So how about an update?
Here you can see part of the farm in Sampedrana that has been cleared, the hodgepodge triangle-sort-of-shape of cleared, green, polka dot (avocado tree), and coffee. We own further up the mountain, we are just working on getting enough plants grown in our nurseries to then clear more and plant. This will take years to complete, as each acre roughly needs 2,000 plants, and the rough cost from seedling to going into the ground is $1 per plant, and we have well over 10 acres left to plant.
As I have written, our main need here other than continuing to develop the property is to improve the road conditions getting there, some widening, some leveling, but mostly improving the road itself for less slipping and sliding. We are going to have to invest at least $3,000 this year on this road to try to get it up to snuff. And one more thing will be building a house on the property and using it for a family to live and be daily caretakers, as well as just a base of operations to do cleaning, pulping, drying, etc.
The farm in Las Botijas was one we took over from another missionary when they left the country. There is one big homestead, and several other pieces of property, several of which have coffee growing on them. We were concerned about getting a proper caretaker for several years, but God had not opened any long term doors until August of 2017, when we moved Rony and his family from Sampedrana, where he had transplanted almost eight years ago to work with Don Escoto on his farm, but was going to lose his job because the farm was being divided and given to his children.
There is quite a bit to do here as well in terms of planting more coffee and other improvements on the multiple properties, and that is exciting, but even more exciting is that after a brief time working in Las Botijas, and not having a place to worship, just by worshipping as a family, Rony has turned into a pastor by opening doors to what is already 15 believers and six friends in the community. Seeing how we can help this burgeoning Church will be a bigger priority moving forward.
Finally you can see here below the property in Cantaranas. We have received funds to plant the hill of this property this year with fruit trees, which should provide more long term investment and return for the property such as we already get from the two avocado trees there. The valley Jonathan and the Church are still currently trying to use (you can see they have the greenhouse there) and we will see in the next twelve months about the long term housing on site about maybe developing that even more.
So you can be praying for the workers, and their families, for their safety, for good crops and harvests, and ways in which we can use those harvests more in our local areas, and abroad, to further the work of Christ. Finding buyers abroad especially for the coffee we produce would be a great way not only to help us locally more but have more ties that could help us improve what we produce, but also to reach our goal of being self sustaining and starting to really invest some of what is being done into the other areas of ministry as well. That could be helping hire more clinic staff, planting a new Milk Project, a new Church plant...the options, even limited just to what we are already doing and in areas where we already work, are numerous. May God guide us and direct us through it all!
Just wanted to upload some pictures of the special Christmas gifts the sponsors made possible this year, the Christmas party, a couple of building construction pictures, and other Milk Project December pictures.
It has been a great 2017, looking forward to see how God grows and shapes the project and these kids for the future in 2018!
I am amazed that it has been over a week since the elections here (November 26th) and that the amount of coverage internationally to the growing problematic situation here has been so very little.
Honduras needs your prayers.
The short version of the story is that we have a president running for re-election, a first here, and controversial in and of itself. The main opposing candidate is representing an alliance of a couple parties whose main goal in aligning was to get more votes than the president, as otherwise he looked to be the clear winner. All the other parties here were quite assuredly before the election running for a very distant third place.
The socialist party which is pretty much led by the ousted president from the 2009 coup, where ironically he was also trying to get re-elected, has made statements they are not accepting the election results, which have been quite slow to be reported, and quite close in the outcome. Accusations of tampering have been flying as the results being final and (however one deems) transparent have been slow going. There have been calls for continual protests in the streets, even some not so subtly suggesting violence play a part in overturning this "dictatorship." And for a couple days, there was quite a bit of destruction of private property and looting. That has calmed a bit after a curfew was put in place, but still the streets are being blocked in key areas for some periods of time, making transportation of goods difficult, and cancelling school (for the schools on the US schedule...Honduran government schools are out for break until February) for over a week now because of safety concerns.
Politics (not just lately) in many parts of the world seems to have more to do with the power for those fighting for it than it does for real change for the people being served. While those ardent supporters of both sides claim it would be a disaster for the country to have to live through four years of their opponents, the reality is that for the vast majority of the country life will continue with little or no change. And the vast majority are the economic poor.
These disruptions really are not hurting the wealthy and those with steady employment. To be sure, they hurt service industry businesses quite a bit, those whose stores were looted and/or burned and others, but the greatest hardship is for those that daily are seeking a paying job just to make it through another 24 hours with something to eat.
Right now our mission is operating as normal as can be...construction continues on the Milk Project building, the Churches are meeting, the clinic is open (although...service industry, patient load is down since many have trouble getting transportation), and since all the kids from the Milk Project live within walking distance, they are meeting daily as well. Things are seemingly normal sometimes and in some places here...but not really. How this will play out remains to be seen...there is international interference behind the scenes, along with international observance front and center trying to help, the parties and what they are doing behind the scenes is shrouded. The curfew was established Friday for 10 days...but police are now resisting enforcing it (although violence has not escalated yet) and even still, there are no signs that the situation will be resolved by the time that curfew is set to expire.
So pray if you would...
-for God's touch on the hearts of those waging political war, and for all of us that get wrapped up in things like this so tightly sometimes that we forget where our faith, our sight, and love should be.
-that He would help ministries and their staff, volunteers, congregants all share Christ's love with everyone around them through this time regardless of what their political position is.
-for peace, for stability...so that there could be fostered an environment for economic growth to provide employment for roughly 50% or more of the country, for assurance of being able to leave your home without worry of being able to return for protests, curfews and violence, and done in such a way that only God can get the glory.
Not sure that is an interesting post or not, but it is part of what we have to do...sometimes quite satisfying when you can fix something or find what is needed (sometimes even when things are available here, they can be several hundred percent of what the cost on the internet is) and sometimes quite frustrating when it just does not work out. It is a reminder though that ultimately some things are out of our hands. I can plan, I can search, (sometimes I even remember to pray) but ultimately there are large swatches of life that are out of our control. It helps to foment planning for the future, but also sometimes helps to not be so dependent on the material things that cannot be ordered with one day shipping...or even 30, 60 or 90 shipping sometimes.
It is also a reminder to be thankful for what infrastructure development (in general and in helping other countries), access to internet, economic investment, and a growing "world" economy can do for all countries, especially countries that have economic disadvantages in some areas.
Felipe here. You may or may not know me, although odds are that at the time of this writing, most of those reading this do. But how well do we really know anyone?Sometimes it is hard to get to know one and another, depending on proximity, time available, personalities, etc.
For example, many of you do not know that I used to take when first dating Valerie in the early 1990s, I found she did not care for any songs by Tom Petty that were being released at that time. So I took great pleasure listening to classic rock stations, waiting for an older Tom Petty song to come on, and then casually asking if she liked that song, only to then with a dramatic flair announce, "Ah ha! That is Tom Petty!" And yet despite that and many other such stories from real life, she still agreed to marry me.
Another thing that strangers, acquaintances, and even friends sometimes do not get to know is a quality I possess in which I think many of us could identify...inadequacy. When we share our story, I am quick to point out that serving here in general and especially in a position of ministry leadership is definitely not something I identify as a strength or something innate in me. What goes along with that, but that is hard to share in a casual conversation, is a deep seated feeling of inadequacy. Sometimes that can be good...in being able to clearly see a lack of ability to gain favor with God based on merit or good deeds. Sometimes however it can also manifest in an almost crippling lack of belief of worth, of ability, and underlying doubt of Christ's redeeming power. It can be extremely difficult to work well when this is most manifest, hard to participate well in relationships, and hard to just be in public for any length of time. It can leave you feeling trapped in your house, not seeing a way out.
Those are just two embarrassing stories of my past...and present. Stories that can be hard to share, or hard to find people with whom we feel close enough to share. Not everyone wants to share our semi-embarrassing, or perish the thought actual deep dark secrets, with almost anyone. How you handle that will vary...but there is One with whom we can, and should share all that and so much more.
Tom Petty is no longer with us, but his songs are.
In a world (or inside my own brain) that can be so twisted, difficult and hard to navigate, we can take solace/strength in what? Only God...only He can get us through, only He can save our wretched souls. This is no mere platitude, not something we say to make ourselves feel better. Sometimes it does not make me feel better...but I can still know it is better and will get better. Only He can give us clarity in the fog of our brains, only He provides a solid foundation on which we can stand. Only He can lift us up and keep us going when our will gives out...
"You could stand me up at the gates of hell,
But I won't back down
Gonna stand my ground, won't be turned around,
And I'll keep this world from draggin' me down,
Gonna stand my ground and I won't back down
Hey baby, there ain't no easy way out
Hey I will stand my ground
And I won't back down
Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down"
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