Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday morning

Ox used to haul lumber for a house in Guajire
Good morning! I hope your week is off to a good start. You know it has been a hot summer when low to mid 90s feels pretty comfortable. Yesterday did not seem that hot to me, and when I was at Camp last night the folks there commented on how it was such a pleasant day.

Yesterday began my move to establishing a routine. I made good progress. I got an early morning run in and then starting looking at my list of things to do. I made the list Sunday night. It's funny how a list like that just creates more and more things to add to it, so my list continued to grow yesterday. It seemed like every time I would cross one thing off another thing or two would be added. I like it.

Kedra and I re-arranged my church office yesterday. It has been the same way for a long, long time. I like the new look. When we were moving things around, we found things that had fallen behind the drawers of my desk. One thing was from 2006, so it had been a while since anything moved.

I am organizing my fall preaching and teaching activities. Today will see me, hopefully, advance that process. I am going to do an 8 week series on spiritual warfare, which I think will be interesting and helpful. I plan to begin it on August 19.

The official word came yesterday that the swim portion of the Cicero triathlon has been cancelled. That confirms what we thought and seals the deal as far as me not participating. It will make that weekend much easier for me. Ben has a football scrimmage Friday night, Kedra's parents are coming, and Luke is coming home as well. Going to Cicero would have put considerable strain on a busy weekend. Yesterday I started looking at sprint tris in September. There are a few options that I will explore.

OK, here we go. A have an interesting and varied day ahead of me. This evening I get to gather with a bunch of like-minded riders. Paceline Tuesday! It's one of my favorite things. We roll at 5:45.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday a.m.

Falls at Guajire
Good morning! Today, this week, I begin easing back into a post-summer routine. I am ready for the process to begin. It has been a great summer, full of lots and lots of different things, but they are over and I don't see anything too unusual in the near future. At least there is nothing that will require an overnight stay.

Last week ended well. I spent a lot of time at Camp and thoroughly enjoyed it. Friday was a day of transition. I had an invitation to early morning ride with Jim and Rand. How can I say no to that? We had a great 30 mile ride -- lots of good conversations. After the ride, I finished up my Sunday prep. Saturday I got up with the intention of running 10 miles and then riding 40 miles.

I got to Parkview and met with a few others to begin the run. We decided to run 5 miles and then come back and then do some more. Long story short: I decided to join some of the others in running the Glory Days 5K. There were not many people running and most of them were running it as a relay. I didn't want to run too hard, since I have not done any speed work this summer. We took off. I quickly figured out that Rand and I were leading the non-relay portion of the race, and I could tell Rand was going to run it hard, even though he would not say that.

Another long story short: Rand won (congratulations to him!) and I finished 2nd in a time around 22 minutes. I was very happy with that! It's pretty encouraging to me, actually. I'm hoping with a little speed work that I can get my 5K time down into the 20s. Well see how that works out in the context of training for the Monumental Marathon.

The Cicero triathlon is not going to happen. At least that's the way it looks now. There will be no swim due to low water levels. They will turn it into a run, bike, run event. I don't think I will do it. I've had a couple of conflicts pushing me that weekend already, so... I am going to look for another sprint event in September. I am gaining some new confidence in my swimming, thanks to Iron Bill's help.

Anyway, after the 5K on Saturday, I run a cool down and ended up with 8.5 miles for the day. I decided that the 5K effort made up for the extra miles that would have made it a 10 miler. Then we hopped on the bikes for a 43 mile ride. Four of us made the journey to Orleans and back, via Amish country. The weather was so pleasant and ride very enjoyable.

Yesterday was a long day for this old man! I was up at 5 a.m., spoke at the Park at 8:30, did my church things from 9:30-12:00, had a family lunch, swam at Kenray, hosted our life group, took Rebecca to the Batman movie, and then went to Ben's football madness at midnight (if he ever doubts my love, I will point to this). I went to sleep around 2 this morning.

I had a really neat email from one of our Honduran friends last Thursday. He wrote thanking us for coming and working in Guajire. He then told us that there were 8 people baptized after we left. That's the kind of news I like to hear!

OK, I better get after everything while I still feel awake and decent. I think a crash could come later today!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Still Alive

SAG Nag ride
Good morning! Where have I been all week? Mostly at Bible Camp. Kedra is cooking and my kids are counseling, so that's where I want to be. Plus I've been out there smoking, out behind the buildings where the kids can't see me very well. The rumors have started. "I heard that preacher from Mitchell was out behind the buildings smoking. Somebody said he smokes all day long." All true, and the end result is pulled pork, ribs, and chicken.

It has been really great weather for smoking. All you have to do is light a couple of matches to make smoke. The weather supplies most of the needed heat. A properly and carefully directed box fan, along with lots of icy drinks, make it bearable and even enjoyable. Yesterday a couple of buddies brought their smokers out. We had a nice day together.

Ten days in Alabama, a couple days at home, ten days in Honduras, a couple days at home, a bike ride across Indiana, and a few days of Camp and what do you get? A man ready for a routine. It's coming soon. This week has given me a few opportunities to begin digging around and out, so I'm getting ready.

My endurance training is about to shift also. Less time on the bike; more time on the road. I rode 30 miles Tuesday night and felt really good, in spite of the nearly 100 degree temps. My friend Frank doesn't paceline, so I just rode easy with him, which was probably good, although I would have liked to had a piece of that tailwind. After the ride, some of us ran in the Park, just as the dark and the storms were approaching. Just as we finished it started raining. We watched it monsoon at Wendy's.

While in Honduras, I was able to get up early and run most mornings. I got 30 something miles in at altitude, all before breakfast each day, including a 10 miler. There are some big hills there. They call them mountains. It was a good jump-start to ramping up running miles. I was concerned about having no cycle seat time going into RAIN, but it worked out.

Today I am going to get a little run in, here in a few minutes. Then I need to work on my Sunday stuff. I will put that down mid-morning and go to Louisville with Pat A. When I get back, I will stop at Camp for a while. Then later this evening I think there is a swim opportunity.

Monday, July 23, 2012

RAIN Report 2012

90 miles in and 70 to go!

Ah! Finishing at last!

This RAIN report is such a contrast to last year's. This is a good thing! Last year was full of drama and heartache, full of problems and frustration. This year? All of that was absent. Can we say that it was an uneventful event? I think we can.

There were four of us riding together: Tim Strunk, Troy Young, Brent Roberts, and me. We decided to avoid the dangerous, congested, basically meaningless start and roll from our hotel. We estimated that it was only about a mile's difference. We started around 7:05 and connected with the huge stream of riders in just a few minutes after starting. 

Our wives were our primary support. Kedra and Jamie (and let's be clear about these next few words) called themselves the SAG Nags. They chose that title and had lots of fun with it. SAG stands for support and gear. They, along with the other two wives, did a wonderful job of supporting us all day. We did stop at some of the official stops, including the first one, which was nearly 40 miles in. Everything went so smoothly. It was a cool morning and a nice day.

The best leg of the day turned out to be the one we were dreading the most. The leg from about 90 miles to around 115 takes you south and east around Indy. It's a tough time physically, and last year I really struggled. This year I eased into the leg. As we were rolling along, a huge group from the Columbus Cycling and Fitness Club came by. They were not going that fast, so I, surprising my partners, jumped into the Columbus group. They pulled us along at 18-20 mph for most of the leg. It turned out to be the easiest part of the day.

Perhaps my most significant "take away" from the day occurred at 112 miles. I was watching for this number, wanting to note how I felt. As 112 showed up, I told Tim that I needed to stop and run a marathon. Of course, 112 miles is the distance of the bike ride in an Ironman event. I actually felt really good at this point and believe I could have completed the run portion of an Ironman. It's that swim thing that concerns me.

The rest of the day/ride just kept rolling along. There just wasn't anything that exciting or memorable about it. The finish at Earlham College was nice, and it was a relief to be finished. We had a lot of fun, and our wives were wonderful support. For the record, there was no nagging at all.

We finished in a little over 11.5 hours on clock time, and our ride time averaged 16 mph. My very soft goal was to finish in 12 hours, so I was very pleased with all of it. All 4 of us finished with in a minute or two of each other. The only negative of the day was a headwind most of the way, but the cooler and dryer temperatures made up for that.

Following a quick shower, we made our way to Greenwood to eat at Famous Dave's with the Strunks and the Youngs. Real food tasted really good. We got home around midnight, which made for a short night for me. Oh well, I managed to make it through yesterday. I was in a bit of a fog but I made it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Honduras Summer 2012 Final Report

Good morning! I’m going to make this a Golden Rule post, treating you as I would like to be treated. What does that mean? I will endeavor to keep this shorter rather than longer, hitting the highlights without bogging down in details. It’s not going to be easy to do!

Trip Participants

B.A. Barlow, Elyssa Barlow, Laura Barlow, Allen Burris, Elmer Graber, Midge Hendershott, Casey Marshall, Teresa Moon, Drew Myers, Libby Myers, Jalayna Page, Lou Ann Rader, Tyler Seibert, Steven Walden, and Christopher Wiles. There was a wonderful team spirit from beginning to end. Everyone got along great, worked hard, and experienced no stomach trouble, which is amazing! We all developed new friendships and strengthened existing ones. We were also able to spend everyday with Sheralee Kerr. She is in Honduras for a few months.

Brief Summary of Activities

We fed people at the Tegucigalpa Dump. I’ve said it many times before – it’s the most disturbing place I’ve ever been. Marc is doing amazing work there. We go to show love, support, and to share meaningful touch.

We visited the school for the blind. The children are precious and so happy to have visitors. It was hard not to have a heavy heart when you see them, knowing that Honduras does not have the resources to take care of its disabled population. The children sang some beautiful songs for us, and we played with them, sharing small gifts.

We built 6 houses with built-in beds, which cost about $2100 each. That cost includes the house, mattresses, and blankets. The blankets were hand-made by our ladies at church. These blankets are highly valued by the Hondurans and become treasured possessions. The children’s faces light up when they receive one.

We built a chicken coop at the children’s home. I think this is the first time we have built a chicken coop, but it will be really helpful. It will help supply fresh eggs for the children and staff.

We bought $600 worth of food and distributed it in our adopted village of Guajire. Along with the food, we gave away more hand-made blankets, clothes that we had collected, hygiene packets, and other miscellaneous items that people from back home sent down with us. (Thanks!)

We conducted a Princess (and Prince) Day. We take the children and really focus on giving them love, attention, and meaningful touch. For example, our ladies paint the nails of the girls, fix their hair, and put them in nice clothes. The boys receive hats and a toy or two. We take pictures of each child, print the picture and give it to them. It is a wonderful thing to watch!

We spent significant time with Karol and Kelin – the two girls that we are sending through university. They are simply amazing young ladies and are so very thankful for the assistance we are providing. We can always use more partners. I think this link will work.  If not, simply contact me for more information.

We became more incarnational in our work with Guajire. The incarnation of Jesus serves as a model for ministry. He, according to a literal reading of the Greek in John 1, "pitched his tent with us," meaning that he entered into our world to identify with us to help us. Following that model (in a very limited way), we slept in the village of Guajire, after building a house during the day. Then the next day we built another house and conducted the Princess Day.

A Few Summary Thoughts

The last thing listed–spending the night in Guajire–to me was the most significant thing we did. It was a big step in furthering our relationship with church and the village of Guajire. We had a dream that we articulated two years ago to Marc Tindall. That dream of working primarily with one village, building encouraging relationships, is becoming a reality.

The people of Guajire are simple, rural, warm, and very friendly. We worshiped and prayed with them around a camp fire and then slept in their church building. The next morning we spent a little more time around the fire. Maria opened her home and kept a constant supply of her sweet coffee coming to us.

As we sat and stood around the camp fire on Saturday morning, Elmer, the evangelist of the church, was fiddling with a radio. He finally had it tuned in, and all the Hondurans were listening intently to it. We Gringos were chatting when the Hondurans all starting pointing the to radio, signaling to us to listen.

Leopoldo, the evangelist in Mateo who sends Elmer out to Guajire and assists in various important ways, was the speaker on the radio. He was talking about our group being Guajire. At one point he switched over to speaking English, thanking us for coming to help the people of Guajire. It was pretty cool!

I’ve left out lots of stuff, but I think the above gives you an idea of what we did. It was a great trip! It would not be possible without lots and lots of people working together. Marc Tindall does an amazing job of organizing things for us in Honduras. Laura Barlow does an amazing job on the US end. The Washington group and Casey from Kentucky were wonderful. We were family from the beginning. Many people who did not go on the trip helped out in so many ways. Thanks again! All the credit goes to God, and hopefully we were good tools in his hands.

Here is a link to some more pictures.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Report 5 Honduras Summer 2012

We are back in Houston! The trip was amazing, and I’m sorry I have not been able to communicate better and more often. I will give you a few pictures now and will try get a full report together soon. Thanks for all your prayers and support!

Food and Clothing Giveaway at Guajire.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Report 4 Honduras Summer 2012

Riding the ox cart
No ladder - team work!
Hello from Honduras!

I have limited time and access to the internet, so I will not be able to upload many pictures at this time. I hope to find a faster connection and more time soon. Sorry about all that. It’s Sunday afternoon, and we are having a relaxing easy day. We needed one!

We had quite the adventure on Friday and Saturday! We made our way to Guajire. I will wait and give you a more detailed account when I can. There is much to tell. In a word or three: It was awesome! We spent the night in the village and lived like the locals, having a wonderful time of interaction with them.

While there we built two houses and did a Princess Day, but more importantly we showed the love of God. Incarnational. All 15 of our team, along with some of Marc’s interns, plus some of our Honduran friends from the city came. We had about 25 of us in total.

Today we worshiped with the local church and had a nice meal at a local restaurant. It’s been a great day so far, and it’s only going to get better. We are going to let the younger ones play soccer for a while. After that we will go to the Jesus statue to watch the sun set over the city of Tegucigalpa. It should be amazing

Tomorrow we build another house, and then Tuesday, our last day to work, we will go back out to Guajire to distribute food and clothes.

Our team is really, really good. There is a nice unity. Everyone is getting along well and enjoying themselves. Today the Baton Rouge group left, so we are on our own for the remainder of our time. I am looking forward to this time of just a few of us.

Keep praying for us!

I think Christopher was able to get a fuller post up, so go here to read it.

Lou Ann chatting up the man with weapons

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Report 3 Honduras Summer 2012

Hello! Since I have Internet access, I will do another report. One report would have been too long, so you get two – lucky you! I am still at Café El Gringo, enjoying a nice morning. It is so pleasant here: 70s with a light breeze this morning.

Yesterday was a tough day in lots of ways. The work was really hard. We started on three houses in very rough areas of Tegucigalpa, which is quite a contrast to our little rural village of Guajire. These houses really needed to be built, so we were glad to do them. One of the houses is for people who work at the dump. They walk nearly 2 hours one way, according to Marc, to work there. There were several people living in a shack, so they will have quite an upgrade.

The house site I was on was one of the more difficult ones I’ve experienced. It was tight! The walkway from where the lumber was delivered was rough, not too long, but very narrow. The opening was probably only about 3 feet wide. All the lumber, tools, plus the old house we had to demolish, had to come out that narrow way.

On the site where I worked we started on two houses. One house was about 6 feet above the other one. One of places was empty and ready to build on. It was an old concrete slab. This presented a challenge for making post holes. The other site had an old house on it, so it had to be removed first. That took a little over an hour.

Another challenge was that there are other house right next to where we were building. It was impossible to get a full swing of a hammer on the walls next to the other houses. There was so little space between the new house and the old one next to it. It was a slow build. In fact we did not get finished with either one, and the other group did not finish theirs either.

Today there is a group, including Christopher Wiles, finishing all three of the houses. Hopefully Christopher will be able to catch up his blog later. When he does, I will link you to it, or you can use the link from my previous (first) report.

Please keep praying for us!

I’m not sure when my next post will be. We are planning on going to Guajire tomorrow (Friday) to build a house. Some of us, including me, are going to spend the night in the village with the locals, which should be quite an experience! There will be no Internet out there for sure. We will build another house on Saturday. We will also distribute food and clothing, along with doing a Princess Day.

Hopefully, here are some photos (or use this link):

The young woman pictured with the man is our main contact. She works at the dump. Her name is Fanny (I think!). She has a whole bunch of family who live with her.

Report 2 Honduras Summer 2012

I have sneaked away (not really) to Café El Gringo to use their Internet service. The rest of the team are in 2 places on this Thursday morning. One group, most of our men, are out finishing 3 houses that we started yesterday. The other group is at Casa de Esperanza working on various projects. Where I am is only a 10 minute walk from there.

We have had a couple of really good days! We built a house on Monday, which I reported about last time. On Tuesday we visited the Dump. It’s place that is so hard to visit! I have written previously about it, and you can read it here.

After the Dump, we went to an area that had several fast food options for lunch. It was there that I found internet access and was able to make my previous post. After lunch we went to the school for the blind. That was another emotionally-tough place to visit. The kids covet love, attention, and touch. We played with them for a while, and then they did a little performance for us. They sang beautiful songs really well.

Following the school for the blind, we went to the Breaking Chains ministry, run by Amber Foster. She is an amazing person who works with a very difficult, if not dangerous, population: the homeless, addicts, prostitutes, abandoned kids. Her love and faith are remarkable.

Here are some photos from the dump. The lady with the pick hood is Luz. She is in her mid-thirties and works at the dump. She has breast cancer and is very afraid. She has a 2 year old grandchild and is deeply concerned about his future. She asks Marc (and all of us, including you) to pray for her. She asks Marc frequently to make sure that he will take care of her grandson, if something happens to her.

Keep praying for us! Everyone is doing well, and the trip is going really well. We are spending everyday (so far) with Sheralee Kerr. Here (hopefully) are some photos from the dump:

Here is a link, if the other thing doesn't work!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Report 1 Honduras Summer 2012

I don’t know when this will get posted. We have no internet and the prospects of getting it seem fairly dim. My hope is that I can get somewhere offsite and find a connection.

[I am having lunch Tuesday at a place that has WIFI, so here we go!]

We arrived safely Sunday afternoon. We have a great team of 15 folks, 7 from Mitchell, 7 from Washington, and 1 from Kentucky. There is a great team chemistry already. We are working with a group from Baton Rouge. They are about the same size as us but have mostly teens on their team.

Monday we built an awesome house in such a beautiful setting. It was in our adopted area of Guajire. It was a great build. We are now building houses that have 3 tiny bedrooms, complete with built-in bunk beds. We also supply mattresses. All this costs $2100.

The ladies from our church made several blankets, so we are passing these out at each build. They are received as precious treasures. It is such a neat thing to see!

We walked away from the build yesterday–literally a mile over mountainous terrain–feeling very satisfied that we had done something that pleased God. We are serving the “least of these” in a real way.

I don’t have pictures yet, but this morning we went to the dump. I will include those in my next report. I have no idea when that will be, so stand by! We really appreciate your prayers!
I really messed up on my pictures (too much to do in too little time)! If you go here, I think you can see them:
They are all labled July 10, 2012.
Also check out Christopher's Blog!
OK, please forgive all mistakes -- the bus is waiting on me!

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Saturday Evening

We stopped at this barn today!

Hey! It's a Saturday evening post! Sorry. This is going to be quick. Today Bill, Rand, Tim S., my cousin Brent, and I rode the brutal Round Barn Ride. It was supposed to be 86 miles, but the Lord mercifully shortened it to 77+ miles. There was a detour that took 9 miles off.

Let's state the obvious: IT WAS HOT, HOT, HOT! When I left the ride and was driving to Dairy Queen, I saw a time and temperature sign that read:

1:11 111

It was 11 minutes past 1 and 111 degrees. I'm not sure it was quite that hot, but it was very close. The ride, unfortunately, was not well-supported. One crucial SAG stop was not there, so we kept riding. We about ran out of water, and I was flirting with trouble. My black shorts were turning white with salt crystals. We finally came upon a little convenient store. There we were saved.

There were 2 really long, hard hills, very steep in places. Wow, I thought my heart was going to explode a couple of times. Yes, I know we are crazy. Oh well...

Bill got in trouble at the end. He, like me, struggles with heat. He made it in, and we all were glad that it was over. We had $5 vouchers for Dairy Queen, so that was a nice place to get revived.

I am now packed and ready to leave for Honduras at 2 a.m. Yikes! I appreciate the well-wishes and promises of prayers I have received. I hope to post here on a regular basis.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Friday a.m.

Remember me? Remember this posting stuff? (I'm talking to myself again.) Well, here we go again! I've got to get my fingers warmed up and ready to write again. Soon I will be posting from Honduras. Hopefully. The Internet is always a bit of a question there.

How about a brief catch-up? Let's see, where were we? Oh yeah, last time I wrote was about a couple of weeks ago. We left IN on Monday, June 25, and made our way to Huntsville. There we stayed with Kedra's parents, and I spoke at the Mayfair church on Wednesday evening. Many years ago this church offered me a job, and we were very tempted to move. It's interesting to imagine how life would have unfolded in a different place. Anyway, my presentation went well, I think.

On Wednesday, Ben, Rebecca, and Maddie joined us, and on Thursday we made our way to Orange Beach, AL, which is next to Gulf Shores. We had a wonderful time! We hated to leave in some ways, but we had to. We came back to Huntsville for an evening/night and then came home on the 4th of July.

I had some really good training time while away. I rode 175 miles and ran 33. I did a solo century, riding from AL to FL and various places in each state. That's not all that impressive actually. The FL line is only 6 miles from where we stayed! ha ha I was pleased with my 100 mile ride. The heat index was 104 and I came through just fine and averaged 16.5 mph for the journey without pushing. Boredom was probably the biggest thing to overcome. Six hours on a bike is a long time.

My focus right now is RAIN, which will be 3 days after I get back from Honduras. I will ride 80-100 miles tomorrow at the Roundbarn Ride in Brownstown. The forecast is 108?? It will be good to ride that far in that heat - good RAIN prep.

Today is all about final prep and packing for Honduras. We leave Mitchell at 2:30 a.m. Sunday and will return late on the 18th of July. I think we are going to have an amazing trip. I hope to post daily, complete with pictures.

I may post Saturday night regarding the Roundbarn Ride, if you are lucky! haha. I doubt anyone is reading this, but I felt like saying that.