Saturday, February 27, 2010

Problems on Blogger

I've been trying to post for the past 3 days but have had problems on blogger. I have lots and lots to catch you up on and am hoping the problem is sorted out quickly. Thanks for checking back!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Days 22-25

I apologize for not posting for several days. The days are full and I've gotten off my writing schedule.

My art class on Friday was a huge success. The kids made monsters out of paper. Even the littlest boys spent the full hour working on their project and every single monster looks terrific! The kids were really creative and they are really good with scissors. I felt so proud of them!

Yesterday was a special treat. A wonderful group of people from a local company hired a clown complete with a full performance for the kids. They also provided tamales and a pastry and candy for everyone. Of course the clown chose yours truly from the audience for one of his tricks. Thank goodness I understood everything he said and his instructions! It's funny how embarrassed I was standing up in front of everyone. Mexican clowns kind of freak me out. Actually most clowns do, but Mexican clowns look like they originally started out as mimes and switched halfway through. They have bright white makeup and florescent colors. It's totally crazy. However, for the kids this was great and they spent the morning laughing and getting treats. The company that so graciously provided the entertainment and food also donated a bunch of provisions (laundry soap, toilet paper, shampoo, etc). I love seeing how much people care for these kids, how involved the community is and how needs are continuously met.

I've spent a lot of time lately making friendship bracelets with the kids. Kyla had the great idea to show them how to make bracelets as there's a lot of colorful thread in the supply room. I'm sure someone in the past did this with the kids too, since it was familiar to a few of them. We've spent a lot of time sitting around, chatting, trading bracelets. It's been an especially nice way to spend time with the younger girls. They also love it when I bring out the nail polish and we all paint our nails. The other day, 8 year old Kristel painted my nails green with pink polk-a-dots. :)

Last night I took one of the sweet sleeping triplets up to bed and noticed that all their beds had sheets and were made up all nice for them. My friend, Johanna the secretary and a girl named Ameryka have been taking care of the boys the past few days and have done an outstanding job. It is an incredible amount of work to keep their cabana clean and to wash all the little boys clothes constantly and to make sure all the boys do their homework, are ready for school, have their uniforms and hair gelled and generally speaking maintain order. I very happily tucked little buddy into his clean bed and planted a kiss on his forehead.

I've been thinking about the kids here as one big extended family even more so since viewing William's photos. He had photos going back the last 8 years or so to when he first came to Hogar. Seeing a lot of familiar, but younger faces in his photos made me really realize that these kids grow up together and are each other's family. The older ones look out for the little ones, people tease each other, play together, work through problems, see each other through tough times, celebrate birthdays together. They're together for most of their childhood. This is a pretty amazing thing. A really big extended family. When I see the older boys putting their arm around the little ones and chatting with them it about melts my heart. Same with the older girls holding children on their laps and helping with homework. There's a lot of love here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 20 + 21

Tuesday morning I spent with the little kids making carnaval masks and hats. As usual it was a tornado of activity and everyone dove into things before they even knew what the project was. I wanted to bring some of the festival to the littlest members of Hogar, because they hadn't been able to see any of it and I knew they felt left out. The project turned out great - some even made themselves capes out of tissue paper and paraded around in their costumes. I'm sure there is little of it left now, but for a while, they had such a blast. I was genuinely impressed with how great everything looked. The little boys especially enjoyed this one as it gave them the opportunity to look fierce and play fight.

Kyla and I had heard there was to be a dance at 2pm, so we, along with one of the German volunteers, Robin, walked into town. There did end up being somewhat of a dance, but the level of mayhem had escalated a bit too as more people ran out of talc and espuma spray and switched to buckets of dirty water and eggs. I suppose we had it coming to us - 3 gringos surrounded by a well armed crowd. We were standing at the edge of the park when Robin got the first egg to the head. I saw one get smacked over Kyla's head and I took off running and hid behind a truck. Unfortunitely, they came from behind and I had the sickening sensation of raw egg running down the back of my head and into my shirt. As if that weren't enough, we were eventually surrounded, buckets of water were thrown on us and I even had a full liter sized cup of beer poured on my head. Thank God at this time the combi (van) had just showed up and we were literally dodging water balloons and more eggs from behind it. I dove in just as the last bucket of water hit me and I was soaked to the skin - reeking of booze and eggs. Grosssss!! We got back to Hogar where we got a good laughing at and then I headed to my cabana to clean up. All I wanted was a hot bath, but our hot water wand was lent out and there was no electricity anyway. So I scrubbed raw egg out of my hair with freezing cold water. It was probably in the 50's outside. I was so cold! Kyla was much tougher about it than me. The other girls started coming in from town and looking for a hot water wand too, but we all just had to freeze. At least there's camaraderie in misery! I wore nearly all my clothes that evening.

Yesterday we tried to take the primary school kids to the zoo. I had been wanting to take them there, so I rallied the troops (Kyla, Robin and Felix) and talked to the director about driving the big, blue school bus on Wednesday. Felix heard rumors that the zoo was closed for a few days for cleaning, so I tried to get Johanna, the secretary, or one of the directors to call and make sure it was open. This ended up being a bit frustrating, since people kept asking me if I had called, and I kept telling them to call since I speak minimal Spanish. They would say we don't have the number and i would say, look it up online. Everything is online. So, for about 3 days, I wasn't sure if the trip was happening for sure, who would drive, and if the zoo was open, but I kept pressing to make it happen. So yesterday, we loaded on the bus, assured by several different people that the zoo was indeed open and endured an amazingly bumpy 1 1/2 hour bus ride to the Tuxtla zoo. I was feeling sick again, so I think things felt a little harder than they really were. We got to the entrance of the zoo and there was a big sign saying the zoo was closed for cleaning until the 19th. I was so disappointed for the kids! And frustrated with the lack of organization. We had to do something special with our 14 little expectant charges. So I suggested the movies. They seemed really excited by this idea and I spent the next few minuted praying that there would be an age appropriate film playing at the right time.

Felix and I ran into the theater and found that the Wes Anderson film, "Fantasic Mr. Fox", was playing in 5 minutes. We talked to the manager and even got 3 adult tickets for free. We had the whole theater to ourselves. Each kid had a sandwich we had brought from Hogar, and I scurried over to the Sorianna to buy drink boxes and a candy treat for each of them. By this time I'm pretty sure I had a full fledged fever, but I was so happy to see the kids taken care of that I finished passing out my treats and collapsed into a theater chair. I know for many of the little ones this was the first time they had ever been to a movie. I felt so content just watching them enjoy themselves. The film was great too, something I think I would have liked to watch anyway! Full of adventure and humor and wonderfully, creatively done. The kids were really happy and got another sandwich and candy on the way home. I went straight to bed when we got back. I felt a little better later and went to dinner. The kids are so kind to me. I got hugs and well wishes before I headed back to bed.

By the way, I'm writing this the next day and feel a bit better, though I may go to the doctor again anyway. So don't worry!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carnaval Tambien!!

Carnaval tambiƩn!! Another great day of fun.

My roommate Kyla has been sick for the past week or so with a stomach bug, so she stayed at Hogar yesterday, but today we decided to go in and see the doctor. While waiting for the lab results we had a little snack at a nearby cafe and ran into some of the kids from Hogar. They were roaming the street looking for trouble and wreaking havoc like the rest of them out there. We bought them ice cream and joined them in their wanderings. Kyla armed with spray foam and me just taking pictures. It was only a matter of minutes and we were covered in soap, talc, and general mess. Today all the dancing was in neighborhood street parties, and you could wander from one to the other and basically dance your way around town. Fantastic costumes were still everywhere and every party had their own marimba band. We visited the Hogar kids selling snacks and joined in dancing with the ones who weren't. The dance circles are kind of like a mosh pit with lots of crashing into each other and waving sticks and skipping and hoping and dancing. Kyla said it was a lot more organized than a mosh pit but it definitely had moments of pure craziness. Lots of yelling and people coving each other in foam and talc and a real feeling of jubilation. I liked it. Have I mentioned how much I love Mexico? These moments of celebration and community and color are so amazing. I love that every body gets together and links arms and laughs and dances for days.

I even got to eat at a free communal meal with a bunch of people in a back courtyard of a house. There were old ladies chopping up weird meat parts and big pots of stew simmering over charcoal. Everywhere people were eating, slurping soup out of bowls, waiting in line for more food and grabbing stacks of tortillas. I'm not even sure the bowls were rinsed out for the next person, but the soup was scalding hot, free, and greatly appreciated. It reminded me of the Vientamese soup pho, because I wasn't sure my meat was cooked when I got the soup initially, but after a few minutes in my very hot broth, I'm pretty certain all was well. The two Hogar boys I was with were such gentlemen. They made sure I had a seat and enough tortillas. We shared two chairs. People were looking at me like, "who's that gringo sharing our tortillas?". Curiosity, not at all impoliteness. As a side note, when I got back to Hogar and told the director Tia Arde that I'd eaten at a communal kitchen, she was really surprised and told me it wasn't such a good idea after the first day of the Carnaval. Ha! I guess, we'll see how I feel tomorrow, but for now, seeing the swirling smoke in the air from all the cooking and sharing a meal with a bunch of strangers in a crowded courtyard was absolutely great.

We got Kyla's lab results and verified she was being treated for the right parasite. While we were waiting for the results, a group of guys came over and tried to hit on us. How strange is that to hit on women obviously waiting for lab results from some sickness? Ridiculous and kind of funny. The receptionist kicked them out, which was appreciated. We caught the public bus back to Hogar.

I spent the rest of the night hanging out with the kids and learning new card games.

Monday, February 15, 2010


The last couple of days have been full of festive activities as Carnaval is in full swing here. The past week has been full of planing and promoting our Disco for Haiti. The kids promoted at all the schools and sold tickets and even raffled a sheep. They made tons of decorations, cooked food to sell for the event, posted signs around town, and in general put their whole hearts into it. The night of the event (Saturday) all the girls were getting ready, putting on makeup and wearing ribbons in their hair. The boys smelled like cologne (which was just funny) and everyone waited in expectation. The DJ was really late, several hours and not many people attended the disco. When the DJ finally got the lights up and the music blaring, Johanna the secretary and I had to rally up the kids to get them onto the dance floor. We had a great time for about 20 minutes until the power went out the first time. This happened about 5 times. The equipment was just too much for the aged electrical system here and it hadn't been tested before. The kids were so dejected! People started to leave, and by 11:30 it looked like the dance was a flop, and over.

Then the DJ and his crew got power from somewhere and we had the dance anyway. Started at about 12am with primarily Hogar kids who wouldn't go to bed without getting their dance on. Bless them for being tenacious and making a good time out of it anyway! We danced until 2:30am and it was a blast. There was lots of reggaeton and then it merged into some kind of fast Mexican disco polka. I felt like I was jogging in place. All the kids were singing along at the top of their voices and I couldn't help but laugh out loud as William, my dance partner at the time, was so dramatic in in his singing I felt like I was being serenaded! Falling into bed close to 3am, I felt impressed by these kids abilities to make the best out of what originally had seemed a dismal failure.

The next morning, feeling so, so tired, I clamored abroad the combi for Coita and rode with the kids to sell snacks at the festival. Coita was a crazy, musical mess of marimba music, dancing in the streets and people covered in talc and foam, and sometimes eggs.

According to Carnaval is an official Mexican holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of the libido before the Catholic lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Beginning the weekend before Lent, Carnaval is celebrated exuberantly with parades, floats, costumes, music and dancing in the streets. Carnaval is equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

The costumes are really amazing. Bright colors with amazing detail, flowers on hats and painted masks, bells covering dancing feet and many carrying toy noisemakers, guns and machetes. I even saw a guy with a wooden toy gun covered in a raccoon skin. That was weird. He was holding it like a macabre guitar. Many costumes included drums hanging from straps attached to outfits, and and garlands made of corn.

I hung out in the main square for a while, people watching and staying with our crew at the table. Very quickly the carnival atmosphere took over and I was out with the guys roaming the streets with a canister of colored spray foam. We looked like a teen street gang with our sunglasses protecting our eyes, our bandanas around our faces, and all of us covered in talc and filth. We joined a couple neighborhood street dances and linked arms and skipped in circles. I'm grateful to these kid for taking me under their wings so to speak and showing me a good time. I would imagine having a 30 american woman to lead around could be kind of lame, but I've felt nothing but welcome since being here.

I was so tired and grubby when we got back. A bunch of kids were watching "Blue Lagoon" in the main courtyard on the t.v. and I've forgotten what a racy coming of age movie that was! It was fun to drink horchata and veg out in front of the t.v. for a while. I went back to my room to bathe and wash my stained clothes. I literally felt like a zombie the rest of the evening. Sometimes I forget the average 15 year difference between me and most of these kids and am surprised when I don't have the same energy they do!

Carnaval is for 3 more days. The kids don't have school until Thursday, so everyone is around and has time to play. I think I need to start drinking coffee again in the mornings to keep up with the energy level! :)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Day 15 + 16

Everything is rattling and shaking and the wind outside is howling. It's 10pm, Friday night and the chill is seeping under my door. This is a solid, cement building, but all the windows and doors are metal and rattle. It felt like Seattle today, all blustery and rainy.

It's been a good day today. A full day, productive. I wrote some emails in the morning and then went down to the high school for their carnival celebrations. Carnival is a big deal here, with marimba bands and dancing and people throwing talcum powder at each other, men dressed up in costumes with bells on their ankles and people dousing each other with water and sometimes eggs. The high school looked like halloween had just occurred, with zombie like white powder covering everyone from head to toe. I got shuffled into a dance circle, someone grabbed my camera and took pictures of me while I tried not to feel too self-conscious about being the only gringo there and having a group of teenagers staring at me. It was pretty fun. I think I turned many shades of pink before getting doused with talcum powder and becoming white and ghostlike as the rest of them.

I got to drink pozole from a gourd, which is a chocolatey drink made with maize. It's rich and tasty. A bunch of guys I didn't know wanted to pose with me, so I made the rounds. My photo is on someone's cell phone and he can tell his friends, " that that's awkward white girl who visited our school and looked embarrassed!" :)

The kids don't have school Monday through Wednesday because this is such a big deal Carnival. Sunday is the real party in Coita, or so I hear, but I'm not sure I'll be seeing much of it. It depends on the plan here for that day. Tomorrow night we are having a Disco at Hogar with the proceeds from the tickets going toward our Haiti relief project. Tomorrow's also the day when I get to find out if I win a sheep. This party is going to be great fun. I'm sure we will dance to reggeton for many hours. Hopefully, it's a success and a lot of kids show up.

I spent some time in Coita today doing some shopping. I bought tiny, little fun colored nail polish for the the girls, and some plastic dinosaurs and animals for the little boys. i also got more of my allergy meds, since I noticed I was supposed to keep taking if for 3 more days.

I just got back in time to prepare for art class. We painted landscapes with watercolor today and they turned out beautifully. I showed them a couple examples from an old art history book I found in their library. I taught them what the horizon line was and they just had to draw a landscape with a horizon. Simple, easy project. They sketched it out fist in pencil and then painted it. I had also bought them lolly pops in town, so I had a pretty, content, happy class.

After dinner I spent some time talking to 14 year old Luiz Fernando. He's such a sweet, smart kid. He's knitting me a scarf. He's one of those super smart honor's students, with a dorky laugh and a silly sense of humor. Kyla and I always appreciate that he tries to talk to us, even though frequently we may not understand. He's been taking English classes with Kyla, and his English is basic, but pretty good. Also, Luiz Fernando tears it up on the dance floor. He will be a lot of fun at tomorrow's disco.

So, to bed, to bed. I'm too tired to care about everything rattling and I've gotten used to animals screaming in the night and girls blaring pop music in the morning. Bueno noches everyone!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Haircuts at Hogar

Every few weeks the barber, who is a former Hogar kid and plays on the football team with the older boys, comes and gives haircuts. It's quite entertaining to see the kids looking all fresh and clean, and the massive amount of dark, thick hair on the ground. I suppose if I needed a trim he could fit me in too!

Mama Pig and Her Piglets

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 14 - Two Weeks!

I woke earlier than usual yesterday and made it to breakfast with the primary and secondary kids. It was cute to see everyone in their uniforms scarfing down their breakfast with their toothbrushes ready next to their plate. They all do a thorough brushing after breakfast. There's a lot of wet hair gel and knee socks, yawning and rushing to get on the bus.

I went with Johanna the secretary, and some of the older kids to one of the secondary schools to take collections for Haiti. We are doing a bunch of fundraisers for Haiti as well, including the raffling off a sheep (I hope I win!), selling tickets to a big Valentine Party/Disco on Saturday, and making scarfs to sell. I think it's really great how excited the kids have been to participate in giving back. As the receivers of so many donations themselves, it doesn't take much to convince them to help others.

It was fun to see a Mexican secondary school. Lots and lots of kids in uniforms. Very basic classrooms full to the brim, and kids playing in the courtyards. I can't help but think about the article I read recently on Korea's dwindling population. They work so hard in their jobs and the perfect private school for their child is such an expectation that they can only afford one kid per family. That one kid is given the best of the best. The government is encouraging their employees take a half day a week and have a family day. This is to encourage people to procreate more to offset their increasing aging population. In such a highly competitive world, how are Mexican village children, with ancient typewriters and where even the office staff doesn't have enough ink for their printers supposed to compete in a global economy? I don't know, but it makes me wonder.

Arriving back at Hogar, I went to visit the piglets again. My favorite little runt had died. He was all flat and shrunken looking. So, sad. However, the other 12 or so piglets seem to be thriving and just watching them climbing all over their huge, hairy mama pig to feed was fascinating. They were so clumsy! Walking on each other's heads and stumbling around. I love the animals here.

The rest of the afternoon, I prepped for my art class. I planned to make Valentine's Day cards. I figured it would be nice to have a simple, straightforward project, and I made a great example. I made a card for Kyla. Then I laid down for a little while, since I think the pills I'm on make wipe me out. The class went well, though I had about half as many kids. Many of the kids made Valentine's for me, though I tried to encourage them to make it for friends and family. I love their artwork and am more than happy to hang it on my wall. I played soothing music and had everything set up perfectly so we had a very tranquil class. This is due in part to the littlest boys not showing up until my class was nearly over, but I now they know that class is at 6pm and they've got to come if they want to participate. I do love those crazy little boys.

After dinner, I scooped a snoozing little boy up off a chair and took him back to his dorm. He's one of the triplets. They are so cute, though I still have the hardest time telling them apart. There's Freddy, Fernando, and Alejandro. All have spikey hair, and missing teeth. 8 year old tornados.

I was in bed by 9:45pm. I'm so glad I'm feeling better and my rash is subsiding. I still have maybe one and a half days of pills left, so hopefully my allergy doesn't return when I'm through. My hands still feel a little funny as do my feet, but I'm definitely on the mend. Thank you for all your prayers and support. Mom, sorry to freak you out. I love you.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Early Morning...Not Ready to Face the Day

Luiz Fernando and Hugo the Dancer

Fun on the Playground

Day 13

A first attempt at sculpture... :)

The older kids were collecting donations for Haiti today at some of the schools, so Kyla and I got a ride into town again. We ran some errands and I had a check up at the doctor's. My hands are achy and pretty rashed as are my feet. The result of my consultation was that I got another (different) shot in the rear. I had to go downstairs to the pharmacy, buy the needle and my hydro cortisone and take it back upstairs so they could stick me. This one really hurt, but the didn't come with crazy side-effects. I really hope this is the end of shots. I was told to show up again tomorrow for another check up. I hope I'm mostly cured by tomorrow. At least the kids aren't afraid of me anymore!

On another note, we haven't had water in a long time. The main building has water so we haul it in buckets and also do our laundry in the sinks down there. The thing I miss the most is flushing the toilet. It doesn't smell pretty in our room. We throw a bucket of water down it occasionally, but one can only make so many trips across the green to the main building throughout the day. I'm super at bucket baths now. I actually prefer them to cold water showers now that I have a hot water wand thinggie. I don't know if this lack of water is normal, but it's pretty bearable minus the stank.

Other news of the day is that the baby pigs were born at 3am this morning. I visited them all cozy under their heat lamp in a separate container next to their mama. They were really pink and tiny. So cute. The runt of the litter is my favorite. He is about half the size of the others and long and skinny. I even got to pet them. And, yes, in case you are wondering, the whole place reeked of pig, but it was so worth it to see the new piglets!

I had a make up art class today. We attempted to make imaginary animals with feathers out of homemade dough and multicolored feathers I bought in the States. I made the dough out of flour, salt and water, and it was a little too wet, so they had a hard time making anything stand up very well. I think these kids are so new to art that even the basic project is hard for them. Most didn't build very high on their plate and just threw a bunch of feathers on a blob. Oh well. Tomorrow I try again. I realize it is a unique challenge to teach kids of varying ages and skills, most of whom have had very little access to art. Like I shouldn't assume that they will know how to make basic animal shapes out of dough. And I need to always have a finished example. Most importantly though, I think the kids are having fun and getting a chance to try their hands at something new, messy and fun.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Day 11+12

Yesterday's highlight had to be Hugo dancing like Michael Jackson. Hugo is 14 or 15 and he can move. The performance that Kyla and I were treated to happened just after dinner. It was supposed to be a secret. I'm not sure if he's just shy or he's not supposed to be dancing… who knows. Anyway, I walked in to "Thriller" blaring, Hugo popping and grinding and doing the moonwalk, popped collar and all. Talk about being blown away….He is so good! Like raw talent, I just want to throw him in dance school and he's got a career ahead of him good. I asked him if there was a dance school he could attend and he seemed pretty confused at the idea. I explained I thought he was really talented and could possibly have a career as a dancer. He seemed to think the director would never support it and it was a ridiculous idea. Tuxtla (about an hour away) has dance schools. I'm sure Hugo is expected to go to university and have a stable career, which is an admirable thing for sure, but he's SUCH and good dancer! He performed for us for at least an hour. What I love is that he was also singing the whole time at the top of his lungs. I'm going to show him YouTube videos of break dancers.

I suppose with this many kids there's bound to be someone a ridiculously talented. It's just so amazing to see it.

Earlier in the day, Kyla and I attended the younger boys' football game. Though it was fun to see them play, the game itself was pretty bad. They lost 8-0.

Around noon I started to notice a rash developing on my chest. I thought it was from some of the lotion I was using, but it didn't go away. Rather it's been spreading. My whole body is now covered in an ugly, speckled rash. I have no idea what from. I have no allergies that I'm aware of and I've been here a while so you would think something like an allergy would have made itself known earlier. The night before I woke up choking, not being able to breathe much and felt like I had something in my lungs. My lungs have felt a little strange for a couple of days. No sore throat or cold like symptoms, no headache, no fever. So I don't know. When I tried to look it up online it gave me a bunch of pretty dramatic alternatives. I'm thinking it may be a bacterial infection related to living around so many animals and their feces. The littlest ones are always playing in the dirt, so who knows what I've been around. I probably just need to build up some sort of resistance.

So today I went to a doctor. I think they put me in front of the line because I'm a foreigner. It felt really wrong walking past all the babies and mothers who had been waiting for ages. As soon as the doctor saw me she said I have an allergy and needed a shot of cortisone in my butt. Now I'm no wuss, however, dropping my pants in a Mexican village clinic and getting a shot in the rear is not my idea of a good time. I did it though was a bit confused as to when I should get off of the examination table. It was pretty funny that I laid half clothed talking to the 3 other people in the room before I realized it was okay to get dressed. I tried to look casual, but I think it came across as awkward and funny. I was also given steroid tablets to take every 8 hours. I felt really dizzy and tired after the shot. The rest of my afternoon was kind of shot because I needed to rest.

My skin looked like a strawberry so I hid out in my room in the afternoon and slept. The kid's looked at me like they could catch something just by being around me. I felt really crappy. I very reluctantly canceled art class and laid low. I did end up seeing the sunset with Kyla and that was great.

After that I had dinner and showed Hugo and some of the other guys break dancing YouTube videos. He thought they were pretty rad, but still wanted to watch more Michael Jackson. So that's what we did, until my contacts were dry and it was time for bed.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Day 10

Okay, so yesterday was Saturday, which is always a nice day because everyone sleeps in a bit more and the day is a tad more relaxed. The kids still have chores, but have more free time too.

I studied Spanish a bit, wrote for a while, and then it was time to head to the older guy's football (soccer) game. I love going anywhere in a vehicle from Hogar because it is amazing to see 20 people packed into a truck or in a VW van. It always works though, and it seems to be the norm for two people to ride in the passenger seat even when there is room in the back. I'll try to get a picture sometime.

The game started out a little rough with Hogar playing one man short. The other vehicle with the rest of the team had to run some errands first. However, the guys played great - and everyone eventually showed up. It was a pretty aggressive game. Lots of fouls and players getting knocked down. Hogar was up 3-0 when all hell broke loose. One of our players got fouled again and someone got shoved, a punch was thrown, then everyone was yelling and people were running to join in from the sidelines. It wasn't pretty. The guys were so infuriated. The fight was broken up with much resistance and everyone looked dissatisfied. The team captains had to talk to the ref and see what the penalties would be for for future games. It may be that some of our key players won't be allowed to play the next game. The ride home was pretty somber.

Ironically, when we got home, mass was just beginning. Most of the team just headed straight into the chapel. We had visiting Anglican priests. Apparently they visit every 3 weeks or so. The sermon was about whatever you do, do it for the Lord….whether that be schoolwork, or football…. Yeah. Enough said.

I had never taken communion, the eucharist, as they call it in Catholic and Anglican churches from a priest. That was weird, as for me it's such a personal thing between me a God. So odd to have everyone watching me as I had a wafer put on my tongue by a priest. I think it was having someone else feed me. It's sort of intimate. Still, it was the first time I've been able to partake of communion in a long time and so I was glad I did it.

The evening was relaxed. Quite a few of the kids watched a football game and a pile of girls made snacks to sell at the game the following day. I talked for quite a while with Suleyma about life, relationships, being married to Caleb. It was really nice. It felt like the first conversation in a while that was a little deeper and more meaningful. I did make a bunch of ridiculous mistakes and put my foot in my mouth numerous times. I was trying to say that Caleb and I really know each other after 6 1/2 years of marriage but what I said is that he and I both climb each other better and better as the years pass. He climbs me and I climb him. !!!!! Okay, this was not what I meant to say. I was trying to say he knows me and I know him. Thank God for a sense of humor! Ha.

Sunday, February 7, 2010


A few of the girls and I and Kyla scampered to the top of the water tank at sunset. It was so, so beautiful!

Day 9

I feel like every day here is strange and wonderful and full of new things. I am completely comfortable and can be myself. Just the thought of leaving in a little over a month makes me so sad. So, I shouldn't think of it. Not yet.

Yesterday I finally got all my ducks in a row and posted my fundraiser information for Hogar. It felt good to get that done. Afterward, Kyla and Sophia ( an new volunteer from Sweden) hung out in the chapel and talked religion for a while. Sophia isn't sure what she believes, but is very interested in learning about God. Kyla had a Catholic background, but believes in more of an energy than a personal God, a type of pantheism if I had to label it. She's drawn to tribal religions and is interested in a lot of ideas. You probably know where I stand by now. So, I shared the Gospel. For me it comes down to Jesus. It was really great just hanging out and talking. Very relaxed and not at all confrontational or weird.

When the kids got back from school I had them sign a thank you card for Betsy and Gary for the shoes. The kids drew pictures and wrote in English and Spanish. The card is huge - rather, very long. I rolled it up and tied it with a bow. Hopefully they can hang it in their church.

I had another art class yesterday. I spent the morning collecting about 40 branches so we could make mobiles. It was originally a good idea, but I couldn't find a lot to hang from it. So, I had the kids write the names of people who support them on paper cut outs. Friends, family member, teachers, etc. They could also include drawings and elaborations. They hung these with colored plastic string. It wasn't the most attractive project we did, but I figure you win some and you loose some. However, Tia Arde, one of the directors came into the room I teach art at and was really impressed by all the paintings hung on the walls and the stained glass projects in the windows. I spent an hour or so hanging artwork earlier this week. Tia Arde said I was working very hard. It's nice to hear that!

Three of the elementary age girls made me cards. They're so sweet. I have a couple of drawings I hung on my room wall from two girls as well. I'm getting a little collection of memorabilia already.

The best part of the day was our fiesta en la noche. We had a big bonfire, hotdogs, marshmallows….in typical Mexican style our bonfire was doused with gasoline, so when it finally started burning (very little tinder) it was a hot, fast burn. It looked crazy. The kids were trying to roast marshmallows and were squatting by the fire covering their faces with their arms from the searing heat. It was so funny. Most of the marshmallows burned before they got soft in the middle. We kept chasing the little ones who tried to run around with flaming sticks. We presented Betsy and Gary with the card and William gave a little thank you speech. All the kids did a cheer and I think Betsy and Gary were really touched.

Then we had a dance party!! It was so fun, I can't even begin to tell you how great it was. The little ones danced and one in particular, a little boy, stood on the incline by the fire and just rocked out. By himself, just dancing up a storm. Little performer! He was so cute. Kyla and I danced for at least 4 hours. It was great to see the kids personalities emerge and see them having so much fun. My face hurt from smiling so much. The music was blaring. Everything from Regeton, Hip Hop, Electronica, to more Lady Gaga, Shakira, and Eminem. I can't remember the last time I danced that much. I was told I danced like Shakira. Ha! I'm just glad I couldn't see myself dancing. Caleb usually tells me I make silly faces.

We got to bed after 1:30am. Some of the older kids were still hanging out, listening to music. I grabbed our bucket and went back down to the main building for water. We haven't had water in our cabana for a few days and I needed to bathe after all that exertion. It's a pretty normal to run out of water, but it always returns pretty quickly. I've decided I could do without running water just fine - it's the electricity I couldn't do without. No computer… music…charging my camera…..oh, and light. I'm tied to my gadgets. Tomorrow there's another soccer game for the older boys. I can't wait. It was so much fun last Saturday.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Day 8

I slept in yesterday morning until 8am. I skipped breakfast and just rested. I felt great all day. I had another language class with Rafael and he also showed me the pigs. It's his job to tend them. There are 7 (I think) big pigs and 6 little pink piglets. They were very cute. I can tell he works hard to keep the place clean.

A couple from a church in New Jersey arrived today with 89 pairs of shoes for the kids. It was a huge donation. Kyla and I helped keep the order and distribute them. It was quite the process and took hours. Each kid had his feet sized and then tried on several pairs of shoes. They all got individual cards from someone in the States hoping that the kids would enjoy the shoes. They also got little New Testaments. About 6 kids didn't get shoes because they ran out or didn't have their size. Gary and Betsy (the couple) are going to Tuxtla tomorrow to buy the missing shoes for the remaining children. What a great gift this is! The kids are so happy to get their new shoes and really touched to get individual cards. It was wonderful to see them prancing around and showing off their bright white tennies.

It was a beautiful sunset. I grabbed Kyla and Osayries and Marta (two cute 11 year olds from out dorm) and we raced up the hill to the water tank to watch the sky. It was so fun, dangling our feet over the side, gazing at the breathtakingly beautiful, changing colors, and hanging with the girls. They loved it too. Lots of mosquitos, but totally worth every bite.

The littlest girls Dania and Kristel, chased me with a bottle of water on my way to the main building. They said something about dousing me for my birthday even though that's not until March. I ran down the path but must have slowed down at the end because suddenly my head was drenched. They threw a whole bottle of water on me. I tackled Kristel immediately and she went down and then I sprayed Dania with what was left of the water. What facious little twerps!

Kyla and I attempted to put together a puzzle before dinner with some of the kids, but finally realized it was several puzzles mixed together. Dinner tasted so good to me. I actually made it there early and my beans were still hot.

Afterward I played tickle tackle with the little ones and eventually one of them fell asleep in my lap as I rubbed his back. I carried him to his cabana and laid him in bed. He woke up a little and was so happy to be carried to bed. He had a little smile on his face the whole time. I tucked him in to his sheetless bed fully clothed and gave him three little kisses on his forehead. He looked so content. I helped get a few more little boys to bed, some of which had fallen asleep on the floor or in the wrong bed. I loved this so much that I think I'll do it more often. They just need a mom. I tear up thinking about these little boys. I love them so much already.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Project Hogar - Help the Kids

I am collecting donations through this website for renovating the little boy's bathroom and hopefully their entire dorm. I will get an estimate today of the cost of this project. I cannot stress enough the importance and urgency of this renovation. More little ones will be living in this dorm as of June, and as the pictures will show, it is in very poor condition. Two of the four toilets are not connected to water and the boys have to pour bucket of water down the toilets to flush them. Currently, they have 9 children living here between the ages of 6 and 13.

They hope to expand the bathroom and have 6 new, flushing toilets, a nice, tiled shower area and new sinks. They also want to redo the boys' bedrooms since the ceiling is leaking and the paint is falling off the walls. The hope is to expand one of these rooms and put in closets. This is all interior renovation and no change will be made to the main structure of the building. The whole place inside and out needs to be repainted as well.

If you feel that you can give, please, please do. I have never felt more strongly about a project. Would you want your son or daughter living in these conditions? These little boys are the newest to Hogar, are the littlest and have the least. I will keep you posted on our estimated financial goal. Thank you in advance for your generosity.