Emergencia! Urgente!

Fredy has a couple of favorite words. Unfortunately, they are words that tend to raise my blood pressure. It's not just the words themselves, although they do have significant cortizone-inducing properties. No, it is more with how he says them. Never are the words stand-alone. They always immediately accompany my name, and a situation that I am perceived to be capable of remedying.

Emergencia: Emergency
"Emergencia! Kaleb, el carro esta en fuego!
Emergency Kaleb, the car is on fire!

Urgente: Urgent
"Kaleb, tenemos que entregar este reporte mañana. Es urgente!"
Kaleb it is urgent that we turn in this report tomorrow!

If Fredy actually used these words in these contexts, it would be very understandable. However, Fredy's emergencies tend to be a little more subtle.

"Kaleb, it is an emergency! You need to get out of bed and drive down here, right now! We cannot wait, please, please come now!"

As you can imagine, this level of franticness tends to grab your full attention, and learning to live alongside a man with what must be the equivalent of a fire-alarm in his head is difficult. With the first dozen-or-so emergencies, I leapt into action like the good friend that I am and raced down the road to save Fredy... from slow internet.... in Honduras or his dog's exceptionally-bad gas. You would think I would learn after a few such emergencies, but the man's concern is so real that you can literally hear the sweat popping out his pores over the phone. You feel like your heart is going to stop when he says these words. You do soon learn that if you're going to say no, you had better have the mental fortitude of Abraham Lincoln or else you will be signing your own Declaration of Surrender. You will be battered, and probably broken.

However, as time has progressed, I have become perhaps more heartless and learned to deny many of these emergencies. I know the drill now. I am prepared.

1. Phone rings.
2. I answer.
3. Fredy breathes in deeply.
4. Fredy says 'Emergencia/Urgente.'
5. Kaleb begins walking the path of inner-peace.
6. Fredy explains the world's current Armageddon scenario.
7. Kaleb says no.
8. Long silence on the phone.
9. Fredy begins to fire cannons upon my will's fortress.

However, every once and a while, Fredy's favorite words do apply. One day I received this ear-blistering call at 3:15PM.

"Kaleb, it is an emergency! You need to come here RIGHT NOW! I have an appointment for a US Visa TOMORROW in Tegucigalpa at 7AM for my trip to a conference in California next week and I just saw that my passport expired yesterday! My car is broken-down and the ministry's vehicles are all in use! The Immigration office in San Pedro Sula closes at 5PM!"

Off to the launch pad. It's go time.


In this instance, the drill looks a little more like this.

1. Flip-flops on.
2. Kiss Stacey on cheek.
3. Get into truck.
4. Push big red mental "Go Baby Go" button (the one you're never supposed to push).
5. Fly 2 feet above the road all the way down the mountain.
6. Slow down for Fredy to jump in car.
7. Point car towards San Pedro.
8. Position one hand over horn.
9. Find out how fast an old diesel Pathfinder goes.

As it turns out, pretty fast is the answer to Step 9. Horn blaring, Fredy sweating, and white man most certainly sweating. We wove through and around sugar cane trucks, cattle, homemade motorcycles, some potholes that were recently awarded National Historic Monument status, and several thousand Honduran traffic cones, also known as vultures. We drove the 1hr 30min drive from our house to San Pedro in record time; the only trick was to get to the other side, to immigration where Fredy...

"Oh sure, sure, I can get my passport in 30 minutes. Don't worry about that. Sure, sure, sure. If you can get me to the door in time. I can get my passport."

My surroundings proved that Fredy could convince anyone of just about anything. When it came to San Pedro though, it was a situation of can't go around it, can't go over it, gotta go through it. And through it we went, with the same gas, horn, swerve (order is important here) strategy that had gotten us this far. We plowed our way through San Pedro, its theoretical traffic laws, and a couple of medians and miraculously arrived at Immigration at 4:58PM. In went Fredy. Skeptical, I found a nearby KFC to wait for the "30" minutes.

An hour and a half later, Fredy emerged victorious. I don't know why I ever doubted him. Arm that man with two little words, wind him up and watch him go. He could (and will) change the world.


We feed on ashes.

One day long ago, a woodsman bought his prized possession, a piece of solid metal in a world full of wood and stone. The rest of the morning he walked through the woods, head tilted back, practiced eyes searching for a handle in a sea of oak, cedar and pine. Returning home with the appointed limb, he carefully slid his knife under the bark along its entire length, checking for imperfections, learning its shape. Satisfied with the result, he carefully tamped and shimmed the axe-head into place on the new handle. Now complete, he leaned it against the wall and slid into bed, pleased with the day's work.

Day after day he rose, bathed, ate, and stretched out his hand to the companion of his labors, hefting the axe fluidly with battered fingers. Out in the soft morning light, he checked the head's fit for any hint of fatal looseness that could signal the beginning of the end to his faithful friend. With practiced hand, he ground metal on stone until convinced that each stroke would complete its task. Focused and sharp, woodsman and axe disappeared into the crowd of quaking victims.

Winter's necessity has chilled the bones of many a man, but the woodsman was prepared. Finding a mature oak with towering trunk reaching skyward, he began his work. His body soon fell into the familiar rhythm of the staccato dance between man and tree. Feet planted firmly, hips leading, twisting before outstretched arms following through to drive the axe-head powerfully into silent partner. Its melody filled the woods. With the first notch reaching well into the oak's heartwood, he sharpened his instrument and began with renewed vigor on the opposite side. As he neared the tree's center, his ears began to detect the subtle signs of the music's impending finale. The splintering crescendoed into powerful cracking that resonated deeply in the earth beneath his feet. Respectfully, he backed away from the failing giant as it drifted slowly earthbound. Violently she met the ground, returning briefly heavenward before settling in silent exhaustion.

Piece by piece, he parted out his treasure. Deliberate strokes returned hard-earned rewards. Over the following week, the mighty tree gradually withered away as the woodpile at his home fattened. The woodsman returned the axe to its resting place, its repose well-earned. Once the oak wood had cured, he began to cook over the fire it produced. As winter approached, he burned it with increasing frequency, relishing the warmth so hard won. The tree had been enormous, and he had harvested such an amount as to be without want for the rest of the season. Just half of the wood would be enough to sustain him for many years. Maybe he would give some of the wood away to the families nearby that would soon begin to feel winter's fingers reaching under their ill-fitted doors. He had seen their woodpiles and knew they would be found wanting.

However, in the reassuring warmth and comfort of the fire, his mind began to dwell more on the wood and less on his neighbors. Finding a particularly striking piece, he turned it over and over again in his hands. In the quiet light, he focused on the grain, admiring its tightness and uniformity. What was once a dull wash of brown came alive in his hands with the very tones of the fire - subtle variations of reds, browns, ochers, and greys. The more the fire's warmth massaged him, the more comfortable he became, and the more he was entranced by the wood's beauty and worth. Each passing day produced new wonder, and he soon realized that he loved it. Even sooner he forgot why he had harvested it in the first place.

At first, he answered the door when they came knocking, but soon he began to resent the interruption and stopped responding to them. "They should have planned better," he thought. "How could I be expected to help someone that was so painfully irresponsible?"

With time, the knocking stopped entirely.  

His own looming woodpile would not be sufficient, that much was clear to him. The coming year he would need to work much harder in order to maintain the pile, and hopefully grow it to the size he wanted. No, what he needed. The very thought making a withdrawal from the pile hurt him. He needed to find a way to augment the pile, in order to stay warm of course, but he would certainly need a great deal more in order to be at peace. He would cut enough. Enough to never need again.

But clearly, there would never be enough.

This little tale is based on the story of the woodcutter in Isaiah 44. Everything we have, we are expected to administer wisely; that includes our excess. Until we understand what enough truly means, we will never be able to appropriately manage our excess. I submit that in a culture that claims to never have enough money or time, we should begin our self-examination in our wallets and on our watches.


Las Lomitas Carries On

In Las Lomitas (village where we live in Honduras) and in the other communities where we work, the goal of our life and HTH's Community Development department is empowerment of locals to lead their own development and care for their own poor through the power of Christ while we seek to decrease dependency and increase local involvement. We don't always have "big" stories every month of hundreds "accepting Christ" or "dozens of houses being built." We share little victories in the lives of individuals and small groups that represent true (not emotional highs), long-lasting, holistic change and development.  We try to model, teach, come along side, and hand off Biblical principles to local leaders.

While we are back in the States we communicate several times a week with our good friend and co-worker Pastor Fredy because we continue to work hand in hand while in the stateside office each day. We also communicate weekly with friends in Las Lomitas.  Pastor Erick, Nahun, Argelia (Mrs. A), and several others. We strive to share life from a distance (just like any of you who live far from family/friends) and continue to remain updated on their lives.  They call us, we call them, and we write letters back and forth. Pastor Fredy is our mail courier. We wanted to just share a few huge successes that we've seen and heard.  This comes out of years of sharing life with these people, encouraging them in their faith and dependence on the Lord and not on the North American.

A first huge success is that Pastor Erick has submitted his first few solicitations to HTH's Community Development department. You can see them online on the sponsor project page! We are very excited because these little "solicitations" represent months and years of personal development for Erick and the community leaders of Las Lomitas. They are now the leaders of their own development, looking for needs and addressing them. They are involved, collaborating, initiating, and leading. They have met with local government and fought against oppression. This is a direct result of their North American supporters allowing them the time and space to step into this role. A big thanks to Las Lomitas' stateside sister church Cherry Hills in Denver, Colorado. These solicitations are now ready for North American partners to come along side of them to support. Look for the ones from Las Lomitas. http://hth.org/2011/get_involved/projects/

Some other successes came in the form of a letter from a girl in the youth group that Stacey has led and is now being led by the girls themselves and supervised by two older women in the Church. Kenia wrote to Stacey last week sharing several things. Kenia is one of the Sunday School teachers that Stacey has trained over the past few years. She now leads and has the help of two other youth every Sunday morning at 10am. Please join us in praying for them to carry on. We'll just write here what she wrote (translated of course):
"With the kids in Sunday School and other teachers we raffled a ball in order to have more funds. It went really well and we raised $30.  From this fund for Sunday School we have been able to buy snacks for the kids and make copies for coloring sheets"
Kenia (in red) and Stacey.
These few sentences are major successes! Not sure if you all can understand and rejoice with us over what might seem like such a simple thing!  It represents a different mentality, growth, and development. It took creativity and follow through. We did not give them this idea. There is not as much mental poverty in these youth and the church as there was before when they would say "we have nothing and can do nothing." Or even, "why would we take action or given anything ourselves if it will be given to us for free by the North Americans?" They are seeing needs and meeting them on their own. They are taking care of their community children materially and spiritually every Sunday morning. This did not exist before. One of Kenia's most common phrases used to be "No puedo" ("I can't).  Which Stacey slowly worked on with her repeating Phil 4:13 and other verses. Stacey would often respond, "Nope, you can't...but with Christ you can!"  It has become a joke between us and she is now "not allowed" to say that phrase and is working each day on a dependency on Christ. We knew was that Kenia was very sick for a while with a sick rash/condition that was very painful.  In Kenia's letter she wrote: 
"In the girls group I'm doing well. Recently I was sick and they came and visited me and prayed for me and now I am better."
It reminded me of Matthew 25:36 "I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ It is her own church, youth group, and community visiting her and praying for her. This is a group of girls who 3 years ago would never prayed for anyone, they were too shy and didn't know how. Throughout their growth in their Wednesday Bible study they have learned what prayer is, why it is important, and how to love one another by praying for each other.

These are the successes that we get excited about in the ministry that God has called us to. Praise God with us for the growth!


Full Circle

Our Honduran journey began in San Isidro. It was there that I first stumbled through Spanish, encountered the appetite of tropical mosquitoes, flailed at grass with a machete, got to know Honduran staff, came to truly appreciate hot showers, and watched my beautiful wife cook with a gas stove on a box on a bucket. There we acclimated to a new culture, climate, and way of life. With San Isidro as our base, we explored the surrounding area, praying for guidance in how to choose a village that we would call home. Our lives were changed in San Isidro. Most of HTH's Honduran staff live in San Isidro, and their children are being raised there. For this reason, and so many more this community is close to our hearts.

San Isidro has a great group of parents that are truly concerned for their kids. Some of those parents are on HTH staff and approached the Community Development department to ask if the Society of Parents of Families (Honduran PTO equivalent) from San Isidro could solicit help to replace their school's structure. Yes, was the answer.

The roof of the San Isidro school is now nearly 40 years old. Made of asbestos, it has begun to deteriorate from age and climate. Pinholes, cracks, and even large holes now pepper the entire structure. Pigeons pass in easily and defecate on the partial drop cieling. When it rains, water drips into the classrooms, ruining school supplies, soaking children, and encouraging mold growth that affects the children's health. Needless to say, the very fact that the thing is made of highly-carcinogenic asbestos is reason enough to change it, especially in buildings that daily house nearly 200 children. The nightmares of lungs the world over are populated with roofs like this.

Bad birdy.

The good news is that the community is very committed to improving their children's learning conditions. They have decided as a group to not stand passively by and wait for the roof to cave-in. Instead they kicked off this project and are contributing roofing material and all of the non-qualified manual labor. The National Education Board is chipping in some of the c-channels for the roof supports, and the municipality is providing a qualified welder and electrician to supervise the construction. This collaborative effort rings up to nearly $4500. Many of the folks leading the charge in this effort are church members, and we are thrilled to see them connect their faith to action in this way. This type of collaborative effort is what really makes a difference in a community. It provides hope and fosters a love of education.

When we went to perform our "pre-visit" for the project. I was struck by the enthusiasm of the community members and their passion to see this happen, even at significant personal expense. A couple of former students were even there, ready and willing to volunteer, actually eager to help the next generation of school kids. Not every village responds so positively to education. They have a great group of teachers, and what seems to be a great program. A larger than average proportion of kids from this school continue on to a high school education.

This is the first time that we have ever called out to our readers to get involved in a project that is not in Las Lomitas, but we really wanted to honor this community's efforts and passion for their children. This project has been waiting for sponsorship since October of 2013, and the community has been very patient. If you are interested in sponsoring this project (even partially with a smaller donation), please check out the project page HERE. Thank you so much for considering partnering with San Isidro. Your donation will make a difference. 


Missing our Chickens

People sometimes ask what we miss from the States when we're in Honduras or more lately what do we miss about Honduras since we've been back in the States.  Something we realize more and more each day is how much we miss our chickens.  Not as pets, because honestly they are pretty stupid and sometimes frustrating to deal with especially if they get out of their pen and into our garden.  We do not miss trying to capture them and redirect them back to their proper home.  Or how difficult it is to get a broody mother hen off a few eggs she is sitting on to collect them. On the plus side it was always a great day when I wanted to make/bake something, realized I couldn't because I was out of eggs only to go outside, say a quick prayer, and find exactly what I needed in the nesting boxes!  What we do miss about them are the eggs they produce every day to restock our pantry, the meat they provide when we decide to cook one, and most of all the way they consume products from the yard and kitchen scraps.  I guess what I am missing is not wasting so much!

Here I feel like I am wasting (having to throw away) so many things that I know could go to good use.  Between our chickens, rabbit, dog, composting, and recycling in Honduras we have very little waste.  Here where we are currently living we have none of those options so everything goes into the trash can.  At home in Honduras any vegetable or fruit peelings we gave to the chickens, rabbits, or compost.  Any hardened or moldy bread, day old popcorn, or anything like that could go to the dog or chickens and they loved it!  Of course left overs to the dog as well.  Egg shells, paper, non dairy/meat kitchen scraps or spoiled fruits and veggies went into our compost pile.  All of our plastics/aluminums/metals/etc. we saved until the man with a pick up truck and scale came through our town on Sundays and we sold him our recyclables.  All of the yard cuttings went to feed the chickens, rabbits, or piled in the compost as well.  Even left over liquid from cooking veggies/meat didn't go down the sink, we would drizzle it over our dog's dog food and she was in heaven!

So we are talking about how to not waste here.  Things like having a worm bin under the kitchen sick like we used to when we lived here before.  Also, collecting recyclables and dropping them off at a collection place.  There are some things that we could attempt to do here with some extra effort.  We'll still miss the fresh eggs from the chickens and the ease of dumping yard cuttings and kitchen scraps in their pen and watching them have the time of their life consuming it.  You should see how much fun they have with overripe lady fingers (mini bananas). I guess it's small scale permaculture we have going on at our home in Honduras.  It's a beautiful thing once you truly experience it and hard to come back and see so much go unused. 



May God bless you with discomfort
at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships
so that you may live deep within your heart
May God bless you with anger
at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people
so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace
May God bless you with tears
to shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war
so that you may reach our your hand to comfort them and
to turn their pain into joy
And my God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you can make a difference in the world
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done
to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.
- A Franciscan Benediction


Compassion International Opportunity

Heart to Honduras has been partners with Compassion International for about 10 years now. At three of the Honduran churches that are associated with Heart to Honduras there are Compassion International Sites.
Their names are locations are:
1. Casa del Alfarero, La Concepción - Pastor Fredy Martinez
2. Peña de Horeb, Peña Blanca - Pastor Terencio
3. CDI Corazón Para Honduras - Pastor Alfredo Reconco

We have witnessed first hand for almost three years now how a site like this works. Every Compassion site is different, so you have to get to know them. Many people think they are always schools, and many are not ¨schools¨ especially like we would imagine in our US mind. They all do offer holistic development to a child. Their programs and activities integrate spiritual, intellectual, social-emotional, and physical development in creative ways for each child. 

Most of our experience has been with the site in La Concepción, mainly because it´s only a 15-20 min. drive from where we live. Not to mention our closest friend and co-worker in Honduras is Fredy Martinez, the Pastor and founder of this site. He is now out of the daily operation of the site, but his wife and many church leaders are staff running all the ins and outs.
At this particular site they host kids aged 3-18, 3 days a week for 4 hrs. It would be more of what we would describe in the US as an "after school program."  If the child attends school in the morning shift, they come to Compassion in the afternoon and visa versa. Currently, in Honduras, public school days are only half day.  

There are age specific tutors that take care of a group of children from the time they arrive until they leave. They have homework help time, Bible and moral lessons, play time, snack time, etc. These tutors have to give an account for each kid in their group which involves taking attendance, noting changes, making home visits, etc.
A huge percentage of what these children receive is intangible, not a lot of give a ways materially.  They receive medical and dental check ups as well as health training/etc. They take field trips, do crafts, and even learn trades like woodworking, gardening, or jewelry making.  As you can tell, like I said, ways to develop the child holistically.
We also know they work very hard on writing their sponsor letters several times a year. This is a big part of Alexandra´s
(Fredy´s wife) job . She is great about sitting down with each kid and helping them learn to write beneficial information to their sponsor. It´s very neat to see these letter´s on Fredy´s kitchen table as Alexandra proof reads them, then go to the post office in San Pedro with her where she drops them off to be sent off for translation and mailing to the sponsor.
They also have frequent audits and supervision from professional Compassion staff who stop in and reports they constantly send in.  They must run a VERY tight ship to be able to keep functioning as a site.
For this reason, many communities are not approved to be Compassion sites. If there is not enough local leadership capable of running all of these things, Compassion will not open a site.  The local staff learns to budget, plan, and give account for everything they receive and spend financially.  They are given guidelines from Compassion, but also have some freedom in deciding field trips, healthy snacks, etc.  It is a neat balance of structure and freedom between Compassion corporate and the locals.  It develops the adults and entire community, not just the children.  The church leaders, staff, and entire community have pride in their ability to provide this type of development to their children.  We love this kind of work instead of seeing outsiders come in and run everything.  
Trust me, Fredy will tell you it doesn't happen overnight, this kind of holistic, long term development takes time.  LOTS of time and commitment.  Fredy had to plant the church, disciple, and raise up leaders LONG before they could even think about having a program like this.  But, this way it is true development, it does stand the test of time and it involves the entire community. It is the local church reaching out and caring for their children, taking an interest in the future of their own, and taking ACTION!

If you have any questions or would like to talk to us more about our experience watching this in action, please contact us!

We have a link here where you can see the children who are looking for sponsors specifically from the three sites in Honduras that are assositated with HTH (listed above).

If you have been considering sponsoring a child through Compassion, it might be neat for them to be near us.  If you are someone who has visited us or plans to visit us someday you would even have the opportunity to meet them if they were located in La Concepcion or Pena Blanca.
Please consider sponsoring!


If you can't sponsor, no worries!  Please be in prayer for these programs happening all over the world and be an advocate spreading the word to others.