Time in the States

We’ve spent 2 weeks with each side of our family with a stop in the middle to get to know our 17 mo. old niece.  Thanksgiving was with the Eldridge’s and Christmas with the Reeder’s. We’ll finish up our time visiting in the Dayton, OH area where we lived before moving to Honduras.  After all this craze we’ll head back to our little home in Honduras to finally rest on Jan 4th.  It was great to see many of you and catch up on your lives.  We hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are getting ready for what God would have you do for His glory in this New Year.  What will your 2013 look like?  We’d encourage you to make your New Years resolutions HIS and not your own.  Being back here in the States we’ve been overwhelmed by selfishness.  We first pray for ourselves to not conform and then for all of you to not join our digressing US society in their habits of complaining and self-centeredness.  That we could all learn to always put our brothers and neighbors before ourselves. You can be in prayer for our ministry in 2013; that God would give us time when we get home to Honduras to rest, relax, seek Him, and renew our vision and goals.


Neighbors: The Coffee Folk

Doña Santos is a very respected member of our community married to a great man named Arnulfo. Together they live on a 10-acre coffee farm (finca in Spanish) on the edge of Las Lomitas.

For years and years, they have been a part of the community, but at the same time, lived in their own little world there in their finca. At the bottom of a long slick hill, they live in a little wooden home amidst their beloved dozens of turkeys, chickens, ducks and hogs. For a little while years ago, they tried to live in a more urban setting, but their neighbors didn't share their affection for poultry, so they moved back out into the country. Anytime we visit, they treat us like family and sit us down in their kitchen for one of her famous cups of coffee and and animated conversation.

Their humble homestead sits in the middle of their beautiful finca. Coffee grows best in shade, so all of their property is covered in a variety of trees. Some of these trees bear local fruits, others are old rainforest trees, others still are grown exclusively for their shade. Under these trees grows their coffee in the outstanding soil of our mountain. Along with the rest of Las Lomitas, they live at an elevation of 2200 feet, well within the ideal altitudinal range for coffee growing. We also receive an intense amount of rain, allowing the coffee to grow rapidly. These factors combined provide for a high quality coffee harvest every year from October through December.

In November, we went down to pick up some coffee from Doña Santos to bring back as gifts for our family. They sell the majority of their coffee to large coffee companies, however, they process some of it for personal use. In order for them to make this coffee, they start by harvesting the ripe, red beans from plants that are at least three years old and process the beans in a machine that separates the pulpy exterior from the interior bean from which coffee is made. These fresh beans are then washed in large vats of water. Upon removal, the beans are laid out for a day or two to dry in the sun on large concrete pads or tarps. It is at this point that the beans are weighed and sold to a purchaser, but for personal use, the process continues. This woman makes a very special cup of coffee.

The dried beans are then roasted by the Doña on a large sheet of metal over a wood fire. She slowly moves the beans back and forth as they heat. As the beans reach a dark, roasted color, she adds local cane sugar to carmelize the bean. After the beans have dried and hardened, they are passed through a hand grinder, leaving in a fine consistency. After the coffee is passed through, she adds another special touch. She takes dried seeds from her allspice trees and grinds a small amount into the coffee. This spice adds a flavor to the coffee that makes the brew totally different from anything most people have ever tried.

Every cup of coffee from this family comes through dedication and hard work. Traits that have characterized their lives and allowed them to be content and successful in their context. Even in their 60s, these people work hard every day, but are truly happy, and it shows in their faces. They have raised their family to be hard workers, and their son, Luis, has been an incredible friend to us in Honduras and showed us the true meaning of service and work ethic.

Damos gracias a Dios por: la amistad de este familia especial. We give thanks to God for this special family. 


The Measurement

With a weight in my pocket, I walked through the night rain. Knee high rubber boots couldn’t stop this kind of water. It was the kind of rain that soaked you straight through a raincoat. I reached the edge of the field and forded the new river that was pouring from it. Trying not to slip, I walked through the sludge in the dark, wishing our town had electricity, or at least street lights. Sometimes a flashlight just isn’t that comforting. On the main road, the mud was at least a little firmer, but no less slick. However, within minutes I arrived at my destination, a small dark house with candlelight flickering from the cracks in the plank door.
“Buenas noches.” Good night, I said as I stepped into the room.
“Buenas noches,” replied the weary voices of many red-eyed women.
The room felt heavy, and looked like a battle had just happened. A mangy dog with prominent ribs trotted through then sprinted out as someone raised a shoe. Seconds later, we heard it yelp and snarl in the struggle of a fight outside. There would be no peace tonight.
I saw what I was looking for, a small plastic table with four dim candles slowly dying. Dipping my head, I approached the table to get a better look at the tiny bundle at its center.  I reached into my pocket and removed the measuring tape that my brother-in-law had sent me. From tip to tip, it was twenty-two  inches long.
“Twenty-two inches, twenty-two inches,” I repeated over and over again in my mind. “I cannot get this wrong.” I measured again to confirm. Yes, it was twenty-two inches. I turned away from the bundle. With one more round of “good nights,” I was relieved to be back in the rain again.
As I slipped my way back towards my neighbors, I rolled over the number in my head, twenty-two.  I was born on May 22, I wore the number 22 on my soccer jersey all the way through high school. It had always been my lucky number. Now, walking on this soccer field in a foreign land, twenty-two didn’t seem so lucky.
I swung my flashlight towards the pile of wood where my friends had been, they signaled back with a cell phone. It took an eternity to reach them; nothing tonight would move fast enough. No matter what we did, time was stuck in the same mud, in the same storm that we were, and nothing could free it.
“Entonces?” said the tall man in the cowboy hat. Well then.
“Veinte y dos.” I replied. Twenty-two.
“Seguimos entonces,” said the other man. Let’s get on with it. He was younger , very fit and strong, but tonight his muscles were insufficient to support him. The tiredness in his voice said that it was much later than the hour that his cell phone’s clock told him. For him, it would be a long night. Twenty-two inches was the length of his newborn daughter’s coffin.
Hours before, Stacey held the baby as it gasped for breath. A twin, Gabriela was born with anencephaly. She lived for nearly 24 hours, but without any brain above her eyes, there was no chance of life. One very long day after she came into the world she slid back out, resting in the arms of her weeping grandmother. She laid down the baby girl and picked up her beautiful, healthy twin brother, grateful to God for his tiny life.
It is for this reason that we came to Las Lomitas, to share in the suffering and triumph of life with a people broken all too often, with hope rarely in the forecast. Each day we live trying to reflect the Hope that we have within us.


We're back...

For those of you who didn't know, we're back in the States and will be until January 4th.  We'll have been and will be visiting with both sides of our family (Gallipolis, OH & York, PA) as well as our home church (Apex) & friends in the Dayton, OH area where we used to live.  Pray for us as we "attempt" to rest and relax.  Maybe we'll see you around!