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Our Family - click the pic below for more pictures
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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.