The Hayes Zoo

Our Purpose

- to know God and use our entire lives in service to Him.

- to stand in the gap through prayer, giving and service to viable ministries in Latin America.

- to be transparent helpers of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, using our resources and skills that through the Holy Spirit, we might encourage and equip those who have less.

- to share a living perspective from Latin America to our churches, friends and family in the states and beyond.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

mile 5-bajillion - Jutiapa, Guatemala

Man, we've practially made it!!

We've spent the past couple days driving past coconut palms and banana fields. Yesterday we drove across the state of Chiapas, and to the Guatemala border. We had to sit and wait for about an hour in Chiapas for a highway protest, and the roads in Chiapas are some of probably the worst we have seen in Mexico, so we were later arriving at the border than I had hoped. The border was a bit of a hassle, and cost us most of our available money in import taxes on our stuff. We wound up spending the night in a hotel right on the highway, with our room right in the corner of the highway and the next-door truck-stop. A half-hour after we arrived, the power went off, and was off until around midnight. It was probably the most miserable night of the trip.

If the roads are in decent shape between here and there, we anticipate arriving in Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras tomorrow - this is about a 45-minute drive from our final destination of Gracias. We will be staying in Santa Rosa with other friends for a week or two until we get housing set up in Gracias.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

We're leaving for the border...

we think. :)

The past several days began with just rest up time. Which we needed. Then it evolved into 'we need to wait a bit' time. Why??? Well, as of this moment, there is no housing for us in Honduras. It's tough to explain to people back in the states but things here can tend to be a bit 'loose' compared to how it's done up there. Finding, renting, and finalizing housing is one of those challenges that have become more of a mountain than a molehill in our experience.

Next, there are the roads. You could say there's been some weather down south. The rainy season, the tropical storm season, and hurricane season tend to be hard on roads. :) So - we'd discovered that our route was one of the affected areas. Hmmm....that wasn't on the radar when we set out.

Border crossings - this might make getting into Mexico look like a cake walk. Please pray that we are able to find favor with the officials, find the right places to secure said paperwork, and not have to pay off too many people. Blinded eyes would be helpful too.

BUT - enter super hero music - God is very good to us even in our naivety. Through the Loker family here in Oaxaca and their contacts and some other homeschooling friends and their contacts we think we've found a route. And places to get to, in country, if said route doesn't work. We are very blessed with brothers and sisters who are encouraging us on!

So we're leaving today with a 'plan' on the books. Of course, we aren't holding TOO tightly to said 'plan' because we've learned being flexible and having a sense of humor are some of the most important things to pack. Man makes his plans but the Lord directs his steps - thank goodness....That's a promise that is guiding us each step of the way and one we are hanging on to, albeit by our fingernails.

4 days from now is our estimated arrival time in Honduras. We'll do our best to keep you updated on all the developments!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Still in Oaxaca ....

Just a real quick update to let people know that we are still here in Mitla; in our last post we said we were planning on leaving this morning (Saturday) for Guatemala and Honduras. We have decided to stay here at least through the weekend while things firm up a bit with our housing in Honduras.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

mile 1566 - Mitla, Oaxaca

First of all, a joke – a guy shows up at a border crossing in a very nice, expensive car, with a few suitcases and a laptop. A couple soldiers with machine guns come over and tell him to get out of the car; one of them points to a circle on the ground and tell him that if he steps out of the circle before they say, they will kill him. The solders then proceed to slash open the seats with knives and pull all the stuffing out. They pull off all the wheels and slash open all the tires, slice up the convertible top and completely rip the dash out. Then they pound in the hood with cinder blocks and jack open the trunk, breaking the lock and completely ripping the trunk lid off the car. They smash the poor guy’s computer to pieces on the pavement, slice open all his suitcases and string his clothes and stuff all over the ground. Then they finally tell the guy, “Ok, you’re free to cross.”

The poor guy gathers up a few of his clothes and his toothbrush and walks through the gate. After he gets a couple hundred yards, he turns around and yells at the solders, “Ha ha, the joke’s on you – I stepped out of the circle three times!!”

Tuesday we had the wonderful experience of being pulled over and harassed by the local police. This is called a ‘mordida’ among those who have experienced it ('bitten', the same word they use for shoving cake in your face at a birthday party), and we had heard from numerous sources that the state of Mexico was the worst down here for this sort of thing. We drove through the entire state, including back and forth through Teluca, and had no problems. Then, after staying a day or two in Tenancingo, there was a stretch along a very ‘back-road’ highway for about a half-hour to the state line, and then on to the highway to Curnavaca. About 5 minutes from the border these guys pulled us over. The original fine he quoted me was close to 8000 pesos ($750 US) for not having the required ‘papers’ for hauling our stuff. No, none of the other states down here require it, but we do. And it’s not just the fine, we’ll need to tow the truck and trailer back to the main office in Teluca, and you and the family will need to pay for a taxi. We'll spend a couple days going through everything in both the truck and trailer to verify that it’s yours, and not stolen. Well, yeah, we can see it would really be a hassle, and we’d love to just let you go on. After a half hour or so he decided that for 5000 pesos he could write us a pass to allow us to go on. Finally, after convincing him that we were basically living from ATM to ATM down here (for fear of being ROBBED BLIND!) and had no more money, he begrudgingly let us go for 900 pesos and 25 dollars that we had in our pockets. About $100. The only smugness I can muster is that we had another 3000 pesos in the back of the truck that I didn’t give him.

This trip has been hard. We knew it would be hard when we started. I think we knew what we were getting into. And yet, Faith and I have both felt a real oppression over us since we left Madera, and certainly since we left Chihuahua City. A certain amount has been the expectation of it all. And it’s not just the police, the military and the common robbers that we might encounter; it’s also the many highways and few signs, the only way through being through the cities. Big cities with narrow streets. Narrow streets and few signs. And no good maps. And the slit-your-wrists traffic. And literally hundreds of topes – speed-bumps. Savage ones. I’ve literally broken shocks clean off on the truck – empty – on topes in Madera that I didn’t see and hit too fast. I’d much rather make this voyage in a Mini-Cooper than a hurking monster-truck with a trailer.

We’re through the major cities now. The metropolitan central part of Mexico is behind us, and with it the ostentatious snobs in their BMW’s who don’t even slow down when coming up behind, but just whip out and pass on the solid line with an arrogant glance. The biggest obstacles still in front of us are the border crossings.

Right now we are in a small town named Mitla, outside Oaxaca City. We are spending a couple days visiting friends here, and staying on the base of Wycliff Bible Translators here. The down-time along the trip has been a huge blessing; this is when we get to meet people and talk, see the sights and rub shoulders and talk with the locals. The real people here. Most of the people are warm, friendly and talkative, once they decide we’re not a threat. The traffic is just a machine, made up of smaller machines that have no feelings and no conscience.

The south of Mexico, I think, has been as much a change for us from the north of Mexico as the north of Mexico was for us from the US. The landscape is enchanting – giant, steaming volcanoes and incredible gorges, cliff-laden mountains with vegetation hanging off the cliffs. Coconuts and bananas and mangoes, oh my! Tropical fruits along with all sorts of different chilies from what we had in the north. Giant butterflies and weird bugs and strange birds that make strange noises. And did we mention that they grow COFFEE down here???

We figure we have another four days of traveling to arrive in Gracias, Honduras. We plan to leave Saturday morning to begin the final stretch. Please remember us in prayer concerning the balance of our trip and crossing the borders. As Paul boasts in 2 Corinthians about his sufferings, so we too expect that what we are putting up with on this trip will be more than worth it when we arrive, and that what we are able to impart to those we go to help, and what we ourselves gain from this whole experience will be such that we will laugh at the memories of all the rest.

Monday, October 20, 2008

mile 1347 - Tenancingo, Mexico

We are at about the half-way point through our epic journey and spending a couple nights and a day with friends in a beautiful and scenic valley at about 7500 feet of elevation, about 70 miles southwest of Mexico City. Tomorrow we leave for Cuernavaca, Puebla and Oaxaca, where we plan to stay with more missionary friends for a day or two before continuing on.

Tonight we mourn the passing of our beloved and final cat, Nermal, who has traveled with us the past 1000-plus miles from Madera. She weathered a week of roadside pit-stops and spending the night outside sleeping in the trailer, before allowing herself to relax a little too much around the local dogs this afternoon. She was a great cat, and we will all miss her very much.

On a slightly lighter note, we also had an incident in the hotel in Silao, Guanajuato, with Nattie's electric toothbrush getting dropped in the toilet.

Overall, the trip has gone smoothly. Gracias a Dios, we have yet to be pulled over by either police or military, even after driving back and forth through Toluca about three times looking for the (unmarked) turnoff. We are looking forward with much anticipation to continuing east, tomorrow, beyond Puebla and into less urban and less crowded parts.

The scenery pictures shown are up near Gomez Palacio, near Zacatecas, and right here in Tenancingo.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Mile 437

We've finally gotten off the pad, as it were. Yesterday (Monday) we packed the final things - beds, frig, suitcases - into the truck and trailer, said final goodbyes to the children's home and the landlord, had a final lunch at 'Taqueria Gamez' and hit the road with all our stuff. We are now in Chihuahua City, where we are visiting more friends for a couple days before heading south.

Chihuahua City isn't new for us. We lived here for almost a year, up until a little over a year ago; we know people here and are quite familiar with the road between Madera and Chihuahua. So, in a way the real journey starts in a couple days, when we leave here. I'll have to look at a map to even find the highway out of town toward the south; here the highways aren't always connected, with directions on big, green signs like they are in the states. The way out of town for us will probably be highway 45 / 49, to Torreon, though there is a smaller highway, 24, that passes through some historic areas that we've talked about taking. Gracias a Dios, we've been blessed with some good road atlases of Mexico by some friends of ours in Madera. The trip to Chihua's (as the locals call Chihuahua City) has been a good shakeout time for the truck and trailer, and also for our family (and cat!) in the truck. During the time here I'll need to clean the ol' K&N air filter on the truck and redo the tie-down job on the trailer tarp in a couple places. In general, though, things seem pretty tight and smooth.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Cutoff -

Well - the TeMex guys just showed up and that means our internet phone is going away. Hmmm...
When we went in to cancel our service and pay our last bill, (had to go in the ONE MORNING per week that they are open in Madera) they mentioned 20 days. We went in on Wednesday; it's Friday. Sometimes things do happen fast. I was going to post some packing pictures and all that but I'm not that organized to get them uploaded before they do the cutoff. Drat. Next post!

We're 99% packed. Our visiting has taken longer than we thought it would (we should've known...) so we're not able to leave just yet. It looks like we're staying 'till Monday morning. Our church is having their anniversary celebration service Sunday evening and our pastor has been holding out hope that we'd still be here. We've decided to do that for them. :) So now I have to figure out how to cook and all that with no kitchen stove or tools. hmmmm....Can you say glorified camping????

We'll check in as we're on the road!!

Love to you all!!!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Mile 265

... if you want to start counting from the border. We've kind of already started the trip; we just stopped off at our house along the way to pack up all our stuff.

Things are depressing here. We're excited about what lies ahead, and once we get on the road and start the journey I think we will get into the mood. Right now the only thing we see is packing, and leaving our world here in Madera. Yesterday was our last Sunday at our church here; our pastor spoke on friendship, and had us come up front, and did the whole farewell thing - people giving us verses, messages, gifts. Sang a song for us. Potluck afterwards. Very nice, but also very sad.

This afternoon I took some time out of the packing routine to run a box of apples out to the children's home. Things seem to be going well there; there are 28 kids there now, but also 4 men and 3 or 4 women helping out, working with the kids, with the animals, the cooking and the laundry. The place has changed quite a bit in some ways since we got here, and in some ways hasn't changed much at all.

I think Honduras is going to be a good thing, but at this point, it's hard to leave. This has become our home. We can hardly drive across town without seeing and waving to someone we know. We know the vet, the mechanics, the gas station workers, quite a few of the checkers and workers in the grocery stores and hardware stores by sight. We've had dealings with most of the police officers in town (all in a good way!), some of the local government officials and all the emergency medical guys in town (also in a good way). Living in a small town like this, anywhere, it tends to grow on you. I guess the only thing we can hope is that we've left an impression as well - a good one. Whatever our reasons or purposes for being here, completely aside of anything to do with the children's home here, we walk the streets here everyday as ambassadors for both Christ and Uncle Sam; from the moment people see us here, they see us as gringos, and from the time they talk to us and find out why we are here they know we are Christians and missionaries. Our mission here, to a great degree, has been to positively represent both rolls to the best of our ability to all who see us.

In some sense, the role of missionary - at least in where we are and what we do here - is a self-terminating role, kind of like that of a parent. As hard as it is, if all goes well the time comes when your job is done, and it's time to move on; and as much as we have found our place here and settled into the town and the life here, as much as there are still projects and work at the children's home, with the level of help they have there now they don't really need us - not so much that it's worth the resources for us to live here. And so as we try to shoehorn all our stuff into the truck - and now a trailer, too - and travel on to the next chapter in our lives, it reminds us that the entirety of life itself is a mission, it's all-too short-term, and that someday we will be called upon to leave all this behind as well, and move on to something else.

Gracias a Dios we don't have to pack for that one.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


moving day is approaching faster than a speeding bullet...4 days and counting 'till we need to drive away in our truck and trailer with EVERYTHING in it and the house cleaned out.

AAACKKK we need H.E.L.P.

We're back to the ditch, ditch, ditch phase. This is harder when, one - you don't have as much to ditch, two - when you don't have the same places to ditch things. I'd take a picture but it's just a disaster and I don't want to have that recorded for prosperity...

- The winter clothes are gone.
- The winter bedding will be gone shortly.
(we're a bit used to having to have LOTS of layers and comforters to keep off the cold....not really going to be much of an issue where we're going. :) )
- The old school work is gone.
- The extra is gone - for the most part.

Today will consist of finishing up the closets and the piddly stuff. Tomorrow is Sunday - we'll try and rest. Maybe do some last time visiting w/ friends. Monday the kitchen will be packed up and the Tuesday the beds and that stuff come down and in the truck before we drive off.

Also, we have to find homes for our cats. Besitos had another litter and we had found a place for her and the babies because she was such an awesome mouser. Last week though, somehow she was killed. So we've been mourning her and trying to keep her babies alive. 4 of them...sigh. Then two we gave away earlier were brought back. Hmmm....we want to take the last one but we'll just have to see.

We've also planned out our road trip for the most part. Here's a map with our stopping points labeled. This is of course a bit 'as the crow flies' - roads aren't always available where the route seems the most direct, but in general, this is the path we're working on. We were given some wonderful road maps of Mexico and Central America and although we're trying our best to avoid the tolls we do want to be on good and safe roads. We're looking at about 10 days just in driving. Thankfully, we are blessed with some friends and acquaintances that are able and willing to host us for a few of those nights. They are dispersed out fairly evenly which is another benefit! :) We'll be stopping in Chihuahua, Toluca, and Oaxaca to visit friends and other missionaries. Once we leave MX we're a bit in the air as to stops but our friends in the south have some ideas.

We'll update as we're on the road and have internet but after Tuesday we'll be a bit harder to get in contact with.

I'm going to link you also to the Sowers information so you can see what we're getting into! :) We're all excited to start working together and see where God leads this 'coming together'.

Thanks again so much for continuing to partner with us and make it possible for us to be available and useful where we are!