Friday, May 1, 2015

missionary cookbook // go bananas

Here in Honduras, we always have lots of bananas... and if you are gifted them, it's often an entire stalk of 40+ of them straight off the tree. And they ripen extremely fast, even with all the tricks in the world (separating each banana, putting wrap/foil on the stems etc, etc.). So I like finding ways to use them, like these two recipes, that are super easy and quick. It's also perfect if you're ever feeling defeated and like you can't bake anything (everyone has those days!), and it's really perfect if you have surprise visitors!


This is the very first recipe I made here in Honduras that has never ceased to go over perfectly with each of my Honduran friends, though so many never had heard of it before! Simple but great.

Perfect Banana Muffins
Makes: 12-15 muffins
Time: Prep - 10 minutes // Bake - 15 minutes
3 browned bananas (if you're feeling crazy, 4)
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mash the bananas but not too much, and then beat in the eggs, followed by the sugar. Then mix in the oil & the vanilla. (This is your liquid base.) Mix all dry ingredients in a separate bowl together, then add to the wet ingredients and blend well. Bake in a greased muffin tin at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes or until brown and a fork comes out clean. You can do this all with a hand mixer, but it's really not necessary. Fork/whisk/mixing spoon/whatever works just fine.

Now this recipe is really not all that fancy, and baking powder and baking soda can be substituted in for each other (in different amounts) whenever needed with this, so that's great. Sometimes you can't find both! But please, whatever do, be patient enough to wait until your bananas have browned a lot. Overripe bananas make a huge difference. I might have learned this the hard way. If you want do want to be fancy though, you can either make a streusel topping or a simple glaze to finish! We almost always do one or the other. (Oh, who am I kidding, Jamey loves any excuse to have icing.)


Another similar, yet more dessert-like to way to use up your bananas is this great banana coffee cake. It's perfect for dessert, or if you want, breakfast! I love making this recipe when I want to be sure that I have plenty for however many people come over. 

Banana Bread Coffee Cake
Makes: 1 - 13x9in cake
Time: Prep - 10 minutes // Bake - 45 minutes
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
½ cup butter, room temperature
3-4 ripe bananas
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup milk

Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas, then mix in the sugar. Next, beat in the butter. Beat in the eggs and vanilla together. Mix the dry ingredients well with the wet ingredients. Lastly, pour in one cup of milk. Mix well. It will be a lot of batter and it will be runny.

You'll also need to make a crumb topping and a glaze if desired (see below). I just make it in a greased 9x13 pan, pour in the batter, top evenly with crumb topping mixture, and bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until a fork comes out clean.

*For a crumb topping, you can use anything from brown sugar, regular sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon to make it how you like it. I make it different every time. If it looks like streusel topping, I'm sure it will taste fine! The glaze is powdered sugar with a dash of milk to make it liquid-y enough to pour. If you pour too much milk, add more sugar to reach desired consistency.

This cake is really sweet, y'all. But not as rich as Truvy's Cuppa, Cuppa, Cuppa, so don't worry. It serves plenty and is perfect for a crowd!

Missionary Tips:

- The only mission field hard to find ingredient in these recipes should be vanilla extract. Remember that there is a big difference difference between extract and concentrate. Concentrate is fair more available here in Honduras than extract and I have to pay close attention to the labels. Best bet: ask for some in a care package or bring some with you from a trip home.

- Pictured above in my muffin tin are my silicone baking cups. Now I'm up to several different silicone items in my kitchen, and I love each one of them. They are SO useful anywhere, but especially in the mission field where cooking spray is expensive! You do have to condition them with oil the first few uses, but after that you can reuse them each time without oil. Talk about budget friendly and environment friendly!

- Want another tip for using up your bananas? Substitute eggs for bananas when making brownies. Yum!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

lessons // cultural physical gestures

I have been obsessing over reading expat blogs lately and loving the hilarious culture mixing stories and, honestly, how much I can relate to them. It's really fun to read something that isn't like what my life used to be back home, what my life could be like (again, at home in the US), or what I could imagine life as. It's stuff that we're going through right now, and it is quite the breath of fresh air. (Currently, I really resonating with this post, and definitely this one, and still laughing from reading this one.) Jamey and I seriously need more expat friends so they can tell us more funny stories like the ones we've experienced being in our host culture.

One of the things that I was recently laughing about was the differences in common physical mannerisms used here in Honduras in contrast to the ones used in the States that I was explaining in one of my English class lessons. Trust me, my friend that I was teaching was laughing just as hard as I was. I would describe a situation and ask her to show me how she would do whatever phrase without words. Knowing what her answers would be (very different than mine), I asked her to go first and said that I would show her the way I do it second. She was amazed at the results, simply because some things I did made absolutely no sense to her. She said "What are you doing? That means the same thing to you as what I just did?". Yes, the same thing.... just in different cultures.

So, I thought it would be fun to share a few Honduran physical mannerisms that were the topic of conversation, that over the last year and a half Jamey and I have learned to love to use here. We'll place the GIF before the description just for fun, so that you can try to guess what it is before you read about it. (Please excuse our not-so-high-quality GIF making. We put these together quickly!)

Example #1: The Lip Point

Thought it may seem like I'm blowing the most intense kiss ever to Jamey, I'm not. This is how Honduran's point! It's rude to point with your finger, unless whatever it is that you're talking about is rather far away. Instead, you purse your lips strongly and raise your chin in the general direction of the object. Sometimes it's not always extremely specific, but it can definitely get someone to look behind them or take another look more closely. It's extremely effective, and if done quickly, discrete as well.

Example #2: The Hand Slap

Now, yes, there has to be a better name for this one but, to me, it's not really able to be described in a few words. Though here it is show really fast and not exactly clear, what you do is put the tips of your thumb and middle finger together like you are going to snap with your index finger limp. Instead of snapping, you shake your hand rapidly, which causes you index finger to flap around and make a loud noise when it hits your hand. Jamey can actually do it well, but I still can't... mainly because I think my mind knows that my index finger might get injured and doesn't allow it to move like that! This motion is commonly done in moments where we might say "Ohhh ouch", "Ohhhhhhhhhh my GOSH", or "Holy crap!", like when someone says something that they shouldn't have, you paid a price for something way over the fair/reasonable price, etc. Again, very hard to explain but any Latino instantly recognizes it!

Example #3: The Elbow Tap

The elbow tap is another motion that requires absolutely no words, but carries a big meaning. If you tap you elbow like this, or maybe say something like "need a little oil for this spot?" while touching your elbow, this means you are calling someone tight, stingy, or a penny-pincher. Many people look to make jokes with this move.

Example #4: The "Come Here" Motion

So we're still trying to master this one, but to do a "come here" motion, you hold your arm out, make your wrist fall limp, then flop your hand up and down a little. Now, imagine this in contrast to our custom, which is to fold in our elbow, hold our hand upward, and move it away from us then towards us. My friend especially thinks the way we do it makes absolutely no sense to her. She laughed about our differences on this motion for a good 5 minutes and told me that ours looks like we are fanning ourselves!

We hope you enjoyed this post and our attempt to do this physical gestures correctly. Now imagine -- we have described here only physical gesture differences in culture!! There are so many other differences that you would never guess, that we will have to report on another day.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

personal // gracia -- easter conference 2015

As some of you may know from us talking about it last year, the whole week of Easter is celebrated in Honduras. Mostly everyone is off from work and goes on some sort of vacation or on a trip to see family that lives further away. Within GCLA, we celebrate "Semana Santa" (Holy Week) with an annual Easter conference that takes place from Wednesday to Friday in San Pedro Sula. It concludes on Friday, as Good Friday is the major celebrated day of the week (rather than Resurrection Sunday, as it is for us back in the U.S.).

The annual conference is really big; it gathers together various people from the over 30 churches in the network. 
This year the conference was called "Gracia" (grace). We especially enjoyed talks about how God can work in our lives when we live in humility, about how there comes a point in every lost person's life that only grace can truly save them, and much more. Obviously, grace is an absolutely crucial topic for our faith.

While we could list out all of the things we did on our trip, we think it is more important to be real and honest about our week. Missionary life is far from perfect and sometimes would not even be described as good. Any missionary will tell you that your purpose in being here is God teaching you about all of the ugly in yourself just as much as it is you attempting to be the hands and feet. But sometimes we feel that people expect a lot of of us (and sometimes we even expect a lot of ourselves) and for that reason, we can easily get caught up in listing all of the things we did. It can often be a product of our U.S. "do, do, do" checklist mentality.

But we are broken. Yes, even especially missionaries. So not only did we celebrate that Christ is Risen, but this Easter we took extra time to take moments to introspectively look at all of the other blessings and examples of grace in our lives. We'd like to share those moments of blessing and thanksgiving with you.

1) When we traveled on Tuesday to San Pedro Sula, a dangerous city in Honduras, we had something unfortunate happen to us and were able to be taken advantage of because of the large amount of corruption that exists in Honduras with the government, police, people, etc.

But we clearly felt the hand of God protecting us every bit of the way. Also, we were never alone, and felt so loved on by the extended large family of Hondurans we were traveling with. Each moment of being with them was an extension of the love of Christ.

2) This year we did not have English translation like we did last year, but instead listened to and experienced every moment of the conference in Spanish. There were rapidly-spoken skits/plays, session talks that lasted at least 45 minutes each, and so many people to reconnect with from all over the various churches. Our brains were so exhausted at points, which the hot, HOT weather did not help.

But, quite literally by the grace of God, we were able to understand! We learned beautiful new songs that we actually understood the meaning of and could genuinely worship, rather than just trying to hum along. We pleasantly surprised many people as we were able to actually hold conversations with -- some that we hadn't seen since last year -- rather than just nod and smile, say hello, and say "I'm fine, how are you?". We took dozens of notes in a constructive meeting for all of the children's development centers (CDIs) and we are going home more educated -- even though it was all back and forth conversation in Spanish. God is so good!

3) We were busy and there was a lot more going on for us this year. We felt like it was not really a time of rest and "a week off", but actually a time where we would crawl into the bed at midnight and immediately fall asleep. There were times when we felt out of our element, not in control, and we were internally conflicted once again by cultural differences about various things. 

But, we spent some really good time with great friends, got to help out friends, and even help put on a birthday party. We felt more like we knew what was going on this time around, but more importantly we were able to accept that wherever our time was spent is not always our call. It's always a good stretching experience when you have to practice giving up control especially for us as North Americans.  I think that God could teach us all something about that.  

Happy Easter everyone! We hope that you end the holiday feeling just loved, cared for, taught, and guided by Christ as we did.   

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

highlight // meet caroline

In Honduras, whenever someone stays in your house they are often referred to as your "kids" -- especially if they are the same ages or younger than you and especially if they need to go home in your car with you. It doesn't really matter if it could have been physically possible for you to have a child their age... ;)

With that in mind, we'd like to introduce you to our "hija" (Spanish for "daughter".)

There are lots of things that someone could say about their kid that we would say about Caroline, our intern. She lives in our home, we feed her, and we are generally responsible for her well-being (though we hope we've taught her to make her own good decisions!). She constantly brightens our lives and makes us laugh, and we're really glad to finally have more than just two players when we play games. She is a better surprise than we even thought she would be! (See what I mean about that daughter thing?)

All joking aside, our intern is actually just a few years younger than us. She went to Virginia Tech and New Life Christian Fellowship (NLCF) just like we did. We are thrilled to have her here and we feel like she is the perfect person to be helping us with both of our social projects.

Meet Caroline Stephenson!

1) Tell us more about you.

I was born and raised in Fairfax Virginia. I graduated from Virginia Tech this past December with a BS in Biology. I have three older sisters, two step brothers and a step sister. I like reading, outdoor activities, cooking... EATING and traveling. I especially love everything science/biology related which includes animals and creepy crawlers.

2) Have you ever had any other international experiences? Can you tell us about them?

I studied abroad my sophomore year in Quito, Ecuador. I lived with a host family and attended La Universidad San Francisco de Quito. All of my classes were taught in Spanish and I was able to take Ecology, Ecuadorian culture, Spanish and Andean Archaeology. The greatest experiences I had abroad was when I was able to visit Machu Piccu and the Amazon. While in the Amazon I touched a wild anaconda and a tarantula!

3) What are you most excited about for your time in Danli, Honduras?

I have two things that tie for what I'm most excited about. First, I am excited at the opportunity to build up the kids at the CDI. I have been lucky in that my parents and teachers have always been incredibly supportive of my interests and education. I would love for the kids of the CDI to be so poured into by us teachers that they have confidence in their own abilities and that they believe in themselves.

Second, I am thrilled to be a part to the health promotion classes with the water project. I have long felt a pull toward international health work and this is an opportunity to gain experience in the field. I can't wait to see the water project progress in the Urrutia community and to be able to see God's blessing happen before my eyes.

Picking Caroline up from the airport (left); Introducing her to Honduran pupusas (right). 
4) Tell us about something cool that has already happened or that you have learned about.

This past week we had a visiting mission team from Virginia Tech. I went out evangelizing with them and spoke to an amazing woman named Leticia. Her daughter wasn't able to live with her because the child's father was dangerous and threatened to take the girl away. Leticia now lives with her new husband and fervently prays for a way that her daughter can return safely to live with them. Among all the trials in her life, Leticia's faith is strong and she seeks to give thanks to God every chance she gets. This kind of thanksgiving and faith was amazing to witness and such an encouragement to me. I have so much to learn about finding my joy in Christ amidst any circumstance.

5) What's your favorite thing about Jamey and Lesley?

My favorite thing about Jamey and Lesley is that they seek to make me feel welcome every chance they get. Whether that is inviting me to play card games, introducing me new Honduran places or checking to see how I'm feeling. I feel supported and cared for while living here because they go out of their way to make sure I'm doing well. Oh and they're hilarious...

6) How can we be praying for you personally?

I would love prayers for God's guidance in my life and that I am sensitive to hearing His voice. I am at a place now where big choices need to be made about my future career path. For that reason, I want to make sure that God is at the center of my decision and that I'm following His call.

Hear more from Caroline personally about her time here on her blog.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

mission team // nicaragua emi project trip

The next few weeks are so are definitely going to liven up the blog as we have, and will have, plenty of “the interesting stuff” to write about. We have officially started our mission trip schedule for 2015 – first, with a trip that we went on!

We had several friends say to us, “What? Missionaries on a mission trip?”. But yes, that’s what we did. Jamey joined the team of an Engineering Ministries International (eMi) project trip last week and I (Lesley) more or less tagged along as his wife. When we attended their annual conference back in November to learn a thing or two, we heard about the trip and decided we’d like to see what project trips were all about since we would only be one country away. And before we knew it, off we were to Nicaragua! 
Mountains of Nicaragua
We stayed in the mountains in a place called La Finca, which is close to Matagalpa, and is at a higher elevation than we are used to. It was COLD! I mean, the emails warned us that it could get “cool” but we barely saw the sun that week and we all constantly kept on hoodies, fleeces, and jackets. Thankfully we each had one warm item a piece with us here in Honduras to take with us… but with all the shivering I did, I honestly would have loved to have had more. We stayed in the cabins of a Young Life (or “Vida Joven”) camp where the team was working.

The La Finca Vida Joven Camp
Over the course of the week, three separate teams to our group tackled their various projects that we would be doing in order to help out the camp with their upcoming expansions. Jamey was on Team Stormwater, and they were tasked with assessing the water sources on property and giving a report of recommendations for stormwater management, both short and long term. The team of architects creating renderings and designs to help model what the proposed expansions would look like, and the bridge team assessed the bridge need, decided on a bridge type, and designed the bridge needed all in the week we were there. Collectively, we are very proud of the work the whole team accomplished and pray that this will greatly help the Young Life camp, will assist the staff that constantly works so hard there, and will bless the youth that will be attending the camp, and hopefully through the camp coming to know Christ in a more personal way.
Tour of the camp grounds /project sites
Makeshift "central office" set up by the eMi project team

Now, you also might be wondering what a non-technical spouse might be doing on a trip like this? Well, originally, we (another wife and I) had hoped that we would be able to get to know the people we were doing the project for while the engineers were busy plugging away on their computers in a time crunch. But, as there were no campers on site at the time we were there, we were only able to meet the camp staff and staff that works with their coffee production. So, Alli (the other wife) and I went to work at the most useful place for us that week – to roast coffee! We helped Isa, a woman who works with the coffee, to roast, weigh, package, and grind 300 pounds of coffee. It was awesome and Isa was so kind to us. (Unfortunately, Alli did more roasting than I did, because for a day and a half I was stuck up in the cabin super sick!)
My coffee roasting buddies, Isa and Alli
During our time in Nicaragua, there were also a few times where we left the over 120 acres of camp property and got out to see more of Nicaragua, which we absolutely loved. We got to go to Matagalpa, a nearby city, to attend church (which was a wonderful and uplifting service!) and then when out for pizza. The restaurant gave our huge group of the team, local missionaries, and Young Life staff, the top floor and we gulped down the tasty natural juices that were available there. Lesley's favorite: orange carrot juice! It was excellent. On Wednesday night, we had the opportunity to go to a Young Life club in Matagalpa and get some amazing homemade ice cream after. Then, to wrap up the trip, on Friday we had our adventure day. 
Pretty drive to Managua 
View from the pizza restaurant in Matagalpa 
For that day, we did probably one of the best canopy tours in Nicaragua. Not only was in beautiful, had lots of lines, and was a long course, but it also included the best guides ever. They were making the funniest jokes, earnestly helping us have a great time, and took our cameras to take our pictures for us so we could enjoy the experience. They also encouraged some crazy moves on the zip lines to like "Superman" (head first with another rider holding your feet behind you) and "Freaky Monkey" (upside down with your legs crossed and arms out). It was a blast, which was followed by a visit to the local artisan market, lunch at the pupuseria, and a wrap-up session at our hotel in Managua before everyone flew out the next morning. 
Canopy Tour!
Our friend Jamal doing the "Superman" -- his arms are so long
that he did hit a few trees along the way!
Watching the magic at the pupuseria.
Thank you to everyone who knew about our trip ahead of time and prayed for it and our travel. It was our first time crossing the border by bus, but it went very smoothly -- with the exception of a quick taxi hop to make our bus and Lesley having to hold her bladder for 6 hours with no bathroom! Normal for Latin America :) Thanks to eMi for letting us expats, and another local missionary Brian, join on the team with you all. We loved it! 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

personal // better late than never! EOYR for 2014

The first two weeks of this new year have really caught me off guard! I was not prepared to start the new year and all that it entails yet! Part of the reason is because we were home in Virginia visiting family until January 5th and actually got back to our own apartment in Honduras on the night of Jan 6th. So, I sort of pretended that the new year didn't start until Jan 7th. So in my pretend world, 2015 has only been around for 6 days. :) So maybe you all can pretend with me that this post isn't THAT late?

Last year Jamey and I did a "End of Year Review" post in the beginning of 2014 and I have sincerely loved getting to go back and read it and see all that made up our year in 2013. Mainly because I have a very bad memory and everything starts to run together for me after a while. So, I didn't want to miss out on the opportunity to do it again this year and talk about 2014.

So here we go! Our End of Year Review for 2014. 

What did you do in 2014 that you had never done before?
- We learned a language.... like, actually learned it! For the first few months we were just making out what people were saying to us and nodding and smiling. Responding with "yes", "no", and "I don't know". Cognate words (words that look and sound the similar in different languages) really helped us to get started. Then, we found the "sabor" (flavor) of the language. We enjoyed that much more! Finding "flavorful" words that mean a lot in Spanish really helped us to get our point across and now, though we will always be learning more, we actually enjoy speaking in Spanish! Check one off the bucket list!

What are you most happy about completing?
- Building -- the website for the ministry Jamey began in partnership with GCLA, called Total Water. This was one of the biggest things (besides starting the ministry, of course) that we completed this year and it truly was a labor of love. We have so much respect for people who work in that industry and are constantly designing new things. It's amazing and really hard to do!

What song will always remind you of 2014?
- Just like last year, we just can't pick ONE single song. And so, we have categories yet again. :) Pop favorites: Shake it off by Taylor Swift and Ghost by Ella Henderson. These two songs were on repeat many a time in 2014, and were also often played when we needed a sing/dance break in the middle of our days! Country genre: Sweet Annie by Zac Brown Band and From this Valley by the The Civil Wars. Both had melodies that were soothing and sounded like home. And lastly, we would normally included a category of Christian music, but it just so happens that most of the Christian music we listened to in 2014 was in Spanish. So I'm not sure whether to call this section Christian or Spanish, but nevertheless they are: Gloria en lo Alto by Christine D'Clario and Eterno Amor by Hillsong.

What was your favorite meal?
- We probably ate our own weight in Honduran Empanadas this year after our friend Tania introduced them to us and then Lesley started making them for the kids at the Danli Children's Development Center. It was the number one most requested meal by the students and they would keep coming back for more leftovers until there were none left... but also always sent one or two home with Lesley to give to Jamey. :) In our home, homemade pizza was a definite favorite. Lesley finally perfected her pizza crust recipe and Jamey declared it better than Digiorno Pizza. He's sweet, huh?

What was your favorite TV program?
- Lesley: Grey's Anatomy; Yes, she started it in 2014 and made it through the 9 seasons that are available on Netflix. And can't believe she never watched it before now!!
- Jamey: Reckless; This was another Netflix find, but introduced to us by Jamey's mom. It's first season aired as a summer show, and was set in Charleston, SC. We all adored it, and then went to see when the next season would start. We found out that it had not been renewed and cried our eyes out. We want another network to pick it up!! Long live Roy Rader.

What was your favorite film of this year?
- Well, we didn't see many of the movies that came out in 2014, to be honest. But, we really enjoyed the ones we were able to see, which was Divergent (caught it on a plane ride. Yay free movies on Delta flights!) and The Hunger Games, Mockingjay Pt 1. Yes, we realize there are some similarities between these two and another 2014 movie, The Giver. But we liked them all! Hopefully eventually we will catch up on the movies we missed in 2014.

Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014.
- People are people, no matter the language, country, or culture. Also, DO NOT buy a fridge without a full-on separate door for the freezer. It's a mess.

What are you most grateful for this past year?
- Internet access and modern advances in communication for missionaries! We could Skype with friends in Swaziland, Africa y'all. That's just too great. And we know that people who moved overseas years ago did not have these technologies (and some still don't!) and we are so incredibly grateful for them.

What restaurant did you eat at most often?
- Every Saturday night, we get out of church between 8pm and 8:30, depending on our responsibilities and how much we chat. Then we are super hungry and go get Baleadas at one of the church deacon's stores just like half of the church does. So, you could say we went there a LOT. Also, Pizza Hut. It's the one American chain restaurant in Danli, Honduras and sometimes we wanted U.S. food.

Did you attend any weddings or major personal events for friends and family in 2014?
Yes! Jamey was a groomsman in Josh and Louisa Hammett's wedding in July 2014.

What did you wear most often in your closet?
- If we're being honest, Jamey often looked like a Target employee through a lot of 2014; he really loved to wear a combination of a plain red t-shirt and khaki shorts. But, his newest and most used addition to his "look" were his glasses, which he'd never really been accustomed to wearing regularly, but came to love! For Lesley, she finally gave in to a life-long fear of wearing extremely light colored jeans and bought a capri pair from Loft, which she wore ALL the time. (Hey, the fear was a result of being a 90's baby, okay? We were put in some pretty terrible outfits.) Also, she lived in sandals permanently (even during times she probably should have been wearing tennis shoes.) We live in permanent summer!

What did you really, really, really get excited about?
- Our rug in our living room. It's a small 8x5 rug that we found for like $30 in Tegucigalpa, and it has brought so much happiness to us and people who visited our apartment! You always, always wear shoes inside in Honduras, so this little spot is the one place we take our shoes off and rub our feet on. Once, we had teenagers from another city staying with us and they admitted to having stayed up for hours the night before just walking all over this rug because it was so soft. haha!

Also, Lesley probably got unreasonably excited about school supplies in 2014, but after a school supplies drive we did for the children's development center, we realized just how much having supplies changes everything!

Where did you feel most connected to God this year?
- Sunsets. Danli, Honduras where we live has some wonderful pink and orange soft sunsets that we really love. But really anywhere we were, we always took a moment to just be still and know during the sunsets.

What was a memorable gift you gave this year and who was it too?
- All of the memorable gifts that we gave this year were small things but that meant a lot to someone else. We found vanilla and cherry Cokes for a friend who had always wanted to try them, and he felt really special that we remembered him and got them for him. We also found someone who was willing to give shoes to one of ours students who's only pair had burned in a house fire. When we visited homes, we gave crayons to the little kids and sat down to draw pictures with them. Things like these were the most memorable!

What was a fun surprise you had this year?
- We were pleasantly and hilariously surprised with our Honduran friends' obsession with a pumpkin spice candle from Walmart that we were sent in Lesley's birthday care package. It is to the point where if friends are over, the candle MUST be burning and be in the "special spot" for best smell distribution throughout the apartment. :) Also, finding chai latte mix in the capital city. That was a really big win for us!

Looking into 2015... what does it hold for you?
- Total Water project construction,
- More mission teams this year than ever before,
- An intern living with us,
- Jamey's parents visiting Honduras (and first time ever leaving the U.S.!)