Monday, December 31, 2007

Looking Back

Our time in the states has come to an end. We have travelled over 4500 miles in the car. We have loaded and unloaded our luggage 13 times. We have been in 12 different churches, 10 of which Marc spoke in. We have been on two college campuses. We have spent precious time with family and friends. We have used hundreds of phone minutes. Thank goodness for rollover minutes. I have eaten the best Mexican food in Fairview Heights and Columbus and points in between. I have eaten hamburgers and bacon and biscuits. I have been to Sonic and had cokes with ice. I have been to Wal-Mart so many times that I am tired of it. I have hugged my kids and hugged my friends. I have made new friends. There has been girl time way into the night, let's-grab-a-cup-of-coffee moments, lunches with friends. We have shared our ministry with many in churches, in homes, in restaurants and many other places. I have laughed and cried. I have been re-energized, renewed, encouraged. I have my batteries recharged. I have been blessed by everyone with which I came in contact. Today, we went to the best three year old birthday party ever. What fun. Now it is time to return to Honduras and I am ready. There is much work to be done in 2008. And we can't wait any longer to get busy.

This year has been an interesting one to say the least. Our daughter was married. A year ago, I had no idea I would be moving to Honduras. Oh my, the changes that have occurred in our lives. There is absolutely no way to adequately say how grateful I am, for family, for friends, both old and new, and for every act of kindness I have been shown. Thank you is not enough to all of you that email, send e-cards, send books or jergens lotion. The ones that just keep me up to date on news and events, the ones that encourage and pray. Even though it seems inadequate for all you do for me, all I can say is thank you.

Please keep us in your prayers as we travel back to Honduras and as we begin our work again. Please share your prayer requests with me as well.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Old Barns

As we have travelled the last month, I have taken note of the old barns. From the flat farmland of Illinois to the rolling hills of Tennessee to the Smokies, to the tall pines of Georgia, to the empty cotton fields of Mississippi to the brushy, cattle-grazing ranchland of Texas, I have seen barns. All kinds of barns. Tall barns, short barns, big barns, little barns, fat barns, red barns, white barns, green barns, black barns, metal barns. Personally, I like the wood barns in the midwest more than the metal barns in Texas and Oklahoma.

Most barns of any age at all, and some that are not so old, have seen their share of storms. Some barns have completely crumpled from the storms and are now nothing more than a broken pile of wood. Some barns are tilting and fragile as if the slightest little gust of wind would be the end of them. Many barns, after they have withstood all kinds of storms, are still standing. Oh yes, they show the signs of having lived through the storms. Some are just a bit saggy and their boards are silvered, having aged during the storm. Even though they are worse for the wear, they stand there knowing they survived the storm.

Whatever storm you might be facing, I hope you end up with a few more silvered boards and not as a broken pile of wood.


Wednesday, December 26, 2007


This year for Christmas we spent less. We shopped less. We made less preparations. We sent no Christmas cards. We got caught up in the franticness less. Even in the busyness of travel, we sat and visited with friends and family more. We listened more. We talked more. I got beat at spades again. We enjoyed that precious time with family and friends more. We had the best Christmas ever. I hope you did.


Monday, December 24, 2007


We have been in the states for over three weeks and have been in many places, mostly churches sharing our work. I have not done a good job of recording these visits, but we have been warmly received in all of them. Last night we went to Wheeler, Texas, a small town just over an hour from Borger. Unless someone grew up in the Texas panhandle, it is hard to describe just how friendly people from these little towns can be, and Wheeler was no exception to that general rule. Wheeler has a population of around 1000 and it was a cold winter night right before Christmas. There was not a huge attendance, but those that were there opened their hearts as if they had known us forever. Marc always does such a good job with or without powerpoint. Even with powerpoint during only part of the presentation. We visited a while after church and then moved that visiting and fellowship to the diner, the only thing left open after 7:00 at night in Wheeler. As we continued visiting and talking about our work in Honduras, I feasted on a hamburger. The kind of hamburger I was thinking about when I previously wrote that I wanted a hamburger while in the states. The kind of hamburger that only little diners can make. A hamburger thrown on the griddle and cooked just right. Then the buns are thrown on the griddle and grilled. The kind of hamburger that is hard to eat without making a big mess because it leaks. I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship and the food, and, as always we left Wheeler with more new friends.

I do hope everyone has a Merry Christmas.


Saturday, December 22, 2007

Blizzard Conditions

We are now in Borger, Texas. This is where both Marc and I grew up. Our families still live in this little panhandle town. Last night when we went to bed, the weather prediction was blizzard conditions by morning. And they were not wrong. The temperature was in the twenties, snow was falling, and the wind was blowing with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. I like the snow when I can stay inside and watch. Marc's dad built a fire in the fireplace and most of the morning I alternated between watching the fire and looking outside to watch the blowing snow. Matt, being from Baton Rouge, had never seen weather like this. I forgot I was not in Illinois. When I dared to venture out, I was thinking all the streets would be cleared. That was not the case. No snow removal equipment here. It did warm up this afternoon into the mid-thirties and a good portion melted. It should be really cold tonight.

We are here until Wednesday and will be enjoying this time with our families.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Columbus, Mississippi

After we left Pigeon Forge, we went to Atlanta and spent some time with our friends and shared our work with some of their friends. Then we left for Columbus, Mississippi.

Counting where we are currently living, we have lived 10 different places. Each and everyone of them has been home. In every single place, we have made and kept good friends, we found a church we loved and could actively serve. There were always favorite eating places and favorite sightseeing places. Good memories were made. We had good times and bad times and had people to rejoice with us or stand beside us. Everytime it was time to leave a place, I felt I was leaving part of myself and taking part of the place with me.

What makes Columbus, Mississippi so different. It is definitely more than the southern ways, southern customs, southern hospitality and southern food, most of which I found endearing and heart-warming. It is more than dogwoods and azaleas, magnolias and crepe myrtle. In part, it is where our kids grew up. Those fond memories of hot Krispy Kremes and Chick-Fil-A on youth group trips. Football games and soccer games and band trips and eating at Wendy's after every cross country meet for six years. Those precious memories everyone has from the place they watched their kids grow up. All of our kids graduated from high school while we lived in Columbus. Nathan was baptized there. Just a few miles from Columbus we happily watched Nathan take Julia, whom he met in Columbus, as his sweet, lovely bride. Six months ago we all returned to Columbus to watch our daughter pledge her love and become Mrs. Matt Fitzgerald.
It was the best of times and the worst of times. We also sat weeping and sobbing, surrounded by friends and family, not only from Columbus, but from everywhere as we buried our oldest child. We were supported during our grieving and during Nathan's struggles that followed the loss of his brother.

That is what makes Columbus, Mississippi different from other places we have lived. When we left for Illinois, we left a little bit more of ourselves behind.

It is always fun and exciting to return to Columbus. Visiting with friends is always fun. It is bittersweet as well. It is often we are there and, with tears, remember the best of times and the worst of times.


Monday, December 17, 2007

A Day With Camille

It is pretty obvious what I did today. We drove to Searcy from Starkville, Mississippi late last night so we could spend the day with Camille. First stop: McCain Mall in North Little Rock to see Santa Claus. She talked about that all they way to Little Rock. After pictures with Santa, we took her shopping and let her pick out some clothes. Of course, I guided her to the sales racks. As we were paying, Camille was laughing and happy. After lunch, we headed to Wal-Mart to do some of our Christmas shopping. She wanted to ride the horse at the entrance and of course, she was granted that wish. After looking at the fish and walking up and down the toy aisles, we did what we needed. By this time, Camille is getting tired so we headed back to Searcy. Marc graciously volunteered to stay and take a nap with her while I frantically tried to finish my Christmas shopping.

Camille is almost three, just that wonderful age for Christmas. To see and share her excitement about every little thing, Santa, the lights, the trees, the presents, was a delight and joy today. I hope everyone can have that childlike awe this holiday season.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Hiking in the Smokies

The last few days has been spent and the next few days will be spent enjoying the blessing of family and friends and sharing our ministry. Today was spent enjoying the blessing of nature. We hiked two different trails in the Smoky Mountain National Park with its breath-taking vistas. The clean, crisp, pine-scented air was hanging all around us, with a blue-as-blue-can-be sky above us, and temperatures in the mid-seventies. The forest floor was plushly covered with a golden brown carpet of leaves. There were not too many people on the first trail and the only sounds we heard were an occasional car from the highway and the leaves crunching under our feet. I was armed with a camera around my neck and, instead of the usual Spanish-English dictionary, the trail guide. This was, by far, the easier of the two trails. Both trails had a water fall. This is not really water fall season, but both were beautiful, even though they were only partially full.

The second trail was not only more difficult, but longer as well. I could not have kept up with Marc even if I had so desired. I was busy taking in the scenery around me and, of course, taking pictures. As the trail went higher and higher, it became more rugged. Then my time was spent watching every step I took. A misstep would have surely meant a long, long fall. We were rewarded with a beautiful fall. Marc and I were glad we decided to hike that trail. As we headed back down, we were talking about how beautiful the trail and the falls were and how glad we walked the trail and how glad we were we didn't try to walk the trail with the kids when Nathan was about four. We both could picture him running and jumping along the cliff side of the trail without any comprehension why we were about to have a stroke.

Today was a beautiful, enjoyable day. Tomorrow we are on the road again as we head for Atlanta and then Mississippi on Thursday.


Monday, December 10, 2007


We arrived in Nashville Thursday night. Friday and Saturday were spent with friends that work in this ministry with us. It was a time of renewal and planning for 2008. We then drove to Kingsport. I was eager to see a part of Tennessee I had never seen before. We left Nashville after dark, therefore, I didn't see anything Saturday night. Yesterday was so foggy that I still didn't see anything. We went to church and Marc taught a Sunday school class in each time slot. We knew only one person when we got to church Sunday morning. We left having several new friends, some of whom will be joining us in Honduras this summer. We spent the night with some friends and enjoyed that time as well.

This afternoon we left Kingsport for Pigeon Forge. We have a couple of days before we need to be in Atlanta. I was not disappointed. The sun was shining and I got to see this beautiful country. It was 69 degrees. With the Smoky Mountains surrounding us, it was almost like we were back in Honduras. We had a pleasant drive and have done nothing this afternoon. So far, we have either been ahead or behind the bad weather. Thanks for the prayers.


Friday, December 7, 2007

A Unique Beauty

I am not hitting the internet as often as I thought I would since we have been in the states. We are in the car a lot of the time and Marc and I are sharing a computer, his computer.

When I moved to Illinois three years ago, I could look around and see it was flat, very flat. After living in the mountains and coming back to Illinois, it seems to me that the flat farmland became even flatter in the last two months. I have always loved driving through the Illinois farmland. The past few days were no exception. We rode along and saw miles and miles of flat, flat farmland. The only things we saw scraping the sky was an occasional silver-domed silo and furiously spinning windmills. Smoke was curling from the chimneys of the white wooden farmhouses. Even the cattle were huddled together trying to wind a refuge from the bitterly cold wind. The stubbled cornfields were patiently waiting to be plowed again. I silently rode along, intently studying the tranquil landscape before me. Only God paint this flat country into something uniquely beautiful.

As we drove south into Tennessee, there was still some fall foliage clinging tightly to the tree tops. I really did miss the beautiful fall colors of the midwest this year. I was fortunate to glimpse the last of the color.

I began to realize that God gave each part of this country and each part of Honduras and each part of every country some unique beauty, if we only choose to open our eyes and see that beauty. I hope you see something beautiful where you are today.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Our House

After a long travel day on Friday, we finally arrived in Searcy around 12:45 a.m. Saturday. The kids wanted to do Thanksgiving so Nicole and I got up at 6:00 and cooked all day. We sent Matt to Wal-Mart at 6:15 for the first forgotten item on the grocery list. Around 10:00, Nathan, Julia and Camille showed up and Camille hit the door running, saying "Grammy, my grammy." Just what Grammy needed to hear. Of course, being the grandmother, everything Camile said and did was the cutest, sweetest and smartest. We had a great time and a great meal with our kids.
We went to early church with Matt and Nicole at Downtown Church of Christ and left a few minutes before church was over to go to Sunday school at College with Nathan and Julia. After lunch, we left for Fairview Heights. The temperature was 69 when we left Searcy, with it falling as we drove north, and dipping into the 30's before we reached St. Louis. Even though it was quite cold outside, inside we found a warmth that comes from being with friends. Marc did an excellent job, as usual,preaching last night. This morning, we finalized details on leasing our house for the next 3 years. God is good...all the time. What a relief to have that done. And yes, I have managed to hit Wal-Mart every day since being in the states. Thanks for your prayers as we travel.


Thursday, November 29, 2007


Someone Marc knows sent a donation for food for Didasko. Didasko is another children's home with 30 precious children. This morning Marc and I went to Pricesmart and began to buy rice, beans, sugar, oil, all the staples here in Honduras. We just couldn't help ourselves, we also bought some pancake mix, some candy, some Nestlesquick. It is too close to Christmas for these sweet children not to have some treats. We loaded the green truck and drove to end of the road. For anyone that has been to Didasko, you know perfectly well what I am talking about. Some of the children helped us unload and all of them were excited. The director's wife raised her hands and said "Gracias a dios," thanks to God. I just love it when people say that. We got ready to leave and every single one of the children hugged both Marc and me. As we were leaving, they all ran up to the road waving and saying adios.

After lunch, we went to the warehouse where all kinds of activity was going on. The mayor of Tegucigalpa bought several tons of rice, beans, flour, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, sugar, lard, etc and had it delivered to the warehouse to be combined with the tuna, oysters, and sardines. One thousand food bags are going to be assembled and taken to some of the poorest families in Tegucigalpa.

Everything that is done here is important, but I really like knowing food is getting to hungry people. I cannot imagine waking up and not knowing how I am going to feed my kids today. We thought these bags had to be assembled today. The last of the deliveries wasn't unloaded until around 3:30. We thought we were going to be working through the night to get it done. I knew I would be exhausted but to think about hungry people getting food or not getting food, I was more than willing to do that. That would be ultimate food packing. Sheron Seldomridge, don't you wish you were here. We were willing to pack food bags as long as it took, but we weren't terribly upset when we found out a crew of people were coming in at 8:00 in the morning to assemble the bags. We have everything set up so it will be as easy as possible to pack 1000 bags of food. And the best part is, one thousand hungry families will have food next week.

Sorry, no pictures tonight, even though I took some great ones today. The internet is way too slow to upload pictures. Maybe, I can post the pictures later.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heading To The States

Friday morning we leave for the states. We will be there the whole month of December. We will be seeing family and friends, taking care of business in Illinois and Mississippi, and Marc will be speaking many times, in many places. I do not regret for one minute the decision we made to come to Honduras. But, there are definitely some things I cannot get here and some I can get here that aren't quite the same. Some of the things I am looking forward to having beginning Friday are:

  • Hugs and kisses from Camille

  • More hugs and kisses from Camille

  • Hugs from Julia, Nathan, Nicole and Matt

  • Spending time with family and friends

  • Meeting new people as we travel

  • Singing, praying, and worshiping in English

  • Going to church and worshiping and fellowshipping on Wednesday night and Sunday night

  • A coke with ice, from anywhere at first

  • A coke from Sonic

  • A hamburger

  • Bacon

  • Making a phone call without having to dial seven times to get through

  • Using the internet without it going down while I am in the middle of something

Our schedule is:

November 30 Arrive in Little Rock

December 1 Searcy

December 2 Church with the kids and then on to Fairview Heights, Illinois for evening worship

December 3-5 Fairview Heights/Belleville signing a lease on our house and visiting friends

December 5 Jacksonville, Illinois

December 6-8 Nashville, Tennessee

December 9 Kingsport, Tennessee

December 10-11 Pigeon Forge, Tennesse

December 12 Atlanta, Georgia

December 13-16 Columbus/Starkville, Mississippi

December 17-18 Return to Searcy. We will need more hugs.

December 19 Shamrock, Texas

December 20-26 Borger, Texas having Christmas with family

December 26 Back to Searcy

December 30 Chenal Valley Church of Christ, Little Rock

December 31 Celebrating Camille's 3rd birthday

January 1 Return to Honduras

I am excited about being in the states, seeing our kids, seeing our parents and other family, seeing our friends. I always love to listen to Marc preach. I am excited about everything we will be doing and seeing. I probably will forget ever bit of Spanish I have learned. I hope not. On the other hand, I am a bit sad about the things we will be missing here. We will miss Baxter graduation. We will miss the youth groups from the churches in Santa Ana and Ojojona doing a food distribution to the poor families of the community. We thought these people were the poor, yet they are reaching out to others less fortunate than they are. Pretty touching. Please remember us in your prayers as we travel and as Marc speaks.

Our U.S. cell number is 618-520-0589. Feel free to call anytime. We would love to hear from you.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Morning Devo at Casa de Esperanza

Katty being slightly distracted by Skillet

A couple of weeks ago, Karen and Dorian started having a morning devotional with the kids. There is singing and praying and the kids are trying to learn one Bible verse each week. It is so cute to watch them start coming out of their rooms, still in pajamas and barefeet, bedheads and sleepy eyes. It is not difficult to tell who is a morning person and who isn't. Brayan probably is a morning person. Cindy probably isn't. Someone starts with a prayer and then we go right into singing. Singing is pretty low key at first, but livens up quickly. From the very beginning, Brayan is singing with all of his heart and soul, if slightly off key. He doesn't care. We don't care and God certainly doesn't care. When they pray, they usually remember to thank God for everything and everyone, calling each child and each worker by name. What a great way to start each day, listening to the happy voices of children sing praises to God and thank him for their blessings, this from children, who just months ago, had nothing for which to be thankful.
Brayan singing wholeheartedly.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Food Distribution at Los Pinos

Our friend, Leo, is a fourth year Baxter student and will be graduating in two weeks. He has been preaching at Los Pinos. We decided to go to church at Los Pinos this morning to hear Leo preach one more time before he graduates and returns to the Dominican Republic. We had a small gift and wanted to say good-bye to him and his family. The singing this morning was great. It is always good, but better than usual. Sometimes I can understand Leo and sometimes I can't, depending on fast he speaks. A few weeks ago, I understood almost everything he said. This morning he preached hard and fast for about 45 minutes. I understood almost nothing. Then Timoteo began to make announcements. I completely tuned out because I knew there was nothing that concerned me. All of a sudden there was an excitement in the air and no one was leaving. I had not a clue what was happening except that Leo was standing outside one of the windows and, one by one, calling people's names. He and Timoteo were distributing the tuna, sardines, and oysters. I had wondered since Wednesday how the food would be distributed in Los Pinos. It is such a large community, with so much need. It was not announced that food would be given away until after church. Otherwise, there would have been standing room only. Luis, Timoteo's son was in the kitchen assembling the packages of food. Everyone got the same amount. Like I said the other day, it does not matter who gives the food to people who need it, but it was a blessing to be able to watch Timoteo and Leo giving food to the people in their congregation. They were happy and having so much fun with each package they handed out. It was a blessing to watch the faces of those receiving the food. I must admit, I was not dry-eyed.

After a family received their food, most of them sat down and waited until everyone had their food package. It was all very touching. I have seen the way people that don't have food ration it. There is no telling how long that meat will last these families. There are many happy families in Los Pinos tonight.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Kindergarten Graduation

Top left: Fernando and Monica
Top right: Cindy and Marc

Cindy, Monica, Daniela, Maurio, Fernando
Today was kindergarten graduation in Santa Ana. At Casa de Esperanza, we had five that attended kindergarten and two that graduated. The kids were suppose to wear their school uniforms. After wearing them for a year, they were a bit dingy. Last night Elvia took all the white shirts and soaked them in bleach. She got here early this morning so she could make sure everything on every single uniform was perfect. When I walked in this morning, Elvia was sewing buttons on Daniela's shirt. I was standing there so I could take pictures of them. Elvia walked out of the girls bedroom. She had a comb in one hand and had Cindy's hand in the other. Cindy was smiling, but Elvia was radiant. Elvia dampened Cindy's hair and began to fix away. Cindy was excited, but Elvia did not stop until she had that hair just the way she wanted it. Cindy was just as cute as she could be when Elvia finished. Then Elvia went and got Monica and came in leading her by the hand. I was thinking there is to way to tame Monica's hair, not even for kindergarten graduation. It took a lot of water, gel and hairspray, but she tamed Monica's hair and had it in dogears. Monica was just as cute as Cindy. Due to the time it took for Monica's hair, someone else had to fix Daniela's. The boys were much easier. Everyone, boys and girls, got to wear cologne. They were so excited and smelled so good. After a few quick pictures, Karen and Dorian left with the 5 kids. Of course, like any good mommy, Karen had her camera and I am sure she took lots of pictures.


Friday, November 23, 2007

Asociacion Casa Hogar Brazos Abiertos

Asociacion Casa Hogar Brazos Abiertos means association house home arms open. It is a daycare center in Tegucigalpa Centro. The parents that leave their children there work as shoe shiners in the park and in the markets. They work long hard hours to eke out a meager living that does not even begin to buy enough food for their children. Without this daycare center, the children would be left at home all day while a parent, usually the mother is working. This daycare center operates completely from donations so they do not have to charge the parents anything in order to leave their children in a safe, clean place while they work. All the little children wear uniforms that are color coded by the child's age. Their are 4 different age groups. The uniforms are supplied by the center. The mother of one of the teachers makes the uniforms. As well as uniforms, each child is fed breakfast, lunch and a snack before they go home. The teachers teach age appropriate material to all the children. The center was extremely clean and well organized. Most public and private schools in Honduras and, I daresay, many in the states would be envious of this facility. This daycare center was opened by the last first lady. The current administration would like to close it for no other reason than it was opened by another administration. Our doctor friend, Maurio, and his wife Suzie are trying to make sure this center is not closed. Today Maurio, Suzie, Marc and I took some tuna and sardines down to the center. Maurio plans to return with several boxes of cereal. We talked to the director. She gives God all the glory for the center's existence and thanked us for the food, after she thanked God. While we were there, it was nap time. Everyone was asleep with just a few beginning to rouse. All children are precious when sleeping, but I could tell these were precious awake as well. I am sure you can tell all the children are asleep on mattresses on the floor. Since they do not own the building they are in, the director said she would like to find a bigger place, one where they can build bunk beds so the children do not have to sleep on the floor. It would still have to be in the same general location. The parents that use this facility have no transportation.
This did not take long today, but how fulfilling to know that such a great place exists and the people there take great pride in providing the very best care possible.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Family, food, fun and football. That is what Thanksgiving consisted of at our house. Thanksgiving is not a holiday in Honduras. For most people, it was business as usual. A Thanksgiving meal was prepared for the children at Casa de Esperanza and it did not have any rice, beans, tortillas, or tuna. For Americans, it was pretty traditional. The kids had fun and while there desserts to be had, which is a treat in itself, most of the kids chose popsicles. That was what they considered a treat. We had the workers join us for the meal. Their plates were filled and they were served today. Dilcia and Reyna sat down and enjoyed the meal and enjoyed being served. Elvia did not want to stop working. I don't know if she thought she wasn't suppose to take a break or if she felt guilty having a big meal when her family wasn't, but she had to be made to sit down and eat. And she cried. She ate a bit and then asked Karen if she could get up.

This evening we went to town and had Thanksgiving with some other American missionaries. Again traditional Thanksgiving food. No spanish spoken. We had a really great time enjoying this time with others who, like us, were far from their families today.

I think I have always been a thankful person. This year as I reflect on my blessings and what I have to be thankful for, I realize it is much more than I ever thought about before. Some of those things include, but are not limited to my kids and their spouses, our sweet little granddaughter, whom we will get to see next week, a house in which to sleep in every night and one that the wind does not blow through, friends and family that encourage me and spur me on each day, and the opportunity we have to be here trying to make a difference, one person at a time.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving today with family, friends, food, fun and football.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Time Off

My good friend, Janet Hines, has been in Honduras since Saturday. She was staying in town at the Marriott. Last night was her last night and she asked me to stay at the Marriott with her. We ordered room service. We talked and laughed and ate chocolate. I took a long hot bath and watched Law and Order until 11:00. I slept until 7:00 this morning, way past my normal getting up time. The time I spent was relaxing. And time spent with a friend is always well spent. As I was dining over a luxurious breakfast of fried platanos and crema, Marc was loading some of the food. Yesterday 40 people were displaced by a fire. Food and clothing were taken to help these folks.

Marc was getting Karen's dad who was flying in from Ohio today. Since Janet was leaving today, I just met Marc at the airport. After the flight arrived, we brought Neil to Santa Ana and then we went back to town. This afternoon we helped load trucks with food headed to Santa Lucia, Valley of Angels, Los Pinos and Baxter. Over the next few days, we will be able to deliver some of the food. It doesn't really matter who delivers food as long as hungry people receive it, but it is fun and satisfying to deliver it and see and hear how grateful people are to receive it.

It was great to take a bit of time off, but it is back to work as the food needs to be delivered.


Monday, November 19, 2007

Grocery Shopping

Marc and I had to go to Tegucigalpa today for some errands. We stopped at the warehouse because some of that tuna is coming to Casa de Espranza. We drove to the warehouse and my arms and legs began to hurt just thinking about unloading those containers. Actually, my arms haven't quit hurting yet. We were in the green truck so we weren't going to take everything that is going to Casa today. We loaded several cases in the truck. I am already wondering what wonderful things Dilcia and Elvia will cook up using that tuna. Then we went to PriceSmart, the Honduran version of Costco, but not near as much selection. We had a few groceries to buy for ourselves and the list for Casa de Esperanza was quite long. We go to the fruit market every other week for fruits and vegetables. Karen orders meat, bread, milk and eggs and has all of that delivered. What else could be left? You would be surprised.
Marc took a basket and went to get our groceries and I took one and started on the Casa list. After I got laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach and disinfectant and I had completely filled one of the huge PriceSmart baskets, including the bottom. I went and got another basket and started filling it. I must admit it was probably quite a funny sight to see a gringa pushing around an extremely full, extremely heavy cart, pulling another cart with a spanish/english dictionary in her hand. That was me. I am sure I would have laughed had I seen someone else doing that.

I found everything on that list. I had to walk up some of the aisles more than once. It makes no sense how the store is laid out. If someone would have asked me, I would have told them to put everything used to bake on one aisle, all the soup on one aisle. But no one asked me so I had to search for a few things.

After paying for our things and paying for the Casa things on separate receipts, we had to be checked at the door, just like in the states. In the states, they give a quick glance at your receipt and then a quick glance at your basket and you are out the door. Not so in Honduras. The guy checked every single item in the basket against the receipt. I was in shock, but it was so funny. I was trying not to laugh and Marc was standing there shifting his weight from one foot to the other. Then we put all of that in the back of the truck which is already have full with tuna.

After driving up the mountain and getting home, there were 15 little people ready to help us unload. Thank goodness. Even the smallest ones helped carry something. There was a couple of little scuffles because someone wanted to carry what someone else had. Back and forth, back and forth we all went carrying in the groceries. When everything was in the house, a couple of the kids cried because they wanted to help more.

Then a few helped Marc and I carry our groceries down to the house. Whew! Grocery shopping is done for a while and we got home before the rain began.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Food Containers

For weeks I have talked about two food containers we were expecting. We were told yesterday they would be at the warehouse at 9:30 this morning. Bumblebee Tuna donated two full containers of canned meat: tuna, chicken, sardines, oysters and so much more. And to my friends in Columbus, Starkville, and West Point, the flavor of the south is now in Honduras. Bryan Food Vienna Sausages. Doesn't get much better than that.

We got up at 5:00 and left for town at 6:00 to go to the fruit market. We got there at 7:00 and finished at 8:00. Then we had a cup of coffee and went to the warehouse at 9:15. In Honduras when someone tells you 9:30, that means they won't be there before 9:30 and no telling how much after. The first truck arrived at 10:30. Timoteo, two of his sons and some of the Baxter students came to unload the trucks. Thank goodness, or we would still be there. Think about a can of tuna and 12 of those make a case. The cases are not very big. I think there must have been a million cases. Funny thing how a 40 feet container on the outside looks like a 100 feet on the inside. And no matter what the packing list said, I think crossing the ocean, the cases multiplied. No forklift. We used dollies and, in true Mary Sharkey style, a wheelbarrow. More than one can of sardines broke open and leaked on us. Don't you know we smelled great? It took 8 hours to unload those two containers. I might have worked that hard before, but I don't remember when. Of course, Marc was, by far, the dirtiest of all of us. He always is.

When we finally finished, all of us went to eat pizza. With sardine juice and sweat mixed together, there was a green funky cloud hanging over our table. Some people were seated at the table next to us and immediatly asked to be moved. Everyone worked hard all day. I know they were hungry. The students from Baxter that are married each took a piece of pizza and wrapped it up in a napkin to take to their wives. Everyone that worked had 2 cases of tuna to take home as well. When we left the Pizza Hut, it sure seemed like a long, long way to Santa Ana tonight, even though it is only 30 kilometers.

I am really tired tonight and really dirty. If I had a bathtub, I probably would be taking a long hot bath, that is if I could step over into the tub. I am also excited just thinking about all the people this food will help and how grateful they will be to receive it. This food will be completely distributed in two weeks or less. Most Hondurans that will be receiving canned meat have never had anything like this. Most cannot even imagine what they will be receiving. The ones that eat daily have beans and rice. Some people don't eat daily. This next week most people in the United States will be preparing and/or eating feasts for Thanksgiving and there's nothing wrong with that. There will be people in Honduras receiving their first can of tuna or sardines and being so thankful for canned meat. Let's all really count our blessings this week.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Hospital Supplies

I think sometimes we in the United States get so use to having nice hospitals, schools and other items, that we cannot even begin to comprehend the conditions we find in other places. I have written and talked about the inadequate conditions at Hospital Escuela. The conditions are that way, not because people want them that way or because doctors and nurses don't care, but because the funds are not available to have necessities like surgical gloves and other sterile equipment. Therefore, a lot of surgeries just are not done. A lot of people die from inadequate care and inadequate sterilization.

The container we unloaded last month had hospital supplies for Hospital Escuela. Nothing here is done simply, not even donating much needed hospital supplies. We have been trying to do this all week, but the right people have to be available at the right time. We were suppose to meet our doctor friend at the warehouse at 9:30 and load our truck and his truck full of hospital supplies, and then be at the hospital at 11:00. The doctor is an orthopedic surgeon and was doing a full hip replacement this morning. We loaded our truck and pulled the other boxes out of the warehouse and waited. Someone called for the doctor and said he was not going to make it to the warehouse and to meet him at the hospital at 11:30. We hauled several boxes back into the warehouse and squeezed a few more in our truck. We went to Dunkin Donuts across from the hospital and had a cup of coffee and waited. We drove over to the hospital. We never have trouble driving right in. I did not think the guards wanted to let us through the gates. Marc finally made them understand we were donating all of that stuff. I can't imagine what they thought we were doing. We got to the hospital and waited some more for the doctor. There is absolutely no way for us to go off and leave that all of that in the back of truck. So, I stayed with the truck while Marc and others made several trips unloading the supplies. There were surgical gloves, scrubs, sutures, gauze, bandages, 5 cases of sterile surgery kits, oxygen masks, ekg pads, syringes, needles, an air conditioner for the sound room where audiology tests are given. I am sure there was more. As the last of the boxes were taken from the truck, I walked upstairs with Marc. We met the director of the hospital, who was most grateful for these supplies. We got to see the audiology equipment that was donated by IRC last summer. As we started to leave, there were some journalists from 2 different papers. The doctor had tipped off the media. He is a member of congress as well as being a doctor. The publicity isn't important to us, but it is to him. The doctor was interviewed and then Marc. Marc had to speak spanish the whole time. He did quite well.

We receive several containers of hospital supplies each year, most of them donated to Hospital Escuela. While it would never be enough to supply the needs of this hospital, at least it makes a difference to those that receive it.


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

God Art

We were told that the two containers of food would be ready to unload today, but they weren't. Nothing new there. We attempted to run several other errands and we kept running into dead ends. It was a bit frustrating, but humorous as well. Murphy's law was in full effect today. I was really tired. We started back up the mountain and saw some beautiful God art. The sunset was awesome. The reds and golds were resting on top of the mountains, making the mountains appear ablaze with fire, the trees silhouetted against the sky. It was gorgeous. Just a bit too dark to take a good picture, though. God is so good to provide such beautiful art for everyone to enjoy, completely free of charge. At the same time, it felt like a big eraser was erasing the tiredness and frustration right out of my body.

God is good...all the time.


Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Playing Outside at Casa de Esperanza

Today Karen's mom was leaving to go back to Ohio. Karen, of course, really wanted to take her to airport. That meant Marc and I got kid duty today. Karen was going to leave at 2:30 and was going to be back at 4:30. Marc was leaving at 4:00 to take one of the kids to the doctor. I thought all the ladies got off at 4:30 so I am thinking piece of cake. Imagine my surprise when I found out everyone but one person got off at 4:00 and about the same time, that things at the airport at been delayed and Karen would not be back at 4:30 and wasn't sure when she would be back. I am still not speaking real good spanish. Oh well, that didn't matter, we just played outside.

I pushed little Marjuri in the swing. And I pushed Marjuri in the swing. And I pushed Marjuri in the swing. She never gets tired of the swing. It has been a long time since anyone I know likes to be pushed that long. Once in a while, Katty would get in the swing beside Marjuri and I pushed both of them. Some of the boys got oranges from one of the trees. Rudy got a knife and began to peel one orange at a time. He then would cut the orange in two pieces and call two of the others to come get one. The kids were putting sugar on their oranges. The oranges I have been eating have been so sweet. I could not imagine the need for sugar. When my turn came, I soon found out the need for sugar. I have never tasted a sour orange until today. Rudy peeled many oranges and made sure everyone got some. As he peeled, the peelings were going into the flower bed. He looked down and saw the mess and sent someone in the house for a bag. I got Antonio started on picking up orange peels and soon Rudy finished peeling the oranges and the finished picking up the mess. Then every0ne lined up at the gate and two at a time raced each other. I began to take some video. Oh my, how they loved seeing the replay. They began to think up all kinds of things for me to video. Some of the girls danced. Some of the boys played soccer. Everyone wanted one more photo.

At 5:00, the kids have to begin taking showers. I remained outside with the ones that were still out there. I began thinking from where these children have come. Some of them were never allowed to be children. Some had their childhood stolen from them. All came to Casa de Esperanza hurt and afraid to love and afraid they would be hurt again. Yes, they are kids and there were some spats. But I saw and heard happy, smiling, laughing kids. Kids that need love and are receiving love. Kids that have come a long way. Kids that share after having learned to fend for themselve. Kids that help each other. Kids that care for each other. There are many sets of siblings here. In every instance, the oldest sibling is still the protector for his or her younger siblings. From outside, where I was, I could here talking and more laughing. When the last child was indoors and in the shower, Rudy and I finished getting dinner ready. Rudy loves to help and showed me just the way everything should be done. I told him we made a good team and he smiled.

I am thankful for Casa de Esperanza, the House of Hope, where these sweet kids now have a home and place of hope.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

The Big Shoe Adventure

A couple of weeks ago, we had a group here. The ones from Walnut Creek, California left some money with specific instructions how to spend it. One of the items on their list was a new pair of shoes for every child at Casa de Esperanza. Mostly, these kids wear gently used shoes. Once in a while someone buys new shoes for everyone and sends down here. But for the most part, you could say these kids have never been in a shoe store and picked out their own shoes. There was debate whether to take them 2 or 3 at a time or take the whole group, all 15 of them. There is enough adults here right now we decided to take the whole group and do lunch and the whole works. The excitement level about this adventure was high. After church and after everyone went to the bathroom, we began to load the cars. There are some things that are legal and a way of life here in Honduras that is absolutely forbidden in the states. One of those is riding in the back of a pickup truck. While legal, we don't allow any of the children to ride in the back of the truck. So fifteen kids and 3 adults piled into the trooper with Marc driving. Karen and her mother got into the front of the green pickup. Dorian and I crawled in the back of the truck. Only going to town there were 4 other adults who needed a ride to town. Six adults in the back of the truck. Not bad, for Honduras. I have seen a whole lot more than that in the back of a truck. I love riding in the back of the truck. Don't you wish you were here, Ginger? Only Marc's rule is no standing. We had to sit. You might not have liked it as much. After a vote by the kids, we headed for Church's fried chicken. Marc ordered food for all the kids. Just like at home, they bowed their heads and sweetly said a prayer. And then they ate and ate. Crispy fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Only one coke was spilled. Those little tummies were as full as ticks. Then the adults ordered their food and chatted over a leisurely lunch while all the kids played on the playground. Then we loaded back into the cars and headed for the mall. Just loading and unloading is no small task. Can you imagine seeing 15 kids and 7 adults come walking into the mall? They all went right in and put their little fingers and faces all over the glass. Someone has a job this afternoon. Karen sat them all in the floor and we decided to take three at a time into the shoe store. How do you keep 12 kids happy while 3 get to pick out shoes? Dunkin Donuts. I think if I had been the clerk on duty, it might have been break time. The two clerks that helped us were very gracious and helpful. The little kids were easy. When we found something that fit, that is what they got. I took Katty in first. I tried the shoes on her and she smiled then she said for Maryuri and I said no, for Katty. Then she smiled even bigger. All of this went relatively fast. Every adult got to go in at least once. We got sandals, tennis shoes, soccer shoes. Pamela is our oldest girl, and, of course, she cared what she got. She was in a terrible accident before she came to live at Casa de Esperanza. She has a badly misshaped heel that causes her a lot of pain. The shoes she really liked fit right on the scar and hurt her foot. We told her to get sandals. She tried on many pairs and either she did not like them or they did not fit. She sat down on the floor and I saw her quickly brush one tear away. We were going to tell her if she did not find something she really liked that we would take her to another store and find some. Perhaps not today, though. She did not want to be the only person that left without new shoes. At last, she found a pretty pair of pink sandals. She was beaming when she tried them and they fit. Of course, everyone wanted to wear their new shoes home. Karen told everyone they could put their new shoes on when they got home. Sharon, Janie, John, and Dave I wish you were here to be a part of this adventure for which you provided. I took pictures. Maybe not as many as you guys would have, but I took pictures.

What a grand time we all had, watching these children go into a shoe store and pick out a new pair of shoes, most for the first time.

When we got home, it was definitely nap time, at least for Marc and me.


Friday, November 9, 2007

Noel and Joanna

Noel and Joanna have been our neighbors since we moved here. We live on one side of a duplex and they have lived on the other. Noel, Joanna and their two sweet little girls. Noel has been the preacher in Santa Ana since this church was built. Joanna has developed the Sunday school program and has been one of the teachers. She was so excited when Sunday school classrooms were built this past summer so the children no longer had to meet outdoors. Noel has worked tirelessly both in the church and in the community. He wears a ready smile and has a deep jolly laugh, which we hear often. At night we could hear him playing and laughing with the girls. Noel and Joanna are both from Nicarauga. Their families are still there. Joanna, especially, has missed being closer to her family. A few weeks back Noel and Joanna made the decision to move back to Nicarauga to be near their families. This was emphasized even more by the tragedy that happened last week in Noel's family. He know he needs to be near to help his parents. Yesterday was moving day for Noel and Joanna. We, and several others, helped load their truck. This morning they leave for Nicarauga. We say goodbye. We will miss them. This little church will miss them and this community will miss them. Noel and Joanna, good luck and Godspeed.


Thursday, November 8, 2007

I Don't Know

Anyone that has ever been to Honduras knows everything here moves on its own time. It is even worse when you live here. I usually can roll with the flow. Today is a real "welcome to Honduras" day. Seems no one knows how to say anything but I don't know.

We have been waiting on two containers of food for a month. Marc called to see if they would be in today. I don't know. Noel and Joanna are moving today. We want to help them load their truck. When will the truck be here? I don't know. When will my internet move at a pace fast enough to pay a few bills online and send a few emails? I don't know. When will my head quit hurting? I don't know.

When will I chill and take time to place all of this in God's hands?


Wednesday, November 7, 2007

A Cold Dark Day

Monday I began the task of getting caught up on the bookwork. I had been without my computer and my files for over two months. I separated a lot of things and made a bunch of different piles on Monday. I just barely got going into the actual work. I knew yesterday I was going to have to hit it hard. I am slowly working away. Marc is in here on his computer and we are visiting as I work. Around 11:00, the power went off. This happens frequently. Usually everything is up and running in just a few minutes. My little house is not the most well-lit when the lights are on. And when they're off, it is pretty dark in here. I pulled a shade and sat in the chair and began to read. It was another cold, windy, overcast day. With the several trees around the house, even having the shade open, did not help a lot. Opening the door helped some. But it was cold. So, do we sit in the dark and be cold or do we have a little light and be colder. I opted for having the light so I could read. We are still thinking this won't be long. We ate lunch with the kids up at Casa and still no electricity. Marc had ordered some light bulbs that were suppose to be in at 2:00. Usually, in Honduras that means not before 2:00. Around 3:00 he decided he would go get the bulbs. I went with him. At least I felt productive by going. At that time we began to get concerned about the lights being off so long. Calling the electricity company is not as easy as it is in the states, but Karen finally managed to get it done. When we came back from getting the bulbs, the electricity company truck was in town. Marc and Dorian went back down there to ask them to come on to our place when they finished. That was around 4:30. They said sure in half an hour. Half an hour Honduran time. About 5:30, they went back down there again and waited until the people came with them. By this time, it is good and dark, and even colder. The kids in Casa are trying to do homework by candlelight. I watched them struggling to see their papers. I turned on my flashlight and shined directly on Pamela's paper so she could see. She quickly raised her head with a great big smile on her face. Since this complex is private property, the electricity company said they needed 200 limpira to do anything. Perhaps that was taking advantage of the gringos. It happens all the time. It didn't really matter at that time. Marc pulled the money out of his pocket and in less than 5 minutes we all had light again. All the kids cheered loudly.

Once again, we were thankful for the blessing of electricity as so many here don't have it. Once again, I sit here facing the task of getting caught up with this paperwork.

Be thankful for your electricity today. I am.


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Adventures in Missions is based out of Lubbock, Texas at the Sunset International Bible Institute. Most people in AIM are in their early twenties and have a desire to do something longer than a short term mission trip. They may not want to go into full time missions, yet. They spend 8 months in a classroom and then 18 months on a mission field. Missionaries apply to get an AIM team. We applied for an AIM team and made our presentation in September. We were the first to make the presentation. Twenty three other missionaries made presentations and only about half of those will end up with a team. The directors of the AIM program were here with us from Thursday through Sunday. They came to assess the ministry here. We showed them our work. I don't know what they learned from us but we learned immensely from them. We found they were two Godly men who both went through the AIM program, both have spent time on foreign mission fields. They are interested in placing the right people in the right mission field. They are interested in maintaining the integrity of their program. We saw two men earnestly seeking God's will in everything they do. We had fun and laughed together and prayed together. And when they left Sunday, we felt as if we had two new friends.

We won't know for four or five weeks if we get an AIM team. Whether or not we get an AIM team to work with us, I pray I follow the example set by Chris and Pat and earnestly seek God's will in all that I do and give Him the glory in all things.


Monday, November 5, 2007

Somebody Lied

I did like living in Illinois. I just was not too fond of those long cold winters. I like warm weather. After making the decision to move to Honduras, I thought I will never be cold again. Somebody lied about that. Yesterday, we woke up to a cool and windy morning. It got colder as the day went on. By nightfall, it was just plain frigid. I could not get warm in this house. And the wind was howling and the rain was falling. I thought I would go to bed and read. If I was under the covers, surely I would be warm. That didn't really work either. My hands had to be out from under the covers in order to hold the book. I tossed the book aside and tried to get warm under the covers. It was so cold. Remember the Medicci. I got up and found another blanket. That seemed to do the trick. I began to get warm and drift off to sleep. I slept very well under all those blankets. The rain stopped during the night, but it was still cold this morning. Hard to crawl out from under my nice warm nest.

After finally deciding to get out of bed this morning, I thought of all the people here in Honduras that didn't have extra blankets last night. Many didn't even have a blanket. Some were sleeping on the floor. And many more didn't have an airtight house as that wind and rain were blowing. I can't even imagine how miserable they must have been last night. Were they trying to keep their babies warm, while they stayed cold?

I hope I never forget how blessed I am. I hope I never become blind to the needs of those around me that need so much.


Sunday, November 4, 2007


As I was packing to move to Honduras, I kept thinking and saying I have got to pack everything I might possibly need as there will be no Wal-Mart to run to daily. After getting here and trying find something we needed, I have often commented, "all we need is a Wal-Mart. I am missing Wal-Mart more than I thought possible.

Yesterday we had to go to the mall and I found a Wal-Mart. Sort of. It was not called Wal-Mart and it definitely was not a supercenter. But it did have a grocery side and a health and beauty aid/ cosmetics side with some American brands, including Equate, which is a Wal-Mart brand. The selection wasn't anywhere near as large as Wal-Mart, but I did see Suave brands, Secret deodorant and some other key items. I forgot to check to see if my jergen's lotion could be bought there. I saw M&Ms and Milky Ways. You want to know what I got so excited about that I could not leaving without buying some. Canned whole green beans. Not Del Monte, which is the best, but the next best, Libby's. Bacon is expensive here, so I guess I will add a lot of Tony's and make it work. I can't wait to eat my green beans.

I was so excited when I found this Wal-Mart-like store. I was like a kid in a toy store. I guess you can tell, it does not take much to excite me.


Friday, November 2, 2007


Baxter Institute is a school in Tegucigalpa that trains preachers from Central America for Central America. It is a four year program. Our groups use to stay on the campus of Baxter until we got too big. I never came to Honduras when our group stayed at Baxter. We work with the people at Baxter and some of them are our friends. I have been on the campus, but never toured the facilities. Pat and Chris, from AIM in Lubbock, are here and we took them to see Baxter today. I don't know about Pat and Chris, but I sure learned a lot and was very impressed.

The students that come here to go to school are poor, as are most people in Central America. The school is nice and is a step or two up for most. There is single housing and married housing, all neat and clean and nicely done. The wives of the students take some classes, not as many as their husbands though. They rotate child care duties in the day care center in order to save the salaries of full time day care providers. I was impressed with the school and its operations, but I must confess, I was even more impressed with some of the ministries at the school.

There is a clinic, much like the one we have in Santa Ana. There is also a dental clinic. Dental students rotate through and are overseen by a full time dentist, thus providing dental care to many at a lower cost to the school. There is also a nutrition center. Mothers with children can receive food every ten days. It consists of most of the things we supply when we distribute food: rice, beans, sugar, spaghetti. And milk. Powdered milk. What a wonderful idea. The mothers that receive the food have to do a little work at the school. The food is bought in bulk like we do and is repacked. Some of the women help repack. If they are in the nutrition program, they also have to be in a job training class like sewing, bread making, haircutting. The whole nutrition program is a wonderful idea, teaching people about better nutrition, helping them with food, and teaching them to work for it, and teaching them about God. The program is so organized. When we left Baxter, my head was just spinning with new ideas.

After Baxter and another trip to the fruit market, we went to Los Pinos. We have worked in this community for four years. I am always touched by the people there, the poverty there and the way God has worked and continues to work there. I know for many of us, Los Pinos has a very tender place in our hearts.


Thursday, November 1, 2007

Elvia And Other Things

Last week I wrote about laying pipe at Elvia's house so that she would have running water at her house. The water is only turned on 2 hours each morning. Everyone that has running water turns it on for the whole 2 hours and collects in a tank so that they will have water when they need it. The group from Walnut Creek wanted to buy Elvia a tank and a pila as well. A pila is a large concrete basin on which one can wash clothes. By hand. Sort of like a rubboard. Not that I would know anything about that. This morning we told Elvia she would be receiving those two things in a week or so. She began to cry. I began to cry. She said thank you, but thanks be to God first. Just where thanks should be given.

Elvia's little girl, Gina, comes to Casa de Esperanza when Elvia is working. She doesn't much like us gringos anyway. She stood there watching as Marc talked to her mother, having no idea what Marc was saying, and seeing her mother was crying. Gina was really giving Marc the evil eye. Marc may not ever have a chance of Gina warming up to him now.

The Walnut Creek group left other money to be spent in very specific ways. As that money is spent, there will be more blogs on the outcome.

We left for town because we had to get two people from AIM at the airport. We got there a bit early and had a cup of coffee while we waited. Shortly before the flight was due to arrive, we walked outside. We were standing in front of the airport and could see the plane. For all you folks that think a landing is scary when you are inside the plane, you should stand in front of the airport and watch one land. The plane just barely clears the tops of those mountains, then made that quick plunge onto that short runway. I was just standing there thinking there is no way that plane can stop before it hits this building. Of course they do stop, every single time. People applaud inside the plane after the pilot gets it landed. I was outside the plane and seriously thought about applauding. It is a truly amazing thing to watch a plane land on that runway.

After Chris and Pat got off the plane, we went to eat Honduran food. The menu actually had tacos and gringo tacos, burritos and gringo burritos and so forth. I am getting a bit more daring in what I eat. Not much, but a bit. I ordered chicken tacos and not the gringo kind. They may be the best thing I ever ate, possibly surpassing pupusas.

I have one prayer request tonight. The preacher here at Santa Ana, Noel, had to leave unexpectedly today for Nicarauga because his brother had killed himself. Noel and his family were so distraught, as anyone would be. Please pray for them as they face this horrible crisis.


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Sweet Bed

When Nicole was very little, she liked bedtime and would always say I get in my sweet bed. Of course, as her parents, we thought it was so cute. But the saying kind of hung on through the years. After an exceptionally long and tiring day, we would say I will be glad to be in my sweet bed. After returning home from vacation or any trip, we would say I am glad to be back in my sweet bed.

Last night, for the first time since September 3, I slept in my sweet bed. It felt so good. I had my sheets that fit my sweet bed. My comforter. I now have my big coffee mugs. I have my tv blanket with which to wrap up in to read my Bible every morning and whatever book I am currently reading at night. My dishes. My everything.

The truck arrived here last night at 6:15. We had many people to help us unload. It only took about 20 minutes. That is a first. I remember the days of the professional movers taking all day to unload. How nice not to have that much stuff any more.

Unpacking today has been challenging. No cabinets, no rods in the closets and one utility set of shelves like used to be in our garage. Everything is not unpacked yet, but we are getting there. To my wonderful friends that packed my kitchen, nothing was broken. Packing tight was the key. Of course, those boxes were so heavy no one wanted to lift them. And those arrows that showed which way to keep those boxes and fragile written everywhere didn't mean much to the Hondurans that loaded and unloaded the truck. Perhaps I should have written fragile in spanish. In spite of all the upside down boxes, nothing was broken. Looking around, in spite of how much I did get rid of, today, I was sure I still brought too much.

While I am fretting about how to unpack without shelves and cabinets, the preacher came to the door and said someone here in the community had fallen and was hurt and needed to go to the hospital. Marc and the preacher left for town with the man and some of his family. Unfortunately, Marc had to take him to Hospital Escuela. This poor elderly man was put on a hospital bed with no mattress, that had blood from other patients still on it. Not once was his temperature or blood pressure was taken. Not once was a stethoscope put to his chest. Finally, someone decided they needed to stitch the eye that was so badly bleeding. Marc and Noel had to go to the pharmacy to buy a suture kit. There was also stomach pain. Someone cut a 2 inch gash in his stomach, without any anethesia.

Marc got home around 5:00. Please pray for the man. I don't know his name. He may not make it. This makes how to unpack without cabinets seem pretty insignificant, doesn't it?


Monday, October 29, 2007

Hospital Escuela

Friday morning we took the group to Hospital Escuela. That wears me out everytime. Sometimes, I am more tired from that trip than building a house. Of course, a different kind of tired. We started in the cancer ward. Little children having cancer and receiving chemo is sad in any country. We had toys, colors, etc. Everyone started playing with the kids. The mommy in me automatically reaches out to the mothers sitting beside the bed of a sick child--worrying, waiting, scared and tired. I was able to find out the child's name and age and, in most cases, where they lived. Some of those people were a long way from home without any support system. I do not speak enough spanish yet to pray in spanish, but I asked each mother if I could pray with her. I folded my hands in prayer as I asked and every single mother understood what I was saying and nodded her head yes. I put my arm around each one and prayed for healing for her child, calling the sweet one by name. More than once, the moms would pray in spanish as I prayed in english. I hugged each one. We soon moved on to the malnutrition ward. This is probably sadder than the cancer ward. In the cancer ward, most of the children are happy, even when the parents aren't. The sad faces of each child. The concerned look of each mother. Again, I found out vital information and prayed with the mother. One mother was from Esperanza, a long ways from here. She had been there with her child for 11 days and did not know how much longer they would be there. She needed food and water. I left the group and walked outside and found some for her. It was so little and wouldn't last long. She was grateful and cried when I returned. We then went to where the really sick babies are, heart disorders, birth defects. I don't know the story on this, but most of these babies were dressed in nice clothes, not hospital gowns. At the conference, we heard the statistics on birth defects like cleft palates and hydrocephalis caused by a lack of folic acid in the mother's diet. I saw some of those birth defects. One little girl was 5 month old. Her name was Melanie and she had hydrocephalus. Her mother had her in a spring green little dress. The baby was beautiful. With her toothless grin she smiled as her mother talked to her. I prayed with the moms in that ward and left.

Since it was the last day for the group, we spent the rest of the day at the Valley of Angels. Then ate at El Corral. Yum.

When this little group of 5 arrived on October 20, we had 2 friends among them. When they left on Saturday, we definitely had 3 new friends. It was a very good and successful trip.

Sunday was much cooler and fall-like. The wind blew hard enough to make me think I might be back in Illinois, except we were missing the reds and browns and golds that I am sure you are enjoying in Illinois right now. After church, it was just the kind of day for a nap and to spend inside reading. Before dark, we had a great big bonfire and roasted besoitos (marshmallows). Oh my! The kids had great fun. None of them had ever done anything like that before. We went through 2 big bags of marshmallows very quickly. Little Antonio had marshmallow all over his face. The bigger kids, after they did it a couple of times to see how it was done, were putting 3 and 4 marshmallows at a time on their stick. They never ate 3 at a time. They would give 2 to someone else. There was laughter and squeals of delight until the last marshmallow was gone. Boys will be boys, especially around a fire. They continued to put a few stick and things in the fire until it was time to go in for showers.

Today we bring our stuff and start making a little house home.


Friday, October 26, 2007

A Work Place

Yesterday some of the group went to work in feeding kitchen where approximately 200 children are fed a hot meal everyday. Some went to Danli and El Paraiso to see another work. For me, it was a difficult decision. I decided to Danli since I live here and can help in the feeding kitchen almost anytime. John Zeller from Walnut Creek is involved in this work. He helps to outsource some work from a company in San Francisco to a few ladies in El Paraiso. I decided it was good to see other groups' work and know that there are other people making difference one person at a time.

We had to get gas and make two other stops in Tegucigalpa before we headed for Danli. After the car was full of gas, it refused to start again. Someone push started and we got to the airport. Freddy, the man we rent cars from when we need one, told us the battery was dead and he would replace. It would only take five or ten minutes. I looked at John and he looked at me. This is Honduras. Nothing happens in five or ten minutes. We both thought we would be there most of the morning. We were actually on our way in ten minutes. That might have been the most amazing thing of the day. Not really.

We had 17 boxes of materials with us. The drive was beautiful. The further away from the city you go, the more primitive things get. I have, on occasion, seen a cart pulled by oxen, a man driving the team and the cart full. Yesterday, I saw more oxen carts along the way than any place I have ever been. More donkeys with two packs of wood, one on each side. Yesterday I saw an oxen team pulling a plow. And the mountains and vegetation are always beautiful.

We ate lunch in Danli and headed on El Paraiso. We went to a house, which is the workplace. The work that is being done is quite simple, tearing sheets of stickers that are already perforated, cutting and trimming paper, assembling bookmarks and other similar things. To most of us, it would be a boring task.

I met Rena, the supervisor. Yesterday she was the only one employed. One lady was very sick and one had refused to follow the work rules. Rena and the preacher had searched for more employees and finally found two more. I watched as John interviewed them. He asked simple questions. Then when he said they could start work in the morning, I watched both ladies beam with happiness. While the tasks are simple and boring to us, Rena takes great pride in her work. She showed me the bookmarks. Each one was perfectly assembled. I was able to communicate with her and find out she works 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. She has 3 children. Since it was the lunch hour when we arrived, her little girl was with her. The child was beautiful and makes good grades in school. As any mother is, she is very proud of her children.

I later asked John what the wages were. He said they get paid $4.00 per day. I know that sound awful to us, but that is a very fair wage in El Paraiso. The wage was set with the help of the preacher. In Tegucigalpa a fair wage is $5.00 per day. I was impressed with this little operation that is helping 3 women make a better live for themselves and their children.

On the way back we were shown a couple of little churches that over the years have become almost self-supporting. They have improved and enlarged their buildings. The smaller church had one little corner where they plant corn. When it is harvested, it is given to the poorer members of the church. The larger church not only had corn planted, but every inch of land not used by the building had squash and fruit trees. All of this was given to the members that needed it the most. I think Jesus looks down on those two little churches and is very pleased as He sees them trying to work together to help those less fortunate. I am awed by the lessons I am learning everyday from these people who seem to have so little, but in reality may have more than most.


Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Wise Man Built His House Upon A Rock

The wise man built his house upon a rock... So the song goes that we learned in Sunday School so many years ago. I don't think the wise man, if he was very wise built his own house on the rock. He may have had someone else build his house on the rock. Today we built a house on a rock. Solid rock. And besides being on solid rock there was a rock wall around the lot. In the front of the lot, the wall was five feet high. Since it was on a slope it was not that tall all the way around. We could only build a 13 x 16 house. To set the corner posts and center posts we had to chip through the rock to a depth of about 14 inches. Yes, I did my share of chipping. We built this house for a young couple Raquel and Rafael. Raquel is 16 and Rafael is 23. A cute little couple. They worked hard with us all day long, as did his father. Raquel's mother abandoned her when she was very young. Raquel, Sharon and I hauled most of the wood down and placed in front of the rock wall. I am not sure, but I think that was better than chipping rock. We quickly found it was much easier to feed the wood up to somone standing on the wall rather than carry it up the sloped rock. Raquel and I fed the wood up most of the day. Several times throughout the day, she would say bonita, bonita which means pretty. She was all smiles. I asked her if they were going to sleep in their new house tonight and she said si, si. The rock in front of the lot was slippery from both water and moss. We were handing a piece of lumber up and I slipped and fell and landed right on my butt in some water. I was ok and jumped right up. I wasn't worried about my clothes, but Raquel was and went to get a towel and dried my bottom as dry as she possibly could, smiling all the while. She began to say gracias about every few minutes about 30 minutes before we finished. As we were finishing, her big brown eyes were dancing with excitement. We had a prayer with Raquel and Rafael. She hugged me and said gracias again. She hugged me again and said gracias. Again tonight, I am just dead tired, but how satisfying to know that Raquel and Rafael are sleeping in a brand new house on a great big rock.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Day Filled With Adventures

There is a very sweet, very hard-working lady that works for Casa de Esperanza named Elvia. Everyday she goes way above and beyond the call of duty. We found out she has a house, saved her money to have her water turned on, and paid the money. All of us would think then she has water. Not necessarily so in a third world country. She had to buy her own pipe and install it from the road to her house and she had not been able to save the money to buy the pipe. We decided we would do that for her. Marc went to survey and assess the needs and found she was living in a Torch house. He was thinking it would probably be no more than 100 yards. By this time we should know better to think, assume, or guess anything about anything in Honduras. It was about 300 feet. We tied what pvc pipe there was at Casa de Esperanza, went to the hardware store and bought the rest of it and headed to Elvia's house. This project went well and took us about two hours. Elvia is so excited to at last have running water. We could not check to see if there were any leaks or if all went as well as we thought it did because the water is only turned on for 2 hours every morning. The group that is here is going to buy her a collection tank so she can collect water and have it when she needs. I did not know this about the city water until today. Tonight, we should all be thankful for running water anytime we want it. After we finished laying pipe, we ate pupusas. One of my favorites.

One of those containers that was suppose to be in last week, finally got released today. It was our container. I still don't have my stuff, but it is in the warehouse now and it will be here Monday. We had to be at the warehouse at 3:00 to unload the container. When a time is stated in Honduras, such as 3:00 that means not before 3:00. We were planning a birthday party at Casa de Esperanza for Rudy. He turned 11 today. We were going to do a great big bonfire and roast weiners. Marc asked me to go to PriceSmart and get his cake and there was a list of stuff Karen needed from PriceSmart as well. I really was not wanting to drive in Tegucigalpa yet and since, of course, the truck with the container was not there yet. I asked John to drive me. John has driven in Tegucigalpa and I felt better about that. I told him to turn one block too soon and trust me, you do not just circle the block and get to where you are going. About 20 minutes later we found our way back to the original mistake and quickly got to PriceSmart, even finding movie star parking. We got the cake and the laundry supplies and got back to the warehouse uneventfully. Arriving at the warehouse we saw the container was there, but the locks are still on it. The locks cannot be removed until the inspector arrives and no one knew when that would be. Marc came rushing out to me and said I had to go to the airport because he locked the keys in the Toyota and the guy at the airport had another set for us. So, I had my first driving experience in Honduras and I am alive to tell about it. The airport is a pretty straight shot from the warehouse. I think I am going to get the hang of this real well. It took me about an hour to go to the airport and back. The container was being unloaded when I got back. I helped finish unloading. There were extra people helping us and everyone was rushing as darkness and rain were approaching. It was completely unloaded at 6:15 and we all headed for Santa Ana. I was not driving.

No one could get the fire started and the hotdogs were boiled. The kids were eating when we got back. We ate our hotdogs and potato salad and then we had birthday cake and ice cream. The kids were so exicited. There were many squeals of delights. Right now Casa de Esperanza is very short handed especially at night and the kids were way behind schedule. Karen usually has the kids do dishes, mop and sweep the floor and all those chores. She needed to get them to bed and told them to leave it. John, Dave, Steve and I washed and dried the dishes, swept and mopped.

It has been a very good day. I am tired, but it is a good tired.


Monday, October 22, 2007

House Building

Today we got up and the sun was shining. After two weeks of rain, that was a very welcome sight. Even more so than you know because we were going to build a house, rain or shine. All we knew about the house when we left this morning was we were replacing one that had burned. After missing a few turns and Marc begging a policeman to let him exit off the highway from the wrong lane (the policeman won) we finally made it to the house site after 10:30 only to find out the wood that was suppose to be there at 10:00 was not there. Welcome to Honduras. Not having wood when we arrived was not a big deal because we had to tear down a good portion of the charred remains of the old house. There was a house in front and some sort of house behind which we threw all the old lumber in. The tear down was nasty. The wood arrived just about the same time as we finished the tear down. It was ten minutes til 12:00. Alittle behind schedule. The lot was small and tight. Two walls had to go up along side rock walls. One had to go up very close to the house in front. The corner posts and the roof beams had to be brought in through the house in front. Everything else could be brought in through a narrow side yard. The house we built today was hard work. But the mother and some of her kids were on the site all day and we got to visit with them and get to know them. That was fun. The house was built for a mother and her 5 kids. When the house was complete, the group and the family gathered inside and said a prayer. Gloria, the mom was most grateful. It was a long, hard, satisfying day. When we got home, that shower felt so good as I washed away dirt, ashes and sawdust

Tonight we were served a typical Honduran meal of rice and beans, guacamole salad and homemade tortilla chips, and fried plantains. It was oh so good, after working so hard. I am sure we will all sleep well tonight knowing 6 people have a roof over their heads tonight.


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Weekend Happenings

Saturday it rained for the 12th straight day. The ground is saturated. But we are lucky. There has been no flooding here. In Choluteca, there has been severe flooding and some have lost their homes and many are without food. Marc and I helped load a truck of food, clothing, hygiene kits, and blankets that was being taken to Choluteca to help the people there. I never mind working that hard for such a good cause.

I never want to judge anyone's heart or intentions, so I have to assume sometimes people's brains temporarily stop working, but it never ceases to amaze me some of the things that end up in Honduras. I know everyone tries to cull through the junk before it is packed and put into a container. And I know how easy it is to get in a hurry and just want to be done and maybe let some things that shouldn't be in Honduras slip through. I have decided not to worry about what we found in the warehouse that probably will never be used. I am going to focus on the fact that many people that have lost so much will have food again.

After we finished loading the truck, we went to the airport to pick up a group of 5 people from Illinois and California that will be here working for a week. Usually when a group comes in we walk across the street and eat at Burger King. This group got off the plane saying they wanted real Honduran food. Marc knew just where to and off we went. We got the group settled in early and called it a day.

This morning, after some of that fresh fruit and cereal for breakfast, we headed to church at Los Pinos. This church was planted only four years ago. It is a neat place to attend church. I understood more of the songs and more of the sermon than last week. This morning there were 82 adults an 105 childen in church. Los Pinos is poor community and the people that attend church there decided to have a feeding program. They feed every child that is there a hot meal. For many of the children, it is the only meal they receive that day. The group got to help serve the children their food. The children thanked God for their food and waited patiently until they received their bowl of food. I was amazed at how well behaved the children were as they waited for their food. I actually talked intelligent spanish and made myself understood when I told the lady that we wanted to help her serve the food to the children. She was grateful for our help. After church and lunch, we did a bit of sightseeing, since it was too late to start much work. We went to the Jesus statue, Suyapa and Baxter. I was still dressed in a dress and heels. In the daytime you cannot get anywhere near as close to the Jesus statue as we do at night. That was fun to walk that distance and those stairs in heels.

There are seven in the group, counting Marc and I. Therefore, we have to travel in two vehicles. We were headed back to Santa Ana and the car I was in needed gas. I spoke more spanish than anyone else in the car. Pretty scary. We were all acting so confused that the attendant came around and asked me if we had any money. I showed him I did and he then pumped the gas. It didn't rain in Tegucigalpa today, but it was another rainy day in Santa Ana.

Tomorrow, provided we can get wood, we will build a house. And hopefully, it will be a dryer day in which to build.


Friday, October 19, 2007

The Fruit Market

Every two or three weeks Karen goes to the fruit market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables for Casa de Esperanza. We told her we would start doing this some. There is a Torch group coming in tomorrow and we wanted to buy fruit for our group for breakfast. We knew we needed to go with Karen once because she knows her way around the market so well.

For seven years Marc and I have been coming in and out of Honduras and working on the mountains where the soil is hard and rocky. I have never seen anything grow here but just a few scraggly rows of corn. I thought nothing could be grown here. We walked inside the market and imagine my surprise to find there are fresh fruits and vegetables of every variety, locally grown, not shipped in. We saw a patchwork of colored tarps over each vendor's little wooden stand. There is one vendor Karen tries to buy as much as possible from and she introduced us to this wonderful lady named Ana Rosa. There is no way to buy everything from just one vendor. The vegetables are on one side and the fruit is on another. Ana Rosa lets us store our goods at her stand until we are completely finished. Almost all of the vendors will cut a piece of fruit or a vegetable open for you to see. Many will let you taste. There was this fruit and I so wanted to know what it was. It was much smaller than a golfball, slightly oval shaped with a fairly smooth skin. It is called a cibuela. The vendor sliced one open for me. It had a peachy taste, very sweet, but no where near the same texture and consistency. Only one word came to mind. Heavenly. We definitely bought some of those. The pineapples were perfect. Huge pineapples for only a dollar. We bought pineapples, oranges, papayas, avocados and so much more. The vendors will bargain a little and more so once they know you. We were purchasing from one vendor and then another and rushing over to Ana Rosa's to store our fruit until we were ready to leave. When we were finally finished she gave me some yuca pronounced you-ka. It is a potato like vegetable that is suppose to be divine. I really can't wait to try it. Then she had her son cart our many purchases to the truck. He used a wooden wheelbarrow like thing with no sides. Several people were using these to cart wares for the buyers. Many were obviously home made.

Marc and I had a delightful time at the fruit market and can't wait to go again.

Feliz fin de semana. (Have a great weekend).


Thursday, October 18, 2007


There are some vehicles that need to be registered. Yesterday Marc found out where the DMV was and drove there and the line was so long that he did not even attempt to do anything yesterday. He said we would leave at 6:00 this morning and be the first ones in line this morning. I now retract all the things I said in a previous blog about the great state of Texas. And to my Illinois and California friends, you haven't seen anything yet. You must have copies of your driver's license, not necessarily a Honduras license, just a license and the current registration and other stuff. You don't think the DMV will make those copies do you? Conveniently, there are several copy shops across the street. I got in line and Marc went to make the copies. We had 3 vehicles to take care of, with each needing something slightly different. We needed to register our Isuzu, after having brought it in from the states. We needed to re-register a truck that has been sitting for a year and a half broken and was not registered at all last year since it was not running. And one of the Casa de Esperanza trucks had a temporary registration. In Honduras, they are several months behind in issuing plates after a car has been registered. They give you a temporary registration with an expiration date. This truck is one week away from that expiration date. Each one of these things have a different line and a different order in which to do them. And if you happen to be in the wrong line first, which we were, too bad for you for today. And trust me on this one, I am absolutely sure that woman was trained by the DMV in California. There was absolutely no computers in this office. Everything was being done by hand. And I could see a store room where old records were kept. If someone sneezed, I am quite sure that lopsided mountain of boxes would avalance and possibly bury someone alive, never to be found again.

Some kind-hearted man tried to help us. The truck that was not registered last year had to have two years worth of taxes paid on it. He took us to another office in the same building and we found out how much the taxes were. We then had to go to the bank, again, conveniently located next door, to pay the taxes. The bank did not open for 20 minutes. When it did, everyone was searched before they could go in and no cell phones are allowed inside the bank. I sat outside and read and babysat the cell phones. When Marc came out of the bank, he not only had the taxes paid, but the vehicle registered. Go figure. This probably will be the easiest of the 3 vehicles. Then we had to go back to the copy shop to get the registration laminated.

Perhaps we could have tried another line and started over for the other 2 vehicles, but I think we were banned for today anyway by that "friendly" DMV worker. We went for a cup of coffee instead and saved the other 2 registrations for another day and another adventure.