Sunday, December 13, 2009

A reflection on the holiday season

The holidays are supposed to be a time to think and reflect on all the things that we are thankful for, but because of the university exam schedule, and because of all my extra curriculars, this is one of those things that is easier not to think about. Last night while I was at a pre-game in my friend's apartment, the N'Sync "Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays" song came on (, and everyone around me gathered together and swayed to Justin Timberlake's soothing voice. While the song is simply a corny late 90's song made by a stereotypical boy band, somehow the lyrics really got me thinking. The pre-game was a small one, maybe 15 people, but all very close friends. I had my big Sarah next to me, my sisters all around me, and I just had to stand back and think about how lucky I really am.

I have 115 girls that I call sisters that I can depend on at any time to lift me up if I'm down. I have friends and family that will support me no matter what, I have people around me that have blessed me with opportunities to have horses that I can pretend are my own.

Today Sarah and I went to Walmart to buy frames for Grayson and David's pictures, and then we went over to their house to give them the presents. They LOVED them. The photo of Emma really seemed to move David, as she is his favorite. Their horses are their family, most have been in the family for 10+ years, and they can't imagine selling them. I can only hope that one day I'm as lucky as they have been.

Today I also had the opportunity to talk briefly with one of the boys I developed a bond with in Honduras. Kevin is seventeen years old, and lives in Flor Azul, a community of boys funded by donors to Hope For Honduran Children, and by sustainable business practices that the boys work on everyday. Our conversations always start off simple and are usually short, and he doesn't have much internet access, but speaking with him always brightens my day. Today was "do you know that I miss you so much? and its hard for me, because I cannot see you."

He is a person I admire more than most people I have ever met. He has seen things that many people couldn't dream up in their worst nightmares, and yet he is resilient, and knows how to put on enough of a front to let everyone around him think he is okay. I'm not sure why, maybe its because I connect better with people and animals that are damaged in some way, but Kevin was the only boy at Hope for Honduran Children that I really got to know at all. He began to let me into his deep dark world, and the bond we forged was unlike one he claimed to have ever formed with another volunteer. He says he uses the front even to fool Mama Karen, the woman who saved his life, and who founded Hope For Honduran Children.

Leaving Proniño had been really difficult for me, as I had immersed myself so fully in the program and given my heart so freely to those boys. I was distraught upon leaving, and wrote many of them letters letting them know how I felt about them. There were two boys there though who really got under my skin. Juan Carlos, a cheeky 12 year old with eyes as clear and free as the sunrise. He was a child that could portray anything he chose to portray, but upon getting to know him, he too let me into his past. He told me about his addiction to crack cocaine, the time he spent living on the street, and the things that happened within his family.
Juan Carlos, Me, Eddie

 And then there was Eddie, a seemingly carefree ten year old whose laughter could make anyone smile, but whose eyes could tell a story to anyone who cared to look. These were my boys, mis hermanos. But to say that I can relate to them would be a joke. How can I possibly relate to the experiences these kids have had at such an early age? But I never tried to pretend that I could understand what it was like to watch deadly violence between two parents, or to not know where my next meal was coming from, instead I simply listened.

I'm not sure exactly what role we were expected to play while we were there, I just know that I was able to give what I could, and I have no regrets about the experience. I guess the point of this post - for whoever actually reads this blog - is that if nothing else this holiday season, tell the people you love what they mean to you, and take a second to be thankful for everything you have. There are too many people out there that have none of this, but still have the ability to be thankful for the simple gift of life, and those out there who are willing to help others along the way in whatever way they can.

Juan Carlos left, Eddie right at La MontañaMe with Kevin in Nuevo Paraíso

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