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NEWS

NEWS

Feb 28 , 2004
Santa Rosa de Copan, Honduras

OK, this picture of the flower is misleading. Sure, we have no snow and it never goes below +5 Celcius. However, it is still remarkably cold 1/2 the time. Even now I'm sitting in the kitchen in a fleece jacket drinking hot coffee at 2:00pm. Of course it's not always cold like this. For example, on Wednesday I burned my arms and face mixing concrete with the kids to build a ramp up to our basketball court and increase the height of the drain on the front end of our court. We now call it the ankle buster -- have to design some kind of grate that will keep kids from stepping in that drain while playing soccer or basketball or just running in circles like kids are want to do.

Lets see, what else have we done this past couple weeks. We launched a poetry class that is surprisingly well attended by 14 year old boys. I'm thinking maybe the petite blonde volunteer may have something to do with that. Whatever the reason, it's great to see kids writing stories and poems -- effectively exercising a form of creativity that is not common in this country (I realize that Guatemala is reknown for its creative artists -- unfortunately that trait is quite rare here in Honduras). They will also be learning to improve their grammar and communication skills. We also launched Club Salud -- a club that will coordinate sports with activities like hiking, camping, environmental activities, seminars on health, etc. It's quite a broad scope program and is the work of Drew - our Peace Corps volunteer. Our initial activities have been well attended.

Last weekend (actually this Monday), we finally got the basketball hoops up installed. Apparently they weigh a lot more than I thought originally and I almost dropped one on one of our trusty helpers. Anyways, alls well that ends well and we ended up with the hoops up and everybody alive. It was an excited group of kids that finally got to play basketball on the court that they've been working on since November.

On Sunday afternoon, 5 of the guys and I went to a river about 1/2 hour away to swim and have a weiner roast. Always a first time for everything and they had a riot. I'm sure they've been in a river before -- just never cooked hot dogs over an open fire. Even Buster (my German Shepherd) learned that he could swim.

The three young guys went to the Good Samaritan Church with me again last Friday for the youth service and, as required, they brought a fourth friend. On the down side, since one of the original 3 youth still has not started school despite numerous promises (after buying him school clothes and supplies), he and his family are banned from the center. Anybody with a better idea is welcome to write me. Unfortunately, this particular 14 year old has never had to personally face consequences in his life. Subsequently, his mother has absolutely no control over him and he does absolutely nothing to help his family despite their severe need. I met with him and his mother and we discussed the coming consequence if he wasn't in school by the end of the prior week. I think he was surprised that I enforced them. Please pray that God will give me wisdom in dealing with this and will work in that boys spirit.

We also had a battle with half the flamenco dance group yesterday. Four of them were so upset they were in tears and refused, at first, to dance at a perfomance that they had been invited to give to a local high school. MaryAnn got them through the performance and then the fireworks started up again. We still don't know what triggered it all, but when they got back to the center yesterday afternoon, I gave them an option of consequences as well. Since this is the last week of MaryAnn's work with us here in Honduras, I felt horrible that she was treated very rudely and spitefully by these young girls (more to the story than I can write). Anyways, they had the option of 1) writing a letter to MaryAnn to explain why they were so mad at her and / or to apologize or 2) also being banned from the center. Fortunately, Alma (my assistant / program coordinator) has far more patience than I and was willing and able to sit in the office and cry with them as they vented whatever was eating them up. In the end they all wrote very nice letters with decorative borders drawn and stickers stuck all over them. I was very relieved when they were excited to show me how good their letters were. The last thing I want is a center with a bunch of banned kids. On the other hand, our existence relies very heavily on the volunteer efforts of people like MaryAnn and I will not allow anybody to treat them poorly.

This week we upped the ante on the youth service and finally hosted the Good Samaritan group of youth at our center for a "fiesta with a purpose". The picture unfortunately is dark because the event occurred at night, but we had about 70+ kids from that church come piling down in a bus, on foot, in taxis, in the back of trucks, etc. and joined our neighborhood on our front lawn. Very large speakers were set up on our porch with drums, guitars, pianos... and the youth from that church ran the whole event. While I was expecting more of a concert, it turned out to be a normal church youth service with at least one of their youth quite gifted as a speaker. I'm still not sure how it went over, but it went a long way to stamp us for our faith. I don't mind that and lots of kids are back bugging me again today for chess games, the basketball or soccer ball or whatever - so I haven't yet seen any evidence of kids feeling ostersized because they may not like the faith or style of presentation such as we demonstrated last night.

So there we are. We're alive and well (mostly).

Contact me at phil@timko.ca with any questions or for further information.

Prayer requests:

Prayer: Bayron -- this young guy needs to start facing life rather than sliding through it.
Praise: The event with the Good Samaritan youth was a lot of fun.
Christian volunteers to help us achieve our ultimate goal of helping to make Christ real to people we're helping. I found a young guy from the Good Samaritan that I believe will be joining us shortly to help with the showing of the Jesus Film to surrounding villages and schools.
Prayer: We need to find a local replacement for our program coordinator with initiative and a heart for kids.