Day 2 in Honduras…
Last night before we went to bed we were warned not to completely trust the water in our hotel. Stephanie, our trip leader’s words were, “we think it’s okay, but you better be safe and not open your mouth in the shower or rinse your toothbrush in the sink.”
Have you ever tried to take a shower without letting any water into your mouth? I was so scared that I would get a strange bacteria that when I felt any fluid in my mouth I started spitting! It was probably all saliva, but I swore I had a hole in the side of my face dripping in bacterial water In fact, if you want a small taste of what I’m experiencing this week go out a buy bottled water and then use it to brush your teeth. Also, whenever you take a shower make sure the water doesn’t get into your mouth or eyes.
After my shower, I headed down to the lobby and enjoyed a great breakfast. As soon as I finished it was time to load up in the bus and head out to El Mango a small community about 30 minutes away. The trip went by quickly as I talked with my new acquaintances from Compassion International and other parts of the U.S.A. It’s always exciting on these trips to talk to Christians you have never met that are passionate about God. It’s amazing how we can have something so powerful in common with people we don’t yet know!
When the bus stopped I noticed a very precarious expansion bridge stretching across a rushing river. When I say precarious I mean that this wooden footbridge is the kind of bridge you would find in an Indiana Jones movie, and guess what? We were walking across it! Here are some of the pictures of the bridge. They don’t do it justice, but they give you a good idea.
As I started across the bridge I began humming the Indian Jones theme song to myself. Immediately I felt more courageous and the thought of running across the bridge didn’t cross my mind! This bridge creeked, swayed back and forth, and the boards beneath my feet cracked and groaned with each step. The more people that were on the bridge meant the more it swayed, and by the time I got to the middle I looked like a drunk man weaving back and forth. I’m not that scared of heights, but this thing made me nervous. One small step and I was falling into a nasty river of brown rushing water.
As I got closer to the end of the bridge I started to forget about the loose and broken boards beneath my feet. Instead I was looking up into the smiling faces of over 100 kids, and I read a big sign that said “Welcome in spanish.”
“Hola!” I yelled up to the kids.
“Hola,” they all yelled back in unison. Their response and excitement caught me a little bit off guard as their hello echoed through the mountains and my ears.
“Buenos días!” I yelled back.
“Buenos días!” They once again responded in unison.
As I walked up the broken gravel path to their homes, I was blown away by the poverty surrounding me. Trash, animal feces, diapers, and mud sat in pools of cascading water streaming down the paths. As we walked up to the church where Compassion was ministering to the families, I couldn’t help but stare into the dark holes that people called homes. Some were made out of concrete and others were made out of mud and sticks.
The more I walked the more I sweated. Not only was it dirty in El Mango, but it was hot! I mean blood-boiling hot. The kind of heat and humidity that would make a pig turn into bacon if he accidentally walked into the sun. By the time we made it up the long steep gravel hill to the church I was already looking for a bottle of water.
The kids had already gathered into the church. It wasn’t the kind of church we are used to, instead this building only had two walls. The floor was concrete and covered with little bodies sitting in brightly colored ABC chairs. (Literally, ABC was printed on the backs of green, blue, and red chairs.) As I sat down in one of the chairs set aside for me and the other Compassion people a translator handed me a bottle of water which I drained immediately. It was even hotter inside of the church regardless of the fact that it only had two walls.
The walls were concrete and the roof was made of sheet metal. Wooden pillars held up the other sides, and there was a small stage at the front. On the stage were two fans which I didn’t find until much later in the day. The church did not have much of a yard for the kids to play. The very small cleared space was full of jagged rocks and dust. But that didn’t stop them from playing fútbol (soccer). In fact, I got sweatier than I’ve ever been in my life when I went and played soccer with them after the program.
After the program and a long game of soccer we took a special tour of the village which included stops at two houses. Walking into one of these houses is like going through a black-hole and walking into a colonial house 300 years ago. Have you ever been to a remake of colonial America? Have you ever seen one of the archaic brooms the ladies used back then — a stick with dried weeds tied to the end? There was a broom just like the colonial brooms sitting next to a wood-burning outdoor kitchen stove, which was next to a broken container of green water, which was next to a cloth shack where they use the bathroom. Did you catch that last one? Literally, they had four wooden posts sticking out of the ground and cloth draped around the poles — this is where they go to the bathroom. It was breathtaking.
The house itself was one of the nicer homes in the community. It was a one room concrete building with almost nothing in it. There was a small bed the size of a twin bed in America that all four family members slept on together every night. There was a small hand-crafted wooden table that held two glass containers of corn. That was it. All of the family’s possessions were right there in front of me, and I didn’t even have to use two hands to count them.
“What do you like the most about Compassion’s program?” asked Dominic one of the guys on our trip. The translator translated, and then the father of the home responded.
“Hope. I don’t want my kids to have the same life I have. I’ve always wanted them to have a better one. Compassion gives me the hope that it is possible for them to have a good life.”
We hung out at their house for a while longer, prayed for them, and then headed out to another house. The second house we visited was in much worse shape than the first. It was a mud hut with sticks and a dirt floor. Inside the father had separated the comparatively large one room home into two rooms with a wall of cardboard that he had found. I found it ironic that one of the pieces of cardboard was for a brand new TV. I guess it is true that a man’s cardboard trash can be another man’s treasure. I also found out that mud huts stay ALOT hotter than concrete homes. It was a sauna in there, and I think even my skin started to sizzle.
“What do you like the most about Compassion’s program?” asked Dominic again. The father responded.
“I don’t want my kids to have this life, I want them to have a better one. Compassion gives me hope that they can have a better life.”
Neither dad was concerned about their own misfortune or discomfort. They only cared about their kids having a better life and they were adamant that Compassion International gave their kids the best chance for this to become a reality.
Can you think of anything better to be known for than bringing hope to people that should be hopeless?
One more quick story. At the last house we visited (the mud hut I just described above), the dad told a story about an injury his son had received four months earlier. His son was trying to climb a gate when his hand slipped and a spike shot through his wrist and out of through the palm of his hand. It looked like it was about the same place that Jesus was crucified. The kid was stuck to the gate via his wrist, and people had to come lift him off the spike. The program (what they call Compassion) paid for his son to be taken to a hospital and treated. The dad said that at the time he had no money, and doesn’t know what he would have done if the program was not in place.
How cool is that?
Needless to say, we have only been here two days and I’m already sure that my wife and I will be sponsoring some kids when I get back home. If you haven’t seriously considered sponsoring a child through Compassion, I can’t urge you enough. This program is amazing, and I’m so excited to be seeing first hand the hope that they bring to families through releasing kids from poverty in Jesus’ name!