Wait, the last post was in early September? Good grief, I knew I was busy, but that took me aback.
We fly to the US October 1st, and that certainly did open some doors literally and figuratively. We were doing it to get medicines and supplies, getting the kids out of isolation, and us as well. We were hoping to relax, take some time off, but I would be lying if we have been totally successful on that front, but we have been trying.
It was quite frustrating in a way to be here when two major hurricanes within two weeks were threatening Honduras. We wanted to be home, to be able to help. Instead, sitting on the sidelines, at least how it felt.
Thankfully for us, both Eta and Iota did not hit Teguicgalpa or our Church areas with nearly the force that was anticipated. That does not mean that it didn't hit with great force elsewhere, and after Eta passed, our staff was looking to see how they could help the areas hardest hit.
There were areas affected closer to home, and we will also be seeing how we help in other parts of the country as well...reports are coming in that near Danli there are affected areas, and at least one pastor has some reports of problems of flooding in his home, near Talanga. And there are road issues in many, many areas.
Seen below is Luz Belen in the house her parents were building in Sampedrana. The hard rains there that have washed out the road also affected their adobe, which they only had been able to cover with a roof half way before the storm. They are living with grandparents. (Luz is part of the Milk Project in Sampedrana.)
I don't think I could give an update here on everything else going on in the ministry...even with COVID and hurricanes, there is quite a bit going on, and things that need tackling. Including seeing below...we had issues with water coming through the walls during hard rains in the Milk Project. We tried fixes inside, but ultimately, had to work outside sealing, and then painting the exterior walls. Hoping that will help a great deal. It is certainly more blue now to stand out.
And Oscar reports that Sunday when he went to visit for the 8th anniversary of the Church in Danli, that he heard the testimony of the young woman pictured below, (volunteering by handing out celebratory tamales.) She was thankful for his prayers. In January he visited her house with pastor Edwin and a few group members during a medical brigade we were doing in the area.
She shared how she did not like Church, but since that day something happened, and now her and her family, and her husband are faithful in the Church, and her life has been blessed.
What else to say but...amen y amen
I have had a hard time focusing lately. Not focusing on work, but focusing on prayer, on my absolute dependence on God, on my inability to affect the changes that I want sometimes. I wish sometimes I could go back to when my work primarily looked like the picture above..building things, moving things, seeing progress in front of my eyes (this is just outside the clinic property on the road...sewer pipes in, concrete coming next, and then we wait for them to hook everything up!)
We are facing paperwork/rules work that is seemingly unsolvable right now on the container fronts. Ultimately, there are issues that I cannot fix. But what will happen? I don't know. That all adds up to severe depression...and then some rescue this week via the Holy Spirit. We just have to pray...for God to make a way, because that is the only way...literally and figuratively.
Above, a picture of our new clinic sign. We had tried a painted one a while back, but it never quite fit and was hard to grasp. So, we had this made, and it was pretty inexpensive! We had it made a little smaller to help read it...and plan on filling in the areas around it soon with some different colored/shaped arrows to help point the way.
And below...more coffee. Sorry about the flash/plastic getting in the picture in a few places. I bought the first pound of this new batch, to taste test before it heads to the US soon. 2100 pounds of coffee. Now...we just have to get it distributed. We had a lot of help and people getting together to get great deals on the 50 pound boxes we sent a few months ago, we are hoping we can repeat that and more...as we push to grow this way of drinking great coffee and making a difference here.
I can see the light in this tunnel...finding people to drink coffee, and them directly helping us get to where we can be self sufficient and even go to the next level. It isn't that far away, and every coffee drinker, coffee giver, coffee gifter, comes into play.
This time, we will have about 800 pounds each of ground and whole bean...but also some darker roast whole bean and ground, about 500 pounds worth.
If you want to buy some coffee now though, you can...email me to coordinate a 50 pound box (shipping is so much cheaper that way) or place an order for one, three or five pounds here
I feel like God opened my eyes this morning. It is often amazing to me how gently, how slowly, and how much patience He has. I think I would have given up on me by the time I turned 18.
We have had a cinnamon tree growing on the property here for many years. A novelty, we didn't know what we were doing when we bought it, it just seemed cool. Despite just being planted and left, in the shadow of a now huge avocado tree no less, it has continued to grow and is now about eight feet tall. Recently we decided to look up what is required to harvest cinnamon, and Oscar and Jorge gave it a try, with Maria looking after it and using it afterwards.
This morning, Valerie got some of it, and made cinnamon tea. I had some. Tasted like cinnamon water, not too bad!
I have been a bit depressed of late (uh, who hasn't?) and also thinking about the measures society uses for prosperity, specifically financial. I probably was coveting a couple times in my mind, maybe jealous a bit if I am honest at seeing a few things. Really I would describe those feelings as...a lack of focus and vision (oh, and sin, lest I forget.)
Not to get way too over personal for comfort, but that tea this morning was a "breath of fresh smack in the head" reminding me...treasure, prosperity, and joy, doesn't come ultimately where we think it does.
That might not make a lot of sense to you, I'm not sure, but it was clear as day for me.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. 4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
Let's hope it sticks with me for a while.
I am personally a bit down of late. Physically, actually not too bad. Back is not too bad, just an ear infection and otherwise, God be praised, still in good health. But mentally/emotionally...I am drained. Apparently so is my keyboard. Some of those repeated letters in the title are its doing. It seemed appropriate, so I went with it. Also seems to describe trying to get to sleep every night.
No picture to share to show why I am feeling stressed, computer screens with big red Xs doesn't feel like necessary to share.
For almost five months now in quarantine, I am used to facing each day a little not knowing what I am doing, what should be done, how, etc. But with two containers coming, and government offices still somewhat closed or moving things online, I am finding myself as the only guy apparently that can do some of the paperwork that needs done, and with no clue what to do. Three or four different agencies (so far, gulp) different registrations, paperwork needed, payments...and all in different platforms, rules, etc. And...asking for information in that way that only government agencies do: beyond my understanding.
It is so draining and stressful I begged our customs agent to do some of it. "'Can't I just pay you to do it?" His answer, with sympathy in his voice: "No, has to be you pretty much." I got a little solice from him though when he told me he couldn't make heads or tails of the online system for the phytosanitary permit either. Although, it still left me then going to the physical office (two days in a row..the first day about 1 hour trip to find out we needed to have made an appointment) for another 1.5 hours to find that the people in charge...had no clue the online system was so confusing and requiring a username and password, that I had no way to request online. At least I got to leave the property I suppose. Now, I have to buy stamps...but electronically. And that means another organization to talk to. I mean, this last part came up literally as I was ranting here about the previous steps! I have been tested, and been found wanting...at every step of the way. I can't do this stuff, I am in way over my head. I am lost actually, and just keep stumbling from one email to the next. I need to place some more God calls. And also remember...so what, I don't know what I am doing? Who cares? Keep calm...and carry on. It will get done, eventually, and my ego bruising is ultimately a small price to pay if it means getting the things the mission needs. Even if it kills me! Well...hopefully it won't be that drastic. Although we did go over procedures if one of us were to die last week, that one being me since I know where all the passwords are kept.
But, there is other stuff going on, let's try to forget the soup of paperwork I am lost in, (you can pray for me after though, I need it) and talk about some other happenings.
We are taking advantage of Soren's welding skills, his availability, and desire to help to tackle another project that we wern't sure otherwise we were going to do for a while...a new backup tank for the mission house. Soon, when the power goes out, we will still have water for the groups to use. Also soon, if we need more welding, it will have to be on the weekends as Soren starts online classes next week.
The Milk Project...Maria and the rest of the staff continue to keep busy every day of the week. Helping pack food, cleaning the property, classes for themselves, even painting some more of the mural space outside.
And...creating Birthday cards for the kids. We can't celebrate like normal, so...time to celebrate, but not normal.
It feels like sometimes, the ministry work there is stopped. In some ways, sure.
But the letters I see from the kids, and sometimes from parents...I think they are more aware than ever of what they are missing, and what a blessing it is right now, with food for the families, and ongoing homework help, that the staff is there and helping how they can, even staying in touch via messaging and social media.
I love this picture. I mean, among many things buoying me and keeping me going in spite of my drained state, quite literally, this is a big one, because it is just one picture but represents a mentality, a way of being, that we exist for and want to see/be as a mission/people.
The bags of food we are sending out lately are not as full as they used to be. Donations have dropped off, and to make sure we can keep going into September, we had to drop to just doing beans and rice.
In Sampedrana, they took up a collection and are adding oil, sugar and more, like we used to be able to do as well. They see the needs, they visit the families, and they want to continue to help. Here is pastor Henry, his wife Isela and their son packing some of those extra items in the bags we sent.
Starting again...another 10,000 pounds of rice and beans to distribute. We have had to winnow a bit of the other great things we were adding in the past, not enough funds, and also distribute less every week. A kind of restructuring after about four months of doing this.
We are still receiving enough via the Milk Project to make sure those families get a bag per week, plus a few other goodies we bought for them in August (milk and granola bars), but otherwise it is going to have to drop as we try to make this last into early September, and by then hopefully as well have the corn here and able to distribute. Prices on staples that which had been up almost 100% since March have dropped just a bit, we are hoping that will continue.
We are still taking donations since our economic restrictions are likely to continue through that time period in some form, any "phases" we get to after getting out of the 0 we are currently in, will certainly be in place now in September.
I'll include that link here for making donations to do more food distributions in case anyone is interested, we will be hoping to raise another $5,000 for September/October, to distribute another 500 bags.
The road work in our neighborhood has begun again. Although most people can't work...at least they have started this again, putting some construction guys to work again. They are digging trenches right now for sewer lines (right about where one of them are standing will be where we connect the property at some point.) Once all that is done, eventually then they will pour concrete roads here as well. Community transformation indeed. When we can connect to sewers, that will be a big change for us as well...and involve some expense to reroute all our waste from where it currently goes (about three different locations right now)
We have had several reasons to tackle a few small construction projects of late, including needing some extra hands available to do some other things. And actually as of last week, hardware stores can actually be open as well, so not only was Santos able to do the concrete work for the new garden areas around the mission house, but Soren was able to weld up some fence to protect the future flowers/berries/whatever we can get to grow there, and finish up railings on other parts of the property. So we are trying to find any other welding projects we need him to do before he goes back to school (albeit online) in a few weeks.
The clinic continues to fill the parking lot to overflowing almost every morning, and leaving late every afternoon (although that has improved a bit, no more leaving almost two hours late) and Oscar has been out and about some getting food to the pastors, checking with them...he spent last night in Las Botijas as well.
So although we are still restricted...and our case count for COVID and deaths is steady, we are slowly finding some more ways we can work safely and do what we can to help in different areas.
I have been getting up early for many months to get my exercise on the campus. Getting up early enough to beat dawn here means you have to be up by 4:30 in the summer time. A lazy 5:15 I think in December. Not being able to go anywhere else means I have got to see quite a few different views in the last...oh who is counting now anyway, four plus months.
With challenges come opportunities. With COVID comes lots of both in how we respond, as a mission and personally.
Taking steps of faith and God providing has been awesome to continue to see. Working on paperwork now for the coming containers is challenging...but worth my angst at not knowing how almost any of this shipping stuff works. That and it really being mostly out of my control when any of that happens.
Spending money where you think it is needed, looking to see what should be done, how, and how to try to be an encouragement is a very interesting challenge.
I'll admit though...those sunrises are one of many kinds of God calls, gut checks, faith walks. Not just the beauty and awe of what God does...but how He does it.
One of the things of my youth, and now, is that erroneous way of being that thinks we can understand God, that things will eventually all make sense, that we will have a handle on things.
I don't understand quite a bit lately. People, their opinions, viruses, death, hunger...it's a pretty long list actually.
That doesn't really bother me though. God gave us several reminders that He is in control, only He gets the full picture, and instead of trying to plug the gaps and/or invent what we don't understand, we just need to trust in Him.
Job 42, Isaiah 40 (Who can fathom the Spirit of the Lord, or instruct the Lord as his counselor?) and more...all pointing to the fact God is God, and we are not.
We call it sunrise. Another language says "sun up time" and then sun down time. It makes sense. Of course, it is not accurate. We revolve around the sun, not the other way around.
Things not making so much sense is a lot easier to process when you have the right perspective.
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