Sunday, August 31, 2008

Family Time

Friday night, Marc and I arrived in Little Rock. Landing early, we had our luggage and were waiting on the curb when Nathan arrived. Due to the time we were landing, we thought it would be Nathan only. But he surprised us and brought Camille. Grammy was certainly ready for Camille hugs.

We had a relaxing day yesterday with our kids. Matt and Nicole came over from Searcy. We enjoyed the kids and watched some college football, which is something we do not get to do in Honduras. Later in the day, we went downtown Little Rock, down by the river. Camille played in the fountain and then we ate to belatedly celebrate Nathan's birthday.

We attended church at Chenal this morning, seeing friends that had recently been in Honduras. After we all had naps this afternoon, Camille and I read books and we went for a walk and just are enjoying every word she says.

Tomorrow we will go to Matt and Nicole's for a couple of days and then we will go to Mississippi and then on to Tennessee, before heading back to Searcy and Little Rock. We will then head to Texas, taking Camille with us. We will then return to Little Rock and Searcy. If you had not noticed, all roads lead to Little Rock and Searcy.

We will be in many churches and many places the next few weeks, seeing many friends, making new memories. I am sure there will be trips to Wal-Mart and Sonic, meeting for coffee and sharing Honduras.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Little Helpers

This morning it was not raining. Karen had the children that were not in school outside. Our groundskeeper was cutting grass. He does this with a machetti. I am sure this is backbreaking work. Karen brought the children around to where Dennis was working. She got brooms and rakes and they began working.

Some were sweeping the sidewalk. Some were raking the grass and some were putting the raked grass in the wheelbarrow to be hauled off. And some were picking flowers and berries. Fernando and Daniela were, by far, raking the biggest piles of grass.

Sweet Doris is getting pretty good with a broom. She would sweep a ways and then sweep over it again. But, for her, using a rake was a completely different story. While using a rake and a broom are similar motions, they are not exactly the same. Doris was trying to use the rake in the way she does the broom and she had the rake upside down. No matter how many times it was turned over, she kept turning over and trying to use it upside down. She did not get too much raked that way, but she never quit trying.

They had so much fun, they all wanted to come back and work some more after naptime.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Julia, Nathan and Camille at graduation in May.

It almost seems an impossibility that twenty four years ago right now I was in a hospital bed in Lubbock, Texas holding our second son. Nathan Lane Tindall was born August 26 on a Sunday morning. The joys that second son brought.

From birth, he had a mind of his own. And I soon discovered the busiest child ever born. He never slowed down. When he got caught doing something he was not suppose to be doing, he always had this litle "not me" smile. He loved the loud music from birth, a love he still has to this day.

Combining a strong will, a curious mind and the busyness meant many scary and interesting experiences. After Nicole was born, I had a terrible case of the flu. Marc took Ryan to school, Nicole to a friend's, and left Nathan with me. I was too sick to answer the phone when Marc called to check on me. Marc decided to drive home and found Nathan running up the street with a butcher knife. There was the time he was jumping off the bunk bed and the fifth time landed on his head making it necessary for a speedy trip to ER. And the time he walked the railing on the balcony of our house in Collierville, proudly proclaiming, "look how good I can walk the balance beam." I have earned everyone of these gray hairs.

Then there was the time Nathan and I drove from Texas to California. It took us three days. We had fun together. I promise we looked at every single rock in the painted desert. And we bought fool's gold in Calico. There was piano lessons, baseball, gymnastics, football. Nathan excelled at them all. He also excelled at teasing his little sister, and sometimes talked her into some of his shenanigans.

The memories of my second son growing up could go on and on.

Nathan has had many trials and hardships already in his young life. Marc and I are proud that he has worked hard to overcome these things. We are proud of his sweet wife and our precious granddaughter.

So here's to you Nathan, Happy Birthday. I love you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Dinner Guests

For quite some time, Marc and I have talked about having our friends, the Estradas out for supper. Last week, I decided it was time to do just that. Last Saturday, Marc asked Timoteo for Saturday night, last night.

Timoteo works tirelessly at everything he does at Baxter, at the Los Pinos church and for Torch. Over the years, we have become good friends with his family. He and his sons work for Torch. One of his sons, Milton, is the one that helped me get my driver's license earlier this week.

I decided to make an American meal for them, one of our favorites: chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, gravy, and green beans and bacon. There is more than one reason while in Honduras we eat as the Hondurans do. Not only are American products hard to find, the ones that can be found have been imported and, therefore, costly.

As I began to prepare for and anticipate having guests, I felt light-hearted and almost giddy, just as I did as I anticipated having friends in my home when I lived in the states. I went to town on Thursday to buy the necessary groceries. It took many stops to find the things I needed. Bacon cost $8.45 a pound. Yes, for one pound. I eventually quit looking at the prices. This was special. I don't do it very often and I was not going to fret over the cost.

Yesterday, I had more fun as I began to prepare this meal, even with the challenges of cooking for that many people in such a small workspace. Normally, my coffee pot sits on the counter space. That fills the whole work space. I sat the coffee pot on top of the refrigerator and dealt with the challenges. Living here has taught me to deal with challenges such as this.

I fully intended to change clothes before my guests arrived, but didn't want to change while I was still slinging flour everywhere. In true Honduran fashion, I was not through cooking when the Estradas arrived, Timoteo, his wife, five kids, and Timoteo's parents. They were all dressed up and I still had not changed my clothes. I did not worry about it too long.

I finished cooking and Marc helped me get it all on the table. Marc explained this was one of our favorite meals from the states. Timoteo prayed and then all was silent as the eating began. There was no conversation except between Marc and I. I would say Timoteo and the boys loved the chicken fried steak. Not so sure about the wife and daughter. They all loved the gravy, even if it was too thick. There was not one drop of gravy left.

I made a simple cherry cheesecake for dessert. Everyone got huge laughs as they tried to teach me to say cherry in spanish. I could not say the word, or rather, I could not say it correctly.

We had a great evening of fellowship with our friends. I hope I do not wait so long to have dinner guests again.


Friday, August 22, 2008


Rosita and Sisi came to live at Casa de Esperanza about a month ago. Rosita is deaf. She had perfect hearing until she was two years old. At that time, she had an extremely high fever and no one had the money to take her to the doctor.

A ministry called Manos Feliz or Happy Hands is coming here two times a month to teach her sign language. We are thankful for that. Karen can communicate quite well with her and she appears quite bright.

Today Marc and Dorian took her to the audiologist. The audiologist said even with hearing aids, she might not ever have adequate language skills. She is only eight. Marc has to take her back next week to have her ears cleaned. The audiologist wanted someone else to do that job so she would not be afraid of him. The week after that, Rosita will go back for a full audiology exam in the audiology booth.

We have to work with her and prepare her for testing. I believe in a God who can and does perform miracles. Please join me in prayer for little Rosita as she is tested.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting a Honduran Driver's License

I had already heard the nightmare tales of getting a driver's license in Honduras. I have put it off and put it off and dreaded it. I came time that I just had to deal with it. I got our friend, Milton, to go with me and blocked off a whole day to do this. I left here early Monday, picked up Milton, and was at Transito by 8:30.

Transito consists of several buildings. Thankfully, Milton, knew where to go to start this process. We went to the main building and talked to someone, then went to the second floor and talked to two or three other people. We then went to one of the other buildings. I had an eye test. I had to tell the three colors on a chart on the wall. I had to read the eyechart with and without my glasses. Then I paid for that. I had a physical. Rather, I had my blood pressure and pulse taken and asked if I had had any surgeries. I paid for the physical. I had my blood typed and paid for that. I had my picture taken and paid for that.

Back to the main building. The first floor, the third floor, the second floor. I was told at that point I had to be a Honuduran resident before I could get a driver's license. Marc is not yet a Honduran resident and he has his license. Oh, by the way, my residency has been in progress almost a year. If I had to wait for that, I might be waiting until eternity. That is a whole other story.

I called Marc. I called my lawyer. All the while, Milton is calling people and stopping different policia and asking them to do him a favor. He even gave my paperwork, including my passport, to one of the policia and the man left with my papers. I nearly died. My papers maybe, but not my passport. He did bring all my papers back and said he had tried everything and could not help us. It is approaching 11:00. I was not happy. I do have a piece of paper that says my residency is in progress. I did not have it with me because Marc said all I needed was my passport and my Texas driver's license. That is all Marc needed when he got his license. But this is Honduras, and rules change. I was told to bring the paper back tomorrow along with a solicitud. That was just great. I had no idea what a solicitud was.

I came home. I found out what a solicitud was. It was a letter in spanish soliciting the police for a driver's license. Fernando helpled me write the solicitud. I have trouble enough speaking spanish; typing a letter was out of the question.

Since I had to go back on Tuesday and Milton was going back with me, Fernando and Dorian decided to go get their licenses. They took the same paperwork I was taking. Same drill. Leave early, get Milton, get to Transito by 8:30. Dorian and Fernando started with the eye test, blood work, physical, and picture.

Milton took all my paperwork and left. He came back and said we were ready to start. He also told me he had talked to a friend that is really high in transito. We went in the middle building. There are several desks in a small room. The first desk had a man with a large notebook. The pages have been neatly columned by hand. Everything that goes in it is hand-written. The next desk has a lady sitting behind it with a typewriter. At the third desk is another lady and at the fourth desk is a lady working at computer. The fifth desk is empty.

We start at the first desk. There are people in front of us and each one is taking a few minutes. When we get there, they look at my paperwork, begin to sign it and fill in the notebook, fingerprint me. He takes one of my pictures and a gluestick and glues the picture on a card. I am thinking this will eventually be my license. We move on to typewriter lady. She asks me to write my mother and father's name. She then types something on my papers. The next lady looks at everything and oks it and we go back to the main building.

Once back in the main building, we go to window 4 and then to window 6. Then to station 9. My paperwork is looked at again and signed again. We go to window 2 and then to the bank to pay and then to window 3. Even Milton was laughing over this.

We, once again, head for the middle building and have to wait in a fairly long line. We go to computer lady. She takes more fingerprints and another picture. I leave all the paperwork I have accumulated to this point,including the card with my picture that was glued on earlier. We go back to the main building to yet another station and sign my name one more time and am handed a license. It was 9:45. Unbelievable.

In the meantime, Dorian and Fernando were sitting and waiting for Milton to finish with me. I took their seat and they left with Milton. In just a few minutes they all return, saying their paperwork is not in order and they have to return tomorrow.

I could not help but laugh. Both Dorian and Fernando got their licenses today and Fernando does not even have residency in progress yet. Go figure.

The only thing I can say about the inefficiency is, if the system was efficient, hundreds more would be out of work.

I am thankful that is over. Now to get the residency done.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Summer 2008

Another summer for Torch has come and gone. And what a summer it was. We knew from the very beginning it was going to be an unusual summer.

The first summer group was coming May 31. May 30 a plane crashed in Tegucigalpa closing the airport until August 1, essentially the end of the mission group season. Adjustments were made immediately, as I made my first, of many, trips to San Pedro Sula to meet two of our interns on May 30. Marc went to San Pedro Sula on May 31 to meet the first time group from Topeka.

For now, there are no more trips to San Pedro Sula. No more combo numero siete at Wendy's, the only place to eat in the San Pedro Sula airport. No more stops in Comayagua for granita and pound cake. As with every challenge, there is always a blessing. To Ruthann, Linda, Tempa, Teresa, Sylvia, Debra, and Janet, the time I spent with you on the road to San Pedro Sula was priceless. My life is forever changed by knowing each of you better. Thanks.

Nicole, I did not forget you went with me a couple of times as well. I enjoyed that time with you as well, even if you did try to tell me how to drive.

I have been thoroughly spoiled with Milky Ways, french vanilla coffee creamer, almonds and many other nice treats from the states. I have been spoiled by sharing daily times of praise and worship, in English, with the groups. I have laughed, cried, and prayed with many old and new friends.

There was more sickness than we have ever seen before; yet there was no complaining and everyone kept on keeping on.

While the road was being kept hot with the many trips to San Pedro Sula, the groups that were in Tegucigalpa were changing lives as well, both those of the Hondurans and their own. A church building was replaced, two school buildings built, a bridge built, seventy new homes were built, and sidewalks were poured. Literally tons of food and clothing were distributed. Gatorade was delivered to the street cleaners. Medical clinics and vacation Bible school were held were hundreds. Thousands of kids were hugged and touched the deep places of our hearts. Thirty seven precious souls came to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior and many more seeds were planted.

I watched as you came and saw things unimagineable to our American minds, and then as your hearts were broken, never, ever to be the same people that arrived in Honduras. I watched as you gave of yourselves and your possessions. I watched as kids arrived at the Tegucigapla airport on August 2 and August 9 to tell you good-bye and as they and you cried. I watched as lifelong relationships were formed.

To borrow a quote from my husband, "it has been another great summer in Honduras."

For now, the chainsaws and hammers are silent. No more wild rides in the buses as the buses are parked and we are not sitting in awe, wondering how on earth that driver got that bus into such a tight place. No more devos in Santa Lucia and the Jesus statue. No more "where did you see Jesus today?" Plans are already being made for groups to come in summer 2009 so that there can be another great summer in Honduras.


Friday, August 15, 2008


After the last group left for the states, we left for the beach. We decided to go to Trujillo. Trujillo is on the northeast shore. It is not easy going to get there. It is the end of the road and I mean the end of the road. There was no tv and the internet was so painfully slow that I quit trying. I did not really miss the internet except for blogging.

Trujillo is where Christopher Columbus landed on his fourth voyage in 1502. It is full of history. Columbus did not stay long because it was so hot and humid. That definitely was true. While Trujillo was full of history was just as full, if not more so, of beauty.

It is one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. The crystal clear turquoise waters of the Carribbean, the white sand beaches, the awesome sunsets. We saw the sunset every night and each one was different. God is so good. He saved the best sunset for last.

We slept late every morning. We walked on the beach and found shells. We hiked to some waterfalls. It was a great hike. We could hear little brooks gurgling all around us as we walked. The vegetation was lush and dense. We saw many different species of butterflies. I heard birds singing, but never saw them. The waterfalls were not real full, but still pretty. We crossed the little stream. If those falls had been full and rushing over those rocks, we certainly would not have crossed any stream. Oh yes, I definitely knew it was hot and humid on that little walk.

We ate great seafood. Marc took a nap every afternoon in the hammock. I chose the bed with the air conditioner running.

We drove along the beach through the little Garifuno communities. The Garifunos are an indigenous group of people, the black caribs. They have their own rich history. They were all so friendly and happy. I would have liked to know more about their culture and customs.

We saw endless acres of banana, pineapple, and coconut plantations. We saw mahogany and cacao forests. I saw all sorts of interesting little plants.

We forgot about work for a few days. As we got closer to Tegucigalpa yesterday, the more we began to talk about what we were going to do today and what new project needed done and what we left pending. We were rested and rejuvenated and truly ready to get back to work.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Business as Usual At Toncontin

Yesterday, our last group left. As I drove into the airport, I saw a couple of people selling soccer jerseys. The parking lot was a traffic jam. The luggage handlers raced each other to get to the cars and buses so they could carry luggage. Inside, there were long lines at the American and Continental counters. Huge groups of short term missionaries were leaving. People were hugging and crying. The line was long at McDonald's and at security. Several filled the souvenir shops trying to find that last minute gift. Everyone was smiling. Hundreds of people are back to work since the reopening of the airport last week.

Praise God hundreds of people are back to work.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

A Lesson

Thursday morning, one of the employees at Casa de Esperanza passed out and fell onto the floor. I wasn't there, but it created quite a stir. I was in town and met Dorian at the airport and we took Elvia to the doctor. She was told she needed to not have anything to eat or drink after midnight and return at 8:00 on Friday morning. They were going to take a blood test and then she needed to eat and wait two hours and return for another blood test. I told Elvia I would pick her up at 7:00 and get her to the doctor by 8:00.

As promised, I arrived at 7:00 and Elvia and her little daughter got in my car. It was raining. I parked a block away from the doctor's office and we walked. If I had to have a blood test and then eat, I would have been planning where I was going to eat since I left the doctor's office on Thursday. More than likely it would have been Dunkin Donuts. It might have been Espresso Americano. I might have even walked another block to Cafe Mania. I think most Americans would have done the same thing.

After the first blood test, Elvia, Gina and I walked back to my car and she opened her purse and pulled out food for all three of us. It dawned on me that she had to get up really early and prepare food to bring with her. Running to Dunkin Donuts was not an option for her or for most Hondurans.

She had wrapped the food in foil. I opened mine to discover a nice, still warm, tortilla filled with eggs, beans and bologna. I began to realize the tortillas were probably made before she filled them. But I also nearly died. I do not eat bologna. Ever. Under any circumstance. But I would have died before I hurt Elvia's feelings. I was already humbled that she had brought food for me. I began to say gracias, gracias. I bowed my head and shut my eyes. I am sure she was thinking I was thanking God for my food. I was, but I was also desparately praying that I could get this down without gagging. I more or less swallowed the bologna.

I am trying to be culturally aware and culturally sensitive in a culture that is so different from mine. At times I think I am doing pretty good. I did not feel very culturally sensitive at that moment. I never ever thought about someone having to get up and prepare food and pack it so they would have something to eat in between two blood tests.

As we sat and ate and visited for two hours, I learned many lessons from Elvia. I hope I never reach the point where I quit learning from the Hondurans, whom I love so much.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Building a Double Wide

The front of the house with two windows and two doors
The elderly lady, one of many for whom the house was built.

Today we got to build another house. Marc said it might be a two day job. I was excited that I got to go today. I was lovingly entrusted with Nicole's hammer. Not by Nicole, but by Marc. I called Nicole and let her know I was babysitting her hammer today.

The house we were getting to build today will have three families living it. There was an existing house that had to be torn down. Perhaps, I should say there was an existing structure. Most of the wood had rotted. The roof was just barely hanging on. It was not the worst I have ever seen, but it ranks near the top. A rooster lived in the house.

We got to the house site and began knocking out walls. As with any teardown, it is a nasty dirty job. The house was full of the largest cockroaches I have ever seen. The old wood and tin had to be hauled out to the walkway so we would have room to work.

We were building a new house on the same site as the old one had been. The lot was 16' x 28' which is almost double the size we usually build. Marc went yesterday and measured everything so we would have enough wood. We had to build three sides from the inside. The house had two doors and two windows on the front. The front and back had to be built first. That was interesting since both sides were right next to another house. I said all this to say for all of this to happen, the house had to have some special engineering, Honduras style.

As soon as we arrived, an elderly lady met us. She was one of many going to live in the new house. The lady wore a simple dress and her apron was dirty and worn completely threadbare. She greeted us with an almost toothless grin. Her excitement over a new house could not be contained.

A congressman was also on the scene. Sometimes when we get to a job site and a congressman is there, it means he has called the newspaper and they are going to come shoot some footage and the congressman is getting his picture in the paper. And the congressman almost beats the media off the site. Not today. Today Arnoldo and some of his people worked all day on this house, from teardown to finish. The only time Nicole's hammer was not in my hands was when Arnoldo needed it. I thought that would probably be ok. With his crew present, there were a lot of workers on this job site.

I helped hammer one wall and got hinges on one of those windows. Lanetta, you are a good teacher. It was easier this time. Nicole's hammer rocks. I tried to stay out of the way and let Arnoldo and some of his people work as much as they wanted.

We got it finished today. It was a hard house and a fun house. And tonight three families and a rooster are sleeping under a roof that will not leak. I am quite sure that everyone that worked on that house will sleep quite well tonight.
Through it all, God was glorified again.


Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Serving the Servers

Villa Gracia is the place where some of our summer groups stay. It is a nice place to stay. Our groups have a place to sleep, a hot shower and two meals a day. The people that work here work very hard. This morning Marc talked to the manager and told him we wanted to prepare a meal for the workers instead of them preparing one for us. Marc was told tonight would be a great time.

We have a chef here this week and Jennifer began immediately to plan tonight's meal. Everyone went to Nueva Oriental to work in the feeding center and Marc went to get them after lunch and they all went to PriceSmart to buy groceries. I was leaving PriceSmart with the Casa de Esperanza groceries when they arrived.

I went to Santa Ana to unload the groceries. When I returned to Villa Gracia, a wonderful meal was in progress and all the busyness that goes with that. Marc was making his delicious tortilla soup. Jennifer was working on pineapple flambe. Bacon had already been fried, fruits and vegetables for a salad had been washed and cut. Hot turkey, bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches completed this meal.

Many of the workers had dressed up for the occasion. They were seated at the tables and we prepared the plates and served them. After they were all served, we joined them. The meal was delicious and right now I may never eat again.

We began to take dishes back to the kitchen and started doing dishes. It wasn't long before the ladies that were suppose to have the evening off were back there helping us. You know how some people are about sharing their kitchen. It was a great evening and I could not help but fondly remember all the times I helped prepare meals and do dishes in other places I have lived.

The employees of Villa Gracia enjoyed this evening.



This is one of the houses where we distributed clothing on Sunday.

The mud floor

The inside of the house

One of the children with two bags of clothing.
I had technical difficulties with pictures last night.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Clothing Distribution

Yesterday, the ten of us that are here decided to do a distribution with the clothes and food that was left. We did it in a village the other side of Comyagua, about 85 kilometers from Tegucigalpa. Marc and I first saw this village in February. And with all the trips back and forth to San Pedro Sula, we have had opportunity to see it many times. It was far past time to do more than just see it.

Other than the dump, it is one of the worst villages I have ever seen. The houses are made of cardboard, plastic sheeting, and whatever could be found.

We drove up in a van and got out. We began to unload the van with the sacks we had. A few people came and then a few more people came. Soon people were running toward the van. No one had shoes. Many many chilren and adults had the lightened hair so indicative of malnutrition. Most of the children had very sad eyes. That kills me every single time I see a child with sad eyes.

We went inside one of the houses. The floor was nothing more than a sticky mud. Seven people live there. I did not see any mattresses. Or much of anything else. We found out the people in this village do not own their land, but someone let them build houses on the land.

Everyone was grateful for what they had been given. When we left, they said we will wait for your return. I really think with that statement, we need to get back out there soon.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Day of Goodbyes

Today was the end of the trip for the group known as the Mississippi Group. At one time everyone on this last summer Torch trip was from Mississippi. Now only about half of the people that come on this trip are from Mississippi. The MS group is sometimes now referred to the Many States group as folks come from Illinois, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, and Tennessee.

In the last two weeks this group built 13 houses, built a bridge, finished school buildings, fed about 700 families, clothed countless and witnessed 35 baptisms.

It is not really the end of the summer as a few people are still here and plan to work hard for one more week. But it was sad to see this group leave this morning. It has been sad to see each group leave, but there was another one coming right behind it. Today, no one else arrived. Also, many relationships were formed in the last two weeks, both within the group and with Hondurans. Saying goodbye to someone you may not see again for a year is always hard. As the buses arrived at the airport (the airport in Tegucigalpa) many of the sweet people from Los Pinos arrived at the same time. They managed to get to the airport to tell so many of their new friends goodbye. What a touching gesture.

Little children with their big brown eyes were hugging their friends from the United States. And they were crying as they said their goodbyes. Everyone cried. Even the big ol' tough boys.

I was not saying goodbye to the Hondurans, but to my friends and family. Yes, there were tears in my eyes, too. I must be perfectly honest. I was sad to see this group leave, but I was also crying tears of joy because we did not have to drive to San Pedro Sula today or yesterday. The airport in Tegucigalpa fully reopened yesterday.

We had people leaving on three different planes and the children that came to say goodbye waited until the very last person was through security and out of sight before they began to leave, still crying big tears; their eyes reddened. They hugged Marc and I as we stood there.

I guess it would be easy to dwell on the sadness of this day, but there is still work to do. beginning early in the morning.