Sunday, November 25, 2007

That's Dangerous

I hear the words "that's dangerous" more than I ever imagined. It is usually from locals in Honduras - when we are having a conversation about where we work. Particularly the communities where we work. It usually happens when somebody not familiar with the work we do begins to question what we are doing here. I tell them about the work and the next question is " where do you do all of this?". When I tell them that we work in communities with names like Los Pinos, Mirrador Oriental, San Migeal, Villa Nueva, Sector Ocho, or others the response comes back - "Wow, those are dangerous places."
When I first heard this, I was a little shocked because we are pretty careful about where we take people to work. We really do want to keep the people that we bring to the country as safe as we possibly can and we certainly don't want to introduce anyone to "danger". After "chewing" on this for a while, it occured to me that everybody does this - in the states, I spent 3 years driving past East St Louis. When I lived in California, I would drive past South San Francisco or Oakland. I never stopped there to see what the needs of the people were because in my mind those were "dangerous places". In fact - those are likely dangerous places...especially if you are caught up in the dangerous lives that some of the people that live there choose. The sad thing is, there are a majority of people living in those "dangerous" communities that are ignored and are left feeling hopeless because the people that God chose to deliver hope are afraid. I don't know how many times Jesus told us "do not fear". Our Great and Awesome God used these words with his own people all the time. Do not fear, I am God and I will be with you.
Jesus told all of us - "Go into all the world" and he didn't qualify that with "except for the places that you think are "dangerous". He just said GO. In John - just before his death on the cross, Jesus told the apostles that they would be in danger if they followed him. That is a promise that is made to all of us. Everybody is not going to love us if we are doing the will of our Savior.
This blog has been on my mind for a while and on Friday, it really hit me again. The reason is that we were planning to take a load of food to a place in the mountains called Morales. Morales is a destitute place about 2 hours from Tegucigalpa. Morales was hit by an earthquake about 6 weeks ago and the desperate people that live there are now in an even worse state. The community has been ravaged by the massive rainy season and that has been compounded by a series of earthquakes that has destroyed much of what was left of their meager homes. They are hungry. My friend that had planned to take us to Morales told me Friday that we couldn't go without security because "that's dangerous". We didn't get the security detail so, today - the day we had planned to go - we are home instead and the people are still hungry and desperate. This week I am determined that we are going to find a way to get food to Morales. We can't know about a situation this close to us and this desperate and not do something...... especially when we have a warehouse full of the food that they so desperatly need. I believe it is more dangerous to sit back in fear....dangerous to faith.
Do not fear and be a blessing to somebody TODAY!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Are you better at some things than anybody else that you know? I am!

I am better at getting dirty than anybody - with the possible exception of Nicole - that I know.

I discovered this "talent" when I started coming to Honduras more than 7 years ago. I was always dirtier than anyone else on any work crew - every day. I have always seemed to get completely filthy even if I am only on a work site for just a couple of minutes. Don't know why it is this way but I promise that it is true.

The picture here is of me working on the second container of food we unloaded last weekend. It is proof that nobody gets as dirty as me. The good thing about the dirt is that it really doesn't bother me - it all washes off and I get to start over.

For the past couple of days I have been working to build a table big enough so that all of the kids can eat together. As construction has progressed the number of workers wanting to help has increased. Today we were working on filling in some of the cracks with wood putty and it was siesta time - the kids that volunteered to work on the table didn't have to take a nap so - I had lots of help. Rudy, Yovani, Fitto, Pamela, Cindy, Marvin, Mario, & Bryan were all willing to sacrifice a nap to help me. They were so much fun to watch. We used all of the wood putty before we filled in all of the places that needed it so the table will need another day or two before we can paint it. I hope to have it ready for the TG feast by 1:00 on Thursday so that everybody can eat the feast together. It will be a treat to see the group all at the same table and I am sure that Terri will post the pictures.

Quick story about one of the kids - little Cindy. Cindy is 5 and she is a handfull. Cindy came from a place where the people that were supposed to love her didn't. Instead, they hurt her and they molested her - a lot. Cindy lived at Casitas Kennedy for a while - after the government removed her from her home. The people at CK thought she was possessed because she was so mean. We know now that she pulled hair and bit people because it was her way of defending herself from the people that she felt were a threat. Cindy still has a very difficult time at nap or bed time because that was likely when the people that hurt her did their evil stuff. Over the past year and particularly the past couple of months that I have been here full time, Cindy has become my little buddy. She is always wanting a hug or a kiss on the cheek. A couple of weeks ago she called me papa a couple of times and today she asked me if I would be her papa. Of course I told her that I would. I love little Cindy and I pray that she never feels dirty from the things that people in her past have done to her. I will do everything that I can to make her feel like a little princess. Pray for my new little hija.

Be a blessing to somebody Today!


Thursday, November 15, 2007

It's Different

The past couple of days here have been reminders of just how different life and culture is in a third world country. Yesterday Terri and I did accomplish the task of ordering some cabinets from the "taller de madera" - the shop of wood. We were only confused about one question but quickly solved the question and in a couple of weeks we will have a place to put dishes and other kitchen stuff. We were pleased that our limited language skills have at least improved to the point of doing more and more on our own. I still have a difficult time understanding telephone conversations. Communication is different here.
In the afternoon we headed in to Tegucigalpa where we thought that the two food containers would finally arrive - they didn't. We found out that they were still in Puerto Cortez and were being held hostage until we paid the demurage fines and parking fees. It was a lot of money - because the shipper was late sending us the paper work necessary to complete all the Hondo requirements. The thing about paying the fee was that they wanted a certified check - no cash. I can go to a place called CoinSA and cash a check for as much money as I need but they don't issue cashier checks. We went to a bank that CoinSA recommended but the bank would not issue a cashier check without an account at the bank. They would make me wait days for the account to open - even if I deposited cash. The fines are accumulating at $150 a day - We finally decided to call on a friend with a local account and will use her bank to issue the check this morning and we hope to see the food here by tomorrow - sometime. Banking is different here.
I could feel sorry for myself because of some of the aggrivations but I don't have very far to look to realize that there is nothing in my life that can compare to the daily difficulties of many of the people that live here. On Tuesday I was heading to Teguc in the late afternoon to take Fitto to his counseling appointment. I was leaving at 4 which is the end of the work day for Dilcia, Rayna, & Elvia. I told them that I would give them a ride home and they were happy to accept. Elvia lives about 5 miles from here so her daily bus rides are not too bad. Dilcia and Rayna are a different story. These sisters live in the same neighborhood on the Valley de Angeles road. In miles it is probably 30 or so. In a truck - about 45 min. I asked Rayna how long the bus would take from Santa Ana to her house and she told me 2.5 hours. That's right - she and her sister are on a bus for 5 hours a day so that they can come here to work for not a lot of money. We pay higher than the minimum wage of L70 per day (about $3.50) but not that much. (Our workers start at L100 per day). I thought my commute was bad when I lived in LA and drove about an hour to work - 5 hours in a bus where you may or may not even have a seat. A bus designed for 40 people that often has 150 riders. If you have been here you have seen what I am talking about. Going to work is different here.
Every day we see people on the streets trying to sell something - cell phone car cords and chewing gum are big items for street vendors. These are the poor that are trying to eek out some sort of living. The kids on the streets often just ask for un limp para comera - 5 cents for food. Sometimes they want to wash your windshield. Yesterday I saw one of the youngest ever kids trying to wash windows. She was probably 5 years old and couldn't even reach the windows of most cars. She was in the middle of the street at one of the busiest intersections in all of Tegucigalpa - in the middle of rush hour. She told me she was hungry. Being a poor child is different in Honduras.
Be a blessing to somebody today.
Be the difference in somebody's life!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Six Billion

No matter how you look at numbers, a billion is a lot of whatever you are counting. A billion is one thousand million. I remember a joke once that described how big a billion dollars is - the guy said if you gave your wife a million dollars and told her she could spend $3000 a day and that she couldn't come back till the money was gone - she would be gone about a year...if you gave her a $Billion$ and the same instructions she would be gone about 1,000 years. A billion is a lot and when you count people, there are 6 billion of us on the planet.
Thinking about this creation that our God made and all of the people that are here is hard to comprehend. Just think about it. Our God knows all of us by name. He knows our thoughts, our needs, our joys, and our needs. From human terms, just saying the names of every human on earth would be an impossible task for any human - just saying one name every second would require 190 years to name the 6 billion people living right now. Impossible even to comprehend how a God could know all of us or even why he would care about our little problems or issues. But our great big God - the creater of the universe knows us better than any human. He knows our good stuff and all of the bad stuff. Knowing this He still loves us and listens to our crys - our prayers. He answers prayers and I am constantly amazed at the answers that he provides. Just lately, his answers have been unmistakable -
  • At Casa we were short of help. We prayed one day and within 24 hours there was answers that help was on the way. Karen's mom and one of her friends came for 10 days. Another volunteer emailed and said that she wanted to come for 2 months.
  • The van for the children's home has a transmisson problem that will cost more than $2000 to repair. We prayed and within days, a person that has never given to Casa sent me an email that he was sending a check for $2000 - that we can use for anything that we might need.
  • Pamela - one of the children at Casa needs an examination by a foot specialist and within days of praying, I met a Dr that specializes in surgery of feet and ankles. He agreed to see and treat Pamela for free.
  • Terri and I have prayed for something to happen with the sale of our house. Just last night we recieved and offer to lease our house for the next 3 years. Not a sale but definately and answered prayer.

This list could go on and on. Our God knows our names and has chosen us to be his adopted children. No longer orphans - since we are his children, he spoils us just like we do our own kids.

We are blessed and our Father wans us to share the love.

Go and be a blessing to somebody today. Be the hands and feet of God in an answered prayer. Look for ways to serve the creator of the universe.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Work Update

The past few weeks have been busy and I wanted to give you an update on the happenings.
- Just days before their arrival, our October TORCH group seemed to be falling apart. We had one lady that fell ill and another person had passport issues. The night before the group arrival, we had another person that was called to a major business meeting - our team of 8 went to 5 and Terri & I weren't sure how everything would turn out. Well, we shouldn't have worried. This little team was amazing. In our time together, we were able to build a couple of houses, provide a water connection to another home, work in a feeding center for children, visit in the hospital, work with the kids at Casa, and many other things. Lives of the people here were touched and lives of the team were changed. Upon leaving, the group from California told us that they had a person in their church that wanted to give $1000 to needs that were seen while they were here. The list that was decided upon will be a blessing to many - the first of the list included help for bringing water to the home of one of the Casa workers. We were able to put about 300 ft of water line from the main line to the house while the group was here and the money will help our worker get a storage tank and a pila. The second use of the money will be to help another of our workers with adequate bedding. We found out that our worker had her whole family sleeping on one bed - five people on one refular size bed. The money will provide for a new bunk that will mean that no more than 2 people will share a bed. There is MORE! The church in Los Pinos is feeding about 100 kids every Sunday. The cost is about $25 per week and the group is providing enough funds for 16 weeks. That $400 is enough for 1600 meals for children! That's not all - there was also money left for our kids at Casa to all get new shoes. We are planning to make this an outing where we all go to pick the shoes and then go to the Pizza Hut for food and fun. Thank you Walnut Creek Church of Christ.
- In other news, we needed to clean the warehouse so that we could be prepared to receive 3 containers. My friend Timoteo told us of needs in the southern part of the country where floods had ravaged many families and homes. We were able to load and ship a full truckload of food and clothes for the families in Chuloteca. More than 100 families were helped.
- One container arrived while the group was here and we are STILL waiting for the other 2 food containers to be released from "Custom Hostage". We really expect the release to happen today or tomorrow. The good news is that there is more than 100,000 pounds of food on these containers.
- We have been at the church in Los Pinos for the past three weeks. The first Sunday was with the group, the next Sunday was one where the youth group was presenting the service and we were asked to please be there, and this past Sunday we had people leaving immediately after chruch and we needed to be in town. Los Pinos is doing well. The church is strong and growing. There are men that have taken on leadership roles and this church is a light in the community.
- In Santa Ana, the church is going through a period of transition. Our friend Noel and his family have decided to move closer to family and will be leaving soon. Dorian - the husband to be of Karen Vaughan is now preaching at Santa Ana. Dorian is working in the community and is excited to be in this work. He will be assisted by students from Baxter. The church is averaging 45 to 50 adults and about the same number of children.
- Last week we were blessed to have the director of Adventures in Missions - part of the Sunset School- here. He brought one of the instructors with him and we were able to show and discuss much of the work and the vision of our ministry. The AIM students were choosing their mission locations last night so- hopefully we were on enough students lists that we will be getting a team. If we get a team, they will be here in May and will stay for about 20 months. Our plan for a team would be for them to work with TORCH Teams in the summer, work with the mobile clinic, work with the youth groups in Santa Ana and Los Pinos, and work in teaching bible classes to the women in the Mi Esperanza program.
- We have been working to develop more August to May TORCH teams and all of this seems to be coming together. More summer teams are coming as well. So far we have added teams from the University of Alabama in March, Atlanta in April, a new team from Kansas in late May, and a team from Kingsport , TN in July. We also just found out that the campus group from Mississippi State will be joining our original July team. These are all in addition to the other teams that will be coming in the summer.
2008 will be a busy time for TORCH. - I just about forgot- the new team from Kansas has already raised the money for a new church building in Rio Hondo as well as for building a new house.
- This week - if the weather clears up, Dorian and I are going to start building a chicken coop for the kids at Casa de Esperanza. Neither of us has a clue what we are doing but, we are hoping to be chicken farmers in a few weeks. We see this as a great way for the kids to begin to develop work routines and responsibilities. Additionally, we would like to harvest eggs and dinner. Maybe we can start Col Sanchez fried chicken down here!
- Terri and I will be in the states in December and have scheduled a lot of meetings and speaking. Our travels will take us to Little Rock, Fairview Heights, IL; Springfield, IL; Nashville, Kingsport, TN; Atlanta; Columbus, MS; and TX. Of course we will also be in Searcy to see the kids and Camille.
I guess that that is the Update for now -
Be a blessing to somebody today,