Sunday, December 16, 2012

Last blog from Honduras

Hello to all!

So the past couple of weeks have been crazy. We finished up our two week internship called practicuum and then presented our experience in front of the class. We were asked to research one question in particular and the one that I looked at was, how do sponsorship organizations best communicate in between the kid and the sponsor? So I got to interview someone at the school we researched at about that and I also talked to a Compassion International worker. Very interesting.

Isaac and I also did so many more things for the school and also UMF (Union Micro-Finanza). We helped promote an event at Calvin that UMF was going to sell their coffee at called the Fair-trade fair. We emailed profs, facebooked students, and wrote in facebook groups. And I can proudly so that we were very successful and the workers in La Union thanked us because they ran out of coffee at the event at Calvin. It was nice to feel like we really contributed because so often with these type of short-term internships, it's typical to feel like you're a hassle rather than a help. But we were sooo busy the whole time because there was so much to do.

One additional thing that we did was help write a blog for UMF, as well as the school. And we described some of our experiences in these blog posts as well. Here are the links to the blog posts, as well as the facebook link to some pictures on facebook from the practicuum in La Union.

I just got back from our final retreat and I can't believe that I'm leaving tomorrow. It's so insane. We had a great final retreat of hanging out with the group, going on an excursion underneath a giant waterfall (It really was insane, there were points when I could barely see and was just relying on the hand of the person ahead of me) (, having worship together, and discussing how to best come back to the states. It's going to be a pretty big culture shock coming back, especially around Christmas time. Nevertheless, I miss my friends and family and am so excited to see them =)))))

Our theme of the semester has been how God has given this semester to us as a gift, and our worship and discussion on the final retreat has revolved around this theme as well. We can tell the giver of the gift that we like the gift as much as we want, but what really matters is how we use it. In this way I'm praying that I can best embrace this gift of the semester from the grace of God and continue to further his kingdom and promote shalom due to it. Because this semester has flipped around so much of what I've thought, what I put my time/energy into, and much much more! If anyone reading this would want to learn more about what I've learned and what we've done, (because I've tried to do the semester justice in this blog but can't even come close) I'd love to grab a cup of coffee and talk! (Obvi it doesn't have to be coffee, but I feel like that's the classic line nowadays so I went ahead and said it).

One scripture we brought up during worship that really spoke to me was 1st Peter 4:10-11 (ESV):

"As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one serves by the strength that God supplies-in order that everything God may be glorified through Christ Jesus. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

BOOOOOOM!!! THERE you go. With God's grace and power that transcends all understanding let us go and strive for Christ-like love. So that we can cater and serve others above ourselves like Jesus talks about in Matthew 20: 25-28. The beauty of it is that you don't have to be in another country to further shalom in the world, there are so many opportunities in everyday life that we can serve others and show them that we're fixing our eyes upon heaven for our hope. Not in ourselves or our actions, but in Jesus and the fact that he's going to come back and make everything right. And I tell you what....that's all I want to put my hope and joy in nowadays, because one doesn't have to look too far, for instance in the Connecticut shootings to know that we as humans are incredibly fallen.

 "To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen."

Monday, November 26, 2012

elf video

sooo I made this video and our professors kurt and jo ann are in it, as well as drivers from ASJ (the organization my professor Kurt helped in starting). Hope it gets you in holiday spirits!!! I honestly die everytime I watch

two week internship has begun!!

Hola from La Union! I'm in the boondocks of Honduras for our required internship for class. I chose to come here with my friend Isaac and we're working with the bilingual school that they have here. It's very rare to have a bilingual school and what they're trying to do is create opportunity for kids through a private school education in which they're sponsored. It's an interesting model and Isaac and I are looking at the school and the positives and negatives of it when it comes to development. We also taught a Bible class today...that was fun and spur of the moment, talked about Samson. We also sat in on alot of classes to get an idea of what they teach. The teachers and kids only speak in english in the school!!! crazy!! and it's really good english too!!!  I'm really excited to learn more about the school
we're also going to sit in on a meeting with partner organization called IMF where they microfinance for coffee. On top of that, we're also going to spend a couple days in an aldea which are poor rural towns around La Union. Should be interesting because I've heard they're very poor, I'm sure they'll put us to work on their coffee farms though, it' harvest time. EVVVERyone grows coffee here. So we're going to be doing lots of cool and different things but what I'm hoping to look at is ways that organizations can best bridge the gap between citizens in the US and their sponsors. What are the most efficient ways to communicate the events in the sponsored kids lives and how can we do that most efficiently. How can we put as much of the money as we can towards the kids, rather than having to spend hours and hours on the process of sending a letter to or from a kid? Are there better ways or is that the only way to have a personal relationship with your kid? These are the questions I'm interested in and seeing how we can best promote development through child sponsorship. Here's a link to the school that we're volunteering at!

I met both of those boys when I sat in on their classes and remember mario especially, hes soo cute and in first grade now!!! And that lady still brings food over to the school

The video's a little much in regards to trying too hard to appeal to emotions, but I think it's a good video in order to see the school and what it's really doing for the community. I'm gonna be honest and say that one of my pet peeves is organizations that show you videos and just make you feel guilty and sad for the kids so that you'll donate to their organization. We should never give to these kids out of guilt and because we feel bad. Because then doing so is for the wrong purposes and often times, only makes US feel better. I think we should always evaluate our hearts in the process of giving and make sure that we're doing it to further the kingdom, increase shalom, and help others while expecting nothing in return. Just as Christ explains in matthew 20 when he explains that he didn't come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for others. Because even the media and pop culture today presents giving to others as a good thing, but that's because it also helps us and makes us feel better about ourselves. So many times we can even be on a short term mission trip or something of that matter in regards to volunteering and have hearts that are trying to satisfy our own needs. We think that after we do these kinds of activities we're good people and we also want others to see that as well. It's a pretty dangerous mentality that I know I've fallen victim to.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Long time coming...a little over a month

To be honest I don’t really know where to start. So much good stuff that we’ve been involved in that it’s a tad overwhelming at times.  It was interesting, the other day my professor Kurt said that his daughter is studying abroad in Hungary and is actually running out of stuff to do and is bored, whereas we don’t have enough time for many things we want to get involved in. On a sidenote as well, I don’t really have a camera, I’m just trying to use my phone. It’s not necessarily the best and most efficient way, but it works….kind of. Today we’re going to the US embassy to watch the election results with the other workers. I’m pretty excited for that. But I guess an overview of my days now at this point is to take my hour Spanish class followed by three hour development class, and then a different activity at night. For instance, on Friday I play with the ASJ soccer team. And wow is it a workout. On Wednesdays and some Sundays I volunteer for the Gideon project, which was started by ASJ. It’s a project that provides after school programs for kids. It keeps the kids out of trouble and creates some cool opportunities for them. I’ve gotten pretty close to some of the kids and they’re real fun to hang out with, they’re about 12 or 13 years old. Other nights I play at the cancha (Which means soccer court). On Thurdays, we’re going through a book called Freedom of Simplicity and discussing a chapter per week. Jo Ann then cooks us an amazing dinner after, and I’m always stuffer after. Many of us then do what we call the “Honduran man” which consists of rolling your shirt up and rubbing your belly. I’m gonna try to bring it back to the states, but part of me feels like I’ll also get some very weird looks and then regret that I even thought it was cool in the first place. Vamos a ver (we are going to see). And other nights I’ll have a Bible study with either all the group, or one or two people in the group. God’s been doing some amazing things in my life here!!!!
But a couple weeks ago we had our Fall Break after a class trip to the county of Gracias a Dios, where we visited a World Vision project. In a lot of our studies here, we’ve been looking at different organizations and seeing what they do for different societies. World Vision, an organization I’m sure you’ve heard of, was an interesting NGO to look at. Because most of you are probably familiar with their child sponsorship program. World Vision started out as only a child sponsorship organization, and then as they progressed in the developing world, they learned that societies needed more than just child sponsorship. They started to look at why kids were impoverished in the first place and then started to develop programs to prevent impoverished children. This involves many different things, and when we went to Gracias a Dios we saw the education programs that they set up along with health and agriculture education for the mothers and fathers in the area. The whole community welcomed our class and we saw the programs in action. For instance, we sat in on a child weigh in session, to make sure that the kids were the proper and healthy weight. And World Vision helps them achieve that weight by showing them how to best utilize all of their crop and which parts provide nutrients. It was awesome, and it was something I’d love to learn more about. I’m a city boy and I have no background of agriculture, but I’m definitely interested in it. Another program we looked at was the World Visions establishing Tilapia farms for the families to grow fish and sell it. Did you know: Honduras sells more Tilapia to America than any other country in the world? Crazy stuff right?! The town we went to was gorgeous and I’m hopefully going to go back there when my dad comes and visits me. We want to go ziplining there! People said it’s the best in Central America! And it’s also cheap. Maybe I’ll show him the natural hotsprings too that we visited before.   
After Gracias, some of us took off to Antigua, Guatemala and then later went to one of the Bay islands called Roatan. Both places were awesome, but were very different than what we had been experiencing. Both the places were touristy and had many Americans, so they both accepted the dollar of course. We had a great time and stayed at some cool places. There are more pictures on facebook, but what I ended up doing in a nutshell on break was: hiking up a volcano and roasting marshmallows at the top, deep sea fishing, riding on a moped all day by myself, smoking some great Honduran cigars, snorkeling a couple times, laying on the beach, going to a couple bars/clubs/restuarants (where I could listen to my favorite music…dubstep JJJ) and eating some verrry good seafood (shrimp and lobster).Shrimp is my favvve!!) When we went to some of the clubs, the Guatamalans and Hondurans always made me feel good about myself because they always want to take pictures with me. I don’t think they see blond hairissh (my hair isn’t completely blonde) and blue eyes that much, that’s why. But overall, the break was awesome and while there were times when we all got sick of eachother, we bonded really well as a group. By the end of the trip I think we all wanted to get away from the touristy places as well because our wallets were feeling thin and we were ready to come back to mainland Honduras as well. When I talk to people and tell them that I’m in Honduras they say “Oooohhh Honduras, I’ve been there before! So pretty! You’ll LOVE it!” Which then prompts me to think…yea, you’ve been to Roatan haven’t you.
 One class that I took a lot of interest in this semester was that of short term mission trips. Are they good or bad for the development world as a whole? We had a whole class on it and my professors Kurt and Joann both did studies and wrote papers on it. Very interesting! And many of us Americans have been on these mission trips and been effected by them as well, so their influence is vast. Before my development classes at Calvin, I’ve never really thought twice about the short term mission trips.
But it seems to be a common theme that the classes here have been taking what I initially knew about a certain subject and completely flipping it around and showing me how to look at the big picture. They do this with sooo many subjects, such as environment, agriculture,politics, microcredit, missions, and much much more. We’ve looked at sooo many subjects here. Our professors tend to worry that they inform us too much about the immense amount of problems happening in the developing world and Honduras, and that this will cause us to feel helpless and like we can’t do anything. Another cool aspect of the classroom setting has been when our professors (and when I say professors I’m referring to Kurt and Jo Ann) show us the problems and give us possible solutions then tell us to come up with our own solution and how we’re going to go about it. It happens every class and causes us to really think on our feet.
This thinking on our feet mentality directly relates to what we’ve been talking about as the art of development. The art of development basically implies that just because you know a lot about development doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be able to implement the policies of it. That’s part of what makes the study of it so intriguing to me. It’s really hands on and it’s a different challenge in every single situation. And it’s constantly reforming itself as people tend to experiment more and more with what works in the developing world and what doesn’t.
Another big topic that we’ve been talking about in class is the policy of mission work vs. development work. Kurt brought up that it’s very rare to find the same people in the mission club at Calvin as well as the justice club at Calvin. And I think that statement says a lot. Often times we look at the two like one versus the other, when, as Christians, they’re meant to go hand in hand. Is it tricky to do it sometimes, yes? For instance, we’ve talked about doing development work in a Muslim culture, how does that work?
In every class, we make sure to look at both sides of the argument and then more or less come up with our own policy. In this instance, it would be feeding spiritual needs vs. physical needs. One article we’re assigned to read for class looks at the physical side as more important, while the other looks at why the spiritual side is more important. And often times, we’re also assigned to read an article that is relatively in the middle. Is spreading the Gospel through our actions the only way we should be evangelizing? I personally don’t think so. I think we should be in constant pursuit of how we can best spread the love of Jesus Christ, while also being aware of the culture around us and constantly being in prayer  for discretion. As Christians I feel like we’re called to go deeper in conversation, called to ask why, called to really dig into people’s lives and show that we care for them. We do this with both our actions and our words.  And we do this because we’re called to love, because we were first loved.
Which brings me to a verse in scripture that’s been on my mind. It mentions this love. It’s the slogan and the verse that ASJ goes by, which is the NGO that promotes mainly jusitce that my professor started. It’s my prof Kurt’s favorite verse in the Bible. It’s 1st John 4:18, which says that: There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. In all of this study and all of this talk of development, we’ve talked about the mentality of fear. Hondurans and many poor people have this concept of fear instilled in their mind, fear of the police due to corruption, of crime, of providing for their families. And it’s this love that we reflect upon and try to implement that as Christians we must continue to pursue.
The Gospel has also been overwhelming me with how against our mindset and counter-cultural it is. I think I’ve mentioned this verse before, but it’s one of my favorite verses. And I’ll stop talking after I mention it I promise. After all, I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in the library now and better get going.
 Matthew 20: 26-28:  Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

El Salvador

Hope everyone's doing well! This past weekend I went to El Salvador and had a blast!! I learned how to surf finally (on my bucket list) and got owned. But its all good, you have to start somewhere. El Salvador is known for the best surfing in Central America and it definitely was! I met some cool surfers from Australia and Canada at our hostel. People came from all over the world to surf at the spot we were at. We got stuck on the Honduran/El Salvadoran border for about 4 or 5 hours so that was pretty painful and hot, and it was overall a 14 hour trip when it was supposed to be a 6 hour trip.  Buuuuut we made it and it was a blast! Here's a facebook link for some pictures if you want to see
 We stopped at a cool restaurant/zoo on the way back (I know...weird combo right) that was really cool so that's where the pictures of animals are from

Advice: If you're going to cross the border to any country, make sure you have a license plate on your car....

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Food for thought 2

Hellllo there
I lead a devotion the other day before class and this concept has been on my mind a lot ever since I've been here in Honduras so I wanted to share it.

During my devotion time at one point I ran across the parable of the bleeding woman in Matthew 9. It gave me alot of thought/ideas for whatever reason. So this woman was bleeding for twelve years and here illness was severe, she was hopeless and anemic. I pictured she's just like one of those people you see and it's very difficult to look at and it's very easy to be grossed out and not relate with. But because of this she was also excluded from normal religious and social relations. This is how the pharisees rolled. They saw her as unclean and therefore didn't care about her.
But first off, how AWFUL is it that they had normal social and religious relations. In no way are we called to be normal in our faith, if we are then we're offending the gospel and settling for lukewarmness. We're then saying, no thanks God I'm going to work on my own comfortable terms that I'm okay with.
So there's this big crowd around Jesus and he was currently on his way to heal a dead girl. And this bleeding woman was probably shamefully trying to hide from everyone because they viewed her as an unclean sinner. She wants to stay unnoticed, and then she says, "if I can only touch the fringe of his garment". Then Jesus turns and literally FEELS the womans faith and says, "Take heart, your faith has made you well". So there's probably a toon of people touching Jesus and rubbing against him, but he feels the powerful faith of a woman that barely touches his garment.This goes to show that he responds to our faith and immediately will turn when we come to him with it. And I instantly thought of another verse that Jesus says , "Take heart, for I have overcome the world." This "take heart" is Jesus telling this woman to worry no more and to not be overwhelmed with her suffering, for Jesus absorbs her sufferings and pains and makes her well through her faith. O yeah...he also overcomes the world.
So, what if we looked at Jesus like this woman did? That if we could only touch his garment we could be healed? Jesus wannts us to put his faith in him and wannnts to absorb our pain, embarassment, and shame, but we have to extend that unclean, bleeding, skimpy arm of faith before he can do that.
So in the context of my international development experience here in Honduras, I automatically thought of the  people that are suffering from injustice that are lost in the crowd. The crowd in this story represents society, quickly going on to the next big thing, which was at that time Jesus. It's pretty ironic because while he was the big thing at that time, they completely turned their backs on him and end up crucifying him. But amidst this crowd and searching for the next big thing, we lost sight of the needy and hopeless. And if we do come across a time when we just happen to see the weak and hopeless, we cringe when we look at them and act if they're not image bearers of God as well. Fpr some reason, whatever it is, we feel ENTITLED to our privelege, when all we've really done is got lucky and won the lottery in regards to our wealth.  We tend to say, o, that's unfortunate for them, I feel bad them for them, but I'm going to continue to find my identity in the crowd (society).
I also thought that alot of times as well, when it comes to Hondurans suffering injustice, they're like the sick woman but they don't even know how to seek help. They don't know that they're wanted. This woman was lucky to somehow know that Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life because what was happening at the time with Jesus performing miracles. And in NO WAY am I saying that we should be playing Jesus, but as Christians we're to go out and SEEK this woman and show her that she IS worth something and that she is made PERFECT through Christ, and that she IS an image bearer of God. And it's not going to necessarily be easy to find this woman, because we're caught up in the crowd (society) and we want to serve what's in our best interests. No ones going to tell us that this woman is amongst us suffering and she sure as heck won't be able to tell you because she doesn't know there's healing out there and isn't able to move because of the conditions she's in. Let us GO and find the sick women who don't have a voice and are full of sadness and shame due to injustice all over the world!!

we've been reading and studying this book in class, it's called "Good News About Injustice"and it's an ammmazing book. It seriously pumps me up every time I read it. This guy, Gary Haugen, the starter of IJM, ( international justice mission, a huuuge non-profit organization) uses his faith and scripture directly in his striving for justice. he mentions how underlooked God's call for justice is in the Bible and how important it really is in understanding God's character. Here's a couple excerpts that I picked out from the book

pg.98: We are God's hands of mercy and love. Occasions certainly may arise when God intervenes in some utterly supernatural fashion that bypasses all human instruments, but overwhelmingly God chooses to 
limit himself to those miracles he can perform through people who are obedient to his call.

pg. 100:(I paraphrased a little for it to make sense):"It is no wonder that so many people in the world are tempted to despair with the injustice just like the psalmist did: "Why, O LORD, do you stand so far off? Why do you hide yourself in time of trouble?" (Psalm 10:1). But gradually it has occurred to me that the problem may not be that God is so far off; the problem may be that God's people are far off." 

don't know if this even made sense or vibed with anyone, but i felt the call to write it.

9/19/12 things

Sup guys! So I was just recently re-reading some of my blogs and I want to apologize for all the awkward sounding sentences and bad grammar. A lot of the sentences sound weird but this is due to me trying to maximize words in the least amount of time possible.

Pretty crazy to think that I've already been here for a MONTH now. Wow. It's flown by, so I'm tryin to make the most of every second. This past weekend I celebrated independence day with my family and it was awesome to grill out and go to the local parade in Tegucigalpa. Honduras along with El Salvador, Nicaragua, and one more country I think all celebrate their independence in 1821 on September 15th from Spain.
Everything here is  going awesome though. My spanish has gotten exponentially better and my teacher is feeding me compliments along with my family as well. I'm becoming alot more fluid and can carry on pretty long conversations. It's a sweet challenge to learn as much as this language as I can when I'm here. And man o man did I not like learning spanish in the states, but while here it's alooot of fun actually. I look like a mega-gringo when I carry around my dictionary everywhere but YOLO (you only learn once) ;) I'm getting a lot closer to the people of Honduras as well and am planning on riding horses with my cousin, possibly hanging out with our cab driver and his family on the weekend (he said he has dirtbikes and 4wheelers but that will be a discussion that I will have to have with kurt and joann....if any of you two are reading this I promise I'll be careful) ,and my mom has taught me how to hand wash my clothes because I told her I wanted to learn. I think I'm already regretting telling her I wanted to learn but o well. I'm also joining the ASJ (organization my professors started) soccer team that plays every friday and might join a santa lucia team that plays every sunday.

 I'd say the only negative I've really had so far this semester is that I'm struggling a little bit for sleep. This is due to the literal "dog" fights that happen in the street and chickens goin crazy at 4 in the morn. But these dogs run around the street thinking they own the place and get into these intennnse/scary fights in the street right near my house. I knew Honduras had a problem with gangs, but I thought it was just with the humans. Despite these minuscule problems though, I'm continuing to be so blessed with good health and awesome people around me. This group that we came down with of 12 has been amazing, it's been so cool to pray with them, study with them, talk with them, and grow with them.

As far as typical Eric things that happen in Honduras, it's not tooo bad here. I still spill my food at the same rate i always had and give thanks that my mama has an awesome method of stain remover here. And as far as losing things, I've lost my beach towel and my umbrella :( they fell out of my backpack on a trip to en amapala. And I'm still always last of the group to everywhere....classic always last Hollis

Lesson: It's not good to always be last...especially when you're trying to catch a bus

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Just noticed that I have pageviews from Russia, Germany, and Peru???I was surprised with the amount of pageviews from Russia too I think there's like 20?...verrrrry interesting. If you wanna tell me who you are that'd be pretty sweet cause I'm curious.
I'm continuing to be amazed on my Honduras semester. It's VERY rare for me to actually want to sit down, learn, and be engaged in class without my mind wandering. Every day I'm getting more and more excited because this is what I have a passion for and I'm blessed with the opportunity to learn more and more every day. At least in this point in my life, I feel as if this is what God is really calling me to do.
These past couple weeks have been crazy and very hands on in regards to our classes. A typical day would look like spanish class for about an hour in tegucigalpa, followed by three hour international development class, then a visit to various health clinics, a school, hospital, congress, and the US embassy as well. All very interesting,revealing, and hands on which is what I love. But VERY busy. Let's just say I'm blessed to have alot of coffee growing in my backyard. I've averaged about 1-2 cups per day now, and am drinking it straight black...makes me feel pretty sophisticated actually. But as you can tell,we not only learn in depth about all these institutions and how the government plays a part in them, but the day we study them in class we go to the institutions, and have the experts/ workers of the institutions teach us more about Honduras's policies and how they're structured. During and after these lectures, we then start to compare what we learn in class to what the workers/experts tell us of the places we've visited. It's interesting to also see the biases that the workers will sometimes portray. For instance, at the US Embassy, sometimes you could sense that based on some of the students' questions the ambassador was kind of tip toeing around certain questions.

These visits not only educated us, but opened our eyes as well. It's one thing to learn about the public hospital system and why it's awful, but it's another thing to go there and see it. The building was crummy and the place was overpopulated with many sick people who have been waiting all day to hopefully get an appointment.If they did get an appointment, they'd have to hope that the medication they needed didn't run out because the hospitals were understocked and they'd also have to hope that in their appointment they don't get infected by any of the equipment in the hospital because not all of it is steralized.  Some students in my group complained about being clostraphobic and rightly so, it was tough to walk around for even forty five minutes without being overwhelmed by the smell, sad faces of the sick, and hot clostrophobia that was surrounding us. My professor, living in Honduras for 26 years, also said that she would rather have her baby at home than in the public hospital that we visited, one of the two largest in Honduras. Honduras recently had  some of the worst cases of dengue and most deaths because the hospitals ran out/couldn't supply simple water and salt solution to give to the patients when they were in need. It'd be one thing if Honduras was just poor and couldn't afford these certain things, but so many corrupt people stand in the way of the sick getting what they need. The money is there, graciously being donated by various organizations and nations funding the government, but it's being intercepted and given to people that use it for personal benefit. And when you see the faces of the sick and desperate in light of the corruption and greediness of selfish man, it gives you nothing but motivation to take those men down.  But it's not so easy.So many people are involved and the structure is so unorganized in Honduras that it's an extremely complex task.
We also visited a local school in Santa Lucia. While this school is known as the cream of the crop. It was lacking in many other ways. There was essentially no library and no playground, basically the essentials for schools in the US. I heard certain teachers were trained well, but the class that I sat in on the teacher was very non-chalant and allowing kids to run around and do essentially whatever they want as she wrote on the board. Granted, there were gringos in the room and they were quite distracted..but still. An underlying theme that one can see in the Honduran system is that the resources and funds are there but so many times does it go to the wrong hands. The education system is a mess here. Honduras is in the top three in central america when it comes to funds that go to education, but is in the bottom two in regards to the quality of education in central america (I think there are about 7 countries in central america). This is a complex issue because the teachers unions have much power in honduras. An example of how/why is mel zelaya, a president thrown out by a coup in 2009 (very big topic in honduras) who before he was thrown out, took the mass amount of money (I think in the billions) that was donated by other countries/organizations in order to be given to the poor and invested it in teachers raises. Someone from the organization Trasformemos Honduras came into class the other day and stated that 50% of teachers are hired in the proper manner, meaning the well trained teachers are not getting hired due to corruption. And many teachers are put on the pay roll, but don't even show up to work. Rediculous! And when a new president comes in and says that the teachers can't have raises, they strike which then takes even more school days away from the kids (it's already incredibly low at 112 days of classes). So as you can see, it's incredibly complex and corrupt. And in that 15 minutes that I visited the classroom, man o man were the kids cute. The high majority of kids in Honduras don't make it past sixth grade. And to see the smiling faces of these kids in light of the corrupts greed and backdoor deals that lead to their absence does nothing but anger me.
On facebook you can see some pictures that my professor kurt took. We got to sit in the congress, talk in the mics, and sit in the presidents chairs. We got to sit in the room where certain special parties/events are held and look at all the pictures of the former presidents of congress. Wherever we went people treated us so well, I think it was due to the fact that peopl don't tend to visit the places we did. Much corruption obviously goes on in congress and they side often with the teachers unions because that's where the moneys at. It's interesting though because in class we learned that this is at fault due to the parents and the power of their vote in the democratic government. They could elect anyone they want to essentially because they have the numbers against the rich, but there are many reasons that get in the way of that.
While it's easy to get down about these issues and look at what's wrong, much is being done to hold the politicicans and teachers accountable. Organizations such as ASJ (which my professors started) have embarked on various justice projects and are striving to hold these people accountable.They partner with other organizations as well and investigate, research, and take many people to court. But it's never easy with the structure that's set up here, courts are slow and ineffiecient and corrupt. That's why we must call on the Lord for our help and strength in time when we need patience, for there is no one better that we can go to for that. As Kurt quotes from 1st John 4:18, "Perfect Love drives out fear" which is the main bible verse behind ASJ.
Something that's really stuck out to me is that it's so easy to overlook the privilege we've had all our life in the states with what seems so basic to us. We've had amazing hospitals and schools, and I can't imagine only having a sixth grade education which is what the majority of the Honduran children have.It's so easy to overlook these essentials in our life, but when there's an absence of these essentials in countries, your heart can do nothing but break for them.
Spanish is getting better slowly by the way, I just realized that my papa here is only a farmer of coffee, beans, etc. right in my backyard and I thought he told me he sold construction equipment in the past....prettty bad on my part.

There's pics on facebook about our groups weekend getaway to amapala, an island of an old volcano that we hiked up. It was real fun....except our cab got hit by a gigantic cow that was running. I was about a foot away from getting hit in the face by those giant horns. Everyone was fine but it was a small cab that was basically a moped for 5, so there were no doors if you can picture it. Scary and crazy!!! the cow right after jumped over a 4 foot barbed wire fence! cows got HOPS here.

1. tip cows in honduras whenever possible. its better to have them laying on the ground than running into your taxi.

Thanks for your time and interest everyone! Love the comments and God bless!

Monday, September 10, 2012

pictures via facebook

I uploaded alot of pictures on my facebook from our little weekend getaway, here's a link if you want to check some of them out