Thursday, October 30, 2008

A House for Doris

The old house
Everything that was in the house except for two beds which were put somewhere else during construction

Bottles filled with rainwater, all the water they had

A baby girl and her mommy will sleep warm tonight and have food in their stomachs

Happy kids. They have a new house

The new house

One of my friends in Mississippi sent money for us to build a house in memory of her Aunt Doris. After the last group leaves in August, the needs still continue, but we don't always have the manpower to get things done.

Julie has waited patiently since sending her money.

Today we were able to build that house. We left here at 6:15 this morning. It was cold, windy, and foggy. Praise God it was not raining. We met the lumber truck at 8:00 and he followed us into a village called Diez Y Siete de Septiembe (The 17th of September). It is not a village we would want to be in after dark.

Marc had been there Saturday and looked at the site and told the family we would be back today. As Marc bounded up the hill, I could hear squeals of excitement. The rest of us walked up the hill and saw an awful house. It was so tiny and eight people were living there. One wall was not much more than paper. We were going to have to do a teardown, but we were sure it would not take long as there was not much there and it wasn't very stable.

We also had to move everything out of the house before the teardown could begin. We began to move things out of the house. There were 2 beds on which 8 people sleep every night. There was essentially no food, less than a cup of sugar, less than a cup of rice and some coffee. There were no dishes and a couple of small tables. One was so rickety I was not sure I could not pick it up and move it and it remain intact. The only kind of cooking utensil I saw was a kettle and I think coffee had been fmade in that. There was a hot plate on which to cook, but it had not been used this morning.

There was no running water and we carried out some bottles of water, which we were careful not to spill any. They have to catch rain water from the roof. This becomes their drinking water, washing water, cooking water.

It did not take long to empty this house and pile the stuff in the yard.

The roof was in fairly good shape and it was decided to try to move it intact and reuse some of the tin. Maria, the lady of the house decided she wanted to use it to put over her kitchen. The house came down, the roof saved and moved, and the lot cleared of the debris.

Two of the corner posts were easy and two were rock. We were grateful for the two easy ones. The last house we had to dig through rock to set all four corner posts.

As the house went up, and we had a chance to visit with the family, we found out it never gets warm where they live. They are always cold. Always. How miserable that might be. I pulled my sweatshirt off while we were working, but certainly needed it when things came to a standstill.

The house went up quickly, but we were really tired today when we finished.

A friend of Maria's was present all day. She held Maria's 10 month old baby girl often. She was so happy that the baby would have a warm place to sleep tonight and when we begin to carry food into the house, she was so thankful the baby girl would have food in her tummy tonight as well.

We all went to eat pizza when we finished building the house. As we came out of the Pizza Hut, it was starting to rain. I was so thankful that those eight people would be sleeping dry tonight.

I opened an email from Julie this evening and it said I think Aunt Doris is dancing with the angels tonight. I could not agree more.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Rosita's Testing

Rosita had her testing this morning. She had to be kept awake all night. Karen and Dorian had a slumber party with her last night. She could not eat or drink anything after 3:00 a.m. So, she ate until 3:00.

At 3:00, she was ready to get dressed and at 5:00 she was ready to come down here. We were up. No problem. Her appointment was at 7:00 and she and Marc left here at 5:30. Not that it really takes that long to get to town. But she kept pointing at the door and finally wore Marc down.

These results are very conclusive. She has no hearing in her left hear and only at 110 decibels in her right. That is rock concert level. It is not correctible.

Now we go to plan B and we all learn sign language.

Please keep this precious little girl in your prayers.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Raising the Roof

The roof beams have been here and painted, waiting for the tin so that the roof could be put on the new cottage. Yesterday, Nettie came rolling in around 2:00 with 36 feet long tin. Having tin that long means less seams which means the roof is less likely to leak.
Today most of the roof was put on. That job will be finished on Monday.
That cottage of block and mortar is looking more like a home for kids all time, isn't it?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Making a Difference, One Surgery at a Time

Dr. White and I. The team graciously let me observe at the head of the table with the doctor. After just a few minutes, without being asked, I moved to the foot of the table and stayed out of the way.
The skillful hands of a surgeon performing his magic

A job well done.

Because of the great need here in Honduras, it is sometimes difficult to feel we are making a difference. We have to stop and remember we do make a difference to the ones we help and that one at a time is the best we can do.

This week a team of ear, nose and throat specialists, anesthesiologists and nurses are here to do cleft lip and cleft pallate surgeries. Long term malnutrition and little to no prenatal care causes a much higher rate of these types of birth defects that we see in the states. And when it does happen in the states, most of us have some type of insurance to cover the expense of fixing cleft lips and cleft pallates.

In Honduras, people not only do not have the money to fix their child's lip or pallate, the person
more than likely will become an outcast in this society, unable to find a job. There is a man here in Santa Ana that has both a cleft pallate and cleft lip. He doesn't have a job and he drinks all the time. It is a sad existence.

When doctors come and provide this surgery for those that can least afford it, it makes a huge difference in the life of the child and the family. People come from long distances to have this surgery performed on their child. Sunday was pre-op day. The doctors assessed those that had come and decided which day each child would have his surgery. Some people had come so far there was no way to return home until after the surgery was complete. We were going to let them sleep on mattresses at the bodega and fix food for them every night. One of the congressman arranged for them to stay in a hotel and be fed every night instead. For free, of course.

Yesterday morning, Marc and I left here with Veronica, a member of our church, and her sweet daughter Jaime. Jaime was born with a cleft lip and a cleft pallate. Some where the lip had been repaired, leaving the more complicated surgery of repairing the pallate. Both Jaime and Veronica were quite anxious.

When we got there, the first two surgeries were already in progress, one lip and one palate. I was fortunate enough to be able to observe one. I had to put on scrubs and cover my hair and my feet. I wasn't actually doing anything but observing, so that is all I had to do.

The team was gracious about me being in the operating room. They were also very kind to explain things. One of the nurses took a few pictures with my camera. Different team members were also taking pictures. I would have thought that was a no-no.

Dr. White was operating on a 4 year old little boy who had also been born with both a cleft lip and a cleft pallate. It was hard to see the work on the pallate. Since the surgery had started before I entered, I did not get to see the what the child looked like before the surgery. Later I did get to see a before picture. Poor little guy. As the doctor was completing the lip, he said this nose is in awful shape and I don't think I can do too much for it. But he cut some cartiledge and made some awesome repairs.
I was grateful for the experience of getting to observe.
Jaime was one of the next patients. Her surgery was quite complicated and was to last 3 to
3 1/2 hours. They called Jaime. Jaime was scared. Veronica was scared and crying. Any of us mothers would be scared when our child is going into surgery. Then add to that that most Hondurans aren't as familiar with doctors and hospitals as we are. Anyone would be scared under those conditions. I went to Veronica and hugged her. She hugged back and started crying harder. I continued to hug her. The doctors routinely say a prayer with the patient and family before surgery. I held Veronica's hand during the prayers. She hugged Jaime and Jaime was gone.
Thinking like an American, I asked Veronica if she would like me to get her something to eat. I forget Hondurans have to get up, prepare their food, and bring it with them before leaving to spend a long day in the hospital. They might not get to eat all day long if they did not take their food with them. I hugged Veronica again and told her Jaime was in God's hands. She nodded.
Marc and I left for a short bit. When we got back, I checked on Veronica. She was doing remarkably well. We asked one of the nurses to check on Jaime and Jaime was doing fine. We relayed that to Veronica.
We stayed until Jaime was out of surgery. Jaime and Veronica were staying in the hospital last night.
Marc left early this morning to go get Jaime and Veronica. There was another surgery patient in the room with Jaime. The girl had never had nasal passages. The doctors were able to construct some during surgery. When the packing was removed this morning, both mother and daughter were thrilled beyond words. The girl could smell for the first time in her whole life.
During the week, the doctors will be able to perform 30 -35 surgeries, making a huge difference. I am so thankful for these doctors' and nurses' willingness to come and perform surgeries at no cost to the patient's family.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Flood Pictures

This was a "hotel" that charges by the hour. They also exploited young girls. When the highway fell, this is where it landed. No one was killed. I am glad that a business that does such detestable things is gone.

This is where the highway fell onto the "hotel" pictured above. Where the highway fell is almost to the entrance of Nueva Oriental. Nueva Oriental is intact, praise God. I walked in to get the pictures. Many Hondurans were standing on the edge. While I do crazy things to get a picture, I was not getting to the edge of that. I don't think the mountain is through falling. That is why I hava zoom lens.
A community near San Pedro Sula

A common sight. People trying to save their kids and their few posessions.

Villeda Morales. We have done some work in this community and will be doing a church plant next summer.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Devastation and Destruction

The continuing rains have wreaked havoc on this country. The papers are saying this is the biggest nightmare since Hurricane Mitch. The country has been declared a national disaster and many parts of the country are on red alert as the rain will continue for at least another day. Many people have been killed. And when you know where and how some of these houses are built, it is a wonder more have not been killed.

That road to Danli, the one on which we drove on Friday, that was sinking has now sunk. A huge portion broke off. The road to Valley of Angels broke. A portion of a mountain more or less shifted near Nueva Oriental. We have not seen how bad the damage is; we just read about it in the paper. This is a poor area as it is.

I cannot even begin to imagine how bad the village near Choluteca is now.

There is devastation and destruction in so many villages here in Tegucigalpa and across the country.

We pray the rain will stop soon. We pray we know how to help people.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Another Manic Monday

This morning I arose early, earlier than normal. I spent precious time with God and then exercised. Had a cup of coffee and thought I was ready to take on a new day and a new week. I should never get comfortable with anything.

Marc was taking the kids to school this morning. He left the house, but in just a couple of minutes there was pounding on the door. Since whoever it was, just kept knocking, I guessed it was Marc. It was two of the kids needing some money for school.

Marc had no more than left when my phone rang. It was Karen. Dilcia and Reina had just called and said they had to get off the bus at Loarque, that nothing was getting through. They said they were walking. Loarque is at the bottom of this mountain and about 25-30 kilometers from here. I cannot imagine walking up the hill for that far. They might have been here in time to get off this afternoon. I told Karen I would call Marc and he could head down for them from the school. I dialed Marc's number and heard his phone ringing behind me. So much for that idea. He would have to go find Dilcia and Reina after returning from the school.

Marc returned from the school and I told him he needed to leave again. I asked if he had Dilcia and Reina's numbers. He said he would stop by Karen's and get them. In just a few minutes Marc's phone rings. Some Mondays are just like that.

Marc's phone was ringing every few minutes. Marc's phone rings like that all day, every day. I thought I would answer his phone and take messages. Some people were telling Marc he would not get to town this morning. Some were saying they could not get to Santa Ana. Then my phone started ringing as well. Since the teachers ride the same bus as Dilcia and Reina, the teachers could not get to school. I don't guess they were not trying to walk. I went to get the kids at school.

Traffic was backed up as there was a strike at Santa Rosa. I don't know yet who was striking, but no one was getting past Santa Rosa from either side. Along the way, Marc stopped and picked up Sandra. When he could get no further, he got out of the car and walked looking for Dilcia and Reina. There were hundreds of folks walking in both directions, trying to get where they needed to be. Dilcia had said that if they stopped and stood in one place Marc would never find them because so many were walking.

Marc finally found them and everyone got here safely, a bit tired, but safely.

Since we were not going anywhere today, Marc and I both sat down at our computers to do some much needed work. Almost immediately, the power went out. Another blackout. We have not had one of those in a while and we were becoming a little complacent.

After lunch, with the power still out and the strike still in progress, it seemed the only logical thing to do was take a nap. I did.

Obviously, the power is back on. The strike is over, at least for today, and Marc has taken Rosita to the doctor. I am trying to work now since I lounged around all day.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Rains Come Down and The Floods Come Up

The heavy rain continues to fall all over the country. The rivers continue to rise flooding many homes. Roads and homes are being washed away. Everyday the newspapers tell about more people without homes. There are pictures of people in agony as they sit among total devastation.

Yesterday the papers told of the severe flooding in Choluteca where we had been the day before. We knew they were telling the truth. Today the pictures were from communities in Tegucigalpa.

Yesterday we were headed to Danli. We were out by Nueva Oriental and part of the highway was splitting. There was a sign that said zona de hundimento. I asked someone to look up that word since I was driving. It meant sinking. And they weren't joking. One lane was several inches lower than the other lane.

It is sad to see people lose their homes and everything they own. It is sad to know they are starving. The paper said people are so hungry that the hunger overrides any danger in which they might be putting themselves to get to food. That was certainly true as we saw people swimming a river to get to food.

I hope this tropical depression moves out soon.


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Santa Katarina

Four of the five baskets in the checkout line
Basket 5

A large grocery bill

The swollen river, meaning the end of the road

People waiting for food

Swimming across the river

The food line

Going back into the river

And coming out

A few weeks ago Marc went south with Timoteo. Timoteo took Marc to a village that desparately needs some help. So remote. So poor. Maybe not the worst we have seen, but close to it. Marc can never see that much need and not do something about it. We have prayed and prayed about what can be done. Along with a couple of the AIMers, it seems as if God is leading us to build a feeding center and a church plant. The feeding center will be patterned after the one in Nuevo Oriental, feeding kids five days a week.

We decided to go to Choluteca and do a feeding. Ten of us, in two cars, left Santa Ana yesterday at 4:30. A little bit late to be leaving, but nontheless, that is when we left. In all directions, the further away from Tegucigalpa you go, the worse the roads go. Going south toward Choluteca was no exception. There was no center stripe and no line to show the edge on the road and it was full of volkswagon sized potholes. So we bounced our way to Choluteca. I was thankful I was not driving.

This morning we woke to a pouring rain which continued all day. We headed to the grocery store to buy groceries. Marc assigned teams. Barb and I had to get 100 bags of rice and 100 bags of beans. Other teams got coffee, salt, sugar, lard, soup, spaghetti and sauce. Five baskets full of groceries. One man in the grocery story thanked us for helping people. It is always fun to buy groceries so we can feed hungry people, but Timoteo was the most excited of us all. Our bill was 12,809.00 limpiras or $677.90. Not bad to feed 100 families.

We had to drive another 40 kilometers to get to Santa Katarina. Word had been sent to them that food was on its way and we were told we could not get all the way to the village as the river had risen to high over the road. We so wanted to get all the way to the village and as we drove discussed ways we might get there.

It has rained so much that the streams have become raging rivers and the rivers are so enlarged that their contents are spilling over everywhere. Acres and acres of land are underwater. The road to Santa Katarina was more or less a river. A boat would have probably been better than a car.

All of a sudden we could go no further because of water. And on the other side were people waiting on the food to arrive. When they saw us, they rushed in and swam across. And then more swam across and then some more.

We unloaded the food and let the folks receiving food let up help pack the bags. After all the bags were packed, the village president said one bag for family and that is what they did. We stood there wondering how they were going to get across the river with the food. Hungry, starving people knew just what to do to get their food across. And there were many smiles as they went back into the river.

I jumped in the car and cried.

Marc and John were going to put on their shorts, swim across, and help anyone that needed help with their food and walk on into the village. They were told after the river, there was some walking, another river, more walking, and then the biggest, deepest river and some more walking. It would take two hours to get to the village. They did not go; but only because eight other people would have been left waiting for four hours. We will just have to see the village another time. Soon I hope.

We found out the river had been like that for 10 days and the people had nothing to eat but tortillas. Tortillas because corn season is just over and they ground their own.

I would have loved to have taken more pictures, but there was just too much work to do.

As we drove home (I was driving this time), we talked about being wet and how the village folks would be so wet from being in the rain and swimming the rivers. How they would go into their homes that are also wet from the rain and they may not be dry and warm again for days. Literally. But they have food to eat tonight. However foolish it might have been to be driving last night, it was well worth it to be able to feed people that were so hungry they would walk and swim for two hours to get just a little bit of food and then turn around and repeat the process. It did me good to stay in my wet clothes as we drove home and to think those that won't be dry for days.

Some things are still foreign to my American mind.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stuccoing the Cottage

One of the bedroom walls
A partially stuccoed wall

Slinging stucco

The old bodega now living room

Stuccoing what was once the window of the store

Progress continues to be made daily on the new Bill Brumley cottage. Most of the walls, both inside and outside now have stucco. The Hondurans sift the sand and mix it with concrete and water. All of this is done by hand. The stucco is put in a flat box. With trowels, the stucco is slung onto the walls. The stucco is allowed to completely dry before anything else is done to it.


Monday, October 13, 2008

Feeding Hungry Kids

Rolling tortillas

The children eating

Sorting beans

Today we worked at the feeding center in Nuevo Oriental. Monday through Friday, every single week, 230 hungry kids are fed lunch. Three ladies start every morning at 8:30 preparing this hot meal. They cook over a woodburning stove and it gets hot in that kitchen. Two hundred and thirty kids are fed five days a week on a $250.00 a week budget. Throughout the week, the meals are pretty balanced. For most of these children, the meals they receive at the feeding center are the only meals they receive all week. It is amazing what is done in this feeding center each week.

In this community school is held in the afternoon. The reason is so that the children can go to school with their stomachs full. When school was held in the morning, too many children were coming to school hungry or not coming at all.

I cannot imagine how long these ladies have to work each day when no one comes in to help. There were six of us and we left a little after one and most of the dishes were done and we had helped serve as well.

We arrived around 9:30 and went right to work. The next day's beans have to be sorted. It is one of those things that doesn't make sense to the American mind. We did not ask questions; we just down and started sorting beans. Any bean that is flat or deformed in any way or is too light has to be removed. While some of us were sorting beans, one rolled the tortillas and one pressed them in the tortilla maker. I was on the bean sorting crew. We laughed and fellowshipped and had a great time sorting beans.

When the children began to arrive at 11:30, some were in the kitchen filling the plates, one person served the meals, one the drinks, and one the tortillas. I was the tortilla server. I quickly learned I could not serve the tortilla until their plate had been served.

Some of the children ate ravenously and some ate more slowly. Several were dirty. One little girl I clearly remember was dressed for school. Her white uniform blouse was at least two sizes too big and hung off her shoulders. Her skirt was dirty. Her shoes were worn out and too small for her. Her feet were crammed ino them. And her socks had no elastic left and drooped around her ankles.

As I served tortillas, I spoke in spanish to most of the children. I received many smiles.

I don't have a picture and I need one to prove it, but I actually saw Marc washing dishes.

We left happy, feeling like we had really contributed something today, and knowing it was another great day in Honduras.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Weiner Roast

Building the bonfire
Brayan and Katty

Jonny and Fernando

Katty, Fernando, Monica, and Maryuri

Remember how fun it was to build a bonfire and roast weiners and marshmallows. This afternoon we built a bonfire and had a weiner roast. What fun. The kids shower time is at 5:00 so our bonfire had to be before then.

Everyone wanted to help Marc get the fire started. That will turn a few hairs gray. When the fire was going and just right to start roasting the weiners, Marc handed Brayan the first weiner. He took little Katty's hand and led her closer to the fire and helped her roast the weiner then let her eat it. I noticed Brayan helped several of the kids roast theirs before he ate his.

The kids had a ton of fun and we had fun watching them.


Friday, October 10, 2008

Can't Wash That Smell Away

Tuesday we went to the dump and took oranges and bananas. It has been raining for weeks. Just getting there was a challenge as we slipped and slid our way in. As always, the people were glad to see us. Each time we go are more kids there. This just rips my heart out every time. I think the rain makes more the smell more putrid. It was nauseating.

Folks rushed up to meet us and more people than ever needed hugs. We have learned to give hugs to all who want them. The filth in which these people live is just unbelievable. We continued to give fruit and hugs until all the fruit was gone.

We scrubbed our hands as soon as we possibly could. Our clothes and the truck continued to reek of the smells of the dump all day. I eventually got home and showered the smells away. As I went to bed that night in my dry bed, I had troubling going to sleep and was awake way into the night thinking about all those people at the dump. They not only do not have dry beds, or some cases beds, in which to sleep, there is no way no shower and wash those odors of rotting garbage, human and animal waste and no telling what else. Just can't wash those smells away.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Construction Pains

I was so excited when we opened La Tienda de Esperanza, the Casa de Esperanza store. I was even more excited when construction began on the Bill Brumley cottage because when that is complete more children can be rescued.

Marc knew how much work Karen and I put into that store and the new cottage is more or less being built around the store. I have known since last week that the store had to be emptied to do some of the work. I was told on Monday, the work would be done on Friday, giving me plenty of time to empty the store. Yesterday, while I was with Marc and our guests, Karen called and said they were ready to start working on the store and it needed to be emptied. I am in town and Karen is on duty with the children. I told her to tell the workers to wait until today to do their work. In a few minutes, Karen called back and said the workers said they would just cover the merchandise. I knew how well my stuff was not covered while work was being done on my house. Some of the merchandise is very fragile and the tshirts would never sell if they were dirty. Then I had Marc call Milton and tell him to wait until today. And that was that.

We got home last night it was raining, of course, and I was tired. I don't normally put off until tomorrow what I can do to today, but yesterday that is exactly what I did.

This morning I got up at 5:00 and spent my time with God. At 5:30, I walked up to the store, unlocked the door, and assessed the situation. I was sure it would not take long to empty the store, as everything desperately needed to be restocked since all the summer groups have come and gone. Thankfully, it needed to be restocked. At 5:30 a.m., no one is up at Casa de Esperanza except the night guard. I began to carry one load at a time down to my house. I could only find one box and I was glad for it. Everytime I got to the house though, I had to unload the box. I walked up and down that hill from my house to the store and back until 7:10. A few times it sprinkled as I walked back and forth. I was very thankful the hard rains did not fall this morning. Every single time I walked into my house, I thought someone would be up. I probably would not have asked our guests to help me, but might not have refused their help if they had offered.

I regularly walk in the morning, but not for an hour and forty minutes. I can hardly move tonight. While I ran errands in town, the work in the store was complete. I am glad that work is complete. They still need to do the electrical work. I will finally have a light in the store. I can hardly wait until I can haul all this back to the store. If I was a betting person, I would bet that I choose a more normal time of day and recruit some help.

Hope I can get out of bed tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Water In Mirador Oriente

The water truck
Filling a pila

A pila full of water

After completing construction on the women's center in Mirador Oriente, the builing has not been used very much. In a community that has no running water, getting the water for the showers and pilas was a bigger challenge than we anticipated. Imagine that, in Honduras.

Marc and Milton have been working almost everyday trying to make sure water was there on a regular basis.

Today we had some friends in from Atlanta. Our friends in Atlanta were the ones that were responsible for raising the money for this project. We took them took out to Mirador Oriente to see the builing. While we were there viewing the building and hanging the shower curtains, Marc received a call that one of the congressman was supplying the water and the first truck was on its way. Of course, we waited. We did not even have to wait very long before the truck arrived.

The truck came rolling up the hill and I excitedly watched as all the pilas were filled. Tomorrow morning the women's center will be open and women will be scrubbing their clothes clean on the pilas. Praise God.


Friday, October 3, 2008

And The Walls Came Tumbling Down

This is the door that was closed up yesterday and the new one that was cut today.

Cutting the rebar in a concrete beam with boltcutters

The bottom beam

The top beam as it falls

I just happened to stroll through the construction site at the cottage as one of the bodega walls was being torn down with a sledge hammer. I had been trying to get a handle on some of the labor laws and I would have loved to taken that sledge hammer and given the wall a few blows.

I ran down to the house to get my camera and the wall was just about gone when I returned. The top and bottom beams and the supporting beams (all made of solid concrete) were all that was left. I got to see the top beam fall.

The roof beams will start going on early next week.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

More on the Cottage

The bodega that has to be cleaned out

A new door that was once the wall of the bodega
From the new door

One of the bedrooms

Closing one of the old doors in the bodega.

I have been home the last few days working on required paperwork. It is not fun, but has to be done. I so like to be involved in what is happening instead of the paperwork. The good thing about being here is I am getting to see a lot of progress on the cottage.

Yesterday I got to take a tour and more or less envision what the finished product will be. The walls of the bedrooms are going up and nearing completion. There is still three or four weeks of work before we see the finished cottage, but each completed step is exciting for me. That means we are that much nearer having more kids.

The bodega will be part of the new cottage. That means all that stuff has to be moved or put in the trash. Seems I am always having to sort and move stuff. Some of the bodega walls will have to come down and others built.
Each day much progress is being made.