Friday, August 26, 2016

Tropical Fruit!

So, one of the most fun aspects to living in a place you haven't lived for long is trying the food!  Over the last months I have tried some new things, and learned to make some new dishes-  mostly Honduran, but also some dishes that are easy to make here even if they aren't specifically Honduran.

With my mom here, we decided to try out some of the fun looking fruits we found in a local supermarket.  Here they are:

When you buy fruits and vegetables here, it's best to soak them before using.  I just put a little bleach in a sink full of water and let it all soak for about 20-30 minutes.  Afterward, I put everything in new bags..if I put them back in the bags I had them in it would undo the whole process.  What do you see here?  There are: Scallions, tomatoes, carrots, eggplants, pataste, sweet potatoes, green pepper, bananas, guava, and plantains.

Here we have a passion fruit and a guava.

 Passion fruit is pretty interesting looking inside! You can scoop the insides out and eat them with a spoon, seeds and all.  Too bad this one turned out to be sour.

 The guava we tried was probably our winner for favorite fruit.  I had a nice flavor, was sweet, and when I looked up the nutrition information it is actually very, very healthy!

This is a breadfruit.  It's huge and funny looking.

So, I think we waited a bit too long to eat this one, but we went ahead and ate it anyway.  The flesh is spongy (like bread), but the flavor is similar to potato.

We ended up making it as breadfruit fries because it sounded like the easiest recipe, but there are multiple recipes for how to cook breadfruit (which, as far as I can tell, is never eaten raw)

The wrinkly fruit is also a passion fruit, and the funny looking yellow and brown fruit is star fruit.

This passion fruit was sour as well.  Do you see where the star fruit gets its name?

Looks so pretty on a plate!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Always Change

     Earlier this week I came across an old note on Facebook (basically that's Facebook's version of a blog).  It was written the day before I turned 20, and it was interesting to read what I had to say about my hopes for the future almost 10 years ago.
Me, shortly before turning 20

     It reads:
So, tomorrow, I will no longer be a teenager. So long best years of my life. Ok, so Jr. high royally [stunk], and so did part of highschool, but I don't know how any other time in my life will ever be able to top it. From here it is all downhill. Well, really when I hit 25 in 5 years because that is the point at which one's body starts to slowly die (lovely though, eh?). So, it's sad in a way. But then again, maybe this new decade (new decade? wow.) will bring some adventure and fun. Maybe new people to get to know and love. I think I would be alot more enthused if my biggest plans for the day weren't an exam that I will probably fail, lol. So...I wonder what I will write when I turn 30? Shall I say that being my 20's can't be topped? I guess that's life. Adventure of the unknown.
     I have to laugh when I read my bleak outlook on my 20s.   It's been a great decade.  Much better than being a teenager. I was right about meeting great new people.  I don't remember whether I passed the exam or not (probably barely because I remember it was in Latin), but I remember the fun I had making a cake to bring to the exam (and the good laugh my professor got over the bad translation of "Happy Birthday").

          When I think of the hopes and dreams I had I can't help but wonder what I would have thought back then if I was told all at once about what the next 10 years would hold.  I know I would have loved the idea of living in a foreign country and speaking a second language. I would have been disappointed to learn that I wasn't married  and don't have a high paying career. I think I would have found it intriguing that I am now a missionary, but I wouldn't have understood.

    Looking back at who I was then, I am so grateful for the way the Lord has guided and molded me.  He has formed my life in ways I never could have imagined. I'm still a half a year from turning 30, but I don't feel a sense of dread because I have a Master Craftsman shaping me and my future.


Friday, March 18, 2016

Using Spanish

     As I am writing I hear an iguana running over the tin roof above me, and occasionally a mango drops, sounding like gunfire. There is laundry on the line, and if I look back I see palm and mango trees. There is a fan going, but it's still very hot here. Very hot. I was told Choluteca was hot, and they were right.  I spent my morning baking lots of chocolate chip cookies.  I didn't count how many I made, but I used 8 cups of flour and spent almost 4 hours in the kitchen if that tells you anything.   I put them in bags and they are in the freezer waiting on the next work team to arrive.
     I spent the last week here in Choluteca translating for a medical brigade. Although I lived with a Honduran family in language school and have been living in a Spanish-speaking country I felt in some ways that this was the first  real test of my Spanish in the outside world.  I was nervous the first day, but I felt better as the day went on. 

     Some of the main health concerns I saw throughout the week were diabetes and high blood pressure. Some of the patients were new diagnosis, and others who were there for testing.   The mobile pharmacy we had with us was able to give people months of medicine that many of them would not have been able to afford otherwise.  Many people came in looking for help with pain they experienced from overuse of joints due to walking long distances or very hard work.
     Certain people from this week will be stuck in my mind and remembered in my prayers.  One of them was a little boy with a very bad case of scabies. It was so sad to see how much pain he was in when they were looking at his rash, but he smiled SO big when I gave him bubbles and talked to him. He told me he was 6 and learning his letters, so my failed attempts to sing my ABCs in Spanish were hilarious to him. He came back when were were leaving and gave me a hug (don't worry, hours of exposure is needed to contract scabies).
     Another case that struck me was a teen aged girl who came in because she had had an itchy rash on her neck the day before which had already gone away. Before she left she also mentioned that she'd had a white tongue since she was a child.  When she opened her mouth it was clear that she had had a fungal infection for a very long time.  She was given a prescription for 3 pills that will take care of the fungus. Only 3 pills, and she will be cured of something she has had since she was a little girl.
     Others were difficult to see because they needed more help than a medical brigade could provide. Two parents brought in their young adult children who needed psychiatric evaluations.  They came looking mostly for help dealing with their child's insomnia, but we saw how they needed so much more.  A little boy came in with a significant hearing problem.  He could only hear very loud talking and voices, and at three years old he was struggling to learn to speak a language he couldn't hear. When people came in with problems that couldn't be handled by a brigade, they were given referrals to a good doctor, who should be able to treat or make any further referrals needed.

     As I sit here pondering this last week I feel a lot of emotions: joy, sadness, frustration, hope. The mangos are still dropping. An iguana has almost fallen off the roof. Twice. The world I am living in down here is very different from my world in the US.  Being a part of this week was more than a chance for me use my Spanish, it was a great chance for me see needs in the communities up close and see the challenges many are facing. Although I pray for physical healing for the people we saw, my greatest hope is that they will come to know the love of the Great Physician.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Since Language School

I graduated from language school on February 26, and moved out of Siguatepeque on the 27th.  My last few days there were a mix of packing and despedidas (goodbye parties).  I enjoyed my time there, and can't thank God enough for the wonderful people He brought into my life there and for the training I received at the school.
At the school's despedida for me.

Since then I have been in Tegucigalpa (the capitol of Honduras), staying at the mission's guesthouse.  It's always such a nice, relaxing place to be.  I've stayed here quite a bit throughout the times I have been in Honduras, and it's nice to be somewhere so familiar and peaceful.  It's a pretty big place since it houses missionaries and work teams, and it's right next door to the mission offices.  There is always some pretty amazing cooking thanks to Lucy who has worked here for a long time.

I have also gone to visit the ministries in Choluteca since I've been done.  I spent a couple of days there, and got to spend time with the Overholts who are WGM missionaries there.  Choluteca is about 3 hours south of Tegucigalpa and is close to the Pacific ocean.  There is a lot of ministry going on there.  I spent a morning at the vocational school out there.  They offer courses in welding, mechanics, and sewing.  They are also working on more!

Tomorrow morning I am heading back down to Choluteca where I will be translating for a medical team that is coming down.  I am excited to practice my translating skills!  I'll be down there about 10 days, and a few days after that it will be time for the Honduras field annual conference.  It will be a busy but exciting time!

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Operation Christmas Child

Have you ever participated in Operation Christmas Child?  If you don't know what it is, it's a ministry that collects shoe boxes full of toys, candy, school supplies, and hygiene items and sends them to countries in the developing world.  These boxes are packed by individuals, groups, and churches and sent to Samaritan's Purse who distributes the boxes to churches and ministries who hold evangelism events for children.  In the past I've packed boxes and volunteered at sorting centers where boxes are prepared to be sent out.
 Siguatepeque, January 24th
On January 24th my church here in Siguatepeque, Ministerio El Shadday, The a team of people from the church lead the kids in song and a group of young people did a skit:

Afterwards a lady from the church explained the Gospel in a way that children could understand.
The kids waited with anticipation for the surprise they had been promised!
Finally it was time to hand out the gifts!

Various Aldeas, January 31

The next weekend I went with a team from my church to some rural communities (or "aldeas"  as they are called).  We loaded up in a truck, and I was pretty sure the truck was already full, but then we made a stop to pick up the boxes.  I looked on (with a bit of awe) as they carefully arranged the boxes in such a way that allowed enough room for people to still sit in the back of the truck.

The first place we went to wasn't too far outside of the city.  It was built into the side of a large hill.  The church was a simple building, bright and welcoming.  There were a few children there when we came, but more and more came while we set up and before the meeting ended the church was packed with children and parents.

 After some songs and a skit, he Gospel message was shared, and the children and parents listened with interest.  Many of the children indicated that they had accepted Jesus into their hearts and would like to go to the discipleship classes the church would be holding in the following weeks.

The children were so excited to open their gifts!

 We piled back into the truck and headed on to our next destination: a church an hour or two into the mountains.  The road was only one lane wide most of the way, very windy and hilly, and there were spots with lots of mud.  With every mile we went I found myself realizing more aspects of life that would be made difficult by such a distance from a town.

 The kids here were EVEN more excited to get gifts.  A teacher at my school later explained to me that people who live in towns so far out often send one person from the family to town ever week in a truck that goes into town once a week.  These kids don't grow up with a lot and getting a whole box of gifts and supplies is very, very special.

We went to a third church a little further on down the road.  It was such a blessing to see the smiling faces and see how much the gifts meant to the children and to their parents!
The music leader from our church was one of the people with and he used his talents to help entertain the kids while the program was being set up.
The kids were led in several songs with actions.  If you notice, the floor was not paved, but it was covered with pine branches which made the whole church smell nice.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Time is Getting Close

Every day I get closer to the end of my time in Siguatepeque.  Of course, this has always been the case, but the closer I get, the more into focus it comes.  The date of my move is February 15 (more or less), and while I am looking forward to aspects of my future life in Tegucigalpa, I am also sad about what I will leave behind here. Having left my home country (and culture) my heart desperately looked for a way to make Sigua home.  I've made friends.  I have my favorite stores and places to go.  I have a little rutine.  And in three weeks I will once again make a change and be faced with the challenge of making friends, settling in to a new rutine, and finding my new "favorites".

5 Things I Will Miss about Siguatepeque

1) The school
I will miss my teachers and fellow students.  We not only learn together, but we have fun.
2) Walking
 I do a lot of walking here. I have really come to enjoy getting my exercise this way, and I will have to work harder to find situations in which I can walk in Tegucigalpa.  Every Saturday morning I wander around the downtown area popping into shops, chatting with the owners, find a place to eat lunch and do a few errands.  This is something I am really going to miss!
3) Church
I am looking forward to finding a church home in Teguc, but right now I am grateful for the warm, sweet people of my church here in Sigua.
4) Del Corral
This is a supermarket.  I know Teguc has some very good grocery stores, but I have become kind of attached to Del Corral.  They import quite a few American products and I have learned where most things are, so it will be an adjustment to get used to another supermarket.
5) Arte y Costura
This is a store that basically my "Hobby Lobby" here.  They have a great selection of beads.  All kinds of thread, string, lace, trim, etc.  They sell lots of cute little decorative details.  And the women who work there are super friendly and helpful.  They know me by name if that tells you anything about the frequency of my visits :-)

5 Things I look Forward to About Life in Teguc
1) Having a wider variety
Sigua really has a good variety of stores and restaurants, but Teguc has even more, particularly when it comes to American food (name it and they probably have it!).  There is even a Walmart in Teguc.
2) Getting to know the people I will work with
It's going to be hard to leave my friends here, but I am excited to make new friends in Tegucigalpa as well.  
3) Finding a Church
There are 12 Santidad churches in Tegucigalpa, and I am excited to see which one the Lord will lead me to.
4) Having My Own Place
I have been living with a Honduran family and enjoying it, but I am looking forward to cooking my own meals again and setting up my new room in Teguc (I will actually be sharing an apartment with another WGM missionary who has been in Teguc for a few months already).
5) Starting the Work I Came to Do
I have really enjoyed language school and I would stay longer if I could but I am also really excited to start my work here and use the Spanish I have been studying!

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Feliz Navidad and a Happy New Year!

I wasn't really sure what to expect when it came to spending the Holidays in Honduras.  Not only was I unsure of the customs, but I wasn't sure where I would be and who I would be with!  I ended up staying in Siguatepeque because I didn't have much time off school (I had two four day weekends though, which was nice!).

On the 23rd my church had a special Christmas service with a Christmas message and special presentations from the children.

The 24th is the "big day" of Christmas in Honduras as the women of the house spend the day making food for the midnight feast that is a tradition here.  Along with the midnight feast there are also midnight fireworks!  I spent most of my day at the house, which was nice as it gave me a change to cook, videochat, and relax, however, I also had the opportunity to go to my teacher's house for the afternoon.  She and her family taught me how to make a form of empanadas that are traditional in their family for Christmas.  They are filled with a (sweet) mixture of pork, green plantain, and potatos, and dipped in sugar before baking.  I was, sadly, not very good at getting the edges right, but it was fun to try!

That night I went back to the house and made my grandma's recipe for goulash and talked with my mom online.  I thought about going to bed early, but I decided to stay up and see the fireworks.  We had been hearing/seeing fireworks and firecrackers for weeks, but I was amazed at how many went off at midnight!  It was so cool to see how Hondurans celebrate the birth of the King with fireworks!
The next day was spent at the house of fellow students eating lots of food and playing spoons.  It was fun to spend time speaking English and getting to know everyone better.  

On Saturday I went to Cane, La Paz and to Comayagua with another student, a missionary from my mission, two teachers, and some friends.  We had a lot of fun visiting the new statue of Jesus and touring the cathedral in Comayagua, which is home to the oldest clock in Latin America.

By New Years the lady I live with was back, and most of her children, their spouses, and their children came to spend New Years together.  We ate a very late (10:30pm) dinner and waited for the new year.  One of the special traditions here is "burning the old year", in which a scarecrow like thing is made representing the old year, and it's stuffed with old newspaper and firecrackers.  It is also celebrated with lots of fireworks!