Bring on the Heat

Today's post consists of tips for missionaries in tropical areas to survive the heat. Although many of my readers do not live with such extreme weather, I hope reading about it will help you know better how to pray for missionaries on the field.

I had no idea before visiting Central America for the first time what it was to be hot. I'm not talking about sweating a little at a Fourth of July cookout back in the States. I'm from the South, and we certainly did have some hot summers growing up. But I had never experienced real heat until we moved to Honduras. It is absolutely suffocating; the humidity makes the air so thick, you feel like you are walking sluggishly under water.

Even after five years on the field, I have to admit it: the heat still gets to me. Today was no exception. I went to clean the church and came home all sweaty and disgusting, only to find that we had no power and no water. Again. I wish I could tell you I sang, "Count Your Many Blessings" and sweetly carried on as usual. But I was irritable, my nerves were frayed, and I had absolutely no desire to begin making lunch in that hot kitchen. Today, like many days, my hardest battle took place in my own mind; the enemies were discontentment, moodiness, and a complaining spirit. All sent straight from the tropical sun!

Even though this is a area I've not fully overcome, we have learned some things as a family over the past few years to help us combat the heat.

1. Rest when you find it necessary. Visitors and new arrivals to a tropical climate have an especially difficult time with the heat. During our first six months on the field, Robbie and I found ourselves completely exhausted every afternoon. I have never been one to take naps; I can't usually sleep at night if I sleep during the day. Not to mention, both of us are extremely by-the-book, schedule-oriented people. A naptime in the middle of the day!?! But during those first few months on the field, we learned it was wise to occasionally indulge in a 20-30 minute power nap (after a cold shower); we awoke feeling refreshed and invigorated (and were able to accomplish more in the remaining hours! After awhile, our bodies adjusted and we no longer required this resttime, but it greatly helped us during those first few months of transition.

2. Stay hydrated. It's very important for those who live in a tropical climate to stop frequently to drink water. We also make fruit smoothies and frozen treats for unbearable days. The temptation is to drink sodas, but I always feel much better when I choose water. I'll never forget the baptism service we were holding one Sunday afternoon. We gathered in the small concrete church as the sun beat in the windows. We were all sweating profusely, and the small fans only blew the hot air around in circles. As Robbie stood up to preach, he looked a little woozy. I prayed he would be able to make it through the sermon; the table we had set up in the back was loaded with homemade banana bread and three-liter Pepsis. Just a few more minutes, I told myself. POP! Suddenly, there was a horribly loud explosion from the back of the room! We turned around just in time to see one of the jumbo Pepsis soaring through the air, turning end over end and spewing soda in all directions! The heat had caused it to explode! Only in Honduras! Next time you want to drink a Pepsi on a hot day, just remember what it might do to your insides!

3. Be a smart cook. Our house, like many missionaries' homes, does not have central air conditioning. Even if it were available, we could never afford it. Energy is unbelievably expensive; we pay more for our electric bill than we do for our rent. We have small AC units to cool the bedrooms and Robbie's office (but only while we are using them!). For the living room, dining room, and kitchen, we simply leave the louvered windows open and run a fan. We dry clothes on the line and run our bedroom AC units only at night, thus saving as much energy as possible. When the heat of the day kicks in, the last place I want to be is over a hot stove. I've learned to make some changes to help me get through the most sweltering days (and no, eating out doesn't count!). First, I cook our big meal for lunch instead of dinner. That way, I get the majority of my cooking done in the morning hours. We can have sandwiches or leftovers for supper. Second, I use the crockpot as much as possible. It beats standing over a hot stove any day! Third, when the days are more tolerable, I cook double portions to freeze, saving me from cooking on a hotter day. I have also learned to make more "cold meals," like wraps, chicken or egg salad sandwiches, cold bean dip, etc.

4. Mind over matter! As many little tricks and helps as I have learned, some days there is just no way around it. It's hot! But complaining does nothing but sour everyone's mood. I focus on NOT saying, "It's so hot! Can you believe how hot it is?" every few minutes. I make lame jokes about being upset I left my coat and gloves at home. I try not to think about what I look like; everyone else looks just as sweaty! And they are from here!

5. Pray, pray, pray! My attitude is a constant matter of prayer. I can feel myself slipping...I snap at Claire, glare at Robbie, and roll my eyes when the power goes out for the fourth time in 24 hours. But just a few minutes talking to the Lord, asking Him for strength, does more than a cold shower or a power nap ever will! Heat may seem like a silly little thing, but I would not be one bit surprised to find that it's caused a missionary to leave the field. The devil could definitely use such an extreme environment to discourage me and keep me from serving the Lord. I have to stay on my knees!

Shortly after moving to Honduras, I learned that the locals have a nickname for the area we've chosen to live in: La Caldera del Diablo. The Devil's Cauldron. Yep. That just about sums it up! So as you pray for the Ellis family, please ask the Lord to help us survive the heat! Because let me tell you, the devil is bringing it on!

Claire and I escaped to her treehouse for a picnic lunch today.

This is our living room area. The louvered windows stay open year round and the front door is open most of the day. The ceiling fan (a birthday present from Robbie) has been a huge help.

This is the mini-split air-conditioning unit we use to cool our bedroom at night. I have thermally insulated, lightblocking curtains on the windows to cut energy costs (and to keep the unit from blowing up!).

Be sure to check back next week, when I will post pics for a "virtual tour" of our home! It's quite a bit different from how we lived in the States, but the Lord has given us a very nice place. We'd love to have you stop by!
2 Responses
  1. Ricky Says:


    I got hot just reading about how hot it is there. Today was supposed to get to 102-degrees and if we missed setting a record it wasn't by much. Having been there and here in the summers, I concur that you have it hotter there than we do here... AND it's hot there ten months out of the year!

    Love you.


  2. Christine,

    You was nice to read about that and I know that soon enough we will be there enduring the heat with you all. Here for me it has been the rain.....I have gotten use to not having an air condition and ceiling fans but the rain sometimes ...well can just drive one nuts(mostly that you really can not go anywhere and the kiddos can not play outside). We love you and continue to pray for our team mates...:)

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