Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween. Wednesday Shenanigans

*** Disclaimer this was written on Tuesday night. Late due to internet.

This blog post is coming a bit late because we have not had internet for a few days. You get used to it. Molly and I both agreed that although we feel a bit out of the loop without the internet, we welcome it. We like being able to disconnect and relax. Molly makes bracelets, I clean and organize, read my book, and we all sit around our table.

Monday evening after curling up in my bed I started reading my new book. Wild (From lost to found). A book about a girl who backpacked the entire West Coast. This book is her retelling her journey, what she saw and what she learned. I am excited to read it. Here is a brief excerpt that I feel fits me quite well at this point in my life. Both in my place in Honduras and for what is to become of my future.

“It was a world I’d never been to and yet I had known was there all along, one I staggered to in sorrow and confusion and fear and hope. A world I thought would both make me into the woman I knew I could become and turn me back into the girl I’d once been.”

Today at school, my third graders were learning about the stars, the sun and we reviewed the weather. I spoke about white dwarfs and asked the kids to draw them in their books. A white dwarf is a very small star (according to their science books). I wish I would have taken a picture because the kids did not draw a star, they drew a very small person (a dwarf). I laughed out loud at the pictures. 

As well my second graders are working to earn a movie in class. I told them that I would bring in popcorn and we could watch a movie but they must earn 10 points. ( I have a meter on the board that I fill in when they earn a point). They can earn points by doing homework, working quietly, staying in their seats, etc. One of the boys, Howdy, never ever raises his hand when he needs something. If he was not so darn cute I might get more angry but he is so so so cute. Today I told the class that if we could get Howdy to raise his hand more, that they could earn a point. So today when Howdy raised his hand to ask if he could go to the restroom the whole class erupted with applause. They were so excited. (Howdy was a bit embarrassed but it was too funny). I explained he has to do it all day long to earn a point but they were still proud of him.

We celebrated Philips birthday tonight and went to Sarah's, one of the Pre-Kindger teachers parents restaurant. Many of the families at our school have hotels (really that means they have a bunch of cabins near the lake) or restaurants nearby the lake. Her Dad is from Vermont but has been in Honduras for 30 years or so, he married a Honduran. They serve the fried fish fresh from the lake where they fry the whole thing including the head and all. A bit creepy. We ate and had birthday cake. Phillip being a former Archeology major is very knowledgeable in all things history and the development of countries and settlements so in honor of his birthday Faye prepared a pub quiz. (Trivia). We played boys vs. Girls. Their were 8 rounds consisting of Honduras, General Knowledge, Geography, Historical Figures, TV and Film, Cocktails, Science, Music. The boys won. (we wanted them to win (promise), they get very competitive and we knew that we would never hear the end of it.)

Right about now they are laughing in our kitchen with three Honduran friends that we all met at church. They are laughing, having drinks. I however am being lame, I cannot seem to keep my eyes open. I am falling asleep and in my bed writing this. 

Happy Halloween as well! Nothing special here. It is so not celebrated in this country and often highly discouraged. But being someone who enjoys Halloween as a reason to drink apple cider, or whiskey cider like my old roommates in Denver did at our house on Elizabeth street, eat lots of candy and celebrate I miss this dear holiday. 

***PS I think I am justifying drinking red wine tonight. Calling it Blood. (Works for me!)

Warmest Kristina

Monday a Bit Late

*** Disclaimer this post is coming a bit late because we have been without internet. This was my Monday.

Spanish. My spanish needs some help. Slowly I am learning but I realize that if I want to leave this country and be able to articulate and understand I need more practice. Sunday after a good long run by myself (yes I ran alone for the first time, now that I am familiar with where I am, I took a gravel road through farms in the sun, it was one of my favorite runs since I have been here). On my way home I stopped by the souvenir shop in town, that sells mass produced Honduran gifts, the usual shot glasses, coffee mugs, picture frames etc. The lady in the store I recognized because her sister lives next to the boys house. (Matt and I needed directions to church one time and we asked them.) I bought a headband that I had had my eye on. While looking in her shop the lady in the shop said that she needs to practice her English and I said I need to practice my Spanish. I told her I would come back in the afternoons and sit out front of her shop with her and we could practice together. Today I was done at school at noon and I ran home from school. The girls took my backpack for me and I just took my phone, my keys and some money. I ran straight to her store. I sat out front of her shop with her for an hour. It is so helpful to be able to exchange vocabulary and talk. I am going to be visiting her each day after school. When I told her I could not come tomorrow because i have swimming, she said, “aahhhh ok!” (disappointed look) and then said  “I really like you”. I think this will really help my Spanish

Today was a good day, we got some new furniture today delivered (the teacher that came and went, the older lady from the States had a house by the boys that they moved things into and we got the things from her house). I mopped our floor while the girls were still at school. (therapy for me)

Our trash bin lid had fallen over the side of our balcony. Over the side of the balcony is really gross, filled with trash and we live on the second floor. I had no clue how we could get around to retrieve it. But today I saw a woman down below, burning her trash. I saw her only after I went outside to see where all the smoke was coming from. In my broken spanish I got her to grab it and throw it up to me. First attempt was a fail but then I made a motion of a frisbee and she gave it a try, it successfully made it up! 

As well Matt and I carved my pumpkin that Stephanie brought me from Guatemala. We decided to pay tribute to our favorite college football teams who are still both 8-0 this year. (notre Dame and Louisville of course). We are pretty proud. 

I did a load of wash, and decided I needed to take a picture, of the ridiculouslness that is my room. (will post later). As well we all just hung out, drank coffee, Matt was being a goof as per usual. We made cards for Philips birthday tommorow and I later did an hour of yoga. (addicting). 

Check out what I have now successfully mastered :) Matt is clearly so proud of me and I am so excited! It is now a nightly ritual to practice more.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Coffee Thoughts

Sunday morning. I am sitting in my bed, drinking coffee, Hondurans do a few things well and one of them is coffee. Thank goodness for that. Tomorrow there is school, and there are lessons plans waiting to be made. All I want to do today is relax, maybe lay in the sun, read a book. I need to practice Spanish, I need to find a video to show my class about the stars.... I need I need I need. Instead I am going to choose to be right here in the present moment. And that moment is sitting in my bed, drinking coffee :) and it is good.

Yesterday was spent shopping in San Pedro Sula, we ate lunch at TGIF, "Fridays", definitely a treat and then the grocery store. You know you live in a small town in Honduras when you go to the grocery store in the big city to buy canned pumpkin, giant apples (all apples are imported and the ones in our town are not as good), nail polish, face wash, tooth paste, a candle, and liquid laundry detergent. All of these things are hard to come by in our small town so it was nice to get out for the day and pick up some things.

This morning is one of those moments when I am feeling a bit unmotivated and complacent. Maybe the long week and bad behavior of my kids is to blame but I am determined to make today a great day. Good news is my flight for Christmas was changed to leave here on the 16th! I am so excited. I was originally going to leave on the 20th (originally last day of school was the 17th) but we were told our last day of school is the 14th. My roommates are heading off to Nicaragua and Costa Rica for Christmas (England, south Africa are too far to travel) so not wanting to be home alone in our rinky dink awesome town my parents generously helped to change my flight.

Some things are weighing heavy on my heart today. I trust that God is good. I do, but sometimes things just do not match up. Others would say well you are not to figure it all out because that is why you trust him, but sometimes that doesn't work either. I want explanation. I want understanding. And well today I am frustrated.... and that is just how I feel :). In a older blog post I spoke about my friend Amy here. I did not write how I came to know about how Amy was sick and thought I should. I got in touch with Amy after ten years of no contact. (2002 we spent a summer in Florida at a Young life camp). Here is how it happened:

I am blog follower/ reader of a photographer in North Carolina. I read the blog and admire the pictures. One day this spring, I was reading the most recent blog post. In the post she wrote about her friend, Amy, who was sick with cancer but how she had chosen to live each day trusting that God is good and that he has her story written for her, although she is sick. In tears I read about this story. After reading I watched a short video clip that she posted of Amy and her daughter. I watched the video. Tears started to develop as the video showed Amy reading Dr. Seuss to her daughter and the music of Give Me Jesus  playing in the background. I then began recognize the face of Amy. I recognized her but could not place her. Her hair gone and Amy being very sick, I could not figure out how I would know her. The more I watched, tears began to flow. The story of Amy was no longer a sad story of a stranger but an old friend, a mentor, my leader, my bunkmate.

Amy is not doing well. She is worsening and she is need in of a miracle  So maybe praying is not your thing and maybe today or everyday is a day like I am having where things do not make sense and you too are frustrated because things just don't seem fair sometimes so you wonder if God is even there.  I ask that you maybe make an exception today and lift Amy and her family up in prayer.
"You can have the whole world but give me Jesus" Amy and her daughter two weeks at the Race for the Cure in Charlotte.

My last blog post I shared Aracely's story and will at sometime share of some of the other girls stories but I want to share some good things in this blog post. Friday evening Alison (mom to 13 girls) hosted all of the teachers for dinner. Her girls jumping on the porch as we pulled into the house, were so excited for us to arrive. The house decorated in Halloween (Halloween is not celebrated in Central America but Alison being from the States celebrates with her girls). Adorned with orange and black, skeletons  pumpkins, she went above and beyond to host us for dinner. The girls ran to us with candy, pictures, and gifts. A blog post is not going to quite capture our evening. We laughed, played with vampire teeth, climbed on the girls bunk beds, drew pictures, ate five cakes and sang Happy Birthday for Thomas. I don't think Thomas has ever had 13 orphans singing Happy Birthday to him before, but I am not sure there is any better way to spend a 24th Birthday.

After we ate, Aracely took me to her room to show me her bed and where she has her things. I noticed a shoe box. The shoe box was labeled with Operation Christmas Child. I asked Aracely if she was just given this box and she said "YES YES! They delivered them to us". She showed me the stickers, the notebook and the candy. She then said, "This is the candy I gave to Mrs. Sanchez!". Just then I realized the very things the girls gave us as we walked in the house, the candy, the gifts were all the things they had been given from Operation Christmas Child. The shoes boxes all of you and others have filled around the world, were given to these girls, who then gave something to me. They do not have much but they gave us all that they have. Hear me out when I say this, I am not giving anything or doing something great for these kids, they are the ones giving and teaching me. I have so much to learn.

Aracely with Mollys Glasses on. 
Ninjas, with scary teeth. 

From left, Dania (spelled wrong) 4th grade, Aracely 2nd grade, Michelle 3rd grade.


She kept being goofy.

Faye and the girls. 
May you too continue to learn and learn from kids, they teach us the most. I am going to eat some canned pumpkin... closest you get :) Warmest to you.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Aracely Story.

Stories like this one are the stories you will never forget. Its a story that could be told a million times and you still cannot quite grasp the reality of it. Over a cup of coffee tonight I listened....

Aracely was two years old when her parents were threatening by their neighbors to call the police if they did not take Aracely to the hospital. Aracely was two years old with a 30 inch waste. She was severely malnourished. Her stomach so much enlarged and that you could not separate her legs from her stomach. Her body was full of parasites and she was very sick. Pale in the face, discolored hair. Sleeping on a dirt floor, with sticks as walls, she was fighting to stay alive. Aracely was taken from her home to an orphanage.

When Alison met Aracely with her big brown eyes she saw a child who had experienced more than any child should ever have at her age.....

The paperwork went through at the orphanage and Alison agreed to adopt Aracely. She got the call on Tuesday and she would have to wait until Saturday to take Aracely home with her. After phone calls to find a ride were unsuccessful she could not bear the thought of her sleeping one more night alone in the orphanage. She thought if I could get her and take her home right now then I am going too. So ALison got on a bus, rode three hours and picked up Aracely. A three hour bus ride home, Alison listened as Aracely struggled to breathe. Once they arrived at home she fed her spaghetti and Aracely could not swallow it down. Alison's neighbor, a physician, examined her immediately and insisted that Alison take Aracely straight to the hospital. In the hospital the doctors immediately took her in. After several failed attempts at an IV, Aracelys veins kept breaking because she was so malnourished. They inserted an IV amidst her screams through her foot. The doctors were outraged, screaming at Alison's,  asking why she had waited so long to bring Aracely to the hospital. Not only was Aracely malnourished she had a extreme pneumonia. The doctors informed Alison that had she not come in when she did, she would not have made it one more day. Alison overwhelmed sat down next to Aracely in the hospital bed, knowing that had she waited,  had she not gotten on the bus Aracely would not be alive.

Months passed and Aracely regained her strength. She was eating well and was growing. She joined a family of sisters, and had a mom that loved her well named Alison. They celebrated her walking for the first time and milestones that every child deserves to celebrate.

This past February Aracely now 8 years old, Alison got the call from the social worker that every adoptive mom would fear. Her parents went to court for custody of Aracely and won. They wanted her back home. In tears as her sisters watched, Alison drove Aracely back ot the wooden floor, to the home that she was without food. After many attempts of trying to explain why she should stay with Alison, Aracely's biological mom insisted that she wanted Aracely back.

Aracely not fully understanding, told her sisters, don't cry I will be back. Alison instructed Aracely to tell her biological parents every day, every second of every day that she wanted to go back home with Alison. Tell them that she did not want to live there. Aracely tried but her mom still insisted that she be at home with them.  Calling every day Alison prayed for peace amidst no understanding. Aracely's sisters cried in Aracely's bed, mourning her absence. On the phone one evening Aracely told Alison that she had to go to the bathroom in the field nearby and their were boys watching. She told her she did not want to be mean but she told her that she yelled at her biological mom, "Do not tell me what to do your not my mom!"  Alison heartbroken had decided that she would have to buy land in town so that they could move next door to Aracely to make sure she was taken care of. Aracely wanted to go home and Alison wanted her back.

A week passed and Alison's phone rang. The biological mom decided she could not handle Aracely and that she no longer wanted her. Alison immediately got in the car and drove Aracely back home with her.

Aracely eight years old now, is independent, strong, smart and beautiful. She sits in the front row of my class. My eyes will always fight back tears when I stare into her precious eyes.... her deep brown eyes like mine melt my heart.

***Alison lives in a town nearby and has adopted a total 13 girls. Her girls all have stories that would bring tears to your eyes. The majority of her girls are enrolled at our school, and three of her girls are in College. One of her girls is on scholarship to play soccer at a college in the US. Alison originally from Tennessee has been in Honduras for 8 years. She is a barely 30 year old woman who has compassion, and love in the most incredible way, She is mom to the most beautiful Honduran girls. Over coffee tonight she opened her heart about her girls and her life. Fighting back the tears, I will not forget.

Central American Neighbors

Friday evening Stephanie and Arturo drove from Guatemala City to Pena Blanca (the town I live in) they made a stop in Kopan Ruins to break up their 9 hour journey. Long drive, but having my best friend here for the weekend was so great. Friday after school Thomas and I began preparing our family dinner. We were serving garlic roasted french fries for appetizer, a fruit and cabbage salad with homemade dressing, roasted green beans and chicken and rice with a pineapple-watermelon salsa. Our dessert was puppy chow. We had a lot of work to do. In anticipation of Stephanie and Arturo arriving to the D and D, I knew Jason would be coming over with them around 5:30/6 so I wanted to make sure most of the dinner was done.

They arrived bringing a real American imported pumpkin, rice krispie treats and one can of pumpkin. Pumpkin is next to impossible to find in this country, let alone pumpkins that you could carve. The pumpkin may have cost Stephanie $17.00 or so but I was so excited. By the way my roommates many of which have never carved a pumpkin before will be assisting with me!

Our evening was spent as per usual + two guests. We sat around our big wooden table, ate food, laughed, talked, and were super full. We then decided to play our charades, acting out, guessing game.  Big props goes to Arturo who played with us, can you imagine playing charades in Spanish with a bunch of people who's first language is Spanish (No way I would play).

Saturday morning we woke up to have breakfast at the D and D and drank coffee. Stephanie, Arturo and I drove through the town quickly in the morning. I took them by my school so they could have a tour.

At eleven we were meeting up for river tubing. It is hard to explain what this was like, because it is not your typical lazy river tour, nor is it rapids, it was a super fast river flow, lots of branches, sticks and curves and you on your tube, freezing cold water holding on in hopes that you do not flip out or ram into the side of the river. Molly, Faye, Stephanie and I were close together for the beginning of the adventure.... screaming, turned to laughing on the second. I am sure if someone was taking a video they would have a great laugh. The river opened up into the huge Lake Yojoa. The cold water of the river flows into the warm water of the lake and the next thing you know all of us are floating in open water... It was incredibly beautiful. We cliff jumped from the side of the lake off a 25 foot cliff or so. The journey up the cliff was harder than the jump. Faye, the boys and Me jumped. Arturo and Matt finished off with back flips. Pretty soon all of us were cold and we started paddling back up the river to then walk back to the D and D.

We decided that we should as well take Arturo and Stephanie to see Pulapansak waterfall. I drove Stephanie's Car (her windows are tinted so dark that you have to roll down the windows sometimes to get a better view) This was definitely something I can check off my list of things I have done in Central America, including checking off my dream of "playing chicken" while driving. Driving in central America is a constant game of chicken, who will move first, who will go first, who will swerve or pass first. Its like Mario kart but much busier. A bit terrifying but really fun. We arrived at the waterfall to just take pictures, walk around a bit. This was the place that I did the popular behind the waterfall tour the first week I got here. 

The rest of our evening was spent at the D and D playing trivia. The girls would tell you that I barely played because I was too distracted making smores and friends around the camp fire. But to be honest they were much better without me there! Our team was Stephanie, Faye, Molly, and Arturo. The boys had to be separated to a different group and they won! The final trivia question... If you sailed east from New York City which country would you come to first? (England, Spain, Iceland, Norway, Scotland, Ireland, Portugal). The correct answer was Portugal. They won a pitcher of beer. 

We left the D and D and ventured to the bar in town to go dancing. We stayed only an hour or so because we were really tired and Stephanie and Arturo had to leave early Sunday to drive home. 

I cannot say enough about how nice it was to have her and Arturo visiting for the weekend. So many moments passed that I had to wonder where it was that we were? It is the strangest thing to have my best friend here with me. Stephanie is a real teacher. (not like me, she has an official teaching degree) She has helped me with bestowing her wisdom in the classroom and I know her kids are lucky to have her as their teacher. She teaches at the American School in Guatemala City. She is currently in her third year at the school and 2nd year with her boyfriend, she has certainly made her home Guatemala. Her boyfriend was so nice and it was so good to finally meet him. I think all of my roommates enjoyed them as well. Faye and Molly asked if Arturo has any brothers for them :)

I was not so good at taking pictures.... But here is one below of us at the waterfall. I also wish I had pictures of the dinner on Friday. Hopefully I can get a few pictures from Thomas.

Me, Molly, Stephanie, and Kate

You can tell how big the fall is compared to the man in the picture. 

As for me it is Thursday (finally) It has rained all week long it seems and I am more than ready for the weekend. Rain makes kids go crazy. Thomas turns 24 tomorrow and we are hoping to go to San Pedro Sula to do some shopping. Happy Thursday yall.

Warmest Kristina

Monday, October 22, 2012

Collect moments. Not things.

One kayak. Two people. Rain. Two paddles. Rushing river. A lake. More rain. Birds singing in the distance. One afternoon.

Some things do not need much explanation because even the greatest attempt to explain it would never do it justice. To put it simply it was good. Really good. Moments passed when I wondered how it is that I have it so good. Where your heart is so full, it overflows with goodness. It was that good.

happy monday yall.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Things I do not Want to Forget.

Things I am grateful for and things I simply do not want to forget.

  • For the smiling face and welcomed hug of our friend and the father of some our students. All of the teachers almost always exclusive buy our fruit and vegetables from this family. They carefully select the best they have and just yesterday when we needed Cilantro, they did not have any so the father sent one of his workers to the grocery store with money to see if they had any and he was going to buy it for us. I like seeing them, makes me feel like I have a place in town, where people know me, recognize me. 
  • Fancy. I am grateful for the word Fancy. Yes this is a British term but it implies wanting something you do not already have. It took me a while to learn the proper use of this word (please note the other English term I so casually included just now). Now you see I thought you could say "OOOO I really fancy this piece of candy I am eating" WRONG. You can only Fancy when talking about something you do not already have. Like I would ""Fancy Starbucks this morning" (true statement, I would so fancy a latte)
  • My roommates. They deal with me at my worst and make me laugh out loud. I could not be more grateful to be doing life with them here in Honduras. Although we all speak English sometimes I wonder if we know the same language at all. Alison, I am learning from South Africa has all of these adorable nicknames for her nieces and nephews. But more so than nicknames in South Africa they have their own language in addition to English and if you are in the room when she is talking to her family on Skype all of these sweet little words and names start coming out. I love it.
  • El Dorao Coffee. (coffee sold and made in our town) Side hilarious story. I was trying to tell my third graders how much I loved the "El Diablo coffee" The class looking at me in utter shock started yelling, "No NO MISS, NO MISS". I was so confused. I was so confident this was the name of the coffee that is made in our town. What I quickly learned is "Diablo" in Spanish is the word "devil". I do not recommend telling your class that you "Love the devil" at school. Spanglish disaster!
  • Grateful for Distance. Distance makes the heart grow fonder... maybe its true or perhaps it is not... But either way I am certain that distance makes reunions so much more fun. Lets be honest seeing old friends and family after a long time apart is pretty incredible. I am happy to announce Stephanie Riley and her boyfriend are en route right now from Guatemala City to Pena Blanca! So happy to have them visit for the weekend.

Our homes... We are Central American neighbors.
Yay for being neighbors again! See you in an hour or so.
Also counting down because these three girls are some of the most important to me (Left to Right, Stephanie (arriving in a few hours, Christie Lee, BA and Me) and our annual tradition continues, after my absence last year. 11th annual Gingerbread Christmas Eve Eve Day. Love you all.
  • My Art Teacher in Elementary School. I had an art teacher that told stories of Vincent Van Gogh and he has ever since been my favorite artist. Today in Art I told my kids the story of how he cut off his ear and gave it to a girl he liked. (They all giggled, rumor has it the story did not happen this way but remember my kids are in 2nd grade so sometimes simple stories are the best stories). I had them recreate Starry Starry Night for class. So cool to see them recreating one of my favorite paintings of all time.

Andres looking at the picture.. See his swirly sky on his desk.

Construction Paper: Construction paper goes a long way in a 3rd world country and you would be surprised by all that you can do with it. I had been meaning to include some of the decorations that we put up in honor of Fayes Birthday at the house and I forgot. See below! At any moment construction paper is scattered about in our house, on the walls, on the floor....

3D card made my Alison, Flowers by Molly.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Joy in Laughter of a Third Grader

When true joy comes in the deepest belly laugh one has ever enjoyed, you find that God too has a sense of humor. I am learning more about the heart of God in this place than I could have ever imagined anyplace else. 

I often like to pretend that I can do everything on my own. I am stubborn to a utterly fault. Ask anyone who knows me. I am painfully stubborn sometimes. I like things my way, even though I pretend to act as though I am ok going with the flow, I must be honest with myself and accept that deep down when "I am going with the flow" I wish things were the way I wanted them. 

Surrender is something you know? Surrender in our lives is often the most difficult act we can do. Surrender to things that we do not like, to our everday, to the meeting that went too long, to traffic on the interstate, surrendering to ourselves, accepting that things do not go our way, and they will continue to not go our way, yet we get to pick ourselves and move on. 

I am surrendering.... surrendering myself to the fullness of God. Trusting that no matter how much I think my plan is good, his is so much better. The hardest part of all is surrendering to something you do not know what is in store. Except I know who he is. I can rest confidently in who he is, who his character his, the life that he lived. I can get behind that. Living a life that loves people well. That sees every opportunity as a chance to change. A person who choose to kneel down next to the broken, to give up everything so someone else could have a place at the table. Selflessness like the world has never seen.

In moments of frustration, to moments of joy, to the days that seem to never end, the kids that never sit in their chairs, the lessons I am confident have gone well and the kids turn in their homework and it is clear they do not understand anything. It feels sometimes like you are moving a mountain. Yet I am still pushing, still surrendering and still pursuing the hope that he has something good in store. He is doing good in me and in the world. Its all I got to trust in. Its all I can do.

I am feeling a bit nostalgic these days for things at home. Not that I want to leave, but just that I miss some of the comforts. Suppose watching the movie The Holiday and eating cookies for dinner last night can make you do that. Matt and Kate made Monster cookies last night and we all sat around drinking coffee nibbling away at the peanut butter, oatmeal, chocholatly goodness. My belly was super full but part of me thinks it was just what I needed. Cookies and coffee for dinner, followed by a glass of red wine. (everything I love in one evening, including Jude Law).

So today when you indulge in your routine Starbucks, talk to your friends or if you are lucky to get to see family, soak it in a bit longer today. Maybe sit down the phone and look someone in the eye when you have a conversation, without the distraction. I dare you to try it. Real life happens sometimes when our minds are wandering and our head is some place else. I would give just about anything to have dinner with my family today, or even a short lunch would do. Have an iced tea, sit on the porch outside, eating yellow chips (my moms name for lays potato chips). A girl can dream I think.

Heres to your Thursday. Friday Eve. My best friend Stephanie and her boyfriend are driving from Guatemala City (7 hours or so) to visit for the weekend. Lots are in store for their arrival, and the preparations are beginning tonight. Thomas and I's turn to cook family dinner is tomorrow night. Lots of work to be done!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New week. Beach Weekend.

The weekend was good.... Just the perfect balance of relaxation, sun, a nap, reading my new book (which I just finished minutes ago). Our journey home was the usual Tela to San Pedro (Greyhound style bus, no air conditioning, very hot. Matt shared his head phones and we danced on the bus. Listening to jams.) We did not catch the smaller air conditioned bus for the second leg from San Pedro to Pena Blanca, we instead got on the nicknamed "chicken bus" aka means school bus from the US that is no longer used obviously in the US so someone bought them from the US and drove it all the way to Central America to be used as a bus. The bus is famed "Chicken bus" because it is often used my people to transport livestock, haul things, load things out the exit in the back. Everyone piles in and even at one point a Evangelical got on the bus and began preaching from the middle aisle. This carried on for about 20 minutes or so as he held up his bible and started shouting.... (interesting to say the least).

Friday evening we went into Tela to our favorite place to have margaritas and eat dinner. It was a beautiful evening and the owner of the school surprised us by sending Nick with 2000 limpiars to buy dinner for all of us. This is about $15.00 per person. So nice.

Saturday the weather was a bit dodgy all day, I woke up and went for a run with Kate and Alison. We ate our usual breakfast provided by the place. Fresh fruit, fresh baked breads and juices. The best coffee too.

 I did an hour yoga session here. The ocean is just beyond the trees. It was amazing. It was hot but it was one of the most relaxation sessions I have had in Honduras yet.

Below are some snapshots of our day. The kids below were swinging on the hammocks really high. Hopefully the video worked below :)

This is a good picture of what our day looked like... don't be too jealous. We thoroughly enjoyed our weekend away.
The girls Saturday below:

Notre Dame vs. Stanford live streaming.. The boys Saturday....

Not much of an update here. My week started as per usual... Kate woke up sick on Monday so we all pitched in with her classes. Matt and I did yoga via candle light in my room last night. It was super hot in my room but so relaxing. I stayed up late because I could not keep my book down.

Book club girls in Denver I finally finished Gone Girl and you were right, it is as addicting to read as any book I have read in a long time. It does not end as you expect but gosh dang it was a good read. I highly recommend to anyone out there looking for a new book. I am going to loan my kindle to Veronika, the older English lady teacher who is every ones favorite. She has lived in Honduras for nearly 25 years now but still manages to laugh at all things Honduran. She knows the school better than anyone and often mediates/ translates for everything at the school. For example today I was pulled out of my 3rd grade class to the principals office. The kids were all nervous when the principal came in, said, "Per Miso? (Excuse Me, I am sorry) Ms. Kristina uno momento" I followed her to then meet one of my students and his dad (2nd grader) waiting in her office. I was a bit nervous unsure what he had to say. Apparently Samuel told his Dad that I did not let him eat because he was held in my class during recess for discipline. part of this my friends is true. The discipline system I have developed includes writing the kids names on the board and adding minutes next to their name for how long they must stay in class during recess for any number of reasons, (misbehaving, not sitting in their chairs, no books, no homework etc.) The first part is so NOT true. I never keep them the entire time and even if I do I ask that they eat in class with me. Woopsie. Misunderstanding. All clear now! Kids gotta eat and so do I!

Happy hump day tomorrow Meg Day... if we were still at work I would gladly adorn your desk with a sign to celebrate!

Hope you all have a wonderful week... I am off to get some sleep. Morning run with the girls before school :) May you find the simplest joy and laughter in the small things..... like the ants that were just crawling my arm from the plate in my room... So gross! Goodnight!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Delight in the Little Things

Talked to my Dad on Skype today. After another visit to the doctor today it seems I may have contracted a parasite/ amoeba of some sort, which would explain why I have not felt good for sometime. My efforts to get over it and just when I think I am better I am hit again either with a stomach bug or as in this morning abdominal pain that I could not explain. (I left school after getting sick and Faye came along to translate. I need to remember to take a photo of the doctors office (lets hope the opportunity never comes to do so, because I do not want to go back), imagine people packed sitting outside, one door where a nurse opens and calls the next number like you are buying lunch meat at kroger, when your number is called you go in and behind the door you walk into a one room filled with an operation table/ a desk/shelves filled with crap, bottles, cans, coffee mugs, loads of medicine, and the doctor playing music on itunes like it is some sort of party, most bizarre experience). 

Me in my stubbornness is learning that I need to slow down. Pretty sure my roommates have had enough of me being sick, yet still cleaning our house, or still going and going... My Dad as any father would, asked me if I had enough? If I am ok? I know what he was getting at. He meant, Am I ready to be done, Am I homesick? Am I ready to get out of this place? Without a moment of hesitation I said No and I meant it. I am well. I am good. My body has not particularly gotten used to here yet, either the food, water or something but that is temporary. My heart is good. I am good. Life is too good here. Of course I miss fall, I miss pumpkin in everything, Starbucks lattes, football, chili and tailgating but missing those things does not compare to the fact that I get to fall asleep to the most incredible storms, lightening that lights up your room, thunder that is right above your head (like right now, I just unplugged my computer for fear that we get struck loose power and my charger gets zapped). All of those things as well dont compare to the fact that tonight I was sitting around a candle lite table with new friends that seem like old friends, laughing, sharing stories and doing life..... 

The remainder of the day at school was chaotic as my roommates retold me what occurred  A week ago another teacher showed up, an older woman from the US that was brought on to do administration etc.. Long story short, the rest of us were quite confused because we desperately needed another 1st grade teacher and we could not understand why she came to do administration things... For the first time the principal listened to our suggestion and made her a 1st grade teacher (instead of administration) so Faye and Allison reduced their classes from 30 kids to 20 kids forming a third first grade class. Well low and behold this did not last because we found out today that she is leaving.. without much to be said from her...... You may be thinking how could this happen? Wish I could say I am surprised but you can tell I have been living in Honduras because the new normal is things change often and that is just the way things are. We are all ready for a weekend away at the beach for Fayes continued birthday celebration. Happy Birthday Faye! So grateful you are here and I look forward to celebrating this weekend.

May you too have a great weekend. I am beach bound, sick or well I am resting up on the beach for the weekend.. Cheers. Kristina

 Below are a few snapshots of things I am grateful for and snippets of my life here. 

Grateful for the big brown eyes of the kids here with big eyelashes... these eyes make your heart melt.. you get lost in them. They are bigger and brighter in person and so beautiful.

Grateful for new friends. Malcolm seen below is resident, local extradorinar and bird expert. He is one who knows much, is a friend to all and is a pleasure to share company with. (This picture is taken at the D&D one evening having dinner)

Singing with my kids. Yes I may look like I am fist pumping but I can assure you this is one of my many songs I like to sing with them.

The most incredible scenery to explore. Matt is my running buddy/ yoga / p90 buddy and being able to decompress in this place is incredible. (stole his instagram pic)

Grateful for weekends away at the beach with everyone. Being able to wind down, swim in the ocean, read my book, relax.

Grateful for this little fruit. It only grows until December so I buy these each time I walk by the stand on the corner in town, 10 limpiras a bag of these. The same lady and her husband sell them out of a large wheel barrel. They are called Liches. You crack them open and they are soft and gooey inside, they have a seed in the middle but you eat around the pit. They taste sweet, kind of like a melonish... not sure how best to describe.

Grateful for the simplest joys of homemade googled remedes for a facial mask. Grateful for Philip who insisted on that I need a cucumber. So he cut one up from the fridge for my eyes..... So funny.

Waterfalls. This country is rich with beautiful waterfalls and the picture below shows a painting done of Pulapansak.

Grateful. As someone once said, "How lucky i am to have someone that makes saying goodbye so hard." I am beyond grateful to have a family that loves, supports, cares for me and looks at my dreams and does not laugh but rather delights knowing I am living with more joy than I ever have here, doing exactly what I want right now in this place.

Learning... I am grateful that I am learning to delight in the little things.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

My heart is Overwhelmed

Hondurans are rich. Rich in the very things that matter most.

In a conversation with a friend here, he and I reminisced about this place that we now call home, about the Honduran way of life, how good things are, how life here is addicting, doing life here is so good. Our conversation led me to reflect and share about the change occurring in my own heart....

While sitting in church Sunday evening in a hot and humid, one room church filled with wooden benches, packed with hundreds of people, I watched as woman, held her baby on her right arm, held a hymnal in her left, she had a dish towel draped around her neck to wipe the sweat from her head. dressed in her very best, this woman was strong, and proud, and sang at the tops of her lungs... giving praise and thanksgiving,

I wanted to tap her on the shoulder and ask, "How could you be grateful for this? For the poverty in which you are born? How could you still give thanks when you know that their is not much to offer for your children? How could you say "God you are good" when your children grow up watching their own friends and family killed outside your front door? How is it you say "God you are the great protector " when you live in one of the most dangerous countries in the world? How do you raise your hands praising God for the rain that floods your town, for the water that may or may not be on today? How could you say "Hosanna in the Highest" when you watch as your kids are left to play in trash and run barefoot till their feet bleed because you cannot afford new shoes? How do you call him father when he has abandoned you, left you in hardship?"

In those moments as these questions flooded my head... sitting back in my seat, my heart became heavy. It is not them that I should feel sorry for, nor is it this woman who is without much. For I am the fool. She is rich in all things that matter. She is rich in things that last. Rich in the truth, that God has not and never will abandon them. He never has.  These people have obtained something I do not have. They have found that true life, is found in his promises that he has and will never forsake us.  My moment of feeling sorry for this woman, faded quickly... I find joy and thanksgiving in material things, in success, in my accomplishments. I praise God for his goodness when MY plans work out as I had foreseen.

All of these things that I seek treasure in will soon fade.

Hondurans are rich in things that matter most. They find joy in the details, celebrating and praising the very one who loves them no matter what.

I am grateful to be humbled... more aware of how selfish I am, and how far I have to go to find the truest form of joy in this life.

Feeling ever more grateful to live in a place that is far more rich with things that matter than I could ever be.

Warmest Kristina

**** Loving this song.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Saturday Perfection

Saturday perfection was in full affect today. I woke with a warm cup of coffee, sunny weather, Spanish being spoke outside my window, the misty haze on the Mountains and my roommates coming home from their run. We had a full evening spent eating dinner prepared by Kate and Philip. We had Thai stir fry, and a mango/apricot puree dessert and drank wine in a coffee cup. We laughed and played charades till late in the evening. Jason from the D and D joined us and is now in rotation to cook with us. (family dinner once a week, two people cook and prepare the whole meal). Our next family meal is Wednesday evening for Faye's birthday (Allison from South Africa and Matt from Ohio). We moved up the day because we are heading to the beach on Friday for the weekend.

This morning I drank coffee, ate a fresh pineapple and loaded the washer with my towels and sheets. I decided to rearrange my room a bit and mop the floor. The smell of clean sheets and clean floor made my morning. I tided my room before Matt and Thomas came over for hot yoga in my room. I have subscribed to a podcast of yoga from a studio in California and it has been the best treat here. In sweat and relaxation the three of us completed an hour long session on our mats. The boys are new yogis and I am getting them hooked. It was such a good one today.

After yoga I cooked fresh vegetables in coconut milk for lunch. I cleaned up our porch, cleaned my bathroom, and went grocery shopping for a few things. This Saturday was full of some of my very favorite things. (I am a big Dork I know). Cleaning, listening to music, coffee, and yoga are all the top of my list.

The icing on the cake of today was our hot water was installed. As Faye so eloquently said showering was not a chore before, it was a dreadful experience (British accent). I stood in our warm shower, shaved my legs without the hair growing back and internally smiled at the very simplest joy of warm water. After my shower of heaven, Faye and I gave ourselves a facial with Oatmeal, Egg white, and lemon. (googled this concoction from online). My face dried up and felt clean and good. I wish I had a photo, Philip cut up cucumbers for us and we sat with lumpy porridge on our face at our kitchen table. I bought a simple pedicure kit at the grocery store and soaked my feet as well. It was a mini spa for Kristina (honduran style). (PS my pedicure must have been a good one because the biggest cockroach just crawled next to my foot, gross).

Matt sat at our kitchen table yelling at the Internet with anticipation of the Notre Dame game. Matt has decided he will be moving in with the girls (not really) but in the least offensive way we call him a girl and we would love to have him as our new roommates  Faye and Molly give him crap for sitting and watching American Futbol (insert British accent) all day, but one thing is for sure, he loves his fighting Irish and now the British girls check the score and cheer when there is a touchdown.

I am exhausted, tired in the best way and in other news my blog got a facelift.

May you find your perfect day, doing and delighting in what makes your heart smile. I am full of goodness and happy. Cheers from Honduras.

Friday, October 5, 2012

And with both fists, I'm needin' you

Heads up 7 up was a childhood favorite. and today the third graders made my morning when they all completed their English homework from the night before (Exception being two kids who explained that they did not quite understand). This is a big feat for this class, they have a reputation for being rowdy so this was a small victory. Because of this we got to play a game for the last few minutes in class. Sitting low in a mini chair, with my head down, my knees to my chest, in between two kids giggling, I was so grateful... the kids had been so good all morning and there is nothing like playing a game, knowing that when you put your head down, eyes are closed, your thumb up, knowing that the kids are fine, that they wont tear down the walls, that you trust them.

I was like a proud parent, and there is nothing better than that. I know what it is like now (maybe in a small way) what it is like to give your children boundaries and rules, and to watch them respect and love others in those boundaries. I know as well what it is like to be proud of your children. To celebrate when they do well. Today was full of all of those things....

Last night we went to the D and D Brewery for wine night. I have been doing a 30 day challenge of Paleo eating, (No grains, no legumes, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar) and last night I splurged for red wine. We played a game of jenga that the Brewery has that has tasks written on the jenga blocks that you must do when you pull a block out. A few pictures below give you a small glimpse of the game. Three of us ended up crashing at the D and D for the night, as the taxis do not run late and we did not want to leave yet.

After a incredible omelet and the best coffee (we have not quite mastered how they make their coffee so well, we have the same beans but something about the coffee at the D and D taste so much better) we walked to a taxi and home. I woke up this morning with swollen feet, that were only growing worse. I quickly took off my TOMS becuase I realized that they would get stuck should I be leaving them on. Soon after that my roommates informed me that I have a rash on my ears and the next thing you know I have a rash all over. Just my luck I think. 

I decided to head up to the pharmacy to show the pharmacist to get a antihistamine. As I was walking my feet grew more and became very painful. I could tell my throat was beginning to swell... holding it together I hopped into the doctor in town. His daughter is in my class so I knew he would be able to help me. I messaged my roommates to let them know I decided to wait to see him. The best part about medicine here is it is very cheap to see a doctor, you simply walk in, wait in a que and then you see the doctor. He recognized me right away. I showed him my growing rash and feet. At this point I had phoned my roommates to come and bring my epi pen just in case. Molly and Faye both fluent in Spanish helped as I tried to show the doctor and explain. They told me he was going to give me an injection. So I flipped over at his request and got a shot right on my left butt cheek (Sorry a bit more information that you want.  I now have a purple and black bruise under my right cheek and now a bruise in my left from the shot. As my sister said. You cannot catch a break can you. All in all I am good. Laying in bed hoping the swelling dimenishes. I was hoping to get in some yoga today on my day off. But a swelly foot is no good for yoga. We have family dinner tonight. Chef Philip and Kate are the cooks. (Phillip was a chef in england). Looking forward to Thai Curry.

Pre shot... Molly and Faye laughed as i laid on the table. Note all the meds behind me...

I am home now, resting up, hoping the swelling dies a bit. Happy Friday yall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Lord forget all of my sins

Well let me die where I lie

The words above are the lyrics to a song on the ever more beautiful new Mumford cd. I have listened to this cd on repeat since I bought it. I am laying on my yoga mat, with papers of my kids, a grade book, green tea, and the sound of the rain slowly hitting the roof ahead. Our power just came back on. Just before I was using my headlamp. This place has captured my heart fully and completely  My kids today were precious, enthusiastic, and so innocent to the world around them bearing the image of a incredible God who sees to it that he design each one of us with such care and detail. 

All I hope for, is to follow his light. The words to a different Mumford song resonate so much with me. I do not know what this song is about but I like to think that it is about Gods love. That without him (gods love) I am lost. I am wandering lost and  my hope is that I live in his light, in the midst of his promises. Seeing the world through his eyes. His eyes see each face, each tear as his own. I so long to do that. Although I am afraid, for it requires much and asks much but I am learning more each day of how little I need, how selfish I am, and how much the world has to offer.

Is all that I'm asking for

Without her I'm lost
Oh my love don't fade away

I think I have found that with a few small things, a good cup of coffee, my bike, the company of friends, a passion for life and adventure I will be quite content. I am certain I am not going to go back to the life I had the same but even more than that I am quite certain I may not go back at all. Atleast not being in the same flesh as i am now. The world is far to big, gods love for his people far outweighs any life I could live collecting a large pay check, building a large home and living excessively. Not that those things are not nice but he has so much more, and it is all worth so much more, and I gain so much more.

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat, my blood runs weak
Let me learn from where I have been
Well keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn
Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Warmest to you from this place. May you too keep your eyes to serve and your hands to always learn

Monday, October 1, 2012

Hiking with the boys...

Sunday I went with three boys hiking from waterfall to waterfall, through towns and villages. We stopped in the nearby homes to gather a small child so he could lead us up to the waterfall. The Honduran kids came running and followed us up the path, barefoot and half clothed they jumped and ran along like they were floating on air, light on their feet they scurried up the steep incline just as it was their backyard. We however slipped and fell, bruised my leg, struggled as we climbed up. We climbed and climbed and arrive at an incredible waterfall. The kids giggled as we took pictures and looked intently at our things and smiled. This was their waterfall, their backyard, their home and we were the white people trenching on their ground. 

As we were coming down a small narrow trail we came upon a bull. The three of us quickly jumped up to high ground as we saw the man behind on his horse herding his two cows and the big bull. (my nerves were tested a bit). We came across the largest lemon trees. Lemons slightly smaller than a soccer ball. They smelled delicious. Fincas for hills and people so kind and children running outside. The country is full of so much, much more than statistics show. 

A midst the blazing sun and the heat the day was good. Good as in the very best kind of good. We walked, hiked, crossed creeks and stopped for water in peoples homes, hitch hiked back to the bus stop in this families truck only to get out and the rain started to pour down. As we stopped in towns along the way back to our town we sat as the bus filled with people. There is no max on a bus. Everyone pile in. As well Hondurans sell everything through the window of the bus at the stops. For example if you are thirsty or hungry you purchase from your seat, through the window of the bus. For the first time yesterday a lady held up a basket to the window with fried fish, eyes and all, saying "Pescado? Pescado?" My goodness never thought I could just buy a fish to eat on a bus. (Oh man) We were wet, tired and happy.

View from the bus heading to the town Las Vegas

Hiking up. You can see the lake in the distance
Little girl watching us.

Waterfall, in a neighborhood, not advertised in places.  It is a hidden gem. We paid a Honduran boy to take us up the trail.

View over.

Matt with the huge lemon 
EL Cacao Waterfall. I did not swim but the boys did,

The boys up ahead.
We started around 10:00 and did not stop until 4:00. We got back to the D&D Brewery, restaurant at nearly 6:00 and ordered our dinner. The night was cool, and we went home. Our feet were tired but the day was incredible. We have befriended the owner and guide at the D&D. They see people come and go on weekends or backpacking through so it is nice to have others close by in town to go on adventures with.

Side note; not a good day at school. One of the worst to be honest. I am off to bed. Night world.

Warmest to you from Central America 
Miss Kristina