Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Glory in the market

We went to the outdoor market today.  I stayed in the car since Santi was sleeping, but even if he wasn´t we would´ve stayed.  The prices are cheaper if Beto goes by himself.  I´m white, so I´m rich and can afford to pay twice as much as everyone else. Hmm...more on that later.

As I was waiting, I was watching a young mother and her two kids in front of me, unbeknownst to them.  She looked to be at least 40 at first glance but the longer I stared at her the more I thought she was probably only in her twenties.  This I judged based first on her kids´ages, second on the statistics of this population, and third, on her eyes.

She was shorter than me and was carrying a small child on her back. He may have even been around 2 years old.  Her clothes were dirty and her hair really matted, her skin dark, like  from hard labor in the sun.

 Her older child looked to be about Santi´s age and height, but his arms were half as big but his stomach more protruded.  Also his clothes were dirty, but he seemed to be a very happy and loved little boy.  The wrap that the younger child was in on his mom´s back was really dirty.

They just struck me as having a really really hard life. They looked like the kind of people that don´t live here in our town, but come down from small villages up in the mountains, and have to take slow busses home with all of their heavy goods after waiting maybe a few hours for the bus to arrive, in the hot sun, or in the rain, on the side of a dirt road with cars passing by blowing up dust.

Then I started thinking and asking myself questions. For example, WOW! I am so thankful to have been born where I was born and have lived the kind of life that I´ve lived. I could´ve easily been born up in these mountains to poor parents or some other third world country.  Why was I NOT born somewhere else? And why is the majority of the world living in such uncomfortable conditions? I could think of a few answers but I don´t wish to explore those here.

They left and then passed by a young girl that I´ve seen many times before. I have heard her story from a friend of mine.  She was abandoned and left homeless on these streets, for unknown reasons, and therefore has been robbed, raped, attacked, etc. numerous times. Therefore she has learned to be aggressive and sometimes very violent.  People are scared of her. She cuts her very short and when I first came across her a few years ago I thought she was a boy.  She sometimes looks very dirty but today she looked like she had just had a shower and put on clean clothes.  I watched her buy one banana and then stroll into the ¨parking lot¨of a business across the street.

Then a few minutes later I heard someone singing slash chanting...I can´t find the slash on this spanish keyboard.  She was kneeling on a piece of cardboard looking up to the sky with eyes open and her fingers stretched out, palms together.  I couldn´t really understand what she said from inside the car, but I think I heard a ¨Maria¨and  ¨virgin¨in there somewhere.  And this went on for about 10 minutes when she started to pray.  then a business man came out and handed her some money.  I think most of the town knows her and her situation and gives her money when she asks because she doesn´t use it on alcohol.  I imagine that becuase of her reputation for violence no one has taken her in and I imagine that´s the same reason for why she´s not in any of the orphanages here.

Beto returned when she was finishing up and I told him, ¨you know, people think she´s crazy, but what would the world be like if we all praised and prayed to God like that, in public or not? If only I had her courage and passion like her.  And I´m sure God hears her and takes care of her even if she doesn´t have a home.
Even though that´s a hard concept to get my head around.  Why did God allow her to be put in that situation in the first place? Man´s free will? Original Sin?

And then my husband, my wise, loving, gentle husband reminded me that not because of her parents, but so God could use her to get the glory, to show His Glory.  I do believe I saw a little bit of His glory there in the market today.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

the Third One...finally

Now I´ll tell a little stroy about how we had ¨no food or money¨ .

Beto and I, I don´t like to brag, but we´ve always been pretty good with keeping a budget, and most importantly, God is always faithful and never leaves us without!

But this month we had Santi´s birthday and in Honduras we celebrated Father´s Day, plus just some other surprises that cost us more than we anticipated. AND, we had also started a separate savings account. Very good.
So last week we were out of ¨in pocket¨cash and the checking account was low.  We knew we´d have to wait about 5 more days to have cash in hand.  There was ham, eggs, meat, beans, rice, and tortillas.  But I tend to see what we don´t have..cheddar cheese, sliced bread, butter, fruit and veggies. So in my mind, we had ¨no food¨.

PERSPECTIVE...many people here, including the family that we do a lot of ministry with, don´t have running water nor ever the money to buy a luxury item like say, a watermelon.

After a day like today when the electricity goes off, on,off,on,off,on,etc. I have to breathe and remember that a lot of people in this area NEVER have electricity.
And I´m so thankful for our blessings that allow us to be able to celebrate special days.

but I think my husband said it well the other day when we were talking about this.  I had posted something on Facebook about it and the next day my mom called worried, mentioning that other people were asking about us, and that she´d deposited some money for my birthday and I HAD to use it, for fun!!!
Beto said, ¨We should post at least once a month then something about being low on funds. Good idea!

The Second thing...and the third

So I didn´t think I´d have time so soon to write about the Second Thing but my second job called to say ¨Come later¨.  So I´m at home for a few more minutes.

I´m going to combine the second and third.  On my notepad I wrote ¨Candy when hungry¨and ¨no food or money¨.  And I put them in quotes on my notepad because ¨hungry¨will relate also to spiritual hunger and ¨no food or money¨ was a little extreme because we actually did have SOME food and money.

I was just thinking the other day about how sometimes when I´m really really hungry I eat candy. And at the moment it suffices, but not in the long run. It´s not real food and it doesn´t satisfy...despite Snickers´claims. And that´s how it is in my spiritual life. When I´m really really hungry spiritually many times I try to ¨fill up¨ on spiritual candy.  For me that´s Christian spanish music on the radio, or watching a ¨Baby Faith¨video with Santi. But really what I need is something to really fill me...the Presence of Jesus, being in His Word and praying and meditating. These all sound very spiritual and I certainly don´t do them everyday or everyweek or sometimes not even for a month.

But then I don´t funciton very well, just like physiclaly when all I eat is candy.  I get tired and cranky and my family doesn´t want to be around me.  But give me a good meal? Well, and they do want to be around me.

Three posts in one...oops, nevermind

I´ve had a list next to the computer for days of three different things I want to blog about. But I think since I´m eating my baleada and have to go work, like, now, I´ll mention all three here since I don´t think each one will be too long.

Last week I finally made an orange bread, which is beto´s favorite and he´d been hinting that he wanted one for actually a couple of months. But I put it off because I´ve been making a lot of banana bread with all of the approximately 50 bananas that went brown from the bunch of about 100 that we bought on the side of the road in ¨monkey country¨, as the locals call it, or something like that,  about a month and a half ago coming back  from Tegucigalpa.
Plus, I have to grate orange peel and squeeze the juice fresh by hand, and I really don´t look forward to that.

So as another hint he bought ¨essence of orange¨.  Yes, he does most of the shopping while I´m at work. It´s the only time it can get done.

So I made some orange bread with the essence using an online recipe, but the online recipe called for real OJ.  So I guessed at the amount of ¨essence¨....that word is starting to sound like the name of a cheap perfume.  Let´s just say that the bread was NOT EDIBLE.  Our dogs wouldn´t even eat it. I don´t know if Beto ever even tried it because it wasn´t even at all attractive!  It didn´t cook enough in the middle and of course, didn´t really taste ¨orangy¨

and all this got me thinking...what happens when we put ¨the essence of...¨in our lives instead of The Real Thing, AKA Jesus?  How do we turn out? Not quite done on the inside. least to those who have already tasted of The Real Thing.  But hear me out...let me take this analogy further...NOT unloveable or unwanted, ok?  Something ¨unedible¨or unusable I should say in this sense.
I know I put a lot of ¨essences of...peace, or joy, or even love¨ in my life, in my heart, my mind and what happens? I don´t turn out very peaceful, or joyful, or loving!

Only ¨the Real Thing¨ is what I want.

Sorry, couldn´t resist....

so number one turned out longer than expected.  Two other topics after work...maybe.

My Birthday!

Yes, it´s true. I turned 32 yesterday! Exactly two weeks after Santi´s birthday.  This means I´m going to try to not have any more kids in the month of March. Two birthdays are enough money spent in one month!

But it was nice. At church every week the ladies´ministry raffles off some item.  It might be a jewelry box, a lunch, or in this case, a cake with a bottle of coke.  Envelopes are passed out to everyone and the minimum is 20 lempiras, or about $1, and whoever puts in the most money wins the item.  All of these events are to raise money for the church to buy the property they´re currently using from the mission. So to my surprise, Beto won the cake and coke! Afterwards we invited some friends over, and after they went home full of sugar Beto took me out to a new restaurant in town that was, eh, pretty good, but after we got home I was sick so now I have a bad taste in my mouth for that place, so to speak.
 but I think it´s from a parasite that´s been there for at least a week, but that´s for another post.
After dinner we rented a movie, ¨Due Date¨.  I think I´m starting to really like that actor Zack something or other with the funky greek last name. Anyways, renting ¨new¨movies here is like our biggest form of entertainment. woo hoo!Here´s some pics from the big day. Hold on, this should only take about 2 hours..

Beto lighted the candles about 5 minutes before I actually blew them out b-c Santi disappeared into his room and we were waiting for him to get his drum.  So yea, there was some hot wax on the cake, but I think it got picked off. I think...
the tradition here after singing the birthday song is to sing ¨And now we want cake! And now we want cake! Although it´s just a little piece, now we want cake. And Coka Cola too! And for the old folks, cafe!¨ And they all sang that first! So then I told them they can´t just come to my house demanding cake and coke and coffee...which we didn´t have b-c honestly, do any of us look like ¨old folks¨? ! So here they´re singing me a nice birthday song. 

three ¨electricity´s out¨candles, then we added the number 2 candle from Santi´s party. Get it??? 3-2?

Santi had a bad cold

trying not to laugh at the ridiculous photo shoot. Beto took about 8 pictures on this chair from that same spot and I admit, I wanted them to come out ¨artsy¨. 

a man and his sunday paper. although this was saturday´s paper, but he was reading it on a sunday. 

My steak. eh, it was ok. 

Beto´s shrimp. He really liked it.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Something about Nothing

Tonight I´m just gunna sit down and write. I don´t have any pictures to put up. I´m not really sure who reads this. Sometimes people come up to me in the States and tell me that they really like my blog and I´m very surprised that I have that many readers.
Usually when I sit down to write a blog I have a lot of pictures that I just put captions to. Sometimes I want to write about something funny or interesting that happened during the day, but when I finally sit down at the computer I think, ¨Naw, nobody will think it´s funny like I think it´s funny. Nobody wants to hear about THAT.  Forget it. ¨But usually what happens is that I just forget. I know something happened, but after a long day and Santi is finally asleep, I just want to veg in front of Facebook or in front of a movie that I´ve already seen a hundred times, so I don´t write.

But recently I came across some writings that I really really like by someone I have a lot in common with, and she just writes about LIFE...everyday stuff...her problems, bad habits, hang ups, joys, errands, frustrations,etc.

And it´s super interesting and entertaining. I sat at the computer for probably like at least four hours today reading through her posts from the past 4 years.  Not that I´m a slow reader but our internet here is sooooooo sloooooooow... I keep a doodle pad next to me now just so I have something to occupy myself while I´m waitin the five minutes for the internet to open, and then another five minutes while the google page opens, and then another five while the site I wanted opens, and then another 10 minutes for Facebook b-c for some reason that page takes the longest.  and a lot of times I get up and go to the bathroom, or change Santi´s diaper, or do laundry, or sweep, or wash dishes, or make some food, and then I get distracted and forget that I left Facebook open on my computer, which is why a lot of times I don´t see that a friend wanted to chat with me until 4 hours later and I am sad b-c they are already off line. Probably because they did everything they had to do online in like 5 minutes!

But anyways, so something funny happened today, with Santi of course, but now I can´t remember. It´s late. I think I´ll go watch ¨Mean Girls¨.

I guess I can get out a blog about something about nothing.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Vigil and funeral for Maria, Miguel and Jorge´s mom

Granddaughter of Maria, daughter of Nora, Miguels and Jorge´s sister

Fatima, Maria´s youngest, who always wears a hat now since they shaved her head because of lice. 

The younger of Lilian´s daughters, Yolani

The older of Lilian´s daughters, Belinda

On the front patio.  The four walls are the same size as that front one.  It´s a one room home.

The kitchen.  Lilian is there in the pink shirt.  She is the oldest of Maria´s daughters at about 24 years old.  Maria was in her early 40´s when she died. 

Inside the kitchen. There´s no running water.  Lilian has been borrowing water from a neighbor to clean dishes and clothes.

Inside the house where they had the vigil.  It is constumary here to hold an all day vigil, then make the procession to a church, and then to the cementary.  

Looking out from the front door.  Nora, 15,is  posing. The kitchen is to the right.

Lilian, Yolani, and a friend

Nora and her 9 mo. old.  They moved about 2 hours away with Nora´s husband about 4 months ago where she has a job. 

Santi loves cats, and her he is with Fidel and his cat.  Fidel is Miguel´s neighbor and friend.
This house was owned by the mother who passed away.  She didn´t leave a will but Lilian will for now be responsable for her three younger brothers and sister and they will all be living in this house along with Lilian´s two girls and husband.  As you can see, it is very small for 8 people, and there isn´t any running water.
Beto and I right now feel moved to first of all, put running water in their home which will cost around $300.  After that, we´d like to build them an outhouse which will cost about $200. From there, a little more spacious and more higienic kitchen, which also would cost about $200.  And finally, add on a small wooden room, put in a ceramic floor, and cover their adobe bricks with cement and paint.

If you feel moved to help us out in this endeavor, please send checks made out to Long Beach Church of Christ with ¨Melgar-Perez Families¨on the memo line, and send it to the Long Beach church of Christ at...

3707 Atlantic ave
Long beach,CA 90807

The funeral was this afternoon at a cementary near our home.  I´ve never been to a Honduran funeral before and let me just say it was very different from any funeral I´ve ever experienced.  First of all, because most people don´t have cars, they walk behind the truck who´s bed holds the coffin from the church to the cementary.  The vigil earlier in the day is very quiet, reserved, where people come to pay their respects and pray.  At the cementary no one said any words of rememberance.  There was a lot of loud wailing and crying mostly by the young daughters, for about an hour.  While that is going on, a small group of men are carrying buckets of cement from the place where they mix it on the ground about 10 feet from the plot to the plot.  they first fill the plot with dirt and then cover that in cement to make a large square shaped ¨box¨above ground.  And this has to be done fairly quickly, so one man is yelling to the others 10 feet away, ¨More buckets! 2 more buckets!¨   Beto led a prayer and then had to rush Lilian, to the hospital for uncontrollable crying and fainting.   Jorge and his older brother, who arrived drunk to the funeral, went with him. She was able to calm down and is now resting at home.  She hadn´t slept at all last night since her mother arrived at 3am this morning from the capitol city and she had to get the house ready.

To finish out, on the lighter side. When we arrived at the cementary Santi was looking for Miguel.  He thought we were going to his home but I explained to him where we were and what it is and why.  I´m glad I told him in English because throughout the time there Santi kept repeating, ¨Mama died. Jorge´s mama died. Miguel´s mama died. Miguel cry. Fatima cry. Jorge cry. Mama died. Mama died.¨ He´s just at that stage of repeating things a lot and he was just being matter of fact, but I was relieved that no one else could understand him.

Please be in prayer for this family.  It is just so heartbreaking for me to see these young children crying over their mother and to know that their father left them many years ago.  So young without any parents at all. I can´t imagine.
We still have yet to talk to Lilian about whether she is going to take legal guardianship of her younger siblings, or if they will go live with a relative or what.  There is an orphanage here but we have to do a lot of praying and talking with the family.  Please pray for the Lord to give us wisdom in all of this too.

Couples dinner

The church was decorated beautifully.  About 25 couples arrived for a great time of  sharing.  It was led by our former missionaries, Bob and Kathy, who are licenced marriage-family therapists.  They talked about the four obstacles to good communication and how to overcome them.  The dinner and dessert were awesome as well!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Santi´s birthday weekend...and beyond!

¨Surprise!¨His first gift given by one of my student´s families. It´s a ¨cat¨tractor with a ¨drill¨.  
Saturday night we attended a wedding reception.  Here is Santi with one of his favorite people, the sister of the groom. 
The groom with my boys.
Bride and Groom
¨aaa...I love parties!¨
Mmm...good chicken!
first view on his 2nd birthday!
He had just woken up, but he´s excited!
More rehab center graduates Sunday morning
Santi´s invites hangin out.
On the back patio. thanks to Miguel and Jorge for all the cleaning! and to Beto too!
Santi´s teaching Rhonda how to bow and say ¨arigato!¨
Pooh got plundered
My ski hat was the best way to cover the eyes for the older kids.
One kid found this chick by our chicken coop but when he tried to put it in the coop the other chickens only wanted to peck it to death.  We kept it one night but Monday morning Santi accidentally stepped on it and it is now buried in the back yard.  RIP little chicky
Sunday morning Miguel told us that his birthday is the 14th, so we celebrated his too. I quickly added his name to an extra cake I´d made. 
rhonda, Santi´s godmother. Besides me, she labored the hardest when Santi was born. She went 24 hours without sleeping and held my hand for 12 while I squeezed the life out of it every two minutes during my contractions.  she will always be a special part of our lives and especially of Santi´s birthdays.  She tried to get his attention here but obviously he can only think about the cake.
Santi still focused on the cake.
Ok, now everybody with JOrge
Santi with his ¨Uncle¨Daniel.  He´s half Guatemalan too!
The ¨after party¨ 
Showing off his new underwear, socks, and drum.
Monday morning we walked over to our friend´s house in progress and prayed for them.  What a beautiful day!
Making ¨thank'you¨notes
Beto having fun