Real contentment has nothing to do with either prosperity or poverty. Contentment is an inside job, the result of knowing God and living life against the backdrop of eternity.

Monday, December 6, 2010

murry chrimus

Life is still phenomenal here in Roatan. We've been busy at work, busting out exams and study guides for our checkout list before we all head "home" for the holidays. The school had it's annual Christmas play last Friday. Here is the manger: (please notice the toucan, turtles, frogs and pond. Only in Honduras. It's love)

Also dressed up as Mrs. Claus. I know, you're shocked.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

holy guatemala

Antigua. Ah, bliss. What a glorious place to spend Thanksgiving. Somewhere between riding horses up active volcanoes, roasting marshmallows over lava, getting hair wraps and buying pounds of fresh fruit for 5 Quetzals/lb (roughly $.60) we could not stop marveling at the colorful architecture, smiling beautiful Guatemalan faces and the rich culture that engulfed the cobblestone streets.

So Kelly, Kelly and I got hair wraps like 7 year olds. Mine is brown, white and teal. It looks like an iguana tail and Zach thinks it looks like a salad finger. JAJAJAJA

The view of the mountains and volcanos that surround the city

Loads of fresh produce at the market, we couldn't get enough. Just so many raisins and pinas and dates and goodness.

Volcano jumping, view from the roof of the hostel and epic horseback riding shot - elevation: 7,000 ft.

I absolutely adored this woman. She gave us chocolate covered coffee beans and chocolate truffles and called us her "loves" and smiled like there would be no tomorrow and if I go back to Antigua, I will find her and take her home with me. The end.

Things I've learned lately:
1. Take every opportunity
2. Hitchhike ALL the time
3. If some random guy named Benecio invites you over to his house, just go.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

adventure to wherever we end up

12:13pm. Saturday November 6th. I receive a phone call.
John: Let's go to St. Helene's. We'll find a boat and a place to stay once we get there.
Me: Let me pack and I'll be there in 15.

The 4 x 4 square mile island lies at the very east end of Roatan where electricity only resides with those able to afford a generator. We taxied to Oak Ridge, met a man named Alex who boated us for about an hour and a half over to St. Helene's. We arrived to meet a man named Oddlon, a great friend of Alex's. He had long gray and white dreadlocks that flowed down his back and reminded me of a character out of a movie. Thanks to our pastor Jeremy, we had a connection with a missionary living there. His name is Larry Benson. I bought a homemade tortoise shell bracelet from Oddlon and then we headed up the only dirt "road" on the island to find shelter for the night. Larry and his crew of nurses and teachers warmly welcomed us in and then we were on the hunt for food. We waited for about an hour at the only food stand. It was WELL worth the wait. Fried plantains, fish, Caribbean island chicken, carrots, potatoes, and coconut beans and rice. It was the JAM.

Sunday we explored the island in it's entirety and met some wonderful natives along the way. The North and South sides of the island were filled with beautiful beaches, trees, and children. We got lost in the jungle, climbed coral mountains, met a 20 year old talking parrot, named our tour guide puppy Samson, played dominoes with the locals in a tree house and almost missed our ride back to Roatan.

In America, we value time. Time is money. Am I right? What I have learned about this culture is that the people value relationships more than just about anything else. I love it. Every opportunity that John and I were given this weekend was through some sort of friend connection. One of the natives, Kennedy, offered us a ride back to Roatan on Sunday. The cell phone tower ran out of gas so our signals were down and we were afraid he had already left us. We were wrong. He knew how to take care of us. We waited in the pitch black darkness on the end of a dock to be picked up by a small motor boat with no covering AND NO LIGHT. About 6 men were with us, all covered in trash bags. We picked up speed, the sky opened up and dumped her cold rain upon us as we jetted through the mangroves and into the night. We met a man named Stewart from Jamaica who offered us a ride home once we reached Oak Ridge AND a tour of his fishing plant in French Harbour. I LOVE THESE PEOPLE.

First, love all people. Second, sleep on beautiful beaches. Third, say yes to all adventures. CHEQUE

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Please check out the link below to help support a family here in Los Fuertes.



Friday, October 29, 2010

friday morning lights

My old Bible study leader used to tell us that her prayer for us was that we would grow closer to the Lord each and every day. I love that prayer. But what does it really mean? GROW CLOSER. You can interpret it differently, for sure. I think that one way I feel closer to God is when I am consistently seeking his truth and will for my life which, is phenomenal and all but sometimes I get so caught up in the future that I completely forget what is happening here and now. Yes, I believe that goals are important. Big dreams are necessary. Prayers are essential. And I fail all of the time. I fail my friends, I fail my family, and I fail my students. BUT! I am learning. I am still learning after all of these years. Thank you Lord for your patience, I REALLY appreciate it. I also really want to be a great teacher and this past quarter has been muy interesante. I sometimes feel like I have NO idea what the hay I am doing and as I reflect on the past few months, I think of a lot of things I can definitely work on as an individual, teacher, friend and peer. More planning, less distractions. More love, less frustrations. More giving, less receiving. More laughing, less screaming. An opportunity is defined as: a situation or condition favorable for attainment of a goal. The large corporation I used to work for described your "weaknesses" as "opportunities." I want to make sure that I am constantly striving to improve my "opportunities," and use every opportunity that I am presented with as a chance to shine for His glory.


"It's not about perfection; it's about our intimacy with God, our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, flawed, broken; those kinds of things are the ingredients of spirituality." 
[Mike Yaconelli]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

where the skies are so blue

Tropical storm Richard came and left on Sunday morning and fortunately did not cause too much damage or destruction here in Roatan. The power was out for the day, there were some downed power lines, debris and lots of seaweed. We headed to West End to meet up with some friends later in the afternoon and brought back a few to eat some of Amber's delicious homemade chili in the dark. We sat around candles and talked with our new amigos and when the power came back on around 9pm, there were victory dances to be had by everyone.

Monday we didn't have school and we woke up to the most beautiful day. 84 degrees, bright blue skies and no clouds. GLORY!! I believe yesterday was the first day in October that it didn't rain. The guys headed to climb big rocks and do manly things in the East End and the girls decided to walk to the gorgeous West Bay, which ends up taking about an hour. We trudged through some thick mud, Ali almost lost her sandals and Amber about face planted in the thigh-high seaweed dirt masses. HILARIOUSSSS!!

Man I love me some vitamin D. This week our students have half days at school as a result of their quarter exams. Where the junk did October go??!! Time is flying by!! And what should I be for Halloweeeeen....

I hear the Panthers finally won on Sunday.


Saturday, October 23, 2010

en route to... venezuela.

I love unforgettable Fridays. We strolled into school ready to start the beautiful day only to witness our Cafeteria chef beating said rat (see previous post) with a baseball bat, killing it in front of the audience of about 30 ninos y maestros. It was actually hilarious. Poured all day, per usual, and then the girlies had a home volleyball game. They were victorious in their efforts and it was an exciting competition.

Jaime drove the bus filled with screaming 6th graders over to the Alvarado's beautiful home on their own private beach to roast marshmallows, play more volleyball, worship and get to know our children during youth group. It was amazing. Harrison taught them how to make a proper s'mores (pronounced shhmore) which, they had never done before! We played some futbol and watched the sun set before Erin spoke to the group about the Samaritan woman at the well. She did an absolutely phenomenal job and really connected with the audience. Love her!

We headed over to Joseph's glamourous crib to hang out with the Roatan Rotary, eat pizza and devour some delicioso Garifuna chocolate pudding cake. We met his fabulous daughter Janette who was celebrating her birthday. John, Kelly and I decided to venture out to French Harbour to explore the nighttime social activities later on. As we were finishing our popcorn and walking down to the road to catch a taxi, we hitched a ride from 2 extremely generous Venezuelans who were also hitting the town. Danny and Alex were their names, cousins traveling together and had only been in Roatan for a day. They drove us to ROA and then we decided to head to West End, where the real party was. Every person we have met thus far during our time here on the island, was at this bar. We had a blast dancing and getting to know our newly found amigos. I also met a very nice group of people from Israel. I LOVE NEW FRIENDS. SUCCESS.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

rat a tat tat

Totally about to gank some thunder from K. Swope (HAPPY 22nd CHICA!!) because I love her 1st graders. She decided it would be a phenomenal idea to catch some tadpoles from our puddles of rain near our casa and bring them to class to watch them grow. She is such a wonderful teacher. They decided to name the 5 little guys:

1. The little mermaid
2. Megaplaza (a shopping mall near our school)
3. Chuck
4. Umberto
5. Brownie


I am also on a mission to find one of these for my sister, Katie, who wants one for Christmas:

I guess I will be climbing some trees.

We received some cray cray news today from our Academic Coordinator (Principal for all you Amuuricaaans) Nina. Apparently there is an epidemic of leptospirosis currently spreading through Nicaragua and Central America is taking necessary precautions. Our school has a pequeno mice and rat problema so they are investigating tonight, deciding if the issue is large enough to consider fumigation and if so, school will be cancelled for a few days. Hello anti-bacterial soap and lysol.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

i love exploding dog

all my homies

The Lord gave me 7 special gifts a few months ago.

E Peezy, K deezy, Harry J, Z Stanke, Ali, Amba J y Dr. John.

They are THE BOMB.

God knew what he was doing when he handpicked each one of us to be here in Roatan for the year.

From Donald Miller's bloggy blog:

"Dr. Dean Ornish is a heart surgeon and has done extensive research involving heart health. His findings were surprising. What is most important to heart health, according to Ornish, is community. That’s right…other people. Patients who suffered from a heart attack were more likely to recover if they had a dog, and also if they were in a good marriage, and then also if they were part of a close-knit community. They could also take medicine, but the medicine helped about as much as the community, Ornish found. In other words, we were designed to work best when we were in loving relationships.

It’s no wonder that so much of Scripture is addressed to groups. We were designed to live in community."

We grow together. We cry together. We spray bug spray on each other. We cook together. We laugh ALL THE TIME together. I don't get sick of these people. I use their stuff like it is mine. We fold each others laundry. We sing and dance together. We wax together. (jajajaja) We encourage each other. We pray together. We ride deep in tailgates together.

I am obsessed with my community. Are you?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

hurricane party

Well, Hurricane Paula was coming to party on Roatan but she decided to skip up to the Yucatan Peninsula instead. Hooray! School was cancelled today because of the warnings and it was such a blessing because we all had LOTS of work to get done for our quarter tests coming up. Exciting times in Sandy Bay. It would also be exciting if I had some sort of word processing suite on my mac to make decent study guides. Note to self: buy Microsoft word ASAP.

Some lyrics to a song by have hit me pretty hard as of late, thought I would share:

Why are you striving, these days?
Why are you trying, to earn grace?
Why are you looking, for love?
Why are you still searching, as if I'm not enough?
Please don't fight
These hands that are holding you

I am finding that I seem to always be on a constant quest and search for something new, something exciting, something worthy of my attention. I am usually seeking adventures, seeking experiences and I am usually not satisfied. I am a happy and joyful human being, but I never seem to be content. I find this to be somewhat of a selfish quality. Yes, seeking new thrills and finding hidden treasures is lovely and wonderful. I believe that the Lord gave us these tiny and beautiful minds for a reason, so we could not simply wrap them around the unfathomable awesomeness of His creation and be content. He gave us curiosity, a thirst for truth and goodness, inquisitive minds that are always asking "WHY?" or maybe more like "WHAT THE JUNK??" At least he did me.

epic fail photos - Petting Zoo FAIL

Paul explains to us in Philippians 4:12 that: He knows what it is to be in need, and he knows what it is to have plenty. He has learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Jeremiah 29:13 says: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart."
Amos 5:4 says: "Seek me, and LIVE."
Psalm 27:8 says: "My heart says of you, "Seek His face!" Your face, Lord, I shall seek."
1 Chronicles 16:11 says: "Look to the Lord and His strength, seek His face always..."
Isaiah 1:17 says: "Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow."

The word "seek" is used approximately 244 times in the Bible.

No wonder we are constantly seeking. Although, my seeking is not always Godly. It is too often for earthly and material possessions, here and now moments, the Thai peanut bowl at the Noodle Shack, attention from boys and the approval of human beings.

Time to sneak a peek seek inside my heart and dump the trash.

Thank you Lord that your steadfast love is never ending and your mercies are new every morning. [Lamentations 3:22]

Our morning sunrise.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

motivate me

I love quotes. I have a running document of about 104 pages of quotes I have collected since high school. I keep this document on my desktop and I look at it frequently. Sharing! (a few) Happy hump day.

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." -jack kerouac

Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and the unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. -Bertrand Russell

It's not about perfection; it's about our intimacy with God, or our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, flawed, broken; those kinds of things are the ingredients of spirituality. 
- Mike Yaconelli

Do the common things in life in an uncommon way. -Washington Carver

Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you; their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day, make your lives extraordinary. -Dead Poet's Society

Daniel Webster, the great American statesman who was considered by many to be the brightest man of his generation, was once asked, “what is the greatest thought you have ever contemplated? he replied, “the greatest thought I have ever had and the most important thing I have ever learned is that I am personally accountable to the God of all Creation. Imagine that! You and I (and every other person) will one day face the One who spoke the universe into existence, the One to whom we owe life itself. What an awesome thought, and what a motivation to live the right life, think the right thoughts, and speak the right words and do the right things.

Monday, October 4, 2010

somebody to love

I can't believe it's already October. Fall is in the air and the rainy season has officially begun which leaves the temperature a delightful 75 degrees during the day. I'm ready for some pumpkin bread. School is in full swing after all of our parades and days off and hurricane scares. I hope my students are having as much fun as I've been having. Casey, one of my 7th graders, gave me a big hug yesterday when he received his test on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He got a 92. I am currently working with my classes on public speaking and oral presentations; they are going to be pros once I am done with them. I love the freedom the school gives us. If I want to spend a week on Edgar Allen Poe or Taebo, I can do so.

Recently, the other teachers and I have been blessed with a plethora of opportunities to serve in and around our community. We don't want to run ourselves ragged so we've trying to decide where we want to spend our time. There is an ESL school for adults down the road and a few of us have taught there in the evening time after school, which has been humbling. My roommate Amber and I have decided to help lead worship at Rchurch in West Bay, WE ARE SO EXCITED!! She will be singing and I will be playing the guitar. What an amazing opportunity to use our gifts for the Lord. We met a man named Joseph last week who has an incredible story. His non-profit organization, helps those who have been rescued from the underground drug and sex trafficking businesses here on the island. He has built some phenomenal relationships here that have allowed him to work very closely with the community and we are hoping to plug into the vocational training his ministry supplies to the rescued individuals. His heart is HUGE and I can't wait to start helping.

A monkey who takes care of kittens in Brick Bay.

Kelly and I went exploring in Coxenhole last Saturday and met a homeless man while we were sitting by the water. We offered to buy him some food but his plea ended in frustration and anger, leaving a chair knocked over and Kelly and I in a taxi on our way back home. I've never felt any imminent threats here, I feel very safe in Sandy Bay where we live. I am now starting to realize some of the dangers here and the drug problems and poverty are more noticeable.

Food for thought: If we want to enjoy the people in our lives, we need to be patient with their progress. We must allow for their growth and development. And there's no such thing as a perfect adult. If you demand perfection of the people in your life in order to enjoy them, you're going to be miserable for the rest of your life. Nobody's perfect.

Jams of the week:
Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (anything from this album)
Kings of Leon - Radioactive
Cloud Cult - No one said it would be easy
Temper Trap - Sweet disposition

Monday, September 20, 2010


Probably one of the best international weekends I've had thus far on my journey. Honduran Independence Day was last Wednesday and the kids at school have been practicing for the parade for weeks. We marched around French Harbour with the band, baton twirlers, flag holders and Miss Honduras. We left on the ferry to La Ceiba later in the afternoon and arrived at Michael and Sarah's house to stay the night. We had an amazing spaghetti dinner with fresh avocados, cucumbers, bean soup, chocolate cake and horchata. We decided to hit the town and ended up at a karaoke bar filled with discoballs and a sweet dance floor. Harry sang some Enrique Inglesias, the girlies sang Beyonce and Zach sang Coolio. Very typical. Slept on some yoga mats until our alarms rang at 4am.

We walked through some sketchy woods to the highway and then to the bus station. Boarded our bus to Copan. Layover in San Pedro Sula. Decided to check out the city. Language barriers and misunderstanding lead our taxi driver to believe that we wanted to go to the "supermercado" instead of the market downtown. We ended up grocery shopping and drinking coffee and eating smoothies during our time in San Pedro. I couldn't stop laughing. Arrived to Copan around 5 and checked into our hostel, Carrillo, located about 2 blocks from central park. For $5 a day, it was very nice with HOT SHOWERS. WHATTTT!!! We ordered 4 pizzas at a place called Milo's between the 7 of us and finished every last piece. We found a nice coffee shop/book exchange and then meandered over to a wine bar down the street. We met some travelers, played hacky sack, and invited them along for the ride. We ended up dancing the night away and learning how to "punta" from some of the local Hondurans. We chatted on the roof of our hostel with candles since the power was out.

Woke up on Friday morning and headed over to the Mayan Ruins where we hiked around for a few hours and of course, played hacky sack in the casa court. The ruins were phenomenal, some dating back to 300 BC. John decided to feed the parrots out of his mouth; he provided most of the entertainment for our trip. We were starving and found a cheap local place called Tipicos where we ordered like kings for about $1 each. Nachos, HUGE burritos, quesadillas, fried plantains with beans and queso, and strawberry juice. We immediately decided to take a 3 hour horse riding tour of Copan which, was not the best idea after indulging in copious amounts of comida. Trekked up the mountain to a mud hut village where we were swarmed by children selling corn husk flower bouquets and dolls.

The guides Margarito and Juan Carlos were in extremely good shape; they ran beside the horses with us for the entirety of our trip. We headed back to shower before the power went out again, made our way to central park to eat dessert and tacos for dinner. We found a restaurant and bar called ViaVia, mostly with gringos and a bartender from Oregon. We wandered to another place down the street, listened to some guitar playing, some of us went home, some of us decided to keep exploring the beautiful quaint city of Copan.

The discoteca we found, was not so quaint. It was phenomenal and loud and full of lights and dancing Hondurans. We had a blast in the fog machine, jumping into the pool at the end of the night and walking back to our hostel, making it in time to catch the bus at 4am back to La Ceiba.

We made it to Ceiba around 1pm on Saturday, jumped off some cliffs and took it easy playing spanish catch phrase and meeting fellow travelers who were there to hike waterfalls and white water raft at Jungle River. All 7 of us slept in one room, it was fabulous. I woke up around 6am to find an ant who had crawled into my ear canal. It was the weirdest craziest sound/feeling and I wasn't sure what to do, I didn't want him to lay eggs or something crazy like that. He finally came out around 7am. Started the rafting trip around 9:30, took a midway hike to a gorgeous waterfall and jumped into it's surrounding pool.

We took the ferry back to Roatan and got back on Sunday around 6:30, utterly exhausted yet feeling so accomplished and cultured after the fun filled and adventurous weekend. Can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

fresh feeling

This past week has been amazing. Crazy hair competitions, moon-walking mullet wearing children, bonfires on the beach and Garifuna festival dancing. We celebrated Amber's birthday on Friday night and caught the poppin' action of the West End of the island. Saturday we took a hike in Los Fuertes and saw the beautiful view of the island from both sides. John snorkeled so far out he saw barracudas and sting rays. Sunday we trekked to Punta Gorda for the Garifuna festival. We ate a delicious traditional fish stew with mashed plantains and coconut bread.
We came back to our apartment to find Harrison and his Los Fuertes boys cooking their fish they caught from the backyard. It is beautiful to see the relationships that he has built with these boys. They have agreed that if they can go fishing once a week, Harrison can work with them on English and some tutoring opportunities.

Pablo eating his fried catch of the day.

Friday, September 3, 2010

be bold

T.G.I.F. This week has been absolutely wonderful and absolutely exhausting. I'm learning more about my students and how they work and I'm pretty sure next week will look completely different, from a teaching perspective.

My 7th graders are HILARIOUS.

Marlon: "Heyyyy Ms. Jessica! Notice anything different about me?"
Me: "Hmm... Did you get taller?"
Marlon: "Nooooo! I got my braces off!" (HUGE SMILE to show me)
Me: "Ohhhh, wonderful!"
Marlon: "I mean, sometimes I just look in the mirror and can't help but to notice how good looking I really am."

I introduced some icebreakers and team building activities to most of my classes this week, involving debates over controversial issues, creating masks and the human knot. OH THE HUMAN KNOT. What a wonderful idea. I was barreled over in laughter after watching the 13 year olds try to untangle themselves for 5 solid minutes. We talked about the importance of listening, communication and teamwork.

Casey prays for us every morning during our devotional time. It usually goes something like this: "Dear Lord, please help us learn and help us pass our quizzes. Please throw some breeze our way so we don't get so sweaty and let the power stay on today. Thank you for recess and our teachers and our friends and our families. And lunch. Amen."

After school we walked over to Los Fuertes to watch the high school boys play some futbol. Harry took us to his favorite burger joint where I proceeded to accidentally rub my eyes with extremely hot sauce from my papusa (Honduran chicken/queso/cabbage/onion/wrap) FAIL. Thank you Zach for the homemade water flush eye drop from my straw.
We decided to take a late night dip in the mangrove lagoon behind our house when we got home. Hello glory. Heat lightning glowing up the sky, bioluminescent dinoflagellates shimmering in the warm water, stars so bright they twinkled and singing songs with the gang. In love with this place.

You know you are in Honduras when:
1. You see signs like this:
2. Your communion bread at church is a tortilla
3. You can catch a lobster in your backyard and eat it for dinner