Friday, October 31, 2008

Flood Waters Rise

It sounds like Niagra Falls all the time. We have not had much of a break in the rain since yesterday. Last night Brian, Jeffery and a few others took more soup over the the shelter. They went room to room talking about the Lord and handing out Bibles. One per family was the plan, but some young people insisted that they receive one because their families weren't there. A group of teens sat around and took turns reading to each other out of the Bible we had given them. How exciting to not only feed them physically, but more importantly, spiritually!
This morning Brian and I took 15 pounds of cooked beans over for breakfast. On our way, a small river had begun to cross the road for about 10-15 feet. When we left an hour later, it was a 40 foot wide stretch of swiftly running water and the road was beginning to wash out. We made it through safely, but wonder if we will be able to get any more food to the shelter without a boat or much bigger army truck. All over there is more water in more places and higher than yesterday. Thankfully, the big river that we are watching on the road to Tacoa is about the same as it was yesterday. The road was open for a time again. The gas trucks got through and few others.
Again, Brian and Jeffery went into Trujillo and stocked up on essentials. We should be able to make several more huge batches of soup to give out or feed people here for a while if we can't get back to the shelter.
Pray for us! The water pounding on the roof is so loud it is hard to carry on a conversation. Pray that is will let up soon. If we could have a clear day, I think most of the water would go down and things could begin to dry out. The water has covered the road between us and Trujillo in places and the Rio Negro is over the banks and almost over the bridge there.
Our power was out for a short time, but we are thankful that it is back on. We did lose our water. That isn't so uncommon here, but if a water line is broken, which is what we suspect it could be a long time before that is fixed. Good thing we can go outside to get a shower!
I will write when I can...meanwhile cover us in prayer!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All Things Work Together for Good

The last time we took our clothes to the now familiar laundry mat, Brian talked to the owner,Ruth about what we are doing here. She is quite educated, unusual for Trujillo, and has a daughter with Down's Sydrome. She studied in Teguc, the capital and has a wealth of information and books on special needs children that she wants to share with us. This morning, she came out to the FDC to meet with Roxana and Susana, who has some very unusal and difficult to manage needs. Ruth is very willing and ready to share her insight and experience with our team.
Isn't it neat that in the midst of the rain and flooding, God can use even that to work out good for His children? If it hadn't rained many days? I quit counting, it's been a loooong time! We wouldn't be having such a hard time getting our clothes dry and we wouldn't have been using the laundry mat. But becuase we needed to get our clothes clean and dry, we met this lady. She has been in Trujiillo for years and never had been connected with anyone here. She didn't know that Little Hands existed! Now, we have a great resource right in our town! This confirms to me that God is at work here and that there is more going on than just us struggling through the rain and all the trouble as a result of the above average and early to start rainy season. Isn't God good?


The rain has been almost constant for the past week. Yesterday, we heard that the road out of Trujillo to Tacoa was under water and the bridges were being undermined by the raging river.
Yesterday Brian and Jeffery went to check on the families that we serve who live near the rivers. They convinced two that they needed to leave before the water was in their houses. Some of you may remember the gully next to Jennie's house. It is now full of water and in just a few more feet, it will be in the house. Jenny and her family moved to higher ground. When they checked on Erica's family the river was level with the road and huge puddles were filling he holes in the road. When they left that area, they could see that the water was getting higher. They took Erica and her family to a shelter set up for displaced people. Brian had talked to the lady in charge and asked what else we could do to help.
That morning we had tried to stock up on groceries before the stores were bare since nothing can get in to bring more food. We bought 100 pound of beans and rice hoping to give them out to the displaced families. The lady agreed that that would be helpful. Last night we estimated there would over 100 hungry people waiting for us to bring food. We made a huge stock pot of soup. Then we received word that there were 170 with 40 more on the way. We made another big pot of soup. Right before we were ready to take it over, they said there were over 300. We had purchased plastic cups and spoons and five loaves of bread since there was nothing at the shelter. We only had enough for 200, but figured that was better than nothing. When they got there, there were other people to help serve the soup and while that was taken care of, Brian and Mabelline's brother, Danial, put plastic all around the building because the rain was blowing in the open windows and the people inside were getting wet and cold.

This morning we spent hours picking through 15 pounds of beans to remove the rocks, dirt, ect. Myra and the ladies cooked the beans and 25 pounds of rice. Brian and some others took that over for lunch. We had heard that they needed water also, but when they got there, someone had set up a system for purifying the water. It seems like there are others helping out too and bringing some food as well. We plan to make soup again tonight.
Yesterday all the gasoline in town was gone and there were long lines at the grocery stores. But this morning we learned that the road had been open for a short time in the night/early morning. It seems that the gas truck got through and there were fresh veggies also. I don't think that the regular grocery stores were able to get anything else to restock their shelves.
Please pray for us and the people of Honduras. Pray for dry weather! It was clear this morning and I think the sun even made a short appearance, but now it is pouring again. We feel safe where we are and as long as we don't lose power, we should be fine. We are on high ground and aren't worried about the flooding directly affecting us here. However, we need wisdom about when we do need to be concerned and what to do in case of things deteriorating to the point where we feel it is unsafe for us to remain here. The power was out for a while this morning and so we are forming "what if" plans. We thank God that has blessed us with a safe, dry, and comfortable place to sleep while so many people here have none of those things. We are glad that we are in a position to be helpful to them. Pray that we will be able to continue the help we have started.
I will try to keep you updated. With the power outages, I try to conserve the battery on the lap top as much as possible. Thanks for praying for all of us. I hope to post pictures too, but that may have to wait until later also.

A few other notes:
  • The shelter is part of a collage/school campus if you can call it that. The building is just empty classrooms. There are no cots and no Red Cross. We don't know if they have any or sufficient bathroom facilities. There are 65+ people in some of the rooms. There are a ton of kids with little or nothing to do but watch the rain come down. During the break in the rain this morning, the ladies tried to wash clothes in the dirty water all around in ditches and puddles. Brian helped string up two clothes lines per room for people to hang their clothes up in hopes that they may dry.

  • The entire country is being affected by the flooding. Honduras is on red alert. Most people are not going to work. We don't have access to much news, but we do know that there have been widespread problems so this is not just affecting our corner, but a very wide area.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Sewing Machine for Rosa

I have been going to Rosa's on Fridays to teach her to sew because she is unable to attend sewing classes here. I had been hoping that we could find a way for her to get her own sewing machine so she would be able to practice the things she was learning. A generous donor in the states bought this brand new machine that includes a manual in both English and Spanish. We were able to present it to her while Carolee and Linda were here. Rosa is so thankful and repeated several times that this was a special gift. My hope is that Rosa will be able use this machine to not only sew things for her family, but also use it to earn an income to help pay for all the expensive medicine that her special needs children, Josue and Samuel will continue to need. We thank God for providing for Rosa and her family in such a generous way.

(Just for the record, I am tall, but not nearly as ginormous as this picture makes me look. The knee high table is really what Rosa has to sew on. The refrigerator behind me is a small version. It was so fun to show Rosa her new machine and see all the things she will be able to do with it.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Rachel's Baptism

We have been talking with our oldest daughter, Rachel, for some time now about her relationship with Christ. She believes that Jesus is God's son, who died to pay the penalty for our sins and has expressed several times over the past year, her desire to be baptized. We thought it wise to give it a little time because we wanted to make sure of her motivation, and she has confirmed to us that she wants to follow Jesus and to serve Him. We couldn’t be more excited about this desire growing in her young heart. On Sunday, October 19th, Brian baptized her in a wild ocean amid the waves.
I love this photo of him holding her close after her baptism. The first time I saw it, it struck me how very much this is a picture of our heavenly Father. It seemed that He was saying to me, "Even in the midst of the waves, I am there, cradling you and protecting you from the brunt of the storm." After last week, (see my previous loooong post), I am so thankful for that promise and very ready to rest there. (See Psalm 91)

A Week of Challenges

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!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Lice Aren't Nice

From that catchy title, you might have guessed what our latest test of endurance is...we picked up an annoying case of head lice. The girls and I have waist length hair so lice is a major ordeal for us. I haven't resorted to chopping our locks off yet, but I did buzz Brian and the boys' hair. I hated to cut off Andrew's strawberry blond curls, but anything to help us eradicate the nasty bugs is worth it now!
Alissa and Brian have been a great help! They spent most of Sunday afternoon boiling and bleaching all our bedding. Now if we can just get it to dry! It seems the rainy season has started a month early as we have had downpours all week. We just learned about a place in Trujillo where we can have things washed and DRIED all in the same day! I know that isn't an earth shattering idea to you all back in the states, but here for me, that's really exciting! Many of the things we washed days ago are still wet, so this place could be a real blessing to us now. I'm hoping that we can take care of our mountain of laundry tomorrow.
So, if you think of us this week...pray that we'll be able to get rid of all the unwanted guests in our place and that they don't come back!

Oct.3 Update....Happiness is two laundry baskets full of clean and dry and folded clothes! My shirts, that had continued to stretch out more and more at each hand washing session at the pila, look like they are back to the original size after shrinking in the dryer. I'm quite pleased and plan to utilize the laundry mat in the future!