Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Things I Miss.

Let me clarify one thing before launching into this blogpost. I LOVE being here. Love, love, love. I love the city that I am living in, I love the people I have met and spend my days with, I love my students with all my heart, I love being in Honduras. I wouldn't trade this experience and opportunity for anything. There is not any part of me that regrets being here.

That being said, there are a lot of things at home that I really, really miss. I miss events, milestones, people. Things aren't the same at home as they are when I left them, but at the same time, I am not the same person I was when I left home.

I've been feeling a tad bit homesick since being here in Honduras. Not homesick as in "Get me on the next plane, I want to get out of here." But more along the lines of "Put everyone I love on a plane and get them down here." I miss the people who have been a part of my life for so long.

It's also the fact that every August since 1995, I have packed up my back pack, laid out my clothes, and entered a classroom on the first day as a student. But now, in August of 2012, I wasn't returning to a classroom of my friends, but rather walking into a classroom where I was the one in charge. It's been a lot of changes these past few months (getting home from Rio, graduation, getting a job, moving down here, etc, etc) and it's kind of hitting me all at once.

I love having pictures of my friends and family on my walls, but sometimes it almost makes it worse. Sometimes if I can put everything out of my mind and just focus on the here and now, things don't seem as sad. But then other times, the pictures make me feel better. All that to say that the pictures are indeed staying. I spent far too long hanging them up one day to take them down during a bout of homesickness.

One of my friends turned 21 today which also contributed to my sadness because I couldn't be there for it. Thank goodness for the 21st century and technology; I was able to order him a drink via FaceTime. Awesome, but it's not the same as actully being there.

I think that's my biggest struggle. One of the things most precious to me is quality time spent with people and being present in their life. Got a game coming up? I'll be there. Birthday? Count me in. Need to go grocery shopping? I'm tagging along. Because I like to spend time with the people who mean the most to me. I feel like I'm not doing that/ unable to do that here and that's really tough for me to deal with.

In other news...

My kids are wonderful. Wild and all sorts of rambuctious, yet so much fun. It's going to be a bit of a struggle getting back into the groove of being in school again and being a "real" teacher, but I think it's going to be a really great year. Not without it's challenges of course, but overall, a wonderful time.

My students are not short on love. The second they walk through the door, they're hugging me. They're constantly wanting to spend time with me at recess. Remember, they're only in second grade, so the teacher is still cool. Which is fine by me. I've felt over-whelmed with beginning of school shenanigans this week, but my students are right there with a giant hug and a smile. That makes everything so much more bearable.

It hit me today that I'm a missionary. Which is not something that I EVER thought that I would be. And I still don't really feel like one. I mean, I take scalding hot showers, have electricity, and don't eat weird things. But here I am, missionary-ing.

Anddddd, I cashed my first paycheck today. My first not part-time/summer job check. Weird. But awesome.

Monday, August 27, 2012

It's Official-- I'm Official!

I can finally say that I am real teacher because I have had ONE official day of school. And I still want to go back tomorrow. Which has to be a good sign.
Due to Civic Hour and specials, I didn't actually have a lot of instructional time with my kiddos, but I know that's all coming up soon.
The first day was interesting. I'm not sure what I was expecting, I don't even know if I had expectations, but the whole day FLEW by. The next thing I knew the day was over and I had one day of teaching under my belt.
The kids are wonderful. CRAZY, but wonderful. I'm still re-adjusting to the fact that kids in this culture are chatty while I'm giving instruction, much like my kids in Brazil. Luckily here I know that I can, and will, adjust to it.
It's still SO strange to me that I am the one in charge here. The students switch classes on my schedule, they look to me as the example. I'm still waiting for a mentor teacher to come in and tell me what to do or what's coming up next in the school day. It's all a little weird still.
I decided to search for my school on YouTube. Because there isn't anything else that I could possibly be working on, right? Here's a nice little video of what I'm working with on a daily basis. And by "working with", I mean living and working.
And these are my roommates and fellow teachers. I can't say that any of us are going to take up acting anytime soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day .5

I can't call today the first day of school because I didn't actually do any teaching, but there were students here and I did have to wake up at an unnatural hour, therefore it was day 1/2. Monday will be the "real" first day.

Today was the inauguration of classes so we had some time in the classroom, an all school devotional, and then hours of game time. Or what seemed like it anyways. On one hand, it was great to get to know the students in such an informal way, but on the other hand, it was a kind of chaotic "first day".

I only spent time with my second graders today and let me tell you, they are an energetic little bunch. But they aren't short on hugs and giggles and all things that make little kids adorable. And they call me "Mees" which already ranks them higher in my book.

While today was a little wild and overwhelming, but it was so wonderful to get to know my students. Being with them today made me so excited to have a whole classroom full of them next week. I don't doubt that the year will be full of struggles, but I can already tell this it is going to be so full of laughter.

One of my girls ran into me at the grocery store and came up to give me a giant hug. This is after spending about three hours together. Yes, this is my life. And I'm quite okay with it.

Oh, and I started out the morning by flat ironing my shirt since we don't have an iron. Let's pull it together, Miss Casa.

Friday, August 24, 2012

And Now I Feel Complete.

My heart has been so happy since arriving in Honduras. I hear more Spanish than I know what to do with, my students call me "Mees", the food is good for your soul, the people (Honduran and North American) are so friendly, and I get to see Miss Vilma every single week. It'd be enough for me to just see her, but I actually get to hug her and talk to her and just be with her.
Her TENTH birthday was on Monday. TEN. She was five when I saw her last and now she is double digits. She's just as precious and as wonderful as she is when I left her four years ago. Sindy, Yessenia, Lorena, and I went to the grocery store on Tuesday to buy her some cupcakes and to buy fod to cook dinner for Bible study. We grabbed a taxi up to the pastor's house and my chef skills were put to the test. (Let's just say that I still have a lot to learn.)
While cooking dinner, the pastor's wife and I stood on the balcony and shouted down to Vilma's house. She was doing so much better this week than last week. I mean, anything would have been an improvement, but she was actually walking around and smiling and talking. We told her that we would be down after cooking, so to stay around the house.
I was mentally rushing these people to cook faster. Did I say that I was cooking? I was mostly just offering moral support. After what seemed like ages, our spaghetti was done cooking and we made the walk down to Vilma's house. I was smiling the ENTIRE time. I'm not exaggerating at all when I say that just the idea of seeing her again puts the hugest smile on my face.
We got to her house and lit the candles on her cupcakes. Lorena, Sindy, and Yessenia were shouting at her to come out of the house, her mom was shouting at her to get out of the house. I was mentally telling her to get outside because I didn't actually know how to say that in Spanish. Come on, sunshine, your house isn't that big. You can hear us shouting, you know I'm here, let's move it.
And then she came outside.
She had changed into her nicest dress to show us for her birthday. She had been washing her face and doing her hair. I took back everything I had mentally scolded her for. We sang to her and she blew out her candles. She and I never broke eye contact. Our expressions mirrored each other's-- smiles that covered our whole faces while never breaking eye contact.
As soon as we were done singing, she ran into my arms. We hugged for such a long time, but it wasn't long enough. She told me that she loves me and then we had a brief conversation where both of us teared up from sheer happiness.  She ran into her house and brought out a framed picture off of her entertainment center-- a picture of her and I with Traci from the last time I was in Honduras. I couldn't wipe the silly smile off of my face.

Sorry for being so sweaty.

Our communication is hindered due to the language barrier and the fact that I absolutely freeze when I have to use Spanish, but we don't really need to talk too much. Just being together is enough. She and I both know that. She and I both accept that.
Happy Birthday, beautiful. I'm so blessed to have spent this wonderful milestone with you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Reunion Of A Lifetime.

Drumroll, please.

If there is one moment in my life that I have thought about and dreamt about for many years, this moment would be it. The moment that I would see sweet Vilma again.

It seems silly. Having your life drastically altered by someone you only knew for five days. Especially when that person was only four years old at the time. But it was. I thought about her every single day. That little girl impacted my life more in five days than some people have done in years.
And I finally got to see her again.

I tried not to get my hopes up when thinking about our reunion. (And yes, she was a big part of why I came down to Siguatepeque.) If I dreamt big and the reunion didn't live up to my standards, I would be devastated. I spent a long time trying to convince myself that she wouldn't remember me or that she wouldn't want to see me.

I was wrong, of course. She did remember me. And she did want to see me. But the reunion was nothing like I had imagined it.

I was riding in the back of the pastor's car, slowly beginning to recognize my surroundings as I realized that we were approaching her house. I turned around in my seat and I saw her sitting on her front step with her mom. I had to choke back tears. I would recognize her anywhere and it made me so happy to just see her. We got up to the pastor's house and Lorena, Yessenia, and I walked down to Vilma's house. I was SO nervous. I had butterflies, I wanted to cry, I almost vomited, I couldn't stop smiling. I was a trainwreck.

We got to her house and saw that she was holding her head in her hands with blood on her shirt. It was a terribly inappropriate time to not be able to stop smiling, but I was just so happy to see her. As it turns out, someone had thrown a rock at her and it cut her head, hence the blood and tears. It took her a few seconds to recognize me, but as soon as she did, she had the biggest smile on her face. As big as it can be when you are crying in pain, I suppose. Lorena asked if she remembered me and she smiled and nodded. I just kept smiling at her-- THAT happy.

Her mom was tending to her wounds and not really paying attention to us standing there. She finally looked up, stared at me, and her hand flew to her chest. She kept saying "Ay Dios Mio, ay Dios Mio." She said that she was shocked to see me and couldn't stop smiling when I said that I was going to be here for a whole year. A neighbor lady was at the house and said something about "the girl from the picture". Vilma's mom said that she looks at our pictures every day and talks about me all the time. She and I could not stop smiling at each other.

When we were getting ready to go back up to the pastor's house, Vilma stood up and hugged and kissed me despite all of her tears. She told me that she loved me and I told her that I would see her again soon.

It was so far from the reunion that I had imagined I would have with her. I actually couldn't have imagined this being the reunion that she and I would have with each other. But somehow, it was just what my heart needed. I felt so happy after seeing her. I remembered why she means so much to me. I cannot put into words what it means to me that I am able to see her every week for the next year.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bienvenidos a Comunidad Educativa Evangelica!

Wow, this week has been such a whirlwind of people and emotions. We've had training/ orientation each day along with time to work in our classrooms and it's been a little overwhelming. It's been awesome, but it's a lot. It's crazy to think that less than a week ago I was hanging out in Ohio and here I am now setting up a classroom in HONDURAS.

I've met so many new and wonderful people this past week. I think that our team of English teachers is incredible and so enthusiastic-- if the rest of the year is anything like this past week, it's going to be nothing short of amazing. Not only have I met a lot of Americans, but I have met (or reunited with) many Hondurans. I'm so excited for the opportunity to immerse myself into another culture and to build relationships with all of these people.

My Spanish skills are not where I left them and I am slightly disappointed by this. I felt confident in my abilities while I was in the States, but actually having to use them is a completely different story. Thankfully, I have many people to practice with while I am here. Many patient people.

Not only have things been rockin' and rollin' here at the school and in my classroom (which has had to get worse before it could get better), I've also been able to meet up with some of the girls I had met when I was down here in 2008. Sindy and Yessenia picked me up at my house on Tuesday and we went downtown for ice cream at Kobs. Sindy pointed out the hotel that we stayed at when I was here before, so I finally recognized something. We walked to the church where the pastor picked us up for Bible Study. Oh my gosh, the house looks so different now than it did when I was here before! It has a second story. And walls and a roof and a real bathroom. My jaw dropped when I saw it.

Coming down here to has been a major adjustment as well as a huge adventure. There are a lot of things that are different as well as a little bit scary, but I know that this is where I am supposed to be. I know that there will be difficult days and times ahead, but I also know that the good times will outweigh the bad. What an adventure it's about to be.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Getting Settled.

I made it to Honduras and am having a great time so far. We toured Siguatepeque a little bit yesterday and I recognized the plaza and the parque. Other than that, nothing looked even remotely familiar to me. Clearly I need to work on paying more attention to my surroundings.

The school is wonderful, I really love how it's set up. My classroom is about 15 giant steps away from my front porch. So there's really no excuse to be late.

We start orientation tomorrow. I think that's when things really start to pick up, but oh my gosh, I am so excited for it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Adios, Ohio. Hello, Honduras.

Well today is the day! The day that I leave my comfy little town of Chardon, Ohio to embark on my newest adventure to Honduras. I cannot believe all of the different emotions that I am experiencing right now-- nervous, excited, scared, anxious, elated.

I cannot WAIT to see my friends and my dear, sweet Vilma again, but goodness gracious, am I actually old enough to be a teacher!?!

Besos, Ohio.  I can't wait to see you and all your wonderful people again in December.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Meet Your Teacher: Miss Casavecchia

Throughout the past school year and summer, I have acquired many different ideas for things that I just had to have in my classroom. Thanks a lot, Pinterest. One of these things that I absolutely couldn't live without was a "Meet Your Teacher" book. I got the idea from a first year teacher who had posted on Pinterest, but then tailored it to fit my needs and personality. I highlighted each of my years in elementary school, then briefly talked about middle school, high school, and college. The last couple pages are pictures of my family, my travels, my favorite things, and some books that I just adore. I haven't exactly decided what to do with it yet, but I'm toying with the idea of reading it on the first day of school and then doing some get to know you activity. We'll see.

And there you have it. Mees Casa summed up in a three ring big book.

Friday, August 3, 2012

One Week.

One week from today I will be getting settled in Siguatepeque. I have no idea what my calendar includes for my first couples of hours/ days/ weeks there, but I'm excited to find out. I've been chit-chatting with some of the friends I made when I was down there in 2008 and cannot believe that I will actually be seeing them again. Not only will I be seeing them again, I will be with them for an entire year. I am blessed, so blessed.

Throughout the summer I've created a long list of things that I need to do/ buy/ pack before leaving. I've had all summer to do it, yet I'm just now making a dent in that list. This includes saying good-bye to people which is not, nor has it ever been, one of my strong points.

I had a small little get-together at Mentor Headlands last weekend to say good-bye to some of my friends from school and from church. It was so, so wonderful.

It's so easy to get caught up in everything that that has to be done before I leave instead of focusing on the people I want to see. These are the people who have been with me throughout so many different changes in my life and who have supported me throughout everything. These relationships are the ones that are going to withstand time-- despite that fact that I am thousands of miles away. Again.

While leaving the beach on Sunday, I found myself thinking (again) of how lucky I am to have so many people in my life that I have such a hard time saying good-bye to.