Bet I Can Gross You Out

There’s that really cool side of traveling, like where you see palm trees and rain forests, crazy cool architecture and exotic clothing, and then there’s the other side…

Last night one of the girls in our volunteer house, Katy, was mopping and picked up the rug by the door. A tarantula dropped out and started jumping up the wall. I don’t really know how big it was… I could see it, so I guess pretty big. Maybe about palm-sized. That is the third tarantula sighting in our house in the time I have been here, but my first!

The cockroaches are pretty large here as well, like half the size of my palm, and we have innumerable kinds of ants and beetles. Recently a couple of people have come down with Dengue, so I have been careful to wear bug repellent.

My roommates both have lice. They just found out yesterday and are trying desperately to get rid of them. They work in the toddler house with kids with lice crawling all over them all the time, so I am hoping that I am less likely to get it than them since I work in the baby house, and none of the babies have it that I know of. I am a little afraid I will get it from one of my roommates, but honestly, if it happens, it happens!

Tonight at dinner Katy asked Emily and I , the other volunteers at the baby house, if we normally ate the beans. We have been, of course. Beans, rice, tortillas and vegitable soup are the main diet here, excepting breakfast which is oatmeal. Katy went on to inform us that she has seen a couple of the girls pulling bugs out of the beans. Emily and I had both had rocks and dirt in ours, but we hadn’t noticed bugs. As we began to eat dinner, one of the girls spooned out her beans onto her tortilla and picked out several bugs before rolling it up into a Burrito.

They told me that they keep the beans in a large can in the kitchen and so bugs probably crawl in all the time. It was a little harder for me to stomach the beans tonight knowing that I was almost definitely eating a few insects. Of course, I have been eating them all along and have been fine and not even tasted them (thank goodness). Also, I’m sure I need the protein!

At the end of the meal, the girls on the opposite side of the table began to laugh uncontrollably. All of us at our end couldn’t figure out what was going on. They were laughing at a girl named Vanessa who is usually fairly quiet and really sweet. Finally, she turned to us, laughing a little too. She held out a bug that she had fished out of her bowl. She showed it to each of us in turn, and then without hesitation put it in her mouth and ate it. At this point, the Honduran girl in charge of the house was laughing so hard that she fell off her chair. I think the funniest thing was how unexpected it all was, and how Vanessa kept such a straight face as we all stared in disbelief and shock!:D

Poop, snott, bugs, and drewl are all common parts of our vocabulary at the baby house, and we often find ourselves discussing them even on break. There is a point where your mind gets desensitized from the fact that such things are normally considered gross and aren’t usual topics of conversation in the US.

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Long Days and Short Weeks

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Long Days and Short Weeks

Today marks a week and a half that I have been here at Immanuel. The time has passed so quickly. As the volunteers say here: “the days are long and the weeks are short.” When I first came, I thought they were crazy for saying something like that, but it is so true!

Here are a few recaps of different days during my stay so far:

Friday:

I slept in pretty late this morning, and went down to the office at 12:00 to get my assignment. I will be working at the baby house. It has lots of steps supposedly and is kind of dark, so I am a little worried about that. I also wonder if maybe I could get better Spanish exposure  at an older house, but I’ll just try it and see. I came back and had lunch and a nap. I played piano for a littlebit as well. The other girls in the volunteer house (The house is for the girl volunteers and currently houses about 12 volunteers from all over the states, staying anywhere from 2 weeks to a year) were all out at their assignments most of the day. At around 5 Kristina, a volunteer from Denmark, and I went down to make a bonfire. All the volunteers came down and we had “bread on a stick.” Kristina, molly, and I made the fire inside a cardboard box which worked really well! Bread on a stick is where you some dough, stretch it into a long snake, wind it around the end of a lpole, and cook it over some coals. You can put many kinds of fillings inside this cyllander of bread. Kristina and I have had some really awesome convos, but she is leaving tomorrow,and I will miss her:( Molly invited me to choir tomorrow:)

Saturday:

Today I got up a little before 6:15, and went down to the baby house with Katy, one of the volunteers. We spent the morning feeding the kids and taking them  on a walk. After lunch, they took a nap, and we went back to the house to clean and have a break. Most of the girls used their break to visit other groups, but I really needed a nap and some time alone. At 3:00 we went back to the house and fed the babies dinner and bathed them. Emily and I stayed to play with them for a little while. Perla, a one year old was so cute and played with me for half an hour, laughing the whole time. I chased her around the room and threw her in the air and stuff:) After that I went down to the church to join the “choir”. It was really more of a praise band. I think iI’ll just watermelon for a few of the Spanish songs I don’t know! After I got back I had a long talk with Anna, one of my roommates,  and got ready for bed.

Sunday:

This morning I had breakfast and went to church a little early to help with worship. A couple kind of awkward things happened, but I guess I’ll just remember to ask things like which color scarf do they want to wear with the robes this time:) I did lose my sunglasses in the church and have been kind of needing them. 😦 After church, I came back, had some lunch and took a 3 hour nap!

After my nap,I wandered down to the main road and found the small boys going on a walk to the “granja.”  I joined them and walked through the farm and even back to their house. It was a long walk and I talked with some of the boys and held their hands. When we got back, I sat and watched a movie with them. We watched cars and ate dinner. During dinner, Suli, one of the girls from the baby house who works at the small boys house, sat down and talked with me. She offered to teach me Spanish every Sunday at 1:00. I am so excited!!! Thank You, God!

I have realized that I really love those little boys! I kind of wonder if I might ever get moved there:) It was really precious to see them light up just because you held their hand, stroked their head, or said you had a brother their age

Wednesday:

Today was fairly normal in that I got up at about 5:30 and ate breakfast and did devotions before getting to the baby house at 6:30. I played with the babies and helped feed them breakfast… oatmeal as usual. After that I helped clean and played with kids until 9:00 am naptime. They napped till 10:00 which is my naptime tooJ. After naptime we played with them until 11:00 which is lunch, and then back to naps at 12:00. 12:00 to 2:30 is our break time. I went to the team house and bought a few things from a vender from town. I also ran into a  team member named Amy who knew Marisela, one of the girls from my house. She told me a little of her story, and I pray I get to know that sweet girl a little more, so I can talk with her about it. I want to know so many of them. At 2:30 we went back and played with the kids till dinner at 4:00. A giant storm hit and we had crazy wind and rain and the power went out for about half an hour. The storm passed quickly, though. Dinner and bathtime followed with some time to play and dance with the kids after that before we volunteers headed back to our house. I am exhausted, but most of this is quite normal.

I really think the moms are warming up to me! Many of them have started handing me their infants when they have to do something( The babies are also getting used to me, I think, and the moms will talk to me and give me a hug when I leave. I have also gotten more involved with cleaning, playing with kids, and changing diapers. My Spanish is coming along rather quickly, I think.

Today I went to the small boys yard for break. I think I will try to do that more often. They seem to need love and someone to listen.

I am going to try to learn more about the moms in the house. Yesterday one of the moms told me, when we were talking about our families, that she did not have a dad. She then told me that her son had a dad. I didn’t really know how to respond because I don’t know her story. She went on to say, “Dios… Dios is his father.”  It meant so much to me as I meditate on Psalm 27

Friday:

This morning was big circle. At 6:00 We all went out and lined up by groups in the big girls yard. We sang, said verses, and prayed together. After big circle the team from Ohio left. Marisela, one of the girls from the baby house that I have become quite close to, was broken-hearted to say goodbye to Amy. It must be so hard to have so few consistent friends. It rained all day. Emily and I took Noe and Jefrey (a couple almost 2 year-old boys from the baby house)out in the rain to play for a while. They were so cute splashing through puddles, throwing handfuls of water, and all the time pointing at the sky and saying”agua, tia, agua!!” Tonight Glenda (The 20 year-old Honduran girl in charge of the baby house) asked me to do her hair. It was really an awesome bonding time!

Saturday:

My Day:

Saturday the girls have no school and after they did their normal week-end cleaning and the babies were in bed, we watched a movie. It was rainy or we would have gone on a walk. I put up a couple of the girl’s hair, and it was really cool to see how just that act brought us closer and made us more like sisters. After that, a girl from the toddler house named Jessie came and asked if she could straighten someone’s hair. I said she could do mine, and she did it with an iron! It looks pretty good:) One of the girls in the baby house named Jayvi is dealing with some image issues. She wouldn’t eat lunch and was throwing up In the trash after that. It broke my heart to see her like that, but she doesn’t want to be my friend and I don’t know why, but I’ll just give it some more time and see what happens. After lunch it was time to clean at the volunteer house. After cleaning I wrote some of a paper and then went back to the baby house. Tonight was uneventful, except for the rain that drowned out most of the baby’s noise. At 5 I went to “choir” which is really praise band practice. I felt so alone because everyone spoke either Spanish or Danish. It was a rather strange feeling, but probably a good one for my Western centric mind-set!

Sunday:

Today I got up at around 7:00 (Sleep in!!!), since it was Sunday! I restraightened my hair and went to praise band practice. The sermon disturbed me because he was getting on the girls to be sexually pure. A lot of these girls have been sexually abused and raped, and he barely even mentioned “oh, and the boys need to be pure too.” That is just totally unacceptable. The way you encourage sexual and emotional purity is through preaching identity, security, and value in Christ, especially when you’re talking to girls who have been abused!!! And just mentioning the boys in passing??? What kind of a messed-up double-standard is this?

After church I got some lunch and took a quick nap. Then Anna and I went to the icecream store:) After this , I went on a walk with the small boys to the “granja” where they have goats, pigs, horses, cows, and chickens. Elwin was my little friend today, walking the whole way holding my hand and talking to me almost non-stop about everything from a goat’s horns to zombie movies. I tried to follow what he was saying most of the time and asked him to repeat almost everything he said, and I think I learned a lot of vocabulary and definitely exercised my listening skills! I ate dinner at their house and played hand-clapping games with some of the older boys in the house.

Today was my turn to clean the floors at the volunteer house. I have no idea how they can get so dirty because we literally sweep and mop them daily.

At 6 I went to the baby house with Emily and Katy to watch a movie and eat cupcakes and soda. I had to leave early, but it was really fun, like a sleep-over, and the girls soaked it up. Molly is leaving tomorrow, and I went to a bonfire in her honor. Most of the volunteers and a few staff members were there, and we had bread on a stick. It’s a Danish thing where you wrap bread around the end of a pole and cook it over hot coals. It’s pretty good:).

 Thank you for your prayers and support:)

Please pray for cultural understanding and the chance to really reach into the lives of the girls at the baby house!

Hola de Honduras

Today is my 5th day here! I was not able to get an internet stick until yesterday,  hence the delay in posting! I arrived safely and with no accidents or mishaps! Thank you for all your prayers! I did get pretty sick the first night, probably due to strange food, I only got about 2 hours of sleep that night as well as the night before I got here, so I took the first day off to sleep and recooperate. I have been assigned to the baby house; it has about 12 kids from 0-2. Most of them have their moms there. Their moms are mainly between the ages of 14-18. My job there is to give the moms a break, especially so that they can attend the school here. Mostly this includes playing with and feeding babies and cleaning. I have started to get to know the moms and their stories, although my Spanish is really rough.

                On Sunday, volunteers have a break from their duties, so I spent the day at the small boys house. We walked to the farm, watched cars and ate dinner. On my way back to the volunteer house, I climbed the mountain to the water tower. I scaled a rickety wood ladder to watch the sunset from the roof. This has become one of my favorite things to do now!

I walked into town on Monday. It was pretty sketchy with stray dogs everywhere, shack houses built at angles on hills, and men sitting in the backs of their trucks or on a shady curb like they’d been there all day. The town is very poor, although not worse than I had expected. Even the structures for the stores look make-shift and dingy. It made me realize how very well-off the children in the orphanage are, with their 3 meals a day and beautiful houses.

Thank you for all your prayers! Please continue to pray that I will be able to learn Spanish quickly and understand the culture here!

Why I’m going to Honduras (in 10 days!)

I guess now would be a pretty good time to fill you all in on how God led me to go to Honduras this fall and how He  worked it out:) You may have read some of this in my letter already, but there’s a lot here that you certainly haven’t read yet as well!

I went to Honduras spring break of last year with a team from my school. We went to Orphanage Immanuel which is a large orphanage in the northern mountain of Guaimaca. It houses more than 600 children, most of these have been brought in from the government orphanages and have extreme situations of abuse and neglect. I went there fully expecting to devote all my energy to loving these kids. During this time, however,  I got seriously sick with strep
throat and spent most of my time flat on my back in bed. Ironically, every
night one of the missionaries there would share their story of how they came to
work at the orphanage, and each one included a story of how awful their first
experience was and how God later called them back against their wishes. I,
however, firmly decided that I would not go back. I distinctly remember thinking,
“Really, you don’t understand, I’ve been hoarking up a lung in bed. I’m not coming
back here!” I loved the country itself, but I certainly was not going to go back to that orphanage! 

At the beginning of last summer, I prayed for God to give me a theme for me to be learning about and praying through. He gave me the word “destiny.” I was befuddled. “What kind of a word is that?” (I think the most confusing thing for me was that subconsciously I thought that destiny was far too much of a new age word to be inGod’s vocabulary.) I also didn’t really see how I could learn about such a vast thing as “DESTINY.” It took a friend to point out that maybeGod wanted me to be seeking Him about my future and what He had been planning for me. After that I committed to praying over this 4 or 5 nights a week.

I would go out on a walk and pray around sunset a few nights a week.  God first began by affirming my worth to Him and His love for me. I witnessed some of the most beautiful sunsets and sights I have ever seen- pictures which are still tattued on my memory. Next He taught me things about myself through multiple analogies drawn from my natural surroundings, and finally during the last few weeks of the summer, He began to tell me what He was planning.

At the beginning of the summer, a friend had told me about his trip to Honduras. He told me about a Honduran widow there, no richer than anyone else (which means dirt poor), who had decided to start taking in orphans off the  streets. She couldn’t really give them anything that they didn’t have already except a roof and some love. This story had haunted me throughout the Summer. I’ve heard heart-breaking and inspiring stories like this before, but for some reason this one wouldn’t leave me alone. It came to mind at random times that didn’t  even make sense like eating pizza or playing at the beach. I was really confused and kind of disconcerted by this, but kept shrugging it off.

As I prayed through the Summer, God first told me that my long-formed plans of having a safe-house for girls was “not yet”. Later He then told me that He wanted me to focus on orphans. This was all very surprising and I just decided to wait and see if He kept confirming it.

About 2 weeks before the end of the Summer, I had this dream. I was standing in the doorway of this hut, looking out at a dirt road. My friend who had told me about the widow in Honduras came walking by. He was holding a little girl in rags. He handed her to me and said, “Here’s another one. As I woke up I heard a voice say, “I want you to go there.”

I just want to insert right here that if you are feeling kind of wierded out by all this, I totally relate. These weren’t really ways that God usually communicated with me, and I honestly was most prone to discounting them as my over-active imagination. I sincerely did not and do not want to make up “God’s voice.”

That morning I really prayed through it, but I told God that I was going to wait for confirmation so as to be sure that I didn’t just  make it up. If it was His plan, He would have to make it happen. That morning I read my devotions in 2 Kings. Then I really felt God telling me to call my Dad. I called him and really didn’t give him a chance to talk. I told him everything I told you, except in a much more hap-hazard way. I probably didn’t take more than 2 breaths. At the end, I paused. There was silence. “So… what do you think? I’ll probably go next fall for at least 2 months, maybe 6…”

“Well, I just came out of a conversation with a professor here about how important dreams are, and how God used them multiple times throughout the Bible.”

Then he proceeded to tell me that I needed to wait on God. He gave me the verse Psalm 46: 10, which says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted above the nations. I will be exalted in all the earth.”

He told me that this verse does not really refer to the meditating passive stillness that many would imagine. It was written by Hezekiah when he was under siege by Sennacherib. The two choices for Hezekiah seemed either to surrender and be at his mercy or to go out and fight against an armyin a last suicide mission. Instead , God commands him to “Be still” and acknowledge the kingship of God. 

The craziest thing about this was that in my devotions that morning I had just read about Hezekiah going under siege. I had finished at the exact point where Hezekiah would have written Psalm 46.

Because of this conversation, I decided to wait and pray until God should show me a path. I was open to whatever He wanted to do, but I wasn’t interested in making His plan come together. If He wanted it to work, He was capable of making it happen.

That fall I would wake up every morning and recite Psalm 46: 10 to myself. It really helped me to loosen up on my ideas of what I thought needed to happen on any specific day and commit to letting God work out His schedule (He’s pretty good at it;D) Honestly, I had never heard so many people talk about Honduras. Many of my close friends and family mentioned Honduras without having any idea I wanted to go there. I started writing down in a journal whenever someone talked about it.  The list grew to a few pages.

Alright, I’m going to continue this story in my next post.

If you have any questions or commentary, please feel free to reply. I’d love to hear what your thinking:)

Thank you for your love and support,

Rebecca-