Sunday, June 29, 2014

Graduation Festivities!

Well, my year in Honduras is drawing to a close. The last couple weeks of school were full of paperwork, organizing, and lots of celebrations. And, as a picture is worth a thousand words, I'm going to let them tell the story!
The seniors pledging allegiance to Honduras over the flag.

The preparatory students getting ready with their parents.

One of the preparatory students directing the national anthem.

The seniors getting ready to walk down the aisle with their parents and guardians on either side.

The valedictory speech is given in English...

...and Spanish by the top two students.

The senior song: "You can count on me like 1, 2, 3. I'll be there."

Congratulations class of 2014!

After the ceremony, the students and their parents dance the traditional waltz.

The teaching staff and administration of Holy Spirit Episcopal Bilingual School all dressed up for graduation!

Monday, June 16, 2014

The School of Love and Hope

A little over a week ago I had the opportunity to visit an Escuela Agricola de Amor y Esperanza (Agricultural School of Love and Hope), also known simply as “The Farm”. It is part of a program called El Hogar, meaning ‘Home’, which reaches out to children in poverty to give them an opportunity for education and a chance to learn valuable skills. According to their website, El Hogar’s mission is “to transform and empower abandoned and hopelessly poor children in Honduras by providing a loving home and education. Our goal is for them to fulfill their ultimate potential as productive, caring and independent Honduran citizens.” The Hogar projects also include an elementary school, a technical institute for high school boys, and a residential home for high school girls. The agricultural school, also for high school boys, is located outside of Talanga, which is a town about an hour north-east of Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras.

My trip started on Friday, June 6th when I took a 2 hour bus ride from Tela to San Pedro Sula, where I stayed the night with some other missionaries of the Episcopal Church: Rev. Lura, Rick, Bob, and Claire. We started our 5 hour drive the on Saturday morning. The purpose of our trip was two-fold. First, it was an opportunity for Bob, Claire and me to see another part of the church at work in Honduras and hang out with the students (Rick and Lura have been involved with El Hogar for many years). Second, it was a chance to have a relaxing weekend away in the countryside.
Houses in Tegucigalpa

It was a really unique experience, and one that will stay with me for a long time. It was a holiday weekend, so many of the boys who have families that live close and are able to care for them had gone home for the weekend. There are just over 50 students between the ages of 12 and 15, but only 12 of them were on campus for the weekend. At first I was a little bummed when I found out all the boys wouldn’t be there, but in a way it was a blessing. We had a chance to do something special for the boys who have nowhere else to go. We played jenga and soccer, and watched a couple movies. We also had a really fun outdoor church service on Sunday, in which I had the honor of translating the sermon from English to Spanish (with some help from Claire). The service was followed by a really awesome water balloon fight in which we ‘renewed our baptismal covenant’ with water. I had a lot of fun, and, not surprisingly, I have a nice bruise on my knee to show for it.
Bob and Claire playing Jenga with Bezer.
Practicing catching fish in the tilapia ponds.

I also learned about the students’ daily schedule. They wake up bright and early for breakfast at 5:30am (6:00 on the weekends) and begin their farm chores at 6:00. After a morning of milking cows, feeding pigs and chickens, and letting the goats out into the pasture, they clean the school grounds and get cleaned up. After lunch, they go to school where they study traditional subjects like math and history. In addition, they take classes on agriculture and animal husbandry. They finish school at 5:30, eat dinner, and do homework. At 8:00 they have a free hour before lights out at 9:00. I have so much respect for these boys, especially when I think about what I was doing at the age of 12.

One of the 3 classrooms.

The computer lab.
Besides spending time with the students, we had a chance to explore the farm, relax in the hammock, catch up on some reading, and just enjoy the sounds of nature. And even though we were eating breakfast at 6:00am, I left on Monday morning feeling refreshed and rested. After a full day of travel by van, bus, and taxi I made it back home to Tela just before sunset.
Claire relaxing in the hammock.

I made a new friend.


The vegetable garden.


If you would like to learn more about El Hogar please visit their website at If you are interested in making a donation, simply click on this link: Be sure to put “Escuela Agricola” in the comments to ensure your donation makes it to the farm!

On the wall of the guest house where we stayed was a mural, which is a wonderful reminder of who we are as the people of God. It comes from 1 Corinthians 12:4 and reads, “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit.” I pray that we are each able to discover what our gifts are and how we are being called to use them as part of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Pentecostés - Pentecost

Happy Pentecost! Pentecost, which will be celebrated this Sunday in churches around the world, is a very important day in the life of the church. This is the day in which the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples. And when the Spirit descended, they all began speaking in different languages. This year, Pentecost has a new meaning for me. I understand more deeply the importance of communicating with people in different languages, especially about the things of God. I am always thinking to myself, “Words cannot express what I am trying to say.” Imagine if God sent his spirit upon you so that you could say exactly what God desired. What a beautiful thing that would be!

I have heard four languages here in Honduras: Spanish, English, Mandarin, and Garifuna. Of course Spanish is the most common language, but many people also speak Garifuna. The Garifuna people are the descendents of people from Africa and the original habitants of San Vicente Island in the Caribbean. Today, the Garifuna people live in different communities along the north coast of Honduras and Belize. There are various communities surrounding Tela: Miami, Tornabe, San Juan, Triunfo de la Cruz, y La Ensanada.

One of my coworkers, Ms. Juanita, is Garifuna and lives in Tela. She is the librarian and the home economics teacher for the school. She has also taught me some words in Garifuna. It is a very interesting and beautiful language. For Pentecost, Ms. Juanita is going to read the gospel in Garifuna in church on Sunday. Here is a video of Ms. Juanita practicing! 

¡Feliz día de Pentecostés! Pentecostés, que se celebrará este domingo en las iglesias de todo el mundo, es un día muy importante en la vida de la iglesia. Este es el día en que venía el Espíritu Santo sobre los discípulos. Y cuando el Espíritu bajó, todos empezaron a hablar en diferentes idiomas. Este año, Pentecostés tiene un significado más profundo para mí. Yo entiendo más la importancia de comunicarse con personas que hablan idiomas diferentes, especialmente sobre las cosas de Dios. Siempre pienso yo, “las palabras no pueden expresar lo que quiero decir.” Imagínese si Dios le envía su Espiritu para decir exactamente las palabras que Dios quiere. Sería una cosa bonita.  

Yo he escuchado cuatro idiomas aquí en Honduras: español, inglés, mandarín, y garífuna. Claro que español es el idioma más común, pero muchas personas aquí también hablan garífuna. Las personas garífunas son descendientes de unas personas de África y los habitantes originales de la isla San Vicente en la caribeña. Ahora, los Garífunas viven en diferentes comunidades de la costa norte de Honduras y Belice. Hay varias comunidades alrededor de Tela: Miami, Tornabe, San Juan, Triunfo de la Cruz, y La Ensanada.

Una de mi compañeras, Ms. Juanita, es Garífuna y vive en Tela. Ella es la bibliotecaria y la maestra de manualidades para la escuela. También ella me enseñó algunas palabras en garífuna. Es un idioma muy interesante y bonito. Para el día de Pentecostés, Ms. Juanita va a leer el evangelio en garífuna para la misa este domingo. ¡Aquí está un video de Ms. Juanita practicando!

Ms. Alibel is another of my coworkers. She is the Spanish teacher for the school. Also, she has two children in high school who were in my English classes. Ms. Alibel agreed to read the same gospel passage in Spanish to put on the blog. 

Ms. Alibel es otra de mis compañeras. Ella es la maestra de español para la escuela. También, ella tiene dos hijos en la colegio quienes asistieron a mis clases de inglés. Ms. Alibel acordado a leer el mismo evangelio en español para poner en mi blog.

Here is the English version of the Gospel reading (John 14:8-17 NRSV)

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17 This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.