Wednesday, April 8, 2015

20 Months and Counting

It's been 20 months--almost 2 years--since I left on this journey.

I can't thank you all enough for your support.  I hope one day you'll know how much I appreciate it and how I actually could not have done this without your prayers nor could I probably continue to stick it out.

Life here is looking up in a lot of ways.  Our kids are happy, healthy, and safe.  They are growing both in wisdom, maturity, and size! They're doing really well in school and back in the routine and stability we all need here with our daily schedules. Some are getting grounded for being bratty and throwing fits.  They're acting like normal pre-teens and teenagers.  But they are happy, healthy, and safe! It brings us all so much more joy and peace. 

Today I'd like to share some fun life lessons I've learned over the last 20 months:

1. Lice hate olive oil.

Add some of this goodness into your shampoo and conditioner (not too much! I speak from experience...) and the lice will stay away.  Tea tree oil works as well, but when you almost live in the Mosquitia of Central America, your options are limited.  Any type of oil works!

2. Mosquitoes hate garlic.

When I first got here, one of our little girls would walk around all day with a clove of garlic in her mouth. It was disgusting.  She refused to brush her teeth and insisted on smelling overwhelmingly of garlic. Lucky for her, she wasn't just repelling her house-mates.  It works as a natural mosquito repellant as you sweat and it's also known to be a natural antibiotic.  You go girl! Don't worry, she now brushes her teeth...most of the time.

3. All medical people are doctors and dentists only take out teeth.

Back when I was a Kindergarten teacher, I made two bad mistakes.  First came the dentist brigade.  They were checking all of the school kids...and they were only pulling out teeth.  That's all they really can do here.  Well, I was still in my American mindset thinking they would just be cleaning and giving out prizes. I walked my line of little minions over to the clinic, bribed them with promises of prizes for the best behaved the next day, and left to teach my English classes.  The overall message to calm them all down was, "NO, they are NOT going to take out your teeth.  I promise! The dentists are nice people.  They won't hurt you."

The next day, three kids showed up to class.  They all got teeth pulled out.  Profa Tiffany is a liar.

Then came the eye doctors.  Kinder was up first once again.  I pried and pulled one little boys hand begging him to come outside with the others.  "What is wrong," I asked him. "What on earth has gotten into you."  Then my beautiful little slightly cross-eyed kindergartener responded in a whisper, "Van a sacar mis ojos. Ellos van a sacar mis ojos."  "No, no Christian, I promise they are not going to take out your eyes.  I promise."  But did he believe me? No. Profa Tiffany is a liar.

Don't worry...eventually he went and they did NOT take out his eye.  They did give him an eye patch to wear. He didn't enjoy being called a pirate though so that didn't last long.  Moral of the story: don't tell your kids the dentist won't sacar sus dientes.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar cures all.

Living in a tropical, rainforest environment, you tend to pick up random things.  Last year I had a strange skin fungus (even grosser than it sounds) and nothing would kill it.  Eventually after trying everything and even seeing a Dermatologist in the city, a friend recommended I try bathing in apple cider vinegar.  Guess what, I now bath daily in apple cider vinegar.  Adding that to the list of things I never thought I would be doing before.

5.  Four wheel drive can get you out of almost any muddy mountain situation.

6.  If a kindergartner says he's got to throw up or pee, make him run, not walk out that door!

And don't question slang.

7. "Hi lady", "Bye lady", and "I love you" are the only English most Hondurans in Trujillo know right now.  But they're working on it.

8. Time is relative.

When someone tells you to meet at 3:00, they really mean 3:45.  Unless it's a religious event.  Then they mean 2:45.

9. Putting names on things make everything nicer.

It first started with the pesky rat in room 3 of our house.  Once we named him Francisco, he didn't seem as threatening.  Don't worry, we killed him will some rat poison called "The Last Supper."

Now it's amoebas mostly.  Everyone gets them.  But once they have a name, it's just like a friend you're mad at or an annoying sibling causing you intestinal issues.

10. A stamp makes anything official and legal.

Got a problem with residency? No worries. I'll put a stamp on it and fudge the date.  A good stamp is the cure for all.

Well, that's all I can think of for now.  But this was so fun I just might do it again.  Thanks for reading! God bless and Happy Easter!


Saturday, February 21, 2015

a different kind of poverty

Today I want to start off by saying I’m sorry.  I’m sorry for not keeping in touch more often, for not making the extra effort, and especially for not writing since what…august?  You, my family and friends, my support deserve better.  I could say that it’s just that I’ve been so busy…which is true.  It’s also the average American cop-out.  

So today I would like to share something I’ve been dealing with for the last few months and am finally starting to receive clarity on.   This life is hard.  Poverty is hard.  I’ll never know what poverty is actually like for my neighbor, but I know my neighbors and I know their struggles second hand.  
The life of the missionary here is hard because of a different kind of poverty.  This is a kind we still can’t ever fully know, but we most definitely experience here with the local villages.  Spiritual poverty. 

What do I consider spiritual poverty?  One priest for the entire diocese of Trujillo.  One bishop who has to cover for said priest quite often.  Confession for our kids maybe once a year.  Mass with a priest and real, blessed communion maybe once every few months for each village.  No spiritual direction.  Very few spiritual resources.  Nuns who are wise, but who are just as young as you are and dealing with their own struggles of being so far from spiritual support as well.  

It’s certainly worse for our neighbors.  They don’t have any reason to try to go to Church.  It costs too much to send the whole family into town, often times they have to work still, and there isn’t anyone else around them who loves to pray and be Catholic.  No incentive.  

By definition, this should be my role, right?  I’m a missionary.  That’s what missionaries do.  They bring Christ to those who don’t know him.  

We lead a different kind of mission.  It’s most certainly not a bad one.  It definitely has its perks (a lot of cute kids to make you laugh).  Our mission is to serve, protect, and care for these children and this organization.  The Farm of the child itself has brought jobs, economy, and life to this rural part of Trujillo.  It has brought education, Catholicism, and hope.  This is a good mission too.  It’s just much different than what one might think of at first hearing the term “missionary”.  

I’ve decided I like the word now.  I wasn’t always sold on it.  But I believe that we’re all missionaries for something.  And our mission here is good.  It is often times dark, but that pushes us closer towards the Lord.  Over the last year and a half, it has made me a woman.  It has made me strong, resilient, hard-working, more understanding and pulled me out of my own self to realize that I am selfish, weak, judgmental, can be hurtful at times, don’t like to share always, and sometimes lose all hope.  Those are fights I continue to work on daily, but this place is drawing it out of me slowly and painfully.  I feel like I’ve become a new person here.  

Now, if you ask me if I’ve grown closer to God, I will most certainly say no.  I don’t feel much of anything.   I feel a lot of things though, and it draws me to desire that relationship more.  On our last retreat, a priest explained the concept of desolation and consolation to us.  He said not to worry, desolation is a good thing.  That’s where we really grow.  That’s where we aren’t comfortable and we need God most, we need him when we can’t feel Him.  No matter what, He still continues to be my hope.  If anyone can keep this place together, it’s got to be Him.  

Like I said, this is only something I’m starting to get clarity on, so bear with me as I continue on the journey.  If you’re experiencing desolation or have in the past as well, have hope!  Try and trust that this is where we will find God. 

 Finca Missionaries of 2015

So Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

 Check out this video made by my fellow blonde and beautiful nurse friend, Brooke Adams (brookinhan)

Here's a link to her blog: Brooke Adams