Monthly Archives: September 2012

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

β€œPast boldness is no assurance of future boldness. Boldness demands continual reliance on God’s spirit.” 

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 πŸ™‚ (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
Kristina

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

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. http://whole9life.com (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. πŸ™‚ 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. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DcnNeGQHwDc

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.
Kristina

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.

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.
Kristina

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.

Sunset.

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.”