Sunday, May 27, 2007

NCET at UPNFM

Don´t you love acronyms? Reminds me of the good ol days at Pepperdine.
Last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I went with some coleagues to a Conference of English Teachers. It was held at the Pedagogical University In Tegucigalpa. It was a lot of fun, informative, and worth the time and money. Of course, the school paid our way, so I guess I should say it was worth THEIR money. I got to stay the 2 nights with Steve and Jeanne White, the President and First Lady of the Baxter Institute. It was such a blessing. They have good ol fashion southern hospitality...and a washer and dryer, and Jeanne is a first rate cook. The first night I had 3 of her homemade rolls, the second night 2 plus I think I put away half the caserole dish of macaroni and cheese all by myself. Thank you Steve and Jeanne! I always enjoy my time with you!
I got a little of a cold in Teguc. even though it was hot hot hot, but that was part of the problem. Here in La Esperanza it is very mild so the sudden change back and forth did me in, plus I´m not used to A-C, which they have in Teguc.
On the bus ride back my seat was empty until a woman with a 3 month old baby asked if the seat next to me was free. Of course I couldn´t lie. I was just praying that the baby wouldn´t cry the whole time. This was before we left and we were sitting at the station. Then a young lady pulls up in a cab and gets out with a beautiful white toy-sized dog. I thought, oh my word, certainly she´s not getting on the bus with that! It´s a puppy! and if it has to use it? Sure enough she did get on, and sat next to my colleague. THen I was very happy to have to 3 month old baby next to me! I was like, oh my gosh, it´s the Paris Hilton of Honduras! The dog had a neon pink collar with rhindstones and a shirt! But it was surprisingly very well behaved, and rode the 3.5 hour tour all the way to La Esperanza. On the second leg after the lady next to me deboarded, a man sat next to me. I closed my eyes to rest and felt him put the arm rest down between us, so I comfortably leaned into it. When I opened my eyes I saw that it was his arm, not the arm rest! So I turned my body so as to not touch him, but that automatically put his hand brushing up against my backside. So I had to turn again. He was a pleasantly husky man. Hondurans have just about the opposite sense of personal space as us North Americans. If you get on a bus with just one other person in the STates you´d most likely choose a seat far from that person, but here if one gets on a bus and you´re the only one on it, you´re likely to have a seat partner immediately!

REcently I recieved 8 boxes of books donated by some friends and family. I hope to have my own store in a few months but meanwhile I put some up on display in this local internet cafe and the family that owns it isn´t charging me commission! In the first 2 days I sold 2 of the 5 books, so I´m very excited about that!

Things are going really well in life right now, spiritually and otherwise. In two weeks school´s out!, and at the end of June I´ll be traveling back to Tegu to spend time with some friends. My mom and aunt come July 2 thru the 23rd and we´ll be traveling all that time. I´ll be coming back with them to visit SoCal for one month! HOpe to see you there!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Saturday lunch and such




Here we all are at our Saturday lunch place. YOu can see the new "walls"she just put up about 2 weeks ago to separate the kitchen from the dining area. Today she only had fish fried whole, with the head and all, so most of us had tacos or fried chicken. Those plates come with a ton of fried plantanes, salad, and rice for only $1.40. and the owner lady is super sweet. She's been known to give us a free bowl of beans or extra plantanes or extra piece of chicken. I think all our visits helped her to pay for her walls!
I'll try to remember to include a picture of the market next time. It's overflowing with mangoes! I love them and it seems the farmers can't sell enough. The price has gone down significantly the last few weeks from .50 a piece to like5 for .50 cents. You see mango pits and peels everywhere littered in teh streets. It's definately mango season here, no doubt.
I'd like to now include a few funny recent quotes from some first graders homework. keep in mind they can hardly write yet in Spanish let alone in English!
These come from homework where they had to write sentences with verbs...
1. "I see her at the tickle window." The WHAT window?! I want to know what her mom was trying to say when she wrote that for her daughter.
2. "I spend too much money on groceries". again, written by mom?
3. "They use plenty of stunt double people in the movies." wow.
4. "My mom is wack."
5. "My mom is trip(ping)." The last two remind me of my ghetto days, but no one would ever say their mom is wack! I think the student meant to write "working".

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

OPEN HOUSE!

Today was the 2nd annual Open House at Southwest School. The teachers still arrived a little after 8am and spent the entire morning, well, until 1pm, cleaning and settting up the classrooms. I didn't have as much to do as others it seemed and it still took me to entire time to get everything done, but i didn't have to rush. Since most of us "roam", we had more than one classroom to decorate. The day went pretty fast. I didn't have too much to "show off" from English class, especially compared to science or art. Although I do teach art but I didn't think to save anything for today so I still didn't have too much to show off. I have a lot of ideas for next year, though. A little over half of the second graders came. It's pretty stressfull to pull off a successful open house. I had thoughts in my head all day of my open house in 6th grade. That was one of my more memorable years and I remember how much I always enjoyed going to Open House and showing off things to my parents, no matter what they were.
It's hard to believe that there are only 3 weeks left of school!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

At church today it was quit a service for The Big Day. Like I said earlier, it's like Christmas here. All the festivities of The Day actually started Friday, when I had 7 students absent from 2nd grade! This morning at around 2am, my neighbors said they started to hear the firecrackers. Yes, that's right. It's like 4th of July AND Christmas toggether! And they even blow them up here for Christmas too! So I am glad i'm a hard sleeper. They, my neighbors, also heard live music close by so Ken got up at 4am to walk toward the sound and see what it was. Apparently our neighborhood had the option of hiring some serenade singers to come to the door of their mother to sing, complete with a guitar, a tuba, and a drum. I mean, what serenade is complete without a tuba???


At church we had the usual worship time, then about 4 different short performances by the youth, and then a sermon. It was the most interesting Mother's Day sermon I've ever heard. The pastor basically lectured/chastised all the men on how to be better husbands. In this machisto culture, I'm not sure if it was taken well or not. He was preaching on how men should treat the mother of their children everyday, but I felt like I was eavesdropping in on a "man-to-man"talk.

After the sermon the 32 mother's present lined up in front facing the church and were each given a nice fleece blanket. earlier each mother was given a number when they arrived. they then raffled off slippers and a few buckets filled with lard, rice, beans, a toothbrush and toothpaste, a bag of sugar, and a few lollipops. Our " mother"in the apartments, Beverly, won one of the buckets. She's planning on keeping and using the bucket but will probably donate all the food. She just won't be using a 2 pound tube of lard anytime real soon.

After the service, Pupusas were served to everyone. That's a lot! Pupusas are originally from El Salvador. They're made(this is my best interpretation) with a ball of masa and whatever you want in there, cheese, beans, chicken, beef, and then patted flat and fried. They are super good. If you're close, head to a hispanic part of town in LA or Long Beach. You're sure to find a place that has them.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saturday

Today myself just woke up around 5.30am! I so wanted to sleep in, but to no avail. I´d woken up everyday last week at 5.30 on purpose to go running for 30 minutes, because I love seeing the sunrise, and there´s hardly any people out and it´s cool, no cars to stir up dust. So I guess after only 5 days my body thinks that it´s normal. Well, I had a nice relaxing time to read and do some cleaning this morning. Later on I washed my clothes on the scrubboard, which I´m also really used to now. I´ts a workout in itself. I pictured myslef as tired as a boxer, needing a break, and wanting my coach to come up beside me to rub my shoulders and give me a snack ...maybe a chocolate chip cookie?,, and some water.

For lunch most of us from the apartments went to a little hole in the wall restaurant in the big market that sells everything from fruits and vegetables to dishware to soaps, etc. The lady who cooks has gotten to look forward to us becuase we´ve been eating lunch there every saturday for about 3 months. She serves great tacos or a plate of fried chicken with extras for only about $1.50 a plate. Sometimes she has fish, like i wrote about before.

After lunch I was supposed to substitute an english class taught by a co teacher, but only one student showed up and the building was all locked up becasue the electricity is out all over town. I can write here because there´s a generator.

I saw the market today through the eyes of a visitor and not a resident. It´s bustling with large baskets and people sitting on wooden benches trying to sell as many of their wares as possible. They shout what they sell, trying to get you to buy from them. There´s not a lot of room to walk down the middle √§isle¨, especially when there are two different men with their bikes trying to go in the opposite direction. It´s THE place to hang out, especially on the weekends. That´s where people fellowship, gossip, and lounge the day away with their friends.

There were a lot of plastic plate sets wrapped up in colored plastic wrap and paper tissue flowers being sold for Mother´s Day. That day is huge here. It´s huge in the States too, but it seems more of a big deal here, more like how the STates celebrates for Christmas. Most schools have big programs and the day after is even a holiday for a lot of businesses and schools.

Back to the market, one must walk through all of it, asking the different prices, to see who has the best deal. That´s one thing I miss about the States, is that there everyone gets the same price in the Ralphs or wherever. You go in, pick up your stuff, and don´t leave feeling ripped off...well, maybe you do anyways, but at least you don´t feel you´re the only one because you´re a certain color so everyone thinks you have plenty of money and can surely spend twice as much on fruits as everyone else. For instance today Beto got to a vendor before me and was waiting there. When I asked the lady the price of her tomatoes she gave me a higher price than she did him, but she lowered it to what she charged him when he told her that we were together.

Finally, another observation...as I walked to this internet cafe, the streets were packed with mountain people waiting for the ¨chicken bus¨or a pickup to hail them up the mountain with all of their goods they´ve bought for the week. I saw one large truck with wooden slits up the sides packe with people...they looked like cattle. I wanted to take a picture but felt a little uncomfortable. It´s totally normal to them and I see it all the time, but today it struck me hard somehow. People here for the most part are really really hard workers and live in, what would be such uncomfortable circumstances.

Happy Mother´s Day to all the mother´s , especially mine!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Daily life


We drink lot's of coffee because we like to look like this!
Lately I've been thinking about some crazyish things that sometimes happen in La Esperanza. Here's a short list:
1.Seeing elderly ladies dressed up, standing in the back of moving pickups.
Better than walking!
2. When I run alone I carry a small rock in one hand to ward off any stray/annoying dog chasing/barking at me. I've never had to hurt one...yet.
3. Having the power go out 4 times in one week for a lengthy period of time. It takes creativity to use an electric coffee pot without electricity, let me tell you!
4. Buying eggs by the crate of 2 dozen and walking home 1/2 a mile with them in a plastic bag. It's not easy either over those cobblestones!
5. Drinking coffee with a scoop of ice cream. If you've not yet, you should try it!
Over the past few weeks I've learned a lot about myself. One lesson came from a difficult parent who came up with excuse after excuse no matter what I told her was the problem for her sons bad grades(1st grade). Whatever I said she counteracted it with another excuse. She asked me to give her son tutoring, which was frustrating for me because he acted the same as in class...spaced out and difficult to teach. She then wanted private, paid tutoring. She seems willing to do whatever it takes (or have me do whatever it takes) to help her son raise his grades. So yesterday i go for the first private tutoring from 5-6pm, and that's after he's had general tutoring in school with other students fro 3-4. the poor guy was tuckered out!!!
I arrive and she asks if I am going to give him tutoring 2 days lke we discussed or only one day. She's asking me how much he really needs. I said, "We'll start with 2 and see how he does." I didn't start till she paid me in advance because some other teachers had problems with that, you can imagine, i won't go into detail.
after the lesson was done, she asked again if he really needs the tutoring 2 days. I was wondering if she meant he might need it more, like 3 days a week. Then she says, "Well, the tutoring is really expensive and I'd like to get it down to 1 day a week as soon as possible." Well, maybe you can think of what I was thinking. Oh the joys. It's not too expensive, not for a family of their meens, "meaning" frequenting the local bar/karoke hot spot. But instead of getting really frustrated/angry like I might have in the past, I found myself calm, patient, and realizing that I can do all I can and some people still won't ever be happy.
God is teaching me a lot lately and changing me. I read recently that for some it's easier for us to believe that God loves us than that He can change us. That's me, I admit, so I'm praying for God to change me and to help me believe that He can.
Pray for Beto. He won't be teaching at Southwest next year. the law has changed to require all P.E. teachers to be certified. He is hopeing for a pastoral/ministry job in a town about 2.5 hours away where a new church was just started.
And for those who don't know we've postponed the wedding, so pray for us and God's will to be done. I will be here another year teaching at least. I really like it and feel it is the right thing to do right now.
Blessings!

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Bag o' Milk


For some who were interested in this phenomenon, here's a picture of how I buy my milk. Usually I cut a small hole in one of the top corners and pour it into a pitcher, but when it's being used(my one and only with a lid), I cinch it with a clothespin and CAREFULLY set it on the top shelf of the fridge, in the back corner held up by my jar of salsa and a can of Coke. It's good tasting but so inconveniente, but I buy it because I refuse to buy the shelfed boxed milk and it's cheaper than buying it in the jugs like we do in the States.
In other news, the school year is winding down nice and quickly. I am looking forward to doing more fun activities with my students these last four weeks.