Sunday, June 12, 2011

I've only dones this once before... and the man died....

After a hot and muggy two hours of class, like usual, I was helping out at lunch time, when I realized a bunch of girls were missing.  I found them in the kitchen frantically huddled around one of the girls.  I moved them out of the way and to my horror saw the girl's hand, and a really purple greasy finger. A couple days earlier she had shoved another girl's ring on her finger, but because of a combination of things and the heat, she not only couldn't get the ring off, but it was cutting off the circulation to her finger!  We tried everything, canola oil, soap, lard, ice and then oil, and nothing seemed to help.  The situation seemed pretty severe to me, because her finger was only getting purpler and purpler.  The only thing would be to cut it off... I told her the finger would have to go so we could save the ring. hehe
     Being  in charge at the moment, we left in search of a jewler.  The first place we went into was a watch shop.  An old mostly bald man with a lot of missing teeth stands up barely taller than the counter.  I ask him if he could cut a ring off a finger, and he looks at me quite worriedly, and approaches us.  and in his old crackly voice tells us, " I've only done this once before, it was more than twenty years ago..." he looks off into space, and then looks intensely back at the girl, and says "and the man died with ten minutes...But I'll try."    While I was holding back the laughter,  the poor girl was holding back her tears as she extends her hand shakily.
      The viejito takes out an equally old pair of pliers, and with hands equally shaky hands.  During this time he continues to tell us how the man man died.  He was the biggest "Patron" in Santa Rosa, in every sense, ( aka he was fat and rich).  He got to fat, and was too proud to tell anyone his ring was to small.  He waited more than a week to go to the jewler(this guy), and when he cut the ring off, the man died**.  I knew my girl wouldn't die when her ring got cut off, but the combination of this man's old tools, his shaky hands and the strory, I had to stop him.  He was obviously not going to cut the ring off without hurting her too, so I ask if he knows any newer jewlery stores with newer tools, and he looks up like it was a great idea, and tells us where to go.  hehe.
     Long story short, we got there and got the ring cut off with some fancy shmancy electrical tool in the back work area/ closet of the jewlry store, and all was well!
    Thanks for all your prayers, you've helped save a finger!
    In the meantime life goes on as usual, giving classes and laughing at the adventures of daily life in Honduduras. God Bless you for your support!
Prayer Requests,
--Pray for the internas and this institution here, that there can be changes made where needed to adapt to more modern times, without losing their core Salesian values.   
--Pray for the country which is in a bit of political turmoil. 
--Pray for me, my fellow VIDES volunteers throughout the World, and the future volunteers that are in training camp right now, that we can keep our goals in sight everyday and be the light of Christ in any situation. 

** My own medical deducement was that the man's finger must have died and gotten infected, and when he cut the ring off the infection or a blood clot or something the ring was keeping in the finger went to the heart, and thats why he died, however the girl wasn't on the same train of thought.  Poor thing!

*Below are some photos of the launching of the Microempressa (small business) that the Senior girls run their last four months of their time here.  They sell baked goods, some of which are on display below.  Its a huge deal, because they have already had to do all that one normally needs to do to start a business, business plans, finding capital investments, test trials to see what people like, and now they get down to it, with the production, selling, keeping books and managing employees on top of their other classes! 


Sor Mirna the head director and Profe Carlos supervise the girls, but the girls do everything!
We even had news coverage at the launching of the event, because its a big deal!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Illegal Entry, What they don't know....

It was Saturday night, and after crossing the bridge, to El Salvador, we were all excited to go to the festival, but then the guards came up to the pick up truck and my heart began to pound out of my chest.  They had told me that there usually are no soldiers at the entry to El Salvador.  I was hoping that my skin color and the fact that there were plenty of us in the back if the truck would hide that I am American.  Then I heard the man say "Lift up your shirt."  I was apalled, was he saying that to one of the girls!! We all looked at him with open mouths, until the guy next to me lifted up his shirt, and we realized the guard was just checking for weapons, and then we passed without another problem.  I have a tiny understanding now of how it must feel to be an "illegal" in the country, walking around with fear of the policemen around the festival.  Ok maybe I am a little dramatic, but I wasn't that worried, only a lil bit, I mean after all they did put me on a blacklist to not enter the country until I had left the region. 

A brother of my girls, the Uncle Hilberto, Aunt Nina, A cousin, and one of the twins

These are the streets in part of the town.      El Salvador is those hills in the distance 

       I had no intention of going to El Salvador, when I went to the house of two of the girls that go to our school.  The sisters live with their uncle and aunt because their mom left them 8 years ago to go work in the states.  Their whole family has been moved around and dispersed between different tias and tios.  Its sad, but right now they are in a great place, with their Aunt and Uncle who take care of them like their own children, along with some distant cousin's twin daughters whose mother died in child birth, and their own son.  They live in a beautiful little tiny countryside town of a couple hundred people.  They like most everyone, make a living off their coffee farms and money they receive from the states (from the girls' mom).    The town is litterally right across a tiny bridge from San Fernando, a town of El Salvador, and Saturday night there was the coronation of Senorita San Fernando, so there was a tiny Fiesta, with tons of fireworks, a ferriswheel live music, dancing, and vendors of all sorts of stuff.  

       One crazy tradition they have is tho have a person with a cow costume that had live fireworks run around and dance, and randomly the fireworks will shoot off into the crowd!  As I was in the crowds I knew I couldn't move so I  just sat there and prayed to God the firework didn't go off when the cow was near me!    Its fun to see the cool cow dancing with flames on its back, but then you remember at any moment you might get pegged with one of those hot flames, and then you start to worry!
This is one of the sisters of a diffferent girl who goes to our school but couldn't make it home this weekend
    Its a beautiful place, and I love the way everyone knows everyone, and everyone family or not, is family.  I was called tia more than once by random little kids running around the village.  I hope that the threats right now of our modern culture can integrate with their lives, without destroying the beautiful sense of community you can find in these little villages like this. 

The dad of a different girl cutting down some fruit pods so that I can try them.

This is the fruit that you eat!

Crazy fuit pods called Pepinitos (I think)

Adventures on the border

So going to renew my visa was supposed to be an easy day trip, but it ended up being a long three day trip full of adventure.  Here in Honduras, the visas are given on a 90 day basis to Tourists from all non-Central-American countries except Libya and a few others.  90 days is just long enough to forget that you need to leave the country. My second 90 day visa expired today, and I had to leave the country to get a new one before.  
I live about 4 hours from the border of Guatemala and El Salvador by combination of buses and taxis. Not so far, and a day trip is quite possible, if one leaves early in the morning...
Rejection in El Salvador
Someone told me El Salvador was closer just go there, so I believed them and took a bus and then another bus, and then a busito and then a taxi, and made it to the border by myself.  I made it there pretty quickly and around 12:00 I was in the Immigration office in El Salvador.  After waiting 35 minutes inline for the passport check, it was finally my turn and the man began to ask me questions and then more questions.  He seemed awfully suspicious, and examined my visa, and then again, and then the third time of reexamining it he told me it wasn't valid in El Salvador, because it was from the El Salvador Honduras border, and I haven't left the region in 90 days blah-di-bla-bla... Well at this moment emotions running high and my nerves on edge, all I could do was hold back the baseball in my throat. I held back as long as I could and walked away, sad that I got cheated changing my money into American Dollars (the currency of El Salvador), and that I wasted my free day and my money on rejection!  Then Sor Vilma called me and then *waahhh*  the flood gates broke.  I was balling walking by myself on the Honduran border wondering what I would do without a Visa, or when I would find time and money to travel to Belize or Mexico, and the whole time aware of the strange men glaring at me wondering what in the world was going on. Ohh the humiliation of being an emotional woman! Lucky for me, even when I'm emotional I still think clearly and went to the Honduran Migracion office, and there was a guy watching TV, and he really said nothing but uhh huh,no,no! uh huh. Asking enough questions, I was able to deduce from the "si" and  "no" responses that Guatemala would probably let me in, so perhaps I wouldn't be left visaless! There was hope still!

JPII my last hope in Guatemala!
Sunday by puro milagro I woke up at 5:40 realized the bus left at 6:00 aka it leaves at 5:50!  I literally jumped out of bed put on my jeans and sprinted out the door and down the huge hill, making it to the bus at 5:51, only to find out there would be no bus until 9:00! 
So back up the hill to the Cathedral I made the 6:00 mass, and then down the hill again just in time to catch the bus.  At the big border town there was only one taxi waiting at the station to go to the Guatemalan Border-- it was Sunday, so only one taxi does runs to the Guatemalan border  which is about 45 min away.  The Guatemalan border was weird.  First there's the leaving Honduras side, then a 3 km drive and then the entry to Guatemala side.  Its also totally sketch there's nothing around really a couple snack shops and a ton of young men just standing around watching the two of us who came in the taxi pass through customs--CREEEPY!  I went to the border and just walked over to Guatemala with no problem, then I realized I needed to get my passport revised. hahe  So I walked back to the strange neutral zone and waited 20 min for the Guatemalan Immigration to attend to me, even though there was only one other person there! 
      So long story short, they let me into the country! and after a few more taxis I made it to Escipulas safe and sound, around 1:00.  They said the last bus to Santa Rosa left at 3:30 fro the big border town, so I figured I had 45 min in Esquipulas before I had to make my way back.  I prayed in the awesome templo and saw the famous "Black Christ" ate a sandwhich and a smoothie in the park, and then headed back .  I made it to the leaving Guatemala side on a little busito, but there was noone in the Immigration office, so the bus left me, and I went to go look for the Immigration workers first in a snack shop, and then all the way to their houses, and still didn't find them! haha Only in Central America!   So I waited about half hour, and finally some 17 year old guy came running and said he could stamp my passport, and he did.  Then I left just in time to jump on a bus on its way to Santa Rosa! What luck! 
      However when we came to the Honduran Entry point, they didn't want to stop, so I jumped off and they left me.  The second time that day!  The Honduran side was not so reticent to accept me either!  The guy  said the don't give visa's if you haven' been out of the country more than a day!  The guy said I could spend the night here and in the morning he'd give me a visa.  I looked around at the couple of run down houses and sketch guys, and was desesperada! (dissillusioned)  I prayed for some Divine Mercy.  Then I began to explain that I'm a volunteer and da da da and everything I do.  The man looked at me and said no, he couldn't, then I begged JPII for some good ol intercession, and sat there. The man began looking at the huge stacks of lists of people rejected from the country, (that I am now on in El Salvador hehe)  and I thought for sure he was going to add me to it, and asked me to fill out this paperwork, and ta daa! It was my visa!!!
Divine Mercy Sunday, and JPII perfect combo when in a bind!
As I signed the Visa, I heard the Booom, of the thunder, and as I was walking down the steps the rain began.  I looked and the Taxi was pulling away.  The only taxi that runs on Sunday! He saw me and let me in, saying I was lucky because now that the rain started, he wasn't going to do anymore runs!  Even though the taxi smelled a like dirty laundry, I couldn't help but rejoice that I was dry as I looked outside at the immense downpour of the rain on the beautiful countryside!
  The Third Bus to Leave me Stranded...

     I made it to the Bus station just in time around 3:40, and they said the bus hadn't left, so I was lucky.  However, soon 4:30 came, and then 5:30 and me and the fifty others were still at the bus stop.  The bus wasn't going to come.  And the next bus was at 4:30 am.  No prob, I called the sisters asked them if they knew where I could stay the night, and told them I was at the bus stop, and then.... My phone died. I have amazing luck!   So then I was tempted to hitch hike with this lady and her children, but decided against it in the end, because they weren't going all the way to Santa Rosa.  Soooo I waited at the bus stop, with a friendly couple and the sisters called me at the bus company, and told me how to go to a random convent in the city, because I could spend the night there.  What a miracle, the sisters there took care of me and gave me dinner and in the morning I left and made it back to St, Rosa in time for my classes!
God is good and takes care of us when we need him!

El famoso "Cristo Negro"! The cross in the Basilica draws pilgrims from tons of countries because it is a miracle that the Jesus on the cross of the crucifix turned black (dark brown) like the skin color of the people here to show that Christ is one of them too. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What a Semana Santissima!

Ok so Holy Week was this last week, and here that is like the equivalent of Spring Break for the whole country.  Imagine a whole country on vacation!  Everyone spends time with family and goes to the Hot springs, the beach or the river "to bathe" aka to swim.  I too joined this Honduran Vacaition madness, accompanied by my brother Nathan, who came in from DC to visit!   We had some great times...
Snorkeling and seeing amazing amazing coral reefs in Utila, 

Going toCopan to visit the Mayan Ruinas, to go Horseback riding and to visit with some friends from Tegucigalpa

And Coming back to Santa Rosa to experience the amazing traditions of Holy week, including:
The Sawdust Carpets for the Way of the Cross

  the veneration of Jesus hung on the cross, the procession of the holy burial,  and the procession of the mourning of Mary
However awesome all everything was, one of the best parts this week, was on Holy Saturday, going to a tiny tiny town in the middle of nowhere that has no electricity.  We had the opportunity to go with the bishop and the sisters for the Bishop's pastoral visit.  It was amazing to see the faith so alive in these people who live in the middle of nowhere, and that they came from their houses some hours away just to sing, celebrate, and have communion with the Bishop.  They were all so generous, even making food for all of us visitors.  It was cool to see how much Monse├▒or Luis (the bishop) is a Bishop of the pueblo (for the people) because he loved them, and also just how genuinely they also loved him.  

Finally the culmination of the week came to the celebration of the Easter vigil mass, with a dramatization of jesus breaking out of a tomb they had constructed behind the altar!  
Unfortunately we were to tired to stay up to see the races of St John and St Peter Easter Morning, between 4 and 6 am they run with the statues of the saints all over town for two hours just like Peter and John ran to tell Mary Jesus was risen. oh well. After an excursion to Gracias, Me and Nathan finished off the trip sitting listening to some old men play Marimba music late Easter Sunday in front of the Cathedral para toda la gente (for all the people). It was a blessed week and I'm so glad I got to spend it with my brother!

"On Easter we're all fish!"

Having Nathan, my big brother, here all week was awesome, we got to have adventures on all types of public transportation in Honduras,
1. Rapiditos/busitos(15 passenger vans that they shove 30 people in),  this is a video Nathan took of one soo full they broke the door off!

2. Tuktuks/mototaxis- My fav because you can't shove too many people in one!
3. Normal taxi's -with sneaky drivers trying to trick you into paying more than normal along with some quite respectable drivers, 

A cute kid making faces as she sat on the lap of her mom
4. Normal buses - old school buses filled to triple capacity because you don't have to pay for children and always with people and their chickens(in boxes of course), and these buses stop at every single group of houses no matter how small, and you have to be prepared to stand for a few hours.

5. Un Bus Directo that stops at less little towns, and only lets random people on to sell things when the driver is hungry , hehe 

6. And once on a Luxury bus, that gave us sanitary food included in the price, and didn't stop at all until the final destination! 
So in all this adventures of public Transportation, I'll share with you one. 
       On Easter, we went on a day trip to Gracias and on the way back, we were on a normal bus and there were a few empty seats, and I thought Wow maybe because its Easter day less people are traveling....But I was wrong, we approached the river and there they ALL were, all the Hondurans filled the river swimming and enjoying the sun.  However as we passed over the bridge, **Boom** thunder and the rain started, and, well, everyone decided this was the moment to leave the river, and our bus stopped.  A huge hoard of people still dripping wet from the river poured into the bus. Men and women accompanied by their grandparents and ten children entered cramming into every crevice possible bringing with them mud and the smell of fish. Someone had put a bag dripping with muddy fishwater over the heads of the people sitting in front of us, while I had the good fortune of only having a really wet old grandma pressed against my side, and she said through her few remaining teeth to the people in front of us who were complaining about the fishwater falling on them that "La Pascua todos somos pescados!" (On Easter we're all fish!) She made me laugh.
     The vieja was just noting that everyone goes swimming here on Easter, but I thought how oddly true her statement is.  If Jesus called us to be fisher's of men, then men really have to be the fish!  I guess we have to realize that sometimes we are the dirty smelly fish that need to be caught up in the nets of Christ.  Than I guess we also have to go out with our nets and hooks of love to catch other dirty slimy smelly men and bring em to the truth.   Anyways Happy Easter to all!

Pictures from Gracias
The fortaleza

Nathan firing
He shot me!


Me and Nathy
The church at the center of the town!