Arrival

After 2 years of planning and praying we set off to our new home in Gracias, Honduras, CA.  We left my parents house in Bluff Dale, TX at 1:30am Thursday morning to catch our flight at 5:30 am in Dallas. I have often made fun of Shannon for how early he wants to arrive at the airport but this time certainly paid off.  It was the most difficult time I have ever been given at the airport. First, the check-in lady did not like that I had packed in a tuperware box and made me take it all out and fit everything in it into other suitcases. The website said it could be in a box and we packed this way for Costa Rica but regardless, it was not allowed.  Not a big deal, just a pain.  Next she would not let us check-in until we purchased a one way ticket out of Honduras.  Then she said it was too hot for Lucy (our dog) to travel with us (her supervisor disagreded so Lucy is with us).  Then she checked to make sure our passports would not expire while we were in Honduras.  After all this we made it to our plane as they were boarding.  We had a 2 hour flight to Miami, a 1 hour layover and a 2 hour flight  to San Pedro Sula, Honduras.   We got Lucy through customs with little trouble but a lot of time. When I returned from customs Shannon was arguing with a baggage man.  The baggage guy was certain we were missing a suitcase and Shannon was certain we had all of ours. Who are we to argue but I am pretty sure we know how many suitcases we came with.   After this came the 3 hour drive to Gracias.  We arrived in Gracias at 6:30 pm.  Shannon and I had not slept in 36 hours by now and the kids had not slept well.  I was so proud of both kids during our travels.  They were so helpful and never whined.  However after our arrival at Gracias we were taken to a hotel for the night since we had no furniture in our house.  On our way to our room we stepped in a fire ant bed and brought all of them into our room.  Electricity is being rationed so we had no lights to try to get the ants out.  After some tears and a new bed we were set for our first night here.

Our first couple days- the longest blog entry ever!

Let me preface this all by saying that I know there are way worse things to complain about but this has been a really tough week. I consider myself to be an emotionally strong person and to be able to go with the flow, most of the time. I am now reconsidering this.  After our wonderful first night here, I got up ready to go get paint for our house and pick up a few appliances.  The paint store people made me laugh a little in that I showed them on their chips what color I wanted and then they had to look it up on the internet to see what colors made the paint.  This took about an hour out of our day.  Next stop was the appliance store. We picked out a washer (but can’t find a hose to it still), a stove, and a refrigerator that we still do not have the shelves for.  We still did not have furniture so we stayed one more night at the hotel.  The hotel is safe to eat since they cater to Americans. Tyler was in heaven because they serve beans and tortillas three meals a day.

The next day we were suppose to meet at 9:00 to go get our furniture…we ended up leaving at 10:30.  After several extra stops we ended up at the furniture maker. None of our furniture was ready and some has not even been started. I had sent pictures and directions on how the furniture was suppose to look but somehow it all got lost in translation. Not one piece is like the picture.   I had a little break down after leaving there… I would REALLY like to unpack but we have nowhere to put our stuff.   Later that night we were asked to go eat supper.  I thought I had acclimated to the slowness of the culture but not all the way I guess. After forever we made it home.  Then we discovered our widow maker shower did not work.  This means not even a warm shower but cold water straight off the mountain.  UGH!  We are still waiting on it to be fixed as of our 4th day here.

We tried to buy groceries and were able to get  a few things. One of biggest struggles where food is concerned is that every recipe in my cookbooks begins with a few basics. For example, cream of mushroom soup, velveeta, baking soda… none of which can be found here.  After my third trip I did find baking powder, cinnamon and butter, which helped me be able to cook a little. We also found a vegitable market so last night after almost  a week, we had a real meal. After all that has happened I cried when I found I did not have a can opener to open the baking powder for the biscuits. Funny thing to cry about, I guess.  Supper was made after Shannon used a screw driver and popped the top for me.  Smoked sausage, homemade biscuits and vegitable soup. Yea, progress!

We picked up my bed from the furniture maker right before making supper.  It is made in one entire piece.  Our doors are 27in wide and the bed head board is 45in.  Our house is arranged so that we could not get an angle to get the bed in our room. After 2 hours we finally sawed the legs off my beautiful new bed.  Today we will try to screw them back on.  The kids beds should be done today too.  Lets hope they are not all in one piece since they are bunkbeds!

I should also mention that through out the week we have had a infestation of three different kinds of ants.  The worst are these huge black ants that have made a nest in my wall.  Several times a day we spray raid and kill the ones that are running around.  Next we have microscopic ants- smaller than sugar ants, that are everywhere- bathrooms, kitchen and living room. As far as I can tell they are harmless so for the time being I am ignoring them.  Sugar ants also come in the second food lands on the floor. They also come in to eat to big black ants that we kill. I know that Raid will not kill them for good so we are searching for ant bait. We have been told that ants in the house is part of life here and to expect to sit on the couch at any moment and be attacked. I am not OK with this so we will continue the search for ant poison.

I should also mention that the government is rationing electricity right now so everyday they turn it off for a couple hours.  This is mildly annoying but I am coming to expect it though I can’t figure out how to cook with it off.

I also began to unpack all the boxes we shipped here and found that many had mildewed. I lost several of my teaching books and kids books along with a few decorations and toys.  I am still trying to dry out some things to see if it is salvagble.

The newest struggle is that all our walls our made of concrete and I do not know how to hang things on concrete walls. We tried to hang some shelves but did not have the right drill bit. We were able to get concrete mollies and screws and the hardware store after 30min of trying in our broken Spanish.  We finally hired a handyman to come hang them- for the fist time since we have been here, the man came exactly when he was suppose to!

Last night I finished painting our room and the kids room. I had run out of paint part way through the wall in our room and when I went to get more the paint was about a shade darker than the original. This meant I had to repaint everything. It is done now though!

By the way, this blog is for the first week because we do not have internet so we have to go to the hotel and borrow theirs. Shannon tried to get an internet card in San Pedro Sula (about 3 hours away) but when he got home they ahd not put the sim card in the internet plug…soooo no internet yet!

Shannon keeps telling me that we are making progress so I am trying to focus on those things- we have met some really nice church family, we now have hot water, food, mattresses, the visa process started, a truck bought and the house is ready for furniture.  Our Spanish is better than we thought. We can get our point across most of the time and we can follow a conversation that others are having.  I did have to have a 3rd grader translate for me at church Sunday so that was a humbling experience but over all we are learning.  Our needs are being met by a gracious God who over powers Satan trying to get us down. Thank you for your prayers this last week. I know that they carried me through when my own strength was depleted.

And…..It Begins

When I hit the publish button at the bottom of this page, I will wake everyone up and we will head to DFW airport. It is 1am, Thursday, July 7th. We have waited two and half years for this moment and it is here. What does one do on their final day before heading to the mission field. Well, pray. A lot! Wonder one final time, are we doing the right thing. Pray some more. Know that this is exactly what God is calling us to do. For the last two months we have been talking about the move, the journey. We have rejoiced as God as reassured us over and over again of the calling had has given us. But it was not until a couple of hours ago that reality hit. WE ARE GOING TO HONDURAS!!!!
We are so thankful for all of you who have prayed for us, supported us, and listen as we prepared. It really is hard to say goodbye to family and so many amazing friends. The next 14 hours are going to be intense. We leave Dallas at 5:30am, Miami by 9:30am, hit San Pedro by 10:45am, and finally arrive in Gracias around 5 or 6pm tomorrow night. We have been up since 7am this morning, not wanting to miss anything these few final hours. The result excitement and tired bodies.
It will probably be a few days or maybe even weeks before we get internet, but as soon as we do, we will make another post and fill you in on all the details. In the meantime, please keep us in your prayers. We love all of you!

Shannon, Kristi, Tyler, and Emma.

Return from Costa Rica

It is been a few months since our last post. Our last post was about our emergency room visit with Tyler’s broken arm in late February. A lot has happened since then. First of all Tyler’s arm healed perfectly and he was back to climbing trees in no time. The month of March was great in language school. We really began to make some good relationships with our classmates and with some of the local Costa Ricans. One of our good friends we made was a man named Andres and his family. We met in the park in early February because he had a dog just like ours. We had a few short conversations in English and eventually we were able to have some conversations in Spanish. Andres was always in the park with his dog and his house was on our way to school, so we say each other often. In mid March Kristi’s parents came to visit. We had a great time taking LaNell downtown and at the Feria. We also got a chance to go to a waterfall garden called La Paz. The gardens had a wide variety of animals and the waterfalls were roaring in the middle of the rainforest, some 90 feet high. Before Kristi’s parents left, Andres invited all of us over for “breakfast in Spansh”. He was very hospitable to our family and we really enjoyed visiting with him. When we left I went to tell him goodbye and he told us that his home was our home any time we were in Costa Rica.

Towards the end of March we recieved news that Kristi’s grandmother was not doing well. She has been struggling for quite some time with health issues.  We soon recieved news that hospice had been called in and that her health was continuing to decline. On April 7th we finished school for the day and was looking forward to a four day weekend. We decided to call the airlines and see what is was going to cost for us to come home early if we needed to. As Kristi talked to the airlines the prices were outrages. Although the airlines were willing to wave the change fee for our tickets, we were still responsible for paying the difference between our orginal ticket and the new tickets. We checked on flights for the upcoming week incase we needed to return quickly. Kristi was about to hang up with the airlines when the airline representative gave us the option of leaving the next day at 12:45am, for a $0.80 diffrence in price. We disscussed it for a few moments and looked at the remaining time we had in Costa Rica at the school. We had 18 days leftin Costa Rica before we were scheduled to return and out of those 18 days there were only 6 class days left. We decided that this was the best time to go. So we booked a flight and began packing up our home. We were up until 2am packing and woke up at 5:30am to finish. We had nothing packed yet and we had not taken the kids out of school yet. We rushed all through the morning and at 9am a cab arrived to take us to the airport. We finished just in time.

On our way to the airport we were sitting in traffic when all of a sudden I heard tires screeching. A van hit a transit policeman on a motorcyle, who then hit us. I looked out my window and saw the officer laying on the ground in tremendous pain. We got out to check on the office and the man who hit him was already on the phone calling for an ambulance. Our cab driver talked to the police office and then the man who hit him, and then turned to me and said, “Lets go!” We hoped back in the cab and continued on our way to the airport. I asked the cab driver if he needed to stay and he tried to explain the situtation to me, but neither of us understood each other. He finally said that if we wanted to make our flight then we needed to leave.

We made it through the airport just fine and at 12:45pm were on the plane headed to Houston. As we finished going through security Kristi said that she could tell we had been in Costa Rica for a while. When we first arrived and for the first few months we lived in a daze. We were never really able to relax comfortably in our new environment becasue everything was so new and foreign to us. But as we left Kristi pointed out that we had begun to relax and that we were feeling more comfortable because we noticed all the new peole arriving and leaving Costa Rica. We could tell who lived in Costa Rica and who was visiting. This was a very encouraging thought, because I felt like we had assimulated well into the culture and if we can do it in Costa Rica, then we can do it in Honduras.

We arrive in Houston around 5pm and were greeted by Kristi’s family. We drove that night to Bluff Dale, finally arriving around 1am. It is great to be back in the States were things are a little more familiar. Our time in Costa Rica was great. We grew together a lot as a family and we learned some important lessons. Our biggest lesson that we learned is to slow down. Life in Costa Rica is lived at a different pace. When we left in December we were living life at 90 mph. However, when we got to Costa Rica we had to ajust to life at 2.5 mph. That was a real challenge for me personally, because I like to move and do things. It took quite a while for me to learn that it is ok to slow down and enjoy life. In our orientation we learned that Costa Ricans always say, “What is the hurry, there is always life”. Back home I used to always say, “there is not enough hours in the day”. In Costa Rica I found myself saying, “there are too many hours in the day”. They were real focused on relationships and saw no need to be in a hurry. Before we left we attended a birthday party for our landlord’s daughter. When they invited us to come we asked what time the party started. They told us around coffee time, to which I asked what time is coffee time? They said you know about 2 or 3. We arrived at 3:30 and for 2 hours were the only guests. Around 5:30 we had dinner, a Spanish tourte, which was probably my favorite meal during our stay. Finally around 7pm another family arrived and we talked for another hour or so. They really did not seem to be affected by the time, they really just enjoyed the company, as did we. After three moths there, I decided that I kinda like that view of life. I am not near as stressed or irritable and I see as well as hear so much more from those who are around me.

Another lesson we learned is how to survive without talking so much. I love to talk, a lot. It was very challenging to not be able to have conversations with everyone. For a while all I could day was, “Hi, my name is Shannon, I am from the United States. Ok see you later”. There were many days when Kristi and I would talk about every possible subject in great depth and detail and when we were finished it would only be 10am. It really challenged me to go out and speak Spanish as often as possible. When Kristi’s parent’s came I had a major breakthrough when I was able to talk to the taxi driver on our way to and from La Paz for several hours all in Spanish.

Finally, I believe we grew close to God during this time. I have preached many times about living by faith everyday, but I was never forced to do it. During our time in Costa Rica we had to live by faith. For those first months we had only each other and Christ. We spend time together in the Word with the kids, and time each time listening for his guidance on what we were to do and how we were to do it. We have no guarantee that there would be money in the bank or that we would safely get to our destinations. All we had was faith, and while at times it was hard, it is one of the best things that had happened to us.

Being back in the States in great! We have enjoyed seeing all our family and friends. It did not take long to put miles on the car or readjust. It felt so good to see our parents and hug them. It was great to see our family in Teague. We missed them so much and it was so nice to be in their company once again. It has been great to see our friends and visit churches. We have been in some amazing churches already. We have a little over two months remaining here in the States before we go to Honduras. We will be leaving on July 7th. Please continue to pray for us as we pack our things for Honduras and travel to see family and friends. Pray that God will open doors for us to share His vision for Honduras with those closest to us and those we have not yet met. Thank you for your prayers, love, and support.

Our First Emergency

After grocery shopping on Friday evening Tyler informed us that he was bored and needed to see if his friend Josiah was at Parque Copa. As I walked out the door we saw Tyler going down the stairs, via outside the railing from our second floor. We informed him that we did not particularly like him going down in manner. His reply was, “It’s not that high”, and then he bailed off the top of the steps. We had to go back into the house to grab something before going to park. When we attempted to leave for the second time we walked out and noticed that Tyler was sitting on the 10-foot wall separating the other apartments in our complex. I thought to myself, I should tell him to get down, but then I thought, no he needs to climb and get it out of his system.

We made it to the park and began visiting with our friends, while Tyler and Emma set out to find their friends. We were at the park less than 15 minutes and I heard Tyler screaming- the kind you when you know something is wrong. We searched to locate the origin of the screams, finally finding him at the bottom of the monkey bars. He really loves the monkey bars. His grandfather is always calling him a monkey and he loves to live up to that nickname, often times swinging like a monkey, climbing like a monkey, talking like a monkey, and hanging like a monkey. It was hanging like a monkey he chose to imitate on Friday.

Apparently Tyler was hanging upside down by his knees and according to him, he raised up to grab the bars and slipped because the bars were wet from the sprinkling we had received about half an hour earlier. He slipped and dove head first into the ground. During the decent he put his hands out to break the fall and his right hand hit the ground first. The force of his fall forced his hand to bend backwards.  When we finally got him calmed down he told us his leg hurt and so did his hand. According to him, he could not even stand. After some encouragement we finally got him to his feet and ruled out a broken leg. The hand, arm, wrist was our next examination.

Tyler has been hurt many times before. Most of the injuries he has suffered in the past have been dramatic but not serious. This time, however, I could tell he was hurting, BAD! So we decided to get him home. Our first plan was to just ice it, but on the way home, I decided we needed to get him to see our new friends the Wilson’s. Nathan and Audrey Wilson have been such a blessing to our family. Nathan is a pediatrician, who is part of a team of five families going to Peru. The Wilson’s welcomed us into their home and Dr. Wilson began an exam of Tyler. After a complete exam, Dr. Wilson suggested that we go to the emergency room.

Ironically, our insurance ended in January and we have been applying for new insurance, but it has not gone into effect yet. So here we are on a Friday night, in a foreign country, without insurance, and Tyler probably has a broken arm. One of the words we have learned is “tranquillo”, which means breath and relax. After Dr. Wilson give us his prognosis and the insurance thought hit me, I simply said, “Tranquillo”, under my breath. The Wilsons were having a house church worship service that night and extended an invitation to Emma to attend while we went to the hospital. Emma gladly accepted and we were out the door and on our way to the hospital.

We walked home and got the necessary hospital items (Credit cards, passports, books, iPods, etc). While Kristi was gathering the hospital bag, I called our neighbors the Sills, who called a taxi for us. Within 5 minutes the taxi was at the door. As Tyler climbed in the driver just stared at him. My first thought is “Oh, this guys is going to think I beat my kid”. So before I even got into the taxi through a mixture of sign language and Spanish I explained that “Mi hijo……. I did not know the word for break so I made a breaking motion with my hands and then finished the sentence with…. Brazo o meneque (reinforcing with a pointed finger to my own hand and wrist). The driver did not know any English, but you could see sympathy on his face as he drove. He told us several times he was trying to get there as fast as possible. Occasionally he would reach behind the seat and pat Tyler on his leg and nod his head, as if he was saying, “It’s ok, I’m sorry. I’m hurrying. It will be ok”.

The driver got us there in less than 10 minutes -considering seatbelts do not exist here, we were glad to arrive quickly and safely. A volunteer at the front door pointed us in the right direction to emergency room. When we walked through the doors Kristi Tyler and sat down while I tried to figure out how to communicate our need. When I stepped up the desk, I asked the receptionist if she spoke English. She said no, but motioned for another guy behind the admission desk. His name was Jonathan and he did speak English. He helped me get registered. We did not have all the information they requested, but they were very kind and worked us in. He said a doctor would call us when it was our turn.

I sat down and reminded my self, “tranquillo”. Kristi was reading Tyler and book as he lay in her lap. I began to listen to the story trying to figure out what was going on in the book. Before I could put the story together a doctor called for Tyler. The doctor spoke very little English. He looked at Tyler’s arm and then asked where we were from. We told him Texas. He laughed and rambled off a sentence to Kristi. He had to repeat it several times, each time we picked up a new word until finally we were able to understand what he was saying. He asked Kristi if when she wore high hills in Texas, did the heel sink into the ground and oil come up. He gave us directions to radiology to get an X-ray and instructed us to bring the X-rays back to him when we were finished.

We moved around the hospital and found radiology not too far from the ER. We walked up to the desk and handed the receptionist instructions from the doctor. They told us it would be a few minutes and that we needed to pay before x-ray. So I handed her the card and she ran it through. I keep trying to guess in my head what it was going to be. $250.00, $500.00, $100.00? She handed me the receipt to sign and I saw a figure of 35,000. I did the math quickly in my head. The total was going to be $700.00.  NO! It is going to be $70.00 US.  We were so surprised as we took our seats to wait for the radiology specialist to call Tyler’s name. Tyler had been working on reading his first book and completing a book report for call. He choose Hank the Cow dog. So while we waited we read some of his book. It took less then 10 minutes for Tyler’s name to be called. Kristi went with him while I waited. They reappeared 5 minutes later and within another 5 minutes we had the x-rays in our hand. We went back to the emergency room waiting area to see the doctor. While we waited we tried to give our amateur diagnosis. Kristi said she had seen many of her dad’s x-rays growing up and she gave the diagnosis of a broken arm, pointing to the x-ray. Within a few minutes we were back in the doctor’s office waiting to hear his professional opinion.

Kristi was right; Tyler had broken his ulna, one of two bones in his forearm, just above the wrist. The doctor told us that he was going to put Tyler in a cast for three weeks. We looked at each other and asked,

“Is that all” He told us that if we had broken our arm it would be four weeks and his arm    would take six weeks to recover. Tyler climbed up on the exam table while the doctor prepared the cast. After the doctor put the cast on Tyler’s arm he made Tyler an origami frog. We both were very impressed with the loving attention and time the doctor took with Tyler. Before we left he gave us a date of March 14th to come back to have the cast removed.

We thanked the doctor and returned to the waiting room. As I got into line to pay I realize that it had taken less than an hour to register, see the doctor, get an x-ray, and set the cast. The only thing we had left to do was pay for the ER visit. The cashier handed me the bill and it equaled a whopping $70.00.

Despite the fact that we did not have insurance and that we were in foreign country, we made it out of there for $150.00 including the taxi fee to and from the hospital. Tyler did a great job! He was very brave and was very strong. Neither Kristi nor I have had a broken bone, but we were both impressed with how Tyler handled himself. Hopefully this will be the last broken bone he has.