Wednesday, January 28, 2009


The truck carrying our container is on the road! We hope to be unloading it late this afternoon. Our friends are planning to gather again to help us. Hurrah!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nope, not today

Once again, we waited in vain for the arrival of our container of donated goods and Christmas gifts for the pastors and their families. Yet another fee fell upon us this afternoon. The reason (or excuse?) for the fee was that we had failed to declare an item on the container. This in turn, supposedly caused a driver to pick up the container, but not be released to travel with it, so he wasted several hours of time. We are being charged for his time . . . and apparently he's the only truck driver in Honduras making really good money!

Enfuriatingly, we know that the item in question was listed on the paperwork we submitted. However, if we take the time to fight this charge, we will incur additional storage time fees, which will quickly add up to more than the current amount we are being charged.

So, I guess, it's another opportunity for us to contribute to the Honduran economy.

If we pay the extra charges (at our local bank) first thing tomorrow (Wednesday), we will likely have the container before the end of the day. Or not. Sigh.

Monday, January 26, 2009

What's another day?

Well, we're still ready here, and we're still waiting for the arrival of that container. As best I can tell, it is likely to arrive tomorrow (Tuesday).

Why the delay? Although Allen spent this past week working with an agency to prepare the paperwork to submit to Customs, and although the contents of the container were inspected, and a tariff assessed on these items; although we have paid the tariff in full . . . apparently the office workers in the Customs office have not been able to enter the information into their system, so that the paperwork can be finalized, so that the container can be released to us.

We pay a daily storage fee, when the container is stored more than a certain number of days, and we're curious to see if we'll be fined for these extra days of storage. The daily fee is pretty significant, and so of course we hope the extra days will not be assessed against us. But, we'll see. It's certainly well within the realm of possibility that we will asked to pay this!

Our friends Brad and Trish Ward had planned to come over this morning, to help with the unloading, and of course Alan and Faith Hayes were on hand to help. Rachel and I had made a big pot of chili, to have on hand to feed all the workers. The Wards came over late in the afternoon anyway, to drop off some things they'd purchased for me on a recent trip to the city, and the Hayes family swung by, too. So, we had a big chili party tonight, in spite of the non-arrival of the container. That was a fun way to spend the evening.

We had a most interesting time with the power outages tonight, during the chili party. The power went off exactly at 6:30, as has become pretty usual, and came back on again within about 10 minutes. But then, after being on for just a few minutes, it went off again, and again, and again. We estimate that the power went out about 20 times in the course of a couple of hours. Many times it was only on for seconds, and then gone again. About three times, it was on long enough for us to blow out the candles, then gone again.

We're all hoping tomorrow is the big day. I'll keep you posted on this.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ready and waiting . . .

After months of planning, and almost a week of paperwork at the port city of Cortes, the container from Maryland is scheduled to arrive at our house tomorrow morning! Hurrah!

You may recall that this container was originally scheduled to leave Maryland in November. There were multiple reasons for delaying the shipping, but this has created the humorous situation of our distributing Christmas gifts in February. This seems highly strange to North Americans, and not at all odd to the Hondurans. Interestingly, Christmas is not a big gift-giving day here. The pastors and their families are delighted to get their gifts, sometime around this time of year, without worrying much about it being a specifically "Christmas" gift. The timing of the gift distribution has more to do with the North Americans (who give the gifts) than with the Hondurans.

So, we are gearing up to get back into the gift distribution mindset. This week, while Allen was in Puerto Cortes getting the shipment through customs, here at home we were organizing and tightening up the remaining boxes of gifts and donations from the previous (Florida) shipment, to make room for all the newly arriving stuff. This container has a lot more in it than our last one did, and the last container also had about 10 motorcycles in it, which did not have to be stored in the house. So, we expect the available storage space in our house to be FULL! We hope we can manage to get everything in . . .

Russell has also been working on entering information we have received (from the pastors who have already gotten their gifts) into a database on the computer. We have each pastor fill out a questionaire at the time he receives his gift, so that we can get a general idea of how the pastors and their families are personally doing, how their church is doing(or churches . . . as many of the pastors are leading more than one church), and how the gospel is advancing in the mountains of western Honduras. We also take this opportunity to update their contact information.

Today is the final day of our pre-shipment homeschooling blitz. We crammed as much school as possible into these past two weeks, and now we'll be back to squeezing in school around the ministry work. We're thankful to have the Hayes family here to help us this year - hopefully this will mean that we can continue to school part time. My parents are coming for a two week stay in February, which will be another break in our school schedule.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

School is in session - so get back to work!

We're in a bit of a lull right now, as far as some of the ministry work goes. The pastor training school is not in session, because most of the students need to work full-time harvesting coffee this time of year. We are awaiting the arrival of another container shipment in a couple of weeks, and our distribution of Christmas gifts is stalled until it arrives.

Motorcycles are still being purchased and distributed, feeding centers and special needs programs are running, but there are fewer demands on our time right now than during most of the year. Allen and Russell are putting in a major effort on our construction project, and I am pushing to get a lot of school work done during the next couple of weeks.

In order to make the best use of our time, we are trying to institute a schedule for our school day. We normally don't have a schedule, as our days are so full of unscheduled events that any schedule is ruined pretty quickly. Our regular "schedule" is really just a list of things we want to get done by the end of the day.

For the purpose of cramming in every possible moment of school work, I have to mostly schedule my time. The children have certain subjects they can do on their own, and others which require my help (giving yourself a spelling test is hard to do, for instance). So, from 8am until about 3pm, my time is completely scheduled, as I move from child to child, while also keeping an eye on those who are working independently. We also have to schedule the use of the computer, as the children use it for various subjects, and need to take turns on it. Additionally, we have someone assigned to "chores" at all times, so that the washing of laundry can continually progress, dishes get done, etc.

We're keeping busy, that's for sure. With the container shipment arriving fairly soon, and grandparents coming for a visit not too long after that, we need to squeeze in as much school as we can right now!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Along for the Ride

I'm back from a trip to the big city of San Pedro Sula! Our visitors had to catch departing flights on Sunday, and Allen had some work to do in the city on Monday. Since the trip was going to include several days and nights in a hotel, I went along, to continue the visit with our friends, stay in a nice hotel with my hubby (and without any kids), and to eat bagels I didn't have to make myself! I was really just along for the ride.

On Monday, Allen went all over the city, searching for a good deal on tires for our backhoe. He found good tires at high prices, lousy tires at low prices, and eventually found the compromise of pretty good tires at a pretty good price, and bought two.

He also had arranged to purchase four Yamaha motorcycles for pastors. The paperwork on the motorcycles took longer than expected (when don't things take longer than expected?), and it was getting late when the motorcycles and tires (which are so huge they dwarf the bikes) were loaded into the trailer for the long drive back to Gracias.

It was at this point that a problem with the trailer axle was discovered. This was fortunate, as finding the problem partway home would have been much more difficult. Allen was able to find a shop to make a repair at 5pm (pretty hard to find in this part of the world), and we started on our return trip at around 6.

Starting this late meant that almost the entire drive took place after dark. Driving at night isn't something we like to do here. The roads often have large potholes which are hard to spot ahead of time at night. Also, many other vehicles are missing some of their lights, which makes things interesting. Plus, there's some increase in the likelihood of being the victim of a crime at night.

We made it home just fine, though. It was a pretty uneventful trip - which is our favorite kind!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dog Surgery on the Front Porch

Our dogs went for a run this morning, and Joey returned with a terrible injury. Somehow he tore the skin from his one eye socket, down his check. The cut went all the way to the bone, so it was pretty serious.

There aren't any veterinary services here in Gracias, so we felt blessed to have a guest with us this week, who has experience in home doctoring animals, because of having grown up on a ranch. Allen and our guest (who is an Air Force colonel in real life, and only plays a veterinarian on the mission field) gathered the necessary equipment and stitched up the dog.

They set up a table on the front porch, where they had lots of light. They had to tie the dog to the table, and muzzle him. Several of the children sat with the dog, stroking him and telling him that he was a good dog. Joey was worried, but pleased with the attention.

A doctor friend supplied some Novocaine, so the men were able to numb the area around the eye. That was a big blessing!

As soon as they were done with the surgery, Joey was up and eating. He is now sleeping, and we are having to keep our other dog away from him. Poor Kody cried all through Joey's surgery, and then of course wanted to lick the wound for him. We'll probably have to keep them apart for some time as Joey heals, and they are not used to being separated, so I imagine we'll be listening to both dogs complain about this quite a bit.

Oh, notice there are no pictures with this post. Feel grateful, as this was all pretty gory!