Blog: Day 6 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Axel Gumbel

Blog: Day 6

Field trip to a local school Field trip to a local school
Ingrid, who has Down syndrome, passing out a snack to the school kids Ingrid, who has Down syndrome, passing out a snack to the school kids
Raoul received a special bike Raoul received a special bike
Raoul and his family Raoul and his family
  • By Axel GumbelBlog: Day 6More>>

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    I'm actually beginning this entry in the morning of Day 5. This after I wasn't able to write up yesterday's experiences due to another power outage.More >>
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    Blog: Day 7 & 8

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    Day 7/Day 8

    I'm writing this final blog on our trip at Miami International Airport, where currently we are about 4 hours through our 6 hour layover. It's actually not as boring as I expected.
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((This blog may be cut short due to another power outage. It's been going on for several hours now and I am almost out of battery power on my laptop))

As I am writing this on the morning of Day 7, we once again have no power. I think we had 5 or 6 power outages yesterday. Most of them lasted less than 30 minutes, but the latest one came overnight and right now at 6:20am the power isn't back, yet. We wouldn't have noticed it if it wasn't for the fans in our rooms, which stopped running. Luckily the weather has cooled down considerably, so we're not suffering too much. Yesterday we only went up to about 80 degrees and we had clouds and off and on sprinkles most of the day. It's still sticky, though and no power of course means no water, either. But somehow we're always able to squeeze in that one shower a day. And sometimes I'm even able to sneak in a second one. My policy has been to shower whenever the water is on, since you never know how long the water is going to be out.
Ok, now the power is back on.

Wednesday was a very busy day around here. The kids with DS got to go on a special field trip. Angela's dad arranged for our group to visit her grade school class to show the other kids that there are more children like Angela, who has DS, and that it's ok to have a disability. So we packed the kids into our bus and headed to the school. It was another very simple building. From what I could gather it only consisted of 2 classroom buildings, although there may have been more in the back. Angela's class included about 30 children. They were probably 6 years old. The boys and girls sat separately, each gender gathering around a long row of tables. In the back of the classroom was a pile of 100 lb bags of corn, which I assume they may use for lunch. After we arrived, the class sang a song for our kids and then went through some of the colors the learned to say in English. Our kids in turn sang a Spanish song, which was met with loud applause. There was a brief Q & A, but of course I didn't understand anything they were saying. We are so fortunate to have Rui as part of our therapy team, as she is fluent in Spanish and can easily communicate back and forth between all of us. The school visit finished with our kids serving a cup of juice to the class.
How great to have a proactive dad, such as Angela's to initiate such an activity. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, many parents of disabled children are simply embarrassed to take their kids into the public. It also sounds like Angela's dad may be the driving force to have the kids meet every once in a while even after we're gone.

Special Bike

Dago, Jeff and I took a trip downtown to buy a bike for one of the kids from the feeding program. A woman from Jeff's church, who has MS and uses a wheel chair donated some money. It was decided to buy a bike for a boy and his brother, who have to walk the farthest to get their daily lunch.
So we drove to this bike shop in town, where they had a pretty good selection of bikes, all of them probably in the 80-200 Dollar range. The shopkeeper was somewhat of a macho (according to Dago) and let his wife do most of the work. When we had a few questions he didn't really want to deal with us, but his wife helped us. Dago was able to negotiate the price down a little bit. $5 that is. It sounds a lot more when you think of it as a 100 lempira discount. However, the store didn't take any dollars (which many do), so we had to go exchange Jeff's money. Originally I thought we'd be going to a bank, but instead Dago took us to the hardware store, where they were willing to exchange the money at a better rate and without any formalities. We went back to the bike shop, bought the bike and brought it to the Children's Home, where the plan was to give the bike to the boy when all the other kids from the feeding program had left, so as not to create any jealousy. So Dago told him to stick around after all the other kids went back on the bus. Then Jeff explained the gift to he boy (and his brother) with the help of Rui's translation. Raoul (that's his name) was very shy at first, but you could tell he really appreciated the bike. It probably didn't help that I was constantly taking pictures and video of him. Jeff also made sure the seat was at the right height, and he also gave Raoul a spare tube and an air pump. The we loaded the bike, Raol and his brother into Dago's pick up and drove to Raol's house, which is located on a steep, narrow and rocky road on the outskirts of Azacualpa. Once we arrived there, Raol and his brother shed their shyness and proudly showed their new bike to their parents. Jeff explained how the donation came about, we took a picture of the family and off we went. Now I am curious to see if Raoul will bring his new bike to lunch tomorrow.

Trip to Pastor's Retreat

Jeff and I had a chance to see yet another part of the area in the evening. Dago had to drop off some Sunday school supplies at a pastor's retreat in Sula, which is about 15 minutes away from Azacualpa, though I didn't have a sense of direction. We enjoyed another ride in the back of Dago's pick-up, and this time there was the added perk of adding a hitch hiker to the trip. As some of you know, Dago is quite the social butterfly, stopping every few blocks, because he knows someone and to say hi. But once he's outside the town, he drives like a madman and I had to hold on to my glasses, so they wouldn't fall off. Anyway, we stopped at some intersection and this "regular" looking guy kind of ran into the street in front of us and probably only used 5 words to ask Dago if he could hitch a ride. Dago motioned him to hop in the back and there he was. He wasn't very talkative and I already forgot his name. He may have been on the way home from work. So he just there and enjoyed his ride and hopped out ten minutes later. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, tailgating is indeed a form of public transportation.
We arrived at this pastor's retreat, which was at the top of a little hill, where pastors from the area gathered in a run down and dirty courtyard and to later have a church service in a nearby building. What was interesting to see was how many of the pastors immediately gathered around Dago's pick-up once we arrived, having their eyes on the three boxes of materials. All of them were neatly dressed in ironed pants and button down shirts and very nice, polished dress shoes or cowboy boots. What followed was somewhat entertaining to watch. Dago opened the boxes and immediately you could see dozens of hands reaching towards Dago, almost pleading to get a copy or two of his materials. It appeared those Sunday school booklets and flyers were a hot commodity and probably aren't easily available in Honduras. So it looked like Dago was their hero for bringing all those materials to them. The pastors thanked him with hugs and handshakes and Jeff and I, who were standing on the side observing everything, were given the same kind of respect… probably by association to Dago. We were also greeted by some of the pastors and thanked for coming. As for the surroundings… it was very dusty and after a while the stench of the many leaf and brush fire started to impact my lunch. We stayed there for about an hour, with Dago having extended conversations with his pastor friends. While it was very interesting to watch all the interactions, I was glad to get back on the road to breathe some fresher air.

We spent the evening getting ready for the last morning with the DS kids and just having a good time. This time we gathered in Jeff and Rachel's room and we had another brief power outage. I enjoyed getting to know 9-year-old Maddie a lot more last night by exchanging childhood stories with her. Her way of looking at life and other people is truly inspiring. I also cherish having had plenty of time with 11-year old Becca, who has Down syndrome. She's a hoot. Getting to know the other team members has been another plus for me on this trip. You can't help but create a bond with them, when we're all so deeply involved in this experience. It'll be sad we all go our separate ways next week.

Ok, I better get this posted. It's almost 2pm on Day 7 and we're about to go shopping, since this is our last afternoon here. I'll try to file the Day 7 blog yet tonight or tomorrow during our 6 hour layover in Miami.

Oh no, the power just went out again… now I'm not sure when I can post this. I'll try it tonight.

Blessings,
Axel

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