WE WON!!! I feel badly for shouting it from the rooftops but I can't help it - the other night Costa Rica played Honduras in the Selection Tournament for the 2010 World Cup and Costa Rica won. My head knows that I should be pulling for Hondie but my heart was beating Tico. We (myself, Saco and a few other Gringos) watched the game at the local expatriates' restaurant. It was packed though with the natives and I thought it wise to keep my feelings of adulation and pure joy to myself. Perhaps with time my affinities will change but as for now I firmly voy por Costa Rica. So I thought it would be nice if you got know some of the boys from Laureles - to put a face and some history with the people I talk about and so that it might be easier to be praying for them and their families. I'll start with Anwar:
Anwar Eliazer Artiagua is 11 years old, he has four older siblings and one younger one named Cessa who is frightened to death of me. He loves to play futbol (soccer) and his favorite food is Arroz con Pollo (mine too). He just started the 4th grade yesterday and when he gets older he wants to be a teacher. In his free time he likes to go swimming in the river, play with his friends and listen to Reggaeton music. Anwar has lived his whole life in Los Laureles and he loves all of his friends there but he really dislikes the trash.
Christian Josue is 13 years old and is the youngest of 15 siblings although only 4 of them actually live in Laureles as well. In his free time Christian likes to play futbol, swim in the river (though he claims he can't swim, I've seen otherwise) and go fishing. His favorite food is Tacos and he loves to listen to Ranchera music which has a more traditional Mexican sound to it. He just started the 6th grade yesterday and when he's older he wants to be a fireman. Christian actually just moved to Laureles in November with his grandmother who raised him; before that he lived for a time in San Pedro Sula and Olanchito. Christian's best friends are Anwar and Josue (they're practically inseparable). Finally, Christian really likes Laureles because of his friends but he hates all the trash.
The work at Laureles continues to grow, I have a host of projects and plans that I want to implement but it's been slow-going. I need people, resources, funds and they're not always easy to come by. One small goal however, was realized 2 weeks ago; we had our first group of Laurelians come to church - Suzie and I drove out Sunday morning and picked up Josue, his mother and Anwar. In the past two weeks the group has grown to include Juan, Christian, Maura, Sara and Adonai and already I have people asking me if they can join us this coming Sunday - I'm gonna need a bigger car. After church I took the boys out to lunch to celebrate Josue's & Anwar's birthday and then Suzie, Tino, Juanjo and Dyana joined us for a trip to the beach. It was the first time any of the boys from Laureles had been to the beach, which is incredible considering that the ocean is within sight of their homes. They loved it - the waves really threw them for a loop and they couldn't get enough of them, we stayed for hours and it was all I could do to corral them back into the car, I actually had to chase Adonai down the beach and carry him back.This past week at Laureles has been doubly exciting actually - last Monday Juanjo and I took the bus out to San Pedro to pick up my friend Becca Serra. We grew up in Williamsport at Agape Fellowship together and she wrote me a while back and told me she wanted to visit. So for the past week and 1/2 she's been helping me both at Laureles and at the Peace & Justice Offices doing whatever needs done. She's been a real blessing actually, in one day she was able to connect with a group of girls that I just haven't been able to reach, she's brought them into our circle and last week they came to church. She also helped me start my community canvassing project - I need to visit every single home to get a rough idea of how many adults and how many children live there so that we can know best how to help the community. It's gonna be a long road that one... As I mentioned, both Anwar and Josue had their birthdays this past week - Anwar turned 11 and Josue 13. Their parents, in a very roundabout way let it be known that they couldn't offer any sort of celebration because they had absolutely no money; so some very generous people offered to buy the boys cake and up we went first on Friday for Josue and again on Saturday for Anwar. We sang, ate cake, prayed for the boys and chatted for a while - there weren't any presents given out but I don't think they minded, just being recognized and made to feel special was gift enough. As luck would have it, 2 of my supporters from Frazer Mennonite decided that they wanted to make a trip to visit me, the Thompsonowaks in Haiti and missionary friends in Puerto Rico. The Riehls, a couple in their 70's and true adventurers let it be known that they wanted to see everything I do. We started small and I took them to the Peace & Justice Office - they met the workers there, chatted for a while and seemed really impressed with the work. Around noon I told them that it was time to visit the dump so out we went, birthday cake in hand and arrived at the foot of the small mountain that we had to climb in order to reach Josue's house. It was then that I remembered that Marie had just had knee surgery in August, that it had been raining for 4 days straight, that the path up the mountain was sheer mud and that this would not be good. The Riehls pressed on though, each of them fell repeatedly , I felt terrible, they thought it was hilarious and the people there just stopped whatever they were doing and looked at us with stunned expressions. Some later told me that I was nuts for trying to schlepp them up that hill. We arrived though, mud-splattered but happy and celebrated Josue's birthday - 3 muddy Gringos, Josue's family and about 300 small children who all wanted a piece of cake
Funny tidbit about the Riehls: The Taxis in La Ceiba beep at you to get your attention in the hope that you'll hail them. Anyone that knows Daniel and Marie know how outgoing and friendly they are. The first full day that they were in La Ceiba I took them walking to show them around a bit and a taxi beeped at us...well Daniel, thinking the taxista was wishing us a good morning waved to him and the taxi promptly did a U-turn and came to collect us. I had to wave the driver off and warn Daniel about not waving to any more beepers. I got a good laugh out of it.
That's all for this post dear friends...it was late in coming but I've been insanely busy and I'm not sure when this fast pace will slow...that's a good thing I think. Blessings to you this week. Peace!