Shorts

No, I am not wearing short pants. It’s unseasonably cold in Louisiana. We’re having days  upon days of subfreezing night temperatures. I am speaking of short bits of information that I will write about in this space.

  • I finished a Shutterfly book this week about my father’s family. I wrote about my family’s arrival to the New World in the early 1700s to the present. Lots of pictures of my modern ancestors kept it fresh.  I will try to flesh out a few stories into blog-worthy posts in the next several weeks. Especially intriguing are the stories about my ancestor whose first name was a derivative of the word, Bear. Ursin, from the Latin, Ursa, was bearish in his pursuits, accomplishments and appetites.
  • Since the weather has been unseasonably cold, I took the opportunity to read a bit. Three books captivated my interest.
  • White Like Her: My Family’s Story of Race and Racial Passing by Gail Lukasik is not the best-written book. However the subject was intriguing and it was well-researched. The story is about a woman who left New Orleans with a black identity and white skin, married into a white family, and forever left her black roots behind. At least she did until she died. Her daughter tells an intriguing story of New Orleans society, where the one-drop rule kept otherwise white-looking people forever in the colored/black social class. Thanks, Carol King, for the tip on a good read.
  • The Girl with Seven Names: Escape from North Korea by Hyeonseo Lee and David John was a gripping tale of a girl who, at first, left North Korea for a few days lark, but could never return. Her story makes one wish fervently for the overthrow of the North Korean regime. Thanks for the suggestion, Michael Dickson. 
  • You Were Born For This: 7 Keys to a life of Predictable Miracles by Bruce Wilkinson and David Kopp is a book I haven’t completed yet. The premise is that we all experience nudges from God to do sometimes simple things that have great impact. Here’s an excerpt:

    We’re never more fully alive and complete than when we experience God working through us and in spite of us in a way that changes someone’s life right before our eyes Nothing compares to the wonder of seeing God’s goodness and glory break through – and knowing we played a part in it. p 26

That’s a wrap for this post. Stay warm. And don’t forget to wait on God for nudges to bring forth a miracle in someone’s life.

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The White Flower

MargueriteToday’s post is a repeat of a post I wrote in 2012 when I lived in Honduras. 

Yesterday, a little girl named Marta handed a flower to me. At first, I demurred. My hands were full, literally, as I served plates of beans, eggs, and other goodies.

I passed her by a few minutes later to distribute fruit to children as they exited the building. Her hopeful face scanned mine, and then her eyes fell. I hadn’t taken the flower she had in her hand.

Then I stopped. I took her flower, tucked it into the side of my headband, and hugged and kissed her. Marta is like a daughter to me. I love her dearly. I am the closest thing she has to a mom, as her mom is occupied with working constantly to support their large family.

Without our help, Marta and her siblings would be far hungrier than they are now. Marta has received clothes, shoes, a school bag and other school supplies. Most days I don’t have time to read the Bible to her. And really, I don’t need to use words. She knows the love of God and of our team through our actions.

Yesterday afternoon, I was bombarded with other concerns after I tucked the flower behind my ear. Someone has stolen the water meter and connection to my house. Therefore, I had no water. With our level of bureaucratic nonsense, I can’t say for sure when it will be replaced. In addition, I had multiple demands on my time: a sick child in the hospital, a patient at our nearby clinic needing transportation, a woman needing comfort over a husband who was shot at work. (He is home, thank God, having suffered mainly superficial wounds.)

On the way home, I stopped to buy five gallon containers of water. As I lifted the bottles of water, I touched the flower. Yes, my life is sometimes one big headache. Honduras is a violent, crime-ridden place. Hunger, robbery, shootings, even murders are a daily backdrop of my life here.

My little flower is battered and just about done for. But the hope it represents! That’s the reason I am where I am, doing what I do, loving whom I love.

So we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfailing grace. . . there’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18, The Message Bible. 

This post was from 2012. My little friend eventually left our ministry, mainly because I encouraged her to receive the meals, education, uniforms, etc., that she was receiving through the work of a local Catholic charity. Her family was indeed one of the poorest in our neighborhood, and the Catholic charity there was doing an excellent work meeting the needs of her large family. 

2017 Favorites

 

I put together just a few of my favorite photographs from 2017. Some are places I visited this year. I have a few from Nicaragua, Honduras, Florida and Mississippi.  Some are from ’round here in Louisiana.

In the spirit of Advent, i.e. waiting for good things to come, I will share good stuff happening here and far.

  1. The political crisis in Honduras is not over, but by and large the country is relatively calm. Protests are centered in the big cities.  A consensus in forming in the national and international arena to hold a new election. A new election without the usual corruption and ballot stuffing would be welcomed by the Hondura people. I applaud them, not for violent demonstrations, but for the will to see a change in the status quo of corrupt elections.
  2. In January I visited Honduras, the first time I went back there since I moved to the US over 3 years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing old friends. My humble little project is prospering and increasing in it scope and effectiveness in helping children in poverty. Soon, they will move into a large new building.
  3. I moved into a smaller and cuter house than I had before. You can view it in the pictures below. I love my little cottage. I have good neighbors, mostly squirrels, rabbits and birds, although my human neighbors are nice, too.
  4. I enjoyed my trip to Nicaragua last month. As we wait during the advent season in anticipation of the birth of Jesus, I am encouraged by the people I met in Nicaragua who are working for a better society there. They are waiting, too, but actively waiting, for good things to come.
  5. My mother finally gave up driving. She’s mostly blind, but she was stubbornly hanging on to the car keys. After an accident (no one hurt thank God!) she was dropped from her insurance company. She conceded. We all are grateful.

What’s happening in your life that’s good? Share if you like.

 

 

Caution: Be Alert, Shelter in Place

word cloudI confess. Somewhat shamefacedly, I confess to clicking on Facebook quizzes. However, I don’t publish the results. I have my standards. Just look, don’t publish.  This quiz, the word cloud, supposedly captures my most used words on Facebook.

As anyone can see, Honduras is smack dab in the middle. It’s definitely in the middle of my thoughts the past few days. I bought my airline ticket last week for a trip to Honduras to begin in the middle of January and end on Fat Tuesday.

It’s almost certain there will be civil disturbances in Honduras when I travel there. The presidential election results are being disputed by the opposition party. There have been massive protests. The OAS (Organization of American States) has called for a new election due to obvious voting and ballot counting irregularities resulting in the incumbent declaring himself a dubious winner of the vote.

This is the warning from the US State Department affecting the city where I will fly to, although it’s not where I plan on staying. It urges citizens to postpone or cancel unnecessary travel to mainland Honduras. I am going to give this serious thought today.

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Cortes Department: Shelter in Place

As result of escalating protests and violence relating to an election dispute, the U.S. Embassy has ordered its personnel in the Honduran Department of Cortes (including the city of San Pedro Sula) to shelter in place until further notice. U.S. citizen visitors and residents are encouraged to take similar precautions.

U.S. Citizens who plan to travel to Honduras or are currently in Honduras should review the Honduras Travel Alert, issued on December 6th which urges U.S. Citizens to postpone or cancel unnecessary travel to mainland Honduras.

Dead ducks quack

This tale is part of an occasional series on my father’s family. 

ducks and dadDid you know that you can make a dead duck quack? If you press on the chest, a duck will quack. When I was a little girl, I used to help my father with dressing ducks after he returned from a shoot. My job was simple: pull the feathers off. My dad took care of the heads, feet and splitting of the carcasses. Mama’s job was to make gumbo or jambalaya with the end product.

I don’t recall being disgusted by this process. In fact, it was enjoyable. I remember the beautiful mallards, wood and poule d’eau ducks that daddy brought home in a bulging,  brown sack. I never went on the hunt. I wasn’t disallowed. I never had the desire to shoot ducks. No, my job was to wait for dad to come home with a big sack bulging with freshly killed ducks.

When daddy came home from a hunt, he carefully laid out his kill. He usually wanted a picture of his trophies. Most times, he hunted with his father or an older brother. The men would stand  or kneel with the ducks, posing  for the camera.

Then came the fun part. A few presses to the chest before beginning was the best part. The ducks moved reflexively to the touch, letting out a good quack with a push on the chest. After a few good quacks, I set to work, pulling feathers. We didn’t keep the feathers, although I know some people used them to make bedding. I sometimes kept a few feathers as souvenirs but truth be told, the feathers had sharp ends. After a few days, I generally discarded my trophies.

My father was not a learned man.  He graduated from high school with some difficulty due to an undiagnosed spelling and writing problem that today would be labeled as dyslexia. After high school, he attended  trade school to be a diesel mechanic. Whatever his deficits were in learning and schooling, he was an expert teacher.

I learned a lot from my dad. Even something as trivial as cleaning ducks, my father turned it into a learning experience. I learned about the different types of feathers on the body of a duck, the differing types of ducks, which ducks were prized and which were not. I learned what the limits were as set by the state of Louisiana.

My dad made a simple task like this quite fun. Instead of being repulsed by the dead animals or being put out since he often needed help during Saturday morning cartoon time, I enjoyed helping him. I probably did a terrible job when I was very young, but I cannot recall one time being corrected severely or made to feel inferior. However badly I did the job, my dad found room to coach me how to do it a little better next time. Except for an occasional reprimand when I became distracted by making the ducks quack, I can’t recall any negativity.

If my dad were alive, he would be 85 this month on Christmas Eve. He would be greatly surprised that I consider him to be a good teacher, given his lack of credentials. Yet, I do. He taught me quite a bit about any number of subjects, whether it was dressing ducks, motor repairs, or getting along with people. That’s not something to quack about.

Thanks Dad.

 

Free, Free At Last

eye drops glaucoma
Free, Free At Last, Thank God Almighty

Yesterday, I saw my eye doctor. He told me I can stop using eye drops for glaucoma. The pressure in both eyes are normal  I had two surgeries in the fall to relieve the eye pressure as well as correct a blockage in the right eye.

Surgery is such a loaded word. Laser surgery on the eyes is quick and almost pain-free. The entire process takes less than thirty minutes. I had two procedures, one on each eye in separate visits.

This fall, I felt trapped as I needed to schedule surgeries. My eye pressure was sky-high, I had a blockage in one eye, and the beginning of damage to eyesight in the right eye. It wasn’t a good time to stray far from a good eye doctor.

Now I am free to move about the country or even beyond my country. Currently I have no set job. I am  tutoring students privately. Mostly foreigners seeking to improve their English, or conversely, English speakers seeking to improve their Spanish.

In  January 2018 I will be in one of two places. Will I go to Siguatepeque, Honduras? Or San Jose, Costa Rica? Both offer schools to improve my rudimentary Spanish skills.

Siguatepeque is a charming village in the heart of Honduras, at a comfortable altitude and a comfortable distance from the violence and political unrest of the major cities. The school is not as good as most but I know the people to be good and honest.

The school in San Jose has an old and solid reputation for helping gringos (and gringas) speak the language. The school in Costa Rica needs an answer this week.. They have schedules and rules. And, they want more money than the school in Honduras.

Why do I want to learn more Spanish?  I want to start a new mission somewhere. Probably, it will be in Siguatepeque, Honduras, or Managua, Nicaragua. Wherever I go next, I need to be in a place where I have a sense of community. In a word, friends.

Okay. It’s your turn, you dozen or so readers out there. Comments appreciated on where I should go. After all, I am free, free at last. Thank God Almighty.