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Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures

Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures
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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Johana's house and soon mine (well, at least my parents)!

I had a fantastic time visiting with one of our student’s family this weekend before I left (on the airplane now).  As with most families in Honduras, Johana’s family is highly valued and many family members live under the same roof or at least in the same village.  Johana’s brother just recently returned from The States and now lives at the house with his wife and parents.  Though the house is pretty small comparatively speaking (to the US), it was very comfortable for all of us to be there and share space, maybe that was cause I got my own bed and bedroom, but nonetheless, it was comfortable, even when we ate or spent time together in the living room. 

Johana took me on a quick tour of her small community where most people work in the cal business.  From what I understand cal is like (or maybe is) limestone.  Rocks are heating up in a large silo type thing for about 8 days before they are removed and drenched in water.  This causes the rocks to more or less explode into a white powder that is used in agriculture and in cooking.  We also walked to a small dulce “factory.”  Dulce is just the Spanish word for sweet, which is also used for many candies.  Here they extract the pulp from sugar cane, boil it for a while, then pour it in a mold and sell the “caja dulce” – I think that is what Joha called – block candy.  We walked right up to the factory on the street and gave ourselves a tour, including doing some of the work; taste testing!!  It was pretty awesome!  After we returned to her home I was telling her that I’ve always wanted to try actual sugar cane, so she got her dad to get some sugar cane from a farm close by.  Chew on that for a while for a sweet treat!  Yum!

Joha’s mother cooked me some of the best food I’ve had in Honduras, even though it was fairly typical Honduran food and her dad constantly told jokes to the family and me.  I also got to play video games and watch movies with her brother.  I really felt like part of the family.  We also visited her ill grandfather and grandmother who were very sweet.  I got offered coffee, bread and “chi cha,” a homemade jungle juice of some sort.  The bread and the coffee were good.  We also walked 300 meters into a cave that is near her house, and I was able to learn a little bit of Spanish while I visited the family as well. 

On a totally different note…I finally get to see my family today!  Well, at least Sarah, since she will be picking me up at the airport while the girls are hopefully asleep.  The time away from my family has really shown me that life is meant to be spent with others.  And as I wrote in the previous post, maybe we just don’t know that until we have it, then lose it (or in my case, have a 2 week break).  There hasn’t been a day since Sarah and the girls left where I haven’t thought of them several times.  I can’t imagine what life would be like without them for any longer length of time. 

Thank you to Johana and her family for putting me up for a couple nights and showing me a part of Honduras that was new to me!  I loved spending time there.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

To my girls

It has been a productive week living as a bachelor.  I have been able to do a lot of things, like studying more Spanish for example, spending more time with the students and teachers and sleeping.  I stayed pretty busy the first few days which kept my mind mostly off of not having my girls here with me, but now, however, things have slowed down a bit and I have more time to think.  And when I usually go home and get hugs or play with the girls, nobody is home to welcome me.  Plus it's just weird when the house is always so empty and quiet (though the quietness is nice in the middle of the night).

The cliche is true though, you don't realize what you have until it's gone (even when it's not gone for very long).  And before Sarah left for the US, I have to admit, part of me was excited to be by my lonesome for a short while, basically so I could have a little more time to myself to get some things done.  And I have, but it almost feels like it's all for not, sort of.  I mean I know I'm doing a lot of good things for me, for the students here and for the university long-term.  But when I walk to the house and nobody is there for a hug and kiss or nobody is getting into trouble or nobody is crying, there is a small void.

I think it has been very good for us to realize the importance of each other while we've been separated.  For example, I had to sweep the house and organize the books that have been out since Sarah left.  And I miss the girls yelling and playing.  I miss Olivia's craziness and her wacky questions, and Sicily copying Olivia and me, and Sarah's gentle nurturing of the kids and me.  But most of all it's the companionship.  The sharing of my life with the others.

I know we will have to catch up when I arrive home, but for now I miss you guys lots.  I love you!  See you soon!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

More pictures!

Here are some new pictures of our time in Honduras.  Things are going well.  Sarah and the girls are leaving in 2 weeks to go home for a month.  See some of you soon!

You can see all our pics here:

Here are some sample pictures:

Olivia and one of her favorite friends, Jessica.

Sicily and dad 

Sicily and mom in front of the new classrooms 

The girls and dad in front of the new classroom. 

Olivia and her fishing pole

A weekend in Comayagua

Some of the boys from the community

Olivia and one of her friends

Community play by the local school

Community play by the local school

Ouch!  Burn from the moto!

Pinata and pin the tail on the donkey for Martha's birthday

Where am I!?

Yay for birthdays

doggy pinata for Olivia's birthday

candy and cake for Olivia's birthday

On the beach with Martha and her brother

Standing on a cool bridge

Olivia and Martha swimming

driving the golf cart in Belize


beach bum

ya man

Monday, October 31, 2011

October Update - Ira

After another long break from writing, I have a lot of news.  The first is that things are going well here.  We have adjusted pretty well and enjoy being here away from it all.  We’ve been blessed by family and friends who have sent us care packages with food, small toys, and other activities for our girls and us.  They have definitely helped us transition a little easier.  The hardest thing here is that we are far from a lot of people, so when we want to do something it’s a long walk or a motorcycle ride away.  Last weekend however, we were able to get out to a larger town called Comayagua just to get out a little and enjoy ourselves a bit.  We got to have fast internet, cold iced-coffee and hot pizza.  After talking with family on skype we went to the Parque Central to hang out and enjoy the scenery.  We were only there for a little while, but we saw a beautiful old cathedral, browsed the street vendors’ items and sat by the fountain.  It was a nice trip that we will certainly do in the future. 

Travelling in Honduras –
I’m not exactly sure how Honduran buses make money because it is so darn cheap to ride them.  I think we paid about $1 or maybe $2 each for an hour bus ride. And the kids were free.  The one thing they do, do is they pack the buses like crazy.  On the way to Comayagua I stood in aisle while Sarah and the girls shared one seat next to an older bigger lady.  The only reason they got a seat was because a kind gentleman gave his away. 

The main street is under construction and every so often we were stopped for 1-way traffic.  There are people on the street selling soda, cookie things and some other treats for the bus riders.  A few people buy stuff each stop…what a job.  There are also sometimes people on the bus trying to sell things like books to learn English in a week, medicine that cures cancer, and vitamins that make you smarter.  I suppose I applaud the people selling these things if it’s making them money, ok not really, but the people that buy these things...well, that’s essentially the reason that we are down here.  We are trying to educate an un-educated country. 

Coming home for Christmas –
I think I have mentioned this in my last post, but we are coming home for the holidays.  Sarah will be home the very end of November and I will travel home a couple weeks later.  For those Oregonians and those travelling to Oregon, we can’t wait to see you!

I have begun a new role at the school, Dean of Education.  A fancy name for the guy in charge of all school related stuff.  I’ve been doing this for a while now, developing curriculum, managing the other volunteer teachers, developing grading criteria etc.  Some of the stuff is already in place, but I’m attempting to improve what’s already there. One thing that we could use some help with is more business books.  We’ve gotten a couple books from people, but we really need some business books.  We aren’t starting the hardcore business curriculum for a while, but we’d definitely like to get something planned.  Then in several weeks are good buddies, Joseph and Hailey are moving back to the states to have their 2nd child, so I will then have his role as President also.  And after that another long-term volunteer will return for his second tour of duty and take over as the Dean of Education.  All this to say, there has been and will be a lot of changes since we arrived, but all good things.

We are also trying to finance a once per quarter trip to another part of Honduras for all the students.  These trips will be to get the girls to experience different parts of their country and to get to know their country better.  If they are going to be leaders of their country, they need to know their country.  The trips will probably be a night or 2 nights and will cost around $75 per student.  Total cost of around $1000.  If you are interested in helping please let us know.

Our Cook’s bathroom project –
As everything else in Honduras things are going slowly.  All the materials are purchased, they just need to get the job done.  They are held up now because they don’t have straight boards to use for the foundation.  Joseph and I will go up to the house probably tomorrow to see what we can do to get things going.  Thanks again for those of you who helped sponsor this project.

October Update - Sarah

The last few weeks we have been learning and growing so much. We have been busy, but our lives look so much different here than back in the states. We are not running around to places of work, play dates, church gatherings, or running hundreds of small errands at local stores. We are trying to teach, nurture, encourage, inspire and set good examples for 16 women who have the potential and the goal of being leaders of integrity in Honduras.
Last week Joseph and his family returned to the states for two weeks leaving Ira in charge of the school and many responsibilities on the farm. We have welcomed 3 new volunteers. Ira continues to coordinate the eight classes each day between the 4 teachers and two groups of students. He has learned to be an excellent teacher in many disciplines including English, Math, History, Computer Skills, Leadership, and various other topics that are discussed in conversation classes, creative writing, and group projects. Coordinating curriculum and preparing interesting, creative material for his own classes, he amazes me every day! The girls are learning so much, it is wonderful to see the growth in their characters and skills in just a few months.
We must also take inventory of everything in the kitchen and the storage area making sure there is enough food and supplies for the 26+ people living here. This morning Ira will go on his moto to Zombrano, a town about 30 minutes away, to the nearest vegetable stand. He will pack his backpack with as much supplies as he can ride back with! He is debating whether eggs could make it back on the moto (did I mention the roads are horrible here…seriously though, you must cross at least three rocky riverbeds to get to a vegetable stand?!) since we are out and this is our third staple besides beans and rice. We had a car for a few weeks and we were able to buy groceries more easily on trips to and from the airport (when picking up and dropping off volunteers). Ira also took three of the girls to a dentist in Comayagua (an entire day endeavor)…other than having teeth pulled, apparently two of the girls also have 10 cavities each…eek! I believe they will be making other trips to the dentist soon. Dental and general health care have been import topics in the beginning of the girls’ education here because they simply do not know the importance of things like brushing teeth, washing dishes properly (we must use bleach water after washing with river water because of much bacteria and parasites) and eating healthy food (like not frying everything in vegetable oil). It is not uncommon to see babies with coca cola in their bottles. Several of the little ones at the elementary school have noticeably rotting teeth .

Some of the other things we are learning, to name a few, include making tortillas, harvesting coffee beans, raising chickens, building classrooms with rocks, bricks, wood and cement, and fixing the washed out, dirt roads with rocks. Olivia’s comment on this, “Mommy, why are we making the roads MORE bumpy?!” Haha, good question. Me: “Liv…I think it will be easier for the one car that travels on this road, though it will probably be bumpier for us and Daddy on the moto, but at least there will still be a road.”

We have not had lights for over a week because we had crazy thunderstorms and lighting for a few days that broke one of the necessary parts. We also have not had water for a few days, but the guys were finally able to get through the rivers yesterday to restore our water line. Just kidding, it’s out again. Luckily we have become good at collecting rain water for baths. And there has been a lot of rain! Some days we can collect a 5 gallon bucket in 5 minutes from the streaming of rain water off the roof, it’s awesome! Ironic though how the more rain we get, the less likely we are to have running water.

3 weeks later…I should have posted that last part earlier but I didn’t think I was finished, uhg, sorry.
So lately the girls and I have been visiting a family about a 20 minute walk up the road. There are three teenage boys, 3 little girls, an elderly man and a husband and wife who share the one room home plus bathroom-sized kitchen. Apparently the three middle children (the only ones for which a school is available in this area) are not going to school for lack of notebooks. We have tons of donated notebooks at the Leadership Center so we were able to bring them these and some extra food and some little toys Olivia decided to give away. My friend, and one of the girls studying at LC, Zuelmi, came with me for a visit and we tried to enter negotiations in how we could help this family to make a little income by buying some vegetables and beans each week from them rather than the market in Zombrano. You know you are in Honduras when you ask someone how much for a pound of green beans and they proceed to give you advice on how to cut, cook and eat green beans. You are probably thinking wow, your Spanish must be horrible, but really, asking how much something costs is pretty straight forward AND Zuelmi was there to help translate. We both sat there through the cooking lesson like seriously, what did we just do wrong? Haha I guess the point is, we are trying to find local produce we can buy to help our neighbors out and reduce our trips to the market which is a bit of a trek. Buying food for 26 people each week here involves a large garbage can full of beans, one of rice, and one of potatoes, 8 dozen eggs, a crate of carrots, pataste (a type of squash), cucumbers and a line of onions hung up. Sometimes green beans, plantains, bananas, oranges or a few packages of spaghetti noodles.

A few other fun things that have occurred:
-Olivia has enjoyed riding one of the neighbor’s horses with Celeste (one of the students)
-Liv, Sis and I learned how to bake banana cake in the neighbor’s outdoor oven
-Liv and Sis love swimming in the rivers, especially with some kids behind Candida’s house
-All of the materials have arrived to build Candida and her huge family a bathroom!
-The kitchen for the elementary school is now in construction
-Ira and the guys have been jumping off the rocks into the river at El Salto
-Sicily is almost walking, she has taken her first steps walking back and forth from Ira and I several times and she loves walking around all day holding my hand.
-Sicily can say cow/vaca, chicken/gallina, up, hop, dirty, gato, meow, moo, dada, mama, banana, plantain, bath, thank you and probably a few other words I can’t think of now. She also signs for milk and thank you, we are working on please, doggie, bunny, cat and a few others.
-Olivia is learning how to read, she is now able to sound out many words and we just started addition and subtraction which she is picking up so fast
-Olivia and I have planted potatoes that are growing well (we can’t plant many other vegetables right now because it is too wet and our garden becomes a river when it rains hard). We have basil, peppers and marigolds growing well in egg cartons inside.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Been a while...

Well, it has certainly been too long.  A lot has happened in the last few weeks including getting a promotion which includes additional responsibilities at the school.  I am now in charge of the class schedules, organizing volunteers teaching schedules and creating curriculum for the school.  It has only made me realize how much I don’t know, but I’ve really enjoyed the added responsibility.  The last week I’ve also taken over director of the school responsibilities while Joe is in the US for another week.  This of course only compounds the responsibilities and time that I need to spend with the school.  Even worse I’ve had to pour more of my life into the school – I say this jokingly – and I fear that it will be much more difficult to leave than I expected.  As I said in my previous post, I feel like I’m supposed to be here, but it’s really more than that, I feel like I’ve gained new family members here, they just speak another language.

We also decided that we’ll be coming home for Christmas and we are so excited to visit friends and family in Oregon.  You’ll be jealous of our farmer’s tans.  Speaking of family and friends…YOU ARE AWESOME!! We received a container with like 20 boxes of toys, books, (American) food, and other supplies.  You are all such a blessing.  Thank you for your continued support. 

A couple weeks ago we purchased 500 bricks to build a bathroom for our cook, and will start getting into construction in a couple weeks. We are waiting for Joe to return before we purchase the rest of the materials, but I would think that we’ll get some nice bathroom pics in a few weeks.  I’m very thankful for the folks that have donated money towards this project.  A little money and love can go a long for a family here.

Did I mention we haven’t had lights for a week and a half, we just got running water again after a few days of running off the reserve, only for it to go out again tonight. I think you have to be crazy to love this place.  Guess that makes me a lunatic.   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Week 8 - No place like home

Last week we travelled to Belize because it was the end of summer break.  It was very nice.  Warm weather, warm ocean water (like 80 degrees warm), iced vanilla lattes every morning, smoothies most evenings, nothing to work on, and time to spend with family and friends on the nice beaches.  Sarah and I were expecting it to be very difficult to leave Belize, even before we arrived.  But even though our trip to Belize was fun, nice, and even necessary for our friends (for passport renewal), I really missed Honduras, in fact I was ready to return home to Honduras before the halfway point of our trip.  Not like me.  I usually decide that I want to move to wherever I am on vacation or “accidently” miss my return flight so I can stay another day, but not this time.      

After reflecting on this feeling or readiness to return, I realized that Honduras is where I am supposed to be (I mean, at least for now).  You don’t often want to leave daily iced lattes and warm beaches to return to beans, rice and your job.  But I did, and it has, if nothing else, given me more assurance that I am and my family are exactly where we are supposed to be.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Baby Steps at the Local School

As Ira has already written, we are now in Belize and it has been quite the road trip to get here. Just figured I would add a few of my own thoughts. Before I say anything about our travels though, I just wanted to write about some of the things that have been going on lately with our community outreach at the local elementary school. The girls and I started going to the local school at first because we just wanted to see what it was like and I thought it would be nice for Olivia to be around some more kids. The students at Leadership Center are required to go each Thursday (in two rotating groups) to teach English to the students. Their primary goal right now is to become fluent in English, and what vetter way to learn than to teach it! Plus in this way they can practice sharing their knowledge with more people in the community starting with the children at school. There have been several opportunities for me to help the girls teach, guiding them and providing materials and also for me to teach some lessons in English and just play around with the kids. Olivia has taken a little while warming up to many of the kids at the school because she is a little bit younger and because of the language barrier. For the first time last week she started really playing with a bunch of the girls (other than Jessice, who she plays nicely with when we visit her house and it is more one on one-they have figured ut how to play without needing vocal language!). Anyways, I turn around after changing Sicily and Olivia has a bunch of girls holding hands in a circle dancing around to "ring around the rosy"! After a couple rounds--and they all got the "we all fall down" part really well as they all broke out in giggles as Olivia urged everyone to fall to the ground at that part- the Honduran girls started trying to imitate the words as they danced and Olivia sang the poem over and over. It was a priceless scene. Afterwards, they tried to teach Olivia one of their "playground songs."
I have the opportunity to teach Saturday morning class at the University so last week I talked about the importance of the teaching assignment at the elementary school. I think these girls are a great asset to the local community. I hope they will inspire the local younger students to value their education and look beyond 8th grade. (insert prayer--Please God provide opportunities for the kids who want to continue their educatin, reach for higher goals and help their families to have a better life.) I plan to spend the next several Saturdays preparing lessons with the girls (university students that is) for their Thursday teaching time at the elementary school. Olivia's "homeschool" and craft materials are going to be great idea genertors and supplies for this project, yipee! Bring on the Bingo :)
One other fun thing that has come out of our weekly (often bi-weekly) presence at the school is that several of the little boys have been coming to our house to play and hang out. On days they dont have class (there is no school whenever the teacher can't/decides not to come, at least once a week) and some days after school, the boys make the 1 hour walk to visit us!! We love it, Olivia and the boys take turns riding her little glider bike, playing hide and chase around inside and out of the house (you can easily run straight through the house when both doors are open), and they have even enjoyed doing art projects (we made egg carton caterpillars one day!) and building with the few legos we have. note: if anyone wants to send toys (lego sets, sports balls...what other activities can you think of forboys ags 7-11ish?) that would be great for these sweet little guys.
ok well, that was way longer than I expected and now I must sleep, but hopefully I will have a chance to add some of my thoughts about our roadtrip soon before I forget the craziness ;) I will jut say one thing, it was so awesome to get to spend time with the families and visit the homes and towns of two ofthe students we teach and live with. It really put into perspective for me where these girls are coming from, the committment it takes for their families to allow them to take a break from their responsibilities at home, travel hundreds of miles away (when perhaps they have never before traveled more than two towns over) with people their families do not know in a country that has areas that are not at all safe. The rareity of this opportuniy makes it all the more important for these girls to succeed in their education and in turn to be examples in their communities as good, honest people who can lead and inspire change with wisdom, confidence, and creativity.

A cheerful heart is like good medicine

"A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones"
(Prov. 17:22)
Our silly laughter filled the classroom as Olivia, Sicily and I danced around and played while waiting for an email to send and pictures to post just a few days before we were to leave campus . Zuelmi, one of the girls studying at Leadership Center, couldn't help but giggle at us as she sat using a computer in this room which doubles as a computer lab. She began to explain why it is so good to have a family with children living on the campus. I am so glad the joyful spirit that radiates from our silly play each day seems to infect the small, rural community with a more cheerful atmosphere. Zuelmi shared that before we (and the Rahms, who have little Micah) came, there were only adults and she said the atmosphere was often dull, boring and too serious. The students, who all come from large families with three or more siblings, are just used to having little kids running around and they are happy to have a break to play or help take care of them. In turn, Olivia and Sicily are enjoying having 9 (soon to be 15 or more) "aunties" to hang out with. Sicily allows most of the girls to carry her around and even reaches for them many times, all the while giving my arms a much needed break ;) Olivia has enjoyed playing and washing in the river with the girls and she is starting to spend more time with them in their dorm rooms. Her presence and ten thousand questions encourages them to practice English. Sometimes she asks them to read her books and the students help eachother with pronunciation. Good thing Keyby is a good sport because one time she was reading aloud one of Olivia's princess stories and after a few minutes Olivia says, "Can you read in English please!?" Everyone cracked up, becuase Keyby was reading it in English, but her pronuciation needs some work. Kids say the darndest things, oops!
I would make this a new post, but for some reason this computer wont copy and paste right now, so I'll just continue...
I have found it to be true that when living in a "less developed" country one must quickly learn new skills and use them without certain qualifications or cetifications that are necessary in other places. It is exhilarating the ways that God can use us and teach us all the while taking away mind roadblocks that may have kept us from trying new things inthe past. For example, I have always thought I would be way to squeemish to give someone an injection. But the other day I had to give some medication to one of our students. I was handed a large needle and some medicine in a glass bottle that you break the top off of to get the medicine out. With no more than an explanation of how to use the siringe, I treked up to Alex's dorm room with my flashlight to give her the shot in the rear! Thankfully everything went well and I was able to give it again in the am so that she was not feeling so crummy on the day she would travel 6-8 hours by bus to Ceiba. Glad to help, glad to have learned a new skill, glad thats over...still don't think I see a career in nursing in my near future, eek!

Week 7 - Finally Made It - part3

We set up most of our trip from Puerto Cortes to Plancencia through a Honduran that Joseph met last time he and his family had to renew their passports. There is only one commercial boat that leaves Puerto Cortes for Belize, and it's only on Mondays. We wanted to leave Friday, so we asked Amillio to see if there was a private boat that could take us there on Friday. Otherwise, we would have to travel through Guatemala or wait until Monday to get to Belize. He said that he knew how to get us there and named his price. It seemed reasonable for a private boat, so we accepted the offer.

When he picked us up in the morning on Friday, we started driving in another direction than we expected, so we asked where we were headed...Guatemala he said. Odd considering he said we'd leave from Honduras...At the Guatemalan/Honduras border he asked for another 500 Lempiras (about $25 US) for Olivia because he didn't know that she was that old. Made me angry because we explicitly told him that she was 4, and we had one of our students setting it up with him, so language barrier was not an issue. Even though we wanted to say no, what could we do? If we say no, and he says ok, see ya later and leaves us at the border we are worse off than losing $25 bucks, so unfortunately and angrily, we paid him. When we finally made it to the port, we were told to go to Immigration and get our stamp that we were leaving...and more problems arose. There is a $10 exit fee to leave the country. We could pay in US or Guatemalan money, but we only had enough to pay for 2 passports, and we had 5. So we finally convinced the guy to pay for the other 3 passports and we were able to make it to the boat. He did ask for another 500 lemps because he had to spend some of his own money to pay for the passports...seriosuly...we were supposed to be leaving from Puerto Cortes (Honduras) in the first place, so we wouldn't have to pay for any of this...ugh.

During the whole passport fiasco, we were asked by the boat captain to pay for our tickets and he started to write a receipt that said the price was 500 Guatemalan dollars for me and Sarah and the kids, but I told him Amillio was paying. He then changed the price on the reciept to 400 Guatemalan dollars. It's rediculous to think that almost everytime you try to purchase something as an American they are trying to scam you out of a few more dollars. We talked to another American that sounded like he's made the trip a few times, and he confirmed the price as 200 Guatemalan dollars and kids were free. So not only was the captain trying to screw us out of a little extra cash, we found out that Olivia, even though she is 4, didn't need a ticket either. So Amillio lied to us about needing to pay for Olivia. Stressful!!! But in the end we finally made it to Belize, safely and with all of our stuff minus a few extra bucks.

It's sad to think that there are so many that try to scam gringos (or rich Central Americans), but that is not to say that everyone in Honduras (or C. America) does. We have also experienced the kindness and genorousity of several others in the country. Many are very thankful for the things that we are trying to do for the students and for the country. We try to remember those people when things like this happen to us. Honduras and C. America are beautiful places, I mean really beautiful. In my opinion Honduras has a ton of potential to become a better and more desired place for people to live. I hope that what we are doing in Honduras with the girls can use some of that potential to become a better place to live.

Week 7 - Finally Made It - part 2

Before I begin this next post, I've been informed by my wonderful editor that I write too much about food.  I must just appreciate variety in food more these days, but nonetheless, I will try to forgo writing about food as often and hopefully about more interesting topics.  So.....
After leaving Mayra's place, we set our sail northwest to Martha's house.  I think this was must have been our shortest day of travel in the past few days (not counting today).  I think it was only ike 3-4 hours in the car.  Anyway, we got to Martha's house and talked for a bit before we decided to do something.  It was an incredibly warm day, and just so happens that this is the hottest time of year in this part of Honduras. We all thought a walk to the beach would be nice, and Olivia really wanted to see the water.  We took about a 1/2 mile walk to the beach weeving through houses and pulperias before we got to the beach where some young boys were swimming.  I knew the water was going to be warm, but when you step into the ocean here, it's like getting into a giant hot tub, especially when the last ocean water you were in, in Seaside, OR, would give you hypothermia within the hour.  We didnt go swimming, but the girls loved splashing around a bit in the warm water.

We had dinner with Martha's family (there i go again) and drove up the street to where we'd be staying for the night.  A nicer, but unfinished house that will be the future home of several orphans.  The day's humidity, did not let up at night, and I'm pretty sure I've never been that hot and sweaty before.  Holy smokes.  Falling asleep was a little difficult, but oddly enough I slept pretty well through the night.  It was probably only because I was so weary from the travelling and the heat/sun.  The next morning we had some time before we had to leave for Puerto Cortes. Martha and her dad took us to a beautiful river with a couple small waterfalls.  The area looked like it was right out of a movie, I mean, it just looked so perfect.  These are the parts of Honduras that make you forget about the poverty and other troubles of the country.  The water was refreshingly cool and clear, apparently so much so that Marhta's dad was re-hydrating himself with it.  Wouldn't you love to have the immunities to drink straight from a stream- I would.  I suppose it's a silver lining in not having clean water to drink each day...? Olivia wanted to go swimming, so Martha volunteered to take her for a bit.

After the beautiful waterfall we said our goodbyes and headed to our final Honduran destination. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Week 7 - Finally Made It - part 1

Well, there's a lot to write about this week.  Probably the most important thing is that we finally made it to Belize after a series of small road trips and seemingly getting scammed by someone who probably makes his living by doing so.

I'll start off with the better stuff...we left campus early Tuesday morning and set out towards the north coast to visit 2 of the girls' families.  We ate a small breakfast before leaving, but a few hours into the trip we stopped at Wendy's for some food.  I had been looking forward to McDonalds or Burger King, since we planned on leaving for Belize, but a burger anywhere would suffice.  I had been up since about 5 or maybe earlier, so a 9:30 burger hit the spot like nothing else would.  The coke with ice(!!!) that washed it down was equally pleasing.  And off we went.  We made a couple more stops before we arrived at Mayra's house, including a stop for ice cream, a second round of Wendy's and dropping off Martha at the bus station where she met her dad.

Being in the car for 8-10 hours of course stinks, but my oh my, was the food worth every penny.  The fast food binge was pretty good, but the ice that was just down right scandalous.  The ice cold flavor hitting your lips in the 90 plus degree heat, after not having good ice cream since we'd been die for.  We stopped several times for ice cream on this trip!  And Sarah got a Oreo shake last night that I'm sure will become a daily favorite. 

Ok, back to the girls' families.  Mayra's family was very generous, as most Honduras families are with guests, serving us chicken soup and rice for dinner.  Mayra told them that I am in love with Coca Cola (kind of the running joke when I teach class because when I give an example, I often use Coke in it), so they purchased a 3 liter for lunch.  3 liters are actually very common in Honduras, as is Coke.  Dinner was delicious.

The next morning we bought some beef for her family and some baby clothes for Martha's mother since she is pregnant with a surprise baby.  We dropped the meat off at Mayra's and visited Mayra's recommender.  Each student has to have a respected individual in their community recommend them for our school.  Mayra's recommender spoke English well and was very kind.  We talked for a while about the school and went back to Mayra's for lunch.  Before lunch though we stopped by Mayra's old house which had burned down a few years back.  Her grandmother, and daughters, still lived there with some of the house fixed up, but certainly not what it once was. The property was nice, however, with many fruit trees and a surprising amount of land.  Mayra's dad actually works from the house, rebuilding or refinishing furniture on the side - he works as a mechanic for his day job.

So for lunch we eached had about 1 pound of beef and half plate of rice.  Apparentlly, there was also turtle soup available.  After I forced down the humungous plate of food and soda, I felt obliged to try the turtle meat.  I mean, when else will I have the chance?  I feared never, so I had a small piece of the turtle meat, still on the bone.  Leaving meat on the bone, typically chicken, is also very common in Honduras.  I'm assuming for the flavor, but I've also heard of some people eating the bones too (OUCH!).  Anyway, the turtle was pretty awesome.  It was very similar to chicken, except just a tad chewier, but certainly not too chewy where you had time to think about what you were eating. It was good, but I was already stuffed, so only the one piece for me. 

Martha house, here we come!  (part 2)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More pictures from Honduras

More pics here:
 Sicily and her big smile
 The girls' dorm rooms
Scorpion in our bathroom

 The community school that we help out a couple days a week
Our 2 beautiful girls
 One of Olivia's new friends
 Another new friend
 And another new friend
 Zuelmi and Olivia at the bon fire
 Zuelmi and Olivia roasting marshmellows
 Front of our house with some yardwork done
 Olivia in her bedroom
Joe with Micah and Olivia
Olivia doing some art on our porch
 Sicily taking a siesta in the hammock
Bath time

 She loves it!
Olivia giving a bear hug 
 Mayra, Martha, Keyby with Sicily

 Karen with Sicily

 Stick bug

 the girls

 Sicily on her makeshift play mat

 Ira teaching class

 The pila, or washing machine

Hailey and Sarah on our porch

 Jesse, Carolina, Alex doing laundry

 Time for a siesta

Jared, the farm's manager's son