Saturday, December 26, 2009

The scariest (to me) part of the move is tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning we will be attempting to disconnect, move, reconnect, and point our satellite internet system.

Lots of the systems at our new house are very new - in fact, as I write this, Allen is working to get the electricity from our bank of batteries to the outlets, so we don't have to continue running everything on extension cords.

But the part of the move that makes me least comfortable is when we disconnect my internet, and then try to reconnect it. Would you pray with us, that this would go smoothly? That we wouldn't damage the equipment in the move, that we will be able to reconnect everything and get it pointed correctly, without any trouble?

Thanks so much! Watch for me on the other side, to let you know that I'm reconnected!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, and we're almost done moving!

Just a quick update. Today (Christmas Eve) we are moving like maniacs. We'll have Christmas in our new home. We have water, a working toilet, a shower (cold), electricity (created by a generator and stored in batteries) and a working kitchen sink. Really, what more could we want?

Well, there is the teensy question of internet. In the next couple of days, Allen will disconnect our internet and move the satellite dish to the new location. Please pray that we are able to reconnect quickly and easily.

Today is not a holiday for us, as we tie up lots of loose ends, and move large appliances and such. Tomorrow we'll probably only take off half the day. Allen is leaving on Monday for a month in the US, and he doesn't want to leave us without everything fairly well under control here.

Kirstin and my parents have really saved the day - Christmas Day - for us! Our container shipment didn't get here before Christmas (partially due to delays related to the political situation this year) so my parents packed suitcases full of gifts, and a Christmas ham, and brought them to us. They also brought Kirstin, who helped drive loads of stuff and people back and forth between the two houses for her entire visit! We had hoped to have so much more done before their arrival, but our unexpected trips related to our residency put us far behind schedule. I hope they're glad they were able to be useful, instead of sorry they came!

I must run now, but I wanted to let you know how things are going here. Even though we are having a remarkably untraditional Christmas this year, we are trying to remember to be grateful, in the midst of our busyness, for God's True Gift.

Have a blessed Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The First Day (part 3): The Boring Part

Russell drove the beige Land Cruiser, carrying Trish, Gus, Boo and David. The majority of our drive was on beautiful new roads, with the exception of the one hour driving on dirt - but even that was mostly smooth, well-packed dirt. We were ahead of schedule, the roads were clear, the scenery was beautiful, and the vehicle ran well. Really, isn't this the most unbelievable part of the whole story? We even bought Domino's pizza for dinner, in the city of Siguatepeque. When we reached the city of Comayagua, we stopped for the night at a hotel. (If you like maps, you can find both of these cities on the map I posted with the previous portion of this story.)

Allen and Rachel (in the white Land Cruiser) had made it to the bank in San Pedro Sula in time to complete the financial arrangments, and they were on their way to rendezvous with us in Comayagua. They encountered some really bad road construction delays late in the day, including one spot where they sat for an hour and a half without moving at all, so they were about an hour behind us.

We all settled in for the night, knowing that we needed to start out early the next day, as we wanted to get to the Immigration office as early as possible. We still had a nice chunk of road to traverse to get to the capital. We don't visit Tegucigalpa often, and we didn't know the location of the Immigration office, so we also had to figure on some extra time for getting lost, and turning around, and such.

Next time: Our day at the Immigration office

Friday, December 18, 2009

We interrupt this travel saga for a brief message


We're so excited to have Kirstin home with us for the holidays! She's thrilling us with exotic tales of job hunting and interviewing, job orientation, punching in and learning the ropes at Home Depot.

Tomorrow morning she is going to jump into helping us with the move. Having an additional driver is going to speed things up so much! I'm excited to think how much closer we are to being done with this move, now that we have her help!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The First Day (part 2): Setting Off

Solving the problems related to a sudden, unexpected road trip involved more desperation than brilliance. Allen decided to hire one member of his construction crew to stay on site as a watchman for out on our new property while we would be away. Interestingly, the most responsible and honest (in our estimation) worker was also the youngest, Chele (pronounced something like chili). Happily, Chele is also fond of our animals, and they know and respond well to him. He would be responsible for two dogs, the mother cat and kittens, the chickens, horse, and bull.

Allen set Chele up in the smaller of our two buildings, and secured everything of value in the larger building. It's a sad fact in Honduras that you need to hire a watchman to keep your property safe, and then you also have to protect your property from your watchman! Chele would live, sleep, and eat in our team house for the next five days. Because we had been expecting a normal work day, there was a cooler full of lunch for the entire crew on site. Chele would live on cokes and bologna sandwiches for a few days! While Russell and Gus finished getting everything ready out on the property, Allen came on home and packed for the trip.

It was necessary for Allen to make a stop in San Pedro Sula, before heading to Tegucigalpa, to move funds from our US account to our Honduras account. San Pedro used to be "on the way" to Tegucigalpa, before new road construction opened up a much more direct route (the new road is paved almost the entire way - only about an hour of travel on dirt now). You can see the old route to Tegucigalpa shown with a black line on the map at the top of this post. The new, shorter route is shown with a blue/gray line, where it deviates from the old route.

So, Allen and Rachel got into the first Land Cruiser, and headed out to the north, to do banking in San Pedro Sula. They left around noon. It is a three to four hour trip to San Pedro Sula (depending on traffic, road conditions, weather, etc), and they needed to get to the bank before it closed for the day. They were cutting it pretty tight.

The rest of the family, in the second Land Cruiser, driven by Russell, would leave later, and travel on the shorter route up over the mountains. The plan was for the two groups to meet at a hotel that night, somewhere outside of Tegucigalpa, but close enough that we could be in the city first thing Friday morning, to accomplish our business with the Immigration Department.

Before we could leave, however, we had to secure our rental house, and make certain that the animals would be cared for. It was impossible to reach any of our local gringo friends, who are mostly either Peace Corps workers or bilingual school teachers, as they were all at work. In the end, we made an uncomfortable decision: we would leave the house in town without a watchman, and we would try to set up the animals there so that they could fend for themselves during our absence. Several things worked to make this possible. One, our next door neighbors are related to our landlord, so we knew they would be certain to notice if anything was amiss at our house during this time. They weren't given access to the interior of the house, but they could keep an eye on things from their place. Second, we would be stopping back at home, and spending one night, between our trip to Tegucigalpa and our trip out of the country. So, we didn't have to prepare the animals to be alone for the entire 5 days, but instead they could be set up for one overnighter, and then (after we'd been home to clean up and restock their food and water) another two nights alone.

We left one dog outside, as a sort of guard. (She hides under our trailer and barks at anyone who comes to the gate. I'm sure it's quite intimidating.) She was given a huge quantity of food and water, and she had shelter under the carport. She wouldn't be happy, but she'd be fine, and would make it somewhat less likely that anyone would want to come over our wall.

The new puppy, Commando, was a problem. He is too valuable (as well as awfully young) to be left outside. Another sad fact - a young and valuable watchdog has to be protected from being stolen, until he's old enough to be scary to the robbers! We have a large hallway which ends at the carport with a secure gate. We blockaded the hallway so that Commando had the space from the blockade to the gate. He and the other dog could socialize through the gate. He also had lots of food and water, but he has a bad habit of spilling out his water bowl when he's bored, so we gave him multiple shallow baking pans of water (harder to tip over), and we worried about him more. He also had to pee and poop on the tile floor. Not a wonderful solution, but the best we were able to come up with.

The two young female cats (who have been only indoor cats) were secured in a bedroom/bathroom. With plenty of food, water, and a litter box, we figured they'd do okay. The two male cats were set up so that they could get in and out of the house through a window (they can fit between the security bars). If they ran out of food, they could catch mice.

Morph the parrot, and Granola the bunny were each given a stockpile of food and water, but we knew their food wouldn't be appetizing for long. These two were secure, and we didn't have to worry about their poop issues, but they both eat fresh foods, and those are harder to set up in advance than commercial dry dog and cat food.

Once all of these arrangements had been made, we grabbed a quick lunch, packed some clothes, and tried to remember all of those things that are good to do before leaving the house for a few days - like taking out the trash and making sure no foods are about to go bad in the kitchen. Then we set off, earlier than we'd expected to be ready, which was nice for Russell, as he didn't have to feel pressured to push his speed to make our rendezvous with Allen and Rachel.

Next time: The drive!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The First Day (part 1): We Have a Problem (or two, or three)

It was Thursday, the 3rd of December. We'd just said "goodbye" to our friends, the Hayeses, who had worked with us here in Gracias for a year. They had delivered some items to our new house before leaving - some furniture we'd loaned to them, some furniture we'd bought from them, a large number of boxes of ministry-related items which had been stored at their house, plus a mother cat with five kittens.

Allen and Russell were working out on our property. Other family members were at our house in town, packing. With my (Trish's) parents and oldest-daughter Kirstin coming for a visit in mid-December, we were working hard to finish our move. We wanted to be somewhat settled before their arrival.

That's when we got the phone call, from the lawyer who is working on our residency. But, I need to backtrack a bit here.

We've had official residency in Honduras for several years. However, we'd been offered an opportunity to upgrade to a much better type of residency, by a high government official I won't name here, because of their appreciation for our humanitarian work in the department of Lempira.

Apparently, the appreciation of this official wasn't great enough for them to actually follow through with their offer, and after waiting (and trying to work on this with them) for months, we found ourselves in the awkward and unwanted situation of having our residency in arrears. We had to disentangle ourselves from this "help," and move on.

We had previously used a lawyer located in the city of La Ceiba, because we lived over in the islands, and this was a convenient location for us. Everyone always suggests, though, that using a lawyer located in the capital is better for residency work, so we decided this would be a good time to switch. A lawyer in Tegucigalpa was recommended to us by a good friend, and we were off and running on getting our legal residency back. Purportedly, the new lawyer was able to get the fines which had been assessed against us (because of the gap in time, when our old residency was not renewed and a new residency hadn't been instituted) forgiven, with the help of the original government official who was responsible for the problem. Then began the work on getting our residency back up again.

But. The lawyer kept asking for new papers, and then different papers, then not replying to our emails, then not answering our phone calls. We played around with this for a few months, as things got gradually worse, until it became clear that this lawyer was really NOT going to accomplish anything. We found ourselves switching lawyers again.

This time, finally, the lawyer recommended to us has turned out to be a blessing. He jumped into the situation with enthusiasm, and almost immediately discovered that the fines for the previous problems had not been forgiven, and had, in fact increased significantly. Things were so bad, that it was likely that we would be considered for deportation if something positive wasn't done by the end of the year. The dollar figures being bandied about, to fix our immigration problem, were astronomical for our budget.

The phone call from the lawyer that Thursday morning was a shocker. We would have to visit the immigration office in Tegucigalpa in person (the whole family) to pay the fines and fees. Then, we would have to leave the country and return again. This would then have us in the country on a 90 day visa. During the 90 days, the lawyer would submit the paperwork for our new residency, and we would receive automatic renewals on our visa until the residency work was complete. These travels would need to happen before the end of the month of December.

Now, any kind of travel at this time was totally out of the question. We were (and still are, by the way) living in two different houses, one in Gracias and the other a few miles outside the city. We had major construction projects ongoing. Neither house is secure enough to leave without having someone stay to watch over the property. We had guests coming soon, and we needed to prepare for their arrival. We couldn't imagine leaving our guests here in Gracias while we traveled all over the place. Oh, and there are holidays in December!

But Allen figured out a plan. If we left that same day, we could get to Tegucigalpa in time to make our appearance and pay our fines at immigration on Friday. Then we could head out of the country, and possibly be home as early as Monday. This was a wonderful plan, in terms of being home and done with this whole mess before our guests arrived - but what about the two houses, finding watchmen, setting up petsitting (we currently have, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit, over 20 animals in our care: 4 dogs, 11 cats and kittens, 3 chickens, 1 parrot, 1 bunny, 1 horse, and 1 bull), accessing the large amount of money needed to pay immigration and to pay for our travels, etc? How could this all be done, and the whole family be on the road, with basically no notice?

More on this story to come soon. I'm going to go pack some more boxes now.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Preview of Coming Attractions

We just got back from one of our craziest weeks ever - and if you know this family, then you know that's really saying something! I'm working on catching up on emails, writing a newsletter, and still packing - but I promise the story of our eventful week will be coming soon! Watch this space - and thanks for praying for us when you don't hear from us. We appreciated those prayers this week!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

An update on our move

Both construction and moving are happening here, so things are a bit unsettled.

Yesterday, Allen and Rachel spent much of the day converting bookcases into walls in our new abode. This is one of those exciting steps which makes a big difference in changing the look of the building from "warehouse" to "home." They didn't happen to take any pictures, however, so you'll just have to use your imagination for now. I am told that the kitchen has 3 walls, my bedroom has walls, and some of the other bedrooms have partial walls. We're getting there!

At the same time, work continues on getting the plumbing hooked up, the tile floor (in the girls' bedroom) completed, the water tank finished, etc. The men will be placing lots of black water pipes on the roof. The water in the pipes will be heated by the sun, and this will allow us to have hot showers and hot water in the kitchen, even before our solar panels arrive (they aren't coming until February).

Back in town, Boo, David, and I are the work crew charged with keeping house and packing. Although we are the weaker, smaller team, we're trying to hold up our end of things. As the rest of the family heads out to the construction site each morning, they load up the vehicles with furniture and our packed boxes, so the move is gradually pushing forward.

We now have several family members living out on the property full time, for security purposes. We had a couple of thefts in the past, much earlier in the construction process, and we knew as we started installing expensive items like floor tile, doors, windows, etc, that the likelihood of theft would be much higher. And, of course, once we started moving boxes of household stuff out there, the theft risk rose even more. For this reason, Christopher (aka Gus) has been living out there as a watchman, for just over the past month. Although he's only 15, he has been living alone many days, sleeping out there alone most nights, cooking for himself, etc. I think that's pretty amazing and brave, don't you? He has done a great job with this, but I know Gus is glad to have more family out with him now - I think he was getting a bit lonely!

Now there are several family members, 2 dogs, a bunch of cats, a bull, a horse, and three chickens living out there. We hope to all be out there soon!

Monday, November 30, 2009

When our time here is up . . .

No, we're not making plans to leave Honduras. In fact, as the years pass, our connections within Honduras become stronger. Of course, we've purchased land here and are in the process of making the move to live on our land. Our son, David, is Honduran, and not legally adopted, so he can't leave the country with us, should we have to leave. Our oldest son, Russell, is all but engaged to a local gal, so there's another connection.

But, there are so many things which are outside of our control. The situation in a country can change. One can easily envision a governmental shift to a political environment which would make it difficult, dangerous, or impossible for Americans to continue living in a country as expats. Other factors, such as health and medical issues, sometimes cause missionaries to return to the US unexpectedly.

The past five months, with the ongoing political crisis in Honduras, we've faced this reality in a more realistic way than we've previously had to do. Some problems which would arise if we had to leave (especially regarding David) are extremely difficult to resolve, but one aspect of our lives here has come into very clear focus as a definite positive.

We have based our work in Lempira on the idea that the most efficient and best way for us to help spread the Gospel is by using our resources to aid the Honduran Christians in this effort, rather than trying to do the job directly ourselves. Some of the reasons for this are obvious - the Hondurans already speak the language and understand the culture. But another reason came into sharp focus this year - if we leave, what will become of the work we are doing here? The obvious answer is that the Honduran Christians, who had begun the task of evangelizing this area before we arrived, will continue to do so after we leave, and anything we have done which empowers them in this work will continue to help after we are gone - like the training the pastors have received in the Bible Training School, and the thousands of Bibles and study materials which have been distributed into this area.

It is possible that the Honduran political crisis is coming to a close, although it is too soon to be sure. The amazingly positive elections this past weekend are a very hopeful sign. After a turbulent few months, it's wonderful to see things falling into place in a way which makes it more likely that we will be able to continue to live and work in Honduras. But it's also nice to know that, should we have to leave, the work of evangelizing the mountains of western Honduras would go on, and some part of what we have done would continue to assist this process.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Painting, tiling, packing, moving, baking, and blogging

Here's what we've been up to:

Packing - about a quarter of our household stuff is packed up (I'm not including large items of furniture as part of the "stuff"), and most of those boxes have been moved out to our new abode. The new abode is not yet ready to receive everything (or everyone), so family members have been taking turns doing watchman duty out there.

Rachel, Boo, and I do regular housework at home, and plan, and pack. Rachel and Boo also work on certain projects at the new house. They did lots of the wall painting, and today they are sanding and finishing our new kitchen cabinets (which Allen built earlier this week).

Allen, Russell, and Gus work out on the property most days, getting things set up for us. Their ongoing projects include: finishing the water system(digging ditches, laying pipe, filling ditches, completing the construction of the water tank), tiling the team house floor, installing kitchen cabinets, installing electrical outlets, etc. Unfortunately, Russell had a bad run-in with a wood planer this week, and has lots of stitches on two fingers of his left hand (and, of course, he's left-handed). This has kept Russell out of some of the messier construction work (he was previously heavily involved in laying floor tile in the team house and laying blocks for the water tank). He's staying busy, however, running errands, doing paperwork, and driving loads of household stuff back and forth to the new place.

Thanksgiving - Rachel and I have been trying to figure out how to squeeze an American-style Thanksgiving dinner into the schedule. We had decided to put off the dinner until after the move (we'd then have something extra-special to be thankful for), but the end of the move keeps creeping away from us, and so Thanksgiving is looking like it will merge in with Christmas, if we're not careful! Now we're discussing having a mini-Thanksgiving event this Sunday. If the elections are free and peaceful on Sunday it will certainly be a day to celebrate!

I took a couple of pictures of the interior of the bodega the other day - warning: this may be overwhelming to those of you who know that we are planning to live in this space very soon!
The bookcases you see in these photos are going to become the "walls" of our house. We have just over twenty bookcases, and we're plotting and scheming how to use them to best advantage. With our front door and front windows overlooking the rest of the house, privacy from outside is a major concern, as well as setting up privacy in the bedrooms!

Here's Boo, checking out the first of the new kitchen cabinets. I'm going to have loads of counter space in this kitchen - Allen thinks I deserve a perk like this now and again. Rachel and Boo are at the new house right now, sanding and then painting and staining the cabinets. At Rachel's request (and I agreed to it) the countertops will be a deep blue, and the rest of the cabinets will be stained to match our bookcases.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pastor Training School Graduation Ceremony 2009

We had a great week with our Christian Motorcyclist's Association Team last week, but we sure were busy. I don't have pictures of most of the week (an oversight on our part, but hopefully some team members will send me some photos to share), but on Thursday we held the graduation ceremony for the Pastor Training School, and I do have a few pictures of that.

My part of the preparation for the ceremony was baking 30 sheet cakes. I did this on Wednesday, and I'm ready to do it again next year. It took all day, but wasn't difficult work, as we used box mixes. On Thursday morning, members of the team helped with frosting all of these cakes, and then they carried them on their laps in the Land Cruiser, to deliver them to the ceremony.

This post about the graduation ceremony would have a lot more facts and figures (beyond the number of sheet cakes) if Allen were here, but he and Russell and Alan Hayes are off working on a bridge project right now. So, watch for more info later, when he returns.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Meet Commando

We're right in the middle of a busy week hosting a team, but I couldn't resist taking a quick moment to share these pictures of the newest member of our security detail - Commando!

I'm feeling much safer already. ;-D

Friday, November 6, 2009

November, in a nut shell

Things are especially busy right now. Here's the rundown:

This coming week we will be hosting a visiting team (Saturday through Saturday).

There's a tropical storm looming off to the east. We're not too worried about it over here on the western side of Honduras, but we're keeping an eye on it anyway.

The political situation remains unstable, so we're having to keep an eye on that, as well.

After the team leaves, we will put all of our energies into moving onto our property. We expect to live out there by the end of the month - hurrah!

So, don't be alarmed if you don't hear much from me, over the next couple of weeks. But do pray, as it's going to be a thrill-packed November for us!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Don't stand under a tree in a storm

A few months ago, one of the trees on our property was struck by lightning.

I found it interesting to see the marks left on the bark of the tree, from the lightning strike.

Here's a closer look:

Very cool, huh? Although I have to admit, I'd be enjoying this science/nature moment a bit more, if the tree hadn't been right next to the building we're about to move into!I'm gonna hold on to that bit of folk wisdom - that lightning never strikes twice (in the same place)! I sure do hope it's true!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Selling Bibles

Just over a week ago we held the final set of classes for the pastor training school for 2009. In November, the students and their families will gather for a graduation ceremony, and then the school will be closed for a few months. During the months of December, January, and February coffee beans are harvested, and many of the agricultural workers in our area make their entire yearly income working for the coffee farmers during the harvest. Since many of our pastors are also agricultural workers, they can't afford to take time away from work during the harvest, so this is when we take our annual break.

In addition to holding the training sessions to help these pastors (and future pastors) learn more about the Bible, another of our goals is to help these pastors acquire a small library of Bible reference and study materials - Bible dictionary, Bible atlas, concordance, etc. Here is how we pursue this goal.

First, we maintain a Bible bookstore in our home. We can't advertise this store widely. We sell all of the materials for less than what we pay for them. Occasionally we have had to deny a purchaser, who wanted to buy Bibles from us and resell them at a higher price to others. Although we'd like to encourage this entrepreneurial spirit, our ministry can't financially support other businesses like this!

So, our private little bookstore sells a variety of inexpensive paperback New Testaments and Bibles, plus levels of better quality Bibles, large print Bibles (very popular amongst those who read by candle or lantern light), and study Bibles, as well as the reference materials mentioned above. Many of these Bibles end up in the hands of the pastors' congregations or are used in evangelism - to date, we've distributed approximately 7500 Bibles.

Second, the pastors and church leaders who attend the training school receive credits toward purchases at the bookstore, for each school session they attend. After each set of three sessions, we haul all of the books and Bibles out to the school, and set up the bookstore there, so the pastors can use their credits (and their lempiras) to make purchases. Here are some pictures of the recent Bible sales:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Now for scenes of the building interiors

I had Rachel grab some more shots of the insides of our buildings yesterday, as the work was progressing on the tile floors (in the team house) and on the painting (in the bodega). Enjoy!

Here's Russell (well, Russell's backside, anyway), working hard on the team house. He is in charge of installing the tile floors in this building. He also put up the tile roof (you can see the roof in the picture posted yesterday). Notice the cheerful wall color - we're using the same paint on the bodega walls, but the color is more true in this picture than in some of the others.

Here's how the tile floor is shaping up! I'm loving it!

The decision to paint the interior of the bodega came late in the game. Since this building will eventually be used as a warehouse, we don't want to put much money into nice finishes, but since we'll be living here for a good long while, we also don't want it to look depressing. It was looking depressing before, with grayish, waterstained walls. Now it's getting a nice yellow facelift! (In the picture it only has a first coat, so you can't see the color very well, but check out the color in the first team house picture, for a more accurate depiction.) Painting this building, with it's very high walls, has been a huge chore, but in the end I think it will be worth the effort.

Allen had to run into town for more paint yesterday, and his workers (Rachel and Boo, in this case) had a bit of fun during his absense. Can you read their work? It says, "Coming soon - Bath Room. Rated R." The cinderblock walls are where the bathroom will be located, and there's the bathroom door, leaning against the wall. All the doors and windows, by the way, were handmade by Russell's girlfriend's father.

And finally, just for fun, I'll include a picture of the view, from yesterday. The mountains seem to be especially beautiful on rainy, overcast days.

Thanks for coming by to visit our place!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Scenes from our new home

We're getting so close to our move-in date! I've had requests for updated pictures of our property and buildings, so here are a few from this weekend.

The picture above is the bodega, where we will actually live, until we build our own residence.

This is the cute little 2-bedroom team house. I'll put up some interior pictures tomorrow. This building has been painted (on the inside) and some of the floor tile is installed. The bathrooms have a long way to go, though.

Here's the water tank. It is not yet completed - but it's about seven feet tall now. The tank sits on a hill above the flat spot where the buildings are located. This will give us greater water pressure.

Looking down from the hill with the water tank, you can see how the two buildings are situated. The building on the left is the team house, and you can just barely see the bodega off to the right. Between the two buildings is a foundation, which will eventually be another small residence, for housing interns who stay for a few months at a time.

We still have a ton of work to do, like dragging in topsoil and doing lots of landscaping - but the buildings are almost habitable!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

I don't need to write my own post, about the bridge projects

Since Allen and Russell neglected to bring me pictures of the recent bridge construction work, I thought I was going to have to write a post describing, without any photos, things I have not actually seen for myself.

Although that might have made for an interesting creative writing assignment, I'm spared the task, because Alan Hayes took pictures and wrote about the work on his family's blog.

Hurrah! I'm off the hook on this one. Head over here for all the news - it's a fun read.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Apologies

I am sorry - I didn't mean to alarm anyone with my long absense. Here are my excuses:

I was sick, with lots of coughing and wheezing nastiness.

Then, Allen and I took a trip to San Pedro Sula. I was still recuperating, but we thought perhaps a couple of days in an air conditioned hotel room might perk me up a bit. One goal of the trip was to pick out ceramic tile flooring for the team house. We chose this:

The picture above is from the samples at the tile store. Allen and Russell are installing the tile in the team house this week, so hopefully I'll have some pictures of the actual tile floor soon.

We also needed to purchase some lumber, to use in building some rough storage shelves. We wanted pressure treated lumber, and couldn't get that closer to home, so we loaded up the Land Cruiser and trailer to maximum capacity, and hauled it home all the way from San Pedro. (There were hundreds of pounds of ceramic tile and cement inside the vehicle, plus various groceries, dog food, two new tires, . . .)

Four looooong hours up and down the mountains. Part of the time it was raining. The lumber kept trying to slide off the back of the trailer. Oh, and our headlights developed a short, and we had to drive with the special forward flood lights on - except of course when we faced oncoming traffic. Then we were in the dark. Fun times.

While we were in San Pedro, the computer at home started having difficulties. Now we have that fixed, and I think I'm back in business!

Thanks for missing me!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bridge Projects This Week

Once again, the menfolk have had to set aside the work of getting the property ready for our move, because certain work on bridge projects demanded their attention. This week they spent about 4 days on bridge-related work, and they neglected to bring me any pictures!

So, in order to have something visual to share on the blog, I took a picture of what Russell looks like, at the end of a day working on a bridge project:

Hopefully I'll have some actual pictures of the bridge project to share soon!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The situation here in Gracias

Prior to the re-entry of Zelaya into the country, Honduras had returned to a peaceful country. In spite of the economic sanctions and visa restrictions placed upon the country, things had settled back into a state of normalcy around here. Now, that's all gone, as we enter a new phase of the political crisis.

Since Monday evening, we have had a nationwide curfew (with the exception of the Bay Islands, which had their curfew lifted sometime on Tuesday). Officially, that means that no one has been able to legally leave their home at any time since then. At this time, the curfew is scheduled to end at 6pm today, but it would be no surprise if it is extended for at least another night.

In the cities, where rioting is taking place, I hear that the curfews are being enforced fairly strictly. On the TV news, they are showing empty city streets (makes for some less-than-riveting television, but I prefer the shots of empty streets to the shots of rioters and police clashing violently).

Here in Gracias, during the daylight hours, the curfews have not been strictly enforced. There was a great deal of traffic on the road in front of our house, which is a major road bypassing the city, up until dark yesterday. Two of my daughters walked into town in the afternoon, to see if they could do some shopping. They said that most (but not all) of the stores were closed, and the city was creepy-quiet. They saw police in town, but the police were not enforcing the curfew. Allen and Russell traveled out to our property, and worked on the construction all day yesterday.

All of the international airports in Honduras have been closed until further notice. Tomorrow (Thursday) was to have been the opening day of the annual Honduras Missionary Conference in Siguatepeque. We don't get to go to this event every year, but we were planning to attend this year, and the kids were excited to have the opportunity to see their gringo friends (most of these friends they only see twice a year or so). Sadly, the event has been cancelled. Additionally, there is a major conference held in Honduras every year, in Copan, for people and groups who do humanitarian work in Honduras, and I assume this will also not take place, because of the closed airports.

We actually have a guest this week (she came to help with the conference, but flew in early to have some extra visiting time). With the conference canceled, she'll be staying here in Gracias all week, and we are hoping that the airports will re-open before this weekend, when her return trip is scheduled. She is the only guest in the hotel where she is staying. The hotel staff has mostly been sent home, since they are also under curfew, and without guests the staff is not really needed. We (along with the Hayes family) have been sneaking her back and forth from the hotel to our houses, so she isn't just stuck sitting there alone all day. Honestly, so far we really haven't had to be sneaky about going out during daylight hours, in spite of the curfew, but "sneaking out" just sounds more interesting. Since the hotel restaurant is closed and the staff is all gone, the hotel owner told our friend to help herself to the hotel kitchen. It's an odd but memorable visit to Honduras!

We spend our days trying to go about our regular activities, but I find myself keeping the TV on for news most of the time, and checking the internet regularly for information. We would dearly love to see this political mess resolved, soon and peacefully, but we're well aware of the potential for significant danger in the situation, so we are staying alert and informed. So far, there have been no interruptions to power, telephone, or television here. Faith's cable internet was out for awhile, but we don't know if that was related to the political situation, or just one of those outages that happen periodically.

Once again, it would seem that the US news is not reporting on what is taking place in Honduras. Please pray with us, now that you know that prayers are needed!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Zelaya Returns

If you are at all interested in Honduras, you've probably already heard the news - that ousted president Mel Zelaya has apparently returned to Honduras, and is reported to be holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the capital city of Tegucigalpa.

This came as a big surprise, as things have been pretty quiet lately, and there hadn't even been any rumors recently of Mel's return.

We are all fine up here in Gracias, and we're just waiting to see what happens next. My greatest concern, for the moment, is that the supporters of the ousted president, who have gathered around the embassy, will engage in fighting with the police or military, and that this will result in injuries and deaths. Please pray with us for a peaceful outcome! Thanks so much.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

What's on the Loom?

I haven't written anything about Rachel's weaving in quite a long time. She hasn't had much time for this hobby in recent months, but she has completed a few small projects, and has been learning about different ways to use her loom to accomplish different types of fabric.

Her first few projects were very simple, as she learned to set up the loom, start and finish projects, keep the edges straight, and just get a rhythm going.

In her two most recent projects, she has entered new territory.

This small mat may not look like much from a distance . . .

. . . but up close you can see how intricately it is woven into a textured pattern. (You can click on the picture for a closer look.) Rachel had a blanket woven like this, and she figured out how to reproduce the pattern with her loom. This is the first thing she has created in anything but a simple over/under pattern.

Her current project is her first plaid.

Fun hobby, huh? Both Bethany and I are itching for a turn at the loom, but Rachel's been hogging it for herself so far. ;-D

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What we did today

Allen and Alan were out working on a bridge project today. Russell, leading a crew of workers, poured a cement floor in the water tank on our property. The walls of the tank (in brick) are up to about 3' tall so far, and they will need to get up to somewhere around 9 or 10'.

I did school with the kids, and housework, as usual. Oh, I also made a quick trip to the bank this afternoon. Anytime a trip to the bank is completed quickly, it's worth mentioning!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Yes, we are busy. Of course, the regular ministry work continues, as we close in on the date we've set to move into our new home. Then, we have the extra work related to the reconstruction of houses destroyed in the earthquake. Our part in that work is almost completed, as the money we received to help was specifically for foundations and wall construction. On top of that, a number of the bridge construction projects, which have been in the planning stages forever, have moved into the actual construction phase. We oversee much of the construction on these bridges, but those which are being built to allow vehicle traffic require extra attention. Both Allen and Alan (and frequently Russell) have been spending many days out working on these sites - and these sites aren't close to home, either! I would post some pictures, but I see Faith has already put some up on her site, so I'll just send you over there to look.

I finally have the previously promised pictures showing the progress on the buildings out on our property. Much of the most recent work is hidden, as they installed the water lines. But in these pictures, you can see the newly installed windows, doors, and window security bars.

Above is the interior of one of the two large rooms in the team house. This building still needs tile flooring, a clay tile roof (which is mostly for looks - it is basically watertight now), and lots of bathroom work. Below is the front of this building.

The next picture is the exterior of the bodega/warehouse. I'm especially impressed with this building, as I think it really does appear to be a normal-sized house, from the front.

Inside, of course, you can see the high, warehouse ceilings, and the big loading door.

Lots will be changing this month, including the completion of the roof on the bodega - but we will definitely be living a roughing-it lifestyle, as we get moved onto location.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gifts for Gracias - I'm WAAAAAY behind schedule here!

Most of you know about our annual Christmas project, when we distribute Christmas gifts to Pastors and their families, as well as to special needs kids and orphans. If you don't already know about this, here is the Gifts for Gracias page on our website, where you can get all the information about how to participate in this project.

Usually, I try to get this information out in July, or August at the latest, so I am really behind this year! We are already expecting this to be a difficult year for collecting donations, because of the economic conditions. Last year we had a hard time filling our container, and had to delay departure several times so as to avoid shipping a partially-filled container - and the Christmas gift deliveries to people in Honduras were not completed until March! We are hoping to do better this year, and boy-oh-boy do we need your help!

Here's the big plan, for transporting the gifts to Honduras this year:

Gifts and donated used clothing will be collected in two locations - in Walkersville Maryland and in Sarasota Florida. In mid-November Allen is planning to fly up to Florida, and rent a large truck. He will pick up the gifts in Florida, and head north. In North Carolina, Morningstar Ministries has agreed to contribute gifts from their annual gift-making project, so he will collect those, and head to Maryland. The gifts from Florida and North Carolina will be added to those collected in Maryland, and the shipping container should (hopefully!) be filled before the end of November, and be on its way to Honduras.

I'll be blunt. Last year, we didn't have enough gifts. We were especially lacking in family gifts, which are specifically the items which represent a gift to a pastor and his wife. We had to open the gifts we received, and spread out the contents to more people. We had enough children's gifts, thanks to the very generous donation from MorningStar Ministries of 1100 childrens gift boxes. If it had not been for their help, we would not have had enough children's gifts, either. We also received a much smaller amount of used clothing than normal, and the quality of the clothing was significantly poorer than we've ever seen before. People are, I assume, not replacing their clothing as quickly, and are reselling rather than donating much of their better unneeded clothing.

We can't expect people to do more than they can do - so we are hoping, instead, to get the word out to more people and more churches, so that we can still bless the poor rural pastors, the orphans, and the special needs families here in Lempira.

Can you help? Can you create a gift, or help spread the word about this project? Can you donate some good used clothing, jackets, blankets, etc? Thanks so much, for however you can participate!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


We are getting closer and closer to moving onto our property - but as a family, we all agreed that we couldn't move out there until we had water at the house site. We have a river on the property, but it's at the bottom, and the buildings are at the top, for the view. No one wants to haul water half a mile, uphill!

So, the menfolk have been working to install water lines from a nearby source (about a mile away), to our property. The lines are now installed - hurrah! - and the system is receiving improvements (building a tank, installing valves, etc), but basically the water is in!

To make you feel more a part of the process, here are some pictures of the work: