Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Los Pinos

I like to travel.  To see new places.  I wanted to see the whole United States and travel every highway.  I had no desire to go to Europe or any where.  I was convinced that there was a life time of adventures in the good ol' USA.  If I had no desire to go to England or Italy or France, you can well imagine that I had no desire to go to 3rd world country.  ( On a side note, since I have been to some of those places, I want to travel the world now.)

But, in 2003, I did come to a third world country on a mission trip.  The first day I packed food.  I decided a third world country was not so bad.  At least, I could come back every year for a mission trip.  Little did  I know that I would eventually live here.

As a group of us was  packing food, others were building houses and starting construction on a church building in a community called Los Pinos.  One of the houses that was built that day was for a family that had children in desperate need of clothes.  I went to Los Pinos the second day of the mission trip.  I had never seen such poverty.  I went to deliver clothes to this family.  We walked down, down down the steepest hill I had ever seen.  Mostly, I was looking down to see where I was going. 

The clothes were delivered and we started back up this hill or mountain or whatever.  I was huffing and puffing my way back up.  I stopped to catch my breath.  As I looked up to see how much further we had to go, there it stood.  A house made of sticks and garbage bags.  And people were living in it.  Since I was huffing and puffing, it would have been easy to blow the little house down, had I wanted to.  At that moment, my heart was broken.  I cried.  No, I sobbed.  I knew, without a doubt, that I would be back.  I had to.  I was not thinking living here, though. 

Today Matt and I were in Los Pinos.  And, you know what?  Los Pinos still breaks my heart.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Villa Navedena

A couple of weeks ago, Matt and Nicole were leaving Tegucigalpa at the dusky time of day and saw the Villa Navedena, the Christmas village.  All the houses and trees had lights on them.  The Casa kids think a Christmas tree with 2 strings of lights on it is beautiful.  Nicole was sure they would love this. We chose a date.  It had to be after the group left, after the wedding.  That did not leave a lot of time before Christmas.  We did not tell anyone of our plans.

Today, Nicole had to start telling employees and the kids figured out something was up, but didn't know what.  Most of them never go to Tegucigalpa, so they would have no idea what we were talking about.  But, they were excited that we were going somewhere.

Twenty two kids and Baby Paige, and 7 adults.  We have sort of outgrown the 15 passenger van.  The boys and the employees in the boys house rode in Matt and Nicole's car, as did Emma and Paige.  The girls and 2 employees rode with me in the van.  We left at 4:30 and got there just as the lights came on at 5:30.  Everyone walked around oooohing and aaaahing at the lights.  It really was pretty.

Most of the kids wanted to ride the train, but before that could happen, Santa had to work on the engine.

Even while Santa was working on the engine, the kids began to pile into the train.

Emma did not feel very good. She wanted to ride, but did not want to get in the train.  Nicole did what any mommy would do; she appointed herself as co-engineer.  And she had a lot of fun as co-engineer.

There was a stage.  At the time we were there, there were some skits.  There was no way to call what I heard talent.  But, the kids loved watching.
The village was not very big and it did not take us long to walk through the whole thing.  There is no charge to enter.  Food was sold there and the food was very expensive.  I told the kids before we went in that the food was expensive and we were not buying.  Do not even ask.  That is how they make their money.  Nicole and I had another surprise up our sleeve.  We were going to take them to Cinna-Bons for hot chocolate.

When we got back to the cars, one child was not with us.  Big Josue.  Big Josue is only 7.  I thought I was going to wet my pants when I realized a child was missing.  Mercedes started back and Nicole took off running.  I got the girls and the adults in the van and started back, too.   I met Mercedes coming out with Josue holding her hand.  She found him standing in the line to ride the train again.  He was clueless that everyone had gone to the car and that he was standing with people whom he did not know.  After Nicole came back to the car, we headed to Cinna-Bons.

I was thinking it is way too hot for hot chocolate, but we ordered for everyone.  It is never too hot for hot chocolate that tastes that good.  The kids loved this part of the adventure, too.

As we drove home, the girls pointed out every Christmas light they saw and continued to ooooh and aaaah.

It was a great evening.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Beautiful Wedding

Back in February, it was announced in church that our friend, Eduardo, had been accepted to preaching school in El Progreso.  We all have redemption stories, but his is a little bigger than some.  Eduardo's girlfriend, Zenia, could not move to El Progreso until they were legally married and that would have to be, at the earliest, December.  Nicole and I thought would be a good project for us.  To see that they got legally married in December.  Getting legally married here is very expensive. 

December was a really long ways away.  What seemed like two days later, we realized we had better start preparing for this wedding we had promised.  Nicole had just had a baby and was not very mobile.  Zenia and I went to town one Sunday after church to look for a white dress.  Not a white wedding dress, just a white dress.  Trust me on this one, there are very few white dresses in Tegucigalpa and we saw almost all of them.  After shopping 3 malls in one day, it seemed pretty hopeless.  Zenia was far more stressed than I was.  We got a cup of coffee and began to discus our options.  She decided we would look in El Centro first and the decide upon another option, if necessary.  I do not know El Centro well and I do not drive there.

Luis Estrada is a good man.  We met him at the mall, left my car and he took us to El Centro.  We were doing our female thing talking and giggling.  And crying, when we found the dress that she said yes to.  Then there was jewelry and shoes.  Like I said, Luis is a good man.

Meanwhile, here at Casa, the girls are getting excited about this wedding.  They decided they needed new dresses.  I decided they could wear what they had.  Everyone had a dress but Daniela and most everyone had shoes.

Nicole had bought some things with which to decorate, but not all.  Monday of the wedding week was my day off.  I went to the airport to say goodbye to the group and started looking for the rest of the decorations and flowers.  This is way out of my comfort zone.  After about 15 calls to Nicole, she said, "whatever you buy, I can make it look pretty."  I breathed a sigh of relief and found what I thought she was looking for.  After payday on Tuesday, Nicole and I went back to town to get the last few things.   There was still that one dress and a few pair of shoes.

Haley got really sick and Nicole had to go get her from school and take her to the doctor.  Thursday afternoon, I took 4 girls to Ojojona to shop.  Three pairs of shoes and the dress were found easily.  Ana could find no shoes that fit her.  I did not want her to cry.  I told her we would go to Payless on Friday morning and she had to find something there.  Daniela's shoes broke on Thursday night.  Oh well, I was going to Payless any way, she could go with me.

Sometimes, it is a good thing that I am a ditz.  Being short-staffed and my car being in the shop, meant I was going to have to drive a truck.  Fortunately, very fortunately, I could not start the truck.  Matt showed me how several times and I just could not do it.  Matt said he would take the girls to Payless.  Another good man.

Nicole was with Emma at her Christmas party at school.  I got my computer and was going to stay in the apartment with Haley. 

Girls were already beginning to work on hair.

Like I said, fortunately, I could not start the truck.  At 9:40 Zenia called and was talking so fast I could not understand most of what she said, but I understood 9:30 and alcaldea and I knew I was supposed to be in Ojojona for the civil ceremony.  I knew that because Dennis told he was going with Eduardo.  Haley, in her nightgown, and I went flying out of there.  I took the van.  I did not know where alcaldea was in Ojojona.  Haley said she did, but she did not.  Ojojona is not big.  Haley had her window down and was asking people where alcaldea was.  I finally parked the van and Haley and I were running across the plaza.  When I saw Eduardo, we just followed him.  There were four couples waiting for their civil wedding.  Four couples and their witnesses.  Everyone was there but me.  It must be okay to start the wedding late, but not the civil part. 

Haley is in her nightgown.  Fortunately, I had on a skirt and looked decent.  This was a very sweet ceremony and it was an extreme honor to be included. 

I got home just a bit before Matt and he got home just a bit before Nicole.  She had the cake.  I was not sure we were going to pull this off.

I went to visitation and Nicole went to Ojojona to start decorating.

After visitation, nails were being done and all sorts of girl things.  I do not know what was going on in the boy house.  I am sure it was not near as busy.

After I got dressed, I brought up several of my necklaces.  Oh, the squeals of delight.  This is just what everyone needed to finish off their outfits.

Then we all loaded into the van and left for Ojojona.

It was a beautiful wedding.

The girls were beautiful and the boys were handsome, too.

I got one good shot of all of them.  At Byron and Pamela's wedding, when we tried to get a picture of all of them, someone said it was like herding cats.  Four years later, it still is like herding cats.

Nicole did do a beautiful job of decorating.

Zenia was not going to let Eduardo see her before the wedding.  She arrived in one motor taxi and got inside one of the rooms at the mission house.  She called him and then he came in another motor taxi.  And it was time for the wedding to begin.

I love this picture. And, some of you will know why.  I felt a tear slide down my face as I took it.
This one, too, has special meaning.

When it was time to clean up, Eduard carried more tables and chairs than anyone.

After I had the kids loaded in the van, Eduardo and Zenia jumped in the van and rode back to Santa Ana with us.  I loved that.

Here's wishing Eduardo and Zenia many, many years of happiness.