Saturday, January 6, 2018

What did political unrest mean to us?

Within the first six months of moving to Honduras back in 2009, we experienced a political coup. The military forcefully ousted a president from office and then some chaos ensued for a few weeks. There was a curfew, a lot of rumors of terrible things that were going to happen, gas rationing, etc. It was all very scary we learned a lot from it - one of the biggest things was a friend/fellow missionary that said "don't let a political coup (or whatever else) determine where God has called you. If He's called you, then it should be irregardless of a coup or whatever other chaos." That has really really stuck with us.

Fast forward to November 26th, 2017. Honduras presidential elections happened and the people did not like the results - a lot of fishy things happened and people were calling 'fraud'. The people were angry, afraid for their country and that democracy was not being upheld in their country (I'm going to spare you the political details but feel free to google it.) Announcing the president was delayed until December 17th as they worked to recount and evaluate what was happening with the voting. During this time - and up until Dec 23rd, the Honduran people were rioting, 'taking the streets' and burning tires, etc. There was little control and very sadly there was looting and damage done as well. It has been a very uncertain time in Honduras and sad to watch a country that we love so much go through such chaos and panic.

For us, as foreigners in this land, and yet it is completely our home, it has been a weird time for us as well, being outsiders and yet living it with everyone else- ensuring we had extra food in case they blocked the ports and/or the roads to where they couldn't fill the grocery stores, always keeping the gas tank full, making our decisions of where we could go based on the status of the roads each day, and seeing how we could best take care of our staff during this time as well. Other than that though, life was very normal for us in our small little corner of the world - no violence, roads open, people still needing medical care, the community still needing us and life happening as normal.

The effects for this time impacted the poor of Honduras a lot. The agriculture grown around us wasn't picked up by the purchaser so our local farmers lost some profit from their crop, the prices for agriculture went way down, and those stores that were looted and damaged affected peoples jobs, etc.

This time we went back the to same personal evaluation of making sure our calling to live and love people in Honduras wasn't based on political security, but on the fact that God wants us here. The difference this time is that the stakes were raised - we have kiddos and a full staff that counts on us. I found it very amusing/odd how we explained to our girls what was happening and about riots and road blocks - what a different normal for them to process than my childhood. I never imagined parenting would include explaining burning tires and road blocks to my 7 year old.

Now of course -I"m not trying to sound dramatic - we were FINE - but when you run the worst case scenarios in your head, it's still a check point in our minds of what your priorities are.

Today, January 6th, life is mostly back to normal. There are still delays in some construction material we're waiting on, there are tire burn marks on the highways. We're expecting a few ugly days around the inauguration day (the President the people wanted wasn't elected so the people are still mad), but otherwise things are normal. As I look back on these days, I'm thankful for a solid and wise husband that makes it a priority to care for others and provide for his family. I'm also thankful that we share a love for this country and our communities. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

10 years

2007: Visiting a Fort in Honduras - learning the
history of this new country

87,600 hours OR 3,650 days OR 10 years. This last month was our one decade anniversary of being living in Honduras.

10 years ago, we were off for a one year adventure to a capital city we didn’t know how to pronounce, and we were so naively excited about what the adventure would bring. We didn’t speak more than a bit of Spanish vocab, we made friends immediately with some amazing Hondurans that so kindly flung the doors of their homes and hearts open for us - it was thanks to them that we fell in love with Honduran culture. 10 years ago we had a borrowed vehicle we shared with other teachers and went off exploring whenever possible.

A few random thoughts:
·      Our first meal in country was Applebees - we were super disappointed by that! (where’s the tacos!)
·      We’ve lived in 6 houses, 4 different towns
·      We can now speak Spanish enough to communicate with lawyers or business people
·      We have learned cultural norms of weddings, funerals, births, birthdays, honor.
·      There’s more paperworkt to living internationally than I realized: we track 2 residency cards, 8 passports, 4 Drivers licenses, and multiple banks and insurance options in each country!
·      One of the biggest struggles of being a missionary is seeing the need every. Single. Day.  
·      Next hardest point is living away from family and having them miss the daily life things.
·      We have multiple ‘communities’ that we interact with and we found we need them all: our neighbors, our church, the staff community, other missionaries (those we work directly with and the greater missionary community).
·      It’s all about contacts and who you know: we have our phone contacts with cheat hints of which ‘Jose’ is this one. Tristan has one called ‘fireworks lady’.
·      A friend of ours who arrived in Honduras on the same flight as we did, is still in Honduras as well and we are still friends!
·      Our kids prefer tortillas & beans over hamburgers.

2017: at the same Fort - only this time we were showing
our kids the fort and the history of Honduras
There are so many highlights that I could mention about this last decade, about all that we’ve learned and the heartaches and celebrations. For sure I know that being a foreigner in another country is not easy. It does not come natural and everything feels harder. But one thing I know for certain, when we are weak, God has a perfect platform to show off for us. We have learned so much about trusting in God to come through. His faithfulness and how we must be dependent on Him. We’ve learned that He loves His children and that He wants to use His children to love others.

For today, I’m thankful for the ups and downs and lessons learned through these last 3,650 days. I know that out of all it, I’ve been blessed.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Pushing the boundaries

This week we got to do something that we’ve been wanting to do for a long time - we pushed the boundaries and went farther than we’ve ever gone! When we first established our boundaries for El Ayudante, it was a large area of what we estimated was 25 square miles - and we knew it would keep us busy for a very long time - and is has been and we’ve just began to touch it. We’ve been busy installing over 1,000 water filters, VBS’s in the schools throughout this area, and serving the churches as much as possible. The communities farther up have begun to come to our clinic more and more- and we keep hearing that they are walking 3 hours plus to get to the point that they can catch a ride on a truck to come down to the clinic - literally a total ONE WAY trip of 4.5 hours (and sick)!

So, it was time that we explored farther out - what was beyond the borders that we had set? Where are these people coming from and can we possibly help them more? Is that where the more urgent need is? The first step is at least to know what’s out there.

Tristan, Maddy, Ali and I set off in the small truck that has great four-wheel drive - after the 1 hour driving point we were in uncharted territory. We explored, drove, asked directions from the people working in their coffee fields along the road, admired the incredible view, and stopped to meet each school we passed.  Day 1 we did one big loop - 5 hours in total. Day 2 we did the next road and found 3 more communities.

-       WOW. True poverty. It was very humbling
-       The road was stressful - transportation will be a problem as we start to serve up there
-       We should spend the night when we go to have more time with people!
-       We climbed 4,400 ft in altitude from our home to the end of the road.
-       There really is an ‘end of the road’…but apparently there’s more communities past it but the only option is hiking.
-       At the 6,500 ft altitude, it’s too high for coffee to grow, so they only grow corn and beans - but again because of the altitude, instead of 2 growing seasons like the rest of our communities get, they only get 1 corn crop a year because it takes so much longer to grow. Really this community has no money income - they grow enough food for their families - so where does the $ come from for buying supplies?
-       There’s a lot of “hidden’ people in the mountain! The communities were an average of 60 houses per community! I was surprised by the # of students in each school house.
-       My kids rock. They’re asking when we can spend the night up there.
-       How in the world do sick people walk down to the clinic when it takes 3 hours to just catch transportation!?
-       They have a million dollar view  - impossible to truly catch the beauty on camera.

We are praying and exploring how to reach these communities and work alongside of them to meet their needs and show them Jesus. Please join us in prayer. Pushing beyond the borders is exciting and intimidating all at once!  

The mountain is scattered with banana
and coffee plants - even in the rocks

God sure is a great artist!

This was a surprise - a huge Catholic church 
way back into the mountain