Sunday, September 30, 2007

Bot Flies, AGAIN?!?!?

Yes, it's true. We found bot fly larvae on one of our dogs. Kirstin, who is now fully versed in bot fly larva infestations, removed three of the nasty things from poor, longsuffering Joe, seen below.

The bright side of all of this, according to the kids, is that at least now, if one of us is infested with bot flies, we'll know what to do about it. Somehow that particular bright side fails to cheer me!

If you've missed the bot fly fun, follow this link (NOT for the squeamish):

The story of the bird we previously treated for bot fly larva infestation

I am frequently amazed at the things which our family has come to consider normal. I am really hoping NOT to add this to the list!

Special Needs Kids - Link

One of the programs we run is directed toward families with "Special Needs Kids" - children with medical needs requiring long term medical help. Many of these children's problems actually stem from severe, ongoing malnutrition. Some suffer from birth defects, others from ongoing medical conditions. The most recent quarterly magazine put out by Missionary Ventures ran this article, about the program (when you open the link, scroll down to the article entitled "What Else Could We Do?")

Below are pictures of Denexi Marbeli, before and after the initial surgery to repair her cleft palate. We currently have three more people in the program, waiting for cleft palate repair surgery. Two of these are young adults from very remote areas of the mountains, who have not yet received the needed repairs, in spite of being nearly 20 years old! We are working on scheduling surgeries for them in the near future. Our part is simply doing the leg work; connecting the patient with a visiting surgical team which is offering these repairs fairly close to our area, and paying for the transportation and housing as needed.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

September Construction Update

It's been a month since I posted pictures of the construction we have going on. Today, we had a rather large work crew. In addition to Allen and 5 of the children, we had Alejandra (friend of Boo), Henri and Carlos (friends of Russell), three American teachers from a local bilingual school (friends of the entire family), and an older man who lives close to the property. As you can see from these pictures, quite a lot has been accomplished - especially when you consider that there is no machinery involved in any of this, except for our pickup truck bringing the materials in to the site.

The view from below . . . I think it looks rather like a fortress, with cannons peeping out. Actually, those holes were left in the walls so that we could place boards into them to support the scaffolding.

Christopher is our mortar mixing specialist. He is 13 now, and has officially surpassed me in height, as of this week. We are so impressed at what a hard worker Chris has become!

If you look at the picture below, you can see where the construction changes from block to brick. That is the level that will be the floor in the finished building. What a gorgeous view we will have from the porch which will run along that side of the building! This building will be used for housing visiting teams, and also as a dorm during the week of Bible Training School each month.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Food from Kids Against Hunger - A Progress Report

We've received word that the container of meals from Kids Against Hunger has left Minnesota, and is on the boat, scheduled to leave Gulfport today. The trip by boat is just 3 to 4 days if the weather is good, then comes the work to get the food through customs, before it can be delivered here to Gracias.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Little Present

Lookie - this morning, one of the ladies we have been helping with a medical issue gave us a gift . . . and so now we have a beautiful chicken!

The count is now two cats, three dogs, one bull, and three birds. Oh, and six kids! We'd better hurry up and finish construction, so that we can move out of town to our country property!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Marilu's Trip to the Hospital - a little depressing

Yesterday Allen drove Marilu (see her story here) and her parents to San Pedro Sula, to meet with the visiting North American orthopedic surgeon there. New X-rays were taken, and her condition was discussed. So far, the news is not especially good, but we continue to be grateful for the access we have to these excellent doctors.

Basically, if Marilu lived in the states, in addition to straightening her legs the doctors would insert new bone (or, I suppose, a bone substitute) into her legs, as her bones are not long enough for her current size, and some of her bones are missing. This surgery would need to be repeated every two years, until she was fully grown. Here in Honduras, this is not a practical solution, so the doctors are looking at alternatives.

One significant discussion involves amputating her legs. It is possible that the doctors will determine that the results of multiple surgeries would not be an improvement over amputation. If an amputation is a likely long-term outcome, then it needs to be considered whether the amputation should take place very soon. Apparently, the complications which many amputees experience, suffering from "phantom" pains in their missing limbs, can be avoided if the amputation occurs at a very young age.

It seems at this time to be very unlikely that Marilu will ever walk, even with crutches.

The doctors are hoping to arrange for a surgeon who specializes in hand surgeries, to repair the problems in Marilu's right hand. With the likelihood that she will not walk, having full use of her hands may become an especially important factor in her life.

Although we would have loved to have received a better prognosis, it is a huge blessing to have a specialist review Marilu's condition, and to know realistically what is possible surgically. This medical group, from the organization Cure International, is setting up a permanent facility in San Pedro Sula, and the doctor Allen met is making preparations to live and work there full time for the next two years. So, we are pleased to say that we expect to connect Marilu with extremely good medical care, over an extended period of time.

For the moment, the doctors have chosen to wait until they are in full-time operation in San Pedro to begin treating Marilu, so nothing more is expected to happen on this until February. Thanks so much for your prayers, as we work through all of this, and thanks for your continued prayers for Marilu and her family.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Introducing the BucketBoy

For those of you who haven't met him, this is our youngest son, David, aka The BucketBoy. David has lived with our family since he was 14 months old. I'm not going to tell his story here, because I'm not sure what is wise to share about this on the internet, but we are in the process of trying to adopt David into our family permanently.

Friends of mine, on a homeschooling forum I frequent, dubbed him BucketBoy because of these pictures from his earlier years:

Isn't he a cutie? He's a total extrovert, and he loves when we have visiting teams.

International adoptions are extremely difficult to achieve in Honduras. We would appreciate your prayers as we continue to work toward making David's place in our family as permanent on paper as it is in our hearts!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Quince de Septiembre - Independence Day

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, we had parades here in Gracias, to celebrate September 15th - Independence Day. Apparently every school takes part in the festivities, so there are too many people for just one parade! These were fine parades, involving marching soldiers, pretty girls in formal dresses (these gals deserve extra credit, for walking our cobblestone streets, up hill, in strappy high heels!), bands, cheerleaders, students in uniform, and even the town ambulance.

The Lempira Day parade which is held here in Gracias (the capital of the department of Lempira) in July is a hard act to follow, and we definitely found that the Independence Day parade didn't measure up in creativity or fun. But, it was a nice community celebration, and vendors were selling cotton candy, so we went home satisfied!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Helping Marilu

A few months ago, we met little Marilu and her parents. Marilu was born with some severe defects, but is otherwise mentally and physically normal and healthy. We have already received some donations of funds to help Marilu, but until now, we haven't had the ability to line up medical help for her.

La Gringa, a blogger over in La Ceiba Honduras, was kind enough to feature my blog on her blog, this past week. She especially drew attention to the story Practicing Medicine Without A License. As a result, I was contacted by Dr David Black, who works on the north coast of Honduras, and who very helpfully passed some information my way, concerning medical resources available to those of us working in Honduras. As part of this large collection of information, he mentioned an upcoming medical team, including pediatric orthopedists (bone doctors specializing in the care of children). I immediately thought of Marilu, and wrote back to Dr Black, to see if these doctors might be able to help her.

The medical team will be working in San Pedro Sula (about 4 hours drive from here) this coming week! The timing is difficult for us, as we have a session of the Bible Training School this week (postponed from last week, because of the road conditions after Felix). Obviously, we are working hard to make arrangements to get Marilu to San Pedro Sula, to find out if these doctors will be able to improve her situation.

We would certainly appreciate your prayers; for us as we make the arrangements, for Marilu and her family, and for the doctors who will be evaluating her condition.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Woo Hoo! Kids Against Hunger!

Back in May, we started the process of shipping a 40' container of food to distribute in Lempira. This is not just any food - these are highly nutritious, vitamin enriched, dehydrated meals, which, when cooked, appear and taste similar to the popular Honduran dish 'Arroz y pollo' (rice and chicken). We cooked a package and ate it ourselves, to make sure . . . no sense in distributing food that no one will eat, right? It was tasty, and as easy to prepare as plain rice.

The meals are created by an organization based in Minnesota, called Kids Against Hunger. The organization purchases the supplies to create these meals, and then groups such as church clubs, schools, girl/boy scout troops, etc, donate the money for the cost of the supplies, and actually put together the meals in packages.
After that, Kids Against Hunger partners with organizations which distribute the meals to the hungry all over the world. The big expense for us, of course, is the cost of shipping the containerload of meals from Minnesota to Honduras.

Allen worked with private donors and the Honduras government to arrange for the payment and the paperwork involved in shipping this containerload of food. The entire shipment is to be distributed within the department of Lempira, which has been officially recognized by the Honduran government as the poorest department in Honduras - and Honduras was recently ranked by the UN as the nation with the highest level of chronic hunger in this hemisphere.
We just received word today that the shipment - containing 285,000 adult servings or enough to feed 35,000 children's servings per week for twelve weeks - has been scheduled to leave Minnesota ten days from now, and is expected to arrive in Honduras around the first of October! It is our hope that we will be able to ship future containers of food more easily, once this first one is successfully behind us.

School is for the Birds

Only Kirstin is getting much school done around here right now. She is in the process of finishing up her first college writing class. Since she is considering writing as a potential major, she has wanted to put her best efforts into this class. She expects to be finished in another week or so. With these online classes from Taylor University, she has a very flexible schedule.

Here she is, with her 'writing coaches' standing by in case she should need any assistance:Her paper is a discussion of the ethical dilemmas caused by the ability to diagnose problems (and gender) in an embryo before it is emplanted in the mother. She enjoys researching that medical/scientific advances/ethical stuff. Earlier this year she wrote a paper for another class on cloning.

What you can't see in that picture is that one of our cats kept peering in the window just behind Kirstin's head, and upsetting the 'writing coaches' - they're kind of flighty, you know. ;-)

The rest of the family isn't getting much school done, because so much time is being spent on the construction site. Progress is painfully slow, but so far most of the workers remain enthusiastic! I hope to post some construction update pictures early next week.

I'm sick - again! I'm so tired of being sick. This time it's a sinus infection, so I'm back on antibiotics. I'm hoping that once I get through this one, I can stay well for a while!

This weekend is a holiday in Honduras, the 15th of September . . . similar to the 4th of July in the states. Tomorrow there will be a parade here in Gracias, but I am told that it is not nearly as interesting and creative as the Lempira Day parade. I'll get out with my camera anyway, just in case there is something of interest to photograph.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Everyday Life in Lempira

Our recent guests generously gave us copies of the pictures they took during their visit. Here are some scenes of everyday life in and around Gracias Lempira.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Old Carnivals Never Die . . . They Move South!

Today is Children's Day in Honduras, and as part of the celebration, we have a carnival in town.

If you've ever wondered where those carnival rides of your childhood have gone, look no farther . . . they are HERE in Gracias!
Here's a close up of that Ferris Wheel. Makes you want to go for a spin, doesn't it?It is actually a manual ride. A man at the bottom turns it by hand!

So, the ethical dilemma for the international-living mom . . . after dragging your children with you to live in a Third World country, do you let your children create childhood memories on these rides?

Nature Calls

I just LOVE this picture from our recent team, and I had to share!

This is April, preparing to use the lush facilities in the pueblo of Leonardo Talgua, located in the department of Lempira.

Still Cleaning Up after Felix

The Bible Training School, originally scheduled for this week, has been postponed until next week, because so many of the roads in the mountains of Lempira are still not fit for travel after the rains we experienced from Felix.

I am using the word "road" in the broadest possible sense here. Once you leave the city of Gracias, basically all of the roads into the mountains are 4 wheel drive only, and when you get to the ends of those, the "roads" are horse paths and foot paths.

These mountain roads will be repaired by the people who live up in the mountains, themselves, without any machines or equipment, beyond picks and shovels. So, this will take a bit of time, and the pastors are just not able to get away and travel until the repair work is completed.

Approximately 80 pastors and church leaders attend the Bible Training School for three days each month. Click here and also here for more information about the school.

In spite of some inconveniences, we are all extremely grateful that Felix didn't cause great damage or loss of life in Honduras!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Answers to the 'Christmas in September' Quiz

In the "Christmas in September" post, I asked these questions:

What do you think is the most appreciated gift we give to young girls here?
What do you think is the most appreciated gift we give to young (really all ages) boys here?
What gift do you think the pastors appreciate most, not including Spanish Study Bibles?
What gift do you think the women appreciate the most?

Here are the answers:

The girls, above all else, love to receive Barbie dolls. I won't take a stand on whether Barbie dolls are ruining the self-image of our female youth, or whether they are harmless. The girls just like them!

The answer for the boys is so obvious: a soccer ball. Give any boy in Honduras a soccer ball, and he will be thrilled. This includes my sons!

The pastors LOVED the Spanish Study Bibles we gave as gifts last year. But, after those, their most desired and appreciated gift was a baseball cap! I don't know why, but they really are thrilled to get baseball caps!

For the women who received gifts, this was a difficult call to make, so we think it was kind of a tie. They are so appreciative of sweaters or light jackets, but, at the same time, they also were thrilled with the blankets and comforters. So, it's a toss up!

Now, why not go make some Christmas boxes! :-D

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Christmas in September?

Usually I blog about the events of the day, but this post will be a blatant appeal for your involvement. Each year, we collect Christmas gifts, which are given to the pastors we work with, and their families. We also give candy and gifts to the children in our Special Needs Program, the children at the feeding centers, and the children who are in the local hospital at Christmas time.

Why bring this up in September? Because, of course, there is the time it takes to get the gifts to us here in Gracias. We will be scheduling a 40' container shipment from Maryland to Honduras in October. Friends in Northern Virginia will be receiving the mailed gifts for us, and a few churches in Maryland and in Florida will receive gifts delivered to their churches.

The time to get involved in this project is NOW!!!!!!! There are only three weeks left until the mailing deadline of October 1st. Also, September is a fabulous time to purchase school supplies on sale . . . and these are some of the best items to send.

All of the information for sending a box is located on our ministry website, on the "Gifts for Gracias" page, except for the actual mailing address. For that, you will have to send me an email, as I don't want to post the address on the internet.

We anticipate needing approximately 2000 gifts for children, and 250 family gifts, so we need all of the help we can get. Please help us bless these children, and these hardworking ministers of the Gospel!

Here's a fun quiz for you:

What do you think is the most appreciated gift we give to young girls here?
What do you think is the most appreciated gift we give to young (really all ages) boys here?
What gift do you think the pastors appreciate most, not including Spanish Study Bibles?
What gift do you think the women appreciate the most?

I'll give the answers in a future post.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Non-Wounded Bird - Only His Feelings are Hurt . . .

Meet Morph, the Half Moon Conure. His little bird brain is convinced that he rules the roost at our place. Morph was found on the street here in Gracias. He was already tame, but his wings had not been clipped, and he was free as a . . . well, you know. However, Morph didn't seem to know what to do with his freedom, so he was living on the streets, potentially attracting dangerous companions, who would lead him astray, or possibly eat him. Not a pretty story.

He was brought to us by a friend, who hoped that we would encourage this young bird to live a safer lifestyle. In spite of his 'foundling' status, he maintains his King of the Streets attitude, and now bosses our family around unmercifully. If his wishes are not granted, we suffer his noisy wrath!

Kirstin is his preferred slave, and his usual source of transportation. During daylight hours, he pretty much lives on her shoulder, or atop her head. If Kirstin eats or drinks anything appealing, he runs down her arm and dives in! Kirstin has to be especially careful when consuming anything hot.

This week, the unnamed wounded bird joined our household. Morph is miffed. He sits on Kirstin, and watches her minister to the baby's needs. But you can tell, he's unsettled. His world has turned upside down, and he isn't sure what to make of this newcomer in his realm.

Today, Morph tried to join the baby bird in his box, but we were unsure of his intentions, so we distracted him toward other pursuits.

Poor Morph! I keep expecting him to start dragging a wing, or something, so that we'll all return to paying what he considers an appropriate amount of attention to him!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Spunky Wounded Bird

This past Sunday (pre-Felix . . . it seems a very long time ago) we took the team up to the country property where we are building the mission center, and my daughter Kirstin found an injured baby bird. Kirstin has a Half Moon Conure for a pet, and she is pretty comfortable with birds, so she scooped it up and brought it home, hoping we might be able to save it.

My own opinion on injured birds is basically: "don't bother naming them, they rarely live anyway." We were able to tell right away that the little guy had a broken leg, and possibly an injured wing. We also noticed he had odd swellings in several locations on his body, and his back end looked weird. It was protruding, red and naked. But we know little about baby birds, and this one was right in the process of changing from his grey baby fluff to his feathers, so it was hard for us to tell what was unusual and what would be normal.

For the first couple of days, we simply kept him quiet, gave him food and water, and waited to see if he would live or die. But by Tuesday evening, he was looking pretty perky, and Kirstin was holding him and examining his bumps more closely.


Here is Kirstin, telling what happened:

I was looking at the swellings, and I noticed that on the ends of several of the swellings there was an indented spot. Inside the spot, the flesh appeared to be a different color. I decided that whatever it was, was not good, and so we decided to poke it with a needle.

I pinched at one end, while Rachel poked at the hole. The inside of the swelling twisted around, so I told Rachel to drag at it with the needle, while I pinched harder. And, a big, ugly, disgusting maggot-like worm came out.

Now that we knew what the swellings were, we proceded to pull five worms out of the bird. Four were white, segmented, and similar to a maggot in color, but fat at one end; the fifth was much larger and black.

Because the bird handled this operation remarkably well, we decided that we would deal with his broken leg the next day.

So, in the midst of the storm situation, Allen and Kirstin sat down and created a splint for the bird's tiny leg, using a shish-ka-bob stick and medical tape. Today, the bird is getting up on his legs just a bit, mostly using the injured leg for balance.

This morning, Kirstin found two more worm-swellings on the bird's belly, so she will be dealing with that issue later. I think these worms are probably the larva of a parasitical insect, but that is just a guess. If anyone wants to send us a more educated opinion about this, we'd be glad to get it.

Over the course of the few days we've had him, we've grown quite attached to this spunky little fellow. Today we started working on a name for him.

He may be called "Sae," which is Korean for "bird," or he might get the name "Felix."

Here is a picture of him from this morning. As you can see, as he loses his gray chick down, he is growing in some handsome golden feathers. Does anyone happen to be able to identify him for us?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Update on our possibly damaged bridge

The town has decided that the bridge is still safe to cross. Of course, standards are possibly a bit lower here, when not crossing the bridge involves the kind of inconvenience we are talking about.

Some of the dirt around the bridge foundation was washed away, and some sandbagging was done to keep this process from continuing. Here are some pictures, from around 1:30pm today, when the water had already receded significantly.

So, that's our happy ending today! We still have to find out the road conditions between here and San Pedro Sula, but we are hopeful the team will be able to depart on their scheduled flight.

Breaking News from Gracias Lempira

A friend on the city emergency committee has informed us that the first bridge on the main road (the only paved road) out of town is suspected of being damaged from flooding this morning. Allen is at the river now, checking on the situation. If that bridge is impassable, we will need a 4 wheel drive vehicle, and a lot of persistance, to get out over the dirt mountain roads (which have certainly not improved with all of this recent rain), through La Esperanza, and down the other paved road to San Pedro Sula, to get the team to the airport.

We have also received a report that the second bridge out of town is currently under water, and will also need to be examined before it can be used.

We don't yet know what this will mean, as far as the team catching their originally scheduled flight.

I'll update here when I hear more about this!

No hay agua . . .

It is always amazing to new arrivals to Honduras, that the water in the city water lines tends to go out whenever it rains. Seems strange to say "No hay agua" (there is no water) when the rain is falling hard and fast.

Our water is now out in the house, and there is still plenty of rain here, falling moderately hard and steady. We are having a lot of problems with roof leaks, but we are used to a lot faster falling rain than this, so we aren't having flooding or drainage issues.

I think our team is bored today, since we don't have anything for them to do. In our house, Allen and Kirstin are working on splinting the leg of a baby bird we found at the MV property. I'll write all about that later, once the storm is over and I need a topic!

"Muchas Lluvias" or "It sure is raining here now"

7:30am, Wednesday, and we have power, water, internet - and pancakes! This is actually better than many normal days!

We are receiving a very steady, somewhat heavy rainfall this morning. I'm sure the roads into the mountains are a sloppy mess, so we aren't planning to go up into the mountains right now. I don't expect that this level of rainfall would affect paved roads, such as the road we need to take to San Pedro Sula, to get the team to the airport, unless there are landslides. Minor landslides which drop dirt and rocks onto the road are fairly common around here. There could be some minor flooding, too, enough so that you couldn't cross at fords, but that is common during the rainy season as well. There aren't any fords between here and San Pedro Sula, but there are a few areas which are prone to landslides.

The only concern we have right now is that the storm has really slowed down. If it parks over us and rains like this for several days, then we might have worse problems. But, all things considered, I would have to say that Honduras has been spared a catastrophe this time! Thank you all for praying for us!

Sleep Blogging

A steady rain is falling now. It is 2:45am, and we had to get up and make sure that the things stored on the carport weren't getting wet. A few items were getting wet, so we did some rearranging and are going back to bed.

We expect the rain to continue all through tomorrow. The roof will undoubtedly leak in a half dozen places. I'm going back to bed.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Tuesday Evening Hurricane Felix Update

Our power was off for a couple of hours this afternoon - not the whole city, just our neighborhood. Since it is back on right now, I thought I should take this opportunity for a brief update. The time is 5:45pm, or 7:45pm EDT.

It has been raining here since around 3:30(our time), but not very hard. The temperature has dropped and it is quite pleasantly cool. We had a bit of a breeze as the rain first started, but no real wind, and there's not even a breeze now.

It will be dark in the next hour. Earlier reports showed that the center of the storm should be in our location around dawn tomorrow, but the speed of the storm has slowed, so now we don't expect the center to arrive here until around 11am tomorrow.

We are all fine, and planning to have fried rice and shish-ka-bob for dinner tonight. Don't you wish you were here?

We haven't heard any reports about the areas of Honduras and Nicaragua which had the storm pass over them when it was a powerful hurricane. Although people on our side of the mountains and on the north coast are starting to say this storm hasn't been very bad, I keep thinking of the people to the east, and how this may have affected them.

All Quiet in Western Honduras, So Far

I know there are people checking here for updates (HI YOUNGGI!), so I wanted to post a note, even though nothing is happening here yet. Today, nothing happening is a very good thing!

I've noticed that the time that is shown below my posts is not accurate, so I will tell you that I am posting this at about 1:00pm, which would be 3:00pm EDT.

Here in Gracias Lempira, the morning was hot and sunny, with a very blue sky and high wispy white clouds. Currently we are starting to get a high, hazy overcast and lots of big fat clouds. I feel certain that this is the very first edge of the extended storm reaching our area. There is no wind at all, here in the city.

The members of the team are having a normal day. Half of them are working on the construction out at the Missionary Ventures property, the rest are running a Vacation Bible School type program in a nearby village. We expect that tomorrow we will all be staying in the city, and not venturing out onto the mountain roads. According to the predictions, the storm should be directly over us early tomorrow morning.

I am trying to get as much laundry done as possible, before we lose our power and water, and before the weather becomes so damp that everything turns mildewy. We have stocked up on food and water (for 25 people!), and we feel ready for the level of storm we expect to get. We are praying for those in the path of the storm who don't have the resources that we have - to shelter within a strong house, to stock up on essential items, to leave the area if necessary.

Trish's Official Hurricane Felix Update

This morning's projected path for the storm takes it right through the center of Honduras.

The storm was a category 5 as it hit the coast, and is currently a category 3. It should continue to diminish in strength very quickly as it comes toward us. That means that we are looking at getting a real dumping of rain, but not much wind.

Historically, however, more people have died from the effects of rain in Honduras, than from the hurricane force winds (the two major examples of this are Hurricane Mitch in 1998 with over 10,000 deaths, and Hurricane Fifi in 1974 with 8000 deaths). The rivers flood, and mudslides take out houses and roads. Afterwards, it can be hard to travel, and necessary supplies (like food and water) cannot get into some areas.

So, although the hurricane strength winds should not reach us, we are certainly in a potentially dangerous situation. We will just have to see what happens at this point.

The decision regarding our visiting team (15 Korean-Americans and 2 Honduran translators from the capital) is that they will stay here in Gracias with us. The storm could move from the projected path, either to the north or to the south . . . so any direction we tried to go might put us into a worse situation. We believe we are safe here, as we ride out the actual storm. If we tried to evacuate, we might be traveling into the storm, or into areas we are less familiar with.

My internet is by satellite, and it usually stops working if the weather is extremely overcast and if it is raining hard. I expect to lose my connection late today or tomorrow. Of course, if the power goes out, I will be disconnected sooner!

Today, we are finishing our preparations for the storm, and for what might possibly be a difficult aftermath.

Thanks so much, for praying for us during this! I will check in when I can!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Thinking of OURSELVES as Hurricane Felix approaches . . .

The Bay Islands of Honduras, including Guanaja, are still in extreme danger, as is the north coast of Honduras. I have heard from several unofficial sources that the islands are being evacuated. They might just mean that they are getting the tourists out, I'm not sure. Evacuating the entire population of the islands would be a daunting task!

But the storm track has moved a bit to the south, and if that trend continues we in the mountains could find ourselves with some nasty weather. For us, personally, we don't consider the danger from the storm to be very great. We are far from the coast, and we are not in an area which suffers severely from floods and mudslides.

Our greatest concern is that the roads between us and the major cities may be significantly damaged, through road washouts, landslides, floods, and destroyed bridges. If the infrastructure of Honduras is severely damaged, this will certainly affect us.

Right at this moment, we have a visiting team, and we are working to make certain that they will be able to return home safely. For us to be stuck in Gracias for several weeks isn't a major ordeal . . . but the team is really expecting to get to their homes sooner than that!

The team flew into the airport in San Pedro Sula, and they are due to fly back from there on Friday. The storm will be long past on Friday, but will the roads between Gracias and San Pedro Sula still be traversable? We just can't possibly know this.

So, we are working with the Missionary Ventures office to create a plan for the possible evacuation of these 14 people. We may be able to drive them over the mountains to Guatemala or El Salvador, so that they can fly back to the US from one of those locations.

As of this afternoon, we are in wait-and-see mode. A determination will likely be made tomorrow morning, about whether or not we will evacuate the team.

We would certainly appreciate prayers for the team and for our family, as we get through this situation. Also, please remember the Hondurans who are likely to be affected more directly by this storm.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Thinking of Guanaja as Hurricane Felix approaches

The island of Guanaja, and the people there, will always be close to our hearts. We moved to the island while they were still in the process of rebuilding their lives after the incredible devastation of Hurricane Mitch. Although we left Guanaja almost two years ago, we have many friends living there.

Right now, Hurricane Felix is predicted to hit Guanaja late Tuesday, as a category 4 storm. This is an exceedingly dangerous situation.
Because of their memories of living through Hurricane Mitch, the islanders get extremely nervous and upset when hurricanes -even small ones- are predicted to come anywhere near them. I can only imagine how worried they must be right now, as they prepare for this dangerous storm heading right toward them, as they work to protect their homes and their lives.

Of course, hurricanes do not always do as the forecasters predict. Nicaragua, Belize, Mexico, and other parts of Honduras (in addition to the islands), are also at risk from this storm. We'd like to ask you to pray with us, for everyone who is in danger from Hurricane Felix.