Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A construction challenge for Allen, and a writing challenge for me

On Sunday we had some pastors come by, to solicit help with their church construction project. I was on my way out the door when they arrived, since I had grocery shopping to do in Gracias, so I don't know too much about these particular men, like where they were from, what denomination, etc. What I do know is what Allen told me about their project, and what a challenge it will be to put a roof on this church.

My challenge is to write on this topic, in spite of the fact that my knowledge of construction is limited, and in such a way that it will make sense to those who read this post.

The church owns a piece of land. The lot isn't very large, and it isn't square, or even rectangular. The decision was made (before we were involved) to build the church building as big as possible on this piece of land. Since we don't have zoning issues like mandatory set-backs from the property line here in Honduras, the design and spacing of buildings can get interesting.

The walls of this very irregular building have already been constructed. I think they just measured in a foot or so from the property lines, and built the walls there. Imagine a rectangle, where the corners aren't quite exactly 90 degrees. Then cut off a section of two opposite corners. One of those cut off bits is just a sliver, the other is a nice sized chunk. None of the resulting angles are 45 degrees, or even close - they're all irregular. The larger cut off corner is the location of the road, running alongside the property. The other cut off corner butts up to a neighbor's property. That's the situation Allen has been handed.

Allen was able to visit the construction site on Monday, and he has already come up with what he thinks will be a workable, and not too awfully expensive, solution for this church. In this case, however, we won't just be purchasing the materials for the roof construction. We'll actually build this roof, as the math and angles and such for making this work are pretty complicated.

When we lived in the states, Allen designed houses, drew up his own plans, and then built them. The process of getting permits and following codes and having visits by building inspectors seemed burdensome and unnecessary, as Allen was very competent and wasn't about to build a flawed structure. It's been sort of nice, building in Honduras, not having to clear all of these hurdles - but now I'm starting to see the value in them. LOL

Friday, August 24, 2012

Boofy's Puppies

Poor Buffalo had some difficulties with her litter of pups. There were five puppies in her womb, but two puppies died at or just before birth. Kirstin was here, and she told us that the bright green color in the sacks of the dead puppies indicated that they'd had an infection, probably caused by them pooping before birth (Kirstin based this on her EMT training regarding human births). About two weeks ago, one of the puppies started declining and eventually died. The two remaining pups seem healthy and active. We weren't planning to keep any of these puppies, so these two will be leaving before much longer. Good thing you guys asked for pictures when you did!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The cuteness stands alone - no words necessary!

Here's what you've been waiting to see . . .

Nahhh, not yet. I know you're waiting to see pictures of the Rottweiler puppies, and I'll post them next (oh, if you're on Facebook, Rachel has already put some up on the Sowers4pastors page there). But first, I wanted to show you what we had for lunch today:

These are white flour biscuits - they just have a slight brownish tinge because Rachel used our homemade lard in them, and also put in some of the cracklins. In case you're not familiar with cracklins, they are a byproduct of lard production. They taste sort of like bacon, except they aren't salty (unless, of course, you salt them).

The biscuits were super yummy. We're likin' lard.

Here are some of the quart jars of lard in our kitchen, from Rachel's lard-making event:

Next up: PUPPY PICTURES!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I'm a Facebook flunkout . . . but . . .

I signed up for Facebook a few years ago, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. I was heavily involved in an internet homeschooling forum anyway, and I just didn't have the time to get up and going on another online social outlet.

But Facebook is everywhere, and people keep asking us if we have a Facebook page for our ministry. Today, I'm proud to announce that we (okay, really just Rachel - oh, also Kendall. Thanks for the online help Kendall) set up a Sowers4pastors Facebook page! Taa daah!

Now keep your expectations low here - we just got started on this, and we're learning as we go. But, if you would "Like" our page, that would certainly encourage us as we work to make it a more interesting and useful place for you to visit. "Liking" the page will also give you notifications of updates as we post them - if you are a Facebook user. If you don't use Facebook, you should still be able to read our page, you just can't be interactive with it, and you can't "Like" it - which sounds kinda sad, doncha think?

Oh, and we've been sooo busy the past few days - we butchered two hogs on Monday, and Rachel rendered lard (much more successfully than I did after the first butchering) - and actually produced more than five gallons of lard!!!!! Today I'm working on paperwork for requesting another batch of motorcycles for pastors, while Rachel has been working on the new Facebook page . . . oh and she and I are both sick with a cold/flu mess that just won't go away. That's all for now!

Do you "Like" us? Well, do ya? LOL

Friday, August 17, 2012

Some cats have it all . . .

. . . beauty, brains, talent . . .

We have a new kitten who doesn't quite have it all. Meet Minguita:

Rachel fell in love with this teensy scrap of kitten flesh when they met at Brandy's grandmother's house, and she ended up bringing her home to us.

We are actually in the process of getting rid of some of our cats, but we also want to bring in some new, unrelated cats, to avoid inbreeding. We need cats for rodent control, and don't currently have a large enough gene pool to let the status quo continue.

I went into town to pick up Rachel and Minguita. The kitty was in a cardboard box for transport. I asked Rachel about the kitten, and she replied that the kitty wasn't very pretty, wasn't very big, and was all ears and scrawny-ness, but that she had a great personality. I wasn't sure what to expect!

Rachel opened the box, and I was anticipating the normal feline response - fear, perhaps some clawing, as the animal encountered a new and frightening set of circumstances.

But that's because I didn't know Minguita. She stepped calmly from the box, climbed onto my lap, walked up my front, and stared closely into my face. Apparently I passed muster, for she then declared us friends and curled up, purring, on my shoulder.

Making up for not having much in the looks department, Minguita is all spunky personality!

Oh, and just for fun, here's a photo of one of the cats we've re-homed. Allen took Dandylion, when she was pregnant, to a family that lives near to where we've been building that big bridge, so we've had a chance to continue to visit with her, and with her kittens. I think they look like they've settled in pretty well, don't you?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I made a mess

I worked on our website today, updating the information for this years Gifts for Gracias project. Then I had to stop working and head into town to accomplish some errands. Somehow I managed to leave the main page of the site a mess - buttons that don't work, pictures and text and buttons overlapping one another - YIKES!

Feel free to check out my mess on the homepage, but you should also check out the updated Gifts for Gracias page. It's still a work-in-progress, but it's not a mess like the homepage.

Every year, we collect donations of used clothing and bedding, gift boxes, and bulk purchases of things like school supplies, ball caps, flashlights, etc. From all of this, we put together individualized gifts for the pastors with whom we work and their families.

The last few years, we've had trouble collecting enough items to make up the needed gifts. The used clothing and bedding we've received have been a bit more worn than in previous years, and there are fewer of these items, plus we receive significantly fewer gift packages. I'm sure this is because the economy in the US is in a slump, and people aren't replacing their own things as quickly, and they aren't able to give as much as they have given in the past.

We actually considered NOT doing this project this year, because shipping a container isn't cheap, and we certainly don't want to ship a partially empty container. However, when the US has an economic slump, the ramifications in Honduras are extremely severe. The people here are so appreciative of whatever help they receive, and we'd really like to continue to provide this blessing to them.

I'm hoping that more people in the US will participate in the project this year, even if each person is involved in a smaller way, and then we should be able to put together enough gifts for all of the intended recipients. Any excess we receive goes out to the children in our feeding centers, the children in our special needs program, children in the local hospital and in local orphanages.

If you can donate used items, purchase some items in bulk, make up one or more gift boxes, donate funds toward the cost of shipping, or help spread the word at your local church, school, homeschooling group, boy or girl scout troop, etc, we could certainly use the help!

Thanks so very much!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I went away, but now I'm back

Last week we hosted a team from Jacksonville Florida. On Saturday Allen and Russell and I took the team to the airport, and then Allen and I took off for a few days of "personal time" to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary.

I'm catching up on my emails and other office work now, but I will be blogging again very soon, honest!

Oh, and are you wondering about that picture? That's Russell digging the basement of my new house (the basement will be in the part of the house next to the existing foundation). Yay! I'm gonna have a basement!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

. . . the sheep's in the meadow, the cow's in the corn . . .

We don't have sheep.

Now, we don't have corn either. Sigh.

Last night the cows broke into the garden and ate all of our corn plants. Luckily we didn't have much else growing in the garden just now, and those other few items were spared.

The beans which were recommended to improve the soil never came up . . . not even one plant! I'm going to assume we got some bad seeds, as we've grown several types of beans before, and never had this kind of failure rate.

Sigh. I think I mentioned previously - we are in NEED of some significant gardening successes, if we're going to keep up our motivation for this work.

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Tongue Twister

Buffalo, a few weeks ago when she was pregnant

You've read about our fluffy lapdog, Buffalo, but you're probably pronouncing her name wrong. Sometimes we say the English version, but more often we use the Spanish version, which is the same except that the first syllable sounds like "Boo" instead of like "Buff." Try it out: Boo-falo. Good.

Now, we often shorten Boo-falo to just Boofy (rhymes with goofy). That's probably what she is called most often, though she answers to Buffy, Buffalo (English), Bufalo (Spanish) and Boofy.

She's a silly little piece of fluff, so she's sometimes described as being goofy, doofy, and poofy.

And occasionally, when someone is showing off a bit, they'll call her:

Boo's doofy, poofy, goofy, Boofy.

Try that one, if you dare! LOL

(By the way, I'm trying to finish up a huge pile of thank you notes, so that Kirstin can carry them back with her and mail them from the US for us. This is not my favorite task, but it's nose-to-the-grindstone time for me!)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

An Update on those Rottweiler Puppies

I've been more than a bit out of it recently, as I've been helping our Rottweiler, Pepper, care for her extra-large litter of 12 puppies. Pepper is a pretty good mom, but she's a bit clumsy. With her first litter (10 pups), two of the babies died when they were about a week old, and we believe they were squashed/smothered. With even more babies to watch out for this time, I felt like it would be best to give Pepper a bit of help - especially since she has more puppies than nipples with which to feed them!

For the first five days or so, I only put half the puppies with Pepper to nurse at a time. I found that the pups, having had a good nursing, would sleep for several hours, so during the time the first batch was sleeping, I would put the second batch on to nurse. One group was made up of the smallest puppies, so that they wouldn't have to compete with the bigger ones for their food.

I did this day and night - let me tell you, I was an exhausted wreck! As the puppies grew a bit larger, I waited until the separated pups started fussing, and then I switched them. This resulted in a switch every two hours or just a bit more.

For the past week, I've mostly let all twelve puppies fight it out for a chance at nursing. It has seemed like they all eventually got food, but yesterday I noticed that we had one puppy which was not growing nearly as well as the others, and at the end of the nursing session her belly wasn't as full as the others. To remedy her declining situation, we moved the scrawny puppy in with Buffalo's litter.

Buffalo, our fluffy little lapdog, only has three puppies, and they're so fat they can hardly move. I'm happy to report that this morning the little Rottweiler puppy had a full, fat tummy, so we're hopeful we got her a bit of extra care in time to avoid problems. Up in Buffalo's box, she never has to fight for her food, so she'll have a good chance to catch up with her litter mates fairly quickly, if she has no other health problems. I'll have to watch the rest of the group, though, as even with one puppy removed, there are still more Rottweiler puppies than nipples, and the biggest of the batch are pretty pushy, so I know there's still the chance of some puppies not getting enough to eat. But we're on the job!

Who knew that having two litters of puppies at the same time would turn out to be . . . convenient? LOL

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Looking back . . .

Since I posted a new family photo yesterday, and a link to the previous family photo, I thought I should dig a bit deeper, and pull out the one before that. As in the previous post, the picture looks fuzzy here, but if you click on it, you'll see a clearer version.

Those are the three family photos we've taken since arriving in Gracias in 2005. Just thought you might want to compare them. Time certainly does fly, and those kids keep on growing up.

I decided, for fun, to post the other portrait here, too, so you can just pull down from oldest to newest, and watch those kids grow!


Friday, August 3, 2012

A NEW Family Portrait!

It's been two years since we took a photo of the whole family, so we snagged another one while Kirstin was here for a visit. I don't know why the photos look a bit blurry - when you click on them, the larger versions seem sharper.

I'm fond of the black-and-white version, but I don't know which we'll use on official stuff. What do you guys think?

If you're interested in comparing, our previous family portrait is here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Didja feel that?

We just had an earthquake (well, about half an hour ago) - our second in a week!

It was pretty minor, but unmistakable from where I sat. I'm thinking the men who are working outside probably didn't feel it. We've found in the past that it's much easier to notice an earthquake when indoors.

I've been watching the earthquake notification sites, and our quake hasn't shown up yet. I wonder if it was really, really small, but located quite close.

The earthquake earlier in the week was centered in an area about 30 miles from here. It had two distinct "thumps," plus I heard the rumble before feeling the movement. Today's event was much smaller, just one "thump" and no rumble.

Odd, though, that this earthquake isn't showing up at all on the maps that report these events. I watch the US government map, as well as the Global Incident Map.

I'd never felt an earthquake before living in Honduras. Now I feel that my life is complete . . . I don't necessarily have to keep on experiencing them . . . LOL

UPDATE: The info on the quake just showed up on the maps. It was a 4.6, located in a similar location as the one earlier in the week.