12/12/14

Electricity at last...

Three years and three months later we are excited to share with you the great news that the village we live in, Las Lomitas, now has electricity.  We are officially connected to the national electrical grid.
There are only a few houses out of the 61 in our village that have yet to be connected.  No one is wasting time.  Many of you have followed this story over the past few years.  It has had it´s ups and downs, but it is all worth it now.  We think 3 years is a long time to wait, but many people have lived in Las Lomitas their whole lives without electricity.  The project has been in process for 8 years now.  Needless to say, everyone is excited and we all feel like it is a completely different village.  Please keep the pros and cons that electricity brings in your prayers.  Pray for us to be good examples and walk along side of our friends as they experience this new life.

Here are a few photos for you to see the changes that have taken place in our home...

Our favorite item - hot water in the shower!
Lights in every room and outside on the porch and carport!
Light switches!
Our second favorite item, a FRIG! (we have had the gas stove for a while now)
Breaker box in the shed.
We can charge our phones and other items!



12/5/14

Photo of the Week: Drying items in the rain


Babies poop.... a lot. In Honduras, it rains.... a lot. Disposable diapers aren't a very good option for us for a variety of reasons, among them - the disposal of said items with no trash system. Being in the rainy season, we knew that it might be difficult to dry our awesome new-fangled cloth diapers and as it turns out, it is. We've had a couple of cold fronts come through that dump about a foot or two of rain over a week without stopping. Imagine soaking a thick towel, and then hanging it in a cold shower just beside of the stream of water and you get the idea of what trying to air dry a diaper in the rainy clouds is like. As it turns out, the oven is the best option for when everything is dripping. We can get 6-8 dried in an hour with the above arrangement. Not too bad considering.

Gives the cookies a neat flavor too.

Next up... washing out your darling princess' poop by hand.

11/24/14

Thank You.


 
Dear Stacey.

It has come to our attention that you have been largely unthanked for your incredible contribution to the ministry Corazón Para Honduras, the people of Honduras, and the Kingdom of God. We would like to thank you for your tireless dedication to excellence, outstanding love for people, willingness to engage in difficult questions, and strength of character, resolve, and desire for transparency.

Your contribution to the department has enabled this year to be a tremendous success. You surely are an uncelebrated hero and have allowed us to accomplish tremendous strides over the past three years. Regardless of physical condition or geographic location, your commitment has been unwavering. Your attention to detail continues to help us in our daily work. Even though you may not currently be able to work in the office, please know that your impact continues in our daily work even today. Your fingerprints are on every file and project; your persistent voice that encourages integrity and a holistic view of people is forever whispering, encouraging us to do better and love harder. Your impact continues to grow even though you may not be here with us physically.

We know that the work that you now have is of equal or greater importance and of even higher demands than your previous assignment. Please know that we are here to support you in your daily work and know that you care deeply about the success of this department.
We love you, miss you here at the office, and are so thankful for you.

Department of Community Development
Heart to Honduras




11/21/14

Alida Adjusting



Many have asked and continue to ask how Alida is adjusting.  She is doing great. She has not stopped being happy and healthy.  She has already experienced the hot and sticky as well as the cold and wet.  She has slept in just a onesie to stay cool and in a fleece sleeper with a sleep sack on top, gloves, and a hat to stay warm.

The biggest transition we have had to deal with is the time change.  It is only a 2 hour time difference so relatively speaking not a big deal.  Alida was on a great routine going to sleep at 9pm and waking around 6-6:30am.  So…she of course did a great job to sticking to that by going to sleep a 7pm here and waking at 4:00am.  She also started waking around 2:30am for the first few nights.  We have slowly adjusted her timing and are doing much better.  She is going down around 8-8:30 and waking up at 6-6:30.  We knew we needed to establish a routine & consistency with Alida from the time she was born because nearly nothing else in her life is consistent.  She and we have thrived on consistency.  We are thankful for wise advice that we were able to tap into as far as raising her.  It has not been easy.  Many days in the past 5 mo. we were ready to break down and pull our hair out, but it sure pays off.  She has settled back into her morning and afternoon naps, an evening castnap, and 9-10 hours of sleep at night.  This has extremely helped us keep our sanity!  

The other transition was feeding.  Stacey has been exclusively breastfeeding her.  When we moved here the sudden change in diet, stress, and activity did affect her milk production which sent us into a spiral for a few days until we were able to get more fruits, veggies, and meat into her diet.  Even with Alida eating more than 8 times a day she was not getting enough, Stacey’s milk production plummeted.  With no veggies, fruits, dairy, or meats it is hard to produce the milk needed for a 5 mo. old.  She is now back up to speed.   Pray that it will stay that way and we are able to get a hold of the food she needs to keep up production. 

We think it was a great experience because we, again, by living with the people and like the people very quickly understood why most of the women are not able to exclusively breast feed.  People continually told us how “gordita” (chubby) they thought Alida was, they would ask us what we feed her.  When we responded just breastfeeding they were shocked.  It is very hard for women to exclusively breastfeed on the local diet and no refrigeration.  Not many people are starving here, they get food.  But, it is just not the right kinds of foods.  Rice, beans, and corn tortillas are not enough to keep up with a hungry baby.  This has opened the door to talk with the other women in the village who are breastfeeding about the importance of a healthy diet for mom.



Many asked ¨How are you going to have your baby there with no electricity?”  We figured plenty of people all over the world do it every day, including all of our neighbors, so we would adjust.  The reality is that it hasn’t been very different.  Really, we don’t need electricity for anything related to her.  We have flashlights to care for her after dark and a battery powered breast pump. The only thing we miss is being able to store breast milk in a frig/freezer.   So we just have to be sure to use the fresh breast milk within 6 hours.

11/14/14

Familia


What is your family?
Some say it is only this:

Or some include these:


Or even all the blood relatives.

But, we hope and pray Alida grows up knowing that God intended “family” to be SO much more.  
We have been blessed to experience a bit of “His Kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven” both in Dayton, OH and here in Honduras.  Living as God commanded us to as brothers and sisters and in community is sometimes a very hard thing.  You don’t know where to start or how to get “plugged in.” You almost always have to initiate it.  It is messy, it takes time, it takes A LOT of love and patience. No one is perfect and no one is exactly like you and certainly wouldn’t do everything the way you would.  True love is a decision to put the needs of another above your own.

Our Dayton, OH family has known us for over five years and already poured out a ton of love on our little girl starting even before she was born. Lots of prayer and support, listening to us in our hard times and transitions, sharing baby clothing/items, spending time with us, meals, free babysitting, and much more.  We didn’t go to the grocery store for the first time after Alida was born until she was 4 weeks old because of all the food our Dayton family provided for us.  That was TRULY helpful!  It was selfless giving, no strings attached or expectations.

Our Honduran family is another one that Alida is getting to know.  Late last Monday night “grandpa” Fredy drove up with a friend in the dark in the rain to deliver a handmade crib made from left over wood from church projects for Alida to have a place to sleep. They insisted on getting it to her as soon as it was done. 
  


Uncle Erick constantly sings worship songs to make Alida smile and tell her about “Dios”.
“Grandma” Argelia visits with us at her place or ours and sends over a meal from time to time. 
Shy Uncle Nahun even comes in, washes his hands and holds her, calls out her name when he is working outside, and she follows his movements as he helps daddy in the yard.

And really the rest of everyone has shown incredible respect for Alida and us by asking before doing something, washing their hands with soap before ever touching her, and quietly leaving when it is time for her to eat or sleep.  We have been surprised and blessed by the selflessness of the people.  They all call out her name when they see her and shower her with smiles and laughs.
She has an endless number of siblings...




We don’t have any blood relatives in Dayton where we lived and we certainly don’t have any here in Honduras, but God is good and HE provides.  People ask us sometimes how we do it without family, and honestly we don’t see it that way.  We do have family wherever we are.  It is the body of Chris,t our brothers and sisters in HIM.  We had to work hard to establish these relationships, they don’t just happen.  You have to plug in, you have to offer first, initiate, be pro-active, look for it, be a willing participant, pray A LOT, think of others above yourself, and above all develop a selfless love yourself first. We are not perfect, we fail our brothers and sisters too, but we are able to forgive each other and love again.  Why?  Because Christ’s love, forgiveness, and sacrifice compels us. 

11/10/14

Photo of the Week: Las Lomitas Sunrise


View of yesterday's sunrise from our garage on the side of our home. Taken facing North.

11/7/14

Wounded hands.

Warning: This post contains some graphic images.
 
I was wading across the soaked soccer field a couple of weeks ago on a sunny Sunday morning, feeling like a very manly man with my pink baby daughter wrapped to my chest when a kid came running up.

Kid (Looking like he needs to tell me something): "Hi Kaleb. Good morning."
Kaleb (Suspicious of what Kid wants to tell me): "Good morning. What's up?"

Kid (Spitting it out.): "My brother wants to know if you sew people up?"
Kaleb (Inwardly squirming.): "I'm assuming you mean give people stitches. If you mean that, then all I can say is that I never have, but could be willing in the right circumstances. When did he cut himself?"
Kid: "Just this morning."


10/31/14

We need to hear from you!

Those of you who are on our snail mail list received this card in the mail a few weeks ago.  
We are officially switching to ¨e-newsletters¨ and need to hear back from those of you who would like to receive them. 

Read below and....please respond.

10/28/14

The Little Winged One flies south.


The Chelita arrived in Honduras on Sunday, October 19. I could write to you about our return, but this would be pretty tame news compared to the arrival of a third Gringo Eldridge in Las Lomitas. Alida did remarkably well on the flight. Between being wrapped up with Momma and jumping up and down in Dad’s lap, she didn’t hardly notice that we flew thousands of miles and over several sovereign states. Delta was very accommodating and even asked some folks to move from their assigned seat so that we could have an extra seat to lay her out in. Thanks Delta.

10/15/14

Ya Pronto.

Ya pronto - "Very soon now."

Ya pronto we will be in line at the Dayton airport traveling with some additional equipment: a car seat, load of cloth diapers, pack and play, and grinning, toothless, white baby. We anticipate Sunday's trip to be interesting, but not miserable. Alida has taken very well now to travel and by-in-large is incredibly well-behaved. Stacey has worked tirelessly (and somewhat tired-ly) to help her become adaptable so that now, travel is largely effortless. I have no doubts that she has easily traveled 3,000 miles in a car in her short, pink, little life, which has certainly taken significantly longer than her upcoming flight of approximate distance. We now see her wonder of the surrounding world sparkling in her eyes. I expect that they will be sparkling quite a bit over the next couple of weeks. Things are about to change. Ears are going to adjust to new sounds and languages, skin to new humidity, immune system to new training buddies, nose to quite a variety of new odors, and heart to new family and friends. I am excited and nervous for her, but rest knowing that she is in the care of her great Father.

We know that she is dearly loved here by friends, and suspect that some of the people that say that they love us are also telling the truth. In this way, it is hard to say goodbye (again) for a time. However, we know that there are many people in Honduras that also love this little girl, even though they have never met her. We also know that if we don't try to return home and see if God has more for us there, then we will doubt for the rest of our lives if we gave up. We have seen Him do amazing things in and through us throughout these past three years and trust that He will continue the work that He has begun.

Our return does not automatically mean that we will remain in Honduras permanently. We go with open minds and hearts for what may greet us at our Honduran home. Our prayer is that Alida adjusts well, Stacey's tailbone heals, and that we (the three of us) are conduits of love and hope in Honduras. We also thank God for giving us the chance to know Grace and Love ourselves. We would be honored to know that you are joining us in those prayers.

See you on the other side.

9/19/14

Seven years.



For those of you that have followed our story over the past three years, you know that much of our time and energy is spent advocating for the people of Las Lomitas, or more accurately, supporting the people of Las Lomitas as they advocate for themselves. Along this journey, many of you have come alongside us and fought for our neighbors, giving of your time, money, and emotions, some of you have even traveled the 8,000 mile round-trip to meet these people and pass on the Hope that is within you. Lomitans fondly remember Bobbie, Debbie, Filipe, Anita, David y Laura, "Chessy (Jesse)," Karen y Marty, and Janet.

Following our update on the meeting of national leaders with community leaders last year, we have kept pretty quiet about the community's electricity project, but by no means does that mean that movement has ended. We have made multiple trips to the national headquarters of the ENEE with and without members of Congress (no sarcasm) to confirm and discuss the future of electricity in Las Lomitas, and every time, we have felt that we need to continue to wait. As of  my visit this June, the community's and my patience had reached the limit. No more lies. It was time to purchase posts.

Thanks to the generous gifts from North American partners that came out of Las Lomitas' appeal last year, the people of Las Lomitas were equipped with a sizeable fund and informed the ENEE and political powers-that-be (and powers-that-have been voted out) that we were going to move forward as a community with donated funds without government involvement.

Then, after seven years of deception and illusion, real magic happened.

In early August, I picked up my cell phone to an excited voice rapid-firing Spanish. Nahún (Honduran neighbor) quickly told me that a truck was stuck in the mud at the bottom of the hill. A truck loaded with electrical posts for Las Lomitas. That sounded a little too good to be true, especially since I knew that the community hadn't made a post purchase yet. I had developed a Honduran-like distrust of elected officials and figured that they weren't doing anything, but a week later Pastor Erick called to let me know that the men in the community had already manually installed all ~50 posts in the 6-foot deep hand-dug holes that they had dug. After seven years of empty promises, all of a sudden the ENEE began to move forward and start in Las Lomitas. All of a sudden, they realized that Las Lomitas wasn't kidding anymore. All of a sudden they realized that Las Lomitas was a town full of people that were not just sitting down.

I met a town full of new people when I visited this month. I met 60 men that had each volunteered 10 days of hard labor. I met a town full of people that believe that Las Lomitas can move forward. People that are starting to dream about all that could be. People that are packing the little church beyond capacity and are full of Hope. People that say, "The politicians may have ignored us, but God has not." 

As the photo above shows, the project is now very well-along and may be done by now. I'll be in Las Lomitas again next week and will get a better idea of how advanced the project is and what next steps will be.

I want to extend a special thank you to all that have donated towards the Las Lomitas Electricity project. Your financial support empowered the community to move forward and finally put sufficient pressure on the government so that they would begin the promised project. I fully believe that this project could not have happened without you. As of now, all of the specialized labor and material purchases in this project have been provided by the Honduran National Government thanks to grants from the Nation of Finland for rural electrical extension. We will be in touch with each of you in regards as to how you would like to us to move forward with your donated funds.

9/15/14

September 15

September 15 is a special day in the Eldridge family for three reasons.

¡Feliz día de la Independencia! 
1. Honduran Independence day.
Honduras celebrates Central American independence from Spanish colonial rule along with Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica on September 15. This morning, Google welcomed me to my computer's Honduran homepage (www.google.hn) with the patriotic little drawing of the Honduran national critter.


2. International Moving Day.
Three years ago, Stacey and I boarded a plane in Dayton, Ohio - destination: San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Disembarking from that plane, we walked into our new climate in a foreign nation. After working hard to identify a community to settle in, we now call that nation home. We built our home there. We have lived alongside people - celebrating birthdays and attending funerals. We have adopted family there. September 15 was a game changer.



3. Baby on Board Day.
Exactly one year ago today, in a hot, little concrete bathroom in our Honduran home, we found out that Alida Fe was going to be joining the Gringo clan. A couple of weeks of strange illness and heat aversion had tipped us off, but a tiny white stick gave us the international symbol of a life-changing event...+.




8/28/14

Potrait of a Gang Member

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 6.25.56 AM
Image from The Children's Home Project blog.

Jenny Kast is a good friend that shares our heart for the people of Honduras. Her journey has taken her and her husband from the US, to living in Honduras, back to the US (with a Honduran dog) where she is now running a non-profit, The Children's Home Project. Jenny has worked with a lot of street kids in San Pedro Sula over the years, and is constantly in and out of many of the area's children's homes. She has a unique perspective and is an unceasing advocate for these kids. This week she wrote up a blog post that I would like to pass along. Read Portrait of a Gang Member here, and be sure to check out the rest of the site to learn more.

8/22/14

Get Involved: Pilas

Pilas are one of those things that can turn a North American into a Gringo into an Amigo. To the unacquainted, time at a pila is very humbling. I suspect that Hondurans secretly love nothing more than watching Gringos prove that they earn their little nickname by fumbling around a scrub board. However, if you know how to work one of these things, instead of silent snickers you get approving head nods and the right to be called by your actual name.

8/15/14

A Post about A Review about A Film About Coffee



I have long been a coffee admirer - a consistent sipper of black brews and dutiful partaker of our global culture's Official Beverage. But as it seems, fate has placed me on a track to become more than just a fan in the coffee game. My home is in the middle of a coffee field. My neighbor owns a coffee farm. My office desk is 12 inches away from a shelf stocked with a hundred pounds of roasted, artisan coffee. One of our best friends was literally born in a coffee field. I have an infant that gets a vote in my sleep schedule.

And now, I've seen A Film About Coffee.

8/13/14

Licuados


Let's be honest. Even on a cold day in Honduras, you might sweat a little. It's just hot. Fortunately, there are licuados (lee-quah-does). Not quite a smoothie, not quite a milkshake, but every bit as refreshing. Made from milk, ice, sugar, and fruit, these rascals go down smooth on a hot day. Popular fruit flavors are papaya, banana (try it with chocolate too), mango, strawberry, pineapple, and cantalope, but really any fruit will do. Some baristas vary the base liquid as well. Instead of milk, you can use water (great with watermelon) or fresh orange juice (great with strawberry).  Give it a shot next time you feel the temperature rising. We made some here in the office last week with favorite licuado combination- cantalope and milk.

Here's how to make your own.

8/7/14

Recommended Reading on Immigration Crisis

Heart to Honduras President, Gordon Garret, shared an article with us this morning from Christianity Today entitled How Churches Can Respond to the Unaccompanied Children Crisis. This piece specifically addresses how Christians, leaders, and entire churches can realistically respond to this issue. If you recognize the need to get personally involved, I strongly encourage you to take 10 minutes to read this outstanding, practical article.

Once you've read it, please share it with like-minded (or even opposite-minded) friends or leaders within your church to see if you can get a conversation started that leads to unified action.