Saturday, November 29, 2008

Honduran Lawnmowers

In La Ceiba you can find horses and cows walking down the street. These beasts of burden are often allowed to roam free and graze where they desire. The owners of the animals enjoy the fact that their beasts can eat for free. And, landowners are in favor of the free yard care.

In fact land owners and animal owners often enter into agreement. It is not uncommon to see a horse tethered to a tree or fence post and grazing in a field or yard.

These horses roam our neighborhood. This picture was taken out a window in our home and is a shot into the empty plot next to our house.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving In La Ceiba, Honduras

Today we hosted 17 people in our home for a Thanksgiving celebration. We hosted missionaries, other expatriates and a few Honduran nationals. Clearly Thanksgiving is not so big here, but with the some help from care packages sent by our friends and family back in the U.S. we were able to get pretty darn close to an authentic Thanksgiving feast. It was an all day event and we loved hosting.

Watch this 2 minute and 20 second video to see our Thanksgiving:

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


So these last few weeks have been busy, exhausting and exciting! Graduations, Senior Health Clinic, Mobile Health Clinic, playing with the kids in Armenia Bonito, ESL; building relationships; refrigerators going in and out, etc. But - life in the Pettengill household has gone along as well. Madison lost her last baby tooth (called a milk tooth here); I'm practicing more on the piano; getting ready for Thanksgiving (yes - we found a turkey here - won't even tell you how much it cost); and all in all our worlds of ministry and the Pettengill lives have started to roll into a "normal" life for us here. The rain is just something we have to deal with - hanging laundry is a challenge - things taking twice or three times as long is becoming routine - we just plan our day accordingly - speaking Spanish all day - sweating/freezing - all these things have become meshed into our lives. It's a good feeling. Feeling "normal" in a foreign country. Feeling "normal" with day-to-day activities. Yes, some things still frustrate me - not being able to find milk I normally purchase (it was just there yesterday, now probably won't be in the stores for a week), and other fairly non-important things, but it's definitely starting to feel like home.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Graduation In Armenia Bonito

The school year in Honduras runs from the beginning of February to the end of November. So, this week is a big week for graduations. This weekend we attended two graduation parties and one graduation ceremony in Armenia Bonito.

The graduation we attended was a 32 person graduation from sixth grade. This is a big deal in Honduras. Mandatory school ends at sixth grade and 70% of the kids stop attending school at that point.

We attended the ceremony to encourage three of the kids that we have been working with since we got here; Jessica, Roberto and Leili. Leili asked Mike and I to be her Padrinos. This is a special privilege. It is like being her God Parents for the day. We were introduced with Leili and Mike danced with her at the ball.

The relationships we have with these kids is very extraordinary. We feel so privileged to have been in their lives at this special time. We are glad to say that all three plan to attend 7th grade next year.

Leili gets her diploma from her teacher

Jessica gets her diploma from the Director (who is 22)

Roberto gets his class picture from his teacher

Mike dancing with Leili - she was very nervous

Mike dancing with chicitita Jessicita (little bitty Jessica)

32 kids graduating - note the water on the floor - it was pouring rain and the water was streaming through the holes in the tin roof

Friday, November 21, 2008

Senior Health Clinic In Armenia Bonito

On November 19th we put on a health clinic to meet the specific needs of senior citizens or “third age” as they are called in Honduras. The clinic was in the one room community center of the poor community of Armenia Bonito in La Ceiba, Honduras. We treated 34 patients in 5 ½ hours. Everyone received a health exam, health education, free age appropriate medication, an evangelism tract in Spanish and individual prayer.

Watch this 2 minute and 20 second video to see how it all worked:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Jump Rope In Armenia Bonito

Much of what we are doing in these early months of our ministry is building relationships with the people of Armenia Bonito. We desire to build strong relationships with people to facilitate evangelism, biblical training, discipleship and trust. There are times when we drive out to Armenia Bonito and just talk, or play, or visit with people. A few days ago we spent several hours playing and talking with several families in the middle of a side street. Thirty people gathered and developed an impromptu party. One mother brought out an old rope and we played various jump rope games.

Here is a 2-minute video to show the fun had by all:

Monday, November 17, 2008

Preparing Tamales In Armenia Bonito

A couple days ago we were invited to visit with a group of ladies in Armenia Bonito. They were preparing tamales for their church. We learned how to make them, then we ate them together. In Honduras cooking is a time to socialize with friends. This was a wonderful opportunity to build relationships with the three families that were there.

Here is a 2 minute and 50 second video showing our experience:

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Enjoying a day off

Jamie enjoying the beach

Josh waiting for the throw from Andy

playing frisbee with Josh

Madison enjoying the ocean

Today, in honor of our team mate Jamie's birthday, we went to one of the local beaches and enjoyed the time of just doing nothing but swimming, enjoying the sun, eating some great food and relaxing! Then we came home, watched the 007 - Casino Royale in anticipation of going to the theater tonight to watch the new one. Happy Birthday to our friend Jamie!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

ESL and Health Clinic


The line to see "Enfermera Teresa"

Today we had about 25 people attend our ESL class. It's the next to last class. The last 30 minutes of the class we finished up with people reciting the bible verse they learned last week, or saying it out loud if they had memorized it. We then handed out a new bible verse, practiced the pronunciation and the significance of each word. At the end of the class I challenged the students to listen to two questions, think on them during the week, and we would answer them next week. What were the two questions? The two questions from Evangelism Explosion. We have all the material in Spanish. These are the two questions: #1: "If you were to die today, do you know for certain that you would go to heaven, or is that something that you are still working on?" Everyone pretty much smiled at this one, and shook their heads. Then came question #2: "If you were to die today and stand before God and He were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?" I had so many people with surprised looks, and questions on their faces, clearly not knowing the answer to the question. I look forward to "answering" their question next week.

Medical Clinic - we saw 77 people in clinic today from 11am to 5:30pm (one person every 5 minutes for 6 1/2 hours). With the help of our three new teammates, Jamie, Josh, and Andy, we were able to move things a little more quickly. Our intent is to only be there for a few hours each time, but clearly the word is getting out, and many people are coming! We had the opportunity to hand out tracts, and pray with a number of people. A few things are going to change next week to try and make things flow a little smoother - hand out numbers - and probably see less people so people aren't waiting so long. Overall it was an incredible day - a bit exhausting (stopped for pizza on the way home - just couldn't imagine cooking for 6 people), and now we sit and eat our pizza and watch the DVD Luther. The end of a great day!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Culture and why we do what we do.

We heard it over and over and over again before we arrived to Honduras. The Latin American culture is all about relationships. It doesn't matter who it is - the person who cuts your grass, the bagger at the grocery store, or even your vet. When a person asks you how you are doing, usually they really want to know. When someone shakes your hand, it doesn't stop there. A kiss on the cheek accompanies it. Why? It's a sign of friendship - I accept your hand (a distant gesture), then kiss your cheek (a personal gesture). I took my dog to the vet last week and was ready to launch into what I brought him in for when the vet asked me about voting. Was I able to vote, who did I vote for, why did I vote for who I voted, what did I think about the state of things, what did I think about the candidates in Honduras...etc. There we talked for about 10 to 15 minutes about life. How fun, I thought. I can't imagine my vet in the States having the time or inclination for something like this. But it would have been considered the epitome of rude to just jump into the reason for my visit. Our friend, Roberto, who cuts our grass - he doesn't just come over and get to work. Typically our time starts with a cup of coffee, maybe a small bite to eat, conversation about how things have been since the last time he was over, how his family is, etc. About 30+ minutes later he starts to cut the grass.

Why do I write all this? Well - it's something you have to get used to. In the US - it's "get to business". Go to work. Share the gospel. Move on. Here it is about relationship building. We teach ESL classes to build relationships. I know about the families and health conditions of almost everyone in our class. I know about their children and their parents. I know if they are having a bad day or not. In the midst of that, we start to share things about our faith. We give bible verses to practice their English. They read them in Spanish first, then in English. We talk about the significance of each word, what the verse in general means. The last class? We will give a full gospel presentation. Guess what? We are no longer strangers approaching them on a street corner, sharing the gospel, and moving on. We are a presence here now - we have relationships - they trust us. Now it's the gospel coming from a friend. Someone they know personally and will hear the words from a different level. In my health clinics. We hand out tracks and talk to people. Pray for those who are struggling. Play with kids. This is what we have come to do. Make relationships. We have time for that. No need to rush. We love the people we minister to, and now we have built relationships, and the gospel is starting to be heard. Go God!

So understanding the culture and building relationships was the first of many steps that have happened since we have been here. Now we have friends. We have acquaintances, but they trust us. Now we share our hearts. Next ESL class? A new group of people to get to know. Each health clinic? People in need who have come for healing of their body. We share how to heal their soul.

This is what keeps us going each day. When we are exhausted, and at times feel like we are spinning our heels. Rome was not built in a day, and neither are relationships and friendships. The gospel will come - and it is coming.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Bienvenidos a Jamie, Josh y Andy!

Welcome to Jamie, Josh and Andy who will be spending 6 months working with us. They went on a tour of La Ceiba and out to the community of Armenia Bonito to see the area they will be ministering in. Caught a few other sights, then back to our house. We ended the evening by playing a hearty board game of Settlers of Catan. We were laughing, eating, challenging each other, and just getting to know each other better. It was a great day, and they are all settling in well. The only bummer is our refrigerator went out again. So, their introduction to our house included using a cooler to store all of our cold items. In "normal" refrigerator drama - it will probably be up and functioning either later today or tomorrow. Ah...the life in a 3rd world country! Today we will be meeting up with some friends for lunch. After lunch we will be having "gringo" church at our house, and finish up the evening by attending a church out in Armenia Bonito.

Friday, November 7, 2008

English worship

Yesterday we had our 8th English class and saw 65 people in our clinic afterward. See Mike's blog for additional details.

Last night at 7pm we had an English worship time. The missionaries in the area have done this once before, and it was such a huge blessing, that they decided to do it again. We had about 20 people, including children, come to this event. We started with some snacks and social time, then two of the missionaries played - one on piano and one on guitar. We had the words on our wall via a projector from a lap top and on and on we sang. The songs were occasionally interspersed with a word of praise or a time of prayer. All in all we sang for about an hour, then finished up the night with additional fellowship time. There are plans to do this on a somewhat on-going basis - perhaps every two months or so. We were truly blessed to be able to sing in our heart language.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I know...I know...everyone and their mother is going to be talking about the elections, but it's something worthy of being talked about. Living in a foreign country as an expatriate gives me a unique view of U.S. politics. Everyone who had a TV yesterday - in the grocery store, to the small family owned restaurants, to the bars had CNN in Spanish turned on. For some unknown reason, Honduras is enamored with Obama. We have been asked a number of times if we were sad that we were unable to vote. When we explained that we in fact HAD voted - and almost 3 weeks ago - people were amazed that we were able to vote via mail. What an interesting concept, most people thought. Hitting even front page of the national paper in Honduras: "El 4 de noviembre de 2008 es una fecha que Estados Unidos nunca olvidará: ese día, por primera vez en la historia, un afroamericano llegó a la Casa Blanca." (the 4th of November, 2008 is a date that the United States will never forget. It is a day, for the first time in history, that an african american comes to the White House). There is huge coverage here both on the local TV, local newspapers and on the radio. Although "my guy" didn't win - I am blessed to be in a country that allows it's people to vote; it's a (for the most part) uncorrupted system (unlike here - Hondurans are quick to agree how corrupt things are); and a country that cares for it's people! So although "my guy" didn't win, I stand up straight, loving the country I'm from and the opportunities I have.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Reformation Day

The 31st of October is celebrated as Reformation Day in our house - the day commemorating when Martin Luther posted the 95 theses on the doors of a church in Wittenberg - the event created a controversy between Luther and those allied with the Pope over a variety of doctrines and practices. When Luther and his supporters were excommunicated in 1520, the Lutheran tradition was born. This in turn would later ease the creation of the Reformed and Anabaptist traditions as well. At our home church in Elk Grove, CA - we have celebrated Reformation Day for a number of years, and we continued this celebration in Costa Rica last year. However, this year, none of our fellow missionaries in the area seemed very interested in celebrating this event. Ah well - so we had a quiet evening at home. As our choices of costumes was very limited with what Madison brought with her - she dressed up as a bat...I know...not very reformed...but the best costume we could come up with. She carved her pumpkin after Jack Skellington.

Jack Skellington

Madison's pumpkin of Jack Skellington

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Knee Injections For Arthritis

One of our supporters gave us a large quantity of Supartz. This is a drug for severely arthritic knees. It is injected under the kneecap. This procedure provides great, long-term pain relief. Recently we came across two ladies, in the poor community of Armenia Bonito, who were perfect candidates for these injections.

WARNING: The following video contains some very graphic needle footage.

Here is a 3 minute and 13 second video for your enjoyment: