Tuesday, December 31, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
(even in spite of the two middle-fingers being thrown up behind my left shoulder)
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Sunday, October 6, 2013
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 more and more every day...that's really all I can say. I'm just so proud of him.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Friday, June 21, 2013
Monday, June 10, 2013
So much about Los Laureles and the people there has changed in an inexorable way this past year that when I think on trying to find a place again within its daily rhythms, a certain malaise takes hold and I quick have to think on something else for fear of growing despondent and thus emoting. I don't like to emote; you know this. I know life and time marches on and that nothing remains fixed; only God is immutable, and I think sometimes that my desire to see things unchanged is one more of a need for control and a desire to actually be God than anything else. I too blame myself for some of the more negative change that has occurred in my absence; thinking, wrongly of course, that if only I'd been there that life might have gone differently for certain people. I think this about Cristian mostly, I have to believe that he wouldn't have dared pulled his stunt if I were still a fixture in the Laureles community. I think this too about Sergio. He called me a month ago to inform me that his girlfriend was pregnant and that they would be moving in together in short order.
I wanted to cry.
All that I had worked for, the youth that I had invested in the most with my time and money and love had rejected everything I had taught them just for some simple, base pleasure.
Not so unlike their mentor then as it turns out.
Sergio called me to inform and quasi-confess but I could hear his voice straining for something more and my hesitation at an audible response was a little disconcerting to him. He asked me in a shaky voice if I still loved him. I responded immediately that I did and that I always would, no matter thee circumstance. The tension between us faded instantly and we began talking about the future, about his impending responsibilities and fatherhood. Change was upon us and we had to make the best of it.
I hate change but it is inevitable and the more it happens, the more I realize how much God truly is in control and is working all things out for the Good. Moreover, I realize more and more how little control I have in this life, and that that's a good thing.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
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 future government:
You would not be allowed to be poor. You would be forcibly fed, clothed, lodged, taught, and employed whether you like it or not. If it were discovered that you have not character and industry, you might possibly be executed in a kindly manner.
~ The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism
- John Taylor Gatto
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
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 child or two though before that happens. They call it "robbing your girlfriend" because presumably, the family of the girl, those people that have cared for her and raised her, are not privy to or in agreement with the idea of the young girl and boy suddenly moving in together and setting up a home. Nevertheless, this is par for the course in Los Laureles and the way that most young couples end up getting together. As an aside, I know of one young couple where the boy hid his girlfriend under his bed for a week until the father of the girl gave up hope and stopped looking for her; at which point she promptly reappeared in public and announced that she was pregnant. The thing of it is, it's not exactly something that's frowned upon because everyone does it and very often it's the mothers of the girls that are literally pushing their young daughters out the door and onto their boyfriends; it means one less mouth to feed.
I understand that youth grow up faster there and that the norms for what is and isn't acceptable, at least with regards to the age two people ought to marry, is certainly much different in Honduras, especially amongst the poor of Honduras. What I can't abide though is this notion, especially prevalent among the males, that manhood doesn't really arrive until you've moved into your own place and brought a girl there to live with you and take care of you. Until you "rob your girlfriend" and start your own family you're suspect and less than a man. Manuel, who lived with me for time, was always scolded by the older women who told him that he shouldn't be living with me, that he ought to steal a girl and go find his own place. He would chuckle and keep walking but I knew their words always stung him and that part of him really did want to do just that.
When I talked to Cristian about this the other night this is the sentiment that he essentially expressed. That he felt it was time that he become a man and that Lezmy would suit him just fine -- the unspoken subtext was "for now". I threw everything that I could think of at him and in the gentlest way possible. I asked him to think of both their futures, of what he was throwing away for both of them, the estrangement that it might cause with her family, and the fact that he had a job that couldn't even support himself let alone another person. Finally, I asked him to remember his committiment to Christ, one that he had made a year prior. I asked him if it was correct to "steal his girlfriend" as it were, or if instead the correct way to proceed would be to get married in the church. He answered no, that it wasn't correct and that they really ought to be properly married. Knowing which was the right path to take I told him that he really needed to return Lezmy to her family because no true minister would marry the two of them in their current state. To which he replied that he would not be doing that, he was content with Lezmy where she was, as was she.
I had nothing left to say, I fancy myself a fairly persuasive person and can usually get people to come around to my way of thinking -- nothing can persuade teenagers with hormones that are accustomed to doing whatever they please. I told him that I loved him, that his decision carried with it unforeseen consequences, but that I loved him regardless and that I always would. He giggled. I hung up.
Monday, March 18, 2013
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
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 feel like I could once again abandon these kids and dash any chance they might have of escaping their cyclical poverty. Especially when I most certainly had the resources to help them at my disposal. I told them I'd consider it but to not count on me as their only resource; some heeded that advice, most did not.
I talked it over with Duke one night while I was there and explained that I was concerned about the logistics. In years past it's been me or another worker that's gone to the schools to sign the students up, gone with them to market to buy uniforms and supplies, checked in on them periodically to make sure grades were on par and all was going well. This year though I wouldn't be there and there would be no one else to do all the leg work. Duke looked at me seriously and offered to do it himself. I smiled, looked at him and shook his hand.
In the next few weeks before school began, Duke compiled a list of 20 high school students, some veterans of the project and others just starting out from 6th Grade. He enrolled each one in their public high school of choice and started a file on each student. He went to market and brokered deals with the uniform vendors, the shoe salesmen and the school supply houses and came back to me with lists of needed items and their prices. He went to the Western Union once or twice a week to receieve the funds as I sent them down and then went back to market with each individual student to purchase their supplies. School began 2 weeks ago and he's now taken on the task of making sure our students are punctual, prepared and fulfilling their end of the deal; a month ago he sat them all down as a group and informed them that if they didn't try their hardest to get good grades that he would personally kick them out of the project and take back their school uniform. He called the other night asking that I make a warning call to one of the girls because he didn't like her lazy attitude.
I've felt for Duke this past month, I'm not sure if he realized just what he was getting himself into; what kind of gargantuan task he'd taken on. He's had mothers of children not in the project begging him to let their child in so that they too can study. He's had to herd 20 high schoolers through the process of enrollment and supply procurement with plenty of complaints along the way and he's had to be stingy with what little money we have. I've been impressed though, he's grown a lot in just the last month both as a person and in the eyes of the community. I'm excited for the what future holds for him.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
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.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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 still resides in La Ceiba with Maureen. Furthermore, if they would like to visit her, they are more than welcome to schlep down to Barrio Alvarado and stand at Maureen's gate where they will be sure to see a black streak chasing small animals and any children that happen to be in the yard. There's almost always a brief pause and then the question:
"Is Keiser yet pregnant?"
"No, not yet...Maureen thinks it's not yet time." Is my typical response.
"We'll please tell her to give us a puppy when the time does come." They usually say.
"Oh most definitely." I return.
As it stands now Keiser is on the hook for about 40 offspring...she'd better get crackin'!
Monday, February 4, 2013
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
I spent the night at Duke's house as it was too late to catch a taxi and the next morning, when I stepped out onto the front stoop, there was Lauro hanging on the front gate, staring at me. I sat down on my haunches in the dirt front yard and gestured with my hand that he should come in. Without hesitation he opened the gate and shuffled over to my side where he squatted and stared down at the ground. I didn't know what else to say to him so I said:
"Lauro I've missed you. I love you too."
He smiled. "What's up Gringo?" he asked.
"Nada" I said "Just here, hanging out. What are we gonna do today?" I asked.
He looked up at me. "I don't know, what do you think?"
"Well for starters I need to run some errands, let's get cleaned up and head downtown."
He jumped up, ran off to his house and was back within 15 minutes, changed and ready to go.
I know I've remarked on Lauro's eccentricities before and after having known him for 4 years, really nothing ought to surprise me. Yet everytime Lauro behaves as Lauro does I am astounded by the depth of his raw emotion - how easily jilted and betrayed he can feel; also how affectionate and faithful he can be. He must have snubbed me and in turn begged me for attention at least 10 times while I was there visiting. It no longer phases me, I just know that with time and an apology (whether deserved or not) that he will always return to being one of my closest companions.
I do worry for him - he's since left Los Laureles; gone to the south of the country to find his mother whom he hasn't seen in nearly 7 years. He so desperately wants someone to love him and take care of him - needs it really, and sooner rather than later. He's growing up, he'll turn 16 in April, he's yet impressionable and not completely hardened. I don't know if it's good that he went looking for his mother or not, he may not like what he finds. I do know that he needs someone to fill that void that has been in his life since he was a young child. Pray that he finds them.