Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Honduras 2012: Life isn't easy there

I've talked about how life is simple there in Puerto Lempira. It is simple in the short term. One doesn't have to worry about a schedule. There is no pressure to keep up with the fashion or society. No make-up. No straightening irons. No phone calls. In that sense yes, life is simple.

To live there and live as most of the people live, it isn't that simple. Not only is life full of hard labor but there are many cultural/societal norms that make life more difficult. Drugs and theft are common there. There are few if any male role models for young men to model their lives after. It isn't uncommon for young ladies to fall into the temptations of such life styles. It is sad and a life that I would love to take our sponsored daughter out of at least until she has passed the age of most of these temptations and can go back and become a role-model for younger girls.  

Aside from peer pressure and social norms. Daily life is hard work. 
The cook washes dishes here... 
After each meal the pots are completely black from the open fire they are cooked over. After each meal she scours all the suet off. It's hard work. 

 The chickens, cats, and dogs walk freely around the kitchen. They hop up on the table to get water out of dirty dishes waiting to be washed and steal left over scraps of rice.
Water for washing, cooking, flushing, cleaning, drinking and bathing comes from this well.
 Moses, who sleeps in the breezeway at Mama Tara's,
 keeps water drawn and available all day. He uses a dilapidated wheelbarrow to haul buckets back and forth.

The older girls did the laundry. And they did it with a smile or at least that I saw. It is hard work.
Would you want to wash your clothes in this water? Honestly I wouldn't either. But that is what they have.
This is the common barrel of water that the kids drank from when they were thirsty. They would scoop this bowl of water and drink the clear brown water until their thirst was quenched. 

Speaking of wells. This "puddle" is a well of another nearby orphanage. Makes you thirsty right? ???
 The little ones nap on this tile floor daily.
 They sleep through all of the screen doors slamming, the dogs walking through, the older children running and yelling... yet they sleep.
 Notice between the "couches" one of the dogs napping too!

 Neighbor kids seem to be somewhat "on their own". They often appear from all directions on our walk back to the House of Hope. They seem to just be coming out to see what we are up to. Rarely was there an adult in sight.

 Home Depot doesn't deliver in Puerto Lempira, but Alex Waits and his Rhino do!
 Some one asked me before we left if there was a Home Depot nearby to get supplies if we need them... Not realizing they were serious I laughed out loud for a second and then quickly realized they weren't joking... clearing my throat: "No, actually there isn't..." I wasn't sure what else to say. ;)
  Trash services? It is done this way... Pick it up, put it in a piles seperated by metals and nonmetals (optional), light a match and watch it burn.

When we were digging trenches by hand one of the person's on our team asked "Why don't we rent a back hoe?" I thought to myself, "REALLY? Where in the world do you think we are going to rent a back hoe?" But I realized she had never been to the port of Puerto Lempira and hadn't been into 'town' to see for herself that this wasn't an option.
The only way into this issolated area of Eastern Honduras is by plane or boat. There are no roads from the rest of Honduras, not because it is an island but because La Maskito is a forgotten place full of indeginous people who are thought of as 'less-than' by the rest of the country.

 In previous posts you have seen the dirt run way... it is not like a 747 is going to make it into town.
the airport
The port is in a large but shallow lagoon.
Behind the pier you can see the cargo ship. This is as far as this boat can come. I am not good with measurements but it is probably at least a football field's length out from shore. The water is only 3-4 feet deep. 
The best way to get these barrels full of supplies to shore is to throw them off the boat, tie them together and walk/drag them to shore.
I don't know about you but I don't think a back hoe could be brought in that way? lol

Getting food and supplies brought into town is difficult and time consuming which makes things more expensive. For most people getting what we consider daily necessities becomes cost prohibitive. 

If you just can't fathom flying into town on a 18 seat plane you could come in by boat. Looks comfortable huh?  I was told that from La Ceba (where we would have been coming from) it was an 8 hour boat ride on a boat like this!  No thanks! 

Life here is certainly complicated and hard. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Day 4; Part II: Honduras 2012 And so the work began.

Mama Tara's Orphanage is set in a beautiful place. It is full of beautiful children with beautiful hearts. The poverty however is just undeniable.  I remember the first time I walked up to this place I was overwhelmed with grief and guilt and sadness. I knew then in that moment that Mama Tara's was a place we needed to work on. We needed it to become more sustainable. A little cleaner. A little safer. 
Over time I forgot to see the poverty though. I forgot that this wasn't normal. That the children there all had lice and worms and that trash was everywhere and chickens and cats walked all over the food preparation table and that the kids drank filthy water from a plastic tub that probably held 50 gallons of stagnant water. 
After you begin to see the life in the children's eyes and the love of the caregivers you forget that you are in such a place. Or maybe that it is you forget that it is not normal. Or maybe you just can't allow yourself to "see" it anymore because if you do your heart will just stop beating. I am not sure what it is that causes it... but somehow it just becomes... normal.
On day four Alex (an awesome local missionary) handed us a list of 6 tasks that Linda (a missionary who just began living at Mama Tara's) would really like to see happen. These things will be life changing even though they seemed like small tasks. Honestly I was a bit confused. I thought we were going to be working on the security wall... In hind sight it was God's perfect plan and I am glad to didn't question it but rather just trust the missionaries who understand life there. 
One of the tasks. Repair the chicken coop!
 Yep, this is the chicken coop.  I don't remember the exact number of chickens they started with but in the last few weeks a dozen or more chickens had been stolen from them. Loosing the chickens means loosing the eggs which means the kids get even less protein than before.
Several of the guys worked and worked on that coop.

 They had to basically tear out each wall and start all over. Don't worry the chickens run free during the day. They lock them up at night to keep them "safe".
 Brandon found a scorpion on his pants! YIKES!!!
As we were calling it a day on day four we were super excited because a chicken willingly went into the coop! LOL If we did nothing else in Honduras we saved one chicken! 

The medical team started their clinic this day. I was so impressed with their organization. It was awesome to see how this all came together. 
 Lauri (the organizer of our medical group) and Maxs their God-sent translator!
 The first day of the clinic they primarily saw and treated the children from Mama Tara's. All the kids got "de-wormed" and a thorough check-up.

 Loved watching them at work!!!
Even the workers and women at Mama Tara's came through the line.

Wendy started cutting the girls hair. She lovingly volunteered to cut and all of the kids hair. You can see the grin on FB's face. It made them feel so special to have someone do this for them. 

 Mom and Janet started re-screening doors. We had actually done this last year but as you can imagine after twenty-some kids come through those doors countless times a day the screens just wore out. This time they used thicker screen and several layers of it. The screen wasn't to keep thieves out. It was to keep chickens cats and dogs out!
 Below is a picture of how the food was cooked over an open fire. As you can imagine it gets extremely smoky in there.
Another thing on our to-do-list was to cut out a window for ventilation.
 Adam and Clayton went to town and had a square window cut out in no time. They also made a shutter so that they could close the window if necessary. Good job guys!
 Scott wired the entire building so that when the electricity actually gets connected the building will be ready to go! It was amazing the amount of work he got done!  We got to turn lights on with a generator for a few minutes. I can't wait to hear the news that the power lines have finally made it from town! This should be happening late January or early February!
What was awesome about all of our experiences was that the children often jumped right in and helped with the work. It was awesome for several reasons. 1. It was just fun to have them their by our sides. 2. I can't help to hope that this inspired them and empowered them to take care of the things we were trying to do for them. Maybe since they helped screen the door maybe just maybe the door won't need repaired next time we return?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Day 4, Part I: Honduras 2012; Night lights and Tree Frog

The mornings came early in Honduras. Typically we went to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 with fans  roaring. The fans were a blessing not just to keep the hot air circulating but also to drown out strange sounds of a foreign land. The fans were a gift... that was until the power went off each night for several hours so that the power companies could save energy. Those of us who went last year were used to the power going off but last year it went off around 6:00am until about 10:00am. By 6:00am the sun was up and we were pretty well rested and ready to start the day. This year our first night,  the power went out around 2:00am.

Understand that Peurto Lempira is an awesome place but theft runs high. The economy there is hurting (much like a lot of the world) but here, in my opinion, it is worse because most people there began in what we would consider desperation. When already desperate people are pushed against a wall, well... bad things can happen. Mama Tara's, a place that could be considered the bottom of the ladder even gets robbed in the middle of the night. The children who have just a few articles of clothing each, get burglarized as they slept.

OK so back to the power going off at 2:00am... It is hard not to wake up when the fans go off. All the sudden the 'white noise' is gone and you become aware of every creak, every gust of wind, every rooster crowing (oh yeah! They crow ALL night!), every dog barking, every flash light shining in your second story window... yep... every flashlight shining in your window! My bed lay under the window in our room. We were told to sleep with our door and windows locked even though we were in a gated facility with a guard. Even with all of that there had been break-in's in the past. Our door was locked but as I lay there in total darkness the dim flashlight that was obviously moving around in the yard below had me frozen stiff. At first the light seemed to be randomly flicking around but then it seemed to be concentrating on windows. Maylin, who was in the bottom bunk bed with me was between myself and the slatted window. As I laid there motionless I tried to decide if should move Maylin further away from the window or let her innocently sleep through what ever this was. In my fear I went with neither one of us move. I tried to quietly snap my fingers to see if Adam was awake. Apparently his ear plugs worked well. I laid there for what seemed like an eternity. The light went away and eventually I too put earplugs in and was able to go back to sleep... The next morning I learned that the light was the night guard walking around with his flashlight making sure we were all snug as bug's in our rooms... sheesh people! Really?! lol


One of the best parts of waking up in Honduras, even after a rough night of sleep, is knowing that as you walk down the stairs you were going to have smiles like this to greet you!  There are a lot of kids at the House of Hope but there are a few that really have a place in my heart. How could this grin not be one of those?
this sweet boy was sitting on the stairs waiting for someone to come play. 
 Last year we lovingly nick named this little guy "Tree Frog". He could climb anything and anyone! He jumped around and was just plain ornery. Not ornery in a bad way, but in a way that kept you on your toes and made one giggle. I love this little guy.
  He gives the best hugs,
and just brings such a spark to life that is contagious!  I am happy to report that through R.O.O.M. "Tree Frog" is in the process of being adopted by a Honduran family in San Pedro Sula. When I heard the news my heart skipped a couple of beats. The first missed beat was shear excitement for him! How awesome!!! The second missed beat however was a selfish one... I may never get to see this joyful, precious little guy again?! ugh. I am so HAPPY for "Tree Frog but, oh the House of Hope just won't be the same without him.

To adopt a child is to follow the lead of God who has adopted so many.- Josh Wiley

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Day 3 part II: Honduras 2012

After we settled into to our sleeping quarters we set off for the nearly mile long walk over to Mama Tara's orphanage. To get there we ducked under a hole in in the chain link fence,
literally cross the runway (watch out for planes!), 

we crossed many mud puddles and one or two 'small lakes'! I have video of these but no still pictures. :(
A couple of times some of us got to ride in the "Rhino".  Most days we at least got to send our back packs so we didn't have to carry our water for the day. 
we passed lots of homes with beautiful children.
The local "pulperia" (store) where we bought drinks. After a couple of days we were getting tired of drinking room temperature water so we started buying drinks for dinner on our way back. 
Pierson strolling down the road.  It is so beautiful there. 

It is the rainy season there right now. However God held off the rain for us! While we were in San Pedro Sula there was no rain. While we were in Puerto Lempira there was no rain but they had quite a bit of rain in San Pedro Sula. Once we left Puerto Lempira apparently the skies opened back up but it cleared up for us again in San Pedro Sula! You tell me? How good is our God?!
When we got there it was late in the afternoon. We didn't start our work that day. It was just time to be reunited with old friends, meet new friends
and love on the kids many of us had gotten to know the year before.
This little girl was one who had melted my heart the year before. Oh what fun it was to hug her again!
We played ball in the yard.
We were amazed at how big they were getting!
The medical team brought their stuff over to prepare for the clinic the next day.
Curious eyes peered through the windows as they set up.
Our family recently started sponsoring a little girl (I'll call FB for privacy) who we have prayed for, sent pictures and little gifts for. We had met her the year before but honestly she wasn't one of the one's I got to know really well. I was very excited to meet her face to face and really appreciate getting to know all about her personality and give her a real hug!

When we first got there we were hugging and greeting friends when all of the sudden I looked up and there in the doorway she stood...  In that moment time stood still. She stood leaning against the door frame while holding open the screen less, screen door with her hand. I can still see her shy grin looking at me with a question in her eye that said, "Do you know who I am?" I was hugging another little one at the time who I promptly let go of and rushed over to her! Oh my gosh it was awesome to hug her. I couldn't communicate in language, but no words were needed in that moment. It was awesome to hold her and see her smile!
Our first family photo with 'FB'. How sweet it was!
One of our team members brought a bat and ball for the kids. We started a game of baseball in the yard. The kids were loving it!
Some of the girls watched for a bit
but before long Laurie had them up and playing as well!
Maylin taking her turn at bat! Oh the squeals of joy that afternoon! I wish we could bottle that up and bring it home with us.
Sisters in heart. Maylin and FB. I love how both girls are sticking there tongues through their teeth!
Wendy was so good with the little ones! Just look at the smiles on the faces. To deny that lives were changed this week would just be untrue.  She and Ginia played London bridges with these guys while the older one's were playing ball.
This melts my heart! FB doesn't actually live at Mama Tara's orphanage. She lives with her Grandmother who is the cook there at MTs. At any rate, she doesn't and hasn't had a father figure in her life. It made my heart almost burst with joy to see her accept Adam so easily. 
She is a bit shy and kept her distance at times but would randomly sneak through where ever Adam was to tickle him on his back while she ran past giggling. Oh how I wish we could bring her home with us to give her a better education and to give her a father figure. 
In the same breath I wouldn't want to take away her past or her grandmother. I wouldn't want to take the Moskitia heritage from her and somehow try to "Americanize" her. I just want to give her opportunity and love her.

All too soon it was time to head back to the House of Hope where we slept.
The sun sets quickly there. It is as if the world turns more quickly. Which is ironic because the days seem to be forever long.  Once it starts turning dusk though it is time to go home or you won't make it before dark. There aren't any street lights. It is just DARK! As we walked back that evening there was excitement in our hearts as we anticipated going back the next morning and beginning the work God set before us.