A Travellerspoint blog

A Request

10 weeks to go. The end is in sight. How did this happen?! I don’t know. One day I’m helping clean out the classrooms and learning how to write lesson plans and then next I’m starting to wonder how I’m going to fit all my stuff in my suitcase.
But today, I am writing to you with a request, because I need your help. As many of you know, I did not do any fundraising. I wanted to make this happen on my own, without asking for money. But now I find myself in a tight spot, with living expenses being higher here than anticipated.
As a refresher, I am a volunteer for Our Little Roses (www.ourlittleroses.org); an organization that brings hope to girls who have come from compromising situations, abusive homes and/or abandonment. There are around 70 girls in this home ranging in age from infants to 18 years old. The home sees that they are fed, given an education and are cared for. The home also has a school open to the community. I teach 4-6th grade reading and spelling five days a week to 50 students. I also tutor at the home three days a week and just hang out….usually playing soccer and getting my butt kicked.
Here’s what my goal is. For the next two and half months I would need $500. If I am thankfully able to reach that goal and go beyond it, I will donate the remainder directly to the home where there are many needs.
My needs are as follows:
1. Groceries
2. House expenses (internet, trash, cleaning supplies etc.)
3. Glasses (I lost my last pair and need a new ones)

Anything you can contribute would be wonderful. Thank you for your support, your prayers, and your love. Living in this country has not been easy and my work is bloody hard, but being with the girls makes it worth it. And that is what you’d be giving me, the confidence to continue my work here and end with a bang. If you know anyone who would be interested in donating don’t hesitate to pass along my link!
Love from San Pedro Sula, Honduras,
Emily

DONATIONS:
Our Little Roses Foreign Mission Society (OLRFMS) is recognized as a 501(c)3 charitable organization by the IRS, so all contributions are tax-deductible.

By Check:
Make Check payable to:
OLRFMS/Our Little Roses
P.O. Box 464
Somerset, VA 22972

  • *In “Memo” area write: “For Emily Hanna”

On-line:
Donate by credit card at:
http://www.ourlittleroses.org/help.htm

  • * Please send a follow-up email to: olr@ourlittleroses.org, indicating the donation amount and that the contribution was made for Emily Hanna.

Further Questions:
Please contact OLRFMS through Beverly Allison at 1-800-849-9252, (540) 832-5141, fax (540) 832-2515, or bev@ourlittleroses.org.

Posted by buscarme 19:03 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (0)

The Family Cometh!

Mom and Alex left Honduras five days ago and already it seems like they never came. It was a strange visit, as I knew it would be. Don’t get me wrong, I was thrilled they were able to come and see what it is that I do here, its just funny when two spheres of your life collide. There were able to see where I live, where I work, meet the girls, teachers, and neighbors. We even went on a fantastic vacation. With their visit I was able to be reminded how wonderful the people of this country are.
My neighbor, Carlos, drove me and Yara to pick them up from the airport. It was so strange to see them come out of the gates. Like an out of body experience. The next day they came to school with me where I was giving exams. They even helped me with grades. Which was fantastic! Then after they met the girls and Alex got a great night out with the teachers singing karaoke we headed to Roatan. We stayed one night La Ceiba then got on a ferry to the island. Alex and I puked our guts out (I CAN’T BELIEVE IT HAPPENED AGAIN!) while mom filmed it…..I know, cruel and unusual. Then we headed to our beautiful hotel on the ocean, Cocolobo.
It was another vacation of desktop backgrounds. The water was a color I’ve never seen before. We snorkeling nearly everyday, we just couldn’t keep away from the reefs. I can hardly describe it. Swimming with flocks of fish, barracudas, sea turtles, and eels. I do have one story on this subject while we’re here. Entitled: Shark Sucker: A Survival Story of Terror in the Caribbean Sea.
Al, mom, and I went to a new place to snorkel, a more populated lagoon one over from our stomping grounds. We swam out and the reef was more fantastic than the one we had originally been at. And I just became a glutton. I had to see everything. You would not believe the colors of some of these fish. None of these colors could be replicated by human hands. I swear, someone needs to come up with new names for these colors because gentle pink, electric blue, soft green….I can’t even come up with names. It was glorious. I swam with schools, hovered above fish I wouldn’t be able to hold up, looked these almost translucent silver fish in the face. I kept swimming out out out. Finally mom said we needed to turn around. But I saw this strange drop off and a blue in front of me, just a blue void. I had to see the end of the reef. I motioned her to follow. We swam out and saw the drop off where the reef disappeared the ground sloped down 50 feet. And I saw levels of fish and a sea turtle. Mom and I were excitedly gesturing to each other to look at this! Look at that! There was a giant soft green colored eel hiding on the edge of the reef. I saw it flutter on the bottom and then fade into its surroundings again. We started gesturing for Alex to follow. He started to swim over.
That’s when it happened.
I looked under the water at Alex to see if he saw the eel. And I noticed something hovering around his legs. A fish about the length of my forearm and a weird triangle shaped head. I didn’t even stop to think. I started screaming and kicking away from Alex. I thought it was a baby shark. Mom and Alex followed suit. I have to admit I didn’t keep a cool head. Just screaming and kicking and swimming as fast as I could. As I swam away I’d look underwater every now and then and it was just flitting about around mom and Alex. It looked like it was trying to bite them. And we were freaking far out in the ocean. It was going to be a long swim back to shore. Finally, mom started screaming my name. I got a hold of myself and turned around. And swam back. She was having a hard time breathing and her face was flushed. It looked like she was having a panic attack. She said, “Emily, you have to calm down, you’re causing panic, I can’t swim like this, I need your help.”
So I stopped and held her hands. Alex was leaving us in the dust. But then he saw we stopped and started swimming towards us. I dared to look under the water again. The fish was fluttering around his stomach and he was bringing it right towards us. I got that look on my face then mom started screaming for him to get away from us and we just resumed our completely uncoordinated mad slosh for the shore. Problem was we were getting close to the shallow reef. We had to do something. So I turned around and lured it towards me and then smacked it in the face with my flipper. But then it came again. The second time it got the message. And we were free.
We heaved ourselves, huffing and puffing to the shore. Mom had no color in her face and we could hardly breathe. We were free. I started laughing so hard. How crazy! Later we found out its called a Shark Sucker, not an actual shark. But they are dangerous for two reasons. First, they attach themselves, literally suck onto the sharks and hang on till the shark catches something and then releases itself to feed on the left over’s. It attaches itself not only to sharks but boats….and people. We met someone whose had two encounters with these things. And they latched on to them and you basically have to tear it off your arm. He said it was a painful experience. So. I’m glad we didn’t have to go through that. Reason number two…..if you see a shark sucker….it means there’s something bigger out there and probably relatively close. So there is a very good chance we were swimming near a shark and didn’t see it.
We all exchanged panicked/relieved/incredulous looks upon learning this information. I told this story three times to great acclaim in each of my classes. Even had parents come up the next day and ask me about it….including a father who dives. He asked me if I saw the shark that was more than likely nearby. Oh, I don’t know what I would’ve done if I saw a shark out there. I think I would’ve fainted and asked Jesus to come and the get the Rapture going and take me to heaven.
What good is a vacation without a couple great stories? I had a fantastic time with mom and Al. We even paid an arm and a leg to swim with dolphins. This was the highlight for me. They feel like smooth rubber. And have friendly eyes. And nip and you in a loving way. Before our time was up snorkeling with them, the baby came up and danced with me. It was like a dream. Al even celebrated his birthday here and the girls loved him of course. I was so grateful they were able to come out.
I’m in the homestretch here in San Pedro. A little under three months to go. There’s this sinking feeling in my stomach and heart....sometimes I can't tell which. The same thing I felt my last few months at Calvin. High school. Summer camp. Closing week of a show. It absolutely terrifies me. More than any stupid shark sucker. Wish I could turn around and smack this feeling in the face with a flipper too. The girls have started asking if I’m coming back next year. They know they end is coming to. I can’t even imagine all they ways my heart will break my last days here and the amount of time it will take me to stabilize when I come home.

Alex and Mom helping me with grades.
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Palm Sunday!
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Self Portrait in Roatan.
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Me and mom at sunset
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The Lagoon near our hotel
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Walking around French Harbor, a neighborhood in Roatan
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Mom and Al
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Alex's yummy lunch
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A local by the beach ;)
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Mom filming in Roatan's botanical garden preserve
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Dolphins! I wish I had a underwater camera to show a glimpse of what swimming with them was like.
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Mom's making a video for OLR to recruit volunteers, so these are some pics from our photo shoot. ;)
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Alex and the girls--the little ones adored him.
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Then....me and the girls. Just hanging out.
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Posted by buscarme 07:34 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

Beautiful Belize

A holiday for the books.

sunny

Placencia, Belize. That was Yara and I's destination for the renewal of our 90-day visa. I hit my alarm clock at 5am on Monday morning, with no expectations. All I knew was nothing....I had no expectations. Only beach time, a couple of books, and a good friend. We took a bus from San Pedro to Puerto Cortez, where we were going to catch a boat first to Big Creek, Belize, then on to Placencia. When we arrived to Puerto Cortez we had some waiting to do, so we grabbed a coffee and sat by the water where we met some architect grad students heading on a different boat further up in Belize. We headed to immigration with the other people headed to Belize to get our passports sorted then we boarded the boat for a two hour ride. We stopped at Big Creek for immigration to look through our stuff. Then reboarded and 10 minutes later, docked in Placencia. We were greeted by natives without shoes. Lovely.

Stopped at the bank and followed a couple other people who were staying at the same hotel as us. And what is so cool about Placencia is there is a path way that runs parallel to the beach. On the closer to the beach side is mainly hotels and the other side are more hotels, restaurants, shops, and homes of the locals. Walked through a tunnel of flowers and branches to find our hotel, Sea Spray. Our room was really small. Too little beds and a bathroom jammed into a very small space but it was perfect for us. Set our stuff down and headed to the beach. I always forget how tired I am after traveling. And after a taxi, bus, and boat, I was exhausted. We decided to have dinner at the restaurant right next to our hotel looking out at the ocean, I had conch fritters....so yummy. Then headed to bed.

We both looked forward to sleeping in but HA! I don't know what it was, but the sound of the ocean, beautiful beams coming in our window, we couldn't sleep. So we got up and went out to the ocean. And lazed. One thing about Placencia, I came armed with my meager Spanish, ready to get my way around, but hardly any one speaks Spanish. The locals speak Creole and English. Oh! I loved the accent. Like butter!

As we lounged on the beach we met a Dutch boy, named Robert. Very cool dude. We had lunch at Pirate's Cafe, and made friends with our waitress, Lisette. Yara and I had started thinking about something.....a secret that will be revealed soon. We asked her if there was anyone local who could help us. And thus began our epic journey to find a man named Anton. This search would be one that would define our trip, meeting many twists and turns and full of interesting characters.

Later we met Robert for dinner at Pirate's again....cuz the food was just too good. I had Jamaican curry with coconut milk. So good. Then we headed to the Purple Space Monkey restaurant with Robert and met a local, Sean. A diving instructor who is on the path to becoming an official for the Belize government, a national policeman of sorts. Yara and I had our goal on our minds, so we decided to ask Sean if he knew Anton. He did actually. He was his cousin. Struck Gold! He called him but he wasn't answering. So we hung out for bit and then heard there was some karaoke going on, so we headed over. No singing for us that night, but enjoyed watching. We said goodbye to Robert and Sean and then Yara and I had a midnight swim, and consequently lost my shoes and then went the next three days barefoot: When in Rome!

Next morning we had a mission. So we set off in search of Anton again. I think we walked the city three times, we went by Sean's diving shop to see if he had talked to him. But Sean had left for Guatemala for work, so we asked his friends working there who said he hangs out near the Tree of Wisdom. We found his studio but the lights were off. We hung around the wisdom tree for awhile then decided to walk around and start asking again. Got a hot dog from a vendor. We walked by Pirate's again and the owner asked us how we were and how our search was going. There was a local sitting at the bar who overheard our conversation. He said, "Hey, I know where he lives, I'll take you to his house." So Devin, Yara, and I trudged over to almost right behind our hotel. We walked up and there he was ANTON! We found him! So, we asked him when we would be a good time, and made an appointment for 2pm the next day.

Yara and I spent the rest of the day on the beach and took like a two mile walk on the beach past many fancy resorts, happy with our little closet. It was starting to get dark, so we were going to take the road back, but this was easier said then done since I had lost my shoes. And the road was made of stones. So Yara started sticking her thumb out to passing cars and we hopped in the back of a truck to get back to town. (Are figuring out how cool the people of Placencia are? Amazing.)

Later we headed to the Tipsy Tuna to see a Garifuna band. Devin was there with a friend, David and taught me how to dance punta and asked the band if I could practice on one of their drums during a break. Still gotta a long way to go. Then we headed to Sunrise for more Karaoke and this time I did sing. I sang "Summer Nights" with Devin and "Mama Mia" with Yara. Brought the house down.

Then Thursday was the day. We woke up, hit the beach for a bit. Then were were on our way to Anton's. Anton has done work all over the city. His murals are in many of the local business and restaurants. He teaches art at the local school and renown for his tattoos. Yes. Yara and I got tattoos. *See pictures. And the wonderful thing about Anton, is he understand that his work means something. And he cares about how it is done, and it something he wants to be proud of and that it is a spiritual experience. Now I know this was a crazy thing to do. But what I got holds a lot of meaning for me. And after you see it, I think its pretty self explanatory. And really, there's no other way for me to explain my actions, except it felt right. And that is what I have to say about that.

The next morning we got up and made our sluggish retreat to San Pedro. It was a beautiful vacation, full of beautiful people, a fantastic traveling buddy, great food, music, weather, everything. Again, can't express my gratitude to God, for what is happening here, in me.

Below are some of the pictures from our trip. :)

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Posted by buscarme 07:56 Archived in Belize Comments (3)

24

My birthday was last Tuesday. Y que fantastico, que perfeco!

I woke to a banner outside my door,
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With a date for breakfast.....chocolate chip pancakes....
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And a surprise from my dad! Sweets and DVDs!
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At school, I got serenaded by the student body, my on the balcony.
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Sixth Grade threw me a surprise birthday party! Complete with a seranade from the music teacher and trick candles...sneaky sneaky.
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Then smashing my face in the cake!
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And then I returned to my house. And wanted to go to a chill coffee place with my roomies, nothing fancy as I’m not big into parties. I was watching the next installment of Full House my dad sent me and didn’t realize how late it was when Yara started calling me. I jumped out of bed and looked around my room, looking to wear something I felt like myself in. I grabbed my overalls, a big fashion taboo according to Dutch roomy. But I didn’t care, it’s my birthday! Then I saw Yara and Brenda and they had dressed nice. What’s going on? Yara looks guilty….something’s going on….we started walking to the taxi and then…… my girls. The girls of Our Little Roses. Swarms of 'em. Beautiful and fierce to the last one.

And dancing!

and my face getting smeared with a second birthday cake.
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What a great way to ring in my 24th year. Blessed, blessed, blessed. By my roommates, my students, my girls, my Creator.

Posted by buscarme 15:58 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (4)

Domingo Tranquilo

85 °F

I have no major updates, just some photos. While life here is sure to be turbulent, my emotions as varying as a basket of fruit, I am happy. I think mainly because I have/am beginning to feel comfortable being myself here. I was so willing and ready to assimilate, to be what I needed to be to be accepted. But now I am finding, that no matter where I am or where life takes me, I only need be myself to be happy and ecstatic to find that that is enough for the people in my life here as well.

Entonces, vive la loca!

So first are some photos of my first 15th birthday. Kind of a big deal here. Its a girl's right of passage into that glorious womanhood.

Claudette with her father
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Some of her admirers....
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Dancing with her bro. One of my students.
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All the teachers and Claudette.
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Her ridiculously awesome cake.
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Me and Claudette. Then Hannah and Claudette.
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Then, me and Luis, her younger brother who is in my 4th grade class.
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And then, enter the catrachitas who hijacked my camera this morning for church.

Me and Mari Cruz
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And this was supposed to be a picture of me, Hannah, Ms. Betty, Abby, and Ana getting blessed in front of the congregation for our birthdays.....
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How my heart sings
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Ana Ruth and Ismelda (a fifth grader and a fourth grader)
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Then Diana found the zoom button....
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Someone find me a big piece of luggage cuz this girl is coming home with me.
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Some shots of the streets of San Pedro
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Diana and Delmairs
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And me and Katherine
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Love to all of you, where ever you are, and may you find a way to make your hearts burst the way mine does here.

Posted by buscarme 11:47 Archived in Honduras Tagged volunteer Comments (2)

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