Sunday, December 1, 2013

personal // first stop: Choluteca, Honduras

As you all know, our “first stop”, or really our first home in Honduras is the city of Choluteca. Our move was the first time we had ever been to this city or this part of the country, so it was definitely been a great learning experience! Here’s a look at our first week:

Our flight path map on the way to Honduras!

On Monday, November 11, we started our day super early -- woke up at 3 am (after going to bed at midnight) and got to the airport by 5AM. We were surprised at the Roanoke Airport by two dear friends and NLCF staff members, Adriana and Jeanette, who came to see us off! Once we got to Atlanta, we didn't even have time to sit down because boarding started so quickly. Then the 3 hour flight to Tegucigalpa! Made it through customs just fine and all of our bags made it!!  Then our friend who works for GCLA, Frank (who has been serving as our translator), the missions coordinator from Choluteca, Levi, and one of the deacons from the church in Danli, Kike, were all there to greet us. We went to lunch and got delicious Honduran food right away (we hadn’t eaten yet, so we were hungry!) and then went to do some more on our residency cards process to further the process along. The ride to Choluteca took about three and a half hours. We were dozing off so much in the backseat of the truck because it got dark at 5:30PM and our bodies wanted the sleep they were lacking! But thankfully, just before then, we were wide awake enough to see this big opening in the mountain valley and the most AMAZING pink sunset. 

Pastor Geovanny's sweet dog, Maya!
For the first week here we stayed at the pastor's house, and his three sweet sons speak English and graciously translated for us when we'd get "stuck" with words in a conversation. We had plenty of Spanish lessons while at their dinner table! But for the first night, they took us out to get Honduran-style pizza: loaded with lots of ham, olives, shrimp and giant mushrooms. Crazy! Honduran Coca-Cola to go with, of course!  The Coca-Cola is different here because they use real un-processed sugar from the sugar canes they grow here in Honduras.  It is much sweeter!

The view from the orphanage and mission's house. 

Tuesday we got taken around to all of the projects that the church does with pastor from the church, our translator, Frank, and his wonderful wife, Emily, who is actually from the U.S.! The church here has several successful projects going on, and we are in awe of the outreach each one achieves. It was so helpful to be toured around each one of them to get a better understanding of how each project operates. We were also taken to community areas where the church has helped specific families and their individual needs. You can see pictures from one of those stories, here.

Our meeting over milkshakes :) 
Wednesday we were around town all day in stores, locating and pricing things we would need to buy for our apartment. While doing so, we were also given a mini "tour" of the heart of Choluteca, seeing the markets,  the church and the church's bilingual school, even a little museum AND a meeting over milkshakes! ;) On Thursday, we selected and reserved our new apartment in Choluteca. We could not be more blessed that the apartment just two doors down and in the same building as Frank & Emily was available.

Friday was a rest day for us, as we had been going non-stop since we arrived in Choluteca, and Lesley wasn’t feeling well. We did, however, attend our first small group meeting that night which was, of course, completely in Spanish. We didn’t understand much, but we did meet a lot of new people, wrote down words that we recognized during the lesson (to encourage ourselves), and the both of us even won a group game (in Spanish, y’all)! It was a good night.

Black sand and Honduran hammocks. Jamey was clearly exhausted from the week!
Saturday we were invited to go to the beach in Choluteca for lunch that was about 45 minutes away, with the pastor of the church in Choluteca and his family, and with one of the pastors from the GCLA church in Tegucigalpa and his family who was in town to visit the church. We rode to the beach with the visiting pastor’s family, and then spent so much time at the beach talking with them. They spoke some English, and their sweet kids were very proficient at English. They helped us with words we were curious about, and taught us some new ones! It was a great time, and we made wonderful new friends. We even received another Christmas invitation from them – we had already been invited to celebrate Christmas with a family in Danli & with a family in Choluteca before that! The beach in Choluteca was very different than any beach we had ever been too. We had both never seen the Pacific Ocean and had never been to a beach with black sand or a beach with a mountain view beside the coast! We were thankful for plenty of shade (and the Honduran hammocks) since it was VERY warm there. We also had the best shrimp we’ve ever had with perfect plantain fries!  

Edwin, our new friend that translated the church service for us!
That evening was our first church service at the GCLA church in Choluteca. This church is much larger than the one in Danli, and we (well, especially Lesley) were very impressed with their music and stage setup! We recognized several songs in Spanish, and loved when the chorus of a song would repeat a lot because then we’d totally have the hang of it then. J We were given a very pleasant surprise when the oldest child of the visiting pastor, Edwin, who is 17, offered to translate the sermon for us over remote headset. He knew we wouldn’t understand much any other way, and he also wanted to get more practice with his live event translation, so he graciously translated the whole thing even though he was very nervous! We were able to take an entire page of notes, which we promptly showed him after the service, to prove to him that he had done a marvelous job for us.

We spent that Sunday going around to various stores to purchase most of the smaller items we would need for our apartment (like curtains, plates, cups, and pots & pans), with our move-in date set for the next day! 

During our second week, we got all moved in to our apartment in town, which thankfully is near a lot of things, since we don’t have a car. (You can watch a tour of the apartment, here!). We can go to the store right beside us to get more filtered water jugs for drinking & cooking and the basics, which is great to have in walking distance. It has also already proven to be both extremely helpful and very fun to be living so close to our amazing friends. They are also being kind enough to let us use their washing machine while we are here so that we don't have to use the concrete washboard all the time! We seriously cannot say enough good things about how irreplaceable they have been to our quick adjustment to this new city, and to navigating living in Honduras in general! They have never been shy to any question, and have been so patient with us.

We spent the week purchasing our furniture and appliances, getting our internet and such things set up, finding a language tutor and unpacking. We moved in with just a bed, fridge, and a borrowed fan the first night, but quickly bought two fans the next day! The second day we did an intense cleaning of the apartment since it had not been occupied in several months, with some much needed help for the first half of the day. It felt so great to unpack! It was hard at first getting used to a new method and style of cooking, to a new grocery store with different items & everything in Spanish, and to a much heavier load of household chores all in one week, but we are starting to get the hang of it!

One of our first language tutoring sessions with Miriam (left);
 Using pictures in order to learn Spanish words, so that we don't use English in the process! (right)
On that Friday, we had our first Spanish language tutoring session in our home. It felt good to start learning! We spent the weekend catching up on communication with our organizations, ministry and prayer teams, and friends & family.

We are now into our regular schedule of language tutoring every afternoon for several hours, Monday through Thursday. It has been essential to have time to get accustomed to prepping our lessons for each day, which takes a significant amount of time. Because our language plan is completely learner-driven, we are responsible for preparing what we’d like to cover for each lesson! Thankfully we were given that incredible language learning plan handbook from our training at MTI!!

Thanks for sticking with us through this long update! We wanted to be sure to let everyone know what our lives are currently looking like this early in. Thanks to everyone who has been praying for our move and adjustment period! You are so appreciated!