Blog: Day 3 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Axel Gumbel

Blog: Day 3

Azacualpa Azacualpa
Grandmother & grandchild Grandmother & grandchild
Rachel handing out coloring books in Loma Alta Rachel handing out coloring books in Loma Alta
Blackened ribs for dinner Blackened ribs for dinner
  • By Axel GumbelBlog: Day 3More>>

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Day 3

This was our only Sunday at the Children's Home, and it was another day full of great experiences. Even though I pretty much take pictures and videotape constantly, I still feel like I can't take it all in. It's just been an amazing trip so far.

Sunday School/Trip through town

Sunday school is a big deal at the Children's Home. We had breakfast a little early this morning, so the older kids here at the home could practice their songs. Then Dago invited to ride along in his school bus to pick up the Sunday school kids from the surrounding neighborhoods. This was my first glimpse into Honduran life by daylight. It was humbling to say the least. Azacualpa, the town the Children's Home is located in is home to about 20,000 people. From what I could gather the city is laid out in a grid, similar to most any American city. But that's where the similarities really ended. Dago skillfully steered his school bus through many narrow streets, which have probably never seen an asphalt surface, and if they did, it must have been dozens of years ago. There were more potholes than even a guy from Minnesota could shrug his shoulders at. Even the gravel roads I am used to in rural America are a luxury compared to most of the roads here. It seems almost ironic then to rumble over countless speed bumps, which they have here, too.
Driving through these neighborhoods made it clear, again, that this country is decades behind anything we would call progress. Trash and debris litter the streets. Emaciated dogs scurry to escape our bus. I saw a mix of residential and commercial buildings. What they have in common is their style. Imagine a cement building with four walls and a door or two. That's it. Some look like they're about to fall apart. Others show hints of dedicated homeowners trying to make something nice (and safe) out of it. Occasionally you can see a billboard type advertisement painted on the walls. The word "Pepsi" seems to pop as just as much as you'd see a Starbucks in America.
Tucked in between and around these buildings are the people of Honduras. Many are surprisingly well clothed. Imagine neatly pressed jeans for the guys, shiny cowboy boots, sometimes a hat, some gel in the hair and some type of jewelry hanging around their neck. Some look like they were picked straight from a GQ magazine and stand in stark contrast to their desolate surroundings. The majority, however, personified the 3rd world country they are living in. Raggedy clothes, held together with old belts or some string, shoes they've probably had for 10 years or more and a dark tanned, wrinkly skin that could be the result of maybe having worked in the field for most of their lives. Speaking of work, I did see a number of little makeshift car/bike repair places, which looked like a one-man operation and usually involved a guy using the blow torch on something. Occasional you could also see a very, simple and small street market, where a lady or two would offer water melons or bananas.
So back to Sunday school… Dago picked up several pockets of kids ranging from 2 years to maybe 15. They all waited what looked like designated areas, although it's far from anything one could call a bus stop. Picture a ditch full of gravel, or a run down front yard and a group of kids getting excited to see that yellow bus.
Dago brought them all back to the Children's Home, where they eagerly filed into the church building. First the entire group sang a few high-energy songs. Then they broke up into 3 different groups according to their age for the actual Sunday school lesion. As I observed each group for a while, it looked like the youngest group was also the poorest. Many of these 3-5 year old wore dirty clothes, or perhaps they were only dirty from playing outside all the time. I can't be sure. The little were taught by one of the girls from the Children's Home, after which they colored pictures of Jesus. The next older group gathered in a circle underneath the trees by the play ground. One of the house parents taught them the story of Jesus arriving in Jerusalem prior to his crucifixion. The kids acted it out, too. The oldest group was taught by Dago, and because it was all in Spanish and didn't involve any acting or coloring, I had no clue what they were talking about. After about an hour everybody filed back into the school bus and Dago brought them back to their homes.

Trip To Loma Alta

We enjoyed another delicious lunch today, which I'd call Honduran stew. It included cabbage, plantain, squash, potatoes, meat, baby corn, rice and probably some other ingredients I am forgetting right now. It all tasted very good and the fact that it didn't come from the freezer section or the microwave, but a big cast iron put sitting on a wood fire made it taste even better. Hondurans sure know how to fix a great meal. My expectation of losing weight here is gone.
This afternoon we went on a trip to Loma Alta, a nearby village up in the "bluffs". This is a trip some of our mission team had taken before. We went to a small city park to hand out candy and coloring books to the kids. To an American this would be equal to being handed a million dollars in Central Park. The kids were shy at first, but word spread quickly and our stash of supplies ran out fast. The idea was to spread God's word among them, as the coloring books showed the story of Easter. As I stepped through the dry brush and trash that littered the park it was a joy to see so many smiling little faces dotting the fence line. People here don't need much to be happy.
Before we left, we had a quick chance to visit with a family, who lives in a nearby home. The main attraction was their giant lemon tree, which produced fruit that would even made a grapefruit pale. The family even gave us about a dozen or so take to the Children's Home, where we devoured them in the form of delicious lemonade. We also got a brief tour of the family's small sized coffee field, which consisted of a few rows of coffee plants neatly planted along a rugged mountain slope. I kept wondering what the local guy thought as we marveled at his little operation. It's perhaps the equivalent of a bunch of Japanese tourists standing in the middle of a corn field.
On the way back to town we stopped in an area that easily resembled the center of the city with a bigger sized park area in the center and lots of businesses around it. There was plenty of action on the streets, including fruit and veggie vendors, blurring loud speakers drawing attention to whatever store they were set up in, playing kids and workers who where on their way home from the field. It was one of those moments where I initially thought it wouldn't be a smart idea to walk around with a still camera in one hand and a video camera in the other, thereby painting a big target on my back, but I never really felt unsafe. Of course I was too busy soaking it all in, plus we really only stayed there maybe 15 minutes.

No Water

After making it through a few hours without power the other day, today we also got a taste of what life is like without water. Everything was fine this morning, but apparently some kind of leak occurred at the water pump on the Children's Home property. So the water was off for most of the day, as Alex, one of the house parents was the only one, who could repair it wouldn't be back until the evening. This came with a few challenges. Today was a very hot day, but even just washing your hands or face, or going to the bathroom wasn't really an option. Fortunately we always have 5 gallon jugs of drinking water, so we didn't go thirsty. And we washed our hands in wash basin they use for the laundry here. But towards nighttime we all felt very sticky and longed for that relieving shower. Alex and co. where kind enough to furnish a temporary fix with duct tape and we were back in our comfort zone. Goodness, we are spoiled.

We ate blackened ribs and mashed potatoes for dinner before joining Dago for the Sunday evening church service. Many of the Sunday school kids returned with their parents this time to spend a couple hours worshipping. It was very neat to see the many young families. I'm guessing the average age was easily just over 20 maybe. And kids were still in the majority. Many of the service goers really immersed themselves in the songs that were sung at the beginning and then listened intently to the sermon. From my non-Spanish speaking standpoint the sermon seemed very long (easily topping 30 minutes) but I'm also thinking if God is a Honduran's only hope, then they could have probably been ok with a 3 hour sermon, too.

Speaking of my lack of Spanish skills, it's my only regret here so far. If only I spoke their language, I could probably learn so much more about the culture and way of life here. I so wish I could understand what the kids are saying to each other or when they try talk to us. And I commend them for not being shy around us and finding ways to communicate. A simple smile can sure go a long way.

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