Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The situation here in Gracias

Prior to the re-entry of Zelaya into the country, Honduras had returned to a peaceful country. In spite of the economic sanctions and visa restrictions placed upon the country, things had settled back into a state of normalcy around here. Now, that's all gone, as we enter a new phase of the political crisis.

Since Monday evening, we have had a nationwide curfew (with the exception of the Bay Islands, which had their curfew lifted sometime on Tuesday). Officially, that means that no one has been able to legally leave their home at any time since then. At this time, the curfew is scheduled to end at 6pm today, but it would be no surprise if it is extended for at least another night.

In the cities, where rioting is taking place, I hear that the curfews are being enforced fairly strictly. On the TV news, they are showing empty city streets (makes for some less-than-riveting television, but I prefer the shots of empty streets to the shots of rioters and police clashing violently).

Here in Gracias, during the daylight hours, the curfews have not been strictly enforced. There was a great deal of traffic on the road in front of our house, which is a major road bypassing the city, up until dark yesterday. Two of my daughters walked into town in the afternoon, to see if they could do some shopping. They said that most (but not all) of the stores were closed, and the city was creepy-quiet. They saw police in town, but the police were not enforcing the curfew. Allen and Russell traveled out to our property, and worked on the construction all day yesterday.

All of the international airports in Honduras have been closed until further notice. Tomorrow (Thursday) was to have been the opening day of the annual Honduras Missionary Conference in Siguatepeque. We don't get to go to this event every year, but we were planning to attend this year, and the kids were excited to have the opportunity to see their gringo friends (most of these friends they only see twice a year or so). Sadly, the event has been cancelled. Additionally, there is a major conference held in Honduras every year, in Copan, for people and groups who do humanitarian work in Honduras, and I assume this will also not take place, because of the closed airports.

We actually have a guest this week (she came to help with the conference, but flew in early to have some extra visiting time). With the conference canceled, she'll be staying here in Gracias all week, and we are hoping that the airports will re-open before this weekend, when her return trip is scheduled. She is the only guest in the hotel where she is staying. The hotel staff has mostly been sent home, since they are also under curfew, and without guests the staff is not really needed. We (along with the Hayes family) have been sneaking her back and forth from the hotel to our houses, so she isn't just stuck sitting there alone all day. Honestly, so far we really haven't had to be sneaky about going out during daylight hours, in spite of the curfew, but "sneaking out" just sounds more interesting. Since the hotel restaurant is closed and the staff is all gone, the hotel owner told our friend to help herself to the hotel kitchen. It's an odd but memorable visit to Honduras!

We spend our days trying to go about our regular activities, but I find myself keeping the TV on for news most of the time, and checking the internet regularly for information. We would dearly love to see this political mess resolved, soon and peacefully, but we're well aware of the potential for significant danger in the situation, so we are staying alert and informed. So far, there have been no interruptions to power, telephone, or television here. Faith's cable internet was out for awhile, but we don't know if that was related to the political situation, or just one of those outages that happen periodically.

Once again, it would seem that the US news is not reporting on what is taking place in Honduras. Please pray with us, now that you know that prayers are needed!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zelaya Returns

If you are at all interested in Honduras, you've probably already heard the news - that ousted president Mel Zelaya has apparently returned to Honduras, and is reported to be holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

This came as a big surprise, as things have been pretty quiet lately, and there hadn't even been any rumors recently of Mel's return.

We are all fine up here in Gracias, and we're just waiting to see what happens next. My greatest concern, for the moment, is that the supporters of the ousted president, who have gathered around the embassy, will engage in fighting with the police or military, and that this will result in injuries and deaths. Please pray with us for a peaceful outcome! Thanks so much.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's on the Loom?

I haven't written anything about Rachel's weaving in quite a long time. She hasn't had much time for this hobby in recent months, but she has completed a few small projects, and has been learning about different ways to use her loom to accomplish different types of fabric.

Her first few projects were very simple, as she learned to set up the loom, start and finish projects, keep the edges straight, and just get a rhythm going.

In her two most recent projects, she has entered new territory.

This small mat may not look like much from a distance . . .

. . . but up close you can see how intricately it is woven into a textured pattern. (You can click on the picture for a closer look.) Rachel had a blanket woven like this, and she figured out how to reproduce the pattern with her loom. This is the first thing she has created in anything but a simple over/under pattern.

Her current project is her first plaid.

Fun hobby, huh? Both Bethany and I are itching for a turn at the loom, but Rachel's been hogging it for herself so far. ;-D

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What we did today

Allen and Alan were out working on a bridge project today. Russell, leading a crew of workers, poured a cement floor in the water tank on our property. The walls of the tank (in brick) are up to about 3' tall so far, and they will need to get up to somewhere around 9 or 10'.

I did school with the kids, and housework, as usual. Oh, I also made a quick trip to the bank this afternoon. Anytime a trip to the bank is completed quickly, it's worth mentioning!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Yes, we are busy. Of course, the regular ministry work continues, as we close in on the date we've set to move into our new home. Then, we have the extra work related to the reconstruction of houses destroyed in the earthquake. Our part in that work is almost completed, as the money we received to help was specifically for foundations and wall construction. On top of that, a number of the bridge construction projects, which have been in the planning stages forever, have moved into the actual construction phase. We oversee much of the construction on these bridges, but those which are being built to allow vehicle traffic require extra attention. Both Allen and Alan (and frequently Russell) have been spending many days out working on these sites - and these sites aren't close to home, either! I would post some pictures, but I see Faith has already put some up on her site, so I'll just send you over there to look.

I finally have the previously promised pictures showing the progress on the buildings out on our property. Much of the most recent work is hidden, as they installed the water lines. But in these pictures, you can see the newly installed windows, doors, and window security bars.

Above is the interior of one of the two large rooms in the team house. This building still needs tile flooring, a clay tile roof (which is mostly for looks - it is basically watertight now), and lots of bathroom work. Below is the front of this building.

The next picture is the exterior of the bodega/warehouse. I'm especially impressed with this building, as I think it really does appear to be a normal-sized house, from the front.

Inside, of course, you can see the high, warehouse ceilings, and the big loading door.

Lots will be changing this month, including the completion of the roof on the bodega - but we will definitely be living a roughing-it lifestyle, as we get moved onto location.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gifts for Gracias - I'm WAAAAAY behind schedule here!

Most of you know about our annual Christmas project, when we distribute Christmas gifts to Pastors and their families, as well as to special needs kids and orphans. If you don't already know about this, here is the Gifts for Gracias page on our website, where you can get all the information about how to participate in this project.

Usually, I try to get this information out in July, or August at the latest, so I am really behind this year! We are already expecting this to be a difficult year for collecting donations, because of the economic conditions. Last year we had a hard time filling our container, and had to delay departure several times so as to avoid shipping a partially-filled container - and the Christmas gift deliveries to people in Honduras were not completed until March! We are hoping to do better this year, and boy-oh-boy do we need your help!

Here's the big plan, for transporting the gifts to Honduras this year:

Gifts and donated used clothing will be collected in two locations - in Walkersville Maryland and in Sarasota Florida. In mid-November Allen is planning to fly up to Florida, and rent a large truck. He will pick up the gifts in Florida, and head north. In North Carolina, Morningstar Ministries has agreed to contribute gifts from their annual gift-making project, so he will collect those, and head to Maryland. The gifts from Florida and North Carolina will be added to those collected in Maryland, and the shipping container should (hopefully!) be filled before the end of November, and be on its way to Honduras.

I'll be blunt. Last year, we didn't have enough gifts. We were especially lacking in family gifts, which are specifically the items which represent a gift to a pastor and his wife. We had to open the gifts we received, and spread out the contents to more people. We had enough children's gifts, thanks to the very generous donation from MorningStar Ministries of 1100 childrens gift boxes. If it had not been for their help, we would not have had enough children's gifts, either. We also received a much smaller amount of used clothing than normal, and the quality of the clothing was significantly poorer than we've ever seen before. People are, I assume, not replacing their clothing as quickly, and are reselling rather than donating much of their better unneeded clothing.

We can't expect people to do more than they can do - so we are hoping, instead, to get the word out to more people and more churches, so that we can still bless the poor rural pastors, the orphans, and the special needs families here in Lempira.

Can you help? Can you create a gift, or help spread the word about this project? Can you donate some good used clothing, jackets, blankets, etc? Thanks so much, for however you can participate!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We are getting closer and closer to moving onto our property - but as a family, we all agreed that we couldn't move out there until we had water at the house site. We have a river on the property, but it's at the bottom, and the buildings are at the top, for the view. No one wants to haul water half a mile, uphill!

So, the menfolk have been working to install water lines from a nearby source (about a mile away), to our property. The lines are now installed - hurrah! - and the system is receiving improvements (building a tank, installing valves, etc), but basically the water is in!

To make you feel more a part of the process, here are some pictures of the work: