Monday, April 2, 2012

Christmas in Los Planes

December 25th was an incredibly special day. It started with a chat with Mom, Dad and David. I am ever amazed by the wonders of technology, and super appreciative of being able to video call home. That has definitely helped get me through this year! It was not easy seeing everyone and feeling so far away, but they were all smiley so how could I be anything but? Pastor Alfonso and Mari invited me to San Luis Planes for the day, and I was excited to see what was in store for me up there. Mari´s parents live there, and they do a big family get together every year. I´m not sure I realized just how big the get together was going to be, but more on that later. My Christmas breakfast was a piece of tres leches cake, and that´s a memory I can´t help but preserve. It was so good. Homemade by Pastor Alfonso´s daughter Karen, moist, fluffy, rich, delicious. PSA--I still love vegetables, and am a major proponent of the gluten-free diet. Leche doesn´t do much for your system either. But it was tasty. We piled into the truck and made the hour and a halfish drive to Los Planes. It was such a pretty day. Last time I was up there I stayed pretty chilly, so I was dressed for cooler weather.
The weather changes pretty quickly here...not sunny anymore, but I thought it was a pretty view!
We chatted the whole drive there, shocking I´m sure, and shared great stories about our families and different life experiences and how we relate to them now on a more spiritual level. The drive up there is seriously beautiful. The scenery is incredible, and there are some great house colors along the way. I love that here they don´t just paint the inside, but the outside of the house gets a bright wash as well. Fun fact: tradition around here is to paint your house around Christmas, so we saw all sorts of facelifts all around the neighborhood. I look forward to the fun of selecting the perfect color for the exterior of my dream house one day. I suppose I should live somewhere with little to no HOA restrictions, because this girl likes color! And I´ve been told more and more how wonderfully eclectic I am. I can get lost daydreaming about what my future family home will look like! Propped up on a farm surrounded my sunshine and memories. Oh boy do I know how to digress. So the views were gorgeous, and we arrived to a warm, sunny Los Planes. I did not need the jacket I´d carried, but that was just fine by me.

Mari and I quickly got to work in the kitchen at her mom´s, but I´ll be honest and say it wasn´t long before I was dethroned from my task of chopping the fruit. The limited work area was full of family and friends who consider themselves such dancing around each other all tackling different projects. It had all potential to be a chaotic mess, but they made a graceful show of it! I just did my best to stay out of the way, and get my chopping done while also managing to take it all in. Karen and I were in charge of chopping fruit for this creamy fruit cocktail dessert Mari was planning to make, and we had a mountain of pineapple and watermelon to break into bits. It took shamefully long for me to figure out the size they wanted the fruit, and by the time I got there the woman next to me was ready to snag my knife and take over! Eventually she slyly distracted me with a wedge of watermelon and got busy with the fruit while I enjoyed my snack. Being relieved of my kitchen duties left me free to explore, which was a nice escape. My young friend stopped by for a visit, and it was nice to chat with him. He took me to his house to meet his brothers and sisters, and I couldn´t get enough of all their giggles.
My buddy hanging out at Mari´s Mom´s for a while!
We visited for a bit, and then I headed back down to Mari´s mom´s place. At that point everyone was caught up doing one thing or another, so I wandered around by myself a bit. The side yard had some sheets and other bedding on a clothesline hanging out with the breeze. It was all dry, so I folded clothes in the afternoon sunshine. I felt a little like Cinderella because I was singing all sorts of songs to myself, smiling at the different bird sounds I heard. As more and more family trickled in Pastor Alfonso stayed busy with introductions. I got to have a long conversation with one of Mari´s cousins who has a bilingual school in Santa Barbara. His mission and vision for the school are pretty sound, and I enjoyed talking to him and feeling his passion and enthusiasm. There are lots of coffee farms in the family, and in Honduras in general, and a good bit of us went for a great hike through the fields.
Love it.

I wish I could remember what we were talking about! Karen was loving it...I bet Pastor Alfonso was picking on me!

Naranjillas! Crazy, hairy little fruit...

On the way home from la finca Pastor Alfonso stopped at a tiny little house on the side of the road. He took me to meet the oldest woman living in the town. She was a frail little thing, and it was not easy to see where and how she lived and know I couldn´t do anything to change it. But we shared a great hug and some prayer before we left. And she had a little malanga growing wild on her property, so I got to see the plant part of one of my favorite roots! We got back with just enough time to enjoy a quick snack with afternoon coffee. Then it was off to church where I got to hear Mari preach for the first time. She gave a lovely sermon, and it´s always nice to worship in Pastora Gloria´s church. This time I didn´t mention anything about a caballa ;)

The family throw down got going sometime during church, and continued on until the next morning! That part I´m just taking their word on because we headed home not long after church, but it was a fun crowd so I´m sure they kept the party going! We each had some dinner after church, and by the time we were done eating we were worn out and ready to head back to Peña. Mari stayed with her family for the night, but the rest of us piled back into the truck. I remember my head wobbling like it does when I´m fighting sleep. What a long, fantastic day. It was a Christmas to remember, that´s for sure!

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