Thursday, June 30, 2011

An Offering

As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury.  He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins.  "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others.  All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.
-Luke 21:1-4 NIV

A man that works in the dump was hit by a bus.  He had to have a leg amputated.  Yesterday morning, the people that live and work in the dump passed the hat and took an offering to help this man, one of their own.

Talk about giving out of one's poverty and all they have to live on. 


Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Another Busy Day

The Overland Park/Skillman Road groups arrived on Saturday and Sunday.  A group of fifty, with several first-timers, arrived eager and ready to work.  And work they have.  Two houses, the dump and the beginning of a painting project at Hospital Escuela yesterday.  I thought that was a great day.  But that was nothing compared to today.  They finished the painting project and fed beans and rice to people waiting in the emergency room at the hospital.  Sometimes people wait days not hours in the er.  I am sure those beans and rice tasted mighty good.  Two more houses were built and two containers of food were unloaded. 

There were a lot of tired people at devo tonight, but the excited level hasn't declined.

Another busy but great day in Honduras.


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Windmill Farms

For months we have know windmill farms were being built in and around Santa Ana.  There is no way we could not know.  There is heavy truck traffic improving dirt road and destroying the main paved road.  Trucks and people moving around town like busy little ants.  Sometimes, I am not even sure I like all this congestion in our little town.

The company building the windmill farms has been in the kids' schools passing out good treats and notebooks with their name plastered everywhere.  The kids can certainly tell you the name of the company. 
You can kind of see why the road is destroyed.

Activity.  Activity.  Activity.  And then Thursday the first windmill appeared on the horizon.  By Friday, the fourth one was going up.  As we left for visitation, there was squeals of delight.  The kids were elated.  Temporarily, they were so excited they almost forgot we were going to visitation.  Fernando could not even talk.  He was stuttering, something he has not done in so long that I can't remember the last time he did it. 

The activity will continue for a long time and the kids will be excited for a while as more windmills go up.  And then some day, no one will even notice any more.


Friday, June 24, 2011

A Stuck On The Finger Problem

This morning Adonis got the stitches out of his leg.  It is still bandaged and he was proud of the new bandage.  Karen took some of the kids to visitation and I took some.  After visitation Ashley brought her group here.  They played with the kids and had brought hot dogs to fix for the kids' supper. 

My group had not been home from visitation long when I heard Marc calling Karen.  And then Pamela showed up with a large jar of vaseline.  I rushed over to see what was happening.  Jose had found a ring, but not really a ring to wear, more like some kind of hardware.  He put it on his finger.  The bottom was smooth and the top was not.  When he tried to remove the ring, the sharp part went into his knuckle.  And he did not like that.  Not that the ring was going any where anyway.  Thus the need for vaseline.  He was greased up pretty good and that ring still would not budge.  Then someone tried soap and water.  And I saw Marc with a can of WD-40.  Marc said he thought he could cut it off.

At first, Jose thought it was funny.  And then it got less funny.  Then he had a panicked look on his face.  Then tears.  When Marc began trying to cut it off, the pressure of the tool scared him and there was some bloody murder screams.

Marc and Karen decided to take him to the hospital.  The rule is only one person can be back there with the patient.  And that was Karen.  She was trying to to hold him down while the doctor tried to cut the ring off.  Soon, it was agreed that two people needed to be back there.  After several unsuccessful attempts while Marc and Karen held Jose down, Marc and the doctor traded places.  Marc gradually began to peel the ring back from the finger.  The doctor then took some tongs, and with Jose screaming all the while, pulled and pulled until he got the ring off. 

The doctor and a nurse both worked on the ring for over an hour an it cost $5.00.  And Jose missed out on the hotdogs.

Never, ever a dull moment here.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Medical Clinics

The East Tennessee team left on Saturday and no group coming in on their heels.  Marc, the interns, Preston, and Byron went to Santa Rosa de Copan to work in medical clinics with our friends the Waldrons and the Whites. 

Leaving Sunday after church and being true to form, Marc tried to take a short cut.  The group ended up staying in La Esperanza for the night and had to leave at 4:00 a.m. on Monday morning to get to Santa Rosa de Copan in time for the clinic.  From the way I understood things, Byron was driving when they left La Esperanza.  No more driving for Marc and no more short cuts.

With two Honduran doctors and one American doctor, the group saw 700 people in three days.  Marc translated.  Nearly everyone that was seen is anemic.  And many had parasites.  Lots of diabetes and sinus infections.  This was a rewarding experience for the group, but one of those time one wonders, are we making a difference?  Yes, a difference was made to the people that were seen and treated, and, hopefully, feel better today.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011


The rainy season is here.  I know many of my friends in many parts of the States wish they could say the same thing.  You need the rain.  And we needed the rain.  It gets so hot and dry in the dry season.  Right now in the early part of rainy season, it is not so bad.  Afternoon or evening showers.  They are usually hard showers, sometimes dumping an inch of rain in thirty minutes.  Once last year about this time of year, we had 5 inches in 45 minutes.  Thankfully, that does not happen often.

It just finished raining a hard shower.  I had a cd in my computer and, as I sat at the computer with the speakers turned up as loud as they would go, I could not hear a single word of music.  Only the rain pounding away.  When this happens, we always lose internet for a while, and sometimes the electricity, too.

As the rain fell sounding like a jackhammer on my roof, all I could think about was the three families that got houses last week and the two families the week before.  And then I thought of all the people that don't have houses.  They and everything they own are soaked right now.  Sometimes it rains so hard my house leaks.  I cannot even imagine how much water a house takes on when it is not tight.  When it is made of cardboard.  Or has gaping holes in every wall.  It has stopped raining for now.  Maybe not for the night, but for now.  Those people will not be dry or warm the rest of the night.  Their kids will be cold and wet.  How do they sleep when they are wet and cold and when the bed is wet?  I don't know the answer. 

I am thankful for the rain.  I am thankful for my dry house and dry bed.  I am thankful that before the end of the summer, even more families will have a house and stay dry as the rain falls.


Sunday, June 19, 2011

East Tennessee Group

Three groups have already come and gone.  Last week we had a group from East Tennessee here.  They have not been here in three years and it was great to have them here again.  We spent time with old friends and ended the week with a few new ones.

Three years ago, we took this group to the market for the first time.  They purchased fresh fruits and vegetables for distribution.  That was such a success and now visiting the market is a regular thing with our groups.  This year we also tried a couple of  new things with them.  We visited the state orphanage for boys Veinte Uno de Octubre.  Everyone liked this visit ( see blog post of June 12) and we will take other groups there.  We have taken groups to the prison before, but have never taken food in there until last week.  That too was a success.  The prisoners liked it and the people that work at the prison liked it.  That too, will be done again.

In addition to trying new things, this group of 19 built three houses, worked at the farm, fed at the dump, worked in a feeding center, visited the blind school and the hospital and made a return visit to the market to buy fruits and vegetables and later distributed them in Nueva Oriental.  The first house was a tear down.  It was so bad.  The holes in one side were so large that, when Marc took a picture, there was so much light coming in, it looked like a window.  And since it has rained almost every night, praise God that three families are sleeping dry.  We can also praise God for the five baptisms that occurred last week.

Thanks East Tennessee for being our guinea pigs and being the hands and feet of Jesus.  Everyone knows what I am going to say next, "it was another great week in Honduras."


Friday, June 17, 2011

Morning Entertainment

We have been making some much needed minor and not-so-minor repairs around Casa.  The screen door to the front door had definitely seen its better days as it was splitting and would no longer close.  A new one was ordered.  Armando showed up with the new door about 9:00 this morning.

The kids were out of school today.  Karen was inside helping with homework and had about half of the kids.  I was outside with the other half.  Playground duty could not have been any easier.  Everyone wanted to watch Armando install the new door.  I must admit, it was pretty interesting.  He does excellent work.  He cut and shaved and made everything fit perfectly.  He let Brayan and Adonis use the drill.  Our boys need to learn these kinds of skills and they need someone like Armando teaching them.  Brayan watched every move Armando made.

Inside the house, Karen was having an awful time keeping the kids focused on homework as they, too, wanted to watch Armando installing this new door.  Katty and Reina started fighting and Karen sent Reina outside to work on her homework.  After Karen and Nohemi finished Nohemi's math, Nohemi came out for me to listen to her read. 

I was trying to help Nohemi and keep Reina writing in her notebook and became in pretty absorbed in that.  Using the drill might have been fun, but Adonis quickly grew bored with watching and got on a bicycle, from which he was grounded.  Since I was absorbed in the homework, I did not realize Adonis was on a bicycle.  Soon several kids came running up saying Adonis was hurt.  Adonis fell off of the bicycle and the bicycle did a flip and ended up cutting a huge crescent moon-shaped gash out of Adonis's leg.  I had some toilet paper and pressed it into the gaping wound.

Karen went for the doctor and she came down to where Adonis was on the sidewalk.  Adonis was screaming, "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die."  It was a nasty cut, but maybe not quite that bad.  I told him to relax and, amazingly enough, he began to do just that.

We carried him into the dorm and the doctor stitched his leg with 8 stitches.  Brayan and I stayed with him.  I held his hand and told him to squeeze it if he needed to.  He only squeezed once.  Brayan told Adonis about cutting his arm and getting stitches.  Adonis was brave the whole time.  Since  he was riding the bicycle when he wasn't suppose to, Karen grounded him from the bike for a while longer.  And it wasn't but 10 or 15 minutes until he was running and jumping every where again.

It does not take a whole lot to keep us entertained and occupied around here.  Thankfully, we did not have a repeat performance this afternoon.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Spaghetti At The Prison

Today, part of the group went to the prison.  Marc had Anita cook spaghetti to take to the men.  For men that never eat anything but beans and rice, that was a crowd pleaser.  The men loved the spaghetti.   I can imagine the smiles and the anticipation of having something that is not beans and rice.

There was a delay getting inside the prison, but once inside, the group stayed over three hours.  The people that went to the prison today seemed emotionally tired tonight, but all said it was a good day.  And right before they left, five men were baptized.  It doesn't get much better than that, does it?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Three years ago, when Karen and I opened the store, we tried to buy and price and do everything together.  It was a lot of fun to do those things together.  Over time, we both have become busier and busier and finding time to do it together is almost impossible.  Sometimes, I do it by myself.  Sometimes Karen does it.  Stacey did a lot of it when she was here.  When my friends are here I don't mind asking them to price inventory or trim the tags or whatever needs to be done.  My friends are awesome and usually help me.

As I think about these kids living here and having three meals a day and a warm place to sleep, school uniforms and supplies and many other things as well,  I began to see a whole work force.  I am training Brayan to work in the store with me on the days groups are here.  He is not very fast with math, but understands how to use the calculator well.  He is learning to write tickets and all kinds of things.  After he is trained well, I will train Ana.

Yesterday, I came home with more things and Brayan was at the car asking if he could help.  He helped me unload the car.  We then sorted and priced a few things.  Brayan worked diligently and did exactly what I asked him to do.  Ana came and helped for a short while.  The noise of others playing quickly distracted her and she left to see what has happening out there.
Last week, while I was gone, Karen and some of the kids priced t-shirts.  T-shirts is one thing, but all that pottery is another.  There was no school this morning and I told Karen to select the ones to help me.  Brayan was the first one to come.  We began by unwrapping the pottery and stacking it.  Brayan worked all morning without one word of complaining.  Soon after Jose and Adonis joined us.  I asked them to start folding the newspaper we were taking off of the pottery.  A boring job, but it had to be done.  Jose did not stay long.  Adonis stayed much longer than I thought he would.
Brayan unpacking

After Jose left, Sisi came in and worked hard on folding the newspaper.  Pamela and Cindy soon joined the group and began pricing some of the items.  I was also fortunate to have an intern join this group.  Garrett may not have thought he was fortunate today.  He was not feeling well and could not go with the group today.
Adonis and Sisi folding newspaper
Pamela and Cindy pricing

After Sisi had all the newspaper folded, we began to unwrap pottery as well.  She didn't stack quite like I would have liked, but only one little piece got broken.  Brayan folded his newpaper as he finished each box.  I like that.

Soon everyone was pricing something.  With that many helpers, we got nearly everything done this morning.  I thought we would work a couple of hours and stop and probably still have a lot more to do.  I was delightfully surprised at how little there is left.  Sisi started playing in a box and turned herself over too close to another box full of pottery.  Nothing broke, but she was asked to leave and Ana joined us.

A group will be visiting later this afternoon.  Brayan, Cindy, and Ana helped ready the store and Garrett artistically arranged some of the new items.

I was proud of how well the kids worked this morning.  I am still thinking through some things.  I don't believe they should be paid for everything they do here at Casa.  The profit from that store helps buy their food and pay the electricity bill.  But maybe for those that work so hard they should be rewarded with a coke or something.  That probably won't happen every time.

As I dream, I dream that someday they can go price the product without me being there to supervise.  Maybe they can do that with t-shirts.  I don't know how much I can ever trust them with the pottery.  And with the kids helping, I am moving the pricing out of my house.  That is a very good thing.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Buying Lenca

The Lenca pottery is very popular in Honduras.  It is made by the Lenca Indians, an indigenous group of people in Honduras.  Most of the pottery is black and white, but some is green and black or red and black.  We started selling a few pieces on Lenca in the Casa store 4 years ago.  Since 2008, we have added a few more pieces every year.  This year we found a new source for our Lenca pottery.  It is near the border of El Salvador and Honduras.

In April, Nicole and I went there and placed an order.  We ordered some of our good ol' standbys and then we ordered some brand new pieces.

Talking to the lady was very interesting.  We learned that her family had been making this pottery for four generations.  She had pottery every where and in various stages of production.  This pottery is white and turns black when fired.  There is an ashy-like substance that is put on the pottery.  Any place this substance is on the pottery, it prevents the pottery from turning black.  She showed Nicole and I how it was put on.  She took a little bag of this stuff and did a quick design.  Some of the designs are very intricate.  With my think-in-the-box mind, I could not even begin to comprehend how long some of the designs would take.  And she picked up and did it in a few seconds. 

My order was to be ready on May 28.  The lady called Marc and said it would not be ready on the 28th, but on the June 4.  Marc thought she said it would be ready on the 28th and I drove down for it, only to find I would need to return.  She had most of my pottery done, in some form or another, but not ready to take home.  Again, I talked to her some more and found out she has 3-5 employees, depending on demand at the moment.  Also some of her family helps, but she doesn't count them as employees.

Today was the day to return south for my order.  Marc did not want me to go by myself and I always hate to ask someone to miss a work day to do something like this.  We decided we would ask for a volunteer to ride with me.  I had two volunteers, Erin Eberhart and one of the interns, Christina.

We left here around 8:30 or 9:00.  On the highway from Tegucigalpa to Choluteca, the turn to Santa Ana is just about at the top of the mountain.  I go up all the way from Tegucigalpa and shortly passed our turn we start to descend rapidly.  Descending towards the Pacific Ocean means as we descend the temperature rises.  Very rapidly.  We all noticed the rapid rise in temperature.

I could hear the click-click of cameras as Erin and Christina snapped away.  My kind of girls.

We stopped once for much needed cold drinks.  When we arrived, I had never seen the number of people at this place.  My product began to be hauled out of the house and onto the massive front porch.  We counted every piece.  I had a notebook I had written my order in, using black ink.  Today, I had a pink pen so that I could circle the number I received.  Sweat was pouring off of me and onto my notebook making my notebook a big pink mess. We may not have worked as hard as the house crew, but quite possibly we were sweating as much as the house crew.  Then when everything had been counted,  everyone began to wrap every piece, including Christina, Erin and me.  I soon found out why all those people were there.  They had come to get this order out.

I sat down with my calculator and began to figure what I owed.  I had it all calculated and in a neat little column and Maria had it calculated in her head long before I finished.  Nice, an artist and a mathematician.

I wanted Erin and Christina to see the shop.  Maria proudly took us back there and showed us and explained even more.  She quickly did a design to show us.  There was a lady scraping the black off of the fired pieces.  She was using what looked like a business card.  She got all the black pieces off and polished it with a rag and it was then ready to be sold.  Her fingertips were blackened from the burnt  material.  I had never seen this stage before.  We all stood fascinated by this process.

We then loaded the car.  Wisely, I only brought two people with me.  I knew my order was big, but I didn't know it would take every inch of space in the trooper.  There is no telling what that car weighed.  After a few more pictures and hugs, we left for Santa Ana.

We stopped at the same place for something else to drink.  I have had a lot of tea today.  We all bought chips, too.  We were all craving something salty.

The trooper is workhorse kind of car, but I am not sure it has ever worked so hard as we slowly climbed back up the mountain.  And we welcomed the cooler temperatures.

I have a lot of new product for the Casa de Esperanza store and I think Christina and Erin had a good day, too.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

Veinte Uno De Octubre

Today my plane landed in Tegucigalpa around 11:30.  I had fun, but I was glad to be home.  A group from East Tennessee is here and Marc picked me up and we hit the ground running.  After the group ate at Carnita's and, by choice, I had a chicken sandwich from Burger King, we went to a state orphanage called Veinte Uno de Octubre.  It is an orphanage for boys.  For those of you who have visited Casitas Kennedy, you have seen nothing yet in deplorable conditions.  Some of the interns that have been to the prison said this orphanage was far more prison-like than the prison.

We are putting bars on some of the windows that face the playground at Casa de Esperanza.  We are doing that to prevent broken windows.  At Veinte Uno de Octubre, there are bars on every window and locks on every single door.  In many cases, multiple locks on doors.  And then there is barbed wire and razor wire.  There is a teeny tiny window on every single bedroom door.  Of course, it has bars on it.  The boys sleep on mattresses on the floor and are locked in at night. They sleep 15-20 to a room and are locked in at 6:00 p.m every night and the doors are unlocked at 6:00 a.m. every morning.  No adult stays in the room, just 15-20 kids. There is no curtains on the shower or the toilet.  There is no privacy.  Any where. Can you imagine little boys living like that?

Many of the boys had no shoes.  And there seemed to be a high percentage of special needs kids.  There are 50 boys there.  They eat rice and a spoonful of beans for every meal.  There is no where near the staff we have at Casa de Esperanza and with three times the number of kids.  The staff was nice to us, but I did not hear them talking kindly to the boys.  Nor did I see the staff giving any hugs.  The group gave lots of hugs, though.

Most of the kids probably don't attend school.  There were several older boys that could not even write their names. I guess this is the future generation for the dump.  How sad is that?

We played soccer.  And took pizza and soda.  Try to imagine how much those boys enjoyed pizza after having rice and beans three times a day.  I think the boys enjoyed themselves.  The group did. 

Tonight at devo, we kept talking about how hard it was to get the image of that place out of our minds.  Perhaps, we don't need to get the image out of minds.  Perhaps, it needs to stay there.  Perhaps, we can do more.

It was a dismal place.  And depressing.  This is why we do what we do.  So that a few children do not have to live like that.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lake Meredith

I grew up in a little town in the Texas panhandle, 50 miles northeast of Amarillo.  In the early 60's the talk of the town, and many other towns, was the dam and lake that was being built.  My dad would take us out there and to watch the construction.  For a five or six year old, it was pretty fascinating.  In 1965, the lake was filled.  

Lake Meredith began to supply water for 11 cities and became a recreation area for many.  There were many days of skiing and swimming and hanging out with friends.  The record high of 101 feet was in 1973, just at the time I was having so much fun at that lake.

Being on the far western edge of the central time zone and with daylight savings, it stays daylight until way after 9:00 this time of year.  About 7:30, we decided to drive out there.  I knew it was much lower than those grand old days.

Right now the lake is just below 37 feet.  It has declined since that record high in 1973.  There has many drought years and two more dams built further north on the Canadian River.
At one time, this lake was nearly full.

I really was not prepared for what I saw.  It was sad.  It was more than sad.  Sometimes finding the right words is hard.  I was in shock and reliving the happy memories of the past, knowing they were not to be for other people.  I was also trying to keep Camille from going off the cliff.  I sat her on a picnic table and stayed with her, not venturing any closer to the edge than I allowed her to go.  Camille sat there saying," it is so beautiful.  I love it here."  It thrilled my soul that a place of which I have such fond memories, she thought to be beautiful also.  If only she had seen the full beauty.  But we saw a glorious sunset reflecting on what little water is left. 

We drove around into Cedar Canyon and Sanford Yake.  Harbor Bay is dry.  There was a graveyard of boats littering the sides of the roads.  The boat ramps are closed.  It was definitely the end of an era for me.  Thankfully, I do have wonderful memories.


Monday, June 6, 2011

I'm In Texas

Now that I am in the United States of America, I have had no internet.  Nathan's was down.  I jokingly asked if he paid his bill and he tersely answered, "of course, I paid my bill.  And since moving, my mom has not connected her computer yet.  I was thinking I would have high speed internet and I have none.  I am a little lost, but oh well,  it is what it is.

It is a long way from Little Rock to Borger and it is blazing hot both places.  It reached as high as 101 as we traveled yesterday and was still 95 at 7:00 p.m. when we drove into Borger.  It took longer than expected.  Camille needed a few more potty breaks than I planned on.

Camille is a good traveler.  She read and colored and we played some games.  She did not get fussy except once in a real bathroom emergency.  I was past McLean on I-40 and not to Groom.  There is nothing out there.  Nothing.  No gas stations, no houses. No trees.  She insisted she could not go on the side of the road.  I understand that.  I prayed for that rest stop to appear and just when she thought she could not wait another second, the rest stop appeared.  We parked and went flying into that bathroom. 

I then needed gas and we barely made it to Groom.  I was irked at the price of gasoline in Groom and even more so when I got to Conway and it was 40 cents a gallon cheaper.  But I probably could not have made it to Conway.

As we left Panhandle, an excitement began to rise.  It always does as I near Borger.  Not that Borger is a garden spot, but there is just something dear about the place you grew up.    We watched the seemingly endless dry barren acres of the Four Sixes ranch that have a beauty all their own.  Camille did not think it was as pretty as I did.   We arrived a bit too early to see a God-painted, West Texas sunset, but we still have four more night to see one.

And for right now, it is time to go to Wal-Mart, buy a pool toy and hit the pool.  Camille is wanting Taco Bell for supper, which we might do and we will have to visit Sonic, too.  It is going to be a good, hot week in the Texas panhandle.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Little Rock Bound

An opportunity presented itself to me and I just could not say no.  That opportunity was to spend a few days with Camille.  Right now, I am sitting in the Tegucigalpa airport waiting for the flight that leaves for Atlanta.  Much later, I will arrive in Little Rock.  I will spend some good time with Nathan.  It doesn't happen very often that Nathan and I spend time together.  Then Sunday, Camille and I will leave for Texas.

I always have fun with Camille and we have enjoyed traveling with her.  Without Marc, I am expecting some of our games will reach unheard of levels of silliness.  They almost do with Marc in the car, but he subdues us a little.

Camille and I will spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncle and Camille will meet her new cousin.

I am exhausted.  There is always so much to do before I leave.  I was thinking it was going to be a long night, but the electricity went off, thus, sending me to bed for a few hours.  I awoke this morning with more energy than I have had in weeks.  My mind was racing.  The more things I did, the more I remembered that needed to be done.  I think I got everything done.  I don't worry about the kids.  Karen is the best at caring for them anyway.  And she did my job, long before I arrived on the scene.  I just want to make things as easy on her as I can while  I am gone.

I need a book or a sudoku book.  Or maybe I need a nap.

It will be a wonderful 10 days, of that I am sure.