Day 5 Honduras 2017

1:02 pm: We are finally back to the mission home after a hard week and a torturous 4 or 5 hours on a bus. The weather in the village this week, though rainy, was quite cool and pleasant. It only got a little hot in the afternoons. 

Dealing with the rain wasn’t as difficult as I had imagined. I had packed rubber boots and ponchos our first year back in 2014. We never had a need for them until this week. 

The roads were a little more washed out on our way home, making for a much bumpier ride. But the scenery was gorgeous with grass and trees almost glowing they were so green and clean after the rains. Low-lying clouds obscured the mountain tops in places. The creek beds were swollen with water and in one or two spots water was over the road. 

We stopped at the Bible Institute on our way in to visit their compound, which is richly furnished and kept compared to the hovels that surround. 

We are about to leave for the children’s home, ​where I am looking forward to an entertaining soccer game between gringos and the kids. The kids usually give the gringos a severe thrashing. 


Day 4 Honduras 2017

6:12 am Got up at 4:30 to take my shower. Yesterday’s weather was fabulous. Not too hot. We had another cool night as well, but I was able to locate blankets for me and Dev. The boys have strung their hammocks from every possible place under the tiny pavilion in the courtyard. There are five hammocks in about 12 square feet.
After my shower I helped in the kitchen. My job was to crack about 200 eggs into bowls for scrambling. They were the largest eggs I’ve ever seen. And they were stubbornly firm.

Blanca, our cook, who is Honduran, is revered by all the team members. She is stern, but loveably so. She does not hesitate to get on to you. Last year she scolded me for serving too much mango at one time. She rapped my hand and said “Too much!”

You can only say “yes ma’am” in the face of such sternness.

Last night at church I talked again to the three amigos. I told them I would send them things if they would give me an address, but they didn’t know their address. But I was able to connect with one of the church ladies, Ruth, and arrange to send to the church for her to distribute. And it will be for more than just the three amigos. We can get the GA’s involved. Mostly this will help keep a connection at church for the kids in Honduras. Ruth said she would get me the information today.

Here are the Three Amigos from left to right: Edwin David, Luis, and Juvert (Pronounced Hubert).
The three amigos and several other boys in the community take a photo with me at church.

7:52 am Going out to distribute rice and beans this morning. Plan is to take photos of families and get video of team at work.

I still need to get video of the construction, evangelism, and vet team. And children’s church.

8:45 pm Got all but the vet team today. I went out with rice and beans. I was so exhausted I was having a hard time focusing. Did not sleep well Sunday night and woke up extra early this morning, plus all the activity.

Luis, one of the three amigos, came and helped me in photos this afternoon. He is a quick learner and takes initiative. And he has a great sense of humor. Edwin David had school, but all three were in church so we took a group picture on my phone.

The medical team followed up with a woman we visited for rice and beans. She has arthritis in her leg and nerve pain. Plus she is almost completely blind.

Trudie shared her testimony with a woman, pictured below on the far left, whose alcoholic husband caused her to depend on her 17 year old to support him and his two baby sisters, both under five and one still nursing. Unfortunately he had recently been hit by a truck which broke his foot and severed a tendon. You can see him sitting beside the doorway, his foot on a pillow. Our medical team said that the surgery was poorly done, basically only a stitching up, rather than a repair of anything internally, which would require micro-surgery.

Day 3 Honduras 2017

5/297:03 am It was remarkably cold last night. I was not able to find my blanket before bedtime and so suffered until about 4 am when I got up to go to the bathroom. Then I got my towels and wrapped up in them. It worked. Devyn, Layton and Philip had the worst of it outside in their hammocks. 

Trudie did our devotion this morning. Her question to us was “why are you here?”

All the messages so far have focused on loving your neighbor, being the light. I struggle with living with my more difficult neighbors, of which I have a few. And I’m certain I am someone else’s difficult neighbor. 

Church last night drew a huge crowd. In addition many of the locals were celebrating loudly by driving the streets and honking their horns. The Honduran football team (soccer) had a victory yesterday. One of the translators told me that the government is experiencing trouble, with the son of the president and the son of the former president having recently been jailed for trafficking millions of dollars worth of marijuana. I think that was his way of explaining that the Hondurans celebrate their nationality where they can, and thus the soccer game gave them a sense of pride they otherwise might not have. 

6:37 pm: 200 portraits printed and 3 salvations. The children of Honduras are stunningly beautiful by and large. 

Lots of very young mothers.

Tiffany, my photo assistant,  went with rice and beans this morning while Enoch, our translator, and I got things started with portraits. All three salvations were before lunch. 

After lunch, I gave things over to Tiffany, who is a much better photographer than I am. She is also efficient and organized. I truly appreciated working with her. And Enoch is just as indispensible. He was able to quickly determine each person’s spiritual state with a quick conversation and would either give them their photos or pull them aside for us to share the gospel with them. 

Once Tiffany had things under control, I visited some other stations to take video so I can put something together for Friday night. Ialso brought back dolls and Mardi Gras beads to hand out. The stations this year are spread out. Medical, pharmacy and photos are across the street from the school where we eat and sleep. Dental, clothes and shoes, evangelism, children’s church, construction, and now hair cutting are at the Baptist church, which is several streets and blocks over. 

There are three amigos, aged 12, 13, and 14 who asked me to take them home with me. I told them no but they could live with me in heaven one day if they put their trust in Jesus. That was not immediate enough and they wanted to know if I would send them things. I told them I would if they gave me addresses. They didn’t know their addresses but said they would find out and get with me tomorrow. 

These three amigos look like trouble makers, always laughing behind their hands. I fear for their futures. One told us that he lives with his aunt who drinks a lot. 

Day 2 Honduras 

12:40 pm We’ve made it to the village of Trojes, the largest village I’ve been to yet. First we found the bathrooms. There are plenty of them and not so crude as we’ve ever seen. It is a large sunny school where we are sleeping. 

We will do our ministries in the village. I will have a spot of trouble getting all my equipment where I need it because some is mixed in with personal stuff. But I have the same translator as last year. I also will have an American assistant. 

We left this morning at 7:30 after breakfast and a devotion. The ride was extremely rough, roughest one yet. Pitted and holed roads gave way to hairpin curves going left and right up the mountain. 

Last night, after a brief shower, we slept under cool conditions that have kept with us until now. The day is beginning to heat up. 

9:03 pm The day stayed rather mild for Honduras. The night time is almost chily. 

It’s been an eventful day. After a lunch of ham sandwiches and chips, we unloaded supplies at each station. It was incredibly more organized than any other year. Benjie has an injured arm which is in a cast. He is hindered somewhat from his usual activity and thus a lot more people are doing things that were at one time simpler for him to do himself rather than explain. At least that’s what I’m surmising. 

My battery pack made some ominous popping noises when I plugged a fan into it and then it began smoking like crazy and stinking up the place. So that’s that. However, the Lord sent Josh who is not only handy but quite jovial and determined to help. He fixed us up with electricity. 

My station is right after pharmacy. Shawna will also be cutting hair beside me. 

We had burgers for supper and they were very good. Then we had church service. Brother Jack preached out of John 13, about what it means to love Jesus: to glorify God; to love others; and to ….i can’t remember the third point. I am so tired. I’m sorry Brother Jack. 

There is a little boy, probably 5 years old, who along with his mother or grandmother has been hanging around the medical station all day. He is covered in scabs. BJ said it is psoriasis. I hope they can give him some relief. He and his mother, it turned out, came and had their portrait taken. I believe his diagnosis was more serious than psoriasis. I’m Never entirely sure. 

Day 1 Honduras 

5/27 3:17 amI thought we might make it out of the country this year without some sort of catastrophe. It seems it never fails that our faith is tested in some way just before we’re scheduled to leave, often while we are serving and sometimes even on our way home, depending upon how much we’ve stirred up the spiritual realm. 

However, now we are having car trouble, broken down halfway between Burkeville, Texas and Toledo Bend Dam on our way to catch the plane in Houston. 

One of the brake calipers on the van went out. And none of us, 10 missionaries on our way to Honduras to share the gospel, have cell service. 

Wait…Lenora and Mikki each have a couple of bars, as long as they hold their phones just right. 

We were able to contact our church secretary. She and her husband are bringing us another church van. They are 45 minutes out at the very least. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Houston. Flight probably leaves at 9:30. We were supposed to be there by 6:30. 

3:50 am: Jennifer and Eddie made it in record time. 
4 am: On the road again. 
8:20 am: Made it to parking, then check-in and then security, but not without a couple hiccups. I was expecting my bag to be over the weight limit, which it was by 13 lbs because I had to pack all my photo supplies as I missed sending them on packing day. 
I had thought to just pay the overage, but it was $100, so Lenora and Devyn helped me do some serious rearranging at the last minute, putting more weight in my carry on and into Dev’s suitcase. Now I have no idea whose stuff is in which bag. 

At security, my carry on with my camera in it got pulled aside for a search, I’m assuming because the equipment looked explosive or perhaps it was random. It took what felt like quite a long time because the woman in front of me was searched from head to toe, including all her luggage. She was a very good sport. 

When it was my turn, the agent only checked my bag, running a small tab of paper all around the edges which she then ran through a computer. She said she was guess checking for bomb residue when I asked. 

She didn’t find any. 

Now we are waiting to board our plane. 

8:47 am Just had an interesting conversation with a young man on his way to Honduras. He was impressed by our sea of blue shirts and asked us our purpose. Then of course we turned the question on him. He told us that he had helped start a nonprofit to support a women’s college to affect change in Honduras from the inside out. He was on his way to meet his family and to begin discussions with other leaders as to whether they should take a more spiritual approach. 
I told him we would pray for them. His name is Ira. 

12:10 pm we had a remarkably bumpy landing on a very short runway. Some say we even skidded a bit. 
1:48 pm Still at the airport. I hear that we’re waiting on another flight with 5 other team members from Atlanta.
In the meantime we are visiting with one another, acclimating to the heat. Some are enjoying mocchacino supremes, a frozen, whipped chocolate coffee drink that is the best, according to Devyn. 

Little boys in age ranges of 8-12 wander among us trying to sell gum, thick blades of grass woven into animal shapes, or rubber bracelets. When airport security approaches they melt into the crowd. Newcomers have at first found it difficult to say no, but it gets easier each time they approach. They don’t look incredibly poor or malnourished, their clothes in no worse shape than some of ours. And they are persistent, coming back to the same people over and over again. 

It is a struggle, as Jesus said to give to whomever asks. But they are not asking, they are selling. 

2:27 pm Finally made it to the Pizza Hut across the street from the airport where we’ll lunch. Lots of new faces this year and lots of faces from previous years are missing. 
The panhandlers grew worse as we exited the airport and I know we’ll be approached again when we leave the restaurant. Usually they ask for “One dollar” or they have something to sell for one dollar. I don’t know the right thing to do in regards to Jesus’ command to give to those who ask. Would we ever get to where we are going if we started giving out dollars? 

3:38 pm on our way to the mission home through crazy Honduran traffic. Horns blaring, engines revving, gears grinding and no discernible rules of the road. Basically if your vehicle fits in a hole you better move forward before someone else does. Motorcycles weave in and out. Outside Pizza Hut a legless man in a wheelchair panhandled on a street corner, weaving in and out of traffic in his wheelchair quick as can be. We remembered him from last year and determined it must be a profitable corner for him. 
Tegucigalpa, the capitol, is crowded, dirty and noisy. Buildings, thrown together with what ever materials are handy, huddle together on every possible street and every nook and cranny of the hills and mountains that surround the city. The exception is the well constructed, the completed, or even the maintained home or business. 

Emaciated dogs nose through garbage piled up on the streets. Half naked children play in the dirt while parents and grandparents watch traffic from open doorways, stoops and steps. What is not immediately discernible is the desperation. One missionary couple who met us at the airport were fostering a six week old infant who had been abandoned on the street just after she was birthed. Hondurans as a rule seem to dote on their children. One can only wonder what circumstances led to the baby’s abandonment.

 And then I know that my resources have been given to me to use wisely. Well-fed boys selling gum in the airport don’t need me so much as others. 

As we climb out of the valley where Tegucigalpa is located, we begin to leave squalor behind, encountering trees and mountainous vistas.

Tomorrow we travel to Trojes on the border of Nicaragua to serve the people there. 

6:43 pm: We made it to the mission home around 4 pm. We had a short orientation with our missionary Chris (don’t drink the water!!) and then had free time until supper at 6 pm. Most of us lounged around and visited, having been up since very early. 
Chris said we were likely to see armed Nicaraguan soldiers patrolling their border while we were in the village.

It looks like I will have an assistant this year in photography, which will allow us to go out with other ministries such as the vet team and beans and rice. 

At 7 pm we will have the Lord’s supper and a worship service and then thankfully it will be time to sleep. 

Change of Focus

Almost all packed, just one more load of laundry. 

I’ve cleaned out the barn and barnyard this morning. I have no less than three compost piles going, not counting the interior of any shed or enclosure. I am glad for all the compost but it is such a lot of waste of hay. I hope never to have to rely on a round bale again as long as I have goats and can’t keep them from climbing on it and pooping in it. 
One of the buffs may have started sitting on eggs. She’s been there all afternoon. Both buffs are laying now. 

I moved the chick waterers and feeder to the main chicken pen, underneath a wire cage, accessible to them but not the bigger chickens. I also put a bucket with hay in it in the pen so the hen can cuddle them. 

Coco went without milk yesterday morning and this morning. She is eating both sweet feed and the calf starter. I need to research how much to feed her. Tonight I will give her her last bottles. 

This week we’ll be shifting our focus as my son and I embark on our annual mission trip to Honduras. All the farm animals are in my husband’s capable hands. We have weaned Coco from the bottle in order to ease the demands on Kenny.

Goats on a Hotwire Fence

Today was church. We shared our Honduras experience in morning worship. I worked all evening on it last night, pulling together a dozen or more pictures and writing out what I wanted to say. I felt so bad about the disorganized way I presented last year, as if I didn’t clearly communicate how God worked and how those in our church who prayed and donated contributed to something worthwhile.

The goats were very content today. We opened up the pea patch fence where it butts up against the goat pen, in the hopes that the goats will migrate over to their pen. The only one who feels truly comfortable is the pygmy nanny whom we’ve named Bella. 

So far as we know she has not been shocked yet. The other three have been traumatized. They are stubborn and a little dense. Bella is very smart. She heard K this evening open the shed door where the feed is stored and made her way to the food trough. That’s after only two days. 
I suspect that the two full size nannies are pregnant. The older nanny’s bag looks to have milk in it, but she won’t let me touch it. The other brown nanny won’t let me get near her at all. 
The poor billy pygmy has gotten shocked several times. While the other goats will wander over to the new pen, he is very reluctant. The fence is pretty powerful. We can hear it pop when they hit it, and they jump really high and bleat like they’ve been shot. Poor things. 

Scabies, Salvations, and Escaping Goats

Warning: this is a very long catch-up post. 

It has been an eventful three weeks. The week before leaving, I was tasked at work with getting the city pool ready to open on the Saturday we left for Honduras. For the life of me, I couldn’t get anyone to show up for an interview for the pool manager position. The only person who did show up had warrants out for her arrest and city police arrested her. We finally pulled employees from the golf course to handle the pool. 

Friday before Dev and I were set to leave for Honduras the next morning at 3 a.m., I took the boys to the dermatologist who confirmed my suspicions that the boys had scabies. I was so mortified. And disgusted that my gp did not figure this out several weeks before. 

The whole situation was complicated by the treatment, which included our household and my mom’s household, where the boys got scabies from an old mattress my nephew thought was a steal of a deal.

Everyone had to do treatment at the same time, or risk reinfestation. First, everyone had to shower, then be covered from head to toe in the prescription lotion for 8-10 hours. It was recommended that we do it at bedtime. Then, the next morning, all clothes and bed linens had to be stripped and washed, and everyone needed to take another shower. Then repeat in two weeks. 

Well–first, we couldn’t get enough tubes of the lotion for both families if we went by the doctor’s prescribed treatment. Then, we didn’t have enough time for me and Dev to be covered in the lotion for the recommended time before we had to leave for Honduras, let alone for me to do all that washing. 

However, after reading the actual instructions on the lotion, I discovered I had more than enough lotion for all of us for the recommended treatments. The pharmacy confirmed that mom could get hers by Saturday morning. We went ahead and took the treatment, and I took some with us to Honduras, just in case. Kenny promised to do all the washing.  

Devyn’s seemed to get worse while we were there, with his skin scaling up, but he toughed it out. Turns out the whole mission team took a treatment when we got back from the village. When we got home, I gave Dev two back to back treatments before camp, and that seems to have done the trick. 

While in Honduras, we were met with great spiritual resistance and various obstacles. The first days in the village were chaos for me, as I couldn’t seem to get a system going. Either no one was interested in getting their photos taken or I was being mobbed. Finally by Wednesday, we seemed to work out a system, both for this year and the future. 

I ended up taking about 225 portraits all week. There were two salvations: among the three amigas. Three teenage girls all dressed alike with pink tops. Two of them chose Jesus, one did not. She was not the only person to tell me no. 

Learned later in the day on Wednesday that the mayor’s assistant, who had been hanging out around my station most of the day on Monday and Tuesday, had caused some chaos with the vet team. Just as one man was about to accept Christ, the mayor’s assistant drove up and the man shrank back, refusing to speak anymore. 

The vet team’s next stop happened to be the house of the mayor’s assistant. Both he and his wife and family were saved. Thank God the vet team was also able to get back with the first man, who was also saved. 

I wonder if the presence of the mayor’s assistant is what caused the chaos for me? All the challenges we met along the way keep leading me back to the verse about warring against principalities. I know we were doing serious spiritual warfare. 

And it didn’t stop when we left the village, at least not for me. When we got back to the mission home and I opened my packet that had my valuables in it, I couldn’t find my wedding rings. My other ring was there, and so was the nearly $1,000 I had brought. But my cheap wedding ring set and silver hoop earrings were gone. 

Julie and I searched every square inch of my luggage. Denise checked the safe twice. Then something Julie said made me remember that I’d paid Bruce for a CDimmediately after getting my packet, which meant the rings may have slipped out when I payed him. Sure enough, they were on the floor near the table where he was sitting. I was so relieved.

Later in the evening, Devyn told me that Benjie had told him that he and a handful of other boys and men would be going to a hotel because there was not enough room at the mission home for all of us, plus another team that was coming in. 

I asked Benjie if it was true and he said yes. That sent me into orbit. I worried with it all through supper. Finally I went to Julie again and confided my outrage to her, that Benjie would think it was okay to take someone else’s child away from a secure setting without talking to that child’s parent first. I was beside myself thinking first that he was crazy, then that I was crazy and unreasonable. Julie reassured me that I had every right to be concerned and to say no to the idea. 

When I pulled myself together and talked to Benjie, he was very receptive and even apologetic and told me he understood and I didn’t have to explain. That was a great relief. 

On Friday night, 6 team members became ill, with diarrhea and puking, or just diarrhea, including Devyn. He had only diarrhea. Two team members had to be put on iv. All the others were given something that helped with the diarrhea and also made them sleep. Devyn slept from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The next morning he was fine. He and I have been battling short bouts of diarrhea since then; but I think that’s from the worm pills BJ gave us.

The next day, everyone was much better. However, on the flight home, we were diverted from Houston to New Orleans because of weather. We sat on the runway in New Orleans, unable to deplane because customs supposedly couldn’t handle us, for five hours. We were finally able to fly back to Houston and land. We didn’t get home to Hornbeck until about 4 a.m. We spent 9 hours on the plane, 20 hours traveling. But most everyone remained in good spirits. By that time, it was just simply ridiculous how much trouble we were having. 

Kenny had to be in to work because he had weekend duty, but was set to be on vacation for camp Monday morning. He went in on Sunday morning…the boys and I stayed home from church to do laundry. Then, K came home and we continued to get ready, but then he was called into work later that day and didn’t get back home until 7 am Monday morning. He thinks that Satan was messing with us over that too. 

I believe it too, because, we saw several salvations, including little 7-year-old Adeline, who dressed in boy’s clothing and told me straight up that she wanted to be a boy and she couldn’t say the salvation prayer because Satan wouldn’t let her. 

But after much praying and talking and answering complicated questions, including things about the end times, things about God’s power over Satan, and God’s mysterious purposes in making some people boys and some people girls, she finally prayed the salvation prayer. Then we talked a good long while more in which we addressed the idea of fear and where it came from and how to handle it. She was very happy to be saved and talked about having a clear head, finally, and a smiling heart.   

All that night she went around saying “Raise the roof!” 

I gave her a journal with an encouraging note from me and a postcard with my address on it, in case she ever wants to contact me. 

We had to leave camp on Tuesday, in order for Dev to play his last two district ballgames. They were both against Anacoco–a double header. We lost both games. Dev, nor any of our other pitchers, could pull anything together. We walked a lot of runs home. Dev got two really good hits. 

There will be no all-stars, because there are not enough interested players. 

And today we went to the sale barn in Dequincey and bought four goats, two full-size females and two pygmies, male and female. 

Kenny carried the biggest nanny goat to our new pen, but she escaped and almost beat him back to the truck as he was trying to get the next goat. I caught her while he took the second goat to the pen, but she too escaped before he could get back to me to get the first nanny. I tried to catch the second goat, but she slipped off into the woods. 

We finally decided to put the remaining three goats, the big nanny and the two pygmies in the pea patch, which seemed much more secure. At that point sacrificing our peas was the least of our worries. The goats were simply slipping through the electric fence strands. 

We both took turns walking through the woods looking for the missing goat, to no avail. Then we tried training two of them on the fence–we didn’t have enough rope for all three. But the goats seemed distraught and wanted to escape. They would throw themselves against the fence time after time, getting tangled up and ripping the strands off the posts.  

We were utterly disgusted. I went to go get us a drink of water, and saw the escaped goat, which Bud promptly chased back into the woods. K chased after her while I detained Bud and Sheba, sticking them in the shed. K came back with no goat and decided to work on dog collars in the hopes that he could keep them from chasing the goat again, so I took K’s place in the pen with the goats who had ropes on them. We concocted a plan that I would lead the pygmy billy around training him on the fence, but if the other goat showed up, I would tie the pygmy up, turn the fence off, open the gate and hopefully the escaped goat would come in to be with them.

And that’s exactly how we caught her. We were able to put a rope on her, too, and eventually got them all back in the pea patch. We’ve decided that that pen seems secure enough–in fact they all seem quite content now that they’re all together. Tomorrow we will put them all in the electrified pen together at the same time, after K makes the strands closer together. We will have to go buy more rope.