Where Does The Toilet Paper Go? (Part Three)

Don’t worry, I’m going forward with my promise of only three parts. *Insert Hallelujah chorus here* So without further ado,

PART III

Herman drove down a long, dirt road in his truck. Me, Sarah, and another girl named Nicole stared wide-eyed at the landscape around us. We’re in the middle of nowhere. Where’d the mountains go? Where the heck are we going? Then, amidst the dirt, came what looked like a bus bench. And then behind that bus bench, were three houses.

“Hello? Jenny? Yeah, we’re pulling up now.”

Ugh. Jenny. They told me about that name before. She was some lady that was supposed to be taking us on the trip for the next two weeks. I bet she’s old and boring. I bet she smells like caramel treats. I bet she-

BAM! My thoughts were interrupted by boys jumping into the back of Herman’s truck. Um, excuse me children, you know you can’t just jump on people’s trucks while they’re moving, right? More kids piled in on the sides. It was child-overload on top of the car. We exited the car, and then it child-overload on top of all of us! Hugs on hugs from random boys. Usually this type of thing would be a nightmare in my head, considering I wasn’t that big of a fan of kids, but I actually really, really liked it.

Next, a woman came towards us, parting the Red Sea of ages 8-15 year old boys.

“Hi, I’m Jenny! You must be from the Ambassador’s programs.”

Wait. You’re young. And you were just playing soccer with kids. You can’t not be a grandma this just isn’t right!

She took in our names, cracked some jokes, and showed us around Proniño. After the tour, we were released to play with the kids. A thirteen year old boy grabbed my hand and brought me to one of the houses to draw with sidewalk chalk with him. After trying to explain for ten minutes that I didn’t speak or understand any Spanish, he attempted to explain everything in drawings and hand motions. His name was Gerson and my drawings were pretty ugly. Thanks for the introduction, kid. So after a while of drawing and many hand explanations later, he drew a heart with words in it.

“Um, Sarah/Jenny (Not sure who I asked about this to be honest), what does “te quiero mucho Kaylie and amigos para siempre mean?”

“I love you Kaylie, friends for forever.”

Yeah, I blushed hardcore. Who wouldn’t?

The rest of the time there me and Gerson bonded even more and greeted eachother saying “Hola amigo para siempre” and “adios amigo para siempre”. It was probably the cutest friendship ever, not going to lie. I also ended up playing with a kid named Carlos who was really shy but had the greatest smile in the world. Even with my lack of Spanish, we managed to make each other laugh.

I didn’t want to leave Proniño. I like it here Jenny. I don’t want to go to the other place. Don’t make me leave!

But that was only a day visit, because we were headed for Nueva Esperanza for the rest of the week. We picked up a few girls on the way – some tomboy named Lauren and a some Honduran chick. Found out later that the girl was not actually a Honduran chick, but just a Hispanic-looking American. Her name was Anita. We also got Carissa, a nurse, from the airport as well as Anna and a peppy girl named Jilli who had already spent six weeks in Honduras. They were all older than me so, obviously it wasn’t like I was going to be friends with any of them. Or move in with any of them a year later (WINK WINK NUDGE NUDGE LAUREN AND JILLI).

The first time I visited Nueva Esperanza I was overwhelmed. Everyone seemed to have their spot, the place where they were needed. Lauren and Jenny had worked at Nueva before so they could fit in just about anywhere. Anita and Carissa worked miracles in the special needs and baby room. Anna preferred the toddlers. Jilli used her fluent Spanish to talk to the older kids. Me, Sarah, and Nicole were completely lost, hopping from babies to toddlers to little girls to bigger girls; you name it, we were there, at least for a little while. That is, until we found the boys.

Warning: This next part is going to seem like it’s coming out of some romantic Nicholas Spark’s chick flick, but I assure you this is a friendly type of love not romantic type of love.

The moment I saw Alex, all I wanted to do was hug him. Don’t know what it was particularly about him, but I just felt instantly connected to him. He was going to be mine. The next week me and Alex formed an inseparable bond with each other. Every single day I’d see him running down the stairs and give him a gigantic hug. We’d play soccer or sit outside and play games. He was almost always by my side. Every time there was any kind of goodie being handed out like candy, bubbles, or bracelets, I made sure he got first dibs. I probably shouldn’t have been as obvious as I was that he was my favorite, but I just couldn’t help it! He was my little baby. I mean, look at this face and tell me you wouldn’t favorite him too.

Alex

Before I knew it the week in Nueva Esperanza was over. But I don’t want to leave here. I don’t want to leave Alex. C’mon Jenny we can stay here right? Nope, it was time for Proniño. Despite what Jenny kept telling me about not promising things to anyone, I promised Alex at least twelve times that I’d come back to Honduras sometime and see him. Alex was the first thing to grab me and root me in Honduras permanently, and there’s nothing I wish more than to thank him for that (Insert large sigh here for anyone who knows the current Alex situation).

The next week at Proniño I became very attached to Gerson and Carlos. I became so attached that I called my mom one night over a free calling app to convince her to sponsor them.

“Mom we have to do this. Mom they’re like the greatest kids in the world. Mom you would love them so much!”

I proceeded to talk about how amazing the two boys were the entire time she was signing up to sponsor them. Little did I know that this was going to be much more than just becoming their Madrina (which in Spanish means godmother), this was going to be a life-long friendship. With that click of a confirmation button, I was becoming even more rooted than before into Honduras. Now I had a promise to keep and two boys to visit and spoil.

gersonandcarlos

Oh, and to top it all off, during the Nueva and Proniño weeks, I became really close to Sarah due to mutual love of ages 8-15 year old boys. Me and her would talk every night, we would joke, we would go on and on about the cuteness of said child in said photo. That friendship that was never supposed to happen, actually happened. And honestly, that friendship was another unforeseen root in Honduras. You see, Sarah spoke fluent Spanish and was also very good with directions. My mom was a travel agent and I was the perfect travelling buddy. So, me and Sarah ended up not only being friends but the perfect travelling duo. We figured out how to come back not once but twice by ourselves. If it weren’t for Sarah I wouldn’t be living here today. I probably would’ve never been able to come back.

sarahykaylie

By the end of my and Sarah’s first visit in October I knew that I wanted to live in Honduras. I didn’t want to go to college. I didn’t want to live the normal American life. I wanted to spend my time with the kids of Honduras. I knew from that trip that Honduras wasn’t just that one time thing that happened in high school to me anymore, it was forever part of my life. Those kids had become my family. I had become more attached and close to them than I had to my own friends and family back home. Honduras was my new home, it was where my heart ached to be.

Every time before I went on my trips back to Honduras I would taste a little bit of regret. There would and will always be this part of me that craves to live the American life and be little Miss Perfect once again. But, when it comes down to it, Honduras will always win that battle. Every time someone asks me about the most important things to me in my life, Honduras comes up. Every time someone asks me to tell them a funny story, Honduras comes up. Every time someone asks who my best friends are, Honduras comes up. No matter how hard I’ve tried and will try to run from my life in Honduras, I can’t help but come back. Why? Because I’m my happiest when I’m here. These people are my family. This is where I’m meant to be even when I don’t want to be. This is what gives me purpose, gives me drive, gives me passion.

Thank you God for Honduras, because without it I wouldn’t have amount to anything but a selfish, unmotivated girl forever in need of a purpose.

end

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Where Does The Toilet Paper Go? (Part Two)

Jokes on you, Mr./Mrs. Reader, I decided to make this THREE-parted instead of two parts. Enjoy the suspense!

PART II

The day I returned from Honduras was the day that I started to change.

The plane arrived in the nighttime. My mom picked me up and kept asking me questions about my trip. Any answers I did give were short and sweet, but for the most part I was pretty non-responsive. I couldn’t put into words what I was feeling or what to say about it. I just kept telling her I was tired and hungry. For some reason I just felt, well, empty. Upon arriving home I immediately tried to fill this emptiness. I took the longest, hottest shower known to man, stuffed my face with cookie dough ice cream, stalked my friends’ Facebooks, and plopped my head down into my comfy bed.

But when I showered I felt nothing. When I ate I still wasn’t full. When I stalked Facebook everyone and everything seemed so distant. And, when I snuggled up in my bed, all I could think about was how empty I felt inside.

Going to the bathroom had to be one of the weirdest parts. As soon as I was done doing my business, I full-on stared at the used toilet paper for about five minutes. Where do you go. What do I do with you? It seemed as confusing as defusing a time bomb. I can’t sleep. Food doesn’t make me full. My friends don’t even seem relevant anymore. AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE TO PUT THE TOILET PAPER! What is wrong with me?

So I did what I thought was the best next step to take. Google anything and everything about Honduras. After about an hour of this, I found myself reaching the Heart to Honduras website, which was the company my school had gone through for our trip. And then before I knew it, my fingers were clicking on the “Getting Involved” tab and then directly after the “Travel To Honduras” tab. My body was reacting faster than my mind was. It’s four in the morning, I’m losing my mind, and all I can think is that I need to go back. First thing that catches my eye? A three-week program called the Ambassador’s program. One week in the mountains, one week in San Pedro at Nueva Esperanza, and one week in El Progresso at Proniño. Those are weird names. I wonder what that even is? This is a dumb idea. They’re not gonna take some seventeen-year-old girl anyway. But the empty feeling kept burning inside me. FINE! Fine. I’ll email Matt about it. Surely I’m just hallucinating from trying to readjust anyway. I’ll change my mind in the morning.

Finally, I was able to sleep. I woke up about noon and went upstairs. Still had the feeling. Still hadn’t changed my mind.

“Hey, mom, sooooo, I think you should look at this.”

My mom looked kind of surprised at first that I wanted to go back for another trip.

“You know this is for three weeks, right?”

“Yep.”

“You know it’s next month, right?”

“Yeah.”

Three weeks. Next month. I had only been back for under 24 hours. And most importantly, I still hadn’t readjusted to flushing toilet paper.

So being the saint she is, she signed me up. Thanks mom.

Weeks later I’m back into my daily American grind and I’m back to being little Miss Perfect. Actually, no, I was worse than little Miss Perfect. I was little Miss Perfect, + party girl + conceited (excuse my French) bitch. Whatever effect Honduras had on me was now faded, the empty feeling was gone, and I was back to flushing the toilet paper again. All I wanted to do was hangout with my friends and boyfriend and enjoy my summer.

And then my mom happily reminded me that I needed to start preparing for my trip. Are you ****ing kidding me. Why did I sign up for this. What was I thinking? That’s almost a month! I can’t leave my boyfriend for that long. My friends will forget about me. What about Cheerleading? I’m basically giving up my entire summer just because I was sleep-deprived and not thinking straight. I was a very unhappy Miss Perfect the next few days. I started pulling out excuses again and faking my own sickness just like the last time. My attitude was out of control. I spent every day waking up on the “wrong side of the bed”. I did not, under any circumstances, want to go on this trip.

To top it all off I was going to have a traveling buddy named Sarah. Great, another stereotypical super-Christian Dutch girl that doesn’t do anything but pray and judge people. We’ll get along just oh so well. When I first met Sarah, I realized that my previous judgments were pretty accurate. She was a tall, blue-eyed and blonde-haired. She was sheltered and sweet. She was an intense Christian who put all of her Facebook statuses as bible verses. I didn’t like her, and I could tell she really didn’t like me either. The plane rides there we got a better chat in, but we still weren’t good friends by any means. We still very much disliked each other. We were from two different worlds and we both knew it. There was no way to make a friendship happen out of that.

The week in the mountains passed pretty fast. It wasn’t like the first time I was in Honduras. It was still enjoyable, but it just wasn’t as great as when I was with my schoolmates. I wasn’t close to any of the people there, and although I made new friends, it just wasn’t the same bond as my first trip. This was a total waste of my time. My brain started racing with ideas. Maybe if I just tell them I’m sick and I need to go back home, then I won’t have to stay for the two weeks. I wonder if I can tell them my sister’s in the hospital or something. Maybe I can get kicked off the trip? Thankfully, none of excuses happened to work out. Because what happened those next two weeks, is what changed my life forever.

Where Does The Toilet Paper Go? (Part One)

This post is going to be two posts long because it turns out this is way longer than I expected it to be.

PART I

Weird title, I know, but it holds more meaning to it than you would think. But, we’ll get to that later. First, let’s start off with what this blog post is really about. It’s about how this person:

then

A self-centered teenage girl primarily concerned with taking selfies, looking pretty, and being popular

Turned into this person:

now

A playful young missionary primarily concerned with hugging and loving on every Honduran kid alive

Yeah, honestly I don’t get how it’s possible either. I don’t understand how I went from caring so much about how many likes I got on Facebook that I’d sit outside for hours taking pictures of myself and then spend even more hours editing those pictures, to someone who can’t stop trying to share her cute little Honduran peanuts with the world. It wasn’t only my selfishness and pride that changed but my attitude towards kids as well. Before Honduras when my cousins would show up with their babies I literally would refuse to hold them. They were boring, icky, and smelled bad. I mean they’re cute but so are puppies and I liked puppies better. The only time I really played or liked kids was when I helped out at Vacation Bible School at my church – but even then I really wasn’t a huge fan of kids after spending three days with them. I was probably the worst babysitter in the history of mankind. I wasn’t even a good friend. I never kept close friends or really was concerned about anyone else’s feelings but my own. I was popular, I was pretty, I knew it, and I acted like it. I was obsessed with being absolutely perfect. I mean, just look at how many “I’s” are in this paragraph, you’ve got to get my point by now, right?

So, how did little Miss Perfect become a missionary? Sit back, relax, and enjoy the show.

It all started when I was in a Student Council meeting one morning at the end of my Junior year at Chicago Christian High School. Stakes were big for me at this time, I was the Junior class leader and I was up for a position in the Big Three (President, Vice President, Officer at Large). I wanted in and I wanted it bad. I would do nearly anything to impress my principle and the Big Three at the time. So, on this fateful morning, in came my principle, Mr. Payne. He looked at all of us and said there was a problem. There weren’t enough people signed up for the summer missions trip to Honduras. They needed to find more people fast or there wasn’t going to be a summer missions trip.  Little Miss Perfect sat in her seat the whole time not having a care in the world. Yawn, boring, next topic pleaseeeee. But then something unexpected happened.

Mr. Payne looked at all of his Student Council members and asked,

Which of you is available for the dates June 7-14?

Oh no. Oh no. Crap. What’s my excuse? He knows my Cheerleading schedule, he knows my Student Council schedule. What excuse do I have? VBS? Family vacation? C’mon Kaylie think of something. 

As I was making up the perfect excuse, I saw one of the cute boys I was crushing on raise his hand. Welp, I mean I guess there really isn’t huge harm in going. My hand shot up. Mr. Payne took down our names, one by one, and headed out the classroom to deliver the list to Mr. Hills, who was in charge of the missions trip. Little did I know what I had just done.

A week or so later I had to send in my down payment and permission forms which made it all concrete and happening. I did as I was asked and turned them in slightly late but still on time enough. I went to go talk to my crush, and see if he had all his stuff in too. Surely this couldn’t go wrong, right? “Yeah, sorry, I don’t have the money to go.” WHAT! No. You do. You’re going. You do not have a choice, mister. I literally pushed the kid down two hallways to Mr. Hills’ room and made him talk to Mr. Hills, trying to convince him to go on the trip. After about a half hour of arguments, he finally left the classroom, no permission forms or down payment handed in. What am I supposed do now.

I put the whole mission’s trip thing to the back of my mind for a few weeks. Me and the loser who wouldn’t go on the trip stopped talking. I started talking to someone new, and made myself a new boyfriend. I became so concerned with my new boyfriend that I didn’t really remember that I had to leave in June to go to some stupid third world country. I was too distracted by prom and cheerleading nationals to even remember it existed. Next thing I know, we’re a week away from leaving and I’m in a meeting at someone’s house.

“Kaylie, did you remember to plan out the games?”

Oh right, I was supposed to actually do something before we left. Quick, brain, think of something.

Uh, yeah. We’re gonna do that game with the buckets and the water and hoola-hoops. And the other game where you play and stuff.”

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t that bad, but it was still pretty bad. I hadn’t even given it a second of my thoughts.

As I looked at the people sitting around me one thought crossed my mind: crap, I’m stuck with a bunch of Christian Crazies and some freshman I don’t even know the name of. They probably all hate me.

This whole trip was going to be a disaster. Like, code-freakin’-red-I-need-an-excuse-to-get-out-of-it-right-this-instance bad. I tried everything in the book. Mom, I can’t go on this trip, I’m gonna miss home too much, and I don’t know anybody. Mom, I can’t go on this trip, I’m too busy with all my other stuff like cheerleading, student council, etc. Mom, I can’t go on this trip, I’m too afraid of leaving my boyfriend. Mom, I can’t go on this trip….is that a fever I feel? That’s right, I even tried to fake my own sickness all the way up until I was dropped off at the airport. When I got through security it finally hit me, I’m going to Honduras.

So, I boarded the plane and sat next to two freshman that I’d seen around school but never really talked to. We immediately started bonding over a mutual like of cartoons and other nerdy things. What? They aren’t annoying? I actually like them? Once again my judgment proved me wrong. They were some of the most fun people to be around. And they weren’t the only fun people on my trip, I ended up bonding with every single one of them – even Mr. Hills! That following week consisted of living in the mountains in Honduras and either leading VBS or building houses during the day, playing soccer with local Hondurans at night. One day, we visited an orphanage/rehab center called Pan-American. Not only did I play with kids, but I became super attached to one of them who we called “bucket-boy” because he liked to sit in buckets and no one really knew his name.  We even got to visit a huge 200 ft waterfall called Pulaphanzek. Not only did we get to zip line over it, but also got to take a very dangerous tour under it that would never, ever be legal in the United States. It was an extremely fun week, but I still didn’t feel as if I was called to go back or live there or anything.

 
soccerhouse

waterfallbucketboy

But it’s not what happened that first trip to Honduras that changed my life forever, it’s what happened after.

Missing Link

I know that it’s been forever since my last blog post, and I’m guessing most of you are waiting for some kind of uplifting “I live in Honduras now” post with pictures of my house, room, and lifestyle, but I really don’t feel like blogging about that. So, here’s my very short update:

My house is pretty with a hammock in the front of it, and I live with two awesome roommates who work with government orphanages and street kids. They like snacks and we like to eat snacks together sometimes.

So now that you have that, let move on to something I really want to blog about: my Chicago friends and how they relate to Honduras. Recently I’ve made some amazing friends from the Chicago suburbs. They have some of the most heart-breaking, life-changing stories I’ve ever heard. I bonded with them more than I’ve ever bonded with any of my friends. I can’t describe how lucky and grateful I am to have had them in my life.

The reason I’m mentioning my friends is because they’ve convinced me that there’s a missing link between my friends and the kids of Honduras. No, I don’t mean the ocean.

You see, my friends and their stories are like mirror images to some of the stories of the kids I’ve met in Honduras. I can’t count how many times I’ve wanted to be able to inspire these kids by relating to their stories but haven’t been able to because I can’t relate. However, my friends could do that.

My friends and these kids share an incredible bond that neither of them are even aware of.

Take my friend Marissa* for example. Marissa was sexually abused as a child and also raped. But here she stands today, overcoming that terrible time in her life and able to talk freely about it in hopes to inspire others. Now just think about how much Marissa could inspire the girls at Casitas, a public orphanage for teenage girls (most of them having been sexually abused or pregnant at some point in their life). Or how she could inspire the girls at Proniña (another home made up of sexually abused girls).

Marissa’s extreme inspiration doesn’t even stop there. Marissa also is a recovering addict. Marissa’s been addicted to a bunch of different drugs for most of High School. She’s been to rehab and relapsed. She stills struggles with her addiction today but is finding help and aspires to recover again. She dreams of going into the army one day and saving lives. Now, picture Marissa talking to the boys at Catrachos Al Cambio, a detox/rehab center in San Pedro Sula. Or, picture Marissa in San Pedro talking to the boys currently living on the streets and struggling with addiction. Just think of how much she could inspire them, how huge of a difference she could make in their lives!

Now I hope you’re starting to see what I mean about this whole “missing link” thing. If there were someway/someone to connect the two, it’d be more magical than Disney World.

Marissa isn’t just some kind of rare human being either, there were many more friends with similarly inspirational stories like her that I met back in Chicago. There was Faith*, a girl who constantly had to go looking for her father who was a suicidal alcoholic. He’d get kicked out of the places he lived in and she would find him a new home. He’d lock himself inside of his apartment and drink until he was nearly dead. Each time she would find him, forgive him, get him help, and love him again. Imagine what she could do with so many kids that share the experience of an alcoholic father. Imagine how many families she could bring back together. And alongside Faith there’s literally too many more friends to mention with inspirational stories. Listing all of them off would probably take the next three months if I didn’t sleep, eat, or do anything but blog.

So, surely now you see my point. There’s a missing link between the inspirational youth living in America and the broken youth of Honduras. Since I’m really just a newbie trying to survive in Honduras, I don’t really know how much I can do except offer to have them come visit me sometime.

But, this is what I hope to one day do with my life. I want to have my own non-for-profit that reaches out to the youth of America struggling with hurt pasts and addictions, and connect them with the youth here. It’d be like one big, happy family. They’d mutually inspire and help each other. I believe the only way to mend a broken heart is by making it whole. Two broken hearts sharing a bond has to make a whole, right? I want to be that big human band-aid that brings the two together. And no, I don’t care how cheesy that sounds.

So for now, there’s a missing link. But my hope is that there won’t be one much sooner. Watch out world, N2YHonduras is coming at you soon.

*names have been changed