Saturday, October 30, 2010

Well stated

I just finished a great book called, "When I was Puerto Rican" by Esmeralda Santiago. It's an incredible memoir of growing up in rural Puerto Rico in the 50s/60s (read: one-room hut, dirt floors, no water/bathrooms, etc) and went on to move to New York with her mom and 10 siblings, get accepted into the Academy of Performing Arts, and later to Harvard!

There is a part in the book that I sticky-noted and later read-aloud to those of us who would understand just how accurate it is. It talks about Esmeralda's observation of her culture's expectations of dignified behavior, and how different those expectations are for men and women. Anyone who has spent time in Latin America is probably familiar with this view. Here's the passage:

"I started school in the middle of hurricane season, and the world grew suddenly bigger, a vast place of other adults and children whose lives were similar, but whose shadings I couldn't really explore out of respect and dignidad. Dignidad was something you conferred on other people, and they, in turn, gave it back to you. It meant you never swore at people, never showed anger in front of strangers, never stared, never stood to close to people you'd just met, never addressed people by the familiar until they gave you permission. It meant adults had to be referred to as Don so-and-so, and Doña so-and-so, except for teachers, who you should call Mister or Missis so-and-so. It meant, if you were a child, you did not speak until spoken to, did not look an adult in the eye, did not raise your voice nor enter or leave a room without permission. It meant adults were always right, especially if they were old. It meant men could look at women any way they liked but women could never look at men directly, only in sidelong glances, unless they were putas, in which case they could do what they pleased since people would talk about them anyway. It meant you didn't gossip, tattle, or tease. It meant men could say things to women as they walked down the street, but women couldn't say anything to men, not even to tell them to go jump in the harbor and leave them alone."
(page 30)

You should read the book.

Monday, September 27, 2010

TVs, Microwaves, and everything else that makes life "Normal"

I just popped in a "House" DVD to watch on my new TV, after nuking a cup of water for my tea. It may sound mundane, but until a few weeks ago neither of these things were options. That's because my amazing dad came to visit and left me with goodies--including a really incredible TV and a shiny microwave that is changing my life.
I must admit--and I should stress that I do not want this to sound ungrateful in any way!--that the fact that two electronics is "life changing" makes me a little sick. In fact, I took pride in living without a TV or microwave. Yes, it was tough trying to gather several friends around a laptop in order to watch movies. And reheating spaghetti in a skillet or toaster-oven does require some creativity. However, knowing that I was living life without these seeming "essentials" made me feel pretty good about myself.

Trying to convince my dad of this, however, was unsuccessful. In his mind, a microwave and television are nearly as high on the list of basic necessities as toilet paper and running water. So, on his last day in town, we found ourselves comparison shopping in electronics stores.

Now I can only try to remember those "good old days" without a large screen and a quick way to cook things like frozen burritos (which, I'll have you know, take 2 minutes in a microwave versus an hour and a half in the oven. I mean, really..?). Hopefully I wont lose too much of my former self as I get more and more accustomed to once again being a part of the real world.

It's sad, isn't it, when something like popping in a DVD for background noise while I grade papers makes life seem more "normal." I kick myself a little every time a thought like that runs through my head.

I guess I should just end by saying that I will no longer take for granted these "basic" electronics. I will smile each and every time I press a power button. Ok, ok.. I will try.

Dad came to visit!

You can see pictures here: Dad's Visit

Friday, September 03, 2010

A few fotos and a quick update.

Hello to my select few fans! It is my favorite time of the week: Friday afternoon, and today I have decided to spend a couple of my precious favorite minutes with a quick update.

Below is a picture of my new house in the city. This is just the front gate. Once inside, there are entrances to several houses. Mine is the peach one in the back. I love it here. Just a couple of blocks away is anything I need. There is a great, big tree out front, and I have inspiring and lovely roommates.

This next picture was taken at an adorable cafe in a nearby town called Santa Lucia. I had visited the town several times and always went crazy over this teeny tiny house hanging onto this cliff. Well, lo and behold, it is now a cafe, so I could actually see the inside. It's a tea cafe and they also seem to sell herbs and I think food too. If you come and visit me, I'll take you. :)
And here are just a couple more pictures to enjoy. I would like you to pay particular attention to the spledorific clouds that we have here. They are always huge and gorgeous and contrasted with a bright blue sky.

That's all for now my friends!

Friday, August 20, 2010

In Honduras Again

After a wonderful, amazing, family-filled summer, I am back in Honduras and have successfully made it through two weeks of planning and the first 2 (half) days of school.

My awesome summer included a few weeks of sun and fun in Florida, (the Boy came to visit, too!!) a quick trip to see my amazing Jessica Albright in Indy, then a week with family in Pittsburgh. It ended with a surprise extended stay in Florida and then a lovely free week in Honduras before going back to work.

I got to spend my 26th birthday being treated like a princess by Daniel and went back to work a couple days later feeling refreshed, but not quite ready to get back into the swing of things.

The newest thing about this year is that I am living in a house in the city, and no longer up on the mountain of the school. This is so much better in so many ways (i.e. I am now 5 minutes away from stores, restaurants, malls, taxis, everything....) whereas before I had to take a bus for anywhere from 25-45 minutes just to get to the city. The only downside is riding the school bus to work everyday... I'm praying I can be an awesomely productive teacher in order to feel anxiety-free about leaving at 3:00 when the kids leave and arriving when the kids arrive in the morning.
So that is my quick update. Life is good. God is great. yay. :)

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Loved this book.

I just finished reading a great Young Adult novel called Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy. I really miss all the great books I got to read in my Children's Literature program in grad school, this gave me a taste of the kinds of quality books I was fortunate to read all the time.
Here is a portion I loved from the book. Sometimes I need to keep this in mind:

"Lizzie Bright Griffin, do you ever wish the world would just go ahead and swallow you whole?"

"Sometimes I do," she said, and then smiled. "But sometimes I figure I should just go ahead and swallow it."

I'm grouchy... apparently.

One of our vocabulary words last week was "grouchy". I'm trying not to take this student's example sentence too personally... how could I, with this hilarious illustration!?

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Soccer saved Honduras.

Soccer saved Honduras. Check out this news article that summarizes how Honduras qualifying for the World Cup this year, the first time in 28 years, helped them through the political crisis of last year!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rich people and horses.

I didn't really have plans for this Saturday, so when I heard that two of my students would be in the same horseback riding competition, I decided to see if I could go and watch. I got a ride from the lovely Nicole's family, which was the only way I would have been able to get all the way out to the location.
The ride out was an event in itself. This particular student is German, but was born in the States and grew up here in Honduras. In the car ride, the languages flying through their SUV alternated between Spanish, English, and German. Spanish seems to be the language of choice among the kids, and even the mom most of the time. I wonder how a family decides what language to speak to one another in such a situation...?

So, when I thought about attending this event I guess I should have researched a little better the kinds of people who attend and participate in equestrian events. Let's just say they're not the kind who wear jean capris, layered tank tops, and flip flops. [more and more, I am realizing how much I stand out here due to my sloppy American style. Little did I know that here--in a third-world country--is where I would feel my most frumpy and under-dressed. The women here, even those without lots of money, never seem to leave the house without heels, a perfect pedicure, crisp clothes, and straight-from-the-salon hair. It's a lot to live up to. It makes me constantly wonder what my Honduran guy sees in me considering his other options!]

So, there I was, little old frumpy me in my Floridian casual-wear, already feeling out of place, when it is brought to my attention that the president's wife has just arrived. (This is the new president by the way, Pepe Lobo, not the interim prez who visited my classroom). Her kids were competing, too. You should have seen the security! There was an armed guy in a blue shirt everywhere you turned. There were camera men from TV stations and photographer's too. There were the snobbiest looking, plastic-surgerized ladies at every table.

And then there was me in my ripped jean capris. Oh golly.

Here is a picture of Nicole riding amid the gorgeous Honduran landscape!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Today I was confused and thought it was May 18th (I blame it on end-of-the-year-itis) and so I read the May 18th entry in Oswald Chambers' "My Utmost for His Highest" (which I love, by the way). And I loved it so I'm reproducing it here for you. Probably against copyright. Please forgive me.


"Behold the fowls of the air." . . . "Consider the lilies of the field." Matthew 6:26, 28

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow, they simply are! Think of the sea, the air, the sun, the stars and the moon - all these are, and what a ministration they exert. So often we mar God's designed influence through us by our self-conscious effort to be consistent and useful. Jesus says that there is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentration on God. "Do not bother about being of use to others; believe on Me" - pay attention to the Source, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. We cannot get at the springs of our natural life by common sense, and Jesus is teaching that growth in spiritual life does not depend on our watching it, but on concentration on our Father in heaven. Our heavenly Father knows the circumstances we are in, and if we keep concentrated on Him we will grow spiritually as the lilies.

The people who influence us most are not those who buttonhole us and talk to us, but those who live their lives like the stars in heaven and the lilies in the field, perfectly simply and unaffectedly. Those are the lives that mould us.

If you want to be of use to God, get rightly related to Jesus Christ and He will make you of use unconsciously every minute you live.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's countdown time here at Pinares. Me, I'm not big on counting down. It makes the end goal seem much farther down the road than I think a countdown is intended for. Plus, even though lately I come home exhausted from trying to control 22 students who are tired and hot and overworked, I'm not ready to let them go yet. Half of the time I feel like I have completely failed them as a teacher and I need more time to just catch them up! The other half of the time I just love them so much that I don't want to let them go yet. I wish everyone could meet them. They are funny and precious and curious about God and the world and just plain cute.

If you didn't notice, I haven't really posted any pictures lately. That's because my camera was stolen over spring break. But, thanks to my generous Uncle Brian, I now have his free hand-me-down. So, in honor of now having a camera, here is a tiny visual update (I don't have much... the camera just got here!)

Daniel and I went to a remarkably American-esque mini-golf establishment here in Tegus. It was his first time playing!

This is his, I'm losing and I don't like it Face.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Where would we be without the internet?

I haven't had internet in my house for the past few days. It has something to do with a confusion regarding the payment of our last bill. Not really the end of the world, and yet the way I haven't quite known what to do with myself in the evenings would suggest that I'm more than a little bit dependent on my online connections. I can't call anyone because I don't have skype. I can't search for lesson ideas in my spare time. I can't just waste hours on facebook or reading blogs or writing emails. Which, I'm forcing myself to realize, is a good thing. But tonight I had to come and get connected a some friends' house. And it made me stop to realize that what we do with our free time nowadays is the internet. I could walk into any teacher's apartment right now and I guarantee that everyone who is not cooking dinner is probably using their laptop in one form or another; perhaps talking on skype, streaming some tv show, chatting with friends, or facebook stalking.
What in the world did we do with ourselves and all of our free time before the internet and "social networking" (perhaps the biggest irony of our day!) came and took over!?

I hope our internet problem gets solved quickly. But, in the meantime, maybe I'll start knitting again.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Semana Santa.

Holy Week. Here in Honduras, some things really are still kept holy. Not like in the States, where somewhere along the road we abandoned our "old fashioned" conviction of taking a Sabbath day to close stores and be with family. Many places don't even close on Christmas anymore.
But here, as I walked the abandoned streets and blocks and blocks of closed-up store fronts, it was refreshing to be amid a culture that takes this holiday seriously. Our savior is alive! Yes, even though the very Catholic observance of Holy Week does seem to skewedly focus on the death over the resurrection, the fact that they take the time to focus at all is nice. And although it may be frustrating that there are hardly any buses or taxis on the roads, making it difficult to get around; and although I'd like to take these days to visit some places I haven't had time to see, but they're closed; I am still pleased by the simple fact that everything is closed, and I'm forced to relax. Which, after my fun trip to the beach, I'm happy to do. :)

Monday, March 08, 2010

A long weekend (finally!); good friends; a good story...

Well, it seems that Swine Flu is spreading itself around Tegus again. Unfortunately, several kids at Pinares caught it, including one of my students. On Wednesday my kids weren't allowed to come to school, and then when even more cases were discovered they just closed all of the elementary for Thursday and Friday. Which meant our first long weekend in a long time! If you read my previous post about Donald Miller, or if you've read his latest book, you know what I mean by living a good story. I feel that I did a pretty good job this weekend!
So, I started with a little TLC by spending a lazy Thursday meeting friends for lunch, hanging out by the pool at Hotel Maya, and dinner with the novio.
On Friday a group of 5 of us headed up the mountain to the entrance to the national park we live near, called La Tigra. Our amazing friend and coworker Janice borrowed a car and drove us there--she's the best! We took our time and hiked for a couple of hoursout to a waterfall where we ate lunch and then we kept hiking across the mountain to the other entrance that is in a tiny pueblo called San Juancito, it's an old mining town that still has abandoned wood-and-tin-roof-houses built by the New York mining company that split about 50 years or so ago. Once in San Juancito we walked out to a little hostel (really just a cabin big enough for 5) owned by a German couple who moved here about 11 years ago. They made us a delicious vegetarian dinner and we got a tour of their awesome property!

We left earlyish on Saturday because Sarah and I were going to meet up with Macayla that afternoon to head out to a transition home. The ministry that Macayla is very involved in, Manos Extendidas, recently started a transition home that houses 4 girls who were in orphanages or detention centers. This was their response after discovering that most of these young teen girls would wind up pregnant within 6 months of leaving the orphanages. So Sarah, Macayla, and I spent the evening baking, watching a movie, and just having fun with these wonderful, precious girls. Oh, and we got our hair done, as well. :)

And to top it all off, I even went to a little museum of Honduras' air force with Daniel on Sunday. Let's just say, by the time my alarm went off at 5:30 this morning, I felt quite accomplished, but also not really in the mood to let my long weekend of amazingness end!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Living a Good Story

Does anyone else love Donald Miller? I recently finished reading his book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and I want to read it again and again so I don't forget it. Here's a quick overview: After a film crew tried to turn his life/book into a movie, Donald Miller began to examine what it takes to make a good Story. He writes about living your life like a good story... He says it involves pushing characters forward through tough situations, dealing with tragedy, moving way far out of comfort zones, and takes place in memorable settings, among other things.
So, I've kind of been trying to look at my life as if through the lens of a video camera. I've still got a long way to go to make it movie worthy....I need to work through a lot of my deep-rooted issues and take some big risks and try something hard that I would normally tell myself I could never do. But, on the upside... thinking of living my life like a good Story gives me some comfort when I begin to doubt and worry about living here in Honduras. When I wonder if I'm wasting my time. When I fear that I'll never settle down, or that I'm pursuing something empty instead of going back and getting serious.
When those kinds of thoughts arise, and believe me it's not uncommon, I'm just going to make myself remember that a good Story or a really great movie was never about someone seeking the easy or comfortable or conflict-free way. Or, as Don would say, no one would want to watch a movie about a guy who spent his life working for a Volvo and finally got one, testing the windshield wipers as he drives away at the end.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The President

Our class field trip to the Palacio Presidencial ended up being just as rushed and trying as it began. We learned only one week ahead of time that this particular day would be the perfect day to go visit Tegucigalpa's version of the White House because several important people, including the president, would be conveniently absent. We were invited by the father of a third grader from another class. So, we quickly threw together the outline of a field trip, slapped a permission slip together, and got all our kids on board in only a few days time.

The day of our field trip started out fairly uneventful... excluding my student whose two-cars of bodyguards had to follow close to our bus and hang out with us all day. However, sometime during the trip down to the city it was revealed to us that we would have the chance to meet the president when he arrived at the Palacio at noon. How exciting! The kids strolled through the halls of the Presidential mansion on air, knowing that soon they would get their picture taken with the president. One of my students planned to ask him why she sometimes doesn't have water at her house.

To make a long and frustrating story shorter, I will summarize by saying that the President's people kept changing what they told us. First, we could see the president before we left to get to Pizza Hut for our planned lunch. Then, it was better for us to go eat lunch and then return to the Palace for pictures with Mr. Prez. Then they decided it was better to wait for him. Finally, they changed their minds and said we should go to lunch and come back in an hour. So, knowing that we were already dangerously close to our deadline of having our school buses back up the mountain, we flew our kids to the Pizza Hut down the road, force-fed them while curious parents pretended to help, and jammed them all back into the bus within 45 minutes.

At this point we should have already been back at the school. The deadline for the buses to be back is 1 hour before dismissal. We took the liberty of stretching that a little, but knew we were pushing our luck a bit. However, our contacts told us that the president was definitely THERE waiting for us. Well, It was a lie. After herding our kids off the bus and into a room where we would await the president, we learned that he was "on his way" and he'd be there "in ten minutes". So, already waaayyy late, we had to break 66 third-graders' hearts and tell them we just had to leave. Talk about disappointment!

But, this story gets better!! I guess the president felt bad for standing us up. SO his people called the school before we had even made it back to school and said that the president wanted to come get his picture taken with the third graders at school the next day. Doubtful, we decided not to even tell our students that this might happen. BUT it DID!! The president showed up the next day and took a picture with all the classes! Our kids were SO excited (me, too... not gonna lie!). President Micheletti is a friendly, grandfatherly, smiley man. It's too bad he's no longer the interim president as of January 27th, when Pepe Lobo takes over.

So that's the story. Cool.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Feliz Año Nuevo

I just got back from a glorious and well-deserved (if I do say so myself) two week vacation in Florida. I must admit that the time at home made me long to live in the States again soon... a sentiment that I don't always feel. (especially after my nightmare of a flight home, which began with me being forced to buy a return ticket since I don't yet have my residency visa... and ended in the wee hours of the morning when I finally arrived in San Pedro--just 4 hours away from my home...) (p.s. I am sorry to complain about air travel. Anyone who has watched this guy on youtube should feel guilty for griping about the miracle of human flight. )

If you haven't heard, I signed on for another year here at Pinares. And despite my previous statement about living in the U.S. again, I'm looking forward to the year ahead. I wont dwell on that lurking, 'what-might-I-be-missing-back-home' feeling that tends to dwell in the back of my mind. I'm excited at the opportunity to live in the city next school year, instead of up here on the cold mountain. My Spanish is improving daily and I love when I realize that I can now express some thought that I previously had to skirt around for lack of the right words. My students melt my heart every day. Life is good.

So, 2010 is going to be great. I'm setting my mind on making it so.