Sunday, January 30, 2011

Whatever happened to predictability?

At this point in our Spanish, if we are talking to someone who speaks slowly and clearly we can understand probably about 90% of what is being said, and we can more or less keep up our end of the conversation.  Trouble is, people who speak slowly and clearly are not that easy to come by around here, it seems.  So, usually, even when we aren't totally sure of what's being said, if we think we've got the gist of it, we agree and move on.  This saves us from having to keep saying "¿como?" half a dozen times and it saves the speaker the frustration of endless repeating or trying to find an even simpler way of saying what really is pretty simple to begin with.  It certainly has led to some misunderstandings--mostly comical, but there have been more than a couple of times where people have gotten pretty peeved ("ohhh, that's the tip jar NOT the take-a-penny-leave-a-penny tray that I was taking money out of").  At any rate, lately, as our conversations have slowly, but steadily, become more involved than simple greetings, I've had what is probably a mostly irrational fear that I might somehow, unwittingly, enter into a binding verbal agreement by nodding and smiling and shaking hands when I haven't quite understood every word (i.e.,"In our culture, by answering that question with "¡bien!" and shaking hands, you have agreed to milk his herd of goats every day for the rest of your life.").  Well yesterday I had a breakthrough with a therapist friend of mine (a very close friend) as we talked about this fear.  I am ashamed to admit that it actually seems to go back to an episode of 'Full House' that must have made quite an impression on my subconscious.  In this particular episode, D.J. walks around the kitchen table with a foreign exchange student from her bay-area junior high school.  Well, lo and behold, in his native country (possibly in Eastern Europe?), this trip around the table constituted a legal wedding ceremony, and he now considered her his bride and assumed that she would return with him to Slovakia/Bulgaria/Skrtøüljßlandia to live forever.  I don't recall how it all worked out in the end, but I know D.J. ended up staying in San Francisco, Dave Coulier undoubtedly provided some hilarity and everyone learned a valuable lesson--especially me.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hangin' with the Boys

Many of you have heard us talk about Jovenes en Camino, a home for boys, and some of you have been able to experience the place first-hand.  If you have been there, I'm sure you will agree that it's a good place.  The scenery is beautiful and the facility is nice, but, honestly, what really makes it great are the people.  The staff is made up of good, dedicated, patient, loving people who work hard to make a difference for the fifty-three boys that call JEC home.  The staff do an amazing job, but they would all surely agree that it's the boys that make the place special.  Kids are kids, and boys will be boys, but the truth is that even though these boys have been through some particularly hard times in their young lives, they are good kids.  It may sound silly or simplistic, but the best way to describe them is that they are just good boys.  

Knowing how important relationships are to Hondurans, and knowing how important simply spending time together is to fostering good relationships here, we have decided to devote a good portion of our work week hanging out with the boys of JEC. Their hospitality has been incredible. We eat breakfast and lunch with them in their dining hall, stay in an apartment in the 'green house' (where the oldest boys live), and spend our days there talking, playing, tutoring, and working on special projects. 

Each of the three age groups eat dinner in their own 'house,' and the green house has invited us to join them for their family meal. Over the last few months they have constructed an outdoor kitchen/dining room, where they eat dinner every night. It is such a blessing and privilege to be in their presence. We sense their camaraderie, as the joke around with each other like brothers do. And we're impressed with their work ethic, as they take turns cleaning up & washing dishes after the meal. We love them so much already, and we know our love will only continue to grow as we get to know them more over time.    

b & m

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


When you arrive in Honduras (and by "you," I mean all of you reading this who will hopefully come visit us!), the authorities will stamp your passport, allowing you to stay in the country for 90 days. The same was true for Bart and me, when we arrived in late September. One 30-day extension is given to all those willing to spend $20 and a few-too-many hours at the immigration office...which means that every 120 days, Bart & I will need to leave the country & get our passport stamped elsewhere, in order to return for another 4-month period in good, legal standing.

I say all that to say: We took a trip to Belize!! Thanks to the advice of some former missionaries, we navigated our way by taxis, buses, and a boat to our first visa-renewal destination. Our hotel was in the town of Placencia, Belize, and that's where we spent most of our time. But we also utilized their public transportation system to tour a couple other places in southern Belize, including a small island in the Caribbean and a nature reserve about an hour north of Placencia. 

At the end of the week, we were thankful for our time of relaxation and were ready to return to Honduras to get back to work!


Monday, January 10, 2011

John 14:6

Our English students learned this verse in class.  Several of them
were brave enough to say it in front of the whole church.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

English Class in Mateo

The new school year starts in just a few short weeks for kids in Honduras. To help prepare some kids in the city of Mateo, we were asked to teach a week-long English class. It went great! We averaged 40 kids in our morning class (with 9-11-year-olds) and we averaged 30 kids in our afternoon class (with 12-18-year-olds). When Friday came, I think all of us had learned something, all of us had had some fun, and at least two of us were very, very tired! Here are a few snapshots of our week:

Bart assists 2 in our younger group as they demonstrate a basic English conversation:
"What is your name?"  "My name is ______."

If it looks like a lot of kids crammed into one was!

Three girls in our younger group identify 'things in a house,'
like "window," "floor," and "kitchen."

Very, very sweet kids.  We were happy to get to know them better!

Our older kids were very sharp.  Many of them were well past the
'beginner' stage of English learning.

Some of our older boys wrapping up the week the right way:
English Bingo!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

teachin english

tommorow were startin to teach a english class at are church.  we sure hope we can teach good.  were kinda nervous.  yall might say there aint nothin to worry about, but we aint never taught no english so we reckon it'll be somethin differnt for sure.  but i think itll be fine since we been speakin english for like morn twenty years and we had some real good teachers when we was growin up.  itll prolly be fine.