Support Update

I hope you all have been enjoying my blog so far. I am here thanks to all your generous and loving support.

I would like to give a quick shout out to all of those who supported me financially. I raised just over $625- just a little more than enough to pay for my flight, which was by far my largest expense. Thank you to my grandparents, the Markleys, and Jesse and Kendra Beaty for their recent donations.

I would also like to thank all those who have sent me and continue to send notes of encouragement, whether by mail, email, fb message, etc. I continue to read your notes and they are so precious to me. If you would like to send me a note my email is

rebeccajoyleon@gmail.com.

I would love to hear from you.

Lastly, and most importantly, thanks for all the praying you all have done for me. Whether it is for a good night of sleep, for health and safety, or for chances to make relationships with the girls and babies at my house, it is needed, and I am grateful for it.

Please especially pray for:

Sleep and energy- days are long and tough around here and a refreshing night of sleep makes a huge difference in how I interact with those around me and view the circumstances I run into.

Health- With the new Danish volunteers and a couple more girls from the states, our volunteers house is finally full at 20 girls. This means that if one of us gets sick, the whole house is at risk. Also, immune systems are down as all of us interact with the stress of living in a different and strange environment. Not only this, but there are so many foreign sicknesses around here!

Safety- While the orphanage is fairly safe, outside its gates the world is pretty dangerous. Please pray for safety for me as I will be traveling to the capital at least 2 more times as well as possibly traveling across Honduras with a friend to visit another orphanage.

Cultural and linguistic understanding- Honduras is a very different place from the States… duh, but Orphanage Immanuel also has its own culture, structure, and rules. Please pray for understanding and wisdom as I annalyse and interact with this foreign culture and those who have grown up in it. Also, please just pray that I’ll learn lots of Spanish!

Relational wisdom and love- So relationships are hard anywhere, but when you travel to a foreign country??? Add to that the language barriers which make it almost impossible to get to know the girls’ pasts or even a good deal about who they are now… It’s difficult. I need so much grace and love!

Spiritual growth- With the desperate needs of the kids, and my own desperate need for sleep, it often feels like I am just making it through the day. It can be easy to forget to spend time seeking God when you feel like you are doing His work all day. You use all your energy on helping kids and then have none left to seek the One who should be more than bread and water to you. Like a racecar which speeds on instead of taking a pitstop. Please pray that I would hunger and thirst for God.

If You…

You should go to an orphanage in Honduras if your favorite snack is tortillas

You should go to an orphanage in Honduras if you can’t think of a better thing to do with your day than constantly devising plans for keeping children happy while changing poopy diapers and cleaning dishes as a full-time job on the side.

…if you can laugh about wading through a foot or two of muddy water and who really knows what else

… if you like long days and early mornings

… if you like watching movies in a variety of languages and rarely being able to access the internet

…if you like hugs from little kids enough not to mind the traces of arunny nose wiped across your shirt

…if you think power outages are an adventure even when they last for a couple days

…if you don’t mind having the language abilities of a toddler as you repeat sentences or ask people to repeat themselves.

Same Difference

Today I went on a walk with all the Moms and babies in the baby house. We went to the farm through mud and tractor ruts. Eventually one of the girls said it would be better to go off the road instead of trying to avoid the pits and puddles. I found myself, with the help of another girl, pushing a six-kid stroller up the side of a very steep hill/ mountain. Sometimes life is crazy here!

Despite the experiences which seem totally foreign and the times I think, “I would never do this in the states,” there are “un monton” of similarities. The 14-16 year-old moms at the baby house may have gone through extreme abuse, they may have 1 year-old kid and a past that would make the anyone with a penny’s worth of compassion cry for pity, but they are, in so many ways, just like the most normal highschool girls in the states. They like to look pretty, like to be friends with other pretty people, tease each other about boys, and wonder and dream about their future. I love to see them have fun and get excited, especially because they have so little to get excited about. This past week-end some of the new volunteers and I took nail polish and hair accessories to the baby house and had a party with snacks and soda. Everything was cool for them, from the fact that I brought chips to the pile of nail polishes strewn out on the floor!

Another experience that has been a highlight for me is my weekly trip to the tienda with one or two of the girls. The tienda sells snacks, icecream, soda, and some various meals. This time allows me to get to kno really are the main differences here. There are some really difficult situations for me to handle. One mom is dealing with an eating disorder and is either almost overwhelmingly affectionate or won’t respond to even the most simple request. Then again, she is 14 with  a 3 month old baby and is living away from her family in an orphanage where she doesn’t really even have a friend. Would I be the same? Another girl tells me almost every day that she wants to leave and has told me her horrific story of sexual abuse, but I don’t know how to counsel her, certainly not in Spanish. Then again, maybe she needs a hug and a smile and someone to sit down next to her and rub her back or play with her 1 year-old girl. Another mom orders me around, feels disrespected if anyone questions anything she says, and undermines anyone else’s authority. But she is the oldest mom there, at 26, and she did grow up in the orphanage and have a great deal of responsibilities before she left to get a job  and came back with a child and no authority at all. This culture also w them in a fairly stress free environment.

Speaking of food, I am completely bored of rice and beans! Everyone here knows that the food is completely boring, and the girls and I often laugh  or commiserate over our “frijoles con carne” (bugs to be specific). We also celebrate together whenever there is some new food- two tortillas with dinner or a glass of coke; sometimes a small thing like this makes a normal dinner after a long day into a fiesta! When the girl in charge of the volunteers asked me if anything special had happened in the past 2 weeks, I found myself telling her of the times when I had eaten something other than beans and rice- the staff dinner, the time Poppy had brought us icecream for The Day of the Children, etc. I would never have thought that such small changes in routine could mean so much, but I find myself to be just like the other girls as we rub our hands together or whoop in excitement. I find myself thinking over and over again, I’m really no different than anyone here, we just have different stories.

History and culture may make for obvious difficulties in relating. Not only am I surrounded by Hispanic culture/Honduran culture, but 9 of the volunteers that just arrived are Danish, and when I come home every night, there are always groups of people around the house speaking Danish! A few days ago I went to the grocery store with 5 of them; it was so funny to ask them to help me find something because I would ask one, and they would talk back in forth in Danish about what they thought I might be asking for,and then they would try to find it, and I would need to tell them what it was called in Spanish, so we were always switching from one language to another. Their first language is Danish and their second, English, and my first is English and my second, Spanish. I have come to the conclusion that, through being here, that one is always surrounded by people from different cultures. it is only that sometimes those various cultures are easier for us to recognize because they are more readily perceived by our senses.

Unas Experiencias

 

Part of what makes my life interesting here are the unexpected experiences. I tend to have about 1 every day:)

A few days ago I went to the small icecream shop which is in the middle of campus. I really wanted a smoothie, so I asked the girl at the counter for a “liquido.” She was very confused for a minute and then started laughing. She went to the counter and picked up the soap. “you want liquido??? Liquido is for your hands. I can make you a licuado, but if you really want liquido…?”

The power went  out last night for about 12 hours. I realized how nice it is not to be fully dependent on light. When the power is out, everyone else is tripping around, and I’m living fairly normally:) The power goes out a lot around here, but last night was the longest I’ve seen so far!

I braided my hair a few days ago. I have about 85 this time. I did half and then one of the encargadas at the baby house did the other half. I thought I braided quickly until I saw her… she could braid one of these tiny braids in 1 minute! It was really a cool bonding experience with her. Her name is Glenda, but the girls call her Glendita because she is so small, and if Hondurans think she’s small… It was also cool to see how impressed the girls were that I, an American, could braid!

A few nights ago, we had a volunteer and staff dinner. We were calling it Thanksgiving because they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving here usually, and we had food other than beans and rice! The volunteers at the girl volunteers house were supposed to make dessert. None of us are rich, so we couldn’t figure out what to make with what we had. The volunteer house sometimes gets packages, and over the summer, we had received 12 boxes of orio crumbs, not whole orios, but literally bags of crumbs. One volunteer, Anna, figured out how to make brownies by mixing the crumbs with margarine, and milk and baking the mixture. They are actually really good despite the fact that the orios were stale! Then also, we had a box full of packs of salteens, so a few of us made “salteen toffee” by covering a pan of salteens with carmel and topping with chocolate and nuts. Honestly we were a little nervous to bring our desserts because we knew what they were made of and a couple pans (that we weren’t bringing) had gone really wrong, but when we got there, people kept coming up and saying how amazing the desserts were. Several times I was so close to laughing that I could hardly say thank you for fear of busting up!

I am now the only volunteer at the baby house. There were 2 others when I got here, but they have now left. There is not a ton of work to do, but I am always busy with one small job or another. On Wednesday, though, 9 more volunteers are going to be here, 8 from Denmark and 1 from the states.

I have also started running every other night. I have realized that this is not a normal activity in Honduras. I have heard little kids laughing at me when I run past, and one of the older boys told another volunteer, “I see these Americans; they like to run!”

Please keep me in your prayers, especially because I have been sick frequently here. Please pray for increased energy and health.

Pray also for wisdom as I reach into the lives of the girls at the baby house!

I hope to start teaching some music lessons soon, but I honestly have no idea what that will look like.