Friday, April 24, 2009

Construction Photos!

Earlier this week we finally took some photos of the team house with its roof beams. Since these pictures were taken, some of the tongue and groove planking has been added on top of these beams. This wood will serve as the interior ceiling of the rooms. On top of the wood will come a layer of sheets of metal roofing, and then, a layer of clay tiles. The metal will actually be the waterproofing, and the clay tiles will be mostly for looks.

The ceilings will be high in this building, to help keep them cool in the hot weather. Keeping warm in cool weather will probably involve blankets.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sick in bed - but staying busy!

This past weekend I caught a head cold. After the first day, I could tell that it was turning into a chest cold, and I took to my bed. Because of my asthma, I take chest colds very seriously. I might spend a week being careful to fully heal from a simple cold - but if the cold becomes bronchitis or pneumonia, then I could be down for a month or more. It's just not worth the risk!

As soon as I leave my bed and walk anywhere, I start to wheeze and cough. So, I have had to find something productive to do with my staying-still time. And I found it! I've been hoping for a long time to find a good program to inventory my book collection. This is a very big job, and I don't want to do it again anytime in the near future, so I wanted to make sure I had found the right program before I started this project.

I hope this is a good one that I found, because I have now entered about 350 books. That is only a small fraction of my library, but it's nice to feel that I've accomplished something this week!

I'm thinking this online list could come in handy when teams or other guests come to visit. They can examine my book list, see the kinds of books I like, see which books I already have, and more easily come up with books to bring me as gifts (hint, hint, hint).

I'm not going to post the link to my personal library on this blog (individuals who are interested can email me for the link), but the name of the website is It's a fun networking site as well, although I doubt I'll get involved in that aspect much. I am already heavily involved in a homeschooling forum which uses up most of my available internet time, and fills most of my social networking needs!

Of course, ministry activity continues to swirl around me while I lounge abed. This week is the pastor training school session. More and more, the duties involved in keeping the school running are being handled by local pastors - which is exactly how we think it should be! There are still lots of odds and ends that come our way, though, including the transportation of pastors to the school at the beginning and end of classes, and the transportation of all of the meals during the session.

Also, very exciting progress is being made out at the construction site. I'm going to hold off on writing about that right now, as I am hoping to get someone to take some pictures for me to post. But I tell you, things are really coming together, and here at the house we are starting to turn our minds toward the task of packing and moving!

Thinking about packing and moving is a task that is just perfect for me this week.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Our week wasn't all bad

While losing almost all our birds and having to repair a damaged roof depressed our spirits this week, some very good things also occurred, and today I will share those.

First of all, that same rain that came the morning we had big holes in our roof also put out the forest fire on the mountainside above the city of Gracias. The bomberos and soldados (firemen and soldiers) had been working hard to extinguish the fire, and the lovely pouring rain helped to finish the job. The rainy day also ushered in a change in the weather, and the temperatures are a bit more moderate now than they were last week - high temperatures are in the 80's, rather than the upper 90's. Ahhhhhhh, nice.

On Monday and Tuesday, Allen and Kirstin took a trip to the big city of San Pedro Sula, and purchased a huge truckload of wood. This lumber, along with some rougher lumber purchased locally, will be framing up and finishing the interior of the roofs on two of the buildings out at our property. The interior of the roof (the ceiling, in other words) will be stained wood boards, like an upside-down wood floor. Above the framing lumber, pieces of metal roofing will be installed, with clay tiles on top of that. We are hopeful that this system will provide a leak-free and also secure roof.

Ceramic tile samples for the floors were also procured in the city, and we will soon order the tile for the team house and bodega bathroom. The main part of the bodega - which will serve as our temporary house while we build our permanent house - will have a cement floor.

Our welder says that the security bars for the windows are almost completed, so those should be installed soon. It will be great to have roofs and some security at the buildings, as we have people staying out there every night now (so that our lumber won't wander off before we have a chance to nail it all down), and sleeping in the vehicles gets old after a while.

We hope to move out onto the property sometime in July. Of course, one thing we know about Honduras is to always expect the unexpected, so we don't hold too tightly to schedules. But we are extremely excited to see the move-in date in sight! Allen and Russell have been working so hard to keep the construction moving, while not neglecting all of the essential ministry work. They deserve a big pat on the back!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Holy Week Chicken Massacre

Until this week, we had eight chickens and one duck living reasonably contented lives on the flat parts of our roof. Kirstin and Boo were the main caretakers of the fowl. We had two generations of chickens up there, and we were excited to be getting into egg production in a bigger way.

Very late Monday night, the dogs got onto the roof. We have a gate at the top of the stairs, but somehow it was left unlatched that night. We all slept through the sad events, until Boo got up just before dawn, having heard some noises above her head.

The chickens had taken to sleeping inside of a large backhoe tire which has been stored on the roof. Living in the city as we do, and with dogs at ground level, we didn't have worries about predators, so the chickens had been given free rein of the roof day and night. They would put themselves to bed in the tire each evening.

The dogs discovered the chickens in the tire, and proceeded to pull them out and carry them to another part of the roof. They didn't eat the chickens, and they really didn't maul them much either. But, just by carrying them off, they killed all the chickens from the tire, and the duck who slept nearby.

If you aren't familiar with chickens and ducks (and birds in general) it is an interesting fact that they become semi-comatose in the dark. At night you can pick up a bird and clip its wings, or handle it in other ways, and it doesn't struggle. So, I assume the dogs had no response from the chickens, as they went in and out of the tire, carrying them off.

The grisly discovery on Tuesday morning was bad enough, but we also had another problem. In carrying the birds from one part of the roof to another, the dogs had crossed the non-flat part of the roof a number of times. These non-flat areas are places where the roof levels are slightly higher than the flat parts, slanted, and covered with clay tiles. Clay tiles break very easily, and the dogs had broken quite a few of the tiles as they went back and forth.

It is the middle of the dry season, so you wouldn't really expect to have a rainy morning - unless, of course, you had big holes in your tile roof, your husband was away on business, and it was a holiday week where you knew you'd have trouble purchasing tiles and hiring a worker to do the repairs. Since we had all of those elements in place, we did indeed have a rare rainy morning on Tuesday.

First it sprinkled, while Rachel and Chris worked valiantly to strategically place pieces of clay tiles in places where it looked like water would flow through. They also covered part of the roof with a tarp. Then it poured! Fortunately, the work the kids did kept most of the water from coming into the house, and it didn't pour for very long - maybe about 15 minutes.

Later in the day, Alan Hayes was able to bring us some additional tiles, and Russell came home from the construction site to complete some more permanent repairs on the tile roof.

There was one chicken, one nameless second generation hen, who was at the bottom of the roof pecking order. To protect her from the other chickens, we had been keeping her in a small empty cistern on the roof. She could get in and out of the cistern when she wanted to, but it was her haven, and she slept there alone. She was the only survivor of the chicken massacre. She now has a name. We call her "Lucky."

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Man oh man - it is tooooooo hot!

There was a time when we had gotten used to the tropical hot weather, when we lived on the island of Guanaja (from 2001-2006). It was nasty hot for most of the year, there. We didn't like it, but we'd pretty much gotten used to it.

Now that we are blessed to live up in the cool mountains, the heat hits us hard when it comes. The dry season starts around January, and it gradually gets hotter and hotter until rainy season comes in around mid-May. I can't wait for the rains to begin and cool us back down again.

It seems like the week before Easter, which is called "Semana Santa" here, is one of our hottest weeks of the year in Gracias. You'd think we'd have hotter weather in July or August, but by then we'll be right in the middle of rainy season, and generally the weather stays cooler and (to our way of thinking) much more comfortable at that time of year.

Of course, rainy season has it's own set of problems, including leaky roofs, flooding, mud, mold and mildew - but we're heat-haters at my house, and we'll take the wet over the hot anyday! I also like that everything is green and growing at that time of year. During dry season it looks like autumn here in the mountains, but without the beautiful colors; mostly we just have brown everything. Brown dirt, brown plants, brown coating of dust everywhere! Oh, and once it starts raining, we're also done with the fly infestation!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Bridge Projects are Happening Everywhere!

Although it took a while to get to this point, suddenly we have actual bridges under construction all over the place! Allen and Alan drove out to the frontera (an area near the border of Honduras) to help with the planning of another batch of bridges - eight of them!

I am in the process of updating our website, with lots of pictures of current bridge construction projects. Check out the links on this page.

If you are interested in reading the other blog posts, detailing the progress of this particular ministry, click here, or on the label "Bridge Construction Projects" on the sidebar.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Smoke - the view from our roof in town

The wind has died down, and the smoke has pretty much filled in the valley where the city of Gracias is located. Rachel took this photo late yesterday - now the view of the mountains from here is completely obscured by the smoke hanging over the city.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Forest Fire!

The mountain across from our property is on fire this week. We've had continued strong winds for several days, and the fire has spread rapidly. The area on fire is a National Park, surrounding Celaque mountain, which is the tallest mountain in Honduras.

The last time there was a big fire in our area (which was last year), firemen from the big city of San Pedro Sula were called in to help, and the army also sent workers. The terrain in the area of the fire is very steep, making it a difficult place to get to, let alone trying to take firefighting equipment in there. As we are right in the midst of dry season, there isn't much chance of rain anytime soon.