Thursday, August 30, 2012

Texas My Texas

I really needed one more day in Mississippi.  Too many people I did not get to see.  But, when you wake up in Columbus, Mississippi and know you will be sleeping it is a long, long day.  Our plans were to go the southern route and eat with friends in Dallas.  With Isaac dumping rain all along I-20, I-40 seemed like the better choice for today.

We decided to stop for lunch in Conway, Arkansas.  We both began salivating when we saw a Golden Corral as we came off the interstate.  But, first we had to find a place to overnight something.  That took sufficient enough time that we arrived at Golden Corral at ten minutes before 1:00.  We found that for people over 55 there was a very discounted price beginning at 1:00.  We waited for 10 minutes.  We are both 56 and, clearly, we were, by far, the youngest people waiting on this discounted price.  We waited with the red-hatters, among others.  We soon were back on the interstate. 

It is a long, hot way across Oklahoma.

The Texas panhandle has a beauty all its own.  And very few people appreciate that beauty.  I am one of them.  Texas welcomed me with a God-created sunset.  And, I did, indeed, feel very welcome into the state of my birth.

We still had 100 miles to go. 

Fifteen hours and 890 miles laters, Borger never looked so good.

We are here with family for a few days.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Emma Kate Update

Tonight, the news on Emma Kate is mostly good.  She came out of ICU on Saturday.   We think her blood levels are back to normal.  She is still  having trouble with her oxygen level and having to remain under oxygen.  She has had several tests, checking for all sorts of things.  She smiled for the first time today since she entered the hospital a week ago.  That is a definite improvement.  We need lots of prayers, still.  We want the baby home, but we also want her well.

Nicole is exhausted.  And Haley is protesting about Mom being gone so long.  Haley has declared she will not talk to Mom until she returns home and is moping around every day waiting for Emma and Mommy to return.  The whole family is coveting your prayers

Your prayers and love continue to sustain us.


Friday, August 24, 2012

The Deplorable State Of Education In Honduras

Education in Honduras has always been in a deplorable state.  And, it is getting worse. 

Each year thousands more children are finding a way to attend school.  That should be good news.  But it really isn't.  There are no more classrooms being added, no more textbooks being purchased and no  more teachers being hired.  We have seen that in Santa Ana.  Some of our Casa kids are in classrooms with 50 or more students.  How can one teacher possibly teach that many students?  Maybe, they are not.

There are over 3000 schools where there is only one teacher.  The State says a teacher can easily teach six grades as long as there are not more than 24 total students.  In every instance of a school with only one teacher, there are 48 or more students in the school.  I don't see how a teacher teaches 48 in the same grade, much less 48 students spanning six grades.

Teachers are striking at least one day a week because they are not being paid.  I can't say that I would want to keep working if I wasn't being paid, but the children suffer because of this.

There are over 19,000 elementary schools in Honduras.  More than 90% of those need major structural repairs that would cost over 7 million dollars.  Dollars, not limpiras.  When a country can't pay its teachers, how would they ever pay 7 million dollars for repairs.

The "State of Education in Honduras" reveals cannot possibly meet the Millennium Development Goals in the area of education.  One of these goals is by 2015 to reach an enrollment rate of 95% of all children in the primary grades.  No one thinks it will happen.  And, if it did, could the children be adequately educated in overcrowded, dilapidated classrooms, with not enough textbooks and supplies? 

Another goal is to have all children between ages 15 and 24 to have a sixth grade literacy.  This is not expected to happen either.  What standard is being used to measure sixth grade literacy, I am not sure.  Our kids fourth grade teacher was teaching Roman numerals wrong and Karen had to go teach the teacher.  And having to write the numbers from 1 to 30,000 in the course of the school year is not productive learning.  I could give several examples of inadequate, unproductive learning that I see being required of our kids every day.

Honduras is lagging far behind in the area of education even among other countries in Latin America.  What kind of future is there for Honduras as another generation is barely able to read and write?


Thursday, August 23, 2012


Sweet tea.  Lemonade.  Front-porch sitting.  Friendly people.  Good manners.  Fried catfish.  Grits.  SEC football.  King Cotton.  Caramel cake.  Antebellum homes.  Civil war battlefields.  A treasure trove of history.  Pecans.  Old Waverly.  The Blues.  Bible belt.  Precious friends.  Sweet memories.  A great place to call home. 

I am enjoying the time with Nathan, Julia, and Camille. We will be in Mississippi for another week with plans to be in Columbus, Starkville, and Tupelo before leaving.

Mississippi is a very special place to us.  I am thankful to have called it home for seven years.  I am blessed by the special people and great friends we have here.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Travel Days

We just completed 12 weeks of groups.  We have never had 12 straight weeks of groups.  It was amazing, all the way until the end.  But we were exhausted when it was over.  To be perfectly honest, I was exhausted before it began.  We left the day after the last group left.  We have never done that before either.  We usually allow ourselves two or three or more days.  I had worked several nights until 11:30 or later.  And most mornings, I get up at 4:00.  I kept saying I might not go to bed at all on Sunday night.  I did finally get to bed at 12:15 and got up at 4:00.

Haley was starting pre-school and her first day of school was Monday.  Matt and Nicole brought the girls to the house to say good-bye before Haley went to school.   I hugged Haley.  Nicole handed Emma to me and said hold her until we get back.  Emma was sick and was getting sicker in my arms as I held her.  Haley's school was just a few minutes away, but I called Nicole once to tell her sick I thought Emma was.  Nicole, being the mommy, knew that.  When Matt and Nicole got back, they immediately left for the emergency room.  Nicole was crying.  So was I.  I hugged Nicole and I cleaned up the big black tears off of my face. I continued to rush around doing last minute things.  Marc left after he hugged the girls.  He had so many errands to do.  All of a sudden it was 9:00 and I needed to be on my way.

I began to drag my luggage to the car and Dorina took me to the airport.  I talked to Nicole a couple of times and they were waiting on the doctor.. 

I was so tired.  I have never been so ready to leave for a few weeks.  And, at the same time,  it has never been harder to leave. 

Our plans were to fly to Oklahoma City and then drive to Jackson on Tuesday.  That meant Camille hugs on Tuesday night.  And Nathan and Julia hugs, too.  It has been a year since we have been with them.  Just as we boarded the plane, we found out Emma was being admitted to the hospital.  I was already in turmoil.  Again, I began to cry.  I did not have to worry about black tears this time.  All mascara was long gone.  Thinking about leaving Nicole and the baby in the hospital.  Thinking about Camille hugs.  What should I do?  Should I not leave?  Should I offer to stay?  I cried all the way to Atlanta.  From lack of sleep and crying, my eyes hurt.  Thankfully, I always carry Visine.

We talked to Nicole in Atlanta.  Emma was slightly better.  The flight from Atlanta to Oklahoma City was tearless, but I was still worried.

How good it was to have Pat and Kim meet us at the airport.  Yesterday, we got up and enjoyed sweet time with our friends.  Talking, praying, sipping on coffee, having a good breakfast.  Then we loaded our car and left for Jackson.  Yay.

We made it all the way to Mount Pleasant, Texas before I went to Wal-Mart.

News from Nicole was all over the place.  Emma is better.  Emma has pneumonia.  Emma is out of the incubator.  Emma is anemic and has to have blood.  And we were on our way to Jackson. 

It was 10:30 when we arrived at Nathan and Julia's new house in Jackson.  Nathan and Julia were waiting on us.  Of course, Camille wasn't.  It was a school night.  But we got to wake her up and give her hugs. 

We are here for a few days.  Time to slow down.  Time to relax.  Time to enjoy our kids.  Then we hit the road with many stops and many miles ahead of us.  Many hugs and shared precious moments with family and friends.

News from Nicole this morning is not good.  Emma has aggressive pneumonia and has been placed in ICU.  I am still not sure what I am going to do.  I way go back to Honduras.  I may stay here.   Baby Emma, Nicole, Matt and Haley all need your prayers.  Marc and I do to.  Either we travel and need prayers for safe travel or we make a decision to go back to Honduras.


Friday, August 17, 2012


Every year there are so many days the kids do not go to school.  The teachers are always striking.  Last year, there was not a week they went to school every day until May or June.  This year started off with the kids going almost every day.  The later into the year we go, the more days they miss.  They have not been to school on Friday in weeks.  On Monday and Tuesday, the elementary kids went, but Brayan and Pamela were home because the students were striking. 

Marc is already telling us that next year, being an election year, will be even worse.  I guess we will see about that. 

No one really gets hurt but the students. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2012


I more or less live in my own world.  I work my shifts with the kids.  I run the errands.  I pay the bills.  I work on the paper work.  I know what is going on with the kids, but sometimes not much more.  Saturday morning I noticed Tibbie (Haley's dog) was pregnant.  I did not have any idea how long she had been pregnant or when the blessed event was to occur.

Yesterday afternoon Emma had a doctor's appointment.  Since it was Tuesday, my day off, I went with Nicole.  Nicole, Emma, and I were with the doctor when my phone rang.  It was Karen and she was talking so fast it was hard to understand what she was saying.  Last time Karen called and was talking that fast, three of the kids had a predinner drink of gasoline.  I knew this probably was not good news.  But, it really wasn't bad news.  Tibbie had had a baby.  Right out in the middle of the cancha and would not have anything to do with it.  As God always works these things out, there is vet here with the group.  I told Karen to call Marc and she did.  About two minutes later, Marc called and said Tibbie had had four babies and she was dropping them all over the place.  She covered two with dirt.  I am not sure I would want to have anything to do with a baby if I was still in labor.

Nicole and I had thought we would not make it back to Ojojona to eat with the group and had planned to get food to go from Burger King, eat in the car and try to get back for devo.  We scratched those plans and decided to come on home.  

Tibbie finally had six babies and did not want anything to do with any of them.  The puppies were attached to Tibbie and she allowed them to nurse.  The vet said she could not promise if any of them would live.

Denis came to work this morning asking about the puppies and if they all lived.  He was so worried about the puppies because Tibbie was not being a good mother yesterday.

This morning, Tibbie was being a much better mother.  Right now, they are in my house.  It is raining and there is a leak above the dogs.  Tibbie is allowing her back to get wet so the puppies stay dry.  So far all of the puppies are alive and nursing.

Haley and Matt get back tomorrow.  Oh how fun it will be to see Haley's face when she sees the puppies. 

Between Tibbie and Nicole, the puppies and Emma, there is a whole lot of nursing, pooping and crying happening.  I know I use certain phrases often:  "it is what it is", "welcome to Honduras" and "there is never a
dull moment."  But truly, there is never a dull moment.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Farm Update

The grow rows at the farm that so many people have been filling with rocks over the last few weeks now have strawberries growing in them.  Strawberries and fish.  Be it ever so slow, this dream is becoming a reality.

Tomorrow, there will be netting placed over the strawberries to keep the birds out.  Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and other vegetables will soon be planted.  Then chickens will be purchased and the farm will have eggs. 

Shortly after that, 2 or 3 women from the dump will be hired to work the gardens and such.  And, that was the aim of this project when it began.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Josue Is Home

Yesterday morning, just as Karen and I were thinking Josue would be in the hospital until at least Monday, and deciding how we would cover everything since one person had to be in the hospital around the clock with Josue, Mirian called and said she needed someone to come get her and Josue.
I went.

This hospital does not allow cell phones.  I know that so I left mine in the car.  I went to the caja to pay our bill.  The bill was not at the caja and I was told that the bill was not there and no one leaves the hospital until the bill is paid.  I knew that.  But, I didn't know what to do.  I went to the car and tried to call Karen.  Then tried to call Mirian.  Karen called back and told me where Mirian was.  I stuck my cell phone in my pocket and went back inside the gate to the hospital.  I told the guard I was going to where Mirian and Josue were.  Since I had never been inside the hospital, I kept having to call Karen and ask her where to go.  I felt like I was in jr. high sneaking my cell phone in and then sneaking around to use it. 

The nurse told me I could not be back there until I had paid and I needed to go to the caja.  I returned to the caja.  The clerk told me I had to go where the patient was and get the papers.  When I get frustrated, I cannot think in spanish.  So, in english I said, " I just came from there and they told me to come here."  Of course, no one understood me, but I think they detected the frustration in my voice.  In a few minutes the papers from the doctor arrived and the clerk told me they were waiting on the bills from the lab and the pharmacy. 

I have my cell phone hidden in my pocket and it begins to ring.  Thank you, Nicole.  Fortunately, it is raining so hard that no one can hear my phone ringing. 

When the bill was paid (all $100.00) of it, I went back to where Mirian was and gave the nurse the proper papers and we left.  It took an hour to get them out of the hospital.  It took another hour to get all the medicines he needs.  We are giving 5 different medicines at 6 different times during the day.  But, praise God, he is home.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Day In The Mall

Even though I go there frequently, I don't really like the mall. I have to buy school uniforms and supplies and other things our kids need.  And, of course, Wal-Mart is there.  But I really don't like the mall.  Being there reminds me of how huge the difference is in this country between the rich people and the poor people.  But, sometimes the mall is the most fun place in town.  Like today.

Marc found out about this family.  The mom's name is Vitalina.  Ten years ago she was raped and was infected with HIV.  Before she knew she was infected, she infected her husband.  Vitalina has full blown AIDS and could not possibly have much longer to live.  She is in extreme pain.  Their youngest child, Jairo, is also HIV positive.  Jairo is nine.  There are two other children in the family.  Carla is 11 and Milton is 14.  Milton is the bread winner for the family.  Fortunately, all three children are going to school.  Milton goes on the weekend and works all week. 

The house in which they were living was an awful house, made of particle board and any scrap material that was available.  Vitalina knows she is dying and her only wish was that her family have a decent house in which to live.  Today, that wish came true.

I worked Tuesday and took off today so that I could be part of this.  We left about 8:30 this morning.  The wood was waiting on us when we arrived.  But before building could begin, the furnishings had to be removed and the old house torn down.
Vitalina, being so ill, went to a neighbor's house where she could lie on a sofa all day.

My friends from Antioch and I got to take Carla and Jairo to the mall.  Willie drove us in the van and Melissa went with us, too.  We went to the mall to buy school supplies, school uniforms, clothes, soap, shampoo and other needed items.

Carla and Jairo had never been to a mall, never heard of Wal-Mart and were in complete awe as we walked in.  Melissa was our translator.  She was so kind and sweet to the kids.  And, to us, too, of course.  We knew we were going to have to go to more than one store, but we started at Wal-Mart.  The main reason being it was the only thing open when we arrived. 
Jairo and Carla in front of the fountain in the mall

We started with basics.  Toothpaste, toothbrushes, hairbrushes, shampoo, soap.  We began looking at pretty things for Carla's hair.  It was easy to tell when Carla really liked something.  A big smile came across her face.  She never asked is she could have something.  She picked up one little card with two scrunchies, one pink, one purple, on it, smiled big, and held it tight.  She was told to put it in the basket.  And she says, one is for me and one is for my mom.  For me, that was the first of many tears.  

As we picked out clothes for everyone, Carla made sure mom had some, dad had some, both brothers had some, then she would start looking for herself.  With Melissa's help she picked out the cutest pair of shorts and a top to match.  She made it clear to us that she did not want short shorts.  I was glad.  

A Wal-Mart employee became our personal shopper.  In the States, you might expect that kind of service at Macy's, but not at Wal-Mart.  And, it became crystal clear that these kids had never had new clothes before, much less got to choose their own new clothes.  Perhaps, it was as clear to the personal shopper.

We kept saying you don't have to buy here if you don't see anything you like.  We can look somewhere else.  They had no problem  finding something.  

All the while, Willie is quite patient with this group of women shoppers and kids shopping for the first time.  Willie said he had never been to Wal-Mart either.  When the ladies found out tomorrow was his son's birthday, a few extra things were purchased.

After most clothes were purchased, we went to the school supply aisle.  I never saw two kids as excited over school supplies as those two were.

After they got what they needed, Carla got a new backpack for Milton. 

We decided we had everything we could get at Wal-Mart.  The kids were so excited.  They both got behind the counter and helped the check-out clerk.  We had spent two extremely fun hours in Wal-Mart.
Willie hauled all the packages to the van and we told him we would see him at Pizza Hut.  Carla and Jairo had had one piece of pizza in their lives.  One piece of pizza that was shared among four people.  These two were elated to go sit down in Pizza Hut.  We ordered 3 giant pizzas.  And because we did, we got cheese bread for all of us, ice cream for all of us and one salad.   Don't ask.  We are in Honduras.  We decided to let the kids have the salad.  Melissa took them to the salad bar and helped them.  When they returned to the table, they didn't eat the salad.  They wanted a box so they could take the salad home to their parents.  But the pizza and ice cream were huge hits. 

With very full tummies, we went to get uniforms and school shoes, and shoes for Carla and Mom.  Willie was being very patient, but we did try to pick up the pace.  We got everything but her skirt for school and his pants.  We will have to find that later.

We drove back to the house site, to find the new house nearly complete.  There were squeals of delight from two kids.  Shortly after we arrived, the mattresses and bedding arrived.  Carla could hardly contain herself.  All of this was placed on the beds and we took Carla in to see the inside of the house.
Carla's face when she saw the beds and mattresses

When the house was completely finished, a prayer was said with the dad and the kids.  The mom was too sick to join us.  Marc walked over to the neighbor's house to pray with Vitalina.  Vitalina also prayed as Marc prayed.  With her only wish granted, she cried out to God that she was in so much pain and to please take her home.

What a beautiful house

It was a very emotional day and I am glad I got to be part of it.  I am as tired as if I had done a lot more than shop all day.

Please pray for this precious family.  They have a lot of things facing them.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

News From The Casa

We got word late this afternoon that Adonis is safe.  He has been at IHNFA since Thursday.  He spent one night out on his own.  He could not handle it and did not like it.  Supposedly, he walked to Sabana Grande, a pretty far walk.  After the one night, he went to a police post and said he was from a children's home and was taken to IHNFA.  I cannot for the life of me figure out my they did not notify us.  Welcome to Honduras. 

Adonis's dad is trying to get custody of him.  Whether or not that will happen, remains to be seen.  Please pray that the best thing for Adonis happens.

Baby Josue had a terrible night last night.  He was moved to an incubator and put under oxygen.  He was given nebulizer treatments every 30 minutes.  He turned blue more than once.  Needless to say, Reina did not sleep much last night. 

This morning Dilcia was staying at the hospital.  She called and said Josue needed some medicine that the hospital pharmacy did not have.  She said he was very delicate and the medicine was needed now.  She waited at the gate for me and I drove down there.  Again she said how desperately the medicine was needed.  I told her I would go to Ojojona first, then Loarque, then wherever was necessary.  I prayed that the pharmacy in Ojojona would have this medicine.  We can never be assured of any pharmacy having the medicines we need.  I was so scared.  I understood how badly the medicine was needed.  I was afraid of something terrible happening before I could get the medicine and return to the hospital. 

Fortunately, the Ojojona pharmacy had the meds.  I was praising God.  The medicine cost almost $20.00, which is very expensive for medicine in Honduras.  As  I rapidly drove back to the hospital,  my eyes were leaking a bit.  I was so thankful I had the medicine in my hand, but could not help but wander how many people in this country would not have been able to afford the medicines to save their baby's life.  More than any of us would care to think about.

Josue did not take a bottle all of yesterday, but gulped a whole down at 2:00 this morning.   The hospital does not allow anyone to have their cell phones with them.  It is hard to get too much news.  We had to take more burp pads and things.  We were even asked to bring a few jars of baby food because they expected him to start eating soon.  We take that as good news.  We continue to pray for a speedy and full recovery.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

One Missing And One In The Hospital

Last week was a bit trying and this week is starting out to be that way as well. 

On Wednesday, Karen got a call from the school that Adonis had fled.  He had kicked our little Katy and was afraid he would be in trouble.  Probably so, but he left on foot.  Matt left immediately to look for him where he was last seen.  Matt returned without Adonis.  We have all looked and looked for him  We heard there was a kid from Santa Ana in La Colonia Kennedy and I drove through there on Friday afternoon.

Adonis is nine years old.  His mother never made him mind, never disciplined him, never did anything.  When he got too out of control at the age of 8, she gave him away.  Not very good for anyone's self esteem.  He sure doesn't like the rules and the discipline here.  But he does have a tender little heart and he stole a piece of mine.  Adonis does not have much street smarts.  He is a weakling and he is pretty vulnerable.  He is a master at hiding.  I am worried about him.  This is the fifth night he has been gone.  We don't know where he is, what he is doing, or even if he is ok. 

Friday, I had planned to go to the market, return home, unload the car and go back to town to PriceSmart for groceries.  There was a strike somewhere down the mountain.  Marc and Matt both got caught in the traffic from that.  Marc called and said don't be in any hurry about leaving or you will be sitting in traffic.  I always have another choice of work when something like that happens, so I worked in the office until I heard from Marc again.  When Marc called and said the police broke up the strikers and the traffic was clearing, I left for town.  I went to the market.  It was so hot.  I looked for Adonis in Kennedy.  I came home and unloaded the fruits and vegetables.  It was after 3:00 when we finished unloading and I was dreading another trip to town for a month's worth of groceries.  I knew once I arrived at PriceSmart, it would take at least 3 hours to buy groceries.  Marc, Karen, Nicole, and everyone told me to wait.  There was nothing urgent on the list.  It did not take too much persuasion to convince me not to go.  It was Dr. Pepper and cookie time.  It had already been a stressful day.

Going to PriceSmart on Saturday is never an option for me.  That pushed it until today, not exactly my favorite thing to do on Sunday afternoon.  After church and lunch,  Matt, Haley and I headed to PriceSmart.  With Matt pushing one flat bed and me pushing another, it did not take too long. 

Just as we finished unloading, Karen drove through the gate.  She told me baby Josue was in the hospital in Ojojona.  They told us we was bad.  We think with respiratory problems.  Someone has to be with him all the time.  Karen and I were scrambling to get enough staff here to cover everything. 

I began putting away the groceries in that house.  I dropped a gallon container of mustard.  Thank goodness it was plastic.  I would have hated to have to clean up glass, too.  Cleaning up that much mustard was bad enough.

We have all shifts covered for tomorrow.  And, then, we will see.

Please pray that Adonis is safe.  Please pray for a quick recovery for Baby Josue.  And pray for the employee that has to stay in that hospital with him.  No cell phones, no electronics, no tvs.  Nothing.  I would be stark raving mad.  I cannot sit and do nothing for hours on end.

A missing child and a sick baby are bad.  As we cover these two in prayer, please remember our friends at Breaking Chains ministry, too.  They are dealing with so much more than we are. 

Thanks be to God for hearing our prayers.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

From The Farm To The Market

Yesterday I went to the market to buy fruits and vegetables.  I do that every other Friday.  I did not grow up on a farm, but I knew a lot of people that were farmers.  As I go to the market, I always thought the vegetables and fruits got to the market in the same way they did in the States.  After the farmer harvests his crops, he hauls his produce to the market or to the cotton gin or the elevator.

I was shocked to learn in Honduras the farmer does not haul his harvest to the market.  A big truck comes and gets everyone harvest.

A cabbage in the field on a farm high above Tegucigalpa

Each farmer harvests his crops and stacks them out by the road and the truck comes along and gets them all.  The reason is these farmers are really poor.  They own no vehicle.  They feed their families on what they raise and just eke out an existence.  There is no car, no tv, no money for school uniforms.

Every Friday morning, trucks of all sizes come into the market to unload.

After unloading,
the produce is trimmed
and displayed for sale.

Then I and many other customers come buy all this fresh produce.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Group Season Is Not Quite Over

Normally, when the Starkville group, the Borger girls, Vickie and Maria leave, it is the end of the summer mission season.  Starkville, Vickie and Maria left this morning and the Borger girls leave in the morning.  But, it is not over.

We still have two weeks and four groups.  We are tired.  But also very excited about what is still to come.  God has done amazing things this summer and will continue to do so.  Three of the four group are first time groups.  That is always exciting.  There will be three houses next week.

Bring it on.  We are ready.