Monday, December 26, 2011

My Christmas Weekend

(Warning: LONG)

As I mentioned in my previous post, my Christmas was a little different this year!  Obviously, I am in a different country with people that I don’t know and nowhere near the people I love the most.  And, as per usual, when you leave your comfort zone, the things that may have been obnoxious (like the cold weather!) or normal (having the internet all the time, or going to Starbucks whenever!) then become what you wish for the most.

So, as the weekend drew near, those are the things that I missed the most, besides my family and friends, of course, and became just a little homesick.  I wanted everything that I knew... being with either Mom or Dad, or being at work on Christmas Day.  That’s normal, too, right?

But, enough of the ‘woe is me’ and Debbie Downer attitude… I did have a good weekend (mixed with a few tears, because let’s face it, it’s me!).  Saturday was spent with a few of the other students at the ruins.  It was hot and sunny, and nice to be around people!  After our tour, we broke off and went our separate ways for a while.  Maude (a friend from Quebec) and I took some more pics before walking back to town.  Her family (who happens to be my teacher’s family) invited her to have lunch at their church.  So, that’s where we headed.  They are Seventh Day Adventist, so I was intrigued what their church was like, as I have never seen it before.  We arrived at the church to people praying over one another.  This was a nice sight to see, and my heart ached a little for some praise and worship from home.  Maude and I waited in the back where some other people were setting up lunch.  We felt a little awkward, but most everyone was really nice and smiled at us.  A few even attempted some conversation that quickly became comical or ended with a smile because no one really knew what the other was saying!

After lunch, I headed back to my house with full intentions to help my host mom with dinner.  Well, she didn’t need help right away, so I decided to rest, but fell asleep… for the next hour.  Oops!  I guess I needed some sleep!  When I awoke, she didn’t really need help, so I read for a while until dinner was ready.  Sara and Ernesto’s oldest son, Marel, came with his wife and children, but were late.  So, we didn’t end up eating until after 7.  It was a great meal, as usual, and conversation was a little on the lighter side.  My family still doesn’t talk to me much.  But, it was really nice of them to include me in their family dinner.

Getting a new outfit is the big thing here.  Exchanging many gifts, or expecting Santa to leave them, isn’t really what happens.  You get a new outfit for the day and you wear it proudly all weekend.  Sara came into my room before dinner to give me something, and it ended up being a present for me!  It is a beautiful scarf.   It was completely unexpected and really thoughtful.  And, it's orange!

Please ignore my sleepy look.

After dinner, I headed out to meet the family (Annette, Michael and Oliver) from school for the procession before Mass.  They had told me about Mass because their host family is Catholic and would be walking in the procession.  I was really happy about this because I had asked a few people about Christmas Eve Mass, and no one knew about it.  I thought it weird that the Catholic Church wouldn’t have a service.  But, I digress.  The procession was really neat.  About a hundred or so people holding candles were walking behind Joseph and a pregnant Mary.  

The crowd gathered in front of the church, where permission had to be granted to enter the church, which, I believe, represented Mary and Joseph finding an inn.  Once we were all in the church, the live nativity continued with sound effects of a real baby crying and all!

Mass was not as long as I thought it was going to be.  It was beautiful, as always, even if I didn’t understand it all.  I love the Catholic Church for many reasons, but one that is high on my list is that it’s literally the same Mass everywhere.  The same prayers.  The same Eucharist.  The same thing.  Because of that, it brings a sense of home, even when I am so far away from my own.  It’s an incredible blessing to be part of something that is so universal.  Good job, God!

After Mass, I was invited back to the Martinez house for more food and to hang out with people that like to talk to you!  Christmas Eve is more of a celebration than Christmas day itself here in Honduras, so families are always together and eating.  Everyone was telling me about the fireworks at midnight… there are a TON!  That’s what I was expecting, and that’s what I got.  Midnight was INSANE.  The fireworks were just crazy.  And, it’s so, so, so dangerous.  I kept having visions of kids blowing off their heads, or limbs.  The littlest of kids are handling these things.  I didn’t hear of anyone getting seriously hurt this year… thank goodness.  I wish I could say it will quiet down, but I think they go on until the Epiphany.

The morning after... this stuff was everywhere!

Christmas day was pretty low key.  I opened up the gifts my mom sent with my.  She is amazing, and gave me some pretty amazing things.  It made the day special!  My host mom asked if I wanted to join them on a day trip, but I declined so that I could talk to my family and friends.  And, boy did I!  I set up camp in front of the school, where the wifi still worked.  I think people thought I was seriously crazy, talking to my computer.  But, it was the best part of my day… to spend time with my family!  I just relaxed, read and made a few calls the rest of the day.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life!

Well, thank you for making it this far.  I hope you all had such a wonderful and blessed Christmas!  Feliz Navidad!

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