Friday, November 26, 2021

The Crown

We are not talking about this kind of crown

This post should fall under the “Things You May Not Consider Concerning Life in Honduras” category. You are probably well aware that living in Honduras means there’s not a Starbucks on every corner nor convenience foods in the fridges. You may not consider the fact that if something goes wrong, there’s no one to call to take care of it. 

For example, the Sowers4Pastors water system pipes water from a river that’s five miles away. If something happens to one of those pipes, the repair falls on them. The same is true for the solar energy grid that provides them with electricity. They are always in a state of maintaining, troubleshooting, and thinking about what parts they may need in the future. (There’s not a Home Depot/Lowe’s on every corner, either!) Today, we’re going to talk about the difficult road of taking care of roads. But first, let’s learn some fun facts about roads and stuff to get in the zone.

Some Fun Facts About Roads and Stuff: 

  • Ancient Roman roads are still visible all across Europe. Some of them still have their original cobbles. 

  • Construction of the Appian Way began in 312 BC and the road covers a distance of 350 miles. 

  • Ancient Romans did not construct any roads in Honduras.

  • The road leading to the Sowers’ property runs for one mile in one direction and two miles in the other direction.

  • The driveway leading up to the Sowers’ homes is about 600 feet long. Ancient Romans didn’t build that either.

  • One reason those ancient Romans had it going on when it came to road construction was because they understood the importance of making the center of the road a little higher than the sides. That allows the water to run off quickly instead of pooling in the road and causing it to erode. 

  • That intentional sloping of a road is known as a “crown.”

  • The Crown is available for streaming on Netflix, but it has nothing to do with roads.

  • Allen is a big fan of crowns on roads. There is no word about his feelings toward The Crown.

Now that you know all of those fun facts, we can talk more about the Sowers’ roads. Like so many roads not built by ancient Romans, they had fallen into disrepair. They were still fine for hearty pickups to pass, but smaller SUVs were running the risk of being swallowed by SUV-eating potholes. Life in a developing country means that no government entity is going to swoop in and take care of smaller roads. And those ancient Romans are long gone. Soooo… The issue of maintaining their roads falls squarely on the shoulders of Sowers4Pastors. 

A month or so back, they sent the work crew from the farm out to work on several spots that were almost impassable. They went out with shovels and picks to work on some of the aforementioned SUV-eating potholes. This week, they have a full-fledged road grader out. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Rainy season has ended and the dry season is just beginning. That means the road will last the maximum amount of time before the potholes take over again. It was quite the coup to get the road grader at this time. Elections are coming up and it’s a time when politicians want to spruce up the more visible areas.

Two days prior to the road grader coming out with his equipment, the farm’s work crew went out with machetes to widen the path by getting grass and brush out of the way. This is part of the grading process to allow a ditch to be dug on the sides of the road to give rain a place to go. The removal of plant matter is also important because you don’t want it to mix with the road material. If that happens, it leaves potholes when the plants rot.

Allen should probably be wearing an ancient Roman toga because his primary objective is to oversee the grader and make sure that he makes a nice high crown. There is a tendency for road graders in Honduras to pride themselves on making an almost flat road. Allen is wanting a crown suitable for the road to wear to a coronation. A flat road looks nice until the first heavy rains. A nice, high crown is always in style!

- posted by Christi

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Gather 'round the Thanksgiving Table

It’s time for us to all join hands around the Thanksgiving table and list the things we’re most thankful for in our lives. You can take a moment to think of your own answer because Sowers4Pastors is going first. The ministry has much to be thankful for this year, so we apologize if the mashed potatoes get a little cold before we make it all the way around the table.

While talking about God’s provision in the work the ministry has been doing, Allen and Trish discussed the three categories of ways people help Sowers4Pastors. The categories are: prayers, donations, and hands-on work. As you might imagine, there’s a lot of overlap in those categories.

The work the ministry does would not be nearly as effective without the prayers of its supporters. Your prayers have helped move mountains!

Your generous donations have made it possible to put roofs on churches, provide motorcycles for pastors, put Bibles into the hands of people in Western Honduras, and distribute food to children. 

For all of you hands-on people, thank you. If you filled backpacks, helped load containers, or worked with a mission team, that means you! Thank you to the people who made the Pastors Training School conference a reality. Thank you to the many indigenous pastors who continue to work tirelessly to get supplies to the people and spread the Gospel. COVID restrictions meant a lot of extra work for the pastors, but they did whatever it took to help people. 

This is also a good time to point out more opportunities to get involved through prayer, donations, and/or in a hands-on way. The Maryland container is on its way. Please pray that the Florida container will soon join it. There was a shipping snafu and the trucking company hired to move the container to the port didn’t arrive. The container literally missed the boat. The shipping agent has been working to remedy the situation and a truck is supposed to pick up the container on Wednesday, November 24. If all goes well, it should ship on the 28th. Let’s bathe this container in prayer. Between dealing with customs, the upcoming Honduran election, and the added hassle of COVID, there are a lot of potential ways things could go wrong.

*UPDATE - this afternoon the truck came to pick up the Florida container! Although there were a couple of hours when the truck and trailer were stuck in the mud, that's all been resolved and we can officially announce that both containers of backpacks are traveling toward Honduras right now! Thanks so much for all of your prayers for this, and please do keep praying!

Please also pray that a container will be found to transport the generous donation of food in Minnesota. Everything is just sitting there waiting for a container and a truck to deliver it to the train that will take it to the port for shipment. This is also an opportunity for people to donate to the cost of shipping the container. As you know, shipping costs have soared by 30% over last year. 

Sowers4Pastors wishes you all the very happiest of Thanksgivings. At the time of our phone call, Trish was getting ready to kick it into gear for Thanksgiving dinner meal prep. Allen and Trish said there will be about 22 people around their table (not counting the babies). Trish is feeling very thankful that Russell just bought a new range to replace Iris’s old one. Even though the old one isn’t in tip-top shape, it hasn’t been moved out of the house yet. Trish is planning to fill each range with a turkey and use her oven for cooking the sides. 

Now, it’s your turn. Please share what you are thankful for in the comments!

 - posted by Christi

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

The Giblet Gravy Post

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, it’s the perfect time for a post filled with giblets of information. It’s filled with a variety of things that aren’t as big and flashy as the drumstick, but they’re too important to throw out. So, let’s make some blog post gravy with them. 

Sprinkle in Some Hellos and Goodbyes

Kelsea will be leaving in a week, and that calls for a sendoff party. Her presence and energy will be missed. Everyone at Sowers4Pastors is thankful for the time she has dedicated to their ministry. All the best, Kelsea! 

In the meantime, the Sowers are expecting some company. The Emberson family from The Well in Kansas are flying in to spend Thanksgiving with the Sowers for some time of fellowship before ferrying off for some R&R on Roatan. 

Add a Heaping Suitcase of Letters

Kirstin is heading to the U.S. to spend Thanksgiving with Stateside relatives. She will be traveling with a suitcase filled with letters from sponsored children. A lot of effort has gone into getting as many letters as possible. The task was more difficult because schools are not in session. Sponsors, be on the lookout for your letters, but please understand if you don’t receive a letter from a child. 

Slowly Add Coffee and Simmer

The coffee harvest is in full swing. With the first small harvest out of the way, it’s time to get down to business with the larger harvests. Unfortunately, the weather is a bit rainy. That’s not good since the coffee is dried in the sun on concrete slabs. Without sun, the farm workers have to work extra hard to keep the coffee from mildewing. Please pray for some sunny weather! 

Pour in Two Containers of Backpacks

We do have a praise to report: the Florida and Maryland containers are both loaded and ready to be shipped. Please pray that there won’t be any issues with shipping and delivery. The Honduran elections are scheduled for November 28. This is a particularly heated election. If there is active rioting, the containers will not be released from port when they arrive in Honduras. In that event, Sowers4Pastors will have to pay storage fees. They would love to receive the backpacks sooner rather than later, plus they hope to avoid additional expenses.

Also, pray for elections to go smoothly and in a way that will be seen as positive, for the benefit of the Honduran people. 

Fold in One Additional Container Filled with Food

The people who provide food for the feeding centers have donated enough food to fill an entire container. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of actual shipping containers. Please pray that a container will be located so the food can get to Honduras quickly. Please consider donating to the cost of shipping this container. With shipping costs up by more than 30% over last year, it will cost more than $10,000. Considering this is only 3 cents a meal, that is still a bargain, by the way!

While Waiting for Everything Else, Prep for Backpacks

The time spent waiting for the containers to arrive is being put to good use. The school supplies and hygiene items left over from last year have been pulled out. School supply and toiletry kits are being assembled. This time is also being used to organize the storage area, in preparation of this year’s backpack bounty.

Pray Without Ceasing

As Allen shared, Sowers4Pastors is “really attacking the devil’s strongholds. As a result, he is attacking us back. We’re feeling an ongoing spiritual warfare. He’s attacking us with things we don’t expect.” Please join the battle in prayer. And thank you from S4P to everyone who partners with them in this way!

-posted by Christi

Friday, November 12, 2021

Backpack Time Just Goes On and On

What do backpack collection and distribution have in common with “The Song that Doesn’t End” by Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop? Well, they just go on and on, my friend! Sowers4Pastors is in an almost constant state of planning/organizing, collecting, or distributing backpacks.

The container that will be coming from MD is ready for loading

Allen and Russell are back in Honduras following the U.S. backpack collection trip. Kirstin and Trish had returned home earlier. As always, they have all hit the ground running. Before we go into all of that, let’s do a little backtracking to talk about the final days of “backpacking.”

Allen and Russell made a run from Maryland to Florida, where they dropped off a Penske. They then flew to Texas. Along the way, there were a couple of speaking engagements. They picked up the backpacks in Texas and returned to Florida. All of the boxes of backpacks were readied for shipping and left in the capable hands of the people who will be shipping the containers.

Roxy takes her security
job very seriously.
She guards the 
Richardson's home in FL,
where the FL container
will ship from. 
Back in Honduras, Allen, Russell, and Trish have been busily talking about shipping times and prices with the powers that be. The cost is currently projected to be about $2000 more per container than last year. Honduran elections are scheduled to take place in the next two weeks. Election time can cause some disruption. The rising cost of shipping as also made it hard to even get a container. But praise God! The containers have finally arrived in MD and FL for loading. And thank you to all the volunteers who are helping load these containers!!

Every few years, Sowers4Pastors also distributes new Bibles along with the backpacks. This is a Bible year. Seattle4Lempira’s areas have already received their Bibles. While you’re adding things to your prayer list, you can also pray that there won’t be a delay in receiving the remaining shipments.Although this isn’t quite backpack related, it does directly concern backpack recipients and child sponsors. It’s the end of the school year in Honduras, so there are a lot of added things on the calendar. The ministry is hosting dinners for the students involved with teen programs. And while Russell, Allen, Kirstin, and Trish were in the States, the Honduran office staff visited the sister church locations. Kim and Jonathan Hall visited each of the Manna 4 Lempira locations. The purpose of these visits was to encourage the children to write letters to their sponsors. This was a lofty goal since some schools are still not in full session due to COVID. It was difficult for teachers to collect the letters. While no one can make any promises, the hope is to have letters ready to mail out for Christmas.

Please pray with us that the containers will get loaded and shipped and arrive safely in the Sowers' warehouse without difficulty. Every container, there are concerns that Honduran customs will cause delays. This year, there are the added problems with supply line disruptions and with the Honduran elections. As always, your prayer support means a lot to the crew at S4P!

What will happen when the backpacks and Bibles are safely in the hands of the children? Well, it’s almost certain that Allen, Trish, Russell, Kirstin, Kim, and Jonathan will begin planning for the following year. It just goes on and on, my friend.
Girl in the Seattle4Lempira
program showing off her new
Bible storybook

- posted by Christi

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Bibles and Backpacks

In order to get into the mood for today’s post, we’re going to begin with a sing-along. Join in. You know you want to!

The B-I-B-L-E!
Yes, that’s the book for me.
I stand alone on the Word of God.
The B-I-B-L-E!

Once every three years, backpack & shoe delivery day becomes even more special with the addition of a new Bible for each child. How many Bibles is that? Well, as Allen said, “We’re knocking on the door of 5000.” That is a very big door.

Some of the Bibles have already arrived and they’re just waiting to be put into the hands of children, but more will be needed. Kids in Pre-K-3rd grade will receive beautiful storybook Bibles, just right for beginning readers. 4th graders and up will receive a paperback Bible. These are what you might think of as outreach Bibles.

Because the cost of Spanish books is consistently about twice as expensive as books written in English, it is an extra-blessing that Sowers4Pastors is able to purchase books in bulk through a Mennonite group that works in Honduras. The fact that they are purchased in-country simplifies things, too. With no shipping hassles, Allen is able to purchase the books for $3.5 per storybook and just under $2 for the older kids’ Bibles, plus the bookstore very kindly donated a couple of boxes that others had donated to them. Thanks, 
Librería Luz Cristiana!

Handing out Bibles fits perfectly with the mission of feeding children spiritually, as well as physically. One of the benefits of sending children to school is that they can read the Bible. Some of the children will graduate and move into a variety of careers. In truth, most will not graduate and will, by choice or because of life circumstances, stay close to home. They will serve their communities as farmers and laborers. Regardless of how much formal education a child receives, once that child can read, a whole new world of reading for spiritual growth and for pleasure has been unlocked. Forever.

Sowers4Pastors is looking for people to partner with them in giving free Bibles to children. Think about it. It only takes a couple of dollars to put a Bible into the hands of a child. An old tip I picked up when selling Campfire Girl candy each year was to say, “How many boxes should I put you down for?” Sowers4Pastors rarely goes for the hard sell, but… How many children should we put you down for?

-posted by Christi

Monday, November 8, 2021

Prayers and Praises for Now and Later

Looking ahead, 2022 promises to be a busy year for Sowers4Pastors. There are already 20 teams lined up to visit! The visits will begin early in the year as teams arrive to help with backpack distribution. Allen and Trish are requesting prayers for everyone’s strength and stamina, and for the ministry as a whole. But before 2022 gets here, there’s still plenty more to pray about in 2021!

Michael is blissfully unaware of all the 
hustle and bustle
You may recall that Kirstin went to Tegucigalpa to help Rachel pack for her family’s upcoming move to a new home a few weeks ago. She was able to help out a lot and also got to be there to assist Rachel following the birth of Michael. Everything was all set when Brandy and Rachel discovered that the home they were supposed to move into has severe issues with water. They would have had to purchase huge tanks of water and the ongoing expense would have been exorbitant. Mercifully, this was discovered shortly before they signed the contract.

Brandy and Rachel found another house that should work well for them. It is smaller, but they are looking to separate their ministry space from their family’s living quarters. For now, they will be able to house the girls currently staying with them. Kirstin returned to Tecucigalpa to assist with the actual move this past weekend. Praise God it went well!

Just as the staff from the States got ready to head back to Honduras following the backpack collection trip, the coffee harvest started. That means a lot of extra activity and workers on the farm. In case this is your first exposure to what goes into a coffee harvest, you should probably know that there are actually several harvests in one coffee season. It’s not a one and done situation.

Returning home after an extended absence means that Allen and Russell each have extra-long to-do lists. Besides Russell’s oversight of the coffee farm, there are all of the other ongoing things to handle. A lot of pastors had requests while Allen and Russell were gone and Allen is lining up meetings with pastors requesting church roofs and other needs.

Recently, the year’s second pastor’s training school/conference was held. All of the attendees are enrolled in pastor’s training school. In a regular year, two gatherings wouldn’t sound like much. Coming out of COVID restrictions, it sounds miraculous. Clay Powell returned with a small team to Honduras to oversee the school for the week’s classes.

Stay tuned to hear more about backpacks, teams, coffee, empowering pastors, and family! And, as always, your ongoing prayers are very much appreciated!

-posted by Christi

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Right Time for Motorcycles

Never underestimate the importance of good timing. Timing matters in baking, comedy, baseball, and the Sowers4Pastors motorcycle ministry. When it comes to the motorcycle ministry, there has never been a better time to join the cause. That’s because there is currently a matching fund offer on the table. Why are motorcycles so important to pastors? Thank you for asking. 

Close your eyes and imagine that you are a pastor in Western Honduras. (Oops! Open your eyes because you will never be able to read the rest of this post with your eyes closed.) As with most pastors of rural congregations in Honduras, you have no automated means of transportation. If you want to go somewhere, you walk. You recently started planting a church that’s about five miles down the road from you. Occasionally, you’re able to catch a ride in the back of a pickup truck to visit the new church, but usually you hoof it. 

Now, with your eyes open, imagine that someone helps you purchase a motorcycle. The motorcycle means that you are able to care for your first church and the church plant much more efficiently. You feel like you have gained many hours in your week. In fact, you have so much “free time” that you’ve decided to plant another church that will be five miles away in the opposite direction. This scenario really does play out time and again.

To date, Sowers4Pastors and its supporters have helped 334 pastors purchase motorcycles. The motorcycle ministry pays $1000 toward the purchase of each motorcycle, with individual pastors paying the remaining purchase price. If you’ve been paying attention to previous discussions, you know that there are several reasons pastors are expected to contribute. 

Here are a few such reasons: 

  •  It shows that a pastor is serious about obtaining a motorcycle.
  •  It prevents pastors from developing the mentality of sitting back and waiting for someone else to take care of them financially. 
  • It demonstrates a pastor’s ability to be able to maintain a motorcycle and purchase gas.

A ministry donation of $1000 comes out to about 2 cents per mile over the lifetime of a motorcycle. Now, with the matching funds being offered, a donation toward the motorcycle ministry will help a pastor go down the road for a penny a mile. There has never been a better time to donate. Motorcycle prices are supposed to jump $200 next month. By next year, it is not unreasonable to assume that each motorcycle could cost $400 more. Timing may not be everything, but it certainly is something to consider! 

 - posted by Christi