Thursday, July 5, 2018

A house for Juan

I often forget to share with you about the neat stories that we get to be a part of through ministry. I'd like to share with you about one of my favorite stories so far this year.

Meet Juancito and Sefarina:

Juancito and his mom, Sefarina, have a genetic disease that has caused them to have terrible eyesight and some other difficulties in life. Living in a third world country, there’s really no assistance available for them, beyond what little a kind neighbor is able to share. The great news is that they are beloved in our area and everyone does their small part to take care of them. Juan is often seen hiking up the mountain road in search of bananas that he can sell, and they are cared for through community members giving them a meal or a few provisions. 

Last year a few community members came to us asking if we could team up with the community to help Juan have a stable place to live. Their idea was to donate a small piece of land to El Ayudante (as a precaution of not having the land in Juan’s name and having it taken from him by people that take advantage) and then the community would help them build a house. And that is just what has happened. 

Someone donated a small piece of land. 

2 of our CTC’s (Community Transformation Committees) have raised all the funds for the adobe blocks for his house. 

The rocks for the foundation were donated by the community. 

More funds are being collected for furniture for when the house is complete. 

This house is a labor of love by the community and has created unity as people work together to help Juancito and his mom Sefarina. In addition to the community pitching in to do their part, our teams are the ones that are laying the adobe blocks each week - bringing to completion this great project. What a way for Juan and Sefarina to know Jesus loves them and that they are not forgotten - they have a lot of people in their corner! And very soon Juan and Sefarina will can move out of this shack and have a solid home to call their own. 

Monday, May 21, 2018

Gabriel Kent’s Birth Story


At each ultrasound the doctor would measure the baby and make comments about how big he was measuring and that he figured he was going to come early - so even though my original due date was May 14th, it was then moved up a few times…all that to say, by late April, I was antsy to have this baby and ‘feeling’ like I was late, even though maybe I wasn’t.

Saturday, May 12th I woke up grumpy and uncomfortable but life had to go on - so I got the girls ready for ballet and we headed into ballet with our friends Jess and Brittany with the plan to go to the pool after ballet and meet the Dad’s there as they had gone golfing (we were all trying to distract ourselves from the lack of baby in our arms). I started timing contractions in the car at 9:30am and by 10am decided they were consistently 8-10 min apart, however they weren’t intense at all. We walked around center square, got popsicles for the kids and waited for Ali to finish dance. At 10:40 I called Tristan and told him that it probably was the real thing and we should go to the hospital. (Hospital bag had been in the car for 2 weeks)

Tristan showed up at 11:05, they offloaded all the pool toys in the middle of center park with a row of cars honking behind and I jumped crawled in the front seat (I should have chosen the back). Tristan asked me how fast he had to drive and I told him I thought we’d be good  (from the edge of town our DR is 35 min away in the next town over and we were in the middle of traffic in central ). My contractions immediately picked up to over 1 min contractions with less than a min break in between - Tristan was driving literally as fast as the car could go through the curvy mountain roads. The tollbooth was backed up so he drove over the cones and through the motorcycle lane while he’s calling the hospital to warn them that they’d better be ready. My water broke at the tollbooth (3 miles from the hospital).

The main boulevard into the town was super full and backed up - Tristan had the flashers on, honking the horn, and waving out of the window for cars to move (which didn’t help much because it’s Honduras and drivers don’t care much about aggressive driving). Two blocks before the hospital we were stuck not moving behind a string of cars and I felt the baby was crowning and felt his head! ((At this point Tristan was telling me “no, no, no -the baby wants to meet the doctor!")… I pulled down my shorts and caught his head - Tristan made a third lane and squeezed through and parked at the hospital, came around and delivered Gabriel’s body and handed him to me. Gabe gave one cry and then didn’t seem to be breathing (scariest minute ever holding your not breathing baby). Tristan ran inside reception shouting for help and then drove the car around to the emergency entrance. The OBGYN came out and gave mouth to mouth and cleaned out his nose and then he started breathing! The Pediatrician came out, they cut the cord and baby was taken in to get some oxygen. Tristan then helped me out of the car and onto a gurney. 

Gabriel was with the pediatrician for a long 2 hours until I got to hold him again. Tristan watched at the nursery as Gabriel was given oxygen and they tested his glucose (which was low). Maddy and Ali came to meet him around 4pm which was a very sweet moment. Gabe’s sugar levels were low and he was lethargic (I don't blame him after that trauma)…so by the middle of the night when he started crying & finally nursed, we were happy to hear the cry and see him perking up.   

We came home the next day (Sunday) and since have been recuperating and enjoying getting to know our sweet son.  

Are you wondering about the car? - yes it was a disaster. After 2 days at a carwash and a complete gutting of all the carpets, the car is clean and even smells clean J.

Moral of the story: don’t wait too long to call your husband because having a baby in the front seat of a car isn’t that great (although getting to catch your own baby and hold him first was pretty incredible).

We are so thankful to God that Gabriel is healthy and that there were no serious complications - I’m so thankful we were close to the hospital when he came out instead of a mile farther away. I’m thankful for our great doctors who both were at the clinic and ready for us (even on a Saturday morning).  God has been so gracious to us and we are so grateful for our healthy son!

Gabriel means: “God is my strength”


Staff Day

Being directors of a growing ministry with lots of staff is not something that we were looking for...but here it is.  Once I realized that a big part of our job as leaders is to empower our staff with the tools that they need to do their job well, it helped define where to focus our time. We have both discovered that we really love to do this part of our job - helping our staff do their jobs great is wonderful to be a part of!

Besides staff meetings, trainings, and conferences when we can find them, one of our goals is to take the entire staff out to do team building and training for a day each spring. 

This year we had some helpers from Christian Camping International come and lead our staff in 4 hours of activities with a purpose - team building activities with an intentional discussion afterwards. It was a very powerful day for all of us and a great blessing to have a third party come in to do the discussions. 

After the activities, we ate lunch and then played in the pool and relaxed. The only down side of the day is that we all got super sunburned :). 

Trust Falls

Raising up team members

A group challenge of carrying beaker of water on a piece of wood by
holding onto attached rope.

Then stacking the beakers on top of each other

Friday, May 4, 2018

Youth Workshop Day

Lots of times it's hard for me to know what to blog about - to us our life is 'normal' and so knowing what to share can be difficult. Most days we're engulfed in doing our jobs - which we love (most of the time). Life is not at all monotonous, but it is normal to us.  Anyways, in April we did a few things that were special: 

1. Youth Day: One of our Community Committee's asked us for a way to pull together the youth in the community and speak about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. They also had the great idea of doing workshops in order to hopefully spark interest in continuing education and what possibilities there are for the future. We thought it was a great idea! 

So a few Saturday's ago, over 60 youth met at the school - they guys each attended 2 workshops - one on basic electricity (which Tristan taught) and the other about welding (one of our employees taught). The girls attended a basic sewing class and also a salon (hair and nails) class. After the workshops we served lunch and we had a speaker share about the dangers of drugs and alcohol. It was a great day! 

Highlights of the day: 
1. All the teachers of the workshops were from another one of our communities - passing on what they've been learning themselves.

2. The community leaders were the ones that came up with the idea and worked all day to make it happen. 

3. Up the mountain, most education and drive stops at 6th grade - being able to spark interest in more for these youth was special. 

4. All the workshops were hands-on - the youth all got to actually connect a light bulb, mend a shirt, do a basic weld, and practice doing nail.

Wiring an outlet and a light bulb

Testing their work - the light came on!
Tristan coaching

Sewing Class

Learning welding theory and safety before they weld

Hair cutting demonstration

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