Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Honduran Photo Book

Well once again I have disappeared for about a month and a half... Great apologies! But for those of you following the YASC lenten blog, I did have two posts during March, which just goes to show that as long as I have a very strict schedule I can get things done and I have no excuse for not posting here. (If you want to, you can follow that blog at

Things have been really wonderful here. I've been super busy at work and at play. So let's see some pictures shall we??

Back in February I was able to join the Mississippi medical mission that comes down every year. This was such an incredible experience and completely solidified all my desires to go to medical school. (Not that I was doubting or anything, but now I'm like 250% sure). I met some amazing people and got to reconnect with old friends.

 Checking blood pressure

 I convinced all the children of the village that I was a witch by doing card tricks. If I accomplish nothing else in Honduras, I've done this, and I'm okay with that. 

Our pretty amazing group 

And... we helped deliver a baby =) 

I returned from the medical mission and back to school. I think I'm getting the hang of this teaching thing, however looking back through my photos it appears I never teach... 

Also, exciting thing! I had the honor of attending my beautiful roommate Rosella's baptism and first communion in the Catholic Church. 

And for your viewing pleasure, things in Honduras that I think are cool or funny. 

 My birthday present was a remote controlled spider. I am the happiest girl. 

 a weird tower that reminds me of The Sword and the Stone for some reason

Honduran wildlife 

Well there you have it. Once again, I try and promise to not leave you hanging for another month before I post! Lots of love! 

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Open Letter To A Friend

Dear ________________

                Hello! I've been missing you terribly these last few months. It's strange not having you around to talk to face to face, or to grab a drink with, or just to hang out. I know I'm really terrible at keeping in touch and for that I greatly apologize. Sometimes it's hard to balance being present in my life here and making sure I'm keeping my relationships going back home.

I've been here almost 7 months! It's kind of like up until 6 months I felt like I had all the time in the world and now that I'm past it, it's racing towards the finish line. A coworker asked me this morning if I'm feeling happy or sad about returning home in just a few short months. I couldn't answer him.

The truth is, it's a complicated answer. You know this from experience. It's always bittersweet to leave a place. There are things here that have been incredible, and things that have been really difficult. I know that the years to come at home will be incredible and really difficult. The truth is, it's both. There are days I wake up so super excited to be getting closer to the start of medical school, being back near my family, my church, my friends. And then there are days where I wake up, so completely happy to be in this beautiful country, to spend the days with my students and friends, to have spontaneous adventures exploring the country. There are also days when I wake up terrified to start medical school, afraid I've forgotten how to study, that I'll never be able to figure out how to properly use a stethoscope. And days when I wake up struggling to understand the language and culture and wishing more than anything to be at home drinking a martini with my mom and dad.

I do still have about 5 months left here, so it's probably premature to be worrying about any of this, but it feels good to express it to you.

One thing I've realized in my time here, is that all my experiences have value. It's kind of overwhelming to think about all the possibilities that have been and could be presented in my life, and the paths I've taken oddly enough seem to be converging. It's pretty cool actually.

I say this not to brag about having my life figured out. I'm absolutely positive that any preconceived notions I have about my future will be completely wrong, and I've definitely spent some time feeling lost and unsure of where I want to be in life. We all have. I think it's necessary in order to finally be able to find a path that leads somewhere.

My goal for the rest of my journey here is to try to focus less on what is coming in my life, and be present in what is happening now. I know for a fact that when my time comes to return home I'll be devastatingly sad and deliriously happy all at the same time. I will feel ALL the emotions. I know this. So I shouldn't (and can't) worry about it, even though I'm very good at worrying.

Keep a night open for me for when I'm back so we can have that drink and that hangout time and I can tell you all about my adventures about how I made friends with many different species of birds, explored caves, helped deliver a baby, and had the opportunity to teach. My life is awesome here and I can't wait to tell you all about it. I miss you. I love you. Write soon.

So much love!



Tuesday, January 21, 2014


So I had a good weekend. It was great for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that I got to hang out in a swanky hotel in Costa Rica, but it was mostly great because I finally realized... I speak Spanish.

Puedo hablar en espaƱol. Puedo comunicar. Entiendo todo, y por lo general, todas las personas me entienden.

I can speak in Spanish. I can communicate. I mostly understand everything and everyone can mostly understand me.

Some background: When I arrived in Honduras, I had taken three years of Spanish in college. I felt pretty confident that communication wouldn't be a problem. Then I arrived and I realized the only conversations in Spanish I had had during my three years were with teachers who spoke slowly and clearly to facilitate my understanding. Which is fantastic, and I learned a lot... but then I met the Hondurans.

Hondurans speak fast. Very fast. This is, in fact, very reasonable. I speak English, and when I speak English, I speak pretty fast. Most people do in their first language.

Communication is one of the biggest struggles I've faced since arriving here. I luckily have a fantastic roommate who speaks to me only in Spanish, even though her English is impeccable. I notice the difference in the weeks that we don't speak any English with each other and the weeks that a few English conversations get thrown in here and there. When we speak only Spanish, I feel more confident; I feel more grounded; I feel like I have a place here in this country.

I know my Spanish has improved since I've arrived, but it's a difficult thing to quantify. How much have I improved? Have I improved as much as I should have? How is everyone else doing with their communication?

Well, here's how much I've improved. I've improved enough that I can talk on the phone without having to give myself a pep talk beforehand. I can now walk by people having a conversation and I know what they're talking about. Becky and I navigated the confusion of a cancelled flight in the San Jose airport! IN SPANISH! I may not understand everything, but I'm realizing that's ok. I don't need to understand everything, as long as I continue to try.

Communication was the biggest struggle I faced when I arrived, but it's no longer my biggest struggle. I can communicate. And I can communicate well. And I luckily have 6 more months to continue to improve.

P.S. I went to San Jose, Costa Rica to renew my visa. Becky and I traveled together, hung out in La Fortuna, Costa Rica in a super nice hotel, got an extra night when our flight was cancelled, and now are allowed to stay in Honduras another 3 months. Further blog post to come with pictures etc.

Love love love

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christmas and things!

Hello friends,

Not surprisingly, my blogging fell to the wayside during the holidays, so apologies for the silence. I had an awesome time though! We finished with school on the 20th and I immediately left San Pedro Sula with my fellow YASCer Becky. We traveled about an hour and half south to a small hotel, D&D Brewery, near Lago de Yojoa. We only spent about 36 hours here, but they were really fun. The brewery, as you might expect, makes its own beers, so of course we had to try all the offerings. None were disappointing.

We spent our one full day hiking and tubing down a small river that meets the lake. We saw bats, giant spiders, and interesting birds. We jumped off the edge of a rock that juts out over the lake, and in my normal fashion I took a very awkward jumping photo. I despair that I will never be successful at such things as jumping pictures...

This hotel is kind of a backpackers' haven. There were people there from all over, and it was really quite bizarre to see so many people from all around the world. I don't often see tourists in San Pedro Sula. I'm sure they are there, it's just such a large city that I don't encounter them. As it is now, I spend the majority of my time really concentrating to understand what's going on around me. It was a whole new ballgame to be hanging out with people who were speaking French.

We returned to Tela on the 23rd to celebrate Christmas. In Honduras, Christmas is celebrated on the 24th, so we exchanged gifts and went to church, and as is the custom for teachers on vacation, went to sleep before 10pm. The 25th we made dinner and had a few people from the community join us. It was a super time, and while it was a bit strange not being with my family, I felt so lucky to be where I was. And I watched The Polar Express for the first time =)

THEN MY FAMILY CAME. Minus Ian, sadly... but the rest arrived safe and sound on the 27th, and the 28th we flew to Roatan, one of the Bay Islands off the north coast of Honduras. The water was unreal, and we had the most amazing time. My roommate, Rosella, was able to join us, and so continues my AWESOME plan of intertwining my Honduran and Mississippian family.

The week was so wonderful. New Year's Eve, again, as is the custom of teacher's on vacation, I went to sleep at 10pm... Most people I talked to were horrified, but I don't care =)

My family has safely returned to Mississippi, and I have started back at school. I'm excited to see what my life in Honduras is like for 2014. Much love!

Disclaimer: The majority of the photos below are shamelessly stolen from Becky. Thank you for being better about taking photos than I am.


My weird jumping picture

My new friend William

Becky and I being AWESOME

Thursday, December 12, 2013

La Familia

In the past couple weeks I've been thinking a lot about family. This is reasonable, considering we are in the season of holidays that, for many people, is so centered on family. For pretty much my whole life the months of November and December are full of family togetherness. We travel from the various corners of the country and when we are all finally together it usually ends up with us belting out "I Believe I Can Fly" wearing blonde wigs and drinking whiskey... or some variation of this. So needless to say, it was very strange when Thanksgiving rolled around to see a photo on Facebook of my three siblings sitting in front of the fireplace and I wasn't there!

This is not my first holiday season away from my family. This will be my first Christmas away, but I've missed Thanksgiving before. It's always been hard, but what it's taught me is that family is really the same thing as community. And if you have a community, you have a family.

At Thanksgiving, my fellow YASCer Becky came to visit and we cooked enough food to feed about 20 people. Seriously. I had to freeze leftovers. We ended up having 6 people and it was truly better than I could have hoped. And I was with my Honduran community. My family.

I will have the pleasure of spending Christmas in Tela with Becky, and my family will come for the new year and I'm sure there will be no end to the singing and being ridiculous. But through this holiday season I've come to understand that I have family all over the world. And I'm incredibly lucky for this, because every time a member of my community goes somewhere new and begins to create their own community in this new place, we extend our family even further. So, my dear friends, what I would like to say today is that you never have to be without family. I love you all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Difficulty With Prayer

I get anxious when I try to pray. It’s always been a struggle for me, but it’s something that I’ve managed to ignore for most of my life by never really taking the time to try and formulate my own prayers. My prayer life relies on already written and well-worn prayers. Sometimes though, I feel like a prayer needs to be more personal, and then panic sets in. WHAT IF I LEAVE SOMETHING OUT?? 

I find myself making laundry list prayers, never being able to end it, just going through my mental list of all the people who are important in my life and all the people who are important in their lives and their dogs and cats and birds and anything else. It’s paralyzing, and it makes it very difficult to pray. I feel like if I do forget something, then it disappears in a vortex of lost prayers. Intellectually, I know this isn’t true, and the God I believe in doesn’t let prayers, even forgotten ones slip through the cracks. But it’s times like these when I hear about the struggles of my friends and family and the people they care about that I feel like I should pray with something more personal, and then the unnerving anxiety and thoughts that if I don’t say a prayer for this person then it’s a minus 1 point in their prayer quota column begin bubbling up like a volcano. Again, intellectually I know that there’s no heavenly prayer ledger book where prayers are added or subtracted and the final quota determines the outcome, but my overly rampant imagination is a bad influence on itself and keeps building on these wild doubts. 

The beauty of the Episcopal Church for me is that when I have absolutely no idea what to say, there are ready-made prayers right there. And when you feel more than words, there’s the music, which sometimes says it better than anything. So while prayer is still a source of fear for me, I am trying to work on it by paying attention to what’s been working for so many years in our church. So I think for now I’m going to try to relinquish the power, and use words written and music composed with such grace and feeling by our Episcopal brothers and sisters, and hope that God, our Mother and Father, gets what I’m trying to say.  

I leave you with a prayer from the Book of Common Prayer that I love

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the spirit of Jesus. Amen. 

And with an incredible piece of music by composer Will Todd 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Medical Things!

I have been MIA for the past couple weeks, and for that I apologize, but there has been A LOT going on. One of my newest developments is that I’ve started volunteering once a week at the HIV/AIDS clinic associated with the Episcopal Church here in Honduras. The name of the clinic is “Siempre Unidos”, or “Always United,” which I just love. 

I’ve only been going for a few weeks, but already I’m falling in love with the people there. The people who work there are so caring and the patients have such great attitudes. Every morning, the patients and staff meet together in the waiting room to greet each other and discuss any upcoming events or activities. There is always laughter and discussion, and it’s so wonderful to see such a sense of camaraderie among them. This clinic is supported by donations and no patient is turned away. They pay what they can, when they can, if they can, and if they can’t, no one blinks an eye. What this clinic is providing is incredible. The medication is not cheap, and the disease is still highly stigmatized here. What this clinic is doing is providing a way for these people to live and control their disease, not be controlled by it. If you want to learn a little bit more about the clinic and its mission, you can visit the website 

I had the opportunity to work with a medical mission for a few days this week in Puerto Cortes near the coast. This group has been coming for years to Honduras, and this year, they came not only to set up a clinic, but also to distribute water filters to the people attending the clinic. This is such a great example of self-sustainability. It's a wonderful thing that medical missions come frequently to Honduras and give their time, energy, and emotions to helping the people here, but what this group is trying to do is make the help more long-lasting. By giving out water filters, explaining the process, and challenging the people using the filters to share and teach other families how to work them, this group is working to lessen the number of people infected by bacteria found in the water here. The Episcopal Diocese is also working on opening this clinic every three months, so that there is continuity for the people making use of clinic.

I worked as a translator, although many of the people in the group spoke Spanish quite well. It was a great experience for me because I was able to learn new vocabulary and ask questions about specific cases. This was doubly exciting because I found out on Wednesday that I've been accepted to the University of Mississippi Medical School! It has put my experience with the clinic and the medical mission into a whole new perspective. After a few years of hard work and study, I can come back here with medical knowledge and help at a whole different level.

Sorry to all of my readers for the the blog hiatus, I am making a concerted effort to be more on top of things! Love you all. Hope all is well. Peace.