Dive In and Explore Grade One and Two!

Dive In And Explore Grade One And Two!

Pretty catchy title, huh? It works wonderfully for my underwater bulletin board and my sad attempt to have an underwater themed classroom. 

I know it's hard to believe, but I am actually living in Honduras because I am working here. I'm not just here taking a nice little vacation, hanging out with friends, and traveling on the weekends. But I promise you-- my Monday through Friday is a whole different sort of enjoyable.

My Grade Ones are improving each and every day. They can now recite our class rules to me without any prompting-- thank the Lord. We're working on actually being able to follow the class rules, but as of this week, they have been able to tell me that I moved their clip down because they broke rule number 3. While I'm not a fan of how I'm a slave to the clip chart these days, it's working for my kiddos, so I'll put it up with it.

Grade Twos and I are kind of at a stand-still right now. We aren't doing terrible, but we certainly aren't on a roll or anything. Between the cold temperatures and overcast skies and the fact that Christmas vacation is just too far out of reach to be able to count down to it, we're all a little antsy. Their attention spans are short and my patience is even shorter. We're making it work, but no one is absolutely loving it.

I feel like I say this every time I talk about what is going on at school, but there is ALWAYS so much going on! In the month of Novemeber we had the CEE Anniversary, the Spelling Bee, a couple different birthday parties, and some fun activities in Grade One.

Since pictures can explain these events better than words can, I've uploaded some of the winning shots for your viewing pleasure.

CEE Anniversary

The Spelling Bee

Grade One Science

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We hear (and have, ourselves, said) a lot of different pronunciations of the city where we’re living. The variety of inflections newcomers (and even some patrons) use when referring to this town are almost as numerous as the people who inhabit it. But no matter. We’ll know, as will the Hondurans in this area, what you really mean.

Siguatepeque is located almost directly between Honduras’s two largest cities, Tegucigalpa (the capital) and San Pedro Sula. And in fact, this little town is considered to be the exact geographical center of the Americas.

My wife Joanna and I are missionary teachers at Comunidad Educativa Evangélica (Siguatepeque Bilingual Christian School) in Honduras.

To say that the past month here in Honduras has been crazy would be the understatement of the century. But nonetheless, we have made it through the first two weeks of classes alive and well. Exhausted, but well.

Teaching high schoolers has been quite an experience, to say the least. We’ve certainly faced our trials already, but we’ve never been more sure that we are where God wants us to be. He has carried us through everything, and for that, we are more grateful than we can express.

As you can guess, we are all settled into our apartment here in Siguatapeque (pictures to come as soon as we get things a little more organized around here). It’s a great little place that already feels like home. Emma has adapted to life in Honduras much quicker than we could have expected, and God has taken care of us in every way.

This year, Joanna and I are teaching classes in English to grades 7 through 11, so we’ve seen a lot of new faces over the past few weeks. She is teaching grades 7-11 Physical Education, grades 7-9 Spelling, grades 7 & 8 Art, grade 10 Psychology, and grade 11 History. I’m teaching grades 7-9 Science (which includes Human Biology, Life Science, and Physical Science) and grades 10 & 11 English. So as you can see, this is going to be a busy year for the two of us, but already we have a love for teaching than can only be explained by the Holy Spirit’s work in us.

We want to go ahead and thank all of the people who have been supporting us along the way. We are truly thankful for your prayers and financial support, and we could not do it without you. Living in Honduras has been quite an adjustment, but God has brought us here, and we are so blessed to have the support from our family and friends that we do.

¡Gracias y adios!


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Weekend Adventures

Working in Honduras definitely has its perks when it comes to planning vacations. Living in Siguatepeque we are only about three hours from the Carribean Sea! Tela, a beach on the coast is usually our default when we decide we need a weekend away. As we are nearing the end of the school year and my time for the year all of the English teachers are looking to make the most of the time we have left in this beautiful country, so we have been planning a lot of weekend adventures. We have been to Tela two weekends in a row, once for a day with our Honduran friends who work at the Universal English Center and the second time for the whole weekend with most of the English staff.


Two weekends ago I traveled somewhere new near the largest lake in Honduras, Lago Yajoa. It was a little backpackers hotel a few kilometers from the lake right in the middle of the forest. It was a really cute place to stay and a new place for me which was nice, since the majority of places we have been this year I had visited last year. We celebrated two of our staff’s birthdays here complete with massages, nature boardwalk walks, cheesecake, an armadillo sighting, and more!


Finally this past weekend a bunch of us traveled to Valle de Angeles outside of Tegucigalpa. A missionary couple I have gotten to know over these two years had been a few times to this town and offered to take whatever teachers were interested in going. This was a really cute small town with a large selection of souvenir shops and little restaurants,etc. After spending a few hours there we headed back to Tegus where we stopped at a mall for lunch and a little shopping.




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Cultural Day

We had a wonderful culture day. The students in grades 7-9 constructed these booths that they decorated for the various departments of Honduras they represented. We had the privilege of acting as judges for the booths which meant learning a lot about the different departments of Honduras and eating a lot of delicious traditional Honduran food!

We also danced a traditional Honduran dance with the grade 11 students. Everyone had a lot of fun watching our dance and we were pretty popular afterwards - we received a lot of comments on how Honduran we looked, or that they had never seen a Honduran gringo before, or that they thought we danced better than real Hondurans...needless to say, it was a lot of fun!

Here are some pictures from the day:

Here are the students and Darrell getting the booths ready.

Comayagua is the department of Honduras that contains their capitol, Comayagua. We actually got to got here one weekend and see the oldest clock in all of the Americas. It still works the same way it did when it was built. Pretty neat!

Valle is a department by the sea that has a lot of produce.

Cortes is well known for their ports and shipping.

Santa Barbara is known for their wicker-work, hats and baskets, etc.

'Gracias a Dios' is a farming department in Honduras, and yes the students brought in a real cow for the day.

Atlantida is another coastal department that gave us delicious pina smoothies!

The Bay Islands are the most famous tourist destinations in Honduras.

Copan is known for their famous Mayan ruins. Check out their awesome homemade statue!

Even though grade 10 did not make a booth, they sold delicious Honduran food. Here are some of the foods sold by all the grades:

A delicious potato like dish and an 'India'.

A catratcha which is also the slang word for a Honduran.

A baleada, simple beans and cheese tortilla snack, but oh soooo good!

And of course our traditional Honduran Dancing! We look like real Catratchas.
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Honduran Food

Over our past four months here, Karen has had the opportunity to learn how to cook various types of traditional Honduran food. Darrell has had the opportunity to eat them.

Check out some pictures of Karen making homemade tortillas, refried beans, and fried plantains to make baleadas with our neighbors, Dixie, Reina, Zeida, and Nancy.

homemade refried beans

Platano Fritos - Karen's Favorite!

Making Tortillas

The finished product - to make a baleada, you simply take a tortilla, spread some refried beans, mantequilla, and cheese inside with your favorite toppings, in our case avacado and plantanos!

Everyone enjoying their baleadas.

Check out some pictures of Karen and her coworkers learning how to make papusas with our friend Becky Vega and her family.

First you have to chop up all the ingredients for the filling, toppings and sauce.

Then you have to grind your fillings so they become soft (kind of like ground beef)

When all the prep is done, you put your fillings inside the papusa dough, roll it into a ball, flatten the ball so it looks like a tortilla, then cook it like a pancake.

Karen got to be in charge of the grill.

The finished product - Papusas! mmmm, so delicious!
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CEE High School Musical!

Follow the link to find an amazing rendition of High School Musical... Honduran style :)


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Grade 9 - 11 Educational Trip

Every year the high school students have the opportunity to travel together to different parts of Honduras. This is the trip the students wait for all year. This year was no different, the students have been talking about it since before Christmas and we only just went February 23rd-25th! I will admit that having heard about the trips last year I was also very excited and had been thinking out the trip for a while now. Unfortunately, because of the cost of the trips there are a number of students who are not able to attend and some who choose not to attend, but there is still a good turn out of kids and all the students generally travel on at least one of the trips during their high school years. The way these trips work is the grade 7 and 8 classes travel every other year to either to Copan and the Mayan Ruins or to Omoa and Puerto Cortes. The grade 9, 10, and 11 students travel, on a rotating basis, to either Roatan, La Ceiba and Cayos Cochinos, or Utila and La Ceiba.  The English and Spanish maestra guia (guide teacher) assigned for each grade accompanies the students on these trips. As the Grade 9 English maestra guia I had the pleasure of traveling with approximately 30 students ranging from grades 9-11 to La Ceiba and Utila for their three-day educational trip. La Ceiba is located on the northern Caribbean Coast and Utila is the third largest of the Bay Islands.

The trip was only three days…three of the longest, busiest, hottest, exciting, most adventure filled, rewarding, roller coaster days I have had here in Honduras. We began out adventures at 4am when we left the school packed on a bus and each day we were up by 5am each morning getting started on our many activities. The first day after our long bus ride we hiked part way up Pico Bonito (one of the highest peaks in Honduras and part of a national park). The hike was beautiful through the mountain forests following one of the rivers that flowed down the huge mountain. Our final destination was a beautiful waterfall part way up Pico Bonito, I was very content with the waterfall when I found out hiking the whole mountain takes an entire day! The rest of the day was spent visiting a butterfly and snake conservatory, settling into the hotel, a short visit to the mall, and after having some devotional time taking a dip in the pool.


The second day we were up bright and early again at 5am packing up all of our stuff and preparing to get on a small boat (called a lancha) and head to Utila. The boat ride was very bumpy and wet. Your probably thinking, "Yeah you’re traveling on the ocean in this small 12 seater boat. Of course you are going to get wet and practically whip-lash.” Well you are wrong apparently I chose the wrong boat everyone else in the other two boats were dry as a bone and didn’t seem to think the ride was that rough. Oh well such is life the rough ride and soaked clothes were all forgotten the moment I saw those fins in the water….dolphins!!! Yup the boat driver stopped the boat in the middle of our trip and as we all looked around to see what was wrong we saw dolphins all around us close enough to touch, jumping out of the water and swimming under the boat, we were surrounded. All of us stood up and screamed pointing at all the dolphins, I felt like a little kid on Christmas it was one of the coolest sights I have ever seen in my life! After all that excitement once we arrived on the island, the rest of our day was spent doing a lot of walking to old airports, restaurants, a beautiful recycling adventure land called the Jade Seahorse; and we also had the opportunity to go snorkeling (right off the beach you didn’t even need to take a boat out anywhere). Utila is that it is the island known for its scuba diving. The coast is lined with dive centers and schools for diving, etc. The majority of the population on Utila is white (gringos) who have either settled here or are vacationing and wanting to enjoy the hippie island atmosphere. There are very few cars and trucks on the island as most people travel either by foot, motorcycle, golf cart, or four-wheeler. It is a very unique place that I have traveled to before and I have always thoroughly enjoyed the relaxing ways of the culture here. The island life on Utila is a culture all its own.


Our final day began bright and early at 5am again, leaving us all low on sleep. After our boat ride back to La Ceiba we headed to one of my favourite parts of the trip, this university which was built on this land used as a Genetic Bank of Plants (UNAH – CURLA). Here we were given a tour of part of the 31 hectares of land containing plants of many varieties from around the world. The university student use these plants to run experiments on to find out a number of different things such as medicinal values of plants, if the plants are at all fatal, etc. We were introduced to one plant that is the most fatal plant on the property. If you ate it you would die within 15 minutes! No ifs ands or buts, if you eat it you die. I found it very interesting to learn about all the different plants many of which I have never seen before. I also had a boost of confidence in my Spanish skills since the entire two-hour tour was given in Spanish and I was able to understand almost all of it! The final stop on our trip was the airport in La Ceiba. Here we were taken up into the flight command tower where we were permitted to walk outside around the top of the tower to watch a plane flying in. It was also pretty cool, honestly some of the things we did I think I appreciated more than the students did.

Overall, it was an amazing trip! The students were very well-behaved and it was so fun to hang out with, and the many things we go to do and see are things I never would have done or planned on my own, so it was great to be able to experience them on this trip with the students! Th

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Grade 7-8 Copan Field Trip

Of the many highlights that occur during the spring term here at CEE, perhaps the most highly anticipated are the high school educational trips, which offer students the opportunity to travel around the country and see some of their nation’s most interesting and important historic and cultural sights.


This year, I had the opportunity to tag along with Grade 7 and 8 on their three-day trip to Copan Ruinas. After an early-morning start (we loaded up the buses at 4 a.m.) and a 6-hour drive that took us clear across the country, we piled off the bus at our first stop, the ruins of an ancient Mayan city.



For the next three hours we shook off our grogginess and clambered all over a city that has remained surprisingly intact for over one thousand years. Aided by our tour guides, we made sense of the layout, statues, and historical context of the ancient stone structures.


It was definitely experiential learning at its finest.


Once we finished our tour of the ruins, we loaded back onto the bus and drove over to our hotel. (Well, we drove close to it, but due to the nature of the winding, narrow streets in Copan, we had to get off and walk with our bags for the last four blocks. Perhaps in the future some of our girls will rethink their "bring everything I need to survive for a month” packing strategy.)


The remainder of the day was – like every evening during the trip – primarily composed of free time, which usually took the form of a) shopping around town with the girls,



or b) roughhousing in the hotel pool with the boys.



After dinner we took some time out for a devotional period, during which the teachers had an opportunity to talk with the kids about some of the topics of faith that don’t always naturally come up in the classroom. By 11 o’clock, we were all in bed (or, well, at least we were all in our rooms).


The next morning started bright and early with devotional at 6 a.m. (but, this is Honduras, so it was more like 6:45), followed by breakfast. Then we were off again, this time to an avian preserve called Macaw Mountain, where we were able to observe an extraordinary array of native exotic birds, ranging from toucans to the rare green macaw. The bravest students even had the chance – with the help of our tour guides – to hold a few birds and pose for pictures.




Of course, we wouldn’t want the trip to be all work and no play, so after thoroughly exploring Macaw Mountain, we gave the kids the rest of the afternoon to unwind at a local water park.




Tired out by spending so much time in the sun, the students spent a more subdued evening relaxing around the hotel before our departure for home the following morning.


Now, if you asked the students what their favorite part of the trip was, you would receive a wide variety of responses – anything from holding the parrots, to climbing crumbling temples, to just playing in the hotel pool.


However, if you asked me, I would tell you that my favorite part of the trip was the opportunity it afforded for both teachers and students to see one another outside of their usual contexts. Back home, the predictability of our school-day routine can sometimes spill over into our relationships; as schedules and expectations begin to solidify, both teachers and students tend to forget that we still have the capacity to surprise one another.


For me, the trip was full of these kinds of surprises. At every moment students were approaching me to have conversations, or doing things so ridiculous I lost my breath laughing, or sharing parts of their hearts during devotional I had not yet had the chance to see.


And, not to be outdone, I think I surprised the students a little myself. Without the need to stick to bell schedules, content objectives and deadlines, I could relax and just enjoy spending some quality time with no other goal than getting to know them and learn about their lives.


I think one of the Grade 8 students, Joyce, inadvertently captured what I’m trying to say quite perfectly. "You know, Miss,” Joyce reflected thoughtfully one evening, "I didn’t realize it at school, but you can be pretty cool sometimes.”


Well ditto, Joyce. Ditto.


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Día De La Amistad

Dia de la Amistad

Working at a bilingual school in Honduras definitely has its benefits.  One is summed up nicely by the old tv show, "Kids say the Darndest Things.” While things they say are cute anyway, when you throw in a second language, you get much more hilarious or adorable phrases. Their everyday speech and pronunciation sometimes needs to be run through a filter in order to be understood. A friend I know that taught in Peru for around a decade put it this way in a birthday greeting to me "Japi verde tuyu” (Happy birthday to you). What they lack in pronunciation, they make up for in enthusiasm!  My students are extremely loving and full of encouragement for me every day.

Speaking of "birthdays”, my birthday falls on February 14th, or what most of you may know as Valentine’s Day. Here however, it is the "Día De La Amistad.” A day dedicated more to friendships and relationships. While that can include romantic relationships, it centers on those who love you, and includes gratitude to family, friends, even teachers. My grade two students celebrated early with a Wendy’s lunch and tres leche cake for the class. Gifts were provided, but the way they got one was by pulling out a gift which had the name of a student or teacher on it. The student would explain why they liked that person, give them a hug, and give them the gift. The person receiving the gift would then pull out another gift to give away. It was great to hear my students (which, like any kids, don’t always get along) talk about what they liked about their fellow classmates.

On the actual day, first grade was more than a little excited!  Not only did they get to wear normal clothes to school, but it was "the Miss’s birthday” in addition to the Día de la Amistad. The students sang "Happy birthday” to me more than once, and were full of hugs for everyone. They made cards for their parents with sixth grade students, and even decorated heart sugar cookies together. While the traditional chocolate and hearts were present, it was neat to see the focus redirected to friendship and the purer love that comes from God that spills over into all of our relationships (family, friends, teachers, other students, etc). It was neat to be able to have the freedom to share the story of the greatest demonstration of love through the salvation story and discuss it with the students. And one of the greatest birthday privileges was to get a hug from my 39 students (16 second graders and 25 first graders, although 2 were sick that day). I lost count of the hugs though, because some students gave me several throughout the day. J After experiencing "La Día de la Amistad” here, I don’t think I can look at Valentine’s Day the same way again. It should not be all about flowers, chocolates, and girls. Instead, it should be a day of gratitude for all those who love you and a reminder of how we are supposed to love others throughout the entire year.  That’s another one of the benefits of teaching here, the teacher always has so much more to learn, and can learn it not only from coworkers, curriculum, and students, but from the culture, too.

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