Hello friends! I am writing this blog fresh off a long-anticipated (and much-needed!) vacation with Eric’s parents and brother on the Bay Island of Roatán. For four days, we gratefully soaked up hot showers, air-conditioning, and a washing machine, while thanking our Life on the Finca for reminding us to be grateful for all of those things.
Anyway, inspired by my dear friend Anna’s blog post from Guatemala, I’ve created an ABC’s list of Life on the Finca. Since, per usual, it’s taking me a lot longer to write this post than I anticipated (as a matter of fact, it’s now been three weeks since we were on vacation), I’ll be splitting this blog up into several different segments. Here goes:
A is for Ants / Alegría
Ants – Of all the bugs at the Finca (including tarantulas, millipedes, and –of course—mosquitoes), nothing causes me more mental distress than the tiny black biting ants that are ubiquitous in this part of Honduras. Unlike most biting insects, they do not let go with a swipe or a swat; they stick to your skin and bite as hard as they can, causing a painful and itchy swelling that lasts for days. (My friend and fellow missionary/Domer Ally wrote a great blog post about ants, which I strongly encourage you to read.) To avoid these vicious bites, both Eric and I wear shoes and socks most days. Although we look a bit odd alongside our flip-flop or sport-sandaled friends, at least our toes no longer look like plump sausages!
Alegría – Alegría is the Spanish word for joy, and we experience so much of it here at the Finca! Whether we are being enveloped in a tight hug by one of these sweet Finca kids or laughing until our sides hurt as we share funny moments with our missionary community or simply observing the spectacular gift of God’s creation in this beautiful place, we are filled with alegría on a daily basis here at the Finca.
B is for Baleada
A baleada is the most typical Honduran food. It is a tortilla de harina (flour tortilla), filled with refried beans, hard salty cheese, and anything else you’d like to throw in. Whenever we happen to be in Trujillo during a mealtime, we make a point to stop and get baleadas. At just 12 lempiras each (about 60 cents), they are a delicious deal! And Adelina, our notoriously picky eater, loves them… while on vacation, she even ordered a baleada instead of American food!
C is for Community / Computación
Community – By far, my favorite part about our life on the Finca is our missionary community. Living in an intentional community has brought all of us abundant joy and inspiration. Although our family of four resides in our own casa, we are next-door to the main missionary house and feel like our fellow missionaries are our sisters. Each one of them brings something distinct and wonderful to our community, and Eric and I often remark that we really hit the jackpot with our missionary class.
There’s Emily, whose knowledge of both the Finca culture and Spanish language make her a constant source of wisdom for us all; Anna, whose passion for teaching and serving children is matched only by her dedication to growing closer to Christ; Ruthie, who floats through life with an open mind and a fiercely-committed spirit (whether she is working at the clinic or baking bread in our outdoor coal-oven); Ally, our resident artist, whose serene spirit has infused our community and her kindergarten class with so much peace; Olivia, who (as our only Kiwi missionary) brings a charismatic joy and listening ear to every conversation; and Dayelle, whose quiet strength, fantastic nursing skills, and hilarious dance moves have made the Finca a far better place. Together, we have shared joys and hardships, jokes and tears, faith and frustration. I know our love and friendship will endure long after we return to our respective homes. Emily, Anna, Ruthie, Ally, Olivia, and Dayelle, we love you so much!
Computación – One of my duties at the Finca is to teach Computer Class to the primary school students. Since I only have each class for 45 minutes once a week (and I always teach during the last two periods, which frequently get canceled due to other school events), I am struggling to make strides in reaching my educational goals for the classes. Nonetheless, it is a joy and a privilege to teach computers. The kids here get so excited for Computación! Most of my students’ only access to computers is during my class, so I try to focus on hands-on computer operations rather than on any sort of theory. It is extremely gratifying to see my first-graders successfully double-clicking with the mouse or my sixth-graders learning how to type. Also, the computer lab is the only room on the Finca with air-conditioning (to keep the computers from overheating), so in these 95-degree, 70% humidity days, that’s a pretty big benefit of the job!
D is for Doña Olimpia
I’m pretty sure our family wouldn’t have survived this long in Honduras if it weren’t for Doña Olimpia. She is our local clothes-washer and grandma extraordinaire. Eric and I, having both previously lived in places where we had to hand-wash clothes, knew before arriving at the Finca that we were going to need help with our family’s laundry load. After just a few days in Honduras, though, we realized just how dire our laundry situation truly was: with two dirt-diving daughters and two very sweaty grown-ups, we produce a hamper’s worth of filthy laundry every day. Although I spend about 2 hours per week washing clothes (just to keep up with essential items, like school uniforms or underwear), it doesn’t come close to finishing the task.
Doña Olimpia to the rescue! She does the vast majority of our family’s laundry, scrubbing each item of clothing until it looks and smells brand new. Every Tuesday, Doña Olimpia arrives at our house early in the morning and immediately sets to work: tidying our laundry pila, separating our whites to soak in Clorox, and scrubbing our clothing until the many stains and smells come out. She is truly a laundry wizard!
As much as I love and appreciate Doña Olimpia’s role in our lives here at the Finca, I really wish she didn’t have to continue working so hard at her age. Though I don’t know exactly how old she is, the term “Doña” is reserved for older matriarchs of a community. In the United States, Doña Olimpia would be well into her retirement; sadly, that’s just not an option for most people in rural Honduras. Doña Olimpia has been doing laundry at the Finca for years, making the daily journey down the mountain from a village a few miles away. She knows that she will not be able to make the difficult walk down the mountain forever, so she is saving money for her own “retirement” plan: a freezer from which she can sell cold goods in her remote village. Needless to say, Eric and I don’t regret a single lempira we spend on Doña Olimpia’s laundry services.
That’s all for now… To be continued soon (I hope)!