Serve Well Blog

June 2014 Entries


Hijos de Rancho Santa Fe
by Doug Orofino ('12)

The Krista Foundation | Colleague Press

"In between two shores" since returning from Honduras after almost two years as a teacher and caregiver for Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos, Douglas Orofino begins serving this fall as Choir Director at Chief Umtuch Middle School in Battle Ground, WA. Read how he is trying to take the language, mindset and heart-set he learned in Honduras and integrate it into his life in the northwest. 




"Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido," writes poet Pablo Neruda in his native tongue. "My soul is not at peace with having lost her." There is something I can't tell people, but want them to know. Whenever I see a picture of one my hijos or see photos of my querido Rancho Santa Fe this is the verse that resonates within me like a hymn. "My soul is not at peace with having lost you." Of course, loss isn't exactly what has happened, is it? I told everyone when I left, "Les llevaré para siempre en mi corazón, o sea I will always carry you in my heart." Then why do I feel empty. Why do I lament, "I am not at peace with having lost you."


In February, I came home from the Rancho Santa Fe casa/hogar (better known as an orphanage) where I spent a year-and-a-half working with and alongside a gaggle of the most amazing and frustrating kids as a teacher, tutor and caregiver. Since my return to the States, I have been set adrift from my mooring. I am in limbo, in-between two shores. I am the same, yet fundamentally I am different. I am neither here, in the United States, nor there, Honduras. Part of me resides in each place I learned to call home. Between these two shores I drift. Able to see each in its flawed beauty; unable to hold onto both at the same time. Sometimes in the quiet when no one else is listening I overflow with anger, "Why God. Why is it so hard to move between these two places? How can I honor them both? How can I keep one without losing the other?" The juxtaposition between these two "worlds" so different that society has seen fit to number them - first and third - weighs upon me. The injustice of it all makes me want to cry out, "Señor, ten piedad. Kyrie eleison. Lord have mercy." Why is our world so different, so divided? Why are some nations thriving while others are desperately trying to just stay afloat? How can we change this? These are the questions that swell around me, and in this current I reside, unsure if I have come home or left it. Wanting to be moored to two distinct places, two shores. Unwilling to let one go for the other.


A lot of people have a schema about what is supposed to happen when one has a life-movement (I don't like the word experience) such as I have had. Sometimes I get the feeling I don't fit in that schema... And for that I say "Gracias a Dios." So. How did I even get here? When did I become this person? While in Honduras NPH gave me something I wasn't expecting. It gave me family. NPH works hard to give their children a place to call home and people to call their own. It may not be a typical family, but it bears the same hallmarks: responsibility, work, play, relationships, frustration, unconditional love... frustration. It is an extended family of people who are there for each other. Along with a sense of family NPH gave me something else I wasn't expecting. It gave me love. Not love because of what I did, or because I came to "help." For my niños it was simpler than that. We played together, we ate together, we went to church together. At night time I told them stories, sang them songs, checked for monsters under the bed and rocked them to sleep. Before school I did their hair and read them books. We were family. This was a paradigm shift. Where before Honduras I saw myself as an older brother, an eldest son, and "family" was a contained, genetically linked group of people. Now, post Honduras my definition of family is wider, it has to be, because there are a lot people it needs to fit. I came back seeing myself not just belonging to my ‘blood relatives'. I belonged to dozens of hijos e hijas, children I don't ever want to stop loving or thinking about. So. This is why I can't go home. I can't choose my shore. I don't want to be just here or just there. There is a part of me that is bigger than either one of these two places.


I have not figured out how to move from the idea of, "My soul is not at peace with having lost you," to the reality of my new personhood with two homes. I know I have not figured out how to take what I lived in Honduras and bring it forward. In the words of a returning missionary, "My spirit has not caught up to me yet." While I don't know where my life is going, I do know that my resilience, my hope, lies in becoming a bridge between what I have always known and what I now know, between the two places I call home, between the two shores.


make of my hands a bridge

they have played expensive pianos

they have plucked lice from little girls' hair

make of my feet a bridge

they have walked on trash

in sand the have been buried, warm

make of my eyes a bridge

for they have beheld palaces

and they have seen a coffin, far too small

make of my heart a bridge

it has loved wealth and music

for love of niños it has been broken

make of me, a bridge

stretch me across the river

that i might not choose

but be of both shores


2014 Conference Resources

The Krista Foundation | Krista Foundation Press

Thinking Intentionally and Critically About How Racism Impact You and the World:
You are a sacred temple of life. Each person from all identities, cultures, faiths and social 
locations, must interdependently share the earth with one another. We must love ourselves. 
We must love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Think about it, each of us represents various 
communities. However, if you are injured and need a blood transfusion, it is not medically required that the blood you need to save your life has to be transfused from a person whose skin complexion is the same as yours; in order to keep living, you need to receive blood from a person who has your same blood type, not your same skin color. Each human being represents God’s gift of life. Each person’s body is a sacred temple created to equitably share love, peace and justice. 

Please, every day, deliberately live justly with compassion and integrity for yourself and all 
members of humanity. 

A Theology of Liberation: History, Politics and Salvation (15th Anniversary Edition), Gustavo Gutierrez

God and Race in American Politics, Mark A. Noll

Reproducing Racism: How Everyday Choices Lock in White Advantage, Daria Roithmayr

Medical Apartheid The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from 
Colonial Times to the Present, Harriet A. Washington

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Michelle Alexander

Understanding: All Races Are Identical

Wheelock College: Hill Harper and Charles Ogletree on Racism

Take a Negro Home, This American Life:
Additional Resources courtesy of conference participants:
1. The House I Live In, a documentary about the "War on Drugs":
2. Blonde Indian by Ernestine Hays, an Alaska Native woman's story
3. Righteous Dopefiend, ethnographic study over 10 year period about homelessness and addiction:
4. The Irresistable Revolution by Shane Claiborne 
5. Microaggressions In Everyday Life by Derald Wang Sue
6. VICE News: