Monday, May 16, 2022

Allen and Trish Are Moving - But Not Far!

It’s a good thing Allen and Trish aren’t expected to send out change of address cards every time they move to a different house. If they did send out such cards, they could say something like, “Allen and Trish are moving approximately 20 feet away.” It might be helpful if they would send out an aerial view of the property and we could move colored pins around to keep up with them. Sort of like a map for world travelers to indicate all of the places they’ve visited. If we had such a map, we would all be getting ready to insert a new pin directly beside the previous pin - and you might recall they lived in the bodega at one point as well. Some time in the next year or so they plan to move to the house currently under construction, meaning they will have lived in four different buildings on the property!

Trish's current house in front,
the house she is moving into in
the back.
Russell and Iris have moved into town since their children will be attending the private bilingual school there. Due to COVID restrictions, RJ has been attending school online for half of kindergarten, and all of 1st and 2nd grades. It’s very exciting that the decision has been made for the school to meet in person when school starts up in August. Abby will be joining her big brother since somehow time has flown and she is entering kindergarten. Being closer to the school will make it much easier for Iris. Russell will continue to drive to the property for work each day.

Allen and Trish already had a house under construction. Don’t look for it to be completed for at least a year, though. Since Kirstin has been living in a room behind the office that was really meant to be for storage, Trish and Allen decided to make an extra move by settling into Russell and Iris’s old house until the new house is finished. That will free up their 800 square foot home for Kirstin. The small home will feel palatial to Kirstin after living in a room never intended to be a permanent residence. She can enjoy the little luxuries like a kitchen sink and a non-public bathroom!

The view from the property - the reason Trish (and Allen) chose this location!!

Trish is currently moving in the same way you might carry in a load from Costco–one armload at a time! She’s literally walking the contents of her kitchen and bookshelves over to the other home. Rachel and Kirstin are helping when they have some available time. When Rachel is there, they load up the armload-size stacks into her SUV and drive a few yards to the other house. Trish said it’s amazing how much easier that makes things.

The house currently under construction

It is estimated that Trish and Allen will be completely out of the smaller home in a couple of weeks.

The view from the back porch of 
the home currently under
Trish is grateful that the weather has been mild for the end of the dry season. Normally, this time of year is known for very hot temperatures, but it has been staying in the high 80s. That still means it’s hot in the homes, since they don’t have AC, but it’s not as unpleasant as it has been in past years. There are four more days until it is officially the end of the dry season. Then the rains will come. With any luck, everyone will be all settled in time for this year’s flying termite infestation!

- posted by Christi

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Gringos for Sowers

Lots of teams visit Honduras to work with Sowers4Pastors. Each one is a welcomed blessing, but one team arrives with a different focus. They call themselves Gringos for Sowers and they make it their mission to bless the Sowers family. Their annual visit was last week. It was highly anticipated and greatly appreciated, as you might expect. 

The team is generally made up of people from Lighthouse Church, but it isn’t an official Lighthouse team. They also do a project for the ministry. This year, they started off by putting up two playgrounds at two of the schools in the Crucitas area, which is Lighthouse’s sister church program. The work began before they even arrived since they also raised the money needed to purchase the playground equipment. Then, under the guidance of their team leader, Rob, they turned their focus to the Sowers family. (Check out this cool video by the very awesome Quito, which shows some pretty neat drone shots of one of the playground's locations: here.)

In past years, the team has done things like helping out with electrical work and painting. This year, one of their projects was especially appreciated by Trish.

When Allen and Trish first moved to Honduras from the States, they purchased a shipping container to use for storage. Since they were coming down to be construction missionaries, they filled the container with a lot of tools, construction supplies, and stuff for their family. The container was moved to the island of Guanaja, where the family lived for five years. For those five years, it sat on the sand and oxidized from the salt water. Its time on the beach did nothing to enhance its beauty! 

This photo often gets cropped so the
container isn't in the shot

When the family moved to Gracias, the container joined them. When they bought their current property, the container came along to serve as lockable storage. The container was old and used when they bought it in the first place. Trish, who is known for finding the best in all things, gave her official statement about the container. She said, “The nicest thing I can say is that it’s an eyesore.” (Which should not be confused with saying it’s a sight for sore eyes!)

The container was plopped down in the middle of the property, providing Trish with a less-than-picturesque view. It was about 25-feet from Allen and Trish’s house. When you drove onto the property, it was the first thing you saw. Trish’s adjectives of choice to describe the container were “rusted” and “nasty.” Kirstin liked to say it made the farm look like a redneck's playground crossed with a junk yard.... not that the Sowers aren't basically rednecks themselves, but the woman folk might not appreciate that the homestead might resemble that description.

During their recent visit, Gringos for Sowers did something about it. They moved it! It is still rusted (though slightly less nasty), but it has been moved! One might get the feeling that Trish doesn’t really care what it looks like as long as she doesn’t have to look at it.

The team unloaded the contents of the container. And with the help of Russell and his crew, they turned it on its side. Then the team welded new floor beams in place.  Allen said, “The rest was in good shape, but the floor had the most corrosion from sitting on the beach.” He may have said more, but it was difficult to hear over Trish’s hysterical laughter when he said the rest was in good shape. 

Trish explained that the container became a sort of hot spot for junk. If you needed to store a coil of cable, you might just set it beside the container. Once the team finished repairs, they moved the container with the assistance of rollers and a skid loader. Now the whole area looks a lot less like a redneck playground crossed with a junk yard!

The container, tucked out of sight 
behind the bodega and being 
loaded again.
The team also did electrical wiring in the new house being built on the property. And they did work in the storage areas. Trish said, “It’s kind of nice to have a team that asks, ‘What can we do to make your life better?’” There’s no question that she means that!

- posted by Christi

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Double the Donation!

If you know Allen, you know that few things get his heart pumping as much as the promise of a matching funds challenge. He jumps at the chance to amplify assets, duplicate dough, enlarge earnings, and multiply ministry moolah. And he’s hoping you will, too, because a group has stepped up and offered to match up to $10,000 of funds designated to this year's Backpack Project. That’s right! Now’s your chance to grow your donation greenbacks.

This matching funds challenge couldn’t have come at a better time. The price of renting Pensky trucks for the backpack collection trip has doubled in price. The diesel fuel needed to get the trucks rolling has also gone up dramatically. Container costs were up by 50% last year and are expected to keep climbing. Even the price of the backpacks themselves is increasing. Plus, the cute backpacks are getting harder to find. If Sowers4Pastors can max out the matching funds offer, there will be $20,000 to offset the costs!

Sowers4Pastors also recognizes that it’s going to be more expensive for individuals to fill their own backpacks this year. This matching funds opportunity can help stretch resources and it gives everyone a chance to make a big impact. Now that kids are back at school in person, it has never been more important to have enough backpacks to go around. 

Unfortunately, some families got used to having their children out of school for the previous two years. A lot of parents are saying, “He's a big help on the farm now.” A lot of mothers have decided their eleven and twelve-year-old daughters are useful to have around the house. We all need to work together to get those kids back in school. Sowers4Pastors is doing what it can to persuade families to let their kids continue their education. A backpack filled with school supplies is sometimes all that is required to tip the scale in favor of school.

Anyone interested in donating can do so by going to the Sowers4Pastors website donation page and clicking on the
Backpack Project donation category. How often do you have the chance to compound your cash, boost your bucks, propagate a payment, and proliferate a present? Go on. You know you want to!

- posted by Christi

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Rah, Rah, Sis, Boom, Bah, Go Sponsorships!

There’s a reason cheerleaders are notoriously peppy. If you want to get people excited about something, put excited people in charge of spreading the word. Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida did that when it formed a small core group of 8-10 people in charge of getting people excited about its sister church program in Honduras. They are getting ready to use their excitement in the church’s upcoming sponsorship push. Rah, Rah, Sis, Boom, Bah, Go Sponsorships!

Tiffany Richardson recently shared what EAC is doing to promote child sponsorships. Basically, it’s a matter of going big or going home and it is not in the core group’s nature to go home. For the entire month of May, the church lobby will be decorated to look like Honduras. Core group member, Kimberly Newell, designed and painted pallets to display the profile pictures of children available for sponsorship. The group has also reached out to people who have visited Honduras in the past to request items like pictures, clay pots, blankets, and other souvenirs. The idea is to show people what teams get to experience when they’re on the ground. The core group will also have backpacks filled with supplies sitting out so they can explain about the backpack drive that will begin in mid-summer.

Why the big push? Michelle Mercer and Mike Martin, program coordinators for EAC's sister church program, decided to up their sponsorship game by adding students from a fifth school to their existing sister church program. That amounts to about fifty new students. For the past two or three years, EAC has been proud of having 100% of their children sponsored. So now they are going even bigger! As of this posting, they already have more than half of the new kids sponsored!!

Tiffany shared, “That’s the point of the sponsorship push. We may not have decorated the whole lobby before, but we have always made it a point to focus on profiles. We are taking it up a notch. By creating a space that is visually available, people can’t help but wonder what is going on. We have two services every Sunday, plus other activities throughout the week. This exposes so much of the ministry to our church. By doing this, we have been able to get full sponsorship in the past.”

Other churches are encouraged to create this level of excitement and set aside a time for the church to have the opportunity to see the kids available for sponsorship. Tiffany said, “Just mentioning it or showing a video here or there doesn’t have the same impact.” Then she laughed and said, “If you give me Honduras, I will talk all day.” That’s why she might be considered the head cheerleader of the group.

Did we happen to mention that this
year S4P passed out Bibles to the 
kids? They do that every three years.
Perfect timing for the new kids being 
added to the Guacutao program!
You may remember that EAC recently faced the passing of Ray Negron while visiting Honduras. Ray was an integral part of the core group tasked with working on sponsorships and backpacks. Tiffany said, “It didn’t matter what the ministry needed, he was available. He was a vital part of the team, and we are feeling his loss.” What better way to pay tribute to him than by expanding the cause that was near and dear to his heart.

- posted by Christi

Monday, May 2, 2022

Medical Team: The Next Best Thing to Housecalls

While they’re not quite making housecalls, a medical team from the U.S. has gone out of their way to provide healthcare in four communities near Gracias. Monica was one of the thirteen team members in the group, which was made up of people from Washington State, S. Dakota, Texas, Massachusetts, and Colorado. She was able to share how things went on their trip.

The team provided medical exams for the children in the Mercedes, Tablon, Betania, and Quelacasque sponsorship programs. That would have been a huge undertaking in itself, but they also opened it up to other people in those communities. Monica said there aren’t even words to adequately explain the experience. The team saw everyone from a 24-day-old baby to a 79-year-old adult. Even though this is something Monica has dreamed of doing for years, she said, “I’m continually surprised.”

The mobile unit was made up of a vision station, vital sign station, doctor station, and a pharmacy station. The pharmacy was overseen by a registered nurse who educated people on how to use prescribed eye drops, how to use an inhaler, and the proper way to apply creams.

When the team began, it took about 1.5 hours to set up. They were essentially working out of suitcases and bags. By the third day of operation, they were able to set up in about a half hour. They also have to bring in tables and rearrange chairs. Monica expressed her gratitude to the translators who also helped them set up the tables.

The team brought all of the essentials and then some. For the past four months, the team had been putting out the word about their trip. They had donations to cover the costs of medications, otoscope kits, laceration repair kits, staple kits, bandages, and antibiotics. They even arrived with a sonogram machine to let women hear their baby’s heartbeat for the first time. Monica laughed and said, “I feel we get as excited as they do!”

The main focus for the sponsorship kids was to provide deworming treatment and a couple of months of vitamins. Each child came through the line with a paper containing their name and sponsorship number (if in the Manna program - they also saw some kids from the Well's neighboring program). The deworming medicine was dispensed at the table. The vitamins were given out along with instructions written in Spanish. Then the child’s information sheet received a check mark to show they got their vitamins and deworming.

The team was made up of one doctor, three physician assistants, two RNs, one paramedic, one EMT, two medical assistants, and three non-medical people. These also received some assistance from two local doctors who gave their time to help out during the week. Those without medical training did visual acuity tests and helped to dispense vitamins. Each person had a job to do.

Because of COVID, it has been difficult to keep up on the sponsored children's health. This is a side of the sponsorship program that people often forget about, but it is vital to the overall health of the children, and the goal is to ramp it back up now that COVID is less of a threat. Hopefully, more medical teams like this one can happen in the near future. In the words of Monica, “It has been tremendous!”

-posted by Christi

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Setting Sponsorship Sights on 100% and Beyond

Have you heard about shrinkflation? Even if you haven’t heard of it, you’ve seen it. It’s what happens when companies conceal higher prices by creating new packaging that contains less of whatever product they’re selling. Less cake mix per box. Smaller cans of vegetables. Lighter rolls of paper towels. It’s a tricky business for the customer because you may not always realize that your dollar isn’t going as far as it used to. Sowers4Pastors is not a business. It’s a mission organization. And they strive to always, always be open and aboveboard. Sometimes that means they have to give you news they’d rather not give.

When the sponsorship program first started, Sowers4Pastors was able to say that one sponsorship fed an extra fifty unsponsored kids. As prices have increased, the number of additional kids being fed through each sponsorship has decreased. Unsponsored children are still being fed, but it’s more challenging to find the financial resources to do so. That means that finding sponsors for children is more vital than ever before.

Fortunately, places like Edgewater Alliance Church in Edgewater, Florida are stepping up their game. Through its sister church program, Edgewater Alliance has been sponsoring around 300 children. For the past year or so, the kids in their program have been almost consistently 100% sponsored. That means that if a sponsor leaves the program, their child is quickly picked up by another sponsor.

At registration time, there are always some kids who leave the program and some who join. This year, there was a net gain. Pastor Lorenzo, who runs the Honduran side of the sister church program for Guacutao and EAC, mentioned that there’s a small community not too far from his home that he would like to include in the program. That’s how it works. Kids are often brought in from surrounding communities as the pastors see the need. This particular community is only about a mile down the road from Guacutao.

Sowers4Pastors took the request to Edgewater Alliance. At first, the church wasn’t sure it could take on fifty additional kids. After all, all would happen if they couldn’t remain at 100% sponsorship. Isn’t that the goal? Well, not exactly. Trish was able to explain that having 100% of the kids sponsored is fabulous. But if you set your goal for 100% while failing to set your sights higher, then you don’t achieve as much. Trish compared it to a student who wants to have a 4.0 GPA so badly that they refuse to take challenging classes. 

Edgewater Alliance is having a big kickoff for the program in a few weeks. They have decided to take on the challenge of seeking sponsors for fifty additional children. It is truly a win/win situation. Remember that every child will receive a backpack and attend school even if they aren’t sponsored. And every one of the additional children to be sponsored will help cover the cost of any unsponsored kids. Sowers4Pastors wants to thank EAC for expanding!

It’s also time to do a shoutout to Lighthouse Church in Maryland. They had their big program kickoff for three consecutive Sundays. The sponsorship program was mentioned from the pulpit and they had a table set up with pictures of available children. Although it is not the goal, per say, it is exciting to see their sister church program is at 100% sponsorship!

-posted by Christi

Monday, April 18, 2022

Nice Little Vacation

At the end of March, the Sowers family had a little adventure–the good kind of adventure, not the kidnappy kind. Boo was able to visit Honduras for about ten days, so Allen and Trish took full advantage of having four of their children and six grandchildren present (including Boo’s bun in the oven). The family took a four-day trip to a place Allen described as “a farm meets a wooded camping area meets a lake.” It was a great place to take a break after the busy team season and everything else that’s going on.

When the family arrived at the camp ground, the first thing they saw was a fountain made especially for water buffaloes to enjoy. Also, water buffaloes in the water fountain. Allen is pretty sure that there aren’t a lot of water buffaloes sitting in the middle of fountains in the States. The man who runs the site has a love of old cars and tractors and has decorated them by using the rusted out shells as planters for flowers.

The adults got to relax a bit while watching the grandchildren spend a lot of time swimming in weather that was slightly cooler than ideal swimming conditions. (Considering this is the hot/dry season in Honduras, the family agreed this was a very nice alternative.) The family also enjoyed pony rides (presumably just the grandchildren), kayaking, and a trolley ride. Oh, and there was a rodeo. (For the sake of authenticity, please read rodeo with the Spanish pronunciation, rroh-deh-oh!)

The cabins where they stayed were nice, although maybe not up to US standards concerning the level of repair - only one cabin had hot water, while the rest had tepid (missionaries don't complain about tepid water, though). Aunt Boo had packed a lot of craft supplies and the kids spent time painting and assembling wooden projects. RJ made a boat, Nathan made a car, and Abby made an adorable little pink-roofed house. The babies were held almost constantly and got passed around from one adult to another.

And there were donkeys and ponies to pet! Lots and lots of them! The donkeys had free reign of the place and were allowed to roam freely, even around the pool area. The animals were all well behaved and there was no fear of them biting a child. There were also massive horses for the rodeo. (Spanish accent, please!) The dressage horses performed their fancy footwork for the guests' entertainment. There were only about 100 people at the rodeo, so each attendee was able to pet the horses through the fence after they finished prancing. (That is to say, after the horses finished prancing. Attendees were not required to prance.)

The family also went to a zoo and saw big cats (including two white tigers), ostriches, foxes, a giraffe, hippos, and more monkeys than you could shake a banana at. There were also lots of tropical birds, including peacocks, macaws, and parrots. The grandchildren each got $1.50 worth of lettuce, carrots, and corn to feed to the lettuce, carrot, and corn-eating animals. It was the best trip the family had ever had to the zoo. Even though it’s officially the hot/dry season, the weather was cool and overcast. It even sprinkled just a bit - Brandy and Rachel had taken their boys to this zoo before, and noted that it has been melt-your-socks-off hot other times, but very pleasant this time.

Allen did sneak in a trip to the Bible Bookstore, since it was nearby. He picked up a truckload of Bibles from the Mennonite-run store. Aside from that relatively quick errand, the rest of Thursday-Sunday was spent making family memories. 

It was a fun and relaxing getaway–something that was well-deserved and very much enjoyed!!

- posted by Christi