Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Dangerous people

For all the time I have  been here I had little exposure to the Alonzo Movement (AM.)  I can tell the story about how it got started and can discuss the program mission and objectives.  A team and I last year spent an afternoon doing a service project for a woman in La Cantera and I have watched Don Wilbur lead some soccer clinics.  But I didn't have any real interaction with them until the Alternative Break Team from College of Charleston came for three weeks to study the Alonzo Movement. 

So, what is this Alonzo Movement really about?  After spending several evenings with groups and all day one Saturday in a training session for new volunteers, I can tell you it is so much better than we thought it was!

Night after night, groups of 20 + boys meet at the soccer court at our school, El Cordero, in Flor del Campo.  Each group is led by a volunteer, men and women from the barrio, many unemployed, poor and all deeply committed to serving the Risen Lord with these boys and girls.  Their leadership is a sacrifice of love and hope for a better future for the children and the community.  Over three Saturdays, new volunteers spend all day in training classes, donated and led by a local NGO, the Association for Social Justice, learning the methodology and the mission of movement.  Why all this volunteerism?  Because they are dangerous, revolutionary people..."people who love because they are made free by God's truth."   They walk the streets recruiting new kids, they prepare for their groups, they spend an evening praying, teaching, playing, supporting, and loving the kids.   Kids who have turned their backs on drugs, gangs, alcohol, disrespecting their parents and teachers.  Kids who choose fellowship, community, and love with revolutionary people, who bring their friends to get some of this good stuff they have found. 

A typical evening goes like this... The group starts at 6:00 when the boys start arriving.  They are noisy, boisterous and start playing with the omnipresent soccer ball.  When most boys are there the leader calls them together for prayer.  Next is an ice breaker - a silly game to get everyone warmed up and ready for the evening.  It might be the Hokey Pokey or a crazy name game.  It doesn't matter how silly the game or how tough the boy, everyone gets right into the spirit of the game.  The leader takes time to read scripture and provide a short homily to the attentive boys.  Next is an activity of some sort.  Often they are "dinamicos" or purposeful games to teach a particular lesson.  The dinamicos are always raucous and hilarious.  They are asked to do ridiculous things like lie down next to each other on the concrete floor and then take turns rolling over each other!  "What did you learn from this dinamico?" asks the leader.  There is always lots of participation... "I learned I had to trust the others!"  "I learned I had to be careful not to hurt my friends!"  " l learned to encourage my friends to complete the task!" 

One evening the activity was particularly poignant.  It was right after Mother's Day (yes, they celebrate it on the same day we do!)  Mothers are revered in Honduras and, I imagine, the boys had not been able to give their mothers anything.   Denis, their leader and the Director of the Alonzo Movement, handed out construction paper, scissors, markers, and glue so they could make cards for their mothers.  I braced myself for the jeers from the boys, aged 16- 20, for such a childish exercise.  Certainly that is what you would see in the US among boys the same ages.  But no.  They went right to it.  Some needed alot of help figuring out what to do.  Some didn't really know how to use scissors well.  Many of them copied the sample card Denis brought.  A few made their own creations.  All took it very seriously.  It occurred to me that these boys did not spend their pre-school and elementary years doing arts and crafts.  This was an enormous treat for them!  (David later confirmed this is true.)  Imagine...at age 18 you have almost never created anything out of construction paper and markers... Arts and crafts - a luxury we don't think about.

After the activity is the much anticipated soccer game!  They play in flip flops, barefooted, crocs, sneakers, whatever they have.  They are amazing and play with great gusto and sportsmanship.  They let the young women from College of Charleston play with them.  Although this put a serious crimp in their play, they were very generous with the ball and gentle with the girls.  Gentlemen all.

Finally time is up and, hugs all around, the boys head off into the dark streets towards home...some barely huts, some filled with violence, few with sufficient food...with promises to come back next week for more.  
More light, more love, more God.

"People who love because they are made free by God's truth are the most revolutionary people on the earth.  They are the ones who overturn all values; they are the dynamite of human society; they are the most dangerous people. For they have recognized that people have been profoundly deceived and are ready at any time to let the light of truth fall on them -- and this for the very sake of love."  --  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Be dangerous! 

...for the very sake of love...