Summer! It’s over! We did it! Sorry for not updating the ENTIRE time. It’s been a little busy (and by that I mean it was insanely busy).
I don’t think I remember most of it… Sort of a blur of mission, cleaning, parties, illness, arts and craft projects, praying, and more.
There were so many people… so many people. The introvert in me in still recovering, even after the community retreat we had last week.
But. The people are by far the best part of this entire experience. I don’t know if I’ve said it before on the blog, but I say it all the time in person. In terms of friendships, feel like I’m cheating down here. Everyone you meet is amazing, and it’s so easy to create authentic relationships with others. In fact, probably the best way to describe my summer is in terms of the people I met.
So. Let’s do that.
The first thing you should know, if you don’t already, is that people are always coming in and out of our house. Our summer visitors began with Julissa. She’s hilarious and holy, and with such a winning combination, of course, God would want her for himself. In September she’ll be entering the Sisters of Life. Hooray! She was with us for a month and for her goodbye party, we had a nun “fashion show” that included the pink habits from the Holy Spirit Adoration sisters. Sometimes (all the time) our life makes me laugh.
Theeeen we had our AMAZING summer term team: eight university students from the states and one Honduran (and their leader Michelle who was like everyone’s mom all summer long). I truly would not have survived the chaos of the summer without them. 1. They did a ton of work. Whether it was sorting thirty suitcases of clothing that the Louisiana team brought down, cutting out a thousand paper veils for our Mary project, or keeping the kitchen clean in the wake of thirty teenagers, they never complained. 2. All of them were an incredible example to me of how Christ is calling all of us to live radically for Him. And it’s going to look quite different for all of us, but it’ll be that much better for the diversity. I learned so much from each of them, and I’m grateful to call them friends.
Now our summer is mainly comprised of three big missions with teams that come down from the States. The first was a group from Louisiana, and as I already noted, their generosity was incredible. We must have had over forty suitcases total, and they had raised all the extra funds to cover the fees for the extra suitcases too. Beyond that, they had so much passion, and I’m glad they’re a team that comes back every summer.
Also, can we mention how I already have super amazing people in my life? So many were down this summer! First a good friend of mine came down from Northern Virginia. This was actually her second time here, because she’s that awesome. It was really neat because that second team was so small, they stayed in our house (instead of Casa Guadalupe, the retreat center were teams normally stay) and they got to experience a little more of our normal life.
After that, four seminarians from my diocese were here. They do their own special sacramental mission with just men. Two of the seminarians I had gone to high school with and it was so good to see them again. In particular, it’s funny to see how some things have changed, but other things, ha, they’ll probably be the same forever.
And my students!!!! They made it!!! I can’t believe we organized a million trip long distance. It was so good to have them down here and for me… well, I first came to Honduras with my high school, and so I know how just twelve days down here can change a life. It’s an incredible gift to me that I can pass that experience along to my own (former) students. It was really powerful to see just glimpses of how their time here changed them. Who knows, maybe seven years from now, one of them will be down here for the extended term.
My old high school also came with that team, and they came with my favorite teacher and one of my best friends who teaches English there now. Basically, I was really spoiled this summer.
And I haven’t even started to talk about all the amazing Hondurans that I met. There was this one little boy Jose… ahhhh, so cute. Seven years old, he had these curls and this red plaid shirt that was missing half the buttons that he wore the first two days we were in the town. Then the third day he cut off all his hair and changed his shirt—I didn’t even recognize him! But he would follow us on our house visits and tell us how slow we were at climbing up the mountain. Or these two sisters, Nelly and Maria, who were always ready and willing to lead a prayer or read or act in front of the rest. Or one of the men in another village, who had just started participating in the Church a year and a half ago after a lifetime of alcoholism and a crazy healing and conversion. So many mothers, so many children, so many teens… all of them with a story and struggles and joys. I’m just grateful that we get to participate in a little of that.
I think one of my favorite parts about being down here long term is how I say goodbye, but because I’m still here in Honduras, there’s a real possibility that I’ll see them again. Maybe I’ll be back on another mission or maybe the teens will come to our Pan de Vida retreat.
Example: Two of my favorite memories from the summer.
- We’re in this one town, Lajas, for a special Peace March that the teenagers were doing. I went early with a smaller group to prepare for the day, and when we get there, we’re talking, preparing, etc. and who should come up, but the teenage girl that I got SUPER close to at the Pan de Vida retreat we had last October. It was soooo exciting to see her again and hear how she’d been doing these last few months. She was in charge of taping the March and so I wind up in the back of a pick-up truck with her with the video camera, leading various chants and songs. It was hilarious/awesome.
- Four years ago, I watched Spain win the World Cup with my friend Noe and his family. Never would I have dreamed that I’d be watching the next World Cup with Noe and his family. Good.
It was also really neat to see others come back, others for whom Honduras has been an important part of their lives. Like Brother Gabriel and Brother James. Both were in Honduras… I think about seven years ago with the missioners… their names were then Bob and Richard. But now! Well, Brother Gabriel is a friar with the CFRs and so they had sent him down here for an extended term and Brother James’ order sent him to Honduras this summer to study Spanish.
Or Father Juan Pablo. He was here ten years ago for a two year term with the Missioners. Just this summer he was ordained a priest for the Missionaries of Charity. He was able to come back for a week and it was incredible to see the number of lives that he had touched during his time down here.
Also, this is a random funny story. So, Carol went to Mexico for Father Juan Pablo’s ordination. She was gone… I think a week in total. The first three days, well, I had Salmonella poisoning. Pretty much the entire house had it. Miserable. Then in the last four days, we organized a bilingual Sound of Music. It was the only thing Carol wanted for her birthday, but I think she’d sort of given up hope that it would ever happen. So when she got back we surprised her! It was miraculous that it all came together. An hour and a half long too! And that all the gringos learned their Spanish parts and the Hondurans their lines for the songs in English. Ah-mazing. We also changed it so that rather than Austria it all took place in Honduras and filled it with jokes from our house, things like our broken cars and ugly orange t-shirts.
I got a musical for my birthday too! Significantly shorter, but the best part was a song about my hair (mi pelo) set to the tune of “Let it Go.”
Anyways. Back to the people. I’m glad I have these examples of people who’ve come back all these years later, because goodbyes are hard. Really hard. And there were so many this summer. But more than anything, I’m so grateful for the time that I did have with all of these people. I could tell how each of them changed me for the better, but this blog is already ridiculously long. In the end, I can only hope that I’m doing the same for others.
Moral of the story: I had an incredible first year. Now we’ll see what new adventures year two brings. Say a prayer!