Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Some Doin's Around Church Today

Today was a very busy day at church, and it will be busy and crazy there for the next couple of weeks.
Here are some of the things that were happening today:

 Ladies' Bible Study was action packed today. Following a time of worship and Susan's short lesson, the women made bracelets to celebrate God's gift of creativity in each of us. Marlene, who is part of the mission team that's here, passed out packets of beads to each woman and gave brief instructions. See the woman on the right holding that cute baby? I offered to hold the baby so that mom could work on her bracelet.

                                    I had the best job! Ashley is such a good baby.

                                    Here are three of the finished bracelets. Lovely!

 Today was also the day that the women who participate in the Food Ministry receive their bags of food. They are required to attend church and to give a couple of hours of work each month.

 Angela and two of her eight children relaxing before the little girl goes to afternoon Kinder at the school down the road. Angela did not want to make the long walk up the steep hill to her house in the colonia only to have to turn right around and walk back down to the school. She makes that trip at least twice a day everyday.

 The eye doctors did come with this team after all. These are some of the glasses waiting to be prescribed.

               Claire, our lovely translator, is letting the waiting women know the eye exam procedure.

Brenda, who can no longer read her Bible, is the first up. She will be receiving reading glasses.
Several other women were waiting their turn. Eye exams will be given several times this week. Some of the men and children also need to be screened. Susan and I want all our school kids to be tested. What a blessing this is!! These families cannot afford to see an eye doctor nor to buy glasses.

And just outside in the church's courtyard, the work on the new worship center continues. The team is busy building the trusses for the roof. The wood workers were also hard at work on their small wooden creations that will be sold through various outlets.

And adding to the joyful noise, children of some of the women waiting for eye exams were busy playing tag and chasing each other around the building. This cute little boy was happy to pause long enough to pose for a photo. The kids always love to look at the camera and see the photo that was just taken. He had a big grin when he saw himself.

And that's a recap of 10 a.m. - noon. Busy times.

The Potter

We had a repeat performance of Pastor Chuck's powerful Potter and Clay sermon Sunday which was presented to a packed house. This was the third time that we have seen his presentation, and each time it is so powerful. Here is a photo from this Sunday's sermon, and a link to my blog of April 5, 2009 when I described each step and the correlation to our relationship with God:
Rather than repeat myself, I encourage you to read the April 5th blog, and it's worth re-reading even if you saw it the first time.

 Isaiah 64:8 Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Monday, February 25, 2013

How Did They Do It?

Oh my goodness! I have so much respect for teachers of days gone by who taught in one room schools, and this includes my grandmother. How did they survive?

Today's tutoring session was boisterous to say the least. The kids were all excited about their field trip today. Apparently the plumbing/septic problem at school was not completely resolved so they were treated to another field trip. They talked over one another as they joyfully told me about their visit to the Blue Harbor Arboretum today. They saw tomatoes growing, said Oscar!! And lettuce, said Victor! They saw ducks, a waterfall, parrots, pretty flowers, a tree that was 100 years old (after considerable quizzing, we agreed that it was a hog plum tree). They are getting such a wonderful enrichment to their education and learning more about their island. Their enthusiasm delights me!!

Susan wisely chose to work with the four 8th graders which left the the rest to me... four sixth graders, two using 5th grade books, and a brand new 7th-grade student who spoke no English (she got slighted and I'm so sorry about that!). Honduran kids do not know the meaning of "just a minute" or "wait until I finish here;" they just kept calling me. Sigh. They were working on their English workbooks, reading stories and then answering questions. So many questions. One story involved using a map and writing sentences with prepositions - a hard concept for them. I did the best I could, but you all know that I am NOT a teacher. At least I didn't lose my cool.

It was difficult to hear because the workshop men were hard at it just outside our classroom. It will only get worse as the team from up north begins work on the church building roof. This is why we will not be having extra classes for the next two weeks. Leidy and Tanya asked about homework help, and I said that Miss Susan might be able to help just a few at her house.

Julissa was wearing her new glasses, and I saw her showing them to the 8th graders and explaining their purpose. She looks adorable and reports that they do make her eyes feel better. Hurrah!

Regular classes will begin tomorrow. Hurrah! Leidy said the 6th graders needed their Spanish books. I told her that if they had been delivered to the store, then we would pick them up and pass them out, but if they were not there....there was nothing we could do. We had NO control. Hard for me to understand as well. These books were ordered a couple of weeks ago and still have not arrived. Such is life here.

Today was Nelson's 11th birthday. We can't believe he's that old! He's so small! Susan baked cupcakes for the kids and had a candle on Nelson's. She took a photo for Nelson's Canadian sponsor. After the cupcakes, Susan invited all the kids to come down and play soccer on the beach below her condo. Girls and boys love this game, and they need the physical outlet. They just don't have open areas in the Colonia where they can play. I went and watched them play for awhile but then needed to get home for a Skype visit with my little grandson. Awesome day!!! Thank you, Lord!!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Great Week

This has been a busy week, a fun week, a productive week, and a week full of blessings. Here are some highlights:
Our sponsored kids only had one day of school due to continued plumbing problems at the school. On the one day they attended, they didn't have classes but went on a field trip - something that is normal in the United States but pretty unusual here. They went to Mayan Eden Park in Spanish Town where they saw all kinds of animals and birds and some got to have a boa constrictor draped around their neck! They all loved the white-faced monkeys and spider monkeys.

 Susan took advantage of this adventure and had the kids write sentences in English about their experience during our tutoring session on Wednesday. They practiced reading English and answering questions. We had math drills with the flash cards which became rather raucous with laughter when I kept holding up the wrong side of the card. Tanya gets so embarrassed when called on, but she usually knows the answer. Karla likes to shout out the answer for everyone but gets really mad when someone else answers for her! Jessie is so smart and so quick with double-digit multiplication but will argue with me if I tell her that her answer is wrong! She is certainly confident of her math skills! They always want to play Uno, but Susan has limited that to Fridays only; yesterday we had a wild, cut-throat game and they loved it! They have to add up the points they were caught with - more math practice.

Karla, Leidy and Julissa came up to our house for their second crochet session. Leidy had taken some yarn and a hook home to practice, and she had really improved. Leidy's mom, ConcepciĆ³n, came for her first lesson. She was having a difficult time, largely because her stitches were too loose, so I sent her home with materials to practice. Julissa has twice as much work done on her purse, and it looks really good. Leidy and Karla are doing better but still need some help, so it was a challenge to help them and work with ConcepciĆ³n, who needed constant attention. The girls were cracking up over Don's choice of music. He was playing a playlist of real oldies - late 50s and early 60s songs - with hits such as "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", "Shimmy Shimmy Ko Ko Bop", "Surfer Bird", "Rock Around The Clock", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "Rama Lama Ding Dong." Karla said "this music is just crazy!" They did know a couple of the songs because they had heard them in a movie, so those were ok.

Bob and Debi came over to play 500
 and watch the sunset last night. Unfortunately, it was not one the better sunsets, but they enjoyed the view from up here on the hill anyway, and we had a great card game.

Today was Girls' Group at church. We had 27 girls today!! After prayer time and worship, they made bookmarks with supplies donated by a woman who usually comes with the team that just arrived. (This team will be building the roof of our new worship center. This is just outside our classroom, and because we anticipate much noise, we won't be have tutoring sessions at the church for two weeks.)

Creativity at work.
 Some of the completed bookmarks. They loved using the fancy scrapbooking scissors.

                                                               Clean-up time.
                                            Our fabulous kitchen crew preparing lunch.

After lunch, I took Julissa into Coxen Hole to pick up her new glasses and get her wear & care instructions. Then we went shopping! We bought green mango slices with salt and hot sauce to snack on, nail polish, and yarn. (I will begin teaching Maria to crochet next week.) As we walked back to the car, I decided to take Julissa into the big used clothing store for some "new" skirts or dresses. We found several cute things, and she was very pleased. On the way home, I told her that the glasses and clothes were not from us; they were a gift from God, that a friend from our church in the U.S. had heard about Julissa's needs and felt lead to send a donation which EXACTLY covered the cost of both glasses and clothes!! I asked her "isn't God good?" and she agreed that He was. (And thank you, dear friend, for this donation!) I forgot to take a photo of her wearing the new glasses...I will do that next time I see her.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Crochet Lesson #1

Ever since the girls saw my tab-top purse, they've been dying to make one and ask every time they see me "when can we come to your house to make the purse?" Today was the first lesson. I picked them up at 1:30. Leidy brought a huge bag of tab-tops that her mom has been saving for me! Huge. We can make a lot of purses!

I was honestly amazed at how quickly they caught on. I had planned to just teach them a couple of basic crochet stitches, how to hold the hook and yarn, how to maintain even tension, and then practice crocheting with the tab-tops. Julissa just went to town! Karla casually said "oh, she learned how to crochet in La Ceiba." Julissa said yes, her sister had taught her before they came to the island.

Leidy also did well once she figured out how to pull the yarn through the tabs without losing it. Karla had the most trouble, and I really didn't think she would get the hang of it, but suddenly, she got it. She still struggled a bit with loose stitches but knew what to do.

                                                          Leidy, in deep concentration.

We worked until 3:00, taking a little break for a snack - a brownie and a soda (nutritious, huh?). While Don was tutoring Nick early this morning, I made a pan of brownies from scratch for Valentine's day, icing and all. They loved them. When they went back to work, Leidy was clearly getting tired and kept pulling out her stitches and starting the row again. She was getting more and more frustrated, a sure sign that it is time to quit! I let her take some yarn and a hook home to practice, if she wants to.

By the time I dropped the girls off in the colonia, Leidy's smile had returned. They can't wait to come back next week!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Julissa's Not So Good Very Bad Day

This was certainly an interesting day for one of our girls. It began on a good note with the Girls' Group at church. Twenty-three girls gathered for a time of worship, great singing, a wonderful lesson on love, craft time spent making necklaces, and then lunch. Deleea gave each girl the same assortment of beads and stretchy cord and we watched 23 completely different necklaces being made! No copycats in this bunch! And they were relatively quiet!!

                                                          Julissa and Wendy

                                 Tanya (in purple), Leidy (head of table), and Julissa in orange.

                                                           Greicy, in the middle, concentrating!

Before we began, I talked to Julissa about going for an eye exam. We have known this needed to be done, and planned to take her a week ago, but extenuating circumstances interfered with those plans.
School is starting in two days, and I know she has difficulty reading from the board.

While the girls were busy, I slipped into the kitchen and asked a couple of the moms who were in there preparing lunch if they knew any eye doctors and whether they would be open on a Saturday afternoon. They knew of several in Coxen Hole but weren't sure if they would be open all day, nor did they know if we would need an appointment. I told Julissa that we would just go try our luck. Our pastor's wife also knew where several eye doctors were.

I have been meaning to have a chat with Julissa about boys, flirting, school and modest dress. Tia had also been wanting to talk to her about wearing appropriate clothing to church functions. She's not exactly overboard on the sexiness scale just yet, but she is leaning that way pretty heavily. We just want to protect our girls for as long as we can. Our wonderful interpreter, Aida, was there today so Julissa got THE TALK, in private, of course. She was a bit upset, but we all reassured her that we have her best interests at heart and want to keep her safe. School is really her ticket to a better future, but if she (or any of the girls) get too friendly with the boys, that future could be derailed. Her older sister (18) already has one child, I suspect she is pregnant again and has no husband.  Not the best role model.

Following the talk, we headed out to the car for the drive to Coxen Hole to search for a doctor. I quickly spotted 2 of them, but there were no parking spots available, and we can no longer park along the road. I drove past a couple more, but they were closed already, so we looped back around, and found a parking lot. A guy came up to us and said he would watch our car. As we walked away, another guy came up and said "no no! He would watch the car!" I asked if he had a ticket (that the legitimate parking lots give out), and he said no, but no worries! Ha!!

The first doctor's office was already closed for the day, but the second one was open and right across the street from the parking lot...I could watch my own car!! The woman at the desk told me it was a free parking lot - don't pay them! She turned out to be the doctor's wife. I asked if we needed to make an appointment, and she said the doctor could see her in just a few minutes if we could wait. So, we did. While waiting, Julissa looked at the frames but was, understandably, unenthused.

The doctor spoke only Spanish, which was fine for Julissa but not for me so his wife came in the exam room to interpret his findings. He was very thorough, taking a medical history, asking about her family (I understand better than I speak!), asking many questions. Then, using less-than-state-of-the-art equipment, he began his exam. He checked for any signs of diabetes, cataracts, glaucoma, and color blindness. He then gave her the vision test, which was very interesting to watch. She did fairly well reading the chart, only guessing on a couple of numbers on the very last line, but when he put the corrective glasses on her and began inserting the lenses and asking "which is better...this one...or this one?" she had no answers! Only one lens made any difference at all.

When he finished, and his wife came back in, he explained that her vision was just fine, but, she still had a problem. She has a sensitivity problem which affects her vision. She is apparently sensitive to light, especially sunlight, wind, dust, smoke, smog (none of that last one here!). These things irritate her eyes and coupled with decreased tear production, cause her vision to be blurry. Her family cooks over an outdoor wood fire, so there's the smoke. We live in the tropics so there's plenty of sunlight and frequently wind and dust.  He gave her a prescription for eyedrops to use twice a day for one month. He thinks that when the month is up, she will be able to tell a big difference. He also recommended glasses - not corrective, but protective Transition lenses. He said the biggest problem for her was light and that she needed to wear the glasses ALL the time (except while sleeping). She DID NOT like that.
So, we had the second talk of the day. I told her that unless she agreed to wear them, I was NOT willing to spend the money on glasses for her. She most reluctantly agreed to try them. The doctor thinks she will see much improvement.

I let her pick out the frames, and they really do look cute on her. She is so pretty and will continue to be pretty, even with the glasses, but it was hard to convince her of that; she is 15.  I told her that she would be totally cool out in the sunlight with her sunglasses! The frames are very flexible and seemingly indestructible, which is a good thing since she has younger half-siblings at home. The glasses will be ready at the end of the week. I told her to tell her teacher on the first day that she was having vision problems and that glasses were being made. The total cost of the frames and lenses was $150. The exam was free with a purchase of glasses!

No photos from the eye exam. Darn! Left my camera under the seat of my car!

We went out to retrieve my car. One of the guys had put a piece of cardboard on the windshield. Nice! But I still didn't pay him. As we drove to the pharmacy, I tried to reassure her and told her that when I was just about her age, I had to get glasses because I couldn't see the board. I wasn't happy and I didn't want to wear them (and I didn't unless I absolutely had to! but I didn't tell her that!), so I understood what she was feeling, but I hoped that she would give them a fair chance. I don't know if she understood everything that I said. If we get a chance to see Aida tomorrow, I will ask her to relay my message again. We stopped at the pharmacy and got her eyedrops which were about $5. All of this was certainly cheaper than in the U.S.! Now, if she'll only wear the glasses.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What A Day!

I awoke to the sound of water running. My first thought was that it was raining. I heard the neighbor's calico cat meowing at our screen door, and my second thought was "the cat wants in out of the rain". I padded over to the door and flipped on the deck lights. No rain but the sound of water running was louder. I crossed the deck, opened the door to the kitchen side of the house and immediately saw a flood in the kitchen and breakfast room. The running water noise was coming from under the kitchen sink, but also from under the house (our house is built up on wooden piers, so the sound of water dropping several feet to the ground is pretty noticeable).  I yelled at Don to come quickly.

He had replaced our under-the-sink tankless hot water heater yesterday and all seemed well...then. We tried to start the dishwasher after dinner last night, but it didn't want to start, so we decided to leave it until this morning. We didn't realize that there was a problem with the water line to the dishwasher. At some point, the dishwasher did try to start, and the water that should have gone into the dishwasher went under the sink, out onto the floor and eventually through a crack in the floor somewhere and spilled out under the house. Don shut off the power and the water, and we spent the next hour mopping up water. Did I mention that this was at 5 a.m.? And I hadn't had any coffee yet? Not fun. But, we got the job done, the coffee made and consumed, the water line repaired and breakfast over with in time for Don to go tutor Nick by 8 a.m. We were both very thankful for our ceramic tile floors which dried quickly and were not damaged.

While we were busy cleaning up, the cat was playing with a mouse out on the deck. A real mouse. Great! The mouse was actually playing along with the cat and never seemed to be in any real danger. Finally the mouse was worn out and disappeared, to the cat's great disappointment.

We had the girls coming up to play games and have lunch, so I decided to make potato soup for them. Don brought the girls home with him, and the first thing on their agenda was to watch the new princess movie that Rachel had brought for them. It got 2 thumbs up. Julissa and I thought it was just so-so.
I had them help me finish lunch preparations, shredding cheese, crumbling bacon, setting the table. They didn't know what the bacon was! They had never had it before, so I let them have a taste. They liked it. They didn't care much for the potato soup though. They don't like onions or, apparently, celery, which I had added to the soup along with the potatoes and carrots. I was thinking that they all need to eat more vegetables, so load it up. Nope. Not a hit. They managed to eat most of it, sans celery and onion when possible. They opted for lots of cheese and bacon to disguise the taste...and Leidy was heavy with the salt. I got out the peanut butter and more crackers. Leidy doesn't like peanut butter either! Then I sliced more cheese. A winner, but soon Julissa had a tummy ache from too much cheese and milk. Might have a lactose problem!

We cleared the table, and Karla grabbed the Joy and claimed the role of dishwasher.  She just loves to wash dishes!! Too funny. We played several games of Uno, one of their most favorite games and then had our dessert - ice cream floats. I had even found some root beer at the grocery store the other day. Hondurans don't know what root beer is. I poured a little out for them to smell and taste; 3 thumbs down. They preferred Coke floats. Don and I had the root beer.

 Karla insisted on planting the carrot top that she had cut off so we could raise some carrots. Leidy and Julissa went down below the deck with her and the next thing we knew, Karla was climbing a palm tree, then sitting the in mango tree. She's such a tomboy and Julissa is such a girlie girl.