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

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dispatches From Afar

Some of you may have been wondering why my posts have been so few and far between these past few weeks, and in that October, November and December tend to be some of my most prolific months in terms of blog posts, your wonderment would be well-placed. Well that's because I've been here:

in the rolling mountains and valleys of Central Pennsylvania
 hunting wild animals to survive the Winter

Ok, not exactly.

Since just before Thanksgiving I've been in Pennsylvania and I expect to be here at least until the end of January. A month ago Eastern Mennonite Missions, my home congregation and I began talking about the future, about the work in Los Laureles thus far and about how to best serve the community there while at the same time being the best stewards of the resources entrusted to us that we can. It was decided upon by all of us that it would be best that I take a short sabbatical for a time of rest, renewal and discernment for the future direction of our work in Los Laureles. That means that for the weeks ahead I will be in meetings both in Lancaster and at Frazer Mennonite Church and also spending time with my family in Williamsport. To be honest, I'm happy to be here - I knew I needed a break, renewal, a time for re-focusing, but was unsure of how to suggest it. I'm excited to be here with my family for the holidays, it's been a long time since I've spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's with them. I miss Los Laureles terribly, I miss my kids, the life there; at the same time I know that this time of rest and refocus is essential if I want to best serve the community, if I want to faithfully follow God as he leads in the unfolding of the work there.

Regardless of my location over the next months I will be blogging both about my time here and what's happening in Los Laureles. This past Saturday the elementary school there celebrated the 6th grade graduation of 32 students. In years past the majority of those students would have immediately begun working or looking for spouses as 12-15 year olds; 2 years ago we began offering scholarships to some of the graduates so that they might continue their education in a private, Christian high school and thus give opportunity to break the cyclical povverty so endemic in that community. The first year there were 15 graduates and we were able to offer scholarships to 7, last year there were 12 graduates and we added 7 more scholarships to the existing 7. This year of course with 32 graduates we will have to seriously screen our applicants for the most deserving and needy as we obviously cannot afford to send all 32 to high school. Please be praying for us we go through this process and that funding come in to continue this project.

When I say 'we' I refer mostly to Girlfriend, she's still there, doing a lot of the legwork with the projects in Los Laureles as I'm gone. She, along with some of the youth from the Mennonite Church were there in attendance at the graduation ceremony serving as "Godparents"  for some of the graduates. She sent me some photos that she took along with some commentary. This is what she wrote:

This event has been one of the most difficult to be able to take good photos, or even passable photos...

Everyone there interfered in the photos, either in front, behind or to the sides. They all wanted to pose for a shot or at least impede that the photo be taken without them.

Ok, in the end I managed to take a pair (yes, a pair) of normal shots. And here I leave you a few so that you can see little, or almost nothing of what went down.

Just look at the formality of the "President of the Community", worthy of admiration, especially for his age. 

Anuar with his Godmother dancing the Waltz 

Abel with his Godmother... 

 This photo was supposed to be of Abel and his mother but Naomi decided to invite herself at the last second.

Anuar with his Godfather, "The Dawg" 
(Girlfriend's brother, Rafael)

Lauro with his "Fairly Oddparents"
(as opposed to his Fairy Godparents)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

3 Birthdays in 1 Family

This week the family of Marta is celebrating birthdays 3 times over.
First there was Elvin on Sunday turning 9.
Then Dariana today turned 7.
Finally Carlos, also known as Chihua, turns 16 tomorrow.
We celebrated with cake.

I know I've said it before but I love this family.
They're in constant motion, in their play, in their work, in their squabbling - they're like balls of energy colliding. You never know what you might find when you visit Marta's.
This family truly loves each other.
I like that.

Girlfriend came to celebrate too.
I coaxed her with promises of cake.
She cannot resist cake.

Or me.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Carlos Turns 12

one of the nicest, politest kids i know
love this one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Pray for Manuel

it's not as bad as it looks?

I'd like to think that but I'm not sure. It all began about two weeks ago when he collided with another player on the soccer field. It left him with a sizable knot on his leg that left him in a lot of pain. He's been back working on the garbage trucks for the past month and apparently about a week ago as he was working some garbagey something sliced into his leg right where the soccer injury was. The knot began to grow and ache and while I was gone on an EMM Central American Retreat, someone had the bright idea to cut the knot open. All manner of puss and blood oozed out and this is what we've been dealing with ever since. I have him on antibiotics (amoxycillin) but I'd really like to get in there and scrub this out with iodine and alcohol. I have none though even if I did I doubt he'd let me. Pray though, with his leg like his he can't work on the garbage trucks and we don't want the infection to spread.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

To Be Like Children:

Around the world today childhood is under constant threat from poverty and Honduras is no exception. According to the United Nations’ foundation for childhood (UNICEF), there are 500 million children around the world that live in poverty or, which is practically the same, live without basic necessities. This means that they live without basics such as proper food, housing, schools, clothing, medical attention, toys, etc.

The children of the community of Los Laureles are a fine example of what is happening to children all around the world. Here we find children without a roof or food and where a primary education has become a luxury, let alone a high school education.

I present you with Juan Carlos, better known as “Chinito”, a boy of approximately 8 years of age (an age that I calculate for the maturity of his mind). His mother, wracked by a certain class of schizophrenia, has left him not only without a safe roof to live under but also without proper nutrition and medical care. Chinito is a great example of how education has become an unreachable luxury; at his young age he has not gone to a school and therefore cannot color, does not know his numbers nor the alphabet much less basic reading and writing skills. He instead dedicates himself to passing himself off as a little angel and begging for money from any and all visitors that arrive in the community.

His hand is full of collected bills, while the other children are coloring.

After giving you a superficial introduction to the life of Chinito, I want to share with you the most admirable aspect of his life, and that is, in spite of not having the basic and satisfactory necessities of life, he is a happy child. The majority of the time there is a huge smile on his face (accompanied by insults on certain occasions, but a smile of felicity nonetheless). He doesn’t even have the slightest idea of how poor he truly is because for him, just as with all children here, there does not exist ‘the rich’ and ‘the poor’. They don’t make distinction about anyone; a rich child in the middle of the children of Los Laureles would simply be just another friend with whom to play.

The other day I observed Chinito as well as a group of children of the same age that were playing, having a competition with their cars; cars that they had built out of recycled materials.

For them the competition was something semi-formal; a lot of fun but also very serious. As the French essayists Michel Eyquem said: “Children’s games are not games as such but rather their most serious activities.”

The contestants prepare as the fans arrive.
The public anxiously awaits.
They make their final adjustments.
The drivers board their vehicle.
Finally they're off.

That day I remembered something that I had learned a long time ago and it was the true meaning of the words of Jesus telling us that we should be as children. Children are weak and humble beings, the possess nothing but nevertheless have no ambition, the don’t know envy, they don’t look for the privileged seat nor do they hope to receive honors, they are not rancorous, they have a sincere spirit, they live a happy life without worry, they exist within the simplicity of their own thoughts.

The day of the races there were only 3 cars, nonetheless all the kids wanted to ride. What did they do? They shared with each other until all of the children had a turn. The children of Los Laureles show each day the humble, unselfish and non-malicious persons that they can become; and not because they’re poor rather it’s because, in spite of being poor, they are happy and simply, it’s because they are children.

Matthew 18:3-4 - And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

by: Maureen Velรกsquez (Girlfriend)