Day 3-Color

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

The next morning Delmy took the bus and Christine took me on her scooter to the school. As soon as we got there, Doña Bictelia wanted to talk to me about my plans.

I cursed my dumb self for not bringing the list of questions. She and I sat down and she asked me what my plans were. I’m a little ashamed to say it but, six months came out of my mouth. She gave the impression of having no idea how long I was planning to stay and so, out of fear or divine providence, I spoke from the heart. She said she’s grateful for any and all the time I can spend with them. She said the last girl, Mackenzie, only was here three or four months and she made a huge impact on the school and some of the things she advised/implemented have changed the school forever. Good. Six months. More if I want, but no obligation. I feel… free, at peace, and cowardly. I hope everyone at home doesn’t make me regret this with their weighted questions, plans, and judgement.

The conversation went  logistic after that. Doña Bictelia shared with me her vision for the school, what she’ll have me do, their curriculum, etc.

After we ran out of school topics, she started asking my expectations for payment and said she could give me whatever minimum wage is in the States. I told her that for the initial six months pay would not be necessary. I said all I needed from her was a place to sleep and food to eat. She was so grateful and started getting teary eyed. I told her this is, for me, a privilege to help a great school. I didn’t want to see her get too grateful because I know what I’m doing has nothing to do with my character. It only means that maybe I’ve gotten rid of enough of my character to allow someone else’s to make an impact on my actions. She knew that, too, because she kept saying, in between thank you’s, that God is so good.

I had fun at the school despite the pressure I felt to memorize every name only to forget them in the next six months. I took a list of the textbooks and prices to see if they might be cheaper in the States. Delmy engaged her kids in a game that I participated in. I tutored three kids with their math, in English. THAT was a doozy.

And, I observed a spelling class. The teacher was displaying a strange mixture of trying to impress me with her English but not so much with her teaching. She’s obviously a smart chick to sense that I know more about English than teaching! She got so frustrated with those kids and by the end decided to just sit down as she told them they aren’t leaving and she’s not even going to write what the homework is on the board. I was surprised she would let me see her get so defeated, or maybe she saw it as a sign of strength. Probably the latter because if I know one thing about Hondurans, it’s that they “save face”. The good news is, she did actually let the children leave after class. So, taking hostages is not a valid disciplinary action. I took note of that.

By the time we got back to the house I was 100% exhausted. I collapsed on the bed after making plans with Bictelia and let my body, and mind, rest. I’m not sure what it was that made me so tired. Maybe heat, maybe sickness, maybe travel. 

I finally got up and Doña Bictelia and I went to the local high school to see the Garifuna dancers shake their tail ends in colorful outfits and beaded hair.

The whole event was very similar to events at local high school in the States. There was an entry fee, and they stamped people’s hands as they passed through. Of course they were too [place adjective here] to ask for my hand so they merely pecked my arm with the stamp as I passed through.

The place was full of people, color, and music. The field is in the middle of four strips of classrooms that surround it in a square. Bictelia and I stood on a ledge perpendicular to the field. You couldn’t see the bottom half of the dancers because the crowd in front was so close to them. But, you could see their arms waving, chests thumping, and beads flying as they danced to mainstream pop songs that we hear on 100.5 back in Chesapeake. Some of the songs were redone by other artists either in Spanish or with a Caribbean flare. Bictelia had conversations with adults, teens, and children alike, and though they mostly didn’t acknowledge me, I was glad to be associated with someone who is obviously respected in the community. 

We left after all the groups had danced and went to Delmy’s half-sister’s house. Delmy’s half-sister lives in New York and has been gone for a year. There is a guy that stays at the house but he is a Honduran male so the house has collected dust, dirt, and trash as if it were abandoned for a year. 

The New Yorkian half-sister asked Delmy and her aunt to go over and clean up before she arrived with her boyfriend and two children. So, I stopped at the house and spent some time cleaning, the rest just waiting with Meylin while Delmy and her aunt cleaned the place from top to bottom. 

It rained hard that night. I loved the tropical thunder and lightning and the cool breeze that followed. 

Still feeling exhausted, I went to bed early that night. I had told Delmy that my throat was hurting and all I remember is her bringing me medicine. I swallowed a spoonful of something and passed out again.

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Day 4-Trash and Treasure

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

I woke up in the morning fully clothed and feeling like if I stand up, my bladder will burst. After getting to the bathroom, though, I started feeling refreshed. I took another bucket shower, this time in the pitch black, and began feeling revived. Especially after putting on a white shirt and my overalls. By that time I was invincible.

Delmy and I took the bus to the hospital that morning where we awaited Lisa to take us to the Dump. Nestor and Umberto were there. It was good to see them. I tried to imitate the dancers I saw the day before in Rio Esteban and even tried to dance “punta”. I love when they think I’m ridiculous.

After they left, Deibyn came to say goodbye to Louis who would be leaving from Ceiba. Soon, Lisa arrived to pick us up. We went up the hill to get Eryn and then to the Children’s Center to pick up two pieces of my heart, Jason and German.

Those boys are so stinking guapo. I missed them without realizing it. Jason sat right next to me and, to be cool, German tried to act like he wasn’t excited to see me. Man, I love those boys. I want to spoil them all the days of my life and their adolescent rejection of my affection only fuels the fire! When we stopped at the gas station and everyone got water, I had to get them ice cream. Their hesitation and sweet voices when they said “gracias” was worth all the money in the world!

On the way to the Dump, Lisa asked us to pray. It did my heart good to see those boys bow their heart and close their eyes every time someone prayed. I can see, especially with German, that some rough edges have been chiseled away. She also told us about “treasure hunting” and stories she had from that. I admire Lisa. If I choose this path, I hope I become like her. In tune with the Spirit, loving, a true servant.

For a while, things at the Dump were chaotic. Well, things at the Dump are always chaotic. But, I seem to remember a time when all the kids were seated listening to Wilson. Wilson is a young boy who lives at the Dump. He recently chose Christ and now Lisa has him trying to lead a little with the ministry.

I don’t know how to feel about Wilson. Lisa was right when she said he’s rough around the edges. He definitely wasn’t sweet or gentle. But, oddly enough, I thought he was gay. He spoke in a high voice with a bit of a lisp, kept playing with rings on his fingers. I don’t know. How could I know? It’s hard to discern cross-cultural character traits (if you can call it that…). But, all I know, is what my instincts told me. Maybe gay isn’t the right word. Maybe it is.

After devotionals and handing out baleadas, (Lisa brought 100 because there are usually 50 kids. Apparently, the kids thought Lisa was gone somewhere so a lot didn’t come.) we took the kids down the hill. They jumped off the car like little fleas as we passed their “houses”.

We parked the car and started doing visitations. The first was with a man who had hurt his knee. I can hardly bear to think about it, let alone write about it. The hospital/clinic he went to told him to take stitches out too early. The rest you can decipher for yourself.

Lisa advised him to go somewhere else for medical care. She called someone else who ministers at the Dump and told them to come by the following day, take a look at the cut, and take him somewhere for treatment. Delmy prayed for the man and I, along with some others, stepped out of the house early to drink of fresh air.

We continued our way through the heaps of trash that these people call home and saw two boys playing firemen. There was a little fire on the side of the path and they were using a ball pump to put it out. One held the air container and pumped while the other directed the end of the hose near the fire. Aside from the potential danger, it was a cute sight to behold. Especially when one got bored and ran off and the other kept at it on his own. As we turned up the path to the right, Lisa began talking to a man she obviously knew. I wasn’t paying much attention until she turned to me and said,

“How do you say hemo________ in Spanish?”

“I’m not sure I know what that means in English.”

She kept talking, asking the man if we could go to the house, now directing her questions to him and his wife. We started following them and Lisa filled us in. This woman had lost two children to a disease that doesn’t allow liquid to drain from the brain. Her current son with this disease had fallen down a week ago and now couldn’t hear or walk. We climbed an impossible amount of stairs suspended in dirt on the side of a hill, really only the frame of a staircase, and reached their house.

We walked inside and I was surprised when I recognized this boy. When I had gone to the Dump with Julia he was always the boy with quiet eyes, obviously some abnormality causing an enlarged head, and a gentle spirit. There are a few kids at the Dump that are easy to handle, he is one of them. But, the quietness of his eyes had turned to fear and confusion.

Delmy uttered prayers. We asked questions in Spanish to the mother. And then, as if grasping for an answer in any language, to each other in English. We offered our condolences, and words of faith. The mother expressed her faith, knowing that God is faithful. It’s funny how we use that phrase when we’re not sure what’s going to happen. Only that, whatever it is, it will be God’s will.

It’s also funny that we are supposed to be the one’s with something to “offer” and we have stepped into the house of a woman whose faith far surpasses my own. She is a missionary. The world (Dare I say the church?) has twisted the definition of that word. I am glad God has shown me the truth and continues to humble me.

I was the last person to hug her, kiss her son, and leave. It’s hard to imagine that all of the words that had circled and buzzed through that room translated for him into several kisses from strange lips and touches that I hope gave him hope and, more than anything, love.

Day 4-Our Skin

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

It’s another stark Honduran contrast moving from the Dump in La Ceiba to the mall. We went there for lunch.

I lost Delmy and that’s when Lisa told me that this was always the hardest part for her. She said she thinks she was embarrassed when Lisa used to pay for her lunch and that Delmy got quiet at the mall. I imagine it would be hard to go from a place where people have less to where they have much more than you. To me, they all have less, it’s only a matter of how much less.

But, as it turns out, Delmy had merely left her feminine products on the bed that morning and had to buy more. So simple.

We ate and some went grocery shopping. I tried to soak up the presence of those precious boys before we headed back. After the mall, we went to the airport. I had lost my suitcase full of bubbles and chalk in San Pedro Sula so they sent it to the La Ceiba airport. Getting the bag took me all of two minutes and I wonder why Honduras gives everyone else so much trouble.

Lisa took us all the way back to Rio Esteban. Eryn talked the whole way and even yelled at cows. I didn’t enjoy it, per say. But I didn’t mind, either, because Lisa was getting a kick out of it and I think Lisa deserves to get a kick out of things every once in a while.

Luis (Delmy’s brother) and Yeny (his wife) came with their baby to Bictelia’s house last night. He is so cute and so white that it paved the way for some good gringo jokes. Delmy and I went to the beach but didn’t last long in El Caribe because she spotted a jellyfish and I have no patience for them.

We walked on the beach and talked about how much her English has improved and how gringos never say what’s on their mind.

She thinks Lisa is mad at her for having stopped going to the Dump regularly. We also had the inevitable talk about why they didn’t go to the feria [a village’s yearly, month-long celebration of their saint] and how my friends drink, smoke, and play pool. But, we don’t dance…

Instead of partaking in feria, they go to church. To church we went! I felt beautiful with my beach hair and favorite dress. They asked people to come sing songs and a girl who lives in New York but has family in Rio Esteban sang,
“I love you Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship you”
Her name is Beverly, we met after the service.

I don’t like the men that preach at Delmy’s church. They yell. The one last night said, “mmmm” in between rants and rolled his r’s like crazy.

While we were singing beforehand a small, big-eyed angel caught my eye. He was staring at me with a huge grin on his face and wouldn’t stop smiling. I remember him from when I helped Delmy with the kids for the New Years Eve service. I motioned for him to come to me.

Somewhere during worship a young, beautiful black man came in and the little boy ran to him, wrapped his arms around him, and got swung in the air for a giant hug before the young man got on stage to play the drums. After that Daniel came and sat with me for the rest of the service. The beautiful black boy sat next to Beverly.

When they played the songs after the service I danced like I was born in Jamaica, with Daniel in my arms the whole time. I was full of joy.

After the service, Beverly invited me to go preaching. Some gringo from Funavid brought two of his disciples to church in Rio Esteban and afterward they walked around with a megaphone and a video camera preaching the gospel like the village people who hunted the beast. Delmy, Bictelia, and I went to a pulpería to get licuados (milk shakes). We shared a piece of bread pastry and looked strangely at the evangelists, making jokes about the camera. I gave that camera my best posture and sweetest smile, you better believe!

What I would give to see that footage, where I’m on the opposite side of gringo idiosyncrasies and in-sensitivities.

We walked home and shared our licuados after trying to hide the treats, to no avail. Bictelia told me about her life and we talked about the moon. She told me a joke about the moon whose moral was that, after time, the spark of love is gone. At least the joke was funny.

Day 5-Suspended

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

This morning I caught the bus out to the hospital. Christine and I are going boating with her family today and after that horrible bus ride, it better be worth it! I should see if I haven’t missed church yet. Then again, I have gone twice already this week.

….later

I went over to the cabildo where the missionaries have their church services. After taking a shower where the water moves over me effortlessly and grooming myself, I figured I have nothing better to do. And, it’d be good to go ahead and see them all to make arrangements for when I’m back in San Luis. So, I went.

It was good to see my girls again and I even got the treat of seeing Darwincito. My gosh, if I don’t go to the Children’s Center before I leave, I’ll die.

It was the normal, stale, awkward service that we always have. The Rumbaugh women led and between songs gave us tips on how to minister to Muslims… I don’t get it.

Christine showed up before the end of the video sermon they were watching (which was actually awesome) and we got on her moto and left. On the ride back, she got a call from the hospital so we turned around because there was a critical patient and they needed labs.

So, I had Benny buy me a grape soda and I went back to the service. I saw everyone as they trickled out. It’s so funny to me that this is the only time I’ll see most of them and some of them didn’t really know I was here. Not a single one knew when I came or when I’m leaving. I’m a horrible person for taking pleasure in this.

The Younts talked to me most and, in the typical manner, Sharon talked to me about school and wanted me to come up and chat. Shaw, of course, asked about my dad and wanted to make plans for me to come another time. I found out earlier this week that he had cancer and yet, even though Sharon made a comment about his being in Virginia a lot, none of them showed it.

Sharon went to the lab to ask Christine if she could have me for lunch. Christine said no, she’d be finished soon. Deibyn wanted attention and stole my purse so, while Christine finished, I called him and told him to bring it to the hospital. He did.

Peanut butter and jelly was a relief for me after so many redundant feasts out here in Rio Esteban. But, after lunch, I felt less and less relieved. I became exhausted and nauseous so I laid down for a nap while we waited for Edwin and Kevin to get back from Ceiba and take us out in the lancha (motor boat).

I felt a little better until we got to the beach. I thought for sure I would throw up or my stomach would just fall out. I sat down and explained ti to Lindy. She was sweet. The rest of them, out of ignorance not apathy, cheered me on to come help them pull the boat out.

I got up, pushed, felt nauseated, sat, repeat.

I was so scared that I would vomit when we got in the lancha but when it was zipping through the waves, I felt great.

Of course, the boys parked it by some rocks and got out with the spear gun and while we sat there and teetered I started strategizing where to chuck so it wouldn’t scare away the sea life.

The girls nagged enough and we were off again. Lindy didn’t really like the waves so we went to the coast and dropped her and some little ones off. We left again and now that Lindy was gone we were free to fly, and fly we did!

I couldn’t help but smile with all the wind and waves lifting us up, everyone bouncing and sliding and laughing.

The sickness left me so this time the Caribbean was my doctor, or my medicine. Either way, I told you it changes every time. It’s good to have a relationship like this because when you don’t know what to expect, you leave behind your expectations. And, when you have no expectations, things are either fine, or they’re great. They’ll at least be fine.

We flew over to the Balfate coastline and picked up two girls who were swimming in a group of about eight women. We went deeper and then jumped in the water.

I love swimming in deep water. It’s more like dangling or being suspended except you don’t have to be afraid of falling.

We put our greatest efforts into pushing that lancha out of the water, unsuccessfully. She didn’t budge. Edwin decided to use the car to pull it out. I joked about being able to drive. He double-checked and I was assigned to drive the truck while they all stood back and pushed the lancha.

Yes. A stick-shift. A challenge. An adventure. At times I was lucky enough to feel the boat pulling me back. The rope broke twice but, even on an incline, we were able to get it out on about the third try.

Day 5-Dancing

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

Christine has apparently taught all of Lindy’s family how to cook. Which is funny for someone who came claiming she doesn’t know how to cook. I always admire her and Joelle for taking the bull by the horns with that one. We all cooked but those two came with the least experience and now will both undoubtedly make the best wives.

Anyhow, Christine taught Iris how to make pizza and tres leches so that’s what Iris made that night. I would die a thousand deaths to make tres leches a health food. I am of the belief that one of the milks in tres leches comes from a holy cow. Because HOLY COW it’s good! 😀

After we had eaten and discussed the happenings of the day, how old everyone is, and , of course, marriage, we decided to walk down to the park in Balfate.

It was a beautiful night with beautiful company.

At first, it was just us girls and little David so in the darkness, we decided to turn on some sinful music and dance. Because, here in Honduras, if you’re dancing in the light then it’s because you love darkness.

The girls loved when Christine and I danced. Of course, Iris and Mabel wouldn’t dance (Iris says she’s too old and Mabel said she had to control the music). So dance we did! [I love that expression, apparently.]

I love that they think I’m a good dancer. Little do they know,t he width of my hips wouldn’t allow me to be a bad dancer in Honduras. They probably think I’m dancing when I walk down the street.

Kevin and Aryan came walking on the path and once they arrived there was a lot of discussion about who would dance and little dancing. Of course no one there was my suitor and I didn’t much care what they thought about sin at this point so I could’ve just kept right on without any feeling of shame.

When we got back to the house I was 100% beat. I laid on the couch a while, then kissed all my sisters good night and went to bed.

Day 6-Teacher

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

I woke up in the morning and took the school bus back out to Rio Esteban. That bus. I still haven’t worked up the nerve to take pictures on the bus but I really have to. It’s something else, that bus.

The 2nd grade teacher didn’t come that day so Hannah and I taught the 2nd graders.

It was a challenge because I was trying to implement an American discipline in a Honduran classroom. I thankfully know enough of this culture to have recognized and adapted instead of frustrating everyone involved. Ew, that sounded so conceited. Typical.

Anyhow, they were 2nd graders so there was frustration involved but also a lot of cuteness and a rewarding feeling when they understood or enjoyed anything. One of them took my heart and it shows in the photos.

When I’m outside of a classroom I never think of myself as a teacher but once I’m in I realize why it’s what I chose. I truly enjoy it and feel content teaching. Like time passes more quickly. It’s good to sow seeds that were once sewn in you and that you’ve seen the fruit of. Especially when a bunch of adorable, dark faces fill the room.

[written 08/30:

Looking back, Deyni taught me a lot about being a teacher outside of the classroom. I tend to just want to be friends with kids when I’m not in front teaching them.

But, Deyni, she takes advantage of every opportunity to turn their hearts toward aspirations and more of Jesus. I want to be like that. She brought a teeny little [probably] 5-year-old girl to the youth group one of the nights I was with her and, on the way, she explained to the little girl everything that was going to happen and how important it is to listen to everything that the preacher says because he’s going to tell us about Jesus. She somehow made that little girl understand and every time I looked over at her, she was smiling sweetly and had her ears open. Amazing.

Then, there were the countless occasions that young kids from the neighborhood would stop by and ask for help with their homework. Whether they went to public school or Bictelia’s private school, they received the help that they sought after. And, anytime that Deyni or Delmy saw neighborhood kids they always asked if they had done their homework. If they hadn’t, they were gently and firmly scolded and exhorted to desire more from life and put forth their best effort.

Last night, when I was babysitting, I saw some of that in me. Every time I found myself gently scolding the kids, I also took the opportunity to explain to them what it means to respect authority. Then, when Douglas wanted me to sit down and go through a list of all the countries I’ve been to and every word I know in a different language, I started to take it a step further by showing him the countries on a globe and telling him how to say the languages in Spanish. Yes, a teacher. It suits me, sometimes. More and more, it suits me.]

Day 6-Church

August, 2011 § Leave a comment

The rest of my time in Rio Esteban followed the basic pattern of: school, food, more food, church.

There were some slight variations.

On Monday, we played basketball with some of the guys in the village. It feels good to have Hondurans think you’re good at a sport. They don’t know my own flaquita [skinny chick] of a sister can whoop my butt. And as far as I’m concerned, they don’t need to know. I’ve suffered enough on the soccer field in Honduras that a little victory on the basketball court doesn’t hurt.

Deyni and I went to the youth group at her church and they were studying Revelation. Someone brought up a microchip and the pastor seemed to like that topic. He said the microchip can only go on your forehead or your right hand and the microchip has some combination of 666 and people are already buying the microchip and watch out for the microchip.

After talking about the microchip, he called up all the kids in the group who hadn’t accepted Christ and had us stand around them to pray for them. Everyone started praying emotionally and I kept looking at those young girls having prayers thrown at them, hands reaching out to them but, as if there were some invisible barrier, not touching them. NOT. TOUCHING. THEM.

I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t let them think they were untouchable, much less that Christ wouldn’t have touched them. I went in the circle, grabbed the hand of one of the girls and held it, put my other hand on her shoulder, held her close, and smiled at her.

Delmy’s cousin, Brayan, came over to me and started shouting prayers. Delmy told me he had wanted to meet me and thought I was beautiful. Now here he is praying for my salvation. I wonder if this is how he gets all the ladies. I shouldn’t say that, I know they all had the best of intentions.

I would rather all the saints pray for my salvation than have all the sinners thinking it’s unattainable for them. And that if they don’t have it they’re, well, untouchable. It was one of those rare moments that I felt like a missionary. I felt like God wanted me there to be Christ, to touch the leper, to put mud on the eyes of the blind and let him see.

It’s too bad that when I felt like I was being Christ to those girls I was doing something the church members didn’t want to do. I hate this. I hate feeling separate from my family, the body of Christ. Why is it that when I try to be most like Christ I feel like I’m being proud or judgemental toward the church? I wish things were different.