Monthly Archives: October 2012

*** 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

*** 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 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.

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.

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