Saturday, December 28, 2013

Posadas and Pizza on a Rainy Day

               December here is flying by. Homemade Christmas decorations are going up everywhere, supplies for endless and ridiculous amounts of cookies are being bought in the city, and in the missionary house you can almost always hear Josh Groban or Michael BublĂ© Christmas music playing.  School is out—even winter school—and the kids can be found playing marbles at almost every house when they aren’t competing over best decorations.  It’s certainly not a typical “white Christmas”, but I’ve lived in Florida for the last 8 or 9 years so it doesn’t really bother me too much. The cloudy and rainy weather here gives it a nice wintery touch, which is a little helpful for the others.  If anyone’s started to feel homesick, it’s not long-lived seeing as there is so much to be done before La Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve.

                There’s a tradition here that starts 10 days before Christmas called La Posada (Inn).  Two people dress up as Mary and Joseph and go from house to house seeking refuge for the night.  The rest follow them house to house and sing the Posada song.  The first few reject them, all in song, and the final one lets everyone in to sing Spanish Christmas Carols, pray, reflect on a verse, and share a merienda (snack) typically of a baked good—doughnuts or sweet bread—and juice in a bag—a Honduran favorite.  We do it here every day around 4:00, but it’s traditionally done in the evening.  It’s a beautiful tradition to keep alive for the kids and to celebrate the coming of Christ.  Each of the kids in the houses has a chance to dress up and it’s a great reminder of what we’re waiting for.  Everyone is preparing for la Noche Buena.
                As I said, school is out.  That means all us teachers have the week off—sort of.  Well, to give our middle school kids incentive during their 5 week tutoring sessions over their winter break, we created this star system.  They get different things for certain amounts of stars received, but they all saved up during those 5 weeks and decided to buy a bibliocine and pizza (yep, pizza and a movie).  Next time you teachers out there decide you want to take the easy way out and promise your kids pizza you can order up in 5 minutes and put on a movie, I hope you think about what we have to do down here just to get the pizza out in time and then give that delivery boy an extra tip.
                It starts fairly early in the morning.  I have to collect wood in the wheel barrow from the community pile and take it back to our fogon cooking area in front of the house.  Then I take the wheel barrow back to house 5 and go to house 6 to borrow their machete.  After that, I take the machete and slice some pieces of wood to make kindling (thanks to Patrick, because before that I had no idea what to do).  From there, I have to form a little Lincoln log house inside the horno (clay oven) and the fogon (stove top) and stuff it with paper and finally light it.  As the fire burns in the horno, we can start on the Pizza dough and let that rise for 45 minutes.  Meanwhile, the salsina (sauce) can start cooking on the fogon as we grate the cheese.  Once the dough has risen, we can flatten it out into a pan, or as many pans as we may need, add the salsina, cheese, and they’re ready to go!  I just have to take out the burning wood from the horno and leave in some coals and we can set the first pan in.  One problem with cooking on a fire heated horno is that the heat doesn’t stay strong or last nearly as long as a normal oven would.  Our kids get creative though…

The pizza actually didn’t even turn out that burned either!  We sat down to enjoy our work and watched Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.  Maybe I’ve been gone for too long and away from TV and movies, but that is much better than I remember it.  If you haven’t seen it in a while, add that to your lazy day Christmas list.  

From our little house to yours, the Farm of the Child wishes you
 a Very Merry Christmas
 a Joyful and Blessed New Year!

Easy (no rise) Pizza Crust
1 pakage of dry yeast (1 tbsp)
1 tsp of sugar
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of salt
1 cup of warm water
2 ½ cups of flour
1.       Mix dry ingredients.  Then add water in slowly.
2.       Knead and let sit 10 minutes.
Servings: 11g. pizza
Servings (x2): 3 pizzas
Servings (x3): 5 pizzas

White Garlic Sauce
Basil oregano
Shredded cheese
1.       Sautee butter, garlic, and onion.
2.       Add in other ingredients as desired.
3.       Let simmer.

PS- Sorry for the late delivery! Internet has been out in town for a few weeks, but we’ve managed to find one place that got it working again! Thank for your patience.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Little Treasures

Man, I love these kids so much…but, they drive me crazy!  Always testing the waters, pushing my buttons, but pushing each other’s more.  They can be so sweet and then ten minutes later they’re throwing a fit on the ground or fighting.   I just keep telling myself to suck it up and get through winter school—their version of summer camp and what the newbies are in charge of every year…which is me, Curtis, and Kit—but it’s hard.  I hope this is good training for Kinder though.  Lord knows I need it.  Tutoring in the middle school every morning, on the other hand, is so much more calm and relaxed!  I love it and love teaching them, even when they have attitude.  They don’t get nearly as disrespectful as some of the little guys can. 
This is really when I need to remind myself that I’m in the thick of it now.  I’m finally living out my mission.  I work at a children’s home in rural Honduras—there are endless amounts of chickens and turkeys living outside my window under the roof of our clothesline—and my job is to help  teach, love, raise, cherish, and care for these 37 kids and I know I’m right where I should be.  No one ever said this would be easy. They did say it would be one of the most fulfilling things I’ll do my whole life. 

A new pet turtle the kids found at winter camp

Oso, our resident watch dog who isn't actually ours
And I see this at the end of the day when I’ve finished with the long meetings, the disciplining, my (sometimes very gross) chores, the cooking after struggling to light that fire in the rain and waiting three hours for the beans to be done, and even after that cold shower that’s feeling more and more unwelcomingly icy every day.  That’s when I think to myself, “Thank you God so much for bringing me here.  Thank you for letting them steal my heart.”  Because if I really look back and think about my day I’m reminded of the beauty around me and of those priceless moments I know I’ll remember for years to come.  From sitting in morning prayer with the little girls who are cuddled up to me, still shivering from the morning shower, to the beautiful sunrise that greets us every morning as we walk to the Chapel, warming our hearts as it’s gentle rays peek over the mountains and dance through the branches.  I’m reminded of making coffee and donuts from scratch with the older girls who need the love and attention all teenage girls seek; of laughing and joking and doing each others hair; of simple, quiet games of chess, even as they teach me by way of relentlessly destroying me; of those sweet moments when a house 4 boy runs up to hug me with an unfaltering joy-filled smile.  I’m even reminded in the times I struggle to light the fire only to be surprised by the girls next door cheering me on and encouraging me with their shouts and crazy cheers.  And finally when I make myself get into that icy cold shower and dry off, I know my endurance and will power is getting stronger and more resilient. I’m becoming a more patient person every day.  
God works in these moments of all our lives, but I think I’m finally learning that it all really depends on the attitudes we take.  Some days will always be harder than others, but we still have that choice. I think the same goes for understanding blessings in the world where so much suffering exists. We live in a fallen world and must choose to look for the beauty that God creates out of tragedies. 

(Thanksgiving blog to come! Just got to the internet after it rained and flooded for 3 days to come soon too! Promise!)