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

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Nutsy Castillo

Crazy Train showed up at my house the other day.
The Laureles house, not the downtown one.
I was inclined to run her off.
But she came bearing flowers.

And wood.
She's not all there, that one.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Mennonite-ing Our Way

When I saw Marcos wearing this shirt this morning everything in me wanted to play the Mennonite Game with him and ask which Hunziker's he knew.
Then I remembered that I was in Honduras.
Here Mennonite names aren't Yoder, Smucker and Kolb but rather Velasquez, Lacayo and Green.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Lauro is 15

Lauro turned 15 the other day - I really can't believe that I met him when he was yet 11. We had a very private celebration at Maureen's house, just he, she and I..and some Tres Leches cake. Lauro is not into public displays of thoughtfulness but he very much needs attention and acknowledgement - this was perfect for him.

Lauro is an enigma, he is at once sweet and affectionate, compassionate and generous yet also easily angered, jealous, rebellious, and knows how to hold a grudge. His life has been one of rejection; his mother repeatedly abandoned them through the course of his childhood, leaving the family to beg for food from other families in the community while she shacked up with other men in Laureles. She finally left them for good when Lauro was 9, moving to the other side of the country with another man. Lauro then was a raised by his father until he got a new wife who in due time let it be known that she had no interest in raising another woman's sons. Lauro's father then essentially chased he and his brother Checho out of the house and left them to fend for themselves. And that's what he does, he works from 6 in the morning until 9 at night selling and counting and loading bananas - there is no thought for studying, nor plans for such; there is no time. I worry for Lauro - he's willful, long's to be a grown man, to experience the grown-up life and everything that comes with it. I love this kid, want the best for him and see so much potential in his life; and I see the path he's headed down. Pray for young and still quite innocent Lauro.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Eastern Mennonite Missions

Going Where The Church Is Not...
How Cacho got this shirt is beyond me - but he is definitely where the Church is not yet.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Honduras May Update

Greetings all from Blistering Honduras,
I trust this finds you well and enjoying the beauty and wonder that is Spring in North America. We don’t have Spring in Honduras we have heat waves, blistering, incessant, inescapable heat waves – they’re not nearly as beauteous or wondrous, let me assure you. That little weather tidbit aside though life here in Honduras has quickly gotten back to normal – it’s been a little over a month now that I’ve been back after a 4 month break and I’ve been surprised and relieved at how smooth the transition has been. This then is my May update relating the events of the previous month, specifically as it relates to the transition back into life and ministry here.
The Big Move Out
A lot has changed from last year, principally my living situation - I no longer live in Los Laureles but rather am back living in the apartment I was in for my first 3 years in Honduras. This has been a truly mixed-bag of emotions; we (EMM) still have the home in Los Laureles and I do spend a goodly portion of my week there, tidying up, sitting on the front porch and entertaining people. Blas and Santos still live there, though they now care for themselves, and very often I will spend my Saturday nights there so that I can wake up in the community on Sunday morning and get our group of kids around for church. I don't want to disparage the year that I lived in Los Laureles - I really do miss it in fact, but the act of living there limited the amount of time I actually truly visited other people in their homes. People instead visited me and did so around my schedule. It limited my time for activities with the youth of the community, as much of my life was occupied by maintaining my home, caring for the guys living with me and searching for water. And it limited the amount of quiet, alone time I had - the only time I had to myself was either early in the morning or late at night. Now though that I'm back living where I was prior to life in Laureles I'm finding that the rest of my life is finding balance as well; I'm spending my days in people's homes, my focus when I'm in the community is on the kids, their needs and our different activities and I have much more time to myself for rest and reflection. It's hard sometimes, in fact it doesn't feel quite right when I have to leave the community in the evening; I love that place and everything in me wants to stay - wants to have my place, my home be there in Laureles. I very often miss just sitting on the front porch late at night and watching the stars, I miss being part of the community in a deeper way. I'm seeing the good in not living there though and the balance I feel in my life tells me that I'm living right where God wants me right now.
One More Meeting
This also has been a month of meetings and if my calendar serves me well, this next month will hold more of the same. Much of my time has been spent in support-style meetings and studies, things that I longed for and missed out on for the first 4 years of my experience here. I now have a regular mentor that I can physically meet with as opposed to having to meet over the internet; I’ve known him for almost 5 years now and am so happy to have him speaking wisdom and encouragement into my life, even if he is a Presbyterian. For the first time in a long time I’m also working in a larger EMM-team setting, with 5 Eby’s and 3 YES Team members we could open up an old-fashioned mission compound. We all meet together twice a week, once for Bible study and once for team planning and ministry coordination. Of course they all cut out of here in July and I think I’m really going to miss the input and support once they’re gone, but for now I really appreciate their presence and help here.
Finally, just about 2 weeks ago we formed an oversight board made up of members of the two main Anabaptist churches in Honduras and to eventually include a few members of the Los Laureles community. Andrew Eby sat in on the meeting as he’s been handling the administration of the school scholarship program this year and I think we were both very encouraged by the tone and optimism of the board members. We received a lot of affirmations but also a lot of suggestions and vision for the future, especially with regards to the School Scholarship program. I came away encouraged and energized; a lot of their ideas were things I had been ruminating on even from the beginning but in being one person, had felt overwhelmed to implement. I never knew where to start. With this board I feel like there is support for my work, a group to help discern the vision and future and people to help me implement the needed changes. In a lot of ways, I feel like a weight of guilt has been lifted – guilt for not being able to run the program as well as I might like; with this new group I have real hope for the quality of the project.

New Ministry Direction and Prayer Request

This past week I began a discipleship program with 4 youth that I have been close with since my time here in Los Laureles began. These are 4 guys, leaders amongst their peers, on distinct paths (career/education-wise) and in varying relationship with Jesus (some closer than others). I will be meeting separately with each one so as to be able to tailor our time to their specific needs. Be in prayer for each one of them: Duke, Cristian, Chihua and Checho. Please pray especially for Checho – I have spent many, many hours sometimes whole days with him, counseling him, encouraging him, simply trying to be a support to him. He’s 17, in 8th grade, works by day and studies at night. He has to support himself because his father has essentially disowned him and his younger brother Lauro. The weight of that responsibility has weighed on him recently and he’s been very discouraged. He doesn’t see much hope in the future, is not sure that this education thing is any guarantee of a better life – and I think he kind of feels sorry for himself; his mother ran away when he was 11, his father disowned him, if he doesn’t work, he doesn’t eat. Life’s not easy right now, pray for encouragement, for support and for wisdom in speaking into his life.
That’s all for now – thanks for taking the time to read through this and once again thank you all for your continued support and prayers. I felt them as much as ever in the 4 months that I was home and rarely a day goes by that I don’t realize that were it not for you all and your faithfulness, I would not be here and this work and ministry in Los Laureles could not exist. Thank you and Blessings to you.
Matt Keiser
P.S. – Remember too to subscribe to my weekly, sometimes daily, blog: www.honduraskeiser.blogspot.com
Los Laureles Life
April 2012

“'Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty.” – Zechariah 4:6

Monday, May 7, 2012

How Do You Celebrate Communist-Utopian Pipe Dreams?

This past Tuesday, May 1st, as I'm sure you all know, was the International Day of the Worker, that "cherry on top" of heady 19th Century Socialism and the reforms that it extracted from weak and ineffectual politicians, mostly of the European variety. If you have no idea as to what I am talking about it may be because the day was never anything more than an empty symbol, a kind of "finger in the eye" to all those Capitalist Fatcats, who apparently, by virtue of being succesful, aren't workers.

The day was originally intended to be an international holiday for all those unsuccesful-types i.e. workers, to commemorate the brave socialist martyrs that had gone on before and to rally for more workers' rights (is that noble task ever really over?); but it never quite worked out as such. Those of you living in the U.S.A. have never celebrated an international-style workers' fiesta on May 1st because 120 years ago old Grover Cleveland, in not wanting to give a foothold to the blossoming Socialist movement, agreed to establish a national holiday for the "worker" but moved it to September just to show Eugene Debbs, Jane Addams and the rest of their rabble who was in charge. Later on down the road, just to really stick it to the Leninists, Congress actually declared May 1st "Americanization Day", whatever that means; and since 1958 it's been celebrated as "Loyalty Day", which sounds even more ambiguous, but also not terribly communist-revolution-inducing, which I guess was kind of the point. And that's why we celebrate Labor Day in September with retail discounts and car sales. I truly hope you see the irony in that.

So what in the world does all of that have to do with Honduras? Well Honduras, true to their penchants for celebrating anything that comes down the pike and throwing meaningless, symbolic bones to dirt-poor, landless peasants, does celebrate May Day as "El Dia del Trabajador". How, you might ask? Well the true peasants, those that scrimp and scrape and live on the fringes of society - people like garbage collectors, banana sellers, bus drivers, mom and pop store owners, waitresses and fisherman; those people keep right on working. Everyone else though, the bank tellers, the government workers (and there's a lot of them), the franchise owners and teachers (when do they work?) - they all celebrate this socialist sacred cow by going to the beach; it sounds so very soviet doesn't it. Oh the dripping irony of it all, here we are in the 2nd poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, what ought to be a Communist's playground, and instead of large workers' rallies and demonstrations for more rights; on this day of international 99%-style solidarity, the true poor keep right on working whilst the capitalist middle and upper classes take the day to do that most bourgeois of activities, sun-bathing.

So how did we Gringos celebrate this day of tribute to Mother Jones, Karl Marx and his brother Groucho?
We did what any disaffected, disillusioned, culture-less expatriates would do in this situation.
We set up a booth in the park selling mildly provocative buttons and handing out poorly-written communist literature advocating everything from violent, anarchic revolution to the abolition of gender.

 Just kidding.
We took a cue from our Honduran hosts and kicked it into party mode.
Except in being Mennonite Missionaries we chose not to participate in the activities depicted in the above photo and instead headed for the river with Nelson from church and apparently everyone he's ever met. Seriously, he just must have invited his entire rolodex to his own personal partay in the mountains.

So we came here to Nelson's property in the mountains, where in true soviet fashion, we gourged ourselves on sides of beef, whole chickens and hamhocks. And then we swam.

Just so we're all clear out there in Blogger-land, whenever I use a disambiguous "we" anytime in the next 3 months I will almost assuredly be referring to myself and this year's crop of slaves.
In this photo Slave John is remarking to Slave Nick that something is afoot up yonder on them rocks and oughtn't they check it out.
(Forgive me if I offend with my use of regional coloquialisms but Slave John is from Ohio and in that I would never debase myself be actually speaking to someone from Ohio, I can't quite be sure how this conversation went - thus the aforementioned offending colloquialism is my best guess.)

Slave Nick shows his aptitude for Cardinal Directions by actually pointing to the region they had already been discussing.

And away they swim, though to where we're not quite yet sure.

Well here's a clue, Slave Jetmir (Sounds awfully communist that name, I'll have to keep my eye on that one.)...Slave Jetmir appears to be looking down on his fellow slaves and encouraging them to join him.

(With that communist name of his I should imagine he's inviting them to join in some sort of violent overthrow of my reign and regime.)

And away go the two similarly dressed, similary hued slaves, scurrying up the rocks.

I was right, Slave Jetmir was high above on a cliff beckoning to his brothers. Perhaps in a defeated state of desperation from my tyrannical rule he shall throw himself to the mercy of the churning waters below.

By-the-bye, I invited Lauro along for the day just to have a little sanity in my life.
He was anything but impressed by these three chuckleheads and their less than deft scrambling over low-lying rocks.

Back to our One-man Communist Sleeper Cell.
I was right, he had grown weary of his mortal coil, and my incessant and exasperating demands for more iced-coffee, and decided to let nature have its way with him in the raging river below.
Though ever defiant, even to the end, instead of death-leaping in any sort of traditional sense (can leaps of death really have a traditional method?), he chose to simply lean forward and fall head-first to his demise.

Fortunately though for me (and EMM's insurance company), Slave Jetmir did nothing more than make an inordinately massive splash (must be all them flour tortillas he's been putting away here).
Consuela though, in the foreground, was so impressed that she was spontaneously moved to applaud.
Well done Slave Jetmir.

The twin slaves arrive soon after Slave Jetmir's face-plant and suddenly begin to rethink this plan of jumping to their doom. Perhaps King Matt's reign is more benevolent than what they had given it credit for. (It isn't, but at 25 feet up in the air even I and my autocratic oppression appear worth giving a second chance.)

Lauro, the only sane one in the whole group - grew tired of the charade and opted to return to the BBQ pit to see if there were any racks of lamb left.

Suddenly Comrade Jetmir appears out of the murky depths and surfaces under a bubbling waterfall, resplendant in the afternoon cloud-cover.
(This is not his best profile shot, but it fit the story line.)

Slave Nick takes heart, rededicates himself to Marxist living and leaps.

 Comrade Jetmir wrings his hands in evil delight. One slave down, one to go, and a revolution will have been born - no more King Matt.

But Slave John won't jump - he considers, and reconsiders, sits down, stands up, rubs his chin and still, Slave John won't jump.

He keeps mumbling things like:
"Them look like mighty pawerful waves down thar!"
"I mightin be able to jump off this here stone iffin I were to have a pull on that jug uh recipe yous got there."

(Again, I can't be sure that he said these things verbatim as I stopped up my ears when he began to speak, but in that he's from Ohio I would imagine this was as close to intelligible English that he was able to manage.)

Regardless, King Matt may just be saved.

After about an hour of these shenanigans Comrade Jetmir begins to lose heart. He and Comrade Nick leave the tranquil pool and...

Join in on an Old-Timey Socialist Workers' Rally where they hear speeches about the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, The Jungle and Child-Labor Laws.
They log their demands with the Complaints Committee and head off to...
 dance the Maypole at Bryn Mawr College, an all-girls school, where they chant "Death to the Patriarchy" as they dance. This doesn't make much sense to Comrade Nick but he joins in just the same.

 They return from their May Day events to the BBQ pit to find that there's still one cow alive after all the meat that was consumed that day. The two comrades, in true Leninist fashion, invite the cow to join their cause, which she unwittingly does; at which point they point out to her their need to eat and her obvious ability to fulfill that need. She doesn't understand until the recite to her that old communist maxim,
 "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a...",

wait that's the wrong ideology.

They recite, "From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs".
The docile comrade cow obliges and Comrades Nick and Jetmir gourge themselves on Comrade Cow.

Slave, now Comrade John seeing this feasting as it occurs and remembering that he too is hungry, finally makes the leap of faith into the torment below crying out as he falls,
 "Ima eat me some Mountain Oysters Comrades!"
(Or at least I assume that's what he said.)
Not realizing of course that the cow was a female.

the Party is over.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Home-Made Fun

mateo with cousins rene and guiselle