Saturday, January 30, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

January 22, 2010

Off to our last village, El Vallecito. High in the hills of Honduras. There were 58 families in the community. The community leaders said they were so thankful we had come because other people had promised to come and help but never showed up. We were glad we came.

The construction crew completed their last six houses, setting new records this trip - 188 bags of cement - that's 37 yards of concrete or 4 truck loads of ready mix concrete. Any way you look at it, that's a lot of concrete and a lot of hard work!!

We came home to a special meal with the Honduran MAMA staff. Without their prep work and support we couldn't have accomplished what they did. They were great.

Some stats for the week:
1) The medical team saw 920 villagers.
2) The dentist pulled 322 teeth. OUCH!
3) We gave out 156 reading glasses.
4) We found 147 villagers were anemic and treated them.
5) We had a life changing experience, reaching out to others and serving them in the Name of Jesus.

Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. Our team is dispersing. Mark Rush left today. Nancy Rice and Kelly Mead will head home tomorrow while the rest of the group heads to Copan for some much needed R&R.

Until we stand on American soil,
Beverly Unruh

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Least of These

January 21, 2010

Off to El Pinabete(named after a pine tree which surprisingly we see a lot of) today - hot, sunny, and breezeless. We arrived at the village after another steep, rocky, bumpy ride. The guys had to get out once on the way - this time to lighten the load so the van could get over a rock laden stream without taking the bottom out of the van.

The same set up as the other days - we getting into a routine now. Most of the medical team set up outside againg with the school rooms only big enough for the doctor and dentist. We saw about 140 villagers today - they just kept coming, right up until the end. It was a poorer village today, the poorest we have seen. We gave them what they could, sometimes it just doesn't seem enough. If we find out they have a serious medical problem, like high blood pressure, medicine is started and we recommend follow up in the local clinic, which may be hours away.

The construction crew did their six floors again, 34 bags of concrete. The houses were made of sticks and clay with only one window and one door. The heat inside the house was oppressive. Made more so when their oven was inside with a fire burning. Some houses have their ovens outside. Their few possessions are outside the house while the floor is poured - a few chairs, maybe a very small table, beds with a frame and then strung back and forth with rope to make a mattress. Most houses have a corn storage system and a corn grinder in the house.

We finished our work and left around 4pm to a long ride home. Everyone was hot and tired. Even after showers and supper, our energy was sapped. Tim Weaver led our team time again(thanks, Tim) and shared with us from Matthew 25 - "Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, a prisoner,or sick and help you? And the Lord replied,"Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of the least of them, you did it to Me."

Blessings to all,
Beverly Unruh

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Holy Moment

January 20, 2010
Another warm sunny day with the forecast promising the temperatures to reach the 90s. We were off to La Playa, which means the beach. Like Joe commented, "The last time this village saw the beach was when Noah was in the ark." La Playa is high in the mountains - the sky was blue and we felt like we could touch the clouds. The hills were planted with corn, coffee, or had a few cows grazing on them. But no beach.
Once again the villagers were waiting for us at the school, which was small. There were only 27 families in this community. Most of the health team set up outside by the school(thankfully in the shade). The dentist was busy pulling a lot of teeth and we saw one little boy who was malnourished but overall the village seemed fairly healthy.
And then there was Wendy. She was a 18 year old girl who met us with shrieks and loud noises. She moved around freely in the village, interacting with everyone but never really connecting. The team found out that she has had epilepsy from birth and some degree of mental retardation. What intrigued the team was that all the villagers accepted her, never made fun of her, never tried to minimize her or push her away. They loved her as she was, just like Jesus loves us. As we reflected this situation at our team meeting, we felt God in our presence, a holy moment to remember and treasure.
Barb had quite a following today. She took a break from the pharmacy after lunch and started to take pictures of the children and then print them out on a portable printer. They loved seeing themselves in the photos.
The guys, as always, were working hard. Six floors again using 37 bags of concrete. Keep the gatorade coming! They said this was the cleanest water they had seen in any of the villages so far.
As we were packing up to go home a huge pick up truck packed with Hondurans was coming back from the coffee fields. There were baskets hanging on the sides of the truck. The workers get so much per basket they pick. Coffee is a cash crop that is becoming more popular.
One man in the village brought his guitar and himself and some other men started singing songs. We couldn't understand what they were singing but it sounded nice.
Back to the mission house. Nancy is actually enjoying riding on the cooler in the small empty space in the van so we can squeeze 16 people in. Getting to and from the village is as much of an adventure as the work itself.
Two more days of clinics and 12 more floors to pour. We feel your prayers. Thank you.
Respectfully yours,
Beverly Unruh

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Los Angeles (not California)

We woke up to a warm, sunny day that would get hotter and hotter(90 degrees F.) Off to Los Angeles today - fortunately not California due to the weather they have been having.
Once again the roads were less than desirable. The main roads had crater like pot holes. There were children filling them in with stones and then asking for money from the passerbys. Then came a detour due to a major bridge had collapsed within the last year. The road up to the village was dry but very rocky and bumpy with top speeds maybe 20 mph.
The villagers were waiting for us at their new school(built last August.) They had set up a large tarp and put chairs underneath it so the villagers could sit and listen to the presentation on nutrition and hygeine given by Rosa, a MAMA staff member.
The health care team set up and started seeing patients - approximately 140. They were in better health than yesterday´s village - we saw more cattle, pigs and chickens indicating the people had access to more protein.
The construction team did six floors again utilizing 33 bags of concrete. They are one lean, mean, working machine. They come back covered in sweat, grime and mud but they wouldn´t want it any other way. Thanks guys!!
When I finished checking 134 hemoglobins(to monitor for anemia) Dania(a translator - 19 years old and studying to be an English teacher at the university in Tegucigalpa - she reads the English/Spanish dictionary for fun)and I went to find the guys pouring concrete to get a few pictures. A few of the children tagged along. Many of the houses had thatched roofs. We greeted the villagers sitting on their porch with "holas" and they responded with an English phrase and laughed. The guys were hard at work and I got the pictures.
Dania and I decided to take a different way back - a rocky path with houses along the way. Surprisingly, also lined with streetlights! We met up with other children we had met at the clinic and they showed us a foot path down to the river. Large and flowing with a cool breeze - the children said they go swimming often.
Back to the school to say our good byes and have an uneventful trip home. Another delicious meal by our cook, Isabella. Some of us packaged more vitamins for tomorrow while others did dishes. At our team time, we reflected we have been here a week already! A lot of hard work but a lot of fun and learning to get to know one another. Six more days to go and looking forward to more adventures everyday as we serve our Lord and Saviour, Jesus.
Respectfully yours,
Beverly Unruh

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mark´s 50th Big Day

January 18, 2010
We started out a cloudy, cool day by wishing Mark Rush a Happy 50th Birthday. We ended the day by singing him Happy Birthday and enjoying a delicious birthday cake made by our cook, Isabella.
The in between times were when our adventures began. By 8:30 am we were off to El Sitio. The rain the night before turned the dirt, or should I say, mud roads into a mess. The rocky, steep terrain didn't help either with pot holes/craters dotting the way. The van got stuck four times with the guys getting out and pushing it up the hill FOUR times. Mucho gracias!!
After a two hour,slippery, bumpy ride we arrived at the village with the villagers anxiously awaiting our arrival. We quickly set up the health clinic and the guys were off to pour floors.
The health team saw about 120 people of all ages. Overall, the village was not in good health. We were able to help them by giving them medicine and vitamins. We brought a mother and baby back with us to the Nutrition Center as the baby was malnourished. Another mother and baby may come next week.
The construction team poured six floors using 40 bags of concrete. That is a lot!! The villagers were appreciative by helping having their houses ready and helping with the concrete work.
Our work was done by 4:30 PM. Fortuneately the sun had come out and dried up the road, somewhat. The guys had to get out and push only one time. We were all tired but had a feeling of satisfaction of a job well done as well as making a difference in someone's life.
Respectfully yours, Beverly Unruh (This is my first time in Honduras.)

Big d

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday "Down Day"

Today was rainy and cooler. The construction crew was bemoaning the fact that it would have been the best day to work without the heat.

We headed to San Pedro Sula in the morning to go to the craft market. Then lunch at Pizza Hut and headed to the airport to pick up Nancy. Nancy´s flight came in a little late but she had no problems. We headed back to the mission house in yet another rental van, #3!! Mary, the team coordinator is handling the van situation well, but we can see it is wearing her down. To review, the first red van lost brakes (and was overheating) on Friday and the second "fancy van" was not prepared to travel the mountain roads to get to the communities. The latest van (which I have a feeling it will not be the last!) is older, with tight seats but seems to have decent power. Stay tuned for the continuation of "the van saga".

We all are tired tonight....maybe the weather or not doing much....early to bed to get ready for the busy week ahead. Please pray for strength for the construction crew and for a good day for the medical clinic. Also pray for Mary as she handles all the team and clinic will be a stressful, tiring week for her.

We all continue to be in good health.
Thanks to all,
Barb for the team

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Saturday in San Franciso-Marlon House Walls Complete!

A beautiful sunny hot day here. The construction crew are happy with the work on Marlon´s house. The blook walls are complete. The guys said it was what they had hoped to accomplish! They even finished up at 2pm!

The girls spent the morning doing laundry and cleaning in the misson house, taking lunch to the guys, going for a walk thru town and playing with the kids at the nutrition center. We took them a soccer ball (an immediate hit for the boys), bubbles and a Candy Land game which we taught them to play. I think we brightened their day with some new activities.

The highlight of the day was a fish dinner at an authentic Honduran restaurant on Lake Yojoa. It was a beautiful evening and the whole fish was delicious (and no one seemed bothered by the fish eyes and fins). We all continue to be healthy...a true test will be tonight as a few of us indulged in the jalepenos in the jar at the restaurant (something we have always been told not to do:-)

A prayer request would be for the van situation. We had a new rented van tonight, but the driver (who also owns the van) was told he would be driving on mostly flat roads...very far from what will happen next week as we head to remote communities for clinics and cement floors. Mary, the MAMA team coordinator, will work on trying to find yet another van. We hope to get the van at the airport when we pick up Nancy Rice joining the team tomorrow.

Thanks for your continued prayers.
Barb for the team

Friday, January 15, 2010

Gongora and Marlon´s House Day#2

A beautiful, sunny, breezy day in Honduras (although the construction crew would say HOT!) Marlon´s house walls are going up and today they poured the corners wired w/ rebar to tie the walls together (Honduran wall building style). They were very tired and very hot but accomplished a lot. The walls should be done tomorrow. Marlon and his dad work beside the DRE work crew.

The medical team had a beautiful drive about 1.5hrs away on the other side of Lake Yojoa from where we were yesterday. We drove thru the town of Las Vegas and up the mountain overlooking the town. Up, up and up, as the engine continued to overheat. Mary the MAMA team coordinator, decided to pull over to let the engine cool and we continued on and arrived at the community of Gongora. (Village named 80 years ago for the sound the monkeys made from the mountain--the name remains but no more monkeys.)
At the school we were greeted with a surprise! The school children performed 3traditional Honduran dances for us...they were dressed in beautiful dresses and the boys in neat white shirts....what a wonderful welcome and indication of a special generous and appreciative community! This was MAMA´s first time here and they thanked us over and over again for coming! Bev was even given a horseback ride as a thank you! The clinic routine went well seeing about 100 people for doctor consult.

We continue to feel your prayers...and even comment when there are snags along the way that it will be OK because we know we are covered in prayer. That was evident on the way home tonight as the van that had engine problems in the AM now had no brakes! Mary was concerned and pulled over in Las Vegas and eventually Felix came to pick us up. (Luckily the van is rented and was returned to the rental agent!) But as the situation developed and we waited for it to be resolved, we felt calm and at peace knowing we are being lifted up by so many! We did arrive late for dinner, but it was extra good because we were so hungry!

A special thank you to Mary for always looking out for our safety! It is clear caring for us is her priority and she takes situations in stride making good decisions, communicating well and making sure we are OK. MAMA is blessed to have her work with the our teams.

Thanks again for your interest and prayers! (PS we will try to post video of the students dancing tomorrow.)
Barb for the team

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Marlon´s House Walls and El Barro

A good start today! Before breakfast, we walked one block down the street across from the mission house to see Marlon´s house. The construction crew was happy to see a foundation ready for block walls. It is a very small lot, surrounded by banana trees and Felix´s dad lives next door. The work went well, but the blocklaying was totally different than at home (per chief mason, Jake). The sand is very coarse and no lime is used to make the mortar workable. Tim Weaver worked with the construction crew to help translate details like where door and window openings were. We came home to sunburned tired guys (who had already started their laundry!).

The medical clinic was in El Barro, about 1.5hrs away, past Lake Yojoa, up muddy slippery roads. We set up in the school (no school for kids in January). MAMA has added new procedures with more stations to the clinics. It was the first time for the staff and obviously us to do additional things like test hemoglobin and hand out eye glasses. There was also new recordkeeping procedures. Once we got set up everything ran very smoothly. Beverly doubled up on the blood pressure, eyeglass stations, Ed discussed motor skill developments for babies up to 3 yrs with the moms, Mark and Marge did deworming and Vit A and Kelly did the hemoglobin finger stick. Dr. Sandra (MAMA staff) saw patients (106 today)and Barb and a translator did pharmacy. There was also a dentist.

Reflections on the day:
--did you know Ed Wyse has been studying Spanish for one year and is fairly fluent?
--neat to see the dentist´s excitement to use the new portable dentist chair and dental headlamp donated by a Souderton Mennonite SS class.
--appreciated the 3 translators that helped us today, Peter, David and Dani.
--San Franciso de Yojoa must be a happy town...fireworks for someone´s celebration at 4am this morning...we were ready to get up anyway. We are on Joe´s bed at 9, up at 5am..
---thinking lots about Haiti and why people in poverty suffer.

Everyone healthy so far. Thanks for all your prayers!!
Barb for the team

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

"Welcome Home" to San Francisco de Yojoa

We arrived! A long day with a 4 hour layover in COLD Miami airport. Arrived to cloudy drizzle (low 60´s) in San Pedro Sula about 2:30pm (3:30pm east coast time). Smooth flight and baggage all arrived fine. Mary and Felix met us at airport. Loaded luggage on new flatbed pickup and passengers in nice rented van (old white van may not be repaired). Sorted medicine and prepared for the day tomorrow. Isabella's dinner of taco meat, tortillas and excellent hot sauce enjoyed. Wonderful pina (pineapple) for dessert. Early bedtime to prepare for work tomorrow!
Thanks for covering our travels in prayer.
Barb for the team