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Where to Begin

So I think of come to a conclusion – I suppose it’s something I’ve realized all along, or at least it’s an idea that I would have given intellectual consent to, but perhaps I never truly believed it or put it into practice because I never really had to. Those that have followed my blog or have talked to me recently by either phone or email have been aware of the fact that I have been struggling lately with letting go of situations that I can’t control; of trusting people that I love but am separated from, to the care of God…and being ok with that. Prior to moving to Honduras I suppose I would have professed the idea that ultimately God is in control of everything and nothing that we can do as fallible and error-prone humans can compare to the omnipotence of Him. In actual belief however, meaning what my actions proved my true beliefs to be, I don’t think I’ve ever really trusted God with other people…with me, with my life, with my successes and my dismal failures, yes…but never with those that I loved. Instead, my answer to the problems that have affected those that I care about has always been to involve myself in one way or another, if not to try and fix the issue at least to lend an ear...or a shoulder to cry on. There's nothing wrong with that of course but the focus seemed to be on what I could do, how I could try to make this better...rarely did I stop to think about what God desired in the situation. All of that is changing - rapidly...which leads me to the conclusion that I mentioned in the opening sentence. I'm discovering that the people I love, in Pennsylvania, in Costa Rica, good grief, even here in Honduras are always beset by new problems. They face issues that threaten health, security, their future and their faith - nothing is static; new problems always arise and more and more I feel absolutely helpless to do a thing about it. What can I do for Jeffrey who just got mugged last week and lost $400; money that he was planning on spending on his mother's birthday and a passport? What can I do about Flora Isabel who has had reoccurring skin cancer for the past 10 years but now has no way to pay for a simple operation? What can I do about a church community that raised me and nurtured me and gave me the foundation for so much of who I am; a community that has always been vibrant, full of life and more like a family than an organization and yet now is struggling terribly to hold on to the members that it has? What can I do for two friends here in Ceiba that have in one fell-swoop become disillusioned and hateful of both their father and God? The answer, I've learned, is that I can't do a thing...and that's ok. I can't replace $400, I can't cure cancer, I can't change the culture of a church, I can't restore broken relationships...but Christ can, and the more I live in that knowledge the more I find joy in that. Yes, I can still try to help where needed, to be there for people that are hurting and can't see any way out; but I'm realizing more and more that I am not that solution - I am merely the conduit - and that's a good thing.
Ok, let's bring it down here a bit, that was a tad lofty. So I've completely neglected to discuss a subject that has had me chuckling to myself for a year now - that being the issue of names here in Central America. I would imagine that most North Americans assume that everyone down Latin America way is walking around with names like Carlos, Roberto, Pablo, Maria and Isabela. That certainly is the case I'd say with the majority of the people here but there is also a huge population of Latinos with decidedly English names. What makes all of this so humorous is that by and large these English names that they think are so wildly popular back up North, were popular...back in the 30's. Thus far I've met Betty, Lincoln, Nelson, Lucy, Dianna, Felix, Mavis, Henry & Marvin - sometimes I feel as though I'm walking around in 1942. My favorite though is my good friend Norman - we were hanging out the other night and he was telling me about his ex-girlfriend Mabel - it took me a minute to put it together but when I finally said Norman and Mabel out loud I died laughing...he didn't understand. I don't know about you, but when I hear "Norman and Mabel" I think of a little old couple from rural Pennsylvania not two 20 year olds from Honduras.
SO, many of you have been waiting patiently for the synopsis of the Frazer Mennonite visit. I thought long about how best to detail's always so boring to read (and write) paragraphs on top of paragraphs simply listing the events that were completed. I generally prefer to do a pictorial history with brief narration thrown in for clarification. That alone however would not entirely suffice this time so I'll begin with a little explanation and proceed from there:
For those of you that aren't aware, the church that I attended while in college, Frazer Mennonite and the church that I work with here in Ceiba, Iglesia Menonita Central began a partnership about two years ago. It was almost 2 years ago exactly that Frazer sent a team down to visit and explore the possibility of a relationship. From that visit a partnership slowly proceeded and this last trip 2 weeks ago was designed to formalize the relationship and plan for the future together. While not completely successful in the stated goals of the trip, I would have to judge the visit a glowing success by different criteria. Foremost was the way in which the Gringo Mennonites connected with the people here - there were genuine relationships developed; it was obvious to me that the members here and the Frazerites just enjoyed being with each other, sharing meals together and getting to know more about each other's lives. Second was the way in I was blessed. I got to visit with people that I haven't seen in ages and who I've missed terribly, I got to show them around, take little excursions with them and just give them a taste of what my life is like here. Lastly, was the way in which I feel the Frazerites were changed - some expressed genuine desire in returning, others had their eyes opened to a very different world from what they're used to...all of them I feel, got to experience God in a different way throughout the week. Thus, while concrete plans for the relationship weren't necessarily finalized the important business of getting to know each other in a very real way commenced.

La Visita de Las Frazeristas
Our first day, we went to the PPYJ offices for a day-long presentation
Brenda yucking it up with Juanjo, Betty & Juan Jose's son
The Gringos helped me teach my English Class
On our way to work at the Church...this is how we ride tandem in Hondie
Sifting sand and hauling it up by bucket
Break time...I look disgusting, look at my upper lip!
They later taught us to make some killer Baleadas
Nelson took us swimming to cool off

Que gracioso, fueron las cosas mas simples que les gustaban a ellos!
Our free day, we took a hike in Pico Bonito National Park and took lunch in the Lodge afterwards

The kids came over for coffee but ended up on my bed watching 'Arrested Development'
On Sunday the youth group decided that we should skip church and go swimming in the mountains instead so they loaded us on a bus and off we went.
Sunday night Brenda preached and John went very well
I got to song lead the Mennonite way for the first time in a year!
Juanjo washed my feet...we don't footwash enough (just a thought).
The day after the Frazerites left PPJ celebrated "El Dia de La Juventud" - "Youth Day". We really just marched down the main boulevard in Ceiba, held a rally in the park and ate some was a nice way to start my week.
One other quick note - I got to hang out with some MCC'ers from Canada on Monday. The director for AIDS work for MCC and her family were passing through and stopped in at the PPJ offices for a visit. Somehow in the course of about 10 minutes it became my responsibility to take them to the beach for the afternoon. I called up Norman and we drove out to Peru (the beach, not the country). What a life.
Well that'll about do it for this week. Come back next time and I'm sure I'll have more to report, though for the life of me I can't think of what that might entail off-hand. Blessings to you and Peace!
- Matt


Whew! I'm exhausted just reading your blog! When Mike comes back from the states please come for dinner. We are buying a dog and a car - once both happen we will all have to take a break and head to the beach (you will have to show us as we've never really been), and to Pico Bonito.

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