You’ll Have to Forgive me…

I am sorry I could not write this entry any sooner but my heart simply could not take it. We have lost one of our very own in a tragic and senseless way. Doug Geddes was one of my best friends on the island. He was central to my everyday life. He helped to start and sustain the soup kitchen. He was in my bible study group and church group. He was a dive buddy every Thursday and took the most beautiful pictures of the dives we made together. We all could relive those dives from his pictures. We talked about future projects and fishing trips. And now he is gone. It took 11 days from being healthy to leaving this Earth. If you even suspect that you have the virus, get a test, if not for your own sake, get it for those you love.

As the outpouring of love comes to his wife, Susan, and his kids, I am astounded at how many have said, ‘He was my best friend’. I have always thought that phrase engendered some kind of exclusivity. I thought if he was my best friend that I was his. It turns out he was THE best friend to many. He was just that kind of a man. He made you feel loved, significant, and somehow proud that a man like that could be your best friend. What a rare quality it is for a human to possess. I can only hope that I can learn some of how to do that before it is my time.

The soup kitchen that he helped create is doing a little better, financially, after our last appeal for donations but more is needed if we want to continue to serve. Doug was also our largest fundraiser and safety officer. We are still feeding between 600 and 700 people a week as the situation here becomes even more dire. Two other people in our group have tested positive and have been quarantined. Everyone else has tested negative so we have continued cooking and serving with even tighter safety measures.

It now makes me quite angry when someone minimizes the effects of this deadly virus. It has claimed one of mine and I will never be the same. If this sounds like I am taking this personally, I am. Please wear a mask and keep your distance. Do this for the health of other people, the ones that can’t overcome it.

Please keep Susan, Doug’s family, and all of his friends in your prayers. We are all devasted by his loss.

We could use a little help here…

To catch you up over the last couple of weeks, we did feed between 700 and 750 the week before last. Last week back to 600+. The new stove and refrigerator (used) are working out fabulously. We are experimenting with beans to see what we can stretch. We are also looking into pricing hot dog spaghetti (I am reserving judgement but my Honduran friends insist that it is delicious). We are maintaining each serving at less than 50 cents including the plates and forks.

Things are getting pretty bad here with petty crime and desperation for food. People are literally standing out in the middle of the street holding out a hand for drivers to give them money. There are people walking through the grocery store asking that we buy cereal and milk powder so they can feed their kids. There are so many people asking for money that we have started handing out uncooked rice and beans. It only helps for a couple of meals but there are so many asking, it is all we can do.

And even we are having to make difficult decisions in these difficult times. We are so grateful to those of you who have supported the mission and helped feed the hungry, but the reality is that those funds have been spent and the food has been eaten. We are at a real crossroads here and are facing the idea that we may not be able to continue helping without some financial assistance.  We have reached into our own pockets to our absolute limits.

We are almost out of money and will need to cut back unless we can get more in.  They have no jobs, money, or means of escape.  The airport is beginning to accept international travelers but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the cruise ships that won’t be back until next year.  These are the children of Christ, our brothers and sisters. Please consider helping us feed the people of Roatan.

Along Came Nana…

Thank you all for the prayers and concern for the tropical storm, Nana, that blew past us. I guess the worst thing I heard was that the hospital in Coxen Hole was flooded with about two feet of water. Otherwise, we had heavy rain and some mud slides but nothing to complain about. She moved through quickly so rain levels didn’t get too high. The mainland had it worse than we did but still it wasn’t as bad as some storms of the past. Looks like it’s going to be a record hurricane season.

We were not able to feed people last week due to the storm but will resume this week. Our goal this week is 750. We are adding a group of about 150 out in Oak Ridge. This is the community that donated the rice cooker so it only seems fair that they can be fed from it. We were also able to buy a stove and larger, used refrigerator from donations originating in Father Bob’s church in New Jersey. We are very grateful.

We will soon be adding another option to the website to highlight other ministries on the island that are working as hard as we are to help the people here. There is so much need on so many levels that I thought some lovely people out there would be particularly touched by what these other ministries are doing. I meet with them weekly and can vouch for their commitment, honestly, and sincerity.

Please keep us in your prayers.  We appreciate any financial support you can provide. God bless you all.

A special Shout out…

Our hearts are broken that one of our own has passed: Ben Exner. Expats on the island are few in number so we either know each other directly or just one friend away. Ben was the owner of two of our favorite restaurants, Bambu(sushi} and Casa(Mexican). He left us too young.

His mother, Linda Rotz and sister, Heather Loveday, decided to close his restaurants. In doing so, she sent over $2000 worth of food, forks, plates, and other supplies to us to share with the people of Roatan. It will help literally hundreds of people eat that otherwise could not.

Thank you Miss Linda and Miss Heather. We are so very grateful to have known Ben and thankful for your gifts. May the Peace of our Lord be with you and your family always.

You win some… You lose some…

It’s the story of life… 🙂 Some weeks ago we had a lovely, massive, commercial rice cooker and a standard home range/oven donated. The oven worked straight away and we put it to work. The rice cooker, however, had some internal issue that prevented it from working. We called the electrician to fix it but it needed some part he couldn’t find. Fast forward to last week and, praise the Lord, someone found a part and repaired the rice cooker. If you haven’t guessed already, the oven died the same week. Called the electrician, a gecko got somewhere it wasn’t supposed to and fried some really important circuit. The repair cost is roughly equivalent to the cost of a new stove. Living here requires a bit of patience and a heavy reliance on religion…

Honestly, I feel so blessed by all of this that I am hard-pressed to get to angry or even annoyed. To actively serve God is such a joy that it is hard to describe. Seeing hungry children fed digs deeply into the heart and soul. I heard one child say to another, ‘what wonderful food!’. Sounds simple but I promise you, everyone that heard her just melted.

Please keep us in your prayers. People are getting desperate down here. $50 feeds over 100 people. Please consider donating to help feed the people of Roatan. May the Peace of our Lord be with you always.

Over 5000 served…

I hope that doesn’t sound like a McDonald’s billboard. It has been a labor of love. We have been locked down over 150 days now. It appears that we may, finally, be getting to the end of this ordeal at least in terms of movement. Flights are getting in and the ferry will soon be going again. It is a mostly internal, domestic openings but it is a welcomed beginning. Some businesses are beginning to open and we are hoping this dreaded, once-out-every-two-weeks digit system will go away next week. Keep your fingers crossed for us (we are certainly keeping ours).

We are changing the menu a tiny bit this week. We are substituting couscous for the rice (a shout out to our Louisiana contingent). The price is about the same and varies the meal preparation a bit but gets a little variety in the meal. We have also been asked to make spaghetti with hot dogs (who knew?) as another option. Oddly, our soup kitchen hasn’t actually served soup… 🙂

We are still serving 600 meals a week and hoping to get enough in donations to increase that to 1000. I know money is tight for everyone and we are very grateful for the support you have shown. We are still months away from tourism returning in sufficient levels to change the economic conditions here. Petty crime is on the rise as people become desperate to feed their families. Please consider helping the people of Roatan get a meal.

A little more on that story…

Once again, because of your generous donations, we were blessed to be able to feed over 600 last week. We also wanted to share a few more details regarding a specific community and their donor. We had a lovely donor by the name of Charlotte who donated for a specific community close to her heart. She also suggested using a donation as a way to tithe. This story, however, is about the impact of this one donation.

Charlotte asked if we could feed the diving community at Turquoise Bay and also provide them with food bags. Her gift was generous enough that we could do this AND have enough left over to feed about 800 more. (Food bags were $10 each and we have the cost per plate down to about 50 cents). Beans, rice, sugar, flour, milk, lard, TP, and salt were put into plastic bags by one of the members of Emmanuel and distributed with the meal. It was enough for a family of four for a week. You would not believe the looks of joy and relief on the faces of all who received them. It is truly a blessing and an honor to serve God’s people, and we are humbled and so grateful for your support, prayers, and your generous donations. You are making a tremendous difference here!!!
Blessings to you all!

Over 600 meals last week…

Blessings continue. We have gotten the routine down pretty well now. We have about 12 volunteers coming in twice a week to prepare and distribute meals all over the island. We are working with pastors and business leaders to locate the most impoverished and least served areas on the island. This week we added a small orphanage in Gravel Bay. We can only show you the plates (below) and not the children due to government regulations but they simply beamed at having someone care enough about them to bring them food.

The number of people in the areas we already serve is increasing as the word spreads. We have gotten the cost per plate below 50 cents and are still providing enough protein and calories to survive. We will have to hold at 600 until more donations come in but our goal is still to feed 1000 a week to the end of this crisis. We are all very grateful for the love and support you are all showing. Thank you so much!

Over 500 meals last week…

We’re getting there… We’re feeding the same people as the week before and even more people are coming. We have added another group near downtown in an area known as ‘the swamp’ and more people have come from the neighborhood surrounding the church. So many hungry children…

We’re running low on donation money so please share the website and facebook page. I know times are hard for everyone but these people have nowhere to go and nowhere else to turn. Begging and petty theft are increasing with the deperation. Your generous love and gifts are having a real impact and are truly appreciated.

We’re Growing…

We had a fabulous last week. With your help, we were able to serve over 440 men, women, and children! This week we are shooting for 500. We have changed the original strategy of serving from feeding the neighborhood around the church to going out in teams to feed those most desperate. Statistically, we are feeding more children than anyone else. There is one neighborhood we are serving that are children of those struggling with drug addiction. It is both heartwarming and heartbreaking to see the grateful, smiling faces of those children when they are handed a plate of food. They don’t even walk away before they start eating. It is for those faces, in particular, that I am personally so driven.

In website news, the donation page is FIXED! By an act of congress and assistance from the website support staff (who blew up the page with an update to begin with), the page has been repaired. It looks a bit different but functions well.

We have also added a feature for some of you who have requested it – Automatic Recurring Donations. Basically, you can set whatever amount you want to give over whatever time period you would like to give it. It was requested so a smaller amount could be given over a period of time.

Please pray for the people here. The situation continues to worsen as the lockdown continues. We are supposed to open internally later this month but there will still be no tourism for a very long time.

COVID-19: Until this crisis is over, TTTF is repurposing the recycling shop to be a soup kitchen. 85% of the population relies on tourism that will not return for months to come. ALL donations will be directed toward food and supplies for the people of Roatan.