Monday, January 26, 2015

Catching up on stuff . . . Christian Radio Station Project, Part 1

Here's a report on a project we've been helping with for several months - I just haven't posted about it yet!

If you follow our ministry in detail, I'm sure you know that we don't run a Christian radio station, LOL. However, in the past year we have been pleased to have several opportunities to use our construction skills to help other missionaries with needed building projects for their ministries. It's fun to be a part of a type of ministry we wouldn't likely do on our own, and to be a blessing to those missionaries who don't have the same construction skills and experience we do. You may recall the small bridge we constructed (with help and funds from a visiting team) for an orphanage in another part of Honduras last summer. This time, we partnered with a local missionary, just a few miles down the road from us . . .  AND (here's a teaser for you) . . . there's another project in the works which might have Allen and Russell traveling to build a bridge in Haiti in the next year or so, for a ministry there!

But now . . . the radio station project!

A Christian radio station was started in our area about 4-5 years ago. Currently, a missionary from Texas, Shannon Hopkins, is directing the station. Shannon, like us, has multiple ministries going, including this radio station, a feeding program, and working as the chaplain at the bilingual school Ben is now attending.

There was a need for housing for a watchman at the radio station property. Shannon asked Russell to oversee this project. Like the bridge we helped with at the orphanage, a team from the US raised the funds for the materials, and came to work alongside our crew for a week during the actual building process.

Below is Boo's photo chronicle of this project, as the house for the watchman was built. Since there are so many photos, the rest of the work we did at the radio station will have to be included in a "part 2" post. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Before you know it, we're going to have a ROOF on our new house! I'm so excited! The men have worked hard on this house, but only during the lulls between other, ministry-related construction projects, so it's been a slow process. We've been living on the property, in our bodega/warehouse, for five and a half years now  - it really is time for us to have a house, and amenities like interior walls!

The lumber for the roof was purchased back in August of last year, and has been sitting out drying (and getting rained on, and drying again) all this time.

Off and on, when they've had time over the past couple of months, the men have worked on planing the rough lumber. Once a large enough pile of planed boards was ready, they started staining them.

Gradually we are amassing a pile of dried, planed, bug-treated, stained boards. These will be the rafters of our roof, and will be visible from inside the house, as part of the ceiling.

The photo below is the ceiling of the "team house". . . which is similar to the ceiling which will be in our home, except that we're planning to whitewash the flat boards, and just have the support beams stained. 

The house will have porches in front and back, so we have wooden posts for porch roof supports:

If you're good with your imagination, you can look at these photos of the house, and imagine what it will look like with a ROOF and covered porches.

Back porch-to-be
Front of house (porch will be on the left)

So, there you go! A ROOF in the making!!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Can you help us with this problem, RIGHT AWAY????? It's (almost) URGENT!

I hate to use the word "urgent" in anything I post, because, after our kidnapping situation, people might see that word and think that danger is involved. I'll reserve the word "urgent" for when I need you to drop everything and pray immediately, okay? Meanwhile, I'll go with VERY IMPORTANT AND TIME SENSITIVE, for this post. How's that?

This is a VERY IMPORTANT AND TIME SENSITIVE POST!!!! Please read it right away, before we're OUT of time!!!

In addition to filling the annual shipping container with donations, we also have to receive permission from the government to import the container and contents duty-free. This year it was MUCH harder and took MUCH longer to get the duty-free situation in hand. That's why (in case you haven't already heard) the container hasn't shipped yet. 

We received the preliminary permission this week, and we'll be shipping before the end of January . . .  but there's a hitch . . . . we will not be allowed to ship the huge spools of cable, which have been collected for us to use in building bridges here, in this particular container. We expect to be able to ship them in the future, just not this time.

So, we have permission to ship the container, but with the spools removed we are back to having EMPTY SPACE TO FILL! And those spools are huge, so it is a large amount of space!

Oh my! We DO NOT like to pay to ship EMPTY SPACE! Noooooooooooo!

So, my request is as follows: Can you help us fill the empty space in this container, in the next TEN DAYS???????? That's how long we have for this!

Ways you can help are listed below:

- if you live in the MD, northern VA, DC, and southern PA areas, you could possibly collect items and deliver them to Thurmont or Walkersville Maryland. I will list the delivery locations below, but you MUST call to make sure that someone will be there at the time you deliver. Allen wanted me to mention that he has asked, in the past, at Salvation Army locations, and they have been willing to donate items if you tell them that they are going to be put into a missionary container. Just an idea, if you have a place near you!

7047 Blue Mountain Road
Thurmont, MD



Fredericktowne Baptist Church

8645 Biggs Ford Road 
Walkersville, MD 
(301) 898-8600 

- if you do not live locally to the connection sites, or you don't have items to donate or time to deliver things, you can still help. There is still (barely) enough time to purchase items on Amazon and have them delivered by the time the container ships. We never have enough school supplies, backpacks, small gifts for men (wallets, pocket knives, ties, socks, etc). All of the other items listed in the linked post can also still be sent . . . they will NOT go to waste!

If you are shipping donations, use this address:

Gifts for Gracias c/o Jim Cofer

7047 Blue Mountain Road
Thurmont, MD 21788

Can you help with this? We would be SO GRATEFUL! I think you all know how much we abhor wasting donated funds, and we are just finding ourselves backed into a situation which may force us to be inefficient with money - and none of us want that!!!!

On the chance that anyone here is completely unfamiliar with the Gifts for Gracias project . . . here is a link that will give you all of the details: Gifts for Gracias: See What We See

From the Sowers family, I say:

And from the actual gift recipients, I pass this along:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Gifts for Gracias - A Post From a Very Special Donor

We appreciate everyone who helps us create gifts for the Gifts for Gracias project every year - those who put together a gift for a boy or girl of a specific age, or a family gift (which blesses the parents as well), those who send bulk items we use to create additional gifts, and the people who collect and donate used clothing and bedding in good condition, which are valued parts of the entire gift package - but I think you'll agree with me that this donation is something unusually special!

Meet Jules - a long time friend of mine, even though we've never actually been in the same place at the same time. We connected through an online homeschooling forum more than a dozen years ago. Jules is a quilter - she pieces and quilts lovely items herself, and also does quilting for others, as a business. This year, she decided to do something extra-special for her donation to the Gifts for Gracias project . . . but I'll let you read the details in her own words from her blog. 

This year when I saw blankets as a need on the list and saw what a blanket costs (when did I buy a blanket last???), I figured I had fabric, I’d make quilts for part of my box.  I officially took off the week of Thanksgiving from customer work and spent my quilting time making quilts for an unknown loved one in a faraway land.  It was so fun to make from what I had and be able to do whatever I wanted.  I ended up playing quite a bit with my quilting.  Midst the work, my mind prayed for the Sowers family and those that will receive my meager gifts ... read more here

Click on this photo for a close-up on the amazing detail in the stitching!

Head on over to Jules' blog, And Sew On . . . , to see the quilts she made for us. I'm so excited for the opportunity to give these lovely gifts away this year! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Keeping in Touch . . . tell us how to do it better . . .

Things have been changing in my life, a lot, in the past couple of years. Two years ago I was a busy homeschooling mom, caring for and educating four children in my household. Suddenly I find myself an almost empty-nester . . . and a grandmother! 

Rachel is married, and Gus is in college in the US. Ben still lives at home, but he is now enrolled in an excellent bilingual school in our area, and will start attending classes there in January, so he won't be around the house much now. Boo has one foot out the door. She's finishing up some high school studies, but she's been mostly independent in her schooling for years now, and she's traveling quite a bit right now. She just spent a couple of weeks on the north coast, visiting friends at the Loma de Luz Hospital, and now she's in the capital, Tegucigalpa, spending the rest of the holidays with Rachel and Brandy. She takes her school books with her, and manages "homeschooling" on the road!

It's been a challenge for me to adjust to these changes. I'm delighted to find that I still enjoy spending time alone with my husband, and I'm renewing some of my long-lost hobbies, even playing the piano and sketching again. I have less laundry to do, of course, but there are also fewer minions to help with all of the housework, so that's become more work for me. I'm trying to rethink the whole process of keeping house, now that so much has changed.

I also want to be more efficient and purposeful in the part of the ministry work that generally has been my responsibility . . . which is communicating with our friends and supporters. Over the years, I've found this to be a continually changing challenge for me. At first I wrote a monthly newsletter, which went out by email and regular mail. Then we set up a website, and tried to keep that updated, so that people would have access to more info and pictures, in a more up-to-date format. 
In 2007 I discovered the blogosphere, and started blogging regularly. The newsletters, became "occasional" instead of "monthly," as it became hard for me to find things to share that I hadn't already posted on the blog. Gradually, instead of newsletters, we substituted short emails, for extremely important news . . . like kidnappings, etc. 

Only a few years ago I succumbed to the world of Facebook,
and I haven't been extremely successful at balancing Facebook, blogging, emails, and personal communications. I really have tried, though.

While I'm still struggling with all of that, there are also Twitter (yes, I have a twitter account, but I still don't really know what to do with it) and Google +, and Facetime, and Skype, and Instagram, and . . . 

I haven't updated the website in quite a while, because the program I was using became obsolete, and I haven't found the time to learn a new program, so that I can edit the site! I'm getting kind of old and tired . . . and technology is definitely changing faster than I can keep up!

At the same time, Allen pretty regularly takes time to make phone calls and connect with people that way.

I'll be honest here. We work hard at this stuff, and still people remark to us that they haven't heard anything from us in a while! Generally I assume this is because they are only watching one or another of these communications outlets, and our time and energy is being spread between a bunch of them. If a person only reads my emails, or only catches me when one of my FB posts hits their feed, or just reads the blog, I'm sure it looks like we've cut back on communications, because they are only seeing a fraction of what we're putting out there.

In order to help me do my job better, I'd like to ask for your input on this. Tell me where you currently see or hear the most information from us. Tell me which communication method you would most likely see and pay attention to. Is there a different method of communicating that you would like to recommend to me? Give me your honest thoughts on how I can do a better job here - because, really, I can use the help! 

You know we are just one part of this ministry . . . without knowledgeable partners praying and supporting us we can't accomplish much of anything!

Thanks so much for helping me with this! 

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Right Person, in the Right Place, at the Right Time

We recently sent out a newsletter, and many people mentioned that they enjoyed reading this one, so I thought I'd share it here, as well:

Dear Friends,

Recently, our daughter Rachel and her husband Brandy received a phone call, in the middle of the night, with the news that Brandy’s father had been hospitalized and wasn't expected to live much longer. They rushed to his side, and for the rest of the night, Brandy and his brother took turns holding their father in a sitting position on his bed, because sitting upright allowed him to breathe, and the beds at the small local hospital weren't adjustable.

The family was able to arrange for their father to be transported by plane to a better equipped hospital, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, the next morning - but sadly, Brandy’s father did not survive the trip.

During those precious last hours together, Brandy was able to share the gospel with his father at a time when his father was ready to listen - and because of this Brandy has the hope of seeing his father again in heaven!

Brandy was the right person, in the right place, at the right time.

As missionaries, we work to share the good news of the redemption which is available to us all through Christ, with the people of western Honduras . . . but we can only be in one place at a time. By assisting the indigenous Honduran pastors, missionaries and evangelists in their work, we've had the honor of being part of spreading the good news to hundreds of villages in the remotest parts of the mountains in all directions around Gracias Lempira.

With your assistance, we’re helping the right people be in these villages, at the right times:

-   when a pastor is able to plant a church in a village that previously had no church, because he received the gift of a horse or motorcycle

-   when a pastor is able to share the message more effectively because he has attended the pastor training school

-   when a parent brings their malnourished child to one of our pastor-run feeding centers

-   when Bibles, Bible study materials, and Sunday School curriculum are available to these communities locally, at prices they can afford

-   when children in remote locations and living in poverty get the opportunity to receive an education at a Christian school

-   when a pastor is encouraged in his work through receiving a Gifts for Gracias package

Much interest has been expressed in our bridge construction projects recently, because they are physically large and impressive. We build those bridges because people need them to have access to places they need to go, and people they need to see. The work we do supporting pastors is an even more important type of bridge building. We help the indigenous pastors to reach people in need of God, in remote mountain villages, so that those people can see and experience Christ’s love, shared through his followers: the pastors (unsung heroes in this story), our family (working to get the resources to the pastors as needed), and YOU (supporting us through your prayers and gifts).

Thanks so much for being a part of this ministry. We hope you have a joyful Christmas!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Newsletter - are you on the list? Do you want to be?

I mailed out an email newsletter this morning. If you think you should be on the list, but you didn't receive an email from us, please let me know! Earlier this year I had a computer die on me, and I lost my most updated copy of the list.

Also, if you weren't on the list, but you'd like to be, let me know that, too! We'd be more than happy to add you. (If you send me a name and email address through the comments section, I'll receive it, but I'll make sure your info isn't posted publicly, as all comments are monitored before they are posted.)

Thanks so much, to everyone who supports us with prayer and giving!