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)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

hair is to recap as baseball is to old hat

I have been meaning to write for some time.  I finally have the time as I am in the middle of a rather active 24 hour period.  When you do not sleep, it is amazing how much more you get done! 

I did not send out a January update, so consider this filling you in on the goings on here lately. 

December...we had the May family here with us for a week, they were helping in the milk project and clinic while just observing and seeing if possibly long term overseas service would be for them. 

And then December also brings trying to get things done before the end of the year and all that fun stuff with impending holidays and the like.  We were not able to get the electric fence done before the end of the year, but not for lack of trying and extra days worked.

Late December also brought interviews with the clinic staff.  Why?  Well, we have been talking about the major changes coming, and that started with Valerie stepping down as clinic director and Dr. Darwin Pineda taking over that charge, as well as seeing a few patients now and then on the general medicine side of things.  Valerie will still be there every day, but working more on just optometry and no more trying to balance so many things at once. 

Darwin interviewed all the staff, asked for CVs and made a few hard decisions about changes that had to be made for the good of the clinic and the patients.  One is letting Dra. Reina go.  She has had issues with her license since we hired her, and finally with someone like Darwin taking the reigns, we could see this could not continue.  The other is with the changes needed in the pharmacy, our long serving nurse Marlen had to be let go so we could hire an actual pharmacist. 

Darwin will be implementing many changes over the coming months, not just changes for change, but hoping to be reaching and impacting our own staff, challenging them in their witness and spiritual walk, as well as getting the staff out into the neighborhood more. 

He grew up in the Church where we go, and to have him now graduated with his FAME scholarship help and now back serving, and leading is very cool to see.  The changes are not all just easy, but we can see this is going to be a good thing long term for Valerie, for Darwin, the staff, and ultimately of course for the patients.  Watching him take control and worry about the big things and the little things (the clinic needs painted to look more inviting, Justin needs some proper entrances made in front o the medical containers!) could be seen as annoying from a boss perspective, but I enjoy seeing him see it all from a different perspective and want to see things that are good get even better. 

There is more to come in the fairly near future...possibly a specialty micro roast of Hill Climber coffee, a big donation enabling us to get going on the second floor of the clinic, Justin hitting it hard on inventory control, architectural plans and more.

Prayer requests...the ongoing coffee harvest in full swing in Sampedrana and Las Botijas (worker safety and a good crop), the CIY conference going on this week here in Honduras, Oscar on vacation in Panama and Costa Rica visiting family and hoping to be back by the 15th (has to get a new passport while in CR as well), and for the clinic staff during this transition period.

I am signing off...I got so much done sitting down here at the desk last night after everyone else went to bed that I did not sleep last night, I just worked through the night.  Now that it is mid morning...I need to get some coffee, pushups or find some candy to keep me going until next bedtime comes before I start getting incoherrhencorherent. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

mid month recap

Thought you would like a more recent picture tour...here goes:
 
The Sunday school rooms in Cantaranas are almost done, at least enough to move into and begin using.  Stucco could come in the future, maybe paint, maybe a second floor...but for now it is what the Church needs...dedicated teaching space outside the sanctuary.
 
This is Jonathan, pastor in Cantaranas, working on his coffee field, doing some harvesting.   We support our pastors, but encourage them to find ways to be self supporting, as well as of course encouraging the Churches long term to help their pastors as well.  His coffee helps him, and in this case also helps the youth of his Church, as he was paying many of them to help in the harvest to make money to be able to attend the CIY conference coming up in January.  Many of the youth in the Churches that want to attend those conferences need to work, scrimp, and save all year for the opportunity.  All of the Churches in the mission participate...including many more around the country, to the tune last year of somewhere between 200 and 300 attending.  They are looking forward to another great year growing together in Christ, forging new friendships, and seeing old friends that sometimes they only get to see in person at these conferences. 
 
We are making progress on finishing the wall around the main mission property in Tegucigalpa.  At the same time...installing an electrical fence to go with the serpentine wire.  After some recent concerns, this will help secure the facilities, and just get us where we should have been a long time ago.  
 
This is pastor Edwin from Danli.  This is a Church plant that came about without much if any initial support from us.  We are just not cash flush enough to help them forward much, but do what we can.  This includes involving Edwin and the Church in the clothing ministry, which helps their evangelistic efforts, as well as providing a bit of income for him.  Now, when we have a broken dental chair, some people would just throw it out...but Oscar and Edwin talked, and they are planning on using it as a barber chair now as well.  We are also helping them with building a lean-to on a small piece of property they are leveling for Church meetings.  God willing in the future they will be able to find property and actually build a secure facility...but for now this will have to do. 
 
I bet you never thought you would see this machine...let alone that it would say "La Macarena."  All that is missing is a gas engine and you have what you need to "depulp" the coffee after harvest.  This takes the red cherry off the "bean" for drying.  One more step in our coffee empire.  Ok, just one more tool to be able to use to help speed the process of the harvest this year.  We have a used model for Las Botijas, but Sampedrana needed one as well.  Otherwise we pay per pound for renting another machine.  This machine should pay for itself in a few years time. 
 
 
Speaking of Las Botijas, although coffee farming is our priority there, there are opportunities to do more.  Including some piggies.  Opportunities not so much for the mission...this is between Oscar and Gustavo, but an opportunity nonetheless. 
 
And while they are at it...looks like we will be producing milk and veal on the property. 

















And this is a sight we love to see...coffee drying.  We are not self sustaining yet, but each year more of the plants are producing, and producing more as the grow higher and fuller.  This is one harvest...each plant harvests several times over these months, as the coffee matures at different times. 

We will likely be able to produce all the Hill Climber coffee we will need for 2015 ourselves, and have extra to sell on the open market (less profit for sure, but still profit)

We might be even tinkering with a special edition coffee for 2015, a darker roast in 1/2 pound packages.  Check back in a few months after we do a few tests and see what we find out.   
Not sure I shared via this forum...but the coffee in Las Botijas was also tested in the US by a roaster and got a score of 88...specialty grade coffee, among the top 8% quality in the world.  Pretty cool stuff. 

 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Reader's Digest Update...the unabridged additions

We sent out an update for December that was somewhat abbreviated...which I am guessing is usually preferred and most likely to be actually read.  No harm in that, nature of the beast.  For those looking for a bit more information however, you have come to the right place.

Yes, we definitely drove more than 6,400 miles, or at least I did.  Valerie and the kids were there for quite a few of those though, no doubt there.  The drive to and from Florida accounted for quite a few. This time back in the US is not normally a vacation at all.  You might be surprised how many people think that is what it is.  This time we did get to do some fun things as a family, but especially for me the reason for these trips is to communicate with supporters and supporting Churches (those that invite us to stop in and see them) as well as hopefully make more partnerships as the mission certainly has upcoming need for more financial support to do more here in Honduras.  It is hard being away from home in general, especially when we cannot be together, but definitely for a good reason.  Balancing both is tricky. 

The time with family is always the hardest.  At least this time we deliberately schedule time, often it is just stuck in when we do not have anything else scheduled.  Even when I am staying at my parents when Valerie and the kids are back in Honduras, that does not mean it is all quality hang out time...still lots of work to do, places to go, and computer work needing done.  This trip was good because we were able to stay at a free facility in Noblesville for us to stay together as a family and have at least some semblance of normalcy in the midst of the chaos.  This is likely the last time the kids will see any of their extended family for two years, maybe more, so it was good we were able to do that...not enough, but some.  Definitely a different relationship for them with their extended family than I had growing up, when I practically lived with my grandparents at times and saw cousins and aunts/uncles regularly.  That part is hard...but I am thankful for all the family in Christ they get to see and know in groups that come down throughout the year, a real blessing for sure, especially the ones they really form long lasting ties with over multiple trips.

The board meeting was just very cool.  Everyone coming together in one location (normally they are phone based meetings, which are just harder, especially tackling harder topics than just an update on everything happening) and with common goals.  His Eyes is at a point where it could grow and change like many missions do to the point of needing US staff for fundraising, coordination, etc.  Do we go that route?  Do we deliberately not?  How do we take care of the missionaries and help them have margin in their lives and not overwork to the point of burning out and leaving or not being effective?  Where do we focus?  Sometimes the answers are good...but not what you want to hear.  Realizing we cannot start the sewing ministry back up, at least for a year, is disappointing...but also a good thing for all of us.  There is so much going on, it would be easy to just keep adding plates spinning, and running us more ragged at the same time.  Their outlook (and experience) helps keep us on an even keel, and will continue to help define roles to limit us to where sometimes we might naturally over-extend ourselves. 

In terms of the changes in the clinic...this is just a long time coming.  Valerie has been working more than two full time jobs trying to be clinic director and optometrist (not to mention mom, short term group support, counselor, and more) and one of the things we were able to harvest from our time of counseling/talking in Colorado was that she needed to leave one of those behind for her own good.  Darwin Pineda was a FAME scholarship recipient we have known since our first trip here...former youth member, then youth pastor, and now doctor.  His time to serve with the mission (a two year minimum requirement from getting the scholarship) is coming up, and instead of only being a doctor, having him focus most of his time being the director will be great...with the time to implement so many needed changes we have known for years but not had the time, plus his connections (he also works in the morgue and teaches in the university here) will benefit the clinic greatly, especially in the future when the possibilities of adding services (like ultrasound in 2015?) becomes more of a reality when we have space. 

One of the changes the board has had to point out to me is that I will be me not spending as much time in the field, but more time at a desk/computer.  Tough...but necessary.  That will require depending on more of the individuals in charge of ministry doing more on their own, but we are just simply too spread out for me to try to have my hand physically in every area.

The good side to these things is that they all play into the fact that we are trying as a mission to develop Honduran leadership.  Darwin may serve a minimum of two years...but hopefully many more.  Some of the work Oscar and I do will have to be done by Oscar and some as yet unknown future Honduran staff member...who could eventually take over some of Oscar's responsibilities as well, and so on from there.  None of us is long for this Earth, and the goal is to form a mission that can operate without any one of us.  Already that is being done to great extent in the day to day operations of the Churches, clinic, etc. but we have to improve on that in terms of overall leadership as well.  Missionaries from other countries can be a huge benefit, but long term that option will not always be available (do you know how hard it is to find missionaries willing to go?) and ultimately Hondurans will best relate to Hondurans. 

So, there you have it.  November for me was spent in the USA, but dealt a great deal with Honduras; for how we can strive to improve what we are already doing, change where needed, stop (at least for a while) where needed, and through it all seek God's guidance.  Will these should be positive, change is always scary, and will have transition periods that might not be quite so much fun. 



 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Building a bit more

Not much time to write, but wanted to share a little of what I am seeing (just like you via pictures since I am in the USA right now) of the work continuing.
 
Via the very generous donation from Sherwood Oaks Christian Church, Oscar took what hopefully will be the last materials needed for the Church in Cantaranas to finish the Sunday school rooms...the floors, doors and windows. 

That will be exciting for them to have some dedicated teaching space for the kiddos, and secure space at that.












The corn container arrived finally, with some customs problems and such, but what else is new?  Custsoms changes....in paperwork, personnel, in looking for people trying to bribe via fake paperwork and personnel, in unloading everything to make sure we are not crooks, lying, or worse.

42,000 pounds of corn now that we will have to be able to share with people that need it...and need to hear of God's love. 

How are we able to get all that corn?  The Bryantsville Hunger Relief Project works via farmers in Indiana that grow this crop specifically to donate it...high lycene corn.  IDES (www.ides.org) helps pay for the shipping to get it to us, and also helped with half the funds to buy the container we are using to store it...secure storage for only the food we receive will help us keep it pest free.  And of course our good friends at Master Provisions helped us out coordinating all the shipping and logistics from the US side of things.


Our welding continues on the property...a puck lock being applied to the new container seen here, but in the background you can see the structure for the floor above the garage for the Fords...an area that as of yet we are not sure what that roughly 1,000 square feet will be used...but I am sure we will know it when the time comes.














Here you can see a brief video of Oscar getting a little help from our supplemental 4x4s to get to the coffee farm in Las Botijas.  The work is also continuing there...hard work, sometimes hard work just getting there, but we are pressing on nonetheless.

Hard work abounds, not just there but also with the coffee (and road) in Sampedrana, and keeping things going with Channel 15 in Talanga, and in general helping all the Churches...as well as how to deal with the ongoing clothing ministry needs (and how to help get the message out as to what kinds of clothes we need here.)  Please pray for all of that if you would...and as well for some security issues throughout the different areas of the mission right now (and of course as a country in total)...praying for us to have good decisions on how to best protect everything, to plan ahead, how we would respond in showing Christ's love, and for the salvation and repentance of those that are involved.  


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Overload

When people ask about how things are going here, for probably longer than I realize, the conversation usually ends with me saying something like this "busy...but that is better than the alternative!" 

My intent is to say better to be busy with more than you thought you could do, through Christ, than languishing doing less than for which we were intended. 

However...I am coming to realize just how overworked we are.  Last week when I was with the group, I was thinking of the literally weeks of accounting work waiting for me, and some time to get that done, and then was reminded Monday was a holiday.  I thought of Valerie and the kids being home, and doing fun stuff with them, my first reaction was "ugh, I do not have time for a holiday." 

That...is when you know you know you have a problem.  But really, I have known that for a while, that was just a big ol' warning sign. 

Part of the counseling we attended was addressing overwork among other things, and with the board of directors we have been trying to address this and see what changes can be made.  Changes when it comes to spreading a work load mean more staff and thus more money...and while of course it is up to God to provide for that, taking the steps in faith to get out of the boat to that end can be a bit scary...especially when here I am the guy that has to figure out how it all works out. 

I love my job, I love where we get to live...but sure it can be overwhelming. 

I spend almost every day a group is here with them.  This year that will be right at 120 days.  This does not take into account the work associated with hosting them pre-post arrival (shopping, many emails, meetings, planning, accounting, etc.)  Conservatively figure the equivalent there of another 45 days.  (Some say it is more of a 1:1 ratio for them)

Accounting for the mission...all internal reporting, reporting for Churches, reporting to help guide local efforts that might not be required for fancier reports...figure another at bare minimum 2.5 days per month or 30 days. 

Answering general ministry emails, handling ministry social media, helping with online coffee, and anything else that requires the computer for writing and such...if we count the hours, figure another bare minimum 60 work days worth on that per year.

Meetings with Valerie, Oscar, Jana, Justin and minimally with the rest of the staff (mostly with pastors) for planning or approval/disapproval/changes in plans and such?  Again conservatively 15 days a year. 

Overseeing other mission stuff...vehicle repair, banking, errand running, insurance (medical and vehicle) clothing ministry customs work, milk project supply purchasing, all things that involve me in hosting interns, and probably some other stuff I am forgetting?...figure another 50 days per year. 

Oh, and the usually once a year trip to the US for visiting supporters and hopefully meeting new supporters...that takes a month or more (this year almost two months...but we will only count for these purposes as separate works days since some of it is spent still on the computer working and such 15 days.)

If I were to observe a traditional work week of 5 days per week (with no vacations or holidays mind you) that would add up to 260 work days a year. 

However, we find adding all this up (and I think I was a little too conservative on a few of these) equals 335 days a year.  If that was not bad enough...that equals 6.44 work days per week.  How does this work?  Multi-tasking, less sleep, not truly taking a day off, and picking up the computer every at opportunity...as well as having a passion for doing it all.  Loving what you get to do (for the most part...what missionary loves fundraising or going through crumpled receipts?) helps tremendously to doing more than you otherwise might think.   

To be quite honest, rather than sharing this as a pride thing for how much we work...this is embarrassing, shaming in fact. 

I know it to be true...with the thought about the holiday (I did try to take the day off...I just worked four hours that night) and the ways I am even more about "getting to the point" (who has the time?) with conversations with...everyone, and just a general feeling of if I turn around there is another fire needing put out.  This is not healthy for me, for the mission, for my marriage/family...the list continues. 

Already I am trying to simply eliminate myself from certain activities, handing some off, going to try to not spend every day with groups, and leaning more on the other missionaries to carry out more of the leadership and implementation of what the mission is doing...more than I was already doing. 

This year has been especially trying in terms of growing/stretching/learning on this topic among others, and I suspect that while we try to slow down, and not take on more projects as a ministry...God will continue to grow the overall impact of the mission, and financial needs of the mission to make that happen. 

So...if you would, pray that the financial part of the puzzle would be met in such a way we can focus on the ministry aspects here of carrying that out, working better and more complete as a team (making time for more meetings, more reconciliation, more harmony) and for His direction on how to proceed on all fronts, finding the balance He wants for all of us. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Pulchritude

The group from Journey CC left today, Valerie is overnight at a women's retreat a few hours North, and I find myself again with a hankering to do some blogging, something that has fallen to the wayside as of late, because something had to, and I sometimes I ask the question here, somewhat like Pink Floyd "Hello, is there anybody in here?"

I was going through pictures to share, found one of a definition of the title of this blog posting.  Pulchritude=beauty apparently.  I fail to remember how I stumbled upon the word...but I found the meaning ironic given the way the word comes across.

So, you could say I have a pulchritudinous life.  It is good, beautiful in fact, but if you just pronounce it out, it might not be seen as such. 

In August Valerie and I flew to the US, a trip required of us, but one we were glad to take as well...just probably would not have made the time had it not been a requirement.

As you can see...we flew out to LAX, did a few tourist things (you might catch a quick glimpse of us October 27th on CBS in the morning) but then made our way driving to Blessing Ranch in Colorado for a week of counseling. 






As you can see...Blessings Ranch is in a very picturesque part of Colorado (near Laramie WY)

We had time to talk some about how we work in the ministry, how we work in our marriage, and how we work/function as individuals. 

It was truly a blessing, one which will continue to bear fruit I think for quite some time. 





After the week there...we drove back just a bit to get to Sacramento CA to be able to visit Valerie's sister...the first time she has ever been able to visit her, and first time to see our new niece Noelle.   

It was a short time, but so good we were able to do that. 














We went down to San Francisco as well to fly out back home (which...ended up being much more of an adventure than we were seeking) to get to see Valerie's brother Darin and spend the day with him. 










Back in Honduras the work continues.  I love that whether we are here or not...God is working in His ministry.

Oscar sent a picture of the work on the Sunday School rooms in Cantaranas and the work they were doing there...this is putting up a new material we tested for the second floor/present roof.  Much cheaper than poured concrete or other methods that might not be as strong, it may be a solution for us in quite a few other areas as well in the future! 










The group here this week helped with the milk project building retaining walls.  It seems the retaining walls are taking a long time...but then, there is quite a bit to build. 

I do not think we will have the funds to get the fill needed and columns poured this year...maybe with groups next year we will be able to at least get eventually a floor down.

In bummer news...someone stole almost 100 of the blocks we had ready to set, as well as the scaffolding we were using. We had them there all summer while we were working, but the fence we have up around the milk project property is not as secure as the clinic fence.  Sigh.  Well, when we get the block walls up, we will not have to worry about that again.  Praying for those that stole from us, may God drive them to repentance in Him.    

  
 Soren had his birthday last week...and shares a birthday with Shaun, which is pretty cool!












We continue to keep Teto the welder busy. Often in the past when we have needed a welder, it has been hard to find someone available who is good. 

So, this summer we have had to bit the bullet and get many things done that we had been putting off...like this new official sign on the gate for the clinic. 

It looks like we will be keeping him busy with other necessities for about another month at least.  

That sign exudes the word pulchritude, right?

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Kids update

How about an update on the kids?
 
 

Soren loves being...Soren.

He took a liking to these frames, and was even quite insistant we take this picture (with the tag...this is how we rock in Honduras.) 

His sense of humor is sharp, quick, and just really good. 












He is also becoming a tinkerer and inventor.

He takes apart clocks, nerf guns (including one at Church when we were practicing beforehand...quite a shock to a pastor to see heckling taken to a new level) and anything else he can find.

Goggles are great for wearing in the back of the truck (why has no one thought of that before with the wind?) but also for making a bottle man. 








Cecilia adopted another cat in May.  This very small and malnourished kitty wandered into the mission property...and when she fell for it and Valerie did as well...that was all she wrote.

Spock is now another member of the family and unofficially Cecilia's bunk mate.

Cecilia has been sharing her bedroom with interns for several months this year...maybe six?  She has handled it very well and has been good for her, stretched her, but she definitely has two cats wanting to share the space as well. 








The kids being off school this summer has made for several opportunities for them to be with and work with the groups that have been here, including a few nights getting to stay with the groups, learning some new games and having fun in the evenings.

Cecilia loves Euchre and has taken to it very well since learning over Holy Week...she gets very excited over different hands she wants to remember after the fact to see how she did...I found this picture on her camera.  Alas, no picture to let us know how it worked out. 

She also loves many different fingernail polish colors and textures. 





Cecilia continues to grow tremendously working with the groups translating and helping...and sometimes leading.  She has helped coordinate in the milk project, do house visits, hospital visits, paint (she loves to paint) and anything else she can do.   She really has a gift for language, translating...and telling people what to do.  That has been something we have seen since she was three. 

I asked her recently what she wants to study when she graduates...just gently probing for the future, and she said it does not matter, she just wants to do what I do.  I knew what she meant.


Soren is not always as excited for translating and such (unless football or other sports are involved) but has helped out a bit mixing some concrete and such as well. 

They have been of much help to us this summer, and it has been great to get to spend more time with them.  School quickly approaches...as does a MK camp they are getting to attend a few hours North of here, they are excited for that, it will be cool to see what God does through that for them...they almost never get to hang out with "peers" like that.