The Duck Grabber

I've told Stacey for a while now that one of my least favorite things about Honduras is that every little black speck moves, and all of them want blood.  Well, I've been out walking around making friends.

Having a hard time seeing them? Exactly.
Meet Satan's finest creation, the garapata. In Spanish it roughly sounds like "duck grabber" but the joke is that they grab everything. Their favorite thing to grab seems to be gringos.

These little demons appear to be the result of an unholy union between ticks and chiggers. They´re big enough to see, but just barely, allowing them to hide in all kinds of fun places. All the Hondurans kept talking about them, but I just assumed they were ticks. Well, they´re not just ticks. They´re the wolves of the weeds. Scheming, waiting, attacking in groups. They pile onto the ends of sticks and grass on the edge of paths and wait. The moment something brushes against it, they all move onto it like desperate goldrushers.

Moments before my first meet and greet with the garapatas, I saw Naldo, a perfectly sane Honduran, grab a stick and start wailing on his legs, yelling the whole time. I thought that was a pretty strong reaction to ticks. That was, until another Honduran pointed out a big brown dirt smudge on my pants... that wasn´t dirt. It was  thousands of the things. I then followed the example set by Naldo and punished my legs for allowing the creatures such passage. Unfortunately, that was only the beginning of the leg beating. Every five minutes, my pants had a brown smudge crawling around my legs, looking for yummy white flesh.

Considering how many thousands of the things have been on me. I feel pretty blessed that I only have about 40 bites. That doesn´t make them itch any less though. We´ve been scratching pretty much solid for the past 4 months thanks to our friends the biting, flying specks, but these bring a new level of desperation to the scratching. Ah, what a wonderful world we live in.

This post is dedicated to Logan Brady, the original duckgrabber.


Something interesting this way comes...

On Saturday, we went back up the hill to our soon-to-be home, Las Lomitas, for a meeting with the community. We met in the little church for about an hour and half as the sun went down and everything got dark. There was a big circle of chairs filled with about 70 people: working men, old men, new mothers, old mothers, new babies, crying babies, and the occasional visiting dog. During this time, they discussed upcoming water projects for the community as well as the potential to get electricity in the community. At them end of this discussion, they discussed the elephant in the room... what the heck are we going to do with the white people?

After they decided not to eat us (a joke, if this concerns any parents), they talked about where we could make our home. We had already talked to them and we knew that the best option was one tarea (about 1/8 acre) owned by the community. The president of the patronato (village council) mentioned to the community that if they were interested, they could sell their tarea to the white people. They started characteristically high (due to the presence of the gringos) at about $1500. But, a man in the room stood up and said that if we were going to be helping them and their community, it should be no higher than $700 (a good deal). We felt very honored by that. But, then it got interesting.

A woman stood up and (very loudly) proclaimed that if it was up to her, she wouldn't charge a dime. Because if those people really are here to help us, if they're really going to help our children, help us with our water problems, help us be better people, they shouldn't pay anything. The community should give them the land. Before the white people knew what was happening, everyone hand in the room raised for a vote in favor, and thus the land was officially donated to the white people. The white people tried to explain they felt they should pay for it, they were ready and willing to pay for the betterment of the community, but the community was having none of that. Then the white people cried a little bit.

It's a rare thing for a gringo to pay even a somewhat fair price for anything since the shade of our skin signifies money in this culture. But to us, it was so much more than saving money. The community we just spent three difficult months looking for looked at us and told us that they were looking for us too. That they wanted us to live with them and share life with them. This is the reason we came to Honduras and the reason we took so long to identify a community. These people are ready and willing to work and sacrifice for the betterment of their community--for the good of their neighbors, children, and people they don't really even know. We feel overwhelmingly blessed and humbled that the people we came to serve, are already serving us.

Damos gracias a Dios por: nuestros vecinos nuevos y la bendicion grande de nuestro tierra nueva all en Las Lomitas (for our new neighbors and the huge blessing of our new land in Las Lomitas.)


Quick Update

Today marks two very busy weeks back here in Honduras. Things have been going very well, very quickly. We've been working to coordinate the beginnings of a fairly large water project in one of our target communities of Caliche. This project is a collaboration of Caliche's sister church (Arlington Heights Lutheran), DSEC (Dayton Service Engineering Collaborative), the village of Caliche, Heart to Honduras, and the local municipality. What started as a small thing we were helping with has become almost our full-time job since we've been back, but it will be worth the trouble if the area's 600 residents have clean water this year! As of now, the sites are all cleared and construction is ready to begin, thanks to a visit from Arlington Heights. More updates on this project will follow over the coming year. It was great to meet and work with the sister church and the engineers of DSEC. It was a good week.

This coming week will see us back in Las Lomitas and Caliche: working to coordinate this project, and getting us moved toward our new home on top of the hill. Sorry this is a slow post, I promise it will get more interesting as the year progresses. Thanks for checking in on us!


We're back!

As of Jan. 6th we are back in Honduras and back to work.  We are thankful for the time we had with family and friends for 3 weeks in the US over Christmas and New Years.  The time went by quickly as you would expect, but we are very excited to be back!  We look forward to you all coming down to see us next!
After arriving we had 2 days to relax and rest (we slept over 25 hours in 2 days time) guess being home wore us out more than being here.  We have enjoyed reconnecting with our friends down here.  They are (at least seem) very happy to have us back. 

The plan from here?
We are working on purchasing land, then building a home, and then moving in to begin to develop the land.  Again our goal/mission/ministry is community development and a part of that is doing our best to model sustainable ways of living to then share with our community members as they show interest.  We getting excited thinking of the ways we can be the most productive with our little plot of land. We appreciate your prayers in this next step for us!

Keep in touch over 2012 - we look forward to hearing from each of you!