At Home in a Foreign Country - My Family Travels
makingtortillas
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tortillas

  I pressed my nose to the glass to get a better view of the scene below me – the clear, cloud-free plains of Texas suddenly morphed into great tufts of white fluff, sprinkled like cotton balls over the Gulf of Mexico.My excitement mounted with each passing minute as the United States shrank into the horizon. Now there was nowhere to look but forward toward Honduras, where I would be doing mission work with six others from my church as part of a Christian ministry organization called Heart to Honduras (http://www.hth.org/).

   As my group stepped out of the airport into brilliant sunshine, I surveyed the brown faces and black hair, which were so different from mine. They all stared back at me, a pale, tall, blonde – American – girl. Our interpreter and driver, David, was waiting for us by the curb with a van. We loaded our luggage in the back and clambered inside. I pressed my face to the window again as we began to go out into this strange new territory, my eyes taking in everything with innocent curiosity. Wrappers, bottles, and newspapers lay in the brown grass on the sides of the road. Old women with lined faces peeled mangos into strips to sell on street corners, a lifetime of experience allowing them to work blindly and effortlessly.

   On the second day, the seven of us, me, Brandi, Pastor Ken, Lee, Brennan, Gary, and Caitlin, awoke in the small, green village of Canchias to the smell of frying tortillas wafting through the open windows. We dressed ourselves in old work clothes and tennis shoes and drove about an hour to a house where we were to help construct a fence, armed with cans of bug spray and bottles of hand sanitizer and sunscreen. The man who owned the house, Luciano, and his wife, Rubenia, neither of whom spoke any English, welcomed us graciously. They cooked for us – chicken, beans, rice, and tortillas – and gave us anything we needed. Here was the first humbling experience I had where I noticed a difference between Americans and other people. These two lived in a one-room wooden house and had only those possessions they absolutely needed, yet still they shared everything with us without being asked.

   After a few hours, when the men were still hard at work, Rubenia asked me, “ ¿Te gustaría aprender cómo hacer tortillas?” Do you want to learn how to make tortillas? I immediately jumped up and exclaimed, “¡Sí!” with an enormous smile on my face. She pointed at Brandi and Caitlin, inviting them to come, too.

   We were terrible. I kept dropping my tortilla on the ground, and Brandi rocked back and forth, trying to pat hers in her hands to stretch it out. We couldn’t help but crack up every few seconds. Rubenia watched us, and she laughed, too. As I made my futile attempts to flatten my blob of dough, I took a moment to let my eyes wander over everything around me – Rubenia’s brown smile, the sunshine pouring through the broad spaces in the walls made of misshapen wooden boards tied together, the dust under my feet. I felt completely at home and happy. This, I found, was the beauty of it all. I no longer felt like an observer. I was part of a family. A shirt I brought home with me would always remind me of this feeling. On the back there is a quote, an old proverb: “I heard, and I forgot. I saw, and I remembered. I touched, and I understood.”

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