Monday, August 14, 2017

Chapel and Headaches

That's us trying to speak about dating and our first year of marriage together - in Spanish!!!  Let's just say it was muy feo, but 100% for enthusiastic trying:)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

El Campamiento

El Campamento

Saturday morning we boarded the old yellow school bus with our overnight bags and pack-n-play in hand and made the trek down to Las Mangas.  There were many moments I thought the bus might not make it - think back to the story of the Little Engine that Could.  But ever so slowly we kept chugging along.  45 minutes later we jumped off in front of Larry and Allison Smoak’s house.  We’re here!!  

Larry was away in Tegucigalpa for the week, so when we arrived it was only Allison and the 4 kids, and a group of children from El Naranjo.  Every Saturday they host a children’s group that includes a Bible Study, a game time, and a snack time.  We arrived during game time, and our kids jumped right in playing hide and go seek and a game similar to capture the flag.  Even though we had never met Allison before, I felt like I already knew her!  

Once the children’s time was over, we lunched together on rice and beans, and then the Smoakies went to their house for a rest time.  We headed down to the Congrejal river to go for a swim, and the memories of our year in Honduras flooded over me.  So much of our leisure time was spent in that river bed, and now we were sharing those memories with our children.

The river was muy fuerte because of all the rain, so we had to be very careful not to let the children get swept away by the current.  This was especially difficult with our oldest, most adventurous boundary-pusher!  But when all was said and done we did make it back with all 4 children - but not without exploring the river bed and collecting rocks to bring home.

After our river adventures, we reunited with the Smoaks and gathered near the road to wait for Larry’s arrival.  Hubry had tears in his eyes watching the children in happy chorus greeting Larry after his long journey.  The last time we were with him, he was still single and longing to be married one day.  Now he is married and father to 4 children.  Later they told us the story of their courtship, including the way the Lord provided 7 assurances to Larry that he should marry Allison.  Allison knew 3 days after she met Larry that she wanted to marry him, but it took him several years to be brought to the same mind.

Saturday night we joined in a small Bible Study they share together.  They are reading through the creation account and were currently on Genesis chapter 3.  It hurt my head to be focused on Spanish for so long, and was a good challenge to try to use my Spanish to respond.

Sunday was the big birthday party.  Unfortunately, 3 year-old Elia woke up with a high fever and wasn’t feeling herself.  This meant that we divided into groups - the group of men, Corrie, and older children who went to La Murella to swim at sliding rock, and me and Allison and the 3 littlest who stayed behind to make whipped cream frosting for the cakes.

This is one of those situations where it was truly best that I stayed behind, because I could enjoy watching the videos of the kids jumping off and sliding down the rock with the knowledge that they were safely by my side (AKA they had survived!).  I’ll have to see if I can figure out how to download the video when we get home!

During lunch and the birthday party we had such a sweet time reconnecting with Larry and hearing about their life together while the kids looked at books and climbed fruit trees.  We left feeling encouraged by how the Lord is working in their hearts, and in their community.

The bed of the Congrejal

My beautiful sister (these photos are still mostly from her camera)

She made it to the center rock...

Such beautiful boulders.

Climbing rocks

Baleata dinner!!!

The swinging bridge you have to cross on the way to the sliding rock.

Little sliding rock (her phone died before we got a shot of big sliding rock).

Front yard of the campus.

Bus ride back to Rio Viejo (can you find me and Cuatro?)

Monday, August 7, 2017

Ya queremos pastel

Friday was a big day.

In the morning we said farewell to the "Alabama team" -- really a misnomer since half came from Mississippi, and 5 of the 6 were members of the same Bedford family. There was a sweet multigenerational love in this team. Pastor Mike, the elder statesmen, has been coming for eight years.

The plan today was for me to teach first period, and then to go with Sharon (the former administrator of IER, now living in La Ceiba) to Toncontin, about half an hour further into the valley, where she and her 3 homeschoolers had set up an Egyptian museum in an alternative colegio run by Jose and his wife Caitlyn. Jose is an IER alum and worked with Jason and Sarah at the orphanage in Urraco, as did Caitlyn. Sharon's three homeschoolers are the nieces and nephew of one of her former students, Melvin, who is now a doctor and lives in Las Mangas. His family lives a long way out -- Sharon described it as a 10 hour walk -- so this is a chance for them to get an education. Sharon and Earl have taken them on (and their grandmother too) for 3 years.

The threads are many and intricately woven here in la cuenca.

But as is often the case, the plan changed. We waited around the colegio -- I got to sit in on more of my classes -- which ended up being a good thing, because one of the ninth grade classes wanted to do something for Raindrop. They crowded us into Cesar's classroom and had us all sit down. We waited. Students worked on homework. Suddenly the burst in singing "Happy birthday" in English, to "Alaihhsssa" as they call her. They had caught wind that her birthday is Sunday, and had -- on their own initiative, with some help from the English teacher and one of our hosts, Maranda -- baked a cake, purchased some sodas, and made some "churros preparadas" (little bags of chips with beef and cheese shoved in. Nachos in a bag). They had even purchased a gift: a bag of marshmallows, which are called besitos here, or "little kisses."

Raindrop beamed.

Sharon showed up a couple hours later, and we rushed up to Toncontin to see the museo and meet Jose and Caitlyn. Wifey was supposed to be back in time to teach art class, but Sharon thought we could make it in time. She was wrong :), but we are so glad we went! I got to hear Jose's story -- how he spent a night in his hometown of Toncontin just before leaving for work in Roatan, and was so horrified by the way his people were living, that he determined to stay and help young people find a better path -- and it was sweet to see the three middle schoolers in Egyptian garb and speaking knowledgeably about that ancient civilization.

After school, a couple of the male teachers stayed behind and played soccer with the students. Corrie and Kelly played, and so did all three of the older children -- with the 7-9 graders. True to Clarkson form, both scored goals.

At dinner -- hamburgers! -- Raindrop received another birthday present: an inflatable pool, from our hosts and from Mike Segar. She is feeling the love. She even said that she is not so sad about not having her birthday at home.

The oral history project is going. Students are checking out recorders and taking interviews. They are uneven of course, and the nights of rain haven't helped (most folks have tin roofs), but there have been some beautiful and interesting stories. I love this guy's voice.
Que sorpresa

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Teacher Luncheon and the Finished Wall

Today the wall was finished.  The team worked so quickly - they built twice as much as what they had planned on.  Afterwards, to celebrate and show appreciation, the Honduran teachers cooked a delicious fried chicken lunch for the Americans.  What a fun surprise.

In the morning the girls and I volunteered to practice English with some 12th and 10th grade students.  After Cuatro woke up Corrie came to switch and talk with the 11th graders.  We had a ton of fun, and made plans to visit one of the local girls named Helen.  Her father is a farmer and has 2 horses, and I thought it would be fun for Songbird to see what a Honduran farm is like.  Unfortunately, the afternoon rains came shortly after school was out, and so we will have to postpone the walk for another day next week.

Cuatro continues excelling at his special ministry of cuteness.  Every time he walks by, the students say, "Awwww!!!! Liam, Liam, Liam..."  It is not uncommon for girls to "marry" at 15 around here, so I have had many opportunities to encourage them to finish their studies first, then marry a Godly man, then have a baby! 

The group from Alabama leaves tomorrow and we will miss their company (and all the jobs they had for the kids to help with).  We will have to find some new kid-friendly tasks for next week, and see what ways we can be involved.

This afternoon the kids were able to play hide-and-go-seek with some local children.  I am amazed at how quickly they pick up words here and there.  Songbird especially is able to process out loud the Spanish language acquisition process, and it is so fascinating to hear.  She understands more and more every day, and she is getting bolder and more confident trying out new Spanish phrases.

Teacher luncheon in the office.  Fried chicken, pasta, salad, and coke!

Electricity is keyboards are on!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Barba Amarilla

The dreaded yellow beard - one of Honduras’ most venomous snakes, was seen slithering just beyond the in-process cinderblock wall this afternoon.  Marcos acted quickly and killed it with a shovel, abiding by the campus rule that only venomous snakes may be killed.  BRO got to witness this, as he worked for 8 hours straight on the cinderblock wall (that kid is an amazing worker who pays great attention to detail).  Hubry and Raindrop got to witness the event as well.  Ms. Cindy said they only kill about 6 snakes a year on campus, and we are 2 for 3 days!!  Yesterday Marcos killed another snake that had a bright blue lizard hanging out of its mouth.  I’m not sure what type of snake this was, and whether or not Marcos was abiding the campus rule with that one.

Raindrop helped in arts and crafts class again this morning, and when they were finished making their wooden bracelets Ms. Karen asked to have a class photo.  At the end of the photo, the students asked to have a picture with “the child.”  This was in reference to Raindrop.  I was so impressed by her intuition throughout the project - the way she gaged when a student needed help, and her swift response to that need.  In fact, she helped cut tiny pieces of tape in a precise manner, and she helped students tie knots, and I didn’t even know that she was capable of those skills :)  She said this afternoon she thought she would be a teacher when she grows up.

Songbird helped again in a couple of English classes.  She also buried herself under a pile of books in the library, as she was extra sleepy after rising at 5:15.  

Hubry started “practice interviews” with the students - teaching them how to actually use the voice recorders, and he said the class was full of giggles and pena.  He let 16 students check out recorders to begin the interview process.  Tomorrow 16 more students can check them out, and Friday 16 more.  We’ll see how it goes!

The students worked hard on their sea turtles this afternoon in art, and it was nice to have both Songbird and Corrie’s help teaching the students how to use oil pastels. We also talked about the difference between warm and cool colors.  Most of the students caught on to these ideas quickly, and out of a class of 45 there was only one pink and purple sea turtle (and it’s a guy’s)!

Corrie got to share about some of her various missions experiences in an English class this afternoon, which was a blessing to all.  And some of us ladies were able to enjoy a few quiet moments of conversation on the hammock porch.  I was so encouraged by the news I heard of all the missionaries gathering for various events - homeschool Moms, Bible study, prayer time….

This afternoon another storm rolled in.  The sky grew grey, then the rain poured and thunder clapped.  Then, around 4:30, the power went out.  We ate a candlelight dinner on the toucan patio with the group. And as I type we are sitting in a dark room with a few flashlights hanging here and there. The kids had no trouble going to bed by 7:30, and it is 8:15 and we are following close behind.  I hope Cuatro can sleep soundly even without the help of the noisemaker in his room!!!

The growing walls

Art class

School courtyard

Flashlights...Can you see us?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Music and Magicians

Our second day of classes, and everyone seems to be finding their niche and getting into a rhythm.  Somehow, Cuatro missed the memo, and continues to operate at random according to his whims. :)

Raindrop adores helping Sarah and her Mom, Ms. Karen, teach arts and crafts. At lunch break she came to me beaming, telling me how she's made so many new Honduran friends, and how she can't wait to make some more!

Songbird was asked to help in the 8th and 9th grade English classes and truly rose to the occasion.  She mentioned several times tonight the activities she'll be helping with tomorrow.  

Bro alternated between helping out in Hubry's class and working on the cinder block wall.  The Mobile group told me that although Bro is a lad of few words, he is a hard-worker.  And of course, as soon as Conner gets home from school and finishes his homework, they are off playing with paper airplanes, cars, or soccer balls.

Corrie was able to teach a music class today, which we all enjoyed peaking our heads in on.  She was teaching 4 boys to play a praise song on the guitar.  I think they'll get to practice it again on Thursday afternoon.

For afternoon devotions a group from Florida stopped by to give a special Gospel message via magic and interpretive dance.  If it piques your curiosity, you'll have to ask us about it later!

Years ago, when I spent a semester abroad in Las Mangas, I met Martin and Wendy.  They were starting a clinic in Rio Viejo, which at the time was a one-room cinderblock building.  This afternoon  we took a tour of the clinic, which is now the Jack Dyer Regional Hospital, and is located across the street from the school.  The hospital has recently started delivering babies, doing minor surgeries, and hosting a weekly clinic where they treat everyone who shows up.  That's right, they turn no one away.  They simply work until all the needs have been met.  It is pretty incredible and is meeting a great need in the river valley!

P.S. I am unable to post pictures from my camera until after I return home, so most of my photos are coming from Corrie's phone at present.  I hope to add many more in a few weeks!
The students watching the magic show.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Our First Day on the Job

Monday started when Cuatro awoke at 4:30, which gave us a generous 3 hours to get ready before the start of school.:)  In fact, we put him down for his morning nap just before we left the house, and Tante Corrie stayed at the house with him while the rest of us walked down to greet the students and reconnect with the teachers.  It was so good to see them all again!!

Hubry is teaching 6 Social Studies classes in a row, with a 10 minute break after the first 3.  And he's doing it mostly in Spanish.  So by the end of his last class, his brain was hurting, and he felt pretty exhausted!

The kids and I helped Karen and her daughter Sarah with the arts and crafts classes.  They were making clay beads to string together necklaces.  Songbird helped the group from Mobile build a wall out of cinderblocks, and Raindrop, Bro, and I visited Hubry's class and students here and there until Cuatro awoke, and then Corrie and I switched places.

After lunch Sarah, who is 16 and wants to be a professional ballerina, shared the gospel message via a dance routine that she created.  It was beautifully done, and I'm pretty sure our little Raindrop thinks that Sarah hangs the moon!

After lunch I began the sea turtle project with the 7th graders.  I have 45 students in class at the same time, which is a lot for an art class, especially when it comes to tracking whether or not everyone is following along.  But overall they did a great job.  None of the students have ever seen / used oil pastels, so I'm excited to get to introduce them.  The teacher is so excited to have the watercolor paper, too.  She says it is really difficult to buy nice art supplies at a reasonable price in the city.

After school was over, we decided to take a family walk through the village to buy some Sprite at a Pulperia.  We wanted to show the kids the village, and the animals, and see if we could see any students while we were out and about.  Also, the backpack is one of the only ways we can contain Cuatro where he remains content.  We can't let him play on the grass because of all the ants.  And we have to be careful with the drop-offs and the dogs, and the chemicals, and the electric outlets (where he's already been shocked once) and, and, and...

He's waking up again.
Family walk

Chatting with girls outside the local elementary school 
So many beautiful butterflies