A Weekly Journal Chronicling My Life
As It Intersects With The Garbage Dump Community Near La Ceiba, Honduras

Thursday, July 31, 2008


yes, yes, I know...for the faitful few who haven't yet given up on me, I am still alive, doing wonderfully in fact. I had a lovely trip to Costa Rica but was without any internet to speak of so
that hopefully justifies my complete lack of communication lo these many days. Moreover, this week has been one of intense work and sickness, both of which managed to keep me from the blogosphere. To that end, I promise and I do mean promise that come this Monday the 4th you will be ale to read a brand new, colorful and nutritious entry. Blessings to you this week. Peace!

- Matt

Monday, July 14, 2008

Algo Triste...

Welcome friends to another week of random musings, I hope this finds you all doing well and in good spirits. To be perfectly honest it’s been an off week here in Hondie, a rollercoaster of sorts…and the worst part is that I’m not at liberty to recount much of what has had me in such mire these past few days. What I can say is that there has been some serious trouble at the local church that I attend and work, there’s just a sad situation unfolding there and it’s not fun to watch, please be in prayer for the members there, it’s never easy for a church community to be put through turmoil. On top of that I finally got to take my first real trip out to Confite the other day to meet and begin work there with the “pandilleros”. I went with Marvin, the newly hired Promotor and we met Felix at the entrance to the neighborhood, the first house we visited was my friend Angel’s but he was nowhere to be found. His mother invited us in and told us that Angel and most of his friends were scattered about the community hiding out; apparently the night before the group of them had been hanging out on a street corner when a police car pulled up, opened up fire on them and killed one of their friends. As she continued to talk I got a sinking feeling in my stomach and I realized that the boy that had been killed was Alonzo, I didn’t know him well but I had met him on the retreat we’d taken, he was a nice kid, just 17 years old and according to Felix he was one of their success stories, he’d been cleaning up his life and moving towards Christ. We left Angel’s house and moved down the road a bit to visit with Alonzo’s mourning Grandmother, we entered and found the tiny wooden shack filled with wailing women and a glass-covered coffin. Felix, Marvin and myself paid our respects and gazed a moment on the face of Alonzo, it was a hard experience, it was hard to realize that just 24 hours prior this bright, young kid had been alive and full of hope – it left me feeling angry, helpless and incredibly anxious to begin working there. My mind began soaring and I imagined finding better neighborhoods for these kids to live in, I imagined finding a way to get some of them to the States, I even imagined moving to this neighborhood to be an ever watchful presence and help and then I checked myself. I realized that I wanted to start working immediately so as to prevent something like this from happening again, that I wanted to ensure that Angel, Erik, Chino and others would never have their lives cut short by such stupid violence and I realized that I couldn’t ensure any such thing. I could work with these people for the rest of my life and I could no more guarantee that they would lead full lives as I could guarantee the longevity of my own life. I realized that the only thing that I could do was trust in the goodness and the providence of God – to some out there it might sound trite and self-deceiving but it left me feeling greatly comforted. There is not a thing in this world that I can do to prevent harm from befalling Angel or others but I can trust that God holds everything in balance and that in His goodness and mercy He will protect these kids that have already, at such a young age, experienced more than a lifetime’s worth of hardship.
So the upshot is that I’m looking forward to being able to clear my head a bit in the next few days – on Wednesday I’m going to shuffle on down Costa Rica way for a few days of rest and reconnection with dearly missed friends. No I’m not fleeing Honduras, it’s just that in that I don’t have a permanent visa yet I am required by law to leave the country every 90 days until the process gets underway, on top of that EMM wants me take a vacay every year that I’m on the field thus I thought I’d combine the two and spend the time in Costa Rica with friends and familiar places instead of a strange hotel room in Belize. Needless to say I am muy excited to see my peeps, especially the boys from La Carpio; can’t wait to tell you all about it when I get back.
Speaking of my first true visit to Confite…a funny thing happened on the way there. Marvin as it turns out used to be a taxista (not a tax collector, a taxi driver) as such, he knows the cheapest cab companies in Ceiba and so instead of having to take a school bus from Jackson County, Florida out of town we got to hop a quick taxi ride out there for next to nothing. Here’s the thing about taxis in Hondie though, unlike any other cab system that I’ve ever experienced in either the States or in Costa Rica the taxistas here like to pick up extra passengers as they drive about. You might hail a cab, give your destination and on your way there pick up two or three different passengers along the way. It of course lengthens your trip but you pay a flat rate ($1 for anywhere in the city) so it doesn’t really matter. All that to say, Marvin and I found ourselves in a very cheap taxi crammed in there with two old ladies a small child that insisted, despite his mother’s pleas to the contrary, on standing on the console between the driver and passengers seats and a rooster…I suppose roosters need cheap cabs out of the city too. I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself and reflect upon the fact that while such nonsense would never fly in little old Williamsport, Pa it certainly does make the mundane much more interesting.
I’ve been remiss to mention that some dear friends arrived here in La Ceiba a few weeks ago and despite their decidedly Calvinist theology I’ve decided to do the Christian thing and welcome them with open arms. I’m of course kidding, as any good Mennonite would, I shunned them and am praying fervently for their southbound souls. Ok, seriously, anyone that has been reading this online rag for any amount of time will remember that during my stay in Costa Rica I met an awesome family from California named the Pettingills. Mike was a major player in California politics and his wife Erin was a nurse; their daughter Madison is 12 (methinks) and a loquacious 12 year old at that. They, like all good, non-Spanish speaking missionaries had to put their time in at the Language Institute but now that they’re well on their way to fluency they’ve picked up and moved to La Ceiba. As far as I know this a permanent move for them so I’m going to get to see a lot of them for the next two years.
So I continue to take random trips to the mountains with Nelson Zelaya and Norman Chinchilla, this past week we went swimming at this incredible place where you could cliff dive. It reminded me of good ‘ole PA and jumping off the Hillsgrove Bridge into Loyalsock Creek…funny how two worlds that couldn’t be further apart in a lot of ways are surprisingly similar in simple things like creek swimming and mountain climbing. Anyway, here some of the photos I got:
Ok, I’m gonna wrap it up here, I realize this was shorter than normal but I’m feeling pressed to get a host of things accomplished before I depart for San Jose, thus I had to cut down on the verbosity for this week. Blessings to you and stay tuned because my next post will emit from sunny (and markedly cooler) Costa Rica. Peace!

- Matt