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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why I Love Duke

The other morning I walked out onto my porch around 8:00, coffee cup in hand expecting to be greeted by relative silence and inactivity in my neck of the neighborhood and as I panned out across the landscape I was pleasantly pleased to see Duke teaching his younger cousin how to take shots on goal. This may not seem terribly significant, it doesn't now as I write this but at the time I was just struck dumb with pure feelings of pride and love for Duke. He could have been spending his vacation week as I might have done, asleep or with friends and instead chose to wake up early and help Jose learn the sport that is life here in Los Laureles.
I'm excited for the man I see him becoming; a compassionate, honest and respectful leader amongst his peers. I'm excited to see his growing faith and thirst for a meaningful walk with Jesus. I'm excited to see how his qualities, his faith, how is life in general is impacting the kids around him. When I think back and remember the post I'd written about him more than a year ago it seems as though I was only scratching the surface of who he is. He's still goofy, quirky and oblivious but also he's a leader, an encourager, he takes his life seriously, he feels a heavy weight and responsibility for his mother and 3 sisters, he wants to follow Christ completely but is unsure how or if he can. I can't say enough about him other than that I love him and want the world for him. Pray for Duke.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Happy Earth Day

I was reviewing my latest cache of photos just now and realized that I have at least 5 posts in the hopper - which is like blogger Christmas for me. Before posting anything though I would be remiss if I did not mention that both Edwin (Tolo) and myself celebrated our birthdays this past Friday, April 22. This is the third year in a row now that we've celebrated together and we always try to do something a little extra special. As our birthday also happens to fall on Earth Day we decided to mark the occasion this year by burning a hunk of styrofoam. H.B. to us!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We're Movie Stars!

So those of you out there that aren't on mind-altering substances may remember that way back in March Cousin and Boyfriend came to visit, oops...
...I mean Boyfriend and Cousin. I've never quite had visitors like these two - supposedly they came to see me but they spent 90% of their time hanging out with Girlfriend (that's her in the background)...I was a tad jealous. They came though with a mission, they were sent by EMM (my mission agency) to film and photograph my life and work here in Los Laureles - the idea being that the media they came up with might be used in the future for promotional activities. All that to say, Cousin emailed me the other day with a link to a rough draft of the video they put together...it almost brought me to tears - man I hate feelings, that's two days in a row now. I loved it, wouldn't change a thing other than my incessant stuttering and commend them for their quality, professional work. I asked permission to post this even though it's not a final product and Cousin assured me that I could. So, if you have 7 minutes and 54 seconds click on the link below and get a new and snazzy perspective on life in Los Laureles. Oh, and Cousin & Boyfriend? You two are welcome back anytime, we loved having you; the kids are still talking about your wild dancing (Boyfriend) and the boys are still enamoured of you (Cousin).

Click this thing here: >>> Boyfriend & Cousin's Video

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The YESer's Are A-Bloggin'

The other day I was reading back over Konrad's last blog entry and I found myself wanting to cry...I hate feelings. More than that I think it ought to be required reading for just about anyone wanting to do short-term mission/service work; the wisdom and insight that shines through in that post is brilliant and poigniant. Man I miss that kid. It got me to thinking though - I can sit down and write all day about the goings-on here in Los Laureles, my observations, my feelings and hopes; but to read another's perspective on this place is like shinning a light into dark corners that I didn't know existed. I may know Laureles, I may live here but I don't know everything and everyone; the way one child interacts with me may be totally different from how he/she interacts with another. I discovered that when Konrad was here, there were certain children, Duke in particular but others as well, that just opened up with him in a way that they couldn't with me, they loved him completely and were devastated by his leaving. I'm discovering that about the YES Team here as well and after reading their first few blog posts I'm coming to appreciate the joy that comes from working in a team setting; the varied experiences and observations coming together to edify and work towards a shared mission. I would encourage you then to check out the team's blog; for those of you that have been following my blog these past few years and feel like you've come to know Los Laureles, it may give you a new and exciting perspective on this place that we love so much.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I've Hired A Maid

her name is brandy and she's very thorough in her work.

i like that.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Clothing A-Go-Go

This past week (and I'm not making this up), a strange man in a turck pulled into the community asked for me and delivered 45 sacks of used clothing to the building we use. He made me sign on the dotted line and off he went. I had no idea who he was or where he was from and I was more than a little daunted by the amount of clothing I was now charged with giving away. After a good cry I remembered something - the YES Team! They can do my work for me. This past week then we spent our afternoons opening sacks, sorting the clothing and overseeing mass giveaways. It's been a real treat especially with these mild, Sahara temperatures we've been experiencing.
the clothing was so great that they were hanging from the windows in wild anticipation

to give perspective that's a pile 3 tables long and two tables wide and we were only about a 1/3 way through the project
did i mention they were hanging from the windows

all of this clothing meant less space for our thursday bible class

we had to cram nearly 50 children into a corner of the building

rafa teaching rolan how to color

coloring drawings of the creation story

they're coloring, not kneeling for prayer

that girl there in the middle is rockin' a nice 80's style mid-life hair-do

we'll call her barbara

barbara there reminds me of the methodist women that populated my grandmother's church back in the 1980's

barbara makes me long for my simple childhood

chele taking a nap on

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

El Chele

I mentioned last month in a post about my cousin that while she was here I had to attend to a child in the hospital for almost a week. It hadn't occurred to me to write more in-depth about that situation because it didn't strike me as terribly note-worthy but given the recent turn of events I think I shall and will also add that this is a solicitation for prayer for our dear light-skinned friend we call Chele.

One Wednesday late last month as I was frantically scouring the community looking for signatures, photos, and permission slips for our soccer teams, a group of breathless children came running up to me to report that Kevin, also known as Chele for his light skin, the goalie of our U-14 soccer team had fallen off his bike on the dirt road and landed in broken glass and that he had broken his knee. To the medical laymen of this great nation the "knee" and sometimes the "foot" consists of everything below the hip and the word "broke" could mean anything from a laceration to an amputation so I really had no idea what to expect. They led me to this dark shack were he was laid out on a mattress writhing in pain and gushing blood. What I could see was that he had managed to cut a gash to the left of his right knee down to what I assumed to be cartilage or bone. The people in his home, his immediate family including his father, seemed to be making no effort to comfort him or to stop the bleeding and when I asked what they planned to do they replied that they'd take care of it in-house. I'm all for home remedies and not rushing to the hospital at every sniffle but this laissez-faire attitude smacked more of indifference than anything else and I almost delivered some choice words to that oaf of a father. When it became evident that they weren't planning on lifting a finger to help him I stormed out, retrieved my car and sped off to the hospital with Chele, my cousin, her boyfriend and about 12 concerned teammates entow. We first visited the private hospital where they wanted to admit him and operate immediately but with a $1,000 deposit and the promise of more fees in the future. I politely declined, paid for the consultation/cleaning they gave him and off we went to the public hospital where he was admitted, operated on and hospitalized for the next week. In the first few days Manuel and I took turns staying with Chele on 6 hour shifts. I spent the first night there, Manuel the second and in the daytime we split it evenly...and on it went. In that time his father visited twice for a few minutes each time and his grandmother who happened to be in from out of town visited a few days towards the end of his stay.

When it came time to bring Chele home we were confronted with another problem, his father no longer wanted him in the house. Really it was Chele's stepmother that didn't want him there but she has considerable pull with the father; she's pregnant and seemed to think that a boy with a gaping wound might do harm to the fetus she's carrying. I didn't point out that they had originally planned on letting him bleed out in the middle of the house and that that hadn't seemed to bother them then nor did I mention that he arrived back in the community so pumped full of antibiotics that he was probably the healthiest person in Laureles at the moment. I kept my mouth shut for fear of what might come out. Chele looked rejected, distraught and hopeless yet he seemed to take it as normal that he was unwanted by his family. I asked for a few minutes, left the home and sought out Manuel and Johnny, his soccer coach. Between the three of us we decided that Chele would convalesce between our two homes; he could sleep at Johnny's with Johnny's son, he could take his meals at our house and spend his days between the two homes. I returned to Chele's home an hour later and proffered the idea with the stipulation that he be accepted back into the home once the knee had healed. All agreed to the arrangement and this is how we've been living these past 3 weeks. Quite well I might add. Chele is happy here, his knee is healing well and he's taken on some responsibilities around the house; he came to church with us for the first time last week and seemed to really like it. Pray for him though, he will eventually have to return to his father's house where he will put back to work on a banana truck. Pray for strength.

the healing knee

i removed the lone stitch the other night.


Monday, April 11, 2011

College Days

this past friday we loaded up 20 kids from our u-12 soccer team along with one of their coaches and 5 gringo handlers onto a bus that headed out to the public university. this is becoming routine for us, these university visits but we like them. we like the diversion, the change of scenery, the feel of true learning in the ambience, the chance to play soccer on real grass.

the first thing we learned is that someone did not in fact paint this tree various colors. although about half of our kids were convinced otherwise.

we also learned that hondurans generally assume that any dog that looks like this is hell-bent on slaying you at the first sign you might have let your guard drop.

seriously, i've never seen a nation of people so weak-kneed at the sight of a puppy.

i try to tell them she's friendly and loves to play but they act as though i too am part of the ploy to lure them to their dog-mauled deaths and avoid both of us as though we were typhoid mary's.

the girls opted not to play soccer in the sweltering sun and instead chatted with the kids as they came to take water breaks.

this one should probably get hung up somewhere at emm's central offices.

look, we're no longer at university!

we ended our time there around mid-day and went straight to a nearby swimming hole.

where we spotted...


a blurry leap

nery found a perfect seat

i was a little chilly

but not too chilly to pose

learning is fun.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Best Birthday Picture of the Year

Darwin turned 4 today. We couldn't find any birthday candles so we rounded up some 'Our Lady of Fatima' funeral/vigil candles and plopped one down in the center.
he was thrilled

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

YES, We Will Clean Your Floors, Daily!

The YES Team (Youth Evangelism Service) has been here for almost 2 weeks now and this is what my front porch looks like as a result. They just attract little children like magnets. I'm constantly shooing them away with my broom and they just come swarming back, eyes all-a-goggle, wanting to be near the newest Gringos in Los Laureles. The YES'ers have plugged right in and while their Spanish isn't the best/almost non-existant they don't lack for zeal or desire to share Jesus love with the kids; that comes shinning through. More than that they've been an encouragement to me to refocus my energies and reach out to a younger group of kids that I don't normally interact with much. As the weeks go by I'll be sharing more of the Team's adventures but for now be in prayer for us all - working with a team is a lot different that working solo or simply with a sidekick. Pray for my front porch and dusty floors as well...my OCD is kicking into overdrive.
so the team consists of curtis kauffman from belleville/lewistown area.

he's got a real dutchy/pa accent...i feel like i'm home.

carrie nofziger is the leader of this outfit.

her cousin married my babysitter.

small mennonite world.

this one, steve, he's some sort of methodisty-presbyteriany-evangelicalite that went to

messiah college. he's gonna be a pastor.

these three aren't part of them team

but they are a great example of children dirtying my floors.

blakely schwenk is a cornhusker, farm girl.

who has a drugged-up admirer

jackie seems satisfied with team's activities

heather vaccaro is a virginia mennonite that has taken my dog and it's love away from me.

those two boys, carlos and juan follow her around like lost puppies as well.

love this kid.

can't say it enough.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Old Order Mennonites in Paradise

Forget the Black Bumper, Horning Mennonites...
We've been invaded by full-blown Horse & Buggy, Wenger Mennonites. They've already started sending they're plain forms of transportation by ship down from Lancaster County.

Mateo is confused. Chele is unfased.