Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Mail Call and His Call

Haley is back and with her were manila envelopes filled with letters and notes from folks from the US. We had one Spanish Class who sent hand written cards to the girls. They were so excited to receive mail! There is a scripture in Proverbs about how wonderful it is to receive news from home. Haley has returned bringing wonderful blessings with her. We are so glad she is back!

As I was driving back from San Pedro Sula with Haley, who was asleep in the front seat in a semi-catatonic state because she had been up for almost 24 hours straight. Zulmin, Sonia, and Lizzie were in the back. It was their turn to come to town with me. It was quiet and I began to think about how hard it was for me when I had to start picking up team members on my own. I have gone to SPS hundreds of times, and was very difficult when it was just me attending to the teams.

I know in times past, I was the one who was sitting on the passenger side snoozing away. Or if I was awake I know I heard a hundred times where to turn and what landmark to look for, only I was doing something else, like knitting hats for the kids, or reading a book, crocheting a blanket or listening to a tape. So many times landmarks of "where to turn" were pointed out to me, but clearly my focus was else where. I was doing good things, but I wasn't paying attention.

My devotional for the day had been in Matt. 13:14 . (I had to go look it up when I got home) While I was driving up the winding mountaneous roads, the scripture that I read for the day came back to my mind. It is really a quote from Isaiah. You will hear my words but you will not understand, you will see what I do,but will not perceive the meaning. For the hearts of these people are hardened and their ears cannot hear and they have closed eyes so that the eyes cannot see and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.
I always thought that scripture in the Old and New Testament was like a riddle, that I couldn't figure out, until I was driving down the road, alone, with 4 people in my car. I had seen my husband drive over the years and sort of knew where to turn, and sort of knew the landmarks, and sort of knew where the car rental places were, and sort of knew what times the flights came in. However when I had to do it myself, I was really unsure about what I was doing. The bottom line was I wasn't really paying attention. It really wasn't my job to get us to the airport before and so my heart wasn't in it.

I think God is trying to tell me at least, to start pay attention because it is important. I don't want to live a passenger life when I am supposed to be driving. There are a lot of things we can be doing, even good things, that will pull our attention away from the direction God is trying to show us. Oswald Chambers says that the good is the enemy of the best. It is good to read the Word, listen to sermons, and read anointed Christian literature, but we need to really focus on the best. That way whenever it is time to do whatever, I will be prepared and not so unsure of myself. I want my heart to be into whatever He is trying to show me. I want to understand and perceive His meaning. I want to realize that the call of God is not a one time thing, it is a continual conversation. So I need to start this year differently. I don't want to walk through my spiritual life with my eyes closed and my heart hardened. Please pray for me that I will "pay attention". The Missionary motto is: See it, Do it, Teach it. I think if we really see what the word says and perceive what God wants us to do in any given moment and then teach others to do the same, we will be healed as individuals and as the body of Christ. I want that for my life and for the lives of the girls He has entrusted me with. Blessings, the Alert Honduran MOM
The girls have been super this month. We have loaded rocks, boulders, firewood by the flatbed trailer full. They have cooked and cleaned and cut coffee beans. We have managed the animals, kept the vegetable garden hoed and watered. During their spare time after school and these activities they have started a dance team and coreograph their own moves with the songs they pick out. I am amazed at how much talent and energy these girls have. They are amazing.

These are a few projects we need to get finished. One is the foundation on an adobe duplex for our interns who are coming to help us and the other is we need to get our bus fixed. Please be praying we get it all done.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The Week in the Life at Talitha Cumi

We are planning our team in February right now. Since our workers wanted to leave after the first of the year, the girls and I are here with 2 ladies and a watchman. I hired two young mountain boys and and older gentlemen to help us get some rocks we need for the adobe duplex we are building for the interns that are coming to help us work here at Talitha Cumi. We needed eight loads of rock. I don't mean little rocks, we are talking small boulder size rocks. The men we hired literally dug the rocks out of the side of the ravine at out farm. The girls did a bucket brigade line and loaded the rocks from the steep incline to the flat bed Isuzu truck that I have just discovered I can legally drive. I am heady with power. :) We made eight loads in two days, which is amazing! We got a bunch of bizarre stares as the road crew were taking measurements for the 100th time, and they looked up to see a woman driving a flatbed loaded with a bunch of girls. Then they notice on the return trip that was 20 minutes later, that we had a huge load of rocks.
During all this I have 5 of my girls who had lice. One of the jobs of the house moms is to keep a check on this every day. One of the house moms said she was checking, but she was not, but I didn't find out until too late. At night I was combing through the thickest hair in the world with the tiniest of combs. When you deal with lice you learn a lot. Lice always move up and hide in areas you can't see. One lice is a louse. If you have a lousey attitude, well it is not good. A louse egg is called a nit. A nit-wit is someone with a wit as small as a nit. Just a bit of lousey trivia.
Well then yesterday, I woke up early and realized that if I didn't carry Mariela to the orthopedic doctor, I wouldn't have anybody here to watch the girls while I went to the doctor. Anastacia and Ezequela have been spending the holidays with us. Ezequela announced she was leaving so I got ready to go. The older girls go to class in La Esperanza on Thursdays. So instead of taking the bus, they went with me in the white Nissan. I had gotten up early and the girls got Mariela ready to go. I had several question and answer sessions from the girls before I left. I had to get a container to get diesel to put in the flatbed truck and then I needed to get some boots that needed fixed and I needed to get to the internet store to download a video. I had to go back to the house to get keys. When I got back I noticed Anastacia in the car too. I thought she was going to be with the girls, so I had to make a whole new plan. I finally got everything ready and was ready to go.
We finally got out the gate and headed to town. It would be close but we would make it. We got stuck behind a cattle drive. These cows needed to be driven somewhere like a cemetery. They looked so bad. It is dry season now and there isn't a lot of grass for them to graze on. Unfortunately for us and unfortunately for the cows they were running and we were really running late.
I dropped Lina off with Mariela because the doctor doesn't come into work unless they call him. I dropped the girls off at their school with bus fare to get back home. I went back to the doctor's office and we waited for an hour watching a very cheesy Latin soap opera. Lina went to help me with Mariela and so we decided to watch Mariela, who was entertaining us also with her new antics and just grinning at each one of her new accomplishments, saying "Look".

The doctor met with us and told us that she has definitely improved but not as much as he had hoped. He said that there is a Orthopedic Pediatrician in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. He told us that he will want to do surgery, "but don't do it." "He likes to do surgeries". With that kind of recommendation, I decided not to go to him at all. God remind me that there is a medical team that usually comes to La Esperanza led by Seth and Linda Berl from Moultrie, GA in March, and they typically have an orthopedic doctor coming with them, so I called them to get Mariela's name on the list. Linda said she would write me on email to let me know when to come. So that was done for now. Mariela is still doing her physical therapy with our girls. They take turns with her every morning, noon, and night.

We left from there to talk to the Public Defender's Office. I wanted to know if they had heard anything about the children that were taken from our center by their mom. In order to get a child to live here we go to three governmental agencies. I sign a document stating that I am the legal guardian of the child. The parents have to agree if it is a situation where the parents are petitioning the courts for their child to come into Project Talitha Cumi. In the case of the 3 sisters, their mom had no rights to the children except for a visit once a month. The mom has a warrant out for her arrest. When I was waiting to talk to the officials another man who is a nurse came up to greet me. I have known him for a few years and he works with children with aids. He came and started talking and saying he was sorry for the three girls. I asked him how did he know about my girls and apparently he is a relative of the two women who took the children. He started telling me about the situation since these girls were young. It made me review how I felt about them. They have had the worst life you can think of. Even right now the sister who helped with the abduction of the children, is in the physc ward at the local hospital, in shock over something else that has recently happened. Even though I was sick at heart at the horror those two women have lived I was even more concerned about the three girls. Please continue to pray that the Lord will convict the mother's heart and bring her children back to a safe place, so they won't have a story like their mom.
I got home after I finished tons of other errands in town. I still had to finish lunch, but I had time. When I got out of the car, the girls told me that the water storage tank by the kitchen had blown over and we had no water. I checked and the water tank had not been hooked up for quite sometime. I went to the tanks on the hill that were hooked up. They were stone dry. So I went back down the hill, drained the line, took the pressure valve off and drained the air. Then I tried to start it and nothing. We have been having brown outs here. I decided if the electricity was that low we could use the generator. It wouldn't crank. So I decided to wait until the electricity would get stronger. I was praying it would be soon because the girls and I are feeding up the animals and they would need water. During lunch I remembered years ago Brett telling me about a button on the bottom of the electrical box. I went out there and prayed that I would not get electricuted, because since that time the well pump had been re-worked by many different people. I pushed the button and the pump clicked on. I was so thankful to God for jogging my memory
The new guys have literally transformed the farm. We have had several employees for years, and they had just gotten disanimated about working. I know that happens, in the States, but here if you need to tap into your savings account which is your employer. If you get fired it is like in the US your employer needs to pay you until you get a new job. Here you pay a flat fee for the years they have worked for you. I am thankful the people who were working with us for these past 4 years. I pray that they are blessed beyond measure. But the new guys had chopped so much wood from felled trees from over the years. Our truck was running over with firewood, and our girls loaded it all. I asked them if they were tired, and they said, " Yes, but it was easier than rocks. "
Because we were all tired, I wasn't going anywhere the next day, except to get Anastacia moved to her house. Before I could leave the Public Defense folks called. I just knew they had an answer about Milady Jennifer and Darlin. They did not have any news. They did have another case. It was a girl who had just turned 15 on` the 8th of January. Instead of celebrating her 15th birthday party with friends and family she had just gotten her baby back from another woman. The 15 year old had come to La Esperanza at 12 years old from a troubled home life in the mountains far away. She told me that she would spend the night in the grass just so she could escape what was going on in their family. Her mother told her it would be better if she left and found work.
She got a job as a housekeeper for the next two years she was working as a maid. She was taken advantage of by a married policeman. She had the baby at 14 years old last September. Her new employer said she could stay. When the baby was born the employer took over. The young mother wasn't allowed to do anything with the baby. Right before Christmas the young woman was asked to leave and she wasn't allowed to take the baby. Her next employer told her to check with the legal authorities. She did and a month later, yesterday she finally got her baby back.
Now she knows nothing of how to care for a baby. She didn't know how to change a diaper, or burp the baby, make a bottle of formula, or how to feed her child or how to hold her. I heard some noise in her room and I went in to check on them and she had given the infant a piece of a plastic bag to play with. When I got in the room the baby had the bag in her mouth. I was a little freaked out, but patiently explained to her the dangers of playing with plastic bags. The baby was crying all the time,so she was giving it a bottle all the time. I finally told her she couldn't give the baby the bottle until every 3 hours. The baby is resting at last. It was a long night. Please be praying for this little girl raising a little girl. Pray for me that I have the patient to walk her through this time in her life.
Thanks to all of you who continue to pray for us, and help support the work here. Thank all of you who have written so many notes of encouragement. They really do mean a lot. Blessings, the Truck Driving, Baby Instructing , Rock Toting, Honduran MOM

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Year

This year started with a team leaving. They rode on the back of the flatbed all the way to San Pedro Sula to make their flight. Normally, I call the bus company and plan the trip the day before, at the owners request. This time they told me that they didn't drive on January 1st until that afternoon. It is a 4 hour trip to San Pedro Sula and their flight left at 1:00 pm So we had to get the flatbed ready to ride to San Pedro Sula. While the men were doing that, we got everything ready to celebrate New Year's Eve. We planned to shoot of fireworks, eat tres leches(which is a wonderful cake that has coconut milk, whipped cream and sweetened condensed milk ) made a campfire with a guitar playing worship leader from team 2's church. (We had another team almost the same time. The came a day after the first team and left a day after team one. ) We bobbed for apples and watched grown men have too much fun with their fireworks.

WE had a lot of activity in December between three teams and Christmas for the girls. They did so many things around the farm, including getting the farm planted. Some worked on the duck pond's dam where we have a source of water that helps water our plants through the dry season, made cabinets, had acrylic art painting lessons for the girls, dance classes for worship on Thursday night, lots of cooking and baking. They repaired my sad sofa, cracked glass on the kitchen door, worked on the electrical problems at my house, put bulbs in very tall light poles and made a covering for Mariela's day bed. Everyday was so full, and we got so many things done that I hadn't been able to get too.

After the teams left we had a meeting with the labor officials. We have had many employees who have worked with us over the last 4 years. Some we have known for as long as I have lived in Honduras. Here with the labor laws, if you quit your job you get hardly any severence pay. So many workers stay when they really want to be doing something else, but the longer they stay, they get kind of a savings account that continues to build at the employer's expense. Without a contract a worker can get up to half of what he had ever been paid by the employer. We had done everything legally about having contracts and everything, but no matter how much you might care about your employer, I guess sometimes you just want a change. After watching the group, I knew that the time had come to let them go do what they needed to get done. This time of year they have their own farms and are harvesting their own coffee. It is very hard for them to work here and on their own places.

So we made the arrangements. Something like this can go either way. People can get offended if you discerned the situation incorrectly. Thankfully, they were all relieved, and the extra separation pay will help them get their New Year started off in a great way. Even though I knew that it needed to happen, you get used to seeing the folks you work with everyday. I am going to miss them all terribly. It was an extremely emotional day for me. We have walked with each other through so many things, sickness and in health, good times and not so good times. I am thankful they have been here, and pray blessings on them and their families. Tonight, one of the workers came to church at the mission. I am thankful.

Pray for me and the girls. This New Year is starting out all new, but we all know that if we work together and God is guiding us, everything will be okay. We are getting back to the roots of the ministry. Initially it was out vision for the girls to develop a good work ethic through doing chores around the farm and learning how to cook and keep house. So that when they leave from here they will be totally educated in the areas of life that they need to have to be successful. We had two weeks to practice while the workers were on Christmas holiday.

The girls are feeding and watering the pigs, rabbits, goats, cow, chickens, ducks, and dogs. They helped me get a flatbed loaded with wood for their cook fires. We would stop at one house and they threw the wood off and then went back and put them under the shelter that is located behind each house. They have helped me with the watering of all the newly planted fields, and we have teams that are doing the cooking. They have helped me with the laundry from all the teams and have been such a blessing.

Because they started back to school this week, they get up at 5 am and feed up the animals, the team for the day cooks while the others are feeding the animals. They eat at 6:30 am, clean up breakfast, (another team) and then we have devotions, followed by jumping jacks (we are up to 50) and then the food team, comes and we get lunch started at my house before they go to school. The girl's attitudes have been wonderful, and they have worked very hard.

Even though the girls attitude have been great our cow has a little bit of a "tude". We call her Prissy because she thinks she is "all that". I was even a little nervous of her the way she would bow up at seemingly just women. We just let the workers handle her before because she seemed to like the men better. But when we had to do it, it was a learning experience. She would come towards us jumping, popping and swinging her head like she was going to charge. At first I would get her busy with her food and then move her rope to another tree so that she could have a different place to graze. I was hiding behind trees, and stealthly moving about while she was otherwise occupied . That lasted a day. The next day she had caught on and started up with her nasty attitude. I had the rope in my hand and I just popped her on the nose with the end of the rope like you would if you had a wet towel. She stopped, looked at me really hard, and I looked back at her like, "I will do that again" and I tell you she looked like she shrugged her shoulders, and behaved herself. Stephania is a little cowgirl. She is maybe 4 ft tall, and we buy her capris and they just fit for her pant length. She decided she wasn't going to wait for me and she took the rope and wrapped it around her fingers. The cow snatched her head back and put a rope burn on Stephania's knuckles. Steph didn't like that so she did as she saw me do. We got her doctored up and I felt so badly for her, but I saw her today while I was staining the cabinets. She literally had the cow by the horns, and walking her a pretty long distance to get her to a good place to graze. The cow was being very obedient. All the other girls were admiring her courage and were saying "Wow, Stehphania, how brave you are." She seemed to get a little taller.

Please continue to pray for us in this new season of a New Year. We have appreciated all the teams who came to help and all the ones who are coming to help us this year. We are looking forward to all that God has planned for us. Blessings, the Cow Punching, Honduran MOM

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Merry Christmas to Everyone

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year

We have had such a hectic time here at the farm this month. December is usually busy because we pick coffee and have to create Christmas for 24 girls. This year however, we had a team from Crosspointe Church come down and minister to our community a few days before Christmas.

The team brought all these book bags filled with useful things for the school children and also other things that maybe are not so useful, like candy. The kids loved the back packs and we all enjoyed handing them out to so many children.

It was so cold on our first trip out with the team to Sacate Blanco. It is 7500 ft about sea level. Many people believe that because we are in Central America it must be hot. Not true. The Project Talitha Cumi girls live at 6000 ft and it stays pretty chilly here. The children met us there and we sangs songs and just enjoyed celebrating Christmas with one another. We ministered to a lot of children, but not all of the children were able to come. School is out this time of year, and it was hard to get the message out to all of the children who live in this remote mountain village.

The Crosspointe team had some great travel experiences while they were here. They got off the plane and got loaded onto a public bus line. It was a little slow going because of all the holiday traffic this time of year. They stop at many stops along the way to pick up waiting passengers. They finally arrived in La Esperanza, our nearest town and capital of the department (state). It was so cold the night they arrived. Then they unloaded their supplies from the public bus and put it on our bus. Don Chilo was driving and is in charge of keeping the vehicles of the farm operational. However, this time he forgot to put diesel in the bus. They ran out of diesel about half way to our farm. Chilo siphoned the gas from our little Nissan that was there as a support vehicle. It got the team to our farm.

We thought we were going to Yasi the next day, which involves an extensive hike from the back of our farm down into the valley below. Somehow wires were crossed and we weren't going to Yasi. We needed to take the bus up the mountain to Sacate Blanco where children and their parents were patiently waiting for an hour. If I had known we needed to use the bus, I would have gotten Chilo to take the small truck and get some diesel when he first got to work, but now it was two hours later and I needed to change plans with the team, and I need to get to town. I told Chilo to go ahead and I would meet them at the crossroad.

I drove back to La Esperanza to get diesel. They were having a annual Christmas fair in Yamaraguila and there was a traffic jam!! I turned up a road I thought would get me out of the jam, but it was filled with mountain people trying to sell their wares. I just had to wait it out. You can't drive fast over these roads because they are so rocky and have tons of potholes. So I thought I will just listen to my Ipod with my praise music. Well, I had it in my coat and I must have had the earbuds dangling out of the pocket and I had crushed one of the earphones when I had closed my truck door. I was determined to praise the Lord through these circumstances and stuck the one good earphone in my ear. I listened about 5 minutes and then my Ipod died.

My first stop was the Texaco station and then I had to get a few things for the trip and went by the store that is right across the road. I ran in the store and got water bottles and some other requested items. When I got out of the store, the clerk motioned towards my back tire. It was making a hissing sound. It was not flat yet but it was definitely on its way to "flatland". I jumped in the car and drove to the local tire repair hut. I got there fine, and they charge me double, and got me on my way.I got to the crossroads and met the team. We dumped the fuel in the bus and took off. The scenery is fantasic in this area.

When we arrived at the top of the mountain on an empty soccer field, steam began erupting from the hood of the bus. I don't know much about cars, trucks and busses but I do know that this is not a good sign. Chilo not only didn't check the water, he didn't check the water either. So we had what is known in the auto mechanic world as a blown head gasket.

So now we had a team, that needed to get from point A to point B and I didn't have our bus. So I was going to rent a 4x4 but the guy who rents his truck out was drinking that day. The reason he rents his truck out is because his license had been revoked. I did have a flatbed trailer. It worked out fine the next day in the trip to Inguanis. We put old pew cushions on the floor of the flat bed and the team had a rocky time of it, but the scenery was incredible. The team hiked down this mountain road, while I took the option of going with the borrowed 4x4 sent by the mayor of Yamaranguila with a driver. We are trying to colaborate with the mayor to reach the people of Inguanis and Picacho with much needed assistance in almost every area. We passed out clothes and rice and a book of John to all the people who were waiting below. I had brought seeds from the USA that were donated by local farmers in Doerun, GA .

The people were thrilled to get all the goodies that we brought to them. We tried to sing songs with the children but they didn't even know the simpliest songs. They are wide open to hear the gospel message. They loved the songs, and I told them I would be back to bring others to help them. We had a great week with the Crosspointe team but when it came to leave there was a problem. they had a lot of people and we only had the flatbed and the little truck. They had to be at the bus stop at 4:30.

They got ready very quickly that morning, after they discerned that nobody's alarm went off. They piled into the flat bed with their coats and the blankets from the mission house. I had made them some banana bread "to go" and followed behind in the Nissan pick up with some of the other team members. Chilo was driving so fast down the road that we noticed things falling of the truck, i.e. mirrors, that we did stop and pick up . Haley and I left the Nissan at the bus station and rode with team who took the next bus, and they made their flight.

I have learned a lot of things when teams come. One of those things is that I have found out that y9u can not get a bus fixed during the Christmas /New Year's Holiday.. The days after Christmas we had or next team. Again, we picked them up with the flatbed at the bus stop. Dust was so thick here because of dry season, we had to turn on our lights during the day just so that people would be able to see our car. The team arrived coated in dust, and wrapped again in covers because of the cold. Once in our riding back and forth this week from here to town, I saw a dead man in the road. He was face up, mouth opened and looking straight into the sun. Normally if it was a person who was drunk, they typically fall in a fetal position for hours. I don't know if the man fell off a overcrowded back end of a pick up truck, or if he fell walking and some on ran him over because the dust was so thick no one could see him on the road.. It was a horrible site.

When it was time for this team from South Carolina to leave, I called to get the times for the bus departure, and the owner said, " I am sorry, we don't drive on New Year"s Day. So we needed a way to get the team from our farm to San Pedro Sula three hours away. Jimmy Potts took the iniative and russeled up two bus seats that he welded together and placed them against the outside wall of the cab. The men worked furiously New Year's Eve. We all called them the A-Team. Then they got some roofing metal and made a covering to set over the bus seats as well as to have side panels that were welded on to the new roof. They bolted and nailed everything in place, put the old donated green pew pad on top the old bus seats, and voila' "create-a-ride". The structure took on a "Beverly Hillbillies" tone, but it was very serviceable. Our Christmas holidays were so great. I thank everyone who sent cards or gifts to the children. The girls were tremendously blessed this Christmas. Thanks to Crosspointe Church for the back packs that were distributed to the many Honduran children here, Thanks to Randy Cox and Rich Foster for getting the Container with all the goodies on it down here to Honduras. Thanks to the Moore family and their ministry to our girls this month with their team. Thanks also to Tom Osborne and his team who came and revamped our farm as well as made wonderful relationships with our girls. But most of all thanks to Jesus for all He has done for us.

Please continue to pray for the 3 missing girls. I go again tomorrow to see if there is any news.Blessings, Pam DeMott the Thankful, Hopeful, Hillbilly truck driving Honduran Mom and all the girls from PTC

Please go to our blog to see some of the photos!