Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dodsons plan a Youth class

Step #1:  Get super-excited that we get to work with young people again.
Step #2:  Allow our perfectionistic tendencies to creep in, as early as the brainstorming   stage.
Step #3:  Write a curriculum appropriate for kids, dedicating at least 25% to games, activities, and fun.
Step #4:  Actually remember what it's like to be a kid, and dedicate at least 75% to games, activities, and fun.
Step #5:  Spend the rest of our spare time shopping for the candy and prizes we'll give as rewards.  :)
Step #6:  Wait in anticipation to meet our new students!

Next week Bart & I are teaching English to kids in the city of Mateo (where we go to church). Each day we'll have a group of 9- to 11-year-olds for 3 hours, and a group of 12- to 18-year-olds for 3 hours. We've been told that our class could help the kids get a jump-start to their new school year, which begins in February.  We definitely hope that is the case, and that the kids are blessed through the experience.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

In case you're wondering...

yes, piƱatas are VERY popular here...
and, yes, Bart has finally found his calling in Honduras.

On Sunday our church threw a Christmas party at a home for children with Muscular Dystrophy. We tried to help out with whatever they needed. I have a feeling this won't be the last time Bart finds himself serving in such a role! 


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Picture Honduras

nacimiento - nativity scene

All over the city there are either miniature or life-size nativity scenes. Sometimes they're simply the 'manger scenes' we're familiar with. Other times they depict places or events in history. This one, in a shopping center near our language school, is a miniature portrayal of various places described in the Bible. 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Amazing Race

Our truck is in the shop. We had been noticing a funny noise, so we took it to a mechanic and - big bummer - the engine is in need of quite a bit of repair. But we never want car trouble to slow us down, so in order to continue life as normal, we've rented a truck, taken plenty of taxis, and traveled on foot to the places we've needed to go. 

Riding in taxis gets my vote for the most interesting mode of transport so far. Each cab and each driver have their own unique flair. And while it might be a frustrating experience to be on the road with taxis, who are pulling a few illegal tricks in order to get their paying passengers to their destinations quicker than anyone else, it's kind of cool to be in that taxi.

You could feel sorry for us for our current car troubles. But you shouldn't. This is exactly the kind of experience we've been wanting for years! About 5 years ago, when we lived in Oregon, we heard rumors of a tryout in a nearby town for the show The Amazing Race. So immediately after our church service that Sunday morning, we drove down to a car dealership in Cottage Grove to film our 2-minute tryout, in hopes of becoming the next contestants on our favorite reality-game-show. 

Obviously, we didn't make the cut. But if at first you don't succeed, move to Honduras, hop in a taxi, and just pretend like the place you're headed is the next pit stop! 

And really, when we think about it, this short time we are living without the privilege of our truck is helping us understand 'real life' for most of the people we're around every day. The majority of those living in Tegucigalpa and around Honduras have never dreamed of owning a vehicle. Walking, riding a bike, and sitting (or standing) on hot, crowded public buses are normal, expected experiences for Hondurans. And for me, getting just this small taste of some of their daily obstacles helps me respect them all the more.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Nancy, you've done it again!

Over the four years we lived in Norman, Bart & I tried to establish some long-lasting relationships. One of our favorites was with a woman who happens to make the best strawberry cake in the world. Her name is Nancy, and she creates her mouth-watering treats at store called Cookies 'N Cards, a very nondescript place on OU's Campus Corner. Nancy and her infamous strawberry cake & cupcakes helped us celebrate many special events in Norman, and we knew they'd make the list of 'things we'll miss most' when moving to Honduras.

Well, thanks to my mom's vision, Nancy's gift of baking, and the willingness of Dudley & Vicki Chancey to serve as transporters, we were able to celebrate my 29th birthday on Thursday with our favorite strawberry cake! I can't imagine the amount of trouble it was on everyone's part, but my taste buds would like to take this opportunity to say, "Muchas Gracias!" for your efforts.

Hello, old friend!
And if that wasn't enough, I also received a box full of birthday cards from many of you! It absolutely made my day to be able to open real mail...and I've already read them through a few times.  All in all, this last year of my 20's has gotten off to a great start!


Monday, November 29, 2010

can't misinterpret that...

one of the teachers at our spanish school tells it like it is.

Turkey, Pumpkin Pie & Baseball

For Thanksgiving, we decided to make a traditional meal and invite over some friends from the Baxter Institute, a Bible college in Tegucigalpa.  We had a little trouble finding some of the ingredients, but a couple days and about five grocery stores later, we had everything we needed for a feast of turkey, stuffing, green beans, broccoli-cheese casserole, mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

Our guests, Osbel Brito & Madelin Lugones (and Harry), and Juan Carlos de los Santos were very brave to try so much strange food and seemed to like everything well enough.  They were also very patient with our butchering of their beautiful language.  The most difficult part of the night for me was attempting to explain the origins of Thanksgiving in Spanish--I can barely do it in English.

It so happens that Osbel is from Cuba and Juan Carlos is from the Dominican Republic, so in a country like Honduras, whose sporting interests essentially begin and end with futbol, it was a pleasure to talk baseball with a couple of guys who, like me, had grown up playing the sport and idolizing its stars.  We compared stories of imaginatively creating variations of baseball depending on the space, equipment, and players available.  One of the biggest reasons that soccer is so popular in Honduras and around the world is that, really, all you need is a ball and you've got a game.  Baseball, on the other had, does require a few more things, but it's amazing what young (or not so young) kids can come up with when you really want to play.  I told them about playing with my brother with a ball we made out of socks, hitting walnuts with an old bat, and of course trying to explain wiffleball.  They told about using oranges, the little ball from roll-on deodorant, and  even hitting plastic caps from a water bottle with a broomstick or a piece of bamboo.  It has always been amazing to me to know that even in the poverty of some Latin American and Caribbean countries, some of the best players in the history of the game have come from these very humble beginnings.

If you're a baseball fan, you've probably heard some of these stories.  One of the things you hear about is the kids who grew up improvising with whatever was handy to make a baseball glove.  It's kind of a legendary thing that you hear some commentator mention every now and then: the slick-fielding all-star with the multi-million dollar contract who grew up so poor that he learned to play the game using a cardboard glove  (a recent example of this is Mets shortstop Jose Reyes, from the Dominican).  I asked Osbel and Juan Carlos if these stories were true--if that really was common; and how exactly did that work?  They immediately said yes, that in their countries it was extremely common and a kind of an art-form.  They said that they had made and played with many cardboard gloves as kids.  Well, I immediately ran to get a cardboard box and a utility knife and was amazed to watch them work, and in short order they produced a simple but effective baseball glove.  Incredible.

it can even double as a catcher's mask
We certainly missed being with our families on Thanksgiving, but we had a great one with good friends and lots of good food.  It was one of my most memorable, and for our guests, I feel safe in saying that it was the best traditional American Thanksgiving dinner they had ever had.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spanish You Didn't Know You Knew

It all started one day in Spanish class. We had previously learned the word for ‘noise,’ which is ‘ruido,’ and we were now learning that adding ‘oso’ to the end of a word can be like adding a ‘y’ to the end of an English word, turning a noun into an adjective. Bart - not realizing it at the time - asked our teacher whether the word ‘ruidoso’ would mean ‘noisy,’ which she confirmed. Then, suddenly, it clicked! My brother & his wife’s family make a trip to Ruidoso, New Mexico every year...and at that moment we realized they actually make a trip to ‘Noisy’ every year!

Since that day there have been many similar moments, when we realize that words we’ve said most of our lives are actually Spanish words. Along with a few words that, although pronounced differently, appear and mean the same thing in both languages (like doctor, actor, and patio), we’ve noticed there are several well-known sites in the US whose names have Spanish meanings. Here are a few that you may not have known you knew:
Ruidoso, New Mexico  ruidoso = noisy

Sacramento, California     el sacramento = the sacrament

El Reno, Oklahoma
Reno, Nevada el reno = the reindeer

Trinidad, Colorado la Trinidad = the Trinity

Amarillo, Texas                amarillo = yellow

Santa Cruz, California  santa cruz = holy cross

Las Vegas, Nevada  la vega = fertile lowland (what?!)

Palo Alto, California palo alto = tall stick

Santa Fe, New Mexico  santa fe = holy faith

Buena Vista, Colorado  buena vista = good view
Kinda crazy, huh?  

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Scenes from the Market

On Friday our Spanish teacher and her son guided us around four of the markets in Tegus & Comayaguela (the sister-city of Tegus). Walking around the markets defies explanation. It is sensory overload. And it's certainly one of our top cultural experiences since we arrived.

At the market it's possible to buy anything you can imagine...and some things you'd never imagine!

b & m

Saturday, November 13, 2010


A very common sight in Tegucigalpa is someone selling goods along the roadside or at street intersections. Among the vendors’ goods are: every kind of fruit you can imagine, cell phone covers, cell phone chargers, kites, dinner rolls, pieces of cloth for washing your car, steering wheel covers, gum, cotton candy, brooms, trash cans, and the list could go on.
One day upon seeing several vendors, I peppered Bart with questions. How much do you think they make in a day? Do you think that’s their only source of income? What if they don’t make enough on a particular day...What do they do that day to feed their families?
In the US many of us enjoy a privileged lifestyle: Three meals a day, 7 days a week; safe homes in safe neighborhoods; health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, homeowners insurance...
But - just as the ‘discomfort’ from yesterday’s post can have hidden blessings for us - I believe a lack of (what we define as) ‘security’ may hold something beneficial for us. 
How would my reliance on God transform if I really had to trust Him for my daily bread? And what would that do to my view of self? and the Pride in self I currently feel entitled to take?
I’ll probably never know what it’s like to live a life of poverty, but I hope I can somehow develop the humble countenance and grateful spirit that is fitting for a child of God.

Friday, November 12, 2010


When I’m hot, I’m used to turning on the air conditioner. When I’m cold, I’m used to turning on the heater. Here in Honduras, most shopping centers are open-air, and most buildings have open windows, so your body gets very accustomed to whatever the temperature is outside. An air conditioner is very difficult to find...and a heater is pretty much impossible to find! (And, yes, it does get cold in Honduras!)
In the States, so much of what could bring us discomfort, we have the power to control: Your steak isn’t cooked correctly? Send it back! That’s not your favorite TV show? Change the channel (or watch something you’ve DVR’d!).
What if we had very little control over things in our lives? Like, what if you didn’t determine what you ate, or even if you ate? Or what if, on a cold night, you not only didn’t have a heater with a thermostat, you also didn’t have windows to keep out the cool air or a blanket to cover up with?
From what I’ve witnessed here so far, this amount of discomfort has the potential to develop in people a flexibility, strength, and resourcefulness that I envy.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t envy their discomfort...but the blessing in disguise may be the opportunity to gain a strength of character and - for those who trust in God - a genuine trust in their Maker and Sustainer.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


During our 10am break at Spanish Class, Bart & I like to walk down to a local bakery, Pan y Mas (Bread & More), for a snack. This morning Bart spotted a chocolate muffin that ended up being the best thing we’ve tasted there. I said something like, “You better enjoy it, because you may not see it again for a couple months!” What I meant - and what we’ve come to know about lots of things in Honduras - was to enjoy what you have today, because there’s no guarantee it will be here tomorrow. Sometimes the grocery store will have yogurt, sometimes they won’t. Sometimes a restaurant will have tacos, and sometimes they won’t. In this country it’s not a negative thing, it’s just a thing, and it’s something we’ve had to adjust to over the past 6 weeks.
We recalled a particular day in Norman, Oklahoma, at glorious Super Target (oh, how I miss Target!) when there was no Basic 4 on the shelf. No Basic 4?! What did they expect us to do? Get in our car and drive all the way across the street to Homeland to buy it?! Or come back tomorrow?! I mean, come on!!
Yes, I’m being sarcastic...But honestly we felt really upset that day. As Americans, I think we can become very accustomed to the Convenient life. We have very high expectations. And we take for granted that we have almost anything we want at our fingertips. Unfortunately, I think this can help us become pretty demanding people who feel entitled to what we want, when we want it. 
So today, we learn to truly appreciate the chocolate muffin. And hopefully, we learn from those around us what it really looks like to be grateful for our ‘daily bread.’ 

Monday, November 8, 2010

The House that Tortillas Built

On Saturday, we had a chance to go to our friend Arnold's house.  Some of you may know Arnold and his family, but for those who don't, they have an incredible story.  They live in a village up a mountain on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa called Mogote.  Its a village of a few thousand people that has only existed for about twelve years. In 1998 when Hurricane Mitch devastated the country, Arnold and his family were among the many thousands whose homes were wiped out.  Homeless, and with only the few possessions they were able to salvage, they went to higher ground.  With the pride of someone who has come a long way from a very low point in life, they showed us a photo of the house they built in what was then an empty field and is now the heart of the village of Mogote.  I use the term "house" loosely.  They had made a shelter from some scrap wood they were able to find and a few blue tarps donated to Honduras for the post-Mitch relief effort.  I am amazed that someone had the presence of mind to somehow gather their family in front of their new home and get someone to take their picture.  To me, it shows that in their minds, this was a setback that someday they could look back on and be proud of themselves and each other that they had overcome.

They have certainly received some help from some generous people, but most of what they have they owe to tortillas.  After Mitch, Arnold's mother began making and selling tortillas to earn money to build a proper house.  Arnold sold them door-to-door throughout the village.  They were eventually able to build the house and today she and her daughter still make tortillas everyday to help fund the education of kids and grandkids.  

Saturday we had lunch in the house that tortillas built (and, yes, tortillas were on the menu), and after lunch Melissa was given a lesson in tortilla-making.  The whole family was so kind and hospitable and made us feel right at home.  They are great people with an incredible story.  And the story still continues.  Moved by their determination, a family from Edmond have been sponsoring Arnold's university education.  He is the first person from Mogote to receive a university education.  It is moving to know where this family has come from and to imagine what the future holds.

P.S. In case you're wondering, 3 tortillas will cost you 1 Lempira, which in US Dollars translates to about 1.5 cents per tortilla. 


Saturday, October 30, 2010

Picture Honduras

La Iglesia de la Inmaculada Concepcion, built between 1810 and 1817.
Danli, Honduras.

Since our "address" says that we're 'on the road to Danli,' we figured we better visit Danli. It's a city of about 70,000 people, known for its corn festival and tobacco production, but seems to be struggling economically just like the other places we've seen in this country.


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

the fine line

During our training for this 2-year mission, Bart & I tried to research as much as we could the themes of charity, dependency, and third-world missions. We knew that in a place like Honduras, there would be many opportunities to help meet the physical needs of those around us, and we wanted to be wise in the choices we'd make.

Huge questions abound: How do we help others without disempowering them? How do we work for long-term solutions without ignoring the immediate struggles? How do we enter a village to help address their needs without introducing them to the many things that may ruin their contentment? 

We strongly desire to have genuine relationships with the people here, but many times we feel that the wealth of the US gets in the way. I don't want the people here to see only dollar signs when they look at us, but the fact is, we do have access to so many resources...resources that could benefit them greatly. 

Today we took a 10-year-old boy from a nearby village to the Baxter clinic to address a skin condition he's been struggling with. Dr. Xiomara was great with him, and the family was very thankful, but the diagnosis broke my heart. The doctor said his skin rash is probably due to malnutrition, meaning his painful sores are because he's not getting proper nutrients in his diet. This is just unimaginable to me. And it breaks my heart to know that he and so many others are not getting their basic needs met.

I know there are probably no perfect answers, and for now we walk a fine line. I pray for His guidance in our decisions (and for help from any of you who may have some thoughts to share!).


Monday, October 25, 2010

Our First Guests!

This week we were blessed to host our first group of gringos! A small group from Alameda Church of Christ in Norman spent the past few days working hard: they built 2 houses, fed 300 people at the dump, visited the boys at Jovenes en Camino, and were constantly sharing their love and enthusiasm with the people of Honduras. Cheryl, Stan, Lance, and Kevin were (thankfully!) patient, adventurous, and passionate, which helped make our week a memorable one!

Thanks for such a great week, guys!


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Honk if You're Honduran

Little did we know, when deciding to move to Honduras, that there were two languages we would need to learn: Spanish and Honking. 

In the States - at least in the places we've lived - honking can be considered rude, impatient...even a way to express some serious road rage. Not so in Honduras! Here, honking is normal, expected, and many times necessary to get somewhere safely on these roads.

As of now, here is what we can interpret in Honduran Honking:
'beep' - "I'm right here; just lettin' ya know."
'beep-beep' - "Let me in, please," or "Thank you."
'BEEP!' - "Go already!" or "Watch it, buddy!"
'BEEEEEEEEEEEP!' - "Why in the world is nobody moving right now? I don't know, but I'm going to honk until we start moving."

Right now, it's kind of fun to have a new avenue of expression. We'll just need to be careful when visiting the States to not bring too much of this newly acquired language with us. We may encounter some problems in translation!


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Back to School

Walking Crying my way across the stage at my UO graduation in June of 2006, I was 99% sure I'd never go to school again. My tears were tears of joy, pride, and relief...that I'd never have to spend another Sunday night preparing for the tasks of the school week. 

Never say never! Bart & I just completed our first week of Spanish classes at the Conversa Language School in Tegucigalpa. I must say that--while this is one of the most difficult goals we could attempt at our old age--I feel blessed to have the opportunity to become more equipped to speak with Latin Americans. It's such a special culture with special people, and learning their language will only enrich my life. 

Thank you to all our supporters who are making this opportunity possible for us!


The Huntress

This is the crazy-ferocious guard dog we inherited from Will and Rachel. Her name is Cazadora, which means 'the huntress;' you do not want to get on her bad side!

In reality, 'Caza' is one of the sweetest dogs I've ever been around! She is gentle and playful, and - as far as I can tell - her bite is as big as her bark (and I've never heard her bark). I think she'll be a good companion for us here.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Picture Honduras

This is our road, when you're heading toward the highway from our house.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Today was our first chance to visit the Sunday morning service at the Iglesia de Cristo in Mateo.  Mateo is a small community a few miles outside Tegucigalpa.  

We left our house early and gave ourselves plenty of time to get lost, and we wasted little time in doing so.  We did, however, still manage to arrive just a few minutes before the scheduled start time of 9:30.  At about 9:25, the 250, or so, metal folding chairs were alarmingly empty.  I was just about to sprawl out and recline onto several of the chairs adjacent to mine, when two school busses arrived, each carrying at least twice the amount of people who could be comfortably seated on such a vehicle and packed the church so that more chairs had to be set up. 

We sang a lot of songs, and this was obviously a group of people that loves to sing and sing loud.  It was awesome.  It was sincerely refreshing to me personally to hear people sing, whose number one priority was to put their heart and soul into singing and praising God, not getting hung up on the intricate nuances of four-part harmony.  Don't get me wrong--they sounded beautiful, but what was most beautiful is the way they just let loose and sang.

I wish I could say that I understood most of the sermon, but the truth is that I just got bits and pieces ("mas despacio, por favor").  But what I did understand was really amazing.  The preacher, Leopoldo, spoke about Noah and the covenant that God made to never destroy the earth with water again, putting a rainbow in the sky as a symbol of that promise.  What made this especially moving is that Honduras and much of Central America have experienced terrible flooding and mudslides recently.  At the end of the sermon, Leopoldo prayed for those who had lost crops and even homes due to all the rain--this including people in the audience.  What, for most of my life, had always been a cute little story about a guy on a boat with a bunch of animals seeing a rainbow (or was it a double rainbow?) was now, to these people, a comforting promise that God, even in terrible circumstances, was there and wouldn't abandon them.  


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Allow ourselves to introduce...ourselves

Buying our truck yesterday meant we were able to visit the boys' home today! Jovenes en Camino is surrounded by beautiful mountains, about 30 miles outside of the capitol city, and is a haven for boys who have been orphaned or abandoned. The guard at the gate did a good job of keeping strangers out, but we were finally able to enter after a call from the Director. 

The boys welcomed us warmly (in other words, climbed all over us!), and the staff were so hospitable. After dedicating our first few months to language school, we hope to spend a couple days a week working with the boys at JEC. If today's sweet introductions were signs of what's to come, we will surely be blessed at this place.


Meet Carlitos

Our first week in Honduras has been monopolized by The Great Truck Search. What an experience! We have bought and sold cars & property in the US, but nothing quite prepared us for the car-buying process in Honduras. We were assisted by some locals, including our friends Amber and Darwin, and were finally able to purchase a truck yesterday! Meet Carlitos:

Bart named him after Carlos Teves, an Argentinian soccer player. We're happy he's part of our family!

Whatever we've been occupied with this week, our hearts & minds have definitely been with our friends, the Evans family, from our church in Norman. Leslie, who is my age, has undergone some major health complications this week. We pray for her, her husband Mark, and their 3 sweet children. A Facebook page called Loving Leslie has been created for all those who'd like to pray for them. We invite you to do so.


Friday, September 24, 2010

That was a pretty good day.

All the planning and dreaming and anticipating and boring-those-around-us-with-silly-details finally culminated today as we left our home country & flew to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The day was sweetened by all of those who shared their time & energy to help us feel loved (including Bart's parents, who shocked us yesterday with their surprise trip from Colorado!).

We want to thank everyone so much for your support for this new adventure in our lives. Knowing that there will be difficult times ahead, it's comforting to realize so many of you are standing behind us. We can't wait to share with you the blessings we'll receive over the next 2 years!


Monday, September 20, 2010

a suitcase and a trunk

According to the song "House of the Risin' Sun", "the only thing a gambler needs is a suitcase and a trunk." I guess the only thing a missionary needs is two suitcases and a carry-on.

For the past couple of months we have had a box in our house marked "want to take to hondu".  We, little by little, added things to the box we thought we would take with us.  The box soon filled up and the "want to take to hondu" box soon became the "want to take to hondu" pile, then, the "want to take to hondu" mound that took up some significant real estate in the living room.  We are in the process of going through our stuff for the third time, jettisoning a few more things.

I like to consider myself low maintenance, but packing up is proving more difficult than expected.  It's good for me, I think, to be forced to think about what I really need.  It's so easy to accumulate things without really thinking about how those things complicate your life.  I guess the turntable and Bob Dylan records will have to stay here.