Neighbors - 5 Years (Section 3)

What were initially nothing more than pairs of shy eyes peeking out from behind the inadequate trunk of the orange tree slowly grew into the faces of beloved children. When we built our home, we had to chop off the thick branch of a pito tree that occupied the airspace needed by our future house. The limb was insignificant except for the fact that from it hung a tattered feed sack, barely-supported by two old knotted, frayed ropes – a swing. We promised the 7 year-old twins that we would make another one as soon as the house was done. We made good on that promise and promptly hung it on our front porch. Five years and three demolished editions later, kids still saddle up daily for a go on the swing – until everyone gets too wild and a Big Kid throws it up on the roof for an hour or so for everything to calm down again. Countless games of Uno, Zingo, tops, and dominos have been played in the shadow of the swing on the smooth concrete, while the marble-players seek a more suitable dirt surface to ply their trade. As I periodically hoe through the garden beds in front of the porch, I always inevitably dig up a marble and playing card or two.


Tuesday Morning Photo

An impromptu dedication ceremony for the new streetlights on the road to El Olvido-Las Lomitas.

A few years ago, a spate of violence on this road prompted "The Lawyer," a powerful landowner that lives at the bottom of our hill, to install public lighting on the lower section of the road - years before electricity arrived to Las Lomitas. The night he was going to fire up the lights, he called on the community councils to join him for a spur-of-the-moment dedication of the little project, complete with a mini-sermon by Fredy. Some LomiteƱans walked down and some rode in/on our little Suzuki Samurai (pictured). The lights are still up and running, and they seem to have helped with their intended purpose. The Suzuki has since moved on to another loving owner.


Equilibrium - 5 Years (Section 2)

From private to community life. "Honey how was your day" is no longer a questions shared within the nuclear family.

Over the past five years, strangers have gone from smiling faces to acquaintances to neighbors to friends, and a few have even gone on to become family. Our daughter loves her Mama Gelia next door as dearly as any blood relative and squeals with delight at the mere mention of Fredy, her Honduran Abuelo. We have rejoiced in the birth of hordes of children born annually in Las Lomitas, and mourned as some are too quickly returned to the earth by weeping parents. Still other squeakers have grown into energetic owners of shrieking voices and muddy feet ripping across our front porch, playing the game of the week. Those that were once “other” have become “our own.”


Tuesday Morning Photos

As we look to breathe more life back into the blog, I thought I might post some of my favorite photos from the past 5 years. As it turns out, people really enjoy just looking at pictures! Some of these photos have previously appeared on the blog, others have not.

I am by no means a professional photographer, but I do enjoy photography as a sort of pastime. The vast majority of these photos will be of natural subjects (since that is what I enjoy photographing!). If there is any subject in particular that you would like to see, please let me know and I'll try to post it! Most photos are taken with our beloved Fujifilm X30, but a few are with our previous Canon G11 until it met its frigid end in North Dakota - also a great camera.

Look for these posts on Tuesday mornings. Click below for today's photo!


(Re)introduction - 5 Years (Section 1)

The blog has lay dormant now for some time as we have lived and worked in the US and traveled back and forth to Honduras over this past year. Sorry to those of you that actually read this (all three of you).  However groggy it might be, it is time to wake the blog back up!

We will soon be returning to Honduras, likely sometime in the first two weeks of April. Although we will once again miss our US family, we are very excited to return to our Honduran home and family. So much has happened over the past few months: new children, thousands of miles of travel, a new business, and countless other things.
As much as has happened over the past few months, so much more has happened over the past five years. Some of you know the tale well by now, others are new to our life story. Regardless, as we look at soon returning to Honduras, we thought that it might be productive for us to reflect over these past five years and think of what we have learned and experienced.
As a result, starting today and continuing every Friday for the next few weeks, we will be posting an additional installment of “5 Years” that examines our life up until this point. We hope that you are able to know us a little more through these reflections.
Section one starts right now...


10 years ago, Honduras was just another banana republic to me, one of those forgotten, floundering narco-nations between Mexico and the Panama Canal. In 2010, we made a brief visit to the country without any inkling that it was soon to become much more than just a placeholder on the map. It was to become Home.

Since 2011, we have there built a home and weathered tropical fevers, deluges, and heatwaves. In the tiny town of Las Lomitas, at our even tinier house, dogs, chickens, and goats have squished into the world, and many have gone on to that great farm in the sky (Bought a ticket on Vulture Airlines as the neighbors would say.) At this home our work became our life, and our life became our work. The principles and practices that guided our work also leaked inward, even as our beliefs flowed out. The process of community development is no more an overnight process than that of a newborn becoming a college professor. We knew when we started that this would be a long road to walk and have been encouraged to see positive signs begin to show within our short time in Honduras. These results have only been possible through the careful investment of time, love, and resources, and we hope and believe that the dividends will pay for many years to come.

Much of this investment has been made in Las Lomitas and its 500 inhabitants. Located on the top of a lush hill covered in coffee fields and forest, the town is accessed by a three-mile dirt road that climbs to 3000 feet in elevation. There we built our 500 square-foot block house on a small plot at the edge of the soccer field and slowly put together a small homestead complete with chickens, quails, dairy goats, banana trees, and vegetable garden. After three years of living without electricity, we rejoiced with our neighbors when a collective effort resulted in the extension of power lines into our town. Water comes only three hours/week, so we collect rainwater in an underground cistern which we hand pump into an elevated storage tank for our daily necessities.

Beyond Las Lomitas, we work with Heart to Honduras throughout the Yojoa region in approximately 20 villages to empower local leaders in unity and collaboration as they seek to improve their communities. We do not lay out a prescription for development to these communities, but instead walk alongside them as they determine their own priorities. In the same way, we do not provide all of the solutions and resources necessary for them to accomplish their goals but support them in understanding what local resources already exist and what local connections can be made – a process known as Asset-based Community Development (ABCD). We often work specifically with the local church leaders and patronatos (community councils) in an attempt to break down the wall that has all too often been built between them.

Click chart to expand.
Over the past five years, we have seen many of these communities break out of their former shells of highly-dependent organisms that sought all nourishment and resources necessary to their growth from outside entities. Prior to the HTH CD efforts in these towns, many community initiatives were identified by North Americans and funded 100% by international donors. Through time, very intentional interventions, and the hope of Christ, we are now seeing an average of ~40% of necessary resources be provided by groups within the local community and government.

This improvement has far exceeded our expectations. Our process has been far from perfect, and we have certainly learnt much on our way forward, but the results indicate to us the great potential for local growth that already exists in Honduras. As an organization, we are not creating capacity, just simply uncovering what has been lying dormant just beneath the surface. North American Christians are often surprised to find the evidence of an active faith in Christ in many far-flung places, evidence of our egocentrism – a scathing indictment of our pride. Christ’s power to redeem without us should not surprise us. In the same way, we should not be surprised to find great ability, resources, and resolve in a seemingly broken and impoverished people. We have all been created with great potential, and that capacity has been twisted and drained to varying degrees in each one of us. Let’s not fool ourselves with who the real hero is, and who is actually doing the saving. No matter how white and comely the horse may perceive itself, at the end of the day the thing is still just a dumb beast doing the bidding of its master.

The "5 Years" series will continue next Friday.


Introducing Eliana

If there was ever cause to resurrect the blog, it is the birth of our second daughter, Eliana Paz Eldridge, born January 20!

We are so glad to have her with us.

The first two weeks have gone very well. Stacey is recovering very well from her C-section, and Alida is quite fond of her new sister. No serious jealousy developing just yet. Eliana has really been quite the chill little child, we have joked several times that if Ali is fire, Elli is ice. Thank you to so many of you who have reached out over the past few weeks with encouragement, kindness, and prayers. We appreciate you all so very much.

Grace and peace.
Kaleb, Stacey, Alida, and Eliana