Well, where do I start? The plan was for three friends to visit, do a work project and spend sometime seeing the sights here and in Copan. The morning they were to leave, we got word that one couldn't make it. There was flurry of airline ticket changing so that the remaining two would be able to travel home together. Carolee, from NH got on her plane and began the trip. Linda, from AL went to the airport to begin hers and was told that because of a passport glitch, she wouldn't be able to board the plane. Brian got on a bus here at 2am and rode to San Pedro Sula to pick up just Carolee. They got onto another bus and rode eight hours back here to Trujillo. Linda e-mailed us that the passport problem was fixed and she would be able to fly in the next day. So, Brian got back on the bus to SPS, met Linda, and repeated the trip of two days before. (That's 24 hours on a bus for Brian, in three days if you're counting!) While Brian was gone, I fell off the porch and damaged my wrist quite badly. I was thankful Carolee was here to help out with the kids.
Brian and Linda arrived late Saturday night. Sunday, was a lovely day with a baptism after church. It seemed the week was off to a better start.
Monday morning, Carolee, Linda and our family visited Rebin's house and took the family to the beach. It was a blessing for Carolee and Linda to be able to see how much Rebin has grown and how much more he responds to people now. He loves the water! Monday afternoon, we went to Rosa's house and presented her with a special gift, which I will write about later.
Tuesday the rain started up again. We had hoped to begin the work project, but the weather wasn't co-oparating. Linda and Carolee worked on an organizing project here instead. That afternoon, they taught the children's neighborhood Bible class. Two kids showed up because it was raining so hard! They had a good lesson time anyway with our kids and the others.
Wednesday there was break in the rain so Brian, the older kids, Linda and Carolee, and a few others headed to Jenny's house. The work project was to build a new lean-to over their mud oven. They had been gone a short time when Rosa came running to our place to say the pipe in the bathroom off the sala (living room) had exploded and water was spraying all over! Sure enough, the water was already inches deep in the sala, the medicine room, and the office. The non-stop rain has created above normal water pressure. Only Rosa, Myra, Alissa and the little kids and I were here and none of us knew how to turn off the water. Alissa and I turned all the faucets on in the building and that lessened the pressure enough that we could hold rag over the hole and stop the spray. Eventually Jeffery came and he was able to turn off the water at the pump house. We spent the rest of that day cleaning up the mess. Thankfully, overall there wasn't much long-term damage. The crew at Jenny's was able to finish their project, so a lot was accomplished in that day.
By this point my wrist was healing and I was able to use that arm. But in the meantime I had developed a huge boil in my armpit. I woke up early Thursday morning in pain that kept me from sleeping. When I sat up and felt along the floor for my flip-flops, I stepped in water. A pipe in OUR bathroom had broken in the night and now we were flooded just like the other building. Brian got the water turned off and we both swept the water out the best we could. It had filled the everything/kitchen room and our bedroom and was just starting into the kids’ room. By the time the others woke for breakfast, we had most of the water out, but everything was still wet. I had a raging migraine and went to the dorm to sleep that off while Brian, Linda, and Carolee cleaned up the mess here. You can imagine by this time, we had had enough of water in any form, but the rain was back and there seemed no hope of getting things dried out. But after a few hours of running fans, and lots of hard work, things were looking good.
Friday morning Carolee wasn’t feeling well and I was dragging around with my painful boil. She stayed with three of our kids and me. Linda and Rachel went with the others to distribute rice and beans to the families we serve in Guadeloupe. They went to several houses and were on their way back, when they saw that the road was blocked by Campecino’s. Just past them there was also a police barricade. Apparently the police had chosen that day to arrest the ones responsible for the killings there several months ago and the Campesinos were determined to block the road until their comrades were released from prison. Linda and the others ended up walking through the barricades, past the guys with their machetes drawn and ready for action. Brian had the truck parked on our side where they could safely ride back here.
Friday was also the day that Jonathan came down with a mysterious illness that made it difficult for him to urinate. We were afraid we would need to take him to one of the big cities where we could get modern medical help. There were two roadblocks between us and the outside world. We started praying!
By Saturday morning, Jonathan was doing better and we didn’t think we needed to take him to a doctor after all. An answer to prayer! That morning, Brian and I spent some time talking to Rachel about a decision she had been contemplating for a long time. But that is a story for another post. By early afternoon it was still raining, but we headed to the hot springs to do the first relaxing we had a chance to do since our friends’ arrival. Even in the rain, we enjoyed the natural hot pools and left feeling clean, which is a big deal here, as it doesn’t happen often!
By now, we started questioning if we would be able to get Linda and Carolee back to SPS in time for their flight on Tues. as we had been hearing reports of flood damaged roads. We began to make plans to leave the next morning in order to give ourselves plenty of time in case the roads were as bad as the reports.
Sunday morning, it continued to rain off and on. After church, there was a special event, which I will devote another post too. ( Yes, this is what you call salting the oats!)
We loaded up and headed out. In this case loaded up means we crammed eight people into a five-passenger truck. Most of the luggage went into the back under a tarp, but all the bodies were inside. It was cozy. Very cozy. Three plus hours later we got to La Cieba and peeled ourselves out of the cab. The kids were overjoyed to run around and get their energy out at the play place at Burger King.
Monday morning, the reports said the road was open, but barely. It was raining when we left; all eight of us packed in for another three-hour ride. We drove over bridges where the brown rushing water was just feet away from the road. As we went through Progresso we saw more flooding. At the bus stop, a man told us he had just come from SPS and the road was under water. We prayed for protection and that He would keep the road open long enough for us to get through. Just outside of SPS, we drove by many homes that were flooded. People stood in groups by every bridge watching the water rise higher. There were small tarp settlements; displaced families made a shelter with the few belongings they could carry with them. Some just sat on the ground with nothing but each other. The opposite side of the highway was under water, but our side was still clear and we made it safely to our destination.
Tuesday morning, the power flickered on and off at the hotel. People were saying that this was like Hurricane Mitch that totally devastated this country. There were already 100 confirmed dead and many more missing. We considered putting the kids on a plane with Carolee and sending them to our family in NH. But after more prayer and phone calls, we decided things weren’t as bad as the papers portrayed them. Besides, the sun was shining. We said our good byes to our dear friends and Brian took them to the airport.
We loaded up the truck with the kids and luggage and headed back toward Trujillo. (The backseat that had been so crowded for all four kids in the past now seemed quite spacious without two adults in there too!) They watched out the windows as we passed more and more displaced people trying to find a way to get out of the rain that would be returning soon. We saw one lucky person who had a real tent. Along the road people were cutting down trees to make new tarp shacks to live in until the water went down. The meridian of the highway was on high ground. In one place it was packed with tarp shelters. The water had come down and the road was clear all the way to La Cieba. We spent the night there and made it back here late this afternoon. Everywhere the rivers are swollen and eating away at the red clay banks. The water has gone down in some places, but there is more rain in the forecast and many people still are homeless. Please pray for the people of Honduras. Pray for us that we can be a light to our neighbors and a blessing to our brothers and sisters in Christ here.
We are so thankful that despite all the hardships and, Linda and Carolee were able to come and get back home safely. The past two weeks did not go anything like what we had hoped or planned. For months we had looked forward to a time of relaxing and enjoying beautiful Honduras and sharing the ministry here with dear friends. Instead, it was a time of unexpected stresses with exploding pipes, weird health problems, and scary events. As we reflected on our time together, we came to see that maybe God had sent Carolee and Linda for such a time as this. We wondered if Satan was at work, trying to discourage us in the last month before our furlough to the states. For me, it was an emotionally and physically grueling week. Just as in the Old Testament, Aaron and Hur held up Moses' arms to ensure a victorious battle, Linda and Carolee held us up and gave us the encouragement to keep going. What a blessing!