Dump Day 2012 is May 2nd

The annual “Dump Day” to benefit ongoing work with the poor who work in the Tegucigalpa dump in Honduras will be May 2nd. I’ve blogged frequently over the past few years about the important work going on in Honduras, and encourage everyone to get informed, get involved and give. This is an effort primarily of the Churches of Christ, directed by Marc and Terri Tindall. One of the things I love about them, without having met them yet in person, is their genuine love for people. Although they are Christian missionaries, they aren’t practicing bait-and-switch by being kind and doing benevolence with the ulterior motive of evangelism. Doing social good flows from them without that condition and as part of the Christian life. They care about the people they meet.

The money given goes to provide food on a weekly basis to people at the dump, and is also used as emergency funds for medical care and other urgent needs. Part of it is also set apart for specific development projects.

Please read the following article and posts, and watch the video. Pray for this effort, make a commitment to give and maybe even consider going on one of the trips down.

A day at the dump: Ministry serves the hardworking poor in Honduras (The Christian Chronicle) 

How To Give On Dump Day and Dump Day Give-Aways (TreyMorgan.net)

Four Posts on New Heavens and New Earth

People in my Christian circles know that one of my constant themes is New Heavens/New Earth. I grit my teeth every time a preacher tells us our home is in heaven or a song talks about “flying away” from this world after death. My annoyance has caught at least a couple of people by surprise, and I realize I need to tone it down a bit in my personal presentation of the biblical view of eternity. Still, for me there is no denying the truth.

Looking back over posts from a few years ago, I’ve uncovered some “classic” posts on the topic that still essentially reflect my understanding of the topic. Without further ado, here are four of my favorite posts on resurrection and New Heavens/New Earth:

No Justice from Brazil’s Courts for Child Prostitutes

Neither the knowledge that in Brazil sexual mores are more relaxed than in the United States, nor and that prostitution as such is not illegal in that country, prepared me for what I read in a recent artice from The Economist.

First, since 2009 the age of consent in Brazil is 14. I’m not sure if there are any further conditions involved, but 14? Such could be considered normal 100 years ago in either the United States or Brazil, but in our modern times with age of majority set at 18, 14 seems unreasonable.

Second – and more shocking to me – was a decision from Brazil’s highest criminal court on March 27th that girls as young as 12 can give proper consent if they have have sufficient sexual knowledge and experience. The case in question involved an adult man who had sex with three 12-year-old girls in 2002. Rather than set the age of consent at 12, the decision from the court was that these situations need to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

As noted in the article from The Economist, child prostitution often begins with rape. Thus a girl who has been raped then has enough understanding of sex (so it seems) to then consent to further sexual acts.

Regardless of whether a girl is familiar with sex or not, I believe society needs to make a decision to protect its most vulnerable members. Girls at age 12, regardless of whether they have had sex before or are otherwise “innocent,” need to be protected.

See also:

A Simple, Free Way to Learn Brazilian History (in Portuguese)

Last December I shared about Telecurso, an excellent online resourch provided through a partnership between the Fundação Roberto Marinho, the Federation of the Industries of Sao Paulo State and Rede Globo. It’s an educational system that consists of multiple series of educational videos directed towards people working to complete elementary or high school courses, as well as a new vocational series. History, Portuguese, various types of math, sociology and a number of other subject areas are covered.

For someone like me, who speaks Portuguese fluently but never learned Brazilian history in depth, these videos are enormously beneficial. I’ve taken to picking out the episodes in the high school history series that deal with Brazil, listening to them on my walk to the train to work every morning. In a very short period of time my understanding has deepended dramatically.

You can either sort through the various Telecurso videos on YouTube, or else simply go to the “Site do Estundante,” where the videos are pre-sorted into neat categories. Also, click here for downloadable pdf versions of the text books!

If you speak Portuguese and want to understand Brazil better, I strongly recommend Telecurso.

Book Review: The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

The first I remember hearing about William Kamkwamba was on an episode of The Daily Show, where Jon Stewart interviewed him about his book, “The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind.” It was a funny, heartwarming (of all things) segment, and I immediately dropped the book in my Amazon.com queue. It was only recently that I finally picked up a copy of the Kindle version. What a story!

“Before I discovered the miracles of science, magic ruled the world.”

With those words, William begins his tale of poverty, famine and engenuity. Rather than leap right into how he built his first windmill, he spends a great deal of time explaining the cultural reality of Malawi and the history of his own family. The reader learns that “magic” and superstition are part and parcel of daily life in William’s country, and then is introduced to William’s parents with stories of their meeting and early married life.

From there, William talks extensively about his childhood, including, friends, hunting trips and a favorite dog that long accompanied him. All of this, in my opinion, bogs down the narrative a bit. However, when the famine hits, we are no longer observing the story of strangers but the suffering of people we’ve come to understand.

Oh, the famine. Having been raised in the West, with an excellent supply line for food and numerous food banks for those in need, I’ve never known what a famine was all about. Sure, in the early 1980s I was introduced to the topic, along with most Americans, through the crisis in Ethiopia. It remained a distant topic, and in many ways is still today. I’ve heard of people in poverty in the United States eating poorly or even missing meals, but never entering into full-fledged famine.

As the story unfolds, the reader is taken in apparent slow-motion through the famine Malawi experienced in 2001. William was forced to drop out of secondary school (in Malawi students must pay fees for this level of education). People began starving, and his family was reduced to one meager meal per day. When finally the next year’s crop is ready and there’s sweet corn and pumpkins to be eaten, I found myself grinning.

“My God, to have a stomach filled with hot food was one of the greatest pleasures in life.”

Time was passing for William, and even with the famine in the past there was still no way to pay his school fees. He remained a dropout, and his prospects were not good.

“I remembered that the previous year a group called the Malawi Teacher Training Activity had opened a small library in Wimbe Primary School that was stocked with books donated by the American government. Perhaps reading could keep my brain from getting soft while being a dropout.”

Herein we find a major turning point. Although initially William intended to read in order to try to keep up with what he was missing in school, he soon discovered a couple of texts that explained physics and practical applications for energy that illuminated his understanding. Beyond the pages he could see how this information, put into practice, could change his family’s life. Specifically, if he could build a windmill, he could provide both electicity and a reliable source of water for his family. With water the fields could be irrigated, providing two harvests a year (no longer dependent on the rainy season) and famine would never again threaten his family.

“Standing there looking at this book, I decided I would build my own windmill. I’d never built anything like it before, but I knew if windmills existed on the cover of that book, it meant another person had built them. After looking at it that way, I felt confident I could build one, too.”

The tale continues from there, but rather than spoil it all, I strongly recommend that you pick up a copy and have the patience to read through the “slow” parts. It’s worth the time for the sake of the encouragement you’ll find in a boy who harnessed the wind.

“If you want to make it, all you have to do is try.”

See also: