Thursday, July 16, 2009

In the Midst of Chaos, Life Goes On - Part 2

Today, tension is high as rumors (some more substantiated than others) swirl around Honduras that ousted president Mel Zelaya will be returning to the country today, or in the next few days, possibly using military force, and that he is calling for his supporters to rise up in "insurrection" against the current government. Specifically, attacks against airports and the blocking of major roads in and out of cities have been mentioned as targets of these activities. The expats who reside in Honduras have been living on the edge for weeks now, and the strain is definitely starting to show as we face the possible outbreak of violence. Please pray with us, that peace will prevail, that lives will not be lost, and that God will have his hand on the whole situation.

Here in Gracias Lempira, things remain quiet, and our work continues. We are hampered somewhat by the political situation - for instance, Allen was planning a trip to the city of San Pedro Sula today through tomorrow, to handle business related to the purchase of the next batch of motorcycles for pastors, but he is now delaying that trip due to the likelihood of protests closing the roads into the cities over the next few days. As we travel from Gracias into the more remote areas, however, everything appears normal.

One aspect of the ministry which continues to progress during this unsettled time is the construction of bridges. Of course, I have pictures. The photo at the top of this post is the bridge at Monte de la Virgin, recently added to the list of bridges to be replaced in the very near future. Below is the same bridge, seen from the side.

Not too long ago, a dedication ceremony was held, to celebrate the opening of one of the newly completed bridges. This bridge, in Santa Rosita (about 1.5 hours drive from Gracias) was a larger project, as it was constructed to accommodate vehicle traffic, in addition to pedestrians. Here are some pictures from the ceremony:

Our thanks to those who help us acquire donations of cable in the US, and for everyone whose financial contributions help us carry out projects such as these.

And please, continue to pray with us for the peaceful resolution of the political situation in Honduras.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Breaking News from Gracias Lempira

I just heard this morning that our Lempira Day parade has been cancelled for this year! Normally, July 20th brings us the excitement of multiple parades, vendor booths in the parks, a rodeo and concert, packed hotels, busy restaurants, crowds of visitors, and loads of family fun. I'm hearing that some of the events will happen as usual, but the parades are out.

I understand the reasons for the decision, however. Schools have been mostly not in session since the beginning of June, and many of the preparations for the parades are done by the schools. The students create the costumes, have beauty contests to choose the girls who will represent the "beautiful Indian," and the school marching bands rehearse their presentations. None of this preparation has been happening, with the schools closed.

Additionally, the swine flu situation has apparently become a major problem in San Pedro Sula. I haven't heard much about this, since the news recently has been all about the political situation, but there is a fear that crowds of people (a large percentage of whom come from San Pedro Sula) swarming the streets of Gracias would cause a sudden large increase in the infection rate in this area.

We're sorry to miss this lovely, family-friendly part of the Lempira Day celebration this year! In case you've missed it in the past, here are some posts with pictures from previous Lempira Day parades:

2007 Lempira Day Parade
2008 Lempira Day Parade

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

In the Midst of Chaos, Life Goes On - Part 1

I haven't posted on the blog much during the political crisis in Honduras. This is partially because I don't blog anonymously, and with such extreme uncertainty in the country right now it doesn't seem to make sense to announce my personal political views. Also, we have a limit on our daily internet usage, and I've gone over my limit several times in the past two weeks. Going over the limit means that I lose my internet access, almost entirely, for 24 hours. Because the internet is my main source of news during the crisis, just about anything not related to gathering news has been deemed "non-essential."

Things are quieting down here, for the moment. Now that a mediator has been brought in to try to resolve the situation diplomatically, I expect -at the very least- that things will be less exciting in Honduras for a few days. I certainly hope so! Because of this, I'm taking this opportunity to use some of my valued internet time to post here on what we're personally doing these days.

Although our thoughts have never been far from the political situation, the work we do has continued, with very little interruption. A major ongoing project is helping with the reconstruction of the houses in El Tablon which were destroyed by the earthquake (remember the earthquake? - seems like a lifetime ago).

The earthquake reconstruction is complicated by the fact that the damage was related to the poor construction practices in the affected area. These villages, until recently, had no usable road to the outside world, so their houses are constructed of earth and wood, and not much else. It turns out that the dirt in that area doesn't consist of the right proportions of sand and clay to make good strong adobe bricks, which was part of the reason the damage in this one area was so severe.

In addition to distributing cement and rebar for the house reconstruction, we have had to instruct the homeowners in new (to them) construction methods, to help ensure that their houses will not fall down again soon! Alan Hayes handled the creation of instruction sheets which were handed out along with the materials, and he and Allen spent time explaining the needed construction methods in detail to the community there.

Now, the first houses have begun pouring their concrete footers, on which they will be building their walls. Here are some pictures:

Oh, and one more neat picture coming up. Remember the pregnant lady who lost her house in the earthquake? Well . . .

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Time for Lots of Prayer

Things are not looking good for a peaceful solution to the problems in Honduras. Please pray, and pray hard. I'll check in when I can.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Honduras in the News

It's been interesting to us, as Americans, to see the recent events unfolding in Honduras. Living up here in the mountains, we don't see much of the action. Oh, but then apparently the folks living in the US aren't seeing much of it, either.

Usually, when Honduras has a big news event (almost invariably a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake) we can count on calls and emails from concerned family, friends, and the staff in our mission office, checking in to see if we are doing okay. We love getting these communications, by the way, because it lets us know that people are thinking of us down here, and praying for us.

We started to wonder, therefore, when we weren't receiving any communications from anyone in regard to the current crisis, which threatens to embroil all of Latin America in a diplomatic mess which may well erupt into violence between nations - does anyone remember us?

Yesterday, Allen had the opportunity to make a few phone calls to some friends in the US, and he naturally spoke with them about the crisis in Honduras. The response, in most cases, was that our friends knew nothing about it at all. A few had heard the word "coup," but since there had been little other information, they had assumed it was a minor event, easily settled. No one knew about the UN resolution to return former president Zelaya to power, no one knew about Honduras' refusal to agree to this in the face of threats (both of sanctions and of violence) from much larger and more powerful nations.

I felt suddenly very alone.

The fallout from the events of the past week has huge implications for Honduras. In my opinion, there are serious potential implications for democracy in Latin America. But I'm a momma. So I can't help mentioning that these events, and the events which seem likely to transpire in the next few days, threaten to have a devastating impact on my family.

If you are our friend, family, supporter, or just someone interested in my blog (for whatever reason), can I implore you to take a few moments to educate yourself on what has happened here, and how the international community is responding?

If you want the mother-of-all sites about Honduras, you'll want to visit La Gringa's Blog, which is written by an American woman living in La Ceiba. She's been prolific in her blogging about this situation, and has enough links to other articles to keep you busy reading for quite a long time!

Thanks so much for caring about us, and about Honduras! Please, keep us in your prayers.