Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The Honeysuckle Vine

I love the honeysuckle vine. We had some growing on a trellis near our house when I was a kid. The honeysuckle flowers are sweet and I loved to suck the pollen out of them. It is said that they attract butterflies and humming birds. Wonderful plants.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Thinking of Spring

It's warm today in the low 60 degrees Fahrenheit and was quite sunny earlier in the day. It's giving me spring fever and here's a picture to go along with it.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Reflections on my DRE MAMA Project Experience in Honduras

I was part of a team of ten – seven from my home church and three who were friends from other places. Our team included among others one doctor, two nurses, one other person who works in the health field, and two persons fluent in Spanish who served as interpreters in our work. Our team also had one early teenage girl on it.

We arrived on Saturday afternoon, January 14, 2006. Most of the afternoon was spent settling into our hotel rooms and chatting with one another. In the evening, we held a team meeting formally introducing ourselves to one another sharing things like what we do for work, our avocations or interests, and why we chose to come on this project trip.

Sunday morning, we attended church at Iglesia Mennonita. They were having a special children’s Bible School program which included an excellent puppet show and great singing by the children. I wouldn’t have wanted to miss that program; the spirit of Christ permeated that place breaking through language barriers.

After church, we briefly toured to the San Pedro Sula Market Place, went to Power Chicken for lunch, and worked at the San Pedro MAMA Project Center sorting medicines and dividing them up into smaller quantities to use in our medical clinics for the next five days. In the evening, we went to the MAMA Center at San Francisco de Yojoa to prepare and learn more about our work for the week. While there, some of us also learned how to make tortillas. San Francisco was around an hour's drive out of the city into the country side.

We held clinics for five different villages in Honduras all within a two hours drive of San Pedro Sula with some being much closer. While each day had its own differences, the typical schedule for Monday through Friday was something like as follows: wake up time – 6:00 a.m.; breakfast – 7:00 a.m.; hotel departure time – 8:00 a.m.; set up and open clinic by 8:30 – 10:30 a.m. depending on travel time; lunch time sometime around noon or 1:00 p.m.; close clinic by 3:00 or 4:00 p.m.; and arrive back at our hotel between 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. In the evening after supper, our team would hold a devotions and team sharing time reflecting on the day’s events. And a number of us after that would play a card game called Phase 10 till ten or eleven o’clock. We got a bit silly during some of those times and some of us would almost always playfully use our “skips” on one of our team’s co-leaders in our card games. I also had an added duty of doing a daily blog entry at http://dremama.blogspot.com for the team.

As I mentioned earlier, my particular team had one doctor and two nurses. The main role of our medical team was for consultation, diagnosis, and prescribing medication for "simple" ailments including infected skin rashes. In one case, our doctor did diagnose a serious, life-threatening diabetic problem and we provided them with transportation to a hospital. They also sought to identify children with serious malnutrition problems. These children and their mothers are then recommended to take advantage of a month-long program provided by MAMA to bring their children back to nutritional health and to train the mothers how to keep their children in good health.

But the part of the work that I personally was involved with was in the giving out of de-worming medication and vitamins mostly to children but also to some adults. My role also shifted each day into building connections with the children spending time playing with them. Because of my role shift each day, I often got playfully teased that I was my own one person team.

Some of the games we played together included soccer, baseball, a couple versions of marbles, bubble-blowing, and with the younger children “Growl.” And if I took rest breaks from playing, the children frequently came asking me if I didn’t want to play some more even though I’m not much of an athlete. Some of the children also took me on tours of their village and in one village the children showed me their swimming hole. I also had the opportunity to show and read some Spanish children’s books to the kids. I think I butchered the Spanish; but that didn’t matter to the children. I had a lot of fun. I also spent time asking some of the children what things were called in Spanish and in turn they would ask me what they were called in English. A number of them thanked me for spending time with them and when it was time for us to leave, we often received many hugs from a number of the children.

There's a wide range of poverty and wealth in Honduras. And sometimes, the destitute are living in shacks on one side of the road while on the other side there is a walled-in community of well-kept mansions. In the worst case we saw, the village with the falling down shacks was common referred to as “The Dump.” It was sobering; there had been talk about going to the San Pedro Sula Marketplace later that afternoon to shop for souvenirs. We didn’t and to me it really would have felt wrong to go souvenir shopping that day.

But on the weekend, we did become tourists and drove over three hours to Copan. Saturday afternoon, we spent at the “Parque de Aves” viewing many colorful birds. We had a local ten year old girl as a guide and she knew her birds and her English quite well. There might have been a couple times she had to ask our Spanish-speaking team members how to say something in English; but not very often. In the evening we did some souvenir shopping and ate our dinner on the second floor level of an open air restaurant. The waitresses here carried many food items on the top of their heads including glass bottles of coke. The next day we went for a two hour horse ride to the top of a mountain where they tried to marry me to a native Honduran. They said she knew how to make tortillas. :) After that we toured some Mayan Ruins at Copan.

Monday morning, we did some more souvenir shopping at the San Pedro Sula Marketplace. I bought myself a beautiful, wood plaque picturing “The Lord’s Supper.” After that, we went back to the San Pedro Sula MAMA Center where we had a send-off prayer time with the Honduran MAMA staff. From there, they took us to the airport. We got back home around one in the morning on Tuesday. I wouldn’t trade this trip for anything. It was one of the best weeks of my life.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Honduras No. 5 - Working at our Spanish

In the picture below, three people on my team are working at their Spanish on the van ride home for the day. Children's books can be excellent foreign language learning tools.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Honduras, Part 4, School Building View

This is a view of the three room school building in Colonia El Buen Pastor in Santa Rita Yoro, Honduras where my MAMA Project Team held a medical clinic. The second photo is a lightened up version of the first photo better enabling one to see the school building structure. You click on the pictures to see a larger version of each. Beautiful scenery. You can also see just a little bit of the road going by it in the bottom right corner.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Honduras, part 3 - Tortilla Making

A couple different times while in Honduras, a Honduran showed some of us how to make tortillas. In this picture, my team leader was trying his hand at it. The tortillas are being made over a wood fire. They shape, flip, and remove the tortillas with their bare hands; no utensils are used for those purposes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Honduras and the MAMA Project Trip, Part 2

I've been busy updating the DRE MAMA Project Journal with over twenty pictures from my team's time in Honduras. So even if you have been checking the team's blog while I was gone, I would recommend checking each of the entries again. But for tonight on this blog, here's a scenic view from Gracias a Dios of San Pedro Sula. Rural Honduras has much beauty.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Back From Honduras and the MAMA Project Trip

I'm back! :) But I had a great time in Honduras with the MAMA Project medical clinics and playing with the children in those communities. In everyone of the four communities in which we conducted medical clinics, the children were great and loved it when we spent time with them playing soccer, baseball, marbles, or just going for walks and talking. Below is a picture of children from the Gracias a Dios community of San Pedro Sula - perhaps one of the happiest communities I visited.

I plan to share more of my activities and pictures from the trip as I get the opportunity. And be sure to click on the picture to get a more perfect view.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Nine Day Service Project Trip Beginning

This Saturday, I am to leave for San Pedro Sula, Honduras for nine days (January 14 - 23). I am going with a team from my church under the MAMA Project. The MAMA Project focuses its ministry on the health of mothers and young children in Honduras. We'll be assisting with medical clinics in Honduras; my team has a doctor and two nurses on it. I'll appreciate your prayers. It will be a new thing for me. If we have an internet connection as our team organizer thinks we may, our team plans to keep a blog at DRE MAMA Project Journal. It has already been set up with beginning prayer requests if you would like to take a look. If you believe in prayer, pray that our team works well together in doing and receiving ministry to and from the Hondurans. Thanks.

So I probably won't be posting again until January 24. But don't forget about me! :)

A Former Telford School House?

I tend to think this may have been a schoolhouse at one time. Note its bell tower though unfortunately the bell is missing. But there's something about the architecture of this building that attracts me. And what stories might this building be able to tell if only it had a voice?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

An Agricultural Time Piece

When I saw this clock at what used to be a farmers market, I had to buy it for my kitchen. Roosters are one of my favorite creatures.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Telford Bog - An Item of Winter Beauty

For full appreciation you should view this image in its larger size. Nature just keeps amazing me.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Views from the Home Farm - An Aerial View From My Childhood Years

At one time the five small buildings behind the two red outbuildings on the left side of the picture were chicken coops. I recall at least one of the said two red outbuildings being used to raise chicks. The red shed between the red outbuilding and the barn was an equipment shed and a corn crib. The shed between the house and barn contained an outhouse that even I used as a kid when I didn't want to run into the house. On the far right side of the barn was another corn crib and a chicken house situated in a briar patch.

Views from the Home Farm - The Barn

When I was a child, my dad used this barn mainly for chickens, farm equipment, and storage of straw bales. When dad was a child, it also housed some cows and pigs. And as a kid, I used to use the barn for some ducks I raised for a hobby.

This is the front center of the barn as viewed from the farm house. The barn extends to the right with a barn hill and a two story extension behind the barn hill. It extends to the left with parts of it being one and two stories.

This is the part of the left side of the barn that is closest to the farm house You can notice the main peak of the barn in the background.

This is the part of the left side of the barn that is furtherest from the farm house.

This is the back side of the barn.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Junior Youth and Senior Adult Game Afternoon

This afternoon my home church junior youth and senior adults had a joint game activity time together. We should have assigned youth and adults to the various tables to ensure a good mix of ages at each table. We didn't and so I guess we will need to take it as a lesson learned for the next time.

These are three of my four sixth grade Sunday School class students setting up to play Dutch Blitz. After I took the picture, I joined in the game. After several rounds of Dutch Blitz, we played Rummikub.

This table group is playing a form of Dominos known as Chicken Foot.

The youth at this table are playing a version of Sports Monopoly.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hiking Nockamixon State Park

Today I went hiking at Nockamixon State Park in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. It was a sunny afternoon and after all the gray days we've been having I just had to get outside. It was a glorious hike. Below are a few pictures from the hike.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Views from the Home Farm - the Farm House

This was the house I grew up in and lived in for many years. Many good memories reside in those walls. Mom and Dad raised all eight of us there. We spent a lot of time working and playing together on the farm.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Views from the Home Farm - Sunrise

I have always enjoyed viewing sunrises. But since I moved to town, I gained a much greater appreciation for unobstructed sunrise views. This sunrise was worth getting up early on my day off to view and photograph.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Views from the Home Farm - After the Blizzard

One of my favorite memories from when I used to live on the farm were the blizzards that came some years. The big blizzards didn't come every year and some years we hardly got any snow. But sometimes they made us homebound for a couple days. In this picture on top of one of the drifts is my pet dog Wolf. I miss him. He was a mongrel, a bit strange, and did not like to go on trips. But, oh, he was lots of fun. For this photo, you must click on picture to get the larger version for full appreciation.

In this picture is Sneakers, a Beagle who was my dad's pet, and Bear, a Schipperke who belongs to one of my brothers. The tractor and loader in the picture is how we cleared our long driveway.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Views from the Home Farm - The Hornet Nest

When I took this picture the hornets were no longer there; it being late fall. But they were bees to avoid; they don't give up the chase. Yet I remember one summer up above our childhood swing on the large old maple tree was an active hornets nest. We still swung; just not too high.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Reminiscing - Feeding a Peacock at the Zoo

Ah, I found a childhood picture from long ago. My mom and dad would often take us to the Philadelphia or Norristown Zoo during our childhood days. We looked forward to those trips to see all the different animals. And it was especially fun when feeding some of the animals was allowed such as feeding the peacock in this particular picture. And how photography has advanced since then. When I first started taking pictures, it was mostly done in black and white film. And now we're on to digital photography - something unheard of back then. It wasn't even in our minds. Seeing the changes that have taken place in my life time makes me wonder how many changes mom and dad must be seeing.

Views from the Home Farm - Looking Towards Spring

When going through some sun-barren weather thinking of signs of spring such as these crocuses brightens me up. It's not that I don't like winter for I love at least one blizzard a year; it's only that sunless skies need some artistic touches.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Views from The Home Farm - Fall Migration

I am beginning a series of pictures from when I lived on the home farm. It holds many pleasant memories for me. This picture was taken on a fall day. Notice that mixed in among the migrating Canadian Geese are some Snow Geese. The combination of the dark woods, overcast sky, and flying birds also seem reminiscient of some foul foreboding omen that one might have encountered on Middle Earth.