Thursday, March 31, 2011
First, I wanted to say that I really appreciate all the comments I've been receiving on the recent bridge construction posts. I figure my blog friends are being kind to me, after I whined recently about not getting comments on ministry subjects, so I wanted to let you know that I appreciate it!
Second, I took some pictures this evening, of a parasitic flower growing on a pine tree near my vegetable garden. I think it might be a wild orchid, but I don't know for certain. Since my sister grows orchids in her kitchen in Maryland (with much effort, I'm sure), I thought perhaps she'd appreciate seeing the possible orchid that is growing here, without any human intervention. Here's a closer shot:
Finally, I wanted to mention that we just noticed that a fairly large forest fire has started a few miles from here. Everything is extremely dry, because we're months into the dry season, and it's quite windy right now, so this has the potential to be a difficult fire to extinguish. We don't believe this fire will endanger us on our property, but it appears (from here) to be close to the village of Villami, and also close to the national park on the mountain of Celaque. Please pray with us that this fire won't become a major problem and danger for the community.
The picture above shows the hill down which the beams had to travel. On the right side of the picture is a building with a fenced yard (you can see one of the fence posts leaning over). That's the yard where the beams were made, and so it was the starting point of the short but difficult journey.
The second picture is taken from the yard where the beams sat, looking down the path they took to the river. Upon reaching the river, the beams had to be moved into place between the two support walls, so that they could then be elevated into place on the walls.
The following pictures will show the journey of the second beam (you can see the first beam sitting atop the support walls):
Russell, driving the front end loader, pulls the beam down the hill toward the river.
Frequent adjustments had to be made to the rollers and to the path. At times, the progress in an hour would be less than a yard.
As the beam heads into the riverbed, it must be turned to manipulate it into the space between the walls. More log adjusting is required, of course. Adjusting logs while a 20 ton beam sits on top of them isn't a quick or simple process!
The soft, damp soil at the edge of the river made it necessary for the men to create a "roadbed" for the rollers, so they wouldn't bog down.
Manipulating the beam into place by the wall was another challenge. With the first beam in place, Russell was working in tight quarters, as he maneuvered the second beam around while the first beam was in his way.
With the beam basically in place, it was time to lift it up onto the top of the 9 foot high walls. Those pictures will come soon.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Sadly, all of this work turned out to be a waste of time and effort. The utility poles were too old and dried out to work. When the men tried to roll the beam over these logs, the logs crushed under the weight. With the help of the alcalde (mayor) of El Mongual, Allen got permission to cut down some living trees, to cut into stronger logs for rollers (the laws regarding logging are pretty strict in Honduras, so you have to jump through some bureaucratic hoops for permission to cut down trees, even on private property). Eventually 6 large, straight pine trees were purchased and cut down (some of this wood was used in a later part of the project - you'll hear about that in a future post). Through an arrangement between the government and a reforestation organization, 6 new trees will be planted for each tree which was cut down. None of the lumber we cut will end up as part of the structure of the bridge, so it will all be available to the municipality for use in future projects.
Here are the pine logs which were eventually successfully used as rollers.
Check in again soon, as we graaaaadually move this beam to the bridge!
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Logs were collected from downed trees.
Cable had to be connected from the front end loader to the beam.
More dirt is dug out from under the beam, the wall panels which were under the beam are pulled out, and stacks of lumber are used to prop up the beam, so that the machine can lift it up a bit more. Henri, in this picture, is signaling to Russell, who is at the controls of the front end loader.
Progress is being made.
This is enough pictures for one post. More to come.
Friday, March 25, 2011
I didn't post about the work that was done to make the supporting walls on each side of the river. Here's a picture of the completed walls, so you can see what was involved:
You can see the trickle of water between the two walls. It's still dry season, so the water is low. At its worst, the water has been known to almost reach the houses you see on the far side of the river, so the bridge had to be built up high enough for those events.
You'll remember the two gigantic beams which the crew fabricated about a month ago. (If you don't remember, check here and here.)
The picture doesn't necessarily make clear the immense size of these beams, but they're 43' long and I'm guessing about 4' tall. Plus, they weigh approximately 20 tons. They're really big.
So, the task of moving those beams down to the river, and lifting them onto the supporting walls really should have involved a crane - but we don't have a crane, or access to a crane. What we have is an elderly front end loader, Allen's ability to manipulate objects using his knowledge of physics, a collection of people who aren't afraid of hard physical labor, a large quantity of testosterone-induced gutsyness, and prayer. Much prayer.
More to come on exactly how this overwhelming and dangerous task was accomplished. Stay tuned . . .
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Our family uses the funds from our donors to pay for the shipping and customs to get the donated food to Honduras. This food costs us just over 1 cent per meal. (Here's some information about the food we supply to the feeding centers.) We keep records on each center, to maintain some level of accountability over the whole program, and we distribute enough food for a few months at a time to each center, based on the number of children being fed. We visit the centers on an occasional basis, getting pictures to help our donors see how they are blessing the people of Honduras (our visits are also part of our work of keeping everyone involved accountable).
I have to say, though, that having 100 (now more like 110) feeding centers isn't a milestone we've been striving to achieve. Sadly, the need for additional feeding centers is a result of increasing poverty in the mountains of western Honduras - an area which was already massively poor. We'd much prefer to see the need for feeding centers go down, instead of seeing the rising need for the nutritional help.
For now, we're just grateful that we still have the means to help. Our thanks - and the thanks of many in this part of Honduras - goes out to everyone who plays a part in this ministry!
Monday, March 14, 2011
I've been harvesting radishes for a few weeks now. They're quick and easy, except when some unknown insect comes at night and eats all the leaves off the plants. I've learned that radishes have trouble growing tasty fat roots when they have only gnawed off bits of leaves remaining attached to them. This time the destruction didn't come from leaf cutter ants - I recognize their work. I'm thinking the monster grasshoppers ate the radish leaves. But, as I had radishes planted in two different spots in the garden, some survived to show up on the blog, and in our dinner!
When I was pulling up radishes this afternoon, I came upon this mutant:
I wish the picture was better - I'm not so good at closeups with this camera. While in the ground, the radish had split in several directions. I'm thinking this was caused by the fact that we had a lot of rain for a few days earlier this week. I've been watering the radishes steadily, but I think the sudden influx of that much water just overwhelmed this radish, and it grew too fast for its skin. Anyway, that's my guess.