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Showing posts from 2013

Random Scenes From the Past Month

I have no excuse. I have officially been on Christmas Break from school for more than a week now and still I have been loathe to blog. Jojo Daniele is here with me and so, as is my want, I may just shift the blame to her. She's the reason I don't blog - she just keeps me so busy. On this lazy New Year's Eve Day though, she suggested we run our morning errands and then hole up in a coffee shop and have a writing day. Here we are then and instead of writing and blogging I spent the first hour or two re-opening a Facebook account. I don't loathe blogging, I loathe myself. I have been keeping busy though and thus the following is a quick photo recap of my many pursuits these past few days. Oh, and Merry Christmas/Happy New Year from Jojo, the youth of Laureles and myself. It certainly doesn't feel like Christmastime, what with the 80 degree weather, but I suppose it's the right thing to do (send the Yuletide greetings that is).

Jojo with her "sister" Dari…

Working Down The Line

Saw this on my walk home the other day and liked the symmetry of it. That's all. 

Carlos Turns 14

One of my very favorite people of all time, Carlos Jose Ucles Ferrufino (affectionately known as Chucu), turned 14 the other day. I may not be in the community on a daily basis but I still keep my birthday calendar up-to-date and attempt to celebrate, or at the very least acknowledge, the many birthdays that come down the pike each month. Chucu though is special; he is bright, intelligent, always with a smile and quick to lend a hand. He exudes innocence and an innate sense of justice; he won my heart the day I met him back in 2009 and he's become part of the core group of Laureles folk that I trust and rely on. That said then, when his birthday came around we gathered together in his home, his mother made baleadas for the guests and we shared cake, coke and laughs. It was a lovely mid-week evening with even lovelier company.

Chucu y Mateo  Probably the only good photo taken all night.
(even in spite of the two middle-fingers being thrown up behind my left shoulder)  The rest of th…

I'm A Grandfather

I hate when people refer to themselves as the parents of their pets, or worse, when older adults begin referring to the pets of their grown children as their grandchildren. I'm not quite sure what makes me loathe it so.  I have to think that the stoic folk of my great-grandparents' generation weren't giddily anthropomorphizing every whimper and sigh that their four-legged children emitted. Did they send pictures of their pets 'round at Christmastime to help announce the Birth of Christ? Did they screen their cats for HIV/AIDS? Did they take their dogs to "Doggie-Daycare" or the local "pet spa"? Did they spend as much money on their pet's health and entertainment as they did on the children that they actually, biologically produced?  No! The salt-of-the-earth, level-headed folk of 70 years ago treated their pets like animals. They chained them outside to a tree, they gave them scraps of food off the supper-table for their dinner, they expected…

Duke Turns 17

Ok, I know I've been lax in blogging, to be honest I'd thought to give it up; really the last thing I feel like doing at the end of a long day of grading, reading and lesson planning is to start writing. What's more, I have to believe that after such a long hiatus the only person left on the planet that checks this blog with some regularity is my mother. That being said I've decided to try and give this blog-writing thing one last shot; if nothing else than for a repository of my own personal memories and photos.

What better way to start then, than with Duke and his birthday. It wasn't much of one actually, he came to church with Jojo and I this morning, left for the afternoon to play soccer and then came back to the house to watch me lesson plan. We had previously made plans to go to the beach and eat seafood with his family but his mother had to work today so he asked that we wait until this Saturday when she'll have a free day to join us. I love this kid mo…

I'm Back!

No really, I am.  Tomorrow, I begin my blogging in earnest. Tonight, I plan my lessons.

Nelmi Noehmy Artiaga Martinez

My dear friend and indefatigable supporter, Nelmi Artiaga, died last Monday. From what, no one really knows. She had been fighting chronic illness of some sort or another and had been in and out of the hospital for the past year. I am told that this past month she lost a tremendous amount of weight, bled profusely from random orifices and simply stopped eating. Nelmi leaves behind 4 children, 3 of whom are under the age of 15, and a serious void in the Los Laureles community. Always aglow with joy, always a servant, always eager to chat - Nelmi was dearly loved by everyone in the community and people there tell me that already the place seems a little deader without her laughter and quick wit. For my part, I balled when I got the call from her sister last week. Nelmi was one of the first adults to befriend me and her friendship was rock-solid; when I lived in the community she would stop by the house occasionally just to check-up on me, when ugly and false rumors once surfaced she st…

Life Upended...Again.

I'm a sentimentalist at heart and can rarely be content with the way things are "in-the-moment". In my heart I have this constant nagging suspicion that the present state of things is an aberration, a fall or slide of sorts from a more perfect time when things were more as they ought to be. I often feel as though the organizations I choose to associate with are in their death-throws and that if I could only wind back the clock a bit I might be a part of something that were in its heyday. I feel this way about my beloved city of Williamsport, about the recreational Summer swim team that I'm currently coaching, about the Mennonite Church at-large and my own home congregation, about our public school system here; heck I even get the feeling sometimes that the Lycoming Creek that flows through the City is less full than what I remember as a child. And I don't wish to turn back time to a specific date, though I do get the sense that I would have loved living in the 19…


I know it's been a long a time since I've written and whilst there is news from Laureles to recount I want to take a moment and post a quote from a book on the history of education that I'm reading. Out of context, this will mean nothing for most of you that happen to read this. In context though it is profound and chilling and has reverberations for my own "next step" in life. For that reason alone I feel that I need to get it down somewhere so that I might have it handy and referrable in the near-future. If your interest is piqued by the quote, drop me a line, if not, stay tuned and a report from Laureles shall be forthcoming.
With only niggling reservations, the Fabian brain trust had no difficulty employing force to shape recalcitrant individuals, groups, and organizations. Force in the absence of divine injunctions is a tool to be employed unsentimentally. Fabian George Bernard Shaw established the principle wittily in 1920 when he said that under a Fabian fu…

Cristian Decides It's Time To Become A Man

I asked once, to no one in particular, how I might respond the first time I discovered that one of my boys had gone and impregnated a girl...or worse: "Rain & Death In The Garbage Dump". The other week I surprised myself at the way I responded; though to be honest, there's only so much response one can give at a distance of 3000 miles.

Cristian has not impregnated anyone, at least not that I know of. He did though, at the mature and responsible age of 17 decide that it was time he took a wife. Last week one evening, while their respective families were in church, Cristian's girlfriend Lezmy, packed up her few meager belongings, leapt from her bedroom window (her aunt was in the other room) and trekked up the hill that separates her family's home from that of Cristian's. By Laureles custom the two are now married -- at least until one of the two decides that they aren't any longer -- but that's also a Laureles custom; there will probably be a chil…
A little bird alighted on my window sill the other day - he ran hither and thither on the roof in front of the window, allowed me to photograph him briefly and then fluttered off. I spend a lot of time staring out my window, often wishing I were like that bird; able to flutter off on a whim, content to let the breeze blow me where'er it might. It's a form of escapism I know; for some it's Middle Earth, others it's Gossip Girl, mine though is a combination of coffee, cloves and The Shins whilst staring out the window or in the warmer months, sitting out the window, and wishing I weren't here.  It's not an entirely unproductive passtime to be sure. I strike deals with God, make life decisions and approach true inner-peace. Escapism though is not a conduit for living in the present. For much of this past year I feared moving beyond my window gazing into interaction with others. I feared being drawn into their lives and by degrees, coming to love them. I was tire…

How About That Duke!

I've always known Duke is an amazing fellow and I've said as much not a few times; namely here, here and here. He continues to amaze me though with the man he is turning into. He's no longer simply a kid that I love and am investing in but rather a trusted friend and partner in the ongoing work in Los Laureles.

It's no secret that I no longer live in Los Laureles...or Honduras for that matter. Life as a mission worker there has come to an end and so have the many projects that once both defined my work and were the structure and support for so many kids there. The largest and in many ways most important project we ran there was the high school scholarship fund - I've written aplenty about it and won't rehash the fundamentals of it here. While down in Honduras visiting this past Christmas though, I heard from not a few youth that they wanted to keep on studying and were wondering if I might help them. I have a hard time saying no. More importantly, I didn't…

Sergio Turns 18

Checho told me last night that he wants to kill himself.

I almost lost it.

It was his birthday yesterday and only his older sister and myself remembered to send him greetings. His mother, who lives across the country, and his father, who lives in the same community, both forgot about him.

He seems lost...more than ever.

Keiser's Fixin' To Be A Momma

Maureen sent this photo yesterday with word that our beloved companion may soon be a mother. Maureen, as is her wont and nature, has been meticulous though with approving just the right suitor. She's compiled a fairly extensive list of potential mates but for various reasons; including dislike of the owner, general demeanor of the animal and gut feeling, has done a fine job of crossing off nearly every eligible bachelor within a 20 mile radius. Keiser for her part, is none the wiser and as far as we can tell is just as content to chase rats and opossums around the yard as she is to engage her maternal instinct.

An interesting sidebar: I am in near daily contact with the people of Los Laureles; I try to stay engaged in the lives of a few of the boys, but a goodly number of the adults and other children usually call me throughout the week as well, to inquire on my state and status. Inevitably the question of Keiser and her whereabouts always comes up and I always reply that Keiser s…

I'd Forgotten How Much I Love This Song

en medio de mi confusion se alzaba tu bandera...

Lauro pt. 2

I saw Lauro recently - I went visiting in the last week of December and into the first of January. I saw him the first night I arrived. He was loping down the dirt road that runs to my home there; a nonchalant gait, directionless and purposeless. He didn't know that I had arrived in the community, otherwise he wouldn't have been so conspicuous. I was huddled around an old rusting truck talking with Sergio and a few others and when I saw him coming, I hid. As he passed by I lept out at him, grabbed him and pulled him close. He smiled, twisted out of my arms and ran away. I let him go without protest. I knew he appreciated the gesture and loathed what he perceived to be the public embarrassment of it all. He stayed on our periphery the rest of the night though; making wide arcs around us and listening in on our conversation but not coming close enough to be engaged or worse yet, hugged.

I spent the night at Duke's house as it was too late to catch a taxi and the next morning…

A Winter Wonderland

It's been bitterly cold here as of late; though as I write this the mercury is steadily rising and promises to climax near 60 by Wednesday. Regardless, last week was downright Siberian in terms of weather and feel and our beloved Susquehanna River froze over just to prove it. This past Saturday, on a whim we decided to test the ice.  Standing in the middle of the river looking east towards the new Arch Street Bridge.  I sent the boys on ahead just to make sure the ice would indeed hold us.  When Bryce didn't crash through the ice we knew it was probably safe to go gallavanting.  And so I followed on behind, ever-cautious and listening for that ominous popping sound in the ice.  To be honest, it was the first that I had ever been on the Susquehanna when it was frozen solid and I was duly impressed by the splendor and majesty of the snow-covered river set against the snow-covered mountains. Josiah, with ever the eye for art, pointed me to to ice formations.
In the middle of th…