Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's A Crying Shame

There are labor laws in this country.  As an employer, I do not like all of them, but I obey them.  One of those laws is a minimum wage.  It is not much compared to the minimum wage in the States. 

We have a friend, a young female (young as in early twenties).  She has been looking for a job and cannot find one.  This is not unusual because there is 30% unemployment in this country.  She is getting discouraged.  She was finally offered a job at the food court in the mall.  The potential employer offered her 500 limpira a month, 125 a week to work six days a week.  This would break down to almost 21 limpira a day, or when converted to US dollars, slightly more than one dollar.  A dollar a day.  Anyone trying to live on that is considered to be in extreme poverty.  Most people in extreme poverty do not have a job.  Most people that are gainfully employed and working six days a week may still live in poverty, but not extreme poverty.  Needless to say, after this job offer, she was still discouraged.  This is a crying shame.  It is more than that.  It is outrageous.  It is criminal.

I wish I could say this is an isolated incident in Honduras.  But it is not.  Many employers do this type of thing.  I don't know how they get by with it.  But they know, with 30% unemployment, someone can usually be found to work for this kind of wages.  Of course, many people can't work for those wages if they have to ride the bus.  The bus fare alone could cost up to 30% of that dollar. 

This angers me.   Not there is anything I can do about it.  But it angers me. 


Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Marc and I got home on Monday afternoon.  We were met by Matt, Nicole and Sweet Haley.  How good it was to see them and to know they are now part of the ministry here.

It was a good six weeks.  We loved on family and friends.  Marc golfed with his dad and with Nathan and with a couple of friends. I got in shopping, one movie and lots of girl time.  Susan and I didn't even pull an all-nighter.  Yay for us.  We were encouraged by people everywhere we went.  We were spoiled by things like round-the-clock electricity, showers with pressure, Mexican food, being loved on.  And, did I mention Mexican food?

We traveled over 6200 miles, going as far east as Johnson City, Tennessee, as far west as Amarillo and Lubbock, as far north as Rockford, Illinois and as far south as San Antonio.  That led us into nine different states.  We slept 20 different places and some twice and ate more different places than that.  One would think I would learn to travel lighter.  We visited 15 churches, Rotary clubs, student centers, etc.  We made plans, raised the money, and purchased two block machines.  We shared events from the ministries that have happened this year.  And shared plans for the future.  We laughed, we cried, we prayed.  We shared cups of coffee.  And more Mexican food.  We were sad for the people we didn't see and the churches we didn't get to visit.  There was not enough time in Fairview Heights. 

San Antonio and Rockford were not on our original schedule.  But the block machines called our names and we followed.  We ate Mexican food in San Antonio.  After leaving Rockford, we went to Chicago.  We walked along Lake Michigan and Michigan Avenue and ate at Geno's East, pizza not Mexican.  As we headed toward Nashville, we were able to stop in Bowling Green, another unplanned stop.  If Marc and Steve had not made us quit, Jeanne and I might still be sitting in that restaurant talking. 

We appreciated everyone who opened their homes and their hearts to us.  As always, we met new friends.  Thanks to everyone.

Now we are home.  We were not sad to leave 110 degree heat.  We have had no internet since we arrived until this morning.  We are back to showers with no pressure, drinks with no ice.  But, the hugs from those 19 kids, 20 counting Haley, made coming home lovely.  I realized I had missed the beautiful mornings and the cool evenings.  There was much work to be done in the States, but now there is much work to be done here.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hope To Offer (H20)

Today is our last day in the States.  We are in Shawnee, Oklahoma with friends.  Marc preached at Lakeview Church of Christ this morning.  Our friends, Kim and Pat, work in a ministry feeding the hungry of Shawnee.  They feed in the park in downtown Shawnee every Sunday afternoon at 2:00.  This ministry is called Hope To Offer or shortened to H2O.

After church, we quickly changed into our jeans and began to make sandwiches.  Bologna and cheese.  Kim made coleslaw and lemonade.  There was also some fruit cocktail, chips and cookies.  Starbucks donates their leftover pastries and a donut shop donates their leftover donuts.  The amount of the pastries and donuts varies each week, but are a big hit as long as they last.

We arrived right at 2:00 and there was a long line in the park.  We quickly unloaded the car and began to serve.  The health department requires we wear gloves, something I don't think about in Honduras.  Kim and Pat have done this for more than two years, and, just like Marc in the dump, they have made many friends.  People trust them and know they can depend on them to bring food each week.  Also, like in the dump, there were several children that came through the line.  No matter where it is, it is sad to see a hungry child.

I made a point to look each person in the eye as I asked what kind of chips they wanted.  Most people smiled and said thank you.  Some said thanks to God as well. 

Kim was busy bandaging wounds and taking care of needs other than hunger.  It was a pleasure to watch her in action.  Since I don't go to the dump very often, for me it was a pleasure to be able to serve today. 

I am thankful for churches and people all over America that feed the hungry.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Block Machine #1

Early Tuesday morning Bobby and Donnie left Fort Worth and drove to Bush, Louisiana (near New Orleans) to get the first block machine.  And since boys will be boys, they had to play with their new toy.  They made a few blocks.  The original plan was to drive back to Fort Worth and get it to Illinois later.

There are many reasons Marc and Bobby are good partners.  One of them is they are a whole lot alike.  Instead of driving back to Fort Worth, they decided to drive the machine to Fairview Height, Illinois.  Yes, Marc would do something like that and I would go along for the ride. 

The first block machine is safely in Fairview Heights.  The second will arrive from Rockford, Illinois soon.  The container leaves October 15.  We will soon be in the block-making business and able to make better houses for people.


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Going To The Movie

I am not a big a movie person.  It has been a long time since I have seen a movie.  To the best of recollection, it has been five years since I have paid to see a movie.  I don't know the movies currently being shown, nor do I know many of the actors and actresses.  But I read "The Help" and I decided I wanted to see the movie.  Nicole saw it and said it was good.  A few other people said it was good, therefore, making my desire to see it even stronger.

My time here in the States is rapidly coming to an end and still many things to accomplish.  I managed to carve out the time to go to Amarillo this afternoon to the movie.  Janet and I left this morning around 10:30 so we could catch the 12:15 matinee.  Suffice it to say, I was shocked when the matinee cost $5.75.  A piece.  I was more shocked when I realized that was the senior discount for the matinee.  (I know, in some places, I now qualify for the senior discount.  It was just the first time I had received it and seen it printed on the ticket.)  I did not even want to know what the full price of a movie was.  That may be one reason it has been so long since I have been to the movie theater.  I bought the tickets and Janet bought the snacks. 

Sticker shock on the cost of the tickets was nothing compared to the sticker shock on the price of coke and popcorn.  I definitely got the better end of the deal buying the tickets.  Janet insisted I did not want the small popcorn, that it was about one handful.  I think she was right.  She bought the large popcorn and we shared.  I love movie popcorn, so this was a real treat to have that much popcorn.  We ate most of it before the movie even started.

I think I liked the book better.  I always do.  But the movie was good.  And, I so enjoyed the day with my sister-in-law.

Another great day in the USA.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Marc And The GPS (This is almost as good as Marc and a Honduran road map)

We have been in the States for five weeks.  Our time is rapidly coming to a close.  We have been in several churches, some of which we have never visited before.  When we left Borger, Marc had in his possession a GPS belonging to his mom. 

For the most part, she has guided us to our destination.  But not always.  There were times we knew where we were going, but Marc plugged an address or city into the GPS just for fun.  When we left Lubbock for Oklahoma City, we had decided to go one of the country routes.  But she really wanted us to go on the interstate.  She just kept saying "recalculating route", "make a legal u-turn when possible."  It took her a long time to figure out we were not making a legal u-turn.

In Belleville, where we know our way, she once told us to turn left.  We knew that wasn't the way, but Marc turned left anyway.  She led us to a dead end.  Marc began to turn around and she was saying continue.  I was laughing so hard.  I guess we could have continued.  Through a field, a ditch, and a median.  We would have then been on the road on which she wanted us.

She was thoroughly confused in East Tennessee.  Bless her heart.  She tried.  Saturday night, when we were going to eat, Marc turned left instead of right.  Instead of telling us to make a legal u-turn, she took us way out of the way.  Several blocks out of the way.  Ten minutes later, after making several left turns, we were back where we started.  I guess she had the upper hand that time.  If Marc wasn't going to listen, she would take him on a wild goose chase.  Then yesterday morning, Marc correctly entered the address for the church.  After she guided us along, she said, "you have arrived."  We had not arrived and Marc argued with her.  And turned her off.

One time, Marc forgetting he was in the States, made an illegal u-turn.  She began to scream, "when possible make a legal u-turn."  How did she know we made an illegal one?

Then there has been those times when we didn't know or didn't have an address and we just plugged in a city, or made up an address in the city to which we were going.  Like 100 Main Street.  Every city has a main street and that gets us to the city and then we can find out where we need to be.  Sometimes that works and sometimes that doesn't.  Like last night.  We were driving from East Tennessee to Nolensville.  We never did find 100 Main Street.  But we traveled several country roads, in the dark.  We had an idea we were getting further from our destination.  We turned around. 

I have spent a good amount of time laughing at her.

We only have one more week in the States.  There will not be many more times we listen to her.  Or laugh at her.  Or argue with her.  She has helped us find our way and, at times, been good entertainment.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Corbin, Kentucky

Yesterday we left the craziness of Pigeon Forge.  As more and more car show people arrived, it was getting more insane.  It was our original intent to leave on Friday morning.  We were not driven out of town by the car show.  As we left Pigeon Forge and headed to Corbin, Kentucky, we made a couple of detours.  On purpose detours.  But with us, you never know.

We went to Cumberland Gap, Tennessee, a quaint, beautiful little town.  We did not hike up to the Cumberland Gap, but that definitely has been placed on my to do list.

It was a short drive on to Corbin.  We entered the tunnel in Tennessee and when we exited, we were in Kentucky.  I had never been in that part of the USA.  I thought every second of the drive was gorgeous.
Corbin is not a very large town and I knew nothing about it except our friends the Toadvines live there.  Steve and Ann and their children welcomed us into their home.  We had two great meals and great fellowship.  Come to find out, Corbin is quite famous.  It is the home of the Cumberland Falls and Kentucky Fried Chicken.

We were not in a hurry today.  The Toadvines took us out to the falls.  We went to the vista points and hiked part way up one of the trails.  How many stairs can be in one tenth of a mile?  I did not count, but there was a bunch. 

After a good Italian food lunch, we then visited the first Kentucky Fried Chicken.  It was not known as KFC then.  It was called Sanders Cafe.  The Colonel also owned a motel and a gas station, neither of which remain.

Inside is a museum of sorts and a regular KFC.  There were menus and such from the original little diner.  At the time the diner was opened, recipes from the menu were printed on little cards and given to the customers upon request.
 One thing Marc and I found interesting was an old paycheck that was displayed.  The year on the check was 1954.  The amount was 2.57.  The net amount.  The gross amount was $2.63.  There was a six cent deduction for old age insurance, what is now known as FICA.   I feel sure that lady has gotten her investment back.

We enjoyed our time in Corbin with the Toadvine family.  Another great day in the USA.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Laurel Falls And Beyond

Marc and I are enjoying a few days off in Pigeon Forge.  We have done this a couple of times before, but never this exact week.  There is a car show here this week.  And there are a million people here.  Nonetheless, we are enjoying this time.  Some of the cars are really cool, evoking memories from days gone by. 

Yesterday, we decided to take a hike.  We decided on the Laurel Falls trail.  It is only 1.3 miles to falls and is a fairly easy paved trail.
With as many people as are in this town right now, it was no surprise to find the trail full of people, too.  The falls were beautiful. 
There were 50 or so people hanging out at the falls, so we kept going.  We were the only people that walked beyond the falls.  Once we passed the falls the trail was no longer paved, but groomed and still fairly easy.  We walked another 1.8 miles until our trail crossed another one.

The only sounds we heard were noise our feet made on the trail and the click-click of my camera.  It was solitude.  No one but Marc and I.  And God.  It was peaceful, serene.  Clean and crisp.  Strokes from the autumn palette  had been brushed across the trees.  Fallen trees littered the forest floor.  I was energized with each step. 

Once we reached the trail crossing, it was another 9/10 of a mile to the end of the trail.  I wanted to go on, not that we would have seen anything so different.  Marc said my legs might cramp if we went on.  So we began our descent.  I think I could have made that last leg.  But, by last night, I was glad we didn't go on.

Our hike yesterday in the Smokies was a beautiful day.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Dream Becomes Real

Today, Matt and Nicole and Haley joined the Casa de Esperanza team.  This has been their dream for five years.  Maybe even longer for Nicole.  Five years ago Matt and Nicole were not even married.  They wanted to get married, quit college and move to Honduras.  Marc talked them into not quitting school and we gave our blessings for them to get married. 

After marriage, Nicole still had a year of school and Matt had a year and a half.  They thought they would move to Honduras as soon as Matt had a diploma in his hand.  At that time, they were expecting a baby.  So they waited some more.  They moved to Baton Rouge, found jobs, and began to prepare to be a family, not a couple.  They began worshiping at South Baton Rouge Church of Christ.  Through events that only God could orchestrate, that church later agreed to be their sending congregation as they continued to dream of being in Honduras. 

The mission committee and elders at South Baton Rouge are a wise group.  They have required much of Matt and Nicole as they prepared to move to the mission field.  All of these things have been good things.  Matt and Nicole now agree all those classes and a year of language school were good, even though at the time they thought it was another detour.  They now claim that God's timing is perfect.  It always is.

This morning, they left Baton Rouge at 6:30 to embark on the next chapter of their lives.  Matt and Nicole managed to move to a foreign country, with a baby, in six suitcases.  Quite an accomplishment in itself. 

Yes, they are family, but I am still very proud of them and their journey to make their dreams come true.

If interested, you can read of their adventures at

We always welcome more help at Casa and this is no exception.  Matt, Nicole, and Haley, we welcome you to the Casa team.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Any and Yair

Any and Yair are the newest kids at Casa.  At least they were.  Last week their mother showed up at Casa de Esperanza.  At some time or another all of the parents have found their way to Casa.  She had papers from the judge saying she was reclaiming her children.  Karen was stunned.  Mirian was stunned.  Everyone was stunned.

This mother had voluntarily relinquished her children.  She grew up in a children's home and she was living in extreme poverty.  She felt she could offer her children a better life by giving them up.  Both Any and Yair are sickly little things, with asthma and other ailments.  We had waited months for these two precious ones to join the Casa family.  They had been living at Casitas Kennedy.  Yair had been in the hospital at least once.  While we waited, the mother was heart-broken at the prospect of living without her children. 

We have been told that her church has agreed to help her raise her kids.  With that knowledge, the judge decided to give the custody back to her.  Everyone at Casa cried when they left.

If the mother's church stands by her and helps her financially so she can raise these kids, all will be well.  If they don't, the results could be disastrous.  Please pray that this church fulfills its commitment to the mother.  Please pray for Any and Yair.  And please pray for everyone at Casa that their hurting hearts will soon heal.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Simply Magnificent Or Simply Insane

When we arrived in the States, it was not on our agenda to go to San Antonio to look at a blockmaker.  When we went to San Antonio, it was not on our agenda to go to Rockford, Illinois.  We have learned to be flexible no matter where we are. We have enjoyed the side trips.

After we looked at the machine in Rockford, we spent the night in Chicago.  Friday morning, after we had a sweet roll and a cup of coffee, we took a nice walk.  We walked along Lake Michigan and Lakeshore Drive.  And we walked part of Michigan Avenue, known to some as the Miracle Mile.  I am no shopper, so it was not such a huge miracle to me.  We just walk and look.  I walk around with my mouth open looking like the small town girl I am.  I take a lot of pictures of the big city.

As we walked, we saw the most unbelievable sign.  You may have to double click on the picture to see what this says.

I cannot imagine spending that much money on a one bedroom condo.  Not even one with a lake view.  How many block houses could be built for that much money?  How many children could be taken off the streets of Tegucigalpa?  Or out of the dump?  How many Bibles could be purchased so the good news of Jesus can be shared?  How many hungry people in Chicago could be fed?


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Block Makers

We will soon be dirt block makers.  Our good friend, Kin Ellis, went to Bush, Louisiana and looked at the used machine there.  Today we drove to Rockford, Illinois and looked at one there.  Both of these machines are like new.  Both have had about 300 blocks make on them.  Just like a car, a block maker decreases in value when taken off the lot.  We were able to negotiate with both people and get a good deal.  So, we are getting two, almost new block makers for the price of one brand new one.  Both of these machines are the small machines, which require more manual labor.  That is a good thing in Honduras.  Together, both machines will be able to output more blocks than the bigger machine we thought we originally wanted.  And these two machines are much, much less than that bigger one is brand new.

Marc is like a kid with his new toy at Christmas.  He can't wait to get these machines to Honduras and start making blocks.  And it will be so much better to build block houses instead of wood ones.

Thanking God that these deals could be worked out.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Next Container

We are in Belleville, Illinois visiting our sponsoring congregation, taking care of personal business and having a great time.  We just are not getting to spend enough time here.

The next container is leaving from here.  We are doing backpacks loaded with school supplies to help as many children as we can in Honduras.  There is also many things to help Casa de Esperanza on this container.  Things like shampoo and lotion.  With 19 kids, and 12 of those girls, think how much shampoo we use. 

We were at the building this morning unloading some of our things for the container.  Matt and Nicole had packed a box of Haley's things that they decided would not fit into one of their six suitcases.  Nathan and Julia had cleaned out Camille's closets.  The little girls at Casa de Esperanza are going to have some nice clothes coming their way.

It was exciting to see what was happening with the container.  Peggy Thompson was packing sheets and towels brought down by Maria Phillips.  Vicki Fager showed up with some backpacks.  There are several boxes packed and several full backpacks sitting around to be packed.  After tomorrow, we hope we have a blockmaker to go on that container.

If you are interested in helping fill this container, you have the rest of this month.  Shoot me an email and I will tell you what you need to do.

Thank you Fairview Heights for this container.  I know it is a lot of work and a lot of headaches.


Monday, September 5, 2011


Camille took Nathan's 16 feet tape measure and decided to measure from my suitcase, through the house.  She pulled out the tape to its full length and then asked me to help her measure.  I spend so little time with her that I gladly get up to do anything she asks.  I also thought we could turn this little experience into a math lesson.  She told me to hold one end of the tape and she took the other one.  When it was time to move the tape for another 16 feet, she said this button won't go up.  She had pulled the tape out to the very end, way beyond the the end of the markings, and I was sure we would never get back in.

Instead of showing her how to move the tape and figure the length of the house, I was telling her she had to tell her daddy she broke his tape measure.  With all sixteen feet plus pulled out, she says, " this won't fit in the trash."  I told her she had to tell Daddy, that being honest was the most important thing.  She had to tell Daddy and she had to buy another tape.  She responds with all my money is in a bank in Mississippi.  I finally told her I would give her some money, we would go to Wal-Mart and she would have to spend the money I gave her on a new tape measure.  She was still talking about the tape not fitting in the trash and her little eyes were filling with tears.  The whole time, we were having this conversation, I was working with the tape and suddenly it released and began to respool.  Since it was no longer broken, I never gave it another thought.

When Nathan and Julia got back, she told Julia she had to talk to Daddy.  Nathan was on the phone, so she told Julia what happened with the tape.  And, when Nathan finished his phone call, she told Nathan.  I was proud of her that she told even though the tape was no longer broken.

Nathan and Julia were trying to measure the area of the living room.  I hear Nathan saying, "MOM."  I went to see what he needed.  He says, "what did you do to this tape to fix it for Camille."  I had to laugh.  Again, I was sure, the tape would never go back in.  But I messed it with it and finally got it to release.  I told Nathan about Camille wanting to stuff it in the trash and hide the evidence.  He was laughing so hard, he was crying.  He went into her bedroom where she was trying to go to sleep.  He asked her if he pulled out the entire tape, did she think it would fit in the trash.  She quickly told him no.  And then he told her he, too, had accidentally pulled out the tape too far and Grammy had to fix it again.  It was an accident and it was ok.  She smiled, hugged his neck, and went to sleep.

I think she learned that she had to admit her mistakes.  It was hard for her to tell her parents about the tape.  I am sure she also learned something when her daddy humbled himself and admitted he made the same mistake. 

This morning Camille started to measure something again and all I said was, "are you sure you really want to do that?"  She had second thoughts and decided  there wasn't anything that really needed measured.

Love being with this little girl.  And her parents.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Little Rock

Yesterday, we got to Nathan's house around 5:00.  Julia and Camille and Matt, Nicole and Haley were already here.  So the fun began immediately.  This momma/grammy loves having all of the kids and grandkids together. 

In celebration of Nathan's birthday last week, we went downtown to eat pizza.  Then the girls played in the park for a short bit.

Then we all walked out on the bridge as the sun set on the Arkansas River.

Today, the fun continued.  Marc and Nathan played golf this morning.  Matthew, Alison and baby Esther joined us for a couple of hours. 

There were dominoes, jigsaw puzzles, food and football.  A great way to spend any Saturday afternoon.
Uncle Nathan tried to teach Haley to sing "Rocky Top"

 More cousins

Even though Matt, Nicole and Haley had to leave for Baton Rouge this afternoon, our fun continues tomorrow.  Looks like Grammy and Poppy might get some special time with Camille tomorrow.