Monday, November 26, 2012

Sunsets, Surprises and Sunshine

 We've had far too many sunsets like the one above. We lost count of how many days in a row we had rain...lots of rain...nearly 22 inches in the past 6 weeks.

 Every now and again, we are treated to a spectacular sunset made all the more special after days of dreariness.

This was taken Thanksgiving evening on the beach in West Bay. Another lovely sunset, but what set this apart was the cruise ship passing just to the right of the palm tree below a full moon. Fabulous!!

We had a lovely Thanksgiving meal at Bananarama right on the beach, surrounded by lots of friends. The food was so good (always good when you don't have to cook it, right?), and the fellowship of old and new friends was wonderful.
Our friend, Nidia, was passing the big empty water jug turned collection jug, getting donations for the Christmas food  and toy drive. Their goal this year is to help 1500 families. We are excited to be able to help out again this year. This was one of the most enjoyable things we've ever done. (If you are interested in helping, let me know. All donations are eagerly accepted.) We brought back a lot of toys donated by our dear friend, Pat. Nidia was so thrilled to hear that!

Friday I was surprised by the appearance of Suyapa and Karla at our gate. Suyapa and I had gotten our days confused (no doubt my fault), and when I wasn't at church to pick her up, she walked to our house. Karla told her "it's good to walk so we don't get fat!" Smart girl.

Suyapa said that Karla loves our house and wants to live here! She also said Karla was a very good helper at home and liked to work, so I put them both to work. Suyapa's job was to scrub the concrete steps again, and Karla swept the floors and deck. Honduran girls love to sweep for some reason. Then she saw a few dirty dishes by the sink and asked if she could wash them. I let her. She dusted a bit and then while her mom mopped the floors, I taught Karla to play dominoes. She asked when she, Julissa and Leidy could come back.

Sunday, at church, Leidy also wanted to know when they could come again. She's been taking care of her little half brother in the afternoons while Concepcion works, so she hasn't been able to come to English lessons or "do anything!" We agreed that Thursday would be a good day and I asked her to tell the other girls. She ran off all excited!

Sunday was a beautiful day, the fourth day in a row without rain, so after church we headed to the beach.

 First, a little lunch with friends. Juan (in the middle) had his first ever Eggs Benedict and liked them, sort of.  Dee had already been out for a snorkel and said the water was still too murky to see anything.

           Susan and I took a little walk on the beach while we waited on our lunch to arrive.

It was so nice to have blue skies, sunshine and the beach! We did get in and swim after lunch. We'll just have to wait for the water to clear before we go out and snorkel along the reef.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

English Lessons

Yesterday we had ten of the eleven kids show up for English lessons. Susan was running late, so I pulled out some of the worksheets she had copied and passed them out. The kids are always so eager to get to work! And not just on the lessons. They very quickly stacked up the rows of chairs left from Sunday School class, and got out the round tables, setting them up near an electrical outlet. Greicy remarked that the floor was very dirty (lots of cookie crumbs, too) and offered to sweep it. I said ok,  she ran off to get Tia's broom and dustpan and had the floor clean in a jiffy. 

They gathered around the tables and got busy on the worksheets. It amazes me how much they enjoy the activities. 

Tia dropped by with a tray of freshly made cookie/candy for the kids. Love!

Susan soon arrived and brought out the laptops. A generous donor in Canada gave them enough money to buy two additional laptop computers, Rosetta Stone, and headsets. I have an additional laptop that I brought down for the kids, but unfortunately, I forgot to pack the power cord. 

We made do with the four laptops and set the kids to working in pairs, with two kids left to work on other activities. Susan introduced them to Rosetta Stone last week. If you are not familiar with that, it is a language learning software product available in many languages. Susan has loaded the English version on all the laptops. The program uses images, written words and spoken words to teach. The kids listen through the headsets and repeat the word or phrase. When they say it correctly, a big checkmark appears and they can continue, otherwise, they keep repeating the word or phrase until it is correct. Working in pairs allows them to help one another. Sometimes they are too helpful!

 Here is Julissa working alone. She was soon joined by Hilda. Hilda is understanding and speaking English so well that she is now interpreting for the Spanish ladies' Bible class on Tuesday mornings. Julissa needs lots of practice, having had only one year of English lessons. This will be very good practice for her.

 Karla, Jessie and Greicy are working together until Susan decides that Greicy needs to work alone. Karla and Jessie didn't seem to mind too much and worked diligently on and English word find game.

 Victor and Carlos. We got tickled at them. They are both very bright and have very strong leader personalities. They made an interesting duo.

My photo of Nelson and Hasey was too blurry, which is a shame because little Hasey's face is just aglow with excitement.

Jessie having her worksheet checked by Susan. They're always eager to have their work reviewed and approved. Such a joy to work with these cheerful kids!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Girls' Luncheon

What a fun day this was! It didn't start out that well, but the Lord certainly turned things around. I didn't sleep much last night, it was pouring down rain, and I had a headache. I had this fun day planned for the girls, and they were SO excited. I just prayed that it would get better, that my headache would go away, that the girls would stay dry on their walk down from the colonia, and that they would have a good time. And that's just what happened! God is so good.

I made a crazy mistake in telling the girls what time to meet me at church, and I didn't even realize it until I was talking to Karla's mom yesterday while she worked for us. I told the girls "once (own-say)" which is eleven and yet was thinking that I was saying "one" o'clock, which is "una". Good grief. I even held up one finger as I was telling them "once". No wonder they looked puzzled. Well now what do I do? I quickly changed what I had originally planned,  and I asked Suyapa to please tell Karla and to spread the word to the other girls that they should meet me at 11:00 and hoped that they would all be there at the same time. Karla and Julissa were, but no sign of Leidy. Uh oh. Fortunately we found a phone number for Leidy and had Aida call her to see if she was on her way. She was. Whew. I drove up into the colonia to meet her and then we were on our way to my house.

 The girls love the view from our deck, so I suggested to Don that he get out his telescope and set it up for them. Despite it being a cloudy, gray day, they still enjoyed looking through the telescope and checking out the boats out on the water.
 I can't believe how serious Karla looks. She is always laughing and smiling. In fact, I had just told her mom how much Karla reminds me of my Rachel (who supports her, by the way). Two girls with sunny dispositions. I also realized that these girls are about the same size and yet Julissa (on the left) is 15, Karla (middle) is 10, and Leidy is 12!

They smelled lunch cooking, so I suggested that we eat first, then play a game. I made sloppy joes and cole slaw which they all loved. Two of them ate two sandwiches apiece. They also ate a bag of Doritos. They did not like the olives and Karla did not like the dill pickles either, but it's good to try new things. Leidy must have learned from her science project that not everything is better with Coke, because she requested Sprite. haha!
 I taught them to play Frustration which I think is called Trouble in the U.S. It is like the board game Sorry. They caught on quickly. Karla won the first game and Julissa won the second round. Here they're eating ice cream while playing. In between games, we watched an animated movie, Beauty and the Beast. Karla had seen it before and even knew the first song, and she sang along with the movie. The girls were all enthralled with the story and were sad when it ended (although it was a happy ending). They also loved sitting in our recliners while watching it. Think I might be spoiling them a bit?
As we were preparing to leave, the girls wanted to know what Don was looking at on his computer, so he showed them. Karla began reading the story aloud in English and did quite well.

They all wanted to know when they could come back to see another movie and play games. Such a fun day for all!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Report Cards!

                                                   Julissa and Jessie with their honors

Susan and I went to school today with some of the kids and moms to pick up report cards. Some of the kids received an honor certificate and some also got a ribbon medallion award. In looking over the grade cards, I was puzzled as to how they determined who received honors. I was told that all grades were added and if the average was at least 85, they deserved the award. Well, they didn't all get what they deserved. Apparently some of the teachers had difficulty with this task. There was also an award ceremony Saturday that we knew nothing about. The kids were called the NIGHT BEFORE. (Mind you, they have been out of school since the end of October!) Some of the kids never got the message. Their parents don't currently have a phone or perhaps were out of minutes (very common). Susan and Larry were enroute to the island, and both Don and I have new phone numbers which we had not yet given the school, so the sponsors weren't notified either. Susan told them it would have been good to have had more notice. The answer? Well, the teachers were told one week prior. Helpful. Out of our group of eleven kids, four got the message and attended.

Anyway, we picked up the grade cards and their final exams. Julissa was a bit nervous that I would be unhappy with her marks. Oh no, not at all. I was very pleased with her grades. She only scored 56% in English, but I wasn't upset with that, after all, this was her first year of any English instruction. I gave her a big hug and assured her that I was very proud of her. Her other marks were all in the 70-80% range and I was pleased with that also. She has worked hard this year and should feel proud of herself. I'm not sure she deserved honors, but she got them anyway! So all of you who contributed in some way to Julissa's school year, pat yourself on the back!

I haven't seen Karla's report card yet. She's one of the kids who got the message and attended the award ceremony. Her mom picked up her grades that day, but she told me yesterday at church that she had done well. I believe her. She's a smart girl.

Leidy did very well. She is an excellent student, applies herself to her studies, and her grades reflect that. I'm really proud of her! I noticed that her science grade for the fourth quarter was not great. Susan said "there's a reason for that." Apparently their entire fourth quarter grade was based upon their science fair project. Here is Leidy's:

     Perhaps the teacher is a Pepsi fan? I didn't get to see her project, so I can't critique it.

                                             Jessie and Karla's project: Bread Bacterias.

                                                          Obie and Julissa's project

Thanks to Susan for all the photos!

Susan has been asking the kids if they want to resume their English lessons. They were about evenly divided on this. We'll work with any of them who want the extra help. I'm sure Julissa will be there. Susan had a sponsor donate extra money which was used to buy two additional laptops. I also brought an extra laptop down for the kids. We'll have our own little computer lab!! The majority of the kids finally decided that they want to continue to meet three times a week right through their winter break!

I proposed to Susan that we need to do some fun activities during their long winter break. They get so bored during rainy season. They can't play outside as much and most have no televisions (or electric). I suggested that we teach them some games, show some good kid movies, or let them try Dance Revolution. She liked my ideas. Bet the kids will, too.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Rainy View

This has been our clearest view this week. We've had 5 straight days of rain and today isn't looking so good either with one nice shower already. It is cooler, mid-70s for highs (and lows!). I've been inspired to bake, the only time I can really stand the thought of turning on the oven.

We don't generally mind rainy season, in fact, we like it. It is quiet, peaceful, cool and breezy. We have a nice big covered deck - our outdoor living area - where we spend many days. Don is writing another book and has been happily engrossed in writing. I'm hot on the trail of long dead ancestors. I love that I can get online and do so much research from the comfort of my porch swing! And that I can quickly share my findings with my far-away sister and cousin. This has been a week of wonderful discoveries.

We continue to worry about our friends up in the colonia. Rainy season is often hard on them for many reasons. So many houses built (often poorly) on very steep hills that wash badly in heavy rains. I have dubbed this season "the annual cleansing of the colonias" because much of their trash washes down the hills winding up along the road, low-lying grounds and the beach. It's a mess. The dozers have been out multiple times, scooping up the dirt that washes across the road. And we have a couple more months of this in store!

The port in Coxen Hole reopened this week with one ship coming in. The Made in Roatan shop had quite a few customers, a welcomed relief for the families who depend on income from that shop. I doubt that the rest of the island did very well though due to heavy rains off and on all day. Not a great day for watersports. Most people depend on the tourist trade to make their living and that continues to be very slow. So, little to no money is being made by anyone and families are going hungry. The Bay Island Voice reported this month that malnutrition is a growing problem here.

I mentioned this problem in my last post. My daughter and some of her friends have indicated a desire to help and, after speaking to the pastor of our church here, he has approved the use of the church paypal account to receive donations to the food ministry. The church has been handing out food bags monthly with the stipulation that the families perform some tasks around the church/mission inn during the month. Any additional donations will enable more families to receive food or to receive food more frequently. Don and I have offered to handle the shopping and bagging. We are even agreeable to taking families shopping in Coxen Hole where they can find lower prices and not have to pay for their plastic bags that hold their purchases (that drives me crazy!!).

If you are interested in helping out, here is the paypal link to use. Just be sure to indicate in the memo section that it is for the food ministry. And please continue to pray for these families.