Archive for August, 2009

A Message from the Wheelers in Honduras
August 10, 2009

Dear Friends,

 

On June 28th I was in Copan with a study tour.  My plan for the day was to get them to the hotel in San Pedro Sula, a three-hour trip, so they could depart the country the following day.  There had been growing tension in the country due to the presidential plan to hold a survey deemed unconstitutional by the supreme court of Honduras.

 

There are days that stand out in our memory very vividly, like the day JFK was killed.  I remember the day that Hurricane Mitch hit the country at the end of 1998 and the struggle that I had just to be able to get home safely with family in toe avoiding flood waters.  June 28th proved to be one of those days. I could just feel it as if I was living history in the making.

News came over the radio and CNN around 6am that the president had been taken from his sleep by force and flown to Costa Rica.  Seeing a president in his pajamas captured the world’s attention but obscured what had been building up for months and what has been happening afterward.  Almost as a contradiction, the roads seemed eerily quiet and deserted as we traveled that day. I was able to leave the group at the hotel in San Pedro Sula and travel on to Tegucigalpa despite the demonstration in favor of the deposed president in the downtown area.  The ensuing weeks afterward have proven to be anything but quiet.  There have been demonstrations every day in a very polarized atmosphere. Gloria left the next day with a youth mission team for a rural village in western Honduras.  We give thanks that they, too, were able to finish their experience without any problems.

 

Some of the stories are incredible, material for best sellers. There are campesino groups told that the next day they all have to go take over a government building or major roads. There are workers not sure about getting to work and back again, teachers going on strike and others breaking union orders by persisting in giving classes. There are angry parents demanding the opening of schools and classes for their children, news flashes of one sort or another, international community declarations and possible economic sanctions, threats made by pro-Zelaya spokesmen and rumors spreading like wild fire which you choose to believe or not, according to what side you are on.  The “caretaker” or defacto government promised to pay teachers and all government workers even if they hadn’t

gone to work in over two weeks.   One comment made by an analyst seemed

especially accurate.  In this situation, the line between truth and false is the dimension of a gillette blade, (and both sides have found themselves in each position).  In a situation where there is no absolute truth and you never know the whole truth behind reported facts, actions and statements; the climate has been one of chaos and division.  We know of families that are on different sides of the issue making even peace at home difficult.

Talk about new challenges in mission, here they are in the making as we relate to friends, co workers, and villagers.  As missionaries, we do not take sides in the political struggle, but continue to seek how we can stand in solidarity with the people we serve – the displaced, the landless, the incredibly impoverished — all of them rich in spirit.

 

No doubt, by the time that you read this letter much more will have been written about this unfolding story.  Maybe we will know whether the talks scheduled to resume result in an acceptable resolution to this political stalemate, whether tensions have continued to rise in case they didn’t, whether the teachers have gone back to the classroom, etc.  Whatever the outcome, I would say there is hope on two accounts. One, a lot of attention has been focused on the poor people of Honduras and that not much has happened to benefit them during the last 27 years of continuous democratic rule after a series of military governments..  Democracy has only worked so so and only benefited some of the people.  Hopefully, the new Honduras, whatever it looks like following this political crisis will take into account more the needs and wishes of poor people.  Secondly, there could be more adherence to the law in the future.  There has been a lot of scrutiny as to what is legal and constitutional so maybe there will be an improvement in this regard.  Recently, in a much publicized case a government ex functionary was put in jail awaiting trial on corruption

charges. This is a real first in Honduras.    Wrapped up in all of the

Honduran situation is law, both broken and ignored.  In the new Honduras an emerging view is that no one will be considered to be above the law.  Maybe the democratic process will be strengthened as a result of the crisis and everyone will be winners.

 

We think of people who are suffering from this situation and ask for prayers for them.  We ask for prayers for families that may be divided over the situation, children who are missing school, demonstrators confronted by violence, church goers who try to maintain a community of faith, and for people directly involved in the negotiations so that they will put the future of the country first and personal interests last.

 

Thank you for your support and prayers at this time and you’re your ongoing

interest in Honduras and its people as history is in the making.   All of

the mission teams during the summer have canceled their trips.  Some days we are staying home to avoid street demonstrations and road takeovers.

Other days we are at the office and we have made a few trips to rural communities. We watch the news a lot, both local and international, hoping to find a glimmer of hope for a peaceful settlement.  There are communities waiting to move ahead from this standstill, mission teams scheduled to come during the autumn months, elections scheduled for November, and a new chapter of history in the making..

 

Faithfully,

 

 

 

Tim and Gloria Wheeler

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