Friday, July 27, 2007

2007 July Team Folsom

Day 8

After such an exciting day yesterday I figured today would be a nice laid back day. Since we were done working concrete all of us were looking forward to sleeping in this morning. The plan for the day was to head out to the "waterfall" that we have been hearing about for months and then to finish the day out with dinner at the Cerrato family home.

Guadalupe had a wonderful breakfast of french toast and scrambled eggs ready for us when we awoke. Alfredo and the gang arrived around 8:30 and gave us a rundown of what to expect at the waterfall and to review some safety precautions. He also made it very clear that we were only allowed to jump at only 2 designated locations. The whole thing is sounding pretty scary/fun at this point. A last minute scheduling change prevented Alfredo from coming with us but he was sending along Douglas in his place. Douglas has been to the falls almost as many times as Alfredo and would keep us in line and intact.

We all piled into the bus with Alfredo "Dos" Gutierrez at the wheel and began our 2 hour trek. Driving on the roads in Honduras is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life. There is nothing more exciting then passing a slow moving semi truck going downhill on a blind curve. Don't worry its perfectly safe and its legal (everyone does it so that makes it legal right?), its all part of the imaginary "3rd" lane that is apparently built into all Honduran roads, at least the paved ones. If you would like a brief rundown of the traffic laws just ask us when we get back but the short answer is: Its all just a suggestion. The drive was beautiful and took us back along a less beaten path away from the busy highway that is also know as the "Dry Canal".

When we finally arrived at the park where the waterfall was we all unloaded, changed into our swimming trunks and ate lunch. We then headed to the observation point to look at the waterfall before beginning our walk to the bottom for our guided swim/walk/climb/jump tour. The falls were amazing! They are about 140 feet high and beautiful with tons of water flowing over them. We went back to the bus to meet our guide and the Wheaton team needed to drop off their cameras, luckily for us we brought along our trusty waterproof (hopefully) camera. After a short walk we were at the bottom of the falls and our guide lead us through a wood and barbwire gate and onto a muddy and rocky trail. We then had to make a 3 foot jump into a pool and wade across. At this point we are maybe 100 feet from the bottom of the falls and it feels like you are standing outside in a torrential rain storm. We then crawled over rocks and felt our way through mini rushing rivers until we were actually standing underneath the waterfall. The sound was deafening, it was almost hard to breath because of the amount of water raining down on you but the sight was something I have never experienced before. The guide then took us to a cave that was also behind the waterfall, it was completely dry inside and had some very "molten" type rock formations that you can see in some of the pictures. After making a few other stops at the falls we began making our way back out away from the falls. Almost to the gate we stopped for the big jump. This was close to a 30 foot jump into a pool of water and it was so cool to watch everyone jump in from this height. We all made our way back to the bus and headed for home. There is no way to accurately describe the feeling of being behind the waterfall and even the pictures don't do it justice but it will definitely be something I remember and it was a great end to a fantastic week here.

After we got back and cleaned up we all met up at the Cerrato home to share a meal of tacos that Guadalupe had prepared. Tacos in Honduras are not the tacos we think of at home, they are more like large taquitos and way yummier (not sure if that is a word or not but they are). We had a great time talking about our time here and expectations that we had about Honduras before we arrived and our thought now that we have been here for a week. We also had Alfredo and family sign a large river rock that we found while mixing concrete at the La Providencia site and we are planning to add the rock to our pile of partnership rocks at the church.

We will be leaving for the airport tomorrow around lunchtime and leaving is going to be bittersweet. I know I am going to miss everyone we have met here but we are leaving knowing that Alfredo is continuing God's mission here in Honduras in a way that only he can and that God will continue to bless his work.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 7

We had such an exciting day today, so I am really excited to be able to write this blog!

My day started at 6:00, without an alarm clock (the sun comes up SO early here!) Every morning, Guadalupe (or Guatatamale as Zach says) and I stumble through a conversation. This morning she taught me how to make tortillas :)

After breakfast, we went back to the work site. We figured that we'd be done by lunch, but ended up being done way before that. The biggest expected highlight was the completion of the patio. We figured out today that we have mixed (by hand) and poured 500 square feet of concrete. It was very rewarding to see the finished product of our labor. But the biggest surprise highlight was when Zach provided comic relief by losing control of a wheelbarrow full of concrete.

On the way back to the apartment, we made one stop at another orphanage where we met a boy named Carlos, who had a very contagious laugh! Once we arrived at the apartment, we all showered and then headed out to the market. We had a great time looking at the variety of people and wares. I got a comal to practice making tortillas at home (I also got a Honduran cookbook a few days ago), and Zach finally got his machete.

We came back, and headed off to a nearby hotel for dinner with the Cerrato family, and our new neighbors from Wheaton. We were surprised that it was a Honduran buffet! I have learned many new names for foods since I've been here. The first day we were here, we had enchiladas, which I would have called tostadas. Tonight, I had a taco, which I would have called an enchilada.

And so ends our day. We're back at the apartment relaxing and enjoying the evening. Tomorrow, we're going to see "the waterfall" , and don't have to leave until about 9:00, so we're hoping to sleep in - but with the early sun, I'm not so sure about that. We pray that everyone at home is doing well.

OH - And an answer to a couple of questions that we've received...
1. There is a picture of Marisol with a wide open mouth. She's not laughing, crying or screaming... she's yawning :-o
2. There is a picture of a tree that is heavy with fruit. I thought when I took the picture that it was guava, but it's not. We're still trying to figure out what exactly it is, but apparently it gets to be the size of a watermelon, and they drink the juice from it.
3. Hoekstra is Char's maiden name, and we noticed the sign on the side of the La Providencia bus, and thought she'd get a kick out of seeing it.
4. The warehouse is actually full of tools and construction equipment right now. (And a side note for the guys - there's actually an oil change station in the middle of the warehouse, like the one at Jiffy Lube with the hole in the floor) There are loads of clothes being stored in one of the clinic rooms though, and more coming soon.
5. Daddy (Chuck) threw Zach in the pool because he, and Zach's mommy and daddy, thought it would be fun.
6. Marisol took a picture of Daddy's (Chuck's) feet because she loves looking at feet and toes.
7. Domino's pizza and Wendy's is amazingly (and frighteningly) exactly the same as in the US. Wendy's even has a L20 (20 limpira=$1US) menu.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 6

When we got to the construction site we got right to work and my dad, mom, and Chuck were doing concrete and I was in the bathroom learning how to put mortar on the tiles. The others did 6 loads of concrete today. They expect that they will be done with all of the patio before lunch tomorrow and I think that everyone was glad to hear that. After we were all done with the work for the day we went back to the apartment and took our showers and the other research team and Alfredo and everybody here sat down and talked about stuff and me and Daniel were doing alot of everthing. Alfredo and Daniel left and we all got ready to go play some football (soccer). We started at 6:30 and played until 8:30. We had 4 teams that were playing and we switched off and who ever scored one they got to stay in and the other team left and a different team went in to try to beat the team that scored. It is Sabrina's birthday and she turned 21, so on the way home we stoped to get some ice cream and it is very good. We got back to the apartment and we are now resting and getting ready to go to bed!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Team Folsom July 2007

Day Five:

Four shovels - $40.

Two wheelbarrows - $60

One cement mixer - Priceless!

We are all gloriously fatigued and very dirty after a full day of making concrete from scratch, excavating the rest of the patio, cutting, laying and tying rebar. Making a rebar web (makes the concrete stronger) was a good change of pace as it was under the patio cover and not so hot. Martin was briefly pulled from the cement making to help smooth the cement that was poured because our supervisor thought he was inured (his bad ankle and, he's not hurt). Now Denise is wanting him to use his new found masonry skills to build a patio in their backyard. Any other takers? We did have our first injury though - Zach has a tiny blister on one of his fingers that he keeps reminding us about. I think he got it from holding one of the walls upright.

Josue' (our supervisor) has been patient with us (working at a gringo pace) and a good teacher (showing us what he is trying to tell us). We are thankful for his easy going personality although I think we're starting to get the hang of this cement thing. Yesterday we mixed four loads of concrete in about five hours. Today we mixed six loads before lunch! Zach spent most of his time today working indoors washing down the walls in the bathroom and mixing some finer cement for the work being done in the bathroom. They are supposed to begin tiling the bathroom tomorrow. Martin, Denise and I are finishing laying the cement for the enclosed patio and will probably finish it late tomorrow or early Thursday (which means we will continue making lotso cemento tomorrow - probably another 10-12 loads).

When we arrived back to our temporary home, we were greeted by four students (Sabrina, Matt, James and Ruth) from Wheaton College just west of Chicago. They are here to do some research for Alfredo on the orphanages around Honduras. Alfredo planned for them to stay at a hotel down the road but to his surprise, it was full (that has never happened before). So, they are crashing with us for the week, staying in the two rooms on the other side of the office. They will have their meals at the hotel since they already had that arranged. We did get a chance to eat with them tonight and hear Alfredo do what he is great at - storytelling. Evenings here are spent with showering (Martin really stinks :-)), eating, resting, talking and having our team meeting. For our team meetings we are reading along with the River Rock reading calender and have had some great discussions springing from the book of Proverbs about God's wisdom regarding the poor and a proper attitude toward affluence.

As I am writing this, a distant lightning storm is putting on a great show, silhouetting the giant thunderclouds rising up against an almost dark sky - a greater show than anything humanity has so far created. Zach's "woooohhhhhh!" has been filling the room for the last twenty minutes - I think the only proper response other than "Thank you God". Speaking of the weather, it has been very dry here during the day with big white and black clouds forming and dissipating against a bright blue sky at an amazingly fast pace. Every night it has rained from just a little to a bunch (last night being a bunch) but very little during the day.

Thank you for taking the time to read our blogs - we look forward to the comments and check for them every night before we go to bed and every morning before we go to work - It keeps us connected with our family and friends up North and let's us know others are paritcipating in this journey with us.
Hasta Luego!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 4

Sorry no fancy Spanish introduction like my El Wifo yesterday :-)

Today was our first official work day, albeit a shorter version of whats to come. We started the day with another great breakfast from Guadalupe that consisted of eggs, beans, avocados, tortillas, cheese (can't remember the name of it) and some fried bananas with sour cream on top. After breakfast we packed up and headed off to the work site.

Once we got to the site we were introduced to the other workers on site and were assigned to our foreman Josue (pronounced ho-sway). I am sure that he drew the short straw at the morning staff meeting to be assigned to us. Our job for the day was to mix and pour concrete for the outdoor patio for house #1. At this point I would like to give a big THANK YOU to the first Folsom team that came down for breaking the cement mixer! Because of your thoughtful actions we now have to mix all of the concrete by hand or more accurately one shovel full at a time. Can we please take up a special cement mixer offering?!?!

We all were very happy when the lunch bus arrived. We painfully walked to lunch and by the time we had sat down with our sandwiches the other workers had eaten and were already starting their lunchtime football (aka soccer) match. Daniel (Alfredo's son) and Zach joined in the game and we had a great time watching and eating. During lunch a heavy cloud cover rolled in and was providing some great shade for us. Unfortunately as soon as Chuck and I picked up the shovels the clouds broke right above us and the sweat was back on.

We cleaned up early for the VBS kids that were arriving. Denise and Chuck planned out a great skit and activities the night before. The best part of the skit was the rubbing of the refried beans into Zach's eyes (see Juan 9 for the full story) and the little ones got a good laugh out of it as well. After the skit the kids had a great time coloring some bible story pictures. We packed up the VBS and hopped on the bus with the kids and dropped them off on the way back to the apartment.

We all have showered (Chuck was really smelly!) and are looking forward to having a dinner of Naga Tamales and relaxing for the rest of the evening.

Don't forget to check the pictures post below, we post new pictures everyday.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 3

Buenos dias, amigos! Gracias por los prayers! Yo habla espanol mas mejor que when I got here. No... yo habla spanglish mas mejor. The good news is that I am able to have great conversations with Marisol (who's 3).

Marisol is an aspiring photographer. She gets so excited when she sees my camera, and says "uno foto, uno foto". The first couple of times, she just wanted to pose so I could take her picture, and she could look at it. She got more and more curious about the camera and I was able to show her how to use it. I have to say - she has a definite idea of what she wants to take a picture of, and manages to take really great pictures about 80% of the time (which honestly, is more than I can say for myself). There's a link to her photos on the last blog entry. Be sure to check them out!

Today, we had the privilege of worshiping with the church that Alfredo started here. I have to say that I am a bit jealous of their facilities. We had a very warm reception, with lots of smiling faces. We also managed to sing salmos en espanol, accompanied by only a tambourine.

After church, we ate a delicious meal of Sopas Pollo Verde and some tortillas. I think this is the most delicious soup I have ever had. I plan on trying to get Guadalupe to give me her recipe (if there is one) so I can make it at home. We also had quite the ping pong competition going. Chuck schooled us in actual ping pong rules as opposed to "volleyball" rules. We also stopped by a botanical garden for a little bit, where the kids could run off some energy. After that, we came back to the apartment for a little siesta and to prepare for a VBS that we'll be leading tomorrow.

We've been blessed with the opportunity this weekend to blend in a bit with Alfredo's family and see what their lives here are like. We will be laying tiles in the first house this week and look forward to beginning work tomorrow.

Buenos noches.


Here's a link to some of the photos we have taken.

And a link to some of our newest photographer's work.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 2

When every body got a early start to their day, I (Zach) slept in a little late and when Alfredo came to pick us up we went to his house and ate some french toast with all of his family. After every body was done with their breakfast all of Alfredo`s kids got ready for the swim practice and I was invited to go swimming with them. We went to the swim practice and Chuck decided that it was okay to throw people into the pool and he threw me in (with my shirt on). I thought that they would have swimming practice in the river but, I was wrong. After we got out of the pool we saw all of the animals that they had around. There were some turtles and some really cool but weird looking ducks and there was a lot of chickens. Then the last really cool animal that we saw was some aligators. When we saw the playground we saw some teeter-totters and so me and Chuck went on it and and he flung me off the teeter-totter. After we were all done with the swim practice Alfredo`s son Daniel had a soccer game and we all went to the game. He was one of the better players and the team won the game 5 to 1 he got really sweaty and all of us and Alfredo`s family were sitting on the side line eatting Wendy`s and it was delicious. The reason that Guadalupe was not cooking for us today was because it was that it was her daughters 15th birthday usually in the U.S. the big birthday for girls is the sweet 16 but here it is the sweet 15. When we left the soccer feild me Chuck and my mom and dad went to the mall and Alfredo and his family got dropped of at the house and he got the other car and came to pick us up and when we were at the mall we went to look at every thing that they had there and I saw the most cool sunglasses and they were 129.50 lempira. We got picked-up and then we went to the construction site and we saw all of the things that they got done and we took a tour of the hospital and the 1st house that they almost got finished and we learned what we were going to be doing. After we left the construction site we went to Alfredo`s house and the adults sat and talked while me and Daniel sat on the hammock and talked and all of the other kids played video games and had a lot of fun. While we were waiting we also played a lot of soccer and we just messed around with the soccer ball. While we were there doing all of that stuff we were waiting for all of the food to get there. We ate Domino`s pizza and it was also good but not as good as all of the food that Guadalupe makes. After dinner we continued to hang out there and when it was time to go we all cramed into the car and went back to the apartment and we were all sitting around and talking and we saw a gecko on the wall and now it is pouring down rain and there is a lot of thunder and lightning.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Team Folsom - July 2007

Day 1, Friday July 20,

After a smooth and uneventful flight (and relatively sleepless as well) we arrived in Honduras to the welcoming smile of Alfredo Cerrato, founder and CEO of La Providencia in Siguatepeque. We were greeted with hot and humid weather at the airport in San Pedro Sula but ended up in the much milder conditions in Siguatepeque, 2 hours away and 4,000 feet higher in elevation. The trip was filled with interesting stories of Honduras, beautiful scenery and on the go learning about Honduras driving etiquette (stay alert!).

We were driven directly to the offices and sleeping quarters of La Providencia (about 20 minutes from the orphanage site) for an awesome lunch and a much needed nap. Steve (Phil's dad) is here and finishing a week of training the construction crew on better techniques for mixing and pouring concrete. He will be leaving tomorrow morning after breakfast. The evening was spent taking a short walk down the street where Martin, Denise and Zach purchased some local ice cream. Martin helped load some new antivirus software on Alfredo's laptop and we began to become aquainted with the rhythms of life for the people connected with La Providencia. Alfredo stopped by and shared the story of La Providencia that Steve recorded on video for educational and promotional purposes. What an amazing God sized story and plan for the orphans in Honduras and beyond!

We are thrilled and humbled to have this opportunity to come alongside Alfredo and his staff in Honduras to experience God's Kingdom work in this part of the world. We feel we are blessed to be here and look forward to how God will shape us this week as we look to serve where we can and help further the vision. Tomorrow morning we will be leaving to Alfredo's house for breakfast (about 5-8 minutes away depending if you take the comfortable or the short route). Then we will head over to the orphanage site for a tour and looking at what we might be working on this week. Thank you to all that has suppoted us financially and with prayer and we ask that you will continue to keep us and La Providencia in your prayers this week. Until tomorrow night - Adios! -Chuck