October 1st. Today. This day marks many important things. For one it means that I have lived in Honduras for exactly a year now, but more importantly it marks the feast day of Saint Therese of Lisieux or as we call her here in Honduras- Santa Teresita. Santa Teresita is the patron Saint of missionaries. Not only that but she is the saint of my house (each of our houses is named after a saint and my house- the missionary house- is accurately named after the saint of missionaries herself). So with all that being said, I want to spend this blog-post in reflection of my life this past year- all the ways I’ve grown and been stretched, all the strange skills and experiences that I have obtained, but most importantly, how all of these things have impacted my life.
I have learned important Honduras-life skills such as speaking Spanish, and, not only that, but have taught 1st and 2nd grade for a (almost) complete school year using said Spanish. I can cook over a fire (and cook in general), and can wash my clothes by hand. I can make tortillas, cut hair (a bucket list item of mine for quite a few years now!), and am now permitted to drive a pick-up truck full of teenagers 20 minutes into town on terrible gravel roads.
I have had experiences that I probably would never have had if I had never left the United States. For example, I don’t remember the last time I didn’t have at least 10 mosquito bites somewhere on my body. I usually wash my feet multiple times a day in order to keep them somewhat resembling clean. I am regularly attacked by ants, & have to keep a bottle of Raid in my classroom to keep the ants from eating my students’ snacks and the wasps from building their nests above our heads.
I have had everything from ants, termites, cockroaches, rats, and who knows what else in my BED. I have even felt the never-ending itch of having lice in my hair.
I have proudly watched my blisters from raking turn into calluses, meaning that I am no longer made fun of my the kids who never get blisters & think it’s hilarious that I do.
I have taken many a bucket shower by candlelight on those nights that we have neither water nor electricity. I have gotten to watch the amazing sunsets over the Caribbean ocean, and I have fallen asleep to peaceful sound of waves crashing onto the beach.
I have learned, and am still learning how to live in community, how to apologize when I inevitably offend one of my community members, how to be ok with correction, and how to give my struggles and concerns over to the Lord. But most importantly, I learned to let myself be loved and filled up by others.
On my 24th birthday our youngest girls loved me in one of the most simple, and yet and the most special way without even thinking twice or planning it out. They sat another missionary, Melanie (who has the same birthday as me) and I down on a bench in their house, sang to us at the top of their lungs, and then preceded to pick and decorate both of our heads with every flower that they could find until you couldn’t even see either of our hair anymore. All the flowers that could not fit in our hair were given to us in bouquet form accompanied by lots of hugs and smiles. I’ve found love from the oldest girls who have spent hours happily going through my hair to pick out lice without complaining or being asked twice. I’ve seen it in the older boys whom, upon seeing me do the ever-dreaded chore of raking our giant backyard, one-by-one wordlessly and selflessly they grabbed a rake, left their house where they were enjoying a morning off from working and came over to help me. By the time the chore was done, half of the older boys house was there helping me without having to be asked- and we finished in a mere 20 minutes rather than the hour+ that it would have taken my by myself! I have found love in the oh so endearing nickname given to me by the middle school aged girls; hipopatamo (hippopotamus). Of course, they have their own animal names that I greet them with as well such as elefante (elephant), cocodrillo (crocodile), and ballena (whale). While these names sound rather rude I promise they are all said in good fun accompanied by lots of laughs and jokes.
|Me & my birthday flowers from the youngest girls|
In our chapel here at the Finca written beautifully in stained glass above the alter is the bible verse Mark 9:37; “El que en mi nombre receibe a este niño, a mi me recibe”, and in English; “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me”. I see this bible verse every single day at the church, but it wasn’t until this morning that I realized that by receiving and serving the sons of daughters of Christ we are not only receiving/serving the Lord, but we are letting Him receive/serve us. God calls us to love and to let ourselves be loved. In order to be filled up and truly prepared to serve Christ, I can’t just do, I have to let myself be loved so that I can in turn go out and love and serve others. As I sit here writing this today, I can’t think of a better way to be loved than by and through some of the most pure and open-hearted of God’s creation- His children.
I can’t say too many times how thankful I am for this past year, how blessed that I am to be able to call myself a missionary and to have the example of Santa Teresita to guide my every day. If you have read this far, first of all God bless you for making it all the way through my post, and second of all I ask that you lift up all 14 of the missionaries here serving at the Finca, especially for 4 of our current missionaries; Laura, Kassidy, Melanie, and myself as we commit to another full year (plus some) here at the Finca, and for the 6 new missionaries that arrived last night; Francesca, Christopher, Emily, Ruthie, Cat, and Cassie. I will conclude this post the same way that my missionary community concludes every prayer- SANTA TERESITA, RUEGA POR NOSOTROS. (Saint Therese, Pray for Us).
|My community prior to the 6 newest missionaries arriving|
|Kassidy, Melanie and I on September 15th; Honduras independance day!|
|Allison and I celebrating the Finca's 21st birthday in May|