Now that I’ve been down here for over three months, I’ve finally fallen into a steady routine that I thought I’d share, so that you all would have some idea of what it is I’m actually doing down here.
In sum, this is what my week looks like:
Morning: Kitchen. Cleaning a kitchen doesn’t necessarily sound like it should take all morning, but when you’ve got twenty plus people living in one house, it takes some time. I actually really enjoy it though…there’s something satisfying about seeing something that was dirty and gross become clean and beautiful. Plus, washing dishes has always been my favorite chore, so it’s appropriate.
Afternoon: Preparations. If there’s anything we need to prepare for the week ahead, now’s the time to do it.
Morning: Hospital. The friars have a clinic/hospital right up the road from us. Its purpose is to serve the poorest of the poor, those who wouldn’t be able to afford medical treatment otherwise. Every Tuesday Omar (one of the Hondurans) and I go and simply talk and pray with the people waiting. We’ll share the gospel of the day, sing some songs, and then we always bring a coloring page and color with the kids who are waiting.
Afternoon: Tutoring. Also down the street from us is a girls’ orphanage. A few of the girls (and actually some boys from the boys’ orphanage) go to bilingual schools down here. Tuesday is my day to go and help them with their homework. They range in age from about six to twelve and the teacher side of me absolutely loves it.
Wednesday: (FAVORITE DAY!)
Morning: Therapy. In first and third world countries alike, so often it’s those with disabilities who are overlooked, forgotten, and unwanted. Having a sister with Down Syndrome, special needs kids have a very special place in my heart, so I love my Wednesday mornings helping Wendy and Dulce (more Hondurans) with the physical therapy ministry. We visit two kids, Selvin and Iris. They both have some form of Cerebral Palsy and Iris is visually and possibly hearing impaired as well. The exercises we do are simple, like getting Selvin to open his hand or Iris to lift her head, but so important for them to grow…and also just in recognizing their dignity and humanity.
- More Tutoring. This time with the Scholarship program that the Missioners have. Please, please, please click that link and consider/pray about sponsoring a child. It’s about a dollar a day and the opportunity to have an education can literally change someone’s world here.
- Casa Misericordia. This place… It’s my favorite ministry of them all. Casa Misericordia is a home for girls and women… most of whom have some type of disability that made it such that their families couldn’t or wouldn’t take care of them. The youngest girl is probably six and then there are grown women there as well. We (Ledyi, one of the Honduran girls here, and I) always start by praying the rosary, and then we usually sing some songs. If they need help with homework, I’ll help them and then we’ll play a game or soccer or color a picture. Especially with these girls…it’s just so visible to me how desperate we all are for love. How much we all need someone to hold us and tell us that we’re wanted and loved and beautiful. I…yeah… no words.
Morning: Okay….Thursdays are still sort of a work in progress. I’ve been assigned the mother’s business… but it’s still all sort of coming about. So my Thursday mornings vary. One day I was helping the garden, one day I was translating some reports for Wendy, etc.
Afternoon: Mother’s group. Thursday afternoons I do participate in the mother’s group. It’s more or less a support group for the single mothers in our neighborhood. They come together to pray, listen to a talk, discuss and reflect. Meanwhile, other missioners are watching their kids for them. Most mothers in Honduras are single mothers. It’s a really heartbreaking situation…and since we can’t change the machismo culture in a day… this is a small way to again, affirm the dignity of these women.
Fridays are our days for prayer and rest. So we pray and rest. But when it works out, I Leydi and I have now started going to Casa Misericordia Friday afternoons too (yay!).
These vary. A lot. Some weekends will be packed with formation or others, for example last weekend, we did a Pan de Vida retreat for youth from the mountains of Honduras. Pan de Vida is a Youth 2000 or John 6:35 (yeah, talk about a throwback to high school). We’ll also usually have a bit of time for fraternity too. Saturday nights we usually play soccer or volleyball (haha, yes, I play and last time I scored three goals. Crazy, I know.) or maybe we’ll watch a movie. Oh! Ha! That reminds me! Wednesday nights the guys here leave to go to the boys orphanage. In their absence, us girls have started doing Taebo, ya know, from the 90s? We have this VHS tape with horrible tracking that we use. It’s hilarious… and hard… but fun.
So yeah. That’s my life. We’re up at 5am… I feed our cat Barci at 5:30am and then have personal prayer time, Lauds at 6am, then Mass, breakfast, morning ministry. Rosary at noon, lunch, and then afternoon ministries. We have our Holy Hour at 5pm, then dinner, and free time. Compline is at 8 and bed at nine. In chunks of free time I’ve been practicing my Spanish with some of the workbooks we have here, attempting to learn guitar, and reading Little Dorrit. I’ve almost finished. Sooooo good. We also play a lot of Uno and Rummy and a variety of other card games.
Just to wrap up with a more personal reflection… I love how down here my days are full, but I never feel rushed or worn out. I think a huge part of it is that there’s adequate time for actually taking care of ourselves. I eat three full meals a day, get eight hours of sleep every night, and have ample time to pray. And we need it. We can’t give what we don’t have. When we’re tired and cranky and hungry, we’re not going to transmit the love of the Gospel.
But it’s such a change from what I’ve been accustomed to in the States… especially the habits of the overachieving lifestyle that UNC and W&M built into me. Where if you weren’t running around at all times, doing a million things at once, you were somehow not as good as your peers who were. It was almost an unspoken contest to see who could get the least amount of sleep and the most accomplished. Stepping back now, I can see how unhealthy that is… but also why our culture is like that… but that’s a blogpost for another day.
To return to this one, I really just wanted to touch on how I love how everything in my schedule has purpose. Whether it’s nourishing my body, serving my neighbor, talking with God, or growing in community. I love how when I rest here, I actually rest. I choose to pick up a book or my journal… I don’t just crash mindlessly in front of the computer for a few hours and then get off not feeling any more rested… only like I’ve wasted time.
The rhythm of life here… with adequate time for God, neighbor, and myself has brought a lot of peace. I realize this schedule is only for this season of my life, but I hope its underlying sense will stick with me for the rest of life…no matter where I go. Good thing I’ve got two years to learn the habit.
Annnnnd that’s all for now. Literally no idea when the next post will be, but please keep me in your prayers! And know that you remain in mine as well!