i'm dreaming of a tropical christmas

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

as you might have guessed, it was a snowless christmas. and i couldn't be happier. last friday was spent with the girls making cookies and eating special honduran christmas food -- chicken sandwhiches and our favorite, homemade pizza. 

friday night we had a special get together for the community -- complete with a fabulous christmas drama put on by the local kids. afterwards everyone was able to hang around and play, snack, and experience their first exposure to...ready for it?...s'mores! a little skeptical at first but by the end of the night kids {and adults}  were coming back to the table for more and more marshmellows to roast. a complete success. and some incredible entertainment. 

the guys got some new slick hair-dos from the sisters. they used most of the jar of gel and i think this look lasted a total of 15 minutes before destruction. below is brayden and the youngest sister abi. on the right is kelvin with baby kelly. 

making homemade snowflakes was so much fun this year. sarah does it every christmas to decorate the house so this year we all joined in on it. i think the girls didn't stop cutting construction paper for a whole week. it was everywhere. but our house was full of snowflakes that everyone got to make. 

a photo of rainy season christmas eve below...

and of bright and sunny christmas day...
jealous? thought so.

below is a video of christmas celebration with the girls -- lots of cooking, laughing, eating, christmas music and baking cookies. hope your day was just as lovely!

around the house

Monday, December 19, 2011

this week we've been busy trying to make our new house look like home. in addition to the hammocks, below are some other decorations and necessities for life in the honduran country.
first is the banana holder outside the porch -- good for keeping the bananas off the kitchen floor. It's also nice to fry these guys up for a nice lunch or dinner (or both) side dish.
machete -- tool of choice for all honduran farmers. perfect for slicing oranges for breakfast or going "chapeando"...aka lawn mowing in the jungle. this past week we've been doing a lot of chopping around the property for general maintenance and also because we'll be planting some new crops in the next few months and need to make space. if you don't keep up with it the place kind of turns into jungle again. lots of rain, lots of mud but a guaranteed good time...and a chance to see tarantulas (check) and poisonous snakes (check) out in the fields. yikes!
also this week i {finally} bought some much needed boots. changed.my.life. now i don't have to wipe out on the trail to our house and/or wash my feet off every time before i go into the house. these things are pretty much on my feet every time i leave the porch. bring it on, rainy season.
with so many people living in the house, we found it to be much more functional to have people assigned to meals, dishes, and general clean-up. so far it has worked great and given everyone in the house a chance to contribute and feel responsible for the clean house and hot meals.

some of the christmas decorations -- including the charlie brown tree complete with gi-joes and paper snowflakes. also added to the wall are assorted animals drawings and princess characters -- love it! the girls had fun decorating and putting up the tree {that, yes, lights up}. 
we must not forget about the cows. here they are, just chillin out next to our main walking path. oh, and by the way...they eat cardboard and sweaters. makes us think twice before putting things out on the clothesline. 

other things we've been working on this week:
we've started music and computer classes for the kids who come to library time every monday, wednesday and friday. so far they've really enjoyed that in addition to the time they already have to come and hang out, read and of course play a game or two of futbol. 
some of the guys are working on putting an addition onto the existing library. this will help tremendously with storing all the music equipment and chairs for friday church services. 
a couple who came to visit last week spent a lot of time focusing on food processing here on the property -- including focus on the chickens, drying fruit and my favorite experiment...making chocolate. it's exciting to think about being able to feed a large number of people living on the property with food that is already growing here. 

for purely entertainment purposes, i've included two videos taken by Brayden, my best friend who happens to be one of the other volunteers working here {edited for a particular reader's satisfaction}. the first is a little workout session motivated by the unbelievably high tortilla intake count. the second is abi, the youngest sister, and another girl playing around with the camera...presh.

new house

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This past week I moved into the new volunteer house with the six sisters and Kelvin, Monica and their baby Kelly. Wow! Not only are we living with 10 people in the house, but we're cooking for 12 -- counting 2 of the guys living on the other side of the property who eat with us. It's a brand new house so there's quite a bit to do to make it look like home. Not to mention Christmas decorations! We're in the process of making a load of paper snowflakes and chopping down a little Charlie Brown christmas tree to put in the corner.

Monica had this awesome idea to make some hammocks out of sheets and rope instead of buying them so above is the end result -- with Monica and Kelly trying it out. Lets just say they're a big hit.

Here's a peek at our busy kitchen and three of the girls cooking dinner for everyone. It's always way more food than you think. And all this tortilla making is scoring me some arm muscles. These ladies are nuts!

Below -- my attempts at making flour tortillas just like them. It's a bit of an embarrassment. Everyone knows which tortillas are mine during dinner -- they're always the ones that in no way resemble a circle. 

We hope to put up some Christmas lights too for decoration. For now, we're thankful for a stove and a working refrigerator so we can eat meals all together. With all the company, there's no such thing as lonely around here and we are looking forward to celebrating christmas and new years all together.

equally unentitled

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm not a big reader...ask anyone who knows me. However, I think this new little life phase of mine has got me into it a little. Maybe it's the fact that I made myself haul a bunch of borrowed books to this country and now feel obligated to read them. In any case, this new one I've gotten a hold of has really got my attention -- it's called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. 

Frankly, a book about the gospel of grace seems trite. It's lost it's significance. But that's exactly what this book is about -- redeeming and establishing grace. Putting it in it's rightful, pivotal moment, life-changing place. I am amazed at the accurate description of my our desperate attempt to find freedom by a "do-it-yourself spirituality."

It's a fantastic reminder of the gospel that should unleash in us a personal response.
The gospel that tells of a deeply loving God. 
                                                   who knows us because he created us.
                                who wants us to stop the self-denial and recognize our failure.
                                                 who wants us to come to Him like that.
                     who will embed in us a spirit -- the same one that raised Christ from the dead.
                                                    who knows the best way possible to live. and invites us into that. 
                                       who does not count tally marks on the good and bad behavior list.
                                                                     who rejoices over our entering into his calling. 
                                                who still loves us when we don't.

"We are all, equally, privileged but unentitled beggars at the door of God's mercy."

So there's my book review. 
Or at least of the first chapter -- which I have now read three times and written all over.  

First Glances

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Well, it's been almost two weeks since the arrival here in Honduras. Life in the jungle is treating me well and teaching me plenty! I never thought I'd learn so much about construction, babies, and butchering but I can tell my life skills are shaping up quite nicely.
above are some very limited pictures of the property -- the path to the other side of the property from the main part, the volunteer house that I'll be staying in, and some of the bodega and library. One of my favorite parts about living here is all the fruit! I picked 500 oranges with some of the other guys that live here to deliver to one of the schools here. We barely made a dent i the supply.
Here lies the evidence that I actually went in the chicken coop without being attacked to collect the eggs. David, the guy in the red shirt said if I opened the door they wouldn't come out. That was a lie. The new ladies are doing some serious egg laying though -- much to my breakfast delight!
Yep. I know you all have been waitin' for this one...it's was probably a bit bigger than a softball. This papa spider is the second of it's kind we found in the living room. Luckily there are some people around here that are not plagued by arachnophobia so I can cower in the opposite corner during the killing process.
Last week we ended up butchering one of the cows -- a 4 a.m. to 2 p.m. process from kill to freezer. I woke up to witness most of it since this is all very foreign to me. It didn't turn me vegetarian and we ground almost all the meat. I think we all grew some muscles that day.

Something I'm really excited about here is the ministry we've got going on Friday nights. The goal is to have a place where everyone from all the villages around here can come and worship together and hear about God without it being affiliated with a specific church. The vision for this is mainly geared towards young people in the community but everyone comes and it's been an awesome time to witness unity. It's been encouraging to see how many people are interested in coming. I love getting to know all the young people around here -- I think that's what makes me smile the most.
These are the two cuties I get to hang out with during the day sometimes. All mamas need a break around here and I'm happy to be the nanny. It's good practice and I think I'm learning about many of the things they don't tell you before you have kids...hah. Love iiiiiit!

Believe it or not, Thanksgiving in the jungle is almost as good as Thanksgiving in the states. So. Much. Food. All the usual stuff plus some southern goods and the lamb legs from the mornings butchering adventure. On the left is all the Americans together at the clinic sharing dinner together. And on the right is Kelly, Monica and Kelvin's daughter, who fell asleep like that and didn't wake up until after my arms were numb. I could probably hold that little sweetheart all day long if she wanted. OH! and yes, we got to watch the Packer game. Or should I say..."los empacadores!"
These are some pictures from Jenny's graduation. She is one of the six sisters who I am lucky enough to live with in the same house. She just graduated from sixth grade and her oldest sister from high school. This is a really big deal for both of them because many students don't get as far. We celebrated with a special dinner for each one of them and movies. It seems like there's been one party after another since I got here so we are in no short supply of cake!
Here's a little peek at Tontín, our new little lamb. His mom was a bit overwhelmed by too many kids so she ended up rejecting him. Which just means we get to be his new mamas for the time being. He's real cute, isn't he? You know what else is cute? His crazy little lamb noises early in the morning in the living room...not.

Overall, it's been great here. I love what the ministry here is doing to encourage kids to prioritize education and grow in their faith so that they will grow up to be good parents, teachers, farmers, etc. And most importantly that they are people who love God and do everything with integrity. All of the people living on the property are so much fun to be around and work with. Thanks for all of you who are supporting us prayerfully and financially. It is such a blessing to be here!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Welp, I made it. Are you surprsied? Maybe. Just thought I'd give a little shout out and letcha'll know how my first {barely} 24 hours have been down here. A few highlights...

Getting to chat with a few eager Hondurans on the plane -- even thought I'm pretty sure I caught less than half of their Spanish, and they even less of mine.

An official introduction to rambutans, my new favorite fruit. I'll let you take some guesses about how you actually eat it...

Coffees surplus. 'Nuf said.

My first gas station bathroom experience. I won't describe. Yikes. Good thing it's B.Y.O.T.P. {bring your own toilet paper} and hand sanitizer at that. woof!

Oh, and I took a shower with a baby frog yesterday.  But it was a hot shower so I'm not complaining.

Overall things have been great getting to hang out with the team and spending time talking about what the next few months are going to look like. We are all very excited and ready to get to work!

oh the things you'll miss...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I thought I'd compile a list of some of the wonderful things in the grand ol' U.S of A that I will, at some point, miss. Some of this is speculation, some is fact. Either way, here are my top 10 --

1. amigos and familia {that's a given}
2. NFL football -- and when I say that I really mean watching the Packers win every Sunday.
3. my instant access to the social networking world, aka my small t.v. of a phone.
4. fancy shmancy coffees that cost four dollars. {okay I don't miss the price part but all those mumbo jumbo grande non-fat triple shot mocha polkas, yes.}
5. getting all bundled up for winter weather. HAH! okay that one was a joke. but i will miss some of my wardrobe i suppose.
6. being able to have people understand me in english. 
7. going out to eat. i know, i know, bad habit.
8. my beloved TYPEWRITER! if that isn't a sacrifice, i don't know what is. sorry 20lb clunker, you're not going to make the weight limit in my suitcase.
9. random road trips. 
10. a world where unimaginably large bugs don't exist.

honduras or bust

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hello All!

Welcome to the new and improved Honduras and beyond blog. I'll be leaving in just over a week and am excited to share all the many stories, adventures, pictures and lessons with you. I don't always have the greatest internet (or any at all) so I'll be posting as often as I can. Thanks for your interest!
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