Today was not the usual. Today required no building what-so-ever. Today was all about visiting those in need of visitation. Building or no, 6:45 was still breakfast time...and the rooster didn’t let up either.
Our first visit was to a free hospital downtown. Although admission and basic treatment is free, more complicated surgeries and extended stays are still rather pricey. Just like the majority of people we deal with in Honduras, this hospital is for the poor and desperate. A lot of the people we talked to traveled hours to get to this free hospital; it was their only hope.
We split into five different groups; each group having its own translator. Our group went to floor two. First stop - the brain injury ward. Having seen just about everything this week, or so I thought, I thought I was ready for this. I thought I could walk in and not be stunned. Our first room was not too bad - we met children ages six to eight that had been admitted with head injuries. One child had been attacked by a dog while he was riding a bike. When he bumped his head, he created a tumor. He has now gone through multiple surgeries with no success. He was up for another surgery today. They were all thrilled to see us and loved the small gifts that we brought. The children’s faces were great - equally as great were the faces of the mothers. Some of the mothers spend all their time with their children, probably getting no visitors and slowly feeling more and more alone. They loved that someone cared enough to come and talk to their sick child.
The next room was where things started to hit hard - the infant portion of the head injury ward. Each child was suffering from some life threatening head injury or abnormality. Most kids were struggling with fluid in the brain. The look of these kids was startling. Their heads were swollen, and the mothers were left helpless. What could a starving, poor mother do for a child with a serious health defect? She was left with no other option than to sit in the free hospital and wait. Each story was full of pain but our message resounded with hope. Each prayer we offered dealt with God’s grace and his healing power. We prayed for miracles. We prayed for healing.
After visiting a couple more rooms, we headed out to the special needs home. This home is for kids who cannot be cared for in shelters or orphanages. They were handicapped in some way, most mentally handicapped. My first thought was how beautiful the facility was. It was a large building with clean and polished architecture. It had plenty of space and many luxuries. After seeing the outside, I, once again, thought I knew what to expect. Upon entering, I was wrong again.
Seeing handicap kids anywhere is heartbreaking. Seeing them struggle with the most basic of functions is horrible. It is hard to watch. But, but, we weren’t there to watch them. We were there interact with them, and show them people still cared for them through their differences. We were there to show love - nothing more. The sadness was short lived because every child forced a smile when some of the toys began to surface. Every child found something they could do. They have joy where others don’t. They find happiness in the simplest of things - that is something I admire in them. Thank God for bringing me to this place and pushing me through my fears. Thank God for me showing me the goodness inside of everyone.
The third stop was definitely the most shocking. The third stop is what everyone talks about when they talk about seeing it all in Honduras. The third stop was feeding at the city dump. Nothing can prepare you for what you see there. I’ve been told many times what happens there, but my jaw hit the bus floor when I saw it. Acre after acre of trash. Miles of people refuse thrown away only to become someone else’s home. People’s leftovers. People’s garbage. Things people can’t stand to keep in their house because of stench and uncleanliness. I watched hundreds of people dig and sit, stand and eat, lay and sleep. I watched hundreds of people run for the bus because they knew we there to feed them. The pushed and shoved to get closer. They formed their own lines (knowing the protocol by now) to get their piece of the meal.
When we left the bus, the smell was overwhelming. Many times I felt myself losing my breath because of the power of the smell. We began to walk around but found ourselves overwhelmed - where do you start? Who do you talk to? What do you say? These people have been living in the city dump - what hope can they have left? I’ve never felt so uncomfortable in a situation in my life. These people have nothing. All they have is what they find in the mounds of trash. Talk about eye-opening.
We watched child fight a buzzard for his meal. We watched handfulls of people leave the line for free food, free and fresh food, to run to a dump-truck emptying it’s load. They have been conditioned to grab opportunity - a dump-truck brings new trash which means new food/clothes/etc. They left the line for pizza to run to a new pile of trash! Poverty has never seen lower depths. Do they need loved? Yes. It is awesome to know that someone is doing it for these people here is Honduras. The state is even building showers for the people of the dump.
The fourth stop of the day was my favorite. Not because of comfort or cleanliness - because I met an angel of a girl who loved to be around us. Her name was Brenda, and she was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. She was a natural wonder, I tell ‘ya. She lived in a state funded orphanage created to get kids out of unhealthy situations. She was a non-stop smile machine, and she made my day. Thank you, God, for sending us Brenda today. Be with her. Keep her safe.
The end of our day was full of packing food bags. That is something that needs to be experienced to be believed. We over two hundred bags full of rice, beans, spaghetti, lard, sugar, salt, sauce, bullion cubes, flour, and coffee. Our two hundred, plus two hundred from last night, will feed over four hundred families for two weeks. We also packed a Spanish Bible in each bag. These people will be sustained by the love of Christ. They will see first hand what love and forgiveness is like - they can actually taste it!
God, you are amazing. Your grace is unbelievable. Your power is unfathomable. Thank you for giving us chance after chance. Thank you for rescuing us from hopeless situations. Although our problems are different than the ones here in Honduras, they are still there. Although we struggle, you receive us back happily. Thank you for never leaving us alone. God, never leave me.
We pray a special prayer for the kids we met today. Seeing grown-ups struggle is hard - seeing children suffer is sometimes unbearable. God, heal them. Take away their afflictions. If it is possible for them to be made well, we pray that is done. God, provide comfort for all the families faced with dire situations. Grant them patience and understanding to deal with what life throws at them. Help them to see they are never alone. Help them to see that someone is always around who loves them. Someone can redeem them. Someone can give them salvation from a life that sometimes seems to much to take. God, be evident in Honduras.