Tuesday - Jan 23, 2024
Today Team Trinity visited El Caliche, our third visit to this community. It was obvious to the whole team that improvement had occurred. The community is in a dry valley well away from Casa de Barnabas and required Joseph’s constant 2 hour bus trip.
Our day started out with a wonderful devotion from Paul and the day was closed out with a terrific one from his daughter, Emily. There was not a dry eye in the house. The book and movie should be out soon….
I went into this experience blind. I didn’t conduct my usual research about a country, its culture, and its people. There was a sense of resistance inside me to learn anything about this place and these people. I think now, subconsciously, it was because I didn’t want to get attached. But as we touched down in a valley surrounded by lush green mountains and fields of sugar cane I couldn’t help but feel the hum again. The invigoration in my very core. Truth is, I forgot that feeling. Maybe I never realized it was there during my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Madagascar because you don’t often feel the presence of something until it is absent. But I feel it here. I feel it in the thickness of the air. In the deep inhales that flood my body with rich oxygen from the bountiful nature around us. In the tuktuks and small shops that line unpaved roads. In the vibrations up my spine as our vehicles bounce along. In the way that I abandon everything I think I know for simple curiosity and wonder. It’s the hum that I surrender to. There is freedom in that surrender.
I often say aloud that I am a very go-with-the-flow person, but really I just become unbound in these environments. I am once again in a new place where I don’t speak the language, or understand the customs and culture. A place where you are reminded just how far a smile and expressions of gratitude and kindness through our body language can go. When you remember how easy it is to do good for others. Where you remember that simply being here with a willingness to make a difference is everything.
I have been thinking a lot about Tamana. In the Malagasy culture, that of the people of Madagascar, Tamana is a feeling. A sense of home and wellbeing in the place you are and a desire to never leave because of that feeling. “Tamana eto Madigaskara ve ianao?” (Do you feel Tamana in Madagascar?) they would ask. “Eny. Tamana tsara. Efa Malagasy amin’ny foko izaho” (Yes. The feeling of Tamana is good. I am already Malagasy in my heart) I would reply. And I was. They had me at Salama (hello). And they will always have me.
I reflect on my time in Madagascar and understand just how much I expanded as a human being. I felt like I woke up and came into myself. My life became more consciously lived. Upon suddenly returning to the United States in October 2023 due to severe illness after just 10 months of Peace Corps service, I was hit extremely hard by the passivity in the existence of a Western life. The things we take for granted, choose to ignore and overlook, the ways we consume, the hustle and constant desire for newer, better, faster. How we have the privilege to suffer from the paralysis of choice when the majority of the world is grateful for having their basic needs met, even when by our standards they aren’t.
I was thinking today about how my jaw has been hurting the last few days since being here. I realized it’s because I am smiling so much. I caught my reflection in the bus window as we rolled up to Las Margaritas today and almost didn’t recognize myself. It occurred to me that I haven’t truly beamed like that since October. Since the last time I felt Tamana. I understand now. The hum. The ignition of something in my soul that this mission brings. Something that Madagascar ignited and Honduras has stoked. Being here has been more cathartic than I could have ever imagined. I realize I feel the most at peace when I am helping bring peace to others by utilizing the blessings and privileges that have been bestowed upon me thus far in my life. I am so grateful that this trip has granted me another opportunity to do just that with an incredible group of like-minded, like-hearted individuals. I can feel their sense of Tamana in this place too. Efa Tamana eto Honduras koa izaho, izao sy ftoana foana (I already feel Tamana in Honduras too, now and always).
Everyone reported from their stations that the families were doing well and were appreciative of our continuous presence, and we were so appreciative of the welcome that we received. Dr Mark shared a fun story. He was working with a family with four children, with a fifth on the way. He listened for a fetal heartbeat and not being an OB, he pretended to be one, and as he was down, he muttered “sounds like twins” and Andy, our translator, quick as a whip, told their mom you are having twins. This resulted in a very quick smack in the head to Dr Mark from the mom.
Looking forward to visiting our first new community on this trip. These offer their own unique challenges as we and the community learn to work together. Should be exciting, challenging and interesting. To be continued tomorrow…..
~Wendy and Mark