Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Wednesday we divided to conquer and the girls plus one very sweet bodyguard (Mark) headed to a new place for this year. We went to the juvenile detention center for teenage girls. It was a sight to behold. We sat and looked into the eyes of BEAUTIFUL girls 12-18 years old who had done what was required to land yourself in prison but they were just too young to go there. Many of them though if their sentences last over the time that they turn 18 will be transferred to the women's prison system. It was one of the most heart wrenching things I have ever seen and I've laid eyes on some pretty gutt wrenching stuff in this country. I sat near a couple of them and talked to them and asked their story and there were 13 year old girls in there for murder. I could not hardly remember to continue to inhale and exhale a few times when they told me some of that stuff. A 17 year old girl in there with a month and a half year old baby who was absolutely gorgeous and sweet as could be when we were talking to her in for at least 5 years for trying to smuggle drugs into her boyfriend who is in the mens prison system. She went for a visit had drugs in her pocket and life has dramatically changed for a very long time.
We teamed up with a ministry that I team up with anytime I can get the chance called Mi Esperanza. Some of my very good friends work with this ministry to empower and educate women to learn a skill to be able to provide a life for their children and themselves. It's a great ministry that is doing fantastic things, but on this particular day they took their beauty school students for a social service day. So the beauty students spent all day with these young girls giving hair do's and pedicures and manicures and just loving on the girls and hearing their stories. It's a new thing that has been implemented into the program not so long ago and the students love it. Old students ask to return for social service days because they believe in it. It's a neat thing to watch some of the women who have come in poor with little self esteem now have something to offer to someone else. Fun to witness and the young girls love having older gals to talk to and look up to. It's pretty special.
We took spaghetti and had lunch with them and popped popcorn and met some very special ladies with Orphan Helpers who are committed to teaching those young girls about Christ. We promised to continue to try to resource for them and find them bibles and spanish curriculum to use with the girls inside the center.
A few of us who live here and are able are going to make this a once a month stop at least. It stole a piece of our hearts and we recognized them as the least of the least in so many ways. Without hope, many of them, and no one up to this point who has loved on them. I really believe that sitting beside them for a couple hours a month might be one of the most worthy expenditures of my time I've found in a while.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Next place on the agenda was the Mother Teresa Home. This is a facility with special needs children, orphaned children, single mothers, basically anyone who needs a place to go is welcomed. There are 2 sisters for 42 children and that was pretty obvious. They are low on resources and time and energy. We had fun doing popcorn with them and just playing for a couple hours in the afternoon. It will be a place that I will visit again and try to help. We were touched and tormented by the way the children were treated pretty harshly. Then we heard their story and realized they were under serious stress with only 2 of them for 42 childrens needs. That is certainly no justification for being unkind to the children but it perhaps gave us a tad more grace as we reached out to love on the children and the people who care for them. Brian Feldmeier must have played airplane with the popcorn for 10 minutes solid clear around the table as more little boys came and wanted to be a part of someone paying enough attention to them to put a piece of popcorn in their mouth. It was fun to see little boys get to play with grown up men and enjoy it so much. They lack male attention for sure and so they crave it and latch onto it when given a chance. Our guys did a terrific job of that.
This was the end of our day and we went back up to the mission house after we were done playing and were whooped...a good whooped, the best kinda whooped I know. It was a great day.
So this was a little lady we saw at the market who had a basket FULL of bananas on her head that she was trying to sell. We decided we'd like to try and make her day and buy her out. She walked away dancing a little jig with a HUGE smile on her face. Fun stuff!!
This is Rosa's little store in the market. I love visiting there and buying from her when I can and knowing that I'm helping her family. It was fun to allow the group to see another moment in the life of one of the people we love here.
Eva and Sarah - it was one of the sweetest spots of the trip for me as well.
When we asked Don Francisco what some of his greatest needs were he said...honestly Jen we really need food. Alrighty then. I shared that with the group and so we loaded up to head to the little market where my friend Rosa has now opened a little store and so we went and bought food for the folks we had just sat beside. We loaded them up on corn for tortillas, beans, rice, eggs, some fruits and veggies, and a few other things that should last at least a week. I'll go back to check on them soon and make sure they're ok and bring more if they need it. It was a sweet experience both to be able to bless Rosa as she is attempting to pay back the microloan she was given to open her little store and know that at the same time we would be able to bless CEDER. I will try to look for a picture of Rosa's store so you can see the type of market we experienced. It was a cool experience for the team to see Rosa as well because she used to be the one serving us every year at the mission house when we brought teams in and now we were able to serve her. They enjoyed getting to see one another. Another cool moment of attempting to intentionally use the money that God asked us to steward in ways that would provide the most ripples.
So after the hospital we were off to the elderly home. Last year was our first trip there but it's becoming a pretty sacred spot for us as well. We were reminded of the precious work that Don Francisco does as he provides a place for the elderly to pass from this life with some shred of dignity and someone beside them as they go. I watched people cry because we asked about people we had connected to last year who were no longer there this year. It was like the reality of the moment hit as Don Francisco talked about them with love in his eyes and a knowing in his heart that he'd done the right thing by giving up a career as a dentist to come and live a life among these precious "least of these." I had the privilege of sitting and trying to translate for Eva while she talked to this sweet little lady named Sarah who has breast cancer and is just waiting for it to take her from this life into the next and she was sitting there no longer able to see quoting scripture to us. Then she would take our hands and kiss them and say now listen you go and continue to be kind to people and try not to hurt anyone ok? Think that's a great motto to live by and sounds a whole lot like the simplicity of the gospel to me.
We had some flowers left over from the hospital so we brought them with us and did some more arrangments to place beside the beds of the folks who reside in CEDER (the elderly home). It was so sweet almost as soon as Brian started to put them together a little lady who resides there came right over to where they were working and started to help place the flowers in the cups. She was so sweet and particular as she arranged them to look just right. Once again a special moment of her being able to serve her friends who have now become family there that she wouldn't have had without resources that were brought by this team. The flowers gave her an opportunity to serve her people. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful! I think God smiled big on that one.
A few more pictures of the hydrocephaly kiddo's and their momma's waiting for a shred of hope that their baby might make it...and Cesar our bus driver being a part of the things we were involved in. That was a really sweet part of this journey too. He jumped right in and wanted to be a part of serving his people. I think I've mentioned it but I will say it again probably several hundred times...I LOVE IT WHEN THAT HAPPENS...I am learning that a large part of a short term teams experience is to provide experiences for Hondurans to serve Hondurans as much as it is possible. It's beautiful to watch and the effects of that last long after we're gone and that's what we hope for...that when we're gone they will still be helped and served. There were some very neat moments of that this year.
Tuesday will rank right up there with one of my VERY favorite days in team history. I LOVED it!!! I can't tell you the number of times I have been at the hospital for visits now...but it's ALOT!! This was by far the neatest visit that I've had. We had the privilege of having one of the doctors from Hospital Escuela come and we had devo that morning in the foyer of the hospital. She shared some about her experience working in a place with limited resources and how much she loved what she does. We had a donation from some very sweet folks as well to use at the hospital and so Doctora Sandra was able to take a few of us across the street to the medical supply store where we were able to buy two shunts for hydrocephaly children that will essentially save their lives. The tremendously humbling and difficult thing to grasp is that one of these shunts costs about $250 and the families watch their children die often because they can't come up with $250. I can't even grasp that. So to know that $500 was spent to save two children's lives was a really touching experience. Doctora Sandra led us all around the hospital and took us to see the hydrocephaly children and to present the shunts to the head nurse on staff (the doctor was in surgery). We stood in the room of the children who will likely receive the shunts and placed our hands on them and prayed over them their families and all who work with them. It was a beautiful/heartwrenching way to start the morning. Extreme sorrow and extreme joy living in exactly the same moment.
A couple years ago Momma Grose visited a little girls room while on a hospital visit and laid a single flower on the little girls bed and watched her eyes light up and a smile break over her face as she noticed it was the only thing with any color in a very dull room and how that one little flower brought so much joy. While talking about our trip this year that idea just mushroomed into...let's go to a flower stand really early one morning and buy most everything they have and take it to the hospital and make little cups of flowers to put beside the beds of the kiddo's. So, as God would have it, we had a flower expert with us and so Brian worked with a few other people to make little arrangments in plastic cups to take to the children. You should have seen the people coming by asking for one. They were beautiful and it was so much fun to watch a plastic cup and some flowers turn into something way better than that.
Thursday, April 08, 2010
Monday we had a packed day and built a house for a family out near the dump. We had heard about this family through another guy Marlon who had a house built for him a few months ago. A man wanting to help someone else he knew that needed help. It is touching to watch people become missionaries to their own people when given a chance to extend God's goodness and explain to them that God will provide and then help to make that happen. They worked alongside us all day long to help build their own house and be a part of the gift that was being extended. I love watching that happen may I just say.
We took a break at lunch to go and serve at the dump. For some of our team it was the the first time that they had laid eyes on this place. A difficult day no matter how many times you've seen it.
In the afternoon when the house was about finished we went back for another load of water in a bag and delivered a second time to those working in the dump. The heat at this time of the year is horrible and they beg for more water every single time we come.
It was a hard day but it was an honor to come alongside some people who praised God for a cup (or bag in this case) of water and a roof over their head. For the least of these Father...thank you for them and the way it helps us see you.
Sunday morning we worshipped with the church in Sector Ocho which is a very needy community where we found Sarahi, Marisol and their family in great need a couple years ago. We knew they were one of the poorest communities we spend time in and so we loaded up our clothing for a distribution and after worship allowed the community members to come through. We had blankets, shoes, and clothing. I wish I could express to you how humbling it was to see them all DART for the blankets. They are cold and often without anything to protect them from that. It was great fun to watch the team helping people "shop" for themselves. A great way to start the day before we were off to Didasko.
As is our tradition we spent Easter Sunday afternoon with the sweet bunch at Didasko. We did our annual Easter Egg Hunt which they have grown to love so much and we also did a project this year where we bought each of them new pillows and had one of the Mi Esperanza ladies make a pillowcase for each one of their sweet little heads. Our hands and messages were traced with markers to put on the pillowcases so they could be reminded that while they slept we would be praying over them and carrying them close to our heart. This is one of those places with VERY limited resources that has captured our hearts and the relationships that have been built there remain long after the 10 days we spend in this country. I saw a grown man and a 17 year old kid cry hard when they hugged each other and tried to leave. I saw a teenage girl who has had her life changed literally by the knowing that a family cares and loves her consistently even from far away. When people question why short term missions matter I don't need to look for a reason very long...they matter because the effects are anything but short term. They live on in a little guys heart who remembers your name every single time he sees you. They ripple over to sweet lives who know that they matter and they capture our hearts into believing that we must or are compelled to find ways to love on them all year long. We are watching the effects of that. It was a sweet day to witness the lives of some kiddo's and some big people who have been deeply changed by loving one another.
More to come stay tuned... :)