Monday, February 24, 2014

Medical Care on Roatan

Many of you have asked us what kind of medical care is available here on this island. Thankfully, we have not had any serious health issues, but we are learning the ropes from friends who have had some life-threatening issues and came through safely.

Don and I have both been battling lung congestion this past week (no doubt caused by too much fun with daughter Rachel and niece Crystal and quite probably some germs that Rachel generously shared with us). Don has recovered, but I have been getting progressively worse. Last night's efforts to sleep induced a 4 hour coughing marathon which may have left me turned inside out.

This morning, I set out for the clinic at Anthony's Key Resort. (We sent Rachel there during her visit.) The doctor spoke only a little English and I speak only a little Spanish, but we were able to understand each other beautifully. Bottom line: I have bronchitis.She gave me two nebulizer treatments and a small bag containing 5 days of prednisone, a cough medicine, and an antibiotic - Cipro. I told her I was allergic  to Cipro. (Apparently that is the drug of choice.) Next she pulled a box of Azo------- something. I shook my head and told her that I take Amiodorone and believe that Azo-----------was contraindicated. She quickly nodded her agreement. Searching the shelves again (AKR has their own little in-house pharmacy, as does Ms. Peggy's clinic), she selected a box of erithromycin. Yes, I said, I can take that. Unfortunately, there weren't enough pills remaining in the box, so after apologizing, she wrote a prescription to take to the pharmacy in Coxen Hole. She told me to come back tomorrow for another nebulizer treatment.

And what do you imagine the cost of this care to be?? $24.00!!! for the office visit, 2 nebulizer treatments, 2 drugs. I sent Don off to the pharmacy to get the antibiotic but expect that it will be quite cheap also.

Now I just have to get well.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Reluctant Birthday Girl

Yesterday was Leidy's 14th birthday. She's growing up! I asked her if she would like to have a birthday party at Ms. Susan's with all the kids. She said no. I said "really? No party?" She nodded her head. She is so shy and hates to draw any attention to herself. She said "I don't go to Ms. Susan's on Monday." Well, I said, "we could just have the party on Tuesday" which is one of her days to come for English lessons and homework help. Nope. How about just a cake? No. 

I had already bought the cake mix and frosting, enough for all the kids. So Susan and I decided that we would just bring out the cake on Tuesday and not make a big fuss. Don and I arrived to find only the two 9th grade boys, Oscar and Victor, and one 7th grader, Nelson. No Leidy. Susan said the 7th graders must not have any homework or they would be there. Nelson had not been to school this morning, so he didn't know.

I was a little disappointed. I had 24 cupcakes, vanilla ice cream (her favorite), and a gift bag waiting for her.

We went ahead and fed cupcakes to the boys and adults. Susan called Concepcion to see if Leidy was coming. A little while later, we heard kids coming up the driveway. Leidy, her little cousin Alexander, Jessie, Jacee, and their little sister, Jeslee. Yay!! Susan was not thrilled that they had brought along the little kids, but the kids were thrilled with the cupcakes. All except Leidy. She finally said she would have one later. I asked if she would like some ice cream ."Yes", so out came the ice cream for one and all.  I told her she had a gift bag. She glanced down at it but did not grab it to look inside. Can you imagine any kid you know being that reserved? She did thank me. 

Kids kept arriving. Apparently, word had spread that we were having a party for Leidy. And more little siblings also came along with their big sister or brother. Karla and Carlos were the last to arrive. They were too late for the ice cream and there were only 2 cupcakes left, but I wasn't going to serve them because we had more people than cupcakes by that point. There are 2 older girls, 18 and 20 years old, who come for English lessons, and one of them had brought along a little sister.Sigh. It was quickly becoming a madhouse! So, I quietly wrapped up the last 2 cupcakes and told Karla she and Carlos could eat them on the way home. Karla could not resist sticking her finger inside the foil wrapping and licking the icing! I do hope she gave one to Carlos on the way home, but I wouldn't count on it.

Meantime, the 9th graders have to have some kind of round, white object for their science class. After much discussion and internet searching, we finally decided that they need something like large styrofoam balls. I suggested they ask their teacher where we might find such an item on Roatan.(We have no Michael's, no Hobby Lobby or anything of the kind.) Oscar said they have a new teacher (the first one lasted only 4 days) and she is new to the island so she would not know. Great. I can't think of any place on the island that sells styrofoam balls or anything similar.

 Also, we learned that the entire school is going to the beach on Friday and each child needs 100 lempiras ($5.) for the bus and food. Oscar said he and his siblings did not want to go, they would just stay home. I asked "don't want to go or your family doesn't have the money to go?" He sheepishly said "no money". I said "if we give you the money, would you want to go?" He smiled and nodded his head. Ok, then. We will provide the money. Susan and I decided to  share the cost for all the kids to go. These are very poor families; they don't have extra money for things like this.

So, the reluctant birthday girl had a party after all. Susan and I both thought that, while a bit rowdy, it was a success, and Leidy was quietly pleased. And so was I. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Paperwork Slow Down

Julissa sporting her new glasses

We had only 3 things on our to-do-list for today: get Julissa's transcript, grocery shop, Spanish lessons. Thought there was no need to leave before 10 (the school principal is often not in before that when school is not in session) and surely we would be finished and back home in time for our 12:30 Spanish class. I had talked to the principal yesterday and she assured me that the transcript  would be ready for me. I really should have known better.

Our first stop was the school. The principal was there, the transcript was "ready" and just needed to be copied, but the power was out. Did we want to wait? We decided to run do the grocery shopping. It turned out to be "missionary day" as so many of our missionary friends were also grocery shopping. We enjoyed visiting with them until Don heard the air-conditioner kick back on. We knew the power had been restored.

Back to the school where we waited 30-40 minutes for the copies to be made and signed. We drove to the Department of Education; it was just a few minutes past noon, we can probably still make it! Nope.  The doors were locked. Lunch break until 1 p.m.  Nothing to do but go on home with the groceries. Don said we'll never make the Spanish class in time. I said we would if we skipped lunch. We stopped by church and I ran in to tell Esmerelda that we would be a bit late, don't wait for us. We live just about a mile from the church. We quickly put the groceries away, got a cold drink and our Spanish notebooks and returned to church in time for most of the class.

Time to return to the Department of Education. No waiting! Wow, this is great, I thought. Until the two women checking the multi-page transcript began scrutinizing every page, back and forth, back and forth. Finally they told us (in Spanish) that her first name was misspelled on one of the pages. I asked (in English) can't you just stick an extra "i" in there? One of the women then led us into another office where she found another employee who spoke English and could explain to us what needed to be done. We were to return to the school, have them write a note on that page in the official transcript book, copy it, sign it, and we were to then return with the correction duly noted.

Back to school. The principal was busy, but Julissa's teacher was there and was able to take care of it in short order. Back to the Department of Education where the first woman looked it over and then took it in to someone else for the official signature and department seal. We were excited to finally have this task completed.

We have missionary friends going to San Pedro Sula next week. They will take the transcript and mail it from there. Hopefully that will make delivery quicker. The English-speaking woman at the Dept. of Education advised that we make copies of the original and send only a copy to the school. We already know that the school will only accept the original document with the official seal, but keeping copies is a good idea. I sure hope the original doesn't get lost in the mail. Now we just need to get the tuition money to the school. Julissa is getting the bank account information so we can just transfer money into the school's account, then she'll be all set for the year.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Catch-up, part 2

Just exactly what have we been doing? The kids are still out of school on their long winter break. Karla and Leidy are always wanting to come up to our house. On one of those times, I taught them how to make cookies. Neither one of them has an oven at home, so they have never baked. Karla's mom has a gas stove, but the oven doesn't work. Leidy's mom still cooks on an outdoor mud stove (think glorified campfire). I sent them home with cookies to share with their families, after they tasted every batch that came out of the oven. Quality control is important!

I've been helping out with the twice monthly Girls' Group at church. We have a time of worship, a lesson, an activity and lunch. Susan came back from Canada with bags of yarn and crochet hooks, so I've been teaching the girls to crochet. Most of them had never crocheted.  So funny how some caught on quickly and others were all thumbs. 

I had taught some of the girls to crochet last year, so I had them help me. Leidy is an accomplished crocheter and is showing one of the new girls what to do.

The kids will be returning to school in February so it is officially back-to-school time. Don and I continue to sponsor Leidy who is going into the 7th grade. I just noticed that she is now taller than her mom! She's also sporting new bangs. 

Jacee, a 4th grader, is joining the ranks of sponsored kids, thanks to the generosity of our daughter. 
His mom is holding an envelope with his startup money.

Karla continues to be sponsored by Rachel's former husband, and we continue to mentor her. 
Susan (in the yellow) oversees the remaining sponsored kids. We have a total of 12 going to the private bilingual school this year and maybe as many as 50 kids attending public schools who receive some assistance from generous donors in Canada. Thanks, Susan for the above 3 photos.

Don is continuing to tutor Nick, the son of missionaries, in algebra. Susan has begun reviewing with some of the kids and English lessons for Jacee and some other young boys. We've gotten all the kids registered for school, paid their tuition for the year and done some back-to-school shopping.

Leidy, a vision in purple (her favorite color, can you tell?), trying on shoes in the market. I asked if she wanted to go shopping with just her mom or if she wanted us to take them again. She very excitedly said she wanted to go with us. She got measured by the tailor for her uniform skirt and pants for physical education. Then we hit the street and went from vendor to vendor buying shoes, shirts, undershirts, socks, backpacks, notebooks, etc.  We like to spread the money around.

Shopping made everyone hungry, so our next stop was Bojangles for chicken (Leidy's favorite). The little boy is her cousin. ConcepciĆ³n carefully wrapped up everything that was left and took it home for their supper. 

You may have noticed that Julissa is not in any of the photos. She has moved back to the mainland to live with her mom. We are trying to make arrangements to continue to support her education but are running into difficulties in getting the necessary documents and money to her. Julissa's command of English is not great nor is mine of Spanish, so we have been using a bilingual friend to help us. We all hope we can work out the details soon. Her new school will only accept the original transcript from her school here and it must have the official Department of Education seal (which I doubt that it has). The school won't accept a faxed or emailed copy. They want the real deal hand delivered. The problem: she is living high up in the mountains of Honduras. To get there requires taking the ferry to the coast, a taxi to the bus station, and two long bus rides (about 6 hours) to reach her town. So, we are still puzzling this out. We are trying to see if they will accept the transcript via snail mail. I have no idea how long that would take. 

Don and I are taking Spanish lessons again with 6 other people from our church. I practiced today when Suyapa was here cleaning for us. She is taking English lessons and loves to practice with me. It's a good trade.

Now that rainy season appears to be over, I must figure out how to get 12 sponsored kids to the beach!

Feeling Lazy

The sunsets have been spectacular!

I think I may have settled into deep relaxation mode, that or laziness, given the lack of blogging this year. I think about it; I just don't do it. Perhaps because the newness has worn off living on this island and all the things that once seemed so unique or even crazy now seem normal. Whatever the excuse, I've had a touch of guilt about it so here is a quick recap of the last few weeks.

Our beautiful daughter came to visit in December and spread some Christmas cheer.

We had a Christmas party at church for our sponsored kids. We played silly games, like in the photo above where Oscar's teammates are turning him into a Christmas tree.

Rachel and I spent a couple of days baking Christmas cookies for the party. We had the kids decorate cookies for their families. They also ate a LOT of cookies!

Even our boys enjoyed the cookie decorating.

Of course Santa refilled their stockings! They were so excited!! And look at all the plates of cookies they've wrapped up to take home.

Happy kids suffering from sugar overload. 

We were delighted to help again with the food drive. We quickly realized that we did not have many toys to give the kids this year, so Bob sent Rachel and I and a family from Canada who came to help out, into Coxen Hole to buy as many toys as we could with the money that had been donated. What fun that was!! We still ran out of toys, but we also had tubs full of candy that we passed out. Everyone got something. 

Loading the trucks with bags of food.

First stop, the dump. Note the newly paved road to the dump.

This is a home across the road from the dump where a family lives and makes a living from sorting through garbage for recyclables. I am always humbled when I come here.

A family from Canada donated a tub filled with stuffed animals. It sure made this baby happy!

Some of the kids on Mud Hole Road. Santa came to the island specifically to help us and make a few other appearances.

The food drive is about so much more than just handing out bags of food to needy families as the following pictures show.

Greg comes from Hilton Head Island every year to help. He loves playing with the kids!

One of Santa's elves enjoyed lovin' on the babies.

Visiting is an important part of the experience. Debi (in middle) visiting with some of the people.

Even big girls like to sit on Santa's lap. He didn't seem to mind either!

David playing with one of the kids. Piggy-back rides were a big hit. It's so much fun to bring a little joy into the lives of these kids.

I've procrastinated so long that I'm going to have to have this a multi-part catch-up. More to come!