August 8th 2008
Today is the first full day in La Esperanza. I miss my family. Not in a home sick way, but because I haven’t called them since the Omaha airport. I was nervous about flying and didn’t feel well either flight. I think it was not eating before the flight, the lack of a full meal on the flight, and flying. I felt like I had ridden way too many amusement park rides and just wanted solid land. Even at the grocery store, I felt like I was still moving.
I had to walk very quickly from the first plane to the second. A nice Guatemalan man offered to carry my bag for me. We had been talking randomly as we walked together to the next terminal. After I gave it to him, I rethought it and hoped I hadn’t made a bad decision. The Lord blessed me with him as the man gave me his ticket to hold while he hoisted my computer bag on his shoulder. Less weight for me to carry!
The Lord also switched my seat so I could sit next to Stephanie, the 3rd grade teacher. We were going to be separate, one in front of the other. But my ticket was changed when I checked in with my passport and somehow it “happened” to be next to her. It was good to be able to become friends on the plane flight. She’s really sweet, and has been so helpful to me as I haven’t traveled overseas before. She also knows Spanish, so she translates people and text for me. We were joking tonight that we didn’t know that when we signed up with Southwest School, that we were also signing a contract with each other to be friends. We have no choice, you know. If we get upset at each other, we just have to work it out. Tough!
Customs took over an hour. I think I have to be more pushy next time to keep my spot in line. I so glad Stephanie was there to go through it with me. Once, our line was past the yellow line before the desk. A security guard kept asking us to back up past the yellow line, but we couldn’t run over the people behind us.
Corita and her daughter met us at the airport. We went to eat at a mall and look around while she did an errand. Then we went grocery shopping at a large supermarket. I have to totally rethink my shopping as I can’t read the labels and everything is in Limperas. Cheese cost me approximately 2 dollars a pound. I got frozen and packaged refried beans. Yummy! I’m looking forward to melting cheese on bread or tortillas. After getting groceries, we visited a fruit stand along the road, and went to a restaurant for supper and to a bread store. The bread is wonderful homemade bread! Mmmm. Along the way home, we saw the mountains, lake, and coconut trees. The hills and mountains are very beautiful. Our town is high in the mountains with natural air-conditioning. J
Yes, I have bugs. A moth a hand length or 4-5 inches (ok, so I didn’t measure it) was in my bathroom. Its wingspan was like a bird. Serious! I’ll post a picture of it. Stephanie helped me capture it to release it outside. I have two pet black beetles that are really creepy living in my window! When they crawl on my glass, I hit the window to make them irritated. They spread out their wings then. I’ll post pictures of them too. They’re really creepy. I like looking at them, but I hope they don’t find an opening into my house. J
I washed dishes for the first time tonight. Obviously, you can’t drink the water. We buy purified water by the jug full. If you boil it, or put iodine in it you’re fine. I use a glass to pour water on my toothbrush as the faucet water is unsafe. When you wash dishes, you rinse them in bleach water to kill the small bad things in the water. (yes, I know, very descriptive, but I forget what they’re called.) One of the head ladies at school joked that Hondurans handle it better as they already have a small colony living in them. Currently, I’m soaking my pineapple and bananas in iodine water. I’m told to expect to get sick from the water at some point no matter how careful I am.
It is very cool to get fresh coconut from a fruit stand. The man chopped it with a machete and stuck a straw in it so we could drink the milk. Stephanie and I are going to try to gut out the insides. We also got pineapple and bananas. Did you know there are many kinds of bananas? We taste tested them before deciding on a bunch.
Today, we had our first school meeting. We got to meet Crystal, a secondary teacher. We’ve already quizzed each other on if we’re introverts/extroverts and if we’re touchy-feely (ok with hugs). Very important as we’ll all be working closely together in the next year. We also got to hear about the history of the school and the vision. The goal is to restore La Esperanza through training her young people. The students learn how to become leaders, to be honest, to speak Spanish/English/French, to invest in their community, and they receive a good education. Dr. Troy’s wife was saying that God receives all the glory for how successful the school has been. The school does not earn extra money. Their only goal is to use education to change families.
I feel so lost and unsettled. I have no idea what people are saying, and my stuff is still packed up. My sanity comes from time with the Lord, and talks with Stephanie. I feel like there is so much to process. I don’t know where anything is, can’t speak the language, and have much to memorize about water usage. It’s interesting to see the armed guards watching over store parking lots. Very helpful when our truck was loaded with our stuff. I’ll feel better when I can learn more language, figure out where I am, and unpack/decorate.
A theme verse is “Love is patient”. We kept joking about this as we stood in line at customs. You have to develop much patience living in a Hispanic society. Timetables are different. I want to develop a deep love for the people. Right now I’m still unsettled, so it’s hard, but eventually I want it to become home. Perhaps I’m expecting too much as I just arrived yesterday. Patience, Felicia. Good night!
August 9, 2008
Today we went shopping for a purse, food, shampoo, notebooks, laundry soap, and water. We look all over for our brand of water to come in 5 gallon jugs, but had to settle for buying lots of ½ liter bags. Yes, bags. It’s like a ziplock bag, but factory sealed.
The secondary teacher Crystal, was very helpful in drawing us a map, showing us shops and translating. It is very easy to get confused here. Today was very productive! After shopping for everything, I started soaking the vegetables in iodine water, and boiling water for my split peas. Everything takes forever, as you can’t simply rinse something off as you can in the USA. Any dish that has tap water in it must be dipped in bleach before using it for purified water. Listening to music helps to take away the boredom while cleaning everything. J
Tomorrow we attend church for the first time. I’m not sure I’ll get much out of it, unless someone translates for me. I need to spend more time with Jesus both for my own personal strength and as much of the Bible studies and such will be in Spanish.
I was listening to Sarah Groves’ music, and her song “He’s always been faithful to me”. She writes how the Lord always provides for what we need. (what we need, not what we want as in purified tap water) Hmmm, Lord. Does that mean you’ll provide the community, friends, and language help? It also says that she doesn’t remember any trial or hardship that the Lord hasn’t recycled into a blessing or lesson. Lord, thank you that even though it takes forever, you don’t give up on putting me through the cleansing process whether it’s boiling or soaking. I shall look for the Lord’s faithfulness, as he “soaks” me in La Esperanza, the “hope”.
I feel safe here. The door on mi casa has many locks, and there is a locked fence around our compound. I would post pictures, but I’m not sure where my cord for my camera is yet. Our apartments are cute. Freshly painted! We have kitchen dining room, bedroom and bathroom. I am excited to decorate it with pictures of everyone!!! It will be easier to show you pictures than to explain it.
When we toured the school yesterday, I got to see my classrooms. I will be the homeroom teacher for the 5th grade and travel to the fourth and 6th grade next door. On Monday, we will meet the bus to spend the day at school studying the curriculum and preparing the classrooms. I am nervous about teaching as it is in a new environment. I have yet to completely read the manual. I have to check uniforms, homework, monitor their water usage, etc.
I will be starting Spanish classes sometime twice a week. I have also been pulling out the random words and phrases I know. I still feel lost as far as the language, but hopefully soon I shall at least carry on a slight conversation. My Nuevo Amigas have been very helpful!!
August 16, 2008
It seems strange that it’s already been a week since coming here. Stephanie reminded me that it’s our 1 week anniversary. J We spent the week attending meetings to explain the school policy and manual, and decorated our classrooms. I still don’t know what I’m doing for spelling yet, but Oh well. All the teachers are nice. They are very helpful in explaining the school. We found out that we’ll be teacher more than what we thought we were going to. I’m teaching 4,5, 6 grade Language Arts, and 3-6th grade Calligraphy, and 3rd grade home economics. It’s 40 class hours (which may actually be 50 minute classes, not sure), with 4 preps. I hope it doesn’t become too much. I also hope that all my evenings are not completely work, as I want to build relationships with the other teachers as well. I will have 23 students in my homeroom, and am very excited that they will speak English. Well, at least sort of.
The parent meeting went long Thursday night, mostly because I didn’t understand anything they said. It was kinda amusing to watch their faces though. When I asked afterwards what they had said when they introduced me, my friends told me that they were explaining my experience in working at the zoo, and that my parole was done, and that they weren’t sure if my passport was real or not.
I’ve been thinking how now I know what my International friends, and future students feel like. I didn’t realize culture shock would be like this. It’s not that the culture is complete opposite or anything, it’s that I can’t communicate with the people. I feel isolated and that I can’t enjoy the people because I can’t speak their language. Tuesday I melted, and cried, and prayed, and talked with Stephanie about it all. At times it becomes too much for me to handle, with my brain constantly straining to understand what people are saying, frustrating with having to constantly get a translator, and sad when the other person and I finally give up talking because we can’t get it. I don’t want to simply endure this time, waiting for it to be done. I know that the Lord has called me here for his purposes, and I want to see fully what he wants to do. I don’t want to miss out on the work he wants to do in my life, but I get so frustrated and alone. Last night, I wanted one night to be “American”, to simply speak English, and I wanted to be with my family. Not to quit, but to have a night of security, and my comfort zone. So, Steph and I bought ice cream, went exploring, and came back to watch The Pacifier. It was nice to have a break.
Stephanie and I just started praying together for our co-teachers. It helps to build us as a team, helps us to stay focused on what the Lord wants to do, and the Lord will work through our prayers to draw others to himself. A constant theme in my reading, is to love them as Jesus loves them. I’ve been reminded of the great depth of love and the passion that Jesus feels for La Esperanza. I want her to become my people as well. But it is a really hard process to go through. Another theme is to “see him who is invisible”. Oswald Chambers spoke on this from Hebrews. That the people in Hebrew’s faith chapter persevered and endured because they saw “him who is invisible”. Lord, help me to see you. That through all the visible things here, my focus would be on the invisible, would be on you.
Funny story, Stephanie and I needed to buy water. We started out in the evening, but figured that the sprinkles of rain would be OK. But then it started raining and raining some more. We also found out that the road to the store had been torn up and was basically a big dirt pile which was becoming a mud pile. The construction workers were very happy to help us follow the narrow pathway along the buildings. J By the time we got to the store, we were soaked! The store owner tried everything in his power to figure out a way to deliver it to us, but we were too busy the next day for that. So we paid 30 limperas for it, each hoisted the five gallon jug of water in our arms and started out. We were blessed that the rain had stopped but we still had to dodge the water/mud puddles. We took an alternative route home on new roads to avoid the mud pit and construction workers. Our shoes, and clothes took a while to recover after that incident.
So, my shower is fixed for the second time now. After the first time, the man had left the water “on” though we didn’t have any water then. So, the shower over heated with out water coming out. When the water did come on, it smoked like last time. Today I was afraid that I had broken it again. But I tried it a couple times and finally hot water came out again. Maybe Jesus fixed it for me. You get used to randomly not having water.
The three English phrases that we here most frequently in the streets, are “Hello, Good-bye, and I love you”. I guess they want to impress us with their knowledge, or they think that all white girls automatically fall for this.
Until next time…..
August 22, 2008
I don’t know how complete this update will be on life at school. I wanted to share a quick note though. Tonight., I realized what friends I have. I was at an internet café and realized that I had left my keys at my house. I quickly went home feeling so stupid. I got home, and yelled for my neighbor to open the gate (of which I didn’t have keys either). She said Stephanie wasn’t home (she had my spare key), so I said I would go find her. And if I could not, then I would yell for her again. I went to find Stephanie, got my house key from her, made a 30minute phone call to home, then made my way home, expecting to simply yell for my neighbor again to let me in the gate (as Stephanie still had her gate key). I was walking home, and debated if I should take the short cut or the populated route. I decided to take the populated route. Guess who I meet on the populated route??????!!!!!! Two of my neighbors (the one I had yelled for earlier)! They were leaving for the weekend, and called out to me to get my attention. Jessi remembered that I was locked out, and wanted to make sure I was ok. They ended up giving me one of their gate keys for the weekend.
I realized the Lord’s blessings. That I would meet up with them, that they would let me use their gate key. That I hardly speak any words in Spanish, and Jessi speaks limited English. I feel very frustrated with my self to inconvenience so many people. But I also feel very blessed that even though it is very hard to converse, The Lord has provided such sweet friends to live in community with.
Oh, yes. Did I mention that we haven’t had water since Monday evening? Yes, everything stinks. Literally. Yes, and we can’t cook either as we have no water. Nor soak any fresh fruit or vegetables. Exciting!