Weekly Update 2

Last week was filled with a meeting with the mayor, finishing the pila (holds water where you can wash dishes/clothing), laying the concrete slab over the septic hole (needed to be strong because we are also planning to put the car on this slab), attending a community meeting, having a great church service about using our talents, celebrating Pastor Erick’s birthday, and much more.

The next step to get the house where we’d like (especially for visitors – which starts in early June) is the cistern.  The hole is dug on the porch but the next part is to lay block inside it and seal it well to hold the water.  Then pour concrete for the lid/porch floor, after that we’ll hook up a hand pump to send the water up to the roof where a tank will be.  From the tank on the roof gravity will allow the water to fall into the tubes already built into the house (shower, toilet, sinks).
This week so far we have been in meetings for community development with Heart to Honduras and working on the Honduran Heart to Honduras website – which is very new.  A water project is starting in a community named Armenta.  As much as we don’t like being inside or in the car a lot it’s been a nice break away from mixing concrete by hand.  Kaleb mixed 12 bags by hand to lay the concrete slab, his body needed a break.

We also got the chance to get a little involved in community aspects. Stacey started a Sunday school with another local lady. Despite the boys smacking each other in the back of the head, it went really well. We also got to sit in on a community meeting and vote. On Sunday morning, Kaleb got up at 4:30 AM to go out with the men of the community to "maintain" the roadside. In the states, this would mean a tractor or weedeater of some sort, however, here it means chopping with a machete in semi-jungle for an hour. As enjoyable as it was, the best part was sharing the life with the men in this way, for them to see we don't believe we're any better than them and are interested in working alongside them, learning from them.

We’ve recently got the idea for a way for you to be involved in what God does here in Las Lomitas.  We would love if some of you would take a name of someone in the community and commit to pray for them.  We feel unable to cover each person in prayer the way we want to and believe that God could do great things if His people start praying for these people personally.  If you are interested in becoming a prayer warrior for one person from Las Lomitas please email us and we’ll give you a name and a brief description of them.  If you don’t already have our email, click on the “Contact Us” tab above, you’ll see our email there – just be sure to take our the X’s.  

  Thanks again for being involved and supporting us!


Neighbors: Fiercly-territorial and dim-witted male poultry

The faceoff.

Poultry is a constant presence in Honduras: in the street, in the yard, in the house, in the tree, on the roof, etc. Miraculously, everyone seems to have a pretty good handle on whose chicken is whose, despite the lack of containment.

However, a fight recently spilled over into our yard between two rivals. If it hadn't been for the referee (the duck), it could've gotten really ugly. However, it was a clean fight and we had our money on the victor. So, everyone went home happy.

The big game.

The victor.


Weekly Update               

After a week in the house, then a week in Belize to renew our visas, we’ve been back in the house on the hill for another week. And, as suspected, life here is going to be interesting.  We’ve continued working on the house to get it in usable condition. The priorities right now are threefold:

1.       A pila – Important for washing clothes and filling with water to hold you over for the 165 hours a week that you don’t have running water.
2.       Covering the septic pit – Important because it’s a 16 foot deep hole that is currently filling with filth. Enough said.
3.       Rainwater cistern – Important for the 165 hours a week that you don’t have running water and because the rain will start within a month.  Also, it’s currently a massive hole that continually fills with toads and children.

Speaking of toads and children, one of the funniest things I’ve seen was 10 kids in the cistern hole finding a toad, then throwing it like a snowball at each other. I’m not sure that the toad was amused, but he somehow survived. It would also be a mistake for you to think that the toad stayed in the hole. It was slung on numerous occasions a considerable distance from the hole.  In fact, the first time I saw it was immediately after the yelping began as it shot out of the hole and past my head. 

 Abused amphibians aside, it has been a hot week full of work and getting to know folks. People continue to show us incredible hospitality, demonstrated by the mountain of bananas that is in the kitchen.  People are always stopping by to chat and drop off some sort of food, to make sure their white people don’t starve. They must be convinced we need our own weight in food daily.

We’ve been able to reciprocate by making banana bread for them out of the bananas they give us or helping a couple of them out. EMT experience came in useful with a delightful machete wound to the knee. Very sobering helping out this 16 year-old kid that walked two miles from his job, uphill, with a rubber boot squishing blood out the top. His family came for help a few hours later, when it started bleeding again and wouldn’t stop. I walked into the house to find him grimacing in pain, leg hanging over a puddle of blood on the dirt floor. Fifteen minutes later, by candle light, it stopped. It struck me how miserable I was with a sore stomach at home in Dayton, in my nice bed, A/C or heat, a clean home, less than a mile from a hospital or a 5 second phone call to EMS. I decided to try to not gripe too much with a sore stomach in the States again.

We had our own little “medical experience” as well when Kaleb needed to lay down on the ground to work and instead found hundreds of biting, stinging ants. After a couple hundred stings, my body decided that was quite enough venom for one day and reacted. Imagine that, my very first allergic reaction, right here in Honduras! How charming. A quick wash off, several Benadryl, and a quick visit to a nurse later, my swelling face and ears calmed down and I fell deep into a heavily medicated sleep. We’re constantly stung by these things, but apparently there’s a threshold for how many your bodies willing to accommodate at once. Now we know.

Stacey also had her own little insect encounter. As the story was told, she was in the kitchen and reached for a spoon, only to find something else curled up in her hand. Wisely, she decided to throw her new pet scorpion somewhere else. Wisely, it decided to scurry into our pantry to hide in the piles of cans and bags there and wait to sting us later. After she couldn’t find it, we hunted it down with leather gloves, only to cut its stinger off and lose it again for good. As I was driving down the road a little later, I got a call from her informing me that she finished him off. Man, what a wife.

We’ve been able to start cooking breakfast and reading the Word together in the mornings, and that has been excellent for our relationship both with God and each other. It always amazes me how much I love reading Titus. It’s solid advice for how to live an effective life and recognize the love we’ve been given in simple terms. Chapter 3 is one of my very favorite in the entire Bible. If you’re looking for something good to check out for 5 minutes. Give it a look.

We’re acclimating well to the lack of water and electricity. The lack of electricity we hardly notice, except for the lack of refrigerator and lights in the evening. The lack of water on the other hand, is a huge pain. We get about 25 gallons of water, 3 times a week. If that sounds like a lot, you are very wrong. It’s enough to get by, but not real wonderful. Right now, we’re filling a barrel, then hauling it by buckets into two big buckets in the shower.  To make concrete, we still have to make the drive to the creek to fill the barrel with water. A true joy.  As a result, a few minnows have made the ultimate sacrifice and are forever entombed in our concrete around the house. Thanks guys.

Sorry this was a long one, but they’re likely going to be a little longer when we have a whole week to update. Just let us know if you have questions, we’d love to share with you what we’re learning.  We’ll be sure to share all the sans water/electricity tips with you guys as we figure them out. Until then, we’re just two gringos in the dark. Grace and peace to all.

Damos gracias a Dios por: el monton de hospitalidad que recibimos de nuestros vecinos  aqui en Las Lomitas (all of the hospitality that our community shows us here).


Toys grow on trees.

A few weeks ago, something started screaming in the trees. Every 30 seconds or so, the sound of loose, old, dry fan belts would start screeching and just get louder. When it began, we gritted our teeth and dealt with the constant sound assault. The children however, had quite a different reaction.

" Chicharras!!!"

The kids of Las Lomitas have been constantly entertained and gleeful since the hell-creatures began their tune. When one of the bugs starts screeching, and it seems to be within climbing distance, the closest local child is instantly up in the tree trying to grab it. Just as amusing, as soon as aforementioned child is in the tree, all of the other kids start throwing dirt clods at the now terrified, crying child stuck in the tree. We try hard not to laugh, but it's funny every time.
Fairly well camouflaged, but crying nonetheless.
The chicharras are almost identical to our locusts/cicadas but seem to be a little more desperate in their noise production. They show up in early March and apparently stay around for a couple of months: just long enough for the kids to fall in love with them, get tired of them, then not miss them when they're gone.

Never has a child been more in love with a demon-like insect.

However, before they disappear, the love affair with the creatures is intense. More than one child approached us tearfully, clutching the recently perished, but dearly beloved pet. For a few weeks, practically every child had one orbiting their person at the end of a string. From a distance it's a little disconcerting, you can't see the bug, so the string seems to have a mind of it's own. However, my personal favorite was the "pocket chicharra."

Little buddy Bryan (5 yrs old) is a pretty lousy chicharra catcher, which makes him love them even more fiercely. After several days of poor hunting, he came running across the field to me, eyes wide and jibbering unintelligible Spanish from his toothless head, all symptoms of chicharra ownership. When he got to me, he excitedly reached deep into his pocket and produced a very, very lifeless chicharra. His change of expression immediately indicated that he was unaware his chicharra had slipped into the eternal sleep. Never have I seen such pure joy change so quickly into soul-wrenching grief. He mourned his friend deeply.

The mighty chicharra hunters.

Aside from climbing into the trees to manually extract them, the kids also make "chicharra rods" to fish them out. They're basically long sticks with a bag tied onto the end of them. They just shove the bag around the bug and shake them into them. Very effective. We were passed several mornings by a line of 5-6 kids holding their chosen instruments high as they marched off towards promising territory. 

All-in-all it has been a blast to watch the kids have such innocent fun and has been a great way to get to know the kids, having grabbed a few chicharras ourselves. However, this season will soon come to an end and none too soon for the gringos' ears.

Damos gracias a Dios por: el gozo en las caras de los niƱos cuando agarran una chicharra nueva (the joy of the kids when they snag a new cicada.)


Death to Death Day

It seems like it would be a shame to let Easter slide by without acknowledging it, because.for Christians of the Christian variety, this holiday is special. Yes I know, every holiday is special for Christians "Jesus is always the reason for this particular season." And certainly, at every "Christian" holiday there is always the debate about how it is actually pagan in origin and was certainly meant to worship the druid god of water, sea, fire and all things in between. And absolutely, the actual day may be off by a day, week, or month or two. And yes, it's true that in the name of "Christianity" and on its holidays there have been massacres committed by its practitioners, genocides of people of different beliefs and skin in a supposed attempt to follow some ill-understood scripture: a thinly-veiled excuse for hate of the different that has both scarred the world and defamed our Christ.

Regardless of the piles and piles of baggage that holidays carry, for Christians that actually think, Easter is special. This is the day that we focus on and remember the sacrifice of one man dying for another. The day that remembers an infallible love finding a suitable face to finally reveal itself to the world. The day to remember the death of perfect innocence for our shortcomings.The day that we were released from the mountain of rules that is the Jewish Old Covenant, symbolized by the tearing of the veil as Jesus breathed His last. The day that hope and love took on flesh only to be brutally killed by those to which it reached out.

This day we remember is a day full of contradictions. Death bringing life. Gasping breaths carrying hope. Religion collapsing and rising. Blinding hate producing immeasurable love. This day is special above all others for us because the day we celebrate is the day that everything truly changed. Because, it was this day that death lost its sting, and we have hope of a perfect love in a fallen and broken world.

This Easter, regardless of your religious colors, please take a moment to consider the weight of this day for believers. Even though we seem overly excited about ham and colored eggs, this holiday represents the total redirection of our lives and the memory of something incredibly painful and beautiful. For us, today represents new life.

If you've been hurt by a believer in the past, please try to put that away for a day (as hard as that is) and recognize that we are very broken vessels that often do just as much harm as good in the Name of something we seldom understand. I know that from the bottom of my heart, I hope to see all the people I count as friends someday share my faith (although I often do a terrible job expressing that) . It is the source of incredible hope and love in my life and, with time, has totally rearranged my life into a challenging, occasionally painful, but outrageously rewarding life. I would love to share that with you.

Happy Death to Death Day.


Finally Moved in!

Sorry we haven't posted in a while, but the reason is a great one - we officially moved in our new home in the community of Las Lomitas on Sunday March 25th.  It's not near finished, but livable.  Since our community doesn't have electricity we unfortunately will be posting only about once a week when we come in to work in the office and have internet access. Our next big steps are the cistern/rain water system, covering the septic hole with a concrete slab, and building our pila.  Until that all is finished we'll keep hauling water in buckets from a creek or our neighbor when it rains (she collects rain water but right now it's the dry season) to bucket bathe, wash dishes, clean, and manually flush the toilet.  
Pictures are worth a 1,000 words - so here's our home! 
Can't wait to have you here to share it!

Sorry the picture is rough, but it's the only one of the front we have.

Just inside the front door - the living room.

The other half of the front room is the kitchen.

Flowers from Kaleb and community kids, mortar and pestles from parents, and homemade candle from sisters.  Thanks to all!


Our bedroom.

Guest room!

Bathroom. (Coming soon... finished shower and a sink).

The future shed/mudroom/Kaleb's space... for now it's where we bucket bathe because it has a drain at the end.

Reading from the children's Bible with neighbor girls after breakfast.  The 2 standing are twins and the little one is their niece.

View out our front door.  The horses were brought in for the afternoon by a neighbor (4 yr. old) to "cut the grass."

Our front porch.  The newest addition is the swing for neighborhood kids.  It's a hit!  That's Echo's dog house Pamela is sitting on.
This bouquet was brought to us by a family as a "thank-you" for Kaleb's EMT skills on their 16 yr. old's machete wound.