Friday, June 28, 2013

Shattered Lives

I was not, or am not, a perfect parent.   I am not meaning to judge because I have not walked in everyone's shoes.  With all my imperfections, I cannot understand a mom who would abandon two daughters and show up nine years later, only to say ,"I'll not be back.  I have other children to take care of."  I cannot understand a grandmother who allows her boyfriend to rape a 12 year old granddaughter.  I cannot understand a mom who abandons a 4 year old daughter and 2 slightly older sons and leaves them living by themselves for 6 months.  I cannot understand a dad, after his wife dies, selling his three daughters.  These children are shattered and broken. 

God, please pick up the broken pieces and put them together again.  Fill these lives with your cleansing and presence and power.  And, help me to love these children with patience and kindness.  Help to never become hardened to these stories.  There are so many.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Church Week

Last week was house week.  Fifteen houses were built.  Meaning fifteen families now have a roof over their heads.  A few houses are being built this week, too.  But this is church week.

The floor in the Ojojona church was very uneven and broken.  There were many places you did not want to put your chair because the chair could not sit on a level place.  Sunday afternoon the old floor was torn out. 
Monday some more work was done, but in true Honduran style, most of the day was spent waiting on the concrete, which never arrived.

This morning rebar was tied and laid.
A couple of hours later the concrete was being poured.
I hope to have a picture of the finished floor later in the week.

In the two hours in between the these two pictures, I drove to El Aguacatal, where a new church building is being built this week.

The church in El Aguacatal has been meeting outside of someone's home.  After Sunday morning services are over in Ojojona, Richard drives to El Aguacatal and has church again.  Matt has been helping him for the last several months.  They also visit and study up there on Thursday.  Bibles and Sunday school material were purchased recently.

It is about 45 minutes from Ojojona to El Aguacatal.  Forty five minutes over a bumpy, dusty, mountain road that climbs high above Ojojona.  I put the windows down and thoroughly enjoyed the bump, dusty mountain road with the wind blowing through my hair.  It was just what  I needed.

As I drove the views were spectacular,

and, perhaps, a bit unusual.

 Poor old horse.  He had quite a load.

Some of the switchbacks were a bit difficult to negotiate.

Not an Illinois cornfield, but a cornfield.

I realized why Matt does not get back on Sunday evening until 6:00 or later.  It was a long way up there.

One of the paradoxes of this country is that the beauty of the land hides the ugliness of the poverty.  But, you don´t have to look too far or too deep to find the ugliness of the poverty.

Finally, I saw a sign welcoming me to El Aguatacal.

And, then I soon saw the church building being constructed, three walls and a floor complete.
It will have a gabled roof.  And there will be Sunday school classrooms.

I am so thankful for Richard and Matt sharing the gospel in this mountain community and I am thankful for those building this church building.  I pray the people in El Aguacatal bring honor and glory to God's name.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Deaf Church

I love church.  I love to sing.  I love the fellowship.  I even love sitting with 23 kids.  But, as I enjoy worship, I watch Rosy.  She can´t understand one thing that is happening in church.  And, she is usually bored.  She is receiving no spiritual instruction.

I have been thinking for quite some time about taking her to town once a month to the deaf church.  I finally acted on that this morning and she and I left for church at 9:00 this morning. 

I am always impressed when anything in Honduras starts on time.  The singing is always very expressive in sign language.  I watched Rosy and she really got into the singing, much like I do when I am in church where I can sing.  People who are deaf don't bow their heads and close their eyes to pray.  The person praying does, but no one else would know what was being said if everyone shut their eyes and bowed their heads.

Almost every church in this country is full of women and few, if any, men.  This church was different.  It was full of men and few women. 

I know no sign language.  Therefore, I was quickly bored, as Rosy must be in church with us.  It is essentially silent.  The room is warm.  And, I haven´t had enough sleep in weeks.  I might have dozed off.

Rosy enjoyed church this morning and I am glad for that.

I can never go to town without needing to do a couple of errands.  Today was no exception.  From past experience, I know Larach and PriceSmart are the busiest places in town on Sunday.  Those are two places I had to go.  That took a while.

I really hope I can maintain the monthly trip to town to allow Rosy to worship in her language.  If she has to sit through our church 3 times a month, surely I can sit through hers once a month.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

House Building

Karen, Nicole and I do not get to build many houses.  We stay plenty busy at Casa de Esperanza.  Today was Nicole's day off and she decided to take the girls to a job site.  Nicole knew she would not build much, if any. 

Emma Kate charmed everyone with her toothless grin.  Haley enjoyed the children that were hanging around.  Haley also got to hammer one nail as Poppy gently showed her how.

Isn't that sweet?

Haley never admits she is tired, but tonight she said building a house sure made her tired.  I think there might be some other tired people, too.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week One Is Almost History

Week one of summer groups is winding down.  The first 13 leave tomorrow and everyone else leaves Friday.  It has been an amazing week and, I am quite sure, all the others will be just as amazing.

Groups from Texas, Oklahoma and Ohio have been.  Forty nine people have just about filled the mission house.  Fourteen houses will have been built.  Yesterday the groups from Oklahoma and Texas went on a field trip and built 3 houses down near the Nicaraguan border.  They left early, returned late and the temperature was hot.  And Matt lost a tire of his truck.  While he was driving it.  Praise God, Matt and John are ok and the car was repaired the same day.

Everyone went to the dump today, many for the very first time. 

The Casa kids were spoiled with Kentucky Fried Chicken and a movie.  Randy spoiled Fernando in a big way.  The Santa Ana youth group was treated to lunch and then played soccer with the Ohio group.  The hospital and blind school were visited.

And the ice cream in the store was huge hit.

Praise God for the work that was accomplished in his name.  


Monday, June 17, 2013

Break Time

Just because we opened the new mission house last week, does not mean every single detail is complete.  Friday night as it was time to open the store, sidewalks were being poured.  We used boards to get across.  Many other little details still have to be done. 

Today, the first ice cream order arrived.  I went to Ojojona and saw we had a small problem.  There was scaffolding in front of the store and the men were working on the ceiling of the porch.  When Dorian arrived, he told the men we had to get in the store.  They took enough of the scaffolding down that we could get into the store.  Then they all sat down.

I bought a whole freezer of ice cream and the guys on the ice cream truck loaded it in the freezer.  They slowly and carefully broke down each box.

After the freezer was loaded, I bought Haley an ice cream and I locked the store.  I politely said thank you and the men got up and began to reassemble their scaffolding.  I hope I made their day by allowing them to have an extra break.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Just In Time

Things at the mission house began to wrap up quickly Wednesday and Thursday, thankfully.  Yesenia and crew showed up at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday to clean.  And worked until after 3:00 on Thursday morning.  Most of the day yesterday many little details were being taken care of.  Such as pillows, shower curtains. 

I worked most of the day moving into the new store.  Nicole and some of the kids helped me.  I thought when I loaded the car and left at 3:30 that I would unload and come right back so I could clean up some before dinner.  I was really dirty.

 There is always something that takes longer than expected.  Many of the store items had been placed in the dining hall because the shelves were being assembled in the store.  As Yesenia began to ready dining hall for dinner, the kids moved the store things closer to the store.  They put them on the porch.  But the way the wind was blowing, and with it raining, things were getting wet.  I began to move all those things.  Just as I finished and thought I would run home and change clothes, I got a call that the group was on its way.

I could hear the bus coming up the hill.  As the group began to get off the bus and walk in, I have to admit I was glad I was the one saying, "Welcome to the BRAND NEW mission house of Honduras Hope."  It was exciting and at that moment it did not matter how dirty I was.

I assigned rooms and everyone unloaded their stuff off the bus.

It was exciting to see lights and doors closed instead of the outside lights burning as men frantically worked into the night.

How exciting it was to see tables and chairs and people and a fire burning on a wet chilly night instead of the dining hall being used as a storeroom.

Even Tibbie was excited.  But I think she thought she was going to get some of Yesenia's good cooking.

More folks arrive today and tonight the new mission house will be full.

God has answered our prayers, not only for this mission house and the ministry it will sustain, but that it was finished on time and without accident to the workers.  Quickly, correctly, and safely was what I prayed every morning. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Almost Finished

I waited all day.  I worked while I waited.  About 5:00 this afternoon, I could wait no longer.  I just had to go see the progress.  I knew the crew worked until after 11:00 last night and began at 6:00 this morning.  I could not believe the amount of progress.

There are doors and windows.  Toilets and sinks.  And mirrors.  All rooms have beds.  There is a lot of clean-up to do, but the details are coming together quickly.

And, the store.  Oh my goodness, it is going to be beautiful.

The store is so much bigger and so much nicer.  It has two windows.  Yay!  We get to start moving in tomorrow.

This was a beautiful surprise.  Thank you, Dorian.

The front porch of the store, another beautiful surprise.

There is another addition to the store that I know my friends from Mitchell, Indiana and other places will love.

We will get that first load of ice cream on Monday morning.

It will be finished, just in time.  Praise God.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


It is three days before the first summer group arrives.  Much work still needs to be done.  The lists are endless.  We are racing like rats on a running wheel.  Everything will get done.  It always does.  But, this Tuesday morning is a time of calmness.  Peace.  A couple hours of doing nothing.

I had a good workout and amazing prayer time this morning.  Prayer time that I allowed God's peace to completely fill me.  I have run some errands and taken care of some stuff and visited the job site.  Nicole and I are going to town after she returns from Teleton.  We will eat lunch and run some errands, some personal, some not.  For me, the next hour, until Haley gets out of school, is a time of doing nothing, relaxing.  Enjoying the quietness.  There is no one here. 

I thank God for these few precious moments of peace and calmness.   And, then, I will be ready for groups.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Update On The Mission House

I went to see the mission house this afternoon.  Progress has been made since the last time I saw it.  To see it this near completion, brought tears to my eyes.  Dreams are coming true.

Isn't this awesome?  And the first group arrives Thursday.  No doors, no windows, no beds.  Not a problem. 

And this is the new store.  It is full of homemade scaffolding as the ceiling is being put in.  The store opens Friday night.  Not a problem.  Sleep is highly overrated.

Everyone is praying and sweating.  The work crew is working from 7:00 a.m. to 10 p.m.  Of course, the person (Marc) who thought beans would cook in an hour, thinks there is no problem.  He is thriving on this being done at the last minute. 

And, by the way, there are mirrors.  No beds, but there are mirrors.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Shopping With Ana

The first groups arrive in less than a week.  There is a lot, and I mean a lot, to be done before the new mission house and the new store are ready.  Today, was spent in getting a few things ready.

A couple of years ago, Brayan started helping some in the store.  Last year Ana started helping and this year Jackson will be working in the store.  I want the kids to know there is more to working in the store than going to sell and hanging out with the groups.  I want them to know where the product comes from and how it gets priced and all sorts of things.

I asked Ana to go with me today.  The main item on the agenda was going to PriceSmart for drinks.  But, when we go to town and other things need done, we do those things, too.  Fortunately, we did not have too long of a list today. 

Ana changed out of her school uniform and ate and was ready to go before I was. 

Three or four quick errands in the mall and then to Larach.  We were in the check out at Larach and Ana says, "I sure do love snickers."  So I bought her a snickers. 

We got to PriceSmart and I asked her if she thought she could push a flatbed.  I told her if she didn´t think she could it was ok and it would be harder if she took it and then could not push it.  Of course, she said she could push it.  Talk about making wide rights.   I wasn´t so sure since she ran over me before we even got in the store.  Fortunately, we both were going slow and the flatbeds were empty.

We got 26 cases of drinks.  Ana does not mind working.  She jumped right in and helped me load the cases on the flatbeds.  She only got in a position she could not get out of once.  I helped her and we got to the checkout without further incident.

We then went to La Colonia to buy cookies.  I told her what I needed to sell cookies for and what the most I could pay.  She found some cookies we have never had before in the store.  She did a great job searching for the cookies in our price range. 

It was hot in Tegucigalpa and I knew before we left Santa Ana, there would be something cold to drink after we loaded all those drinks.  After we finished at La Colonia, I headed for Circle K.  Sometimes, I just need an American soft drink.  Ana wanted a Raptor.  No, I don't think so.  A 40 ounce energy drink at 5:00.   No Raptor, but I let her have the smallest frozen Mountain Dew.  One little sip and she was saying she liked the drinks from the United States.  I hope the night staff does not kill me for letting her have a Mountain Dew.

She learned just a little bit more about the store and we had a delightful afternoon in the process.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

And Let The Summer Begin

I can't believe the "busy season" is here already.  It is always busy season for me.  It seems like the last group that left in August just left yesterday and the first summer group of 2013 arrives in a week. 

Everyone is scurrying.  Scurrying to finish the new mission house and store.  Scurrying to buy the last minute plane tickets.  Scurrying to get all the new products in and priced. 

The interns are here.  A really great group.  They are off having a team building experience before that first group gets here.

It is going to be a really awesome summer and the devil is scared.  I know he is because he is throwing a lot of darts our way.  More vehicles are broken than are running.  Luis is scurrying to get all the cars fixed.  If broken cars were the only darts, we would be in really good shape.

Our God is a great big God and He will deflect these darts and reign victorious. 

We will have groups here from June 13 to August 14.  Please pray for the groups, the interns, the staff and all the people to which we will minister. 

It will be another great summer in Honduras.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Time Clock

When Casa first opened, there were not many employees.  Karen worked with the kids and she knew who was working and who was not.  And she did payroll, too.  It was easy for her to pay people.  After a couple of years, we had more employees.  Karen worked with the kids and I did payroll.  I did not always know who had worked what day.  So we got a sign-in book.  There were a couple of grumbles about this, but soon everyone was used to this.

This system continued to work until recently.  There are two employees that are consistently late and consistently sign in the wrong time.  Karen and I are not blind.  We knew this was happening.  We talked about time clock. 

I began to check for time clocks at Office Depot and Larach and the places I thought would have one.  Then Matt and I began to check more obscure places.  We could not find one in Tegucigalpa.  Karen and I would let it slide for a bit.  But we grumbled among ourselves about these two employees being late and writing an earlier time. 

I began to look for a time clock again.  This time I looked at Office Depot on line.  I found one and ordered it. 

We wanted to have everything working for the pay period beginning June 1.  As I paid people Friday, I explained the new time clock and showed them how to use it.  It was taking about 15 minutes per person to explain adequately.  Some employees had used one before.  Some understood completely what we were asking them to do and some were really confused.  I have assured all of them, they can ask questions as long as they need to and they can come get Karen or I if they have a problem.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we did not get the time clock operational until today.

Yesterday, since the time clock was not installed, every single employee came and asked what they were supposed to do.  I said write in the sign in book. 

Today we could have filmed this and had a really funny sit-com.  Some people were here and working before the clock was installed.  So what were they supposed to do about sign in.  Could they use the book and start using the clock tomorrow.  One that is always late came rushing in five minutes ahead of his assigned time and then was so worried because the clock was not installed.  If he continues to get to work on time, I guess the clock will serve its purpose. 

Karen had put out a memo to explain the new time clock and the rules concerning the clock.  One person even told us that a memo was only for the purpose of correcting someone when they had done wrong.

The electricity has not been on for 24 hours straight in I don´t know how many days.  As I set the clock, we had another round of questions about the electricity.  Well,  I can see that might be a problem as many times as it goes off each day. 

I hope the transition from sign-in book to time clock goes smoothly and that everyone adjusts so we can spend our day worrying about something else.