The tropical storm Ernesto turned into a hurricane today, but it turned north and avoided us completely. The windiest it got today was about 10 mph. We did see tons of rain, though. It poured all night long. I woke up a couple times trying to figure out who was in the shower, but it was the rain right outside my window. The rain continued throughout the morning, which forced us to alter our plans a little bit. They emphasized the first day that the number one thing we needed to remember this week was the "F" word--FLEXIBILITY. We were unable to work on the house we were working on yesterday because you can't work with mortar when it's raining. It was a little disappointing, and we hope that the rain will clear up either tomorrow or Thursday so we can go back and make some progress on that house. I left my camera inside, so no pictures today.
You can, however, mix and pour cement when it is raining, so instead of going to Armenia Bonito, we stayed at La Isla, the downtown ministry center, and helped the workers here. Mike keeps a staff of about 12 Honduran construction workers at all times. Half of them work here and the other half work at the center in Armenia Bonito. He used to have double that number, and the work progressed much faster, but it was hard for them to sustain a workforce that size. Unemployment is very high here, ~4x what we have in the states, so he's had the same workers for a long time because they have a good job and want to keep it. They make $12 a day, which is more than minimum wage, and they get quite a few other benefits most workers do not enjoy as well. We were able to help out some today by essentially doubling the workforce at this site. We mostly mixed and carried buckets of cement that were poured to form a top beam on the 12 foot exterior wall of the compound. We also poured a corner column on the church/school/seminary and made a bunch of rebar ties. You had to watch your head, because mangoes were constantly dropping from the tree. We ate some fresh as the fell, and they were delicious. It's interesting, because the Hondurans like their mangoes very hard and green, and they have a chili-salt sauce that they dip them in. We chose the riper ones.
We at lunch at the dorms, and then drove out to Armenia Bonito for Kids' Club. This is a Bible club that Erin Pettengill usually puts on, but we went with Mike instead. We set up chairs and tables, and then played soccer and baseball as the kids trickled in. An interesting fact to me was that Hondurans dislike rain a lot. It seems like it would just be a fact of life here, especially with a months-long rainy season, but Mike said life basically stops when it rains. Thankfully the rain cleared up by the start of kids club, otherwise Mike said our attendance would have been cut in half. We had about 75 kids, many the same as yesterday at English class (we had about 40 kids yesterday). There are definitely a few kids we have each connected with, and it's fun when one will come up to you and point to the soccer ball or say "bate" when the want to play baseball.
Kids club started with a game, which Jon and Caleb got to choose. They chose dodgeball, and it was probably a poor choice. The Honduran kids don't believe in things like rules, and any game where honesty is involved basically has to be heavily policed or it's total chaos. We had total chaos. After the game Mike ran through some memory verses and catechism questions with the kids. They do four verses at a time, and 3 of the four are review from previous weeks. I was impressed with how well the kids knew them. After that we performed the story of Balaam's ass as a skit in Spanish. Richard was the donkey, Phil was Balaam, and I was the angel. Phil did very well with the overacting and beating Richard with a whip. We did crafts with the kids at the end and made puppet donkeys out of brown paper bags. I forgot how hard it is to cut out shapes along the lines. I would not do well in kindergarten. It would have been nice to have some women on the team to help with the crafts, but we got by. After the crafts we just played with the kids some more until it was time for them to leave. Word about me has spread among the kids, and all day random little girls would come up to me and tell me to take my hat off, then point at me and laugh. They also play this game where they hold up their hand like they are holding something in all 5 fingertips, and if you look at their hand then then peck at you with their hand like it's a bird beak. They think it's hilarious. If you don't look, they just shove their hand right in your face and then start pecking at you anyways.
Tonight we got to sample the local Honduran cuisine, but we were limited because we had to eat food they felt reasonably sure was safe. We have to stay away from the local water (including ice), and any fruits or veggies are off limits as well. We went out to a local restaurant and had plantain chips (which taste just like potato chips...not bananas) with a bean dip that was really good, followed up by plates of grilled meat. There was steak, chicken in some kind of sauce, pork, and a sausage that was kind of like a weak chorizo. We had one tray of meat to share, and it disappeared quickly. The other group is mostly full of dieting women, though, and three more almost full trays made their way over to us before the night was out. We made sure none of the food went to waste, and it was all very tasty.
We got back to the dorms around 7, and lights out is at 10, so we have some time left to relax and hang out as a team. A lot of us are journaling our experiences, and its nice to have time in the evenings to do that and process everything we are going through while it is still fresh.