November 2020 Conchshell Chronicles

Hurricane Eta and Hurricane Iota Slams the Coco River Region

As we were voting on Election Day in the United States, our students, teachers,  and their  families were  enduring   Hurricane Eta that hit the Nicaraguan coast south of the Coco River as a Category 4 storm with winds of 140 mph. Over the next week, Eta dumped 40 inches of rain on Central America.

Photo: Our office/bodega in Sawa 

Most storms weaken and die out when they hit land. Not Eta. This storm crossed the mountains of northern Nicaragua, passed into Honduras, dumping rain throughout neighboring Guatemala, where over 100 died when a mudslide covered an entire village. There was so much rain that the San Pedro Sula airport was completely flooded, including the International Terminal, with what appeared have water up past the second floor.  Some important bridges over the rivers of northern Honduras were swept away. Eta emerged over the Caribbean, picking up strength, and headed for Cuba and Florida, dumping rain across a 400 mile region, which turned our front yard into a swamp. 

                     Photo: notice the house has been swept off its posts

Two weeks later, Hurricane Iota followed the same path with the same Category 4 strength and reeked destruction over an already stressed out region.

I have spoken to our project director Danilo Cunningham many times over these past days. His reports are not good.

The Coco  River is the longest river in Central America, beginning 30 miles from the Pacific coast and emptying 300 miles to the east in the Caribbean. Think of the volume of water that has been flowing through our communities along the lower end of the Rio Coco. Homes have been swept away, roofs have been blown off, livestock disappeared, and crops ruined. Now imagine a second storm bring equal wind and flooding!

Photo: many are homeless now

Fortunately, our school buildings survived, and are now filled with families who do not have a dry home to stay in. The food situation is critical for many, especially those whose meager food reserves were swept away by the flooding. Health issues will begin to become a problem as these wet days go on.

photo: refugees from flooded communities downriver

We have been Downriver many times during flood time, and it is messy. Latrines fill up, and “mud” is everywhere. But we have never been there during a hurricane, or lost the roof on our home.

Photo: refugees arriving in Waspam from Downriver

After talking with Danilo and our team, we have come up with a plan to meet the immediate needs as well as help with future needs. Sacks of flour, rice, beans, and other food supplies are available at stores in Waspam and Puerto Cabeza, and there is gasoline in Waspam. Electricity has been restored in Puerto Cabeza, and the bank is open.

1) We will purchase many 100 lb sacks of flour & grains, and gallons of cooking oil, and transport it downriver in our big cargo boat, and set up  kitchens in our school buildings in each of our eight communities. There our teachers will organize and supervise the feeding of any in need.

2) We will also purchase sacks of bean and rice seed, so that as the flood recedes we can begin planting the next crop.

3) Eventually we will help with other needs.

We believe that this will alleviate immediate hunger needs now, as well as in the months to come. Having been operating on the Rio Coco since 1985, we have had experience in these catastrophes- Hurricane Mitch in 1998, and Hurricane Felix in 2007 to name a few. We have our team in each  village, and capable motor boat drivers to get the food there.

Photo: The Waspam Airport under water.

  Please consider joining this relief effort. 

Here is how you can give:

Hurricane Relief

      Every gift will make a difference.            Michael


Lamb Bleatings

I am still celebrating being 60, alive, well and arriving at some goals for my life. In the midst of celebrating Life, there is always mourning of the loss of friends and family that leave this planet of which we continue to spin the   inspiration they left us in our hearts, minds and souls. 

 Along with these losses come great  sorrow with many of our       circumstances in life that we are faced with ...Eta on the Coco River, world wide state of affairs, sickness  and the general suffering that come with Life and the living.

I try to speak with my dad daily bringing his weary heart some cheer.  He wants to go home to heaven.  He tires of this life and his aging body that does not serve him well any longer.  I get very sad for him and with him, but try my best to keep it positive and light hearted by talking to God with him.  This calms him and helps him.  I have noticed in recent times the power of being able to talk out all of my woes and situations with the Lord.  Miracles do happen. Prayers are heard and answered.

One of my conversations with Him has been on insurance and my many negative thoughts I have on especially medical insurance. I won’t go into detail, but will tell you about a miracle that occurred . 

I was happily headed to a Zumba class run by our friends, Scott and Sandra. I decided to slip my nice second hand new (to me) van which I have been enjoying immensely into a parking space .  I came alongside a beautiful Mercedes Benz which I noted because I thought, “Wow, what a nice car”.  I proceeded getting close enough to slip into the stall parallel  with the Mercedes to the right of me and going forward into the space .  All seemed well until I heard a sound and then a scraping noise that was not pleasant and the thought, “Oh no, I have scrapped this shiny Mercedes of someone that I am about to go dance with in this Zumba class which will start in a minute or two.” MMM, I feel sick. “God please help me I don’t want to ruin anybody’s day before this class so I will find out after class and do whatever needs to be done to make this right.”  I parked further down the road trying to compose myself.

 I got out of my van and looked at my damage on my car and (not  joking) there was a white five inch paint mark that went from the middle of my van door all the way back crossing the tire and markings beyond the back wheel.  As if I had taken a white paint brush and painted across the door of my van about three feet across and five inches wide.  I felt my heart sink and wonder how that even happened. This is humiliating and makes me so sad that I have been so enjoying this new to me van that was fun to look at now have this horrible demarcation .  “Ok ,well , I can’t stand here and just cry about it…”

I go to class knowing that I am to wait till after class to say something. When I walked in, Sandra immediately said, “Are you alright sweetie?”  I said sheepishly, “I  guess so.”  She came around the counter and said, “Let me give you a hug.”  I received it gladly.

I went through the class talking to God the whole time and I believe I went into bargaining mode with him when I said to him, “God , I know you know I made a honest stupid mistake out there and in a moment you could just dust that whole  side off with  just  a word.  Would you mind amusing me a bit today please I beg of you. I really don’t want to have to hassle with fixing and painting and would you just make whoever this car belongs to be gracious to me because I really feel like a piece of crap right now. Please help me.”  I had a running dialog going on with Him and    wasn’t into my usual celebratory dance mode.  After class, I asked Sandra who’s Mercedes that was right out the door because I scrapped it  and needed to talk to that person.  “I think it is Karline’s.”  I have had a few pleasant conversations with Karline previously and felt a bit of relief when Sandra gave me her name.  I told Karline of my mishap with her car and apologized profusely and she thanked me for even saying     something to her because she said its happened before with another vehicle of theirs when no one said anything.  She said “All I need is your insurance card. It will be fine.”  Her dark blue Mercedes had a dent on the corner on the drivers side and no sign of white anywhere.  It didn't make sense when I looked at her car and then looked at mine.  Mine looked so much worse than hers.  It was weird. Anyway, we exchanged phone  numbers and I got into my damaged vehicle and drove toward our  Downtown Café and in my humiliation I parked in the back parking lot instead of the very front where I normally parked. I felt so embarrassed .

I got out of the van and went to the passengers side and looked at that long white streak. I remembered seeing two napkin near my drink holder inside.  I grabbed the them and put some of my hydroflask water on it and started wiping the white streak.  Amazement! It started to come off like it had been waxed and I was now removing the wax off of the vehicle.   I moved more rapidly upon seeing my grey paint behind the streak and I was astounded.  The wide white streak was gone, leaving only a narrow scratch that was hard to see.  I looked at my napkin  with slight grey upon it and said to God, “I think you gave me a miracle.”

I was dumbfounded and then thought no one is even going to believe me.  I didn’t take a photo of my damage because I was too humiliated to remind myself of my stupidity.  I told my kids first and then Michael at our Bible study.  I talked to the insurance company and told them what happened and Karline’s damages were about $2200 plus rental car which our insurance would cover completely .  I thought , “Oh ok Lord I am glad I have this car insurance that will now pay this off and I don’t have to  worry about coming up with any of that money. Thank you.  I see the  value a little clearer now.”  

I called Karline and told her my story and she was encouraged and told me that there was one time that a fork lift drove right into her     vehicle on her passenger side when she owned another vehicle.  We both concurred that this was a minor accident which no one got hurt and for this we are thankful for.  Our cars are just “things” we use to better life for humans. I hope to become a friend to Karline.  I invited her to our café with her husband so she could have a date with him on us for the inconvenience I had caused them.  Now when I see Karline we have a common experience together.  God starts relationships in odd ways and uses our interruptions in ways we can never imagine.  That’s adventure.      Laura


 Prayers Needed!

1) That God would provide food & shelter for all our families in Rio Coco, and direct our relief efforts.

2) That the election will be resolved legally, and our country would peaceably resolve the issues.

3) That the evil will be overcome by our good deeds and righteous living and we would continuously pray for our country regardless which side wins.

Thanks for your prayers. They are effective.


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