Monday, October 29, 2012

Happiness regarding computers and scorpions!

I believe I've resolved the problem we've been having with our computer not wanting to communicate with the internet. It took many hours, over the course of several days, for me to pinpoint the cause of the problem and to research and eventually find the solution. Then it took more hours for me to figure out how to implement the solution - which was re-installing a faulty driver on our "ethernet adapter."

Actually making the repair was a two minute job. (Now I know why the IT guys make the big bucks!)

Since the re-installation I have turned the computer on and off about half a dozen times, and it has connected to the internet without any problems every time. Before the repair, it would easily take a dozen tries before we could get it to connect. So, although I don't know if I've managed a permanent solution, I have definitely made a significant improvement in the situation.

This causes me great happiness!

Want to know what else is causing me happiness just now (at 3 in the morning)?

Today I worked on emptying out my bedroom, so that I can do a very thorough deep cleaning. My allergies told me this couldn't be put off any more, so I've been gradually getting it done. Today I moved the bed out from the wall, although I didn't get a chance to clean behind it yet. When I woke up a short time ago to let out one of the dogs (he really did need to go out, LOL) I noticed that my earlier work had disturbed a largish scorpion, and it had climbed up the wall beside the bed . . . and I was able to dispatch HIM before he got ME!

Double happiness!

Back to bed now . . . but my thoughts and prayers are with the East Coasters as the big storm arrives. Be safe!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Today I'm wearing my "computer maintenance and repair specialist" hat . . .

 . . . and it doesn't fit me all that well.

Our newish desktop computer is having problems connecting to the internet - which honestly is the primary reason we have a computer at all. I've researched the problem online (when I can convince the computer to go online),  and I have several online friends and acquaintances helping me figure out a solution, but so far no go.

Allen always says that he doesn't like working on computers because you can't see the problem you need to fix, and you can't bang on it with a hammer to fix it. I'm feeling this way a bit myself this morning. If nothing else, banging on the uncooperative computer with a hammer would be therapeutic!

As I work on this, I keep checking on the updates regarding the big stormy mess heading toward the mid-Atlantic states. I'm praying for you all!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Found in the garden

Beautiful, don't you think? We kept it for a few days to enjoy looking at it, then let it go.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Construction of basement walls - step 1

The basement walls of my new house are starting to take shape!

After the footers had been poured, and the ground leveled, Russell and the crew started putting up the wall panels. These panels are super-strong, and are designed to hold up to the pressure of very heavy wet concrete being poured into them. The crew has set up and pulled down these panels a lot, in the course of working on bridge projects, so they know what they're doing here.

It appears that the basement walls may be poured on Saturday or Monday. Can you imagine? This house is so much smaller than the houses Allen used to build in the states, and it is so much less involved (the basement, for instance, has no plumbing except a drain in the floor, and the house won't have central heating or AC) that the work seems to go very quickly - at least to me, the one who isn't doing any of it. LOL

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

FLASH FLOOD - and resulting bridge repairs

It's rainy season, and one of the great dangers of rainy season is flash flooding. (Another huge danger is landslides, but this post isn't about landslides.) About a month ago a river near the village of Monte de la Virgin experienced a gigantic flash flood. In telling me about the event, Russell said to try to imagine that a small river suddenly was engulfed by the waters of the Mississippi. A wide swath of land on both sides of the river lost plants and soil, so that now there is a huge rocky bed with a smallish river running through it.

Here's the newly widened riverbed.

See the man? I circled him so you could find him easier. I wanted you to see him, to get a sense of the scale of the destruction. Before the flash flood, soil and plants covered most of the area up to the edge of the water in this picture (on the day this photo was taken, the water level of the river was a bit lower than average). Contrast that with the current situation, and you can see that the amount of water  needed to tear out both banks of the river like this must have been amazing!

One of the bridges we built in the past few years spans this river. It is a swinging or cable bridge (a direct translation of the Spanish name for this type of bridge is a "hammock bridge.") The construction of this bridge makes it suitable for small vehicle traffic, up to pickup trucks. During the flood, the water rose above the level of the bridge deck, and did some damage to the cables holding up the bridge, as well as to the boards which were used to create the deck, and to the side rails. The whole bridge took a lot of pulling and wrenching.

Here is the bridge, undergoing repairs. You can see how high the water had to get, to reach the deck of this bridge!

Six cables run under the deck of the bridge. Two of those cables broke, and three others needed to be tightened back up. After the damage and until the repairs were completed, people continued to use a bridge that only had one of these lower cables functioning correctly. Russell said he saw a car cross the bridge - and that the bridge was sagging down into a "V" shape with the weight of that car!

Fortunately we had some cable on hand, so we were able to make the replacements. The local government supplied the lumber to repair and replace the bridge deck.

Repairs in progress - in this photo you can see the damage to the safety fencing, as well.

Russell and our crew of workers completed those repairs last week, so now the people of that area can safely cross their bridge again . . . and our crew has been able to get back to work on the construction of our house! Yay on both counts!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cloudy Day News - and Construction Progress!

We've had about four or five cloudy days in a row. This is worthy of mention when your household electricity comes from the sun. We count on the few hours each day when we (usually) receive an overwhelming abundance of power. During those hours we run the washing machine and dishwasher, and other non-essentials like vacuums, extra computers, etc. Later in the afternoon, when we have an abundance of power, but not an "overwhelming abundance," we run fewer items, so that we can store up power in the batteries for use after dark.

On cloudy days like today we spend a lot of time turning things on and off. This morning I have plugged and unplugged the chest freezer a couple of times, and I have also started and stopped and started the dishwasher and clothes washer quite frequently. Having lived with solar power for several years now, I've developed a sort of "unconscious consciousness" of sun vs cloud, so that I notice a subtle change in the quantity of light and can jump up from whatever I'm doing and adjust our electricity usage as needed.

Today it looks like I will get one load of dishes and three loads of laundry done, which isn't too bad for an overcast day. I have to stay on top of it, and keep things running whenever we do have enough power, because if I dawdle and need to run high-usage appliances into the afternoon hours when I should be storing up power we'll run low in the evening, and we'll have to curtail our electricity-using activities then. The teens and Ben are used to this . . . they'll watch DVDs on the TV or play Xbox using the TV when we have lots of power, but they'll watch a movie or play games on a laptop computer when power is somewhat limited, and they'll read and play board or card games when the energy situation is dire. We've never had to resort to using candles or oil lamps, as we have a generator we run when the weather has been especially dark.

This particular cloudy day, while difficult for running appliances, was lovely weather for mixing and pouring concrete! It's an especially exciting day, because todays construction project was creating the footers for the basement walls of my new house! (Sorry the photo quality is lower than usual - Boo was experimenting with the settings today.)

Next step: putting up the actual basement walls!!!!!

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Motorcycle Pastors

These are some of the recipients of the recent motorcycle distribution. We're so pleased to be able to help these pastors overcome some of the difficulties related to ministering in such mountainous terrain, over difficult (sometimes non-existent) roads. This amazing blessing is made possible by the members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, and we're so grateful to them for their efforts on behalf of world evangelism!

I think this is so great! Some of these pastors oversee 3 or 4 (or more) churches in different villages, preaching several nights each week. Lack of good transportation can be a major obstacle to their work, so this blessing is huge for them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

MINISTRY - an update

When I think you've heard enough about our gardening, baking, animal and homeschooling craziness, I remember to write a post about the ministry . . . you know, the reason we're here in Honduras at all, right? So, here's an update on the ministry for you!

Yesterday Russell distributed motorcycles to pastors. It's a big deal, and yet it feels sort of ordinary to us, now that we've done this so many times. It is certainly a big deal to the recipients!

Preparations are underway for the annual graduation of the Pastor Training School. Following the graduation ceremony the school will be out of session for a few months, and will restart in February or March.

The Gifts for Gracias project is coming together. There are just a few more days to ship a package of gifts or used items in the mail to Maryland - the mailing deadline is October 20th. If you live near enough to Thurmont Maryland that you would care to make a delivery in person, you'll have another week or two for that.

I'm still worried about whether or not we'll get enough donations to fill our container . . .but I have to admit I worry about it every year, so I'm trying to hope and pray, instead of worrying. Seems like a better use of my time.

The bridge construction work is mostly on hold until January, when the water levels in the rivers will be lower. The Bible sales and feeding centers continue to run on "automatic" - okay, so really Iris handles most of the work on these ministries for us - and they are going strong!

We had a team from Jacksonville Florida here recently, and they helped us install roofs on two churches, as part of our Church Construction Projects. Thanks team!

Of course, on top of this, when there's some "spare time" we work on our new house! It's an exciting time for us!

Thanks for reading this ministry update . . . and look how many labels I was able to connect with this post - I actually went over the limit (who knew there even was a limit to how many labels you could tag to a post?) and had to remove some of them!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taking the Good with the Bad

I had one really lousy day this past week. Friday started off badly with disobedient and destructive animals, and went on to include a trip to town to make sure that a deposit had been made correctly into our bank account (it wasn't, by the way - less than the entire amount was deposited, so I have that to deal with Monday morning). Then, to top it all off, I managed to ruin - absolutely destroy, really - one of the tires of Russell's Land Cruiser by driving too close to the sharp top of a piece of metal pipe sticking up about 3" along the side of the main road through Gracias. The sharp piece of metal snagged a long rip in the side of one of Russell's brand new (of course!), expensive tires. Sigh.

This is not Russell's tire, as I didn't have a camera with me. It's a random internet photo of a flat tire.

The good side of all this is also one of the nicest things about living in Honduras - people are soooooo ready to help you when you have a problem! I think it might be because life is hard here, and everybody needs some help from strangers sometime.

The incident happened on the main road, a one-way road with parking allowed only on one side . . . and my car was immobilized on the other side of the road, with just barely enough room for trucks to get through between me and the parked cars. This situation slowed traffic a good bit, and many people stopped to ask if I needed any help.

Several men got involved in trying to help, but Russell's tires have nuts which can only be removed with a special tool - and we didn't have that tool in the vehicle with us. These men were able to help us find the jack in the back of the Land Cruiser, jack up the vehicle, and remove the spare tire, which is attached underneath, sort of between the two back tires.

Russell (who was out of town, driving my Land Cruiser) called a mechanic friend, who immediately walked the few blocks from his home to our location, with the correct tool, and removed the popped tire. Unfortunately, the spare was significantly under-inflated, and couldn't be used until it was pumped up. We were stopped in front of one of the small radio stations in town, and the gentleman who runs the radio station immediately offered us the use of his truck, to take the spare tire to be filled. Rachel and the mechanic headed off with the tire, while I stayed back and directed traffic (one of the emergency flashers on the back of the Land Cruiser wasn't working, so other drivers weren't always aware that my vehicle was disabled, and these people needed to be directed around the problem).

Eventually I was back on the road, though much shakier in my driving than previously. I hate that I ruined and have to replace a brand new and expensive tire! It makes me want to stay at home and out of trouble from now on, but of course that won't be possible. I just need to take the good with the bad, remember that these kinds of things will happen, and be grateful that I live in a place where so many people are anxious to help when I get myself into a difficult situation!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Today was a good day:

We had cherry, blueberry and apple pies, plus a monster chicken pot pie! Thanks for all the hard work, Rachel!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ran out of ground coffee this morning . . .

. . . so we pulled out the beans and ground some more!

Nice to live in a coffee producing area!

Nice job Ben (and Boo, who helped too, beyond just taking the pictures).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

"Watch your background!"

Whenever we post pictures to the blog, I always like to crop out the unattractive parts of the photos. It seems like there's always something to crop out . . . dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, raggedy underwear on the clothesline, a dog happily smeared with manure, . . . you get the idea.

Then there are the more permanent eyesores - I try to keep those out of the photos, as well. There's the shipping container we use to store tools and construction supplies. I'm glad we have the container - otherwise all of that stuff would be in our bodega/house with us - but the container itself is still fairly hideous, and it's the first thing you see when you come up onto our property. There's the pigpen, made of panels for pouring concrete. It's not attractive to look at, or to smell. At least I don't have to crop smells out of my photos! Large portions of our bodega/house are used for storage, and these areas are ugly, but I just choose not to look at those places. It works for me.

When I send Boo to take a specific photo for the blog, I'm always telling her, "Remember to watch your background!" By that I mean that she should keep the random ugly stuff out of the photo. We all ignore it so much that it's easy to forget what it looks like to others! I'll continue to try to crop out the ugliness from my photos but I thought, for the sake of honesty, I should share some of the less attractive things occasionally.

This morning I had Boo read what I've written thus far, and then I sent her out to document the current level of ugliness. Here we go:

Nice, huh? Reminds me of some hillbilly hangouts I've seen . . .

A view of the shipping container, from the other end. Delightful! I have to tell you, too, that Russell just recently tidied up this area, as the stuff had spread, as stuff will do.

The pigpen - bringing joy to ALL of your senses. LOL

Now, while the photos of miscellaneous piles of construction materials and big holes in the ground aren't attractive, they aren't UGLY to me . . . they are indications that my house is being built! So, although Boo took some pictures of them, and I'm posting them to show what things look like around here just now, I want you to know that they are kind of beautiful to me. LOL

Up to about 7' tall or so, our current house/bodega mostly looks like a house. But, since we don't have interior walls, and are using bookcases to divide the space into rooms, you can see right over the 7' of "house" to see, along the exterior walls, the part of the building that is obviously "bodega." This is the part I pretend not to see, most of the time.

And that's all I'm going to say about the ugliness. I mostly just ignore it, and look at the view whenever possible:

Ahhhhhhh - that's better!