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

All other ground is sinking sand

A friend sent me a link for a Planet Money podcast from NPR about the breaking down of law in Honduras.  I was shocked to hear a news report about Honduras that was factual, devoid of political influence, and unfortunately accurate.  Here it is should you want to take a listen:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2014/12/12/370350849/episode-589-hello-i-m-calling-from-la-mafia

For those without 18 minutes to invest, the podcast describes what it is like for some otherwise considered non risky professions like bus and taxi drivers to live and work in the "most dangerous country in the world." 

Sometimes I think about the fact that we do, in fact per murder statistics per capita, live in the most dangerous country in the world.  That angers me, because I love this country...or more true is that I love the people of this country.  I would wear or display a country’s flag not because of love for any government, institution or type of land...people make up a country and culture that can be loved, not those things, but I digress.  It does not seem like the most dangerous country in the world to many that come in groups, and we work hard to provide a safe environment for them in which we can work. 

I do not like to think about the truth of the matter of that “factoid” because it hurts...and because of course it is scary.  When they mention in the podcast about calling the police I had to laugh to myself.  When we have had break ins...calling the police after the fact to investigate would be something to do just to boost the statistics, or to make people in the US feel better about it, but it accomplishes nothing. 

Unlike most media reports on the matter...I could find no bias, no fault, and no misinformation in this report.  They did a good job of reporting the facts and just the facts. 

And the fact is...it sucks.  The security issues suck...and more importantly so do the matters regarding the poverty and continued bleak outlook in that regard.  The clinic has escaped, with God’s protection I believe and the witness it gives to the community, such extortion to this point...but opening a traditional business here would be more difficult...unless one plans on hiring private security.  Even in our coffee farming...as more of that comes online, just to protect the harvests a gun will be required, not having one puts the workers at risk more than the alternative, if you can imagine that. 

Few want to hear the truth when it is so real and harsh, nor would I think that it is easy to grasp from afar...so I bottle it up and keep going on down the road...as do millions of Hondurans every day...either down the road trying to survive and eat every day...or down the road to the promised land of jobs, security, and prosperity in the USA (as well as in Canada and Spain) or get sucked into traps of human slavery which takes them not far and/or around the world.

And I find myself with solice then in the words of Edward Mote, who wrote this hymn in part after sharing with a friend's dying wife who was encouraged by it...

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly trust in Jesus’ Name.
 
On Christ the solid Rock I stand,
All other ground is sinking sand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
 
His oath, His covenant, His blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
 
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh may I then in Him be found.
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Time to pick the coffee


So it is the time of year for coffee harvest, and anytime is the right time to have some problems along the way. 


The oxen we have...the cart is busted. 

The Montero...busted something big underneath (can be welded...in a week or so)


This is one problem, not sure what the other is.  We do not have internet service on the farm...yet...but via an iPhone at least Gustavo can take pictures for us to see (and use as a phone naturally.)  The quality here is not great since I had to take some pictures of pictures, but gives us a little glimpse into how to continue to pray for them.

First...for no more breaks in vehicles.  Hopefully the Blue Ford makes it back unscathed, or relatively so. 






Blue Ford?  Well, with Oscar gone, I had to send Jorge up with one of the Fords to keep the harvesting going, and to eventually get the crop back to Tegucigalpa for drying.

It has been raining up there every afternoon, and that does not make drying the coffee easy (normally done outside on a concrete pad) 
 

Here you can see...Jorge does not do anything half way, why go up to just drive the truck when you can get dirty and sweaty picking coffee as well? (he has never done this before, might be his first time working like this on a coffee farm period.)

He is a trooper...and always has a smile on his face.



Harvesting coffee is rarely done on level spots.

And then...you get to carry the full bag to wherever the transportation is, which is often not close...or flat either.  It quite possibly will be a wet path as well.


Second prayer request...for safety for everyone working. 












Remember how supposedly kids in the US had summers off from school to help farming?  "Summer" vacation here is November through January...same sort of thing.  Here though it is from walking age to non-walking age that get out to harvest.  For many it is the one time of year they can get an actual job that pays actual money.

That we get to offer more people employment doing this...a very cool thing.


Third prayer request...that God would bless this arm of the ministry that we can keep doing this!









Oscar and Gustavo are trying their hand at raising some pigs...now they have plenty to eat (the berries from the coffee.)




Fourth...remembering our staff that have financial needs and that their efforts to help themselves in the long term would be blessed. 











Harvesting the coffee is step one of many steps.  Here is number two...depulping the coffee (removing that red bean) which is also labor intensive, even with a special machine built for the job.
















Even special built machines need "fine tuning"to make sure they do the job correctly.  Otherwise what you put in comes right back out the same...the fine tuning makes sure the berry is removed completely but that the bean comes out undamaged. 

This may look like just a guy with a hammer...but not just anyone can actually do the fine tuning.  This gentleman has the training and they had to wait for him to do it properly.



Fifth prayer request...that God be fine tuning (or broadly tuning as needed) us spiritually to serve Him better every day. 








I had to include this picture...no doubt a result from the clothing ministry and its influence from the greater Indianapolis area, here is a Channel 8 sponsored shirt hard at work. 



Sixth prayer request...for that clothing ministry, that Master Provisions would be able to find more summer clothing to send us. 


Interested in buying some great coffee now?  Check us out at:

www.hillclimbercoffee.com  Every dollar profit we make...is already spent in these endeavors as we are investing in the future right now and hoping to see financial fruit in that future to help do this more, offer more employment, and use funds to help expand the other arms of the ministry (Church planting and the clinic mostly right now.) 

Or if coffee is not your thing but you want to help...make a donation below via PayPal.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Avett Gospel

I will admit to being a bit blasé lately.  About what?  A bit of everything I suppose.  It happens. 

I feel uninspired, and in a rut.  Wandering spiritually filling my time with business of things needing done, fires to put out, tasks to accomplish.  It happens. 

I should be reminded that being in a rut is not limited to a daily routine of things done with hands, but with the mind and soul as well.  Being busy also serves to avoid thinking deeper...about anything. 

Imagine my surprise to be violently shaken and awoken from a spiritual slumber by the Avett Brothers.  I have enjoyed their music for some time, but never spent the time to delve into their lyrics to find deeper spiritual meaning.  They do not fit in a "Christian music" box...although their music is quite often so, just not KLOVE pop Christian, not meeting a quota of mentions of Jesus or God per song.  (Not saying KLOVE or that kind of pop Christian plug and chug music is bad...per se) 

They did not fit in my rut of what Christian music is supposed to be.  They did not fit into my rut of how Christians should speak, or what they should think.  It is not the first time I have been challenged with answers that disagree with mine and yet still fall on the right side of the ledger, will not be the last.  Being challenged is good...may not feel good, but is good.  What are we sure of which we believe?  Why? 

So, I pass along some things that have blessed me.

Little did I know, they seemingly often sing hymns/gospel songs at live concerts...and in small rooms:
Closer Walk with Thee:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zucMN-FF_nA
Amazing Grace:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qVLTxqLfT6A
(You can find at least a dozen different ones if not more on YouTube)

Listening to "Shame" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ciJ2vKgpAE
I think of the relationship I have with my wife firstly, but not just that.  The honesty of this song in the depths of disappointing and being unkind to others, and then finding in the end that wrestling through that to another side where we can have empathy and want to help.  The guilt is overwhelming...but there is now no condemnation for those in Christ (so reminds us Paul in Romans 8:1)

Listening to And It Spread  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXn-RvqOoRk
And now I can see Christ, and him raising my hand, picking me up out of the depth of frost of my soul, the fickleness of my heart and its wandering desires, taking lies for truth and vice versa. 

Which led me to a C S Lewis quote (of course, right?  Such a cliché yet I do not read him nor own any of his books...it just came at me) which I had never heard and equally shook me.

“[E]very time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses, into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing into a heavenly creature or a hellish creature: either into a creature that is in harmony with God, and with other creatures, and with itself, or else into one that is in a state of war and hatred with God, and with its fellow creatures, and with itself. To be the one kind of creature is heaven: that is, it is joy and peace and knowledge and power. To be the other means madness, horror, idiocy, rage, impotence, and eternal loneliness. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state of the other.”

And that reminds me of another lyric from Brothers Avett: 
"If you're loved by someone, you're never rejected
Decide what to be and go be it"
 
Encouraging words to a boy who has a "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise"


(PS...while finding more Avett music on YouTube, (searching for "Avett brothers gospel") I stumbled upon former Survivor contestant Austin Carty's series "The Gospel According to the Avett Brothers" at First Presbyterian Church in Greensboro NC which challenged me further.  Good stuff)