Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Part Deux

Part Deux0 of the Fellow Missionary Spolight Lecture Series.
0Look at me, throwing in a wie bit o Scottish for you young buggers! (get it? It´s French!)
Marie!Marie Abernathy is from Scotland and was born shortly before the end of the second world war. She has a knack for speaking almost exclusively in English and getting by just fine, but she’s continuing to work on her Spanish. First and foremost, though, she’s quotable. We’ll begin with a brief sampling:
                1Or Mary, as she is often called in Central America.

In our house while cooking dinner:
“When I die here I hope they bury me next to Vincent in the church.”
At the very end of Inception:
Marie: “Okay, what the heck is the name of that actor!? This has been driving me nuts all movie!” Kevin: “Wait, Marie, did you see the top spinning on the table?”
Marie: “No?”
Kevin: “That’s super important because it isn’t clear whether it is falling or not, and if it hasn’t, he’s still…”

2The actor’s name was Michael Kaine.

When the girl who occasionally makes donuts comes to our house:
Marie: “Oh, you, donuts por favor! Today!”
Girl (translated for the reader into English): “What is she saying?”
Other Missionary (translated for the reader into English): “She’s asking you if you’ll make donuts today for her”
Marie: “Yeah, donuts, hoy! Muy rico!”
Girl: “I could make them on Saturday when it is my turn to cook?”
Marie: “No, no sabado, today.”
Girl leaves in confused silence. Returns in 1.5 hours with donuts.3

                3This girl and Marie are now best friends.

In the youngest girls’ house during lunch:
“Oh, you mean they kill the chickens? I thought they just waited till they died and then cooked them. Like me, when I die here you’ll just throw me into the pot.”
Marie is also the intellectual property owner of several lines I can’t repeat in public, and has the distinct misfortune of having said nearly all of these above things in English. It is quite unclear to what degree the kids get her sense of humor, but given that she´s always giving away things and always cleaning, they like her anyway. When she’s not creating quotable moments, Marie can be found pouring water on the heads of unsuspecting maintenance men during halftime of soccer games, kissing raw frozen chickens out of pure joy, asking most Fridays and Saturdays whether there’s a spiritual life event that night4, saying, “I’m over it!” in regards to anything from Cooking to The Finca to Bleach to Rats4.5 and occasionally slipping into a Scottish accent, entertaining us all.

4The answer is always no.
4.5She has never seen a single one of these in our house. That seems nigh impossible to me. I can’t tell whether it is a luck thing, a vision thing, or an ‘ignorance is bliss’ thing. My guess is the latter.

Apart from her sense of humor (or rather, including it), Marie ought to be well recognized for her skills in accompaniment. Within two weeks of being here and speaking almost entirely in English, she had somehow developed a better relationship with several of the House 6 girls than I have in three years. The maintenance guys have suddenly begun to stop by our house for coffee or just merely to chat, and at least once I came back to the house to find two of the house dads sorting, washing, and cooking beans for her. She’s also the elected representative of the missionary house sent to House 6 to get back all of the cooking utensils, pans, etc that they’ve “borrowed” from us and now believe are theirs5. I want to say there’s something entirely disarming about being 71 that allows her to build relationship completely differently from the rest of us, but it might just be something about Marie.
5This happens surprisingly often… and if we don’t send Marie, they get extremely defensive of “their”6 stuff with whichever of the other missionaries we do send. By the way, it is definitely our stuff. Although when I put it like that, it doesn’t seem like a very Christian way of thinking about it.

P.S. Here’s a few more:
While discussing cooking eggs:
“Oh no! I hate eggs. I hate the sight of them and I especially hate cooking them. We cook them so often!”
                Three minutes later:
                “What if we cook some eggs with that? That could work really well!”
While discussing a recent leak in the girl’s bathroom:
“We gotta get that stuff cleaned up. You don’t want me to break a hip in there! Oh no! Send a helicopter! Get here quick!”
When deciding whether or not to use something called ‘mantequilla’ here:
“You know, that stuff’s really not that good, but it at least helps the beans we have here slide down your throat. It really helps you get them down.”
When someone else offers to do the dishes for her:

“Oh no, I’ve got this. You sit down and take a rest. I’ll deal with this nightmare. Oh God.”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Fellow Missionary Spotlight: The Melanie Version" or "A Brief Demonstration of Kevin's Loopiness"

It’s time. The “Fellow Missionary Spotlight” lecture series must commence.

Cue Melanie “La Profa” Jorgenson. Melanie, a two-time winner of the “Most Energy” award and recent recipient of the “Most Difficult Class to Teach” commiseration, has recently received much attention for her work in the area of gastronomy.

Other characters featuring prominently:

The Missionaries, aka The Food Critics: well known for their exacting criteria and detail-oriented critique, feared throughout a 14 manzana area, frequenters of at least seven additional food establishments, and distinguished for their commitment to establishing a safe location for production of high-quality pancakes

Señor Pancake – A mischievous little fellow who shape-shifts often into a variety of edible and inedible forms

Junior Pancake – A nonexistent relative of Señor pancake made up in the ultimately unsuccessful hopes of pulling together a pun

Narrating Lawyer: One of the aformentioned food critics, a dabbler in all things narratory (including the heretoforthwith inscribed story), has a tendency to launch into floury yet incorrectly used language best reserved for the confines of the law office, in this the twentieth hour of the twenty fourth day of the month of February and at other times too

Señorita Syrup – A Type II diabetic, known caramel lover, and often described by her avid (vaguely southern) twitter followers as “a whole buncha sugar mixed with water in varyin’ quantities”


Our story takes form over the course of four meals.

It begins in a lowly kitchen on the North coast of Honduras. The propane stove is almost out and rain threatens any considerations of an outdoor fire.

Melanie “La Profa” Jorgenson is working away. She has Señor Pancake on the rocks, and by that I don’t mean she’s drinking him with ice. Two hours pass with Señor Pancake hiding in a giant vat of batter mixed with far too much water. Melanie has been throwing flour at the batter at varying intervals in vain and even threatened to catch the stove on fire if not appeased. After several griddle cleanings and trips to the trash can, La Profa seeks out one of the food critics (Kevin) for assistance. Señor Pancake immediately pops out of hiding and begins to multiply on command.
Henceforth an edict is edictified, or in layman’s terms, a declaration is declared:

The Undersigned Concerned Hopeful Effervescent Foodprovider (CHEF) Melanie “La Profa” Jorgensen does hereby declarify that on this, the first day of individual pancake cooking, in the splendid month of January in this, the Two Thousand and Sixteenth Year Since The Inaccurately Dated Birth of Christ According To The Gregorian Calendar, the aforementioned undersigned undersignee is committed to producing a supper of bona fide pancakes adhering to the standards set forth by the Finca Missionary Quality Food and Pancake Administration (abbreviated FMQFPA and commonly pronounced Ffmquafpa). Or in the words of the Undersigned CHEF, “I’m going to keep cooking pancakes at every meal until it actually works!”

Then three more times in a row of cooking pancakes happened with varying degrees of success but each with their individual problems, some of which are related to Señorita Syrup (was too watery, had too much sugar, turned into caramel when we got delayed by 15 minutes, had a pumice stone get stuck while trying to clean the pan, forgot oil, etc).

Cool kid though. She’ll get there. We here at Ffmquafpa take pride in our Concerned Hopeful Effervescent Foodproviders.

P.S. You can read about Melanie in a more detailed and less unbalanced fashion here on her own blog: https://hugsfromhonduras.wordpress.com/
P.P.S. She approved this message, don't worry.

Monday, November 30, 2015

To Assuage The Avid Reader's Fury

My Dear Reader,

Yes, you are correct. I did just post 5 new blog posts (or six, if you include this one).

I would like to formally apologize. They were by no means spread out over the course of my past three months here at the Finca. Anyone trying to keep up with me will surely have failed, not only because of my lack of posting, but also because I have been nigh impossible to contact by other means.

I hereby give no excuses, only apologies.

At the moment I've gotta run. I filled a bunch of individual-sized coca cola cans with sand and found a bocce ball. I'm going to try and teach house 4 bowling.

Thanks For Caring Enough To Read This (and/or to try and contact me!),

P.S. I'm doing well!

(See title below... I couldn't get "Re" to be crossed out in this thing)

ReSurgence of the Coolness of Kevin: Baby Steps in Defense of the King

Okay guys, we all know that I'm pretty uncool. It is quite an established fact. Particularly if we're talking about the teenage guys, but in fact amongst all of the finca boys, I generally fall pretty low on the totem pole. I'm not great at soccer, I lose arm wresting contests on a pretty regular basis, and I generally make a face rather than laughing every time someone decides to release some methane into the atmosphere. That last one isn't even really normally a factor they consider in the rankings... but it still drops me another couple of places out of puro confusion.
Anyway, I would actually sit down and write out the ranking of every male on the finca, but I think I'd get a bit saddened about where I fall, so I'm not going to. Please just rest assured that the aforementioned categories are the sole factors by which one's manliness can be measured (apart from the top ranking people not liking you, of course).
The point of this blog post, then, is to let you know that I'm moving up in the rankings. Yes, I technically can now beat almost half of the house 5 boys in arm wrestling, and I've somehow convinced most of the kids (through no effort whatsoever on my part) that I played a ton of soccer in the states and came back much better. However, that's all shadows and mirrors... or the placebo effect... or something.
The reality is that there's another factor in the rankings. This factor was added over the course of the 8 months that I wasn't here. You, of course, are trying to guess what it is. Is it foot speed? Is it the ability to eat massive amounts of food? Is it the ability to aguantar a ton of picante? Is it how willing I am to pick on the younger kids? No.
Here it is, here's the secret: chess. It turns out that my nerd years as the president of my high school chess club are actually finally producing positive results! I knew this would happen sooner or later!
Over the past eight months, the finca boys  have begun to play massive amounts of chess. I have no clue how it started. I tried to start it myself by bringing several chess sets down to the finca, but it never caught on during my time here. In my absence, however, the kids have arrived at the point where during the middle of a game, they'll have a conversation of, "Shoot man, why didn't you castle?" "Oh, I don't like castling that early.. I often get caught in  back-row checkmates" or "Dang, José, you should totally have focused on releasing that pin" "No man, that pin isn't that bad, and I'm taking this opportunity to further strengthen my own attack! Look at the three-pronged attack I just set up on the king's pawn!" "Yeah, but with that pin he could totally crown one of his pawns in two turns!" "Oh shoot! You're right!"
To be honest, I had no idea where they got the vocabulary from until I started to get overwhelmed by questions like "Kevin, which country is Capablanca from?" and "Have you ever met Bobby Fischer?" Given that almost nobody outside of chess circles knows about Capablanca or what a pin is, I asked and discovered that they had a book on chess that all of them had read front to back.
They aren't yet by any means at grandmaster level, but these kids aren't too shabby either. I can't help but being a bit curious as to how the 12-or-13-year-old version of me would fare against these kids. Given that they do occasionally beat me now, the younger version of me might have been in trouble.
Luckily, though, I can probably take most if not all of the kids in nine games out of ten. Who would've thought my chess skill would've been the catalyst responsible for sparking a Kevin coolness  revolution* in the eyes of our youth?
Having said that, let's be honest, I'm still quite far down on the totem pole. Baby steps.

*Not to be confused with a Kevin Kuehl-Ness revolution (a revolution of which I have no idea what to think (except for that Kevin Kuehl is an awesome former finca missionary and 'Ness' reminds me vaguely of something Nintendo-related and/or a Loch (Lock? Lach?)))

100% Catracho (Or in other words, an attempt at speaking only in English and Honduranisms)

The coso that fulano and mengano left in the lugar... We comosellamarlo.
Sujano is almost nimaleando out of puro comosellama.
¿At the very least could you be macizo about the nimal?
There's a reason we're catratchos and not chapines.

Vaya pues. Cheque.

A community of two.

In a community of two, if someone skips community night, the rest of the community is sad.
In a community of two, conversation flows in strange patterns.
In a community of two, the box containing Settlers of Catan is great as a paperweight.
In a community of two, community decisions are either really easy or quite impossible.
In a community of two, anything on the pizarra that the missionaries les toca is really easy to fill.
In a community of two, the pizarra can display the Alvarez - Mader tax plan for more than a week.
In a community of two, you have someone with whom to celebrate.
In a community of two, the prayer before meals gets awkward, because you both cooked. Especially if the community still holds hands.
In a community of two, puntos de luz and coronas can be easily forgotten, especially cause that whole meeting last about four minutes.
In a community of two, there's a temptation to spend your entire time outside of the missionary house.
In a community of two, visitors are always welcome.
In a community of two, the teacher from Mojaguay learns the rules to Catan.
In a community of two, the largest argument to date could be over the correct usage of a word.
In a community of two, interesting conversation often involves at least one devil's advocate.
In a community of two, finca kids learn how to play hearts.
In a community of two, it may still be impossible to get any reading done because the community talks too much.
In a community of two, you can speak any language you want.

In a community of two, senses of humor merge.

The Great Refrigerator Parade

I couldn’t stand it any longer. Our refrigerator, shared with our long-time arch-rivals Casa 6, was ridiculously disgusting and had been ever since I’d arrived. Given that my arrival brought to its conclusion a reign of several months during which Casa 6 should’ve had complete control over the contents of the refrigerator, it was entirely clear to me that they needed to get their act together and get what had been solely their refrigerator under control. After a brief debate as to whom was largely responsible for the current state of affairs, the situation was resolved. With great fanfare, they entered our house and pulled everything out of the fridge and freezer and filed past me on the way to the trash can.
Having now worked with Casa 6 to clean out the refrigerator, I stand as a testament to what was discovered inside. I’ve attempted to document the information as well as possible, but may very well have missed some items. For comic relief from the pain and torture of this topic, I’ve tried to give titles to most of the items. Without further adoing (or adon’ting for that matter), the refrigerator contained the following:
1.       Mystery Liquid Number 1: An ordinary-sized glass of a vaguely orange viscous liquid.
2.       Mystery Liquid Number 2: A fruit-punch-sized container containing something that looked like it might’ve been trying to pass as milk, except for the fact that it was way too watered-down. It also contained many of those chunks, particularly near the bottom, that are characteristic of less than ideal dairy products. Experimentation suggests that those chunks had a consistency roughly of nothing. They chose to disintegrate rather than push back on my finger.
3.       The Green Bag of Death: A plastic bag with a bunch of green juice in it. The Casa 6 girls seem convinced that the juice was at one point a cucumber. Brief observation seemed to confirm the hypothesis.
4.       The Four Sarita Containers (Sarita is a type of ice cream, but we use the containers afterwards like Tupperware) Containing the Following:
a.       Pieces of a cake that I tried making for Santa Teresita’s feast day (October 1st) when all of the Finca came to our house. The first attempt wasn’t cake-like material, but still tasted decent so I saved it. It reminds me quite a bit of Nilla Wafers.
b.      Watermelon chunks cut last night by Beto.
c.       Pineapple chunks that seem to be past their prime. Not composite, of course (ha! Math joke!), but rather about 80% alcohol, 20% pineapple-like material.
d.      Something that could be taken for rice pudding or white vomit. As an aside, my opinion of rice pudding clearly isn’t that great.
5.       The In-Flight Meal: A bag that said Delta on it and contained within a Kit Kat, Mayonnaise, and a half-sandwich. I know you are thinking that that has Casa 6 written all over it, but lo and behold, Harrison (or Nils?) actually asked me if I wanted the sandwich because otherwise he was going to throw it out… a month and a half ago. I said yes, I wanted the sandwich.
6.       Random Hobby Junk: Two different packaged/bottled methods of making cheese out of milk.
7.       The Fuzzy Multicolored Papaya: A piece of papaya on a plate, uncovered. Slightly white or blue, depending on where you looked.
8.       The Fourth of An Avocado: I didn’t realize how black the inside of avocados usually are.
9.       Doing Mustard Economy-Style: A giant mustard container filled with, well, mustard. Who would ever want that?
10.   Chicken a la Manteca Flakes: A completely frozen box of something akin to soup with very clear Manteca-like substances coagulated on top. It apparently smelled vaguely of pollo (I wouldn’t know cause I can’t smell) and the educated guess offered by several members of Casa 6 was that it was the chicken broth from one of the recent Quinces. In my mind chicken broth normally isn’t dark green, but who am I to speak on such topics?
11.   Mac and Bleu Cheese: A very small container holding leftover macaroni and cheese from when Beto and I ate dinner about three weeks ago today. I don’t recall it being quite as blue or green before.
12.   The Coffee From A Saber Cuando: The missionaries (dating back to my time as a missionary in the late 2013-2014 period (shortly after the Jurassic)) used to make themselves iced coffee by making coffee and storing it in the fridge. Yeah, that´s right. It was still there.
13.   The Cookies I Was Supposed to Give to A Mr. Joseph H. Pastor: Don’t tell his sister. She specifically didn’t eat those on her birthday in order to leave them for him. What kind of silly and/or irresponsible missionary wouldn’t have remembered about those?
So I actually got distracted for about a month and a half between numbers 13 and 14. I have no clue how the rest of this list was supposed to finish. You get the point. I’ll give house 6 credit for Mustard and Manteca Flakes. I could even blame them for not having dealt with the random things that had been in there for the entire time they were the sole owners of the fridge. In fact, let’s give them all of the swing-votes of those arbitrarily so-beaten-down-that-we-didn’t-really-know-what-they-were items. Sadly, it still seems quite apparent that the missionaries were more at fault than house 6. Just don’t tell them, or we’ll never live it down! Maybe they didn’t realize it at the time!

Also, just to bring up old missionary debates, in my defense, I voted against the refrigerator =)