Mauricio and I finally went up to the abandoned house on a nearby mountain. We have been trying to find a day to go but we are both busy and lazy when we aren't, but we finally got around to going. We went through corn fields, field of cows, 2 different barbed-wired fences and uncut brush up the mountain to this house. The view was amazing, and on the way back down we saw a ton of lady bugs which provided the opportunity for me to learn the word for lady bugs which is luciernagas.
Over New Years Ms. Joan came down for a couple of days to hang out and see the people I am with and the work that we do in this awesome place. Lucky for her, she got to come during vacation time while we were off of school so we took her to the Coca-Cola sign on the mountain, which was about a 45 minute hike to an amazing view of San Pedro, and to Lake Yajoa with Deborah's family for New Years. We hung out with Deborah's family for both Christmas and New Years, they are an insanely welcoming and loving christian family and they take great care of us. At Lake Yajoa we went out on the lake on a jet skii, saw some water buffalo, shot off way too many fireworks, ate a ton of food and then some more, and rode a mechanical bull. It was a ton of fun and was even better with my mom being there, mainly because I felt fluent next to her but also because she's my mom. It was an amazing trip filled with some glorious views of God's handiwork.
We have had 36 people accept Jesus Christ into their hearts since we have all been here in El Doradito, 33 being students in our school, Cornerstone Christian Academy, so we took a trip to the river in the mountains to baptize whoever wanted to get baptized. In Honduras there are some misunderstandings about baptism. It is a big tradition for some that their children are baptized at the age of 12, saved or not. Also, some parents believe you have to be perfect or at least "cleaned up" to get baptized, an idea influenced by the strong catholic presence throughout Honduras. So Bob gave our kids baptism classes to teach them that baptism does not save us, but it is a symbol, a representation of our new birth in Jesus Christ once we have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior. We asked each child why they wanted to be baptized as we were baptizing them and all of the answers were unique but many centered around wanting to be a new creation or wanting to show their friends and family that they had Jesus living in their hearts. Baptizing these kids in groups of 5-7 at a time with the family of teachers and Bob was very humbling, it was amazing to see God working in so many little kids and changing their lives for eternity through us.
We went to Lime Key, Beliz to renew our visas at the end of November. The first day was very hectic because Honduras is riddled with corruption, so we were at the immigration office for roughly 6 hours waiting for all of the paperwork to get worked out and for the captain and the immigration worker to agree on whether or not this island was truly outside of Honduras. In the end he told us that it could've been done in an hour if we had paid him, but God was working through it all because we bought a cheap deck of cards and played in the immigration office for a few hours, we had a good time even though it was frustrating, but in the end we got on our boat and sailed over to Beliz at night which was gorgeous. There were so many stars and no lights to be seen, one star was outshining the moon to the point that the water was lit up in a beam by the star rather than the moon. There were small, glowing fish in the foam created by the boat.
The island was so small you could see the beach from the other beach, the water was crystal clear, the sunrise was amazing, and there were tons of animals including hundreds of hermit crabs and a couple 3.5-4 ft iguanas, one being bright orange. It was pretty cool having quiet time and thinking about how in one year I went from sitting in AP Literature listening to the morning announcements to sitting next to a small inlet on an island in Beliz as a missionary reading God's word and watching pelicans diving for fish. God is good.
We went scuba diving with our crew/guides Jaime, Charlie, and Ullo and it was insane, they grabbed crabs and lobsters with their barehands for us to eat later that night, and showed us two 3 foot long sharks that they tried to swim with by holding on to their tails. These guys are pretty cool. Charlie helped Deborah, Rachel and I after we kayaked halfway around the island and went under, all was good but we all wish we could've been stuck with sand or smoother rocks, but it's another amazing story.
The trip was amazing, I loved getting to share it with these awesome people, God is always good.
We took the middle school grades to Zizima on Saturday as a celebration of little Angel's birthday which was on November 3, he turned 12. We took a 4th grader who is a little sibling, her name is Ana Maria and she is precious, she showed me the small zoo and made me go on the lazy river, I wound up pulling a train of kids in tubes and passing strangers, it was awesome, they had a blast!
At the very end, I took a picture with Romel, Fabiola's boyfriend, in my arms in front of the fountain at the front of the park. A group of girls saw us take the picture and copied us, so we sprinted over and did it with them and they loved it.
On Saturday us gringos went to Tommy Smith's neighborhood pool. He leads worship at International Christian Fellowship and invited us for some fellowship and food. We had ribs, hot-dogs, sausages, baked beans, and potato salad. Man it was amazing to pig out with southern food, and get to hang out in a pool. In case those of you did not know, Honduras has been experiencing some cold fronts, a few days ago it got all the way down to 79 degrees, so the pool was a little bit hard to bear in the cold, but we pushed through anyway. Us gringo men wore USA apparel including bandannas, socks, and some american-flag suspenders we found at ACE Femosa. We had an amazing time, Tommy is a great man. I'm still confused how I wasn't allowed to know the secret Smith Men barbecue sauce recipe, but he still loves Jesus. Enjoy the little things: temperature, pools, barbecues, american food, fellowship, all of it.
This is the beach at Puerto Cortes, its okay to be jealous but not really because it's a sin and we all have to give an account to Jesus in the end, I had coffee today so I'm rambling. We went and got to see this gorgeous view with mountains and clouds surrounding all of it, the pictures don't do it justice. I got fried. We played catch with a coconut, my hands have gotten slightly tougher, we've played 2 games of chicken total in Honduras and my teams combine for 2-0, just in case anyone was curious. Justin, Jacob and I played basketball 3 v 3 with a couple of Hondurans, two of them were taller than me and pretty good, they were brothers named Reuben and Ruben, the second one could be spelled incorrectly, I know the first is correct because we saw him play again in his league, but they were very similar names. Don't do that to your kids. They were real cool though, they spoke some English and we got to share the Gospel with them afterwards! They were already saved, which is awesome, so now we can all play ball with Jesus! It was an absolutely amazing day. I love getting to see God's beauty and experience His work.
We took the 6th-8th grade class to the local water park on Saturday October 1 from 10 to 1, then we went to Pizza Hut, which is so fancy and nice here. The kids loved the slides and the pools, they were beaming. Some were scared of the slides, some couldn't swim, no one had swimming trunks but it was a blast. Taylor, my go coach from Global Year came too, we convinced the kids he was Messi's brother because of the hair. These kids can have a blast with everything, to get in for an adult all day was approximately 11 dollars.
On Friday September 16 the Global Year team, plus Deborah, woke up at 4 AM, rolled into Deborah's car, and headed to Seba, Honduras which is 4 hours away. We went white water rafting and swimming, along with cliff jumping, it was amazing. We almost wrecked twice on the way there, once because we could not see a road block for construction (it was dark, there aren't street lamps, and the sign was not reflective) and again when a truck was passing a car by going around into our lane through a bend in the road, driving here is always fun. Meg was curious how i slept while Deborah drove and I couldn't tell her why other than she knows what she's doing and I couldn't stop anything from happening just by being awake. The sun rise was beautiful, this country is gorgeous. Darwin and Joel were our river guides from Omega Tours. Darwin spoke English and Joel knew a few phrases so Deborah was with Mike and Ike in Joel's boat to translate, but she couldn't hear him so I was the one telling her what he said, it was ironic. We were paired with a couple from the US Embassy in Honduras. Mike and Ike and Joel fell out of the raft at the second rapid because the raft got stuck but everyone was okay. Afterwards we ate a nice spaghetti lunch, my peeps here caught on quick that I eat allot so they give me leftovers ( i like that style of living ) and they ask why I'm not fat, who knows man, I just like food. On the way home the car kept overheating so we'd stop and cool it down with water. At one point we saw a man pushing a bike with the front tire so flat it was molded to the rim, his calves were rippling with muscle from across the street and the bike had 3 giant bags, he reminded me of Saami. We took Him food and socks but He politely declined, we don't know if He was homeless or not but we keep praying for Him. It was an amazing trip, but we couldnt take the cameras on the raft so no pictures but man was it pretty.
On Saturday we went to a local orphanage from 9 to 11 with the Global Year Team, Deborah, and her friend Audrey who is a full time missionary down here from Kansas City, she's a Royals and Chiefs fan, whodathunkit! Anyway, this orphanage is funded by a Swiss lady and her husband and mainly ran by a local couple. There were approximately 30 kids of all ages, including Mike and Ike's future son, Brian. They formed a bond, (Brian is the one in the picture with Mike and Ike). We played around, I carried them around, apparently I am now the "Gringo Tree", NutMeg is very creative. We rode bikes, played soccer, played monkey in the middle, and Mike taught the kids how to throw a paper airplane, so they had tournaments. There was a little boy with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome named Josue, he was insanely sweet, the orphanage had built a walker for him in the past so now he can walk and he gave us all tours around the orphanage. My little buddy Santos had allot of fun learning how to work my camera, he took pictures instead of videos for allot of his pictures and he almost deleted all of the pictures and videos before I imported them soooooooooooo we dodged a bullet there, but he was awesome and followed me around. The little kid opening the gate (they do it themselves for visitors, it's a bad neighborhood so they have barbed wire but that's kinda normal down here) was on my shoulders for monkey in the middle so he'd pin the ball between his hands and my head, I don't think he ever actually used words in either language but he was shrieking with laughter, the kids here are great with sharing and so cool to watch play because they have pure joy. Except Elvin, he wouldn't let me stop playing with him, so maybe not the best example of sharing. Santos is the kid taking pictures of his teeth.