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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Week 3 - Ducks...really?!?!?

It feels like it’s been a somewhat uneventful week this last week.  Here’s what I can recall…

Started out early in the week, on Monday, when we went to the local school to hang out with the kids after their classes were over.  I played soccer with the boys for a little bit and Sarah and Olivia sat around with the girls playing pato pato gonso (duck duck goose).  I left early on the motorcycle to take Joseph back to teach, and then I returned to pick up the girls.  We managed to pile all 4 of us on the dirt bike and only almost crash a couple times.  I’ve heard of 6 people on a moto before so 4 is really not a big accomplishment, but nonetheless it was successful in getting us all home quickly.

On Tuesday I was invited (as I am most days) to play soccer with some of the locals.  At first we only had a tennis ball to play with, but instead of kicking it, we threw it at the goal from a longer distance…reminds me of being a kid, when you just make due with what you have.  It’s very Honduran.  Anyways, a real soccer ball finally showed up and we played a game of 2 vs 2, which I didn’t understand until probably 30-45 minutes of playing.  I just went where people told me to go.  If you ever go to another country and don’t speak their language, that’s kind of how it works.  They point, you go.  After I “got it” it was a little more fun. 

I don’t remember what day it was, so I will say Wednesday, we went to the river and splashed around for a while.  It was a hot day, so we were all able to cool down a bit.  The river isn’t super great for swimming yet, so we stayed in a shallower part.  I look forward to jumping off the cliffs into the river as I did last November. 
On Wednesday night, we had an awesome thunder and lightning storm, definitely the best since we’ve been down here.  The thunder was pretty loud and the lightning lit up the sky.  It’s crazy when it’s pitch black out and all of a sudden the lightning flashes so close and bright to your area that you can literally see everything around you for a split second.  The awesome power of thunderstorms leave me in awe.  I love the sound, the flashes of light and the torrential downpour.  On Wednesday it must have rained a couple inches in just a matter of a couple hours. 

Thursday was very relaxing for me at least.  Glen (he’s the president of the organization) arrived and Joseph and I were able to chat with him for a while.  We also don’t have afternoon classes that day since the girls go to the local school to teach English.  It was very nice day as I recall. 

About Midnight Thursday night (rather Friday morning) the relaxing came to an abrupt halt and desperation ensued…I was desperate for something to plug me up, if ya know what I mean…To make a long story short, I was in the bathroom much of the wee hours of Friday morning.  Most of Friday I stayed in bed, praying that God would plug me up, since He probably is the only thing that could have stopped that geyser from blowing.  (Just a little imagery for you, but trust me it was worse than I make it out to be). 

Friday sucked, but Saturday I woke up fine and dandy and even felt like I lost a few pounds, so all in all a good morning.  I was able to do a lot of reading on Saturday throughout the day and after our little ones went to sleep.  I started a new book by Donald Miller, “Searching for God knows what.”  So far it’s been an entertaining read at worst, and it seems like he has some very good points, instead of just trying to make you go, “Wow, did he just say that?”  Anyway, it’s good so far.  We also went to meet one of our neighbors that lives about ½ mile away.  She’s very nice, but speaks relatively fast.  She served us some cafĂ© con leche (coffee with milk) from her cows.  So far it’s the first real milk I’ve had in Honduras.  Technically it’s the first “real” milk I’ve ever had I think.  Meaning straight from the cow.  It’s supposed to be better for you.

Speaking of milk, the organization owns a cow that had a baby this week.  So hopefully we will start to have milk available for at least coffee, not sure if I can stomach truly fresh milk.  Though I’m sure I will try.  In addition, one of the workers here has a dog that had 8 puppies!  Yes 8!  That brings the total to 17 dogs that that guy owns!  And once again, yes 17!  Not joking!  We also haven’t had consistent running water the last several days.  I hope that goes away (or would it be better to say I hope it stays?).  And the last thing I can recall is that we had one of the large containers arrive from the states, so we received baby food and books!  Woohoo!  The next one leaves Virginia at the end of September, so if your interested in sending a care package you can send stuff to the address below!

Sarah or Ira Lucia c/o Glen Evans
635 25th St. 
South, Arlington, Va. 22202  

So in conclusion, maybe it hasn’t been as uneventful as I originally thought.  Glad I have the blog to remind me!  

Oh yea, and one of the more, maybe most, random things to happen while we've been here...we got 2 ducks for the farm/campus.  (I know I'm more of a Beaver fan also).  Joseph and I released them yesterday at the river.  They flapped about a bit, probably because they had been boxed up for several days, then hopped in the river and casually floated backwards and down the 25 foot was a little strange I admit, but kind of cool.  Once they got to the bottom of the waterfall they hopped up on a small piece of land and hung out for a bit.  I need to go back today to see if they plan to stay for a while.  Why did we get ducks, you may ask.  I have no clue.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Adventures

The terrain here is very beautiful but extremely rough to travel on. From Tegucigalpa, the capital city which we flew into, it took about 2 or 2 and a half hours to get to the Leadership Center, where we live. Bumpy does not even describe it, but it was wonderful to finally arrive and meet the girls who are learning here. Some days, when it rains a lot no one can even travel on the roads that we must use to get here. We must have crossed rivers at least 5 times. Amazingly, we can cross the rivers on dirt bikes (motos) some days when the rivers are low. There are two guys here that have motos we can borrow.

Though we are nowhere near a village or city, after the first week of getting settled in, I am excited to start visiting other families nearby. I need to work on my Spanish a lot to be able to communicate more in depth with the people, but for now it has been fun visiting and chatting as much as possible.

We will be visiting the sole elementary school in the area at least once or twice a week. Although it is quite the trek, (about 1 hour on foot with sis on my back,…Ira and Olivia will try to borrow a moto to get there), it is a good opportunity to help out the community and get to know more families in the area. There are about 28 students ages 6-12ish taught by one teacher, Marcia, in one classroom. If we can go to help teach even one day a week it gives Marcia the chance to break the class in half and work with a smaller group of students in a closer age range for a bit. We also stay after school is over to play soccer and other games with the kids. It seems to be rare here to see adults playing with or instructing their children, so of course the kids are super excited to be getting some extra attention. It is also nice for Olivia to meet other kids here, she has made one friend in particular, her name is Jessica. Sometimes we go to her house on our way home after school is out. Her mother, Lydia (called Profesora or Profe by most) is a well known member of the community and is involved in the selection of student for the Leadership Center. She used to teach at the school, but from what I understand, she was in a moto accident and lost the use of her legs, her husband and also her job. I have really enjoyed talking with her, currently she is dreaming up a classroom to be built at her home so that she can continue teaching. She is one of those people who never stops teaching people in her everyday life. She has already taught me a lot and she lives with 5 of her children and three grandchildren.

I took a walk with Sicily the other day and found that there is a family only 15 minutes down the road with 3 little girls and a boy. I think we will go visit them again when Olivia is with us so she can play with the kids. I am looking forward to getting to know them better, the mom, Andrea, seemed very friendly but I need to keep practicing Spanish so I can talk with her more!

Ira and I took the girls to splash around in the river yesterday afternoon, we will definitely be doing that more often to cool down! After dinner yesterday we experienced our first extreme Honduran rainstorm where the lightning is almost blinding and the campus becomes a lake. It is so loud you have to yell to talk to anyone, so we pretty much just played with the kids, letting them scream and squeal as much as they liked since we couldn’t hear. The girls didn’t mind and overall it was pretty fun J

I feel like our whole world is a playground right now. There is so much for us to explore and I am so excited for the opportunities that God has for us here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Becoming Familiar

After two weeks in the wilderness of Honduras, I mean our new home, I am feeling a bit more confident about everything. The surroundings are becoming more familiar, I am learning how to care for my family in a different culture and completely different lifestyle:
-communal kitchen- guess what we'll have for got it- rice beans tortillas and maybe eggs. We do have peanut butter...they make the corn tortillas taste a lot better!
no hot water
garbage disposal=burn or bury everything
travel: on foot, horseback or moto, unless you are lucky to hop in the back of someone's truck exercise: (although most Hondurans do not formally exercise) for me=trail out for cattle herding, horses, dogs, chickens, and try not to break your ankle on the rough terrain...I've biffed it twice already but no serious injuries :) Oh, there is an incredible waterfall on a 10 minute run down a path from our definition of the word breathtaking, incredible landscape
cement floors- love that you can spill (or toss) anything on the floor, wait for it to dry and just sweep it out the door later. we are borrowing a sleeping bag for Sicily to sit on so when she falls over she doesnt get hurt. I'm a little nervous for when she starts moving more.
solar power- the only electricity we have...we are able to charge computers and have a few dull lights on in the evening. basically we go to bed before 9 (it gets dark at 630) and get up at 5am. I have a reading light I turn on when I get up with Sicily at night.
Bugs- do everything you can to not get eaten alive...burn outside picnic bug smokers in your house before bedtime, use a lot of bug spray, never leave any food or water in your house, smash every spider, mosquito, stick bug looking scorpian, and anything else with more than four legs or wings that you see, and lastly, struggle through two bug nets every time the baby wakes up at night...I would say The Bugs are the most difficult thing to get used to

At first, the place we are at seemed so incredibly isolated, I was thinking, what am I going to do here if I can't even find Honduran families! But, poco a poco, little by little, we have been coming into more contact with the people of the area and I am so excited to be here!
We have a wonderful community of women who we live with. Together we cook, eat, learn, wash laundry, have church, ect. These girls are all about 18-22 years old and they are the students at leadership university. Joseph and Ira teach most of the classes, but Hailey has taught them a lot about health. So far I have just done one class with them in which they made skits-they will perform this saturday. I am hoping to start leading some conversations in class so I can begin writing/researching more about Honduran culture.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Pics of Honduras so far

Hailey and Sarah chatting in front of our new house
Olivia and one of our students, Alex...Olivia's favorite
Daddy and Sicily waiting out the rain storm in the hammock
Sicily in her play corner
Front of our house...time for some landscaping
Bath time!  Hot water from the kitchen and buckets...showers are usually cold unless you time it right.
Pretty waterfall
Pretty people and pretty waterfall
after morning nap
Little cutie
Sicily with some of the students, Mayra, Martha and Keyby
Sicily with student, Karen
The girls...and Sicily's crazy hair.
Happy girl!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

New York Pictures

Week 2 - Some visitors

I’m going to try and post every Saturday or Sunday from here on out…so those should be the better days to check.  Saturdays we only teach in the morning, so the afternoons I have a little more time to process my thoughts and go over the week.  On Sundays we only have meals and church planned, so they are our rest days to just relax or get caught up on what we didn’t do during the week. 

This last week a short term volunteer team came in and helped around the farm and also taught a couple classes.  It was nice having some new, English-speaking faces, protein bars and some powdered drink mix.  They were able to get a lot accomplished on the farm and working with the girls.  Olivia really liked one of the female volunteers and hung out with her mostly, but at the end of the trip also enjoyed hanging with a couple of the guys that came down.

Once a week our students go to an elementary school and teach English to the students there.  It’s a good way for them to practice English, while also giving back to the community.  We decided that we would join for a change of scenery.  It took us 1hr and 30 min to walk there, including a diaper change or 2, a couple scraped knees and 3 crossed streams.  It was an adventure that we’ll probably make most weeks since there are a lot of kids gathered…Olivia’s new play date.  I was also able to play soccer with some of the students, so that was fun.  Probably, the most exercise I’ve had since arriving in Honduras. 

After soccer we walked back to Profesora’s (a well-respected woman in the community who taught at the elementary school) house.  I bought a bag of chips and coke from her for about $0.50 and it hit the spot.  She also cooked us some eggs and tortillas.  Before we left we also noticed she had some bread and cookies for sale, so Sarah purchased a couple small bags, which have turned out to be a very nice morning snack.  Later, we went to the local church with the short term volunteer team to pass out some items that they brought from the states.  On the way back from the church I got a wet ride in the back of a pickup.  Fortunately when it rains here, it’s still usually 65+ degrees and even warmer leading up to the rain!  It’s more refreshing than cold (or even wet).  Much different from Pac NW, I’m used to. 

I’m not sure when, but it must have been Tuesday, we decided to walk to a viewpoint to check out the huge waterfall.  It puts Multnomah Falls to shame, for those of you familiar with the falls.  The viewpoint is approximately at the same height of the top of the waterfall, with cliffs more or less cutting straight down to the bottom of the canyon.  It’s difficult to describe in words, but to try: a natural beauty formed over several hundred if not thousands of years and still untouched by man.  It looks like the back drop for a movie scene.  The pictures (and my description for that matter) don’t do it justice.  It’s shear awesomeness.  

The short term team also started on the brick/mosquito net wall that is being built around the eating area.  It will be a nice deterrent for the dogs, chickens, mosquitos and flies.  Meals sans insects and animals and a good place to study in the afternoon and evening, will be a huge blessing for all.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1 week down 51 to go!

We’ve now been in Honduras for a week and have had ups and downs.  We’ve met some good people, been surprised at the girl’s English skills, enjoyed the weather, but have also missed home, had difficulty with getting Olivia to eat and Sicily still likes to wake us (especially Sarah) up a lot at night.  We are also pretty isolated here with not a whole lot of places to go see, at least that are near the campus, so that’s been a little difficult, especially for the girls.  They are used to going to friends’ houses, parks, the grocery store and wherever else.  Here at the campus, we don’t own any vehicles (though we have access to a motorcycle and truck if we need them).  The nice thing about being here is that we have tons of space for the girls to explore.  We have yet gone to the waterfall, but would like to soon!  I’ve seen it before and its quite cool. 

It seems like Olivia is having a ball if you don’t count the eating part of Honduras.  She doesn’t like that every meal is rice, beans and tortilla.  Neither do I, but she’s a little young to understand that we could have almost whatever we wanted and now we can pretty much have what’s on our plate.  Thankfully there is oatmeal and peanut butter.  She’s also benefited from the snacks that we sent ahead.  And yes, so have Sarah and I.  Anyway, back to Olivia having a ball…she enjoys spending time with the students (all girls, if I haven’t explained that yet), and one in particular, Alex.  I’m guessing because she is younger, than the rest, plays with her and speaks decent English.  She always asks where she is. We are hoping that the girls will learn a fair amount of English from Olivia since she doesn’t quite understand that the girls don’t know English.  She has also learned a couple Spanish words that she was telling me this morning, like agua and hola.  We also had a new group of volunteers arrive last night for this week and Olviia has already attached herself to one of them. 

Teaching is going pretty well so far.  I don’t think I’ve epically failed yet, so that is a plus in my book.  I am still trying to gauge all that the girls understand and figure out the best ways for them to learn (so any ideas are welcome).  For the most part, they know more English than I expected and are generally pretty intelligent.  There are a few girls, I’m convinced, that will actually make a large impact on their community, if not their country.  So far we are sticking with teaching English.  I think we will do this for at least the first 6-12months of their education and at some point introduce leadership, math, science, business and other subjects.  We’ve only touched on business and leadership within discussions.  I’m also really glad to have Joseph and Hailey down here already and broken in.  Hailey has been a huge help with the girls and Sarah and Joseph has helped guide me in preparing lessons and discussions. 

We look forward to having some of you visit sometime in the next year! 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

We Made It!

We arrived at the Leadership University Campus yesterday afternoon to our new home and really our new life for the next several months.  Obviously, we are very excited to get started on teaching and other projects around the campus.  Which is good because teaching starts today! The girls have class from 9-11, so I will sit in while Joseph teaches those, so I can get a feel of how he teaches (speed of speaking, vocabulary, etc) and then I will teach 2 classes this afternoon. 
The girls are doing well.  Sarah went for a run this morning through the mud and Olivia "worked" with one of the students, feeding the chickens, getting to hold one of the baby chicks, and "shooing" them into the coop.  Sicily actually slept pretty well, which pleasantly surprised us!

We'll unpack all of our stuff later today and try to get a little more organized. 

Thanks for everyone's support!  We'll have pictures soon.