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Wednesday, September 30

Curiosity killed the cat?

You know the old saying, “Curiosity killed the cat?” I guess its true, sort of. In my last blog I mentioned an incident that happened in the men’s dormitory at Baxter that obviously caught the attention of several that were not there for the event. The infamous “Water balloon battle.” I didn’t go into any detail about the story because, to be frank, I didn’t think anyone would care to know what happened. Either I was wrong or the lack of details drives some people crazy. In any event, I will humor those curious minds out there. And I will try to be as factual as possible (although I do have a master’s degree in Tim Hines’s School of Exaggeration).

Back in the early to mid 1990’s Torch was only sending 1 team a summer to Honduras. The team was small, especially compared to today’s mega teams. We averaged around 20-25 each year. We got to know each other very, very well and we also got to know the Baxter students too. After a year or so of going to Honduras you begin making friends and creating special bonds with the guys there. And they really looked forward to the Torch team arriving so that they could learn new devotional and praise songs and just hang out with us. After all, gringos are very entertaining to the Hondurans. (I mean, think about it, you are from a third world country, from a poor background, and going to a very challenging academic school… homework, research papers, choirs, structured routines… we were the best show in town for them!)

Now, to set the story you have to understand a few things. Tegucigalpa was WAY different back 15-20 years ago. You think the roads are bad now? Ha! Oh my, I can’t even begin to tell you how bad they were… you would think I was making it up! But probably the main difference you would notice was the lack of American restaurants. Today they are on every street corner. Just about any restaurant you can think of (except maybe Taco Bell…. Imagine that….). 15-20 years ago? There was 1. Like 1 in the whole city. Pizza Hut. The one that is over there by the Marriott Hotel to be exact. Of course, the Marriott Hotel was not there….

I bring this up because Miguel Agular, one of the founders of Torch, thought it would be a good idea for the American gringos to take the Baxter guys out on the town one night before we left. Well, it was either Pizza Hut or take our chances at one of the local Honduran restaurants like Super Pollo. That in itself is another story that will have to be told later. After 10-12 days of Senora Chung’s rice and beans, we were more than up for a trip to Pizza Hut. Since Miguel came up with a good idea, we decided that we must follow suite.

One day while we were out in the city riding the pubic buses and singing devo songs over the blaring radio of the bus, we found a store that sold balloons. Now, mind you, this all started off fairly innocently. Some of the girls were thinking it would be a neat idea to have balloons and decorations for the trip to Pizza Hut (since this really was a big deal…. This was a real treat back in the day). Not to mention getting off campus and getting 30 minutes of late night extension!!!! So we bought the balloons…. All of them. A lot of them. The girls were thinking decorations while the guys were thinking water balloon battle… as you can tell from the lead in on this story, they guys won the battle of possession. The battle was about to begin!

The “plan” was to have the water balloon battle the day before we went to Pizza Hut. Why? I really don’t know. But I can tell you it was a very bad plan. So, without remembering the facts clearly, I am going to say it was not my idea! Fair enough, after all, I am telling the story. If there are those out there that want to challenge my story, email me and I will read your version. Depending on which story is better (not necessarily more accurate, just which one is better) I might revise the story in a later blog.

But I do remember some of the details; some very clearly. We met with the Baxter guys after morning devotional. They already knew something was up at breakfast that morning. We did not have very good “poker faces.” Our expressions gave it all away. Anyways, after devotional we met with the guys and asked them if they had ever thrown water balloons? (Now, to our defense, these guys play soccer… we figured they did not have a lot of eye hand coordination). They responded by telling us that they had never even heard of a water balloon. Oh, the advantage was so ours… make fun of our soccer playing skills, eh? Game on!

We explained the BASICS of water balloons (how to fill them up, what to do with them, why throwing them at each other would be fun….). We, of course, DID NOT share the fine details with them (Like putting just a little bit of air into the balloon so that it will not pop too easily when you are running with them in your hands….). Oh, come on, you would have done the same thing. We had to have the advantage you know. After all, we were the teachers and they were the students now. So, after a few minutes of explaining, we went on to the battle plan.

The plan was simple. We would divide the balloons evenly between the Torch guys and the Baxter guys. The battle would take place in the dorm around the courtyard. It would begin as soon as we finished dinner. After the water balloon battle we would all chip in and clean up the mess, mop down hallways, and make sure everything was nice and tidy. After all, we did not want to get the students in trouble for trashing the dorm (OK, WE did not want to get in trouble for trashing the dorm!). We all agreed, and shook hands (or something like that…).

Of course, as anyone knows, the element of surprise is a must in any water balloon battle. We adopted the strategy of “win at all cost.” In other words, we were more than willing to cheat if needed to win this battle. So we did. According to our agreement, water balloons could not be filled up until after dinner. We of course, filled ALL of our water balloons up after lunch. Our plan was simple: we would strike the Baxter guys while they were filling up their balloons. Now, I know what you are thinking, but this is water balloon warfare. Fight to win or go home wet.

After we cleverly filled our water balloons while the Baxter guys were in Bible classes (yeah, I felt sort of guilty about that) we stacked our water balloons in our rooms in the closets and locked not only the door but the closet door as well. Out of sight, out of mind, right? We then went out to do our daily activities and projects… whistling all the way. However, a dark, ominous cloud was on the horizon that we did not see… one that we could not prepare for. The keeper of the key.

The Baxter men had an ace in the hole. They had THE ace as a matter of fact. Little did we know that when we left the building that the keeper of the key came forward. Who was the keeper of the key? The dorm had a supervisor. A Baxter student that had a master key that could open every room in the dorm. Yes, THAT keeper of the key. And while we were away working the Baxter men raided our rooms and stole all of our pre-made water balloons. Can you believe that? They cheated! Bible majors at a Christian Bible school… cheating…. The nerve of some people (I am sure you are catching the sarcasm dripping from this blog by now…)

We returned, late in the afternoon, just in time for dinner. The “innocent” Baxter students were eating and laughing and having such a great time. It was obvious to us that they did not know what was in store for them. So we laughed at their silly little jokes and ate our food with joy. The time was at hand. Suddenly, as if a silent alarm went off, we shot out of the cafeteria, across the bridge, up the stairs, and to the rooms. Baxter students went running to the bathrooms to fill their balloons. We laughed with an evil laugh, as we headed to our closets.

That is when we realized what was going on… and why the Baxter students were having such fun at dinner. We did not have a single water balloon. They had them all. Some of the brave Torchers went outside to try to fill their trashcans with water. They were ballooned down with unbelievable accuracy. Others of us opened up our water bottles and water canteens and went out to do battle. We too were blasted from every direction. Some stayed in their rooms hoping to be left alone. They too were bombed by water balloons through the windows. While they threw OUR water balloons at us they were filling their own. Round 2 is when it got out of control.

Water hoses were located. Torch gained control of the hoses and the high ground. Water was spraying everywhere. Balloons where flying around and buckets of water were being tossed to and fro. It was out of control and we were having a great time. But the Spanish tiled hallways got slippery and as people were running and dodging and jumping and twirling, people began to slip and fall and slide and crash. That is when we broke one of the beautiful, handmade, solid wood doors to one of the rooms. That is also when we broke a couple of windows. Yikes! Houston, we had a problem.

It seems that broken windows are very expensive to replace. And doors. So, the Torch team had to pitch in with spending money to pay for the damages. The powers at hand were not pleased. They were not happy. They did not see a lot of lot of things the way we did. We thought we had just ‘made life more exciting” on campus. They thought we were crazy. We had to clean the mess up and it had to be spotless and perfect by morning. And we did. We cleaned that place like it had never been cleaned before.

Fortunately the headmaster of Baxter did not punish the students or us any more than that and we even were allowed to take the Baxter students to Pizza Hut the next night. Of course, that was the night that the Honduran death angel passed over the campus and plagued us with the dreaded “Honduran tea party.” Oh, we were so sick… not even an American restaurant was safe to eat at back then! What a way to end a trip.

We were not allowed (and still not allowed) to have water balloon battles in Honduras ever again. It has been stricken from the books. The moral of the story you might ask? Simple. Never trust a Bible major who has served in the military of a 3rd world, Latin American country! You will lose every time. Sometimes late at night I can still see Saul and Thomas staring at me with those dark brown eyes and water balloons in their hands….

Next up will be the life of a female Torcher back in the day. And the Pit of despair. Until later, Dios te bendiga mi amigos!


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