Sunday, November 22, 2015

Phew - October was a tough month!

I never mention this online while it's happening, but now that it's over, I can tell you that Allen was gone from home for weeks, recently, doing fundraising in the US. While he was away, Russell, Clay, and I handled things here . . . and it was a particularly rocky time for me.

Here are just a few of the "special moments" I was privileged to experience in October . . .

First, I was driving home at dusk one evening, with Ben in the Land Cruiser, when suddenly my steering went out! It was quite a blessing that we were climbing a very steep hill at the time, and so making an immediate stop was not a problem. We were in a very dangerous spot along the road, where the one-lane-wide road has long, sheer drop offs on both sides! Had we been traveling the other direction, going steeply downhill, when our steering went out, this could have been a much more serious situation.

Another blessing was that, although we were on the road to our house, which hugs the side of a steep hill which completely blocks the cell phone signal the entire way, we were in the one spot where there's a ravine instead of a hill. Because of this, our phone was receiving a good cell signal where we broke down and we were able to contact Russell immediately, to come and rescue us.

Russell and Clay came out quickly, while Ben and I sat in the dark, with the car mostly blocking the road - which wasn't a problem, as no other vehicles came along before Russell got there. The guys were able to make an impromptu repair using wire, so that Russell could carefully limp along in that Land Cruiser to get it up onto our property. Clay drove Ben and I home in Russell's vehicle.

Then, because I wouldn't be able to drive Ben to the bus stop for school the next morning, Ben packed his clothing and school needs and headed back into town with Clay and Russell. For the following few days, Russell worked on repairing the damage to the vehicle, and Ben spent the nights in town. Russell was able to purchase the needed part and repair the vehicle before the following weekend, so I was back on the job, driving Ben back and forth to Gracias everyday . . . until . . .

Saturday morning, I picked up the gal who works for me in the house, out on the main road. She brought along her 13 year old sister (though I'm not sure why). Although my helper is comfortable around my dogs, her sister was not . . . and she screamed and ran, and one of the dogs attacked the girl, thinking she was protecting me. I grabbed the girl and was able to keep the dog from biting her face or neck, but in the process the dog also bit me, in the ankle.

We both had to go to the hospital for stitches (and our family had to put down our most protective watch dog), and then I spent another week staying home, while Ben spent school nights at Russell's house. I had to sit quietly, with my ankle elevated, most of that time, as it was difficult to walk on that leg, and it would swell up if I didn't stay off of it.

After just over a week, my wounds were healed enough that I could start driving again. The first day I drove Ben to town in the morning, but when I went back to pick him up following his after-school sports my engine started making a strange noise. Since I was in Gracias at the time the noise started, I drove the few blocks to Russell's house and had him check it out. Sadly, the problem was that my 16 year old engine was in need of being rebuilt - a huge and expensive undertaking!

Once again, Ben packed up and moved in at Russell's house for the week of school. This time I wasn't injured, I was just stuck at home without a vehicle. Russell was, as always, amazing about picking up my responsibilities in addition to his own. This repair took two weeks to be completed, but finally the vehicle was back together and Russell and the mechanic took it for a short, gentle test drive. They drove to the nearby gas station to put in some fuel.

At the gas station they told the attendant to put in 1000 lempiras worth of fuel (in Honduras, there are no self service pumps in gas stations), and while the attendant was pumping the fuel into the vehicle, Russell and the mechanic both had their heads under the hood, adjusting things in the engine. After paying for the fuel, they headed back up the road, but the didn't get very far before things went VERY wrong. The engine began racing uncontrollably, and the Land Cruiser began to spew huge clouds of black smoke! They tried to turn off the vehicle, but the engine wouldn't stop running! Eventually they were able to stop it by disconnecting a fuel line, but not until significant NEW damage was done to the engine.

It turns out that the cause of this event was that the attendant at the gas station had put gasoline into the vehicle, instead of diesel . . . in spite of the fact that it is clearly labeled for diesel! Here in Honduras there is no expectation that companies will be responsible for damages caused by their employees, so we knew we had to pay for yet another major engine repair. Sigh.

The vehicle went into the repair shop again, and after another week the fuel injector was repaired (or possibly replaced, I'm not sure). Everything was put back together again, and we started to drive the Land Cruiser again . . . but . . .

A few days later, the engine started making a continuous high pitched whine. We haven't yet found out the cause, or what it will cost to repair.

Sigh. Currently, Allen and I only own this one, 16-year-old vehicle. We sold our other Land Cruiser a few months ago (it was older and higher mileage than this one - and we sold it because of the cost of continued repairs and maintenance), and we are anticipating purchasing a newer used pick up truck, fairly soon. Meanwhile, Russell and Clay keep loaning us their vehicles, or chauffeuring us to town and such.

So, that's the recap of some of the difficulties we've been dealing with in October. It has been a long, annoying and expensive month! Because some of you reading this are our supporters, and will want to know this information, the costs to repair this vehicle, so far, have been around $6000. We're always trying to find the most economical line between purchasing a newer vehicle and repairing the old ones. Up until recently, repairing the Land Cruisers - the ultimate vehicles for our location and terrain - has been the obvious choice. Now, we're praying again about how best to use the funds we have, to make sure that we have the transportation we need for both personal and ministry uses.

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