Tuesday, July 31, 2012


AFE is the school at the dump and means Amor, Fe, and Esperanza (Love, Faith and Hope).  They are educating kids whose parents work in the dump.  Frequently, this is a big sacrifice for the parents.  They have to let go of two hands sort the garbage and ultimately help with the family's income.  These parents also know that for their child to have a better life they have to be educated.  Sometimes, it is a hard decision for the parents.  To give up a little income that helps feed the family or give the child a better chance. 

We are seeing great things happen at AFE.  Five young girls, ranging in ages from 12-17, are being taught to make jewelry out of magazines.  This is different from the other jewelry.  Marc was quite sure I would like the jewelry and wanted me to see it.  He was right.  I liked it. 

The girls were so excited I came to see it.  They also wanted to show me how they made it.

I knew I was going to order some of this jewelry.  The girls knew it, too.  I began to think and the girls began to say how much do you want?  I told them I was thinking.  Then I told my order.  All six of the girls began to jump up and down and scream.  You know  how teenage girls are.

They said they would begin work that day on the order.  When asked what they would do with the money they make from the necklaces, every one of them said they would help their families buy the food necessary to live.  And then, if there was any left, the might buy some clothes.  We asked, " new clothes?"  And they said, "no".

I am so thankful for the people teaching these young girls a way out of the dump.  You can expect to hear and see more about these necklaces in the coming weeks.

On the front row with me is Lele age 16 and Heidi age 17
On the back is Delsi age 16, Mariela age 15, Karen age 16 and Kedy age 12


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Death

Yesterday morning at 5:20, Marc's phone rang.  That is not an unusual event any more.  A family that lives behind the dump had lost a child.  Marc went immediately to help them. 

This family was extremely poor and had nothing to eat but corn tortillas.  An eighteen month old little boy named Christian died of malnutrition.  That should be preventable, but for millions in this world, it is not. 

I wish that no child ever had to starve to death again.


Saturday, July 28, 2012


Some more pillowcase dresses recently arrived.  The girls love these.  This morning Daniela and Cindy planned to dress alike.  They sometimes do this.

They were doing everything together this morning and being best friends.  By lunch time, they were snapping at each other, which is so typical of girls this age no matter where they live.

Aren't they cute?


Thursday, July 26, 2012


We put Jesus in the center of everything we do. And tell His good news often.  But when Wesley, Perry, and Vickie hit the ground in July, the devil is scared.  Each year we have many baptisms while they are here.  Bible studies and Vacation Bible Schools are happening this year, but the results are different.

Monday, the whole group went to Nacaome, which might be one of the hottest places on earth, and pretty remote, too.  Vickie and Perry were sharing and setting up Bible studies.  There is an existing church there.  The people said we are so glad to see you.  We thought the whole world forgot about us. 

Today, the evangelism teams were working in the mountains above Ojojona.  They met the preacher.  He said he was tired.  We was working a circuit of four churches, trying to share the good news and minister to all four.  He was very thankful for the encouragement from other Christians.

As important as it is to lead lost souls to know the forgiving grace of Jesus, I think we all forget that sometimes existing Christians need to encourage each other. 

Thanks to Wesley, Perry and Vickie for being encouragers to existing and future Honduran Christians and to everyone they meet.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bench Builders

We have had several groups come to Casa and work.  Saturday, one group built a bench with some extra lumber.  They set it by the soccer field.  On Monday, the boys decided it was a great bench and they wanted another one.  Dennis patiently helped them build another.  Before cutting, each board was measured carefully.  Karen and I were surprised at how quickly the bench came together.

There was no school Monday and it was a nice sunny day.  Sometimes, when those two conditions exist, the kids are allowed to eat outside.  They love eating outside.  Fernando and Brayan, especially, were wanting to eat outside to try out their new bench as a table.  Soup was for lunch.  We don't let the children eat outside when we have soup because it is far too messy.

Wisely, Karen knew how important it was to Fernando and Brayan to eat on their new bench.  Soup or no soup, those two were allowed to eat outside Monday.  The two of them had a great time out there as they proudly ate from the bench they built.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Troubling Question

I become more and more convinced we, as Americans, do not know how blessed we are.  Anyone that has ever had a premature baby knows how frightening it is when the baby has to have oxygen and feeding tubes and be put in incubator.  But, in the United States of America have you ever been asked, "do you have the money to do whatever it takes?"  Sick babies are treated and money is worried about later.

Thursday Matt and Nicole were asked if they had the money to do whatever it takes to get Emma well?  To say the least, this was very unnerving because it was an indication of how critical things were.  Fortunately, Matt and Nicole were able to say we can get the money to do whatever it takes to save our baby.  Hospitals require deposits and, if you stay very long payments along the way.  Payments in cold, hard cash.

I have stated before the statistics in this country.  Of over seven million people, way over half live in poverty or in extreme poverty.  By U.S. standards, Matt and Nicole's hospital bill was not high.  Especially for six nights in the hospital for Mommy and Baby, an obstetrician, pediatrician, cardiologist, anesthesiologist, oxygen, incubator, feeding tube, iv's, etc, etc.  Very few Hondurans could have afforded the care Emma received.  What does one do?  Many parents are forced to say, "no, we don't have the money," and then watch as their baby gasps for each breath until there is no breath for which to gasp.  This breaks my heart.  I saw little Emma's labored breathing after she was already getting better.  How many people have to watch their babies dies because they can't afford it?  I don't know the answer to that.  I am sure many, many people in Honduras and other parts of the world have to watch their babies die because they can't afford treatment.

Our ministry is able to help some, but, in the whole of things, not many.  We have also paid for funerals for babies that were not helped.

If I could have a wish be granted, it would be that no child has to die because the parent can't afford treatment.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Welcome Home, Emma Kate

If Emma Kate had a good night last night, we knew they would be coming home today.  And there was a lot of prayers for a good night.  Those prayers were answered. 

But getting out of the hospital in Honduras is such an ordeal.  It is a process, much like everything else.  Nicole was dismissed around noon.  The baby's doctor did not get there until after 2:00.  It was 4:00 when Nicole called and said they were finally in the car.  It was just about 5:30 when Matt pulled through the gate.

Big Sister Haley and Grammy were waiting.

The kids were just starting to go in the house for showers.  They all wanted to see Emma.  We told them they could come see her tomorrow.  They were so understanding.

I put Purell on Haley's hands and let her hold Emma first.
While Matt was overseeing that, I was Purelling my hands.  I could not wait to get my hands on that little girl.
She is so little.  And so sweet.  And so beautiful.

She arrived with a full pharmacy.  She will be on lots of medicine for a few days.

Thank you for the many, many prayers.

p.s  If you are friends with Nicole on facebook, she has posted some great pictures.

Monday, July 16, 2012


There is always a mountain of paperwork.  And, under the best of conditions, I am never caught up.  Never.  After six straight weeks of groups, my daughter having a baby last week and she and the baby are still in the hospital, the mountain of paperwork has become mountains of paperwork.  Today is suppose to be a much needed office morning.

I simply reached across the desk for an envelope.  One little piece of paper fell off the desk and fluttered to the ground. Then the avalanche started.  There was no end.  I am buried under all this paper.  I hope in a few hours, or a few days, someone misses me and comes to find me.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


This morning at 5:30, Marc's phone rang.  I groaned loudly.  I heard Marc say, "what kids?" and was up dressing.  Karen called to say to kids had runaway.  Nadia had just called Karen in a panic.  It was Jackson and Fernando.  We don't know exactly what time they left, but it was after 4:00 and before 5:30. 

Marc looked in the car.  They were seen at the intersection of the Choluteca highway and the Santa Ana road about 5:30, just as we discovered they were missing.  That is a couple of miles from here.  They were headed toward Tegucigalpa and Jackson was wearing bright yellow shorts.  Finding the kids in Santa Ana is usually pretty easy.  Once they head for Tegucigalpa, everything becomes more difficult.

Byron and Pamela spent most of the morning searching.  With no luck.

It has been a long time since we have had kids gone this long.  We usually find them quickly.

Tonight, we don't know where two little boys are.  We don't know if they are sleeping on the street.  Or if they are hungry.  Or scared.

Please pray for safety.


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Emma Kate Update

Emma Kate is still in the hospital.  Still in the incubator.  Still under the bili-ruben lights.  Still is being fed through a tube.  Still needing oxygen.  They were able to change from an oxygen tent to a tube.  That means she is getting better. 

Today, Haley and I got to see her for the first time since Wednesday.  Not hold her or touch her, but see her through the nursery window.  A five pound, fifteen ounce baby is not extremely small, but she looked so tiny in that incubator.  I know she needed Grammy to come in and hug her. 

The pediatrician came after I left.  He said she had made much improvement today.  The lights and the feeding tube come off tomorrow.  If all goes well, she may come out of the incubator tomorrow night. 

Let's keep praying that girl through.  She is going to be ok.  She just needs lots and lots of prayers right now.

Nicole is doing great and would be home if the baby could come home.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Emma Kate Fitzgerald

Miss Emma Kate Fitzgerald arrived at 11:50 a.m. on July 11, 2012.  She weighed 5 pounds, 15 ounces.  Those are the only vital statistics we have right now.  And it took all day to get those. 

Yesterday, Nicole was telling one of the kids, her stomach would have to be cut to get the baby out.  And he said, "you mean with a Gillette (razor).  That was closer to the truth than anyone would like to think about.  Suffice it to say, the prep nurse might have needed a few more hours of training.

Amazingly enough, things started right on time. 

Emma Kate has a little water in her lungs and is under oxygen.  We thought she would be under the oxygen for about an hour.  When several hours passed and she was still under oxygen, we began to ask why.  The nurse quickly said the doctor will have to talk to you.  We were quite certain something was wrong.  I tend to not be very rational when I get up at 3:15 in the morning after having gone to bed at 10:30.  Baby Emma is going to be just fine, but she will be under oxygen for a bit longer.

Many things are different in a third world country than they are in the States.  Giving birth is no exception.  No one was with Nicole  this morning.  When Haley was born three years ago, both Matt and I were with her.  We knew no dads in the operating room.  But what we did not know, is that no one is allowed to hold Sweet Emma until tomorrow.  Not ever her mommy.  I wanted to get my hands on that baby.  We did get to look at her through the nursery window.  The nurse took her from under the oxygen tent to feed her.  The nurse was very careful not to hold Emma where we could see her face.  All of us standing there with cameras and not even allowed a photo op. 

A group from Matt and Nicole's home church is here this week.  What a blessing that has been.  To Nicole and to me.  Sherry and Donna were with us this morning was we waited during the c-section. And Kate.  Dear, sweet Kate.  She held my hand and prayed with me when I was irrational and thought something was so wrong with Emma.  God gives us friends so we can take care of each other. 

Nicole is in extreme pain.  She will get to go down to see here sweet baby tomorrow.  Let's all pray that Nicole heals quickly and that Baby Emma does not have to be under the oxygen long.  If all goes well, they will get to come home Saturday.

 Not a very good picture when taken through the nursery window and when baby is under oxygen.  But take my word for it, she is beautiful.

The nurse so carefully shielding Emma's face from our prying eyes ( and cameras)
Haley seeing her baby sister for the first time and blowing her kisses.

It has been a long day.  I am tired.  There will be more picture of Emma soon.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A House For Fanny and Lourdes

Fanny and Lourdes are sisters.  Lourdes is 22 and Fanny is 19.  They work in the dump.  Lourdes is one of the hardest workers in the dump.  Fanny, not so much.  Besides the two of them, there are 16 other people living in their house.  One of those horrible little houses.  Between Fanny and Lourdes, they make $15.00 a day, on a good day.  And 18 people have to live on that.

Tomorrow, their current house will be torn down and a new one built in its place.  It is one of those tight places.  The lumber truck won't be able to get any where close.  Everything in the old, bad house will have to be carried out through a very small alley before a single piece of lumber can be carried in.  Even with an early start tomorrow, it will take all day. 

The new houses are so much better than the old ones.  The new ones are 18' x 18' instead of 16' x 16'.  And have three bedrooms with bunk beds.  But an 18' x 18' house is still small for 18 people.

It is going to take a lot of teamwork and patience to build this house tomorrow.  I am sure Fanny and Lourdes and the rest of the family will be praising God tomorrow night.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

Another Great Week In Honduras

All weeks are great weeks in Honduras.  This one has been no exception.  We have had groups from Lafayette, Louisiana and Childress, Texas.  And, Jeff Smith brought his first Disciples Trip group.  There was over 60 people here this week.  Worship and devotionals were awesome.

Many great things were accomplished.  Three houses were built.  One was a very special house.  It was a memory house for Tracy Kuipers father.  This house was built for a friend of Marc's that works in the dump.  The house she had been living in, was one of the worst anyone had ever seen.  It had to be torn down.  I heard many say it was the hardest tear down they had ever down.  The location was one of those tight little places.  The old material had to be carried out through a little alley-like place and the new wood carried in the same way. 

Not only was this house special because it was a memory house and because it was for a friend, it was the biggest one a group had ever built.  It was 25' x 18', having 5 bedrooms when finished, complete with bunk beds and mattresses.

This house was not completed in one day.  It took two full days.  Two full days of hard work and every emotion imaginable.  Sorrow, grief, joy.  Memory houses are like that.

On Thursday, while some of the group was finishing the memory house, the others took a group of kids from the dump to Aqua Splash, the water park.  Children who have very little joy in their lives and work hard alongside their parents were treated to a day they will never forget.  Their were squeals and giggles all day long.  From the children and the group.

As these groups leave, we will have groups from Baton Rouge Louisiana and Mitchell, Indiana next week.  Prepare for another great week in Honduras.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Making A Difference... One Child At A Time, Six Years Later

June 30, 2006 is a very important date in the life of Casa de Esperanza.  It was that day the doors opened here.  Five little boys, brothers, came here to live and call it home.  It was the realizing of a dream that had been in the making for over a year.  Jenn and Karen were here.  Nicole was here.  It was an exciting day for them and for all us had that had put money and labor and love and hope into this place.  Marc and I were still living in the States.  We cried with joy.  I am sure many others did, too.

Little did any of us know what we were getting into.  We had so much to learn.  IHNFA rules.  Labor laws.  All kinds of stuff.  We still have so much to learn. 

Six years later, these little boys are no longer at Casa.  But, there are 24 other children that call this home.  There has been a lot of knee time.  A lot of heartbreak.  A lot of joy.  Tears.  Laughter.  Some of the children have been here five and five and a half years.  The growth and changes we have seen in those.  Some still have a ways to go, but don't we all. 

Thanks to everyone that has ever made a donation to Casa, financial or otherwise.  Thank you to everyone that has ever said a prayer for one of us or one of the children.  Thank you to everyone that has said a kind, encouraging word.  We could not have come this far without you.  But most I of all, I give thanks to God, who has guided us and given us wisdom. Heard and answered our prayers. He has grown all of us into better leaders for these children.  And He will continue to grow us.  I am blessed to be here and be a part of these children's lives.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Farm At Zambrano

For quite some time, Marc has had a vision of an aquaponics farm that would be self-sustaining and employee a couple of families from the dump.  The project is taking far longer than anyone imagined.  But it is making daily progress.  I saw the farm for the first time today.  Suffice it so say, I am impressed.  I love seeing a dream become a reality.

The road to the farm.  I have seen worse.

The first thing I went to see was the lagoon.  The lagoon has quite a story.  After digging 800 feet and not finding water, the idea of a well was abandoned.  The lagoon was dug at a place where the water runs-off naturally.  By the end of the rainy season, the water level should be three feet higher.  There will be a pump to get the water where it needs to be.

The lagoon

There are sunflowers growing.  The sunflowers will be used for chicken food and the tomatoes will grow under the sunflowers.

I also saw plants called meranga.  The leaf of this plant is suppose to have more nutrients than any other plant in the world.  After the leaves are dried, you can add it to rice, making the rice more nutritious without changing the flavor.

A meranga plant

This is the first of several beehives.  I am thinking fresh honey.  

Then I got to the aquaponics part.  

The first fish row

There will eventually be five fish rows.  This row has 7000 gallons of water in it and already has 7000 baby tilapia.  One tilapia can grow in one gallon of water.  On either side of the fish row is an elevated row.  These rows will be filled with rocks.  The water from the fish row will filter into the other rows.  The rocks will somehow clean the water and it will recycle into the fish row.  Strawberries will be planted in the elevated rows.  The strawberries will grow better in the rocks with the fish poop.  I don't understand how all that works, but I guess I don't have to.

The group worked on moving gravel today

Our friends, Barb and John Zeller, wanted to see the farm this morning.  We were glad to take them.  After I viewed the farm, Barb and I sat on the back porch visiting.  I sipped on a Dr. Pepper and enjoyed the beautiful view.  That is what I call a day off.

We think we are within a month of having things ready to go here.  How awesome it will be.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Move That Car

The trooper, the car I drive, is in the shop.  I hate that.  I hate operating on someone else's time schedule.  Being the first of the month, there is hundreds of things to be done and I did not think I could wait to get started on that errand list.  Marc said he would let Matt off from working with the groups today and take me to town.  I only put the most urgent things on today's list: buying groceries for the Casa kids, formula for the babies, bank, health insurance for the employees, paying Rosy's tuition. 

In typical Honduran fashion, nothing went as planned, but as I always say, "It is what it is."  We knew when we left the bank, we did not have time to get to Seguro for the employees insurance cards before they closed for lunch.  We did a couple of other things and had a nice little lunch break at Quizno's.   We then headed to El Centro to Seguro.  I got the cards and we were getting through El Centro to go to PriceSmart.

El Centro is the old part of Tegucigalpa.  The streets are narrow and are all one way streets.  There are lots of pedestrians and traffic frequently moves quiet slowly or not at all.  We were on one of the narrow streets on which a building was being reconstructed.  Scaffolding came out into the street, making it even more narrow.  We were creeping along when all of sudden we came to a complete stop.  That is not that unusual, except that we never started moving again.  Two cars ahead of us there was a big water truck and in front of him, a little pickup truck was parked, thus preventing the water truck from going any further. 

People are not patient here.  The motorcycles were going down the sidewalk.  We might have tried that except a utility pole prevented us from getting on the sidewalk.  We could here a cacophony of horns honking, like that is going to do some good.  The traffic was backing up for blocks.  Every intersection was jammed.  Matt turned off the car and we were going to wait.  We were preparing for a long wait. 

The driver of the water truck began climbing down from his truck and with two other men began walking toward the parked truck.  Sitting on the passenger side, I had a bird's eye view.  They were trying to pick the truck up and move it.  They were able to pick it up, but not high enough to get up on the sidewalk.  When all the motorcyclists realized what was happening, they began to park their bikes everywhere and anywhere.  They flexed their muscles as they rushed up to the pickup truck.  Even the pedestrians were stopping to watch.  And even a policeman joined the challenge to move the car. 

There just happened to be a trench running along side the curb, a rather deep trench.  The crew was not able to lift the car enough to get it upon the sidewalk, but they were able to move it enough to get the the front and rear tires on the right side of the vehicle into the trench.  And that was just enough room to allow the water truck to squeeze past.  Then the rest of us were able to easily pass. 

Matt and I were laughing so hard.  I noticed other people were too.  While this was another delay, it was well worth watching.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Strike At Hospital Escuela

Today, after church and lunch, our groups visited Hospital Escuela, the public hospital in Tegucigalpa. The groups were planning on spending the whole afternoon there.  One small problem.  There was not many kids there.  No one was waiting to be admitted.  This was a most unusual happening.  Marc and the group soon found out the doctors and nurses were on strike.  I am guessing a lot of patients had been sent home.  Some of the parents of the children that were there said they had not seen a doctor in a couple of days. 

Under the best of circumstances, the care in this hospital is so inadequate.  And with the doctors and nurses striking, it is even worse.  I pray that this strike is soon resolved.