Showing posts from April, 2012

A Letter from the Mission Field (28 March 2012)

Greetings Everyone!
I am making great progress in the study of Spanish, thanks to the tireless, patient efforts of my teachers at the Ixbalanque School. In addition,  I have become involved with the local church, offering my design services, as needed.  I have provided several  sketches for the Holy Trinity Church in La Ceiba (on the north coast) and construction plans for the Church of the Holy Spirit's parish hall in Santa Rita(a few miles from Copan). Furthermore, I have a request for a schematic design of another evangelical church in Santa Rita.

Beyond architecture, I feel called to reach out to the very poor. However, because of the overwhelming and unyielding needs here, it is hard to know where to begin.
On the edges of life, I have seen great hardship. 
The other day, I saw a man, without legs, drag himself through the streets by his arms. He had strapped tire treads to the trunk of his body to protect himself against the concrete and the cobble stones of the street. On anot…

Learning from Purim

A few a weeks ago was the Jewish holiday of Purim.   One of the special mitvot (commands) of this holiday is to remember the poor. And, especially, to help them face to face.
I found an interesting article, which started with this midrash (a story told to make a point) from the Talmud.   The message is worth reflecting upon.
Mar Ukbar was a righteous man, who every Shabat on the way  home from synagogue, would slip some coins under the door of his poor neighbors. One day, his neighbor decided to find out, who his benefactor was. However, when he opened the door, Mar Ukbar with his wife fled, preferring anonymity.  They hid in a large stone oven,

which had been recently cleaned. Mar Ukbar's feet started to burn, so his wife told him to put them on hers.   Mar Ukbar was tiffed that his feet were burning, and not his wife's. She obviously was being protected by God's hand.  "What's with this?", he asked her abruptly.  "When I am at home," she replied,  &quo…

Tropical Cooling Systems

Every three months, foreigners have to leave Honduras to renew their visa. I took the opportunity to visit Rio Dulce, Guatemala, experiencing, first hand, the natural ventilation of the palm-covered wooden bungalows typical to the area.   I have to say that I was impressed.
These lightly-built houses are typical to tropical areas. Similar structures are found as far away as Asia.  
Their cooling strategy begins with the large screened windows permanently open under the roof at both gable ends.  The screens are a modern improvement to prevent mosquitos, which can be dangerous in the tropics.  The bungalow, itself, is oriented in the direction of the prevailing wind. My bungalow pointed toward the river, which had at least a 10  knot Wind Scoop at Ceiling.
wind blowing in the day, and at night, just a breath of air. In addition, these buildings are constructed above the jungle floor on wooden piles, which help catch the more frequent, higher breezes.   (The other purpose is to keep out the f…

Violence in Honduras

Even before the death of Natalie, many of you have been asking me about the violence in Honduras.   The Washington Post recently ran an article, claiming that Honduras was the murder capital of the world, with a homicide rate of 82.1 per 100,000 (Mexico is 18.1 and the US is 5.0). In addition, the U.S. Peace Corps has decided to withdraw from Honduras for the protection of its volunteers.
The news and statistics are frightening, as is the loss of someone in our community. But, in reality, much of the violence occurs only within certain barrios of the two big cities, San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, or in the drug-infested jungles of eastern Honduras.  Most communities are safe in the daytime.  The countryside is  more safe than the city. Copan Ruinas, where I am, is extremely safe both  in the day and night. International Homicide Rates
Source: Washington Post

Most Hondurans at- tend to their business without concern during the day. However, at night,  people agree that it is safer to remai…

Ven Senor Jesus (Come Lord Jesus)

The most remarkable claim of Christianity is that God has come into the world.   It is remarkable because most of us, at times, have  felt like orphans. It is the answer we want to hear, that God does indeed love us  .... if we can only accept it. But we live in an age of skepticism.  Many in science (which  itself is neutral on question of God) prefer theories, excluding any hint of a divine explanation.  Is this even reasonable, when we are talking about cosmology? Yet this doubt pervades our whole culture, casting shadows over all of us. 
Even the saints have experienced the dark night.
St. Anselm, a Benedictine monk and scholar, writes: "If You are everywhere, why do I not see Your presence? Truly You dwell in unapproachable light. But where is the unapproachable light, or how shall I come to it? Or who shall lead me to that light and into it, that I may see you in it? Again, by what signs, under what form, shall I seek you? I have never seen you, O Lord, my God; I do not know yo…

Christmas and New Years in Honduras

I was surprised to find a Christmas Tree in the Copan's central park.  As far as I can remember, there were no Christmas trees in Bethlehem; and Santa was a Greek bishop in Turkey, (back then, Anatolia)  who never wore a red jumpsuit.

Nevertheless, both symbols are popular here. Living under the shadow of the US, the children are influenced by our television shows, and demand from their parents  both Santa Claus and Christmas trees.   And, of course, the bottom line,  Christmas gifts. 

Here, Christmas Eve is the big day, or I should say big night, for celebration.  For weeks before hand, everybody is buying fireworks from the back of pickups, everything from sparklers to rocket bombs.   At sunset, the show starts with an explosion here and rocket there.  If you wander outside, as I did,  watch out for the low-flying missiles racing by fast and furiously, across street and park.  Slowly it builds, leading to the great crescendo at midnight.  At the stroke of twelve, everybody lets l…