Saturday, January 31, 2009

Costa Rica and back again!

While we needed to travel to Costa Rica (or Belize, or Mexico, or Panama:) in order to renew our visas here in Honduras, it was also a wonderful time relaxing and resting with our family. Oh, and Andrea, but you won't see any pictures of her because I was expressly forbidden by her to post any! :) We thank God for a safe and fairly uneventful trip. We enjoyed seeing new and different parts of His creation.

<---I want to go down the slide, but...

...not really :)

Lots of fun in the pool!

Some of the wildlife at the beach in Costa Rica!

Harlan and Zack took a father/son day and went to a national park (while the girls hung out at the pool :)

Zack even learned how to use the camera!!

The trip back also went very well. We thank God for his protection over us and the truck. We were not given the proper truck paperwork at the southern Nicaragua border which could have caused problems and a $100 fine at the northern border. God gave us an honest border agent who went and checked the computer and saw we were telling the truth. He said he would just note that we hadn't received the paperwork and he let us go! Please pray that everything was properly noted so that we won't have any problems in the future when we need to travel through Nicaragua again.

We arrived home on Thursday evening and now it's back to the usual routines of work and school. The kids had school Friday and Saturday to make up for one of the missing days. They did get to make soft pretzels as an after school activity so it's not all just work, work, work!!

Just a quick little fun fact: during the time that I have been posting this blog I have killed at least... at least 10 mosquitos. I am really looking forward to having all my torn screens replaced and my ceiling fixed once the leaking roof is fixed! While it doesn't rain every day it is often enough that it's not advisable to take your roof off! :)

Thank you to all who continue to pray for us and support us in many ways. Thank you to all who sent Christmas cards (we received about 13 just last week:), birthday cards, e-cards and gifts. We feel very blessed!! May God bless all of you as you seek him.

Monday, January 26, 2009

From Costa Rica

Howdy folks! It is a real pleasure to be writing this blog poolside in Costa Rica. Yes, (note picture on right) we finally received our Honduran license plates and registration card last Wednesday! That meant we were able to go ahead with obligatory travel plans for renewing our visas. Yesterday, Sunday Jan.25th, we left Valle de Angeles at 5:00am hoping that we could reach our destination in Liberia, Costa Rica the same day. Thankfully everything went smoothly including the 2 border crossings and we had a pleasant and enjoyable trip for the most part. We drove about 2 hours in Honduras then made our first border crossing into Nicaragua. This border procedure went relatively quickly. We then traveled the whole length of Nicaragua taking about six hours to do so. I was expecting some bad roads in Nicaragua, but came away quite impressed with the ones we traveled on. Also some pretty sights along the way. Saw rice fields for the first time! The border procedure from Nicaragua to Costa Rica took longer (about 2 hours). It is a much heavier traveled border with some of the longest lines of trucks we've seen at C.A. borders. The Nicaraguan side was the usual confusing unmarked chaos that we are getting used to. The Costa Rican side was less confusing(and cost free except for vehicle insurance). From the border we drove about an hour arriving just after 5:00pm at our hotel in the small city of Liberia where we will be staying until our 3 days are up and we can go travel back to Honduras.

So far we are enjoying Costa Rica very much. The area around here is flat cattle country, very pretty with mountains to the east and the Pacific ocean about a half hour to the west. We hope to explore a bit in the coming days. Today we are just relaxing at the hotel, enjoying the pools and the warm sun. This area is in what I believe they call the "dry tropics". It is considerably warmer than in Valle de Angeles. There are several tropical fruit trees by the pool. Mangos are everywhere but unfortunately they are quite green yet, not what I'm interested in eating. It is rather windy here too.

Activities (and stresses) from the previous week are already receding from the mind as we unwind here. But here are some we can recall.

Me teaching my Sunday school class.

Celebrating Janelle's birthday with the Kennel family at their home. We also watched part of the Eagles game there.

Planting of seeds and related work continued under Dwain's direction. I was also working on getting a water line set up for irrigation. Friday we took a field trip to a well known agriculture school located about an hour south west of Tegucigalpa. We were not able to get in to see everything we wanted to because a guide wasn't available. We hope to return sometime to do that.

More on Costa Rica and related travels next time!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Back in School

After a long vacation, Angelica, Ali, and Zack are back in school! They all seem to be enjoying it so far. Getting them up and going in the morning is somewhat of a challenge. Five people trying to use our small bathroom at the same time is also a challenge.

Audrey has set up a very nice little classroom for them. The classroom is located within Dwain and Audrey's house.

I (Harlan), along with a group of "finca" kids, have been helping Dwain get started on planting garden rows on the farmland. Dwain is getting acquainted with some of the realities of gardening here. So far all the work of preparing the ground is being done by hand. Slow going, but thanks to Dwain's persistent efforts we've gotten quite a bit of seed in the ground. Pray with us that most of it survives and does well. As I mentioned there are kids who are very interested in gardening and show up every day to help out. This is our goal with this project. Not just to produce food for "La Finca" but also to teach the kids and develop an interest in farming among them.

Bible classes have also been restarted this week with all the kids. Classes will meet Fri. afternoon at 4:30 and the same classes will meet for Sun. school. I am teaching the older boys. It will challenging for sure as it is with youth anywhere. Pray that something meaningful will be passed along to them during our time together.

We continue to wait for our truck license plates to be processed. This week they told us to wait until the 20th then check again. We would very much like to have them in time for when we need to travel to Costa Rica, but we'll try to go with the "flow"!

A certain very important (and special) person around here is celebrating her birthday on Sunday! Audrey, Andrea, Angelica, Ali, and Zack baked up some special treats (things she wouldn't normally eat) for the birthday girl. Today Janelle and I plan to spend some time by ourselves celebrating her birthday. Time alone is hard to come by here, so we're looking forward to it. Pray for Janelle and all of us as we continue face the many unique issues of life here at "La Finca".

Sunday, January 11, 2009

This and That

Things have been pretty calm and quiet around here lately. Beginning last Sunday, a good number of kids have been leaving to spend vacation time with relatives until the end of this month. We do appreciate the "tranquilo" atmosphere but it seems almost a little too quiet. I can't believe I just wrote that!

Our past week began with the final push to get Dwain and Audrey's house livable before their arrival on Tues. I think we were reasonably successful in doing that, so long as you don't define the term "livable" too strenuously. We certainly had some great help from the kids here at La Finca. Wednesday dinner at our house turned into a "thank you" meal for the older kids who helped out with this project, Concho, Danilo, Patricia and Eliuth. Also we wanted to have Danilo and Concho for a meal before they left to visit family. Danilo left on Thurs. traveling to San Pedro Sula with his sister Adela who also grew up at La Finca. This will be the first time he has visited his family in San Pedro. Concho left on Fri. traveling by himself to visit family in the Lempira region.

Pray for Dwain and Audrey as they adjust to many new things here. Audrey will begin school tomorrow with Angelica, Ali, and Zack. It might be a bit difficult for them to get back into the school routine again but I think it will be a very good thing for them. Dwain has already started planting some garden and is working on other farm related projects.

Zackery and I (Harlan) had a interesting little hike today. We walked over to the other finca where the soccer field is. We thought Jimmy and Jorge were over there, but they were not so we decided to explore a new path in the woods above the soccer field. I was hoping to see some wildlife but wasn't too surprised to instead hear mooing sounds coming out of the brush. A neighbor grazes a couple of cows on this hill. I was, however, a bit surprised to see a very small calf, probably just a few days old, come down the hill and walk right up to us. We expected to see the mother show up especially since the calf was making good use of its vocal cords. But there was no sign of the other cows and normally they stayed on the other side of the hill. I wasn't quite sure what to do. By now I was pretty sure the calf was lost and very hungry. I decided to hike over to the other side of the hill to see if the other cows were there. As I started out, the calf followed me and Zack followed behind the calf. I wished I would have had a camera, it was an interesting sight. A wobbly legged, bawling calf on the side of a hill following me while Zack brought up the rear. Eventually we sighted the other cattle and one of the cows responded back to the calf's bellowing. After helping the calf find it's way through a wooded gully it finally made its way up the hill to mother cow for a drink. We were glad to see they belonged together!

Here's Ali hanging out in the "mandarina" tree in our back yard. It is one of the most popular tree around here. All the kids would like to get their hands on those mandarinas! We usually give them away anyway 'cause the fruit is small and generally quite tart.

More next time!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy New Year

Another busy and full week, but I'm sure most of you can say the same thing! Two overlapping Texas teams with some lost luggage and our own truck paperwork to continue meant many trips to Teguc.

The Texas teams brought gifts, clothing, and pajamas for all, including us.

One of the teams also brought t-shirts which they tie dyed for everyone, after each person chose the colors they wanted. Some of the Finca girls thought it was terrible that I picked purple as one of the colors for Harlan as "men don't wear purple." Maybe I should have picked pink. :)

On New year's eve after a time of worship and prayer, we had the, yes you guessed it, required bonfire.

Karla Patricia holding Zack, who eventually fell asleep and went up to bed. Angelica and Ali made it to 10:45 until their parents had to go to bed. :)

I don't think that we've posted a picture of Klarissa, daughter of Alonso and Michele (directors here at the Finca). I think she's about 7 months old. Here she is with Jaquelin, Heidy and Lilian.
Please pray for these three, as well as all the girls here, that they may know how beautiful they are to their Creator and how much He loves them!

Here is another picture of God's awesome creation. I took this picture through a screen before trying to go outside , which is good because it then promptly flew off!