Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
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,