Thursday, August 20, 2009

Here's how it will work (or not)

I thought I'd take a moment to explain our plan for living in the new buildings on our property. You might have noticed that, during construction, we have referred to "the bodega/warehouse" and "the team house," but we never actually mention "the house." And there is a reason for this - we aren't actually building our own house yet.

For a number of reasons, we decided not to build our personal residence first. One reason was that we are dealing with new materials and working conditions, and we thought it would be good to get some practice in before starting on the building we would have to look at every day! We have chosen a site for the house, and have gone through numerous permutations of a floor plan, so when the time comes, we should be ready to press forward.

Meanwhile, we have the almost completed team house, the almost completed bodega, and a foundation for another building, which is slated for use as housing for interns. We will be moving into the two buildings (once they are mostly completed), and living in them, while additional buildings (including, eventually, our home) are constructed.

Now is where it gets interesting. The bodega is going to be our main living space, and the team house will be used for some bedrooms. The bodega is one large, giant space - no interior walls except (thank goodness!) around the bathroom. The picture below is a few months old, but I couldn't find any newer ones that would show the size and shape of the interior of the bodega:

Since there's nothing in that first picture to give a sense of the size of the building, here is another shot, with people. The big door is 12' tall.

Here's a view of the front door of the building. You may recall that we set the building into the ground, to make it appear smaller than it really is, from the front. We didn't want it to look like we had a big warehouse on the property. Also notice the bathroom walls, at the left of the picture.

So, that's the starting point for our floorplan - big rectangular room, with one corner cut out to be a bathroom. We intend to use one third of this building as warehouse space at first - we have the big Christmas gift shipment arriving in just a few months, and we'll need a place to store that, and room to work on organizing and such. The third that goes right up the middle, from the front door to the big sliding back door, will be used as the public rooms of the house. I want the kitchen and laundry area closest to the view (and the light) as that seems to be where I spend the majority of my time. The space along the side of the building with the bathroom will be cut up into bedrooms (as many as needed, when we decide who is sleeping in this building, and who is sleeping in the team house).

How will the space be cut up, you might ask. We'll be using our large quantity of bookcases (filled with our large quantity of books) to create room dividers. This may not be the most privacy we've ever had in a house, but we think we can make it work.

Considering how odd these living arrangements are, you might be surprised at how excited we are to be moving out there - but we're just kinda crazy that way.

I'll try to get some up-to-date pictures soon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Moving in the Right Direction!

I am so excited to announce that we have a moving date, for settling into our newly constructed buildings on the ministry property! Barring unforeseen complications (earthquakes, political upheavals - what could happen, really?) we plan to be moved out of our current rental house and living on the property by October 1st! This is a goal for which we have been striving for several years - just to be able to live, semi-camping style, out on the land.

Some may remember when we moved to our current house, last October, we thought we'd be only a few months from the move to the property - but as always, there have been delays and problems, plus the hard cold fact that the construction on our property will always have to squeeze into the gaps in the ministry work. If you saw the list of ministries I posted a few days ago, you'll recognize that there isn't a lot of gap-space available! But Allen and Russell have continued to squeeze in construction days whenever possible, the presence of Alan Hayes has helped take some of the load of the ministry work off them, and we are finally at the point of actually moving!Hurrah!

Just to give you an idea of what will have to happen, between now and October 1st - here's a partial list:

- complete the roof on the bodega
- install all windows in bodega and team house
- install door locks
- finish digging trenches for the water lines, and laying PVC pipes
- construct a water tank on the property
- do repairs on the water tank from which we will be drawing water
- run electrical systems (we'll be running off a generator and batteries, until we receive our solar panels in a few months)

Here's a list of things we would like to have done before we move in:

- installation of toilets
- installation of showers
- installation of ceramic tile flooring in the team house
- installation of electric outlet covers

We're all looking forward to our new, country lifestyle! We've lived right in the midst of population centers since we moved to Honduras, and we've missed having some land, a bit of privacy, space for animals, and a beautiful view to come home to!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Earthquake Damage Reconstruction Update 8/13/09

Earlier this week, Allen visited the villages where the earthquake caused so much damage. He was delivering materials, and checking up on the progress of the reconstruction. Here are some pictures.

The final picture shows a family applying a coating to the interior walls, to smooth them out.

In many of these pictures, you can see clay roofing tiles (and metal roofing, in one instance) protecting the tops of the uncompleted walls. This is because unprotected adobe bricks will melt in the rain, so partially completed walls always have to be covered like this, when no one is working on them. I think it's kind of amazing, the obscure stuff I know. ;-D

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ministry Overview, or Here's What We Do

Recently, we were asked to summarize all of our ministries, so that a newly interested person could quickly and easily access everything. Well, we do so many different things, that even trying to give a quick explanation of each item created a pretty long list. Here's what we came up with:

Pastor Training School - When we arrived in Gracias 4 years ago, very few pastors had any Bible training. We now run a 3 year Bible training program. Currently, approximately 60 pastors and future pastors participate in the school sessions, which run for 3 days each month; 9 months of the year.

Bible Book Store - We found that many Christians in Lempira had no Bible, and most pastors had no Bible study materials. We have been able to distribute or sell below cost approximately 10,000 Bibles, including about 1000 study Bibles.

Church Construction - We partner with rural mountain churches in their construction programs, generally supplying the materials to install the roof (congregation members supply the land, labor, and other construction materials). To date, we have helped with the construction of 45 churches.

Motorcycles for Supervisors and Pastors - In partnership with the Christian Motorcyclists Association and others, we have distributed 57 motorcycles, and we anticipate that by the end of 2009 this number will be approximately 70.

Mules and Horses for Pastors - Some pastors cannot afford to run and maintain a motorcycle, and some live in areas where the “roads” are impassible even for motorcycles. For these pastors, we help with the purchase of horses and mules.

Gifts for Gracias - We distribute Christmas gifts and school supplies to pastors and their families, to orphans and special needs families. This program is similar to the one run by Samaritan’s Purse.

Pastor Helps - When we have the resources, we assist pastors to facilitate their ministries.

Feeding Programs - In a partnership with Kids Against Hunger we distribute food through 50-60 church-run feeding centers, through orphanages, to families in our Special Needs program, to victims of natural disasters, etc. On average we distribute about 1.5 million child size servings per year. Cost: less than 1 cent per meal.

Helping Orphanages - Food, vitamins, school supplies, and Christmas gifts are distributed to 13 orphanages.

Special Needs Families - Families which include a member with special medical needs can receive food and vitamin supplements, and help with medical needs. Currently approximately 50 families receive assistance through this program.

Bridge Projects - In Honduras, tens of thousands of people lose the ability to travel outside of their immediate area (to hospitals, markets, etc), because of seasonal flooding, which makes fording of rivers impossible. In cooperation with businesses in the US, we import slightly used cable, to use in the construction of bridges in rural areas. We partner with local governments and with humanitarian groups in these bridge construction projects. To date, 18 bridges are completed, are currently under construction or are in the planning stage.

School Construction
- When funds are donated specifically for the construction of schools, we administer the funds, and provide oversight and accountability to the donors. To date, we have assisted with 12 school construction projects.

Ministry Center Construction - We are in the process of constructing a ministry center just outside of Gracias, which will save us money compared to renting facilities, and will provide us with warehouse storage space, as well as facilities for the pastor training school, and for hosting teams.

Reconstruction of Houses Destroyed in Earthquake - On May 28th, approximately 100 houses in Lempira were destroyed by an earthquake. We’ve been able to help with food, vitamins, blankets, Bibles, and construction materials. We are attempting to help with the reconstruction of 60 houses. Cost: $300 per house.

Municipal Projects - In addition to bridge projects, we help local municipalities with road and water projects. Primarily we provide design and implementation assistance.

Used Clothing - We receive donated used clothing and distribute it in rural areas.

Teams - We host teams, including medical, dental, construction, and evangelism groups.

So, now you know what we do. :-D

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Country Kitchen

One of the homes damaged by the earthquake back in May
(click on the photo for a close-up look)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mystery Photo

I have the job of dumping the photos from the cameras onto the computer, and labeling them. When the above photo showed up on my computer screen, I stared at it for a good while, trying to figure out what I was looking at. Bethany walked right up and said, "Oh, look at the caterpillars."

Here's a closer look. I think the fact that the caterpillars were all lined up in rows and clumped together threw me off. Well, and that they are big!

Anyone want to go the extra mile, and find a name for these specific creepy crawlies?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to Blogging - so how about something fun?

I've had "bloggers block" for a few weeks. It's hard for me to avoid the whole subject of the political situation in Honduras. The truth of the matter is that I do have some strong feelings about it all, and I hate beating around the bush and being careful about what I say. So, I've not been feeling inspired to write anything in the blog, when I knew I was avoiding the subject that is really uppermost in my mind right now.

Things have settled into a new kind of normal around here - sort of like settling in to do your normally scheduled activities under a scaffold with a big cinderblock balanced precariously over your head. Things seem just fine, really, but you can't know what the future holds . . .

We've had all sorts of activities and events recently, including a visit from a group of friends from our home church, the death of one of our dogs, and Allen's and my 25th wedding anniversary - that's a big one, doncha think? However, I've decided to ease myself back into blogging by sharing something totally unexpected - we bought a horse!

Here's how this came about:

Our good friend, Rodrigo, is a welder. He did some welding work for someone who was unable to pay him for the work and so he was offered this little horse in payment. Rodrigo accepted, although he has no use for the horse. Of course, he called us and asked if we wanted to buy a horse. Soon after, Rodrigo and horse (and nephew and grandson) were all in front of our house.

Now, do you know any kids who wouldn't fall in love with a sweet little horse at first sight? Maybe you do, but those wouldn't be my kids - my kids were smitten pretty much immediately. It helped that the horse's disposition was so quiet and gentle. The kids climbed on and off, petted her nose, stood all around her, and she was totally placid and unconcerned. Our house is also situated on a busy road, and the horse wasn't bothered by the traffic, either.

We had a family pow-wow (we do this often) to discuss the pros and cons of purchasing the horse. We had already promised the kids that we would purchase a horse once we moved onto our property - but we aren't there yet! So, the cons included the fact that we really aren't ready to be horse owners.

The pros included that we have been planning to get a horse, and this particular horse seemed so perfect for us. As first-time horse owners, we figured a small, placid horse would be a good choice.

Another con - this all took place several weeks ago, when the political situation seemed more likely to blow at any moment. It felt sorta silly to be contemplating the purchase of a horse right then.

We left the pow-wow without a decision, knowing that we would definitely have bought the horse if we were already living on our property, and if the political situation wasn't looking so unstable.

A few days later, Allen was in the city, on business, and Bethany was doing laundry here at home. Going through Allen's pockets, Bethany found the amount of cash needed to purchase the horse. We have an ongoing family joke that whoever finds money in pockets while doing laundry should get to keep the money (it's a joke, though, because some family members are notoriously bad about checking their pockets before putting clothing in the laundry, and the amounts of money can sometimes be surprisingly high) - and Boo suggested that if she just kept this money, she could buy the horse. Later in the day, I mentioned this to Allen over the phone, and he replied, "Yes, I guess we should get it, then."

Well, I thought he was just joking around. Then, last week, I happened to ask Allen over dinner one night if he thought Rodrigo had sold the horse to someone else, or if he still had it. Allen said, "Of course he still has it - I told him we wanted it!" The whole family was flabbergasted - we had no idea the horse was ours!

So now we own a horse! We haven't named her yet, and we haven't moved her up to the property yet, but we are very excited about having her as part of our menagerie.