A Blog Worth Reading

•March 7, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Grace. Wrapped up in Sunday School answers and stuck to the back of bumpers, this was a word that at the end of last year had lost its meaning to me. Surrounded by so much need here in Honduras yet still only twenty-four hours in a day, I had become apathetic for the community around me without even realizing it. It is like when you drive a certain way home so often that one day you get there and you don’t even remember the journey. That is until the day when a deer, or maybe a sleepy head jerk reminds you to once again tune yourself in to the world around you. Though the same drastic effect, my wake-up did not come in a shocking manner nor through a traumatic experience. It came through a simple “Hola,” a twelve year old girl, a life that makes you vividly see why we must be like children to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Tania walked, well more bounced, into the youth group meeting that Saturday. I have never met such a cheerful child. I don’t exactly remember the lesson that day. I do remember having my hair braided and being defeated in my argument that green mangos are better than orange ones. I left offering to walk Tania home until I was told she lived forty-five minutes away. So we walked to the main road, where I was going to find her a motor taxi to take her the rest of the way. Then it began to rain. So we stopped to get cookies and milk. She began to tell me her story. She also shared her love for walking in the rain. That is when she felt closest to God she said. Not exactly in agreement with her love for being cold and wet, but interested to learn more about her, we began to walk out of the city and towards her house.

She lives in a very small community with her mom and younger brother. She has been cooking and doing laundry since she can remember. She walks the almost hour trek on the main road everyday to and from town to go to the public school, where she just completed sixth grade. Her mom told her after sixth grade she would no longer help her with her studies. Tania began to attend all our youth group events. We went out one day and bought umbrellas and ate pizza when I realized that her birthday had passed less than a week ago and no one even bothered to say anything. She never asked me for anything, yet was such an encouragement and joy to everyone she came in contact with.

So watching her graduate sixth grade, our youth group GVC cannot let this be the end of her education. After talking to her and her mother our desire is to find the funds so that Tania can both study and graduate from Vida Abundante,the private bilingual school where I teach. This past month here has been a series of ups and downs. Tania recently entered into her first day of class at Vida Abundante, beginning a sixth month English intensive in order to enter into normal seventh grade classes next year. After her first day of school,she called me and said she felt happier than she had ever been. As of today I have been made aware that the funds promised for Tania have fallen through. So i write not only out of a desire to share the encouragement she has been for me, but out a great need. We want to find her a sponsor. someone who can commit to paying for her schooling for at least her first year. I cannot change all of Honduras, but I can work to help change one life, and a life that I know will change others.

If you know of anyone or have any questions shoot me an e-mail: sebooth@liberty.edu

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“Almost Only Counts in Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”

•July 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In reference to the title, I know that my apologizing and saying I almost updated a million times really means nothing. It is time to blog in word and deed ha.

These past few months have been incredible. I have moved from my small apartment outside of town right into town. God opened the door and here I am. I love the house. I think either 3 or 4 of the teachers from next year will be leaving here so that is exciting. I love fellowship! I have been so thankful for Ana and the youth pastor David here. We have been so busy with the youth group and it has been good to also encourage each other in the midst of all the work.

This Wednesday is my last real day of class. I seriously keep finding myself wanting to tear up in the middle of class these last few weeks. I am just absolutely blown away by some of my students. The first day of class, January 15th, they knew no English. We started with colors and numbers and went from there. This past Friday, my students were diagramming sentences. They know the difference between good and well. They know how to properly use neither and nor. The other day I was sitting outside during recess reading and one of my students came and sat down. We started talking about his old schools. He started talking about all the fights there were and then pulled out the word in English “brass knuckles.” I am certain I did not ever teach him that, but hey when a person has the desire to learn, man can they learn!

I have gotten much more involved with the youth group. It has actually consumed my life a bit. With weekly events, girls Bible study, and planning meetings, plus teaching, and playing soccer and helping in the praise band at my church….sometimes I end the week absolutely exhausted, but it is a beautiful exhaustion. I remember when I used to get bored here…ha never again.

I can’t wait to come home for vacation. I can’t wait to see my family and just enjoy Virginia summer nights. For those of you who don’t know, I will be home from July 21st-August 9th. So short, but it will be very sweet.

I feel like God understands my complete inability to grasp his grace. So much so, that I often find myself completely broadsided by it in the littlest things. I hate how when someone wrongs us, we feel like we have the right to be angry. I hate how easy it is to feel compassion on children, drunk men, and street wanderers the first few weeks…then it just becomes old news. I hate how we have the ability to taste and see that the Lord is good, yet still turn back to things that are so much less satisfying at times. And yes, I know hate is a strong word. C.S Lewis says it much better:

“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

I got to spend all day yesterday with one of the most precious 12 year olds I have ever met. We met in youth group and immediately clicked. We went out for pizza to celebrate her birthday. Her birthday was actually months ago, but not one person remembered or told her Happy Birthday. We watched a soccer game and screamed a lot even though we didn’t care about either of the teams much. Afterwards, we ran in the pouring rain to a store to buy an umbrella. Once the umbrella was purchased, it stopped raining. We went to the park. We pretended the umbrella was a weapon. The umbrella broke. We then went to my house and ate yogurt and painted our nails. We talked about God, our favorite foods, and what we want to be when we grow up. She learned to cook her own food and wash her clothes when she was five. She walks to school 25 minutes into town for school everyday and often walks back in the dark. Yes God speaks clearly through His Word, and through pastors, and music, and nature, but also through 12 year olds. Sometimes it takes stabbing each other with umbrellas and getting soaked to remember the grace of God and to not miss out on the abundance of life that comes with following Him.

Around the World in 4 Days.

•May 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well Hello there!

I am currently writing from the Dulles airport in D.C. It is 3:17 am and I am incredibly ready to get on a plane and sleep at 6:15. For all of you who were unaware I was coming back to the states for one very short weekend, please don’t feel bad. About two weeks ago I realized some airline credit I had from an old canceled ticket had to be used ASAP or would be lost. So after talking with the principals at my schools, I was given permission to have Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday off. I was so excited because this was one of the weekends that one of my best friends in the whole world graduated. The actual process to getting the ticket was a complete nightmare. There were issues with everything, from the original ticket credit to extra fees and expired debit cards. I just praise God I actually made it. Below is a quick summary of how I got to the states.

Wednesday after school at 3 pm exactly Instead of waiting for the teacher bus I was allowed to cram into one of the student buses and head down the mountain. At the bottom of the mountain, I had one of my motorcar friends wait for me to take me to the bus station. About 4 I pulled out on a bus to Santa Rosa where it was torrentially pouring. After getting extremely soaking wet, I made it to the other side of the street, where a few minutes later I boarded the last passing bus for San Pedro Sula. After three hours on that bus, I arrived in San Pedro. A family of a friend who live in San Pedro were supposed to pick me up and I was to stay with them till the next day when my flight left. Well, for whatever reason I was one of the last people off the bus. My friend’s family and I both assumed that as the buses always do, I would be dropped off at the main terminal. Instead I was dropped off at the terminal viejo (old terminal..even sounds sketchy doesn’t it? ) When I called my friend’s brother and told him that, he went frantic. He told me not to panic, but that I was currently in one of the most dangerous parts of San Pedro and he would be there right away. So I stood on the side of the street trying not to make sudden movements or draw attention to myself (the blonde hair and white skin didn’t help with this) and I quickly hear a car speeding around the corner. It is my friend’s brother who quickly grabs my stuff and lets me in the car.

We end up in a MUCH nicer part of town, where I enjoy a cena tipica of eggs, beans, and tortillas and am given a bedroom with air conditioning. For those of you that know me I can be pretty content anywhere, but this was the best night of sleep I have had in a long, long time. Early the next day I was taken to the airport around 5 am where there was another issue with my ticket. Instead of being calm and rationally trying to talk it out, I just start crying. my frustration for Airlines and tickets and money had really been building the past few months and it was really time for some catharsis. Praise God, my tears paved a way and I finally was sitting on a real life plane headed to real life America.

Instead of just typing a million pages about my quick, but very fun few days I will just quickly point out some high points:

Chik-fil-a
Seeing my best friend graduate
Dinner with my family
Sleeping and not worry about a beetle joining me
Being silly and crazy with old college friends and catching up on life

Although, these things were so wonderful, I did notice I was sort of having reverse culture shock. After four months in Gracias, Lempira Honduras I found myself still very caught up in Spanish culture. I naturally put the toilet paper in the trash can, almost said gracias to the very American waitress at O’Charlies every time my drink was refilled, kept translating how much everything I paid for would be in Lempiras, etc….

Living in two cultures is interesting and difficult and so great all at the same time. It is such a cool blessing to serve God in the midst of another language and culture. It makes you realize things about yourself and your culture and also how the God we serve is NEVER bound by cultural expectations or norms. At Liberty University’s baccalaureate, Vernon Brewer, the founder of World Help spoke. He shared how now matter what happens in a day, he lives to do something everyday that will outlast himself…something for the kingdom.

How cool is it that no matter where we are and what we are doing we can leave an eternal impact on the world for Jesus Christ.

Flying Dictionaries and More

•April 25, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today was the first Monday back in school after our Holy Week vacation. In the United States, Easter is basically celebrated on Sunday. Here in Central America, they go big. We got all of last week off. This vacation could not have come any later. Everyone was definitely in that exhausted routine mode and ready for a break.

The last Friday before break was quite the experience. Over half of the school was in the capital competing in a competition called SAG. This is an annual competition between the 6 different Vida Abundant Schools in sports, debate, speech, music, etc. The school was about empty except for my students and the elementary students who are not yet eligible. My students had an hourly countdown going to reach the beloved 3 pm. I think my favorite moment of the day was in the last five minutes when my class clown Carlos was so excited and when to throw his dictionary on the shelf by the window but his excitement actually caused him to launch the dictionary out of the window. I was not able to keep a straight face and just sent him to the other side of the school to retrieve the dictionary.

Vacation was amazing. I left Saturday morning and rode 6 hours with two other teachers on the back of a truck headed to the capital (this way we didn’t have to pay for a bus…free is always the way to go) I arrived in Tegus and met my friend Ana. We stayed the night with her family there in the capital. There was fresh fruit, chinese food, and running water. It was wonderful. We left the next day early for El Salvador. One of my best friends from the states Karen has a house in El Salvador and her and her family were waiting for us. My neighbor from here in Gracias also came along. The week consisted of great El Salvadorian food, sleeping, hammocks, the beach, lots of card playing, and good coffee. I feel so blessed to have such good friends.

I am so grateful for good fellowship. Sometimes I get stuck in routine, but being with good friends who love God brought on so many encouraging and refreshing conversations. I felt like I went to school today refreshed and ready to pour into my students. We are at a very crucial point in the course. Three months gone. Three months to go. I love speaking with my students in English. Sometimes they say words or sentences and I am blown away. For those of you who know my bracelet obsession, one of my students added to my collection today. She bought me another bracelet with my name on it. I love it. If something ever happens to me and I need to be identified, there will definitely be no problem. Another student bought me a charm for my cell phone. I think I have mentioned before how cell phones are SO important here and almost everyone has very nice blackberries or fancy touch screen phones. I love it because now I have very pretty “bling” on my very cheap and not so pretty cell phone.

Of everything I feel in these days it is mostly gratefulness. I miss my friends and family a lot. Reading today I was reminded that a lot of times major spiritual growth comes not just following God in big steps, but when we learn to obey God in the most menial tasks, the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

A little break from life.

•April 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I love those moments we get once awhile in life to just “get away.” This is why I love Thursday. My students have 1 hour and 20 minutes of gym class. None of the other teachers have breaks at this time, so I love just sitting in the silence of the computer lab, listen to music, and escaping from the world for just a little bit.

As good as these last few weeks have been in my personal life, I have seen a lot of hurt and tragedy in the lives of people around me. All the students in the public schools in Honduras have not had class for weeks. The teachers have been on strike. In the capital, riots have turned violent and teachers have revolted and there have even been various teachers in the capital killed. There is a generation of students here in Honduras losing their education, not because they want to, but because the government and of what seems like the root of many problems in life…money. The students from the youth group gvc tell me they are so bored and want to go back to school, but as of yet there is no news as to when the students will able to enter once again in the schools.

Talking earlier about the joy of getting to escape from life, on the other hand I think we also have moments in which life seems to completely stop and we realize the true brevity of this life. The other day I was leaving church and I always meet my neighbor who goes to another church in the area to walk back home so I don’t have to walk alone in the dark. Well this day, he met me at church and said a youth who had been attending his church off and on and just been killed and he wanted to go to the viewing. Most of my friends from my church were going as well, so I tagged along because otherwise I would have had no one to walk home with it. The death was very violent and had to do with drugs. Upon entering in the house which was packed with people from all over town, the young boy’s twin brother was standing by the coffin sobbing. There are so many things I just don’t understand in this life. I truly felt as though in that moment, life stood still. “What am I doing here?” “Why did this happen?” “What is my purpose here?” “Am I truly living life to the fullest?” It was a very somber and heartbreaking experience, but a good heart check and reminder of my purpose here on this earth and the realization that we are only invincible until God calls us home.

In lighter news, I have joined the praise band at church. I play the acoustic guitar and sing. I had my first practice last night and it was so much fun playing with a full and rocking band. I still find it so crazy sometimes that I live my life in another language most of the time. Sometimes there are conversations with people in which we switch back from English to Spanish. It is quite cool.

In even lighter news, there are only two more weeks of classes until Semana Santa. This means there are only two weeks of classes until VACATION. Two of my teacher friends and I are headed for El Salvador and my awesome El Salvadorian roommate from college is meeting us there and we are going to spend the week with her family. I am so excited.

Well back to the real world!

-Sarah

Making a House a Home.

•March 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Well I think it is about time I try and invest in something more comfortable then the plastic chairs I have in my apartment. For those of you not so good at reading between the lines that means I will be staying here in Honduras for another year starting in August. Instead of teaching Nivelacion (English as a second language) I will be teaching 6th grade..entirely in English. It was a really hard decision to make.

I went to a church service in the plaza my church put on. I was standing by myself listening to the music and praying and really finally felt a peace about staying. God really has been showing me different areas of life here in Gracias where he has a purpose from me. Besides teaching sixth grade next year, some of my other goals are to start giving swimming lessons, teaching English at the university on weekends, and possibly giving private English lessons to different people in town. I am just praying I can walk with Christ in every step and be all here even when I miss people in other places. A lesson God is teaching me is that the Christian life at times requires sacrifice and sometimes we must give up certain things to fulfill His purposes, but He always gives us joy and peace in the hardest moments.

These last few weeks have been busy, but great. On Friday, my students finished their first book of ESL. They had a nine page test over all the material and were definitely exhausted, so I surprised them with cake and juice to celebrate that we have now finished month 2 of our learning. This week started off strong in book two and although the material is getting more tough, I think the students are definitely learning what it means to have good study habits and are realizing how much their English suffers without studying or doing their homework.

Tomorrow we have a teacher-student volleyball match which should be great fun. It has been quite chilly here (I know…when cold is 60 it is a touuuugh life to live haha)

Please keep praying.

I love you mucho.

-Sarah ❤

Decisions. Decisions.

•March 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I have a true respect and appreciation for people who can make decisions both effectively and quickly. I cannot. It takes me hours to complete a blog as I write and rewrite. I stand in the super market here for what seems like an eternity trying to pick one cereal or one type of juice. I enjoy living in the moment and not focusing on the future. When I think of the future, I know it means more decisions. Worrying really isn’t my problem. I don’t worry about decisions I have to make, I just struggle with the action of the actual decision making.

I write all this because I feel like in the next few weeks, I have some major decisions to make. When August comes, I think I have about 4 options. I can stay here another year and teach at Abundant Life Christian School. If I decide to do this, I would not be teaching children how to speak English. The class I am teaching this year is not offered every year and so I would pick a specific grade and would be teaching not only English, but possibly other subjects as well (For those of you who know me well, please imagine me teaching Math? ahhhhh) The second option would be to stay here and teach in a public school. The public school system here has so many needs and such a lack of materials, but in working with the youth group here, I have been able to go into a few of the schools and really do feel for the students who have a desire to learn, but there is such a lack of motivation and desire. If I did this, it would definitely be a challenge, but I would get to teach English, which I have really found that I love doing. I also have been offered a job teaching English to adults on the weekends at the first and only university in Gracias. My third option would be going back to the states. I definitely miss my family and friends a lot, but like I told my father on the phone, I just feel so much fulfillment in life doing what I love and really feel and see God’s hand on my life here in Gracias, knowing that this is where I am supposed to be for right now. My last option is something I have only talked to a few people about. I miss Peru. I have spent the last three summers there and although I love it here, I honestly think about Peru everyday. I am considering what it might look like to get a job teaching English there. My goal throughout all of this decision making is not to be run by my emotions and to truly think about and pray pray pray about these different options. I love reading Psalm 37 when I think about my inability to make decisions. My focus is to delight myself in God and allow Him to change and shape the desires of my heart to reflect His heart and will. Life is truly an adventure.

Apart from the crazy decision making process that I am going through, life otherwise has kept on moving. I think today was the first time I was truly upset with my students. After a really good day all day, I asked them to spend time silently working on a chapter review. I have a few students who cannot work without one on one help. So I was kneeling beside one desk and trying so hard to explain the directions to one student, when all of the sudden I heard a lot of commotion. I turn around and see juice spilled all over the floor. No one would confess to the crime. If that wasn’t bad enough, when I asked someone to clean it up, fingers were pointed, but no one would actually clean it. So after getting on my knees and cleaning it up, I was glad to have a break when I saw the music teacher at the door and realized it was music class time. I think the end of the days are always tough for both me and my students. After already having 7 hours of class time in which they are not allowed to speak Spanish, most of them are tired and ready to go. If there is one thing I have learned these past couple months, it is that my students learn best by example. When I pay attention in chapel they pay attention in chapel, when I clean up my trash at lunch, they clean up their trash. Hopefully the new lesson will be cleaning up a mess that may not have been there. I am going to start trying to have an “English centered” art or music class the last 30 minutes of everyday. My kids love to draw and sing, so any type of project or song with the guitar is a nice break from the 4 books they have to work with everyday.

At our school, the teachers are required to decorate their door for every big holiday. Well the next big holiday is Semana Santa in April, which is basically a whole week for Easter in which everyone leaves town and goes to the beaches. Well I let my students draw up their own designs for the door and we are going to vote on them and pick one soon. Their only guidelines were that it had to have some kind of design to do with Semana Santa and some phrase or words in English. Well after looking through them, I found one that reads: “To be with Christ is to participate in his life, his death, and his resurrection.” What a reminder.

❤ you all

-Sarita