So, I told myself before I moved here that I would be better at blogging. And I’m not. When I was preparing to move I thought that a lot of other things were going to change too, most people do when gearing up for big change. But in reality you’re just the same ole person that you were before you decided to do whatever you did. Be it impatient, quick tempered, bad at blogging, whatever the case may be, wherever you live, whatever you choose to do with your life, you are who you are. That being said, I’ve learned a lot about who I am personally over the past 7 months. I blamed a lot of my bad qualities and habits on living in the States; overstimulation and stress, I said. But really, no matter where I am, or how many kids I have, I lose my temper over small things, can’t keep up with laundry, am terrible at blogging, and have to say sorry a lot of times a day.
The past 7 months have been some of the best and most difficult of my 22 years on this earth. Things happened that I expected, and that I could never have imagined. I discovered that teenage girls are the same in every country, equally as hormonal and endearing (at least I think so). I found that splitting myself equally between all my kids takes conscience effort. I’ve uncovered little hearts of gold that hurt and hope far beyond their years, and care for each other better than most adults do. My family has grown in both size and unity in the past 7 months. There were times of frustration, doubt, and confusion as to whether I was doing this right, or screwing it all up (more often than not). There were times of celebration, joy, and moments where everything felt perfect and whole. There was vomit and fevers, and late nights with sick kiddos and a sick mommy. There were moments of loss and moments of triumph. Soccer games, parades, school dances, and graduations. There were days of fighting and bloody noses, and nights of cuddling up, all 8 of us, and watching The Little Mermaid. There were boxes sent from people that we love in the United States, birthday parties, and the piecing together of a house that has turned into a home. But overall, more than any of this there was love and there was family. On the good days and the bad days, we loved each other, and the family that was waiting 4 years to come together has done just that.
The holidays tend to make people reflective, and expectant of the New Year and what it will bring. These past few days I have been grateful for my little kids and their patience with me. Grateful for my two teenagers and the fact that I couldn’t do this without their help. Grateful for people in the United States that don’t even know us, but believe in the Miskito people and their potential. Grateful for my parents and sister, and how much they sacrifice to make this project happen. Grateful that we have an incredible board of directors that dreams big, and puts the work in to make all of this come together. Grateful to serve a loving and forgiving God who picks me up when I’m at my worst. Grateful for Christmas and cheery songs and lights on our house. Grateful for you, whoever you are, reading this and (maybe) caring about what I have to say.
We love you all so much, and hope that you have an incredible holiday season and New Year. We send you all of our love and good vibes from here in La Moskitia. Also, I included a few Christmas card outtakes for your viewing pleasure.
Look forward to the next blog November 2015… just kidding. I will try and do better.
I decided it was time to introduce some of the residents in the house. Since they are each so unique and wonderful we will do it one at a time.
It has been about five months since I arrived here in Puerto Lempira and it's been a whirlwind of challenges, successes, and adjustments. I am happy to get the chance to update you a little on all the goings on in and around our home in La Moskitia.
We are renting a small home which is pictured below. Our house has two bedrooms and one bath. One bedroom has two sets of bunk beds and shelves for storage. The other bedroom has a double bed, a twin bed, and a portable crib, again with shelves for storage. Our kitchen is very simple with a basic refrigerator and a two-eye butane burner for cooking. We have 8 people living in the house, so it's a tight squeeze, but leaves plenty of room for lots and lots of cuddles. The kids range in age from 2-17, and I manage all the chaos that goes with 6 girls and one young man, Esteven. It is encouraging, frustrating, funny, sad, peaceful, overactive, simple, but complex. We take things day by day, celebrate small victories, and laugh a lot along the way.
We love our home. The most important thing is it is loving and safe. We are fed, sheltered, and supported by each other and our friends here. In short, we are blessed. You are making these blessings possible and for that the entire team here at Project 541 is extremely grateful.
With love from La Moskitia,
It has been almost 2 months since Project 541 became active in Puerto Lempira. We have settled into a routine that goes something like this:
5:30am- Wake up, take baths, strip sheets that have been peed on, eat breakfast, do hair, brush teeth, and hand out snacks to take to school.
7:30am- Make sure everyone has their backpacks and shoes, and load up to go to school.
8:00am- The little girls start school and Lisa, Esteven, and I run any errands we need to, and return home.
9:00am-11:30pm- This is time for cleaning the house, hand washing clothes, homework for Lisa, and catching up on email time for me.
12:00pm- Lunch, Lisa leaves for school, and Esteven and I go to House of Hope or to the bank.
1:00pm-3:00pm- This time block is usually spent at House of Hope hanging out with the girls, lending a hand where I can, and spending time with Esteven's family.
3:30pm- The girls get out of school and the wonderful craziness starts all over again.
4:00pm-5:00pm- Play time for the girls with their friends, my time to spend with the girls who attend afternoon school that I didn't get to see earlier in the day, and of course, time to get your head picked for lice- gotta fit that in at least once a day!
5:30pm- Head home
6:15pm- Dinner time
7:00pm- Homework and bath time
8:00pm- Bed time for the girls
8:30pm- Take down any clothes hanging up, clean up from dinner, bring in anything that got left outside, feed the dog, bathe myself and Esteven, and help Lisa with homework.
9:00pm- Bedtime for a very worn out mommy
Hopefully, this gives you a little idea of how our days go. There's not much down time, and it rarely goes according to plan- but we have fun and laugh a lot along the way. The dust has settled here, and I am excited to see what the next year holds in store for our family. We already have several more prospective residents, and I am sure we will continue to expand rapidly. As always, thank you for your continuing support. We can truly feel your love half a world away!
Kayla and Project 541 were recently in the Chattanooga Chatter magazine! Here is just a peak but if you want to read the whole article click on the link below.
We have begun our fundraising campaign for transportation needs. So far we have raised $2800 .
Opportunities to find a reliable vehicle are few and far between in Puerto Lempira so we will have to be ready to move quickly. Please help us by donating on our "Donate" page for any tax deductable amount. We are depending on you to help make it happen!
The main mode of transportation in Puerto Lempira is walking. Kayla and the girls can get pretty much anywhere in town on foot. However, there are certain situations where a vehicle is needed. These situations would include:
A week and a half. I've been here a week and a half. It feels like it has been months. We have spent the first week or so moving, sweating, unpacking, packing, and unpacking again. After spending a year and a half in the States I think I got spoiled. I'm having to get used to the difficulty of simple every day tasks that were nonevents in the US. Going to buy groceries, making sure we have clean water, washing clothes, cooking a meal... all much more difficult here. It all takes a great amount of planning, where in the States, if I hadn't planned anything, we could run down to the nearest restaurant and grab some food. Esteven and I are both having to adjust to the heat and sun again. I was laying in bed fanning him with a washcloth a few nights ago, and when I thought he had gone to sleep I put the towel down and closed my eyes. All of a sudden I got punched in the face- and then again. I looked over and my sweet Esteven had the washcloth in his hand trying to fan me. I rolled over, kissed his forehead, and thanked him. These little moments are what keep me going. I've got three girls (Beticia, Naomi, and Reydelina) and Esteven living with me. The girls, although different ages, are all about on a second grade level in both school and life. I call them the triplets. They are all learning to read, and having lived in a home with 40 kids for most of their life, having one person watching them and enforcing rules is very different. They have all done wonderfully, but they are also having to adjust to a new kind of life that brings new challenges with it. We have moved into a rental house (pictures attached) and I am working on making it homey. With some tender love and care I am sure it will feel like home before too long. Our biggest and most desperate need right now is a mode of transportation. Sometimes I feel like walking, either in the hot sun or rain, is work in and of itself. We are hoping to be able to purchase a vehicle soon, but will need your help to do it! Overall the past 11 days have been hard, fun, hot, and full of love. We will spend the next few months settling in, and will hopefully begin to operate our other programs at the end of the summer. For now, I am taking it one day at a time, and enjoying the ride. It's not easy, but our mission, these girls, are worth fighting for.
It was love at first sight.
She was a long-haired college student from America. Just shy of 20, she'd spent months volunteering in Honduras, living with disabled kids and orphans. The amputees. The girl with club feet. The abandoned infants. She felt at home there with them. At peace.
He was a boy from a nearby village. Born with cerebral palsy, his legs were crooked and his arms bent, like question marks. His parents often padlocked him in a room. His sister snuck him food, but not enough. At 11, he only weighed 23 pounds. MORE.......
READ MORE OF THE ARTICLE FROM THE CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS
Project 541 and Kayla were recognized in the Jackson Sun newspaper (Tenn). It's a great article about how Kayla's dream started and how, with her family's support, she and Esteven will return to Honduras in May. Read the whole article HERE and follow Kayla on her journey.
Project 541 was established by Kayla Austin in 2013 as an organization geared toward empowering girls and women in La Moskitia, Honduras.