Neighbors: Beloved, Feisty, Recently-perished Pet Squirrel


So, we got the urgent request to come see something in the neighbor's house. I ran in to see a squirrel hunched behind the table, just checking out the room. He ran around for a while around the rafters before I handed him a shovel and he came down. He was the delight of the neighborhood for the 8 days he was a pet, living the high life eating bananas everyday.

Unfortunately, his dream life was short lived, he found some sort of poison lying around and is no longer. Rest in peace amigo.


Devotion to the cause of humanity?

"If our devotion is to the cause of humanity, we will be quickly defeated and broken-hearted, since we will often be confronted with a great deal of ingratitude from other people.  But if we are motivated by our love for God, no amount of ingratitude will be able to hinder us from serving one another... Once we realize that Jesus has served us even to the depths of our meagerness, our selfishness, and our sin, nothing we encounter from others will be able to exhaust our determination to serve others for His sake." 
-Oswald Chambers


How to Mix Concrete by Hand

I'm sure the manly men in the audience are aware of how to mix concrete without a mixer. Until now, I had been blessed with good experiences with mixers. Well, one day the mixer was disinclined to function, so we mixed it by hand. Here's how it goes.

  1. Put down four wheelbarrow loads sand, then a bag of cement spread over the pile. Then do that again on top of the load.
  2. Start on one side of the pile with shovels and move it to make another pile. Start at the bottom of the pile to allow the falling sand and concrete to mix as it collapses. Then, when you're good and tired of turning the pile. Do it again until you're back to where you started. Now the mixture is ready for water.
  3. Make a "volcano" from the mixture that is low and flat. Dump in about 10 gallons of water.
  4. Begin working around the outside of the volcano moving dry mix from the outside to the "rim" gradually making it higher and allowing mix to fall into the water in the center. Add about another 10 gallons of water. 
  5. Continue working the pile up higher and higher without allowing the water to spill out. The goal is to build it up high and slowly, constantly moving dry mixture from the outside up to the top where it can hold water in as well as spill into the center. 
 You're done when a.) the water spills out and you have to work even harder to mix it, or b.) the mixture is pretty much evenly wet and about 3 feet tall. You may need to add a little more water from here to get it to a good consistently, but you're at a great start.


Neighbors: Prideful and Delicious-looking Turkey

This turkey struts around nearly constantly, acting very impressive and completely unaware that there is only one female hen within gobbling distance. He's outrageously noisy and often eyes us critically on the site as we build the house. We hope to one day partake of his tastiness.


House Update

 Well, the gringos are excited. They're building their first house. Who cares if it's half the size of their former apartment and lacking running water and electricity... THEY'RE BUILDING A HOUSE! We'll work with the community to earn the water and electricity together. At least we'll be motivated. We're very excited to get to know everyone. Each morning, our 14 year old neighbor and I hear chachas (?) in the trees close by, which I'm promised are delicious if you're good with a slingshot. We're going to find out.


  We're getting back in shape now. We're 're about to finish the second week of construction, and things are starting to speed up. Last week, we worked with a couple of guys from the community to dig the foundation of the house (too deep) 2 feet deep by 1 foot wide for every wall. Needless to say, it was by hand (pickaxes and shovels) and wonderfully refreshing, but it was finished within four days. During that time, the community fed us really well. So well in fact, that Kaleb got to spend his first real quality time on the porcelain throne; we suspect fresh corn, but that's only one of many delicious opportunities that I used to effectively ruin a weekend. 

Anyways, we were back at full strength on Monday and with help from the guys here in the ministry. We made the rebar cages on the miserable, rainy Monday. The rest of this week, we've founded out with rocks and concrete, placed the columns, and layed a few lines of block up to a dead line. Tomorrow, we'll put in reinforced tie bar around the base of the whole house. Next week, we'll head up and start laying block in earnest. It will start to look like a house soon.

For those of you that are construction-oriented, I'm sure you're curious to know how you make concrete in a village with no water. As it turns out, there are multiple answers to that.
  • Option 1. Forget about this problem and be rescued by your neighbor that collects rainwater. Be sure this doesn't happen again, you'll feel like a jerk because water is gold to these people.

  • Option 2. Bring water in barrels from the office. But, don't do that again, transporting 1000 lbs of water and 5 full grown men in your 4 cylinder truck up the mountain road is hard on the suspension

  • Option 3. Fetch water in barrels from the spring 10 minutes away. This idea's a winner. It's a little tiring to fill the barrels by hand, but easier on the truck and the neighbors. 
  •  Other Honduran Suggestion: Everyone pees and spits on the mix. It started as a joke, but then I got a little worried...  However, I'm proud to report that our concrete is urine-free. 

We're getting used to running down to the hardware store now as well. So are our neighbors. As we suspected, everyone within a 100 mile radius knows that the there are gringos in the purple truck, and that they're going to Las Lomitas. The last two trips to Peña Blanca have seen us flagged down in the street by the good people of Las Lomitas for a ride back up the hill. We don't mind at all, it's actually fairly comical. They just pop out of the crowds into the street with their arms waving. Ah yes, just like Ohio.


Mr. Echo

Well, after playing the name game for 3 days, our poopy little puppy has a name. After ruling out people names, because they're offensive to people of the same name in Honduran culture, we decided on Echo. It's simple, the same in both languages (Echo/Eco), and a Lost reference, so it wins on all fronts.

 He's graduated from his little popcorn box to a bigger box turned upside down with a hole in the side. He spends the nights with his little coastal behind shivering up here in the mountains, but he's acclimating well. He's also made the transition from terrified little puppy to energetic ankle-biter. He goes to the house site with us everyday, where he's short on energy for the ride home. During his days up there, he usually:

  • "Helps" with the construction.

  • Falls in holes he can't get out of.
  • Is picked up by every child in the community, usually by whatever part of him is easiest to grab. Our favorite is little neighbor girl Kensi grabbing two handfuls of skin, holding him out away from her like he's on fire, and bringing him to us. 
  • Harasses chickens and in turn is flogged severely by mommy-hens. Delightful.
  • Hides himself under piles of sheet metal and garbage to rest from the children and the sun. 
  • Hears his name approximately 8000 times in all manner of accents. He'll be good and confused on the language front. We already have pity on our future children, who will actually need to use their tongues for speaking.
  • Is mugged by a weak, mangy kitten. We're going to have to work on his fierceness.
He's turning out to be a great little dog. If nothing else, he's wildly entertaining and will keep us well-guarded over the coming months. We're glad to have him around.


Neighbors: Machete-wielding, Nose-picking Toddler

Kensi is our neighbor's granddaughter and future-wife of Aric Gruber. She swings a mean machete and mines gold with the best of them.


Been busy...

Sorry for the lack of updates.  We were getting pretty good there before Christmas and since we've been back life has been too busy to spend time together as a couple, much less write creative updates.  Obviously the biggest item on our list is building our own home.  We'll get some pictures of that out soon.  The ditches for every wall have to be a foot wide and two feet deep.  When there are only 3-4 of us at a time, it moves fairly slowly. 
We continue our work in the office, teaching English twice a week, the Caliche water project, and moving forward with creating a "Community Development" department with Pastor Fredy (which includes an office area and a manual/paperwork).  Not to mention just living life itself here takes time.  Stacey stayed home today from digging ditches to catch up on laundry, cleaning, and food prep. 
We have been blessed with a new Honduran Director for the ministry after two years of having an interim director who was also a full time business man and could only give a little time.  Pastor Walter is a great addition to our team down here.  We actually just spent the weekend at his home with his family, he lives about 2 hours away and comes to work in the office 3 days a week.  Someone in their neighborhood had a gift for us....

The most recent addition to our lives is a puppy.  He was given to us by a family whose dog had 9 puppies.  His mother is brown (forearms) and father is Dalmatian (spots on his chest/toes).  We had been asking around for a mut that needs a home so he can be our guard dog at our home in Las Lomitas.  Having a guard dog in your yard is very common and a necessity here.  So he's only about 7 or 8 weeks old, (the family didn't know exactly when they were born).  We just got him Sunday and he's been going through withdraw from his mother and 8 brothers/sisters.  He always wants to be pressed tight up against something.  We're super tired not only from building the house but from lack of sleep because of hearing him whine for his family all night long.  We've been up to calm him down, warm him up, get him water/food, go to the bathroom, let him run off energy, and finally fall back to sleep in our lap so we can drop him back in his box and sleep until the next awakening.  Not making us want children any time soon. 
We had a name for him, but later found out that the culture here does not use people names for animals.  It is offensive to anyone with that same name because it equates them with an animal.  So we're back to the drawing board and until the moment he still is without a name.  He's just a little 4 lb. thing now, but he'll grow into a great guard dog.


Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho

We've been working on preparing our land, which has really been great. With a ton of help from the community, we've been up there a few days and accomplished the following.

  • Mowed the head-high grass with machetes.
  • Knocked a beach ball-sized termite nest out of a tree.
  • Picked up landfill volumes of trash. 
  • Made friends with the biting ants multiple times. 
  • Explained when we're building our house approximately 6000 times.
  • Talked people out of "drying up" the remaining plants with some sort of deadly herbicide.
  • Talked people out of "burning" everything on the property.
  • Failed to talk people out of cutting down everything down that looks like a tree (including the only two real trees.)
  • Had to thank people for cutting down our only trees that we loved so much for doing it in such a helpful spirit.
  • Failed to locate a dead animal that reeked of something worse than death. 
The second time we went up, I'd load up the truck with our newly felled tree material (thousands of pounds of it, that poor purple truck) and drive it down over the bank to dump it. Stacey and the kids would run down around the bank to meet me where we were dumping it. They'd then race to empty the bed of the truck as fast as they could so that they could get to the good stuff... riding in bed back up to do it all over again.

About 15 kids piled in each time, and as soon as we took off, they screamed deliriously like they were just given ice cream on Santa's lap at Disney World on the last day of school. I'd gun it all the way up to 10 m.p.h. until they almost passed out from the excitement. Then, the 5 year-old kids would toss the 2 year-old kids like footballs to other small children waiting on the ground. We're in for some "interesting" days in Las Lomitas. Construction starts on Monday.