Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Proof positive...

This man is cutting the lawn across the street from our house - I know it is called mowing in proper English, but when you use a weed whacker, is it really mowing or cutting or trimming?

Here is the lard aisle in our local supermarket....
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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

View from our window

Here are some of the things that I see when I look out our windows. All of my petty concerns and worries fade away quickly when I take a moment to take in the beauty just outside, right here in 'our' yard.
More and more things are becoming normal and life here in La Ceiba is taking on a bit of routine.
I now know that seven quick knocks are not someone trying to get my attention at the gate, but our friendly geckos making themselves known.
I no longer need moisturizer, and wonder why I even packed it, space being so precious...
I am, at the moment, winning the laundry war
I have learned that laundry is a five step process - soak, wash, rinse, hang out to dry, take inside to finish drying.
I thought I missed the rain while living in the desert, I no longer really miss it.. we had more rain since we arrive than we had the almost three years we lived in the desert.
I have learned that fruit flies can get through anywhere.

I found out that they sell coffee pre-mixed with sugar in the ground coffee section of the store.. no wonder it tasted so funny yesterday morning
I am learning to make pretty good tortillas - the secret ingredient is the lard
I truly appreciate my Ginger Orange Shower Gel - although nothing truly gets the sweaty smell out totally, or perhaps it is just that I begin to sweat the moment I step out of the shower
I never thought I would prefer thin bath towels, but now I see their value - they dry quicker.
I am learning that walking is a great mode of transportation
I have not seen a lawn mower since we got here, grass is mowed with a weed whacker or machete
I am no longer surprised to see wild horses, and dogs wandering down the street
I am no longer closing my eyes when we pass a car on the road, while the road curves, driving straight into the blind spot
I can serve my family American fast food if I want to, it is all here ready and available at Gringo prices....
I am getting to know some incredible people, my life is truly richer for meeting and getting a chance to work along side Erin, Mike, Lindsey, Sean, Jamie, Joshua and Andy. These were all strangers more or less a month ago, and they have truly accepted us with open and loving arms.

Life in Honduras is great and I am so grateful for this opportunity to live here, to learn more about the people and serve An Awesome God.
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Saturday, January 24, 2009

My three C's

I am not one to make New Year's promises, but this year I was challenged to take an inventory of my life. 2008 presented so many challenges, changes and choices for us as a family and for me as a person – it truly was a whirlwind year with little time for reflection. I finally have time to think more clearly, pray for purposefully and truly listen to what God has in mind for me and our family. Life here in La Ceiba offers plenty more time for quite reflection and it is becoming clearer to me that I ought to focus on a few key things this year – and 'coincidentally' they all begin with C, perhaps to make it easier for me to remember my lessons…
Contentment, control (giving it up), and compassion are going to be my focus this year. Although three relatively simply words they encompass so much and have such far reaching consequences for my life. I would be delusional if I even for a second thought I would master these things in one short year.. my goal is simply to move in the right direction. So I covet my friends prayers – that I would be a faithful student, have a willing heart and an open mind to the ways that God is going to teach me. He is ready, but am I?

Perception vs reality

Why is it that I have such a hard time getting to reality? I seem to get stuck in perception, and then perception colors my life, my world view, my attitude towards anyone and anything around me?

Perception is not real; it is not true, it is often completely wrong. I know that in my head, but my heart.. that is another story. So I am once again reminded of God's mercy with me, His incredible patience with this slow learner, who just does not seem to 'get it.' Never do I feel God's impatience with me like I feel with our boys when they 'just don't get it,' never do I feel His frustration with my inability to absorb, obey and trust – yet I am so quick to become frustrated with the boys when they do disobey, repeatedly make the same mistake or simply forget what I told them.

I take comfort in Beth Moore's quote: "God's specialty is raising dead things to life and making impossible things possible." Impossibly slow learner like me…. there is hope!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Random things that are becoming the norm

We have been here in La Ceiba almost two weeks, so some of the things that seemed strange initially are becoming 'normal' and even routine. It is amazing how quickly the normalcy sets in:
Throwing toilet paper in the trash can, not in the toilet
Having to wash hands with hand sanitizer as there is no water - something with rain and water pressure
Dishes can get clean in cold water as long as one has the special soap
The vegetables and fruit take a 20 minutes bleech/water bath before we eat them
If there is yogurt in the store buy it, it may not be in there tomorrow, same goes for pretty much any grocery item - it was 6 days between our first and second time to buy Diet Coke for Bob
I stop and look each time someone is honking a horn outside, it may be someone coming for a visit
When it rains, take a shower quickly, because the water may be out soon
I can buy ice cream, water, oranges, bread and someone said fish from vendors who walk by the house daily
Roaming freely are horses, pigs, and dogs
There is an obstacle course in the living room, to avoid the holes in the floor
Buckets are necessary to prevent all the leaky water from puddling in the floor
Cooking dinner almost always involves at least one electric shock
Four cars across on a single lane road is fine, when it gets to be six, I begin to pray
Everyone is so nice and kind, and so willing to help this gringo family wherever we are

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The laundry saga continue

This is what it looks like outside our house this afternoon. The water is flowing like a faucet through the drainage pipe that is coming off the roof. It is no wonder I am losing this battle.....
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Neighborhood vistas

This horse walked by our house the other night.. although he
had a friend with him then, another horse. He does not appear to be own
by anyone and roam as he pleases.

This man is transporting a large wood ladder so he is supporting the
weight of the ladder with his right leg, and peddling with his left leg only. The
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Learn your colors

This I saw on a wall of a school in downtown La Cebia today. I am sure that at one point these were all very colorful ballons, but now they are only shades of white.
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Christina vs Laundry

Our 'washing machine' is a cement sink outside our kitchen, and as you can see from the picture it is at the 'perfect' height for me as I scrub white socks and mud caked shorts clean. Once the laundry is washed we hang it up on four lines in our back yard - two are somewhat under the overhang, and two are not. This is the prefered method of drying clothes here, and I even saw some lines strung between houses and trees on the sidewalk in 'down town' today - 'everyone' hangs laundry outside to dry. I did laundry on Monday and since it was not dry by the time we left for our activities for the day, I left it outside. The rain came and the clothes got wet, so they remained on the line another day. On Tuesday, I added some more laundry, and the process repeated itself, the rain came and the clothes remained. Strike One. On Thursday, there was a few items that were dry enough to take inside before we headed out, but there were still things on the line. Of the things that were completely dry, some had to be put right back into the laundry bin as the birds had gotten to them before I did. Strike Two. The house is humid so it takes a long time to dry clothes inside and we have yet to rig a line up for this purpose. The items that were almost dry therefore hung from the ceiling fan to dry completely. It just makes it a little akward to cook dinner.. We typically take showers at night to rinse off the days dirt and sweat but last night it rained so much that we lost water pressure. How these two are connected is not entire clear to me, but my next door neighbor kindly explained that this happens when it rains. So the boys went to bed without showers. Since I knew it takes a while for clothes to dry, I planned to wash towels on sequential days, but the one I washed on Monday is still not dry.. and is no longer smelling clean. Strike Three. I surrendered to the laundry and gave up. This morning, while the three guys went with the rest of the team to Armenia Bonito, I took a cab - which charges by the person so it cost me $1 - to "Super Clean Laundry Place" and dropped off my 48 lbs of clothes. I am sure all my water sogged towels and socks added pounds to the total. Three hours later, I got home with all my clothes washed, dried and folded. I only wonder why almost all the clothes were inside out.. However, it is a small price to pay for clean sheets, dry fresh towels and dry clean socks.
The boys came home and I had to once again fill my tub outside with the mud caked shorts and socks... the battle begins again!
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Friday, January 16, 2009

So proud

This young girl was so proud of her new glasses. Erin had about twenty pairs of reading glasses at the clinic yesterday and she got one of the last pairs. I could have never guessed at the excitement 20 pairs of inexpensive reading glasses could create, but there was a buzz around the table and the glasses were going faster than butter melts on a hot tin roof. I have seen these types of glasses at the Dollar store, and could have never imagined how much a quick dollar purchase could impact a person's life. This girl was so happy and so proud. There is a great need for glasses, and we now have an address to receive mail and packages: PO Box 535, La Ceiba, Atlantidad, Honduras.
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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Really getting to know my children

I am a stay at home Mom so I spend most of my time with our precious sons, Lukas and Noah. I have been home since Lukas was born, and have even began to home school them so we have had plenty of quantity time together. If anyone asked me, I would say I really knew my children. Well, spending time on the road traveling has helped me really truly get to know our boys. Back in 'normal' life, we were together, but they would play, I would be busy planning meals, doing laundry, coordinating events, cleaning all the while spending time with them. Since we packed up the house, I have had no need to clean, or rarely and much lesser areas, I cannot really meal plan more than a few days ahead, and on there are no play-dates, classes, or practices to coordinate. My time is much more available to really truly be with them and it has been such a blessing. I am learning the little nuances in who they are, the finer details of how God so amazingly and expertly created and knitted them together. I continually marvel over their differences and have come to appreciate those for what they are – their uniqueness and individuality. I cannot think of a better gift given to me than this time with the boys, a time that will forever be a sweet memory in my heart.

Settling in...

This was written earlier this week....
This morning, after cooking breakfast for the boys, I set about to make my first set of tortillas. It is the bread here in Honduras, but very few places sell it, as most people make it at home. Last week Teresa, a national, showed me how to make tortillas and laughed heartily as I tried to flatten the dough with my hands like she did seemingly without effort and so perfectly. Without measuring cups, but with a recipe, I was determined to at least try. The end result? Nothing nearly as uniform and nice looking as Teresa's but at the end of the day, there were none left on the plate and Lukas asked when we could make more.

I have tortillas in a stack on a platter on the stove, and four lines of laundry drying outside, and I catch myself with a broom in my hand sweeping, sweeping, sweeping – the Honduran habits are rubbing off rapidly.

Teresa and her family live out in Armenia Bonito and the first time we met her and her family she made us baleandos - tortillas with beans and cheese.

She taught me how to make tortillas, or at least try to teach me.... It sure looked easy when she did it!

If only the sink was six inches taller, or I was six inches shorter, this would be the perfect match - our new washing machine and I. At least it is under a make shift roof, and we have some clothes lines that are hanging under the cover to protect a little from the what seems like daily rain shower in the afternoon, just before the laundry is dry enough to bring inside.
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A very long journey and a very slow learner

I wrote this entry last week...
I know what is it to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. Phil 4:12

Paul had truly found contentment….

Our weeks on the road have afforded me a great opportunity to think about contentment, what does it mean for me to be content? What do I really need? Given the limited space in the car, I had to limit my wardrobe, and found myself wearing the same things over and over, sometimes – gasp - even two days in a row! To make sure my shoes match my clothes – was not willing to give up the matching part just yet – I packed monochrome, but I still had to make some hard choice on which pairs to bring. As hard as it appeared when I packed, I never once missed the shoes I left behind, I always had something to wear, and since the choices were limited it was a breeze to get ready. Me having fewer clothes turned out to be a good thing, not a hardship.

We often had kitchen facilities in the places we stayed, and managed to eat well despite the minimal equipment and varying sizes of fridges. The cooler volume dictated how much food we could bring with us from place to place, which in reality meant very little. Our typical car lunch was 'this and that' left over along with simple sandwiches.

No trip to Minneapolis is 'truly complete' without a visit to the Mall of America. There are over 4.5 miles of store fronts, countless eateries and entertainment options for adults and children alike to keep everyone busy for days. After Christmas, we all headed out to get our fix. Bob, Lukas and Noah were off to the amusement park, and I had hours on hand to browse and shop. To sweeten the deal, I had Christmas money to spend. Well, it did not take me long to realize that I did not need anything, did not want anything, could not even find something that I wanted to buy with my 'free' money. I felt a complete sense of peace, and contentment. I was utterly content simply people watching, and wonder around in amazement looking at 'all the things we need' and therefore is for sale. I had to stop and praise God, thank Him for doing a great work in me, giving me peace and contentment amidst. I felt free and filled with joy.

Smugly I thought I had conquered contentment… .what was I thinking? I have never been a fast learner and this is a hard one. A few days here in Honduras and my level of contentment was dipping quickly, all the thoughts of being content in plenty and in want seemed to have vanished. How could I possibly be content with ….. and without….. My attitude took a deep dive south and it was not long before it affected my family.

Erin invited me to her Women's Group Bible study and I was happy to get away from it all. The study is currently held in Erin's home and the attendees are all American women living here in Honduras. This was the first time back from a holiday break, so there was much catching up to be done, and many concerns and trials shared openly and honestly. Erin popped in the DVD lesson and the speaker begins to talk about the "Three doors to Contentment!" Yes, I am in a Bible study about contentment, and that is clearly no accident or coincident, it is where I need to be, what I need to work on and continue to struggle through. Listening to the lesson, hearing the women's real and candid prayer concerns made me once again realize what contentment is all about, and where to find it. Not in things, not in comforts, but in God and His Word. I left the study with a heart that was not fully content, will I ever be?, but clearly redirected from my earlier malcontent and back on track again. I can now see that have began the journey, and that the journey is long, but I am willing and God is good!