, a 20-year old girl that works in the APUFRAM office at Flores during the day but lives at the mother's project, invited me to go to a national park called Cero Azul with her. I said "yes."

Alicia gave me instructions as to how to get there. I had to take a bus from Comayagua towards San Pedro Sula and get on in a place called Vaca Dia. Having never been there before, I had no idea what this place looked like and since the smalls towns aren't marked, I wasn't sure how I was going to know when I was there. I asked the guy sitting next to me if he knew where it was and he said yes and that he would tell me when we were almost there. It turns out he had no idea what he was talking about. Long story short- we passed it, I got dropped off in a different town and had to take another bus back to Vaca Dia. I met Alicia and her "friend" who lives in Vaca Dia and was going to show us around. We had to take a mototaxi to his house which is actually inside the national park. His family was extremely hospitable and even gave us lunch.

I had read that Cero Azul was a big tourist spot, so I assumed we were going to see lots of people. But we ended up taking the backwoods tour. We had to hike for 30 minutes through some rough terrain. The views along the way were breathtaking. Eventually we ended up at a beautiful waterfall. If we wanted to, we could have actually stood underneath the waterfall. It was hard to see but if you looked up at just the right spot, you could see that this was actually part of a much bigger waterfall, which made it all the more amazing.

The waterfall was wonderful to see, but what I was most impressed by on this trip was the town we visited. It very much reminded me of a small town or neighborhood in the United States. They were kind of cut off from the rest of the world (it was a 20 minute ride in the mototaxi to get there) but it was not like the other mountain villages I have seen. The houses were probably considered "middle class" in Honduran standards. They were still nothing like houses in the US, but I was impressed by how nice they were. Not to mention that they were located in the middle of this beautiful park with a waterfall literally in their backyard. When we were there, there was a soccer  game going on in the middle of the town. It was actually high school girls playing against girls from another town. They had uniforms and everything. Much of the town was watching this game. The other big event was a meeting at the church. I'm not sure what it was about, but many people were going to it to give their opinions about something. It is kind of hard to explain the feeling I had when I was there, but it was definitely one of peace. I have been to other villages in Honduras and not had the same feeling because of the great poverty the people were living in. These people were not rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they had what they needed and they all seemed genuinely happy.

It was a wonderful and adventurous day trip and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to see another part of Honduras. We said we would come back so we could see more of the park and I really hope that we do. The picture at the top of this post is of the actual waterfall. Below are some more pictures from the trip.
A babbling brook- this was the clearest water I have ever seen

Alicia and me at the top of a mountain

There were lots of little crabs at the bottom of the waterfall

A long, scary bridge that we had to cross to get to the soccer fields. There is no way this would pass inspection in the US.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Plane Conversation

Hello Friends!

Once again, it has been a long time. I was home for Thanksgiving. It was great to be home with my family and friends. While I love living in Honduras, there is just nothing like spending time with people who know you so well and that you love dearly. I did miss the children though, especially as the time went on. By the time I left, I was definitely anxious to see the children again.

I wanted to share with you an experience I had on the airplane from Houston to Chicago. A man in his late 20s/early 30s was sitting next to me the whole plain ride. We had a few friendly exchanges throughout the flight, but for the most part kept to ourselves. When we were told to turn off our IPods to prepare for landing, we began to talk. Eventually the conversation turned to me talking about what I was doing in Honduras. This man was extremely interested in my experiences and my reflections on life in the United States compared to life in Honduras. He asked me what I thought when I landed in Houston and if I was in culture shock. I stopped to think for a minute before I gave my reply. I told him that it wasn't so much the material things (although paying $7 for a sandwich nearly killed me) or the language difference (although I did try to order my sandwich in Spanish) but it was more watching the people that got to me. I had some time in between flights so I just sat in the terminal and people-watched. What I saw made me sad. I saw all these people running around, talking on their cell phones, visibly stressed or upset about something. I wanted to scream- "RELAX! Whatever it is about that business deal that is upsetting you is not what is truly important in life." After living here, I have learned what truly is important- family, faith, and community. I think that if this man saw the joy on a child's face just to have someone play a game of soccer or Uno with them, he would realize that getting so upset and stressed about a business deal doesn't do any good.

I also wanted to yell SLOW DOWN as I watched a woman anxiously rummaging through her briefcase and looking at several files and then getting on her cell phone. I mean, she could have accomplished the same thing by taking a deep breath and removing the files slowly to look at them. We had over half an hour before the plane boarded, so I'm sure she had the time. The culture in the United States is just so busy and it makes people more stressed and unhappy than anything else. I have truly come to appreciate the pace of life in Honduras.

As I told this to the man on the plane, he just kept saying, "Wow." He said that he realized that he is one of those people and he needs to change some things in his life. He said he would love to do something like I am doing. I told him that I love what I am doing, but that not everyone needs to live in Honduras to make a difference. There are small things that you can do in your own community. He said that he would be up all night thinking about what I said. Now, I don't know what impact just sharing my story ultimately had on him, but I would like to think that if nothing else at least he might stop and think the next time he gets overly stressed about something at work.

I never expected to have an experience like this on the plane, but I learned a lot from it too. Sometimes I am hesitant to share my experiences because I don't want to sound "preachy" or like I am bragging about what I am doing. But this time I didn't think about how he would react to it. I didn't plan on having an impact on this guy. I just wanted to share my story because it is something I am passionate about and he was interested in it.  After this, I think I will look for more opportunities to share my experiences in Honduras with people in the US. You never know what people need to hear and sharing my story may inspire someone else to make a change in their life.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Celebrations Galore

Hi Friends!

Sorry it has been so long in between posts again. School may be over, but we have more things than ever going on right now. Here is a rundown of some of the events of the past week:

  •        Elmer, an older gentleman who has been coming to Honduras every November and December for the last five years, arrived last Monday. So I am no longer alone and I am even living in the volunteer center full-time again. I am enjoying having someone to talk to in English and share the experiences of the children with.
  •        Saturday was a huge day around here. It was graduation for the sixth graders. We spent lots of time making decorations and setting up for the big event. It was held in the morning and all of the children had at least one family member there. I was surprised that everyone had someone there. These children come from extremely poor families, so I know that it was a major sacrifice for some of them to travel for the graduation. But for several of the families, this is the first child in the family to graduate from sixth grade. You could see the pride on the faces of the family members. It was beautiful to see. You could also see how happy the kids were to know that their family was proud of them. They were so eager to introduce me to their families and I just told them all how smart and wonderful their children are. They just lit up to hear their children praised like that.

    The ceremony started with Mass. The whole school was present for both the Mass and the graduation ceremony. It was also the end-of-the-year assembly for all the students. The graduates processed in and then the first through fifth graders that passed to the next grade were called up and received their grades. Then the principal gave out the honor roll awards to the top students in each class. Finally, the sixth graders received their diplomas. It was not practiced or really organized very much at all (like most things in Honduras), but it was still extremely special. I was asked to sit at the head table and hand out the diplomas with the principal. It was a huge honor for me. I definitely teared up when I looked at all the kids sitting in their caps and gowns with huge smiles on their faces. When they called the child’s name, he or she came up along with the people he or she had asked to be their sponsors for the graduation. I was asked by two girls to be their sponsor, which was very touching. After they all received their diplomas the president of the class gave a short speech, which also made me cry.

    After the ceremony, they had lunch for the graduates and their families. Chinese rice with chicken, meat, and shrimp is a favorite special food around here. I also made six cakes for the celebration. One of the girls that I sponsored, Yossari, only had her mom with her, so she asked if I would sit with them at lunch. They really made me feel like a part of their family. At the end of the meal, her mom even said I was like a member of their family.

    Reflecting on the graduation, I realized how simple yet meaningful it was. The kids didn’t need to walk in in perfect lines or shake hands perfectly and we didn’t need to have the fanciest decorations or the most perfect music to have it be a beautiful ceremony. For these kids that have worked so hard to get to where they are and for the families that made sacrifices to allow them to achieve this goal, it was perfect. I cried tears of joy several times just amazed by the beauty of it all. I also cried some tears of sadness because I will really miss these kids. They are the closest things I have to best friends down here. I am so proud of them and can’t wait to see what some of them become, but it will still be a little lonelier here without them. However, in the last couple of weeks I have figured which of the incoming sixth graders will become the leaders of the school and my new best friends.  Many of these girls that graduated will be going to our high school next year, so I will see them again. It makes the goodbye a lot easier. 
  •          In celebration of their accomplishments, Elmer and I took the sixth grade girls to town today to enjoy an afternoon of fun. We started with Pizza Hut, which of course everyone loved. Afterwards, they got to play in the play place at Pizza Hut. It is much bigger and nicer than any of the play places that I have ever seen in the US. It even has a mini soccer field. Watching the girls play reminded me that they are still kids. They had so much fun running and climbing and sliding. I even climbed around with Miguel’s son, Emilio, who is 3 and was afraid to go alone.  After Pizza Hut we went to the Central Park area where we ate ice cream. It is still very hot here, so it was a much welcomed treat. I could tell that many of the girls were not used to doing anything special like this because they didn’t know how to order or what to do. I ran into my friend who gives tours of the Cathedral while we were there and asked if he would take us up in the bell tower. All the girls got to go up and see the clock tower. It is the oldest working clock in the western hemisphere and the second oldest in the world. I had been in it once before and thought the girls would like it. They really did enjoy seeing the whole city. We took lots of pictures to document the adventure. It was an extremely fun afternoon for me and the sixth graders. I am glad that we were able to do something special for them to show them that we were very proud of them.
  •          Saturday is the baptisms and First Communions for the kids that are new this school year and haven’t received the sacraments yet. I have been asked to be the godmother for at three kids. It should also be a very special day. Some of the kids are so excited to be being baptized and “receiving Jesus” as they say.
  •       On top of all these very exciting things, we have had Honduran groups in our house every weekend. Of course, the power went out just as the group was arriving Thursday night. I was literally running around the house trying to find every flashlight we have so they wouldn’t be too mad at me. Thankfully it was only out for about an hour. You just never know what is going to happen around here. That's OK though. It keeps life interesting. 
Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

From Mundial to Vacas

Hello Friends!

Sorry it’s been so long since my last e-mail. This is a busy time
around here. Here are some recaps on recent events:

• VAMOS AL MUNDIAL!!! Honduras qualified for the World Cup last week.
It was a very exciting series of events. The United States beat
Honduras on Saturday, October 10th. That was a fun game to watch. I
wore my red, white and blue and went all out for the good ol’ USA. It
was me against 50 girls. Every time the US did something good, I made
sure to yell really loud. And the girls shouted even louder when
Honduras did something good. Common expressions during the game were
“cheater!” “foul!” “you’re team is bad” “almost” and of course
“GOOOOOOAL!” Some of the younger girls couldn’t understand why I was
cheering for the US. I guess they really do think I am Honduran The
US won 2-1. It was a very exciting game and went to the last second-
Honduras even had a penalty kick in extra time that they missed.
Needless to say, Americans were not very well-liked after that game.
But that all changed on Wednesday. Wednesday Honduras played El
Salvador and the US played Costa Rica. The games were at the same
time. In order for Honduras to qualify, they had to win and the US had
to either win or tie against Costa Rica. Honduras did their part. They
won. Costa Rica was beating the US with just minutes left, so we
pretty much thought it was over. Especially since the US had already
qualified and didn’t need to win. But, by a miracle of Our Lady of
Suyapa (the patron saint of Honduras), the US scored with seconds left
leading Honduras to qualify for the World Cup. We all watched it
happen and it was probably one of the most exciting things I have ever
seen. It was almost an unreal moment. Girls were crying and screaming
and dancing. The president declared the next day a national holiday.
There are now commercials thanking God and the country of Honduras for
helping the team to qualify.

• School is quickly coming to an end here. This is the last week of
classes. Next week is final exams. I will be giving exams in English
and computers. Don’t worry…I won’t make them too hard. Most of the
kids take these exams very seriously. I think that they study more and
get more nervous than many high school and college students taking
finals. And they are only in elementary school. The sixth graders just
had a big test that they had to past with an 80% to graduate. It was
the equivalent of the eighth grade Constitution test that we have, but
it was on the national anthem. The test had written, oral, and singing
parts. I was honestly impressed by how well the students knew the
material. It was a booklet with 100 questions and answers that they
had to memorize. I don’t know if I could do it if I tried.

• I am in the Christmas spirit already. I have spent the last two
weeks creating Christmas cards for the kids to send to their sponsors
in the US. The next step will be to translate over 1000 letters. It is
a huge job, but I think I will be able to get it done without too much
trouble. Once school is over, I won’t have much else to do during the
week, so I will just put in some movies and write every day until my
hand falls off.

• Our house is become a popular place in the area. We have Honduran
groups for every weekend except one in November and December. Luckily,
none of them are 90 people and many of them don’t even want us to
cook. It is a much better setup. But, this will still be a busy place
in the next couple months.

• I have had some interesting animal encounters lately. There are
random cows that cross the street and come and eat our grass. I don’t
know where they come from. But, recently they have discovered the pila
at the back of our house. The pila is where I wash my clothes and it
is usually filled with water. The cows think they can drink the water,
which is disgusting. I am not washing my clothes in water cows drink
out of. One day I came back from teaching and a cow was standing in
front of the door. How do you move a cow that is standing in front of
the door to your house? You don’t. You walk to another door. And today
they must have stepped on a pipe because water was spraying everywhere
when I got back from teaching. Dang cows. I also had a rat in my room
the other night. I thought I heard something and then sure enough
there was rat staring right at me. I ran and got a kid to get rid of
it. I haven’t had any more since then.

Well, I think that it all that is new with me. I hope that things are
going well wherever you are. I am sure fall is in full swing. It is
kind of hard to imagine fall weather, although we did have one day
this week that almost felt like fall. But the next day it went right
back to being hot. I think it is going to break soon though. I feel it

Peace and Blessings,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

94 Hondurans+ 3 cooks + 1 baby - tortillas= one crazy weekend

Hi friends!
I know it has been a while since I wrote last. Sorry about that. Even without having groups here, I still find that I have things to do all the time. I thought I would share my experience with the Honduran retreat group. We survived, barely. Reyna and Berta are our two cooks (they are sisters) and the three of us were in the kitchen all weekend. We literally worked from 4:30 in the morning until 10:30 at night, at which time I had to force myself to stay awake until midnight so that I could turn off the lights. Here are some things I learned from having 94 Hondurans (88 participants and six body guards that accompanied two of the kids) in my house:
1.)    Tortilla delivery men are unreliable. Of the six meals we cooked, four involved us worrying about where the tortillas were. And tortillas are a staple. They literally won’t eat without them. We had ordered 450 tortillas for each meal. The first night, the boss didn’t show up for work and the employees didn’t know about the order. Luckily someone from the group was able to pick up tortillas, but the food had been sitting for an hour and a half by the time he got here. The tortilla people assured us that they would have the tortillas there in the morning. They didn’t. Apparently the guy got lost and went to another house and they said they didn’t want tortillas, so he went back to town. Duh! Who would order 450 tortillas and then decide they didn’t want them?! Once we figured out what happened, he turned around and came back. So for lunch, we switched to a different tortilla guy. He was perfectly on time for lunch and just a little late for dinner, which made us very happy. But of course, he was an hour later than he said he would be for breakfast the next morning, so Reyna and I were having slight strokes. He made it before breakfast was served though. Then, he had trouble with his motorcycle (yes, they deliver tortillas by strapping a big cooler to the back of a motorcycle,), so he was late for lunch. At this point, all we could do was laugh. Why we were cursed with tortilla problems is beyond me, but next time, I think someone will go in to town to pick them up.
2.)    Some aspects of retreats are universal. This one was a confirmation retreat for high school students, but it consisted of talks, small group reflections, large group reflections, praise and worship songs, goofy games, lots of talking, and even some crying. With how tired and drained I felt and the amount of reliance I had to put on God to make the weekend work and just watching the retreat play out, I had many flashbacks and memories of leading retreats when I was college.
3.)    People will steal ONE bag of groceries from the back of your pickup truck. We had an entire truck full of groceries and apparently someone stole one bag. We learned this when we didn’t have enough cookies for snack time and they were listed on the receipt. I ended up having to walk several miles to the nearest store to get some cookies for the kids. My feet were raw when I was done (I wore thin flip flops expecting to take the bus), but at least it was a break from being in the kitchen…
4.)    There is always something to do when you are preparing food for 95 people. We literally didn’t leave the kitchen/dining room the whole time. We always had to be chopping, boiling, or peeling something for the next meal.
5.)    Adding a baby into the mix actually helps. Berta has a four month old son, so we put a crib in the kitchen and he stayed with us the whole weekend. He actually helped us stay sane. When we got stressed, we would just hold him and say “what are we going to do, Francisco?” After holding him for five minutes, I was usually calm again.
6.)    It is possible to set a table for 95 people in ten minutes. By breakfast of the last day, I had learned the fastest way to set the table. I also learned the fastest way to clean it up, but it takes much longer to clean.
7.)    Some Honduran teenagers are crazy. Some of them were far worse-behaved than any students I have ever worked with on a retreat. And the leaders didn’t seem to want to do anything about it. They even knew that they were STEALING FOOD from the people who didn’t get to the dining room right away and didn’t do anything about it. So we took things in to are own hands and I caught a couple red-handed.
8.)    If even one student had a powerful retreat experience, all the work was worth it. When they were leaving, I could tell that some of them had definitely had some powerful experiences on the retreat. Some of them also came in to the kitchen and thanked us for everything. Just those two things alone made all the work worth it.

That was my adventure in running a restaurant/hotel.  Sorry it was such a long recap. I don't think we will ever have that many people in our house again, but I learned a lot and, as Reyna said, it was a weekend we will never forget. I think my favorite memory from the whole thing was Saturday night at 10:00 when we were still in the kitchen and had become slap-happy. I saw a side of Reyna and Berta I don’t know if I will ever see again. I haven’t laughed that much in a long time. These are memories we will treasure forever, but never want to relive again:)

Peace and Blessings,

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dia de Independencia

September 15 was Dia de Independencia- Independence Day, so there was a big celebration at the the school where I teach and where all the kids from Guadalupe and the mother's project attended school. This one involved a lot of traditional dances, poems about Honduras, and songs. One thing I have noticed is that they really celebrate every holiday (and they seem to have a lot of holidays). The kids learn so much about why they have the holiday and they all put a lot of work in to making the celebration meaningful and well-done. It has made me realize how often we don’t do that in the US. How many holidays come and go without us ever even thinking about why we have them (President's Day, Labor Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, etc.) except for having a day off school or work? Maybe we need to take some lessons from this school on how to celebrate national holidays. Anyways, enjoy the pictures. 

Students getting ready to do a traditional dance. The two in the front are only in third grade. Aren't they so cute?

Some of the fifth graders after their performances. All of the dresses were hand-made by the teachers, the girls, and the moms with random fabric we had at the house.

First graders memorized information about different Central American countries. I spent lots of time helping them practice. They all knew their part as of that morning. Too bad when they got up there, they got stage fright and forgot most of it. They are still precious.
Please keep us and the country of Honduras in your prayers. We especially need prayers this weekend as we have 88 Hondurans, most of them students, using our house for a Confirmation retreat next weekend!!! We’ll see how it goes. I am a little worried about it, but hopefully it will work out well. Using our house as a retreat center is a good service to provide to the Hondurans while we wait for US groups to come back. However, 88 is a lot of people for a house that only has 89 beds. 
Peace and Blessings,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We are OK

Hi friends,
WE ARE OK!!! We have had some changes in the political situation in this county. Monday, Zelaya (who was the president and then was forced out of the country) snuck into the country through the Guatemalan border and ended up in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Obviously, Michelleti (who took over as president when Zelaya was removed) is not happy about this. The kids keep saying “we have two presidents,” which pretty much sums it up. Neither one is backing down. This means that in Tegucigalpa their have been many demonstrations and marches. Michelleti has issued “taque de quedas” from 5pm-6am every day since. Tuesday, it lasted all day. This basically means that you are supposed to stay at your house and the only people on the streets are emergency personnel and the police. It is meant to keep the protests and such down and to not allow people to travel to Tegucigalpa. We are not being affected here except that we couldn’t go to Comayagua to buy food or use the internet on Tuesday. But everything is still calm here. I feel completely safe. I don’t even know how much of this is on US news, if any of it. But I wanted to let you all know that we are fine. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hola Amigos!
Wow! What a week it’s been since I last wrote. I have definitely settled into my routine of life down here. The kids had their end-of-quarter exams this week, so I spent most of my nights helping them study. 

On Wednesday, I watched the Honduras vs. Mexico soccer game with the girls from Guadalupe. They were so funny. It is really hard to describe how important these soccer games are to them. Half the girls don’t even like to play soccer, but they still watched it with intensity and hung on every shot. Sadly, Honduras lost 1-0 so they are not guaranteed a spot in the World Cup yet. Last Saturday, I watched a game that they won 4-1 with some of the kids from the mother’s project. I had to explain parts of the game to them because they were younger, but they just kept saying “our country is winning” and got so excited every time they scored a goal.

Thursday was Dia del Nino, a Honduran holiday, which means “Day of the Child.” It is a very special day for the kids. I spent Wednesday afternoon and evening making Jello and cakes with Miguel and his wife to take to the school. We also bought piñatas and lots of candy. There was a program at the school which involved some of the kids singing and dancing and putting on short plays. Then the teachers had planned some different games. They had potato sack races, relay races, spaghetti eating contest, and many other games. The kids were just ecstatic and had so much fun (screaming, laughing, jumping up and down). Each grade got a piñata or two to break open. I learned that hitting a piñata is a dangerous activity. I was terrified someone was going to get hurt, but the kids loved it and no one was injured. They also catered in a special lunch for the kids. It is so special to them to get something different since they eat the same food every week. They had so much food and candy that by the afternoon they were all complaining that their stomachs hurt. I think that this day is so good for the kids. They don’t get many opportunities to be completely care-free and to have their only worry be about having fun. It was a joy to see them just being kids. They were silly and crazy and somewhat out of control, but I loved watching them play and smile like they were the happiest kids in the world, which they very well might have been. Here are some pictures from the event: 

Spaghetti-eating contest. He won.

Pinata. This is one of the teacher's sons trying to hit it. The kids were very good about taking turns and letting even the ones who aren't in school yet try.

So happy (and overloaded on sugar):)

Friday, I taught my first English classes since I've been back. I am teaching English Tuesdays and Fridays and computers on Thursdays. I teach from 8:00-12:30 (six classes) straight, which makes for a long day. The first day of English went well. The kids were very well behaved because they are so excited to have someone different teaching them. 1st grade is learning animals, 2nd grade is learning how to say “I am happy, sad, tired, etc.” The 3rd and 4th grade are learning family members. 5th and 6th grade is learning “I like/don’t like (to run, to sing, to study).” Most of them like English class, but they always tell me that my language is very strange and sounds funny.

Saturday, the students from the university in Tegucigalpa came to celebrate Día del Nino with the kids. They did some songs and games with the kids (including more piñatas) and had a special lunch. This was another fun activity for both the kids and the university students. A few of the girls that came actually went to school at Guadalupe so it was like a homecoming for them. It was beautiful to think of these girls having started where the little girls now and seeing how grown up they were. They were very cognizant of the fact that they are where they are in large part because of what they received at Guadalupe. I also loved telling the girls that one day they can be university students and come back for Día del Nino. They all thought that was pretty cool. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hola Amigos!
I made it! I am back in Honduras safe and sound. For those of you who don't know me, I was a long-term volunteer here from January until May of this year. I am now back to serve as the house director for the volunteer center. I got here on Thursday afternoon. Hector, our driver, and Miguel, the Honduran that was in charge of the mission while no one else was here, picked me up at the airport. It was so good to see them. I don´t know who was more excited, me or Hector. As we were driving back to the mission, I had to remind myself that it had been three and a half months since I left. It felt like I had been gone a week. As you may know, the political situation in Honduras is a little tricky right now. However, as of today, I still haven’t seen anything other than some graffiti on the side of the road (which is normal) that would make me think there is a problem here. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem, but it is not as bad as I imagined it.
When I got to my house, it was easy to see that no one had lived there in two months. Things were left in disarray (ants in the refrigerator, stuff everywhere, etc.). That’s OK though. I will spend these first few weeks organizing and cleaning the house to get things ready for groups to come back. I like organizing, so it will be fun. I have to say that seeing the kids made me so happy that I came back. As soon as they saw me, they started running and were so excited. They haven’t even seen any “gringos” in months, so they were probably happy just to have someone new to play with and talk to. Seeing their faces and getting their hugs told me that I would be able to handle whatever tasks were put in front of me in the coming months. I wasn’t sure if I should come back to Honduras, but I know that I am where I am supposed to be right now.

Peace and Blessings,