Thursday, February 27, 2014


The length of the blog and the content of it may be overwhelming to some.  And, may be a bit rambling at times.  Proceed with caution.

I hardly know what has hit the last few days.  And, I have been overwhelmed in every way.

Karla felt bad last week.  A doctor saw her on Thursday and another doctor saw her on Friday.  On Friday, it was found that she had a urinary tract infection and antibiotics were started.  By Saturday, it appeared she was not getting better with the antibiotics, but worse.  Marc took her to the er at the local hospital.  She was admitted and iv antibiotics started. 

This hospital has very strict rules.  There are no tvs in the rooms.  You cannot have cell phones, computers, idpad or any kind of electronic equipment.  Visiting hours are from 3:00 until 5:00 in the afternoon.  Period.  No exceptions.  Sunday afternoon Karla did not appear to be any better.  Monday morning the hospital called and said she needed to be moved to Tegucigalpa. 

Marc was already in town; Matt check her out of the hospital and took her to town and Marc got her checked into Hospital Viera, one of the best private hospital in Tegucigalpa.  It is the hospital we use and she was seeing our doctor.  Matt said her speech was slurred and she could not walk. 

Once at Viera, Dr. Simon immediately ordered an mri and other tests.  Some things were ruled out, but a definite diagnosis had not been found.  It was possibly meningitis and more possibly encephalitis.  She was really sick, but no one, not even the doctor thought she would die.  Everyone thought there would be more tests and she would get better and come home.  She was not better, but she was not worse.

We have recently hired Lucy to start taking the Casa children to Teleton.  Lucy is our preacher's wife.  Tuesday morning Nicole took Lucy to Teleton to introduce her to the teachers and tell the teachers that Lucy would now be bringing the children.  After finishing at Teleton, Nicole went to the hospital to take Karla some underwear.   Nicole and I had planned to go to town when Haley got out of school.

About 1:20 Nicole called and said she was at the hospital and would not be back to get Haley.  Since my car was in the shop, she asked if I could walk to the school and get Haley.  She said she would be back by 2:30 and we would leave for town then.

Nicole had been in the room with Karla for just a few minutes and stepped out to call me.

Before I could get my shoes on and get out the door, Nicole called back and said she died.  Nicole was crying and screaming and I was having a really hard time understanding her, but I understood that part clearly.  I was in shock.  overwhelmed with shock.

Instead of walking to the school, I called Richard and explained what had happened and asked if he could come get me, take me to get Haley and take me to Hospital Viera.  He came immediately. 

Karla and Haley go the same school.  I told Richard I would be a few minutes because I had to talk to the director also.  I asked to speak to the director and was told she was in class.  I said it was an emergency and the person went and got her.  We went in her office and closed the door.  I told the director what had happened.   I thought she was going to have a nervous breakdown.  She was screaming and crying.  We hugged and cried.  The last time the lady had seen Karla was on Valentine`s Day and Karla had given her a card and some candy.  Sweet Karla.  Always giving something to someone.  Other parents were now waiting outside the door.  They heard the screaming and sobbing.  Some things cannot be helped.  I asked for Haley to be brought out of class.  I took Haley's little hand and walked down the hill with her and we got in Richard's car.

I explained to Haley that Karla had gone to live with Jesus.  Tears and hysteria upset Haley.  God gave me what I need to not cry and be hysterical in front of Haley.  At least for the trip to town until she could be with her mommy.   Sweet Haley kept saying to us if "Karla has gone to live with Jesus, why are you crying?"  There are no words to explain some things to a four year old.

My family was waiting in the chapel on the 7th floor.  The seventh floor is where Haley's pediatrician is.  So she asked if we were going to see Dr. Castillo.  Haley and I walked into the chapel.  Marc, Nicole, Matt, Lucy, Ana, and Melissa were in there.  And Karla's body on a stretcher.  That was different.  Sweet Karla looked so peaceful.  I hugged and cried.  I got on my knees and prayed.  Then began to send a few emails.  I did not want to send emails saying Karla had died, but that was the easiest way from Honduras.  Some of our friends came to hug us and cry with us and say how sorry they were.  That is always so appreciated.  People that none of us know also came in to look at Karla.  It seems odd to us, but it is very much a cultural thing here.

At Casa,  Karen told the kids and Cindy prayed for Marc.

Death is much more in your face in Honduras than it is in the States.  There are no funeral homes.  The family has to do everything.  Marc sent Luis out to La Quezada to tell Karla's stepdad.  He sent Jonathan to buy a casket. 

When Jonathan returned, Karla was rolled down to the er entrance.  Marc had to pick her up and put her in the casket.  As I watched, I cannot even begin to name the emotions I was feeling.  Then Marc, Jonathan, and Matt picked up the casket and loaded it into the back of the truck.  We are in the er, and one of the two entrances into the hospital.  People are walking in and out, looking at Karla.  Seeing the family load the body is not an unfamiliar site in Honduras.

In Honduras, people bring the caskets into their home for an all night vigil.  We could not do that.  We took Karla to the church building.  That was what we had decided.  As we  were leaving the hospital, Marc wanted to change his mind and take her to the mission house.  Nicole spoke up and said Jorge, the preacher and the Casa kids had already prepared the church building.

As we drove back to Santa Ana, Nicole and I both were making phone calls to people who needed to know and canceling appointments and all kinds of stuff.  Grief, shock sadness, details overwhelmed me.  I am so thankful Matt and Nicole are here.  Marc, Matt, Nicole and I.  We have each other.  Thankfully.  And we needed each other.  But, I was suddenly hit the idea of getting through this crises without the rest of our families.  And without our friends.  Our support system.  But, I was so wrong about that.  Our Honduran family supported us and grieved with us.  The rest of our friends and family did, too.  We have been prayed for and facebook hugged from Alaska to England and all points in between.  And maybe further away than that.  How oh how does anyone get through these things without God and friends and family.

In the States, when someone dies, the church ladies go into immediate action to get food prepared.  Here, it is the family's responsibility to prepare food for the all night vigil.  Lucy, who was completing a night mare of a day on a brand new job, graciously offered to prepare the food.  We told her yes and we would pay for everything.  We stopped at the pulperia and said Lucy was going to come get the food she needed and we would pay for it later.

I got home, changed my clothes and walked to the church building.  There was not even time to catch a deep breath.

Karen had called the employees of Casa de Esperanza and some of them were waiting when I got to the church building.  Karol and Kelin were also already at the church building.  Kelin hugged me and, through tears, said I do not understand.  How can anyone understand?

There is no embalming here, thus the reason that funerals take place so quickly.  But, the body still has a minimal preparation, which normally the family has to do.  Thankfully, a nurse offered to do that for us. 

Marc had sent transportation for Karla's stepdad and anyone else that wanted to come.  We had already paid to have the grave dug in Santa Ana.  Again, that is normally something the family has to do.  After the stepdad arrived, it was decided to bury her near her mother. Tuesday morning, Marc paid to have another grave dug.

Karen brought some of the Casa kids down.  We don't understand these things.  How can children?  Many of the kids hugged me, and, I am sure, Nicole.  Some did not know what to do or what to say.  That is ok.  I think Brayan, Ana, and Cindy are probably having the hardest time with this.  Little Katy sobbed.  And sobbed.  She sat in Nicole's lap for a while.  Then Matt's.  Then mine.  My heart was breaking with my own grief.  But, watching the kids grieve and try to grasp all that had happened, broke my heart even more.

Most of the Casa staff was here.  Nearly all of the staff from the school was here.  Most of them live in Tegucigalpa.  They went home after school and came back as a group.  They squeezed into 2 cars to come back.  Generally, people do not do things like this, mostly because they cannot afford it.  We were touched deeply with this.  They wanted to bring all the children that wanted to come to the burial.  When that was changed, they were a bit disappointed.

Jorge, Dorian and Richard did a beautiful service.  A beautiful service.

Many of the bouquets were hand picked and hand arranged, some in coffee cans and plastic jugs.  Very sweet for people that have so little.

The ladies brought in the food they had worked so hard to prepare and everyone was served.  I had not eaten all day.  I was ready for some food.  I thought.  I really could not each much.

Around midnight, the casket was loaded back into our truck and taken to the stepdad's house.  Several people went also.  There really was not an all night vigil at the stepdad's and the people that went, ended up sleeping in cars.  Nicole and Matt both had to drive their cars.  I did not go.  Haley and Emma were going to rest a lot better if we did not disturb them too much.  And, being wallowed around in a car all night was not going to be too restful.  Neither Haley or Emma are very pleasant if they have not had enough rest.  We knew we had a long day ahead of us on Wednesday.  Longer than we knew.  I am glad Haley and Emma rested well.  Me, not so much.  I was here, but sleep eluded me.

Matt and Nicole came home in one car and showered and cleaned up.  They arrived here with clean clothes for the girls around 8:00.  We changed the girls and got ready to leave.  We were still in Santa Ana when the school called.  Nicole thought the director said they want the sixth grade class to go to the burial and they didn't know where it was.  We turned around and went to the school.  Nicole got out and walked up the hill.  She was going to ride the bus and give directions.  Matt and I headed to town again.

The sixth through ninth grade classes were in one room.  The were all crying.  They hugged Nicole and told her how much they loved Karla.  All the teachers were outside crying.  And the younger grades did not even have school.  I was so sad I missed this, but we just did not understand what the teacher said. 

We were a lot closer to town when Nicole called and said what had happened and that she was at the school waiting on us.  Matt turned around again and we returned to the school.  One more time, we headed to town.  It was about 10:00 when we got to the stepdad's house.  The burial was suppose to be at 12:00. 

We all knew it would not happen at that time.

It was a hot miserable day.  Inside the house may have been hotter than outside.  There were so many people in there.  Marc had gone for ice to put under the casket.  Still with no embalming, the body was deterioating  quickly.  I was not sure how many more times I could look at Karla.  I wasn't sure how many more times I could go back inside that hot house.

It was hot and dusty and there was fires everywhere.  The air was smoky as well as dusty. 

We tried to keep Haley and Emma reasonably entertained.  And did not even attempt to keep them clean in that dust. 

Marta rode the bus over from Danli to be with us.  I was so glad to see her.

Marc had hoped to get everyone out of the house and moving toward the cemetery by 2:00.  That was reasonable since the cemetery closed at 3:30. 

When Marc, Matt and Jonathan went in to load the casket in the truck for the final time,  neighbors from every where began rushing over to see the body before the casket was closed.  I do not know how that many people fit inside that little house.  No one wants to say the final good bye and head toward the cemetery.  I was sitting in Nicole's car holding a sleeping Emma.  The temperature was rising.

The people and the casket came from the house.

Marc rented a bus to take anyone that wanted to go to the burial.  We went in cars.  I was in Nicole's car.  We were the very last vehicle.  I was already overwhelmed with all these emotions.  I think Marc was driving the truck with the casket.  Karla's grandad and some of her friends were in the back of the pickup with the casket.  When I saw the grandad sitting right by the casket and his arm, in a protective way, on top of the casket, the emotions washed over me again.  And again.

We drove into the worst cemetery I have ever seen.  Not that any of them are good.  But, this would have made the perfect setting for the most dreariest of funeral scenes in a movie.  The bus could not get as far as the cars.  We drove as far as we could.  The cemetery was on a steep slope and was rocky.  Most places here are rocky, but not this bad.  This was a lava field. 

I had on heels.  Marta took my hand and together we walked to the grave site.  Melissa walked down with the little brother.  He was, understandably, sobbing uncontrollably.   I watched as Melissa stroked him and tried to console.

When the casket was brought down, Marc said the sweetest words.  Then they lowered the casket into the grave.  Again, that is something that is done for us in the States.  I have never seen this or heard this.  I thought my heart would explode with grief as I watched and listened.  It is up to family to fill the grave.  Marc and the grandfather started.  The sickly stepdad took a turn, as did others.  This was way too much for my American mind.

Then we turned and left a little girl in a dark box in a dark hole.  A little girl who is scared to death of the dark.  But thankfully, Karla is not in that box.  Karla is with Jesus where there will be an eternal light for her. 

We are so thankful for all the messages of condolence, for lifting us up in prayer to our heavenly father, and for facebook hugs.  We could not have made it through without those things.  I hope to go through messages and posts and say thank you, but there are thousands.  In case I don't get that done, thank you to everyone.  Thank you for loving us and for sharing grief  and for all the acts and words of kindness and support.  We have the best friends in the world.


Sunday, February 23, 2014

School Supplies

When my kids were in school, I probably complained about the amount of school supplies I had to buy.  I could afford to buy them and I bought them.  I never had to make the choice of feeding my kids or buying their school supplies.  I was blessed more than I knew.

I bought school supplies for the Casa kids and noticed they were much higher this year.  Everything is higher this year.  Sales tax went up 3%.  Minimum wage went up a quite a bit.  Every time minimum wage goes up, several people lose their jobs and/or businesses raise their prices to cover the minimum wage.  There have been a lot of people needing school supplies this year.  And, I mean a lot.

Honduras Hope made a call to help with school supplies.  We did not receive our goal amount, but we received a good portion of it.  We are very grateful to everyone who helped with this endeavor. 

We chose wisely and we were able to help several people and all of our kids schools.  We did 200 packets for the kids at the feeding center.  Sixty packets for the school in Santa Ana.  Nicole and I took five individual lists and bought everything on it, including the text books.  Matt bought 2 individual lists and Marc bought several.  Timoteo asked if we could buy just a notebook for the kids at Los Pinos.  I asked Timoteo to meet me at the mall.  My thought was it would be easier to load them into his truck than into my car, out of car, and into his.  I bought a notebook and pen and pencil, which is the barest necessities.  Timoteo was like a kid in a candy store.  He was so excited.  The only thing we have left to do is buy some bulk supplies for Teleton where five of our kids take classes.  Nicole asked them for a wish list.  It was quite long.  We will choose some things off of that list. 

It is always fun and exciting to help this many kids.  But it is so sad that this many kids need help.

Thanks again to all who contributed.  You made a difference in the life of a child.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Brayan came to live at Casa de Esperanza in April, 2007.  Almost 7 seven years ago.  He has come a long way since then.  There have been many prayers lifted up over this one.  Most of the time, he controls his anger better than he did at one time.  He used to just explode over things.  Now, most of the time, he just wants to be left alone long enough to cool off and then he will sit and talk rationally about the issue.

Brayan's grades stay pretty good and he works harder in school than he did at one time.

He likes to please.  He is a hard worker.  By far, he is the best worker in the store.  He just knows the ice cream freezer has to be filled, the refrigerator has to be filled with drinks, and the store has to be kept clean.  He is busy all the time.  He is great with the customers, too.

Lately, he has even been helping in the office some. 

I am always proud of the work he does.

And, while he is a good worker, he likes to have fun, too.  He helped me count the inventory.  We worked long hours to get this done.  We were also packing some things in boxes so they would not get dirty before the groups start coming again.  This is how  he carried the hats over to the box in which he was packing them.

I love that boy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Valentine Candy

I returned from the States on February 4.  As a Grammy, I just had to get Haley and Emma Kate some Valentine Candy.  The thought came to me rather late in my trip.  I was already afraid my bags were overweight.  I carefully chose two small boxes of candy.  After packing and repacking, I got everything in but some books.

I thought I might not see the girls tomorrow.  I gave them their valentines today.  They both tore the red cellophane off of the boxes.  Haley took the lid off of hers, took one chocolate, gave Nicole one, and gave me one.  I was very touched by her generosity.  There was only 6 pieces in each box.  She saved the other three until 3:00.  Then she took them outside and gave one piece to Maryuri, one piece to Any, and she ate the last piece.

Emmy, on the other hand, grabbed a piece out of her box. And then grabbed another piece.  One each hand.  She stuffed half of one piece in her mouth.  She was holding on to the other piece for dear life, squeezing it to death.. She had chocolate every where.  And, when Nicole said she could have no more, she threw a great big fit.  She wanted the rest of that chocolate.

I hope everyone has a happy and sweet valentine's day tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Beautiful Day Off

Tuesday is my day off.  I don't take if often.  I should.  I know.  But, I don't.  Today, I did.

Sunday afternoon Marc said why didn't we do something on Tuesday.  That was an offer I could not refuse.  We decided to go to Amapala.  Amapala is an island.  With beaches.

We left Santa Ana around 8:00 this morning.  It is about a two hour drive.

Amapala from the mainland.

Marc began to negotiate a price for a water taxi.  It is normally L15 apiece, or about 75 cents.  The guy saw two gringos, not knowing that Marc knows what the price should be, and said L200 apiece or $10.00.  We found someone to take us for L15.  The boat immediately ran out of gas.  They have extra tanks on the boat.  As it was being changed, I laughed and said for L15 you get to float across instead of motoring across.

We have taken the Casa kids to Amapala before.  And, I love that.  But, how relaxing it was to be in the water taxi and not worry about a kid falling out or a kid standing up or all the kids deciding to tump the boat.

A couple of shots of the mainland.
As we approached Amapala, fishing boats were moored.

 We rode a motor taxi to Playa Grande.  Big Beach.  It is not that big, but it was ok.  After getting to the beach, the first thing we see is this
 El Salvador

On a Tuesday morning in February, the beach was mostly deserted.  Perfect.  We sat and had a coke.  Before we finished our cokes, a few fishing boats began arriving.  That was interesting to watch.  The fisherman were cleaning the fish the minute they arrived.

And, the gulls were feasting on the remains, a fast and easy meal.

Bringing in the fishing boats was a most interesting sight to see.
We spent most of the day sitting under the shelter.  I have seen the tide roll in at this beach.  This morning it was slowly coming in.  It was so pleasant to sit and watch and listen to the music of the ocean.
We did walk the beach some.  It was a beautiful walk, indeed.

There were several broken shells along the beach, but I was fortunate to see a few intact ones.

And some "bubbles on the beach" that I knew not to touch.

We then had a lovely lunch of fried fish and tejadas.

This was the parting shot before we left the beach.

We rode the motor taxi across the island.  I loved this little church with the pews outside.  Outside in the hot, dry season (now) and inside in the rainy season.

The motor taxi took us back to the boat dock.

These guys are not playing ball.  They are unloading a load of watermelons out a water taxi.  The same one that took us back to the mainland.

Another view of the mainland, as we left Amapala.

It has been another great day in Honduras.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

School Supplies

School, in most places, in Honduras started last week.  School supplies for the Casa kids were purchased with money that their sponsors send each month.  But thousands of kids cannot go to school each year because they cannot afford school supplies. 

Nicole raised some money for school supplies.  At Utiles de Honduras, we found a nice package of supplies for a very reasonable price.  We ordered 200 packages.  They told us the packages would be ready the next day.  I am always surprised how nice they are to us in there.  They did not even require a deposit.  Matt and Nicole picked up the supplies on Thursday.  Nicole's car was completely full.

Friday, after lunch at the feeding center, Matt and Nicole distributed the packages to the school aged kids.  The village the feeding center is in, is very poor and none of the kids had school supplies.  The kids and the moms were very excited about this gift.

Emma Kate sat and watched all the excitement.  And ate.

We had hoped to help to other places with school supplies.  If some more money comes in, we will buy some more packages and distribute them in those areas.

Thanks to everyone that donated.  You made a huge difference in the life of these children.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A New Roof

Honduras Hope teams have built several houses in a community called Lomas Diamonte.  Translated that would be Diamond Hills.  It is a poor community with no water and no electricity.

At the top of the mountain stands a nice block building.  A large block building.  It is said the people of the community built this building.  How they afforded it, I do not know.  The problem was there was no roof on the building.

Last summer a group saw this building and wanted to do something about that roofless building.  Team Unashamed Missions from Dallas has been here all week working on that roof.  They arrived Sunday and leave tomorrow.  They had planned on the roof taking all week.  They finished yesterday, instead of today.

To celebrate, they had Carnitas cater a meal to the workers and several of the children.  This little celebration was to take place at 2:30 this afternoon.  Nicole and I decided to go up there and see the building and the party.

Anything Nicole and I do together can turn into an adventure whether or not we plan it that way.  That could be said of today.  Neither one of us had ever been to Lomas Diamonte.  I did know where to turn off of the highway.  Nicole was driving.  I directed us into a neighboring village of Cruz Roja.  As we reached the top of the mountain and saw no huge building, we realized we had taken a wrong turn.

After we turned around,  I just had to take a picture of what I saw in front of me.  Little did I know that road was the one we would soon be on. You can't even see how high it goes.

We passed several houses that had been built by Honduras Hope teams.

We made yet another mistake by not turning and we soon found ourselves going down, down, down on a very steep road.  Nicole said the people of San Francisco could no longer claim Lombard as the steepest street in the world..

We turned around again and were finally on our way.  This building really was at the top of the mountain.  The views were amazing.  As we starting winding our way up, we thought we might find a building and no houses.  This was remote.  I was wondering who would use this building.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, there were houses up there.  I was quickly reminded why Honduras is the 2nd poorest country in the western hemisphere.

I almost cried.

There before us, stood this huge building with a brand new roof.  I had heard the group talk about how large it was, but it was hard to imagine until I saw it.

Some of the people of Lomas Diamonte had worked on this building all week.  Even some of the teenagers had helped haul dirt and rocks and then tamp to make the floor level and usable.

The people from Carnitas were inside cooking.
And then a prayer of thanksgiving was said and the children were served first.  Everyone of the children said thank you when they were served.  And many of the adults were thankful for the finished building.

Before the adults were served food, we left.

A few other scenes from the day.

When I see the gorgeous views, I am always keenly aware of the paradox of this country.  That paradox is the beauty of this country often hides the ugliness of poverty.  I had just seen poverty.  And, a nice new building.  It is really easy to dream of another feeding center and/or church.  A feeding center where those precious little children would get fed every day.