Saturday, October 29, 2011

-echnology -roubles

Well, I've recently had a bit of trouble with my newish laptop computer. This particular computer was a bargain, purchased as a refurbished unit. I've had great success with this type of purchase in the past . . . but this time, sadly, it seems I got what I paid for.

The laptop has given me so much trouble, right from the beginning. I felt terrible about having spent money on a piece of equipment which couldn't manage even the basic tasks required without glitching and crashing, so I took the time to attempt some repairs and improvements. At one point, I had to reinstall the operating system, taking the computer back to it's factory settings. It's a good thing I hadn't had the thing long enough to have important documents or pictures saved on it.

Eventually I had that laptop humming. It was fast, and not in the least glitchy. I'm so not a technical kind of person, and I was inordinately proud of myself. But, as you all know, pride comes before a fall. All of a sudden, with no warning, I could no longer type the letter "T". Just like that. No amount of wiggling the key, finessing the key, or pounding on the key would convince the machine to type that one, extremely important letter. I couldn't even type my own name!

In the short time that I'd had the laptop running well, I'd really gotten used to the ease of setting up to type on the couch, or on my bed, or just anywhere. Suddenly working at the old, weatherbeaten desktop computer seemed a burden. I could still browse the internet on the laptop (as long as I could find a way to insert each url without typing a "T"), but I certainly couldn't write emails or blogposts - so I sort of fell out of communications for a bit.

I'm trying to get over it now. I have a new keyboard for the laptop coming down in six weeks or so . . . until then, I'll just have to deal with my disappointment, and steel myself for my next adventure in computer repairs. If anyone out there has changed out their own laptop keyboard, and wants to give me some pointers, I'm listening!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Have you heard about the terrible weather we're having in Central America?

Well, if you have heard about it, it wasn't from me that you heard. I'm up here on our mountain, having some quiet, overcast days. We're not having much rain at all - less than the previous few weeks. It has been windier than usual, but nothing close to being dangerous. It has been cooler, so we've put on sweaters and pulled out some extra blankets for the beds. But really, nothing worth mentioning, in the way of weather, is happening up here.

A few days ago, I heard on the news that several Central American countries, including Honduras, have been having significant flooding and some mudslides, and there have been the attendant damage and deaths which accompany these events. That was the first I'd heard that anything out-of-the-ordinary was going on.

Yesterday I was in town, doing some shopping and banking, and we saw several troop transport trucks rolling in. Russell mentioned that the president of the congress, Juan Orlando, was in town (or soon to arrive in town), as he was planning to visit some of the flooding-affected areas in our part of the country. It was news to me that there was any flooding in our part of Honduras. I'm just blissfully ignorant up here on our little mountain, I guess.

Last night I read, on a blog I follow, about significant flooding and damage on the north coast of Honduras. Here's Patty's blog post, with lots of pictures of the weather-related damage, and the flooding.

So, now I'm in the know, and I'm sharing the depths of my knowledge with you. Bad weather is happening, apparently all around us, and the only way it has affected the Sowers family is that we aren't getting enough sun each day to power everything we need (and/or want) to run, so we're having to supplement our power supply by using the generator occasionally.

Our prayers are with those who are suffering from this weather event.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Horses for Pastors

While we're heavily involved in helping rural pastors get motorcycles to use in their ministries, there are some for whom a motorcycle isn't the best tool. Some pastors and evangelists work in areas where the "roads" aren't good enough for even dirt bikes. Some are too poor to afford the fuel and maintenance costs of a motorcycle. So, we sometimes help pastors acquire horses and mules, instead of motorcycles.

Here are some pastors who have recently received horses/mules:

The majority of our pastors have churches in several different villages, so help with their transportation needs is a real blessing to them. As always, your donations are what make it possible for us to help the pastors, as they continue the work of evangelism and church planting in the mountains of western Honduras.

Friday, October 21, 2011

We're making hats!

It gets cold up here in the mountains! Why last night, it was down below sixty degrees, if you can even believe that! Before the cold part of the year is over with, we may experience temps in the forties! We used to consider such temperatures mildly cold, when we lived in a more northerly clime, but apparently our blood has thinned to tropical norms, and we start to shiver when it gets down below seventy or so.

The Hondurans feel the cold, too. This year, to help ensure that we have enough gifts for the pastors and their families, and also to have a fun project, we've been knitting warm hats. Mostly I'm doing the knitting, but Boo is in charge of putting in any necessary seams and weaving in the loose ends of yarn, while Rachel and David make and attach pompoms.

Here's our intrepid hat model, displaying a recently completed hat:

We've completed about a dozen hats so far. Since we give gifts to hundreds of families, we're not planning a hat for everyone. We're just doing what we can.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cleaning day at Trish's house

When you live in a bodega (warehouse), cleaning the house from "top to bottom" takes on a new meaning. It's higher, more athletic, a bit more dangerous, than regular house cleaning. Our home/bodega was significantly overdue for a thorough cleaning, and we knew that we needed to start high, and work our way down, since we'd be dropping so much dirt and dust and so many disembodied bug wings down onto the lower levels.

I hadn't planned to clean the tops of the open trusses, but I did send Gus up there - 15 feet above the cement floor - to clear out some large and distracting cobwebs. When he got up there, however, he said it was soooo dirty that it didn't make sense to clean anything else without dusting/sweeping the trusses, since this dirt would just keep falling on us from above. So, Gus swept the dirt off the trusses, cleared out the cobwebs, and wiped down the cords which hang down for the lights.

(Check out the bottoms of Gus' feet, and his seat, for some idea of the amount of dust up on the trusses!)

While Gus was up in the air, David had the job of assisting him from ground level - a surprisingly entertaining job, involving tying rags and the broom onto pieces of rope draped over the trusses and raising and lowering them to Gus as needed.

Meanwhile, Bethany worked on the loft/storage area above the bathroom.

Continuing our progression from top to bottom, Gus brought in our tallest ladder, to take down the quilt which hangs on the wall above the kitchen sink. The quilt is in the laundry now, and Gus wiped down the wall behind the quilt, where bugs and spiders had sometimes made cozy homes for themselves (this is the photo at the top of this post). He also scrubbed off the pencil line Russell had made on the wall, above the level of the quilt, when Russell first hung it up. How that line has bugged me, but I couldn't get up there to wipe it off! I'm glad it's gone!

Next on the list was cleaning the high side windows. These haven't been washed since we moved into the bodega, since they're impossible to reach without involving a ladder and some careful walking along the tops of high bookcases. Boo, being small and spry, was given this job.

As I type this, the kids are currently working on the next level of dirt, washing off the tops of the bookcases which serve us in place of walls, dividing up the large space of the bodega into smaller rooms.

I'd better get off the computer now, and get back to helping my enthusiastic cleaning crew!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


We're already seeing some growth on those dead-looking berry bush cuttings we received last week! Well, only on one plant so far, and it was the best looking one of the bunch, as it had some roots connected to it. At any rate, I'm delighted to see that we've got some activity here.

Take a look:

Wahoooooo! And yes, I am easily excited. LOL.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Honduras hits the International News - and that's never good

I know how the news works - stories about the good things that happen aren't generally considered news. Bad things, like murders, weather disasters, scandals, etc are always news. So, it pretty much goes without saying that when there are stories in the international news about Honduras, it won't be anything to brag about.

So, here we are, in the news.

The United Nations put out a report, ranking the countries of the world by their homicide rate, related to the size of the population. Guess who "won" top billing? Yep, Honduras. Read about it here. (That link, by the way, isn't to an international news source, but the story is out on those sites, as well.)

La Gringa's Blogicito has an article today on this topic, explaining - among other things - how the number of murders happening in Honduras is certainly significantly under-reported. That's not exactly reassuring. Here's her report.

And, on Friday, a group of men were killed, execution style, in the parking lot of the largest and busiest airport in Honduras - the one we happen to use whenever we travel. Several bystanders were apparently injured, as stray shots entered the main waiting area of the airport. Here's the CNN article about that event, which is significantly lacking in details. The Honduras News website article(in English) has lots more info.

For those of you who worry about us personally, we're still comparatively safe up here in our rural, mountainous home. Crime is increasing here, as well, but isn't to the levels of the big cities. Of course, we do have to travel to the cities fairly frequently, so we are exposed to this higher level of danger at times. Prayers for our safety would always be appreciated.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I receive lots of comments on the blog that you never get to read. Most of those include helpful links to online gambling sites, prescriptions-by-mail businesses, and then some really seedy stuff that I won't detail here.

The responses containing links generally include flattery about what a good job I'm doing on writing the blog. These reviews would be more appreciated if the links weren't attached! Here's a sample of a lovely thought I received, but didn't post in the comment section, because of the link:

"I really like the path you are posting! you enjoy an interesting essence of estimate!"

Now tell me, who wouldn't enjoy receiving uplifting encouragement like that? I may go around all day whispering to myself "You enjoy an interesting essence of estimate." I'm not certain just what it means, but it sure sounds purty.

October Garden Update

I haven't posted much about the garden lately - but it's not because we haven't been working at it. It's more because we've had so many failures lately.

I've learned, though. I now know that too much rain is not good for the garden. Probably lots of you already knew that, but sometimes I just have to try for myself and find out. Yep. Too much water = dead plants. Even though I'm gardening in raised beds with good drainage, my plants weren't able to overcome the sheer quantity (and probably also the driving force) of the rains we get during the rainy season, which is basically from late April/early May through October.

With the end of the rainy season in sight, we've started getting ready to really grow some food, maybe. Some plants need to have their seeds placed right into the ground, but others can be started inside and then transplanted.

Right now, I have green peppers growing in little pots:

There are also some sunflowers just starting to come up:

I learned a few weeks ago that there are wild berry bushes (I think they're raspberry, but they might be blackberry, and I don't really care which they are) growing on a mountain not too far from Gracias. I hired one of the pastors that comes into town for the pastor school, and who comes from a village on that mountain, to bring me some cuttings. I'm not knowledgeable about this kind of thing, and neither was this particular pastor. Here's what he brought me:

I've seen plants that looked deader than these come back to life, so I have hope that these will gradually grow into plants with berries. We'll see. Right now I have some sitting in water, and some planted in very wet dirt . . . I'll let you know what happens with these.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Yep, I've been sick . . . plus, Church Construction in Canadas de Belen

We've been passing around a flu bug down here, and I had to take my turn. I'm back up and going now, and I need to announce the winners of the give-away . . . but not just yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Russell recently received some pictures of a current church construction project, and I thought I'd show you those today. This church is being built by a congregation in a town called Canadas de Belen. I figured I'd use the posting of these photos as an opportunity to explain how we handle assisting churches with construction projects.

First, let me make it clear that we don't ever want to step in and "give" a church building to a congregation. Does that sound awful? It has been our experience that people appreciate things they've worked for much more than they appreciate things that are given to them for nothing. In the end, we want the congregation to know that this is their church building, not ours. It isn't unusual for congregations which have received a "gift" of a church building to then assume that the giver will also pay for furnishings, maintenance, etc. We want to avoid setting up a situation like that.

Second, as you might imagine, we always have to deal with having less money for church construction than we have requests for help. That's just the way it's going to be, and we've had to figure out a way to spread out the funds to more churches, while still managing to be a legitimate help to each church.

With these goals and limitations in mind, here's what we've come up with, over the years, as a system for helping with church construction projects.

We require the church to purchase/own their land, and that land must be titled in the name of the church, not to any individual. This is important so that the building doesn't become someone's personal property after some future church squabble or something. It's been known to happen, so this requirement helps to prevent that.

Because the early stages of the construction process involve lots of labor but not much expense for purchased materials, we don't get involved in helping with the funding of a building until the walls are up. (Allen is frequently involved in giving construction advice during these stages, however.) The members of the congregation dig the footers, and haul stones, sand and gravel from the rivers to make the footers. Then they make the adobe bricks by hand, using local clay. Once the bricks are dry, they can build the walls. A small amount of cement is generally used in these early stages - some is used in the footers, some to create headers above the doors and windows, and then some to construct a concrete band around the tops of the walls, which helps to create a stronger building.

For those non-construction types amongst my readers . . . in the photo above, a bit of the footer is noted with a red circle, while a header above the door is circled in blue. The poured concrete beam around the tops of the walls is hidden behind those wooden boards, which were used to create the form to hold the concrete until it dried. Being a non-construction person myself, I have great sympathy for those who don't know the lingo. LOL.

That's how much is completed at this time on that particular church. The next step will be to build the roof structure. Usually the church will harvest wood locally, and have one of those highly skilled chainsaw guys come and cut the lumber into boards. (See this post for more on the chainsaw guys - they're pretty amazing.) Once the boards are up on the roof, then the roofing material - usually either clay tiles or metal sheet roofing - is installed. This part of the project involves an outlay of cash, so this is the part where we help churches with funds, when we can do so.

Once the roof is on, congregations often begin meeting in their church building, as the rest of the structure (doors, windows, floors, etc) is gradually completed. You can see how our limited amount of funding goes into the construction of more churches this way.

I'm posting the picture below, just because it's the kind of thing I like to show you here . . . that's the scaffolding the church members built and are using in the process of constructing this church. Kind of scary, don't you think?