Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Teacher Strike

The school year in Honduras runs from February to November. There is about six weeks left in this school year. I am constantly amazed how many days and for how many reasons school is canceled. I don't know how the children learn anything. When school is in session, it is only for half a day and the classes are much larger than we would ever see in the states.

There have been many days in August and September the kids did not go to school for one day at a time because the teachers had not been paid. I can't say that I really blame them. No one wants to work and not get paid. Yesterday, once again, there was no school. Only it was published in the paper that teachers were on strike indefinitely. They have not been paid in months and also they are asking for a raise. This is not just in Santa Ana, this is in the whole country. No one is in school right now. No one.

If kids do not meet the requirements to go on to the next grade, they will be held back. That hurts not only the kids, but families that are trying to find enough money to send their kids to school. If a child is not passed on to the next grade, all money paid for fees and supplies this year is just lost.

I don't have any idea how long this strike might last, or if the government is trying to do anything to resolve this matter. I just pray for a quick end to this mess.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Rainy Season

The rainy season is here and will be here at least a couple of months more. It rains so hard almost everyday. We have a tin roof on our house. Most of the time, the rain is so hard we cannot hear each other no matter how close we are. Marc turns the tv up. It does not really help; it just makes a lot more noise.

I love sleeping at night with the sound of the rain hitting the tin roof. After the rain stops, I continue to hear the water in the creek behind the house. People pay for machines so they can sleep to the sound of a flowing stream. I also have my own private waterfall back there. It doesn't get much better than that. Everything is lush and green, so different from a few months ago when it was parched and dry.

Marc told me he knew where a waterfall was in Ojojona. I decided it was time for a Sunday afternoon drive. We actually saw two waterfalls. One we could walk to and one so far away and so high in the mountains we could never get there. I am not sure the zoom lens on my camera could even see it.

While I sit here in my house, that finally has no leaks, and my dehumidifier running 12 hours a day, and enjoying the sound of rain on a tin roof, many people watch as the water runs through their house every day. Everything they own is soggy and probably mildewed. As we drove this afternoon, I looked at the houses out in the country. Most are not tight. I wondered if they get to sleep dry or if they sleep at all.

The creeks and streams are swollen, making crossing impossible. I did see a couple of footbridges, but I would not have crossed them. They did not look stable. Not being able to cross the stream would mean many people would be cut off from getting to work, school, church, or even to buy groceries.

Thursday, in Tegucigalpa, it rained so hard in such a short time, two villages were severely damaged. Thirteen houses in one village were washed into the river as it rose rapidly.

Pray for those families.


Friday, September 26, 2008

Seeing the Judge

Often when a judge or INHFA calls and asks us to take a child or children, they promise the paper work the next day or the next week. They usually need to place the child immediately. By the time tomorrow comes, there is another emergency and the paperwork moves down on the priority list. We are required to have this paperwork. Karen has been diligently working on obtaining all of this paperwork. Today she needed to take four of them to the judge so we could, hopefully, get all the needed paperwork on these four. I went with her while Marc and Fernando and Brenda took the rest of the children to the required monthly visitation with parents.

Karen and I both new this day had a huge potential of being a real Honduran day. In many ways, we were not disapointed. The children were anxious. They have been to court before. Normally quiet Jonny talked a blue streak. Pamela chewed on her fingers. The first office in which we entered had six chairs at desks, with computers. That many computers in one office in Honduras. We filled the whole office. I wondered aloud if, at times there were six people working in that small space. We were quite cramped in there and we were not trying to work.

We were soon told we had to go to another office in another building that wasn't very close to the first building. Welcome to Honduras. The unusual thing about this was the social worker was going to go with us. She went in a car and we followed her. Thankfully, she went with us. We could have never negotiated they system without her. We were in a secretary's office, a lawyer's office, a judge's office. We were going to have to go to the third floor, but the lawyer wasn't busy so we went there first. As is so typical in Honduras, our plans changed frequently. Just depending on who was free at the moment. We were in and out of offices and in between waiting in a crowded hallway.

We did not actually leave with the paperwork, but Karen and I both felt good that a lot had been accomplished. We really think we will have the paperwork next week. Not only on the four we took today but on three others as well.

We took them to McDonald's for burgers. That was a treat for the emotional stress we had all been through. Since it was the normal day to go to the fruit market, we went on to the fruit market. Karen was most nervous about taking four kids to the fruit market. Pamela had Daniela's hand and told her do not let go of my hand. We promised one more stop for ice cream if everyone behaved at the market.

Before we finished at the market, Daniela had to go to the bathroom. Karen asked her if she could wait a few minutes since the bathrooms there are nasty. She started crying and insisted she could not wait. Karen told her she could go beside the car. No one knew when she said she had to go to the bathroom that she had to poop. We covered it with a newspaper, loaded the car and left.

I thought everyone did well all day. It was a very long day, in and out of offices and then the fruit market. There were four great big smiles as the ice cream as ice cream was served.

We were almost home, when Jonny looked at the clock in the car and realized it said 3:40. He said, "hey we did not have to take a nap today." I turned around and said, "we all take naps when we get home."

Johnny: "I am not taking a nap."

I don't know about him, but I sure took one.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bill Brumley Cottage

The outside of the new cottage
The inside walls

Early this year, as we were thinking about the future, we realized we would need a new cottage in order to house more children. Our friends in Columbus, Mississippi wanted to build this cottage when they came in June. They worked very hard to raise the money for this cottage. There was much excitement here in Honduras and in Mississippi as each week they neared their goal.

From the very beginning, the folks in Mississippi wanted to build this cottage in memory of Bill Brumley. Mr. Bill had been a long time church member, former elder, and friend to many. His life had been one of service to God. It seemed appropriate to build the new cottage in his memory. With Mr. Bill's name attached to it, the funds were raised.

In June, there was one huge problem. The group from Columbus did not get to come because of problems with the Tegucigalpa airport being closed and not being able to reschedule to San Pedro Sula. There was disappointment on both ends.

With one group right after another, the decision was made to wait until the end of the summer to start on the cottage. And then another one had to be made. Whether or not to start the cottage while we were in the states or wait until we returned. Selfishly, I wanted to wait until we returned. I wanted to be part of every minute of construction. Wisely, Marc made the decision to start construction while we were gone.

The footers have been poured, the outside walls are up and the inside walls are higher everyday.
It is so exciting to see. I wish you guys from Columbus were here to be a part of this. The cottage is probably half way completed. Our friends, Milton and Luis are working on the cottage as well as four other people that live here in Santa Ana, a man and his three sons.

Upon completion, the Bill Brumley Cottage will be able to house eight to ten more kids. Eight to ten more precious souls will be rescued from the streets or abject poverty or abuse or who know what else.

Thank you Columbus for raising the money and for naming this cottage for Mr. Bill. I think he is pleased.


Monday, September 22, 2008

Back in Honduras

Today we safely, uneventfully arrived back in Tegucigalpa. I was ready to be back.

We had a wonderful time in Texas and enjoyed sweet Camille. She slept in the room with the computer so that severely limited my blogging time. There was no early morning or late night sitting at the computer. I would not have taken a chance on waking her.

I was ready to come back to Honduras. But last night, when we were saying bye to Camille and she was crying and saying "why do you guys have to leave?", I might have been persuaded to stay. I promised we would be back for Christmas and her birthday. She is too little to understand that. And as we prayed before we ate today, I missed her singing "God Our Father."

As we left Little Rock this morning, I reflected on leaving Little Rock last September. Then I was moving here; this time I was returning home. Last year, I have to admit, I was just a little bit scared. This time I was eager to get back; start working again. Start learning spanish again.

I have learned so much about Honduras and the people here. I am learning their customs and their ways and even learning to negotiate the dmv and transito. Obviously, by dealing with these things, I am learning patience.

I still struggle with spanish. I thought I would be pretty good after a whole year. I have come to realize the importance of speaking the language. Not knowing the language limits the number of people I can help. I have a strong desire to conquer this and am sure by this time next year I will be much better. Not fluent, but better. Not to say I haven't learned any spanish. There are several things I can do by myself.

I am driving and getting around well. Better than I ever dreamed I would. I now back up and down roads on which I never thought I would drive forward. I am still not driving a stick on these hills. I learned to drive a stick in Lubbock, Texas. No hills there. Driving on the hills is just another goal to accomplish.

I have seen poverty, despair and hopelessness that my American mind could not even comprehend. A child not going to school because he does not have school supplies. I have seen sickness and hurts that do not exist in the United States. A baby dying because her parents did not have three dollars to buy her medicine. Not only have I had to learn patience, I have had to learn compassion. In huge doses.

So much learned. So much accomplished. So much to learn. So much to accomplish.

Do I have regrets? Absolutely not. This is where we are meant to be. For now at least.

The future looks busy. Busier than the past year. Only God can give me strength to do that. I can hardly wait to see just what God has planned for the next year.

It has been a great year, a hard year, a year with a huge learning curve. I would not trade it for anything in the world.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Traveling with Camille

We have been many places in the last two weeks. We have seen many friends and been with people who want to come to Honduras next summer. Many plans have been made and we are excited about the number of people that are excited about the work that needs to be done.

Yesterday we got up really early, drove from Searcy to Little Rock to get Camille. We arrived at Nathan's and Julia's house around 6:30. We knew Camille was up because the light in her room was on. Julia opened the front door and Camille came running out to meet us. This was a day we on which we had all been waiting. Camille was going to Texas.

We got her bag and loaded it into the car, along with Marc's golf clubs. After many hugs and kisses from her mommy and daddy we were on our way.

I bought new books, crayolas, markers, stickers, and coloring books. And a new pair of sunglasses for the trip. We were not even out of Little Rock when she asked me if I would ride in the back with her. Of course, I said yes. I crawled from the front seat to the back seat. A sight not to behold, I am sure.

We colored a while. Grammy really liked using the brand new colors. We read and used all the stickers. We sang songs. Some we already knew and some we made up as we went. After lunch, we both took a nap.

I was a bit concerned how she would do on that long of a trip. She did great. But she was glad when we got to Marc's parent's house. She was not the only one. She ran in hugging everyone, including Sugar Bear, the dog. This morning she hugged all of my family. We still have some churches to visit and some business to do, but we are having so much fun with our granddaughter and our parents.

Thanks Nathan and Julia for sharing Camille with us this week.


Monday, September 8, 2008


I have always loved church. I still love church. I love spanish church in Honduras and I love english church in the states. When I go to church, I try to put myself in a worshipful frame of mind. Most of the time I am able to do that. The big exception to that is when I sit with Nicole.

I love being with Nicole and we always have fun together. Always. Sometimes too much fun. If we are at church together, Marc and Matt try to sit between us. Yesterday we were hugging everyone and sat down together just as the first song began. We both looked at each other and smiled, as if to say let the fun begin. I am not sure, but I think I saw Matt shake his head.

I just made one little comment to her and we both started giggling. Why are things so funny in church that might not be funny at all somewhere else? Our laughing was made worse by the fact that the pew we were on was not in good repair. I thought if we did not all sit down or stand up at the same time, it probably not break. So every time we stood or sat, we looked like we were doing the wave. For some reason, that was extremely funny.

Once when we sat, Nicole was the last to sit and the seat popped loudly. Several people turned around to see what was happening. Out of the corner of my eye, I could not only see Nicole laughing, I could see my good friend Phyllis laughing. I was thinking if Nicole and Phyllis are both laughing, it is all over.

As the singing ended and the sermon began, I had to make a choice to be the adult and the example and not laugh any more. Not at anything. Just the fact that I would not look at Nicole was funny. We both settled down and heard a great sermon on choosing to commit our lives to Christ.

When church was over, there was nothing quite as funny as it had been earlier. I wonder why?


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Rosita's Testing

Yesterday Karen took Rosita for her testing. The audiologist said he thought she has some hearing in her right ear and further testing needs to be done. Karen will be taking her back next Wednesday. Let's keep those prayers going for this precious little girl. God is already answering those prayers. We were told she had no hearing.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Back in the USA

I regularly share some of the challenges of living in a third world country. Like getting a driver's license or registering a car in a country that is technologically challenged. And the ones that have been in Honduras know the challenges with driving. While I have been eagerly anticipating being back in the states, I was the one that was challenged today.

I drove to Staples to take care of a little bit of business. Remembering not to make a turn in front of a car with only a few inches clearance, not really stopping at a stop sign if nothing was coming, and not making u-turns wherever were among the first challenges of the day. And that was nothing compared to the challenges I faced once I walked into Staples. I did not think I had been out of the states that long.

I needed to send a letter overnight. I asked for the form to fill out. I was told it was not done that way anymore. It was all done on the computer. Ok. It still seems easier for me to write or type my own address than what I went through with that clerk. But we finally got that much done. I, then, needed to make three copies. The last time I made copies at Staples, I made my copies and the machine spit out a piece of paper saying how many copies I made and how much I owed. I took it to the cashier and paid. Today, I was told I had to prepay my copies and had to have this credit card thing with my prepayment. I stood there shocked. You have got to be kidding. I have to prepay for three copies or pay for a bunch of copies I will never be able to use.
The clerk used his card and then rang it up on my bill. I felt I had been gone longer from the states than I have been.

This afternoon we went to Little Rock to meet some folks. We got there early and had a little over an hour to kill. We went in Barnes and Noble. Marc said he would buy us a cup of coffee. There I stood in a bookstore, a bookstore with more books in english than in spanish. I had decisions to make. Whether to browse the whole bookstore, to run check out my favorite authors, to go grab a couple of true crimes, or go get that mocha. I stood there for ten minutes, wasting valuable time, trying to decide what to do. I inhaled the scent of books. I hyperventilated being among that many books again. I quickly remembered the weight restrictions now in place by the airlines.

I finally decided an hour would not do justice to a bookstore. I searched out one book that I had been wanting and went to get that mocha. I left off the whipped cream this time. The coffee we drink in Honduras is some of the best in the world. But good mochas are hard to find, except at the Marriott, which is a place that I do not frequent.

Even with the challenges and decisions I am facing, I am having a great time.