La Ceiba 1

I traveled to La Ceiba last Saturday for a 5 day trip to experience some different ministries there. La Ceiba is on the northern coast of Honduras on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The sea is on one side and mountains on the other with rivers winding through it and palm trees and natural life around every corner. It is the 3rd largest city in Honduras, but it is completely different from the busy, dirty capital of Tegucigalpa. It is really more of a town with a population of 35,000 spread out in different neighborhoods. The city is a shocking contrast between rich and poor, breath-taking nature and impoverished slums. It is a party city with magnificent beach-front hotels and drug dealers on every corner.

Traveling there was also an adventure. We got on a bus at 7:00 am to start our 10 hour bus ride. This bus took us to Teguc and made stops along the road for anyone who wanted to come. Well, I don’t know if “stops” is the best way to describe it. It was really more like slowing down just long enough for a few people to jump off or on. The music on the bus included everything from Spanish gospel music, to 80’s music to Lady Gaga. The bus took us to a popular mall in Teguc where we bargained with a taxi driver to take us to the next bus stop. We picked up Baleadas for lunch, which are a popular Honduran food similar to a quesadilla filled with anything from just refried beans to any number of veggies, meats, and cheeses, and a layer of something between sour cream and butter. On our way to the bus station, we were driving down a steep, crowded 3 lane highway, when I looked out my window and saw some guy gliding by our car not 3 inches away. I had of course seen multiple motorcycles squeezing through the lines of cars, but this guy was standing and not on a motorcycle. It took my brain a moment to realize that he was skate boarding down the highway through moving traffic! When we got to our bus station in San Pedro Sula, my friend and I got off to switch buses. I walked into the waiting room to see that they were playing Hair Spray. It was such a strange feeling to realize that I was in a bus station in Honduras watching an English musical about a city in my home state! Then as we were waiting, the power went out. Nobody moved to go to a better lit place, nobody screamed, and almost nobody even commented. It is just normal life for the lights to go out for half an hour or so. Our trip was otherwise fairly uneventful. We arrived in La Ceiba at about 6:00. I looked out the window as we were coming into the city and saw lines of palm trees closely lining the highway; their branches hung over the highway and brushed against the windows of the bus as we passed.

I was very tired when I arrived, so I don’t remember much of that first night. I remember the giant mango tree next to the dorms where we stayed. It was one of those magnificent, old trees whose branches are each the size of a tree themselves. I remember the cold showers because there is no hot water there, and I remember the sand covered floors. I guess that last was due to the constant construction outside the dorms, but I swept up a veritable beach from that bedroom floor!

Sunday morning Amy and I got up in time for “gringo church” which is the church service that the mission team has there for themselves to have a chance to worship in their heart language. After church the team leader, Mike, gave us a tour of the facilities. This included the dorms where summer teams, interns, and guests stay, the kitchen and dining room which serves as the gringo church and the center where they bring in street boys for their feeding program, the medical clinic which is under construction, the seminary, also under construction, and the mango tree. After this we went to lunch at the mall with the interns. Honduran Chinese fast food tastes different than American Chinese fast food! Malls are a wonderful place to people watch, and I took notes on the differences between American and Honduran style.

We went to a Honduran church in the afternoon with the street boys ministry. Hispanic worship is much livelier than most American churches. There is just a lot more excitement and clapping and dancing. The street boys with us ranged from 11-17. They are rough kids even when they are being friendly or silly. They make their money on the streets often with drug dealers. Most of them have been sexually abused, and most of them have families who depend on their work to stay alive. The ministry brings them in for meals 3 times a week along with a bible study. Then there are the special outings like going to the Cost Arica/ Honduras game or coming to church. After church we took them to get baleadas and hung out and talked and played games. They are just kids, tough kids with tragic stories, but kids all the same!

Alright, this trip was really packed, so I am going to post about the rest of it soon!

Miscellaneous

Friday:

I just had a wonderful day! I don’t think I normally have days which are exceptionally fun  and precious. I have moments and experiences, but not usually entire days.

This morning was a blast with my babies. We put the older ones in their highchairs to draw, and when they got bored and started chewing their crayons and throwing their papers on the ground, we gave them each a small portion of flour to play with. How many things can you do with flour? Well, there’s putting it on your hands, throwing it in the air, drawing cool, random shapes in it on your highchair tray, putting it on your face, putting it on anyone else’s face who comes near enough… Yes I did have flour all over me too, and I have the cutest pics. Eventually when that got boring, we took them outside to the water fossit and let them splash and play until they had completely washed the flour off themselves. Then we took them, still wet and just in their diapers, to the trampoline!  The other volunteer and I, I would say her name, but it is Danish and they have some different letters, not to mention that their names are straight-up weird sometimes!) we left the house early because…

Mommy and Poppy were taking us to lunch! Mommy and Poppy are the couple who started this orphanage 20 years ago and have since made it their home as well as the home of over 600 orphans. They took all the volunteers to lunch as a thank you for the work we are doing day-to-day. We ate real Honduran food!Which I found out consists of corn tortillas, some type of spiced and usually pan-fried meat, rice, avocado, salad, and either mashed or fried potatos..  Mommy is so gracious and Poppy so thoughtful, and both of them are really funny. It was wonderful to get a break, have some different food, and  have some community time with the volunteers and Mommy and Poppy. We volunteers are currently 20, and 18 of us are in the girls volunteer house!

After lunch I went down to the toddler house with Maria, another volunteer, and we learned how to make tortillas. It was very fun, and hard, and different than I expected, from mixing the dough, to spreading it out, to putting it on the oven. Glenda, the motherly lady at the toddler house who was teaching us was so encouraging and taught us so many tricks of the trade. We made about 30, and by the time we were done, mine were as “grandote” as anyone else’s!

After dinner and baths, Briseida came and cuddled on my lap and told me a story… or she took my hands in hers and looked up at me and said”guun-guun ga-ga guun-ga” for about 3 minutes in an amazing variety of tones and decibles. Then she got up and found a book on the floor and brought it back to read to me for another 5 minutes. That definitely made my day even sweeter. When I left the baby house, all the little boys at the toddler started chanting “tia! Tia!” just like they do every time they see a volunteer that they know. I went over, and they all asked me for a kiss good night. I love that they are not yet at the age where kisses at night are embarrassing for them! On my way back to the volunteer house, I saw the most beautiful sunset with bright orange seaping up over the mountains and poofy orange and pink clouds  set off by the dark blue-purple sky.

Alright, so here is some miscellaneous information as well:

I traveled to La Seiba today. It was about a 10 hour trip from Guaimaca. I went with another volunteer who is fluent in Spanish and has traveled a lot. I will be using it for my internship as I will be visiting some various ministries to the poor while here. I will be as safe as possible. Please pray for me, but don’t worry because it won’t do you any good, and it definitely will not help me. I will be coming back on Wednesday and will post all about it!

Also I know I have sometimes posted twice in a day, so just make sure when you are reading that you look back a little. For example, this is my second post today! Usually that is because the internet won’t work, but I am still journaling and writing for my blog even when I can’t post!

Thank you for your love and prayers,

Rebecca-

NEWs

My schedule has stayed about the same lately- A walk after breakfast in the morning or taking the older babies to the toddler house to play, lunch, break, dinner  and baths and playtime,  and sometimes a walk at night. A couple of the older moms moved to the toddler house, and one of them leaves her baby at our house during the day because she has started working. She has asked me to take care of him and so holding , changing,, feeding, and bathing him has helped to demolish any semblance of free-time I had before.

We also have a new mom at the house who just arrived a few days ago. She has a 2 year-old sister and a 5 month old son, so our house has become much more active. She has helped to settle the drama in the house. I don’t actually know why her presence has changed the atmosphere so drastically, but she is very mature for her 15 years and tends to treat everyone with the same openness and respect. She has a lot of confidence and helps to add balance to the house. I have fallen in love with her little sister. She and I became friends right away, and then I showered her, and she did not want to take a shower, so I literally was holding her in my arms in the shower and got completely soaked! She still wanted to be my baby after that, though, and ended up falling asleep in my arms a few minutes after we got done. It’s true love. She’s so precious!!

The other day I was trying to teach the girls how to say “you’re welcome.” It ended up sounding like “reboka,” but I didn’t have time to work on it more with them, so I left it like that. Well then it just started to sound like they were saying my name in a weird voice, and then they just started saying, “la boca” which means “the mouth” in Spanish. At that point the Danish volunteer and I started to try to teach it to them again. It was going pretty well at first; we got them to say “you’re”, but when it came to “welcome” they just couldn’t get it. They now say “you’re walking,” and I don’t know, maybe I should have just left it how it was! Then again, I can only imagine what funny things it must sound like I am saying!

I wrote this to a friend the other day, and I just thought I would add it on here. These are all my kids:

There’s Perla, who is this little 1 year-old who keeps up with our 2 year-old boys! She is this little princess,but she is always moving and I can almost never get a good picture of her. Then there is Jefri. He is 2 and hits me almost every time I come close enough, but we’ve had a bunch of silly fun times together despite the fact that I almost always have to put him in a corner for 2 minutes and say “no pegue!” He looks like a little American Indian chief, which is so funny to me! Than there is Noe. He is this little chubby 2 year-old who is always running up and laying his hed on my lap. His favorite word is “caballo” and he says it for everything that has around 4 legs. Josue is 14 months and just starting to walk, but he is trying to jump sometimes on one foot! Sometimes he would rather play tickle games than eat his food, and he has often been the reason for giant soup stains on my pants at night! David is the happy one. He is always smiling and laughing, and if he isn’t, then you know it is a really bad day at the baby house! David is 10 months old. Jenny is 3 months old with a fountain of soft black hair. There is not much more you can say about a 3 month old. Justin is the same age. Can you guess who he was named after? Yes even in Honduras… Jonathan is 4 months, but he is ginormous. Like he is basically the same size as some of the 2 year-olds in the toddler house. I watch him a lot because his mom works with the special needs kids. Jorge is 5 months. He is the son of the new girl. He has athsma, but when the poor thing isn’t coughing he is so happy and almost never cries. He is very alert and can hold his own bottle! Lydia is 2. She is the adopted daughter of the girl who runs the baby house. She hops and skips everywhere! She should be a gymnist when she grows up because she is so strong and flexible and bouncy! We are trying to teach her some English. She always gets so excited to see me and is always calling to one of her many “Tia’s” and chattering and playing!

NEWs

My schedule has stayed about the same lately- A walk after breakfast in the morning or taking the older babies to the toddler house to play, lunch, break, dinner  and baths and playtime,  and sometimes a walk at night. A couple of the older moms moved to the toddler house, and one of them leaves her baby at our house during the day because she has started working. She has asked me to take care of him and so holding , changing,, feeding, and bathing him has helped to demolish any semblance of free-time I had before.

We also have a new mom at the house who just arrived a few days ago. She has a 2 year-old sister and a 5 month old son, so our house has become much more active. She has helped to settle the drama in the house. I don’t actually know why her presence has changed the atmosphere so drastically, but she is very mature for her 15 years and tends to treat everyone with the same openness and respect. She has a lot of confidence and helps to add balance to the house. I have fallen in love with her little sister. She and I became friends right away, and then I showered her, and she did not want to take a shower, so I literally was holding her in my arms in the shower and got completely soaked! She still wanted to be my baby after that, though, and ended up falling asleep in my arms a few minutes after we got done. It’s true love. She’s so precious!!

The other day I was trying to teach the girls how to say “you’re welcome.” It ended up sounding like “reboka,” but I didn’t have time to work on it more with them, so I left it like that. Well then it just started to sound like they were saying my name in a weird voice, and then they just started saying, “la boca” which means “the mouth” in Spanish. At that point the Danish volunteer and I started to try to teach it to them again. It was going pretty well at first; we got them to say “you’re”, but when it came to “welcome” they just couldn’t get it. They now say “you’re walking,” and I don’t know, maybe I should have just left it how it was! Then again, I can only imagine what funny things it must sound like I am saying!

I wrote this to a friend the other day, and I just thought I would add it on here. These are all my kids:

There’s Perla, who is this little 1 year-old who keeps up with our 2 year-old boys! She is this little princess,but she is always moving and I can almost never get a good picture of her. Then there is Jefri. He is 2 and hits me almost every time I come close enough, but we’ve had a bunch of silly fun times together despite the fact that I almost always have to put him in a corner for 2 minutes and say “no pegue!” He looks like a little American Indian chief, which is so funny to me! Than there is Noe. He is this little chubby 2 year-old who is always running up and laying his hed on my lap. His favorite word is “caballo” and he says it for everything that has around 4 legs. Josue is 14 months and just starting to walk, but he is trying to jump sometimes on one foot! Sometimes he would rather play tickle games than eat his food, and he has often been the reason for giant soup stains on my pants at night! David is the happy one. He is always smiling and laughing, and if he isn’t, then you know it is a really bad day at the baby house! David is 10 months old. Jenny is 3 months old with a fountain of soft black hair. There is not much more you can say about a 3 month old. Justin is the same age. Can you guess who he was named after? Yes even in Honduras… Jonathan is 4 months, but he is ginormous. Like he is basically the same size as some of the 2 year-olds in the toddler house. I watch him a lot because his mom works with the special needs kids. Jorge is 5 months. He is the son of the new girl. He has athsma, but when the poor thing isn’t coughing he is so happy and almost never cries. He is very alert and can hold his own bottle! Lydia is 2. She is the adopted daughter of the girl who runs the baby house. She hops and skips everywhere! She should be a gymnist when she grows up because she is so strong and flexible and bouncy! We are trying to teach her some English. She always gets so excited to see me and is always calling to one of her many “Tia’s” and chattering and playing!

Que Feo!

Eventually, I have become a part of my house. No longer am I an onlooker or a guest. I suppose that is a positive accomplishment, but it comes with some unpleasant discoveries.

I have witnessed some fights and a lot of power struggles between the girls at my house. A house mainly filled with 14-16 year-old new mothers is rich turf for drama and discord, and I have started to see all the ugly sides. 2 of the older mothers just moved to another house because of continuing conflict between girls, but that has not solved all the problems.

Lately I have been becoming more and more frustrated because two of the girls at my house have been becoming increasingly hostile and rude to me. I cannot track it to anything I have done, I literally have done nothing I can think of to make them upset. Except maybe not be gorgeous with blonde hair:D But literally, I think that may be part of it! Honestly, though, they’re at that age where they only like beautiful people, so I guess I just don’t fit their special type!

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I mean I could definitely have done something to make them mad, but I literally have no idea what it would have been, and they’ve been like this from the start, so I think I will just put it down to the moody emotional tendencies of 14 year olds excentuated by the fact that they are 14 year-old nursing mothers living at an orphanage….Idk

If it were just that they avoided me or didn’t talk to me much, I might be a little confused, but not really upset. It is just that they go out of their way to make fun of me, get in my way, and make more work for me, not to mention being exaggeratedly friendly with other volunteers when I am around, while pointedly ignoring me. They often just don’t respond when I ask them something.

This has become more and more of a frustration to me. It confuses me and makes it hard to be excited about going to the house every morning, even though I really like the other girls and they are so sweet to me!. Other volunteers have noticed their behavior as well, and my fellow volunteer in the baby house and I went to the lady in charge to talk to her about it. She made both of them apologize, but she just went to Tegucigalpa and everything was the same again.

I’ve been trying to remember that I have a life outside the baby house and I don’t need to be part of their drama, but please pray for extra grace for me, and that I would constantly be remembering that my security is in Christ. It is very easy for me to get unnerved when I have to face such blatant rudeness, and sometimes it has caused me to be short-tempered with my kids, so please pray that I would remember my value and identity in Christ, and that something would change either in these girls attitudes or within the situation.

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.