Sunday, July 27, 2014

Suffer the Little Children (Sundays In My City)

Unknown MamiSundays In My City are hosted by Unknown Mami.

I am leaving Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Did you not know that? Every post I write has that pronouncement. Maybe, I am trying to convince myself. I seldom post pictures on this blog of the children. However, these kids have captured my heart and soul. I hope and pray the images will be treated with respect.

I published these pictures of kids who are not at the border hoping for a quixotic dream. These are the kids who stayed because someone cares enough to feed them, provide a place of shelter after or before school, give them medical care and most of all, attention and love. I know I didn't do this work myself. You helped. My Honduran mothers who teach, cook, and clean helped. That's the beauty of God's work - we function as a body, each part providing what the other part lacks.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Fragments

Half-Past Kissin' Time
Friday Fragments are sponsored by Mrs4444.

I fly soon. I can measure it in hours almost as easily as days. With lots of last-minute details, my mind overflows with fragments. I leave the beloved country, Honduras, for the US. At least for now, I will live in a cabin in the woods in central Louisiana.

Today dawned cool and grey. I am wearing long sleeves and pants. It's the rainy season here, so the weather is quite balmy. Not so in the southeastern US, where I fear I may fall prostrate on the pavement as soon as I exit the airport terminal due to the extreme heat and humidity.

Does this look like an ad for a happy place? Seems crabby to me. 
I am leaving a land where the murder rate is number one, outside of war zones. Only Syria ranks higher.* I am entering a land that surveys reveal that the top 5 happiest cities are located.** The people are friendly in Louisiana. Happy? I don't know. I think they are just too polite to say anything else to Yankees who ask silly questions on the phone.

Yesterday, I enjoyed seasonal delights of the region, a few last splurges before leaving. Fried plantain chips with hot sauce, sliced mango, and fresh, warm corn tortillas. Today? Maybe I will find a glass of cool horchata. Definitely, I am packing Copan coffee to savor in the months ahead.

If you want to read more details about the fate of Pepe, the beloved Toyota, or the whereabouts of my monster-dog, please take a look at yesterday's post. 

Now, off to pack those last odds and ends.

*Source: NPR, Who are the Kids of the Migrant Crisis?
**Source: NBCNews:Top 5 Happiest Cities

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Racing to Gumboland

The days speed unnaturally toward my departure date from Honduras. The laws of science have been altered as the hours quicken, even in the land of perpetual maƱana. Today, I drain the pool. I will divide up my personal clothes, odds and ends. I will leave with 2 suitcases.  Later this year, a friend will transport a few things across Guatemala and Mexico. Kevin is a brave and faithful friend to many missionaries in Honduras.  
Tomorrow, el fin!, Pepe Burro will be sold. I have great affection for that Toyota Hilux. He has served me well through the years. The rental house will get a good scrubbing tomorrow as the last of my furniture is delivered to new owners or donated to individuals and ministries. 

Next week, I head back to Gumboland. What I will do I do not know. I will live, at least temporarily in a house in the woods. It's rent-free. Can't beat that. When I get to New Orleans, I will pick up keys to the cabin in the woods, then head to northern Mississippi to pick up the dog. Then, monster-dog and I head to central Louisiana, fending off wild hogs, ticks and rednecks among hundreds of acres of forest land. 

How long will I live in the cabin in the woods? I don't know, but I suspect it won't be for long. 

Stay tuned.   

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Children, Honduras, and Immigration

The frog sits at the entrance of the International Children's Museum in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Is he thinking about the mass exodus of children from Honduras and other Central American countries? Is he thinking of the millions left behind? 

Frogs, at least metal sculptures, don't think. I think. And, I think about these kids daily.

I don't want to state facts one can find in media everywhere. I will just state what I know to be true in my experience.

I know of no one who has sent children to the US border. I hear some believe that the journey is worth the risk, and asylum waits for their progeny in the Great Land to the north.

I know that fear of disease spreading to US communities are contemptible. Honduras has higher rates of childhood immunizations (slightly higher) than the United States. In all my time here working with the poor, I have seen one case of measles. I have not seen any other communicable diseases.

I know of hundreds of children who are not leaving for the border because they are receiving meals, education, and a chance for a better life through nonprofit and Christian groups working in Honduras.

This issue is complex. Of course, the US border must be stabilized. Hondurans, and other nationals of Central America, need to understand that asylum for minors is not guaranteed. And yes, we must consider the children and their needs, as well. Nothing will be solved to anyone's satisfaction without leaders stepping forward and making thoughtful, hard choices.

My hope is that leadership, strong leadership, in both Central America and North America, will find the will to tackle the issue of Central American children migrating northward. However, I have a stronger hope than that of trusting in nations', in leaders, or even in the good will of Christian people. My strong hope lies in the Son of God. I take comfort in the sure knowledge that peace will one day reign.

For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end. Isaiah 9: 6-7a

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday's Fragments

I am leaving Honduras to live in the US in a few weeks. Everyday I think of things I will miss about this country. Then, I stop.  Pause. There's plenty I won't miss. So here's a fragmented, no-special-order list of stuff that's flying around in my head.

I will miss....

1.  the guy on the motorbike who rides through the 'hood twice a day, selling his mom's fresh tortillas. What could be better than hot-off-the-grill tortillas sold by a cute guy on a bike?

2. the low cost of public utilities: my phone line costs about $7, my electric bill is usually less than $20 a month, and my water is a little less than $10 per month.

3.  the sound of children everywhere. Honduras is a young country. Children playing ball, walking to and from school, calling out to one another is a constant in this place.

4. the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on sale on street corners and parked trucks all over the city and countryside.

5. the friendliness and good manners here. Yes we have notoriously high crime rates, but the culture is still a hospitable and open one, not completely frayed by poverty, gangs and drug rings.

I WON'T miss.....

1. the laissez-faire attitude about punctuality. I am from the US, and I like things to happen on time.

2. the little garbage cans by the toilets for you-know-what.

3. the complicated water system. If you have water flowing through pipes into the house, one must learn a great deal about tanks, pumps, water delivery days, etc.

4. the loud music pouring out of every neighborhood, church, market, etc at any given hour, day or night. It may make Hondurans dance, but I get cranky when I am confronted with amplified music day and night.

5. the slooowwww service in almost every restaurant, supermarket, or store. No one, I mean no one, is in a hurry here. It's just so against my cultural upbringing.

Yet, I will always carry Honduras and her people in my heart. It's a beautiful country, with mountains, lakes, waterfalls, islands, beaches, and even ancient ruins. I will miss her.

Half-Past Kissin' Time
Friday Fragments are sponsored by Mrs444.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chiminike (Sundays in My City)

Yesterday, I visited Chiminike Children's Museum in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It's a hands-on type of place. My primary companion was a five-year-old bundle of energy. The information on aeronautics, ecosystems, physiology, and electricity were not nearly as interesting as catching magnetic fish with an pole. One hopes she will remember this day of magical fish and magnetic fishing line.

Present with me also was the fourteen-year-old sister. She was not inclined to have her picture taken with tiny fishing poles or such. I did capture an image of her at the entrance to the museum, which had displays honoring the United States, the country who built this child's land of fun and education. The USA display was due to be taken down next week, after Fourth Day festivities are over.

Mom came along, too. She used to work for me. Her daughters may forget the day at the museum but mom will always remember the day I insisted she lay on a bed of nails. Some people, including her, are more than likely happy to know I am leaving Honduras soon.

Sundays In My City are hosted by Unknown Mami.

Unknown Mami

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Walk in a Dark Park Turns Dangerous

A few nights ago, I decided to walk in the neighborhood park. I suppose it was between eight and nine o'clock when my friend and I set out. Previously, I have taken short strolls later, mainly so the monster-dog can settle down for the night after finding a convenient tree or two. Never has there been a problem.

On our first turn around the park, youths chased balls in the early darkness under the brightly light of the courts. Older people were about, too. All seemed well.

We chose to strike out for another path after a few rounds, along a heavily used street. We could hear loud music and the chatter of young voices near the door of the Baptist Church. It seemed youth night was having a good turn-out.

Then, I saw it. The youth may have spilled out of the church hall, but they were closely encircled by military police, clad in black, wielding assault weapons. Of course, we turned around. How strange, I thought.

On the way home, a pick-up full of soldiers passed. More soldiers walked along the darkened sidewalks. We changed to the other side of the street as the men in military gear stopped and frisked two young adolescents. I noticed no one was out anymore, but the two unfortunate boys.
As we quietly walked to my house, a few blocks away, another truckload of soldiers approached, their faces masked, their chests protected by heavy jackets.

The next morning I asked my housekeeper if she knew the source of the heavy presence of police in our otherwise quiet neighborhood. Not since the last elections had I seen that kind of military presence.

Evidently, a fugitive from the US rented in our neighborhood, two doors away from the Baptist Church. He had false papers claiming to be Honduran. Even worse, he seems to be connected with drug trafficking between South America and the United States. Everyone in Honduras knows the drug trade has shifted from Mexico to countries to the south, in particular Honduras and Guatemala, where nearly all cocaine shipments make stops for re-fueling. Yet, the drug cartels have always seemed to favor the north coast of Honduras, hours of travel time from the capital. Why is this man here, then?

All I know is that the neighborhood is on high alert. Everyone in the past few months, even before this news, has acquired new safety measures. We have dogs. Our homes are encircled by rolls of barbed wire or other security systems. Our friendly entrance and exits are now manned, guards asking questions, turning away unfamiliar people. Our vehicles must have identification as to who we are and where we live.

For those who read this blog, you  know I am leaving Honduras soon. Security is a concern, not my only concern. My main reason to leave is because I believe I have completed my assignment here. However, I look forward to being able to leave my home after dark without fear of being in the middle of an altercation between poorly trained, overly equipped poor soldiers and intelligent, wealthy criminals with the resources that have turned this tiny, poor, beleaguered country into the murder capital of the world.

It will be nice to have the freedom to walk in a park soon.