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

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

March Update

Greetings Friends & Family,

I hope this email finds you all well and enjoying the less than Winter-weather we've been experiencing. Two weeks ago I sent out a general appeal to essentially everyone I've ever met or know of, soliciting sup...port for two projects that I run in Honduras through Eastern Mennonite Missions. This is not an appeal for funding. In that mailing though I mentioned that I would be soon sending out a proper newsletter-like update; this is that.

Many of you are aware that I have been back stateside since the end of November and I presume a growing number of you know that I'll be returning to La Ceiba and the community of Los Laureles on March 29th to finish the 2 ½ years that are left on this term. It seems though that a lot of people are unsure of why I returned in the first place and it how it is exactly that I've been spending my time since I returned. Let's clear all of that up. This has been a rough year for me; just really hard in nearly every conceivable way. From my ministry, to finances, to my living situation, to my personal life, to my spiritual life; I felt stress and pain in ways and by degrees that I had never up until that point felt before in my life. To be sure, a lot of the blame for that pain and stress could be laid at my own feet, I made some naive and sometimes downright stupid decisions this past year. A lot too though was beyond my control and all of these compiled and compounded issues made it hard to feel as though I was accomplishing anything much less moving in forward direction. Those of you that have kept abreast of my blog (www.honduraskeiser.blogspot.com) know most of the travails and trials of this past year so I don't really feel the need to recount them here but I have to say in confidence that I learned so much this past year; about myself, about what it means to rely on the Body of Christ, about who God is and his enduring faithfulness in my life even in my own moments of unfaithfulness. I think too that my status within the garbage dump community of Los Laureles changed for the better. I am certainly still seen as the rich, white Gringo, but over the course of this past year my neighbors began to see me less as a Santa Claus, less as someone who had all the answers, less as someone with a lot of power and influence and more as someone very vulnerable, at times very weak and as someone that they needed to help if I were going to survive. I don't mind publicly writing that there were moments this past Autumn that my neighbors in Los Laureles made it possible for us as a houselhold to be able to eat, to procure water, to have electricity. I moved into the community last December thinking that this move would enhance my ability to minister to and commiserate with the people there; I learned to commiserate, to be sure, but they ended up ministering to me in far greater ways than I ever was able to do for them. It was a stressful year, yes. A hard and painful year, without a doubt. But I thank God for it, for the lessons learned and for the relationships made deeper and more real by these experiences.

Beginning in September I also began to sense that the nature and focus of my work in the community was subtly changing. I sensed that God was bringing aspects of my work to an end and leading me in a new direction. In the moment though, living in the very midst of where I was ministering, I found it hard to step back and discern what this new turn actually looked like. After sharing all of this with my bosses at EMM and my support team at Frazer Mennonite Church; the trials, the pains, the joys and the lack of clarity for the future; they suggested that I come home for an extended time to rest, recuperate and reconnect with friends and family, and then to also seriously discern where God is leading us in the work in Los Laureles. I returned then at the end of November and almost immediately began making weekly treks from Williamsport to Lancaster to meet with people at the EMM offices. We dissected the last year and beyond, diagnosed problem areas and then set about to put structures in place so that when I return I have more support and guidance on the field with me. We also began to listen and discern where God might be leading the work for the future. Since the end of January I have been in training at the Harrisburg Discipleship Center, living in community and taking training courses with a YES team that will be joining me in Honduras in April.

So what conclusions have we come to? In terms of on-the-field support I will be returning to a very different structure. I will have mentoring and guidance from a missionary couple that I have known since my language-learning days in Costa Rica, I will be collaborating in the day-to-day with another missionary that has begun connecting with the Los Laureles community. We're in the midst of forming an advisory board made up of people from the Anabaptist churches of La Ceiba and a few key leaders from Los Laureles to help take the lead on the School and Soccer projects we're running. And, I will be working much more closely and collaboratively with the youth from the Mennonite Church as they begin to take more of a leadership role in the ministry aspects of our work. The idea behind all of this is to raise up individuals that I can rely on to help me in my work. Where before I was essentially on my own; leading projects, making decisions and being pulled in a thousand direction; now I have a team of people working together to distribute the responsibilities and help me with some of the decsion-making. This then frees me up for the new focus we've been discerning. The time to get to know the community of Los Laureles has come to an end - of course there will always be more to learn about the people there and of course I will retain the posture of a learner. But where the first 2-3 years of my work really revolved around getting to know the community as a whole and it's history, and then getting to know the many individuals, learn their stories and build relationships with them; now we're sensing that God is calling us to go deeper in the lives of a few key individuals. Calling us to begin discipling a small number that have really shown interest and hunger in knowing Jesus and what he means for their lives. Calling us to develop leaders amongst the youth through the soccer program, the school scholarship program and through the discipleship courses - and empowering them to perpuate these activities amongst the rest of the community. Calling us to empower the youth at the Mennonite Church to reach out to the Laureles community and build mentoring relationships with the kids there; relationships that are built around Jesus, that show love to unloved children and offer hope in a hopeless environment.

This then is what I've been focusing on these past few months - it hasn't always been easy and there were many times that I just wished I could fly back to Honduras and get to work. I know though that God has had me here for a purpose, I have valued deeply my time with my family and friends, I have enjoyed reconnecting with my church families and I know that God has used this time to heal me, reenergize me, teach me new things and give me a clear vision for the future of my work in Los Laureles. I would ask that you pray for me in these next 3 weeks as my training time in Harrisburg draws to a close and I begin to prepare for my March 29th return to Honduras. I would ask too that you consider supporting my work financially as my my budget this year has increased and our pool of donors has not. Thank you to all who have supported or continue to support me either through finances, prayer or encouragement. I am here because of you and your generosity and through it you are blessing children who would not know hope otherwise. Peace and Blessings to you all.

Matt Keiser

P.S. - If you would like to give, either to one of our projects or to my personal fund you can visit EMM's website here: http://emm.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=748&Itemid=231 and choose your method of giving. Be sure to designate for either:

Honduras - Matthew Keiser
Honduras - School Scholarships
Honduras - Soccer

If you prefer to send a cheque to Frazer Mennonite Church, email me back and I will give instruction on how to do that.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the Lord." - Zech. 4:6

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