Showing posts from 2014

Letter from the Mission Field (Dec 25, 2014)

¡Feliz Navidad! and Merry Christmas! (and Happy Chanukah!)

It's Christmas again in Honduras.  It's time for parades, fireworks and eating tamales.  
The Christmas tamale  is something new for me.  A tamale is    made from  various vegetables, rice and meats, placed inside a masa (corn dough) dumpling. The dumpling, itself, is wrapped in corn leaves and steamed or boiled.  It is an ancient food of the Mayas, Lencas and other indigenous people, and a tradition, which continues today.   Its connection with Christmas is obscure, but everyone makes them this time of the year.  They have become, in a way, a   New World offering to the Christ Child. 
Again this year, I went with Father Roberto on his tour of the countryside on Christmas Eve Day (December 24) to celebrate the end of Advent and the beginning of Christmas. This year we had several  baptisms at both the Church of the Annunciation and at San Isidro.  
And, of course, we brought presents for the kids of campo. I am always amaz…

A Christmas Meditation: "No Distance" by Theophane the Monk

No distance   by Theophane the Monk
I stumbled upon  this  story from Tales from the Magical Monastery (1), which  has been helpful to me for my spiritual journey.   It is told as a parable, and, in it's peculiar style, raises questions about our response to Jesus' coming to us in this Christmas season.
The story, told by Theophane the Monk , begins:
"I asked each of  the monks I met this question: 'What great blunder have you made?'
One answered, 'There was a stone in my room and I did not love it.'
Another said,  'They called me a Christian, but I did not become Christ.'
I asked the first, 'What do you mean?   I don't understand.  You didn't  love that stone....'
 'I just didn't love it.  I was so close to redeeming the  whole world, but I looked down on that stone.'
I asked the second, 'You did not become Christ?  Is one supposed to become Christ?'
'I kept putting distance between myself and him ---  by se…

Feliz Navidad from the Campo: Christmas presents for the kids

Christmas presents for the kids

Again this year we bought presents for kids living in the campo (countryside) around Tegucigalpa.   These may be the only presents that some of these kids receive.
The kids at San Isidro dig into Santa's bag to select their Christmas present.   Fr. Roberto stands by to make sure that no fights break out.   The kids, in spite of their excitement, were actually very well behaved.
Alejandra and friend show us their presents at the Church of the Annunciation.
Two boys at San Isidro with their presents.

More progress on the foundations for the Iglesia del Buen Pastor in Santa Maria, El Paraiso.

While Fr. Roberto and I have been visiting churches in New England, the work progresses in Santa Maria.

Progress at Buen Pastor in Santa Maria, El Paraiso

While Fr. Robert and I have been visiting churches in New England,
the construction team in Santa Maria have also been busy with the churches
new foundation.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Santa Maria, Paraiso: Design and Team

Here is the street elevation for our new church in Santa Maria.    The design is by Mark Parlier, RA, in Lakewales, Florida.   The graphics are by me.

The pre-construction meeting in Santa Maria. (Right to left) the Architect - me, the Mason/ Contractor- Rodiney and the church senior warden, Alexander.  We are meeting in Alexander's adobe house, where the church currently holds its services.

The Church of the Good Shepherd, Santa Maria, Paraiso

We began excavating for the foundation of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Santa Maria, Paraiso this week.  All excavation work is being done by hand.

How the Cartels are Behind the Border Kid Crisis

A good article explaining how the criminal elements are taking advantage of the poor and generating this border kid crisis.  As part of their marketing to poor families, the coyotes (front-men for the cartels) are taking advantage of a Bush era law that sends back Mexicans immediately, but gives Central Americans the right to a judicial hearing.

Article from Daily Beast

"No doubt the criminals interested in recruiting border crosses have emphasized to families that kids face better odds in the U.S.—and so the children keep on coming."  ---Caitlan Dickson

Honduran Life in the City

A good article describing life in the crime-ridden cities and also why so many are fleeing the Honduras for the US.   In the countryside, where a large share of the population lives, the crime isn't as intense, but the poverty is.
New York Times Article

Christ the Redeemer in Honduras

Nailah painting the church.   Edy supervising.

Interior design for Emanuel Church in Roatàn: your feedback, please.

Which of the following schemes do you like best?

And for reference here is the exterior.

Bribes in the Mission Field

Click here for Christianity Today article.

A good article with a discussion of the many grey areas.   In Honduras we have a no bribe policy and have paid the price with one of our housing project..   We lack an environmental permit and in spite all our efforts we cannot get one.   It is clear that someone one is waiting for a tip.

New House Paint to Fight Chagas Disease

Click her for: Atlantic Magazine Article

Even More Progress at Santa Maria: The Gates

¡Feliz Pascua de la Resurrecciòn! Happy Easter! and a Joyous Passover! This  week Tegucigalpa has closed down for Semana Santa (Holy Week).  The custom in Honduras is that everyone heads for the beach.  If you can't make it to the beach, then go to the river.   If you can't make it to the river, buy a plastic pool. (They are selling them down the street under the bridge.) Semana Santa has become the secular equivalent of our Christmas in the north.  For many, Christmas means vacation and presents. Only  a few follow the spiritual journey of the season.  The same can be said of this week in Honduras. However, at Santa Maria de los Angeles, our cathedral in Tegucigalpa, we are celebrating the passion and resurrection this week. A few others  and I have been attending. Regarding the mission work,  progress is being made toward building the new church 'Buen Pastor' in Santa Maria.  We have just finished installing the security fence around the property.  This phase was a test to…

Progress for the Church in Santa Maria: And the problems of security.

In Honduras, all property has to be protected by a fence against thieves and burglars. This comes as  a shock for many first time visitors to the country. Nevertheless, because of the prevalence of crime,  its omission is not an option.  For the architect, the challenge is how to make the church look friendly and welcoming and still keep the criminals out.  

Along the side and back  is a chain-link fence  with concertina wire  (the razor wire that comes in coils and often is used by the military).  The concertina wire is  a visual curse but a necessity  for security.  To improve the appearance we will plant trees and flowers (see the picture below).

Improving the appearance of the chain-link fence and concertina
wire with a little landscaping.  An example  from our retreat center
in Muchilena on the north coast.