Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Walls

Writing this month's update, I realized again I had fallen behind.  I must admit...I feel falling further behind, playing catch up, and trying to multi task through conversations more and more as of late.  That so much is going on is good...but not so good personally when you can not concentrate on one thing for the pull of attention from another. 
Spiritually we try to tear down the walls between us and them, whomever them might be.  Physically though we seem to be doing quite a bit with walls, as I am referencing in this month's email update riffing off Pink Floyd and their "The Wall." 
How about some more information?
The retaining wall for the milk project property is seen here through our makeshift doorway from the clinic campus side (two walls in one picture visible, I just noticed that!) 

It will need to go up almost 80% higher than it is in this picture, just to get to the street level where we want the first floor to go.  That will make for a sizable "basement" we are creating on the second property.  Maybe even a two story basement!
Justin has been busy in the green container up by the out, reinforcing (with our welder's help) for a future floor above it, and building shelving units to put on the walls for medicines and other clinic supplies.  It has been great to have him here and see already what a jump we are getting on that inventory side of things.  Excited to see what he will continue to do in that role.  Hopefully he needs many more walls for shelves in the future for the clinic supplies he will be helping us coordinate and get as well! 
 Back to retaining walls...this went from just the empty hole to a finished retaining wall (not quite finished in this picture) in about a month. 

This will be a home to two more containers one on top of another, for food storage, and the other for more general mission we are continuing to struggle (in a good way) for good storage space for the supplies we receive. 

Murals are going up.  This one in Cantaranas with some anonymous help for supplies and paint for some volunteers from the Church to do that study art in their schools.  We are excited to see the finished products soon.

Always great as well to see members of the Church eager to use their talents to give back. 

Members of the greater Church in the groups have been helping with two more murals on the clinic campus as well. 

First the CIY team did a bird (seen on a black background on the far left) with the Bible verse Luke 12:24

"Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

And then this week's group did this beautiful butterfly with Philippians 4:8

"Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things"

These murals are not just pretty to look at, they are encouraging to those that come in to the clinic...many sick, many hurting...physically, but also spiritually.  We are so grateful for the artistic talents of so many...we hope to keep this going as future group talents so permit.

And of course we are still working on the walls of the second floor of the clinic.  But hey...we are at least now working on the rooms of the clinic side of things! 

We hope to get four rooms done or nearly done by the end of the groups in July, maybe even some cabinets installed? 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Identifying with Sister Aloysius Beauvier

Doubt.  I doubt many things at many times.  I also doubt that I am alone.

I was thinking of the movie "Doubt" recently.  Good movie, but I was just thinking of it in light of my life.  As Sister Aloysius says at the end of the movie "I have doubts...I have such doubts."  Hers related to an unproven accusation.  I just have them all over the place.

Unless you get to do something physical, it is often hard to gauge your success in life quickly and easily.  If you build a see the results, and you know how you did, generally speaking. 

Quite a bit of what we do does not meet those criteria.

Leadership...development...Church growth...Church I help raise my kids, this list is probably as long as yours, different, but lengthy either way. 

Brigades for example.  I know and have seen the effect they can have long term in changing lives and communities.  They can be improved, we can do better to witness and testify...but they have proven their worth. 

But still, sometimes I just doubt. 

That is why hearing from Valerie that a traumatic cataract that I referred from a medical brigade last month actually came to the clinic was...encouraging.  Sometimes you do things, you tell people things (either in this case being giving instruction on what this little six year old boy had and what mom should do after he got hit in the eye with a rock, or... sharing the love of Christ that is even more important and exciting yet I seem to stumble through doing time and time again) and you wonder...are they really listening?  Do they really get it?  Am I doing this the right way?

I have heard it said that the person that is never with any doubts is in more danger of the road they are taking than those that question the course they have determined.  That doubts are natural and not to be scared of them, but work  through them.

Another quote from the movie "Doubt can be a bond as powerful and sustaining as certainty. When you are lost, you are not alone"

Some see doubt equal to weakness.  I am weak, I know that.  But I also know "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."

Monday, June 2, 2014

A trip through the recent past.

It has been a while with no updates here.

We had another group, we had holy week, we had the Ford arrive, two groups in May...and I have let blogging fall by the wayside.   Sometimes, something has to give.

Let us catch up on the quick then, eh?

Sampedrana....the coffee mission there continues.  More plants being planted...another nursery beginning to plant even more.  With our financial commitments elsewhere, there is only so much we can do each year on this...slowly but surely it is taking root.

Some up on the top of the "hill" will produce this year, and the avocado trees are coming along nicely.  We might plant some more of those in the future.

The road to get there...constantly needs work every year, as a new road that is expected.  We are spending almost $1,000 each year just trying to keep it open with mudslides and such.  One point of it had collapsed so much that it was tricky just for me to walk across.  The rains have begun again...we will see how long our work will last, and seek ways to continue to make that work a little more lasting every year.

Alfonso with just a small portion of the coffee farm....can you tell it is steep?

Walking paths between the coffee will develop once the coffee gets big enough to allow it...for now it just makes for very challenging terrain.

We had a group from SOCC up there in May that helped fertilize much of the plants...they did in one trip what would have taken our workers many, many days to get done.

Las Botijas is going through struggles again.  The coffee side of things continues to grow and mature, but our farm supervisor Gender has left after only a few months.  There were some problems he had personally that became too serious, and they had to leave.

Gustavo is back from Tegucigalpa serving there for a while, probably until the end of the year, overseeing the continuing coffee work.  Getting a pastor and overseeing a new Church work will have to wait for God for the time being.

Speaking of Church....Sampedrana had their 7th anniversary on April 15th, it was a packed house.  They also had eight baptisms in March!  Henry and his family are doing well there, and the Church is growing not just in number but in strength...Henry had a white erase board made (it looks great) to assist with deeper teaching times apart from the sermons on Sunday mornings.

Baptisms here...mean everyone squeezing into a truck and making a real trip out of it for an entire afternoon to go to a river for the services, and then to have fellowship time together.

I am sure the picture taker and a few more people piled into the bed before they were ready to leave though...there is no such thing as a full pickup bed here.

In April we said goodbye to Gretchen, who interned with us for three months and was a huge help all the way around.

She translated and helped with groups, she helped with all the mundane tasks that have to get done between groups, she helped in the clinic...she did it all!

The SFC continues to advance.  Groups are working on the walls, and Carlos is working on the electrical, now to the point where we are putting up the ceiling fans.  To actually get the electrical connection to the clinic we are going to have to buy our own transformer and get it installed...another $2,000 or so we will need to find to proceed soon.  Right now when electricity is needed upstairs it is done via extension cord.

Among the many things groups have been doing, is also helping advance the work on the new milk project property.

Right now that means exterior foundation and wall starts.  Once we get the walls where they are supposed to be, then come the columns for the "basement" and then we would be able to move to the big work for pouring floors and the like.

Suffice it to say...there will be plenty to keep groups busy for the foreseeable future.  As we get donations as well to this project there will be many other things that need done as well...again, all in God's timing.

FAME sent a brigade group again this year, always a huge blessing to us, to the Churches we visit, and of course the many patients we are able to help with medicines, education, some new diagnoses, and lots of prayer.

During the FAME team, Cecilia found a new kitten...and Valerie thought it was cute...and now we have a new kitten in the house.  He was pretty small and weak when they found him, but now is racing around the house like, well, a kitten.  His name...keeping with the Star Trek theme we have going, is Spock.

Soren is here...observing that Spock does indeed have claws, and knows how to use them.

The donation we have to construct in Cantaranas is still paying off...with Sunday school rooms going up.  Recognize the material?  Yes, the same fence and building material the man cave is made from.

Floor will go in, plus a roof/second floor floor (not planning on building anything there for a while, but good to get it done for security and one time expense) and some fencing....the funds will run out eventually before we get everything done, but wow how much we have done already!

Here is the inside of the Church building in Cantaranas, complete with floor.  This was during the FAME brigade.  We had always had in the past to do brigades in a government clinic further away...but with this building, we had plenty of space, and more than plenty patients...we saw 30% more than we thought we could, and still had to turn people away.

Buildings....they can be very useful to God's work.

Here is the 2012 Gray Ford all done and working. It is a very cool truck.

It looks like brand new, and although it took some work and time, we saved $10-15k over what we would have spent otherwise.

The front Ford emblem is now a His Eyes logo.

No plates yet...we have to wait, as the government is a year or so behind in getting plates for cars.  Maybe within three months (we have a permit for that long that we can get renewed) they will come in...but we are not holding our breath.

So, there is yet another construction project going on at the moment.

We do not have enough storage.  We need more space.  We need food storage space for the corn and Kids Against Rice packets we get.

So....we are going to have groups help put up a retaining wall (after we spent a chunk of change on a regular backhoe and hammer backhoe) and set two more containers across from the ones you see on the right of this picture) which, when we have the money to buy those containers, will give us the extra dedicated space we need, and as well in the space in between we can use as a garage for the Fords on the first floor/level, and then in the future build on the second level between the higher containers for whatever we might need then.

So....this is not at all bringing you all up to speed on everything, but close enough I suppose.  The cathartic nature of blogging might bring me back with some greater frequency, we shall see.  Maybe I will even get to the point of sharing a post so serious in nature that pictures will not be included.  Oooooh, try to contain your excitement!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spinning plates

Welcome to my journaling for today.  Journaling seems to be a very secret thing, very private.  This won't be, with the hope that somehow it would be helpful to someone else other than myself, but ultimately I am writing this for myself, so if you are actually reading this...bear with me. 

I would hate to think how many times the word "busy" has appeared in this blog.  Every time I sit down to write, that word jumps to mind.  Keeping up with everything can be like spinning plates. 

Our communication as leaders of the mission is faltering.  Satan uses that and all his other tools of the trade to get us off track, off mission, off serving God and instead get bogged in the mires of human nature.  We seek prayer that God would overcome that...and that through the His Eyes board of directors and other resources that some of those plates could be glued back together.  Broken plates hurt. 

One day during the group last week I had to sit for almost eight hours at customs while the clothing container was mostly unloaded.  My presence was deemed necessary by our customs agent to speed the officials along in their pursuit of contraband...especially in light of the whole place being militarized because of corruption and an intervention begun to try to get it ship to speak. 

Keeping the clothing ministry in its ability to keep serving in Churches, for pastors, and ultimately to clothe quite a few thousand Hondurans is another plate. 

We got to see part of the Sherwood Oaks donation in action...the foundations going in for the Sunday School rooms in Cantaranas.  Lots of work going on there now, and for many weeks to come.  Another in the Churches.

I got to go with Jonathan to a new area of outreach in Cantaranas...almost seems like it is out of town, but they have a cell group growing there, new people involved, and several of them learning but not in Christ...yet. 

Prayed for this family for health, and for a new home. 

Plates of Church expansion, prayer for those we meet for physical needs, and spiritual rebirth. 

Both my kids got their yellow belt this past week in Tae Kwon Do. 

I was not there, was with the group.  I think they understand...but they should not have to do so.

Should be a priority plate...sometimes I am not as attentive as I should be.  No excuse for that.

We helped another rural Church with a clothing brigade.  We save up our otherwise worthless-in-Honduras cold weather clothing for of the very few areas that really need/appreciate it.  This is not a Church we administer, just us trying to partner and help another Church body minister in their community.

Partnering with other bodies of believers, another plate.   

This is Jorge...he had both his legs hit when he was hit by a car.

Being a light for Christ to the children from all around Honduras in the public hospital here...another plate. 

The clinic has been inviting patients to submit prayer requests for some time, but this other spinning plate is one mostly the clinic staff handles.  I found this one (I omitted his name...but you can pray for him as well, God knows his name) near where Valerie gets ready every morning as she apparently prayed for this request:  "for vices, alcohol, and drugs...I want to change who I am and be a good father."  If that does not bring tears to your eyes...well, let me just say it shook me pretty hard just happening to run across it.

The clinic...and the huge ministry that goes on there that we sometimes forget day to day...another big plate. 

This is just a few of the things/plates spinning in the last few weeks.  Not to mention paperwork for getting the mission legal here, paperwork for farm properties, personal tragedy in the life of one staff member, many decisions on the clinic construction progress, so many petitions for different kinds of physical help, talks on the milk project, planning for groups, and a bunch of other "plates" that I am even forgetting, probably to maintain my ability to keep moving forward.

Sometimes plates fall. 
Sometimes they break.
Sometimes they spin by themselves.
Sometimes I do not spin them they way they need spun.
Sometimes I only notice those that are teetering.
Sometimes it is hard to see the plates through the tears.

That they continue to spin at all is a testament to God's grace (giving us what we do not deserve), mercy (not giving us what we deserve) and when I fail those plates over and over again.  To begin to contemplate the depths of my failure, sin, and unqualified overwhelming, especially in light of the fruit coming forth from His ministry here and beyond. 

Hang my head kind of overwhelming...but in light of that grace, mercy and love...I can identify so much with Paul who said in Romans 7  "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!"

Monday, March 3, 2014


We have a group here this week from Florida, our only men's group of the year!

They are doing some big construction projects this week...spreading out in three different groups to tackle some things we have not had the funding to continue until their arrival.

First step...we had to complete the stairs to the second floor.

The hand rail (our first thought is always top notch safety, right?) has not yet been installed, and the plan is to eventually seal off the area underneath for storage, but for now it at least made unloading dry wall much easier, and all the trips being made up and down today.

Some of those trips were our interns Gretchen and Morgan helping Jana re-organize some of our container space.  This is a constant battle of course, but right now especially so with us being short on space....right now helping organize means moving things up into the second floor, even if we are not exactly ready for moving in yet.  

Moving things in the you can hot work.

Warm temperatures + no circulating air= a hot mess.

Valerie and I picked out the window placement not too long ago, the group has been making sure they will all line up as well as possible, and got several installed today.

Seeing the first hole cut, that first window all just jumped so much...more real, more...closer to done.

Here is the view from the new property looking at the end windows.

Other than doing as much window prep (and hopefully some dry wall as well) there is a group of guys working with some of the guys we hired locally to get a retaining/no-water-rushing-in-from-the-road wall built.

The property next to the clinic we bought to save us on our water bill (a long story...should pay off in a few years) and hopefully to serve as a location from which to expand the milk project ministry to children in our area.

Two Churches in the US helped us buy these two properties we have joined together as one,  you can see a little better in this picture looking from that very window we saw in the last picture(we put the fence up to protect everything while we wait to see how we will construct in earnest.)

We plan to put a door between the properties soon to move materials and such, but for the time being we are taking down and putting up sections of the fence every day we are working there.

They probably won't be able to finish in three days...but they are making big progress to get a good foundation for a future building wall...which will at the same time when done keep the rain water that runs down the street in the rainy season like a river...from flooding our property.

I will post more Wednesday or Thursday with some more pictures of how much they have accomplished!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guasucaran and the 16th century mine

We did our brigade work in a small rural village called El Plomo, which is near the community (also small, also rural) we have done work in the past called Guasucaran.

We finished early...seeing quite a bit more disease, less adults that can read, and a few obvious cases of parents doing the best they can to just survive day to day.

Of course...we saw plenty cute kids as well.  

Since we finished early, the professor at the school finally got us to visit a local "attraction" that he had been wanting us to see for years....the abandoned mine.  It is hard via pictures to capture the magnitude of the place....the sheer rock cliff that rose above us more than 100 feet, the hole for the entrance to the first of the three mines we visited (which rose above us at least fifty feet) and just the debris field from all the work there.  It was overwhelming...and this picture is neat, but definitely does not capture what it was really like.    
This mine, according to local sources (that being...older men in the community) started back in the 16th or 17th century, and ended perhaps 60 years ago?  Pinning down specifics was....difficult.

This marker, date established unknown...says that the testing done to see how far the cave/mine reaches was left at 16,000 meters.

There were also tales that the mine was somehow connected to the El Rosario mine which is in San Juancito...past Tegucigalpa, which is hard to fathom.

The other two mines which were also nearby (the total walk time was under 10 minutes from the road) were much smaller in their openings...but both had not been fully explored.  No one has reached "the end" and the cool nature (you could feel the temperature drop at least 10, maybe 20 degrees) of the second mine was felt 30 feet before even entering.  It was very impressive.

So much so I could really see a park being established there, even something for tourists, even with it being so far from Ojojona.

I have a feeling this is not our last visit, it was that impressive in magnitude and just the visual nature of everything we were able to see.  Maybe we will start our own tour company!

May God have blessed the impact of the brigade in a similar fashion in His name to those we were able to see today as well!


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Eye brigades

We have a group here this week from ICO FCO (Illinois College of Optometry, Fellowship of Christian Optometrists) going out to do eye work in Christ's name.

I thought I would post some pictures from the first two days of work...including some typical things we see with regularity on brigade days.

Many patients seen, much education given on conditions, glasses prescribed, prayers prayed (for many things...including a patient with breast cancer today among many others)

and quite a few smiles...including this little girl that got her first pair of glasses.  She has a very high prescription, this first pair will allow her to get used to having glasses, which were made on site with a stock frame and some already cut lenses that our good friend Sarah Cho brought with her.

Nothing like getting on someone's level to help them!

Watching Valerie help students, and help patients...this does not get old.  For her or for anyone watching her...the love she has for optometry, for helping and teaching people...the origin for that is most surely God.

What brigade would be complete without great brain food for lunch?

PB&J all the way!

Riding in the back of the truck provides great views, interesting conversation....and Cat looking like a big red lolly pop.

And all this great work (our intern Gretchen helped translate all day) makes some of us ready for a nap in the truck as well.