Saturday, September 29, 2012

"Miss Miss Miss"

Today marks day 34. I think the other teachers would agree we are still in a bit still in shock that we are living here, yet so many things seem so normal.

Wednesday evening we sat around and reminisced over dinner at the nearby D&D Brewery sharing our favorite memories for the past month. I changed my mind nearly ten times, we have so much to be grateful for and I am feel very lucky to have tens of things to say that have been my favorite. I have swam in the Caribbean sea twice, went caving at the waterfall Pulhapanzak, shopping in San Pedro Sula 3 times, had four weeks of classes with the kids, taken the public bus many times , went to the Honduran club dancing, seen the doctor at the clinic, taught swim lessons to kids.... the list goes on....

This week at school I worked hard to take my kids through lessons and learn. I have a new understanding why the kids are far behind, this country has so many dang holidays! Although I love having a day off, you can imagine why these children come out of school knowing so little when half of the school year is a day off of school or some parade/ celebration day. For example next Friday we have the day off, October 5, 2012. The next Friday after that October 12 we have the day off as well. This week was the first five day week we have had at our school because of days off. Ladies and gentlemen this is only week 4.

Another thing I have learned in addition to a great deal of patience (you can read about this here) is that Teaching is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Many people have asked me what led me to quit my job at Graebel as a relocation consultant to teach in Honduras. A number of things influenced my decision. I enjoyed my job at Graebel, it was hard work, challenging, stressful, and I worked with some of the greatest people I know, but no matter how hard I thought that job was at times nothing has compared to the teaching position I am in right now.

In just four short weeks I have learned that teaching has very little to do with how well I know the material, how fancy our books are, the technology or resources I have but rather my ability to be patient, to observe the children's ability to respond to material, to meet their needs, to discipline in the classroom and to make each child believe in themselves. The most challenging part of all is the last one. If a child does not think they are worth anything, it is very difficult to make them believe that you do. I have one child who has a reputation in the school as one of the worst behaved. He does not often do work and is constantly out of his seat, playing with things.  I have taken a vested interest in this child, God has seen to it that he be in my class and that if nothing else that I love him well. Although he can ruin a sometimes perfectly calm moment in the classroom by disrupting, he shows glimpses of hope. He loves attention and when he completes his work he gets so excited. His face lights up. He holds up his paper and begins shouting "MISS! MISS! MISS!". He did not have his books for a long time (Often because parents have not paid tuition so they do not give the textbooks out) and when he got his brand new books he came running to me to show me. "MISS MISS MISS".

I never want to forget even the simplest of things about this place. In my third grade class today I was reviewing English homework and one of the girls did not have her book. As I asked her Why she did not have her book, she gathered her words and said, "Miss, Miss I did not have light at my house." This my friends is not an excuse you can argue with. The power here comes and goes as often as the sun rises and sun sets. We loose our power nearly every day and their is no guarantee we will ever get it back for hours at a time. I smiled and said ok and we continued with the lesson.

My class performed our two songs for my sister over Factime. My kids were so excited and I so enjoyed showing them off to my sister. They gave a proper "Hi Miss Brittany" and then they giggled. They sang loud and got distracted from seeing themselves on the screen but they loved it.

As well I should note that the parents during Recreo/lunch/Recess drive up next to the fence of recess and bring their children a hot lunch. Parents then stand their and often wait until school is out to gather their children and leave. I always wonder don't you have something else to do? Why not take this time without your kids for yourself. (Silly Hondurans)

I buy my fruit and vegetables from the stand that is owned by three students who are on Scholarship to the school. The family is so nice and they always pick the best of their produce for us. I laughed with them on Thursday while trying to teach them the names of common fruit and veg in English. I am a week into my Paleo 30 day cleanse and feel incredible. I have so much energy and have enjoyed experimenting with cooking. I roasted cabbage and it was so good. I have cooked chicken, and Matt cooked vegetables and tomatoes to make a Italian sauce we placed over the chicken. It was so delicious.

I am currently lesson planning over coffee on this beautiful Saturday morning. Allison and I at half past seven walked for an hour in town and through the village and Faye and I now escaped our humble abode to get outside and plan.

Prayers are with all of you this Saturday. May you find as much joy in the simplest things and even those that do not go as planned, knowing full well that God is the great orchestrator of making everything good.

Cheers to you
Love Miss Kristina

“Past boldness is no assurance of future boldness. Boldness demands continual reliance on God's spirit.” 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Joy in this Place

I am feeling much better and we had a great day at school. (we being me and my second graders). Unfortunately my sickness spread to my roommates and Molly stayed at home sick today. All of us chipped in to cover her classes for her. Faye and I collectively decided as well that Molly's 3rd Grade class A is the worst. She was very surprised by this, but we assured her that those lovely little third graders act as though you do not exist and carry on with whatever they are doing at their desks without paying any attention to the teacher. Selfishly we are glad that Molly is coming back to school tomorrow. (PS Molly you know that we love your kids anyway :))

My kids, my second graders were very good today. (Fingers crossed we are on the right track). I am getting the hang of things, feeling like we can get in a groove. I am learning every day of the large gaps in the level of the children and their ability to complete basic things. For example numbers, days of the week, months etc. These are all things these children should come to 2nd grade knowing and they do not. So I have taken a few steps back and want to make sure my kids have a good solid foundation to then dive more deeply into our books. Our books are US books published so they often do not best suit the children or their learning level. All of us are learning to be both creative and flexible. 

My kids as well today made their Healthy Habits books in Science. I have decided that not only do I hope to teach these kids the core subjects and make them the smartest kids in school :) (Kidding, but seriously) I want to make sure they learn important habits and establish some core values. Today we talked about nutrition and what are healthy things to eat. Living in this country you will see that the diet and lifestyle does not support health. This country being one of the poorest in the Western Hemisphere and the poorest in Central America, means that any food is a life living and the resources to practice eating well are not as readily available. If I do anything this year, I hope to love the kids well, set an example for them, teach them to respect themselves and others, and take care of the bodies they have been given. Kids can learn their numbers anytime or how to spell from anyone, but I hope they leave each day knowing they matter, that they are important and that although they test my patience I love them dearly. These children live and are raised in a world unfathomable to me......

For example in In 2011 there were 86.5 homicides for every 100,000 inhabitants, according to figures of the state Human Rights Commission, making this country one of the most violent in the Americas. 
Or even more shocking, 19.4 homicides per day, during 2011. 

I say all of this not to make you scared for me, (mom yes you can sleep tonight, my moms friends and family and all my second moms reading you can sleep soundly too). I feel safe. I feel at home here, which is strange and good all at the same time. This country suffers from some of the worst poverty, worst violence, a history of natural disasters (hurricanes causing long term damage to the economy) and AIDS. However this country has also become my home, it will be the 3rd longest place I have ever lived, 3rd behind Colorado and Kentucky. This place has beauty in the midst of the poor, the hungry, the children, the elderly.....

Faye and I were talking tonight about how for the first time at school today we feel like we are starting to enjoy it. We feel like we are getting the hang of our kids, our classrooms, where we are heading with them. Life here has also become more of a reality. We are familiar with how things work, the grocery store, buying fruit and vegetables at the stands, our house, the school.....You get used to the thunderstorms in the afternoon, the lightening that lights up your bedroom, bugs everywhere, flies in the kitchen, screaming/ crying children next door, the roosters crowing in the morning, the stray dogs, our friendly neighborhood drunks who hang outside our house, the unorganized school, fried chicken served for every meal, our hot classrooms with one small fan, our ugly yellow polos we must wear to school each day, the blistering heat, the trash everywhere in the streets, in the homes, the faces of our kids, the adorable blue uniforms.... you get used to it all.. its the beauty in this place really. This is what makes us feel so at home. 

So from my new home to yours, feeling very very full of joy to be here.. To be the one loving on these kids in the midst of a country and world that is so broken I hope you find comfort knowing that even in the midst of this place, God is still so good. So so good. We often hear the singing from the church on Sunday at our house, it is the most beautiful sound, distant and faint but so honest and yet still praising God for his goodness.. I hope you may do the same.

I think my kids deserve the world and if I cannot give it to them, I sure as hell will try to make them feel like the most special kids in the world.

With love

Me on our way to the beach two weeks ago. Looking out the window at the sun coming up.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let Me Interrupt We Have a New Pet in Our House

When you spend two days at home with no tv, no roommates, sometimes no electricity, in a third world country one would be wise to propose the question, What have you been doing? Great question. To be honest time goes rather quick here. I go from facebook, to reading my book, catching up on blogs, cleaning up my room, making coffee, falling asleep. By 11:00 in the morning it gets very hot making doing much of anything seem like work. We do not have air conditioning so when the sun is up and there is very little breeze, laying is bed is often the most unpleasant thing to do.

Still not yet back to my normal self but feeling much better. I made a visit to the Honduran clinic and saw a doctor to get me medicine. The clinic was a horrific scene of elderly, young children, starving, smelly as you can imagine. I was happy to get an antibiotic to help (although I have no idea what it is). My fellow coworker Veronika who is from England but has lived here for 30 years, took me and translated.

I spent Friday evening with all of the teachers at our house having dinner. I stayed at home on Friday from school.. As well I cannot say enough about my roommates for covering my classes and teaching my kids. We are short on teachers and many of us are teaching classes in multiple grades, so for my roommates to take the few periods that they have free and be with my kids is so appreciated. To be honest I think they enjoyed me being sick. ....Just like when I was a kid... A substitute was sometimes the best day of the week. It typically meant it was a movie day or we were allowed to work quietly. The substitute was typically much more relaxed than our real teacher too. I am certain my kids were well taken care of and happy for a new face up in front of the classroom.

Friday I laid in bed and rested up. I have started a 30 day cleanse. I am not sure what has upset my stomach or made me sick these first few weeks so I have decided to restart my metabolism, rethink food. This is a version of the Paleo diet. You can check it out here. (A former colleague of mine eats Paleo now, but to be honest not sure if the extremes of Paleo suit me, but I simply wanted to do 30 days of riding my body of some things and get my stomach on better track living here. I am tired of being sick. Here's to 30 days... will let yall know how it goes.

Saturday we drove to San Pedro Sula. All 7 of us in Nicks truck to buy things at the mall and big fancy grocery store (comparable to a grocery store in the US, you could buy anything. They carry the Cosco name brand as well). I was able to stock up on some things and buy frozen chicken so the trip was a success. On our way back to Pena Blanca the boys had some beers in the bed of the pickup on the way home. Something about riding in the back of a truck in Central America with a beer seems very illegal but I can assure it is not at all. (I didn't have one, even though I wish I could have)

We made it home and started organizing our kitchen with our newly bought shelves, dishes, cooking things etc. To quote Molly, "We are way more excited about this than we should be." Simple things my friends are worth celebrating here and more of our "rubbish" (Crap) being put away on shelves and a house cleaned up makes us happy. All of our excitement wore off when we lost power around 5:45 pm or so. The boys often come to our house to live stream college football so having no power, means no internet, means no college football scores and leaves us wandering in the dark. Saturday evening would have been fine with no power, we were enjoying the candlelit talk, but we had plans for the evening. We were to go to the bar/dance club in town that night with friends we had met. As if showering in the freezing cold is not enough already, try showering in the dark, dressing in the dark and putting on makeup. (By the way makeup entails the bare minimums, it is too hot and makeup does not stay on.

Side note: We also only have a few small mirrors in our house. I have found Facetime/ or Iphoto on my macbook to be the best mirror to use when getting ready.

In the dark we got ready only to learn that the bar we were going too, is on the same electric grid as we are and they did not have power either. AHHH Honduras. :) Got to love it.

Another side note: Right now my roommates are screaming and I am not going out of my room, because we have a new pet, he/ she is a mouse/rat or whatever rodent lives in Honduras. I may not finish this post because I want to go to sleep quickly so that if he/ she rat/mouse happens to run more ramped in our house I want nothing to do with him or her. Oh man I wish you could hear the noise right now. Molly is currently crying and screaming... While Kate is giving instructions "No no no this way this way!" As they all run towards the kitchen. Molly is still crying and screaming. Now a door just slammed. Call me selfish for hiding in my room but I am sure they have it under control.

We met up with our friends and made our way to the next town over to go to the dance club/bar. Imagine a scene from the movies, set in Latin America where everyone is dancing to salsa,  loud music, run down place, lots of people, hot and sweaty, the building barely seems as though it would stay in tact. Got that in your head...... This is precisely what it looked like. As well Molly and I laughed knowing that no matter where you are in the world there is always a place to buy late night greasy food after have had drinks. There was a Honduran woman serving up Baleadas outside the bar. Made us laugh.

When we walked in the place we were definitely the newbies, or I guess you could say the talk of the town. We stood out like sore thumbs. Everyone was really nice and we enjoyed dancing. Culturally everyone dances with everyone and people change dance partners frequently. We learned this quick when after 20 minutes or so at least 5 people have come up to you to ask to dance. Faye, my roommate, lived in Cuba before Honduras and was on a mission to find a man who could salsa. Her mission came up short, at least finding a man she felt danced up to her standards. I was able to have someone teach me two different dances, Salsa and Meregue. Hoping to get better... I do not think I am good at all.

Click here to hear one of the songs that everyone knew in the club, Mana, a band from Mexico popular in Central America.

I am now sitting in bed, I got an update on the rat/mouse. He/She has moved into the kitchen. Yikes much worse. But Kate is trying to catch he/she.

On this note I am going to bed, after a lazy Sunday, run in the heat and still trying to feel 100 better I am getting my sleep.

Night to all of you. Sweet dreams and hopefully Rat/Mouse free.

Some friends and family have asked if they could send me anything. If you could overnight the Lindt Dark Chocolate or Two Buck Chuck (cheap wine) (You learn to get what you can when you live here, so two buck chuck would do just fine, but of course not until my 30 day challenge it done) it would be so appreciated, however I cannot get mail. If you want to receive mail living in Honduras, and if your mail is lucky enough to make it through the postal system you have to get a PO box. This PO Box is located in a town far over and you have to arrange for a pickup of the mail. When we got news of this, without a second thought we all quickly knew that getting mail was not an option. (you can send me letters if you wish to my parents in Texas and I will get them at Christmas, kidding, but seriously you can). night yall.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nothing Like Being Sick When You are Far Away From Home

Sick. Not much up an update other than that a cold has taken home in my body, my cold went ahead and invited  its friend sore throat and headache to join in the party as well. Not fun at all for me. I am still itchy on my legs from my bites but Hydro cortisone is working wonders to calm the bites down a bit. I still look like I have the chicken pocks but they are shrinking (as long as  I do not scratch).

My roommates were troopers today. (Disclaimer for my British and South African roommates: if you read this and you do not understand why I chose the word "troopers" to describe you, I basically mean "Awesome" "rockstars" "The best")

 My roommates covered my classes for me all day. Faye had my second graders make me some get well cards. One of the sweetest gifts to receive... pictures of these treasures are below.

I am back to my bed relaxing. Very non productive day. Looks like I will be heading to bed soon. My body is not doing well.. but I am back at school tomorrow. We do not have subs so my roommates are left with a very busy day if I am not there, or my kids do not have anyone to teach them. We cant afford for me to be in my bed, or sick.

See a few cards from my kids.....I included below a few pictures of the Water Park Place we went to last week as well. The madness and all. Enjoy!

Check out this one. I am not sure if this is what I look like ..... but sure had to laugh.

Sergio made me this one. He is so very smart... and you can tell her wrote me a long love note.

Yes I have a little boy named Howdy.

Here are the pictures from the Day of the Child. It looks nice and calm in pictures but take my word for it... It was nothing like that at all.
Setting up for Dia De Los Ninos

The balloons were in abundance.

This is right before the principal decided to tell two of us girls we needed to get in the pool even though we were told to not wear our bathing suits. So silly. We had our clothes on!

View of the lake from the top of the slide.

Far left is in my class. Aracely! 
Me and the Girls 
Waiting to go down the slide. 

The smaller pool for little ones.
My second grade boys looking tough and playing Futbol.
 from the sick me in Honduras.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Beach Weekend. Sickness. Pictures. The List Goes On.

Saturday morning we woke up at 4:50 am.. no power on in our house and I being the genius of our house decided I would rather pack in the morning than the night before. I grabbed my headlamp and began to scramble around my room with a simple light to grab what I needed for a weekend away at the beach. Molly, Faye and I were so excited because we had just figured out how to set the automatic timer on the coffee pot and our motivation to get out of bed was knowing that we would have hot coffee before our 5:30 bus ride to San Pedro Sula but alas the reliable electricity won out... We were out of power, no lights and we found ourselves sleep walking our way to the road to nearly miss the bus coming down the road. The bus driver saw seven of us coming up the road and they stopped. The love and the pain of transportation in this country my friends, they leave 10 minutes to a half hour late consistently but if you manage to see it going down the road, they will stop for you.

We boarded the bus and were given a lot of warnings about the safety... We were pleasantly surprised the bus rides were quite nice. We all had a seat (others had to stand for the bus ride) and we kept to ourselves. I looked outside for the most of the ride, marveled at the people up, bike riding with bananas down the side of the road, kids playing futbol so early in the morning. Women doing laundry. The river lined up with clothes drying on the rocks. People asleep/passed out in chairs. The country is really something in the morning.

We arrived to the big bus central station in San Pedro to find the ticket window for the bus to Tela. The bus was not leaving for an hour so we all gladly shared a big cinnamon roll and I had a latte. They have dunkin donuts in the terminal. We all tried to stay awake to wait for the next bus. Here was our timeline:

Pena Blanca- Depart 5:35
Arrive San Pedro Sula- 7:20
Waiting in San Pedro Sula 7:20-8:35
Depart San Pedro Sula 8:40
Arrive in Tela 11:20

The second bus was hot, it was crowded. Faye and I attempted to sleep but we managed to get a seat not next to a window so the breeze was non existent. Buses are rarely air conditioned in this country. So the best buses are the smaller ones, more air flow with the windows down.

Pardon this interuption on my recap of our weekend. I am writing at school, I do not have to teach right now but the principal just walked in to our room and told us she changed our whole schedule around. If I had a dollar for every time this has happened I could feed the whole country. This day started as per usual. First grade parents are shouting because their kids don't have their books, yet they never thought it was a good idea to put the names in the books. We are sitting here, trying to plan for classes, yet we get informed that we are teaching entirely different classes. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. Patience is a virtue. ( I am telling myself)

I have no idea why the principal decided this was a good schedule to make but I am now teaching 3rd grade as well.I am teaching 3rd grade Math and 3rd grade English, but only to one of the sections. Molly is teaching 3rd grade Math and 3rd grade English to the other section. Makes no sense at all. We both now have to plan for both subjects, instead of one of us planning Math for both sections and one of planning English for both sections. So frustrating! (It doesn't make so much sense that even trying to explain it is difficult). Deep Breaths, Show goes on.

To continue to recap our weekend we were picked up by the owner of the place we were staying. Our stay at the hotel included transportation to and from the bus station. The man was so nice and his son accompanied him. He spoke English well and him and his wife operate a hotel out of their home. They have four cabins on the beach that they rent.. The place serves breakfast each day and then lunch/ dinner are to order. They have a chalk board that tells what is offered for lunch and dinner (changes every day) and you must let them know an hour before you eat... They have a refrigerator stocked with water, sodas, beer wine, liquor. Everything is on an honor system. Once you take something you are to write it down on the notepad and you pay up when you depart. We pulled up and it was paradise. They had a small doxon who was adorable. Beautiful little girls that were at entrance. The sound of the waves on the sand, horses running by, hammocks. To quote Phillip, "It is impossible to be sad in a hammock" We all agree.

Molly and me on our arrival.

Wine. My book. The bible and The beach.

Horses running wild.

Our cabin.


The little girl that is adorable and they played with us in the water.

The morning we were leaving.

Molly and the little girl in the family that cried as we were leaving... 

 We did nothing all weekend. When I mean nothing, nothing is exactly what I mean.  I swam laps in the ocean, rode a horse from a local (Asked the little boy if I could ride with him), ate bread from the women selling it on the beach, played football, finished reading The Shack from a hammock. Drank white wine on the beach, fell asleep mid day and got sunburnt.

We loved our stay, we had the most incredible food and were so relaxed. We had no agenda. We never left the place. Best 20 bucks a night I have ever spent. Hot water too might I add.

Friday night we stayed up late but Saturday I fell asleep before 8:30. I was exhausted and slept well. We cheered for Notre Dame with Matt while they beat Michigan State on Facetime Saturday night. (live streaming did not work) Our dinner was topped off with a chocolate banana. The banana was so sweet and just drizzled with chocolate sauce but tasted perfect. We made drinks.. were too loud on the beach and we all crashed in bed.

I think it was a good sign of a weekend because come Monday morning I was so ready to go home. Monday Morning I woke up to find 100 bites on the backs of my calves. I was bitten by Sand Fleas. I have never heard of them before. I was SO over being sandy. Pretty quickly the blue water, sound of the waves made me want to run far away. I was miserable. I itched, and  was ready to go home. Hard to believe that after only 3 and half weeks I call Pena Blanca home.

We tallied up our bill from our food, and drinks and headed back to San Pedro Sula. Once we made it to San Pedro I bought the best smoothie at the terminal.  Really simple, orange juice, banana, and  pineapple. (fruit here is awesome) Our bus to Pena Blanca was air conditioned too. So nice. We got on the bus and one of Alisons little boys was on the bus with his mom. He lit up when he saw her, he was so excited. It was adorable. We got home and I got right to work, laundry (our washer does not work, you have to be the washing machine, it fills with water, drains and does the final spin but does not do the wash part. You have to be the washer, get your hands in their and start digging in) I stink at being the washing machine by the way, my clothes are dried with soap and this morning my black shirt was spotted with white dry soap. Super gross. My clothes required a second rinse. At least I hope it works, I will find out after school today. I got up this morning to run them through water again. We do not have a drier, All clothes must be hung out to dry and it is best during the day because it is sunny and clothes dry quickly, but they are also hard as rocks when they are dry. You would not want to bring your nicest or favorite outfit down here.

Today was a new day, that I made a list of a few things I would like to focus on, not eating processed food anymore (no crackers, no chips, no fried plantains. (food here is terribly unhealthy, difficult to eat well) I am trying to get my stomach back to normal and it is starting today. I am drinking more water and no more diet coke. Hoping to cleanse, to feel better and to get to normal (or atleast accept my new normal) As well I just pray I do not let this place steal my joy. I have found that my rather  pleasant morning is quickly being destroyed by this place, the constant schedule changing, being pulled in different classes expected to have a lesson prepared and I do not even have the kids book nor have I ever taught 3rd grade. I am choosing today to choose joy. Choose joy in frustration, stomach aches, bitten legs, hot weather..... one can hope atleast.

From a itchy, tired, sick,  teacher Kristina.

****PS since I wrote this I am home sick. I feel very sluggish. I have a horrible cold, sore throat. I did not teach swim lessons today. Have been home in bed.

"I owe my life to you my Lord.... here I am."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Paper Airplanes

Paper airplanes in my class were a huge hit. Below is the picture of my kids as we were gearing up to fly them. It was art class so I decided to combine two things that are great when you are kid..... decorating things and throwing things in the air. Why not? It was a good Friday. This was one of those days I could have squeezed all the kids tightly as though I may not see them again. Perhaps it was because I did not have to teach all day and I only spent a few classes with my kids but either way today I delighted to see my kids so excited to fly their planes. Really funny story though because they all came to me to make their airplanes (fold them for them). Having never made a paper airplane before.... I had them all lined up at my desk to make them for them. Maybe I have made one once or twice in my life but they do not usually fly anywhere, pretty much straight to the ground. But today my kids were forming a line to have me make their airplanes. Hilarious. I folded and acted as though I had made these my whole life (making it up) hoping the kids would not notice. They did not notice. It was great. I even stood at the board with my back facing them so on the count of three they could fly them and try and hit me. They loved it.

Side note: I have been feeling a bit under the weather. Not sure if I ate something wrong or if it is just getting adjusted but hoping I continue to feel better. We are off to the beach tomorrow. Dia de los Maestros is Monday. Day of the Teacher. (No school Monday) We are renting a cabin on the beach. We are traveling early in the morning.... Hoping for a nice weekend away with the other teachers.

As well I should mention I had a great run today. Matt and I decided to run in the neighborhood across from my apartment. This was the first time since I have lived here I saw the extreme poverty. Homes that were built with scraps of wood or trash... What you see day to day is poor and what many would say is poverty but what we saw today is a different kind of poverty. We ran up and down the streets. It was more like a trail run... gravel not paved. Steady incline, super sweaty.... but so good. As well stray dogs you have to be aware of. If you encounter a dog that feels threatened by you (they are territorial in this country) they will attack so you have to act as though you are picking up a rock and they will back off (if not you throw a rock at them). This has not happened to me but while running today it was the closest we have experienced. Matt stayed on the inside of me and had to fend off two dogs. I kept running and was so grateful he was there.. He picked up a few rocks as they barked and ran towards us. They backed away eventually and we went on. I am not sure what I would have done if it were just me. (side note it is not advised for me to run alone, all of us go with someone else anyplace we go)

People look at us like we are crazy running because people are typically only running in this country unless they are running from something.... or after a futbol (soccer ball). Everyone seems to look at you like you are completely nutts, or they are asking who is chasing you?

Some fun news.....I am starting swim lessons for two of the kids in my class starting Tuesday. I am excited to spend sometime with them outside of class and do something I love and miss dearly. Both of the moms do not speak good English but fortunately their kids do much better than they so we could arrange a time and a place easily.

I will write more about what is happening when I return from the beach. For now my heart is heavy thinking of my friend Amy. Would so appreciate your prayers for her and her family. Below is a link to a video taken of her and tells of her story.....

From this place and my new home to all of yours... my warmest regards to your family..


Here is a picture from church two weeks ago.. Doggie to church day anyone? And some sweet kiddos playing futbol in the street.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grace for the Road Reading.

Yesterday I included a quote from the following blog

I loved what she wrote, so honest and so true. I love this part as well, written as she was traveling back home to the comfort of England, from the middle east where she has been for some time she writes:

But as I sank deeply into the window seat on the plane, I let myself be honest. I relished the peace. I thought of the green hills of England, my local Starbucks and the men I pass on the street who smile kindly and walk on.
And I realized there’s a fine line between gratitude and entitlement, and I had jumped so far over it that the line had retreated faster than a British summer.
And I felt a check in my heart that made me realize that, once again, He didn’t have all of me.

I so resonate with this. Today was not a very good day at school. For starters my kids were so tired it was like they all took benadryl and came to school for the day. Could not understand why? Until,  Oh wait I remember! Yesterday they were swimming, in the sun, running wild from 9-3. No wonder they were tired!

 I welcomed the quiet classroom but I knew the day would not be very productive. All I wanted to do was look at the kids and say  "Ok Kids, Lets all take a nap! Ms. Kristina is tired too!" But of course the show goes on.

I was leaving the school today and I had one of those when I get back to America moments in my head, ....I want to get my nails done, my hair cut and washed with the hairdresser giving me a mini massage on my head, my clothes to not be stiff when they dry, new tennis shoes (mine are dirty, stinky and just plain gross)  my iphone back working full steam and to curl my hair so I can feel like a woman again (not a hot sweaty mess, with sticky hands from kids).

I find great comfort in my things, all my stuff... my stuff in storage, my car in storage.... those things have much more control and influence in my life than I think.

Her final words she wrote, God does not have all of me.

She is not alone, God doesn't have all of me either.

Giving all of me means giving up everything.... and trusting in his promises to fulfill my desires, and to live life on his grounds and not my own. I am not saying this means giving up the above things (trust me God is a big supporter of Starbucks) but it is simply a different way of life living. It is a completely selfless kind of love and life, I am so not sure I am ready to do this yet.. I can do this in small doses, when it is safe when it easy. When finances are in order, I will help others out. But by Gods grand design he doesn't ask us to follow him when it is easy, nor when it is convenient on my schedule or life's plan. He simply asks for me to follow him.

So today after what was not such a good day. My kids ended up waking up after some food and we all prevailed through on our Thursday.

I am still learning each day to figure out more of who I am, who god is, and how he fits in this whole crazy thing called life and my life here.

With love

Some pictures of the crazy water. slide thingy are coming your way soon.... trust me you want to see this place..

Side story: my Spanish is improving but still does not work to well. A student was crying after lunch and I thought his stomach was upset. I told him I would take him to the nurse, so I did. I then stand as she is talking to him and I hear him say "no dinero". No money. I knew then that he was crying because he did not have money to buy lunch so he did not have anything to eat. Could have screamed and cried for him... So frustrating not to speak Spanish and to be able to help. So upsetting. (I gave him what I had left of my lunch and he seemed ok from then on.. helped I hope, no more tears)

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It is Good. It Will Be a Long Time.

When a dear friend writes you and tells you she misses you and you realize you have not spoken in weeks and you used to know what she did for nearly 40 hours a week. It makes you remember where you are. Life is good here. I am loving it, soaking it in, but not so sure I have really taken in to account how long I will be here for. I know I went to college away, I used to be far from home but this is just a  kind of different awayness (Made this word up). My coworkers at my job before I moved here were kind enough to gift me a calender as a going away gift, on this calender each person wrote me a message on their birthday. So every month I have new notes, from different people. I love seeing what they wrote and knowing they were born that day, so I can wish them Happy Birthday. (Thank you Soley for giving me one of my most treasured heartfelt gifts I have ever been given). It is so encouraging. I so appreciate it.

Relationships are good. They are important and this is one of those things you learn when you do not have the ones that mean the most in front of you. I say all of this because I am so grateful to have people to miss. I know I am lucky because I have a calender that people thought was important to write a message on. Things like this make long days with kids seem really good and reminds me of how great god is... how much he desires us to have relationships, that matter, ones that we can run too. The once wise person who I do not know said, "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." I so felt that way leaving Colorado. I watched the Broncos game on my computer sunday night and saw the sunset on the game and tried not to shed a tear. That place holds and will forever hold a special place in my heart. As for Honduras I am learning very fast that this place too will be one that will hold a special place.

Today with our kids we spent the day at a waterpark/ somewhat scary pool with slides that look like they might break, dirty pool, tents that seem to barely hold up and nearly 300 people. It was a complete chaotic mess of kids, parents, toddlers, running like mad and we the teachers pretending to play babysitter. friend. lifeguard.. everything you can imagine. Oh and language barrier to top it all off. We are all sun burnt to the crisp but are home laughing about what was not at all surprising in Honduras. Why wouldn't this be a good idea? I mean what is 150 or so kids swimming screaming all at once without any order or lifeguard be an awesome day? Let me tell you if I were 8 years old today would have been one of the greatest days ever.... all my friends, a swimming pool, waterslides, lots of candy from a pinata, fried chicken french fries, coke... awesome day. But as an adult and teacher it was not the same. Gave me a few heart attacks but the day was good.. but in more than a few moments I was a little envious. I want to scream and play with not even a second thought. Children do that so well and we adults do not do it nearly enough.

I came across a blog recently of a girl that writes so elqquently, saying things so well and she wrote the below as she was heading home to England after living in the Middle East and reflecting on her journey following Jesus . I like the way she puts this and I thought I would share:

A couple of years ago, I had gotten to the point where I realized I had been playing tug of war with God, asking Him from the church pew, “What do I do? How do I get to the place I should be? How do I do what I need to do to be OK with you?
And then He showed me it wasn’t about me at all, what I have or don’t have. It was about His glory in the nations … and how everything else should slip through my fingers like Middle Eastern sand so that I can grab hold of Him and take Him to others. It’s about me knowing Him and making Him known … to everyone I meet in the United States, to every international person living in England who’s never heard the name of Jesus, to everyone in the world.
Some days I get a little too attached to my park, to my big green hills, to my Starbucks and my tea house … not that those things are bad. I’m here, for the moment. I want to seize every moment here, enjoy Him in it, use it to show Him to others.
But if He asked for me to turn that plane around, I shouldn’t hesitate. And I shouldn’t cower in my seat hoping He won’t ask.
I should offer.
God is good... So good to me. Still living life here. From my bed, sorting pictures done by my kids of their families. (Flaming hair on mom and dad, stick people siblings... awesome pictures)

Love Kristina

Monday, September 10, 2012

My kids.

A little boy named Andres had an accident today. I was very surprised by how calm he was. He did not seem to mind that his pants were soaked from the front to the back. He looked me with the most precious eyes, needing help, and if I were honest with you my reaction was a bit selfish. He went to the bathroom all over the place and it was a bit gross. Selfish thoughts I know. I quickly snapped out of my immediate reaction to look at his soaked school pants and wanted to help, but felt very helpless. His English is not that good. Maybe his english is better than I get to see, but he prefers Spanish. Spanish is easy for these kids, it is what is comfortable, and it is what they know. So they ALL speak in Spanish. They seem to think that I can as well speak spanish too which is so NOT the truth. He said a few things but I knew what had happened, so not much was needed to translate. Either way this little boy was taken outside the class and his mom came a few moments later with new "pantalones". Another day in our class.

I would ask you pray for a few of my little ones. I have a few that I am quite certain should not be in 2nd grade. They do not have their books and have no desire to learn or participate. I am hopeful but tired, and there is so much to do, kids asking for help and a few of these kids often get forgotten. I do not want to forget them. I want them to get the time and the attention they deserve. Say a prayer for Caleb, Josafat, Helen, Kevin and Michell. These kids have long names that are not written here and out of respect for their families I want to protect their privacy so first names are enough.

My kids as I said are beautiful, many are very smart, some are a total pain in my side but they are cute and stubborn all at the same time. I do not know these kids families, the homes they go back too or the future that is before them but I am trying to remind myself each second, that each face was designed and is being shaped and molded into a child of God. Gods hand is in their lives, and he made them that way for a reason. Teaching resting in this truth helps me not get discouraged by the long days, the lack of resources, the language barrier, and the lack of administration..... it makes those things seem so insignificant. Those things are so so so insignificant.

Monday at school was Dia De Los Ninos, the day of the child. Our day was good. Tiring but good. My second graders are learning about The Sentence in English.... I am still trying to find the best way to teach this. In Science, we "MEASURED" the length of the campo  futbol field.  The kids needed to get out of the classroom and we are learning about all the tools we use in Science so it seemed like a good idea to me :) Nothing like marching across the field with 22 kids all in a line counting our steps. I am also teaching my kids the old Vacation Bible school song, "Who's the King of the Jungle " I used to sing this song in VBS. I loved it and thought my kids would too. It is very funny to see them make the hand motions with the song too. I however look like a total goof!

The school is off to a water park thingy tomorrow. In other news our water turned back on. It has been close to 24 hours without water! I got to shower finally! (sink was overflowing, but things could have gotten much worse). Me taking a shower is a huge plus, for anyone that has to encounter me. (not having water is common, well more common than one would think, and yes the whole town did not have water it was not just us :).

Warmest to you

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Swimming in A Thunderstorm

Momma once told me, You're already home where you feel love. (The Head and The Heart)

When it rains in Honduras, its as though the skies have opened up, the thunder rolls and God is having some kind of party upstairs and we get to see the dirt wash away, the rivers flow and the sound of rain on our tin roof so loud you can not hear one another in the same room. This is the picture from my seat right now. Kids pictures are being sorted, posters are being made, laundry being done (by filling up the washing machine with buckets of rain water because it is quicker than waiting on the thing to fill up itself and the rain pours and doesn't seem like it will stop.

My weekend was one of those weekends when I have to remind myself where I am living. Is this the real life? We piled 7 people in a F150 Friday after school to head to a weekend away in the jungle at La Ceiba. But first we were to stop at the beach town Tela to have dinner. 7 people in a truck means people in the bed, and given this is my first opportunity to do this legally I happily hoped in the back of the truck. Our drive was an adventure to say the least. People dodging, dog watching, bikers ride by. Four police stops to check papers (routine checks), raining (Don't worry if you sit up against the back of the truck you will not get wet the rain goes over the top of us).

Faye and Matt in the back.

Have no idea what I am doing. Philip decided we should pose. 
So glad we were not on this bridge when this occurred.

This country is so beautiful.
We arrived to Tela, one of the popular beach towns for our dinner. Honduras is still very poor so even the nicest of towns are underdeveloped and show the visible signs of poverty but as we walked up to a restaurant on the beach for a moment I forgot I was in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. We ate incredible food, drank margaritas laughed together and were ready to get away after the first week of school. In the middle of our dinner the rain came. We are in rain season so this was not that all surprising but this rain came quick. Without a second thought, one of the boys decided we should go out in the ocean, run on the beach straight into the water. So we did.

We ran, in downpour, lighting striking on the ocean and we are rejoicing.  In that moment I remind myself that God is so good. Our god is so intentional and full of so much splendor I am so incapable of even comprehending. I was soaked, happy, with friends and feel so blessed to be in this place. I am only two weeks and I already feel so full. Full of his goodness.

Dinner table next to the beach.

Beautiful setting.

With the down pouring rain we decided to get a hotel in town and drive in the morning to the White water rafting place. Not the best conditions to drive with 7 people still one and half hours away from where we were supposed to be. Our hotel in Tela at only 28 dollars a piece was so nice. (First hot shower in two weeks, I stood there for a long time). Incredible view, you cant even see pictures make it look rubbish (British word). We listened to music loud and sat on the top deck overlooking the Caribbean until we could not keep our eyes open and we all went to bed. The next morning was welcomed with the most gorgeous view. You can see below.

5:30 in the am.

So beautiful, morning view.

Me being a goof. 

Breakfast at the Hotel before rafting.

Tela, on our way to rafting.

We arrived to rafting all ready to go. I have been rafting in Colorado so I assumed (wrongfully) that it would be similar. What I did not anticipate was two hours of cliff jumping, rock climbing, swimming, river floating and bug identifying. We were in for a real treat. Our Honduran guide, barely 5'4 was like a monkey, jumping and swimming like crazy.  We would swim upstream to then catch the drift to get us to where we wanted to be. It was a giant playground of boulders and whitewater. The biggest thrill was the final optional jump of nearly 60 feet. Myself, Matt and Angelo were the ones of our group stupid  silly enough to jump but more than worth it. We rock climbed up the giant boulder first (I later decided this was more scary than the jump itself) We then learned that we had to jump straight off, but first must get a running start so we cleared the rocks below. The best part about the running start is that you could not see the bottom, nor did you have time to decide you didn't want to jump. You started running and you had no other option than to go. So I ran.. full steam ahead and then realized that the next thing beneath my feet was the water and I was falling. I yelled something (probably profanity of some sort/ mixed with screaming) and landed in the water. Unreal to say the least.  Here is a picture of our jump. We wore life jackets and the owner of the rafting company let me where is Chaco's. (we abandoned our helmets for the jump because the impact makes the helmet pop up.)

To be honest the rafting was like the calm after the adventure. We did not raft very long but did 1-3 class rapids. The rocks are huge like the picture above so the scenery was beautiful. Honduras is home to hundreds of birds so you see all sorts of funky looking birds too.

A portion of the river.
We are up high. You could jump from the rock right where Angelo (in the green is standing)
At the end of the day we had a beer of celebration and mentally prepared for our nearly 3 and half hour drive home. We were already exhausted and could not wait to get home to Pena. We included a stop at the gas station. At most gas stations children start washing your window because they know that if you can fill up a car that means you have money and they hope to get some. Incredibly sad. As well we stopped to buy some Leches on the side of the road. They only grow from September till December and are a unique fruit that grow near the beach. Fruit stands are all over this country, along the roads. I will take a picture sometime to show you. The leches are a strange looking fruit.

Just 10 minutes from home the hurricane rain started. Soaked the boys in the back. Fortunately Faye and Myself were over our Honduran truck bed ride experience and decided hours before that, that we wanted to ride in the cab. We would have been drenched otherwise. Faye and I got home to tell Molly and Allison about the whole adventure, the massive testosterone competition during the rafting/cliff jumping. It was quite comical to say the least.  Just imagine them trying to one up each other, jumping off everything, swimming better. Faye and I laughed but then said thats what makes men men and we do not mind. Lol.

Today was intended to sleep in, clean my room, prepare for classes, go to church but the rooster crows like clock work and the sleeping in did not really take place. I went to a Calvary Christian Church with the girls. Singing worship songs in Spanish sounds so much prettier than English. It was really good to sing and be apart of a community. I think I will continue to visit a variety of churches but was so excited to see one of my kids at church. Her little face lit up when we walked in. (She is one of 13 and lives in an orphanage but was adopted by a girl form Tennessee that has lived here for 8 years,  more on their story later).

I am going to get to my lesson planning, Faye is making pizza with Phillip (used to be a chef). Rain has stopped momentarily.

Warmest from this girl doing life in Honduras, doing my best to love on some kids.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Taxi to School? Back of the Truck?

First day of School (belated post from Monday)... Well like most of my posts have communicated, the first day was all over the place but it went off and I suppose the parents dont have much to complain of considering they do not know any different. We started the day with the kids coming in all forms of transportation. The communities from where the kids travel from, organize a bus to take the kids, which is basically a 15 person van, kids as well arrive in a taxis which look like the below: (They pile in up to 6 or sometimes 7 people. When we went to the D&D last weekend we piled in 6 of us. I sat on one side of the driver and someone else sat on the opposite side, a bit scary but kind of fun).

First day of school was a ceremony for all the families and the kids, so that the director could introduce the teachers and discuss the school rules. We entered carrying all the flags of central america and the American Flag. My British roomates were wondering where the British flag was? and the South African one? I myself asked why the American flag was included when the US is not even in Central America but they had no reply. Show goes on and the American Flag was carried. (Make no sense). I carried the Panama flag with a director from the technical high school that we share the campus with.(Guess I look like I am from Panama? I think not, they sort of grabbed me). Matt and Thomas carried the American flag. The presentation was very long, in Spanish and in the not yet finished auditorium. Pictures below:
Philip, England. Nick, North Carolina. Thomas, Texas, Matt Ohio.

We laugh because we blend in with the walls, already look hot and sweaty but smile anyway.  Left to Right, Faye,  England, Allison,  South Africa, Veronika (from England, more or less Honduran now) Molly, England, Me.

On Honduran time this will be completed someday! Such a huge blessing to the school though!

Waiting on everyone to make their way to the auditorium.
We did not teach this day but rather stood in-between our classrooms (Since I had two) met parents, attempted to communicate in Spanish and collect all the kids things.... Kids must bring soap, toilet paper, paper towels and wet wipes because the school does not provide this. So if a child wants to go to the bathroom they carry a basket with all these things in it.. The basket is a mess by the end of the day, usually missing the soap and paper towels everywhere.

Most of my kids were not there or they didn't stop by to say hello but it was nice to see some of their faces and they were so excited to see their classes. It was a little frustrating because the schedules were not done, (still not) and the classroom lists were not either and parents then ask me where they are, and I dont know. Such a mess but the show goes on.

I was exhausted... worn out so I knew then I was in for a real treat when classes started. 

Right now I am getting ready to read the 2nd grade Story for Reading because I assigned Homework. I assigned Homework in Reading, English and Math for today. One of my 2nd grade classes is very far behind the other one, rumor is that one of the teachers from last year only made it part of the way through the book. I can attest to the fact that they are very much behind. As well their overall skills and classroom etiquette is not on par like the other one, but I am determined to play catch up and make them smart. I spend most of my day with the 2nd grade A classroom... and we practiced phonics. I find phonics very difficult. How do you explain to a second grader that Dinosaur is spelled Dinosaur and not Dinosour? In Spanish the words are spelled as they sound but in English we have rules and not rules and things that just plain do not make sense. 

I must mention though that we had a great day in Science. I made them bring a leaf from home so we could use the day today to show how leaves are the same and how they are different. It was not an easy thing for them to do, they did not quite follow the instructions but for the most part they got the idea. I was trying to help them understand what a Scientist does. Lol. I tried my best.

As well, our day included the Hookie Poky.. I am struggling to understand the extent of their vocabulary so I thought I would make sure they knew their body parts. That was fun. Faye surprised me with a Diet Coke and saved my life mid morning. I am loosing my voice, tired and to top it off one of my students got sick on the floor. (Two thumbs up for that.. 2nd day of school and already vomit). She did not feel good at all.. poor thing.

Got a great run in after school... feels good to sweat off some of the stress. My kids mean well, I know they do, they are just kids that you love one second and want to scream the next. I better hop to my reading... if my kids must do it, I guess the least I could do is read it as well.  

Hope all you football fans are enjoying College Football Saturdays and gearing up for the NFL. There is a girl in Honduras who is missing Saturdays in front of the TV a whole bunch. 

Many blessings to you and your families. Sending love and prayers from this place to you, just as these kids and me, hope God is teaching you. Love Kristina.