Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Change, shock, and the yawns of a great trip

I’m back from the USA. To describe these trips on behalf of the mission is difficult. Some people assume it is some kind of vacation, some who know a bit of what they involve smile sympathetically, and others genuinely inquire what it all entails because it is kind of a strange concept. So, let us go through a list of what it normally entails:
1. Work! Try to juggle the day to day responsibilities that I still have to deal with whether or not I am actually in country, being in the US means trying to fit in as many meetings, presentations, speaking times, etc. and is hard work. To be quite clear is good work when you can get it. That is after all the reason I go! We have never done a furlough, and I believe only once have I ever taken a vacation back to the USA during a surprise trip a few years ago to go back for Christmas for a week.
Otherwise when I am back it is all about thanking so many that give so much for the work to continue here, to try to meet new people to expand what God is doing, purchase some things the mission needs, sell some coffee products, drive quite a bit (see more on that below) and squeeze in some moments to see family or other fun things when the schedule happens to allow.
Speaking of happening to day during this trip Valerie and I squeezed in some time for a celebration of.... birthdays/anniversary/Valentine’s, & I suppose  Groundhog Day just to round it all out, getting to stop for our first time ever at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, followed by the equally regal pizza buffet in Martinsville at Gatti’s. We are nothing if not a study in contrasts it would appear.
Did you know the LOVE statue is the original?  By artist Robert Indiana, in Indiana.  Cool. 
This particular trip to the US, which ended up being 3 1/2 weeks had one week in ATL for the National Missionary Convention (see our cool booth here), a couple weekends for mission fairs, a variety of other meetings, and preparing a bit for and then helping load the FAME container.  Whew!
2. Change, and that is probably what strikes me the most...from one day to another, you wake up somewhere different, are going different places, experiencing different things, and getting some decent amounts of culture shock mixed in with just the changes that being gone from sites you have known bring.
People asking for money at street corners...standing in traffic actually, is so normal here, that I was quite surprised to see this woman (hard to get a good shot even as a passenger) in handcuffs with her cardboard sign confiscated by the police on the scene. 
Other changes/shocks noted this particular time around, some also experienced in prior years as well...
---Sunsets are actually visible phenomena, and usually amazingly beautiful
---water that is safe to drink from the tap everywhere...and despite that it seems everyone buys tiny bottles of water, which is usually tap water from somewhere else.
---oh, and restaurants give you free water in a glass...with free lemon too! 
---police pulling people over for speeding all the time (in a one hour period I counted eight people pulled over driving near Indianapolis), made me homesick for Honduras ;-)
---discounts at the grocery store all the time for things going out of date (like produce, doughnuts, breads ,etc.) all of which were still good for many days afterwards!
---weather changes...sometimes several times in one day. I never have to check the weather at home!
---darkness until 8:00AM? That is madness and hard to fathom that I actually functioned in such an environment. Weird.
---people seem so safe in the US and yet...more worried about losing what they have than in the comparatively dangerous Honduras, but not really taking time to enjoy such stuff or those they love.
---still no shortage of people that when they hear the country of Honduras have no clue where it is, and with a brief conversation I start to see those “looks” again. How do I explain in 5 seconds at the checkout line when someone asks why I am buying enough cereal for a bomb shelter?
---plenty of opportunities to speak Spanish in several communities we visit, which is always a neat experience and testimony.
---there don’t seem to exist many curves on roads in the USA. It is such a pleasant surprise to have to actually turn the wheel when you drive! (I still managed in two weeks in Indiana to drive almost 1,500 miles)

3. The BIG change is getting used to hearing a few people call me Trevor instead of Felipe. I honestly did not go into life planning to go exclusively by that name, it is really just an identity of where I live, how I live, and what I hear day in and day out for eleven months or more a year. For those that don’t know how this came to be...Phillip (translated Felipe) is my middle name, a name that honored my grandpa, a name that was his middle name and one that he used to such exclusivity that many that knew Phil Colby their entire life did not know Phil was “just” his middle name. I won’t even mention here what his first name was...he never used in my lifetime, so neither do I. I don’t hear well anyway, and so I have decided that instead of trying to keep an ear for both names...I’ll just stick with Felipe, which came about in the first place my first trip here many many years ago and just stuck. No Hondurans call me Trevor, they have known me for almost fifteen years as Felipe.

I am sure many people think this whole Felipe “thing” makes me even more crazy than they previously thought, or that it is silly, or whatever they might think...but there was no real thought to it, it just gradually happened. Some people still call me Trevor...but even when I used Trevor I got all sorts of other names as well.... “Travis” “Tree-vor” “Travor” “Arnold” “John Cena”...I have heard it all.

I tried to get my nephew, who is still learning to talk, to call me Felipe. It came out “pee-pe”.....I liked it. Better than pee-pee at any rate. But thinking about it in general...sometimes it is just good to be called at all.
Hopefully John Cena does not mind the comparison (seen here I throw a kid in the air,  prompted by some of the kids first calling me John Cena and when I may have indicated that I could in fact be him...they asked me to prove it.  Throwing kids around seemed to be a good idea at the time.)
I took this picture while we were at the art museum...I took it because it described to me how God keeps us going here in Honduras from a certain perspective. You might not be able to see it, but I am being held off the ground by many thousand plastic people with arms raised. The reality is that people much more spiritual that myself, more holy, smarter, wiser, more humble, better in just about every way I can imagine are those that through prayer, work, suggestions, time, effort, and so much more than I’ll likely ever realize all work together being used by the Dad we have in common to keep me up, as I fully acknowledge day after day I would otherwise fall flat, repeatedly if not every day sometimes it would seem. If I is not by my will, but His that be done!     
Oh...another thing noticed in the US...many people still don't know Bimbo is in fact a bakery, the largest baker in the USA.  That shirt (MLS soccer team by the way, purchased at one of those amazing Outlet Malls) was a huge hit in the art museum. 

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