Thursday, July 26, 2012

Now What?

I have officially typed out all of our thoughts from our trip! We have been back in the US for about a month now and this month has been full of it's ups and downs.  I find myself continually struggling with what to do next?  After lots of prayer and reading from the bible we have decided we will start saving for our next trip. Derek really wants to go to Africa while I would love to go to Peru again.  For those of you who may not know a ton about me, Peru is one of my passions.  I have been there 5 times and am still as in love with the country now as I was after my first mission trip there!

One of our biggest struggles has been how to keep involved with mission work within our own local area.  I was able to get a bit of my "help" fill when I went back to Illinois last week.  It just so happened to be their VBS week and I was able to help for the last 2 days of it. Crazy how God works, the preschool bible story teller was going to be out of town on Friday and I was going to be in town on Friday to fill her place!  Derek has been doing LOTS of fix-it up projects at my school since we have returned!

In less than a week I return back to school.  I'm also excited about the upcoming faculty retreat on a CRUISE.  4 days on a boat with my fellow co-workers getting refreshed and ready for our new school.  I've started my first official masters degree class and have loved it so far!  More to come later but I'll leave you with a few photos from back in Illinois!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Grand Finale

His Thoughts

Today is our last day at the village.  We started off today on setting the final forms for the concrete.  After we were all done with the forms I headed to the church to  hand out toys.  Seeing the children's faces made this trip worth every minute.  They were so happy!  When we were almost finished the concrete truck came.  It was nice to see it seeing as everything else got mixed by hand.  All of the school children said a big thank you today for everything we did.  We got all the concrete done today  All that is left on the village school building is the bars over the windows and painting.  The building should be done in about 2 weeks they said.  I am really happy that this is done!  They will be able to help many more children in the village.  We all also gave the school the school supplies to hand out.  All together this trip was a blessing for the people of Honduras and a blessing for us in our life.

Her Thoughts

Today was our last day in the village.  I felt much better today!  For our last day of VBS we made shirts that said, "Dios me Creo!" which translates into, "God Made Me!"  The kids got to decorate them with markers and then they painted a stencil animal on.  About 200 kids made shirts and then we ran out.  We found the missing shirts about 2 hours later win we were preparing to leave =(.  Following the shirts we made 300 ham and cheese sandwhiches for all the kids and many adults got to eat also.  It was a bit sad that very few children said thank you but I think so it was that they were rushed through the line a bit quickly so that we could get everyone fed in a timely manner.  When I went over to the medical clinic to help feed some of the people waiting to see the doctor many of them said thank you, some even in English!  

After lunch we did toys.  We only gave toys to the kids who had the #5 left on their bracelet like the directions had said on the first day we arrived.  It was a great feeling to see their faces light up as they got their new toy.  Something as simple as a Dollar Store barbie made the little girls faces light up.  It's such an amazing thing to think that such a simple toy can make a children so happy in Honduras but here in the US so many kids would look at you like you were nuts if you gave them a cheap barbie doll.  There were some sad kids who didn't get toys but it taught the the importance of following directions, their teachers should love us!

All of the cement was poured.  The school should be ready in about 2 weeks.  They need electric run, bars over the windows, and some paint before its ready.  An  electric company from the church we worked with will be coming later in the week to finish the electric.  It's a great feeling to know we helped make many more children's futures brighter.  For many children school is the only way out of poverty and these new school rooms will help many more children be able to attend school.  I was able to play some games with the kids before we left.  It was great to see them laugh and smile!

Overall, I think the trip went well.  We are excited to share our stories but we are ready to be home and see Sammy dog!  We are a bit anxious to see if everything is okay at home! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

Bring on the sand

His Thoughts

Today we started working on the floors.  We hauled so much sand into the building!  Amy still was a little sick this morning.  I took her into the clinic and laid her down.  Our host families husband Roger got sick as well. We all passed it around! After laying Amy down the town leaders came for a dedication ceremony.  Today we gave the local leaders the deed to the school and the clinic.  This way they will be able to get teachers into the classrooms.  It all turned out nice.  All that's left on the building is the floor and the bars for the windows.  It still is very weird doing everything by hand on these buildings.  All together everything went well for the building.  One of the Dave's today got a huge cut on his leg.  I had someone run up and ask me for my bandana.  I took it off quick.  Kind of funny story though.  First I was told it was his head and then I was told his leg got cut off.  Turns out it was just a big cut from the roofing metal. He went and got about 15 stitches.  I hope this is all that happens and there are no more injuries!

Her Thoughts

Today I started the day not feeling well but decided to go anyways.  I felt okay but then started to throw  up again.  They kept telling me they would take me back to San Pedro Sula but after some talking Derek and I decided against it.   I knew that if I went back Derek would also go back and that would hurt the amount of work that could be done on the building.  I also felt like if I was to get sicker who would I talk to to take me to the hospital.  The family where I was going only had housekeepers who would be there and spoke little English.  So instead I stayed and took a nap in the clinic while they had a ceremony for the school.  After lunch I felt better thanks to Novea, a dentist from our group, who took care of me.  

After lunch I even helped get some work done!  I helped count out vitamins and medicine.  We had to count out a certain number of pills into a small bag and then tie all of the bags back up.  I even took a stab at dental work!  I helped hold their light so they could see into the patients mouth and I also hardened a tooth with the heat gun.  Apparently 1 of the doctors was annoyed that I was in their but the dentists were thankful that I was helping.

The classroom is almost finished.  It just needs the floors put in tomorrow and the roof finished off.  We had our 1st injury today that required stitches but he is okay now!  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Church with a Tummy Ache on the Side

Her Thoughts

Today we started our morning at church.  It was very similar to Cross, my home church, minus the language barrier.  What I found most strange is the fact that I found myself actively engaged even though I couldn't understand some of the church service.  It was such a refreshing feeling to be able to stand up, clap my hands, and raise my hands in praise to God!  After singing several songs we were called to the front and were thanked for all we have done for their country.  We were then asked to sing a song on the spot.  If only we had a few minutes to think of a song most of us may have known.  We ended up singing "Shout to the Lord."  It was one of the first songs I ever learned in Spanish and was able to sing along in both English and Spanish.  

After church we went with Nancy & Dave's family to the beach since our families little girl was still sick.  It was about a 2 hour drive to the beach.  We got the beach house only to find out there was already a group of people there.  Apparently the wife had rented it out to another group and the husband rented it out to our group. Oopps!  Thankfully there was another church member who had another beach home close by.  After a quick stroll to the beach we discovered it was pretty gross.  It was full of lots of washed up items since it had rained quiet a bit the last few evenings. Thankfully the house had a nice pool so people could go swimming there instead.  

I ended up getting sick while we were there, not sure if it was the flu like our host  families little girl had or a case of food poisoning.  I won't go into details about being sick for your sake!  The doctor ended up giving me a prescription drug.  After about 25 minutes I noticed I was starting to get a rash, we asked him what it was and discovered it was in the same drug family as what I am allergic to.  But like a pro I had benydryl with us and was able to combat the reaction before it got too bad.  We went home early and both of us went to bed not feeling too well.

His Thoughts

Off day we both got SICK!  Today we all went down to the ocean and Amy started to feel bad .  Before we left we went to church this morning.  We all went with our host families.  Church today was very contemporary, it was nice for a change to be at a church like that.  The people asked for us to come up and they said a big thank you to us.  It really made me cry to see a community say thank you and be grateful for what we had done. It really makes the trip worth it.  

Maybe in future years the people will be joined enough to stand up to the corrupt government here and make some serious changes for the poor.  All of the people in power down here I noticed don't care about anything else but money.  They do not care about the poor.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Market and Orphanage Visit

Her Thoughts

After several days in the village we had an off day and went to the market in the morning.  We had about 45 minutes to search the market for the best prices.  It was difficult to spend money on ourselves knowing how many people struggle just to eat one meal.  We ended up finding some great deals including some little leather bible keychains, 2 hand made wooden plaques, a purse, and a painting of calla lilies for our apartment!  Every mission trip I've been on (minus the one that we didn't go to the market) I have purchases a painting to remember the trip.  

After the market we had a 2 hour ride up the mountain to an orphanage called Casa Hogar.  It was a beautiful drive!  On the way there we had a great discussion with another teammate about being open to learning about other religions.  It was actually a great conversation and a chance to learn about other religions.  

At the orphanage they have 43 kids.  I fell in love with 2 little ones, Jocelyn- 7 months, and Christian who is 1.  While the doctor was working with the kids 1 little boy, Cesar, kept going in and getting in trouble.  I took him from the head lady and walked him around outside.  He cried for about 5 minutes as we walked around and then he fell asleep in my arms.  It was such a humbling experience to say the least.  Derek played basketball and soccer with many of the kids.  Boy are they good at soccer! It was very difficult to leave and lots of tears were shed.  If we can't have our own child, I hope we can one day give a child just like those children a family to belong to.

One thing that continues to come up this trip is adoption.  I had a great talk with our host families mom who adopted their little girl 4 years ago.  I had no idea that she was adopted because she looks just like her daddy!  What a blessing it has been to discuss my fears and frustrations about pregnancy and to find encouragement from someone who has been in our shoes.

His Thoughts

Today we went up the mountain to an orphanage.  On the way we stopped on the side of the road and picked up bananas and pineapples.  When we arrived at the orphanage all the kids came running out to great us.  It was amazing to see what the prior groups has built at the orphanage.  For a bit we walked around outside and had a tour of the orphanage.  We played basketball and soccer with the kids.  A lot of the kids were really good at soccer!  It would be nice to send some soccer cleats to the kids so they didn't have to play soccer in bare feet or sandals.  I also did origami with the kids.  Other team members gave hair cuts, painted nails and gave dental and doctor check-ups.  Amy kept holding a baby most of the day, it was very cute to see.  I also held her for a bit and had her smiling and laughing.  We all did not want to leave.  The kids were so cute it was difficult to leave!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Let It Start With Me" (Official Music Video) - No Other Name

Keep on building - Day 4

His Thoughts

Today we got started working right away when we got to the village.  We finished the front wall of cinder blocks and the three walls on the school all the way to the top frames.  Breaking cinder blocks on an angle with a hammer is very interesting.  We broke block after block.  I am pretty tired, I think that today is going to be a pretty short passage.  I will leave it at, "This was a very productive day!"

Her Thoughts

Last night there was a huge storm.  I had a tough time sleeping but Derek slept right through it!  It made for a gigantic muddiness in the village.  Derek continued to build the classroom walls today.  He worked on  the arch of the roof that the metal roof can go on.  They had to hand cut the blocks with a hammer so that their blocks could be at the slant it needed.  No electric tools for them!

I worked with VBS again.  We had a MUCH bigger group of kids than yesterday.  We even had to come up with some new crafts since we ran out of the planned ones but the kids loved what we had for them.  I found myself going into teacher mode as I held a few little ones hands to help them with coloring.  

I had a moment of frustration today with a few members from our group.  It was hard to watch some people just sit there and not do anything while many of us were sweating to death in the church working with the kids.  After awhile I ended up walking over to them and said I needed someone to sweep for me because I needed some water.  I was very pleased to come back and see that the floor had been entirely swept while I was gone.  Occassionally,  I need to remind myself to step back from a situation and evaluate my expectations for things.  Even within my own classroom I have learned that I can't expect my students do something if I have never made them aware of the expectations I have for them.  The same can apply to a trip such as this.  We all came in with our different ideas of what was going to happen and of course we all think differently so our expectations are all going to be different.

After VBS I was talking with another member of our group about things like picking up trash are not part of the every day manners in this village.  Why would you put your garbage in a trash can when there aren't any in your village?  The last few days we have noticed that the kids and adults simply throw their trash on the ground when they are done with lunch and the amount of trash was increasing around the church since we were providing meals every day for lunch.   With a little thought and some broken Spanish I was able to convince a few little girls to help me pick up the trash.  They would count the number of pieces of trash we pick up in English and I would count in Spanish.  They were impressed or maybe they just found my accent funny and giggled the entire time we went around cleaning.  It may not seem like such a big deal but for these little girls it was a time to have a one-on-one and just feel loved by someone and shown that their way of life is important to us and we want to see them have better lives.  

After cleaning up the village I taught what started as a small group but then turned into a much larger group of kids some new games.  With what Spanish I know I was able to translate several different games to them. We started with hot potato (with our own homemade clapping music) and then went on to ring around the rose, dodge ball, London bridges, and head shoulders knees and toes.  The kids loved it!  I'm hoping over the weekend I can come up with a few new games to teach them on Monday.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

One block at a time - Day 3

His Thoughts

Today's bus ride had even more people on it than yesterday.  When we arrived we began working on the wall from the previous day.  Today we set the forms for the top of the wall.  A group of us must have lifted a hundred or so buckets of concrete.  People in the US don't realize how nice it is to just call a concrete truck.  Laying the concrete we mixed by hand was so heavy.  We had two people lifting the concrete to us and then we dumped it into the forms.  The children really like playing around us.  Today some of the women from our group gave haircuts and painted the girls nails.  It was really hard to keep going at the end of the day. My shoulders are still hurting from sun burn the previous day and my hands are starting to get sores on them.  I couldn't work with the gloves today because I couldn't hold the tools correctly.  The day was very productive.  Almost the whole front wall is done and the walls on the classroom are done as well.  They keep saying they never got so much done in previous years.  It is nice to know things have progressed so much in just 2 days.  I also hear the clinic saw over 100 people today.  I've heard that some people are just dehydrated.  Others have babies who are sick.  Nothing really horrible in terms of illness.  One guy who has been treating people for many years on this trip said when they first dug the well people haven't been getting sick as they used to be.  Through all my life I have not seen or heard of so much change in a community in such short amount of years.

 Her Thoughts

On day 2 in the village (day 3 of our trip) I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to go.  We headed to the village where Derek continued to work on the classroom walls.  Boy did he get dirty!  He was lifting big buckets of mortar/cement to put the cinder blocks in place.  He was an excellent worker!  I got many compliments about how great he was doing.

While Derek built I helped with VBS (vacation bible school).  We are doing a creation theme.  We had 1 group of 3-6 year olds and 1 BIG group of 7-13 year olds.  The 2nd group was VERY big!!  After they listened to the bible story they did a craft.  The little ones made a sun/moon  mobile sort of thing and the older kids did sun catchers.  The little ones project included stickers.  Many of them had never seen stickers before so it was exciting to be able to witness this first.  Once they figured out what to do with them they were in love with the stickers.  The boys took their time to put in lots of details on their craft projects.  

Odd as it may seem I'm very glad we didn't bring any electronics with us (besides our cameras).  It's given us a chance to talk with each other and get to know more people.  Derek and I may want to consider having a night/day each week where we don't use our electronics and just talk with each other.  You never really recognize how addicted you are to something until you don't have it!  

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Day 2 Thoughts

His Thoughts-

Today was our first day in the village.  On the way to the village we saw many men with shotguns and rifles.  It seems to be a theme down here.  As we pulled into the village it was really shocking how they lived.  Each house was literally a shack.  Wood was cut in the front yards of most homes.  I thought growing up in poverty was bad but nothing really prepared me for this since.  Most of the village is living out of a shack that is about 8x8.  Not even big enough for most of our rooms in America.  Holes in the road made it hard to stay in our seats.  Each road was completely dirt.  Arriving at the school/church we saw many kids cheering while we pulled in.  They must of known who we were from the previous trips that they made to the area before.  First thing we did was to empty all the bags into the church and hospital areas.  Next a group of us started handing out gloves.  Last we all began to build.  We all started on the walls of the new school rooms.  At the start of everything we were so sweaty already from unloading all the bags.  Today we must have laid a couple hundred cinder blocks for the walls.  Throughout the day I drank well over 20 water bottles while working.  Every once in awhile I would go over to the bus and apply more sun screen.  It just kept on washing off with the sweat.  It was so hot!  Kind of funny though, there were men in long sleeve shirts and pants staying very cool by the looks of it.  I walked around and took pictures of the village throughout the day.  The church was filled with clothing from everyone that came down.  It was really amazing the amount of people who showed up!  It looked to be about 75-100 people. Because of that reason the head guy had militar guys show up to monitor things.  I was so freaked out when they showed up.  Little did I know they were there for our protection.  A few of the guys were really nice, they smiled a lot at us.  Others held their straight faces.  I guess it really kept the in line correctly while they were waiting to get new clothing.  For lunch some wives from the church we were working with made of stir fry.  It was really good.  The people who lined up for medical was slim at first but then grew as the day went on.  The whole day went well and we got a lot done.  I got really bad sunburn and used a lot of aloe last night!

Her Thoughts-

Our first day in the village went well.  We had a 45 minute bus ride there.  The village was off a very long narrow dirt road. It felt like we were in the middle of nowhere.  The road was lined with lots of sugar cane and corn fields.  Some even had men working on them.  

Derek worked very hard on building walls for a classroom.  I helped sort out clothes from what felt like a billion black bags.  After we sorted all the clothes out by size and gender we let a few of the locals in at a time.  Each person was allowed to pick 2 items, a pair of shoe and a shirt or 2 clothing items.  We had to watch very closely that they didn't take more than we said.  It was often very tough to tell them no.  Unlike us in America they can't just drive to Walmart to get new clothes or shoes whenever we want.  For many of these people they only get new clothes whenever we come to their village.  We were able to provide clothing to about 400 people in the village and still had clothes left.  After some discussion we decided we would simply open the doors and let them come in to collect what was left.  It was a strange version of Black Friday all over again but without the pushing and cursing at one another!  

I must admit Derek and I came pretty prepared. Some people forgot some things like toilet paper or hand sanitizer.  I'm thankful we are able to help them out with this!  So far everyone seems to get along very well.  At dinner at Pizza Hut 1 of the members of our team and a local got to celebrate their birthday with a fun birthday song!  We got to meet our host families little girl this morning who was incredibly shy!  Hopefully by the end of the trip she will like us much more!