Thursday, February 12, 2015

HONDURAS UPDATE




I'm in Ocotepeque, Honduras for the week with the Catholic organization Unbound and before I forget--I say become a sponsor of a child or old person pronto!

I'm going to, the minute I return home.

It's unbelievable how much thirty bucks a month means to the folks here who use the money for, among other things, school supplies, food, medicine, clothing, and/or a roof.

I'm going to work up a piece for The Tidings when I return home with more info on the incredible work and spirit of this great organization. Processing the five days I've spent here will take weeks.

On a more personal note, I was holding up quite well till Day Three of non-stop travel, people, and visits. The printed schedule said we were to return to the hotel by 5 at which time I had planned to enjoy a precious hour "to myself" when I could take a much-needed walk. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, and that I was going to have no free time that day whatsoever, and that we were also going to miss Mass, I could feel myself caving. Then I snapped.

"So what time are we going to get back to the hotel?" I keened. "I cannot do this again tomorrow." .

And it was true. I really couldn't have.

What I've learned is that when you say to normal people, "I can't function if I don't have time to myself," what they hear is "I'm a selfish whiner making an unreasonable demand" and what they figure is "Just push the laggard: she'll fall in with the rest of us if she has to."

But I am not kidding. After a certain amount of time with other people I go into mental, emotional, spiritual and nervous-system overload to the point where my system simply crashes. I can't hide my discomfort. I'll become visibly agitated. Then, depending on the situation, I'll get belligerent. And finally, I'll become catatonic. I'll just close my eyes wherever I am and, like one those bugs who rolls themselves into a ball, refuse to participate: in line at the bank, in the middle of a conversation, at your wedding. Heck, at my wedding.

Most people, i.e. extroverts may find it a little extra trouble to be with people for 12, 14, 16 hours a day, but what the hey. In fact, they ENJOY being with people for 12 hours straight. They don't even think about it.

For an introvert like me, 12 hours of people is like running a marathon. You have to practice. You have to prepare and pace yourself. You feel like throwing up halfway through. You stagger through the finish line, if at all, sweating and shaking. Then you collapse and have to recuperate for a few days.

Anyway, at the risk of appearing selfish, weak, and standoffish, I opted out of Afternoon 3 of visits with the people of Honduras. People who suffer extreme poverty, a government that does nothing for them, and hardships unimaginable to a person from the First World.

I got dropped at my hotel and I got to simply lie on my bed and be for an hour. I fell asleep. I woke and had a cup of coffee and then I set out on a walk: to the commercial strip, to the hilly streets above the city, and then down and around again to an area near the church where I wandered about, delighting in the random sights: an old green wooden door, a high adobe wall behind which grew a tree with vibrant orange flowers, a red-tiled roof sprouting air plants.

By this time the sun was setting and I found a low wall and just sat: drinking in the light and the mountains. Smoke drifted. A jacaranda tree bloomed. A man walked by with his young son: Buenas. Buenas. On a telephone wire right above me perched a magnificent bright yellow bird. Black markings. A notched tail. Suddenly it flew spreading its wings to reveal a thrilling expanse of golden chest.

That was when I truly "felt" Honduras: its land, the people I'd met, its beauty, its suffering.







So all was well. That little bit of solitude and inner silence set me right.

The next morning we got to celebrate Mass with the children at Casa Hogar. I sat in the back with three small boys beside me, sharing their hymn sheet. Arlin, the special needs kid, played tambourine.

At the petitionary prayers, one girl prayed for the people who didn't have a roof over their heads like she did, who didn't have food to eat like she did, who didn't have access to an education as she did.

Above the alter hung a crucifix with the lacerated Christ who these children knew well.

At the Sign of Peace, they circulated: smiling, touching, embracing us.

The whole trip would have been worth that one half-hour--and my time with the bird.



ARLIN (SEE PREVIOUS POST) WITH HIS TAMBOURINE
WAITING FOR MASS TO BEGIN.
HIS TIMING AND RHYTHM WERE GENIUS.
A THOUSAND THANKS TO THE UNBOUND STAFF IN OCOTOPEQUE: HENRY, MIRIAM, LUIS,
NOE, NARESLI, CLAUDIA, AND THE GREAT MAYRON;
TO ELIZABETH AND BECKY, HIGHER-UPS FROM UNBOUND HQ IN KANSAS CITY;
TO MY CO-JOURNALISTS JD, LIZ, AND SARAH, AND
TO THE CHILDREN OF CASA HOGAR



12 comments:

  1. Heather, it's a Great Kiskadee [Pitangus sulphuratus] http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/great_kiskadee/id

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    1. Michael. I can always count on you! The birds and flora here are incredible. Many were familiar to a Los Angeleno but there were lots of new ones. Including varieties of aloe. hibiscus and succulents I've never seen. I went back last night to look for the great kiskadee but he wasn't there...thanks for the ID.

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    2. You wouldn't believe how many birders go to Honduras.

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  2. As an introvert, I completely understand you. Though I love being with people, it's when I'm alone afterwards that I can process everything to appreciate them fully.

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  3. My family has sponsored a child from Chili through Unbound (formally CFCA) for several years. It has been wonderful to write regularly to him, share pictures and pray for him and his family every day.

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    1. We got to visit a bunch of the sponsored kids and they are SO GRATEFUL for their padrinos and the love when they get a letter from them. Good for your family, Diane.

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  5. How wonderful to read your words about being an introvert and the solitude we require. I've never seen my own situation worded so accurately as you put it, and it's good to know I'm not alone.

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  6. Thank you fellow introverts! I can't really "feel" a place till I've been outside in it: hearing the birds, observing the clouds, inhaling the smell of the streets. I can't wait to get home and truly process/start writing about my time in Honduras and the work of Unbound. Also to have a Starbucks.

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  7. Heather, I'm technically an extrovert, ENFJ on the Myers Briggs, but I get what you are saying about down time COMPLETELY. Many, many years ago when I was falling apart and distressed that I couldn't take excellent care of others, I had a psychiatrist say to me. "If you don't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone also. So, so true.

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  8. As a fellow introvert, Heather, I understand completely! And it reminds me of Anne Morrow Lindbergh's "Gift from the Sea," where she writes the following:

    "The world today does not understand, in either man or woman, the need to be alone. How inexplicable it seems. Anything else will be accepted as a better excuse. If one sets aside time for a business appointment, a trip to the hairdresser, a social engagement or a shopping expedition, that time is accepted as inviolable. But if one says: I cannot come because that is my hour to be alone, one is considered rude, egotistical or strange. What a commentary on our civilization, when being alone is considered suspect; when one has to apologize for it, make excuses, hide the fact that one practices it—like a secret vice!

    Actually these are among the most important times in one’s life—when one is alone. Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone. The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician, to compose; the saint, to pray. But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be in the indispensable center of a whole web of human relationships."

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I WELCOME your comments!!!