April in Review

The month of April was, to say the least, awesome. A lot of fun and cool things happened here at NPH El Salvador, not least among them being Holy Week and Easter. Lent is my favorite liturgical season, but there’s something about Holy Week that I can’t explain. I love it! It was very neat to have experienced new traditions here with my NPH family.

Here is the month of April in photo review at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos El Salvador! I included a lot of pictures in this post (more than usual) because of how much went on and simply due to the fact that I cannot make a decision on which picture to use. I hope you don’t mind that (but really, why would you mind more pictures?)

Also, I should note that at some point after Easter, something happened with the inner workings of my camera, and now a black mark appears in the corner of every picture. Unfortunately I have not been able to figure out how to make it go away.

Enjoy!

Paz y bien.

The boys are working (mostly) on some drawings, but near the end of the afternoon they spent more time goofing off than working, ha!

The boys are working (mostly) on some drawings, but near the end of the afternoon they spent more time goofing off than working, ha!

On our way to see FAS play! (FAS is a professional soccer team!)

On our way to see FAS play! (FAS is a professional soccer team!)

Our special treat to the boys was going on the field. In this shot, the players are going back inside to change before the game. Those are my boys lining the tunnel. How cool!? The leading scorer in all of El Salvador is the guy in blue about to give out some high fives.

Our special treat to the boys was going on the field. In this shot, the players are going back inside to change before the game. Those are my boys lining the tunnel. How cool!? The leading scorer in all of El Salvador is the guy in blue about to give out some high fives.

The story of my life – an unsuccessful group picture, ha. I got a few of the boys and some of the players looking at my camera.

The story of my life – an unsuccessful group picture, ha. I got a few of the boys and some of the players looking at my camera.

It wasn’t actually raining, but she needed a picture with an umbrella. So we improvised!

It wasn’t actually raining, but she needed a picture with an umbrella. So we improvised!

With the boys and their homework assignment. Kudos go to the Tía who helped them make the very delicious pudín.

With the boys and their homework assignment. Kudos go to the Tía who helped them make the very delicious pudín.

With the girls while they prepare chilaquiles…

With the girls while they prepare chilaquiles…

The finished product, chilaquiles. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I promise you. IT IS AWESOME.

The finished product, chilaquiles. I know it doesn’t look like much, but I promise you. IT IS AWESOME.

How the frontlines look just before dinner time.

How the frontlines look just before dinner time.

Beans and cream for dinner, one of my favs.

Beans and cream for dinner, one of my favs.

The life of that beheaded piñata was short. There was still candy inside!

The life of that beheaded piñata was short. There was still candy inside!

April birthdays!

April birthdays!

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Going for a spin on the track! I gave some of the girls a ride later on because they don’t know how to ride a bike, but they still wanted to experience it.

Going for a spin on the track! I gave some of the girls a ride later on because they don’t know how to ride a bike, but they still wanted to experience it.

Palm Sunday procession!

Palm Sunday procession!

An NPH El Salvador Holy Week tradition is to go to the Lempa River. It’s a 2 hour walk from the foundation. This is a bridge you have to cross. Really. Haha. I opted to walk through the stream. On the way home, I walked across. It was mildly terrifying as you’d imagine.

An NPH El Salvador Holy Week tradition is to go to the Lempa River. It’s a 2 hour walk from the foundation. This is a bridge you have to cross. Really. Haha. I opted to walk through the stream. On the way home, I walked across. It was mildly terrifying as you’d imagine.

She needed to borrow my shoes, but I wouldn’t let her until I took a picture documenting the stark difference between our feet, ha.

She needed to borrow my shoes, but I wouldn’t let her until I took a picture documenting the stark difference between our feet, ha.

All 3 of the gallinas at the river.  Gallina means hen in Spanish. Our nickname for each other happened because of a misunderstanding between the word for flip flop and the word for hen. The silliness will never go away, and the nickname stuck.

All 3 of the gallinas at the river. Gallina means hen in Spanish. Our nickname for each other happened because of a misunderstanding between the word for flip flop and the word for hen. The silliness will never go away, and the nickname stuck.

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In order to cross the strong current to get to the other side, you had to use the rope that the year of service boys somehow managed to string across. They’re awesome.

In order to cross the strong current to get to the other side, you had to use the rope that the year of service boys somehow managed to string across. They’re awesome.

I kept walking around making kissy faces with my algae mustache. The girls hated it, I loved it.

I kept walking around making kissy faces with my algae mustache. The girls hated it, I loved it.

The boy in the middle had just basically fallen off his seat, which happens to be a water jug that caved in on itself. Haha.

The boy in the middle had just basically fallen off his seat, which happens to be a water jug that caved in on itself. Haha.

Walking home

Walking home

Enjoying a lovely sunset. I walked home with 3 girls in less than 2 hours! We were very proud of ourselves.

Enjoying a lovely sunset. I walked home with 3 girls in less than 2 hours! We were very proud of ourselves.

Holy Thursday is my favorite! Washing of the feet.

Holy Thursday is my favorite! Washing of the feet.

On Good Friday, the year of service youth put on their production of the Stations of the Cross. We all lined the field to watch.

On Good Friday, the year of service youth put on their production of the Stations of the Cross. We all lined the field to watch.

I love Pilate’s outfit. It makes me giggle, especially since this guy is always so serious!

I love Pilate’s outfit. It makes me giggle, especially since this guy is always so serious!

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It was awesome watching the guys put the crosses up, so very smooth and skilled.

It was awesome watching the guys put the crosses up, so very smooth and skilled.

This is the thief who defended Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him when he arrived in the Kingdom…well that guy happens to be my little brother, E, who said those words. Although Holy Thursday is my favorite of the Triduum, Good Friday ALWAYS gets me and makes me cry. I lost it, internally, when E said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” This time it wasn’t just words I heard from a lector. It was my brother, hanging from a cross, who said them.

This is the thief who defended Jesus and asked Jesus to remember him when he arrived in the Kingdom…well that guy happens to be my little brother, E, who said those words. Although Holy Thursday is my favorite of the Triduum, Good Friday ALWAYS gets me and makes me cry. I lost it, internally, when E said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” This time it wasn’t just words I heard from a lector. It was my brother, hanging from a cross, who said them.

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Good Friday was…good...to say the least.

Good Friday was…good…to say the least.

Veneration of the Cross

Veneration of the Cross

All of the year of service youth and Padre Ron being silly!

All of the year of service youth and Padre Ron being silly!

Blessing of the fire on Easter Vigil

Blessing of the fire on Easter Vigil

I could make an album just from pictures from that night, titled “Boys who squint because of the flash.”

I could make an album just from pictures from that night, titled “Boys who squint because of the flash.”

Easter morning’s only light at 4:30am was a path lined with these votive candles in sand.

Easter morning’s only light at 4:30am was a path lined with these votive candles in sand.

Padre and the guys before Mass started

Padre and the guys before Mass started

Happy Easter! The sun has risen, Christ has risen! Alleluia.

Happy Easter! The sun has risen, Christ has risen! Alleluia.

With my friend! He studies on the other side of the country, so we rarely see him.

With my friend! He studies on the other side of the country, so we rarely see him.

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Hahaha. This is a beautiful and silly picture.

Hahaha. This is a beautiful and silly picture.

The week’s other Peter Parker.

The week’s other Peter Parker.

“This is my beloved family, with whom I am well pleased.”

“This is my beloved family, with whom I am well pleased.”

One of the tías and her girls

One of the tías and her girls

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Easter Sunday activities…I promise, she clears it and makes a big ol’ splash.

Easter Sunday activities…I promise, she clears it and makes a big ol’ splash.

This kid is awesome. He asked to see the picture, and when he saw it he yelled, “WOW I LOOK SOOOOO COOL!”

This kid is awesome. He asked to see the picture, and when he saw it he yelled, “WOW I LOOK SOOOOO COOL!”

Even the year of service girls got in on the fun.

Even the year of service girls got in on the fun.

I love the smiles.

I love the smiles.

I spent part of my Easter afternoon in the clinic because of a gnarly blister I got on our hike to the river.

I spent part of my Easter afternoon in the clinic because of a gnarly blister I got on our hike to the river.

More homework time in the kitchen, this time it was sopes! Delicious.

More homework time in the kitchen, this time it was sopes! Delicious.

This year of service guy, who is not assigned to work in the kitchen, randomly stopped by and started helping the tía prepare beans without being asked. I love it! Yet another reason why my kids are way cool.

This year of service guy, who is not assigned to work in the kitchen, randomly stopped by and started helping the tía prepare beans without being asked. I love it! Yet another reason why my kids are way cool.

“Haciendo la paja” is what the boys told me (doing the lie, literally). The boys didn’t actually make the tortillas, the girls helped them ha. So I took a picture of them pretending to work.

“Haciendo la paja” is what the boys told me (doing the lie, literally). The boys didn’t actually make the tortillas, the girls helped them ha. So I took a picture of them pretending to work.

Their final product was chilaquilas (though the name is only one letter different from what the girls made – see the earlier picture – it is in fact much different but still just as delicious!).

Their final product was chilaquilas (though the name is only one letter different from what the girls made – see the earlier picture – it is in fact much different but still just as delicious!).

My best friend Katie Ann came to visit me for a little over a week. She’s so cool!

My best friend Katie Ann came to visit me for a little over a week. She’s so cool!

She made friends in the clinic too, haha.

She made friends in the clinic too, haha.

Photographic evidence that I do in fact wash my clothes by hand…

Photographic evidence that I do in fact wash my clothes by hand…

…and then almost cry because the sun is shining in my eyes when I hang them up to dry. Ha.

…and then almost cry because the sun is shining in my eyes when I hang them up to dry. Ha.

Friends making friendship bracelets

Friends making friendship bracelets

After a few days at NPH, Katie Ann and I went to the beach!!! This is looking at the tide pool area at high tide!

After a few days at NPH, Katie Ann and I went to the beach!!! This is looking at the tide pool area at high tide!

First time for me swimming in an ocean, ever. First time for Katie Ann seeing the Pacific Ocean (I’ve seen it before but had only gotten my feet wet.)

First time for me swimming in an ocean, ever. First time for Katie Ann seeing the Pacific Ocean (I’ve seen it before but had only gotten my feet wet.)

Low tide! Such awesome views.

Low tide! Such awesome views.

The tide pool when you can actually swim in it.

The tide pool when you can actually swim in it.

Let’s just say, I was nerding out after witnessing the tides come and go and what is left behind.

Let’s just say, I was nerding out after witnessing the tides come and go and what is left behind.

Lens kept fogging up, which annoyed me, but I did get some cool pictures.

Lens kept fogging up, which annoyed me, but I did get some cool pictures.

Ah, if only that pesky black spot weren’t there.

Ah, if only that pesky black spot weren’t there.

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Torneo de Fútbol

As I mentioned in a previous post, I spent the last week of November at NPH Guatemala, for the 7th annual NPH International Soccer Tournament. The tournament is held every year in honor of NPH founder, Fr. William Wasson. Five of the nine homes join together to play a lot of fútbol, laugh, and so much more.

This year, the tournament was named after Ryan Rossi, and NPH was so blessed and fortunate that the Rossi family could support us. Without them, the tournament would not have been possible. Welcome to our NPH family!

I went with our directors, the drivers, and one of the office employees. So basically, we were the smallest cheering section of the 5 countries, haha. I tagged along to document the experience in addition to helping take care of the girls. It was such an incredible experience on so many different levels! In 6 days time, I took almost 2,600 pictures. That number doesn’t include what I deleted on the go, and I can’t take credit for all of the pictures, as I did hand my camera off to some of the kids who love taking pictures as well.

So, here is the rest of November in photo review – this time from NPH Guatemala!

The boys checking out the field minutes after we got to NPH Guatemala

The boys checking out the field minutes after we got to NPH Guatemala

The weather was much chillier than anything the kids have experienced in El Salvador. For me, it felt like fall in East Tennessee (so, it was awesome, haha), but the girls didn’t let the cold stop them from having fun and being silly the first night there.

The weather was much chillier than anything the kids have experienced in El Salvador. For me, it felt like fall in East Tennessee (so, it was awesome, haha), but the girls didn’t let the cold stop them from having fun and being silly the first night there.

Here I am checking out the week’s schedule, trying to memorize it haha.

Here I am checking out the week’s schedule, trying to memorize it haha.

Looking sharp

Looking sharp

Our teams with the Rossi family parents. They are such a great family!

Our teams with the Rossi family parents. They are such a great family!

This year’s tournament logo

This year’s tournament logo

El Salvador’s first match: our girls versus Guatemala

El Salvador’s first match: our girls versus Guatemala

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Our national director came up behind me and scared me, haha. I’m not crying in this picture, but laughing instead.

Our national director came up behind me and scared me, haha. I’m not crying in this picture, but laughing instead.

The girls won! We started and finished every match the kids played, win or lose, with prayer.

The girls won! We started and finished every match the kids played, win or lose, with prayer.

The boys’ first match was against Mexico.

The boys’ first match was against Mexico.

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Just a few minutes after our loss to Mexico, we went over to watch another game. Here’s one of our kids sitting with one of the players from NPH Mexico. That’s an example of being part of the NPH family right there!

Just a few minutes after our loss to Mexico, we went over to watch another game. Here’s one of our kids sitting with one of the players from NPH Mexico. That’s an example of being part of the NPH family right there!

Oh don’t pay any attention to the awesome backdrop we had over at the girls’ playing field.

Oh don’t pay any attention to the awesome backdrop we had over at the girls’ playing field.

Girls’ first match of the second day of the tournament – versus Nicaragua

Girls’ first match of the second day of the tournament – versus Nicaragua

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Boys’ first match against Guatemala

Boys’ first match against Guatemala

Girls second match of the day – against Honduras. Also, the girl in focus is readying herself to block the kick with her back. She did that countless times during the match. I was so impressed! She never did complain about her back hurting or being sore…I know I would haha.

Girls second match of the day – against Honduras. Also, the girl in focus is readying herself to block the kick with her back. She did that countless times during the match. I was so impressed! She never did complain about her back hurting or being sore…I know I would haha.

The United States, Mexico, and El Salvador all in one.

The United States, Mexico, and El Salvador all in one.

Boys second match of the day – against Honduras

Boys second match of the day – against Honduras

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That’s what I like to see, helping each other out.

That’s what I like to see, helping each other out.

My boys! Such a fierce looking group, no?

My boys! Such a fierce looking group, no?

Boys against Nicaragua for a spot in the semifinals.

Boys against Nicaragua for a spot in the semifinals.

We lost…and closed the game like this.

We lost…and closed the game like this.

“Let’s all pile on Ashley!” What’s unfortunately missing are the photos preceding this event, in which 6 girls all piled on top. We were all hanging out and having fun in the grass, as we had the entire morning/early afternoon free on the third day of the tournament.

“Let’s all pile on Ashley!” What’s unfortunately missing are the photos preceding this event, in which 6 girls all piled on top. We were all hanging out and having fun in the grass, as we had the entire morning/early afternoon free on the third day of the tournament.

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Girls against Mexico for a spot in the semifinals.

Girls against Mexico for a spot in the semifinals.

Culture night. A thorn between 4 roses.

Culture night. A thorn between 4 roses.

Girls game against Guatemala for a spot in the finals. We lost.

Girls game against Guatemala for a spot in the finals. We lost.

I spent my Thanksgiving at NPH and in Antigua! That’s pumpkin pie sitting in front of me 

I spent my Thanksgiving at NPH and in Antigua! That’s pumpkin pie sitting in front of me 

Seconds after the time ran out and the Guatemalan girls won the final match, on their home turf! Congrats.

Seconds after the time ran out and the Guatemalan girls won the final match, on their home turf! Congrats.

The final match between Honduras and Nicaragua was a good one.

The final match between Honduras and Nicaragua was a good one.

The Honduran boys celebrating their win with their national director

The Honduran boys celebrating their win with their national director

More celebrations on the field! This photo makes me happy.

More celebrations on the field! This photo makes me happy.

Both our girls’ and boys’ teams won the “Most Disciplined” award. We’re awesome!

Both our girls’ and boys’ teams won the “Most Disciplined” award. We’re awesome!

It can’t be a journey without at least one meal at Pollo Campero!

It can’t be a journey without at least one meal at Pollo Campero!

With the girls in Antigua’s town center on our fun/outing day in one of my favorite cities

With the girls in Antigua’s town center on our fun/outing day in one of my favorite cities

Taking the traditional photo with the arch in the background

Taking the traditional photo with the arch in the background

We were standing under a tree looking for someone when I turned and saw the bird poop. Haha! He literally just finished making fun of me for having to buy size 41 sandals (like a women’s size 11 in the US) in the market. Payback’s the best.

We were standing under a tree looking for someone when I turned and saw the bird poop. Haha! He literally just finished making fun of me for having to buy size 41 sandals (like a women’s size 11 in the US) in the market. Payback’s the best.

September in Review

It’s the same old song and dance my friends. Here we are in the early days of November, and I present to you in photo review my life and experiences at Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos El Salvador in the month of September. Yay!

Proof of working hard (and getting a little dirty) at school!

Proof of working hard (and getting a little dirty) at school!

The older grades took turns helping out in the new garden areas right outside of the school buildings. Here’s 4th grade!

The older grades took turns helping out in the new garden areas right outside of the school buildings. Here’s 4th grade!

Working on Christmas cards in September! That’s how one operates with more than 1700 to make…

Working on Christmas cards in September! That’s how one operates with more than 1700 to make…

This is the classroom where I help out! And sometimes teach…

This is the classroom where I help out! And sometimes teach…

Playing a game of Trainwreck (or as we call it in Spanish, Llego carta) during the 4th grade retreat.

Playing a game of Trainwreck (or as we call it in Spanish, Llego carta) during the 4th grade retreat.

My sideways shot of the downpour – I was standing in the back during the rosary, trying to be inconspicuous while taking the picture.

My sideways shot of the downpour – I was standing in the back during the rosary, trying to be inconspicuous while taking the picture.

We didn’t get to play outside after all. Instead, we were trapped in the multiple-purpose area for about 20 minutes.

We didn’t get to play outside after all. Instead, we were trapped in the multiple-purpose area for about 20 minutes.

There are never sad faces when it rains!

There are never sad faces when it rains!

The sun came out so I went on walkabout while everyone was inside, watching movies.

The sun came out so I went on walkabout while everyone was inside, watching movies.

Love the cancha with the NPH logo.

Love the cancha with the NPH logo.

One of my most favorite shots from the cathedral of Santa Ana. Beautiful.

One of my most favorite shots from the cathedral of Santa Ana. Beautiful.

Looking out at the town square from the front steps of the cathedral – you can see part of the theatre and the mayor’s office/government building.

Looking out at the town square from the front steps of the cathedral – you can see part of the theatre and the mayor’s office/government building.

Our group of Confirmation students took up a sizeable chunk of pews. The picture doesn’t do any justice.

Our group of Confirmation students took up a sizeable chunk of pews. The picture doesn’t do any justice.

A sponsor and his Confirmandi :)

A sponsor and his Confirmandi 🙂

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Favorite moment, favorite picture of the entire day.

Favorite moment, favorite picture of the entire day.

Yay!

Yay!

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These girls, I just love them. Always cracking up and hamming it up for the camera.

These girls, I just love them. Always cracking up and hamming it up for the camera.

September birthday celebration!

September birthday celebration!

He is very serious most of the time, so when I caught him smiling, I couldn’t help but take a picture. What a beautiful smile it is!

He is very serious most of the time, so when I caught him smiling, I couldn’t help but take a picture. What a beautiful smile it is!

Oh if you could only hear the laughter.

Oh if you could only hear the laughter.

9th grade presentation/skit – an office scene

9th grade presentation/skit – an office scene

Always with that smile…

Always with that smile…

Here’s 8th grade’s skit – a hospital emergency, which turned out to be quite hilarious

Here’s 8th grade’s skit – a hospital emergency, which turned out to be quite hilarious

Oh the laughter!

Oh the laughter!

7th grade skit – a day in the world of aviation

7th grade skit – a day in the world of aviation

Our youth group kids got to go play basketball with some other churches; here’s the girls’ team sign! (Father Wasson’s Daughters)

Our youth group kids got to go play basketball with some other churches; here’s the girls’ team sign! (Father Wasson’s Daughters)

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Boys’ turn to play, but let’s pray first!

Boys’ turn to play, but let’s pray first!

After all was said and done, a rag-tag team of girls from all the churches decided to play one more time. Even more fun and hilarity ensued.

After all was said and done, a rag-tag team of girls from all the churches decided to play one more time. Even more fun and hilarity ensued.

Finally, a Saturday afternoon with no rain and plenty of family play!

Finally, a Saturday afternoon with no rain and plenty of family play!

Contest – how many times can you keep the ball off the ground within in a certain time period? This guy one and did so by bouncing the ball on his head at least 100 times. Yeah.

Contest – how many times can you keep the ball off the ground within in a certain time period? This guy one and did so by bouncing the ball on his head at least 100 times. Yeah.

Such beautiful sisters!

Such beautiful sisters!

The two youngest of one of my favorite families (group of siblings) playing a little fútbol

The two youngest of one of my favorite families (group of siblings) playing a little fútbol

August in Review

I’ve accepted the fact that I’m going to always be late in posting pictures. So, practically at the end of September, now that it’s October (I started this last weekend, haha, obviously didn’t finish)…here are the pictures from August. Teehee!

August in Review – NPH El Salvador

Playing a little bit of fútbol against a neighboring town’s team

Playing a little bit of fútbol against a neighboring town’s team

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Love this! He was playing off to the side while the girls were playing on the field

Love this! He was playing off to the side while the girls were playing on the field

During halftime, some of the older boys came out on the field to play. It was great fun watching them as they were really getting into it!

During halftime, some of the older boys came out on the field to play. It was great fun watching them as they were really getting into it!

You see what I mean? Crazy cool stuff.

You see what I mean? Crazy cool stuff.

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Every time I see this picture, I can’t help but laugh.

Every time I see this picture, I can’t help but laugh.

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Both guys in action, both balls in the air! I didn’t actually take this picture, one of the boys was walking with me, acting as my “assistant” he said. Muchas gracias por la foto tan chula!

Both guys in action, both balls in the air! I didn’t actually take this picture, one of the boys was walking with me, acting as my “assistant” he said. Muchas gracias por la foto tan chula!

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During one long weekend, we had a fútbol tournament to pass the time. This is my ahijado’s (godson) team!

During one long weekend, we had a fútbol tournament to pass the time. This is my ahijado’s (godson) team!

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A little watermelon snack while watching the games

A little watermelon snack while watching the games

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One night the social activities committee put on a karaoke contest. During the intermission, we had a fun trivia game. If you got the answer wrong, you got a balloon full of flour on your head!

One night the social activities committee put on a karaoke contest. During the intermission, we had a fun trivia game. If you got the answer wrong, you got a balloon full of flour on your head!

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They were supposed to be writing letters, but we detoured a little and had fun with the camera.

They were supposed to be writing letters, but we detoured a little and had fun with the camera.

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I just found out that my friend is left-handed in this picture. It was a very exciting moment for me, since we lefties are few and far between!

I just found out that my friend is left-handed in this picture. It was a very exciting moment for me, since we lefties are few and far between!

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Haha. There’s so much I could say about this photo because I love it so much. Meet my “brother”…and I’m his “sister”, as we like to refer to each other.

Haha. There’s so much I could say about this photo because I love it so much. Meet my “brother”…and I’m his “sister”, as we like to refer to each other.

The boys had the best seats in the house during the singing activity for Fr. Wasson’s anniversary, so I sat with them while I took pictures.

The boys had the best seats in the house during the singing activity for Fr. Wasson’s anniversary, so I sat with them while I took pictures.

Every year on the anniversary of Fr. Wasson’s passing to eternal life, each NPH home does something special. This year in El Salvador, we held a singing event in which children (and even some teachers!) changed the lyrics to their favorite songs or wrote new material, all in honor and remembrance of our dear founder, Fr. Wasson.

Every year on the anniversary of Fr. Wasson’s passing to eternal life, each NPH home does something special. This year in El Salvador, we held a singing event in which children (and even some teachers!) changed the lyrics to their favorite songs or wrote new material, all in honor and remembrance of our dear founder, Fr. Wasson.

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He had been a pequeño for quite some time and was kind and gracious enough to share his story and why he is thankful for Fr. Wasson. It was awesome.

He had been a pequeño for quite some time and was kind and gracious enough to share his story and why he is thankful for Fr. Wasson. It was awesome.

Photo shoot for 9th grade and their graduation patron, Fr. Ray!

Photo shoot for 9th grade and their graduation patron, Fr. Ray!

Naturally, I lingered with the kids after the official photos were done. So we had even more fun!

Naturally, I lingered with the kids after the official photos were done. So we had even more fun!

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I love the students from 9th grade!

I love the students from 9th grade!

Because of scheduling, we had two birthday celebrations in August. Here are some of the July kids having quite a lot of fun celebrating their birthdays.

Because of scheduling, we had two birthday celebrations in August. Here are some of the July kids having quite a lot of fun celebrating their birthdays.

Love love love. I wish you all could hear the laughter.

Love love love. I wish you all could hear the laughter.

Every week, a different grade begins the school week with a presentation from civics class. Here is the 9th grade presentation.

Every week, a different grade begins the school week with a presentation from civics class. Here is the 9th grade presentation.

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August birthday celebration!

August birthday celebration!

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Consequences

Everything in the universe has something to say about consequences:

– Mom: You will have to pay for your actions, so be careful! There are always consequences!

– God/The Bible: You reap what you sow.

– Newton’s Third Law: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

So you see, all around us somebody or something is there to remind us of what could happen…I’ve got two stories to share. One’s pretty long, so bear with me. You also have my permission to laugh at any time, because I find some elements to be rather humorous myself.

I learned this whole consequence thing pretty well a few weeks ago. I was playing fútbol with some of the girls from my “hogar” (my section/group). I was wearing an older pair of Tevas that are just a tad too big, so running around made me look, sound, and feel like a duck, so I took my shoes off and proceeded to play barefoot on the concrete. You know where this story is going, don’t you?

Naturally, I fell. It wasn’t anything magical or horrific, but when I stood up, a puddle of blood was quickly forming at the base of my pinky toe. I washed it off at one of the nearby spigots, but since I couldn’t put my shoes back on and walk because of the location of the wound, I hobbled to the clinic, trying not to get it dirty. The nurse cleaned it and put a big white bandage and tape all around it.

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Ground zero – where it all began.

The next day, the girls, Tía Silvia, and I went to the river. To get there, we walked through the corn fields and then through the cow pastures. Mind you, I hate wearing tennis shoes and socks, but since I had a bandage covering my wound, I decided it was okay to go gallivanting through the fields in open-toed shoes (a different pair of Tevas this time!) At some point, the bandage came loose. It wasn’t flopping around open leaving my wound exposed, but the damage was noticeable. Now you definitely should know where the story is going…

The next morning, I woke up with more than mild pain in my foot. Walking wasn’t fun, but I managed. Little by little though, my bravado wore off with each step. Not only did my foot hurt just by itself, but walking was a Herculean effort. I started limping. I wanted to go and just sit down, but I was in the school and since the teacher I assist was gone (for the entire week!), I couldn’t leave. I had class! I was really looking forward to going to work in the office in the afternoon, because that meant I could sit down for 4 hours. After lunch, my boss convinced me to go to the clinic. She was right in saying that you never know what could be wrong. Better to get it checked out now rather than have negative long-term effects.

After talking with the doctor, she told me that my foot was infected. That was not at all what I was expecting her to say. I was hoping for something like a sprain or break…not an infection. That stuff is scary! If she noticed my face turn pale (or should I say, paler than usual, haha), she didn’t say anything to me. She kept touching my foot too, which hurt a lot. At one point I thought I was going to be sick. I couldn’t surmise whether it was because of the pain or because of what she told me.

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Oh hey look! I’m infected. (Also, ignore my ridiculous tan lines. The price you pay wearing Tevas every day in the sun…)

Anyhow, my directions were to go to the clinic twice a day to change the bandage, and I had to take antibiotics for 5 days. After the antibiotics were over, the doctor was going to put on a special 3-day patch to help the skin regrow. Within 2-3 days the pain went away. The only kink in the recovery process was that the patch was delayed by a few days because of something in the wound. I still haven’t figured out what the problem was. Finally, the patch was put on, and I was told that I absolutely could not get it wet. With the bandages, I didn’t worry because after I showered, I went straight to the clinic. Now all of a sudden, I had to rethink showering. I wasn’t about to go 3 days without bathing. That wouldn’t be good for anyone. So showering was a “fun” and ridiculous chore.

The patch was taken off only to show that the wound had closed just a little. So they put on another one, which was a surprise. Yay, more time of awkward showering! Yay more time that I couldn’t go out in the rain! (I got trapped a few times at dinner and at the office in the afternoons.) After the second patch, the wound was mostly closed, so I only went back to have regular bandages put on. Finally, after a little over 2 weeks, the wound on my foot closed. It took another week or so for the scab to go away.

IMG_0800 IMG_0801Why tell you all of that? Well, because I don’t know how to tell stories without making them incredibly long. But from playing fútbol barefoot, I encountered many consequences and have learned a lot. For one thing – Moms are always right. We should play with real shoes on. Another is that we humans are rather delicate, at least it seems that way to me. One tiny, quarter-sized scrape on my foot made me miserable. I couldn’t walk or move my foot without being in pain. When it was raining and I had to be outside, I often wore a black trash bag around my foot because I couldn’t wear my tennis shoes (oh the irony, right?), which was a humongous source of embarrassment and laughter. I was worried for some time about the serious health consequences from an infection. I kept thinking about that girl in the news that had the flesh-eating…thing. I was also worried about what might happen that might prevent me from staying here in El Salvador. The foot story is incredibly long for a reason. Sometimes when we want simple fixes for seemingly insignificant problems, we get much more than we bargain for.

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Almost 4 weeks after the infamous injury…

The second story is short. The moral of it is: if you suspect that something is lurking in a dark space – like a hole – where you can’t see well or see at all, don’t put your hand in it. For me, things had seemed awry for a few days preceding my incident, so I doubly should’ve known better.

I noticed that a hole had formed between two stacks of clothes in my closet. Against better judgment, I put my hand in the hole and felt something weird. I started pulling out all of my clothes, trying to find that “thing.” I pulled out a pile of shorts and saw something scurry. Turns out it was scorpion! I finally shook it out of the shorts and killed it. In the end, those 20 minutes were some of the most terrifying I’ve ever had in my life. So listen here kids, don’t put your hand in dark places.

I could very well have put on a pair of shorts THAT HAD A SCORPION CRAWLING AROUND. Think about that the next time you put on any article of clothing. You never know what may be lurking in your shorts, so you might wanna check them before you put them on…

¡Fútbol!

Since my first day here, I’ve told the kids repeatedly that I am unable to play fútbol and am terrible. They are so kindly persistent though, and for that, I am actually grateful because it’s forcing me to come out of my comfort zone and shell, to be vulnerable.

As of this writing, I’ve played four games. During each and every game, I’ve passed the ball to the wrong person or to no one at all! Others do victory cheers when they make a goal…I do a victory cheer when I pass the ball to the right person (and especially if I do so shockingly well.) It’s a brief instant of fútbol-playing glory…the kids crack smiles, but I’m pretty sure my cheese-face grin is bigger and my squeals of delight are louder than theirs in those joyful moments, haha.

Each team I’ve been a part of always encourages the players to pass the ball to me. “Pásale a Ashley! Pásale a Ashley!” Passing the ball to me almost always ensures that our team will lose possession of it. Whether it is the group of 9 to 12 year old boys or the teenage/young adult girls, I feel like a part of the team when they shout pass the ball to Ashley. It’s a funny, beautiful thing really, as everyone knows I can’t play to save my life!

It makes my heart soar though.

I also tend to spend more time laughing and running after the ball than actually making any contact with the ball. Seriously though, my face sometimes hurts after games because I spend so much time laughing.

Within minutes of starting my 4th game, I slipped in a puddle and earned my first skinned knee here. Sometime during the game, one of the guys kicked the ball in an attempt to keep it from going out of bounds. One girl and I ran to try and intercept it. The ball soared just over her right shoulder, but I was in the line of fire and had nowhere to go. It felt like I watched the ball move in slow motion in such a short distance, heading straight for my face. BOOM! BAM! One fat lip, a profuse apology, and a solid five minutes of laughter later, we kept playing.

I am learning to love fútbol. It’s awesome. Playing here is great!