Saturday, February 28, 2009

Helping Elder with his surgery

A number of people have contacted me about donating money to help with the costs of surgery for little Elder Rivera. Mostly these are smaller amounts, but added together I'm hopeful that we can make a big dent in these costs. One person mentioned that after the surgery, there will be additional costs related to the care of Elder's shunt, so if more than the amount of the surgery is collected, it will be used to help with these costs.

I realized that I made extra work for myself by having people email me for donation information. As a homeschooling mom who lives internationally (in other words, without a lot of labor-saving devices) I really should know better than this. I should have simply put the information on how to donate right in the blog.

So, I'm going to do that now! If you emailed previously and didn't get a response, I apologize. I think I've gotten back to everyone, but correspondence isn't my strong suit, so I might have messed up!

If you would like to send a donation online, you can click on this link, and fill in the form. To designate the funds for Elder, click on "Other" and specify, in the blank, that the funds are "for Elder Rivera's medical needs."

If you would like to mail a donation, funds can be sent to:

Missionary Ventures International
PO Box 593550
Orlando, Florida 32859-3550

Make the check payable to "MVI," and write on a separate paper that the funds are for Elder Rivera's medical needs.

Thanks so very much for your help with this! I've been delighted to be able to tell Pastor Hugo about all of these offers of support, so that he can pass this information along to the Rivera family.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Blatant Plea for Help

This week, Pastor Hugo Morales came to us with information about a child in the mountain village of Santa Teresa with a severe medical need. Elder Rivera, in the picture above, is 2 years old. He suffers from hydrocephalus, sometimes called "water on the brain." Little Elder is in need of surgery, to insert a valve for drainage. The surgery can be done here in Honduras, and will cost $500. Of course, this is a tiny amount in comparison to what such a surgery would cost in the US, but it is far beyond the means of this family.

The prognosis for a normal life, in cases where this condition is treated in a timely manner, is very good. We are hoping that perhaps someone familiar with our ministry here would be moved to help with the cost of this surgery. Please pray with me, that Elder will receive the medical care he needs, as soon as possible.

If you would be interested in helping with the cost of getting Elder this surgery, contact me at trish (at) sowers4pastors (dot) com.

UPDATE: We've already received a few responses to this request, and we are very grateful and hopeful that we will be able to make a significant donation toward this family's needs. My husband just told me, that on top of everything else, this family lost their home a few months ago (in an earthquake), and are living with relatives while they try to rebuild.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Many people are linking to this post, and aren't necessarily seeing the more recent post, with information about how to make a donation to help with the cost of Elder's surgery. So, if you want to see that info, click here. Thanks so much!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Many, many motorcycles, plus another horse

We've had the means (through our donors) to help a large number of pastors acquire motorcycles recently. Almost 40 pastors now have the use of motorcycles in their ministries (the bikes are registered to the various denominations). It has been exciting to be a part of the process of evangelizing the mountains of Western Honduras.

For some pastors in more remote parts of Lempira, a horse is a more practical mode of transportation than a motorcycle. We recently helped a pastor purchase this pretty horse.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Grandparents Visiting!

My parents arrived on Friday for a 2 week stay. We always expect some sort of trouble in our travels, and we like to say that 'uneventful' travel is our very favorite kind. My parents did not have an uneventful trip, and the strange happenings were unrelated to Honduras, or even to the international part of the journey.

They were to fly out of the Sarasota Florida airport early Friday morning. Florida, of course, is the Sunshine State, and so equipment to deal with winter weather is not readily available there. The plane my parents were to fly on was covered with ice, and the airport had no de-icing equipment. The passengers were loaded onto the plane, and the plane was rolled out into the sun to thaw. After a while, the plane was turned, so that both sides could toast evenly.

Eventually the plane was de-iced and cleared for departure - several hours behind schedule! Of course, that messed up their connections to other flights, and so my parents arrived at 10pm, instead of noonish! Happily, that was the only problem in the trip, and now they are here, having fun with us.

Of course, they brought suitcases loaded with goodies. Even though we just received the container shipment, we were still able to think of a few more things for them to bring down, including yogurt starter, books and DVDs (Prince Caspian and Wall-E), and basket weaving supplies for Rachel.

My mother (aka Grammy) has graciously volunteered to help with the ongoing work of organizing and sorting the donations, so tomorrow will be a work day. Probably Mom will work with Faith, while I try to keep some school work going in other parts of the house. I'm also hoping to get some laundry done tomorrow (see Faith's post for up-to-the-minute laundry info), as it looks like the weather may be a bit clearer than it has been recently.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Non-electric Friday

We got word through the grapevine (from a friend's cleaning gal, to that friend, to another gringa, to me) that the electricity is going to be shut off on Friday, and that this may be a regular weekly event in Western Honduras.

I never know whether or not such rumors will turn out to be true, but they often are, so I've decided to prepare for that possibility. A while back, Blogger set things up so that we bloggers can write a post, and set the date and time in the future, so that the writing will appear on the blog automatically. I've been meaning to try this, but I am rarely far enough ahead in my blogging to do so.

This is the day! If you are reading this on Friday, that means that the dating/timing system worked, and also that our electricity is indeed off for the day.

Update: It is now 10:30am on Friday, and the power is still on. I'll just go ahead and let this automatic post go through, though, just so we can all enjoy the thrilling experience! ;-D

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Taking Out the Trash

Trash. It's just a part of life, but handling trash has become a surprisingly complicated activity for us. I'll try to explain.

First, our family accumulates a fair amount of trash. Here in Honduras, the plumbing is not built to handle the flushing of used toilet paper, so all of our soiled paper has to go out with the trash. With eight people, that can be quite a bit of trash, right there. We also have all the regular household trash, plus trash from the other activites in our house: school, office, ministry center, and storage bodega.

Here in the city of Gracias, trash is officially collected three times each week. In both of our previous houses, we had trash pickup Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In our current house, the truck only seems to come by twice each week, and there isn't much of a regular schedule. In fact, as best we can figure it out, our trash pickup schedule is: Monday or Tuesday (almost always the truck will come on one of these days) and then one other time during the week (we really don't see any pattern to the second visit).

The trash truck travels throughout the city, continually blaring a siren (sort of a modified car alarm). When we hear the alarm, we know to run out to the gate and put out the trash. It would be nice if we could put out the trash in the morning, rather than waiting for the truck, but that hasn't been a good plan. Pretty much invariably, dogs will attack our garbage, rip open the bags, and spread our trash about on the street in front of our house. Remembering, if you will (and I'm thinking you probably are trying to forget this), that our disgusting bathroom trash makes up a good bit of our collection, you can especially see why we prefer not to have to pick our stray trash up from the street! Occasionally we even have people going through our trash, to see if we've thrown out anything good, and they leave a similar mess. So, we've learned to wait for the siren.

A former neighbor of ours purchased a large trash can (the big rolling kind often used in the US), so that she could put her trash out early, and not have dogs make a mess of it. Someone dumped out her trash and stole her can, so she was quickly back to waiting for the siren again.

Our current house is on a divided street, so the trash truck travels our street twice. We hear it coming, and it always comes the other direction (collecting on the far side of the street) first. Very often, upon hearing the siren, my children run out with the trash, and run across the street with it. The trash men always tell the kids to wait, that they will be coming right back to do our side of the street. But often enough, they don't come back, so the kids prefer to catch them when they can.

Usually, we try to make sure that all of the household trash cans have been emptied and the bags of trash carried out by the front gate before the trash truck arrives, but with our unpredictable schedule it often happens that we hear the siren, and our family drops everything to collect trash from all over the house, to run it out to the trash truck. Cries of "Basura, basura!" echoing through our house is the signal for everyone to scramble for the nearest trash can, and run with it toward the street. It's one of those strange things which has become a part of what it means to be a member of the Sowers family. It's a family tradition, I guess.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Yes, the container arrived . . . yes, we're working on unpacking everything . . . yes, I neglected to tell you!

I've been soooooooo busy trying to dig out my house, that I haven't taken the time to even announce the arrival of the container! Sorry about that! I took pictures, so I'd be able to fully share the day, and haven't posted those. Bad Trish!

Here's the way the day went:

The container truck arrives in front of our house mid morning. The driver had called as he passed through the last city before ours, so we had time to assemble our crew of workers.

The container is sealed, after the completion of the customs inspection. The seal is not a lock, which can be opened and shut again without leaving any sign of entry. The seal has to be broken off the doors of the truck. Here is Russell, handling that job, while our eager-beaver, young-but-willing work force crowds in for a closer look.

The container is opened, and the fun begins!

Here is what our front room looked like, as the first box was brought in. The boxes already in the room are items not yet distributed from the first container.

Our crew grew, as men off the street joined us in the unloading. Included in the price of shipping the container we get two hours for unloading. If we take longer than two hours, we'll be charged for the extra time.

The workers drop off boxes in the house, and go back for more. Kirstin is trying to organize the pile, while I try to do some very basic sorting as the boxes come in (mostly just putting personal items in a different area, so they aren't buried).

The pile grows! In the storage barn in Maryland, several different ministries use the same space, so each is assigned a color, to keep the collected items separated. Anyone want to guess our color?

Not everything arrives in boxes. We receive a lot of used clothing and bedding, and much of that is shipped in black plastic bags. Here's Faith, helping pass down bags from the truck.

Hmmm, this picture needs something to put it into scale. Since I don't have a picture like that, I'll just say that the top of this pile is about 7.5', the wall you're looking straight at is 9' wide, and the pile extends from that wall towards the camera about 10'. It's an impressive pile!

Here is the pile of boxes, towards the end of the unloading process. This picture was taken from approximately the same spot as the picture of the almost empty room, so you can get some idea of how much space has been filled with boxes.

Finally, the container was completely empty . . . except for the small Kubota tractor we received. The huge container truck could not be maneuvered into the spot we use as a loading dock, for driving equipment off trucks, so we had to move the tractor into a smaller truck first, and then unload to ground level from there, and finally drive the tractor home.

That pretty much sums up the container day. The entire process took us just under 2 hours. As soon as the unloading was completed, we started into the real work: sorting the gift boxes, bulk items, and used clothing into separate piles, so that we can organize and distribute gifts to pastors and their families.