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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Something is Rotten in the State of Laureles


Someone hath toppled the King Chicken and seems to be having what's left of him for lunch - now this is a Honduran coup worth investigating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Beach Day with Some Very Deserving Grads

School's out and the groups of boys before you (L-R: Carlos, Christian, Sergio, Kevin, Bairon & Oder) did exceptionally well in their classes this year. Thus we decided to celebrate by going to the beach and eating seafood overlooking the ocean.






Just found out the other day that Sergio is Kevin's (Duke) uncle...I laughed.
peace!
- mlk

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chamu

A very diligent reader and fellow missionary had, after having read my very convoluted expose on Duke, asked that I do something similar on a weekly basis with other kids from the community. At the time I took it as a wonderful suggestion and with every intention to do so I completely forgot about it. That is until I thought to introduce you to Roger Alexander, more commonly known as Chamu pronounced (Sha-moo). I'm not promising a weekly get-to-know-you session as it seems my forgetfulness will eventually get the better of me and I will be branded a liar and a charlatan but from time to time do expect to meet some of the more obscure or curious members of our troupe. Which again brings us to Chamu and his story. I can't remember how we first encountered this kid and although I can usually give you the exact date of my first encounters with the other kids that pertain to us, it doesn't strike me as odd that I can't remember my first interaction with him. Chamu is perhaps the quietest and most reserved person that I've ever known, and for a 12 year-old boy that's no small feat. Thus, I imagine that he hovered on the fringes of our activities and daily conquests until one day either Josue or myself took notice and actually inquired as to his name. Even after learning who he was it was the rare occasion that we interacted with him - not for lack of trying mind you, when we meet someone new we make every effort to bring them into the group, to treat them like 'one of us', to make them feel like they belong. But Chamu is a different sort of cat, where most kids jumped at the chance to hang out with us, run errands with us in town or get a bite to eat, Chamu always politely and almost wordlessly declined. Thus we almost never saw him, he works you see...in plastics.

His mom runs a little racket with plastic recyclables, collecting them off the trucks that come into the community, sorting them, weighing them and then selling them to the recyclers. He's almost never in school and almost always helping his mom and brothers sort and weigh plastic bottles. We noticed though that when he did come around it was to play soccer, and man can he play; the kid is little, tiny, even by Honduran standards but he just dances with the ball around his opponents...he has to be one of my favorite kids to watch play.

Our relationship with Chamu began to grow back in September, if you remember we had a community-wide Futbol Tournament complete with trophies and medals. We billed the event as open to all kids between the ages of 9 and 14 in the hopes that it would attract some kids who normally don't interact with us and we allowed some of the older kids to form the whole rabble into four teams. Sergio was one of the captains and very wisely asked Chamu to play on his squad and as providence would have it, that team ended up winning the tournament with each member of the team winning a medal. From then on we began to see more of Chamu, very gradually he began to come around more, to greet us when he saw us, to actually speak, to respond verbally to our questions and to attend our weekly devotionals until one day he accepted an invitation to come to the church with us to help sort clothing for the community. That was a big step...it was just clothes sorting I know (with a little fried chicken in there too) but up until that time he had flatly refused - without even considering. This time he struggled and considered and I could tell he wanted to but was afraid to say yes...so I gave him the answer for him, I said "the answer is yes, go change and put on some sandals and I'll be back in 10 minutes".

That was just a few weeks ago, this past Tuesday was Chamu's birthday and we celebrated as we always do with a cake in the home of the birthday-boy. For us it's become a bit of a routine; we show up with cake, we light the candles, we pray for the kid, we sing, hand out cake to it seems like 10's of children that are just coming out of the woodwork, we hand over what's left to the responsible adult of the household and we slip away...this time it was different. We did the showing up, gathering the family and praying and singing thing just fine but when it came to time for Chamu to blow out the candles we ran into a hitch. We finished singing Happy Birthday and said "Blow Out the Candles!!!!" but Chamu had his head in his shirt and was sobbing, Josue had to lift him up a little so that he could be coaxed into blowing out the candles. We thought that with that the crying was over but as we were cutting the cake he started crying very softly again, what struck as so strange was that no one seemed to notice, they were too interested in the cake to even question why the person we were celebrating was inconsolable. We handed off the cake-cutting responsibilities to some aunt and as best we could in a room full of nosy children and loud aunts, tried to console him and assure him that we cared about him, that we would be there for him and that God loved him. It broke my heart, Josue was almost in tears himself - we left him there, we had to, we couldn't stay forever, that was hard to do - that takes faith in the love and providence of God.

I went back the next day and he was fine, kids are resilient and forgetful, we gathered a group together to play soccer and he played as well as ever. I'm not sure what else to relay other than to be in prayer for him; it strikes us that there is a lot of hurt and mistrust in this kid's life - pray that we can be instruments of love for him and that we go about it wisely. Blessings to you. Peace!
- mlk

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Checking In

A group of about 10 leaders from the church did an observation tour of the two different "projects" of the congregation. We went first to Corozal a Garifuna community on the beach which is an outreach run by Juanita Green. We then headed to Los Laureles where we also happened to be celebrating Duke's birthday.






Second Chances


Alvina, a mother of two that relates closely with us approached us about getting her tattoos removed that she got when she was younger, some of which have satanic meanings. We set a date for her at the Peace & Justice Project of the Mennonite Church and this is the end result. Not exactly the end, there are still 2 more sessions before the tattoos are completely erased.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Armless Wonders

This past Wedenesday we had a special visitor lead us in our devotional. Jorge Duenas, the man there in the proceeding picture, is the father of some of my closest friends, a raving Anabaptist (he reads John Howard Yoder) and has the ability to reach and connect with youth in an awesome way...he just captivates them. Knowing full-well his abilities and love for both the Lord and youth I recently offered him an open invitation to lead a Wednesday Devotional when he had time...he called me the next week and informed me he would be taking the next meeting. Among other activites and biblical lessons, he told a story about an armless boy who learned to draw with his feet...and then instructed us to de-shoe and attempt drawing with a pen wedged between our toes. I wasn't sure if the kids would take to it but they loved it as the following photos can attest.








In other exciting news, Cristian, the boy in the blue shirt that is in the background of Jorge Duenas' head is blossiming and maturing before our eyes. He readily agreed to lead the group in prayer and was actively engaged in the discussion while most of the kids were just a little too embarrassed to become involved. Continue praying for both him and Sergio, another one we see maturing rapidly. Blessings to you this week. Peace!
- mlk

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Varicela

Chicken Pox has broken out in one of our families in the community and man am I glad that I can't get it because it looks incredibly painful. I have vague distant memories of my experience with the pox and I distinctly remember oatmeal baths and being exhorted not to itch. Even though I'm now immune to it I can't help but feeling itchy just looking at these kids...it makes my skin crawl.



Elwin got it the worst...I just feel sorry for him.

Kevin is now recovering and is trying to stay comfortable in an undersized hammock.

Study Hour


Cristian is studying for his National Anthem test on the newly built stairs outside his house. The National Anthem is 7 verses long with a chorus in between each verse. Every six grader in the country is required to learn the anthem, an explanation of each verse, various questions surrounding each verse and be able to conduct the song in 3/4 time. If a student fails this test they fail the year regardless of their grades in other classes...which would really throw a wrench in our plans to send Cristian, Sergio and Duke to high school. The test is on the 30th of October - be praying for them and us as we attempt to help them study for this massive test.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Existential Nonsense...........and Duke

I've been thinking a while about this post, how to write it or present it. It strikes me as inevitable that I won't be able to convey the full thrust of the idea that I want you all to understand - but then again we almost never do...only the most talented among us really have that skill and even then the words don't come easily. It seems funny sometimes that although we might feel something or understand something in our minds so clearly and so completely; that to get that thought into words descriptive enough that others will capture that same feeling or be struck with the same lucidity that we experience - that to do that is nearly impossible. We want others to see, to have that same unwordable understanding that we have but almost as soon as we begin to try and make them understand we come to realize that we're going to fail, that we're going to fall short and that at best our intended recipients will catch a glimpse of the idea that we feel so easily...at worst they won't understand us at all and will think us insane or stupid. I feel this way sometimes about describing my love for Jesus. I know the love I feel, I know what I know, what I understand but to try and translate that to another person who doesn't feel the same way is like throwing darts in the dark...you can only hope that something you say hits the mark - or makes it anywhere near the target for that matter. It could be said that the only way for another person to have that same enlightening feeling that you have is for them to live that experience as well but even then we're all individuals, we all experience life and interpret the events around us in different ways. So in the end that feeling we have about something or someone is unique to us alone and can never be fully realized in the minds of the people around us. Where then does that leave us with Jesus? I think I know but this has gone on long enough so let me get to the point of all of this...................Duke is awesome. As I've just elucidated you won't be able to understand why I feel this way, probably even if you meet him; but I'm gonna give it the old college try.
-
Just the dude's nickname is awesome. How many kids do you know named Duke? But it fits him so well; he's laid back, calm, cool and collected. He's a goof but in a quiet, curious sort of way. He does what he pleases but not in a bad way...it's more of in an 'out of the bounds of normal inhibitions' sort of way. Good grief the kid proudly wears pink crocs, rolls his dress pants up to play soccer everyday during recess (the only one that does so) and in his spare time he works on a farm tractor collecting garbage. I've failed miserably I know to get my impression of Duke across but just so you know he's one of the cooler kids I've met and if you ever have the pleasure to meet him I hope you feel the same way about him as well.

This is Duke's house and he's looking at us through his bedroom window. If you'll notice he wrote his name above his own bedroom window...it strikes me as hilarious and ridiculous all at once and reminds a little of Lucy from the Peanuts and her advice booth.

The other day I took a few of the kids to see some friends play soccer. The others that I brought sat quietly along sidelines while the teams strectched...

Duke however walked right up to the players to get a closer look...

He stood like that for 10 minutes - we counted.

This is a unique and strange kid and he's great fun to have around.

Blessings this week. Peace!

- mlk

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Weekly Devotionals


Just wanted to post some shots of the weekly devotionals we have. There's singing, praying, preaching and a couple of games too. We started out at a covered picnic table near the entrance to the community but when it's not being used as a House of Worship it doubles as a meet-up for the local drug addicts. I'm all about transformational change led by the Spirit but in order to try preserve some sense of innonce in our kids we looked for less worldly pastures and came up with something we had just built...our steps. It makes everything a little more crowded but they work great. Be praying for this venture of ours...neither Josue or myself are the preaching, pastoring types and yet here we are with in upwards of 50 kids in our group watching and critiquing our every move.





Peace!
- mlk

Naptime


I'm thinking of buying one...and eating it later on.

Playtime with Dariana


I found this coloring book in my chocolate milk - she loved it.