Thursday, May 21, 2015

Facebook fast

Saying you are fasting from Facebook sounds so pious, so upright somehow.  The reality for me is that I had to take a break (save for birthday greetings) out of self preservation, nothing particularly pious about that. 

I could give you the paragraphs why Facebook is great, staying in touch, etc. but I think most of you know the highlights for social media in general.

For me I decided to take a break because I had nothing happy to post, and Facebook seems, at least to me, not exactly a good fit for sorrow, troubles, or wrestling.  Everyone knows that is why they created Twitter. 

So I quit posting on Facebook, and quit even looking at my feed...nothing more depressing than scrolling through all those happy people.  Plus...it is quite time consuming to keep up with everyone...but that is more rationalization that reason. 

It has been almost a month since my last bummer of a post here at the blog.  Sorry to tell you, things have not improved for me mentally, physically, or spiritually.  Life is like that though, figured it would be a good reminder for me to write it all down.  Bear with me if you will then. 

I have received encouragement beyond what I could have imagined since our last email update, from sources not imagined, some quite well written, impressive, heartfelt, and just humbling and incredible...it all makes sense on a written level, but not quite translating to real life level yet. 

I knew sharing some in the update of our problems and struggles would be odd...how little I knew of how infrequently that is done from the responses we received.  That is sad too it seems to me.  Too many of us try to keep up appearances rather than share in each other's sorrow. 

I am overwhelmed with inadequacies, responsibilities, and just who I am or who people perceive me to be...staring me square in the face to remind me how what a terrible representative for Christ I am here in particular, but anywhere in general.  Trying to dig deep, trying discover the answers, what to do, how to react...it is hard. 

One the one shoulder I feel all the crap in me dragging things down and wonder if it would not be wiser to leave to protect the ministry for the long term.  On the other shoulder...a reminder that I was never good enough, never will be good enough, and that it is not my mission nor my responsibility for its success, that is for the real Boss. 

No matter where I go (no real plans on leaving or exit strategy we are planning in secret...I am just being brutally honest with you) or what I do with my life...when troubles surface, when I want to run away and hide, when the doubts seek me out, when I fail, when it seems everyone hates me or whatever it might be...when I feel Jesus asking me "Do you want to go too?"  as he asked His disciples in John 6, I must remember to cry out, to remind myself of what Peter replied: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,  and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

Excuse me now, I have to go post this on Facebook, don't ask me exactly why. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mothers

I had some pictures...this all came together without a plan, it just happened. 

Mother's day is a big deal here.  How big? 

This was the line at Price Smart at around 5:30PM...the line waiting for them to make more Mother's Day cakes.  There were cakes coming out quickly...but constantly more people adding to the line. 

I had been there on Friday and seen several skids packed at least four feet high of cakes preparing for the onslaught (all in English "Happy Mother's Day" for some reason)...but it was not enough. 

(The one lone remnant in the case was an expensive cheese cake.  Someone that could not wait for the line in desperation bought it before we left.) 

You can find people all over on the street with wares to sell especially for the day. 




The clinic had a Mother's Day celebration Friday (I got a cake before the rush, and one for the volunteers at the Milk Project as well...how many more did the same buying them early?  Yikes.)

Nearly a 1/3 of Honduran families officially in the polling mix have a woman as the head of household.  I was surprised it was that low...pleasantly surprised. 

Father's day is a holiday in March, and celebrated...but nothing compared to Mother's Day. 

Many procreate.  Most here have a mom...sadly, not everyone has a dad. 



Soon we will have another mother in the ministry...thanks to donations from a couple key people we were able to buy this horse for use in the coffee farm in Las Botijas.  It does not have a name, which is fairly common here (we are thinking...Gray.) 

We need the vehicle in the background (the Montero was so bad off we had to bring it back to Tegucigalpa to weld and fix...also need another vehicle for moving the bigger items/quantities) but there are times a horse would be quicker, easier...and less thirsty. 

This horse is also pregnant...two for one!  Depending on the color when the young one is born, we might have a White, Beige, Black...hard telling. 

The horse will be used for carrying supplies, especially smaller quantities at a time and to the more difficult to access areas...


As well as getting Gustavo to some of the smaller farm properties down the road to supervise.  We also recently just got enough of a dedicated donation to add two more workers to the force up there...meaning there can be one on each property, each responsible for their area and Gustavo can just oversee them everyday. 



 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Beauty in different forms

So, what else is new?  It often seems easier to talk about what is not changing or new, but here are a few tidbits:

Our poor farm in Cantaranas has been a back burner item for a while now.  No money and with some administrative issues, we have been content to just leave it for now and see what God would do. 

(Note...that "contentment" is not happiness, and being content here was scratching our heads, not understanding and finally leaving it alone, while still asking God what we are supposed to do from time to time.)

So it was with quite a bit of joy to hear that Jonathan, Jose Luis, and some other pastors and individuals from the Churches in the area were asking permission to take the initiative and clear the land to use it for at least a season, to help themselves financially, as well as tithe back to the mission.

It will take months to see how it goes, but it was encouraging to see them step up to the plate, always encouraging to see people try to use some down the road vision and planning, and to work together.  Seeing the picture of a clean slate, ready to plant...a beautiful thing. 
 

I forgot to post about a group from the US that sent down shoeboxes of gifts for the Milk Project kids.  They did it around Christmas time in the US, but that meant we got the boxes in March. You can probably imagine how excited the kids were, especially since it was a total surprise for them. 

The boxes were excellent...hand made/decorated, packed with great and useful gifts, as well as fun toys and other items, and all personalized for each child.  Pretty amazing stuff.   To see the kids also eager to take much of what they just received, given what they can call their own is very little, and to be excitedly talking about what they were going to share with their brothers, sisters, and parents is so nice.  

Speaking of the Milk Project, we had the group from Outlook Christian Church here in April, and seeing one of the previous posts about kids that have had to leave the project...they had the idea of inviting all the kids for a special time to come back.

In the future when we get sponsorship for all the kids currently in the project (we are at 30 of 50 right now) Maria really wants to have at least one day a week these kids can come as well.  Love her vision and desire to continue to pour into these young people's lives for Christ.

It was a different dynamic with teenagers than giddy little kids, but it was deemed a hit...especially when we invited 30 and wondered if half would come...and in the end there was something like 35-40 that came.  What that says about what the project does, and what it represents...humbling. 

In my time here I have only seen it hail twice. The second time was Tuesday, our first rain of the coming rainy season.  It was a gully washer, with the hail, tons of lightning (more in that storm than in many years of living here combined), and quite a bit of rain for the hour or so it lasted.  The hail was harmless (unless you were out walking I would imagine) but made for a pretty sight...as close to snow covering the ground here that we are every likely to see.  It never blanketed the ground, but was closer by the end of the storm than in this early picture.  

 


Seeing only feet (look closely...above the container on the right above Jorge) means the plumbing is going in on the third floor, one step (or shimmy in this case) closer to finishing by the end of May at the latest, and that is also a great thing to see. 
 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sputtering

So many discussions, talks, thoughts, arguments, and silent contemplations recently.  Heavy stuff.  Hard stuff.  Add it all up together with the regular stuff, and responsibility of leading and it has me feeling like on of those ACME rockets Wiley Coyote was fond of using...puffs of black smoke, sputtering jolts forward and then seemingly empty voids and falling. 

Empty voids and falling are no fun. 

This leadership thing is not everything it is cracked up to be either.  And there are people out there fighting to be in power, to make decisions, to be the one to call when something goes wrong (because why else would you call?)...makes me question even more as I get older why anyone would go into politics...or ministry leadership. 

Yikes...is it as bad as all that?  Probably not.  But boy it can feel crushing at times, and rather than avoid that...rather than pretend everything is perfectly placed and joy filled like a Facebook profile picture, it is good to just be honest and put it out there onto a blog where I presume only the truly interested will even read it.  We all need prayer, we all need lifted up and edified.  Anyone that thinks they can do it alone is as nutty as the proverbial fruit cake. 

Good things are being done in Christ's name.  But I have enough of an inner demon always reminding me my faults, mistakes, errors, pride...oh, I could keep going.  Plus there are outside forces that seem to chime right along as well.  How does one balance a right perspective of their sin with the confidence to still push forward rather than just curl in a ball and give up, among other thoughts? 

What to make of all this...what to think...what to do.  Eh?

Well, I am not sure, but I leave you with three things that are all sparked from these thoughts as I sit down to write, but may not necessarily be helpful, depending on where you are with something similar:

1.  I remember a song, one that seems much more identifiable now than it did when I was young. "Shades of Grey" by Billy Joel
"Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see"

I did not even know the Monkees had their own song by the same name.  Seemed a bit dark for the Monkees.
"When the world and I were young,
Just yesterday.
Life was such a simple game,
A child could play.
It was easy then to tell right from wrong.
Easy then to tell weak from strong.
When a man should stand and fight,
Or just go along.

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light.
Today there is no black or white,
Only shades of gray."

I wonder if Billy Joel would ever do a cover of their version?

2. These two things very far apart leapt together to my mind trying to put my finger on the struggle we have to want to do things right and know what to do, and the draw we have to be reminded that we are no good apart from the vinedresser...we would produce no fruit from being tied to Him.  

The first was the classic Bodeans song (which I have probably not heard in 20 years)  "Closer to Free"
"Everybody wants to live, like they wanna live and
Everybody wants to love, like they wanna love and
Everybody wants to be... Closer to Free"
 
Immediately contrasting and or complementing that with Bob Wiley from that philosophical motion picture "What About Bob?" wrestling with being lost in the world without direction.
"Gimme, gimme, gimee, I need, I need!"



3.  Think things are really bad and that no one understands?  Jesus does.  We think we are alone in despair often... but even Mickey, the happiest mouse around, was so despondent once to try to give it all up.   

(These strips appeared in newspapers in October 1930)


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The blue is back, along with another nail in Trevor's coffin

 So I believe that an explanation here is deserved.  His Eyes posted this picture on Facebook, and it was only then that via some comments that it dawned on me again that this construction "method" that is somewhat normal for us, happens also to look weird and unusual to many. 

The idea was/is to take advantage of the containers we have and originally would have a back burner project, but...





1.  The garage for the Fords will soon be occupied.  Already the Gray Ford rests there, soon the parts truck, and then the blue, plus some extra room.  Doors will eventually be installed, but that of course is not the bulk of the construction or the need for speed.

2.  The second floor we will need for a group of almost 50 that is coming in July, overflow from those staying in the mission house and man cave.  We will be getting some extra funds from that group that should help cover part of all this construction expense, on which we are greatly counting, believe me.  A bathroom will be permanent, but otherwise the room will be very basic and not defined or have any walls so as in the future it can be set up and finished to be used...for whatever we will need when the time is right and it is needed.  It is also a step to floor #3. 

3.  The third floor which is being enclosed first will house, in about a 1/4 total, an apartment.  Justin's lease is up in June, and he really had a desire to live on the property, to watch over things and be more on hand for the work he does there.  So, a part of the third floor will be finished by the time his lease is up to move in there and he will then pay rent to the mission to stay here.  It will take years to make up part of the debt of construction here via those rent payments, but the extra benefit is that in addition to the apartment space, there will still be another 3/4 of the floor available to put in some offices we need (when we have the budget) and a meeting/conference area which we have sorely needed for...a decade or more. 

We have some funds to count on for this...but otherwise it is stretching us as far as we can to get done what absolutely needs to be done (the apartment and enclosing the 2nd floor.)  After that, I fear we will have to wait for some further special gifts to continue, much like the milk project building which has not seen any work now for almost half a year, we simply do not have the funds to continue. 



Most people I know now use my middle name, Felipe.  There are a few still that from time to time use my first name.  I used that name for about half my life full time, but then Felipe gradually became the only name I use. 

Especially for Soren and Cecilia, it is the only name they have heard anyone use for me.  So to hear Trevor...they usually audibly gasp, and if I am there...they look to be in horror or shock.  I admit that the name sounds terrible in Spanish, and that Felipe is much better (and oddly uncommon here even though a Biblical name) but it is not as if I hate the name or anything. 

The whole thing is odd, I admit, but I have met quite a few people in my time that as well shifted at some point to use their middle name (my grandpa...Phil, from whence came Felipe as it translates, springs to mind.) 

I joked giving a sermon near where I grew up a while back that Trevor was dead.  Soren called him my evil twin...or the other way around. 

When checking his homework this past week (not that he thought we would ever see it) Valerie stumbled upon him doing some revision...it seems even a fictional driver named Trevor is better suited being Felipe.  There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing someone is sticking up for you, taking up your "cause" even when it is not that big of a cause to you, or one you would fight for yourself.  That may also be odd, but I will admit that, as a sense of pride came upon me I thought to myself..."that's my boy." 


Thursday, March 26, 2015

What is it all about?

You can tell I am angry and frustrated when I end a sentence/title with a preposition.  My high school English teacher Mr. Eiler I believe would endulge me since this creative writing.  Oh how I wish it was creative and not real.  Creative works usually end with resolution.  Real life is messy, undefined, and often left with no resolution, at least in the short term (have you listened to the NPR Serial podcast?  Perfect example.) 
 
Here we find two days of people.  Not all the people in those two days, that would be even harder. 
 
Esteven used to come to the Milk Project.  He "aged out" as we say, as the staff had to put some rules on the ages that can come...not too young, nor too old, as we have limited space, teachers, etc. and to get everyone on the same page already with so many kids of different ages is hard.  So, after 12 they have to leave. 

Leave to go where? 

Here we were posing looking off in deep thought to the future.  What future indeed.  He was hanging out in the stairwell because...he wanted to come back inside and participate.  Most of his friends are still there.  But he is out.  I understand the rules.  They make sense on paper, and they help the Milk Project overall, but that does not mean the situation can not still piss me off a bit.  Offended?  Yeah...me too. 

This does encourage me to long for the new building to be completed.  Maybe when we make the move we can also add another class just for teenagers.  Longing for the future though...we must still live in the present.  I sat down and spent some time with Esteven while the group entertained the rest of the kids.  I would say I was glad I had the presence of mind to stop and pour a little bit into him...but it was not me but just a little instance of God stopping me and turning my head to where He wanted me to go. 
 
Walking in the clinic is usually pretty easy.  Despite a place for sick people...it is usually upbeat.  In an odd way...people are happy to be there, or at least I would hope that through our testimony...they are happy such a place is there.

When I saw Darwin and Axel talking with and about this patient to his family members though...I knew it was not good. 

Turns out this is a case of someone being shot, being discharged from the hospital...but not recovered or given further instructions.

There are often no good answers, no sure fixes, no good news physically.  It is easier to discharge and hide.  Our clinic is not like that...we have the hard conversations and give people the truth.  And the truth is...sometimes the truth hurts.   


Many of you have seen our friend here.  He does not talk nor hear, although he does laugh quite a bit.  In fact...I am hard pressed to think of a time when he is not smiling. 

The missionaries we worked with when we interned here introduced us, explaining that he used to work officially here at the airport carrying people's bags, but then someone stole something and since he could not defend himself, he was the easy one to blame.  Since then he hangs out on the sidewalk hoping to get some work where he can.  Someone in the group that was leaving gave 10 Lps to Soren to "find something to spend it on" and Soren's eyes got huge when they said that.  I stopped to take a picture here with the Captain hat (and shirt from the Virginia Air Corps?) and before I knew it...Soren handed him that 10 Lps. 
    
 
Jerry is not shy.  He did not want his picture taken at the Milk Project, but that is about the only time he was not excitedly moving, usually out of his chair, asking questions, asking for more tortillas.  Spending time with Jerry can be a bit exhausting in a good way. 

It is also quite possible it is more time than he gets to spend with his dad.  It is not uncommon for fathers to not be present at all, or out all day trying to find work somewhere.  Scary thought. 

Not as scary as reading today World Vision reporting that at least 400,000 minors in Honduras work.  Some spending all day in the fields, maybe looking for plastic to sell, maybe cleaning homes...maybe much worse.  


Cristobal has been at Hospital Escuela for seven months now after falling playing soccer and damaging his spine.  Supposedly the original injury is fixed, but something else that happened still needs more surgery.  Sound vague?  It is a repeatable story unfortunately, although thankfully most go home before seven months. 

He gets around on a wheelchair (not his...they pass them around in the ward where there were at least 20 other kids) and his legs have atrophied.  At his age he is one of the oldest kids there.  He takes scissors and pop cans to make little art pieces to sell when he can or to send back with his mom once a week when she can come visit. 

He was happy to get a visit from someone other than the six year old in the bunk next to him.  Not that the six year old is a bad kid...but when you are 17, plus stuck there for months, without family or friends, without anything to do for long stretches...well, it is a little hard for me to imagine.   


Cecilia complains she cannot see well with her glasses.  Only for six months or so.  She got an eye exam and will get some new glasses.  How many kids get their mom to give them an exam? 

How many moms wish their kids could get an exam? 

How many times do I pray that we are helping her see the world as God would have her see it...even if sometimes what that means eludes me.  What is it all about?  Big picture is easy...honoring and glorifying God, loving your neighbor as yourself. 

In the little pictures though it is sometimes fuzzy.  Glasses like God's word, prayer, and the Holy Spirit make it a bit clearer sometimes...sometimes just enough clearer to keep going.  Resolution comes...but not when you plan for it, not always when you think you need it, and that is ok.  It better be, because more of life daily lived is in the fuzzy parts of not knowing than the clarity of what you know.  May God guide us all in that clarity to walk through the plethora of fuzzy parts we do not understand. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Auction time

The government had an auction last week for various cars they were trying to purge from their system, to generate some income.  It was a bit of short notice, as I had been thinking/praying/contemplating some vehicles for the mission, but without solid funding to count on for going to auction. 
 
But I scarily took some steps of faith.  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I went to bid on some vehicles...outbid every time, by a comfortable margin to feel and know...these were not the vehicles for us. 
 
Friday came...and I was feeling confident.  I had done my research, had a top figure in mind, and of all the vehicles they had (well...of those I thought somehow I could pay for) these seemed the best balance.  I was bidding on four...two for the mission for sure, one possibly for us personally, and another possibly for parts.
 
If you have ever bid on something big at an auction...it is a mix of feeling excited, anticipation, adrenaline...and if you win sometimes that feeling of "uh...what did I just do?  Was that the right thing?  Ugh!"
 
I ended up winning three of the four I went for on Friday.  The Musso in the front left is the one that might be personal.  I bought it because it has 30,000km less than the Musso we already have, is three years newer (only 15 years old this one)and is a Turbo.  The mission might end up needing it for a medical student receiving a FAME scholarship, so I have a little time to fix a few things and see where God takes it. 
 
The Santana Anibals are the more exciting purchases.  Following I will explain what they are, why we bought them, and some features.  If you care little for details...just glance at a few of the pictures and jump to the end for some prayer/wrap up
 
 
Without going into the entire history of the company and its reason for being created with ol' General Francisco Franco...Santana is a Spanish company and Anibal is the model (Anibal being Spanish for Hannibal...tough guy, crossed mountains with elephants guy?)  The idea is that they took Land Rover Defenders (remember those?) and make modifications to them and then sell them as these Anibals.  You can see the familial resemblance...but the lights are more standard and cheaper to fix, the bumper is now just a steel tube (also utilitarian and cheap) You see modifications like this all over the vehicle. 
 
 
Modification #1...unlike the Defender we used to own, this takes a more reliable 2.8L IVECO turbo diesel engine (also found here in many medium sized delivery trucks...a plus for parts.)  Greater reliability as well as fuel economy, along with the grunt to move 9 people or a few thousand pounds of coffee, cement, etc. 
 
Also removes the fancier coil springs for more old school (and reliable...this is a common thread here) leaf springs.  Many of the changes on these vehicles are older school reliable things...not that the Defender is a bastion of luxury and new fangled technology, but this is also simpler in some ways.  Still has great ground clearance, as well as 4x4 (not full time however like the Defender...another change...this one is selectable, which makes turning radius much smaller and easier)




No radio, no electric windows or locks...but AC is included, not that we are worried about whether or not that works.  Less things to go wrong, to fix, and keeps the cost down.











The interior being rather tight in a Defender, this vehicle has a different seating arrangement.  I am not sure exactly how they did it, but I can actually drive this vehicle stock (unlike the Defender) and the rear seat passenger space is not as cramped either.  Also for the rear windows...they are solid, not sliding units, which makes for a little less air in the back, but much more secure and lets less rain in, which was a signature feature of the Defender. 











What really caught my interest in all this...the odometer reads under 50,000KM for both trucks (just 28,520 in miles on this particular one.)  Practially unused!  It shows all over the vehicles...no chasis damage, the interior is basic but not torn or missing pieces.  These could be vehicles we could use for 10 years or more, even on roads like we have here!

At $8,200 for each one...this was a great deal.  We will have to change fluids and filters and such, but otherwise they should be ready to get to work very soon!


So why buy them?  The Church in Talanga has not had a vehicle for years.  Pastor José Luis had a vehicle for some time, but not ideal, and this will be something the mission can use there for a long time.  Also...we needed a reliable and long lasting (and narrow!) vehicle for working the coffee farm in Las Botijas.  These are definitely work trucks. 

We have a fund for saving a small part of the money we get from groups to help buy the big Fords when we need them, I used some of this fund to buy the two Anibals.  If you are interested in helping us with these purchases to replenish the Ford fund (we were originally hoping to work on replacing the White Ford later this year...either another wrecked vehicle in the US, buying new with some help, or used...still praying and planning on that one) whether small or large...any amount helps!...please click on the donate link below, you can add a note that the donation is to help pay for the Anibals, and we will get it designated to the right place.

Praise God we had some flexible funding to take advantage of these while we could get them...as offers like these do not come very often and it is great to be able to strike while the Anibal is hot.  Now if we can get enough raised, we should still be able to proceed on the Ford front when the time is right there as well. 

Thank you all for your support!

A Polecat in a Perfume Parlor

I promise I do not go out looking for blog subject matter.  It sometimes just sneaks up on me, sometimes scares the crap out of me.  That reminds me of talking to another missionary family recently.  They were almost scared to admit watching a popular TV show because it was "not missionary approved."  Admitting we are truly human, that we watch things we perhaps should not...or that we use words like crap (or worse...not that I ever would when coming around a corner and a dog rushes the gate and barks at me) runs the risk of losing friends, supporters, respect, or some pride?  This family did not have that problem at all...find upstanding folk in my opinion, but it did strike me...that we live in a society that for the most part wants us to put on airs, not be honest in showing who we really are especially as it relates to failures, struggles, beliefs...it really is a long list. 

I love learning new words and turns of phrase.  I heard "a polecat in a perfume parlor" the other day...and I could have teared up a bit for how it hit me that it described my position for the moment.  The expression relates directly to just being out of place (polecat=type of skunk) and in many ways I feel that deep inside: 
1.  Considered spiritual by some, seemingly not spiritual enough to others, or not enough compared to others (never play the comparison game by the way when it creeps in your mind...however you come out, you lose, it is a quickly poisoning thought trail.) 
2.  Culturally.  I love it here and feel like I try to adapt, but there are a myriad of ways where the ways here still clash with the culture in which I was born.  Example...hearing someone I respect telling a story of a woman beaten by her husband down South quite severely and when asked how it happened in the hospital her husband interjected to tell the doctor "she needed educating, and I educated her!" and how there is nothing the doctor can do...there is no obligation, responsibility or right for a doctor in that case to call the police.  He was laughing about it, albeit in a frustrated way...I was just beside myself. 
3.  Friends.  Friends are hard to have for me it seems, and some of that has to do with just literally being out of place or spread out over a few thousand miles.  It is quite odd actually, adding as well the fact that we are busy, not eager to venture out much at night here, and it makes it hard just here in this city of over a million people as well. 
4.  Just being honest.  I find it difficult to post on certain social media sites, as it seems oddly not well received to be gritty and honest there...it really just does not fit.  Even when asking for prayer, the few times it happens...the reason for prayer is seldom mentioned, that would be too open and raw. 
5. (You saw this coming right?) Being a Christ follower makes you a polecat in the world's perfume parlor as well, at least from its point of view. 

Sometimes I feel like Pig-Pen in the Christmas rehearsal where Frieda says to him "You're an absolute mess. Just look at yourself!" and he answers... "On the contrary, I didn't think I looked THAT good!" 

Is that bad?  Is it normal?  Is it ok?  Well, right now I am content with acknowledging it. 


 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CIY...engage!

We have a group from CIY (Christ In Youth) and their Engage mission trip program here for 11 days, 20 people, including 19 from a Church in Tucson AZ, and one CIY staffer leading the group.    

They have been hard working since day one, working at night as well as during the day. 

First we tackled pouring the garage floors for the clinic parking area as well as the garage for the Fords.  It was hard work, but they got it done!









The good news for the Ford garage parking area was that there was shade from the second and third floor going up and some of the flooring there already in place.














They were scheduled to do one mural, but ended up tackling two!  They are also working on a mural in Sampedrana. 

I will try to get some finished pictures up on Facebook in the next few days. 







Here you can see the finished work on the Ford parking area, complete with the ramp to get up, and the initial work for the ramp to get into the clothing container (the wooden stairs we were blessed with held up very well, but it was time to replace them...we just could not pour the concrete yet as we unloaded a clothing container later that night.) 







Saturday we had an interesting day doing something we have never done before, but that we hope to do again in the future...going out with the clinic staff and many members of the Church into the neighborhood of Unidad y Fuerza (Unity and Strength) as a combined outreach.  We had nine groups going out, six doing home visits with food, and three with the doctors from the clinic doing house calls for the sick. 

Some of the sick were just normal, smaller items.  One family the group I was with visited included a mom with five children (six on the way) who had all her kids at home...no money even to get to the hospital.  She had crippling arthritis in her feet and hands, was very pale, and looked very tired.  This visit was the first prenatal care of any kind she has ever had. 

This all in an area just a 15 minute walk from our clinic.







Darwin had some contacts from another ministry that came with us as well to cut hair for anyone that needed it.  They worked from the porch of Jorge's house.   There were children, at least one drunk gentleman passing by on the street, and others that were helped in this way. 







Their first few nights here, the group went through the clinic rooms and found where some cracks had developed in the finish coat that was put on six years ago when the clinic opened, and filled those to make a smoother appearance. 

Valerie's room seen here needed the most work. 










And then Saturday afternoon and evening they helped paint all the rooms with Justin setting everything up and helping throughout the process, and Sunday (after more food distribution) helped put everything back where it needed to go so the clinic would be ready to go full force again Monday morning.







Saturday night after the great day's activities, there was an outdoor Church service in front of Jorge's house (where they have cell group meetings) and Jim from the group preached.  It was a great message, and just a great time to be in the community, road closed and all. 






Monday morning the group left for Sampedrana, the idea was to use some of the extra money they raised to help some construction efforts there. 

This includes the seen concrete pad for play time for the kids as well as drying coffee when needed. 










Building anything up the mountain is not easy...getting gravel, concrete and sand is much more difficult than just calling for a truck, unless you can pay double or triple what it costs down in town. 

Sometimes they are having to make trips down to a riverbed to buy sand as well. 

They are also helping build a classroom for the Church, will be doing some kids activities, food distribution, and showing a movie for the community tonight. 






Last night they had a Church service, the group sang some songs...so well that the guys from Tegucigalpa are already talking about seeing if they can sing for the Thursday night service here!



Still much more to do while they are here, hoping to post some more pictures of that later this week before they leave on Saturday. 

We will not have as many groups this year as we did last year, but with groups like these that are working so hard, we still hope to do as much or more as last year!




 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Attached

Leadership. 

Tough Word, tough job...especially if you want to do it right.  I have been forgoing my mountain of paperwork, accounting, reports, Church support reporting and more in the office for the last week, trying to instead give more time to face to face leadership issues. 

I have come to one conclusion:  I suck at this. 

This is no self-deprecation or trying to put myself down.  It is a stark, honest look inside. 

I try, I will continue to try, I will change, I have changed, I have bent and gone in directions I would have never thought possible, but sometimes I see in the faces of those around me that it is not enough, not what they need, both, or worse.  When I am trying to do things better...am I making it worse?   

Good leaders seem to always know what to do, at least they do on TV.  I was reminded of an episode of Star Trek TNG, "Attached" where the captain of the ship and the doctor have been linked telepathically.  They are trying to escape the captors who have so linked them for nefarious purposes, but discovering they now know what the other is really thinking. 

[Doctor...trying to figure out the path to take]
Captain: [checking the map] This way.
[moves on]
Doctor: You don't really know, do you?
Captain: What?
Doctor: I mean, you're acting like you know exactly which way to go, but you're only guessing. Do you do this all the time?
Captain: No, but there... are times when it is necessary for a captain to give the appearance of confidence.

I suppose that may be true for captains or leaders in life or death situations, but the truth is that I think more of us, leaders or not, feel like we have to give this air of knowledge rather than admit sometimes...

"I feel just as lost as you are!"

I am on the path the Lord has for us.  I have faith that is so.  I try to walk it, and have learned a few things along the way.  But wow does it not feel like enough. 

I check the map, I look left and right, and sometimes in the absence of other direction, I have to pick a course.  Part of that is natural I think...if we thought we were doing peachy keen by ourselves, it would be much easier to take our eyes off His way. 

When we ask for prayers for God's wisdom, direction, and leading...it is no joke.  There are big things He is doing here, and I am continually conscious  about being in the way sometimes, or the attacks that come from the other side.  When should I be closed and focused, versus being open to any change that comes along?  When to stick to my guns versus surrender to outside forces?  What is needed change versus change for change sake?  What hurts and must be done, versus spares feelings and ends up hurting more in the end?  Should we build A first or B?  Which color to paint rooms?  Who to put where?  When to move?  When to stay?  When to speak up?  When to keep quiet? 

I would love to put my head down, go move some dirt or build something or clean something...just do something without thinking about it.  I love opportunities (they are so few and far between) when I can be in a group of people that do not know me and not be expected or to feel the expectation, that I direct a meeting, a conversation, or make any decisions.  I can revel in that awkward silence waiting for someone to speak when I know it does not need to be.  To just sit back and let someone else be the bad guy or the one to start talking.  Ahhhhh. 

But ultimately...we all  have a desire for answers, to know what we are doing is right, or to know when we are screwing up.  Is this right?  Why?  Like Moses, Job, Paul and a bunch of other rehabilitating screw ups over the years, we are greeted with another paradoxically satisfying and at the same time unsatisfying reply of 2 Corinthians 12:9 to similar cries "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 

So I will carry on...weak (and sucky)...that somehow in it in a way I do not fully understand...He might be strong. 

In case you were wondering...for another paradox of sorts...I am smiling as I write all this.  As another screwup philosopher once famously said..."Good grief" 


 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Unfit for service

I wanted to post this on social media, but it does not fit...literally, too long. 

I had an overwhelming day up on the mission campus in just a few hours time.  Some things good, challenging, bad, some just flummoxing in my ability to answer or figure them out.

1.  Joys of seeing the Milk Project changes and passion in the hearts of those serving
2.  Struggles of what they are seeing in visiting the homes of the Milk Project kids homes...no food, no clothing, no shoes, no materials to be able to go to school, parents sharing that they have to decide between the possibility of eating versus enrolling their kids in kindergarten.  How can we help I am pressed to answer? 
3.  Costs to high to keep one of our clothing stores open, praying for brother Jose Luis that he can keep it going by doing it out of his home and on his own with some help from us selling him the clothes.  He is frail of health, this going well would mean he could provide for his home, as well as continue to share the Gospel with those that visit him.  How will it go now that we could not keep renting the previous location? 
4.  I have a plan for how much it would cost to build out the area above the garage and intern/missionary housing...yikes.  How are we going to be able to pull this off?
5.  How much should we pay Jorge's son who came to help us rake the coffee harvested in Las Botijas last week? 
6.  How can we help our clinic cashier to leave his parents' home and begin a life with his wife, on his meager salary?  Providing a scholarship to his wife to finish studying to be a microbiologist (someone we could use to be the doctor of the lab in the future)?  They are living apart now in their parents homes and his wife with their child because of the problems in each household for each of them...how can they live in harmony and actually make it work? 
7.  How do we plan for the space we have currently and that which we can build to be used best and at the least cost?  What is our plan for all this and how will it come to pass and when? 
8   A former pastor with us now back in town is looking for a job (Miguel Montoya) and wanted to know what we had available.  We need someone to help Oscar with his work and long term to learn that to be able to continue and expand.  Can we afford to hire him now? How long can he wait to find out? 
9.  We have a donation for the construction on the clinic second floor.  Will it be enough to finish? How should we get going gangbusters to see how far we can go? 
10.  We need to have internet access in the Milk Project, how do I get these extenders working for the signal to reach them?  (and some areas in the clinic)
11.  The clinic computer and Milk Project computers need Microsoft Office to be used properly, I need to buy copies and then get them installed. 
12.  There is no cell signal for receiving business calls in various areas of the clinic.  Finding a product and getting it here timely to fix that..at least I found a relatively inexpensive product, hope it works.
13.  How can I help Justin in the plans to do inventory for the rest of the mission and its containers, and where/how to store things best?
14.  How do we best layout the souvenir store?
15.  What painting projects need to wait for groups and which need to be done sooner?
16.  The Church in Talanga does not have a vehicle...to use for the Church, the TV station and for the clothing ministry there.  How can we provide one...can we afford to buy one?  Do we need to lend them the Blue Ford? 
17.  How can we implement a budget to help all the Churches have a unified curriculum for their Sunday school activities?
18.  We found out someone supplying us with cheaper medicines locally was actually selling counterfeit medicine.  How do we approach him for a refund, especially given that we are not willing to give him back the medicine for fear it would be used elsewhere?  We will have to burn it to make sure it is not used. 
19.  How do we finish the installation of the new electrical fence and its controls?  The layout they left us is not feasible for checking up on it and turning off the alarms.  Plus, I need to contract local cable to provide us a phone line so it can call us if there is an alarm triggered, and to get internet for the property to be able to monitor the security cameras in real time when something does happen.  Plus I have to figure out how to pay for that as well.
20.  What do we need to do to finish the souvenir store?
21.  How can I help Jana in her need to find a place to live and transportation?
22.  What do we need to do to spur our law issues regarding the pending land transfer from the Church to us for the property and the legal recognition of His Eyes?  Hire another lawyer to help our current lawyer Rebeca spur things along?  Wait...is our lawyer sick and dying? 
23.  Gustavo needs help with fixing the Montero and welding...thankfully a plan is in place with Oscar to spend the day with Teto there tomorrow to hopefully get it squared away for the rest of harvest time. 


We did not even get around to talking about the Milk Project new building needs, or the website issues we are having with www.hiseyes.us, the fact that I am three months behind on book keeping for the mission and year end reports, plus reports for Churches that support us or....a bunch of other things to dizzying to mention. 

Again and again like a stubborn and foolish Moses I rage against my Father with questions of why am I here...why me for such a weighty privileged calling? Should not it be Franklin Graham or someone else of such stature, bravado...one who can talk and things just happen?  Those people who pray and have answers...or just have answers from great wisdom and intellect? 

I feel wholly under qualified in my heart and over esteemed by some to think this is somehow possible in me.  I pray God would guide this dullard to decisions and direction that are bright in His eyes, because all too often I hear the needs and have no answer as to how to meet them. 

I am unfit for service...but called to serve.  I am not qualified, but work for Him who qualifies.  It is a beautiful, sometimes frustrating and scary, mystery.  Man is it ever. 
 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Milk Project update

The Milk Project has a long history within the mission of His Eyes.  I will not go into that varied and growing history here, but wanted to share with you the changes we are undergoing this year, and changes we are still praying will happen...a good deal of this depends on some outside help to make it happen.   Hint, this is where you could come in to the picture.

The bottom line?

We are seeking 50 sponsors for the 50 kids we currently have in the project to commit to giving $30 a month to help us continue to do what we do in providing food for them every day, a place to learn more about Jesus, some computer skills, some homework help...a place we hope to use more and more to help them know Christ personally, and give them options to be able to have a shot at breaking the cycle of economic poverty in which they live currently. 
 
It is not easy to pull this off, but we are hoping to improve things to make it continually better, this year if we can get the sponsors we need, we would be able to hire another teacher, hopefully from the Church, that could invest in the kids, as well as doing home visits, and be open even longer throughout the day, maybe even being open five days a week again (right now just four days, with the fifth for home visits)

There would be opportunities to help with some extras as well from time to time for perhaps some new equipment, or right now to help get some basic school supplies for them to start of the school year right (which begins in February)

You can give to that special one time need here...


We are working on the new building to house the Milk Project, that is separate from this sponsorship we are seeking, not sure how far we will able to get on that this year, mostly relying on groups that are coming for the funding and some of the work on that, but all in God time.  That will give us even more options how to help the kids. 

Right now they will get one day a week to go down and spend some time at the soccer field of the Church as well, a rare privilege for most. 

Maria did some home visits this week, thus the pictures here from some of the kids and where they live.  It will take her a while to visit them all, but we want to encourage continually doing that...to reach out to the families, to get to know them better, to see how we can help more, and to make sure we are helping kids that really need it the most. 


Here you can see Maria, she works very hard on lesson plans, getting things ready and pretty much everything related to making the milk project happen daily.  She has a few volunteers to help with some of the classes (including her own daughter) but you can imagine how much work and stress it can be to wrangle so many kids for so many hours a day.






This year things will be different in another way:  The mission, through a designated donation, was able to hire Alejandra full time to help translate for groups...and when there are not groups, to help Maria as Alejandra is a teacher as well. 

To see them working so well together essentially from the first hour, was very cool. 

Alejandra will have her responsibilities with groups, but that leaves plenty of time to not only help with all the behind the scenes tasks, but also trying to teach some English, and expanding our computer lab to help the kids with homework...often they will have things they need to do on a computer, but few if any have a computer in their home.






So that is where we are for now.  We do not want to rest on how well things have been done, but strive to do this better.  That means taking a big step of faith starting this year, and we need your help to keep it going on this path.  Share this post, share the need, pray for the staff and the kids and their families.  Our goal is to sponsor the 50 children we have now...if we get to that goal...maybe God will expand on that in future as well! 

To sign up to donate monthly, click on this link:
https://www.facebook.com/l.php?u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.paypal.com%2Fcgi-bin%2Fwebscr%3Fcmd%3D_s-xclick%26hosted_button_id%3DAM8JN7F2L6MVC&h=qAQF5p9FY

And to follow the Milk Project on Facebook, click here:  www.facebook.com/hiseyesthemilkproject