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Sunday, December 12, 2010

My Trip to Honduras

Ever since Sarah and I starting talking about marriage, we also talked about moving overseas to serve the less fortunate of the world. In November I travelled to Honduras to check out an opportunity to work at the first English speaking University in Honduras with my best college buddy, Joseph. When we arrived in Tegucigalpa (the capital of Honduras) I was more than a little overwhelmed. Everyone was speaking in Spanish, very quickly I might add, and there were lots of people and cars. Even though our final destination was some 20 miles outside the city, I couldn’t help but wonder what I had gotten myself into.

When we finally arrived at the farm, where the University is located, we grabbed dinner with our host and the cooks. There is no electricity on the farm, so we ate in the kitchen lit by battery powered LED lanterns. Since the sun goes down pretty early, people in the community near the farm are used to hanging out in the dark. After dinner, Joe and I went to our bedroom to get some shuteye. We had been told to bring a light blanket for sleeping, however, it was pretty chilly our first night - I was able to shiver myself a couple hours of sleep.

The next day was Sunday and our host and translator needed to run some errands back in the city and pick up 2 more guests on Monday. Not even in Honduras for 24 hours, I had to consider that I was not in my right mind when I chose to come to a country that I knew next to nothing about, couldn’t speak the language, and now my host (and only other person that could translate) was leaving Joe and I alone with a handful of Hondurans.  Joe and I talked that morning about how crazy we were to leave our electrified homes and beautiful families, but we decided that we shouldn't draw any conclusions about the trip (or our mental state) until we at least crossed the 24 hour mark.

I did get invited to play in the weekly futbol match that day with 4 teams from the surrounding area which was pretty cool, however, I think our host, Glen probably had them ask me so I would feel welcome.  Either way it was a nice gesture and it was good to play.  The field we played on was just that, a field...with no sidelines, trees set up for goals, rocks and dirt for the playing surface.  Not the typical US soccer fields I'm used to, but I'll play soccer just about anywhere.  Joseph watched us play for a little while and said that the whenever I had the ball, the spectators got louder and yelled more.  I'm not sure if it was because I was good, bad or white, but I guess it provided some entertainment for them, so I'm happy to oblige.  I love sports, so its cool to me to see how sports can bring different people together and bridge gaps that wouldn't be otherwise.

Since the culture is so laid back there, the 10:00 soccer match started around noon and didn't get over for a couple hours.  Joe and I decided we were ready to walk back to the farm a little early, recover from the jet lag and "shower" in the near by river.  We figured the locals bathed in the river, so we would also - really try to experience the culture.  Though that first day the water temperature of our bath was a little shocking, we got used to actually enjoyed our bath time.

On Monday we helped build the foundation of a house, which meant we got to move about 1,000lbs of rock. After our moved the rocks around, we went for a walk with the cooks to a viewpoint of a waterfall.  The natural beauty of the waterfall and the surrounding was breathtaking.  On the way to and from the waterfall we were pretty much forced to use our limited Spanish skills we learned in high school to hold conversation with the cooks. Fortunately, Joe paid attention during his high school days, so we were able to have some basic conversation. I'm sure we probably said a lot of things incorrectly, but we were able to learn quite a bit about the cooks Hondurans in general.  We even learned that some of their favorite artists are Michael Jackson, Eminem and Lady Gaga.  Thankfully they can’t understand the lyrics.

Towards the end of the trip I was reflecting on my swing in attitude about the farm in Honduras and pondering when that swing really occurred.  The thing I realized was that Glen leaving us there to "sink or swim," was probably the best thing that could have happened to us.  The walk to and from the waterfall was really a turning point in the trip.  It's amazing what a 2 hour walk and Lady Gaga can accomplish!  After we returned, we began holding conversation with the other workers on the farm and got to know them about as well as you can in a few days with limited Spanish skills.  I know I can speak for Joe here as well, but we really started to feel as if we belonged there.  We began to develop relationships with the few men and women that worked on the farm and really felt welcome.

After a couple more days of working on projects around the farm and taking cold river baths, it was time to head home.  Both Joe and I saw ourselves bringing our families back to live there for an extended period of time.

Now that I've been home and been able to talk and pray with Sarah about returning to Honduras for a while, we feel like God is calling us there and plan to move sometime in June-ish time frame assuming our new baby and Sarah are healthy.

Also, I mentioned in the first paragraph that I would be teaching at the University there, but never mentioned that in my post, only mentioning "the farm".  The University is supposed to be open in February and is located on the farm, where they have approximately 30,000 coffee plants and plan to plant another 25-30,000 more.  The students will help out on the farm to help pay for their tuition-free education.  The coffee farming is intended to help make the university sustainable.  I will teach at the University and also help out around the farm.

Let me know any questions you have!

Joseph made a slideshow of pictures from the area we stayed.  Here is the link:

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