Friday, November 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

            I’ll admit that we’ve had a bit of a hard time getting in the mood for Thanksgiving - with balmy weather, tropical fruits, and not even a hint of grandma’s vege-turkey loaf, pilgrim costumes, or pumpkin pie.  But, although it doesn’t feel (or smell) like Thanksgiving, we pause to give thanks for God’s goodness over the past year.
   Every morning, as I wake up to the sounds of village Roosters, and the clip-clopping of horses hoofs (the local men heading up the mountain to their days’ work), I thank God for arranging this little sanctuary for us to “come apart and rest awhile.”   Over a year ago, when we first started feeling the need for a “sabbatical,” we had no idea where to go, what to do, or how we could afford taking time away.  God worked out all the details better than we could have asked or imagined!  We trust that we are being a blessing to the Mission here, and to the local village people, but certainly the greater blessing is ours as we have been able to slow down and enjoy life at a little more “savorable” pace.  Our batteries are being re-charged!
   Pam and I have both been working on agricultural-related writing projects (I looking at God’s original Agrarian model for man, and Pam recounting God’s leading our family to farming.)  It has made us thank God over and over for His leading.  How different our lives could have been!  Although we have certainly had no bed of roses, we wouldn’t want it any other way!
   I give thanks for an amazing family: a wife who lives the definition of “help-meet”, and 5 healthy children who are growing in wisdom and stature (and we trust in favor with God and man).  We have enjoyed extra time here for reading, talking, and sharing dreams together.  It’s exciting to see the children growing into young adults with their own unique talents and vision for service.
   We thank God for a wonderful extended family.  We are continually aware of the reality that our farming venture would not be possible if it were not for the generosity of my parents sharing their farm with us.  My brother Edwin and his family have also kept our farming dream alive and prospering (plus given us the opportunity for this Sabbatical!)  Pam’s parents have also been tremendously generous in their support of our “lifestyle of choice.”  As we have had to grapple with the loss of my sister-in-law, Piper, to breast cancer, we are grateful for God’s work in her and Stanley’s lives.  God truly healed her spiritually and emotionally!  He has also done an amazing job in refining Stanley.  Stanley has come through this fire like gold!  We have too big a family to mention each by name, but each one has added richness to our lives.   Thank you!
   We feel blessed to have so many friends, old and new, who have given color, depth, and spice to our lives.  The one drawback of Honduras has been being so far away from you!  Our farm customers are also our friends, and we feel a deep sense of gratitude not only for your friendship, but for your support which enables us to live our Agrarian dream.
   Last, but certainly not least, I thank God for life, health, the gift of Jesus, forgiveness of sin, hope of eternal life, and His Creation, which we can steward in the meantime.

            Now that I think about it, I’m feeling more in the mood for Thanksgiving!  Who needs pumpkin pie?!

John Dysinger

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Rest at Last!

One of the hardest things about being in Honduras has been the separation from my family at a very difficult time.  My younger brother has tenderly cared for his wife who was coming to the end of her struggling with breast cancer. Our last weekend in the states was spent with them and though it was a teary parting it was laced with sweetness.  When saying final goodbyes you say heartfelt sentiments that to often go unsaid.  The things Piper shared with our family I will never forget.  We were able to tell her again how very much she meant to us, how her faith and courage had inspired us and how very much we loved her.  Though we cried there was also much singing, sharing and talking of eternal life together.  Her charge to us was to be faithful no matter what.  We prayed together and quietly slipped away.

Sunday morning has been my time to call and talk to Stanley.  Each time he has given me a good report.  This Sunday, 13th, when he answered the phone there was so much peace that I didn’t expect the news that followed.  The day before, Sabbath, in the evening Piper slipped into her final rest.  The actually time was unexpected but praise the Lord Pipers father was there and realized she was close to the end.  Stanley cradled her in his arms singing songs about Heaven and telling her over and over of his love for her.  Piper had prayed she would die in her sleep, Stan had prayed that he would be able to hold her ~ their prayers were answered.  Pipers father and Stan shared that sacred moment together, how appropriate!

Plans are still unsure but I hope to return for the memorial service to celebrate the life of my precious sister.

The Real Deal from the Realist

I think it’s about time you hear from the realist in the family ; )  Yes, that’s the mother of this wild clan.  I’m here to give you the real deal about daily life in Honduras.  Lest we mistakenly lead you to believe we are on a 3 month vacation!  No need to buckle up it will be a slow ride! 

Family worship – as always it’s the first and last business of the day.  We’ve been enjoying a little extra study and longer reading times

Meals – The family is ravenous!  I’m not sure what is going on since we are not doing the strenuous farm labor but even Kirsten is hungry morning, noon and night – imagine the boys!  When going to a little store next door to our house I tried to explain that my boys like lots of bananas, they got me 100 large ones and a week later they are gone!  The children and I share around the cooking so it isn’t a burden on anyone.  Tortillas with some kind of stuffing are the daily fare.  The beans are filthy!  The rice is white – the kids are enjoying that change : )

Laundry  You’ll be hearing more about the pila later.  Let’s just say we all have a renewed appreciation for the washing machine : ).

School – Every morning!  Fewer distractions make it easier to progress.  Jonathan is trying to wrap up the majority of his high school requirements while we are here.    Kirsten is loving the freedom of being finished but enjoying some further education of her choosing.  (Yes Grandpa, she is working on Anatomy and Physiology and looking forward to sitting at your feet when we get home.)   Joshua, Zack and Caleb are motivated to get the work done especially when a trip to the falls is the reward.

Work – No matter where we are our hearts and hands are in the soil.  Most afternoons we head up to the mission to help them in their gardens.  John’s main goal is to teach them to make a healthy compost pile.  He and the children were up there last night and when they came home they smelled dreadful!! Almost as bad as rotten potatoes!  Hastily washing there suspicions were confirmed – they still stunk!             Today John, Joshua and Caleb are at a nearby orphanage trying to help them with their compost pile…We will ride the buss into town and meet him…We’re all a little concerned about the attention we may draw on the ride home : }  Could be embarrassing!

working in the garden

Joshua helping with their new "greenhouse" project

Writing projects – John usually spends his mornings working on various goals.  I squeeze in a few hours a week and the Lord is blessing my efforts.

Family time – Reading together is a favorite pastime and beyond that just having time to talk, dream and plan together is great.   

Serving ~ No matter where we are we are called to serve and there is no end to the needs             here.  The church is a short walk from our house so when the doors are open we are there:  Wednesday evening, Friday evening, Sabbath morning and Sabbath evening.  John has preached and I have shared for two Friday evening vespers.  One of the greatest needs is to be awakened to the reality that the cultural practices relating to family are not God’s plan.  For most there is no commitment just living together until they weary and moving on.  Just being a family and sitting together in church is counter cultural! 

Yesterday I spent part of the morning, at a church member’s home, learning how to make tortilla’s the Honduran way.   When we finished a huge stack we walked the ½ mile to our house and she and three of her children joined us for lunch.  The conversation dragged as we struggled to understand them and they us, but we persevered.  Please pray that we can get a better grasp of the language.

So there you have it ~ the real deal about daily life from the fingers of the realist! 

Avocado Avalanche

When we first arrived, and were inquiring about the fruits and vegetable currently in season, we were told that, unfortunately, we had missed the avocado season. We listened to stories of trees laden down with huge avocados...all you can eat guacamole... and avocados three times a day. “To bad you weren’t here a month earlier...” they said. No need to say it, I already was mulling over in my mind just why we hadn’t come in September... “But, who knows, you might still find some late avocados on the trees,” we were told a bit doubtfully. Mouths drooling, we ran out to see. Sure enough, hanging high in the trees were avocados! To us, it seemed hundreds still clung to the branches. We picked a conservative amount, but were soon told “take all you want.” Could it be?

Since then, we have lived out our dream of avocados (almost) everyday. Each member of our family loves this fruit, (yes technically its a fruit) and have been throughly relishing this treat of abundance.

Yesterday, we experienced something I never imagined possible... everyone had their fill of guacamole, and there was still more in the bowl! We had leftover guacamole! Have you ever heard of such a thing? It was brought out again for supper, but still with no takers.

I think we will be more careful in the future not to over do it on the guacamole. We have this fear that, come the end of our stay here, we might never want to see another avocado. That would be tragic...

Jonathan is in the tree picking and tossing the Avocados down to the awaiting sheet.

We picked 94 Avocados!

Wish we could share the abundance with all of you!


A place our family loves...

A quarter mile off the road, over the hill and through the jungle, is a place our family loves… the waterfalls.  It has great rock climbing spots and a few natural slides. Several falls cascade down the narrow rocky gorge into the valley. 

Thinking we needed some family fun, we decided to take a picnic up to the waterfalls.  We walked up the creek to the first waterfall.   Deciding that this was a good place to stop, we ate lunch.  After lunch we climbed up the first fall.  Getting up there can be a bit challenging.  Fortunately, Jonathan and Dad were able to help Mother, who was having a hard time.  We rock climbed, jumped into the water and slid down slides.  We had grand fun!  

Climbing and sliding back down, we ended up back at the first falls. There we washed our hair, since we were already cold and did not want to face the misery of a shower at home.  It was hilarious watching some  wash their hair : )



Pushing Dad under

Another memory made at the place our family loves.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Picking Toranjas

Almost Paradise

Honduras is fantastic…. but it’s not quite paradise.  We are reminded of this every time we have to face the dreaded shower.  I guess we Americans are spoiled by having two knobs on all our sinks and showers.  Here they have decided that one knob is all you need.  Even in the city of Santa Barbara, all sinks and showers have one knob (and it’s not one of those fancy knobs that has both hot and cold!).  Another thing they have dispensed with is the shower head.  The “shower” is a piece of pipe sticking out of the wall with a 90 degree elbow on it.  There’s nothing gentle or soothing about it.
            Now remember that we are living up in the mountains, it is “winter”, and it’s also the rainy season.  So, days are often cloudy and drizzly.  It is not uncommon to wear long sleeves or light sweaters in the morning and evening, and the water for our house comes straight from a mountain stream.  Keep in mind also that the windows and doors in our house are screen (no glass).           
            So, with this background, here is my standard shower routine:  Get my head wet (without getting the rest of my body wet), turn the water off (because this stream of water is splattering all over the floor and up onto my goose-bumped body), Shampoo my hair and lather my body up with soap.  Then for the grand finale, turn the water back on and, breathing fast and deep, get under the stream just long enough to get most of the suds off.  It’s actually quite invigorating and feels great - when it’s over!
            I’ve decided that daily showers are not really that necessary.  In fact, two or three times a week seems plenty!  We’ve also almost completely eliminated lines for the showers.  We can get our whole family through in record time! 
            Think of all the energy, water, and money saved by having a whole country take cold showers!  In fact, why doesn’t somebody suggest this to the Presidential candidates as a way to kick start our economy.  Just so long as I can have at least one loooong, HOT! shower when we get back in January!


Bat Guano Adventure

On Sunday Jonathan, Roger, Rene and I went up to a nearby cave to get a few (so we thought) bags of bat guano. We left at 6:30 in the morning, and it was a 45 minute hike up the mountain.
            When we arrived at the cave, we ate our breakfast, then started filling bags with the compost which Roger had previously shoveled out. Roger just kept filling bag after bag, even though we tried to convince him to stop.  He said he was going fill 12 bags, but we were to talk him down to 10. But still, the bags where about 50 pounds each and there were only four of us.
            When we had finished filling the sacks, we went back into the cave to see the bats. It was truly amazing! The farther back you went, the more bats there were. At one point we had to crawl through a very small hole, and as I crawled through, a bat hit me right in the face!
            When we reached the back room of the cave, the bats where so thick you could only see a short distance in front of you. It was dark and stank terribly, so we were glad to get back out into the fresh air and sunshine.
            Once outside again, we started rolling the filled bags of guano, down the mountain. We did this for probably 20 minutes, until the ground started to level. At this point, we resorted to carrying them. Roger and Jonathan took two bags each, staking them high on their necks. Rene and I each took one. We carried them until we got to a fence, where we left them them and headed back for more.
            After getting the rest of the sacks, we rested a bit, but soon continued on. This time Roger had three bags, a total of 150 pounds. It was crazy! When we reached Roger’s grandparents farm at the bottom of the mountain, Roger went back to get the mission truck. We threw the bags in the truck and drove them the last leg on the journey. Finally we arrived back to the mission, with our 500 pounds of bat compost. We were filthy dirty though, and soon were off to the waterfall to clean/cool off. It was all a blast!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

"Our" house

This is the road we live on in La Zona
"our" little house


I don't know why, but the last part of my previous post was deleted... so here is my final statement:

Being apart of this class, and being involved with the dental clinic, was truly an awesome experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the work, and have found a new love!

I got my own set of tools and supplies, and plan to continue doing dental work several times a week while here. There is tremendous need, and I know it will prove to be an invaluable experience. I’ll keep you posted!


This is having trouble processing very many pictures, so I'm having do several different posts... So to make the most sence, you'll have to start with the first post and work up.

Word quickly spread that there were “dentists” at the mission outpost, and we soon had more then enough patients. The number of people increased everyday, and by Thursday, (our last day) when we got up from breakfast we found 30 + people already sitting waiting for us to start.

The days were long; going well after dark every day. But it was rewarding to help so many people.

Preparing for the day

Our class
Back: Luke, Mr. Willis, Doc. Gerry, Roger, Rene, Doc. Kessler & Ramon
Front: Teresa, me & Ruby

More pictures

We set up a make shift dental clinic using tables from the dining room and foam mattresses. But the boys did make two portable tables that proved to be a great blessing

Hauling wood from a local sawmill

Building the table

The view from our little "clinic." Unfortunately you can't really see the full mountain ranges in this photo because of the clouds. It is truly a spectacular view that can't fully be captured with a camera.

Dental Training

The last two weeks have flown by entirely too fast. (I guess that is what happens when you’re having fun.) Here are some pictures from my recent dental experience.

As most of you know, (and I mentioned in a earlier post) I was apart of an intensive “bush dentistry” training course. There were eight of us in the class: Ruby, Ramon, Roger, Rene, (four Honduran young people) Joe Willis, (he and his wife run the mission outpost here) Doc. Kessler, Luke Fisher (both from the US) and me. Plus we had a Honduran translator, Teresa, who proved to be a great blessing as most of the group spoke only Spa nish.

Our "classroom"

Gerry Beauchemin taught the course, and proved to be an amazing teacher. We learned an incredible amount in a short amount of time.

Doc. Gerry teaching us in Luke's mouth

The first three days were spent in theory and practicing on plaster teeth, but by the 4th day we were in each others mouths. We examined each other, and between all of us in the class, (plus other family members), we had several cavities to practice on. Thanks to our obliging, and very tolerant patients, we gained some much needed experience.

Joshua having his teeth flossed by Ramon, with Roger looking on.

Caleb being examined by Mr. Willis and Doc. Kessler

Ramon on the table with Rene and Ruby examining him.

Working after dark - Rene examining Ruby with Roger and Denora watching, (and laughing).

Me preparing to fill a cavity in Roger's mouth

Dental Training

Mountain Hike

After hearing what Jonathan had written in his journal about one of our recent adventures, we decided just to post what he’d written. Because of the rain and mud, we weren't able to take very many pictures, but I'm posting the few we have.

October 30 –
            “Today we got up at 4:30 am to climb the tallest mountain in this area. We had heard lots of stories of how hard and dangerous the climb is, but we weren’t sure how much of it was true. We met at the trail hear at 5:30 am and had a prayer before we headed out. There were eight people total: Roger, Rene, Rene’s sister Denora, Kirsten, Joshua Zach, Luke and myself.
            After about an hour of hiking, we stopped to rest at a split in the trail. Roger and Rene went the other way in search of water. After about 15 min the returned with our bottles full of fresh mountain stream water, plus shirts and pockets busting full of mandarins! After the much needed snack, we headed farther up the mountain.

One of the many huge trees we saw

            We had probably hiked for another hour when Roger found an amazing vine swing. We cut the vine and cleared some brush and had a blast swinging out over the mountain!

Joshua and Roger on the vine swing

            We were soon back on the trail, except this time there wasn’t much of a trail. We had three people leading with machetes and the rest followed in single file. As we were clearing our way through the overgrown brush, Kirsten rubbed up against a stinging caterpillar. Almost instantly there were red spots and her leg started to go numb where she had been stung. Luke jokingly said it was showing all the early signs of death! Ha, ha… it turned out not to be too bad, and the spots were gone within a few hours.

The "deadly" caterpiller
            As we continued up the mountain we came across a sweet lemon tree; now sweet lemons aren’t the tastiest thing, but we were all starting to get hungry, so we each ate a couple.
            We soon broke into a clearing that appeared to be an abandoned farm. There were banana trees and lots of coffee plants. We started looking around for some ripe bananas but didn’t find any. Then Joshua found a large pile of fresh, yellow, banana skins. We were pretty bummed!

A snail we found along the way

            After passing through this clearing, we were definitely trail blazing. As we climber the jungle got thicker and the mountain steeper. And at the point it started to rain. We weren’t too disappointed, because we were very hot, but it quickly began to get very muddy, which made the climbing more difficult.

            As we pushed on up the mountain we were careful for mark the trees we passed. Last time they climbed this mountain they couldn’t find their trail back down. They got last, and didn’t make it home until well after dark.
            We once came to a place that was so steep and slippery that we had to use a rope to get up. After five hours of climbing we still hadn’t seen the top. By now, we were all getting very hungry, so we brought out our lunch and split a few tortillas between us, and each had an orange.
            After a short rest we continued. Luke and I led the way up the steep and rugged terrain. We knew we had to be getting close to the top, but because it was cloudy and drizzling, we couldn’t see through the dense jungle.
            But after six hours of climbing we reached what seemed to be the top. We hacked our way out to a little out crop, and settled down to eat. Roger had gone off into the woods, we though to use the bano. But as we were getting out our lunch, we heard him call from what sounded like a mile away, “venga!” We reluctantly packed our lunch back up and headed in the direction of his voice. After a few minutes of trail blazing we came to where he was; standing on top of a large rock. The boulder was propped on, what appeared to be, the peak of the mountain, and we all climbed up onto it. We could tell that it would be an amazing view, but all we could see was the thick white fog.

Huddled at the top. You can see that below us, all was white.

          After we were settled, we brought out the long awaited for lunch. We had home made tortillas with potatoes, rice, and lots of avocado! We failed to bring any silverware, or plates, so everything was cut and served with our machetes.
            It was raining and cold, so we didn’t stay long at the top. The decent was challenging because it was so muddy. In many places we just slid on our bottoms.
            When we got to the abandoned farm Luke and I decided to cut one of the banana stocks and carry it home. We found the biggest one and tied it to a pole. It was very heavy and after a couple hours, we were about ready to ditch it, but we endured to the end.
            Finally, ten hours after leaving home, we arrived back. (to the great relief of Mom and Dad) We realized that all the stories we had heard about this mountain climb were true, plus some!”

The conquerors! (unfortunately Roger, Rene & Denora had already gone home, so weren't able to be in the picture.)