Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Our first day in a shelter

Continuing with the theme of learning, the first thing we learned today was that we can relax into Honduran time without any trouble.  We did not leave as scheduled even though Fredy and Nury were both here and ready to go.

Let me tell you about our two invaluable assistants.  Fredy is our driver.  He makes most of his living in this season of mission trips, driving groups like ours.  He knows all the main roads and all the back ones, too.  Fredy has his ear to the ground and makes sure we do not travel through neighborhoods that are too dangerous.  He is married and has three beautiful little girls ages 11, 7 and 2.  In the past, he has worked on cruise ships.  He spent five years washing dishes, was only allowed to be home for two months a year and earned $400/month!  Something to consider next time one of us takes a cruise.

Nury is an entrepreneur, politician and tour guide.  She is a native of Honduras (as is Fredy) but her parents sent her to boarding school in the States for high school.  I believe both her sister and brother are legal residents of the US and she and her parents also have residency in both places.  Nury does most of the translating for us and helps Gordon decide what we need to do different from the original schedule.  She owns a string of gift shops and is involved in the local arts council.

Which brings me to our second learning of the day.  You can plan all you want but the kids will determine what really happens.  We arrived at La Lima shelter about 10:00 this morning.  Our plan called for a group of activities in the morning and a second group in the afternoon.  Well, half the kids go to school in the morning and the other half go in the afternoon.  So we needed to the morning crafts with both groups and fill in with games where we could.  Betty O'Neill got started on the wall mural right away.  Her husband, Mike, and Nury helped her at first and then Beth Dowty got into the painting this afternoon.  The outside painting that needed to be done had to wait until there were brushes and rollers available - another trip to the store and, yes, it was only the men who went (I guess we didn't learn that lesson yesterday after all).

We decided that we would do balloon animals with the kids after the crafts were done.  So Rebecca, Caitlin, Adam, Susie and Beth all learned how to use the balloon pumps and that tying the balloon is the hardest part of making balloon animals, something I learned years ago.  I have to say we made some very creative animals; however, the big winner of the day was swords!  We made sword after sword - they had a tendency to pop - and Chris Harpster was the biggest kid there.  At one point, he was right in the middle and they were all wailing on him with their own swords.  I think we might have to start calling Chris "the dread Pirate Roberts."

After lunch, we had a new batch of kids and started all over again.  Except the balloons had gone into the lunch time so we didn't repeat them.  We brought a kiddy pool to make bubble solution in.  The deal is to get a kid to stand in the middle, use the hoop as the balloon wand and make the bubble around the child.  Well, it didn't work out that way; however, the kids had a wonderful time trying to see how high they could get the bubble wall to go and, in the afternoon when Gordon brought more soap, they got about four feet high.  This was a really big hit.

We had games planned and jettisoned many of them - too hot outside mostly, although Adam had them going with the soccer ball - so Chris and Caitlin called on their camp counselling days and played a slapping/clapping games called Sevens.  I haven't learned it yet.  At the end of the afternoon when all the adults were too tired to do much more than watch Betty and Beth paint, I pulled out the memory card game Bunny and I bought at Target one day.  I started making sure all the pairs were together because I figured we would play with half the cards (36 instead of 72).  One of the little boys came over to see what I was doing and helped me match everything up.  We put half away and shook up the rest before laying them out.  By that time, three girls had joined the circle.  That first game was pretty quick and we discovered who likes to cheat and who doesn't.  So we used all 72 cards for the second game and added two more players.  We barely managed to finish the third game, with about seven players,  before the team left me behind. 

The neighborhood where this shelter is located is exactly what you picture when you think of a barrio - dirt roads, chickens and ducks wandering around, no grass to speak of and a lot of corrugated iron roofs and walls.  But there are many homes that at least started out as concrete block structures so it is a real mix of poor and desperately poor.  Plumbing is primitive at best.  But every house has gated entries.  Nury told us that it is so dangerous that children are not allowed to play outdoors except maybe at school in an enclosed yard.  The drug cartels are powerful here.

We came home to a refreshing dip in the pool, prayer time and a good dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Now about those pictures.  I confess that I brought the wrong cord to transfer pictures.  Alas, no one else brought their computer along with their camera.  So we will have to have a big slide show when we return home.

Good night, my friends.   More tomorrow.

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