Iglesias70% of the white people i met in honduras were evangelical christians.one night in raista, i met 15 kids from oakloahoma. blond, cheery, enthusiastic, curious, pious, adolescent - they really stood out.
they were travelling from city to city along the north coast of la mosquitia, building churches, working with kids, preaching. they slept on church floors, and this eggs and hot dogs and spaghetti was the best food they'd had in a while.
while they chowed, and after i'd spun my travelling tail for the most talkative, an art major college student named Benjy, i spoke with the leader some. she was a salted strong middle aged woman with greyed long hair, shorts and hiking sandles. this was a two year old program, bringing oakloahoman high school and college kids to this part of the world to do good works. last year they'd brought over a thousand dollars with them. in several towns, they'd go to the priest - "take us to your five poorest widows" and they'd give each of her many dollars.
of this she was right proud.
after watching national and international development organizations (mopawi) trying to help people here, and all the folks just asking for hand-outs, this made the situation right clear. nice christian folk been coming down here and giving things away for decades. why should anyone work towards sustainable development?
as for the students, i asked: when yer workin' with them kids, do you guys speak spanish? how do you communicate? and in that way smart kids have of talking, you can't tell if they're joking or acknowledging - "we don't really speak spanish, they don't really understand. they just like someone to be with them."
between the church of god (with tom) and the catholic church in wampu, i could really see the development force of the church.
la mosquitia is permeated by a definite sense of impermanence, or natural rhythm (as in - you build a building, it eventually falls apart, you build another one. On a ten or twenty year scale), the churches had the best buildings. The hospitals had bueno buildings tambien, but the churches were consitently larger and more visited by this author.
For example in lempira, where even the mopawi office had leaks and ill fitting doors, the church of god was a solid standing edifice. Three buildings i saw, like they had been lifted from texas or something - a grand airplane hanger sized meeting hall with bolted steel and aluminum.
the miskitos are weird all over. summarizing their relationship with the church is still beyond me, but i will venture this;
they show up at church, breastfeeding their children, maybe an hour late. they profess faith, in god, thankfulness there, buena canciones, buena espiritu.
but so many people say, including most perhaps most notably henry mclean, that they're devils when they leave the house of god.
and i imagine, if a bunch of folks came in, offered me some advil and some money, asked me to hang out, watch some movies in the nicest house in town, and they were there patient offering for seventy years, i would at least try it.
so now it's a place for the community to meet and sing. mopawi insists on working with the churches, both to coincide with its christianish roots, and because they see the church as the center of civic life. certainly the church has lended powerful organization, filling in for an apparent, but perhaps declining, lack of secular civic models.
Along those lines, the church often has radio, short wave, for people to keep in contact with their loved ones. I even encountered a computer in wampusirpi, a patuca river pueblo with near a thousand people - the local catholic father, a spaniard, had both a mac and an hp laptop. And a video screen! He showed caspar while i was there. Wednesday night is movie night.
The Moravians are really the forefathers of all this religious stuff in La Mosquitia; they've been evangelizing, missionaries since the early 30s. i tried to get a bead on their specific brand of faith - not much different than mainline christianity, except that they excourage baptism of babies and sort of carrying people all the way through - in a way that never begs the question of whether people are committed to god and jesus and stuff. this, tom feels, has allowed the miskitos to join in believe in god, which approximates their own grand creator/father faith, without having to get all involved in the sacrifice/jesus/salvation stuff.
they definitely brough health care and culture to the area - the miskito-spanish dictionary i have is published by them.
bob thinks of the church as the only people you could trust in that part of the world. they do provide hospitaje service to many travellers - mostly volunteers.
For young folks in Ceiba, the centro de armistad is a youthful evangelical group. I visited them with my family, the eldest daughter, evaline. I went to church one sunday, where some energetic young hondureanos really had the spirit pumping, and then theyds turn things over to this middle weight white guy who was only interesting when he was thanking the lord in a red puffy face. I also attended a bible study session on a friday night, for young people in a garden of a church leadress. I was interested in things like how good christians could get off killing creators of god - flies and moskitos and ants. They wanted to know if i was going to la mosquitia to preach the gospel.
maybe; One god many faces.
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