Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Hondu-versary!

11 years ago, on the last day of February (it was the 28th that year), the Sowers family arrived in Honduras, for what we expected to be a two to three year stay. We spent that first night in the city of La Ceiba, and caught a flight the next morning to our destination - the island of Guanaja. The kids were 13, 11, 9, 6, and 4. Gus turned 7 on our first day on Guanaja.

Obviously, things didn't go exactly as we'd planned: all these years later we're still in Honduras, though no longer on Guanaja. Yesterday I helped Gus sign up for Selective Service, as he's turning 18 tomorrow.

Now four of my children are officially adults, and Allen and I are figuring out what it will look like to grow old and retire in Honduras. We're not done working or raising a family - not by a long shot - but as we set up our lives on our property in the mountains outside the city of Gracias, we're trying to think about longevity, and how to arrange things so that we can continue to live and work here as we become less . . . well, less young. LOL

Monday, February 27, 2012

Just another picture

Busy, busy, busy - so I'm just putting up a photo from our collection of Honduran scenery pictures . . . sky scenery, this time. It may not be a fabulous picture, but it is my favorite shade of blue!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Handmade Toy

Boo and David went along with Allen to visit a very remote village at the top of Puka Puka Mountain. The village was so remote, that after driving up the mountain, they still had to hike quite a ways uphill through the woods to get there.

Boo took this photo, of a child's toy, in that village.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Shout Out to my Website Advisors . . .

Hey all - I made some changes on the website, based on the suggestions in the comments on the previous post. I think they're an improvement. Please take a look, and tell me what you think, okay? The changes only appear on the home page, right now. And Laurie, I've only been able to get rid of 2 buttons so far, but I'm still pondering that one.

In general, I think the site looks much less "feminine" than previously. Considering that it's really my hubby who does all the ministry work, and so much of that is construction, a less feminine look is probably not a bad thing. LOL.

Thanks friends!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A funny story, and a request for your help/advice

First the story:

I gave Ben the keys to the girls' bedroom, and told him to go through their room, to the back porch of the house, and give the cats food and water. I've learned a secret method for making this notorious dawdler hurry up a bit when doing chores . . . I start a timer, and I tell him that however much time is left on the timer when he returns, he can have for computer game time. Off he ran.

Fifteen minutes later he hadn't returned, and this was odd - he's been very fast about little chores like this, since I've started using my secret method. So, I went looking for him.

Ben was pretty upset, because he'd already done his chore and re-locked the girls' bedroom, and he'd lost the keys! Had he left them inside the room, or were they out on the ground somewhere? He didn't know.

Luckily, I have some spare keys, so I was able to open the bedroom door. Upon doing this, I saw that the deadbolt was locked, as well as the doorknob - which meant that the door had to have been locked from the outside, using the keys.

I sent Ben out to search around the outside of the house for those keys, and told him that he was on computer restriction until they were found. I had already looked around a bit, but I figured he'd know exactly where he'd been, and would hopefully do a good job of looking, in order to get future computer time.

A few minutes later he returned with the keys. He asked me "Were the cows up on the yard in front of the girls' room when you were looking for the keys up there?" When I replied that they had been, he said, "That's what I figured. I found the keys when I shooed them away. One of the cows was lying on top of them."

You've always heard that you'll find things in the last place you'd look, right? Have you checked under your cows lately?

Now the request:

I'm wondering if any of you would be willing to visit the home page of our official website,, and tell me if you find anything about it difficult to use, or unattractive, or if there's anything else that you think should be changed. Once I start making changes to the site, I get attached to the work I've already done, and I'm not completely objective anymore.

Thanks for the help!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Some Unusual Days

Things are a bit different around my house these days. Three of the kids - Rachel, Gus, and Boo - were asked to travel along with a visiting team to help with translating. This isn't a team Allen and I are hosting, so the kids are off in remote areas of the mountains with the team, and without us parents! This is the first time the kids have been hired to work like this, and they're mighty excited about the opportunity.

Meanwhile, Ben and I are handling everything on the home front that would usually be spread out amongst more people. Every morning we feed and water the cats, dogs, cows, bunny, and pigs. At noon the pigs need more water, and we have to fill the cows' water at intervals throughout the day, because they broke the side of the wide plastic bucket we've been using to give them water, and now it doesn't hold very much! In the late afternoon we again feed the cows, pigs and dogs. During the rainy season the cows wouldn't need as much food, but grazing is pretty scarce now that dry season is here. We also have to water the garden, and clean up whatever messes any animals have made in inappropriate places.

Fortunately, there's much less to do in the way of dishes, cooking, and laundry, with only three of us at home. To make up for the lack of work in those areas, one of the dogs went into heat, and we're having to keep our two adult male dogs apart, or they'll try to kill each other. We keep one of the males inside, and one outside, at all times, and switch them occasionally. The in-heat female is one of the labs, so she has to stay with the male lab, so we don't end up with lab/rottweiler puppies. The hormonally insane males did have a bad fight when she first went into heat, so I'm nursing a torn ear on one of the males. Also, with the older kids gone (for several weeks), I'm having to take on the task of making up Christmas boxes. In the midst of all of this, I'm currently Ben's only source of conversation, and he's a massively chatty dude - so imagine all of this activity with a background drone of one-sided conversation about the plots of animated movies, what Ben dreamed last night, new inventions he's figuring out how to build, and questions on the order of: "Mom, which is your favorite venomous snake?"

Allen, of course, is gone pretty much all day every day, as he and Russell and their crew frantically fight against time to complete the bridge project before the end of the dry season. At this point, there is still a slim chance that they could finish in time - assuming the weather cooperates, materials all get to the site on time, no equipment breaks down, enough volunteers show up on the days they are needed, etc. I did mention this was a slim chance, right? But it's enough of a chance that the menfolk are still trying hard to finish before the rains start.

On top of everything else, I've decided I just can't wait any longer to work on updating our website. I've neglected it terribly, and I'm just going to have to find the time to spruce it up, change out pictures, and update the information. This morning, I chose a new background and graphics for the site. It's not a big change, pretty subtle really, but it makes me feel like it's a bit fresher, since it isn't the same background I've been looking at for several years. If you want to take a look, the website is The website has around 25 different pages, so this will be a long process. I might take on a page or so each day, for the next month - since I've got nothing much else to do . . .

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Corquin Copan church construction project

We received an email with these pictures, from a church in Corquin Copan. I wrote here about how we manage the requests for funding of church construction projects, and it's clear this church knows the rules. They sent us this series of photos, showing how the construction has progressed so far.

It won't be long until this church building is ready for a roof, and then yet another congregation in the rural mountain villages of western Honduras will have a place to gather for worship. It truly is our priviledge to help, and we're so grateful to those who have chosen to partner with us on these projects!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another bridge construction update

This is another set of pictures taken on a day when a group of volunteers, from one of the nearby villages, was helping pour concrete to make the walls which will hold up the ends of the bridge.

If you look through the pictures, you can find:

-men carrying large stones, and throwing them into the wall panels

-men mixing concrete in large flat metal pans

-men carrying buckets of concrete, and dumping them into the wall panels

-men standing at the edge of the pit where the walls are being constructed, supervising

-wall panels (into which the concrete is poured and stones are thrown) about up to ground level

-men standing around, doing nothing at all (I have no idea what was holding up the work in those later pictures)

Maybe I have these pictures in backwards order, and the men were just gathering waiting for the work to begin. Could be . . . I wasn't actually there . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cleaning the "Man Cave"

My husband can fix almost anything. He's wonderful to have around when anything needs to be repaired (he's nice to have around other times, as well). However, having a handy hubby has come with a cost. He collects stuff.

To me, Allen's stuff appears to be of no value, and it's messy looking. I'm no neatnik myself, but I wouldn't save broken appliances, leftover screws, or bits of wire, for instance. Allen would - and he does. I'd complain about the mess, except that every now and then, when something around the house breaks, Allen goes into his messy pile of stuff and pulls out just what he needs to fix the broken item. So, I figure I'd better leave it alone, for the most part.

(An anecdote: A few months ago, I was attempting to pressure can some vegetables, and the pressure wasn't coming up on the canner. I took the canner apart, and realized that somehow, in washing and putting away the canner after the previous use, we'd lost a tiny plastic/rubber/something gasket thingie that goes around the screw which holds the pressure gauge in place. Without the thingie, the canner wouldn't seal, and would be useless. Allen found, in his collection, some sort of bolt with a similar plastic gasket. He removed it, cut it to size, and I was back to canning in a few minutes.)

Unfortunately, Allen doesn't like putting things away. He does like to be able to find things when he needs them, but he just doesn't like the cleanup part of any repair or construction job. So, occasionally, we have to neaten-up his stuff for him. Of course, we don't dare throw anything away, and we have to try to organize things in a way that will make sense to Allen. This job rarely falls to me, because I've never worked alongside Allen when he does construction or repair work. The kids have, and so they have a much better idea of what each tool or miscellaneous "item of value" would be used for. If I straightened up, we'd have plumbing tools and electrical supplies and carpentry items all mixed up together . . . and that wouldn't be a good thing, when I wanted a plumbing, electrical, or construction repair done around the house!

When Kirstin still lived with us, she handled the task of keeping the tools and construction/repair supplies situation under control, and she generally didn't leave it to become a complete disaster, but tried to straighten up fairly regularly. Since she's been gone, this job hasn't become anyone's personal responsibility, so things can get pretty far out of control before we step in and tackle it.

Here are some photos from the last cleanup. Gus took all the loose items off the shelves and spread them out on the steps, so he could see everything. Then, he put all the stuff into the appropriate containers, and got it all back on the shelves in an organized manner.

Ta Daaaaaah! I have to admit though, these pictures are a few months old, and the shelves currently are not as neat as that final picture (or as untidy as the top photos). I'd better schedule another man cave cleanup day . . . soon!

A disclaimer: If Allen had a blog, and posted pictures of one of my messy spots, I'd be mad. He won't be mad at me, which is nice of him. He's a good guy to have around!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Just A Pretty View

I really, really like living up where I can enjoy the vistas!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Arachnophobia - an abnormal fear of spiders

Arachnophobia. I hope you don't have it, because this post involves spiders. Many, many, many spiders.

Boo was wandering about our property, camera in hand, looking for pictures waiting to be taken. She saw what looked like an odd spot of moss, growing on the wall of the bodega:

Upon closer inspection, Boo found that this was a dense mass of spiders, something along the lines of a grand daddy long legs - or rather, a massive and tightly packed gathering of grand daddies!

As Boo stood watching, the spiders untangled themselves and started off, each in their own direction . . .

. . . until eventually, there was nothing left to show that a major grand daddy gathering had taken place on this spot.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Soft Pretzels!

Good stuff has been happening in my kitchen lately.

Rachel used a copycat recipe we found on the internet. Since we've never eaten "Auntie Anne's" soft pretzels, we don't know if these are like that brand, but they were good eating!

Just for fun, Ben helped make lots of pretzel bits.

We don't recommend trying to keep these pretzels to eat later, as they are much better when fresh and warm. We did successfully toast some a day later, and they were very acceptable, but there's just nothing like a fresh, hot, soft pretzel!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ugh. Head lice. Ugh.

This morning, as I was combing my hair, I found a bug. Then another bug. And I knew. Sigh. Head lice.

In the course of 11 years in Honduras, this isn't our first bout with lice, but you never really get over the "yuck" factor. I'm pretty sure the kids picked up this infestation during some recent visits to the baby orphanage in Santa Rosa de Copan. Since we made those visits while Katy was still here, I now get to write an awkward email to her mom.

Sigh again.

Ben is getting all his hair cut off right now. That's the easy method for dealing with lice in boy hair. The girls and I will have to get rid of our lice the hard way. I almost have the urge to take the clippers to myself . . . almost.

Now I'm off to write that email. Sigh.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First lessons in milking

Have you ever milked . . . a dog? Well, now Boo can say she has.

Bunny, one of our lab-mixes, presented us with four puppies over the weekend, one of which died during the first night. She had lots of milk for her three remaining pups. Whether due to the excess of milk, or whether it was a different problem, we don't know - but two of Bunny's teats became badly swollen, and then hot and tender.

I was concerned for her, so I asked a gringa friend, who has worked in the past in veterinary care, to take a look at Bunny. Our friend suggested we needed to get the bad milk out . . . that the puppies wouldn't nurse on those teats until we had fresh milk flowing from them. She also explained that the problem could spread to the other teats, and a serious infection could arise.

Sooo, Boo took on the job. She hand milked the dog several times over the weekend. Thankfully, this is a very easy-going dog! Today, for the first time, those two teats look like all the rest, and the pups are nursing on them!

Hurrah! Boo should be all set when the time comes to start milking the cows!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Herd

Aren't they a happy looking group?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There they go . . .

The Christmas gifts for pastors and their families are going out the door!

When we first started distributing pastor gifts in Lempira, we took the time to deliver each gift individually to the homes of the pastors. This gave Allen a good chance to meet the pastors of the area and to get a sense of the towns and villages where they were working. It also took weeks and weeks to accomplish!

Now that a few years have passed (this is our seventh year doing a Christmas gift project in Lempira) we already know most of the pastors - especially as many attend (or have graduated from) our pastor training school. With Allen and Russell so very busy with bridge construction these days, we asked the pastoral supervisors for the various denominations to pick up and deliver the gifts to those working under them.

Today I'm posting some pictures of a supervisor (and some of his family) picking up the boxes for his denomination's pastors.

The supervisors give us a list of their pastors, along with the necessary information about each family. We make up the gifts, and let the supervisors know when the gifts are ready. When the supervisor comes to pick up the gifts, we check each gift off on their list, so there aren't any questions later about whether they received all of the requested gifts.

Katie and Boo check each gift off the list as that box is loaded in the truck.
Commando keeps cool in the shade of one of the trucks, fairly clearly giving the signal that he's on security detail.

This larger denomination required two pickup trucks to carry all the gifts!

Our thanks go out again, to everyone who helped with the Gifts for Gracias Christmas project this year!