Sunday, August 24, 2014

Fall is Coming

The weather remains summer-like, dry with day temperature in the eighties, but it feels like fall is coming.  Maybe it's the earlier sunsets.  Maybe it's the appearance of the fall crocus yesterday.  Maybe it's the maturing of the garden, the ripening and gathering of blackberries and raspberries and the grapes  turning color.  Maybe it's just an instinct as people talk about school starting soon and church choir starting up again.  Maybe it's the undeniable aging of a man who has enjoyed seventy years of life.

I could fuss about what's not going well or I could dwell on the great blessings of life.  Our full grown mature has but one pear, yes, just one, we counted them, this year, however, the younger pear tree with its five varieties grafted into in base - only two varieties remain - is over loaded.  The Barlett variety seem nearly ready for picking while the Oriental variety are rock hard and far from being scrumptious.  The blackberries which grow in the neighbor's ground and hang over our sagging fence within easy reach for me especially if I use a ladder.  With long sleeves and a heavy gloves, I gently move the vines within reach so the other hand can pluck the berries.  Blackberries don't ripen all at the same time so once a week I pick again the vines I picked the week before.  Washed and spread out on a cookie sheet, the berries are frozen and bagged before being stored for the winter.

The cycle of the year, at least as years have presented themselves in the last decade, suggests that I will soon be returning to the front of a university classroom, this fall to teach Website Design to and for teachers.  I have always looked forward to this time of the year, in fact for many years there was no break as I taught year round.  Now I ponder if I even want to teach another term past this fall.  I love the benefits of teaching, first and foremost working with students, but I regret and try to deny, I'm tired.

For now I bramble on about the arrival of fall and give thanks for the health and energy I do have.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Pictures of Final Work Day

Enroute Home

This will be the final post of our adventure in Honduras. In the planning development is a video which will be posted later.
Now is the time to pull together the thoughts and reactions of the previous week. Again I feel as if my reactions may not reflect those of the entire group. We would agree that we didn't have much interactions with the locals and that we worked very hard and there was clear evidence that the construction of the church moved forward. We'd probably agree that the accommodations were pleasant and comfortable and that our driver made us feel ore comfortable with his interpreting for us than his driving; but he hit nothing and none of us fell out so that is good also.
The team members were all very hard working and very compatible and we know each other better but I very reached the point of close friends or family; never was a hug exchanged. Everyone provided care for each other and were concerned about their safety and well being.
Personally I'm wrestling with some of the rituals, symbolism and interpretations of Christian churches and leaders. For example we visited the Basilica de Suyapa, a huge Catholic Church in Tegucigalpa. Why would we as a society out so much money into a structure when were is so much poverty, hunger and disease in the world. To the glory of God. I no longer think God wants our money or extravagance; God, if there is one, wants us to demonstrate the love God has for us.
So where does that out me. During the week I have been reading Brian McLaren, a modern Methodist theologian, although the word theologian in itself is scary, I'd rather think of him as a reasonable person carefully reading the Bible and writing about his understanding of its stories. He supports the idea to be alive in God is to be in service, and do it without arrogance. I hope that I have responded to all that I was called to do this week and that I did quietly with no call for recognition. I hope that my feelings and caring for each of the workers was genuine and serious, and was received in that spirit.
We came to work and during the week we received bruises and bumps, bled a little, ached at times and sweat in the heat of the sun. We bent lower with heavier loads then we have for some time, many forever. I saw no crying but we felt the pain of the workers whose shoe's sole fell off and labor was heavy, now we return to our comfortable homes and we have to ask: what's difference did we make this week in expanding God's kingdom. And when we think we have found the answer, we have failed in the expansion.
Forty thousand feet below lies southern Mexico and there is no connection to the technology to post this message at this time. It will be posted when we arrive in Portland after midnight.
May the spirit of human and natural love, and the love of the God as you understand God be with you all.

From the pad of Denvy & Gail

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Thursday continued

(Sorry for the interruption.)

Continued ... The discussion around this situation involved the budgeting process for this project, how much there is in the project fund, the offering to buy and play for the lumber to continue. Depending on the view of the situation it was either a routine issue of mission or our first real road dump. A couple of us went with the minister and purchased the lumber and we were back at work and proceeding well. Today we actually worked until 4:00 which was our self-imposed timeline. It was a long hard day but good all the way around.

Pictures to follow.

From the pad of Denvy & Gail

What We Learned on Workday Four

So what DID we learn on this our fourth day of work? The front of our toes hurt from restricting gravity as it pulls the full wheelbarrow down the hill. Moving sand and gravel in the cool(er) of the morning is better than the heat of the afternoon. The drive from the hardware store is far shorter than the drive to the store; it must the one-way streets and boulevard dividers. Walking under four-foot high scaffolding especially when carrying long boards is a major pain in the back. When you run out of lumber and there no constructing to be done, picking up garage is meaningful. Sandy, the local coordinator, says we're the hardest working team. I agree, my body will verify that.
The issue of the day was that we ran out of lumber to make the forms. The discussion around ... (More later)

From the pad of Denvy & Gail

Wednesday pics

Wednesday Continued

(We had guests join us for our evening meal, the pastor, his wife and son, the translator/driver, the cook/housekeeper and the four cloacal construction workers. So I was not able to continue writing last evening, besides since then several things have changed, for example it rained last night.)

The day started with two of us being assigned to dig trenches for additional footings. One trench required a pick to break up the hard ground, the other required more shoveling as the soil continued to slide back into the trench. It was filled with broken tiles, glass and softball-sized old concrete chunks. The sun was hot and direct on our back but fortunately it was early morning. Others were moving dirt other places, cutting wires and bending rebar.
Mario, the foreman and the one who the wood working for concrete forms and scaffolding, gave each of us a chance to pound a nail into a scaffolding frame and cut a board. From that point on I was high jacked as one of his helpers deducing my chances to take excessive water breaks. Mario is a great one to work with. I am so blessed to learn from him.
Another new task was to straighten the nails. They have a box of new nails but they save by reusing the old ones. Those bending the rebar also broke the jig used for bending. Oh, those strong women and they don't even come from Lake Wobegon where all the women are strong.
After lunch six persons were assigned to moving the gravel from on top of the driveway down to inside the existing building to where the mixer is located in wheelbarrow. This was very physical and exhausting so we quit for ice cream and naps at 2:00. And we did all nap.
About six we rearranged tables on the patio - yes, there is a patio where we are staying; apparently this was someone's house originally - so we could all sit around the same table. Brian and Julie translated. We thanked them, they thanked us. Each of the workers told stories about their families. The pastors had some interesting stories about gangs and the time gangsters broke into his house. I'll try to write more of these stories later. Now it's time for breakfast.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Hump Day - Wednesday

The weather forecast for Tegucigalpa for this week even a month ago is and has been thunderstorms, scattered showers, with temperatures ranging from day highs in the upper 80's and nights in the seventies. This is typically a rainy season and so this may be an annual forecast. The temperatures have been correct and there have been high scattered clouds but no rain this week or any time recently. They claim to be entering a drought. This is work for working outside but not for the water supply.

More later.

From the pad of Denvy & Gail

Day 2 pics

Tuesday - Day Two at Work

Can't say that today was much different then the day before except there was good progress, no problem with crooked beam discovered and we had a radio for background music playing oldies from USA. Gail and Julie went shopping for tools with Pastor Lupe. They bought some magnets to pick up the hundreds, maybe thousands, of little wire ends from the rebar tying process. They sell the scraps for money for food.
We had two power outage at the lodging but they were short and a cold shower after a hot actually felt rather good. We extended the tradition of having ice cream after the days work to twice.
It's breakfast time, 6:30, now so we can work in the cool of the morning and have the ice cream about three or four. Eggs, pancakes, French toast, juice; we'll see what it is this morning. Only one and a half coffee drinker. I find that interesting.

From the pad of Denvy & Gail

Monday, August 4, 2014

Day Uno Photos

Monday - Workday Number Uno

     The intrigue of the day probably was the end of the day; as we were approaching the end of task for the day, the pastor, who has been hanging around since late morning, walked over to the project and noticed that one of the beams for which we were creating the rebar reinforcement was not straight.  Oops!  Maybe today was practice and tomorrow may be to take apart and then put them back together again for real.  We're just the workers and we assemble or dissemble as told.
      So what did we do.  Breakfast at 6:30 and on site by 7:30 before the sun turned the site into a sauna.  The gate was locked and there was no key so one of the four workers who live there used the bolt cutters on the chain.  After some introductions - Norman, Mario, Rafael, and Roberto - two were sent to bend rebar into "rings," two were handed shovels to fill buckets of sand and gravel to make concrete for a couple pillars, and the remaining four we put on the scaffolding to wire rebar together.  There are two horizontal beams where long rebars were wired to the "rings."  By noon the first beam was finished.  By three the other beam was on the route to completions when the dogleg in the beam was detected and all work ceased.
       The reward of the day was ice cream and supper at 6:30 was fish and mashed potatoes.  Yummy!
      I will try to upload some pictures in another post.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

The holiday is Over

       The day, Sunday, started before the night was over.  No one seems to know what it was but about 1:00AM, again at 3:30, and about five additional times before 6:00, some horrendously loud obnoxious noise, something like a car alarm or a malfunctioning water pump, blasted in the neighborhood for about 2 to 3 minutes.  So ended the night and started the day.
      Breakfast was pancakes with condiments and juice.  Brian picked us up and darted up and down and all around the windy and delivered us to the church which was also our construction site.  The final driveway was dirt, steep and narrow.  The front of the van stopped at the edge of the construction site at the level that would some day be the third of four levels.  To our left was a steep hill and to the right was a deep steep valley, so the lowest floor walked out the back to ground level and the front also lead to the ground level from the fourth floor.  And they said they bought this lot because it was "level."
     We walked down a ramp to the second level which is to be the parking area and then down a stairs with no banisters when the congregation was gathering.  After being thoroughly greeted by the pastor and his wife, we were ushered to the chairs in the front row.  Rigo, a regional supervisor for the Methodist Church, led us through a mostly Spanish service - but with some English translations.  The room was beautiful and highly technical with three laptops, a projector projected on the wall and a great sound system with an electric piano and guitarist.
      The pastor gave a 40-minute Spanish sermon with interspersed English translations.  Communion was by intinction with three bun sized breads.  Prayers were very heartfelt and songs were full of passion and compassion.  After the service we chatted with some of the congregants, which we could cross the language barrier.  One guest was a student from Boston College who had bed here years ago.  The stories of the individuals are too extensive for this blog; maybe some later.
      Back to our rooms, off to a restaurant for pupusas and tacos which were more like a fajita and on to a village about 45 minutes out to shop for souvenirs.  The roads wound through the hills, small mountains if you will, with roadside stands and numerous shops along the way. Souvenirs were not a top priority but visiting this town which had been a gold and silver mining town converted to a tourist destination was worth the visit.
      Back at our residence for the week, we had our evening meal and sat around sharing stories before we headed to bed knowing that breakfast was to be a 6:30 and work would start bout 7:30.  Good night.

Some pictures from Honduras

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Honduras - it could be Mexico

Our team of eight, we'll refer to them as the Awesome Eight, not because they're awesome in any theological or philosophical way, but because there are eight and I like them, arrived in Tegucigalpa on schedule at 12:30PM.  Before we left Houston we heard the story that pilots landing in Tegucigalpa had to have special training because it is among the top ten most dangerous airport in the world.  Add that to the United Nations' characterization that Honduras has the highest homicide rate in a the world and we are feeling so confident that everything will go well.
       Our contact at the airport was delayed because traffic was heavier than expected.  However, she, Sandy, arrived before anyone panicked along with Brian who transported our luggage and will be our guide, interpreter and driver for the week.  A really cool young man.
       Expecting an traditional fare for our noon meal served in the afternoon, we were instead served order-out pizza, which could have been downtown Monmouth.  Soon after we were winding, literally winding, through the hillsides of this capital city forward a statute of Jesus with outspread arms overlooking the city.  From that vantage point we could see rows of small metal-roofed very small homes, the area still not redeveloped after a rain-drenched mudslide from hurricane Mitch some years ago, big businesses and estates as well as the now infamous airport which is very short and essentially in the middle of the city.
      The detail of this statute which must have stood a hundred above us was fabulous from an artist but I'm skeptical if it a very good likeness of Jesus.  It's the artist's idea of what a perfectly looking Jesus might have been.  Fine artwork bit with little theological relevance.
      Deep fried chicken, tortillas, flavored rice and a cabbage cole slaw was ready for us at six.  Several pictures from the day were viewed, several reflected comments and the Awesome Eight after no real sleep except for catnaps on the plane headed for showers and sleep.  And here I go also (without editing this).