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.

Friday, August 27, 2010

home is whenever i'm with you

1st week of school = Success. All of my High Schoolers are absolutely hilarious. I've been having them fill out personality tests and self profile sheets, in a modest attempt to understand how they learn and who they are.

We all went on an "adventure" in Sandy Bay last night, a 2 hour somewhat treacherous run/walk by the beach, to a hidden cabana and pool restaurant, through Anthony's Key and back home for dinner. Sand fleas might be one of my least favorite animals. Those and the spiders that are in our bathroom. EVERY MORNING. Oh, hello Mr. Spider. I thought I killed you yesterday.

I ate the most amazing fruit this morning. A mix between an orange and a grapefruit. Google says it's a tangerine but it is not a tangerine. It is HEAVEN.

Harrison comes Sunday. We're all pretty pumped for him to get here. So are the kids.

De captura que en el otro lado!
(Catch you on the flip side)

Monday, August 23, 2010

chop suey


I can't believe we've already been here for 2 weeks! Time flies when you are busy cutting letters out of construction paper, creating/learning how to complete lesson plans and thinking of creative ways to teach interjections to Sophomores. I'm pretty excited about riding the school bus with all of the children at 6am next week. On Friday night we ventured to a restaurant in West End called The Noodle House. Turns out the owner is the son of the owner of Tommy Condon's in Charleston. It's crazy how many people we have been connected with here on the island in such a short amount of time. Arturo learned how to use chop sticks and Alba taught us how to say "buttcheeks" in Spanish. Probably the funniest bilingual dinner I've ever been a part of. We will definitely be back, the thai peanut bowl is PHENOM.

During some of our downtown at school, Amber and I wandered across the street to an Americanized Christian bookstore owned by Sister Glenda, a native Alabamian(?) and the pastor of a Pentecostal church in Jonesville. She warned us about the dangers of buying produce from the street markets and washing our fruit with clorox first in fear of ingesting an "amoeba." I think these amoebas were mentioned for a solid 15 minutes before I realized she was talking about parasites. If anyone has seen on Animal Planet, you know what I am talking about.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

it's gettin' hot in hurr

malaria medicine side effects + no power + no fans + no AC + middle of the night = disastrous and hilarious nightmares including amanda garman, brian stearns, kelly manley, ferocious sharks, swimming to san francisco, running the golden gate bridge, shooting cannons at oil tankers, explosions on cruise ships and taking a finance test in Dr. Terry Keasler's class. WHAT THE JUNK.

Monday, August 16, 2010

deet = new perfume


Sunday Funday! We hailed a taxi and drove to a church this morning in West bay called RChurch. Check them out on They meet at the Mayan Princess which is a very nice resort here on the island. We grabbed coffee at "Cool Beans" and met some sweet locals there. This will become a Sunday morning ritual. The sermon was given by Craig Groechel and the worship was awesome. We met the pastor Jeremy, his wife and twin boys. They have built a wonderful community. We took a water taxi (tight) back to West End and walked back to la casa to meet my roommate who had arrived! YAY. We have to have our first school week plans in by this Wednesday and I still know absolutely nothing about teaching. Yo estoy preocupado. (See Matthew 6:33)


This morning Arturo picked us up and took us all to West Bay. We went snorkeling, swimming in the crystal clear water and played volleyball. Erin found a baby turtle! It was phenomenal. We have really gotten to know Jairo and Julio, they have been teaching us mucho Espanol. We ate a nice lunch at Infinity Bay and met Rick the owner of the resort. We also talked to a man named Tristan for a while on the beach. He became a Christian 3 years ago and spoke to us with such love and admiration for the Lord. He described Jesus as a gentleman, that he would never force himself into our lives but how he will always pursue us and invite us in. He preached about being available for God and being obedient to his calling. We definitely feel that he is going to be a spiritual rock on this island in a big way. We ate fresh coconuts given to us by our neighbors when we got home and decided to make some homemade smoothies. They were DELISH. Recipe: Coconuts, coconut milk, mangos, bananas, OJ, sugar and ice. Note: coconuts attract 2,957 flies.


Friday night fun: napping after orientation, not eating dinner, planning for the school year with millions of high lighters and killing 1,462 bugs. One particular mosquito landed on my shoulder, bit me, flew away and then Kelly killed it like a champ. Now my blood is stained on my living room wall. Tight. That is all. BOOM.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

open your eyes


There is something so spiritual about this place, this community, this school. Singing Spanish praises during devotions with our music instructors Augustine and Juario every morning has become one of if not my favorite time of the day. I feel God moving tremendously. He has surrounded me with amazing and encouraging peers; Zack, Erin, Kelly, Harrison and Amber. He has blessed me with the most selfless human beings I have ever met; Jaime and Nina. Mentors who are willing to help us with anything we need; our local teachers. This morning we had a chance to each stand up and tell our stories - where we are from, why we are here and what we hope the year will bring. Most of the testaments from our local teachers moved us to tears as they proclaimed the good news of the Lord and the will of God that brought them to Children's Palace. The commitment to teaching our students not only education but that they are dearly loved by their awesome creator is so apparent and I have never felt so at home and at peace.

We walked around Coxenhole this afternoon which, is another area of the island close to Sandy Bay where we purchased some extra school supplies. We were specifically looking for some bicycles to make transportation a little easier. We met a man named Nelson. Nelson might be one of my favorite locals I have met. He is a descendant of a Tanzanian tribe, was born in Roatan but has lived all over the world. He first offered us a free animal refuge ticket for Saturday, we'll probably take him up on that offer. I really want to meet the monkeys he talked about all afternoon. He is a wealth of knowledge and gave us a phenomenal tour around Coxenhole. He bargained bike prices with us, he showed us the oldest clock tower on the island and took us to his favorite cheap alley restaurant. I have a feeling we will be friends with Nelson for a long time.

Favorite quote so far:

"Van a los discotecas o van a iglesia?" (So do you all go to the club or do you go to church?) -taxi driver

Please pray for our families who are in financial need and may not be able to send their children to school this year. If you are interested in sponsoring a child so they are able to receive an education, please shoot me an email!


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

crab cakes


My roommate has arrived!


I think I slept for 12 hours last night. I woke up, ate some breakfast and then took a 2 hour nap. I really think my body is adjusting to the heat with sleep because I have never been so tired in my life. We got cable today. 95% of the channels are in Spanish. I wonder how much TV I will be watching. Zack arrived from Austin shortly after and we went grocery shopping again. I bought some homemade cheese, beans and tortillas and I have a feeling my staple food will be some sort of burrito/quesadilla. We will probably be making fresh guacamole everyday, the avocados are DELICIOUS! We took Zack to the beach and we walked along some restaurant docks in West End. He is also a ginger so we look like brother and sister. Tomorrow starts orientation!! WOOT.


11:45pm - Finish packing and weighing my enormous luggage with my mom and sisters, both of which are over the 50 lb limit. Fail.

12:00am - Cell phone is cut off. I am overcome with a sense of exciting terror as I realize that I will not be able to send or receive text messages for the next year. WHAT!?!

12:27 - Sarah and I have a difficult time falling asleep because we are too busy laughing about how Dad attempted the "just dance" Wii game at my going away party. Pictures ARE posted on facebook.

12:30 - Brother sneaks into the house.

12:45 - Set my alarm for 2:45am.

2:45 - Cyclone remix ringtone alarm clock blares. I roll out of bed.

3:40 - Leave for airport, Mom considered wearing her bathrobe.

4:10 - Wait in ridiculously long Continental check baggage line.

4:45 - Haggle with extremely helpful employee about the fees we are about to be charged for my luggage weighing over 50 lbs.

4:46 - Give up. Pay fee. Employee calls me "high maintenance." Interesting.

5:15 - See cute pilot in security line.

5:23 - Can't lift my carry on bag onto the conveyor belt. Note: Start working out again.

6:00 - Board extremely small sketchy plane to Houston.

6:12 - Pilot decides to test my stomach by taking a nosedive after take off. What a weiner. Lights flicker, I thought the oxygen masks were going to be released. Almost had to change my pants.

6:30 - Pass out on window, drool on my shirt. What's new.

7:45 - Meet an amazing couple on subway to the Roatan gate. They know all of the schools on the mainland. Small world. They pray over me as we part ways. God is GOOD.

7:46 - Saw 4 large men with cowboy hats on. I guess Texas really does have cowboys.

8:00 - Find Erin Payne at the terminal. JOY!

8:30 - Find Kelly Swope at the terminal. DOUBLE JOY!

8:31 - SO MANY HUGS.

9:14 - Leave Harrison a ridiculous voicemail.

10:00 - Board flight to Roatan!!!! Excitement and pure exhaustion just exuding from the 3 of us.

This island is absolutely gorgeous. I was able to capture some shots from the plane flying in. It reminds me a lot of Guatemala and Belize with the rolling green hills and rainforest like flora. Nina and her husband Jamie were waiting patiently as we arrived at the Roatan airport. We each gave them at least 3 hugs before we made the struggle with all of our heavy luggage to the van. We decided on a traditional Wendy's lunch and I have never felt so inadequate trying to order a grilled chicken sandwich. Kelly is fluent in Spanish and Jamie doesn't speak a lick of english so it was a lunch filled with awe as Nina translated for Erin and I. Fact: I will learn the spanish language.

Our "luxury" apartments are absolutely stunning. Newly built, they sit in somewhat of a dirt culdesac at the end of a gravel road in Sandy Bay. We unloaded our groceries, took some cat naps and decided to walk to the beach to watch the sunset. We jumped in the Caribbean waters with our clothes on, naturally. It was glorious. The walk back home? Not so much. Note to self: Wear a head lamp. We got locked out of our barbed wire fence gate that surrounds our "complex" (which, was staple gunned closed) so we did some shimmying under the wires. Good thing I am a limbo enthusiast.

First cold shower? CHECK.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.


Living a Better Story Seminar from All Things Converge Podcast on Vimeo.

"Why Honduras?!" My father exclaimed circa 1am as I told him I would be leaving August 8th for the island of Roatan to teach high school English and that I had already quit my well paying corporate executive career at one of the largest retail companies in the world. "What if there is a hurricane? Or you catch malaria? I thought you liked your job? And why do you want to leave Charleston? Have you thought about these things Jessica?" "Well yes, there may be a hurricane and I might catch malaria too. No, I do not like my job and yes, I love Charleston. I have thought about these things long and hard." I said. "Dad, I don't know if teaching is the answer but I do know that this is what I am supposed to be doing."

I remember writing 8 words in my journal on December 26th, 2009 as my hours at work that week were totaling near 80. GOD, I WILL GO WHERE YOU SEND ME. Alright I lied. There were 6 more. JUST GET ME OUT OF HERE. As I searched non profit job listings around the country trying to reconcile my guilty conscience for making more money than any young single woman should make, I remembered a friend who was teaching at a Christian bilingual school on the island of Roatan. I emailed the academic coordinator, started praying hard, 4 months later I had a phone interview and BOOM. That was it. I had a rush of emotions after I immediately accepted the position. Am I doing this out of selfish ambition? Am I a ridiculous resume builder masked as a compassionate Christian? Will this make me more admirable? Is this the right program at the right time? What will everyone think? How am I going to survive financially? I was anxious. I was uneasy. I had a pit in my stomach that I knew was from God. I also had no idea where I was going to live for the remainder of my time here in the United States. A wise mentor then reassured me that God had purposefully laid this desire on my heart, a door was opened and I was to run through that door until it closed. Thank you, Mel. And thank you corny country artist who said, "If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans." God gave me a place to live, a gracious and supportive boss and enough vacation hours to keep me afloat throughout the summer.

The thing I've learned about following God is that He will make you feel extremely uncomfortable and ridiculously excited all at the same time. Dropping everything and moving to a foreign country was not something I thought I would ever do. Quitting my highly sought after position and leaving my best friends, family and amazing church community was not on that list either. But here's the thing. Rick Warren once stated that "God is more interested in your character than your comfort, and he's more concerned about your holiness than your happiness." Growing involves taking risks and surrendering to a higher purpose. I want to take from this conference inspiration to help my students live better lives no matter what their circumstance.

I want to help with the start up of a mentoring program between the private and public schools in Roatan. I have already spoken with a peer about this dream and it is most definitely in it's early stages. Most of the public school students do not know how to read and the process would involve pairing these students with a private school student to help continue their education, and would need peer to peer mentoring. This plan will involve tremendous support, teamwork and organization from each respective school, faculty member and student. I am envisioning a buddy system, where the students can learn, play and grow together. I am envisioning public schools that teach children how to read. I am envisioning greatness. Of course there will be roadblocks. Upset and unsupportive parents. Lack of funding and resources. Poor organization. Defeated educators. The enemy is already at work within the country and has no means of backing down. I plan on hitting the ground running once I arrive to the island. I want to build relationships within the community, begin my networking circle amongst the faculty at the public schools and start planning with my fellow peers. It would also be helpful to learn some Spanish. I am thrilled to see where God takes the 2010 school year.

Last week while I was at home in Charlotte visiting my family, I overheard my father talking to a friend on the phone. He said,"Yes, and my oldest daughter is heading to Honduras to teach English. It is where she feels called to be so she is going." I started crying because there stood my father, once skeptical and concerned, now standing tall and proud behind his daughter. He may never know why but I'm sure he will see one day how faith is walking to edge of all the light you have and taking one more step. I have faith that lives will be changed and hearts will be open to the amazing love, power and life changing abilities of the Lord.