19 Nov

It’s amazing how lively things become when the missionary community suddenly doubles in size, that is to say, we officially welcomed our five newest members to the clan just under two months ago. Now everything is doubled! Double the card players (score!), double the laughs, double the food (yum), double the rice, beans, bug spray, toilet paper; We are without a doubt a force to be reckoned with at this point. The kids are overjoyed as well. You know that scene from Toy Story 3 when Andy’s toys arrive at Sunnyside Daycare and all the toys are assembled and that one yelps, “NEW TOYS!” That was our kids’ reaction to the newbies, too. 

I think what pleases me most is thinking about all we have been able to accomplish with just us five oldies for so long, and now we have the opportunity to do all of that times two, maybe even more! We are overflowing with gratitude for their “yes” to this mission, and so, for the last several weeks, we have been working diligently in welcoming them, assisting in their adjustment to the great newness of, well, everything, and to have them sharing in the joys of being missionary and serving in this crazy community of catrachos. I wish you could meet them because they have this immense fire within that burns so brightly you can’t help but be attracted to the warmth and light they radiate (oof that imagery! I’m a poet and I didn’t know it!...bleh). At the very least, their pretty faces are up on the Farm of the Child website. Spend a few clicks to browse their pages and their very own blogs as well. You won’t regret it. 

Some double trouble that none of us were anticipating, but frankly, maybe should have anticipated was brought to us by our great friend, Mother Nature. Yes, if you didn’t hear, in the midst of our topsy-turvy life in a global pandemic world, the whole of Central America these past few weeks has been terrorized by two Hurricanes, Eta and Iota. The unfortunate thing is that at this point, with all the craziness serving as missionary at this exact time and year in the Finca, we couldn’t be too surprised that we were now going to have to brace ourselves for a hurricane, and later, a second. Both times, the entire Finca made the decision to evacuate to higher ground in Trujillo where we were so graciously received by the Sisters of Charity who provided shelter for some in their convent and the bishop’s office who provided a second place of lodging in their formation house. Again, we count our blessings that both hurricanes did not directly hit Honduras (for some context, the Finca sits right at the country’s northern coast) and the only damages were five fallen trees, one of which clipped the corner of the clinic, and some water damage from flooding. A big thank you to all the prayers and those who checked in on us and our safety during these times. What ends up being more damaging is not the hurricane itself but the after effects, the flooding, landslides, mudslides, and river overflow, so please continue to pray for the country of Nicaragua as they have received the worst from both hurricanes. All Central America, really. 

As we continue to navigate new ways we can improve our living along with this virus’s looming presence, we managed to get approved a trip to the beautiful town of Betulia with our oldest girls for a day of fun in the sun at the river pools. As the months go by and we continue our cooped-up existence at the Finca, this was a great aid to everyone’s mental health. We had been there once before for my birthday, so I was recalling the very large rock that is excellent for tirarse (I throw the Spanish in there because it literally means to “throw yourself” which I feel is an appropriate way to describe this rock jumping experience). I would have thought for sure that none of our girls would have wanted to jump from a height of about 25 feet into the water, but I was very happily proven wrong. Every single one of them ended up climbing to the top and psyching themselves up and fall into the clutches of the goo lagoon, river Betulia. Well, almost all of them. I remember now that one was not so thrilled with the idea, but she was very close, and I admired her bravery to even climb up the rock and attempt. Their smiles said it all. They weren’t sure themselves if they could do it, and as they surfaced, they were beaming with pride. That and watching their curiosity explode as they explored the jungle and waterfalls around us, I was very content and delighted to have shared in this time with them and the rest of the missionaries. I look forward to making these trips with the rest of our kids! 

The river pool is special because it involves a little road trip to get there with a plentiful bounty of baleadas, churros [chips], and coke, but we always have the sandy shore at our fingertips in the Finca. So, the other day I invited our older boys to spend the afternoon there riding the waves and flipping into the surf (or is it the other way around? Ridding the surf, flipping into the waves? Who knows?). I love spending time with these boys. They have a most extensive imagination and a tenacity for life that is infectious. They never stop exploring nor delighting in all that life has to offer. Everything is a game or a competition, and I am obsessed. Before I knew it, we had entered the world’s first ever Beach Olympics on the sunny shore of Trujillo, Honduras, and the only Olympians present haled from the great countries of Honduras and the US of A. It is safe to say that I was not the favorite for any of the events, but I’m proud to announce I took gold in holding my breath the longest underwater and greatest flip into the wake. Everything else, boogie boarding, long stand (on a surf board), sand toss, wave resistance, and sand sculpting, I was the bronze medalist. I suppose the old-man missionary has still got it. BOOM BABY! After the games were over, it was further goofing around playing tricks with our supposed water bending powers. With our bodies facing the shore, we each took turns building up the strength of the waves behind us and throwing them barreling toward the shore with a swift motion of the hands. Not only were we champions of the world in the legendary Beach Olympics, we were sons of the water with powers that would instill fear in even the snarliest of aquatic beasts (mainly rays and jellyfish as they are our beaches’ most frequent visitors. 

In a very strange turn of events, I found myself at the ambo in front of the entire Finca giving a reflection during our Sunday communion service. I thought it was a joke when one of the Franciscan Sisters asked me to preach the week prior, but boy was that a mistake as I awoke to a reminder text hours before the service. I practically bashed my head on the bunk above me jumping to get ready for mass and prepare as best I could some words with any sort of substance for my peers and the kids. I lucked out as the gospel was about Jesus explaining the two greatest commandments. Now I’m not coming at any priests or deacons or anyone else asked to preach on Scripture, but is it not true that you see that reading for Sunday and immediately do a couple fist pumps to yourself? I mean, this was me: “YES! Alright. We got this in the bag. Love of God and love of neighbor. Hoorah! There’s no messing that up. We just took the ten commandments and downsized them to two.” My mini celebration ended and soon after it was the slightly more difficult part: figuring how to explain what I wanted to say in Spanish. It was by no means flawless, but I took my time, followed my notes as best I could, took many pauses (to let it sink in and not because I was trying to make sure I knew what I was going to say next), and felt I had done a decent job in leading the congregation in a further reflection of the Scriptures timed in at maybe 10 minutes or so. I returned to my seat, the Franciscan Sister leading the worship went to the ambo, and wouldn’t you know it, proceeded to give a second homily to everyone. Guess it wasn’t as flawless as I thought. Oh well. Maybe next time I won’t think they’re joking when they ask me to preach at a communion service. 

That’s all for me this time around. Certainly, a lot crazier than anticipated. It’s never a dull moment in the Finca, and what an initiation for our new missionary friends. Two hurricanes! In light of the devastation that has been wreaking havoc in all of Central America, especially the countries of Nicaragua and Honduras, your prayers and support are needed more than ever. So, I thank you for always keeping us in thought, but especially right now. Pandemic, natural disasters, or whatever else it may be, we will remain strong and continue to help and encourage one another because as the Hondurans have taught me time and time again, it’s who we are. Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece [I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me]. Please continue to be safe as flu season and the cold inches closer and closer. And if I don’t get a chance to tell you the day off, I pray you and all your loved ones have a very blessed and happy Thanksgiving. 

Que Dios los bendiga hoy y siempre 

[May God bless you today and always] 


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