So last week was very busy. The H.O.P.E. group arrived on Saturday the 12th, and it was really great to see some people from Stonehill, since Mary Anne, one of the leaders of the group, was one of the people who interviewed me last summer. I really appreciated seeing her and talking to her about my experiences and my growth in faith thus far because it helps me stop and check up on the growth that actually has occurred. For example, the last question that I asked of the interview committee was about the development of faith through service, and now I can talk with her first hand about what has happened. Also, I saw Hailey, a friend from my HOPE trip last year, which was really nice because she´s such a warm, friendly and amazing person, and it was nice to catch up. And, of course, it was nice seeing the new people I didn´t know just because they share the Stonehill culture and because they were all amazing, open people.
That first day with the HOPE group, Emilio and I drove up to the farm with them and showed the HOPE volunteers what needed to be done to pick peanuts for the drink that is prepared for the malnourished children in the health clinic. Shortly after arriving here in Guaimaca, I wrote a blog post about watching Mary use the molino to grind the nuts and beans, and then last Saturday I felt like I had stepped into the responsibility of a member of the community.
The rest of the week we had some meetings with Father Mark (the President of Stonehill College), who was here visiting, and shared in some reflection time with the HOPE group. Our conversations with Father Mark were very helpful because it reminded us how much Stonehill supports us. He took such good care of us when he was here and listened to so many of our concerns that it really felt like he was the hospitable host living here and we were his guests.
I really appreciated every time we interacted with the HOPE group, whether it was during their reflections, at dinner, working together, or playing basketball, I was extremely grateful for their presence and support. They all had such a great presence and all openly shared their various gifts in a way that reminded me of how much I have left to give and grow. Oh, and the basketball game-- in gym class we taught the girls how to play basketball, so last Wednesday we played a game with the juniors and seniors against some HOPE volunteers. Both sides got into the game and were really competitive with it, so It was a very fun game. Even though the girls had only played basketball during the three or four classes we had for it, they were really good and ended up only losing by two points, 22-20. Right after the game we were going around in lines high-fiving, but when I went to give some of the seniors a high-five they told me no, I shouldn’t give them high-fives because for this year I’m Honduran. It was really cool to hear that they accept me like that (national pride is something really huge here), even if it means that I probably have to work a little bit with them on sportsmanship.
Also last week, Micah Christian was visiting. Micah is a 2006 Stonehill alum, who spent a year here after he graduated. Back then the Extension Program did not exist, so he had come down on his own and taught English and Physical Education to the girls at the school. While he was here, he developed some very strong relationships with some of the families in town, he even built a second floor on someone’s house so he could come back and live there. When I was studying at Stonehill I had heard a lot about him, but never knew that he had done all this, so it was really cool meeting him and picking his brain about life here. He did so much and developed so many strong relationships while he was here, that it really gave me high hopes for what the rest of the year holds in store for us.
I also enjoyed meeting Micah because he is such a gentle, caring and warm-hearted person. He is one of the people who you could meet for two minutes and never forget for the rest of your life. Actually, when we were walking around town, people he knew or had even just met briefly would greet him and start warm conversations, even though he has not been here for three years (and everyone remembered exactly how much time it had been, as if they had been counting down to his return). Andrea says that he knows more people in Guaimaca than she does, although she has been living here all her life, along with her massive family (her grandmother had 24 children).
Micah was so open with us and the HOPE group during the week, but also on the weekend when he hung out with us for several hours. He is currently studying Theology at Boston University to become a Campus Minister of some sort for a college campus, and he certainly has a gift for thought provoking, reflective conversation. After dinner on Saturday we sat around the table for a few hours, talking about our experiences thus far in Honduras, what drove us here, what continues to drive us, and how we are growing. Again, having his input from a year’s worth of experience was great, but he was also able to ask incredibly helpful and searching questions that pushed us to think about our service in ways we had not thought of before, all in a very caring way.
In general, I started this week feeling more refreshed and capable. I had been starting to get very caught up in school, so much so that I focused almost exclusively on that. To be fair, I was sick for two months and didn’t have the energy to do much else, and now I’m on medication and can actually eat and sleep. However, so much of our life focuses on the school, but having the HOPE group, Fr. Mark and Micah here really forced us to slow down and enjoy life. Since last week, we have been spending more time at home just talking and hanging out, we have met a couple of other families and started to develop relationships with them (thanks to Micah), and I finally made the time to get my first Honduran haircut ($1.60 for one of the best haircuts I’ve ever gotten). I would still like to find more time to journal and write, but I guess I just have to realize that now I have less time than in the beginning of the year and I’m not going to be able to write extensively about every little thing. For example, I started this blog post a week ago and am just finishing it today. I’ve been starting to carry a small notebook around with me to write down things that happen moment by moment, hopefully that helps. So, in conclusion, I apologize that it’s been more than two weeks since the last post (also, it took me about three or four days to find an internet connection good enough to post this), and I hope everyone is enjoying the first week of spring.