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!