May 20, 2016 by Heather
Andrew travelled to Honduras back in February to do some preliminary research for his dissertation topic. He is researching/writing about their education system, so he toured some schools and talked to a couple teachers who he will be interviewing for his paper. He absolutely loved it there, to the point where one night during his trip we were Facetiming and I told him he had to come home, I’m sorry, but he didn’t have a choice.
Andrew’s dad, Dan, has been a missionary there for the past five years, going into villages and teaching people better ways to grow their crops, while also doing Bible studies and giving the people there opportunities to enhance their quality of life by raising animals, building stoves, and learning to read. He spends about half the year there, typically being there for 3 weeks and then home for 3 weeks. Dan, if you’re reading this, I apologize if I’ve completely botched your job description. Feel free to comment with any amendments.
Andrew really wanted me to visit Honduras with him so I could experience what he experienced, because he just loved it so much. How could I say no to that? Thanks to our amazing and wonderful parents who pulled off the biggest grandbaby-sitting heist ever, we were able to take some time off from our ordinary lives and spend four days in Copan Ruinas.
We woke up and walked across the square to Cafe Welchez, where we wound up going every single morning, and where I always got the exact same thing: a cappuccino and a waffle. Dan and Andrew made lots of fun of me for this, but I don’t even care. Andrew and I walked just outside of town to the Mayan Ruins, where we spent the day with a very informative tour guide who knew just enough English to laugh at all of my jokes. His name was Fidel, and boy did he know his stuff. We even ate lunch with him, and then on our walk back home we saw him using the bathroom up ahead of us by the sidewalk next to a fence, so we did a quick about-face and walked in the opposite direction for a few minutes until he finished. (“Andrew! Andrew! That’s Fidel peeing up there! Ohmygoshhurryturnaroundturnaround!!!”) So that was interesting.
We rode on motorcycles with Dan and one of his workers to a rural village about an hour away where they were having a reading/writing workshop for the day. I very nearly crushed all of Dan’s ribs on the way there, but in my defense, the terrain was rather, um, rough. We spent a couple of hours there, listening to the workshop, looking at their crops, and getting to go inside a couple of their houses. I had never seen firsthand that kind of poverty, and I’m not gonna lie, it slapped me across my greedy entitled face in a major way. I wrote this in my notebook while we were there:
I walk into the house, they have no corn. I had a waffle this morning. With bacon.
Outside the house their water spigot is broken. I wait until I am not in sight of it to take a drink from my water bottle.
I walk back to the schoolhouse where grown adults are learning the alphabet, and I sit down and write this.
This day was the first of two days where Heather had her priorities, wants, needs, thoughts, and feelings all thrown into a salad spinner and shaken around and then tossed in a big bowl with some very uncomfortable tongs. I am still wrestling with it, and it may take some time to unpack and sort out. Suffice to say, I will not be the same because of this day.
That afternoon, Andrew and I climbed a very very very steep hill to take a tour of the Mayatan Bilingual School there in Copan Ruinas, a very beautiful place full of bright faces who are eager to learn and are receiving a top notch education. Andrew has developed a friendship with an administrator there, so we spent some time talking to him. He recommended we visit a tea shop there in town, which is just what we did next. Oh my goodness, this tea shop. I think it’s actually called The Tea and Chocolate Shop, maybe. It was so nice, and we had such a relaxing time sipping tea (me) and hot chocolate (Andrew).
We began the day again on motorcycles, this time riding across the border into Guatemala to visit a mountain village there. The trip was a little longer this time, and whatever ribs Dan had left intact from the day before received even further crushing (sorry about that). We rode up a really tall mountain on a really rocky road, and all I can say is I’m just so glad Andrew experienced it too so I don’t have to try to explain it to him because he’d never believe me.
We visited a family who Dan has been working with for some time, and it was so sad. They can’t grow anything because of a drought, and it doesn’t look like things will be improving anytime soon. The children were precious, just precious, and it completely broke my heart. I cried the whole way down the mountain. The situation seems hopeless and unfair, and well, sometimes things just don’t make sense, you know?
I’m not sure what to make of it all, or how we can help, but I’m praying, and I know God is on that mountain, and we’re trying to figure out how we can do something, anything. Of course my first instinct is to cart up a big truck of corn and chicken and beans and water to feed them for a couple months, but in the long run, does that truly help them? It’s hard to know what to do, but I admire my father-in-law and the people he works with for trying to figure it out.
On the way back to Honduras we stopped and had lunch with another missionary, and then that afternoon we had coffee with one of the teachers Andrew will be interviewing for his dissertation. Her husband works for Dan and they have two little boys, just like us.
This was our free day. We slept in a tiny bit, had breakfast (cappuccino and a waffle, one last time!), and then went our separate ways. Andrew went with his dad to do some work, and I strolled around the town, picked up a few souvenirs, walked around different food markets, then went back to our room and read for a while (ironic book of choice to bring on the trip: Seven by Jen Hatmaker). We met back up for lunch and went around and tried some street food, which was fun. That afternoon Andrew went for a long run, because he is crazy, so I read some more and then went for a long walk around town, eventually getting myself lost and having to ride a tuk-tuk back to the hotel, because I am very well-travelled and savvy like that.
We had dinner at the same place we went to the first night and had a good talk about what all we had done and observed. Andrew is hoping to start helping his dad with a new adult education project in the near future, so we discussed that some. Then we woke up super early the next morning, rode three hours on some super curvy roads with some super crazy traffic, boarded a plane in the Murder Capital of the World, and came back home to the good ol’ Estados Unidos.
What an incredible adventure! I learned a lot, and I am so grateful Andrew and I were able to experience it together. It is definitely something we will never forget.