Sunday, August 31, 2008

Still waiting

This afternoon, we are supposed to visit the house that is available for us to rent, and see if it will work for our family. Dr Julio has returned from Tegucigalpa, with the keys to the house, and yesterday he spoke with Allen, about seeing the house sometime today.

Today, however, we are unable to reach him by phone, and he hasn't called us to set up a time for a visit. It isn't unlikely that he will call any moment (it's 3:30pm), and say he wants to meet immediately. But the afternoon is swiftly passing, and I'm starting to wonder if he's forgotten us.

Hopefully he'll call soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A Historical Survey of Trish's Kitchens in Honduras

I showed a few pictures of my lovely (though small) kitchen in our current rental house to some friends who live in the states, and they commented that my kitchen was much nicer than they'd expected. This got me thinking about all the different kitchens I've had in Honduras. I don't have pictures of all of them (we've lived in 5 different houses in almost 8 years, and we're just about to move to house number 6), but I do have a few examples.

These first two pictures show our second house in Honduras (I don't seem to have any pictures of our first house), back when we lived on the island of Guanaja. It was a tiny house; as you can see, the kitchen, dining room, and living room are all one room. But it was a pretty nice kitchen, in terms of having enough counter space, and having actual, built-in cabinets.

Our final year living on the island, we lived in a building which had been built for a community center. The building had two stories, and the upstairs was intended for future expansion and classrooms. While we lived upstairs, we continued to run youth programs downstairs. Because we knew we'd just be there for a year, we put in the minimum necessities - one full bath, and a kitchen sink. All things considered, we managed to make it pretty comfortable. This was our roughest ever kitchen, but the views out the windows were unbeatable!

I don't have many pictures of our first kitchen in Gracias. It was an interesting kitchen, as it was in a fairly nice house, but it had no storage at all, very little counter space, and not enough floor space for both a refrigerator and stove. There was an island counter, built on top of a solid concrete half-wall (you can see David making cookies on the island), and another bit of counter near the sink (where Boo is making tamales). Fortunately, we still had all of our wire shelving from our previous kitchen, and we were able to make do. The space you can see behind David was really intended to be a dining area. Since we couldn't actually fit the entire family around a table in that space, and we couldn't fit the appliances into the half of the room intended for the kitchen, we just used both parts as the kitchen, and ate while sitting in the living room. We lived in that house for almost one year.

Finally, the pictures below show my current kitchen. Comparatively speaking, it's pretty nice, don't you think? This is also the first house where we've had a separate dining room.

This completes our tour of Trish's kitchens . . . for now. I wonder what the kitchen in house number 6 will look like . . .

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts on our upcoming move

The pile of packed boxes in my living room.

We are hoping that the rental house we will be viewing this weekend will work out for our family. It would be great if we could move this week, before the landlord starts getting annoyed with us for not having left yet.

If the new rental house is a really good fit, we probably won't be in as big a hurry to move out of that house and into the buildings on the property. If the house is clearly just a make-it-do solution, we'll be much more likely to go ahead and make the jump to living in our half completed buildings, as soon as they are closed in.

I'm a bit torn about this. On the one hand, it would be nice to find a comfortable house here in town, where we can live and work while the construction continues. On the other hand, we are all excited about moving out of town, and in spite of the lifestyle difficulties, my heart is ready to be out on the property.

Some of you are aware that about ten years ago our family lived, for two years, in a mobile home without electricity or indoor plumbing. We know how to do this, and it doesn't scare us, the way it might intimidate some people. We've talked as a family about the problems related to moving to the property soon, and we feel that the hardest adjustment we would have to make would be dealing with the lack of internet connection. With most of our communications coming and going by email, and Kirstin doing her schooling online, it would be hard to manage with just a few hours in an internet cafe every so often - not to mention the difficulty of keeping the blog updated!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Pray with me?

A few months ago, when I traveled through the eastern US with some of my kids, we had the opportunity to stay as guests in the homes of numerous people. Some of these were old friends from when we lived in Maryland, some were newer friends we have met through our ministry here in Honduras, and some were friends I'd never met; people I know through an internet forum for homeschoolers.

While in Connecticut, we stayed with one of these forum families. I had actually met the mom, Sandy, once before. She graciously invited us to stay with her, and she and her boys spent a day with us touring Mystic Seaport. Her sweet sons had a gift for David, since he couldn't come on the trip, and Sandy had (through reading my blog posts and things I'd written on the forum) compiled a list of foods we really like and miss, and she had filled her kitchen with special treats for our stay. Obviously we had a great time with Sandy and her family!

Shortly after our visit, Sandy was diagnosed with breast cancer, and yesterday she had her surgery. She started a blog, Hiking Up Hill, about her experiences since her diagnosis. Sandy has been handling this situation with great courage and humor, and it is humbling to read her upbeat posts. Her husband is doing an incredible job keeping the blog updated in addition to being a support for Sandy at the hospital, being a Dad, and just holding everything together.

Sandy, trying on her fun new wig, for use during chemo.

We're praying for Sandy here, and I'd love to recruit some additional prayers on her behalf, and for her family. During the surgery, it was found that the cancer had spread to Sandy's lymph nodes, which means that the surgery had to be more extensive than originally planned, and she will have more aggressive chemotherapy than originally thought.

Thanks so much for joining us in prayer for Sandy's healing.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

We have a lead on a house

Our good friend Dr Julio is using his connections to help us find a house to rent. Househunting is hard here, since there aren't any classified ads to check, or other organized methods of listing houses for rent or sale - and the photo above is misleading, as there are not many "for rent" signs to be seen, either.

Julio says there is a 4 bedroom house available, in a fairly nice neighborhood here in Gracias. The owner lives in the capital, and apparently no one in town has the key to the house. This week Julio is in Tegucigalpa, so he will pick up the key to the house and bring it back when he returns. Hopefully we will be able to see the house sometime this weekend.

Our housing needs aren't lavish, but they are a bit specific. We have to have security, a fenced yard for the dogs, and enough space for 8 people (although you might be surprised at how small a space we can survive in, if we have no choice). We really need space for storing and organizing the donations when we receive shipments - although if necessary, we will rent a second building for that.

Our current house, in spite of the problems with the leaky roof, has some unusual amenities, including nice built-in closets in the bedrooms, hot water from a hot water heater throughout the house (including the kitchen - amazing!), and kitchen cabinets! We have also been able to use the carport for storage of donations, which hasn't been ideal, but we've been able to make it work. We don't really expect to find any of those fabulous items in our next house. Of course, that means that if the house does have any of these amenities, we will consider ourselves abundantly blessed to have them!

While searching for a house for our family, Dr Julio has also been keeping an eye out for a house to rent for the Hayes family, who expect to be coming down to work with us in the next few months. He says he may have found something (smaller, as they don't have as large a family as we do, and won't be storing shipments) that will work for them. If so, we will go ahead and start renting that now, as obviously the finding of a house to rent in Gracias is not something to leave until the last moment!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Today, at our new home, we discovered . . .

Giant Grasshoppers!

Yes, these babies were 5 and 6 inches long! There were lots of them, flying about and eating the leaves of the trees. Interestingly, they came in a variety of colors. This orange one was especially photogenic, but there were also copper-brown grasshoppers, and yellow, and green. They were quite lovely, really . . . if you like giant grasshoppers.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The plan for the bodega

This is the bodega/warehouse we are building, in a photo taken this morning. This view is of what Allen calls the "front" of the building. This side of the building faces the rest of the buildings on the property. We have planned the building to look as if it was another house, rather than having the appearance of a large warehouse. So, this side of the building will have a front door and windows, and a long porch.

Once you enter through the door, however, you will have to go down a short set of steps, to reach floor level of the building. Inside you will find a large empty space, with high ceilings, to use as a warehouse.

The photo above shows the inside of the "front" door, and you can see how high it will be above floor level.

This photo shows what Allen calls the "back" of the bodega. Personally, I can't help thinking of this as the front. Since this is a garage type structure, seems to me the garage entrance is the "front." Oh well, happily our marriage is strong enough to hold up through disagreements such as this! ;-D

So, that's the bodega! We may live in part of this structure for a while, as we build our own house. That will be a time of "roughing it," but we're all looking forward to it, as we can't wait to actually live outside of town. This building isn't going to be ready soon enough to keep us from having to move into an interim rental house, but we hope to move out onto the property by the end of 2008.

A Visit to Trish's Roof

Having a flat roof can be very nice - and it can also be a royal pain in the neck! In the buildings we are constructing on our property, there will be no flat roofs. This might give you some idea about how our thoughts and feelings run on this subject!

Having a flat concrete roof in this part of the world guarantees that our house will retain heat like an oven. During the hot months of the year, there is no way to keep our house cool. In the evening, when the outside air is cooling, our house remains hot, as the heat absorbed into the concrete roof continues to affect the air inside the house. Additionally, flat roofs tend to leak. According to Allen, there is no such thing as a flat roof that doesn't leak. Our roof had a few leaks when we moved in two years ago, and more recently there hasn't been a room in the house without a leak!

The nice things about having a flat roof? Well, it's a wonderful place to hang laundry to dry. It can be a nice place to sit in the evenings, when the house is hot. We were not able to use this roof as living space, because the landlord had piles of construction materials stored up there, but the younger children enjoyed playing house up there. The dogs like to go up there, and bark down at passersby on the street. We like to think that helps convince potential thieves that ours is not a house to rob!

Here are a few pictures of our roof, as it appears today. The piles of lumber and other construction materials have been removed, the bodega/shack has been torn down, and the surface has been prepared for the application of a new layer of concrete.

For the past week, the workers have been opening up all of the cracks on the roof, in preparation for the repair job. It has been challenging to homeschool while people were banging with sledge hammers on concrete above our heads! Just in the most recent couple of days, the men have been attaching the grid of rebar, and spraying some blue substance over the concrete. This has involved a gentle tapping, which is a huge improvement over the banging. Soon, they'll be pouring a thin new layer of concrete.

By the way - we have not yet found a house to move into. I'm sure, once the workers have the roof repaired, they are going to want to start repairing the walls and ceilings inside, where there has been water damage. That means we really need to get out of this house! We're keeping on top of the packing, but we're still looking for a house. Hopefully we will find something soon.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Short Road Trip

Allen and I took a quick trip to San Pedro Sula yesterday. We had a bit of business to handle, and as always, we wanted to do some shopping while we were there. Certain items, including dog food and laundry soap, we can purchase at a warehouse store for less than the cost of those items here in Gracias. We then squander those savings by purchasing expensive American import items which cannot be found here.

It was an uneventful trip, by which we mean that we didn't have any major delays or car troubles. The drive is about 3 to 3.5 hours each way. We did experience:

  • driving through a herd of cattle
  • passing a serious 2 vehicle accident
  • driving through a severe thunderstorm at night
  • coming up too fast behind numerous vehicles with no rear lights or no brake lights
  • coming around a curve, in the dark, to find a large cow sleeping in the road in front of us
  • having to abort an attempt to pass a truck, because at the last minute we saw a vehicle in the oncoming lane, with no headlights. The vehicle was a police truck!

We're always so grateful when we've arrived home safely. Our thanks to those of you who remember to pray for our safety.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Construction Photos, taken yesterday

An overview of the warehouse/bodega building.

Here you can get an idea of how very tall these walls are!

Mortar being delivered to the top of the walls.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Time to start thinking about Christmas!!!!!

I know it seems early to be talking about Christmas, but in fact, we are behind schedule this year! Because of the time it takes to get shipments to us here in Honduras, we have to start collecting Christmas gifts in the summer. Last year, even with an early start, many of the donated gifts didn't arrive here until a few days after Christmas.

Here is an explanation of the Christmas gift project, taken from our website:

This will be our fourth year to distribute Christmas gifts in and around the city of Gracias, in the department of Lempira. This department is officially recognized by the Honduran government as the poorest area of Honduras. The recipients of the Christmas gifts will again be the pastors of the area churches, and their families, and also children in our nutrition centers, special needs program, and in the local hospital.

We hope that this will be an opportunity for you, as part of the Church, to reach out to your brothers and sisters in Christ. We are anticipating distributing around 2000 children’s boxes this year, and about 250 family boxes. This past year has been especially hard economically, around the world, and the poor here in Lempira didn’t have any non-essential items in their budgets before. They are in great need, and essential person and household items, and school supplies will be a major blessing and encouragement to them.

For the rest of the information on how you can take part in the "Gifts for Gracias" Project, just visit our website. It takes a lot of participants to gather 2000 gifts!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Construction Update - Bodega

We've hired a crew of local workers, and so, as you can see in the photo above, the masonry work on the bodega/warehouse is proceeding quickly. This picture was actually taken a few days ago . . . the walls are much more complete now than they show in the photo.

We have also purchased the lumber for the roofs. Purchasing lumber around here starts with making a deal . . . then the trees are cut, and the process of turning raw wood into usable lumber begins. Needless to say, this isn't quite as fast as running to Home Depot! But, our lumber is now cut, and is in the process of drying. Just a few more weeks, and we should be starting to see roofs on the bodega and the team house.

Friday, August 15, 2008

When we run out of energy . . .

Last night, some of the kids and I stayed up late. The kids were packing up books (this is a really big job, as we have a large collection of books) while I read aloud to them. We were in the middle of a murder mystery, so they were all willing to keep working, in order to listen to the conclusion of the story.

But even David, known to have almost boundless energy, reaches the end of his reserves eventually. These pictures show his position last night, when his energy reserves ran out, and he fell asleep.

Fortunately, David has a renewable energy source - he was right back in the game first thing this morning!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Today, Let's Mix Water and Electricity!

Well, this was a fun day. The landlord's workmen came early, and started chipping away at the concrete roof of the house. Apparently their idea was to remove some concrete in certain areas, where there seem to be low spots, and then pour patches into those same areas.

As they were working up there, it really sounded like they were trying to chop holes right through the roof. David wanted to get a hardhat out of the tool bodega, to wear around the house, just in case the ceiling fell in.

Then, we noticed that water was dripping off the light fixture in the dining room. At first, we weren't too worried. It was a little drip, clearly water draining off the roof from previous rains. But then it started raining, quite hard, and the water was just pouring down from the light! As we were moving very large containers into place to catch this large flow of water, Rachel discovered another puddle of water near the front door. We were perplexed at first, as there clearly wasn't any leak in the ceiling there. Then Rachel saw that water was flowing out of the light switch beside the door! Yikes!

We showed the problem to the workmen, and they shrugged and said that they couldn't do anything about the problem while it was raining. So, we are simply not using the electricity in that part of the house, and we're making extra sure that any expensive electrical equipment is protected by surge protectors, just in case something wacky and electrical should occur, as the result of our blatantly mixing water and electricity!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Packing, packing, packing!

Sorry I haven't been here much this past week. Allen has been away in the capital, and once he returns (tomorrow) he will begin the search for a new house. We need to be ready to move as soon as the house is located, so we've been trying to get everything in order here.

It's hard, packing when I don't know what our living situation will be. If we have minimal space, many things will have to stay in storage. Once we move from the next house to the property, we will be almost camping out there, so again, lots of things will be stored. That means that much of what we are boxing up now we might not see again for many, many months. That also means packing these boxes with an eye toward the possibility (likelihood) of mice, bugs and water damaging our stuff.

We've packed almost 40 boxes now, plus we've gotten rid of some stuff, through the "put it on the corner and it goes away" method of recycling.

More later! Bye!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Roll Call!

Gorgeous' chicks are just over 2 weeks old now, and they are such fun! Because there are so many chicks, it has taken us a while to get to know them individually. Of course, we are in the process of giving them all names. That's what we do. It is interesting that there are so many variations in coloring, marking, and size amongst the chicks. It doesn't show up well in these pictures, but the differences between them are remarkable in person. I assume this is because our chickens are all just "mutts," not chickens bred to have similar characteristics.

Here is the roll call of named (and a few unnamed) adorable chicks for you!

This is "Blondie," a name which refers to coloring, and is not meant as any sort of assessment of intelligence.

Here's "Chipmunk," who has especially defined striped markings. Notice how much more developed Chipmunk's wings are than some of the other chicks.


This is "Baldy's Baby." He (or she) hatched with that bald spot, exactly like the featherless spot on our other hen's neck. We've thought Baldy was bald because of the other chickens pecking at her . . . but now we wonder if this isn't something genetic.

Just so you know, it isn't easy to take portraits of individual chicks like this. You can't possibly do it with the chicks on the ground . . . they are fast! Kirstin and Bethany took a cardboard box, and cut a hole in one side, so that they could take these pictures from the right angle, and still keep the chicks contained. Even with this setup, you notice a lot of times the chicks had to be restrained in order to get the pictures.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My life is about to get very weird!

Well, we knew it was probably going to happen, and now it has. Our landlord has decided that he wants us to move out of the house immediately. He has realized that, in order to sell the house, he will have to repair the roof, and paint the ceilings and walls where water damage has occurred, and he prefers to do that with the house vacant.

Sadly for us, we do not yet have the buildings on our property ready to move into. With a major effort, we could probably have them closed in and water-tight in a few months, but that's not soon enough. So, we are looking at moving several times.

1. From our current rental house into another rental house, as soon as we can find one.

2. From that rental house into the first two completed buildings on the property (the team house and the warehouse/bodega).

3. From the temporary housing on the property, into our own home, when that has been constructed.

There are a lot of details to be worked out here. None of this is going to be fun. Sigh.

Monday, August 4, 2008


Okay, so there are not a lot of fun things to do in Gracias Lempira. It's not a very big city, and there isn't very much disposable income floating about here.

One thing my kids enjoy is going to the "arcade" to play X-Box. This entertainment costs about 80 cents per hour, per machine (up to four people can play on some machines).

For your viewing pleasure, here is the arcade, inside and out. It helps, don't you think, to see a picture? I'm thinking that people in the US create a slightly different mental picture, when hearing the word "arcade."

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I hab a code.

I'm not feeling so very good right now . . .fever and chills, congestion, body aches and wheezing. I have a lot to do, but I'm trying to rest now, and hopefully get better quickly, rather than pushing myself to accomplish anything while I'm feeling like crawling under a rock, and paying for it later!

Hopefully I'll be back on my feet soon, though.