Monday, August 29, 2011

El Mongual Community Water Project

Allen and Russell have several construction projects going right now. That works out well for them, because the communities where these projects are located are responsible for gathering the materials for the projects, and sometime the construction work progresses faster than the communities can get the materials on site. So Allen and Russell, and their crew, work at one site for a week, then work at the other site for a week, which gives each location time to get ready for their return.

One site is the newest bridge project, about which I've blogged once, here.

The other site is a water project for the community of El Mongual. If that name sounds familiar, it's because we recently completed a bridge project there.

Here are some photos from the new water project:

You can see in this photo (and in the photo at the top of the post) that the workers cut into the slope of a hill, to make a level spot for the tank. This is Henri, part of our regular work crew.

Here's Allen, working at the bricklaying.

This photo (click on the picture for a closer look) shows the number of people working. Members of the community help with the project on a rotating schedule. You also get to see the view! The water tank is set up high, of course, so that the water can flow down to the community by gravity.

Here's a better picture of the view (I left this one big, so you can see more details if you click on it). You should be able to see some of the houses which will be served by this water project, and also some cliffs, over by the river.

Here's the poured concrete floor of the tank. The pieces of metal sticking up in the center of the floor will provide structural support for a concrete column which will be constructed there, to eventually help hold up the roof of the tank.

And here's the crew, packing up at the end of a long, hard, hot day's work!

I have some photos of the construction at the bridge project that I haven't yet posted, so watch for those soon.

AND . . . of utmost importance . . . PLEASE help with the Gifts for Gracias project! If you want to help by posting about the project on your blog or on Facebook, do that now, so there's time for people to hear about the project and get involved! Let me know that you're helping, and I'll put you into the running for the give-away! Check here for details!

Friday, August 19, 2011

My first ever give-away!

This is the first promotional event I've done, so there may be some bumps along the way, but it's all for a good cause - the Gifts for Gracias Christmas project!

Here's the deal. There are two prizes. They are both hand-carved wooden boxes, made in Honduras. The first prize chest is a bit larger than the other, with a lock and key, but they are both beautiful and unique. The winners will be randomly selected from the list of participants.

Here are pictures of the two boxes:

The large box is 5 x 5.5 x 8 inches.

The smaller box is 3.5 x 4.25 x 6.75 inches.

There are five ways to qualify for the give-away, and I'll enter your name into the list for the drawing up to five times, based on this list. Choose and carry out items from the list below, and then post as a comment. In your comment include your name (so I can enter you in the drawing and contact you) and which item(s) you did to help make this year's Gifts for Gracias Christmas Project a success. If you don't want to comment with your name, you can email me instead. My email is trish @, without the spaces, of course. The drawing will be held on October 1st, which is also the date by which all gifts should be mailed, to guarantee they'll arrive before we load everything up for shipping to Honduras! (My apologies to my international readers, but sadly I can only offer to mail prizes to North American addresses.)

Here are the ways you can contribute to this year's successful project, benefiting so many needy families and orphans:

1. Post the info about the Gifts for Gracias Project on your blog, or on Facebook, with a link to this blog and to the Gifts for Gracias info page.

2. Spread the word about the Gifts for Gracias project at your home church, homeschool co-op, Bible study group, or any other group that you think might be interested in participating.

3. Make one or more gift boxes (children's boxes or family boxes) - we anticipate distributing over 2500! - and send them in to one of the addresses listed on the information page.

4. Spread the word in your area that we need donations of good used clothing and bedding, and help get these donations to our donation sites (the same sites as our mailing locations).

5. Donate good used clothing and bedding for use in the Gifts for Gracias project.

Thanks so much for participating in my give-away, and especially for taking part in the Gifts for Gracias Christmas Project!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Big Give-Away is Coming!!!!!

I mentioned previously that I was going to have a blog give-away. About a week ago, Kirstin returned to Florida, and she took the two prizes with her, so that she'll be able to mail them out to the winners (I'll have to limit participants to those who live in the US, for mailing reasons).

Tonight, I thought I'd give you a quick sneak-peak at the prizes! At the top of this post is the smaller of the two hand-carved wooden boxes I'm giving away. Wood carving is one of the most beautiful handcrafts of Honduras. The carved doors and furniture are amazing, but sadly those are two large for me to send out in the mail as a blog give-away. These cute boxes, though, are small enough for mailing, while still giving a nice taste of Honduran wood carving. The larger box is 8" long, while the smaller is 6 3/4" long, and they're each about 5" tall (the larger a bit more, and the smaller a bit less).

The picture below shows the larger of the two boxes, which includes a lock and key.

Watch for the details on how to participate in the give-away . . . coming soon!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A romantic get-away

Allen and I just celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary, by taking a little vacation, without the kids, in the pretty little tourist town of Copan Ruinas. This is where we generally go for our get-away trips. We don't visit the Mayan ruins, because we've done that tour so many times, with visiting teams. Instead, we just go to the nearby town (named after the ruins), to enjoy the nice hotels, tourist restaurants, and the opportunity to just get away from home and work for a bit.

Here are some pictures from our trip:

Rustic outdoor dining. This place has great steaks!

The atrium at our hotel

A view from our hotel

Another view - notice the cobbled streets

Friday, August 12, 2011

Doing Chores in Lempira

Running errands

Gathering firewood for cooking

Washing laundry at the pila

Preparing food


Here's a reminder - we're collecting now for the Gifts for Gracias Christmas gift project. I've been asked about the different ways to participate. You could:
1. Create a shoebox gift (or more than one) for a child, following the directions on the info page.

2. Create a family gift (or more than one). These directions are also on the info page.

3. Donate items which we can use, in conjunction with other donated items, to create shoebox gifts or family gifts ourselves. Some have suggested purchasing one item in bulk, on Amazon, works best for them - this is fabulous for us!

4. Collect and donate good used clothing and bedding. We use the best of these items in gifts, and those items which aren't quite as nice go out into use as well, just not in a gift box.

5. Donate money, through our general account, to help defray the cost of shipping and other costs related to the project.
Shipping and collection location information is also on the info page. Thanks so much for your support and participation!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Kirstin's double life

My oldest daughter, Kirstin, is 23. Currently she works in the paint department at Home Depot, takes - and pays for - and ACES - college classes, and lives with her grandparents in Sarasota. This fall she'll take EMT training, so that she can get a better job (and also because she believes she'll enjoy the work), and then she hopes to move out on her own while continuing to pay for college as she goes through, without taking out any loans. This is Kirstin's normal life. Busy, but not all that interesting or unusual.

For a month, though, she came home to Honduras. She drove the Land Cruiser across rough mountain roads. She hiked and swam on our property, had to skirt hormonal bulls to get from her room to our main house, participated in an after-dark hunt through the woods for a turkey the dogs had chased off, administered medical care to the turkey, helped rig up a more secure turkey enclosure, learned how to work our tricky washing machine (this involves knowing what time of day we can get hot water off the roof, turning the water on and off at the pipe instead of the machine, and using the kitchen timer so as to avoid running water onto the floor), and enjoyed many other aspects of the less-than-normal side of her life that she lives in Honduras.

This morning Kirstin left for her return trip to Florida. She had a couple of stops to make locally, before heading to the airport, including stopping in at Russell's house to say goodbye to the part of the family that is in town working on the Pastor Training School today. She was also dropping off a turkey at a friend's house along the way. The last thing she did here, before leaving, was to examine the turkey for wounds, wrap it in a towel for travel, and carry it to the car.

I think it is just so fitting that we sent Kirstin off holding a live turkey on her lap. It was like we kept her living the odd, fun, never-know-what'll-happen-next Honduran part of her life until the last possible second until she had to go back to that dull life she leads in the US.

Bye Kirstin - we miss you!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Some family news, and then some Promotional Materials

Things are busy just now, as this is the week of the Pastor Training School. A few months ago Rachel and Iris took over the cooking and serving of the meals at the school. This is a rather large undertaking. We serve 2 breakfasts, 3 lunches, and 2 dinners to a group which can range in size rather significantly from month to month, but is generally around 40 - 50 people. The cooking is done at Russell and Iris' house in town, so Rachel just stays there from Monday until Thursday during the week of the school. This month Bethany is there, too, as an apprentice cook/helper.

Kirstin is returning to the US this week after a very short 1 month visit with us. While here she helped Gus work on his writing skills and gave Rachel driving lessons. She took the kids swimming in the river and at the hot water springs. We enjoyed her visit immensely, and we're not ready to let her go, but she seems to think her schooling and her job are important, so she's adamant about heading back.

Now, as mentioned in the title, I'm going to take a moment to remind everyone that the Gifts for Gracias Christmas gift project is underway. (Info on the Gifts for Gracias Project is found here.) To get you into the gift-giving spirit, I thought I'd share some photos from previous gift distributions.

The town of Quelacasque is an extremely poor area, and for unknown reasons there is an especially high incidence of children born with mental retardation and other birth defects in and around the town. We are involved with a number of families in Quelacasque through our program for special needs families, and so we traveled there to deliver Christmas gifts and family gifts to those in the program. They came out to meet us, dressed up in their very best. These first pictures are from the distribution of gifts in Quelacasque (in 2008, I think).

The following photo shows a group of children living in one of the orphanages in the nearby city of Santa Rosa de Copan. The pictures on the Gifts for Gracias info page were also taken at this orphanage.

Here's a photo of a typical family gift box. The family gifts are full of practical items, such as toiletries, office/school supplies, backpacks, sweaters, socks, bedding, towels, kitchen items, etc. Family gifts are given to pastors and their wives (shoebox gifts are given to their children), and also to the special needs families.

As a final note, I want to draw attention to the mailing deadline for the project - it is October 1st this year. We need family gifts, shoebox gifts, items which can be used to create those gifts here (like a bulk purchase of pencils, pens and crayons, a pile of ball caps, a bag full of new socks, etc), and we also want good used clothing, shoes and bedding. Warm bedding and warm clothing (especially sweaters and jackets) are among our most appreciated gifts. Lists of suggested items to donate or to include in gifts and mailing addresses are available on the Gifts for Gracias info page.

Thanks for taking part! Don't forget, there will be a fun give-away announced soon! I'll be drawing a name from a list of those who participate in the Gifts for Gracias project in some way - like writing about the project on your blog (with a link to the info posted here), getting your home church, Bible study group, homeschool co-op, or whatever other group you might be a part of involved, or simply letting me know that you're making a donation personally. More on this to come in just a few days.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Okay, it's time for me to get my act together

I've been deficient in my blogging lately. I can't even blame it on being especially busy, or having a time of illness, or having electricity/internet problems. Well, I've had a bit of all of those, but not enough to really keep me from the computer very much. I've just been uninspired. I assume others of you go through times like that, occasionally, in whatever kind of work you do.

However, I now have no choice but to motivate myself and get back to blogging, as it's time (and past time) to start the Gifts for Gracias program rolling for 2011. And, to be honest, I'm a bit worried about this.

First of all, we've had a steady decline in donations over the past few years. We've also received fewer and fewer pre-packaged gift boxes. Several dedicated workers in Maryland, who were especially good at collecting used clothing and small gift items, are not available to help with the project this year.

For several years now we've been blessed by the donation of hundreds of gift boxes from a single ministry in North Carolina. This ministry will not be able to participate this year, as they have committed to helping certain ministries directly related to their church instead. This loss, in addition to everything else, is going to make it really tough for us to fill an entire container.

The state of the US economy is such that I know many people won't be able to participate to the level they have in the past. This means that, to make up the difference, we're going to need more participants than ever before.

What am I doing about this?

I have updated the information about how you can be a part of the Gifts for Gracias project on our website, here.

I am planning my first ever give-away on my blog, and it will be tied to participation in the Gifts for Gracias project. More info on that will be forthcoming within the next week or so.

I'm committing myself to blogging regularly, and nagging (oops, that should be reminding) everyone about this project.

And what, you may ask, does the picture of the scruffy sleeping puppy have to do with any of this? Well, I've been working on learning how to use our new camera, as I need to be able to take pictures for the blog, and that's just a random picture I took while practicing using the zoom. That's Boo's lapdog, Buffalo, in the picture. Isn't she a cutie?