Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Way We Work

 If you have offspring of a certain age, there’s a good chance that you are familiar with the 1988 children’s book The Way Things Work. It is described as an entertaining introduction to the way machines work. The book is atrociously heavy and it contains diagrams of mechanical stuff in terms that make me certain I am not smarter than a fifth grader. This is sort of The Way Sowers4Pastors Works blog post. It’s a hopefully entertaining introduction to the way they operate, minus any diagrams and talk of levers and the like.

Sometimes people have the misconception that Sowers4Pastors focuses on giving resources to one group. You may think that visiting teams go to the same areas and provide VBS programs to the same children over and over again. That would be a big nopety-nope. Honestly, that is the way some ministries operate. Fifteen visiting teams would mean that the same children were traipsing off to VBS fifteen times. Teams show up with goodies and that church gets blessed and blessed and blessed while the church down the road receives no attention. That’s just not Sowers4Pastors way. 

They only do VBS programs in locations where no one else is working. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with sharing the Gospel to the same people more than once, there’s a reason we say, “spread the Gospel” and not “clump the Gospel in a big Gospel pile while ignoring others with needs.” Fifteen visiting teams are able to put on about 40 VBS programs at 40 unique sites. SPREADING not CLUMPING. 

This is a very intentional decision. As Trish said, “We try to avoid negative things. When we see things that could cause harm, we avoid those things.” 

You may be saying to yourself, “I understand the need to spread and not clump, but is clumping actually harmful to the recipient.” (If this blogpost did have diagrams, one would go right about here.)

Thank you for the thoughtful question you were mumbling under your breath. The short answer is that clumping can indeed be harmful to the recipients. But I’ve never been one for short answers, so hang on for the longer one.

During their twenty years as full-time missionaries, Allen and Trish have seen the danger of people getting to the point where they say, “I just count on the gringos to do things for me.”

Trish said, “We saw it on the island after Hurricane Mitch. We moved there a few years after the hurricane lived there for five years. There were people with the money to build a house who were still living in shacks built from debris. They were just waiting for the next team of gringos to come and build their houses. It’s one thing for that mentality to take over after a big hurricane. It’s another thing to set that up as a lifestyle for Christians. We don’t want to encourage the mentality that we’re here to do everything for you.”

This is not a new sentiment. You’ve heard it in relation to church construction projects, motorcycles for pastors, and everything else Sowers4Pastors does. Teams may visit the same Manna program to see how things operate or to see their sponsored children, but not to do a VBS. If teams are a part of the sister church program, they start there. If a location isn’t in the  sister church program, they are set up with non sister church teams. 

Some missionaries have one pastor and congregation that they help over and over again. The pastors become so Americanized that they are not as effective in serving the people of Honduras. Allen told a story of gringos who paid for a Honduran pastor to travel with his family for training in the States. When the pastor and his family came back, they couldn’t live as Hondurans. Now, he spends most of his time fundraising to support his family’s Americanized tastes. Obviously, this was not the intention of the missionaries. They sent him to the States because he was an on-fire pastor and evangelist - but they made him ineffective in the long run. 

Allen closed by saying, “We try to be wise in the way we’re sharing resources. We never want to have a pet pastor.” 

And, there you have it. That’s the way Sowers4Pastors works.

-posted by Christi

Kids getting blessed with mattresses

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Every Ending is a New Beginning

The older cousins hanging out
with Russell
(This is from a recent vacation)
As someone with a Pinterest account once said, “Every ending is a new beginning.” Seriously, I have no idea who said it first, but variations of that theme are plastered all over Pinterest on backgrounds of sunrises and seashores. Regardless of who said it, Sowers4Pastors needs it needlepointed on a pillow. Earlier this summer, they had four back-to-back teams for a total of four and half weeks. That ended and it was a new beginning of two weeks with no teams and everything that filled those weeks. By the time you read this, that will have ended and they will have begun a new cycle with three back-to-back teams. Today, we’re going to talk about what has happened during that interim period with no teams.

The biggest news family-wise is that Rachel and Nathan have been visiting. Brandy couldn’t make it because of work obligations, but he will come to pick them up this weekend. They’ve been enjoying the extra fun of having an additional grandchild/cousin/nephew (depending on their relationship to Nathan) on the property. They’ve been a little limited to what they could do because of ongoing COVID restrictions. But does anyone really need anything more than an inflatable pool to have a fabulous summer?

Taking a trip to the park with the
cousins. All the kids are holding
Russell's and each other's hands
at the front of the group (Except
Hannah, who is helping her Auntie
Kay take the picture)
Rachel, who is 5 months pregnant with boy #2 is a mover and a shaker, a get-things-done-er, anti-couch potato kind of person. While those qualities cause Allen and Russell to tackle things like construction projects, Rachel turns her focus to domestic endeavors. Prior to her visit, she actually contacted Trish and asked what projects Trish would like for her to complete. Then she arrived with fabric and turned it into handmade curtains and a system for hanging them on Trish’s doorless lower kitchen cabinets (this system employed clothesline and cup hooks). She also brought some plants since Trish has proved that she can be plant responsible. A year or so ago, Rachel researched hard-to-kill plants and brought several to Trish, who is known throughout the family for her not-so-green thumb. So far, those plants have survived, so Rachel decided to bring in some new varieties. Trish already had hanging baskets, so Rachel brought potting soil and hardy plant varieties. The baskets are now beautifying the front porch of Allen and Trish’s home. Rachel is also going to organize the pantry.

Block walls are starting to go up!!

Meanwhile, the menfolk and staff have had time to finish a section of the new house that is being built. This is not a luxury, as they are desperate for housing. Kirstin is living in substandard conditions that mean she must haul water to wash dishes and then haul the water back out. There is also no way to keep her living quarters cool during the hot months. The new house means building a one-story home with a partial basement. Originally, the most ambitious timeline for completion was two years. Allen very vocally added in an “AT LEAST,” when this was being discussed. They have currently poured all of the concrete there is to pour. That means the basement has a ceiling, which is also the floor of the main floor. The walls will be made of stacked blocks because it’s easier to work on smaller sections that way. They can work a couple of days here and there, moving forward when they have the time.

Mattress delivery!
In the category of getting ready for teams, they have spent some of the two-weeks getting ready for Project Mattress. A team from Edgewater Alliance Church did a survey among the families in their program and learned that most of the homes didn’t have mattresses or were sleeping with a whole family on one mattress. We’re not talking about something you might purchase for your master bedroom. These are closer to camping mattresses. As a result of this ambitious project, Sowers4Pastors has acquired 380 foam mattresses. They are ready and waiting to be distributed. They also had to contact the 16 different locations the team will be visiting to make sure that people know when to expect them.

We recently talked about the challenge of keeping the ministry vehicles up and running. Part of the team prep was having work done to the vehicles the teams will be traveling in. Since these are smaller teams, they are in good shape.

Besides the team from Edgewater Alliance Church, they will also host a team of people who attend Lighthouse Church. The final week, Clay Powell, who was the teacher at Pastor Training School before it disbanded for COVID, will arrive with a team of 4-5 people. Clay will be leading a 1-week seminar at the school. That means, Sowers4Pastors needs to oversee the housing and feeding of pastors, as well as that team.

Picture of Hannah, because why not?
Allen and Trish want to say a special thanks to the teams that came and those yet to come. These brave front-runner teams have had to deal with a bit more hassle since COVID is a reality. Sowers4Pastors appreciates the commitments to the children and their families. As Trish said, “Even with COVID, life has to go on and we’ll figure this out.”

Allen stressed that the arrival of teams is the best thing that happens in the minds of these kids. He said, “It’s better than the Day of the Child (a Honduran holiday), Christmas, and their birthdays. These team members are like superheroes for the children. It means more than you can imagine.”

- posted by Christi.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Motivation to Keep Truckin'

Regardless of the decade of your birth, you likely remember seeing some of the famous motivational posters of the 1960-70’s. Who could forget the posters of the “Hang in there” kitten clinging to a tree branch for dear life? Or the yellow smiley face posters urging you to “Have a nice day”? But do you remember the 1970’s “Keep Truckin’” posters? This post is all about Sowers4Pastors effort to keep truckin’, hang in there, and help thousands of Hondurans have a nice day.

A few months ago, Allen checked on rental trucks for the 2021 backpack trip, but he wasn’t ready to schedule anything yet. Last week, he called back and got actual quotes. Yowza! He was prepared for a price increase, but we’re talking about a PRICE INCREASE! The truck for the first leg of the trip, from Seattle to Frederick, MD has skyrocketed from last year’s price of $3200 to $7600! The second truck that is needed from Indiana to Frederick has increased from $800 to a whopping $2400. Um, yeah, that’s substantial. And that doesn’t even take into account the higher gas prices and increased shipping costs.

Shipping costs could easily be 3-5 times what they were last year. That means the price of shipping one container could go from $5000 to $15,000-$25,000. If shipping is astronomical, it won’t make sense to ship items from the U.S. Let that sink in for a moment. There is a container filled with donated food that should be ready to go in the not too distant future. Another food container is expected to ship in January. Higher shipping costs could make it cost prohibitive to accept gifts of FREE food. And much like the kitten clinging to the tree, the future of backpack trips is hanging in the balance.

Sowers4Pastors is struggling to keep truckin’ in another way, too. Honduras was hit with back-to-back hurricanes in 2020. The loss of life wasn’t as grave as it could have been, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t damage. Some areas along the Northern coast received 100 inches of rain. Roads were wiped out, bridges were destroyed, and a whole lot of people were left homeless. There are still some people living in tents as a result of the storms. The government of Honduras took all of its (admittedly) meager resources and diverted them to helping the North coast. That was the right thing to do, but now other areas are suffering.

The roads in Western Honduras have never resembled the autobahn, but now they don’t really resemble roads either. There are areas where the roads have completely disappeared and you’re left to drive on dirt. Those patches are preferable to the roads where there’s still asphalt riddled with potholes 8-10” deep. Allen said you might encounter hundreds of potholes per mile. Naturally, this is doing a lot of damage to the vehicles. Trish mentioned that on one particular outing, Allen heard something and knew that it was time to find a welder. Allen and Trish had to stop mid-trip to find a welder to repair the piece that holds the radiator in place.

There are nine people who regularly drive the ministry vehicles. The vehicles aren’t exactly straight off the showroom floor to begin with. Some are circa 1997, while others are from 2007 or 2008. The cream of the crop are the vehicles used for transporting teams. They are only 8-years-old. The best type of vehicle for this terrain is hands-down a kind of Toyota that isn’t sold in the U.S. or Canada. It is popular in places with rugged terrain and exceedingly bad roads. There is currently a 6-month waiting list to get a new Toyota Hilux. Sorry, but I didn’t catch the actual name. It’s not like Sowers4Pastors would be purchasing brand new vehicles, but this shortage means that used Hiluxs are going for the same price as the new ones would be if there were any new ones to be had.

Here’s where everything stands: Sowers4Pastors needs your prayers. They want to make wise decisions and be good stewards of the resources God has given them. They need to decide things like whether they should be doing full repairs to their existing vehicles or just enough patch jobs to keep them limping along. They need to decide the best way to go forward with the scheduled backpack trip.

2020 saw donors rise to the occasion. People were very generous and stepped up when Sowers4Pastors was trying to bring in food. Now that things seem more normalized, giving has dropped back to pre-COVID levels. But there are still rising financial needs on the ground. Please consider sacrificial giving so that Sowers4Pastors can continue to help send children to school, operate feeding centers, and have the vehicles needed to visit those feeding centers.

Thousands of good days are depending on you.

- posted by Christi.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Good Morning, Gracias!

Regardless of your preferred network, the chances are good that you have watched at least a few minutes of a morning talk/news show in the past few months. FYI: Those shows are known as breakfast television. They are filled with headlines, human interest stories, and some witty banter. Well, dear “viewers,” welcome to Good Morning, Gracias! This post is sort of like one-stop shopping for everything you need to know about what’s going on around the Sowers4Pastors homestead.

We don't even talk about the
construction in this post, go figure.
It's continuing on, around and
in-between teams.
The big headlines over the past few weeks have involved visiting teams. That means we’ve missed talking about some stories that deserve a little attention. It’s sort of like when the great C.S. Lewis died on the day JFK was assassinated. (Does that count as witty banter? Perhaps.) Anywhooo… Other happenings didn’t stop just because teams were present. For instance, work around the coffee farm was going strong.

That’s what is known as a teaser. Now you will sit through a commercial for coffee before returning to the story about the crew chopping weeds between each coffee plant. With machetes. On 50 acres of property. Oooh. Aaah! Then they fertilized by digging a hole on the uphill side of each coffee tree and putting in a handful of fertilizer. Next, they headed out with the backpack sprayers. There is no mechanization when it comes to coffee farming, so each guy had a sprayer filled with fertilizer and water, weighing in at a whopping 50 pounds when full. They walked up and down the hills of the coffee farm, spraying, refilling, and repeating.

A member of the security crew
checking things out
around the farm
So much water was used that there was a mini-incident. You may recall that the property has two water tanks. I’m pretty sure their technical names are “the big one” and “the small one.” The big tank is about the size of a 3-car garage and holds 60,000 gallons of water. The small one is the size of a very small bedroom and holds 6,000 gallons of water. For a brief time, it was accurate to say that the small one HELD 6,000 gallons of water because the crew forgot to flip a valve to refill the small tank before completely draining it. I have it on good authority that it was definitely a valve and not a switch.

It’s time for a human interest story for all of you animal lovers. The Sowers family now owns a pig. Are you surprised? So was Trish! Somehow that little bit of news slipped right past her. The pig joined the family when a teenage team member, Caleb, decided to raise support to buy pigs for some of the families of sponsored children. Caleb raised the money and Russell went out to purchase them. As long as he was buying pigs, Russell chipped in and purchased an extra one for the homestead. It’s pretty far from the houses, so it’s not like Trish has been walking around like Mrs. Magoo, completely oblivious to the livestock.

Don't tell the little guy, but his
name is, "Bacon."
On Monday, Trish was home alone when it started raining. The welcome rain suddenly and unexpectedly turned into the first electrical storm of the season. She knows what to do when Allen is away and she needs to disconnect the home’s solar power unit. This time, there was no warning and a lightning strike hit too close for comfort. Trish jumped up to see if they had lost power and was reassured to see the microwave light was on. When Allen arrived home a couple of hours later, he walked over to flip a light switch. Nothing. Nada. Zip. They checked other switches and some lights worked, while others didn't. Weird.

Allen headed out to the bodega and flipped the breakers. He also replaced the meter. Recognizing that they needed to power down, he disconnected the inverter and reconnected. He then tried to reboot the system. Things have mostly recovered, but they are operating on a prolonged “brown down” until the parts that were already ordered arrive with a team in about three weeks. In the meantime, they are functioning with about 95% of their normal power.

It’s time for the Good Morning Gracias book club. This month’s recommendation is… wait for it… the Bible. Ha! Oh, there’s that witty banter again. Hundreds of Bibles have been purchased for the bookstore. There is a huge variety of editions that are currently getting inventoried and priced to go on the shelves.

A picture of the mountains around the farm, which also just happens to be a picture of pastors picking up food for a small feeding center by motorcycles purchased through the ministry!

Puppy did not want his picture taken
The time has flown by and we must close this episode. We leave you with the stunning green vistas of the area surrounding the buildings. Thanks to the rains, everything is bright green. Now, because we want to keep the ratings up, we’ll throw in the new kitten and an adorable litter of Rottweiler puppies.

-posted by Christi.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Pool Day: A Day to Enjoy Life with Abandon

The downside of doing phone interviews with mission trip team members is that it can be really difficult to take a topic and stick with it. The blame lies with the interviewer and not the interviewee. This assignment was pretty basic: Talk to a recent team member about taking the kids on a pool day. Simple, right? Um, that totally did not take into account all of the interesting things the team member had to say and how this particular interviewer has never been known for brief conversations. One question led to another, and suddenly this pretty basic assignment was a field of bunny trails created by the verbose interviewer. Stick with it, though. The interviewee was awesome!

Lori Mills, member of The Well church in Derby, Kanasa, is no stranger to Honduras. She has been on mission trips to Gracias so many times that she lost count herself. The correct number is six. She has made six trips since 2015. Her first trip was when Kim Hall went to start the sponsorship program in conjunction with Sowers4Pastors. That visit was to Mercedes, and things have changed a little since that time. Lori estimates that there were about 160 kids involved in the program. By her guestimate, that number has grown to more than 3000 kids in all of the sponsorship programs. 

One thing Lori noticed from her very first trip was that the Sowers family had a very solid, established ministry. Lori had advocated for The Well’s involvement with other sponsorship programs in the past. When she made it back to Derby, Kansas after that first trip, she went with the goal of getting the support of her church. As it happens, Lori’s son-in-law is Pastor Joplin, who is the church’s pastor at The Well. But the bottom line is that The Well is a very mission-minded church.

Lori originally set her goal of finding sponsors at fifty. Allen responded with, “Okay. One hundred fifty it is!”

Thinking they were actually negotiating, Lori suggested that she try to sign up seventy-five sponsors. Allen, who was absent on the day negotiation was taught in school said, “Great! Two-hundred!” 

Lori kept her mouth shut after that and went home to find sponsors. She needn’t have worried because The Well had so much sponsor involvement that they took on a sister church. They support three churches in Quelecasque (that are not part of the Manna4Lempira program). Currently, there is a waitlist for available children! In case that wasn’t clear, they have more people wanting to sponsor than there are children! 

The ever present COVID restrictions. Things are certainly starting to open back up here in Honduras, thankfully

The Well sent two teams this summer. Lori’s team of twenty-four individuals arrived last week. This week, there is a team with twenty-eight members. That brings us to the actual purpose of this post!

“Pool day is like the icing on the cake. All week long you get to spend time with children, visit their homes . . . there are several sweet moments. But pool day is the devoted time you get to spend with the child or children you sponsor.”

She continued to explain that pool day is a time you get to see a side of them that enjoys life with abandon. She said, “They open up and become almost like different kids. Many of them have very hard lives, but on this day they get to be kids. Many of them have never been to a pool before and are timid. After they get in, they don’t want to get out--even for lunch! Often, the parents will swim, too. Because the translators are there, we have more opportunity to ask questions and communicate with the family. When you’re at the pool, you have time to talk to the parents and get information about how to pray for them. You learn about the challenges they’re facing.”

What’s it like to spend a day in the pool with the kids? Lori said, “Even with the language barriers, every smile, hug, and outburst of laughter are the same. The shyest of kids open up there.”

The joyful atmosphere reminds Lori of a particular verse.

The Lord your God is in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17

The exuberance is enough to make Lori think that if her spiritual ears were open enough, she would hear Him singing over them in the pool. 

- posted by Christi.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Trips to Honduras: One of the Best Things About Summer

It’s time to play the blog post version of Family Feud. The category is: The Best Things About Summer. What did you say? Watermelon? Yes! Watermelon made the board. Swimming? Show me “swimming!” Ding, ding! Yes! Socks with sandals and shorts? X! Oh, I’m sorry. That did not make our board. Visiting Gracias and working with Sowers4Pastors for short-term mission trips? YES! You automatically advance to the bonus round. 

2021 Manna Team - plus translators!

After a COVID-19 freeze on mission teams in 2020, Sowers4Pastors is delighted to welcome teams for the summer of 2021. Currently, they are playing host to a small but mighty team of Manna 4 Lempira sponsors. One of the four members took time for a little phone interview. This is Monica’s fourth mission trip with Sowers4Pastors. She is joined by her 13-year-old son, Caleb. The other team members are the mother daughter duo of Vicki and Jaidyn. This is the third trip for Caleb and the first for Vicki and Jaidyn.

Monica said that Caleb’s enthusiasm is one of the things that keeps her coming back again and again. Her husband and other son have also taken part in a trip, but now they hold down the fort while Monica and Caleb are gone. It seems that on every trip, Caleb never wants to leave and is always ready to return. 

The team has spent time visiting the children they sponsor. For Monica and Caleb, that meant seeing twelve children in eight different families. Two of the children were sponsored since Monica's last visit, so this was the first time they got to meet in person. Litzy, a 3-year-old girl, has stated that she wants to be a princess when she grows up. 

Since this is the first trip for Vicky and Jaidyn, it was also the first time they got to see their sponsored kids. 18-year-old Jaidyn has her own sponsor child. They were all elated by the experience. 

Monica explained, “It’s a tremendous opportunity to come down here and see the culture in Lempira. For the people who sponsor the kids, it’s wonderful and enriching to meet the kids and interact with them. When I meet their families and interact with them, it helps me know how to better pray for them throughout the year. You learn how to best support their families.”

Caleb has learned a lot through the visits, too. Monica explained that a couple of the communities they visit are especially poor. A couple of months ago, Caleb devised a plan to help those families. He decided to raise money to buy a pig and five chickens for each of the poorer families. Monica pointed out that if they hadn’t been able to visit, they wouldn’t have understood that those food sources were a need. 

She giggled a little when she said, “This is such a Christian thing to say, but… We always walk away more blessed than the Hondurans, after having the opportunity to be with the families and spend time with them.”

Monica went on to talk about the trips as an opportunity of a lifetime. She is especially thankful for the planning that goes into each team visit by Sowers4Pastors, particularly Russell. She said this smaller team has allowed them more opportunity to interact with the translators and Russell, which has given them all a better understanding of the ministry and the work they do. 

When asked if COVID restrictions have had much impact on this visit, Monica said that the difference was in the prep work. Each member was required to get a COVID test within 72 hours of travel. Monica also needed to go online and complete a form in Spanish, with the help of an online translation. Russell has arranged for them to receive the COVID tests they will need for the return trip.

On the day of the phone call, the team was heading out to help Kelsea in a Bible school class she teaches. Then they would be getting their rapid result tests for their flights home. At that point, it will be time for Caleb to begin thinking about the next trip.

 - posted by Christi

Monday, June 14, 2021

Praying for Wisdom in the Ongoing Pandemic

In the days before everyone had a GPS in their mobile phones, navigating unfamiliar paths didn’t leave you a lot of options. You could reach for a Rand McNally map and hope that your map reading skills weren’t subpar. You could stop and ask for directions and hope that the person you asked knew what was what. Or you could roam around with a general idea of the correct direction and hope for the best. Sowers4Pastors is navigating some unfamiliar paths and there is no GPS system on the market that can tell them how to best circumvent potential potholes and road construction. COVID-19 has been a backseat driver for the past year and a half and Allen is asking for navigational prayers. Also, of course, for prayers of safety.

COVID placed a lot of limits on what Sowers4Pastors could do. Yet, there have always been people with physical and spiritual needs to be met. The ministry has done that, but it hasn’t exactly been a Sunday afternoon drive through the countryside.

As Allen said, “We find ourselves in a constant state of trying to work within the boundaries and need prayers for wisdom as we go forward. We don’t want to leave people with no help, but we want to do it carefully. We want to protect the reputation of the ministry and, more importantly, the cause of Christ and the health and safety of the communities we work in.”

COVID and the restrictions it has brought work on their own timetable. It took an extra month and a half for the motorcycles recently distributed to pastors to be imported. It also took a lot of extra time for the pastors to deal with their end of the paperwork.

The 3rd shipping container has finally arrived from the U.S. You might say it took its own sweet time. Allen’s estimation is that the duty-free paperwork “took forever” to go through.

Sowers4Pastors has been working on church roofing projects. They just completed three roofs and there are two more on the upcoming schedule. Part of the reason behind this is that the pastors are realizing the need for their congregants to not be meeting in cramped quarters.

The construction crew recently helped another missionary pour a concrete deck that required tens of thousands of pounds of concrete. Because COVID is always a concern, the decision was made to not use any of the other missionary’s team members. The idea was that it was better for the teams to not overlap.

Six teams are scheduled to visit from the States this summer. Most of the locals are not wearing masks, but Sowers4Pastors is strongly encouraging the team members to mask up before heading out. They want to be sure that there is never even the potential for communities to believe that the ministry is spreading COVID. The goal is to move forward, but with wisdom.

Schooling in Honduras is still up in the air. There is continued talk about online schooling, but that is far from a practical solution. A lot of the public school teachers don’t even own computers and the people living in the bush are without internet. Online schooling has barely been working among the more elite private schools. 

Allen also asks for prayers as they plan and execute the next backpack collection trip in the US. Some areas they will visit are still under heightened restrictions. Other areas are not. Allen said, “Obviously we don’t want to be the group of people carrying it from one area to another. We are praying for God’s hand upon these things.”

While this isn’t ministry related, it is definitely Sowers related, and does have some loose ties to COVID. For those of you who don’t know, Trish was in the U.S. for a writer’s conference when she received word that her mother was dying. She immediately left for Florida, but she was not in time to say an earthly goodbye. COVID meant that there was no memorial service, but Trish was able to spend time with her father and siblings. Fortunately, several family members, including Kirstin and Chris' fiance, Audrey, 
were already present in Florida to attend Chris and Bethany's belated graduation ceremony. You may remember that their nursing school experience ended abruptly when COVID hit the area. The graduation ceremony was postponed for a year. No one saw that detour happening.

The staff hasn't made it through the pandemic scot free either. Several members of Iris's family caught COVID last year - thankfully they all made a full recovery. Members of the Hall family currently have COVID, but are recovering. They are hopeful that they will test negative in time to fly out of the country for a wedding. Pastor Omar, the pastor for the Tablon section of Manna4Lempira, is also currently infected with COVID, and recently had a temp of 105 F and had to go to the COVID clinic. Please pray for him. 

We are always asking for prayers, but that is because we always need them. Please pray with us, that the Hall family and Pastor Omar will recover soon. Please pray with us, that God will continue to have his hand on the ministry, protecting us and the communities we work in. We ask God for wisdom as we continue to navigate the difficulties presented by COVID-19. And please continue to pray for the Honduran pastors, children and communities, as they are affected by the pandemic.

-posted by Christi.