Tuesday, May 21, 2013

sporadic blogging

it feels like not much has been happening in our lives that is "blog worthy" since i returned from honduras. i suppose that is the way life works sometimes, with big, intense waves that leave silence and solace in their wake.

we have been steadily chipping away at house kitchen projects and brandon built a great built-in bench for the dining corner of our kitchen. this, of course, led us to have to find a new table because our other table was much too big to allow both the back door to open and access to the utensils, so each time we needed to get to one or the other we had to hoist the table a foot in the opposite direction. (does anyone else feel like all home projects are essentially variations of the if you give a mouse a cookie book? you can't even consider doing one project without 13 other projects suddenly requiring immediate attention!)

last week i had a training down in denver, so brandon joined me for a little work/leisure trip. while i spent the days being inundated on the techniques of motivational interviewing, he (mostly) kayaked in the whitewater park in golden, co. we also managed to completely fall for golden -- bike paths and great restaurants are everywhere and the life of the city seems to center around the river (and, the coors brewery, but alas...). it was fun to live the "city life" for a bit, but are hearts were both content to return to the quiet of laramie.

now that spring has finally appeared (the first leaves began to sprout on the trees just last week), we are looking ahead to yard improvements. i have my sprouts started for the garden and i'm hoping to get them in the ground about june 1, provided the snow doesn't plan to return. we have ordered sod and brandon is installing a sprinkler system, which will really transform our backyard. there are very few true pleasures in life that come in the form of instant gratification -- laying sod is one of them though!

our plan is to head to the black hills for memorial day weekend, but we just might scratch that in favor of sticking closer to home and tooling around the house.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

complications and imperfections

i can't believe i have been back from honduras for over a month now. it seems like it was just yesterday, even though life in honduras, at least rural honduras, is worlds away from life in the states.

people keep asking how my trip was and it is incredibly hard to summarize with a soundbite.

it was complicated. it was rich and rewarding and it was painful and exhausting. it wasn't always clear that our being there was a good thing and our presence was certainly not without unintended consequences. but alas, this is life and, especially, international aide. 

i have come to learn that some things are just complicated. and we can fight this, we can wrestle it, we can resist it, we can ignore it. or we can acknowledge that very few things are as simple as we wish they would be and work continuously to make these flawed systems slightly less flawless. 

while i was in honduras i was reading Mountains Beyond Mountains, which proved to be perfect timing in terms of challenging my own issues with our trip through the way dr. paul farmer and his international medical service work relentlessly try to serve the poor. this book upset me and gave me hope in humanity all at once. while i highlighted hundreds of quotes from the book, one continues to resonate:  don't let perfect be the enemy of good (p. 160). 

i will admit that i am in that strange space between youthful naiveté and late-twenties/early-thirties bitterness. but one thing i took from this trip is that relationships are the vehicle for lasting, real, meaningful change and that if we focus on perfection, we are only going to be left with emptiness and brokenness. we must do the good we can with those we can reach. 

so with all that posturing and politicizing  here is the true story in pictures. i don't have many pictures of the children, because i don't have a way of making sure they don't mind if i share their faces on the internet. don't be fooled though, there were children everywhere--lack of accesible birth control and 97% catholicism will do that.

driving in tegucigalpa--for one brief second while the shutter opened the roads weren't packed; this was an anomaly.
hospital in la esperanza + recently decommissioned ambulance.
church and gorgeous tree in la esperanza (where we stopped over going in and out of honduras).
THE town of agua salada. literally, this is the whole town: church and school. 
one of the mango trees near my tent. we ate hundreds of mangos over the course of two weeks
and now the ones at home just don't compare.
church doors at the stations of the cross service i attended.
one of the nicer homes in the area.
just to the left of the frame is an incredible garden of the local herbalista.
these rocks were used to grind corn for tortillas, tamales, pupusas, etc.
i wonder how many hours the women of this house have spent using this?
no one has indoor plumbing and few have outdoor plumbing.
everyone has a pit-style toilet outside their home.
and everyone that has ever done any work abroad knows, futbol is the way to relationship.
and perhaps the path to peace? oh no, those post-futbol riots are pretty awful.
we went on many home visits, which were my favorite part of the experience.
we have no concept of hospitality in the US in comparison with the rest of the world--these people have next to nothing and they shared without a second thought.

as you can see, the roads are primitive and steep.
somehow every direction we went from agua salada was uphill. in 100+ degrees. youch.
most people arrived at our clinic after many hours of walking, but a few people came on horseback.

the clinic in operation.
my home for two weeks--the cozy little green tent.
we had a torrential downpour one day that left me stranded at the local school for two hours,
made the nearby road impassible, and soaked many people's things.
fortunately, my little tent held out and i stayed dry through the night.

the market in concepcion,
which was packed full of people and designed for hondurans (i.e., not for people exceeding 5'7")
this dog stood on the edge of this building (?) for hours, just looking out over the people at the market.
i'm not sure how he got up there or planned to get down.
with lots of cattlemen in the country, nearly every booth in the markets sell lassos and rope.
one of the social work students that went on the trip had never been camping,
riden in the back of a pick-up, or been on a horse.
honduras provided each of those experiences for her, which is ironic because those seem like
hallmark wyoming experiences.
this little dude has my heart. for whatever reason he and i hit it off so
wherever i went he wasn't far behind.
one afternoon i made up a card came and taught it to him. we sat and played "two kings" for hours
and then he started teaching it to his friends and family.
when i think about honduras now, i think about him and miss him immensely.
two of the days we were there were leisure days, both spent at waterfalls,
in hopes of escaping the 100+ temps.
this waterfall was just outside concepcion and was fun to sit underneath.
this picture is of one of the translators, demas, enjoying a back massage courtesy of the waterfall.
this was the waterfall we hiked to on our second leisure day.
we sat in the spray of the waterfall for three hours, enjoying the closest thing to air conditioning honduras has to offer. it was glorious!  
on the last night in agua salada we played spoons. all of the men in the community were entranced by the game and many got really into it. who knew spoons could be a way to connect despite language and cultural barriers.
i hope to return to agua salada regularly and to continue to improve our system and process for the betterment of the community. providing medical care is a form of social justice and an "area of moral clarity" (to borrow from dr. paul farmer) in terms of how we must share our wealth with the world. it is a situation “rare in the world, where what ought to be done seems perfectly clear. but the doing [is] always complicated, always difficult” (p. 103).