The first in a series of never-posted posts!

While going though old files on my laptop, I found this never-posted post saved in my Mission folder. It’s dated February 17, 2009.

(By the way, I know I never posted about my visit to Honduras in February 2010. I hope that this will be the first in a series of never-posted posts… but I’m not making any promises!)

Útiles and School Shoes

Tuesday I had one of those moments of clarity that reminded me of how much I still have to learn from the poor. I thought I’d share it with all of you because it illustrates the sort of difficulties many of our kids are facing, as well as their inexplicable strength of character.

Two little boys (ages 9 and 11) came to the door this morning asking Carol for útiles (school supplies). Normally, we only give útiles twice a year to the children in our discipleship programs, since we can’t afford to give them out to the entire neighborhood, and the students who attend our classes regularly are generally the more responsible students. For these boys, however, we made an exception. They weren’t on any of our class lists because they live too far away to come to Casa Guadalupe every week. They have nine other siblings (two of their older sisters work as housekeepers in Casa Guadalupe), and their father is an abusive alcoholic. Somehow, they manage not only to pass their classes but to be straight-A students.

They came to us because their mother wasn’t able to purchase anything that they needed for school this year. Their teachers, they said, had warned them that they wouldn’t be allowed to attend classes without the proper uniforms, shoes and supplies, and they had also been asked to pay 500 Lempiras (about $25 USD) each in fees – an outrageous amount for such a poor family.

After Kathy took their measurements for uniforms, I escorted them over to Casa Guadalupe and prepared two grocery bags of school supplies from the leftovers we had in our bodega. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the sort of notebooks they needed. I was trying to figure out what to do about this when another little boy, smaller than the first two, showed up. Our little brother is going to school this year, too, they explained. “Oh. Why didn’t you tell me that before?” I asked. They shrugged. Perhaps they thought that three bags would be too much to ask for, and they had planned on sharing.

Once I’d prepared a bag of útiles for the littlest boy, I was about to usher them out the door when they asked me if I had any school shoes to give them. I told them that I didn’t have a key to the closet where the donated shoes are kept. Could they come back in a few days? Just then, one of the smaller boys bent down and pulled on the toe of his right shoe, revealing a gaping hole that left all of his toes sticking out. He then looked at me and said, wiggling his toes: “Pero mire como ando.” – “But look at how I’ve been going around.” Not complaining, not asking for sympathy, just stating a fact: they’re never going to let me go to school with shoes like this.

Please, God, I prayed. You’ve got to provide shoes for these little ones somehow!

I immediately went to look for Brother Paul, and he informed me that one of the boys’ discipleship groups was using the classroom I needed access to – if the boys could wait an hour, we could try and look for shoes for them then. I asked if they wouldn’t mind waiting an hour, and the oldest quickly answered, “No, no – that’s not a problem at all.”

I was headed to the library to spend some time cataloguing books, so I invited them to come and take a look in the window. “Wow, computers,” one of them breathed. “We’re going to learn how to use computers at school!” another piped up. “Do you guys like going to school?” I asked. The oldest nodded emphatically. I invited them to come back during library hours, and they reminded me that they live too far away to come very often. “Well, come when you can,” I said.

They spent the rest of the hour playing fútbol descalzo (barefoot soccer) in the cancha with a half-deflated volleyball. Once I was finally able to get into the shoe closet, to my great disappointment I saw that there were hardly any shoes left that would be suitable for school. (All the students here, elementary through high school, are required to have black dress shoes and white tennis shoes for school. Naturally, that makes things a bit difficult for families who can’t afford to buy their children any shoes at all.) Brother Paul helped me to find two pairs of black shoes and one pair of tennies that looked like they might fit the boys, and I took them to the boys, hoping beyond hope that they would fit. They hurriedly tried them on, and although all three pairs were a little bit too big, they exclaimed all at once, “They fit! They fit! Thanks!”

Now, what kid in the States would be so excited to get a pair of used school shoes that (a) they didn’t even get to pick out, and (b) didn’t even fit very well?

They promised to come back and visit the library when they could, and I sure hope they do. They’re the reason God brought me to Honduras, and I know He’s using them to teach me how to have a truly grateful heart.

¡Felices Pascuas!

Happy Easter to all! Christ is risen indeed, Alleluia! Let the 50 days of feasting begin!

Update: the new blog(s) are almost ready for posting… I’m so sorry I still haven’t posted here about my trip to Honduras. I still plan to do so. In the meantime, thank you for your patience!

And here’s my favorite Easter hymn, the Regina Coeli (prayed during the Easter Season in place of the Angelus):

Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Something new in the works?

Photos from my trip to Honduras still to come!

Just thought y’all might like to know that I will most likely launch a new blog very soon! I’m not going to say anything else about it just yet… only that if all goes well, the new blog will actually be TWO new blogs, one in English and one in Spanish! The content will be identical, for the most part, except when a post on the English blog references a resource (a link or video, for example) which is not available in Spanish, or vice-versa.

I am still settling into my new job – hope to have more time to post next week!

Pax Vobiscum –

The blog lives! (for now, at least)

My apologies for yet another long absence! I have plenty of excuses, of course – but the only one worth mentioning is that I needed some time to decide whether or not to continue blogging.

I began this blog for two reasons: (a) I wanted to keep a sort of “digital scrapbook” of my adventures as a missionary, and (b) I planned to use it as a means of communication with friends and family while I was living abroad. Then, after the expulsion of President Zelaya last summer, I returned to the States and discovered a third use for the blog: a way to help my English-speaking acquaintances to understand what was happening during the Honduran political crisis. Now that the political situation has settled down considerably, and now that I have discerned that I will be staying in the States for a while, I’m left wondering what exactly I should blog about.

If I start blogging on a regular basis again, I would like my writing to have a specific focus, a purpose – a mission, if you will. It can’t just be about what’s going on in my life, or about my opinions, my likes and dislikes. Plenty of people have blogs that talk about themselves, and that’s not wrong. (In fact, I check quite a few of them regularly!) I just know that I ought to be writing about something else.

If anyone’s got suggestions for the topic/focus/theme of this blog, please send them my way. I will be flying to Honduras on Tuesday for a short visit, so you’ve got a week to think it over. Upon my return, I plan to post photos and reflections from my trip, and then, if I’ve got a compelling reason to keep the blog, I just might start doing weekly posts again.

I’ll be keeping all of you in prayer – please do pray for me as well!

Pax Vobiscum –

A child is born!

Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Adoration of the Shepherds

Merry Christmas! May the peace of Christ fill your hearts, especially as we celebrate His coming to earth. Let us worship Him together and rejoice! Our God has come to earth to save us! “Behold, your salvation comes!” (Isaiah 62:11).

The Nativity
By G. K. Chesterton

The thatch on the roof was as golden,
Though dusty the straw was and old,
The wind had a peal as of trumpets,
Though blowing and barren and cold,
The mother’s hair was a glory
Though loosened and torn,
For under the eaves in the gloaming
A child was born.

Have a myriad children been quickened,
Have a myriad children grown old,
Grown gross and unloved and embittered,
Grown cunning and savage and cold?
God abides in a terrible patience,
Unangered, unworn,
And again for the child that was squandered
A child is born.

What know we of aeons behind us,
Dim dynasties lost long ago,
Huge empires, like dreams unremembered,
Huge cities for ages laid low?
This at least—that with blight and with blessing,
With flower and with thorn,
Love was there, and his cry was among them,
“A child is born.”

Though the darkness be noisy with systems,
Dark fancies that fret and disprove,
Still the plumes stir around us, above us
The wings of the shadow of love:
Oh! Princes and priests, have ye seen it
Grow pale through your scorn;
Huge dawns sleep before us, deep changes,
A child is born.

And the rafters of toil still are gilded
With the dawn of the stars of the heart,
And the wise men draw near in the twilight,
Who are weary of learning and art,
And the face of the tyrant is darkened,
His spirit is torn,
For a new king is enthroned; yea, the sternest,
A child is born.

And the mother still joys for the whispered
First stir of unspeakable things,
Still feels that high moment unfurling
Red glory of Gabriel’s wings.
Still the babe of an hour is a master
Whom angels adorn,
Emmanuel, prophet, anointed,
A child is born.

And thou, that art still in thy cradle,
The sun being crown for thy brow,
Make answer, our flesh, make an answer,
Say, whence art thou come—who art thou?
Art thou come back on earth for our teaching
To train or to warn—?
Hush—how may we know?—knowing only
A child is born.

Looking for Christmas music you won’t get tired of hearing?

That’s a clip from the L’Angelus Christmas album, O Night Divine, available here. Since I didn’t have time to write a real post this week, please allow me to make a shameless plug for my super-talented friends! Buy their CDs! Give them as gifts! All of their albums are fantastic – and I think you’ll agree that they’ve got a pretty unique musical style.

Wanna hear more from this Cajun family band? You can find more video clips on their web Site. Enjoy! Hope you’re all having a blessed Advent!

Tomorrow’s the big day!

Now’s the time to pray, pray, pray for the people of Honduras! Let’s pray together…

  • that the elections tomorrow would be peaceful, transparent and fair
  • that the Honduran people would elect leaders determined to fight corruption, to reject godless socialist ideologies, and to defend the dignity of the human person (I’m not sure any of the candidates even meet this description!)
  • that the international community would recognize the results of a fair election in Honduras

Our Lady of Suyapa, pray for us! Pray for Honduras!
Saint Thomas More, patron of politicians, pray for us!