A Travellerspoint blog

Pineapple and Avocado

When I first made the decision to come here, I had no expectations....I was only following a soft knock on the door. I would love to say I came to selflessly serve but I wanted an adventure. I wanted to live. To do something that would mean something that I would hope I would come to understand. I told myself that I was coming for me, so that I would not make myself a savior. But then I got here. And I never have felt pity for the people I work with, my students or the girls despite trying circumstances. That mentality I first came with holds true but it has changed. I think as my time is winding down, I'm beginning to see the fruits of my time here, or am just able to smell their sweetness. The reality of what I had signed up to do started to hit me as I saw that this was going to actually take sacrifice on my part. In the midst of that hardship, I had to ask the question "Why am I doing this? Why am I putting myself through this hell? Is this adventure worth it?"

And the truth is, by seeking out this position, unknowingly it came bridled with responsibility--my naivety never ceases to amaze me. I had to take ownership of my time here. My work did mean something, leaving the comfort of my room and heading into the rough and tumble world of the home and spending time with these other people, human beings, investing in these vessels, was beginning to mean something. And something that is worth sacrificing for, requires duty and responsibility. I have found that what started out as a quest for adventure, turned into something much more heavy, more substantial....and it wasn't just about me anymore. And with this burden comes a mess, a whole world of trouble for someone like me who, I don't think, has been used to real responsibility. My words, my actions have consequences. And then comes the rain of self doubt and punishment. And I have come to realize something my personality that maybe has been apparent to you, the people close to me in my life, but I have never realized. I punish myself beyond any one person in my life. I berate and drag myself through the dirt when I mess up. I go over my actions again and again, trying to figure out what I could've done better. Been more sincere, more commanding, more gentle, more loving, more forceful.

Why didn't you stand up enough for yourself?
Why can't you just let it go?
Why didn't you say no?
Why didn't you say yes?
Why were you sarcastic when you should've been loving?

And on and on it goes. And I'm talking about how I've conducted myself in the classroom, to my interactions with the girls, to my life with my housemates, on who, rests my universe.

Why does the truth seem to come so easily to others while I have this three hour internal monologue trying to figure out the right thing to do or say? My struggle is this. On a good day I could lie to you and tell you who I am....but the truth is I know nothing and have no idea who that person who is staring back at me in the mirror.
I can tell you I like to read. I feel the strongest when I'm directing. I love fresh pineapples and soft avocados. I like to wear my nails really short and I will never say no a Jane Austin movie. I am a morning person and I cry when I see anyone who looks like my grandpa. Those are things I know about myself. But when you throw other people and responsibility into the mix, I get lost. I get scared. Influencing others, my actions mean something to someone else. But I don't like weak people and when I am weak, I don't like myself. And have never so often felt so powerless in my life as here in Honduras.

I would love to say that I am fearless. That I do not know the face of fear. That I can perform a 120 page script, of which I am in every scene, completely free and in control. That I can walk into a classroom of 22 fourth graders confident in my knowledge. That I can show up for a game of soccer with 30 girls who have been left by their families ready and willing to play with my heart open.

Sometimes my brain is so abuzz that I cannot hear other people talking to me. And when this happens I picture myself in Crate and Barrel with a baseball bat smashing the place to kingdom come. And dear friend, this is my plight. Trying to turn off the noise. And get myself out of my head and turn it into action. A very wise mentor of mine (yes, she's read a lot of books, I've heard) said during our rehearsals "A physical action evokes an emotional response." So I have been putting that into play. When I am stuck, I get my tush out of bed and go to the girls. And maybe that is unfair of me, to use them as my therapy, but God is in that place, and I cannot stay in the confines of my mind when I am with them. And this has led me to a bit of a revelation. Now I could explain it to you myself but I found this quote that puts it just right.......

"Stop trying to protect, to rescue, to judge, to manage the lives around you . . . remember that the lives of others are not your business. They are their business. They are God’s business . . . even your own life is not your business. It also is God’s business. Leave it to God. It is an astonishing thought. It can become a life-transforming thought . . . unclench the fists of your spirit and take it easy . . . What deadens us most to God’s presence within us, I think, is the inner dialogue that we are continuously engaged in with ourselves, the endless chatter of human thought. I suspect that there is nothing more crucial to true spiritual comfort . . . than being able from time to time to stop that chatter . . . "
— Frederick Buechner (Telling Secrets)

Ironically enough, "Take it easy" is on a red Tweety sweatshirt of one of my roommates. And here, I have found solace. Just go out and do and the rest will sort itself out. I have given myself permission to chant that to myself when I get caught in my head and make my weary, broken body get up and go out. Sometimes I feel like I'm a thousand years old, a bystander looking into the lives of those around me. And other times a child, who doesn't think of the consequences of my actions and I just do. Right now, I'm I trying to find that person in between. I strive be the bearer of wisdom, with a wide girth of love and patience and goodness rooted in absolute certainty. Yeah...that would be great. I'm just realizing how ironic the title of my blog is....En el desconocido....into the unknown. That IS where I am, at least I'm not alone.

And now, I am going to unclench the fists of my spirit and take it easy and leave it to God.

Posted by buscarme 20:18 Archived in Honduras Comments (3)

4 Adventures in San Pedro Sula

booo yah!

rain

So, things have been pretty happening here in San Pedro. Lots of fun little things. So here's a little photo tutorial of 4 adventures.

Adventure 1: Rainy Days and Frivolity in Villa Florencia.

So we've been having some mad rain....and one day, Yara and I decided to brave the trash water and go swimming.

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Adventure 2: Dia del Hogares!

This was a friendly competition of singing, dancing, games, and poetry between the orphanages in San Pedro....of course we're the most awesome....but I guess I'm a little biased.

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Adventure 3: The end is coming....I wanted a picture of each one of my students, so I went around to all my classes and got a shot of each my kids after they drew their own back round on the white board. Love each and everyone. These are some of the best shots. There are also a few in there of us teachers getting ready for our staff photo op.

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Adventure 4: Today, we were supposed to have the end of the year party for all the students and families. But this dog gone rain....Hannah and I were supposed to sing "Elephant Medley" from Moulin Rouge too! But it got canceled. But I was able to make it to the home and goof around with some of the girls in their costumes. ;) If you can't tell....I'm a pirate. ;)

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Posted by buscarme 17:55 Archived in Honduras Comments (3)

Que Vaya Bien

98 °F

33 more days. 33 more times to awake to beauty of the mountains. 33 more chances to walk into OLR and be surrounded by the paralyzing joy that is the girls. I feel like I’m squinting my eyes to fend off my last days here but every now and then it comes into focus and my heart weighs so heavy that I can barely stand it. Yesterday, when I was getting ready to go the mall with Hannah, I told her I thought I should buy another white shirt for work because my others have all but deteriorated. She looked at me and said, “It’s not worth it, you’d only wear it four more times. “ And I started crying. I can’t truly articulate how this is! It is time for me to come home, and I want to come home but this has been my life for the past 9 months and somehow through all the pain, my ridiculously difficult job, the unrelenting poverty, the thick danger that coats this city, the unabashed sexism, the sting of isolation…..the thought of leaving burns a hole into my chest.

“Eliza knew she would miss this coastline, this sea, when she left. Though she would come to know another, it would be different. Other birds and other plants, waves whispering their stories in foreign tongues. Yet it was time.” The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton.

I have seen a new face of God in this place. I never realized that God could look different, feel different, than the one I’ve always known. I feel like I’ve discovered a new aspect to his personality, a new curve to his face, the way his hair falls. It is stunning and frightening at the same time. So I give thanks, thanks for this year, for all the pain endured and beauty discovered.

Ok, I'm going to go back into fuzzy vision again. Its safer.

And now for.......

Top Ten “Charming” Ism’s of Honduras

Hannah and I have argued over the use of the word ‘charming’, some of these I would put in ‘obnoxious’ column.

10. Fruit. Fruit vendors on the side of the road. At any given point of the day, there will be men selling bags of fruit on the side of the road. Ok, so apparently there are lots of fruits I don’t know, such as green mangos, which the natives like with salt and chili sauce sauce. Ummm….bleh. I think these are the Honduran apple, some of my students have given me these and I just can’t get them down while smiling and saying "Thank you!".

9. Personal space. When standing in line, at the puleperia or at the grocery store, Hondurans have no problem cutting in front of you. So you literally have to press your body against the people crowding around you to get what you need, even if you were obviously there first. It feels akin to Whack-A-Mole. I just want a big cushy mallet to bop people with.

8. Tying to number nine, grocery carts. The aisles are about half the size of those in the states, where there is the unspoken rule of two lanes and how to conduct yourself accordingly. So in Honduras you have one lane. And people have no qualms about leaving their carts in the middle of the flipping aisle and browsing while you stand there waiting for them to move their cart. So you just move it for them. Once you get over and just play by their rules, its fine. So I just friggin move them.

7. Presentation. Hondurans, in general, are obsessed with presentation. Which is admirable in some ways. But they will spend countless hours on arranging things in order of their color, size, texture…..when its just rubber, glitter dusted ducks sent in bulk from Tokyo.

6. Nails. Honduran women sometimes (a lot of the time) grow their toenails really long because apparently it looks better when they get their nails done. And sometimes men have scarily long thumbnails, which after questioning, is not for drugs, but vanity’s sake.

5. Buen provecho. I really do love this. Rarely do we say ‘bon appetite’ but this is very common here. As new clients come into a restaurant or yesterday, when Hannah and I were eating at the food court at the mall, people say ‘Buen Provecho’ as they pass. Good appetite. Eat well. Enjoy your food. Charment.

4. Cutting the wire. If your electricity bill isn’t paid on time, there is a man who comes in a truck and gets out, takes wire cutters and literally cuts your cord.

3. Mopping. These people are crazy for it. Mopping their homes, work places, restaurants, malls, etc. And when I think of this chore, I think of it being done at night, or in the morning before you open…..no, no, no. It is when the halls at school are packed with kids, there is no room to walk at the mall, when there is an important meeting going on. And if you don’t jump they’ll slosh your feet.

2. Doorbells. There aren’t any. You bang the gate and scream till someone lets you in.

1. The lingo. Here are some of my favorite phrases I’ve learned.

Que pedo?/What fart? (What’s up?)
Mi cielo/My sky (pet name)
Mi amor/My love (people say this to everyone here and I love that, wish we were more like that)
Zappo/Frog (We don’t have a word that really fits but it means like annoying or inappropriate person)
Chancha/Pig (When you burp or do something obnoxious, this is what you’ll get)
Que vaya bien/Go well (A common parting phrase)

Posted by buscarme 16:47 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

Gracias a Ti

96 °F

First I want to say thank you to all of you who donated! I have reached my goal! I feel a new lease on life here, to not have to have financial worries on my mind, and as soon as I get those glasses I'll post some modeling shots for ya. So thank you thank you thank you! But just because I've reached my personal financial goal doesn't mean you shouldn't donate if you haven't! The home has many needs: food, clothing, cleaning supplies, salaries to the Tias who take care of the girls, the guards who keep them safe and the cooks! *See past blogs for donating information!

In other news today is Mother's Day! So here are some pics of the mayhem!

Singing the National Anthem
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Delightful Dances
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Fruit Punch for the mamas
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Mary Jo from 6th grade
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5th Grade getting down!
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Me and Diana
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Dwarf Invasion! So funny, especially when they jumped up and down.
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These are two girls from the home, Sihan and Katherine
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Boys from 4th Grade
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Surprise for the mamas! Ahhh, the serenading never stops in this country.
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Cutest invasion ever. This guy snuck in during the National Anthem
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Me and Kevin
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Katherine
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More serenading
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Then the boys at the school threw us ladies a little party....more serenading. ;)
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Thanks everyone! Keep me and the girls in your prayers. In the home stretch here, pray for a beautiful finish!

Posted by buscarme 12:39 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

Portraits

I think when you travel abroad you lose yourself and find yourself again and again. Right now I’m glad to say that I’m in “the finding” period. And more and more, I’m finding God in the home. I see him in every face, when a girl cracks my knuckles for me or braids my hair, or offers me candy or tells me to be careful on my walk home. These girls are in my blood, are a part of me. So I want to share some of them, on a more personal level with you.

Carla
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Carla is around 5 years old. I know this may come as a shock…..but I’m not what you’d call overly maternal, and never pictured working with kids full time. So when I first came here, I naturally first became close with the girls in my classes. I kept a safe distance from the little ones. I was/am still working on my Spanish and these girls are still learning colors and letters and such. I have really been working on the mid to older range of girls. As the days go on here, different faces start standing out and one day Carla’s face went POP! How could I have missed this girl? I don’t know, her smile would bring you to your knees. And now our ritual is as follows: when I hear the sweet chime of “Miss Emily” my duty is to run to her as she runs to me and then I swing up and down and all around with her squealing. And every now and then, there is some homework. My favorite is when she’s memorized some little English poem for class and has to repeat it to me. I swear, if you don’t believe in God, you will after you meet this girl.

Mauda
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Mauda is 9. And CRAZY! Mauda goes to the school I teach at and is in 2nd grade. She causes quite a raucous when she puts her mind to it and is a natural leader. I’ve been spending more time at the home at night and have been discovering it’s a whole different game when the girls are getting ready for bed. Mauda’s new favorite game is to yell “MISS EMILY!” And then I come running to see what’s going on and then she jumps from behind a bed or cabinet or something completely naked and screams at me. I, of course, jump back in my uptight, sensitive American self, while she collapses on the floor laughing at the look on my face.

Abby
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Abby is 18. Abby is…..boy, where to start. Abby pulls a lot weight in the home, which I didn’t realize about her for a long time. The girls listen to her. She doesn’t just have her own interest at heart. I see her as a bubbly happy ball of pink and blue light that will put you in your place if you step out of line. She makes sure the girls don’t play with my computer if I leave it lying around, tells them to give me my keys back, makes sure a Tia unlocks the door to let me out when I want to go and makes sure the girls are respectful. Tonight when I was at the home, she showed my grades of one of the girls who was asked to leave the Holy Family School (where I work) to go to a public school because of her behavior. Her grades were great! I took this as hint from Abby that Nicole needed some encouragement. So I went over and told her what a great job she was doing and that I was proud of her. And then I looked back at Abby, amazed at the young woman standing before me, not seeking out praise for her accomplishments, but making sure that her ward was receiving admiration.

Darmaris.
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Darmaris is 10. As in many of my relationships here, this one was a long time coming. She came to OLR when she was 8. She was rescued from the street, a daughter of two blind parents. She is small and precious and full of fire and a fierce futbol player. One time when we were about to start a new game, they chose me as a team captain to chose teams and before I could protest, the other captain picked a player. So I jumped in and just started shouting names. And then there were two girls left. I looked into Darmaris big brown eyes….and she was scared and all of a sudden I felt this desperate need to grab her and hold her and just run away with her. But instead of doing that I just screamed her name, channeled that emotion into a desperate wail! How could I have missed her! And all the girls looked at me like I was crazy, but her face just beamed and she jumped into my arms. As so many of the girls do, she kept her distance from me. And as I’ve said, I don’t blame them for this but I feel such relief when I see her warm and determined face and that desire wells up to carry her away in my arms.

This is just a taste. I’ve got tons more where this came from. And just a gentle reminder, if you would like to contribute to my current fundraising please check out my previous blog entry for more information. I’m halfway there! Thank you so much this support! I would love to be able to leave something for the home above what I’m asking for myself, so if you feel moved please donate!

Also. You should definitely watch the video my mom made of the home while she was here.
http://www.vimeo.com/11249644

Posted by buscarme 21:21 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

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