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.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The children at Casa de Esperanza have suffered horrible abuse before they came to live here. Most of them have been abused in more awful ways than our worst imaginings. Because of that, some of them are in counseling in town. Marc took the kids to school this morning because Karen had to take one of the girls to town for counseling. Fito had to go to counseling in town this evening. Marc and I took him. We left right after lunch, as we had errands to do in town as well. Fito didn't have much to say, but he wore a big grin. First stop, the hardware store. Fito wanted to push the basket. As he pushed it around the store, he was smiling. He stayed close to Marc, even when I went to look at something else. Then we went to Sears to buy my stove. This was an adventure that deserves a blog of its own. Maybe some other day. Fito was smiling as if the stove was for him. After the counseling, we were going to take him to eat. Marc gave him a choice of fried chicken, hamburgers or pizza. He chose peaksa (his pronunciation). When we got to Pizza Hut, he sat down in the booth and smiled. We let him order a pepsi to drink. I guess the grandparents in us just popped out. We ordered a big pepperoni pizza. Fito smiled. Some bread came before the pizza and we offered him the first piece. Fito smiled. When the pizza came, Fito smiled.

When we got back to Santa Ana, I am not sure who had the most fun; Fito or Marc and I. Pray for these little children. They have been hurt so bad and need so much love and healing.


Sunday, October 14, 2007

People in Copan

When we got home last night from Copan, my mind was still overflowing. After two weeks of spanish lessons (I am still conjugating irregular verbs in my sleep) and two and a half days of the conference with its staggering statistics and great information and ideas, I found it hard to clear my mind. But thinking back over the last two weeks, I realize we have met a lot of interesting people.

The direction giver and the taxi driver.
The night we arrived in Copan, after the long adventurous drive, Marc asked this guy for directions to our hotel. He not only gave us directions, he ran along side the car to show us. Marc went inside the hotel and the guy waited at the hotel door. He then ran over to the car and stood beside the car door grinning his great big toothless grin at me. He then went back to the door of the hotel door waiting for Marc. Of course, he wanted to be paid for his great direction giving. The next day, after school, we were walking around town and ran into this guy and he asked us where we needed to go. That day we weren't going anywhere and told him so. The next day, Marc actually asked him for directions again and I was standing there saying no, no, no. Finally, Marc said never mind. We saw this guy many times. Once we were discussing something between ourselves and he walked up, with that toothless grin, asking if we needed directions. We began to avoid the direction giver. On the day we walked to the bird park, we ran on to a taxi driver. Of course, he wanted to give us a ride. He told us the walk to the bird park was dangerous and we should let him take us to the bird park. We said no thanks. The walk to the bird park was not dangerous. He gave us his card in case we needed a ride at any time. We continued to see this guy around town too, always wanting to give us a ride. He grinned and had one big silver tooth. He would honk and wave and say "hi guys" He would wave and speak even if he had other riders.

Seriously, we did meet some interesting people. The little girl from La Pintada that led me down the mountain; we saw in town during the conference. She had walked down the mountain and was selling dolls. She recognized us and we recognized her. She ran over and gave me a big hug. How sweet was that?

Sarah. Sarah I met at language school. She is 23 and from Toronto. She was in language school for 6 weeks and in two more weeks will be going to Siguapeteque to work with HIV patients. Sarah was a pleasant person to get to know and always had a sweet smile on her face. She got to attend the conference with us the last day. We plan to stay in touch with Sarah while she is in this country. She is a long ways from home and by herself. Please remember Sarah in your prayers as she finishes school and goes to work.

At the conference, we met and talked to quite a few people. There were some, Terry Rikard from Starkville, Joe Denton, Jason and Sarah Farrow, Mike and Kim Miller, that were there because they are or soon will be working with children of Honduras just as we are. We already knew Terry. We left the conference feeling we had met new friends that will only become better friends as the years pass and we strive to help these wonderful little children.

Tonight, I am very thankful for friends, those I have known for years and for those I just met.


Friday, October 12, 2007

Project Honduras

Project Honduras is the name of the conference Marc and I have been attending. The attendees are mostly missionaries, but also some civic groups like Rotary, some teacher groups and a few others. We are receiving a lot of information and meeting a lot of people that are doing the same thing we are.

Bear with me for just a few minutes while I quote a few statistics. Honduras is a country of almost 7 million people with more than 50% of those being age 15 and under. Many, many of those would children would be the parents of children. There is no abstinence taught and no birth control taught. The average wage is 40 lempira per day or about $2.00. Hunger and homelessness are the norm, not the exception. There are no safety nets such as food stamps, ATFWDC, welfare. Nothing. Education is free, but only if a family can afford the uniform, shoes, books, and supplies. If the family cannot afford these things, the child does not get to go to school. This alone would perpetuate the poverty. Every school states their number one need is pencils. Most receive no health care and no dental care. The more rural an area becomes, the higher the statistics become. Not only can we not drink the water, they can't drink the water. Every clinic that is held, every person treated has parasites and intestinal disorders. Tens of thousands of children under 5 die every year from the water they drink. Healthcare is only for those who can afford it. Many people watch their babies die because they do not have $10.00 to buy that child medicine. Or they do not have the money to buy a suture kit for surgery. Most clinics state their number one need as aspirin or band-aids. I could go on and on with these statistics. They are staggering.

Tomorrow, we go back to Santa Ana. I am exhilarated to, at last begin the work for which we have so earnestly and diligently prepared. I am fearful, knowing that my barely-scratched-the-surface spanish is insufficient. I am sombered by the above statistics. How, you may ask, can we possibly do anything about these problems. They are huge. Let me tell you a story about a little boy. One morning he woke up and the beach was covered with starfish that had washed up during the night. He was walking along the beach, picking each one up as he came to it and tossing it back into the sea. He met a man and the man said "what are you, doing? Don't you know that you can't possibly make a difference. The little boy picked up one starfish and tossed it into the sea and said, "I just made a difference to that one."

As we go home tomorrow and prepare to plunge into this new work, that is how we are going to make a difference, one person, one family at a time.


Monday, October 8, 2007

Daily Reminders

Beginning Wednesday of this week a conference for missionaries will be held here in Copan. Marc and I will be attending that conference. There are many people arriving in Copan daily as the conference nears. Some to see the sights and some to have clinics and help these folks in other ways. Today, after we got out of school, we were walking toward the park as we were heading for a place to eat lunch. The park was full of people, all of whom had small children with them. There were people everywhere. We knew something was going on, but not sure what it was. It was more than an hour later when we headed back to our room. The park was still full of people. Around 4:00 we decided to take a walk and again headed in the direction of the park as we walked through town. People are lined up, holding their small children. It was then we realized someone was having a clinic. We walked out to the ruins because it is such a nice walk, not to visit again. As we turned around and headed back toward town, we saw cars leaving that were packed with people. There are these vans that serve as buses that run from town to town. We see them all the time with perhaps a few people in them. Today these vans had 20 or more people in them. There was a flatbed truck with sides on it. There was absolutely no way to tell how many people and their babies were on that truck and people were still climbing on and packing in. There is no way to describe how tightly packed these folks were. All of these folks had found a way to get to town today, probably from some rural area, in an attempt to help their babies. The crowd was thinning as we walked back through the park. The clinic was closing. This is but another reminder of why we are here. Another reminder of why I am overwhelmed trying to learn a new language. We are here to help those that would pack into the back of a flatbed truck and travel for miles to get help, that would stand in line all day hoping to get into the clinic. Every single day we are reminded of the needs of the people of this country, both physical and spiritual needs. I pray that we never quit seeing the daily reminders of why we came to Honduras.


Sunday, October 7, 2007

Copan Ruinas

Yestrday, we finally made it to the Mayan ruins. The main part of the ruins is just a kilometer from town. Yes, a true kilometer. We walked out there and bought our tickets. We allowed the whole day. Our guide took us through in about an hour and then we walked through some of it again. The main part of the ruins is where the temples, the altars, and the common areas are. It all was very interesting. The games they played were violent, but other than that, the Mayans were a peaceful society that got along with most other societies of the world at that time. All the buildings had been painted red and the plazas, white. Some of the original paint was still visible. I was pleasantly surprised how many of the ruins they let you walk on or climb on. The temples are built in layers. Each king built a new layer. The hieroglyphics are in amazingly good shape. Near the end of the guided tour, there were many altars in one of the plazas. One of the altars was round and had been a sacrificial altar, complete with the indentation at the top on which to place the sacfrice and blood troughs down each side. Perhaps, too visual.

The ruins are in a jungle. When the Mayans lived there, there was no jungle, no trees, just perfectly flat land. It was hard to picture the place without the trees and the dense flora and fawna. Our guide mentioned there were more ruins down the street, the same ticket would get us in and there wasn't too much worth seeing down there. We walked back to town and enjoyed a great cup of Honduran coffee. Later in the afternoon, we decided to drive down to the other part of the ruins. It is not clearly marked from the highway and the only way we knew where to turn was where the sidewalk ended. The ruins close at 4:00 and we got there at 3:30. Based on how long we had spent at the main part and if there wasn't much to see, that should be sufficient, right? Wrong. There was a man who worked there and went with us, more or less to rush us along since he got off work at 4:00. He spoke a word or two of English. I understand most of what he said, so I guess Spanish school is taking. To Marc and I, this was, by far, the most interesting part of the ruins. This is where the people lived and worked. The royalty and the workers both lived there. The royalty had 12 houses for 1 family. Needless to say, the workers did not have that much living space. They buried their dead beside the house they lived in. Again, the tombs of the royalty were more grand than those of the workers. Down in the living areas, the buildings had been painted not only red, but yellow, green, and other colors as well. They didn't run down to Sherwin Williams to buy paint. This guide showed us a plant. He touched the underside of a green leaf and a small amount of red stained his finger. He touched the underside of a darkened leaf and a deep dark red stained his finger. There must have been a huge amount of that plant growing to have been able to paint that many buildings. He also showed us a plant with tiny green berries. When we squeezed the berry, the liquid that came out was sticky. Sticky enough that it was used to make mortar. Mortar that is still intact today, some 1500 plus years later. We also saw a bank, a hospital, where there was a maternity ward and a ward for other ailing patients. They were able to mix their own medicines.

In Honduras, it is really hard to tell how old a person is. Most are malnourished and, therefore small. Many have led hard lives and look older than they really are. I could not even guess how old this guide was. He has worked in the area for 25 years and at the ruins for 7. He works at the part of the ruins that does not get a lot of visitors. He told us he went to Boston for one year to learn more about the ruins and the Mayans. He said he did not know any english and it was muy dificil. I think learning spanish is muy dificil. I cannot even comprehend how difficult it must have been for this man to travel to the U.S. Probably his family has been in this small area of western Honduras for generations. I am sure he saw and did things he could not even dream existed. He went to Boston, overcame some fears, I am sure, and learned what he was sent to learn. He was a very good guide and while we knew he was trying to rush us through, he explained in great detail, showed us the red paint plant and the mortar plant. In a hurry, he could have left some of that out and we would have never known the difference. He answered our questions and we got back to the car at 4:20. Then we let him ride back to town with us.

To me it is incomprehensible that I live in a basically uneducated, poverty-ridden, backward, third-world country that at one time had such an advanced, intelligent society. In addition to a bank, and a hospital, this society built a drainage system that is still operating today. I guess it is totally amazing that a society like the Mayans existed in any country during that time period.


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More From Copan

Marc and I are spending 4 hours a day in language school and at least 2 hours studying, sometimes more. We are also finding time to see the sites of Copan. Monday we just walked around in Copan. Tuesday we walked to the bird park and saw beautifu macaws, toucans, and parrots. It was a long walk to the bird park. Many cars and taxis passed us, but I think we were the only ones walking. Going to the bird park was mostly uphill. I was huffing and puffing all the way and thinking at least it will be downhill going back. I was hot, sweaty and tired when we got there. But the beautiful birds were well worth the journey. Walking back was not too bad. Today, we walked to the artesan center. All the books say that it is within walking distance. Which is true, but we were almost there and took the wrong fork in the road. I think we walked up the steepest road I have ever walked. We saw no cars, no taxis, no horses. That always tells you something. Marc kept asking people (locals) is this the way to La Pinta. Everyone kept saying arriba, which means up or above. My legs were screaming in pain and I didn't want to walk arriba anymore. Again, we were seeing beautiful sites of the Copan Valley. Today was much hotter than yesterday, so I wasn't just hot and sweaty, I looked and felt like I had just stepped out of the swimming pool. We finally arrived at the top of the mountain and found 3 women weaving. I could not believe this was the artesan center. There was a restaurant and we got a much needed coke. We could also see the Mayan ruins in the distance. Some children led us to the rest of the artesan center. There several women make dolls out of corn husks. They are so beautiful made out of many bright colors. The women that work in the artesan center are poor and work hard. Harder than most of us would know about. We decided to buy a few dolls. All the women were standing there hoping we would buy one of their dolls. It is always hard to buy from one and not the others. They all work so hard to be able to make a somewhat better life for themselves and their children. Marc paid for the dolls. I was thinking about that loooong walk down the mountain. Knowing how steep it was, I was not sure going down would be any easier than going up. We found out we had come all the way around the mountain. A little girl had some flowers made out of the cornhusks and asked me to buy one for a dollar. I said yes and then kids came from everywhere wanting me to buy their flowers. I hated to say no to any of them, but my Honduran cash was a bit low and these people would not know what to do with American cash. This little girl and two of her friends showed us a quicker and not so steep way down. She took my hand and led me most of the way. It would have been so much easier to do it myself and go at my pace, but she was so sweet; I just let her lead me down. This part of the mountain was so much easier than the way we came up that I really did not need help. These children were so happy and had almost nothing. Why is it that we have so much and sometimes are not happy? It continues to amaze me. The little girl was worried about me and really wanted Marc and I to sit down and rest. We did. The walk down was a pretty one too, but I think we saw so much more going the long way up. But for a 2 kilometer walk, we only went 3 or 4 kilometers out of the way.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Copan By Day

I rose this morning to a find a beautiful day. Copan is beautiful, much more so than I thought last night. Breakfast is included everyday in that $34.00. Breakfast is on the roof top with a thatched hut over it. I was thinking continental breakfast. But we received a full breakfast with magnificent coffee. We sat drinking coffee, eating breakfast and looking over this beautiful city. As pretty as everything is, we are constantly reminded of why we are here. Yesterday through the beauty, we saw houses that were nothing more than hovels with people living in them. We saw people walking through the rain carrying wood with no umbrella, no pancho. We sat eating a grand breakfast by any standard, when many people in this country will eat nothing today. Even here in Copan, where the people are a bit wealthier due to tourism, we saw a couple of street kids. Not like in Tegucigalpa, where they are everywhere. Language school is so we can better communicate and help this empoverished nation. Everywhere the need is great in this country. Please pray that I see things as they really are in here and not just the beauty that hides so much unpleasantness, the hunger, the homelessness, the hopelessness. Pray that I make a difference to someone each day and that Jesus is seen in me.