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,