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

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Warning: The Following Is Not Appropriate For Younger Readers

Here we are on the 1st of March and I noticed this morning that I haven't posted since last Tuesday... which is strange for me I know, to be honest I haven't had much desire to write about anything. A 16 year old boy from the community here was violently killed early last Thursday morning and I've been feeling it a lot more than I thought I would or in some way even think that I should. Let me first allay fears and say that Los Laureles is not a violent or dangerous place - Rolan was mixed up in some unpleasant activites and was hunted down by some very powerful men from outside the community. Funny that I mention his name like that, Rolan; I never even knew it until I had to help his brother Blas plan the funeral arrangements. For these past two years I've simply known him by the nickname that everyone else used, Sida. SIDA, by-the-bye, is the Spanish acronym for AIDS; not that Sida had SIDA but that should give you an idea of his social class within the garabge dump community. For those of you that have uncanny memories you may recall that Blas(17) is a good friend of mine, comes to church now and then, plays for our U-18 soccer team and is a well-respected leader amongst the youth of this community. He also has two very young brothers, Juan Carlos(11) and Berlin(8) whom I adore and who regularly participate in our daily activities in Los Laureles. Sida though, Sida marched to the beat of a different drum - he was addicted to cocaine. He spent his days working on the garbage trucks, his evenings scouring the garbage dump for scrap metal and his late nights high. To support his habit even further he and a few close compatriots would sneak on to the property of a wealthy neighbor of Laureles and relieve him of sundry items that they thought he might not need and that they knew they could sell to the scrap metal collective here in the dump - things like truck engines, car batteries, fenders, whole wheels...if they had really given it much thought they probably could have dismantled and reassembled a whole automobile and sold that instead of selling it off piece-by-piece as scrap metal. At the time I chuckled silently to myself but now feel ashamed for having done so; I knew what they were doing, knew that it was wrong and I certainly didn't support them in their activities but the sight of them passing my house each evening (the path into the neighbor's property begins just below my home) loaded down with massive car parts was kind of humorous to me (I can find humour in just about anything...I'm kind of a simpleton in that respect). Despite his thievery, his vicious drug addiction that was wasting him away to nothing, despite his wanton disregard for his mother and younger siblings despite all of that, Sida was a joy to be around. He was warm, kind, always respectful and soft-spoken; unlike some of his friends he never stole from the people within Los Laureles - instead he would always ask for this item or that, maybe a few bucks and if someone refused him he asked for a cup of water, blessed the person (in all sincerity) and went on his way. Sida was well-loved here in Los Laureles.
By all accounts Sida and his closest companion Jorgito (I mentioned Jorge's mother a while back trying to hold back tears as she talked of sending him to jail to keep him from killing himself) were spending last Wednesday night as they always do, stealing from the wealthy neighbor when his thugs (he has a host of them to guard the premises) caught them in the act. Jorge managed to escaped but Sida was not as fortunate and they beat him mercilessly before killing him execution-style in the no-man's land between Laureles and the neighbor's property. He was found the next morning by a resident here on his way to chop firewood and by the time I managed to get there (I had been downtown most of the morning) nearly the entire community was gathered around his body, weeping, whispering and waiting for the coroner to show up. Blas, who rarely speaks, was wordless and inconsolable - I know that in a way he feels slightly responsible for the direction Sida's life took. I spent the rest of the day and evening with him planning the vigil and burial, retrieving the body from the morgue and sitting with him through the first part of the vigil; our church supplied the coffee and light food for the all-night viewing. The next morning we buried Rolan in the municipal cemetary and by mid-afternoon all seemed to be forgotten, even Blas seemed to be back to normal. And that's what has had me so verhutzed. I knew Sida, I liked him well enough but I wasn't particularly close to him yet I cannot shake him from my mind these past few days; I can't stop thinking about the terror that that young, kind boy must have felt just prior to being killed. I can't read the minds of the people here, I can't know what Blas is thinking but even in the hours following his death people talked about it so matter-of-factly as if this were a normal part of life and that we probably shouldn't give it too much thought. It was treated as more of a spectacle to be observed than as something to feel or reflect on. Some even muttered that he had this coming and that his life serves as a lesson to the rest of us. I want to shake people, to yell at them to remind them that one of the nicest, most respectful boys in the community was just violently murdered and no one excepting his mother seems to be giving it a second thought.
I'm left asking myself where is Jesus in all of this, how might he be glorified? I have an idea but I don't want to speak too soon. I'll leave it at that

up above my home in the bullrushes

5 comments:

Rick said...

You are in my prayers through all of this. The people there have hardend hearts to all of the evil around them. That is what has helped them to survive in such hard times. You have a heart for their lives and eternal future, that is why this can be so difficult for you. Look to God and He will show you how to turn this devastation, in the community, into a way that can bring glory to His name. Continue to show the people of Los Laureles the presence of Jesus. When we feel weak we need to get our strength from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Your faithful prayer partner,
Rick

Galen and Phyllis Groff said...

When we visited in Honduras, Harlan handed us some books to read of a missionary family serving in Waslala, Nicaragua. They experienced much violence and didn't leave and in the second book we're reading of the fruit they have born showing the community the unconditional love of Christ. We'll pray that your witness would grow stronger and brighter in the dark world around you. It begins in a relationship with Jesus and holding on to the peace He gives. Praying for you and your community.

Missionaries in La Ceiba, Honduras said...

Sweet Matt - we too had a violent killing in Armenia Bonito. It was a revenge killing, and similar things happened. We grieved for the young boy killed, and for the mother. So many in the community have come to expect violence as a normal part of their lives. We have lived fairly isolated from this degree of violence, but they haven't. We grieve and will continue to grieve this poor young man's death, and the life deprived him. We pray for peace and the love that only Christ can bring.

Nancy Marshall said...

Dear Bro,
Well, it's happened here, too. The brother-in-law to my teacher assistant, Angelica, was killed by some men he had been drinking with. In fact he drank with them on a daily basis. They used a machete. It was terrible. The hard thing for me is that like Sida, we saw it coming...it was a downward spiral that was out of control. Like Sida's mother, we all felt like how do you stop this thing? How do you prevent him from killing himself or being killed? I think some of the pain you feel is this lack of control? How could I have even helped? when? Would it have made a difference? What about the next boy, youth, man, girl? How can I stop it?

I can't admit that there is nothing I can do. That's why I am here. I have this hope that there is something that Jesus can do through me....through YOU.

I pray that God continues to show you how he can use you to step in the middle of these downward spirals and create a change in direction. I pray for the Spirit's power in your witness. Love, as simplistic as that sounds, tends to be the answer that I see God leading me toward...rather than "tough love" or "discipline" or "bribes"...but simply caring...and a lot of it.

Praying that there is no revenge for the death. Sometimes here family members and friends have to show loyalty by taking justice into their own hands... so am praying that is not the case with Sida.

I send you love, dear bro Matt

Shanda said...

My prayers are always with the people and missionaries of Honduras. I have spent all my life (growing up an mk in Africa and later marrying a Chiquita executive) living overseas and sometimes the 'cheapness' of life is overwelming. And so accepted as many have never felt truely valued. Honduras was my favorite of all the places I have lived and I always say I left part of my heart with the people there.

God bless you as you work and serve there.