Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yuck! It's fly season again!

We've lived in Gracias for 3.5 years now - just long enough for me to start figuring out which odd events are flukes, and which are seasonal. One item which is a regular part of life here is the annual invasion of the house flies. Sigh.

Every year, in late March/early April we get to experience this joy again. Oddly, considering we live in the tropics, we don't have problems with lots of bugs all though the year. A number of the houses in which we have lived have not had window screens, and this hasn't really been a problem.

Our current house actually does have screens, although there are still lots of places where flies and other critters can get in. A few days ago, we noticed a fly or two in the house.

The next day . . . we started to be annoyed by flies landing on us, and buzzing around our heads every couple of minutes. Oh, that's so bothersome!

Now, we are seeing flies everywhere! And it is still only the very start of several weeks of flies!

I know the progression now. In a few days, we will have to cover any food or drinks that we use, even while cooking and eating, or suffer through flies continually landing on everything. Walking through town, trash, dog poop piles, and dropped food will be unrecognizable, as their surface areas will be completely covered with flies.

Our first year in Gracias, the entire family went down with a terrible version of the stomach flu during fly season. This experience was made much worse by the fact that our water and electricity were out for most of the week when we were sick.You probably don't want me to enumerate the ways your life gets terrible when you can't flush or wash laundry, even when everyone isn't sick. It was unbelievably bad with eight people having the stomach flu! Plus, we are normally able to eat up the food in the fridge and freezer when the power goes out, so that we have minimal losses - but no one wanted to eat during this sickness, so we ended up giving away and feeding to the dogs a lot of formerly frozen meat!

Since that first year, we've been able to avoid getting sick during fly season, although there is much sickness around town at this time of year. We've not found a way to keep the flies out of the house, but we mop the floors with heavily concentrated bleach water, regularly, are crazy vigilant about covering food, and work on keeping our own dog messes cleaned up promptly, and our trash collection area as clean as possible.

The only good thing about fly season is that it only lasts a few weeks.

Aaaarrrrggghhhhh! Flies!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Now the recuperation at home begins

The wandering part of the family returned safely home last evening around 7:30. They were tired, of course, but doing well, considering their long trip. Christopher is pretty hoarse, and he's needing his pain meds pretty frequently, but he also managed to eat at least one piece of the pizza they bought in the city (Domino's pizza, with pepperoni - a very rare treat for us). Allen has an incision in front of his left ear, and a much larger one across the back of his neck. The one across his neck continued to bleed a bit on the trip and is still oozing and bleeding a bit today. It's in a location where it is being yanked and twisted a bit too much, but it's pretty hard to keep your neck still - especially when you're driving!

During the night, both Allen and Christopher developed fevers, and so now we are watching that situation closely. Our friend, Dr Julio, will be dropping by in a short time to give them each an injection of antibiotics, and he also prescribed a topical antibiotic for Allen. It will be a day of recuperation at the house for both of them today.

Sitting around the house isn't really something Allen enjoys, so he has been keeping busy dictating emails and working out the details of the system for bringing water in to our house site on our property. I'm just glad he isn't working on construction today!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On the road again

Today, Allen is planning to make the return trip home. He is hoping to make it all the way by tonight. That will depend on many factors, including how Chris holds up. Most of the trip is on paved roads, but it is still pretty rigorous driving/riding.

Allen had chunks of skin removed from the back of his neck and from one ear. He will drop off the samples at a laboratory in the city of La Ceiba, so that these can be biopsied.

We're looking forward to having everyone home again!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Out of the Recovery Room

Another update on Christopher. He came out from the anesthesia feeling well, and he was even able to jump down from his recovery bed and into his hospital bed without help.

Because he will be taking on a long, hot drive through the netherlands of Honduras so soon after his surgery, the doctors have taken some extra precautions with him. They are keeping Chris in the hospital overnight, and filling him with IV fluids. That way, he will be fully hydrated before the trip, regardless of how his throat is doing. So far, he hasn't wanted anything to eat or drink.

If everything is okay, they will start on the drive home tomorrow, taking it easy (I hope), and stopping somewhere for the night if things are too strenuous for Chris. Not that Chris is likely to tell anyone if he's feeling badly - he's gonna be that kind of man.

In the Recovery Room

Christopher is out of surgery now. The doctors said things went well, and that his tonsils were very bad, so it was a good thing we had them taken out. Allen hasn't been in to see him yet, but we think that will happen soon.

Meanwhile, I've gotten word that the doctors will be removing those spots on Allen first thing tomorrow morning. Allen won't have to stay after that work is done, so once Christopher's recovery period has passed (and assuming everything is fine with him) they will be heading home.

Thanks so much to everyone who has prayed for them!

It's Tonsillectomy Day!

Today is an exciting day; one we've been awaiting for years! It's finally the day that Christopher (age 15) will be losing his troublesome tonsils - we hope!

Allen left yesterday morning, quite early, with Chris, Rachel and Bethany in tow. They had to stop in San Pedro Sula (which is about halfway along this trip) for an afternoon of brake repairs on the Land Cruiser.

Here is a map, showing the path of their trip to the hospital, from Gracias (the blue dot) to Hospital Loma de Luz, at Balfate (in green).

I just got off the phone with Allen. He said that Chris will probably be in surgery within the next half hour.

Additionally, the doctors want to look at a few skin spots on Allen, so that will be happening soon, as well.

Monday, March 16, 2009

I guess I'm in a blogging rut, so let's talk chickens!

Did you notice? Six blog posts in a row about the ministry - and nothing about the family, or the chickens, or even the construction work!

I'll try to get beyond this, I promise!

It's not like there haven't been interesting non-ministry things to blog about. Our chicks, which hatched back in July, have started laying! So now, as layers, we have the original hen named Gorgeous, we have her sad, motley side-kick Baldy, we have one hen the Hayes family gave us (their hen was unhappy as the only chicken at their house), and we have 4 unnamed hen-lets which Gorgeous hatched (although some of the eggs were definitely Baldy's). We don't get enough eggs yet to completely supply our family's needs, but we are definitely at the point where we have to factor in the "homemade" eggs when going to the grocery store, or we'll overstock on eggs. We aren't huge egg consumers, and recently there have been a few times when we have had to plan an egg-heavy meal specifically to use up the abundance!

The two brown eggs are from our chickens. The white eggs are from the store, so you can see the size comparison.
It's fun to see our own "homemade" eggs coming through the kitchen. The eggs from the store are larger and whiter, but we're ridiculously pleased with what we're getting from the chickens. This is really the first time any of our pets have contributed anything back but love. (Chickens aren't the best in the sharing-of-love department, so it's nice that they have something else to share.)

Are we being frugal by having chickens? Hard to tell. We buy low-cost food for them, and supplement with lots of scraps and leftovers from the kitchen. I don't know that we are yet getting more for the money we spend to feed them than the cost of just buying eggs. We're learning a lot, though, and we'll not be starting from scratch (in the knowledge and experience department) when we move out onto our land. That's when we're planning to get a bit more serious about the chicken/egg economic situation.

Ohh, we still have the duck, too. The duck (we were told the duck is a girl, but we don't really know for sure) is interesting, as he/she can't manage to eat all of the same foods as the chickens. Shape of the beak, perhaps? We don't know, but the duck goes wild over lettuce, radish tops, and other leafy dainties. We try to give all of those to him/her, since he/she is missing out on some of the other foods. (Anyone want to tell us how to discover the gender of a duck, so that I can stop the annoying he/she bit?)

So, that's the chicken update for today. I have more interesting chicken news, regarding chicken interaction and living conditions. I'll try to write that up for tomorrow. Keep me accountable, okay? ;-D

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What's Allen up to, now?

This week, Allen has been working with the backhoe, digging a long trench. A church in the town of Las Flores (just outside of the city of Gracias) has arranged, with some homeowners in the same neighborhood, to put in a sewer line. Sewer lines, in my opinion, are a good idea. I am pro sewer lines, for sure.

Phew! That man can really dig a ditch, can't he?

Monday, March 9, 2009

From the Horse's Mouth

I hope this isn't going to burst anyone's bubble, but you know I'm not the one going out and doing all the adventurous stuff I write about, right? Mostly my hubby and kids (and now Alan Hayes and his family) are crossing those bridges, driving the crazy roads, having all the fun and excitement. I stay home, hear their stories, and then write about it all here on the blog. It suits me fine, as it takes all my time to keep house, homeschool, and handle the ministry stuff that comes to the house, anyway.

Over on Faith's blog, her husband has written a post about his recent activities, and I thought you might enjoy hearing about some adventures from the first person point of view, for a change. Here is his post.

Part of the reason I wanted to bring this to your attention, is that I have some pictures that my Allen took, which illustrate Alan Hayes' visit to the bush church. This church is currently meeting in a tiny building, and they have asked us for help in constructing a larger structure. As you can see in these pictures, they really need it!

Sorry these pictures are so dark - this particular village doesn't have electricity, and the adobe houses in the mountains generally have only a few, small windows, so they are dark inside.

In his blog post, Alan Hayes mentioned that the rafters of this church came up to about his shoulders. Perhaps you thought that he was exaggerating? See for yourself:

Fun stuff, huh?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

First Completed Bridge Project!

We've been doing the preliminary work on a number of bridge projects for, literally, several years . . . and now, finally, we have a completed bridge to show you!

No, no, no! That's the original bridge, the one which was replaced! I needed to show that one, so that you will have an appropriate appreciation of the new bridge. I know that a lot of you are going to feel that any swinging cable bridge is a scary item which should be avoided at all costs, and so you won't like the looks of the one we helped put up. But in this part of Honduras, with the steep terrain, seasonally flooded rivers, and the available resources, this type of bridge is quite practical and very much appreciated by those who use it - especially when the bridge isn't in disrepair.

Here's the new bridge:

This bridge was produced through a combined effort of several groups and organizations. Our part was procuring and donating the cable, as well as helping with some of the planning. You can see a listing of all the groups involved, painted four times on the bridge! And they spelled our last name wrong every time (there should be an "s" on the end of Sowers)! Oh well. We aren't really in this for the recognition anyway. But the sign is an important part of every community project in Honduras, so there's no avoiding it.

Bridge projects move so slowly for a variety of reasons, but we have several underway now, so hopefully we're going to see pictures of more completed bridges in the near future.