Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Just an update on life in general

I've not written anything recently, so there are several items to be covered.

Power Outages: Every day (for about a week now), at approximately 6:15, our power goes out, for about half an hour. We don't know why. We've had some lovely candle-lit dinners recently.

Guests Coming: We have a family arriving to stay with us for ten days, arriving tonight. They are good friends I've known for years but never actually met. (The wife is an internet buddy.) They have a 7 year old son, 10 year old daughter, and 14 year old son, so there should be lots of fun times for all ages at our house!

New Year's Eve: If you recall from last year, the big event in Gracias on New Year's Eve is the burning of the Muñeco (here's the link to the post from last year). Burning is perhaps not the correct way to put this. . . the Muñeco is made of fireworks, so the Exploding of the Muñeco is probably more accurate. At any rate, our new house is less than a block from the location where this big event will take place, so we are certainly expecting an exciting and loud New Year's celebration at our house!

Christmas Gift Distribution: This process has been complicated this year by the early arrival of lots of gifts specifically for children, and the not-yet arrival of the rest of the donated items, to make complete gifts for the pastors and their families. We've delivered the gifts that only go to children (to orphans, feeding centers, the Special Needs kids, etc) and we've managed to put together about 40 of the pastor-and-family gifts. This is a rather small portion of the 250 or so families to whom we will be giving gifts. Lots of the presents will not be distributed until late January, but this has happened before, and isn't really a problem here. Hondurans are used to waiting for things, and are remarkably patient when things don't happen on schedule.

Sickness: Gus has been sick with nasty swollen tonsils for waaaay too long now. We've attacked with three different antibiotics, one after another, without success. We're pretty much resigned to the fact that those tonsils are gonna have to go . . . we just aren't exactly sure how to go about this. We'd feel most comfortable having this surgery done at a missionary hospital on the north coast, but that hospital is about 7-8 hours drive from here. I'll keep you posted.

That's about it for now.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mugging and Kidnappings . . . well, sort of . . .

It's been an odd and unsettling couple of days. I'm delighted to report that we're all fine, but things have been interesting, for sure.

Yesterday, we had a man walk right into our house, and announce that he was looking for "John." Of course, we have no John in our family, and our house used to be an office before we rented it, so hopefully this was just an innocent mistake. Unsettling, though, that someone could walk right in off the street like that. We've had a lot of visitors lately, and I guess the dogs have decided that strangers are okay. We'll be working on that, and meanwhile, we're being much more vigilant about keeping the front gate locked!

Also yesterday, David was playing at the park, a bit apart from Rachel, who was sitting on a bench reading. Another little boy came up to David, and asked if he could see the toy David was playing with (a little plastic spy glass). When David handed it to the other child, the boy immediately ran off with it. We are all shocked at such a blatant crime. It is quite common for David to come home with fewer Matchbox cars than he carried with him to the park, after sharing them with the other children, but that isn't so unusual in such young children. This, however, was apparently a planned robbery! We've been joking that David was mugged, but it really isn't funny, is it? It's sad.

Then, this morning, Christopher ran an errand to the bank for us. After he left, we had a large number of visitors here at the house, and we transacted some complicated business for most of the morning. Finally, things quieted down, and I suddenly realized that Chris hadn't returned from the bank, and it was three hours later!

Now, you've all seen my stories about standing in line at the bank for multiple hours, so you know I wasn't surprised by this, but I did send one of the other children to check on Chris. She returned with the news that he wasn't in line at the bank, and he wasn't at any of the other banks, either.

Now I was starting to get concerned, so I called Allen and Russell, who were working at the construction site. When Russell mentioned that, a week ago, a young man was kidnapped from Gracias, and later released in another city a few hours from here, I began to seriously worry.

Russell came home, and started searching around the city, and we were all doing some serious praying. Eventually, Christopher simply walked in the front gate. He'd been in line at the bank for all those hours, and the other children had missed him (the bank guard, who knows us all fairly well, had told both Rachel and Russell that he hadn't seen Christopher, which of course didn't help the whole situation).

So, we didn't have a kidnapping, just a scare, but we did learn about our own need to ramp up security around here, starting immediately!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's been a while since we've posted a construction update

Recently, Allen and Russell have had some time in their schedules to work on our construction project. We have to squeeze this in between ministry events, and we have to actually have cash for materials, in order to go forward. So, things are slow.

But, here is the pouring of the final section of the floor in the bodega/warehouse. The carpenter has purchased the wood for the doors and windows, and is working on those. It will still be months before we move out there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Delivering Christmas Gifts in Quelacasque

Yesterday Allen and Alan, along with a few tag-a-long kids, delivered the gifts for the families with special needs children, in the village of Quelacasque. I wasn't along for the trip, I just received the pictures, most of which were taken by Bethany (age 12). Along with the pictures of the families and their gifts, I received a few random pictures. Just for fun, I'll share them, too.

For instance, what is this building? I'm fairly confident it isn't meant to be a house . . . but what would its purpose be, and why do we have a picture of it? (By the way, my guess is that this is a shelter for animals.)

Now, this next picture I know was taken to document the big landslide you can see in the background. You can click on the picture for a closer look. You can see how this landslide would have closed the road, although it has since been repaired. This is a very common problem in our area.

Here's a heartwarming shot of some kids and their . . . hog. Well, it warms my heart, anyway. I like pork. ;-D

Alright, I'll stop playing around now with the random photos, and show some of the ones that I expected to get - the families receiving their gifts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's a big present delivery day tomorrow!

Alan and Faith Hayes and I spent this afternoon making up gift boxes for the families in our Special Needs Program. Because this group visits our house every month, to pick up their food packages, we know them better than we know many of the other people we help. They are a nice group of folks, who struggle to care for the medical needs of their special children, in addition to the regular day-to-day struggle of living in the mountains of Lempira.

Tomorrow morning, Allen and Alan (and whichever family members choose to tag along) will travel to the village of Quelacasque, to deliver the gifts and the food for this month. While they are doing this, Faith and I will be back at my house, making up about a dozen gifts for pastors and their families. The men will deliver those gifts to the city of La Esperanza in the afternoon.

Recent rains up in the mountains have swollen the nearby rivers, and we feared the trip to Quelacasque would have to be postponed, as there is a largish river to be forded between there and Gracias. But Alan Hayes drove out and checked the water level today, and determined that it was passable. Hopefully it will still be so tomorrow!

I expect to have some pictures of these outings to post tomorrow evening.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Whew! That's (almost) done!

I set aside the past two weeks to write our end-of-the-year newsletter and update our website. The newsletter normally doesn't take me long to write, but this one was more of a ministry report than a newsletter, and that took longer, as I had to keep doing fact checking. If you're interested, the newsletter is posted here.

I'd set myself a deadline of this past Friday to finish updating the website. I didn't make my deadline, so if you go over there, you'll see some places where a few finishing touches are needed. Still, I think you'll mostly get a feel for the whole thing. The website is www.sowers4pastors.com.

It wouldn't take as long to update the website if I did it more often. But, since I try to update the whole site as infrequently as possible, I find I have to relearn a lot of the how-to, each time I start into this major project.

I'm past the major remodeling now, and am working my way through a list of minor additions and changes. Things like: why is there no picture of Christopher on the family page? Why does the church construction page have a list, containing only one item? Etc.

I've optimistically stated on the site that I'll be done making the changes on Monday. Of course, I'm updating the entire site . . . if necessary I can update that deadline date, as well. ;-D

Friday, December 12, 2008

Apparently, you can grow corn almost anywhere

Honduras is an extremely mountainous country. Most of the rural mountain people survive on corn they have grown for their own consumption. Here is an example of some of the land being farmed in our department of Lempira:

Obviously, they aren't using a tractor, or even a mule, to work these "fields."

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Junior Missionaries

We've always made a habit of involving our children in the work we are doing here in Honduras. Sometimes that works out better than other times, but it has become a way of life. The recent visit to distribute gifts at the orphanages was no exception. Here are a few pictures of the children (mine, the Hayes' and the Wards') working together and (mostly) helping out with the ministry.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just drawing your attention back to my pila post

I put in an update, with pictures of Faith's pila. I was too lazy to make my pila presentable, in order to get a postable picture. So, look here, and you'll see what a pila looks like.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas for the Orphans

I'm just swamped with the work on the website, but I couldn't wait any longer to share these pictures from the recent Christmas gift deliveries to the orphanages in Santa Rosa de Copan. The first picture below is the Hayes family, getting ready to pull out with their sleigh full of gifts!

Thanks so much to everyone who has helped to make these happy moments possible!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Busy-ness Has Begun!

Yesterday Allen, some of our kids, and the Hayes family traveled to the three orphanages in Santa Rosa de Copan, to deliver Christmas gifts to the orphans. I stayed home, to work on our website, which is receiving a major update, while the house was comparatively quiet. Feel free to browse the site and look at all the broken links and empty pages, if you like that sort of thing - www.sowers4pastors.com. I hope to finish it up in the next week. Also, please let me know what you think. It will encourage and motivate me if I know people are watching! ;-D

You'll have to wait until later for me to post the pictures of the orphans, as I have to get back to doing school with the kids right now. It's gonna be grab a minute when you can, for the next month or so, as far as blogging goes!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Snake Story

I promised yesterday that I would tell about the snake today. It isn't the most interesting of stories, but it has its moments.

Yesterday, Russell was working out at the property where we are building our new ministry buildings. He was working on the bodega/warehouse, when he happened to see this snake. Of course, being Russell, he had to try to catch the snake. He put his foot on the snake, near the head, to hold it down, and then he picked it up very close to the head, so the snake couldn't bite him. His friend Henrri wouldn't touch the snake, but he did get an empty Coke bottle to put him in. Russell later told me that it was hard to thread the snake into the bottle. The snake seemed to know what was going on, and would rapidly pull up into coils whenever it felt its tail going into the bottle. Eventually Russell managed to get him in, however, and brought the snake home in the bottle.

I wasn't able to get a picture of the snake, because we weren't willing to let the snake out of the bottle - we didn't know whether or not the snake was poisonous. It was a brownish-gray snake, about 2 feet long, and, at its widest point, about as thick as my little finger. The head was slightly triangular in shape.

Today, we sent the snake over to the Hayes' house, since I know their son has a great interest in snakes. I'm sure Faith appreciated my generosity. ;-D

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

You never know what the day will bring

Today, for instance, brought us a duck. This morning we didn't have a duck, or any intention of acquiring a duck. But now we have one. Here is how it happened.

This morning was the day that the Special Needs families come by the house, to pick up their monthly food package. One of the ladies, while here, told Allen that she was concerned about her house, which she said was falling down.

We don't have funds to repair people's houses, but we thought we'd check it out, and see if any of our supporters would be interested in helping with this. So, Alan Hayes and my Allen headed out to Quelacasque, to see her house. They carried a good many of the ladies home in the truck, and David went along for the ride.

At the house, they found the situation was different than they'd expected. The house sits near the top of a cliff, and apparently the cliff has been eroding away. The house is still about 25' away from the edge, but a huge chunk of hillside fell away earlier this week, shaking the house significantly and thoroughly scaring the inhabitants of the house! The need is not for a repaired house, but really for a different piece of land. I don't know that we are going to be able to be of any help with this, but I suppose we'll see what we can do.

While Allen and Alan surveyed the situation regarding the sliding land, David played near the house, with the animals in the yard. Upon their return, they found that David had been given a duckling. So, they brought it home with them, and we have a duck.

At this moment, the duck is residing in a bathtub. We're going to have to figure out how to house the duck. You may recall we don't have a yard at the moment - the chickens live on the roof, and I suppose the duck will join them. We don't know if it is a boy duck or a girl duck, but its name is Squeaker.

We also acquired a snake today, but that's a different story. Tune in tomorrow!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Pila Etiquette

A few weeks ago, I accompanied Allen on a trip into a remote area of Lempira. While out, we were invited to have lunch with a family, after a church service. Before the meal was served, our host offered us the opportunity to wash our hands, which of course we wanted to do. So, we all headed outside, to the pila. I was glad that, over the course of my years in Honduras, I've learned correct pila etiquette.

A pila, for those who may not know, is a large outdoor sink/water storage tub/washboard. Generally these are made out of concrete. My current pila is an upscale model, covered with tile, and without the washboard. This house also has a built-in connection for hooking up cold and hot water to a washing machine, so you can see it was designed for someone who would NOT be scrubbing clothes on a washboard!

For the non-pila users amongst us, here is a pila tutorial.

First of all, the water storage part of a pila is to be kept full at all times. Every week or so, the pila has to be drained and cleaned, so that the water stays fresh. During parts of the year, when mosquitos are a big problem, the city sends around little bags of chemicals to be placed in the pilas, which kill the mosquito larva. The bags allow a very slow release of the chemicals. I never wash dishes at my pila, but I worry a bit about those who do, when the pesticides are in the water.

Living with piped in city water, it is not hard to keep a pila full. Lots of people seem to just let the water flow in at a slow rate all the time. We've never had a meter on our water in Honduras, we've always just paid a flat rate for water. Perhaps this is the reason that people here don't seem to be concerned about wasting water. Our pilas have all had drains near the top of the water storage area, so they wouldn't overflow onto the ground, if the water was just left running.

In addition to the big tub, a pila will have some sort of flat work surface. Generally, this surface serves as a partial cover over part of the water storage area, and as previously mentioned, there is often a washboard built into this flat surface. This area will have a drain, which will drain the water away from the pila, so that dirty water does not contaminate the stored water.

Sitting somewhere on a pila there will be some sort of container, a bowl or small bucket, for pulling water out of the tub, to use for washing. You would not want to put anything dirty into the pila, of course.

So, to wash your hands at a pila, you would stand in front of the flat work surface. You dip up a bowl of water, and pour some of it over your hands, while holding your hands over the flat surface, so that none of this water goes into the stored pila-water. Then, after soaping your hands, you would use the rest of that water to rinse your hands, again not draining into the tub, but onto the flat surface.

I know, for sure, that if I'd been invited to wash my hands at a pila early in my life in Honduras, I would have plunged my hands into the stored water, soaped them up over the water, and rinsed them in the water, or at least washed them at the tap of water running into the pila, thus totally contaminating the pila. And, I would have silently wondered at the Hondurans, for having such an unsanitary system.

Meanwhile, the pila owner would have likely silently marveled at the ignorance of a gringa who didn't even know how to wash her hands at a pila!

Update: My friend Faith posted pictures of her pila on her blog, and I thought it would be good for you to have pictures to go with my verbal description. Faith's pila is impressively large, a double-washboard model! She also has a hookup for a washing machine beside the pila (since she doesn't have a hot water heater, I think it's a safe bet that she doesn't have a hot water connection to her machine, though).

Faith's Pila

Faith cleaning her pila

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The First Christmas Shipment Has Arrived!

This morning, at 6am, Allen, Alan, and Russell pulled into Gracias with the contents of the container of donated items which were shipped from Florida. This included the early batch of "Gifts for Gracias" presents, which we distribute in our area, as well as our family Christmas gifts (hurrah - we've got these before Christmas this year!), and a collection of donated motorcycles.

The logistics involved in getting this container have included some of the worst problems we've experienced in any of our excursions into the world of shipping, and so we are especially glad to have this one behind us! Yesterday the men left here around 7 in the morning, driving two trucks pulling trailers (we also rented a larger truck, with a driver, to carry part of the load).

At the port, we use an agency to prepare all of the paperwork for bringing containers through customs. When the paperwork the agency had prepared was presented to the customs agent yesterday, he took the paperwork and the (rather large amount of) money, and told us that he was not satisfied with some of the information on the paperwork, but he wouldn't give back the money or explain what was unacceptable in the paperwork! Calls were made to pretty much anyone in the country we thought might have enough clout to help us through this. It was a tense time.

As the afternoon got later and later, I was certain they would be coming home empty handed. It was Friday, after all. But amazingly, at 6:45pm, the men called with word that the shipment had finally passed through customs, and they were going to be able to get it that night. They didn't know whether they would be driving home that night, or, because it was so very late, finding a secure hotel where they could spend the night and safely park the heavily-laden trucks, and driving home in the morning.

I waited up a while, to hear from them, but eventually I went to bed. I was very surprised to see them in the driveway bright and early this morning! They had had a long wait the previous night, before they could do the unloading, and they didn't get out of the port until after 1am - and then they immediately drove the 4 - 5 hours home!

After just a few hours in bed, the men were up and unloading everything at our house. I imagine they're glad to have these past two days behind them!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rainy Day in the Mountains

On a recent rainy Sunday, Allen and Alan took one of those very long, very bumpy rides, out to visit a location where a new bridge is needed. Although the purpose of the trip was very businesslike - to meet with local leaders and get some photos of the existing bridge - the weather and the jungle-like foliage and the rustic bridge all combined to create some lovely photos.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Celebration Continues!

It's been about an hour since the game concluded, and the street in front of my house currently looks like this:

I tried to take a video, but it didn't do justice to the exuberance of the situation. Imagine people yelling, horns honking, loudspeakers blaring out music, brakes screeching, motorcycle engines roaring, fireworks being set off . . . and all this within a few feet of the front of your house! We're having an exciting time, for sure!

The Big Game is TONIGHT!

No, I'm not watching. We don't have cable at our house. But two of my kids are at a church event, where the game will be shown on a big screen TV. We warned the Hayes family (who just arrived from Mexico, after all) NOT to tell people they are rooting for Mexico, even if they are. It could be dangerous.

I'll know almost immediately if Honduras wins - the screaming and fireworks will begin quickly. In fact, I'm a bit worried that the game might not be going well, as I haven't heard the town-wide cheers which generally announce each goal our team makes. If Honduras wins, there will be cars, pickup trucks and motorcycles of celebrating people passing in front of our house for several hours.

If Honduras loses, we will all be very, very sad.

Update: Happiness has commenced! I believe we will be listening to the happiness of Gracias well into the night, tonight!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sickness at our house. Sigh.

I can't even say we've been passing something around, as we seem to have several maladies going right now.

Russell lost his voice. He's mostly got it back now, though.

I've been struggling with a head cold. That wouldn't be such a big deal, but with my asthma, if cold goes to my lungs, I have a fairly good chance of developing something worse, usually bronchitis, but occasionally pneumonia. Happily, my cold is drying up some now, so I think I've about passed the danger zone for this. I'm still trying to take it a bit easy, though.

Bethany got up this morning with an unhappy stomach. She's been laying low all day until a few minutes ago. Then her tummy decided to empty itself out. With that behind her, Boo is starting to perk up a bit, finally.

Rachel has had a bit of trouble with the head cold, and with losing her voice. She was looking bad this morning, but I let her stay in bed for a long while, and when she got up she was doing much better, except still sounding hoarse.

The rest of the family is currently okay, I think. As we have the first container of Christmas gifts arriving this week (possibly tomorrow), we have a lot of busy days ahead of us. I hope, as we head into this very busy season, we will have left the illnesses behind!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day in the Life of Russell

Now that Russell is an official missionary, well, his life is about the same as it was before, when he was only an unofficial missionary. Here is a run-down of his Thursday from this week.

He woke up in a hotel in La Entrada, a city an hour and a half from home. His soccer team had played a game there the night before, and we managed to turn that trip into part of a ministry trip. When he left the hotel, he drove an hour and a half further north, to San Pedro Sula. The Land Cruiser had battery problems there, so he worked on that for a bit. When things were running well again, he continued another hour north to Puerto Cortes.

The container shipment from Florida - containing the first batch of gifts for the "Gifts for Gracias" project - is working its way through Customs at that port. In order for the paperwork to be processed, we have to deliver the original papers to the port. Then, a few days later, we can go back to the port, and pick up the shipment. Thursday was the "drop off the paperwork" day.

After his work was completed in Puerto Cortes, Russell headed south again. But, at San Pedro Sula, he changed to the other major north-south road in Honduras, and headed to the beautiful Lake Yojoa area. A group of Mennonite missionaries there specialize in bringing Spanish literature (Bibles and other Christian materials) into the country to distribute. We purchase books from them, to sell to the pastors in Lempira. As our book supplies were low, Allen had arranged for Russell to pick up some boxes of books while he was out traveling anyway. It would really be too much of a stretch to say that this was "on his way," but he was closer to Lake Yojoa when he was in San Pedro Sula than he is when he's at home.

After picking up the books, Russell retraced his path back almost all the way to San Pedro Sula. Then he turned and headed south again, toward home. He got home around 6pm or so.

I think Russell enjoys driving. It's a good thing, too, when he has days like this!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

We had our first business meeting

Now that the Hayes family has had a little time to get settled into their new house, we all agreed it was time to start introducing them to the work side of their new life in Honduras. So, this afternoon, we popped in a movie to entertain the smaller children, and Allen, Alan, Faith and I sat down to a business meeting around the kitchen table.

Mostly this was an overview of the ministries we are working on here, and a discussion of how the Hayes could fit into the picture. The ministries we discussed included the pastor training school, sales of Bibles, distribution of motorcycles to pastors, church construction projects, bridge construction and road repair activities, feeding centers, special needs program, and the ongoing construction of the ministry center where we will eventually live. I think we also may have discussed the helps we give to a few local orphanages, and that we occasionally get involved with helping people with medical problems, when the local medical care available isn't sufficient.

It was agreed that, at this time, Alan and Faith will work alongside us learning about all of these, rather than them taking over certain ones entirely. This is fine with us, as it will take a while for them to meet all the players in all of these areas, learn the histories of what has been done, what we've chosen not to do, and why, and simply get to know their way around the large geographical area in which we travel and work. Not to mention feeling their way through the cultural differences between Mexico and Honduras. I'd tell you what these cultural differences are, but since I haven't worked in Mexico, I'll have to leave that to Alan and Faith on their blog, should they choose to write about it! ;-D

Anyway, I'm happy to report that we all seem to be getting along quite well, and we're looking forward to working together. This is huge, as relationships between the workers on the field can be mighty tricky, and, if you recall, we and the Hayes had not met before they came down here.

My younger kids, by the way, are tickled pink about having some new friends to play with. Although the Hayes' oldest is a boy, he and Bethany are having a good time together. Bethany is very flexible in her interests, and can spend a morning equally enjoyably dressing up and play-acting a wedding, or hunting lizards and knocking down hornets nests.

My older kids, who are so involved in the ministry, are also excited about the arrival of the Hayes family, as they are hoping to have a bit more time for non-ministry activities - like school, for instance. Rachel has taken to saying things like, "I just hope I can finish high school before I'm 26." I am hopeful that with the help of the Hayes family, our family can have a bit more time for the rest of life, besides the work of the ministry!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The big project in my house this week has been the creation of bookshelves. We really needed all of our existing shelves for our collection of books, but in this house we had to use some of our bookshelves for clothing storage and in the kitchen and pantry. So, we're short bookshelves for books!

The Hayes family also needed some storage solutions. Since Allen had to travel to the big city of San Pedro Sula this past week, he purchased a large pile of lumber for all of the shelf making needs of our two families while he was there. In the past, he has purchased lumber locally for the same purpose, but those boards were so very rough that it took a huge amount of time to get them ready to use as furniture. The lumber yard in the city doesn't look like much - the wood is milled on site, so it isn't exactly a Home Depot kind of operation - but the lumber he brought home is very nice, and the crew of workers (Allen, Russell, Kirstin, and Alan Hayes, mostly) have already completed the construction of about half a dozen shelf units. Staining and sealing are still ongoing, but soon we will all be happier with our belongings up off the floors of our houses.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Speed Bump!

Our new house is set on a major road. This road is a fairly new bypass around the city of Gracias, called the boulevard, so there is actually a divided highway with a median in front of our house. We've never had a traffic jam (except during the celebrations following major soccer games), but there is a pretty steady flow of vehicles during most of the day. Since this road goes right through residential areas, it was determined by the government that traffic speeds needed to be controlled. So, in the last couple of weeks, speed bumps have been installed at various locations along both sides of the boulevard. One of these bumps is right in front of our house.

Here in Honduras, speed bumps can be several different things. Often, a series of stones or humps of metal will be installed across the road to slow traffic. Usually, after a while, a few of these will be strategically removed, so that if you can line your vehicle up just right, you can drive through without bumping.

The bumps on the boulevard here are the more traditional long mounds of concrete, crossing the entire road. For the past few weeks, one side or the other of the boulevard has been closed while the concrete work was completed. Our bump, which so thoroughly crosses the road that we have a huge puddle on the high side after every rain, is exceptionally high. Even in our Land Cruisers, which are used to some pretty bumpy roads, they are a challenge. Others are trying to cross this barrier in cars, motorcycles, and those little 3 wheel taxis that are called tuk tuks in other parts of western Honduras (though no one calls them that here in Gracias, that I've ever heard).

Because these bumps are so new, and there aren't any signs or warnings about them - and they are so very high - we get to be entertained in our house day and night by the loud screech of brakes as unsuspecting motorists try to avoid launching their vehicles into space. Occasionally someone doesn't notice the bump at all, flying into it at full speed, and a loud crunch announces their unfortunate landing on the other side. Once in a while, some tailgater bumps into the rapidly decelerating vehicle in front of them.

Perhaps scariest of all is the long squeal of brakes followed by the screams of passengers in the backs of pickup trucks as they are tossed into the air.

All of this has added a new excitement in our house. We cringe at the sounds, but I have to admit we have come to find it a bit humorous as well. Members of the family, hearing yet again the loud sounds of sudden braking followed by the nasty crunch are apt to blandly reply aloud, "Oh, watch that little bump, will you?"

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Communion Bread

Since Rachel gave such loving attention to the baking of communion bread for the final session of the Bible Training School this week, I thought I should share a picture of her efforts.

After the celebration of communion, the visiting gringo pastors admitted they wanted to pig out on the rest of the bread!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Phew! What a week!

I know, I know, I've not been blogging as regularly as usual. But I have a boat-load of excuses, honest!

This week was the final session of the Bible Training School for 2008. For this special time, two pastors from Florida came to teach. So, there were extra logistics, including two trips to San Pedro Sula airport (3.5 - 4 hours each way), plus translators to arrange and house, and each morning breakfast included about 5 extra people.

The turnout for classes was especially large this month, which meant that we were scrambling just a bit to make sure there was enough of everything. The final day, when there was a big closing event, we were really crazy busy here!

First, there were the certificates. I had already printed these out, but three men, who are in leadership at the school, were supposed to sign each certificate. The morning of the event (with the certificates still unsigned) we learned that one of the men was out of town! Rather than distribute certificates with an unsigned space at the bottom, the morning of the ceremony I was printing out all of the certificates again, this time with only two signature spaces!

Then, there was the observance of Communion to be prepared for. Russell was arranging to borrow Communion cups from a local church, Chris was sent shopping for grape juice (which I was surprised he was able to find, but he did), and Bethany, Rachel and I were baking loaves of bread.

We try to serve cakes at the dinners for the pastors at the school. For this event, we baked cakes and purchased ice cream. Since there isn't any source of refrigeration where the school is held, we had to transport the ice cream at the very last moment.

Each pastor who received a certificate also received a credit toward a purchase of Bibles and study materials. The folks from whom we purchase these books were bringing them by this week, but unfortunately they didn't know that we had moved to a new house. They couldn't find us, and didn't know our new phone number, so they left town without delivering the books. We arranged for them to return, but the soonest they could do so was the day of the closing event. So, they delivered books to the school during the ceremonies!

In addition to all of this, the Hayes family is here, trying to get settled into their new house. They are still staying with the Ward family in Santa Rosa de Copan right now, because of an interesting circumstance. The Wards have a very nice parking pad inside their walls, so the Hayes were able to park their trailer full of household stuff off the street. This is very good for security, of course. However, the road in front of the Wards' house is being paved, and since the Hayes family arrived and put their trailer off the street on the Wards' lovely parking pad, the street has been closed, and they cannot get it back out again! It's a good thing the trucks aren't stuck in there as well!

So, we've had extra kids here some days, other days our kids were all over at the Hayes' new house playing or cleaning or painting, some days we've had extra people for lunch and dinner, other days no one was eating here - just a crazy, busy, wacky week! The kids are having a blast, of course!

Now things should settle back down for a few days . . . until the shipment arrives from Florida. That should be before the end of this next week. Then we'll really get busy!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Oops! I've been a bad blogger!

Sorry I disappeared there for a while. We've been busy, and there's been lots of activity about which I might have written. I just haven't gotten to it recently. Sorry about that!

So, here's some really good news I can share with you:

The Hayes family has arrived, and we found a house for them!

They pulled into Honduras on Friday, and they are currently staying with our friends Brad and Trish Ward, in Santa Rosa de Copan. The family visited Gracias yesterday, and approved the rental house we'd found. It was probably not such a hard decision, since we'd only found one available house in all our looking! The house has been vacant, and is very dirty, so tomorrow morning we will all start in on rectifying that situation. We will be cleaning, painting, and installing some source of hot water for showers. We hope the Hayes will be able to move in very soon! I'm sure they're also ready to be settled into a house of their own, unpacked, etc. It's been a long and crazy trip for them, driving from Mexico to Honduras. You can see their updates on their blog: www.thehayeszoo.blogspot.com.

This week is the final session of the Bible Training School for 2008. We have a visiting teacher from the US, and a special ceremony with certificates for those students who have passed certain requirements. It will be a busy week! The school will start again in March, after coffee harvesting season has ended.

Last Sunday, Allen had to travel out to a couple of remote villages to meet with churches about some church construction projects. I went along for the ride. I don't go out 4-wheel driving all that much, so it was an adventure for me. I'll share pictures in the next few days.

We're still unpacking and getting the house set up. Since the house has fewer cabinets and closets than our previous house, we are struggling to find places to put things. Many of our bookcases have been pressed into service in other uses than housing books, which is making it difficult for us to deal with all of the books. It's a challenge, but we're managing.

Next week, after the Pastor Training School is over, Allen will be going to pick up the container from Florida, and then - we will have more stuff in our house! We have the beginnings of a plan for sorting and distribution, and we'll have the help of the Hayes family as well as the Wards this year.

That's all for now!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Rachel has been busy

We have been planning to make new covers for our couch cushions for quite some time now. It took us a long while to decide what type/color/pattern of fabric we would use. Then of course, we had to find the fabric, within our budget. After that, we had to figure out how to sew the covers, as we didn't want to use zippers (which was the closing used for the original covers).

For more than 3 years, we've been tucking fabrics over the couches, to hide the worn, stained, torn covers, but finally, this week, Rachel finished sewing the new cushion covers!

Here is a picture of one of the couches in its old green cover, which was actually a curtain panel (we didn't love these covers, but they went well with the paint in our old house).

Now here is a picture showing the original flowered cushion covers. Rachel displayed them to show a part of the fabric which, though faded, is similar to what the fabric originally looked like, and a really bad part, showing how extremely worn the cushions were.

And finally, here are the newly adorned couches! Aren't they nice?

What would I do without Rachel?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lots of miscellaneous news!

We've been very busy here. You'd think we'd be finishing up on our unpacking, but in fact, you'd be wrong. Our landlord is still working on emptying the house! He has a large storage room/bodega crammed full of stuff, and he has been having problems with his big moving truck, so he hasn't been able to get it all moved. He has now come several times for smaller pickup truck loads, so he's gradually whittling down the big pile of stuff. But meanwhile, we have our bodega stuff all over the house. Plus, Kirstin is planning to use half of this large room as her bedroom. Since she doesn't currently have a room, her boxes of stuff are also hanging about with no place to go. We are very hopeful that the landlord will finish emptying this room soon, so we can get this house looking more like a home, and less like a disorganized warehouse!

The Hayes family is due to arrive next week! Wouldn't it be nice if we had a house for them? Umm, like we said we would? Well, we don't. We've been trying to rent a house for them, and we've been experiencing the typical Central American problems. So, we are still scrambling for a house, with the family due in less than a week! Prayers on this topic would be appreciated!

Construction has resumed on the buildings out at the property, which is nice. We didn't have any theft or other issues out there while Allen and Russell were away, which of course is welcome news!

In breaking news, the truck in which Russell had a fender-bender in January is almost back from the repair shop. Almost.

We're working on getting our absentee ballots in so that our votes will be counted. It's been a bit of a challenge, as the mail is really slow from here, so we prefer to have our mail hand-delivered to the US, and then put into the US postal system from there. But, we really want our votes to be counted, so we're working out the details. This year, our family has 4 registered voters!

The tropical storm which hit last week really didn't affect us here in Gracias at all, however other parts of Honduras have suffered greatly. I was reading in Dr. Jeff Masters' Wunder Blog at www.wunderground.com (where I like to get my storm updates):

One of this hurricane season's biggest disasters continues to unfold in Central America, where the death toll now stands at 39 from ten days of heavy rains triggered by last week's Tropical Depression Sixteen and this week's tropical disturbance 91L. At least 10,000 homes have been destroyed and 250,000 people made homeless by the floods. Hardest hit is Honduras, where 23 are dead and 8 missing in flash floods and landslides. Approximately 60% of the nation's roads have been damaged, and the flooding is the worst since Hurricane Mitch of 1998 killed 10,000 people there. The past week's flooding has also killed four in Guatemala, seven in Costa Rica, four in Nicaragua, and four in El Salvador. In Belize, damage is at least $15 million from the floods, and some areas are seeing flooding worse than was experienced during Hurricanes Mitch and Keith. Satellite estimates suggest that up to a foot of rain has fallen over some parts of Central America in the past week. The heavy damage to crops across the region will likely cause severe food shortages in coming months, and substantial international aid will be required.

I know there have been a few landslides closing roads in our area, but that's pretty everyday stuff up here, so I hadn't really realized that the storms were causing major problems in other areas, until I saw it on the internet. Our biggest problem was getting our laundry to dry!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tomorrow school is back in session!

We've been so busy recently, that the children have had some time off school. We didn't try to do any schoolwork during the move. Then, when Allen and Russell returned from the states, we immediately had the monthly Bible Training School.

This month we had a guest teacher come in from Tegucigalpa. Jim Reilly brought his wife and four kids, so that their family could have a mini vacation here in Gracias. Of course, the opportunity for us to hang out with other North Americans (and especially other North American kids) was too rare and precious for us to spend time doing school during their visit! We all had a fun time during the week, even though the weather was pretty rainy. We even went swimming once, at the hot water springs, where it's kind of nice to swim in cool weather.

But, tomorrow, it's back to the grind! Before you know it, the shipping container from Florida will be arriving, full of Christmas gift donations for us to sort and distribute. Then, we'll be taking time off school again! So, we'd better be super efficient between now and then!

Oh, but I've neglected to mention that we are still waiting for our new landlord to empty out the large bodega (storage room) which is part of our new house. He was supposed to clear it out before we moved in, then he was going to have it done within a week, then by last Monday or Tuesday . . . well, you get the idea. Meanwhile, we aren't really moved into this house, as our large collection of bodega items (mostly tools) are all over the main rooms and hall ways!

So, even though school is starting, there is still a lot of unpacking and moving in to do. We'll just have to work on both!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Mostly about my cat

Although the main reason for this post is to share some fun pictures of one of our cats, I also wanted to report that the storm I mentioned in my previous post dissipated more quickly than had been predicted, and so although we had a string of rainy days there were no other problems related to this storm. We did find a couple of leaks in the roof, but thankfully nothing major.

Now, on to the cat.

You need to meet Smudge, one of our sweet kitties. Smudge is a perfectly nice kitty, but he pales in comparison to Sandy, our other kitten, who is an absolute cuddle-and-purr machine. Both Sandy and Smudge are about five months old now. Although Sandy has stolen everyone's hearts, Smudge has a very memorable and interesting talent. Smudge is really good at sleeping. And, he sleeps with style. Observe:

(No animals were harmed in the creation of these photos. ;-D )

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Looks like we'll be getting wet here

An as-yet unnamed Tropical Depression is due to become a Tropical Storm and pour rain all across northern Honduras this week. At this time, the storm is not expected to become a hurricane. As you can see from the current cloud conditions in the satellite picture above, and the predicted path of the storm in the picture below, we are going to need to be ready for some rain in the next few days.

It's a good thing we're not in the leaky roof house anymore! Today the weather in Gracias is cool with a misty rain. Not a good day for drying laundry. For that matter, it's probably not going to be a good week for drying laundry!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Luckily, I'm inclined to giggle at this sort of thing . . .

One really great thing about this new house is the presence of three (count 'em!) bathtubs. There was a tub in our previous house, but it was a really strange narrow thing, and wasn't in the least comfortable to sit in. Even my small kids, with their puny bottoms, weren't inclined to sit and soak.

The tubs in the new house are all slightly oversized deep tubs with grab bars on the sides. I've been looking forward to a looooooooong soak, but haven't yet had the time for it. Today, I was checking out the tubs, in anticipation, when I noticed something I'd overlooked before.

Every single tub in this house is installed backwards, so that the sloped end of the tub (where you can luxuriously rest your back while soaking) has the spigot on that end! I couldn't believe it. When I first saw that one tub was installed that way, I thought, "How funny, that the plumber didn't notice that he was installing it backwards." But once I saw that all three were the same, I had to assume that someone thought that was the correct way to install the tub!

Oh well. We can still sit and soak in them, as long as we watch out that we don't bump our heads on the spigots. Kirstin assures me that it's actually quite pleasant to lie back with the water running down your back.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sorry to have been so silent . . .

Of course we've been pretty busy the past couple of days with all of the unpacking, but the reason I haven't posted has more to do with the power being out more than it has been on lately. This hasn't been a major problem, it has probably even helped me get more unpacking done, as I wasn't tempted to spend time on the computer. It has, however, put us waaaay behind on our laundry.

Generally, I try to wash laundry every day, and we try to dry as much as possible on the clothesline. When it is very rainy, or when we fall behind, we use the dryer to help us get caught up. I'm so spoiled to have a dryer! However, since our move, we haven't yet connected the dryer (it uses a special electrical outlet, and in our last house Allen had to create the connection for us). So, I can only dry laundry on the line right now. With power outages (can't use the washing machine) and rain (can't dry on the clothesline) our dirty laundry pile is becoming quite a mountain!

Today, we gave up, and washed several loads in huge washtubs out on the porch. Happily, it was a hot, sunny day, and we were able to dry everything we'd washed before dark. We are very hopeful that the forecast for tomorrow will be sunny with a good chance of electricity!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back Online and Feelin' Fine!

I'm so excited to tell you that we are now all moved out of our old house, and the internet is working in the new house!

I'll try to write more later, but I was so excited to have a connection, I just had to blurt out the news!

Maybe I'll post some pictures of the piles of boxes in our new house . . .

Monday, October 6, 2008


This is the day we disconnect from the internet. We may be reconnected as soon as later today, or it may be a month or more, depending on how our work goes today. I'll check in as soon as I can, either from my new house, or from an internet cafe, to let you know the score!

We are also hopeful that everything will be done at the old house by the end of today. If we have to, I'm sure we can take one more day, but to keep everything happy and friendly with the landlord (as much as possible) we are striving for today to be the final day.

Please pray for us!

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Things are on track for us to finish this job tomorrow! Brad Ward came by for the afternoon, and almost all of the big furniture that we hadn't yet moved - dining room table, washing machine, etc - is now gone.

There is still stuff to be moved from the yard and carport, and I'm planning to push the kids hard for one more batch of moving in the Land Cruiser in the morning. I want to have as much of that done before Brad gets here tomorrow, so that he can spend his time on the things we can't move without him.

I really think we're going to make it by our deadline! I'm feeling hopeful tonight!

I, um, don't want to think about the unpacking which is still ahead of us. I just have my eyes on getting out of this house, for now.

No more internet for Trish!

Today or tomorrow we will be disconnecting from the internet. I hope that we will have a connection at the new house very soon, but I can't be certain of how the work will go. I'll connect two or three times each week from an internet cafe, if we experience an extended time of disconnection.

The move is progressing. We didn't push ourselves very hard yesterday, so hopefully the family will experience a burst of energy today. We have a number of items in the yard and on the carport to move. These are larger, bulkier things, like tires, construction materials, a generator, heavy metal lawn furniture, etc.

Thanks for praying for us!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Are you tired of hearing about this move, yet?

Well then, just imagine how tired we are of living it! Pray for us, leave us an encouraging note, etc. We can use it! Thanks.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Friday afternoon - and we are soooo ready for this move to be over!

Okay, that sounds pretty bad, when really, things are progressing well. We are very ready for a break, though, and we plan to have a lighter day of work tomorrow. Tomorrow happens to be Kirstin's 21st birthday, as well as Bethany's 12th birthday, so we'll take some hours of rest to celebrate, and also to recharge ourselves for the final days of the move.

Most of the large and heavy appliances and pieces of furniture have now been installed in the new house. There are just a few things we thought would be easier to move in a pickup truck, and our friends Brad and Trish Ward will be coming by with their truck on Sunday and Monday. Brad is also the man we are counting on to help us take down our satellite dish.

Refrigerator, freezer, dryer, couches and tables, loads and loads of tools and construction equipment are all moved. We aren't moving the washer until the latest day possible, so that we can keep on doing laundry - that necessary evil - until the final possible moment. It may take us a while to get the washing machine connected in the new house.

Rachel loves organizing and setting things up, so we've had her stationed at the new house since the very beginning. Things are shaping up well there, thanks to her handiwork.

Kirstin is getting a lot of needed (but not desired) practice with in-town driving. She's doing great, and should be ready for anything these 8 or 9 blocks of the city of Gracias can throw at her, after these days of non-stop driving back and forth between the houses.

Christopher stepped on a piece of graphite from a mechanical pencil just as we started this move, and he has been trying to get a bit of it out of the side of his foot all week. He's been a trooper, loading heavy items into the vehicles all these long days with an aching foot! It looks like the piece has started to work its way out, so we're hopeful this will be resolved soon.

Bethany flopped down beside me last night and declared that she had never ever worked so long and hard in one day in her life. I told her that was because she has now gotten big enough to do a lot of different kinds of work. When she was smaller, she'd often say, "I wish I was bigger," because she felt left out of the things she couldn't do with the other children. After I reminded her of this, she wailed, "I wish I was little again!" We laughed about it - the grass really is always greener . . .

Oh my! We're exhausted!

This is officially day 3 of our move . . . of course, the moving of the tubos actually started 2 days earlier. The entire crew is really dragging today, and tempers are just a bit shorter than usual. But, we're still pressing on, and Kirstin estimates that we are well past half way done. I'm sure she's probably right, but I am renowned for my ineptitude in estimating anything, so I withhold any personal thoughts on the matter.

We will press on with emptying this property as fast as we can . . . then of course we have to get crazy about unpacking and settling into the new house.

Hmmm, I'm pretty sure we'll have to declare more than one day of rest, once we're done here, before we can get busy on anything else!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Heavy Day Today!

This was the day we scheduled to move our heaviest items. The chest freezer, much of the larger furniture, and the dryer all left the house today. A lot of boxes and mattresses also went, used as padding between the large items.

We stopped loading and delivering loads in the Land Cruisers a little earlier this afternoon, so we can spend some time preparing for tomorrow's move. Things like taking apart bunk beds, packing dishes into boxes, etc. We also are trying to start doing some unpacking at the new house.

We lost count on how many trips were taken back and forth today. Kirstin, who is our driver, estimates a dozen trips. It was a lot, and as we have a similar sized crew coming to help tomorrow, we hope to do as well then. Although, after two days of this, we are all pretty much wiped out.

Oh, and the power was out almost all day. Except for not having fans and not getting laundry done, it was a good thing, as it kept me off the computer. But, that's why you're only getting one update today.

I hope everyone is satisfied with leftover pizza for dinner!

We interrupt this move for a special news bulletin:

Russell, our 19 year old son, was just accepted to be an official missionary with our mission organization, Missionary Ventures International. We're extremely proud of him, of his love of God, and his desire to follow God's will for his life.

Russell will be continuing to work with us here in Gracias, but as an official co-worker, instead of just "the missionary's kid." Congratulations, Russell!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Overall, a profitable day

Day 1 of our move is now behind us.

We got off to a late start, of course, and that didn't help our load tally. Plus, Rachel was trying to clean at the new house, so that meant she wasn't always available for unloading . . . although, to give her due credit, I think she probably got sucked into the unloading quite a bit, anyway.

In spite of these obstacles, we delivered eight loads to the new house today. Tomorrow, a group from one of the churches in town is coming to help us, so that should make things move along even faster.

Tonight, we have a few things we want to do, to make sure that there are plenty of boxes and pieces of furniture ready to be moved tomorrow. We don't want to see that manpower standing around doing nothing!

Overall, we're tired and ready to eat pizza and go to bed!

We're moving in!

There are still a few items (including a large metal desk and some computer equipment) in our new house, but they are all in one place, and we are going ahead and starting to move in anyway! Yeah!

So, two loads down, and who knows how many to go!

More updates later!

Two Land Cruiser loads is a lot of stuff!

While we waited for 9 am to roll around, we went ahead and loaded the Land Cruisers. We have two now, and the plan will be for us to split our workers into two groups, with one team loading one vehicle here, while another group unloads the other vehicle in the new house at the same time. But for this morning, we just loaded both of them.

I was impressed at how much furniture and stuff went into them. Each vehicle held 3 bookcases (those of you who know me, know that my books and bookcases are a high priority to me), and then small boxes were placed between the shelves of each bookcase. A huge mountain of boxes in the living room looks amazingly smaller already.

Kirstin drove Rachel and Chris over to the new house a bit before 9. We knew the people there were loading up a big container truck, and we wanted to get there before they all left, so we wouldn't have to track down the house keys. I haven't heard from them yet (it's now 9:30) so hopefully that means they are unloading. Rachel took along cleaning supplies, and will start right in on that job. I think she'll be cleaning all day! The house isn't especially dirty, but there are lots of windows with those long louvered panels of glass, and they are all quite dirty and dusty! That will be slow work!

First Moving Day Setback

Well, hopefully this won't be a big deal. We just called the owner of our new rental house, to see about getting the keys to the house from him (we currently have keys to the front gate), and he said that they are still in the process of moving stuff out of the house.

He suggested they might be ready for us at 9am. Which, in Honduras, doesn't really exactly certainly mean 9am, but really means "later."

The delay of a couple hours isn't a big deal. I'm pretty certain, though, that this will mean that the house won't have been cleaned before we get into it. So, that will slow us down a bit more, but we'd sort of planned for this possibility.

I'll let you know how things are progressing, later.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We're DONE moving tubos!

Original pile

The end of the original pile!

The final load in the Land Cruiser!

All the PVC pipes are now in their new home on the roof of the new house!!!!

Tomorrow, we start moving furniture and stuff into the inside of the house!