Leaving to Arrive.

The last day in Honduras was… depressing to say the least. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I was ready to see my family. But I was not ready to leave Honduras, at all. I wish my family, especially my mom, could have came on this trip with me. She would have completely loved it. While heading to the airport, I realized, my priorities need to change once I arrive back at home:
1. My relationship with my Lord and Savior needs to be number one. Without him, I wouldn’t be the woman I am today and I wouldn’t have been able to attend this amazing trip.
2. My relationship with my family and friends. I need to take more time for everyone in my life, because not only is this life precious but it is all too short. I need to live life like the song by Lee Brice, “be a best friend, tell the truth, and overuse “I Love You”, go to work, do your best, and don’t outsmart your common sense, never let your praying knees get lazy, and love like crazy”. This song needs to be an anthem of mine, for the rest of my life.
3. Finally, my education. The university students said that learning is their passion. They love to wake up and arrive at school everyday to learn. Their burning passion to learn gives me a burning passion to achieve the same things. To value my education more.
If I continue to focus on those three things, in that order, my life will constantly fall into place, as it should.

As I sat on the plane, flying over the gulf of Mexico, I couldn’t help but realize that half of my heart was still in Honduras with Trish and Marlon, with the students at UNAH-TEC, with the school children at Cola de Cajon, and with every resident of Las Piscinas. Then my other half is back home in Texas. I hope, one day, good Lord willing, that my degree will allow me to travel back to Las Piscinas, or Honduras, or anywhere in the world actually. I do want to learn Spanish, no doubt. It is such a pretty language. I want to be able to understand and speak such a beautiful language.

After getting off the plane, and stepping foot into Houston I realized what an overwhelming sight America can be, and honestly, I did not like it. I saw the roaring hustle of life, tempers flaring, lines, constant chatter on technology. I felt very claustrophobic, and I almost had a small panic attack. It scared me. I never thought the Houston, Texas airport would scare me… but it did. We went from a slow paced, peaceful lifestyle. With nothing loud except the cattle, or the birds, and maybe a few dozen laughs filling the sky. Once we arrived in Houston, it was just LOUD. Not even a beautiful loud just an overwhelming almost annoying loud.

Texas is home, but Honduras isn’t too far behind. My heart will forever be in the mountains of Honduras, just like it will forever be on the flat plains of West Texas.

-Love, Hope Sorrells

Others like me.

After leaving the village and traveling back to Danli, exhaustion set in. I was ready to take a shower, and sleep on a comfy bed. That I did get. But, I found out that night that we would all be able to visit a University, UNAH-TEC, Danli (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras en Danli) to be exact. I was so excited! Getting to meet other college students, that are dealing with the same issues that every college students deal with: classes, schedules, jobs, families, graduating, etc. We arrived at the University and were immediately greeted by the director of that campus. She gave us a tour of the campus. We saw the classrooms, labs, and students just being… normal students. Then, we were told that we were going to sit in on a class, little did we know we were given a performance. We were welcomed with a sign that said “Welcome to Honduras” and then music we listen to everyday, along with a slide on the computer that had the American flag meshing with the Honduran flag. It was awesome. They played the National Anthem as we proudly saluted our country from miles away, and then they played their national anthem. Then, a student sang two songs for us, two other students danced for us, and then we were able to ask questions. We found out there were three majors available on that campus. They were computer application, engineering, and agro-industrial. The agro-industrial is an ag major, YES! Students who love everything dealing with agriculture, farmers, production, everything, I felt right at home then and there. To be honest, I was ready to sign up for classes and attend the school. After we exchanged questions, we did some meet and greet and had some good snacks. I made friends with many of the students and we all exchanged Facebook information. Oh yes, on my friends list right now on Facebook I have friends from Danli, Honduras that I made at their University. That is pretty awesome! These students, teenagers, people were amazing. I had so much in common with many of them. And for some reason, I thought they would be different from American students. But they aren’t… how naive, how stupid of me to think that. Do all Americans have that same view point? That the people in the rest of the world aren’t like us, or we aren’t like them? Such close minded people we are at times. I now understand the quote we were given:
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on; deep and permanent in the ideas of living” -Miriam Beard
Such a true quote, and I realized that, sitting in the classroom, listening to everyone speak. And for a moment, the rest of my busy life was quiet and I was living in a moment that only I can understand.

-Love, Hope Sorrells

Familia <3

Family, a word that many of us over use and take for granted everyday we wake up. So many of us understand what that word means, and maybe we always often feel what family is. But, like myself, so many of us take for granted the idea of family that it is overwhelming when you cannot contact your family for over a week.
In the village, I saw the idea of family. Whether it be direct blood related family, or the family of loco gringos that happened to spend a couple days in the village. Family was all around me this week. Of course, I saw family while sitting at Don Claudio’s house, while eating food Mrs. Martha and Delanie cooked. I made multiple families. I have my Honduran family that are in Las Piscinas right now as I type. They are probably finishing up the day and heading to get ready to eat supper, since the sun will be setting soon. Supper of most likely rice and beans and tortillas. There is the family of church members and school children that we spent days with. One full day of cutting grass, playing frisbee and singing at the school. The next day of going to church and after playing games, taking pictures, having the kids sign our journals. The nights when we all had family time together. We all became a unit, something that can never be shaken. We have inside jokes, crazy secrets, laughs, smiles, tears, and reminiscing about the day. Never in a million years did I ever think that complete strangers could become family. But it can happen, in a blink of an eye. And finally, I would sit and watch the fireflies dancing across the landscape and remember my own family. I was missing my parents, and brother, but also my grandparents and my cousin and nephew. I was missing my animals as well. A part of me was ready to get back to Texas to see them, then another part of me didn’t want to leave. The life in the village is so simple. It is beautiful. Time is never an issue, chores will be done when they are done, the days last for forever, and love is all around. I sit here and think, why can’t life in America be like that now? I know, back when my grandparents and great-grandparents were alive, that is how the everyday life of an American was. So what happened? The hustle and bustle of trying to stay in control of your life at such a rapid pace, remembering dates, appointments, and a set (in pen) schedule. Technology seems to rule our lives. Without technology we can’t even function it seems… but I know we can. There are people, amazing people that live everyday without modern technology that we die without.

Family, a word I know all too well now, and for once, will not take advantage of the word, meaning, feeling.

-Love, Hope Sorrells

The Recipe for Success

I have always thought that in order to reach a goal, you must know what goal you are chasing.  On the plane, bound from Houston, I struggled to define what success of the trip would be for me.  I knew a few of the parameters that would make the trip a success: the group growing closer, each member becoming more globally aware, the easily expected stuff….but talks with past ambassadors assured me that I was only scraping the top of the iceberg.  It was so frustrating because I wanted to prepare myself for what would come, but it seemed impossible.  I settled on the idea that we would mostly be participating in service-like projects, and would learn most things through that work. This mindset lingered in the back of my mind during the first few days in country, and surfaced when we learned that we would be “mowing” the grass in front of the school in Piscina.  “Yes” I thought, “now we will get down to business!”  That mindset lasted about as long as it took us to find out that the field that we were inefficiently hacking away at with machetes, could be cut by a single Honduran in an hour.  One Honduran could accomplish in an hour what it would have taken 15 of us several hours to complete.  This really changed my whole outlook on the trip.  We could “help” the villagers with any of their day-to-day activities about as effectively as they could help us write English papers, hardly at all that is.  Suddenly, I came to the full realization that we would benefit most by learning from the villages, not by serving them.  I am extremely grateful that I reached this conclusion early in the trip because it made the rest of my experiences in the country so much richer.  It is near impossible to truly explain to people how much I learned by milking cows, chopping firewood, hauling trees, pumping water, and giving away my watch.  But, experiencing these things has given me an entirely new outlook on my priorities, attitude, and goals.
-Benton

Take a Hike

When rehashing our trip, the activity that always arises is the hike.  But “hike” never seems quite adequate to describe the 6 hour journey that we took through the mud soaked Patucah mountains.  Beginning in the village of Cola de Cajon, the trek through the rain soaked hills was almost as long and arduous as we had anticipated.  Fortunately however, the huffing and puffing was regularly broken up by fits of laughter and deep conversations.  It was very entertaining to see the group members in such a foreign environment.  I can still see the post-card worthy cloud covered mountains and hear the crazy conversations we had along the way.

The hike wasn’t made memorable just because of the distance, time, rain, mud, donkey accomplice (named squirrel), breathtaking views, hilarious falls, or even the”Dragon’s Toilet”  section of knee high mud and “caca.”  The hike was, in my mind, so memorable because it was the final leg of an amazing journey that brought us to the village of Piscina.  The journey began in my dorm, much too close to the Readership essay deadline, and took over 5 months to complete.  It contained a notorious plane landing in Tegucigalpa, hundreds (that might be an exaggeration) of miles spent in rental vans along the bumpiest roads ever carved, hours perched upon life jacket seat cushions in a log canoe piloted by Carlos (our .22 wielding, iguana slaying, wandering eye canoe captain), and our first night spent on the concrete floor of a one room mountain church.  The hike was the culmination of all these legs of the journey.  I do not believe I have ever worked so hard, or invested so much time in order to reach a physical destination, nor have I ever reached such a destination that was as fulfilling as Piscina.  The harder you work, the sweeter the victory.

Benton

The journey…

Before we were on the way to our three or so hour van ride to the canoes, we had to stop to fix our flat tire. I’m sure we really stood out there since we were taking pictures of everything and everyone. We even got to see how the kids got to school in the morning as they were all sitting in the back of a truck and as they passed by we waved. The scenery was amazing!! I will NEVER forget how my surroundings looked! I remember there was this young boy there at the tire shop and he just kept staring at us, but in a curious way, and it was really kind of interesting. Clara “tossed” (she missed and it landed in the back of a truck he was sitting in(;  ) him a peice of gum, and he smiled real big and it made us laugh. We were so open in everything we did and I really enjoyed the little moments. The moment that shocked me the most though, while we were waiting at the tire shop was when this older lady walked up to us and asked us if we had any money. We politely said no, and she said something not very nice…that we would “carry it with us,” trying to make us feel bad. After she left some of the girls and I felt bad, but Kendra told us it was ok, that it wouldn’t be the first time that would happen and it was normal.  You can’t possibly give to everyone and don’t want to create an problems by giving to a few.

My first canoe ride! I thought it was soo cool! My dream team buddy (Sam) and I  kept thinking we were going to tip over or something. I guess if you watched us it was kind of funny…just about every time the canoe would tilt close to the water we would almost jump on each other trying to get away from the sides. But that canoe ride was the first time I noticed that we weren’t in the states…you will never see a view like that here in America.

The 6 hour hiking trip…was the most challenging, but also the most fun I have ever had! I thought we were never going to get there but when we did I felt as if I could take on the world(:  There was so much mud and A DONKEY NAMED SQUIRREL! It was amazing to feel like we were on top of the mountains looking down.  It made me feel so small because I knew the world was big, but I was actually witnessing how big it really was. Mother nature is amazing!! When we were almost to the village we were traveling to, there was a long road of mud that seemed to just love the girls because by the end of it we were covered in it from head to toe. The guys laughed at us and I thought it was funny that the guys had no mud whatsoever on them!!?

Good thing the girls weren’t scared to get dirty(: in my opinion, that’s what made it that much more fun!

“When times got hard we depended on each other, leaning on one another just like a family should.”
Marisol

Danli!

March 9, 2012

Our first day in Honduras is almost over. Even now, sitting in Trish and Marlon’s house in Danli, I still don’t feel like I’m in Honduras. Obviously we landed safe and sound! The runway is ridiculously small. The landing in a downward spiral and a rough slam on the brakes after touching the ground, but it was fun! From the moment I stepped off the plane, I could immediatly feel the difference. All workers spoke Spanish, and ONLY Spanish. People here don’t understand a bit of English. This is the first time I have ever felt so vulnerable and alone. I am the minority here. It’s a scary feeling. I have a much greater respect for people who move to the U.S. without knowing any English. It’s very frustrating to do anything when you can’t read or communicate effectively. We met up with Trish, Marlon, Gio, and Kelsey just outside of the terminal. Stepping out of the airport was a different experience all together. The first thing I noticed was the breathtaking mountains all around, but as I focused around me, I realized I knew all of the businesses. Sherman Williams, Burger King, Pizza Hut, KFC, and many more common U.S. joints. Why are bits and pieces from our culture overflowing in Honduras? What happened to the local shops? Do the people here like having U.S. culture take over in the city? How far does our culture influence theirs? I have so many questions and no answers… YET! While driving the hour and a half it took to get to Danli, I saw less and less of the American’s influence around me. It’s very difficult to describe the beauty and simplicity of Honduras. It is a common sight to see children outside, laughing and holding hands. Many groups of men are gathered together talking. You occasionally see a woman walking to/from the clothes line to hang laundry. After we arrived at Trish and Marlon’s house, we all went to a local restaurant to eat. I’m not exactly sure what I ordered, but it was some sort of a fried burrito/taco thingy that was extra tomato-y. The food here is very plain with few spices. I guess I expected it to be more like the Mexican food I’m used to? A few kids were hanging around the restaurant begging people eating for food. Much to my dismay, many customers treated them with kindness and respect. People even offered their own food to kids, who turned and split everything evenly with all the other children. How can a starving and hungry kid be more generous with food than the chubby chunks back in the States? Seeing the generous behavior of small children feels like a slap in the face. I’m such a selfish person. And it really bothers me. Though I frequently share my snacks, sometimes my first thought is “No. Why don’t you get your own.” I wish I could figure out a way to erase that automatic selfish thought from even entering my mind. Maybe this trip will change that.. I sure hope it does.

Erica! :]

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