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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

End-Of-Season Ceremonies

This past Saturday we had a friendly four-way tournament for the U-12 team as a way to close out last season's activities and present the trophies to all the teams that earned them. Last year in the U-12 category we only took fourth place and thus didn't receive a trophy but in the U-14 category we had taken second place and so after the tournament on Saturday one of our captains went up to receive the trohpy. The neat thing about Saturday's games was that it was an amalgam of players new and old. Some of last year's 12 year olds are moving up this year to play with the U-14 team but in that they had been part of last year's team they were given opportunity to play; we also had a host of young kids that made their first appearance on the U-12 team. It was fun to watch the veterans playing with and teaching the rookies in the midst of a tournament - we took second place by-the-bye.
a pre-game shot of most of the u-12 players both young and old

warm-ups

i love the organization of it all

pre-game meeting with coach johnny

question: when do we eat?

angry nery, confused carlos, distant tavo

abel our goalie with lauro the goalie of the u-14 team

a bit of a shove

keiser needed an improvised drink

we brought in a ringer.
we noticed that the other teams had a few players from last year's u-14 teams and because it wasn't specfically prohibited we did the same.
no one could compete with chamu.
another up-and-coming star, memo.
he's incredible

memo with a goal

chamu, in the u-12 uniform accepting the u-14 trophy for last year's second-place finish.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Im der Haus von Keiser we makes our own fun!

We don't televeision have here in the house - it wasn't my mission to forge a brave new trail for these children of Laureles that have spent good portions of their short lives in front of old, fuzzy Zenith television sets from 1981. I like television as much as the next dumpy North American (though I have always thought that once I had a family I'd forgoe the t.v.), cable here is simply not an option and I really didn't feel like shelling out a few hundred dollars for a reliable set - so there we are, televisionless. It was an adjustment at first, especially for Cristian who loves cartoons but we've grown accustomed to it and use that free time for more edifying forms of entertainment. This past week especially with all the rain the boys became near-maniacal about playing various card games and puzzles. I've taught them Dutch Blitz, Egyptian Roadkill, Speed, Memory, Dominoes and Palace. I'm running out of games - I'm thinking of trying to teach them Rook and Setback but that requires a vocabulary and skill set I have trouble translating. Any ideas for fun, simple games?

cristian and eduardo playing memory last friday night while the rain came down in sheets outside.

manuel has become near-fanatical about puzzles - he can't get enough of them.

little keiser got jealous and tried to entice us to play with her.

it didn't work...so she at pieces of the puzzle.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

February Honduras Report

Happy February from Honduras!
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I hope this finds you all well and keeping warm amidst the ice age you all seem to be experiencing up North. We haven't had snow (that's an obvious statement) but we have had our fair share of torrential rains these past few months which has made it it difficult to work or get about...it's also induced rest. There's nothing like a good 3 days of rain to make you sit down and enjoy a cup of coffee guilt-free. These past few weeks have been unlike any others that I've experienced since coming to Central America; it's been a bit of a rollercoaster ride and sometimes a test of my patience and resolve but they've been rewarding as well. I've been recently finding it hard to put into words what I've been experiencing/feeling so you'll forgive me if this update lacks in coherency and all around readability. Anyway, I'll dispense with the awkward introduction I seem to have developed and get down to brass tacks; the following then are highlights from this past, rainy month of January.
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Resident of Los Laureles
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Well I am officially a resident of Los Laureles - the 18th of December was my final day downtown and my first here in the community that I love. It's been an adjustment to be sure; I'm still not used to the ceaseless flow of people through my home each day. More than that life has changed, the rhythm of things has changed - this is my home now. I no longer come to Laureles to simply work, hang out or play with the kids; I live here now, I have to balance signing kids up for high school with filling my outside sink up with water. It creates a strange sensation that I'm finding hard to put into words and it creates tension with the kids as well. Where once they followed me around wherever I went all day, every day, I now have to put up barriers and rules "Visiting Hours End At 9pm" or "The Haus of Keiser Has A Maximum Capacity of 10 Persons/Animals" or "Please Don't Just Assume That Because I Happen To Glance In Your Genereal Direction On My Way To My House It Means That I Am Inviting You To Spend The Rest Of The Day In My Livingroom". This has driven a wedge between me and some of the children, it's hard to explain that I need a little space without offending them and it's even harder for the kids that I'm closest with to understand that this is not their home - I love them, I love their company but I can't attend to them 12 hours a day and stay sane.
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LIfe here is different, it's not been easy to find a rhythm; trying to balance the work aspect of my time here with the responsibilities of life in general or even being able to distinguish between the two has been difficult and laden with feelings of angst but at the same time life is good, this is where I want to be, I believe that this is where God wants me to be and I'm happy here. Do continue to pray for me as I slowly transition into life here, pray that I find some quiet, alone time (preferrably not before 6am), pray for understanding for the children and that a few relationships might be mended or strengthened.
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My New Family
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I didn't intend to start a commune but by all accounts that's exactly what I've done. I had always planned to live with Cristian (15), he's practically been my son for almost 2 years and when I first started talking about moving into the community almost a year ago he approached me about moving in with me. He accompanies me wherever I go, I love him, I discipline him as needed, all I have is his - it seemd only logical then for him to live with me and since the house has 2 bedrooms we decided that we'd each take one. That was the plan - then I met Manuel. I'd known about him for about a year but had never met him until he showed up with my good friend Soplo one Sunday afternoon to play soccer with some youth from church. A week later he showed up to church and two weeks after that he was attached to my hip and refused to leave my side...it helped that I liked the kid. We became fast friends and as I learned more of his story I couldn't help but feel amazed by who he was and the life he had lived; I also felt that God had put him into my life at this time for a purpose. Upon a word from Leo, the man that has raised him for the past 6 years, I offered to let him live with Cristian and me on the condition that he go back to high achool and leave behind his vices. He readily agreed and I can say it was one of the best decisions I've ever made - he has been a huge help to me here around the house and has also opened doors into the world of the older youth of this community. Of course we needed to fit him somewhere, he couldn't just continue to sleep on a thin matress on the floor of the living room so we decided to buy bunk beds and put Cristian on top and Manuel on the bottom. Life was a little tight but it was easy to get accustomed to - then we got a dog. I didn't mean to get one, I wasn't actively searching for one but who can turn down a beautiful German Shepherd puppy? I couldn't and so we were 4. I thought we couldn't possible fit anyone else in here until my friend Felix approached me about helping out a boy from the country that wants to study in high school but is to poor to afford the costs. I was hesitant, I had the funds available but he couldn't possibly study in La Ceiba and live in the country, the distance was just too far; he would have to live in Ceiba but he didn't know anyone here. Felix solved the problem for me, "He can live with you" he said "Eduardo is all-terrain, he can sleep in a hammock, on the floor, it doesn't really make a difference to him." After consulting first with Manuel and Cristian I agreed and 2 weeks ago Eduardo came to live with us - for the time being he sleeps with me (we sleep head-to-foot) but I'm actively looking for a good blow-up mattress so that I can go back to getting a good night's sleep. Living with 3 other people is no easy task, it can be stressful at times, it creates jealousies and misundertandings amongst the other kids but it's rewarding. I am able to speak into and share in the lives of these 3 young men in ways that I'd never have been able to had I stayed in my quiet house downtown. More than that, when I think about it, I know God has each of these 3 here for a purpose, they're in my life in this way and at this time because God wants them here. Pray that I am able to do my part.
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It's A High School Miracle!
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A month ago I was beginning to get nervous - I had 13 youth from Los Laureles that were eagerly anticipating the start of classes at Bethel Christian High School and no way to send them there. After sending out a plea for help to everyone I knew the response I received was overwhelming; within days we had almost half the funds we needed in-hand and a good portion of the rest of the required funds were either pledged or enroute. I really can only say thank you and that God is faithful - please know that you were able to bless these kids and impact their future in an indescribable way. Please be praying for the kids here that they study hard, make the most of this opportunity that's been shown to them and that their example of hard work and the importance of education be a guide for others in this impoverised community. Pray too that the remaining funds come in and that we'll be able to continue on with this program for next year.
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Prayer Requests
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Manuel - Please be praying for Manuel - he's a had an incredibly difficult life and has made plenty of mistakes and bad decisions along the way. At the same time he knows that he wants to be different he wants something better for himself and he wants to be able to properly provide for a family if/when that day comes. More than that he's searching for Jesus, he knows there's an alternative to the life he's known, he sees the attractiveness of it but he's frightened of the committment that it entails...of the changes. There are also people and situations here holding him back, they like Manuel just where he is and don't appreciate him changing - life here in Los Laureles is full of temptations. Pray for protection, perserverance and wisdom for Manuel.
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Soccer Club - Last year a very generous person donated nearly $2,000 for the purpose of founding a soccer club for all the children of Los Laureles between the ages of 9 & 14. With that money we were able to purchase soccer cleats and uniforms for 45 youth. This year we'd like to expand our club to include any interested youth between the ages of 9 & 18. This of course will require at least double the funds we received last year. Please pray that someone sees the importance of this venture and that they be moved to donate the funds needed to start this year's program.
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Chihua - Pray too for Chihua, he's long been one of the kids I'm closest with here, I've known him for more than 2 years now and can say that he's one of the most innocent, kindest, gentlest kids here. He's also been a gateway for me into so many other people's lives here; he's a natural leader and well-respected by nearly the entire community. Lately though he's been drifting away, getting harder to reach. He's fallen in with a gang of older youth that, while not bad kids, at the same time are not good influences; they're arrogant, obnoxious, foul-mouthed, loud and disrespectful. I like them well enough, I'm here to help them and minister to them and they generally listen to what I have to say but I know the destructive path they're on, I see what they will become in the lives of the men of this community. I don't want that for Chihua and there is still time to prevent it. Please pray.
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YES Team - At the end of March EMM will be sending me a YES Team comprised of 4 youth from the United States. They'll be with me here in Laureles for 4 months, helping me in all that I do. Please be praying for them now as they've recently started training at the Harrisburg Discipleship Center. Pray that their language study go well and that their transition into life here be smooth and rapid.
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That's all for this month, have a good rest of the month. Thanks again for your support and your prayers as I would not be here writing this if it weren't for you.
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Peace to you all,
Matt Keiser
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"Not by might, nor by power but by my Spirit says the Lord Almighty." - Zechariah 4:6

me and my house

chihua on his 15th birthday

manuel on his first day of high school

Monday, February 14, 2011

Saturday Traditions

As I've mentioned before life for me has changed since moving into the community; daily activities, traditions, staples, all have been sporadic or put on hold - it's taken me a while to get back into the regular rhythym of life here. This past Saturday I was able to resurrect one such tradition that had been suspended since the beginning of December - "The Saturday Outing". For over a year now my Saturdays have been spent with a specific group of boys (Cristian, Sergio, Lauro, Duke, Chihua and occasionally 2-3 others); we take trips, go to the mall, hang out at the house or go downtown then in the evening we go to church. The church part has continued unabatted but since December I've been busy with sundry other responsibilities and we haven't been able to take any outings. This past Saturday was different - sort of. The night prior it had rained terribly and water had flooded into the church, that morning we got a call to come clean the church so I gathered a reliable group of kids together and off we went. We were pretty hot and tired afterwards so we decided to spend the rest of the day in one of our favorite swimming holes. We came home then in the afternoon and got ready for church that evening. Traditions are good - now that I write that I realize how true that is, more than that I realize how much of anchor they are for kids. They give them a sense of place and time, they're markers to point to, highlights in one's life. And the kids missed them, this past month they dropped hints at random times asking me about our Saturdays and what had happened to them. Hopefully they're back to stay.

carlos, one of my favorite kids, he and his brother tati have been irregular participants in the saturday tradition this past year.

and this is the first time sami's ever been out with us. he's awfully young but he asks me all the time if he can accompany me somewhere and i always say no...this past saturday i got tired of saying no.

me. i think i'm staring down my dog.

on the road to the river

i was trying to be all artsy and drive at the same time

duke didn't notice

our newest addtion, eduardo, straight outta santa ana.
the kids here gave him the nickname dalmation.
he'd been here about 5 hours when he received that name.
this place is nothing if it's not predictable.

another shot of sami

alert keiser

pulga, checho, chihua and julio
as a result of manuel i now have a steady stream of older youth through my home and life in general.
i like them all.
i don't know how i feel yet about mixing them with my adolescents.
checho and chihua are innocent - pulga and julio are great but far from innocent.
manuel with his protege lauro

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Adolescence

Is a funny thing - it turns kids into strange and absurd creatures...creatures you'd sometimes like to pummel. I myself at 28 & 3/4 am just coming out of adolesence and it hit me the other day just how odd and attention-seeking they/we really are. More than that, I realized that adolesence and all the nonsense that comes with it truly knows no cultural boundaries. In the U.S. we might like to think we have the market cornered on teens, their angst, their self-centeredness, their wide-eyed idealism couched in baseless, sophomoric emotions and the latest diatribe from Lady Gaga but I assure you dear readers, teenagers here in Hondie are just as foolish. Don't get me wrong, I like them and all, they make me laugh, they keep life interesting and one-on-one that can be downright mature-ish. In a herd though, they turn into mindless lemmings, blindly following the next half-baked idea handed down by the loudest and oldest of the crew and not thinking through the consequences of their ridiculous actions. The other evening a whole load of lemmings showed up at my door just as I was finishing dinner. They didn't want anything other than to visit for a bit, though they gladly accepted 3 litres of Pepsi when I offered it. No, they simply came to sit on my porch, make fun of each other, be loud, rambunctious and cool. And then they decided it would be good to pose for photos; why this was a logical progression in the course of the evening is beyond me but it seemed good and wise to them to wrap themselves in my dog's leash and pose in semi-gangsta stances and then laugh at the results. I indulged them hoping they would move on if I didn't fight it...they didn't. I really do like these guys, I swear.
here we have the leader of the group, marco, the loudest, the most generous. at various times i'd like to slay him but generally he's a good kid

there's his toady, eddy who hangs on his every word and laughs the loudest at his jokes.

there's mario, eddy's best friend. he can be overly loud but i love this kid - he's always happy and always nice.

there's nelson, who in the u.s. might be referred to as the village idiot. he's amiable and nice but not terribly smart. on christmas eve he wished me happy birthday 3 times...i turn 29 in april.

there's moye, the most impressionable and reluctant of the crew.

and then there's my favorite, blas (that's his real name by the bye). he's quiet and reserved but always respectful and when he does speak it's either profound or hilarious.

the group shot with the killed 3 litres of pepsi
gotta love adolesence

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Am Insane.

I've become fanatical about keeping my floors clean...I should back up. I have OCD tendencies, depending on the season of life I'm in they can become weaker or stronger and take different maniacal forms. There was a time in my life where I couldn't sleep at night unless I was certain that all of my shirts and jackets were buttoned and zipped and hanging in the closet facing the same way. As a child I used to frantically pile all of my inanimate objects together at night; dirty clothes, shoes, towels, stuffed animals, so that they wouldn't be lonely, cold or stolen while I slept. As a preteen when we took vacations, while enroute to the shore I would organize the smaller Keiser and Girio children into work teams to clean and organize the inside of the car so that I wouldn't go insane from sitting amongst a chaotic mess of toys, food and books. Now of course my OCD has concentrated on the floors of my home and porch - nevermind that the walls have handprints all over them or that the fans are caked in dust, no, I'm batty about keeping my floors clean. We bathe in our clothes here (you'll understand why shortly), once the wet clothes are hung up to dry I snatch them down and run them over the surface of the tile to get rid of prints, dust and sundry other annoyances...
This obsession of mine may be a result of or compounded by (I'm not sure which) the fact that I have a small army of dusty children traipsing through my home each day. I love them all, I truly do, I just wish they could find a way to leave their feet at home...
And then there's this bundle of dust and dirt. I'm trying to teach her how to wipe her own paws before entering the home but it's not going so well. I'm thinking of installing footbaths at the entrances to the house...
I actually have more success with the tile outside the home than I do with the tile that's inside. It's mostly for the fact though that we all bathe out of this sink (do you understand why we don't bathe in the nude now?). We scoop out pans of water and drench ourselves, lather up and then rinse off. All of that water gets dumped onto the tile and as soon as someone gets done bathing I race outside like an insane person with a broom in-hand and use that water to wipe down all of the tiling around the house. It's a lot of work but for a good 15 minutes my porches sparkle...
In some places instead of tile we built rock walkways, they're nice and all but they really trap the dirt and no amount of brooming with bath water will clean them properly. I got to pondering this the other day..."How can I clean the dirt out from around the spaces in between the rocks?" (that's a lot of prepositions). I thought to myself "Maybe if I throw some rice down there on them rocks..."
"Some chickens will show up, eat the rice and pick the dirt up in the process."
It didn't work. I then tried to lay down for a nap and found it impossible to sleep because the three hens and two roosters were all fighting over the meager portion of rice I had tossed to them. (I wanted to be sure that they didn't fill up on the rice and forget to clean the dirt out for me).
and then i got distracted by baby bananas

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Christmas Comes Late in Los Laureles

One of the most stressful yet exciting parts of the soccer season is upon us here in Los Laureles...the purchase of cleats. You may remember that from last year, in my innoncence, we trucked in upwards of 40 children to a local sporting goods store one fine afternoon to have their feet measured. It wasn't a disaster but I learned my lesson and this year I'm going about it piece-meal. Yesterday morning I took 10 boys from my U-12 to the mall to be fitted; today we have a nother 10 and tomorrow we start with the U-14 team. It's much slower going, especially since we have an extra 2 teams this year but it's much more manageable and almost, almost enjoyable. I do especially like taking the U-12 kids out because they so rarely get to leave the community and a simple excursion to the mall to have the feet played with for 5 minutes is a monumental event for them.
chiro, one of our best players on the u-12 team

and his brother chita who, at 9 years, old is barely eligible to play for us this year
his excitement and enthusiasm is impossible to hide.
oh, and i brought sergio along to help me manage the crowd.
he's almost 16 now and can be a royal pain but he can also be so incredibly helpful, especially when he's not around any other older kids. noel, another of our new additions this year.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

This Is What Laureles Is Cooking Up...

youth that are taking their future seriously
this is just a fraction of the almost 20 youth from los laureles that we have enrolled in some form of high school.
today was an introductory/prayer day for the students that are enrolled in the christian high school

oh yeah, and today sarai turned a lovely and even 11

but that kettle shot from yesterday, well that corresponded to a pig we slaughtered in the wee hours.
i took the two haunches and last evening my family and pancha's family, well, we ate like pigs.