Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Episcopal Church: Universal, But Unique

One of the things I love most about the Episcopal Church is that it doesn’t matter where you are in the world, you can go to an Episcopal Church and say the same words, hear the same readings, pray the same prayers, and feel just as at home as you would in your home church.

This fact has been a great comfort to me here in San Pedro Sula, because through all of these new experiences, new language, new amazing people, I can go to church and feel a sense of stability, because I know, with a few exceptions, what the service will be like.

When the YASC group met for orientation, we discussed at great length finding stability and a sense of calm during this year through prayer, and while I have prayers that I like, it’s still really nice to go to church and know what’s going on.

There are a few different things that really stand out to me, however. At Buen Pastor, my church here in San Pedro, there is an incredible amount of young people. I had the pleasure of attending a youth group meeting last week and the ages spanned from about 12 to people in their late 20s. It was such an all-inclusive group.

They pass the peace to every single person in the church. This has been something consistent I’ve found in all the churches I’ve attended in Honduras, (3, for those of you who are wondering. It’s a reasonable sample size) and I love it. It’s not just the people who are surrounding you; it is every person in the church. The clergy come out into the congregation, and the musicians play energetic music as all the people intermingle. It’s so joyful!

There is something particular about Buen Pastor that surprised me on my first Sunday. At the offertory, the priest places the offering baskets on the steps in front of the altar. He then asks people to make their way up to altar to give whatever they can to the church. He tells them not to worry about what they can and cannot give, that anything and everything is a blessing. And every single person in the church walked up there. Every single person. They made the conscious decision to move from their seats and give to their church. It was something I had never seen before. I think there were people who didn’t put anything in the basket, but to me, it seemed like an acknowledgement of the importance of the church in their lives. I think that’s pretty awesome.

On another note, I start school tomorrow. Stay tuned =) 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ambos! Mochila! De Véras! Las Palabras del Dia en Copán

These are just a few of our "words of the day" that we've had during our week in Copán. These words, ambos (both), mochila (backpack), and de véras (really?!), came from our quite excellent education at Ixbalanque Spanish School in Copán, which is a small city in the west of Honduras right near the Guatemalan border.

We arrived to Copán on Sunday afternoon and got settled in. I stayed with a host family, Lorena and Luis, who were lovely. Staying with a host family was excellent because if I wanted to communicate, I had to use my Spanish. Lorena and Luis were incredibly accommodating and patient with my unavoidable Spanish errors ;)

We had class Monday through Friday for four hours in afternoon. It was one-on-one tutoring and my teacher, Orbely, was a fantastic woman. I feel much more secure in my Spanish now. In the mornings, we experienced what Copán had to offer. We had so many outdoor adventures!! We visited the Aguas Termales, or hot springs, up in the mountains surrounding Copán. In some places the water was 90 degrees Centigrade. Yes I touched it (only for a second), and yes it was very hot. We visited Macaw Mountain, a bird park, just outside of Copán, which housed some incredibly beautiful birds, and the mayan ruins, which is the big attraction in Copán. We had a really fantastic guide who spent three hours walking us through the ruins and explaining the intricacies and meaning behind the carvings and specific building. We also went kayaking down the Río Copán.

We had spiritual adventures as well. We attended a prayer and song service at El Espíritu Santo Iglesia Episcopal in Santa Rita which is a small town just outside of Copán. We were invited by Concepción, who will be ordained as the priest of Espíritu Santo in the coming year. This was a very different spiritual experience for me. The songs were very upbeat, and between each song there would be a prayer. But unlike the prayers that I'm familiar with, these appeared to spontaneous. A different person would lead each prayer, and then everyone in the congregation would join in. But they would join in with prayers of their own, and the room was filled with voices saying individual prayers out loud.  There was something really beautiful about hearing the words that people needed to say in that moment all out loud, overlapping each other.

On Sunday, we returned to Espíritu Santo for church, and that day Lura made history. She not only celebrated the Eucharist IN SPANISH (which is hard. lots of long words), she was the first woman to celebrate the Eucharist in this church.

We met so many people in Copán who were fascinating and so kind. Concepción, who was so welcoming at his church, and took us to see the Aguas Termales. Lorena's niece, Fernanda, took the time out of her morning to show Becky and I around Copán. We met a young man named José, who is 17. He moved to Copán at the age of 11 BY HIMSELF to work and he's been in Copán ever since. That's courage that I can't even fathom.

It was a really wonderful way to begin my time here in Honduras. We're back in San Pedro Sula now and I'm all moved into my apartment. My roommate is still wonderful. We moved Becky into her apartment in Tela yesterday. She's got a really nice beach about three blocks down from her house. I will definitely be visiting. And I start school on Thursday. It turns out that, in addition to my college counseling duties, I will be teaching a few sections of Social Studies. I've been looking over the textbooks and it's pretty interesting stuff. Wish me luck!

Note: I'm trying to figure out how to put photos on here. When I figure it out, there will be photos. Promise. 

Friday, August 2, 2013


I'm here! And so begins my (hopefully more frequent) blogging extravaganza. My last blog post was almost exactly three months ago, which is not surprising to me in the slightest. I do plan on improving my blogging rate while in Honduras. 

Becky and I arrived around noon today without any problems, thankfully, and have spent the afternoon at the Diocesan office. It is connected to the the school where I will be working, so I was able to explore a bit and meet some people who are affiliated with the school. 

I met my new roommate, Rosella, who is a delightful human being. And her apartment. Oh her apartment. It's honestly probably the nicest place I've lived. Pictures to follow.  

I want to give a shout out to two members of my wonderful family, Uncle Phil and Aunt Allein, who were my very first supporters financially and their support is giving me this very first week in San Pedro Sula. Thank you thank you! 

Love love love and peace to all of you beautiful ones