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, January 29, 2009

I forgot the funny part...

Another thankful moment....

Do you see where that license plate is from????

This was in front of us on a back road in HONDURAS.

I'm thankful for God retaining my sense of humor!

Talk soon,


Thank you, thank you very much...

I'm practicing gratitude. It's useful for keeping away the grumpys and for bringing forth memories and re-countings of God's faithfulness. One of those things we just don't. want. to. forget.. So here is my gratitude post. It will be a add-in for future posts too. Because His blessings and protection are all around us and one day we will realize to what GREAT extent...for now, I'm content to know they're there and not all that they are keeping me from.

Thankfulness part one:

Our trip to Belize and back went very well. We have new visas for the maximum time allowed. We didn't have to pay a single bribe. (big deal everyone...) We only had one throw up episode in the whole thing. This is saying alot for our family. :) It cost only about what we thought it would and not a ton more. The truck and trailer drove like the troopers that they are, with Alan's help, of course. The hotel we stayed at was a built-in kid friendly zone. Lake with a bunch of huge iguanas that Riley could chase, flowers that we could all check out each day, swimming pool for the girls - it was amazing. Riley became the hotel hero when he actually caught one of above mentioned iguanas. His picture will now be in several countries. The girls made friends with everyone and the hotel staff as they 'helped' clean our room every day. It was a good trip.

Thankfulness part two:

I am thankful that we as a family have been blessed with the chance to see the variety in God's creation. The flowers, animals, landscape, people. Amazing. We've worked with some incredible people perservering in incredible situations. All sizes, all shapes, in different languages. Quite a bit of the time the kids and I will be reading something and I can only imagine their scope of reference due to what they've been able to see with their own eyes. I am very grateful for picture books but when you see that coral snake, rattlesnake, horse up close, ant lion, HUGE iguana, black orchid, hibiscus, funky palm, in real life - it does take your breath away if you will let it. Since you haven't shown up on my doorstep to see these amazing testimonies to our creator, I will share our pictures.

Thankfulness part 3:

Do you know one AMAZING blessing we've had in our travels? This struck me as we drove onto our street here in a little town named Gracias which translates 'thank you'. In all the miles driving down here from the beginning of our missionary journey over three years ago, we've NEVER had a flat tire, broken down on the side of a road, or had an accident!

Folks - this strikes me as unbelievable, especially where you consider where we're doing most of that driving. Here are the stats...

From Hockinson Church's parking lot to Madera, Mexico was 2500 miles.
Our travels back and forth to the border while we lived in Mexico were around 400 miles each trip. (every 6 months)
Our trip down to Gracias, Honduras was almost 2000 miles.
Our trip back and forth to Belize last week was a bit over 800 miles.

Like I said, unbelievable...

Now - of course, we've had some issues with our vehicle. We're working on our third set of seriously work-like tires due to complete wear out of the old ones. A flat tire once when Alan was getting wood for the children's home, once it was flat when we woke up in the morning; and then there have been a couple of part things that have given out but they've been able to be replaced after some hunting, gathering, and paying for said parts. :) However, and this is huge, this has NEVER happened when we were all together as a family or en route somewhere when it's really difficult for Alan to fix things. I don't know if you can fully appreciate the blessing of this unless you've, personally, been stranded with a car load of kids on the backside of nowhere and no possibility of AAA in sight. I can because it seemed to happen on a fairly regular basis when we lived in the states but even then I had that cell phone or family close or ENGLISH to explain my predicament.

I will leave you this morning with one of my favorite sections of verse...

Psalm 71:14-18 But as for me, I will always have hope. I will praise you more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure. I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, O Sovereign LORD. I will proclaim your righteousness, yours alone. Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, 'till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.

I love, love, love that first part.

God has been incredibly faithful and your prayers for our family have been answered don't you think? Will you recount the ways He's been faithful to you? I, for one, would love to hear them.

que Dios les bendiga...


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Life I Lead...

I have been asked to write more from my perspective. You know, the wife, the mom, the educator, the missionary, the woman. Doing it all in another country.

This sent me for a bit of a mental whirl. Why? Well - first of all, I don't think I'm that great of a writer. (I'm NOT fishing for compliments...) Second, I don't know how interesting my life really is to the rest of the world. Who wants to read about me trying to figure out how to get clothes dry in 80% humidity with no dryer? Who wants to read about me trying to figure out a NEW and EXCITING way to prepare rice and beans? Who wants to read about me trying to balance the needs of my family along with living in a third world country where I DON'T FIT IN no matter how hard I try? Who want to read about me trying to be a nice wife when all I want to do is run screaming for a place to take a WARM shower with water pressure? Sigh...

As a lover of books, I can see where it m.i.g.h.t. be relatively interesting to read about the above subjects. Also not wanting to completely blow off my friend's suggestion, I asked my international girlfriends what they thought I should do. :) (See - I can't even make a decision by myself anymore.) I posted a poll and for the most part they thought it was a good idea. One friend gave me a great metal picture of the fact that our normal might be a complete mind bender to others, so go for it. :) That was funny to me, a mind bender. Then I talked to my husband MORE in depth about it. (I did check with him first...) We talked about the fact that the reason that we support missionaries and the reason we want to know about missionary's lives is because we love THEM. We want to know how THEY are doing in all of it -work, life, spiritual life, family, - and not necessarily in that order either.

Here's the funny thing I've discovered after living in another culture though. Your LIFE and your WORK (ministry) co-exist. Always....Actually I think they should co-exist no matter what culture we live in but in my "A" type personality I like things organized, compartmentalized, and boxed off so nothing is too messy. this why my life now feels so abnormal??? So I am trying to be f.l.e.x.i.b.l.e. Have an agenda - not be ruled by an agenda. Have a plan - not sacrifice people for that plan. Change my focus so that I see the blessings (glass have full) not the 'drawbacks' (glass half empty). All while being a missionary. Gosh that's a scary thing.

Just the other day I got a comment. Something to the effect of the amazing life we have. This after a week of wondering if all I'm doing is living the same life in a different place and refusing to let it be of worth to the LORD because all I do is want something to change. Sigh...Confession #1. I've been a little too fondly remembering things. Little things like carpet, closets, hot water, dishwashers, clothes dryers, coffee dates with girlfriends. You know, looking at that greener grass over there. Oh boy. Conviction coming but did I see it? Nope - I was too busy coveting grass. Focus, focus, focus. I have been in a place of not necessarily doing anything wrong but sitting in a mindless stupor. EGADS. That is a dangerous place and I bless the friend that gave me a swift kick and reminded me that this life is not to be taken lightly OR without my armor. GET THEE BACK TO THE WORD DEAR!!!!!! PICK UP THE SWORD AND READ IT!!!!!!!!!!! Good friend, sister, mentor.

So as I work to live a life more disciplined, I realize that some of our living experiences are rather funny and I've discovered the amazing truth in the Proverbs...A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (17:22). I have been trying my best to use laughter in coping with this life we have. I didn't necessarily say I was doing a good job at it mind you. These last few months have seemed very BIG. Very FAR AWAY. Very different. That's not really been a very pleasant place to be. I'm praying for God to restore my sense of humor. Why? Because I don't want to end up with a spirit that is just like crushed and dried up bones. We see piles of bones along the road quite often and they are a very good visual reminder. Gross but helpful all the same.

So, I invite you to live and laugh with me, or at me as the case may be, in the very basics of our life. Stay tuned.


The sparks are flyin'...

and no that's not in reference to a marital spat. It's literal...

That would be Alan grinding away at various pieces of metal as he is modifying a backhoe bucket. This is part of a piece of heavy equipment that the Sowers family is using as they build the ministry center outside of Gracias. :)

Needless to say it's been pretty loud at our house lately. I never realized we have a weld shop out the back door.

He's finishing up the project today after working for several hours with a not-so-sharp tool. Getting fed up, he drove down to the ferreteria (tool store...) and bought some new parts and more welding rod. Amazing what a difference the right tool can make. He should finish this afternoon and be able to take the newly minted bucket back so they can play in the dirt some more.

I'll post 'finished' pictures when it's finished!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Road Trips 'R' Us....

Well - it's January. 2009. Oh my, how did that happen. :)

This month has been and will be filled with several new things for our family.

One - Our kids have started attending the local bi-lingual school here in Gracias. We've felt for a time that more interaction would be good for them and with the move and general craziness our lives have resembled in the last few months, I needed some help. :) They've been going almost two weeks now and while it isn't perfect (wasn't expecting it to be...) they've done remarkably well. They are making some local friends, gaining more Honduran Spanish and are enjoying the routine. The girls especially like the outfits - and taking their lunch. Riley is enjoying the futbol and the Math. Yesssssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two - there were some visitors here! THAT was fun. They are a family I first 'met' on a homeschooling forum. The international section to be exact. They came to work and play with the Sowers family (who they also 'met' on the international forum) and we got to be in on some of the fun! We had a great time getting to know them and they are missed!!!

Three - Natalie turns 7 on Friday! She is inviting any and all who will listen to come and play with us at the local hot springs on Saturday. She has announced there will be brownies so I'm sure there will be a crowd. I hope I've stashed enough mix. She has officially lived outside US borders longer than inside them. Hmmm...that is a strange feeling.

Four - the reason for the title. We have to leave the country already for visas. 90 day ones are the longest option you can get here. Blech. I feel like we JUST GOT HERE!!!!!!!!! We're just now getting into the groove of life and bills and house and living and working; and we have to leave for 3 days minimum. Sooooo....we are planning our trip. It looks like we'll be leaving the early part of next week (the kids' school has mid-term testing which the Hayes', having just started, won't be taking) and are planning on coming back by Saturday the 24th.

I would covet your prayers for this. It feels like a big process.

We're heading to Belize. Doesn't that sound exotic? I used to think so too. Actually, it will involve a very long arduous truck trip (with the trailer for added entertainment, er...I mean new visas for them too) and a border crossing between Honduras and Guatemala then Guatemala and Belize. As with ANY border crossing there are potentials. Potentials for favor, for bribes, and for denial. We would ask that you pray for the first option. :) We've heard tell of a hotel about one hour in on the Belize side and we're planning on camping out there for those 3 days then turning around and reversing the process. CON EL FAVOR DE DIOS, we'll be granted another 90 day visas for all of us; 7 including the truck and trailer.

I have to remind myself that this is just a part of the process and cost of living here and being available to work, but it feels like a rather long 'row to hoe' today. Maybe I need to take some advice from God's word and look back at his faithfulness. To us through this journey we've been on, to taking care of the details for our daily needs, and for our protection. That evidence is all over our experiences.

Wow - I feel encouraged already.

Que Dios les bendiga hermanos!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Holidays and Culture Shock

Sometimes I wonder exactly how to communicate our lives and the way we live down here. Why is it so hard you ask? Because unless you've struck out and done something COMPLETELY different from the way you were raised (or where you were raised) it's very difficult to communicate the vast differences in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. I hope you don't look at our blog as my personal whining spot. I am trying to give sight, sound, and touch to how we live. And of course, eyes to see the work we try and do in the process. Forgive me please if I come across as whining. It is NOT my intent.

This is a funny story, really it is. Please don't feel sorry for us. We are fine. Now. :)

Some background -

We were in Santa Rosa doing a bijillion errands, trying to get the truck fixed (yes, it is having issues....these roads, ya know; we were told my the Honduran mechanic, "you REALLY need to get this fixed. You KNOW it's serious then...), and doing some last minute shopping. (stuff is coming on a shipment - it just won't be here 'till next month...)

I have a little one who has developed a thing for cherry pie. It's the main thing she's been asking for for our Christmas dinner. Not much else is registering on her radar (even presents) but cherry pie is a 'want'. I'd found (and spent a ridiculous amount of money on) chocolate, real butter, brown sugar (or at least the closest thing we've seen in 3 years) and powdered sugar for our cookie baking. Tradition ya know. So we've had the baking day although the cookies waited in the fridge to cook during a not so hot time. Okay, on to dinner and desert.

I went to one of the bigger shopping stores in town and was picking up a few things to finish our 'dinner'. First 'lose it' moment. Well - the turkey was over $2.50 USD per pound. The smallest one I could find was going to cost us over $30 USD and I wasn't sure I could even fit the thing into my oven. I have a small oven. I seriously sat there numb as to what to do about the turkey and my son is just looking at me wondering why I have a blank look on my face. Logistically, I'm telling myself 'this is NOT worth having a moment over' but there I was, having a moment. My dh came over and said it's not a big deal - we'll have something special and cheaper like steak. Fine. (NOT REALLY - I just needed him to tell me no I guess...)

So we go to the check out line. "OH MY GOODNESS - I forgot to grab the cans of cherry pie filling! Honey, run and grab me two cans." "Sure. Be right back." I get the rest of the groceries, make chit chat with the checker guy and just as he's totaling things up, Alan comes up with the pie filling. "Great! Add those in please." The guy runs the total and asks for the money and I sit there wondering WHY he wants so much. I hand it to him then as I'm looking at the receipt I see..........................................Second lose it moment coming...

245.00 for pie filling.

Now granted, this is in Lempiras, but GOOD GRIEF. That equates to like $12 USD in pie filling - 2 CANS, small ones at that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My breathing becomes very shallow and the room starts to look small. I'm just standing there, looking every bit like a fool. The checker guy is looking at me and asking what the matter is. I'm staring at the receipt and then look at my husband, then ask the guy if that's a mistake. "Let's check. No - look here. The price tag reads..................................

122.25 PER CAN."


My breathing becomes even shallower as I see what is happening. I CAN'T pay that much for a can of pie filling!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - no WAIT, my Janelle has only asked for cherry pie for Christmas. I HAVE to make cherry pie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I seriously can't move at this point. Alan is grabbing the bags and saying 'let's go'. I'm still standing there with the receipt in my hand and a 'deer in the headlights' look. Alan finally steers me out of there.

I don't think I breathed normally until THE NEXT MORNING.

This is such a dumb thing to be so worked up over but I seriously had an eye twitch for two days remembering it. How can I be a good missionary and spend $12 on PIE FILLING?????????

As I sit here remembering this episode, I'm struck by a few things. One is that as Janelle's mom, I wanted and needed to provide that special something for her no matter what the cost. Interesting and shocking as I think of the correlation of God to me. Two, I hope and pray that our kids see that God owns the cattle on a thousand hills and loves on us in so many big and small ways; I WANT us to have eyes that see and focus on the blessings that are surrounding us because they are here. Three, as we share what we have, we are provided for - even some of those 'wants'. It is not possible to out-give God. That is my new year's resolution of sorts - to be renewed in my mind for this purpose. To give and share out of complete devotion and realize that God will turn it into what he wants it to be. Can he use my culture shock moments? I don't know, but as I have them I do my best to retain my sense of humor, no matter how belated, and turn it into an object lesson for stretching our faith.

Our Christmas dinner was wonderful. Steak, vegetables, AND cherry pie. Plus the acute vision that it was a gift -albeit an expensive one. But then it is fitting because God's Christmas gift to us was an expensive one too.

I hope your Christmas was filled with the joy of knowing that you are provided for and watched over. And that you are filled with the peace that comes with knowing that he is with us every step of the way each and every day of the year. I know that is what sustains us.