“Everything that is done in the world is done by hope”
-Martin Luther King
We arrived at a small town down a long winding road, surrounded by mountains and divided from the rest of the world by a river that you can only cross one vehicle at a time over a small, rickety bridge. This town is correctly named protección, this means protection in English.
I have brought teams here many times because of the beautiful atmosphere, and the sweet and receptive people of this little town. I love this little town, it’s straight out of a fairytale. In a nation that is full of corruption this little town continues to be such a place of peace that the inhabitants of proteccion admitted they still slept not only with our doors unlocked but wide open. Today we have brought bags of food, bags of rice and bags of beans for these people. The team would also evangelize and pray for the people. There was a large group of people waiting for the bags of food that we had brought, upon asking I find out that they had walked from a town an hour and a half deep in the mountains, a place you can not reach by vehicle. As we steadily hand out the bags of food that we brought to distribute to each family they gladly and happily took their bags perched one bag on each shoulder and turned back around to walk another hour and a half into the mountains. It was so humbling to me to see that these people, having such a great need for food in their homes that it is perfectly acceptable to do a three-hour round-trip for a bag of beans and a bag of rice.
There is another experience that comes to my mind when I think about the outreaches I organized. This one takes place in a small town names Palenque. I traveled with the team about an hour and a half down a winding and rocky road that had been carved into the mountains to the closest town we could get to on our way to Palenque, named Las Botijas. There is a missionary couple stationed here who farmed and would hire the locals to help them farm and would pay them decent wages. I had previously asked if we could leave our vehicles stationed there for the day while we took the two and a half hours walk on a half gravel half dirt trail that led to Palenque. So, we parked our red pickup and the bus the team was riding in and started the journey. Our backpacks were loaded on a donkey but the rest of the twenty something of us had to walk. Barely a few minutes had passed since we started walking when it began to rain, first a sprinkle, that the longer we walked turned into a downpour. Determined we walked on. Tired and wet we finally reached a clearing at the end of a seemingly endless tunnel of trees and found ourselves in the quaint town of Palenque. As soon as we arrived the clouds parted, and the sun shown brightly. For a while we played and sang with the children, fed their families, and left a generous supply of food and supplies for everyone and we prepared to start our journey home. No longer than we had tied our backpacks back to the donkey and turned in the direction that would lead us home the clouds returned and with them the rain. We walked another two and a half hours in the rain back to Las Botijas. This walk is not like a pleasant stroll, it reminds me of when grandparents say to their grandchildren “you do not know how good you have it, I had to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow.” This path really was uphill both ways. Uphill and raining so hard that you could hardly see where you were going in front of you, had there been crossroads or had the path we were on not been the only path out of there we probably would have found ourselves lost, and the group split up each going in different directions. Thankfully we all made it, soaking wet and holes in the soles of our shoes from the hours of being wet and walking on rocks and gravel.
Back in Las Botijas the missionary family stationed there kindly let the soaking wet lot of us come into their home for a little while to try and warm up before taking the hour and a half drive back to the mission base. This couple farmed coffee, and they boiled a huge pot of coffee and served us all, til today I have not tasted a more delicious coffee than the one I drank that night.
There was something about serving others in this country that felt so right. I served in the children in the home for six years, but working with the teams was the most fulfilled I felt in my time as a missionary in Honduras. I was still able o help the children at the home by bringing in the teams that would bring donations to the home; but I was also able to go out into the masses, the thrones of people that materially had so little and so little hope of ever having. When we did the medical brigades there would be thousands of people that would come from all over for medical attention. I remember that the very first medical brigade I ever did I was shocked at how many people would show up, and not just for one ailment, but for a array of problems they had that had gone untreated for years. I was shocked because medical attention in Honduras is relatively cheap, especially when compared to the incredibly high cost of medical care in the United States. I found out that even if the people could afford to go see a Doctor, or as custom would have it in these little towns, the local nurse; they would not have the money for the medication. I further found out that there is an incredible lack of medications and medical equipment nationwide in Honduras. So, these people needed someone to be there for them, they needed that extra help that they were not receiving anywhere else; and I was so happy to help in any way that I could. I am certainly no doctor or anything in the medical field, nor did I have the finances to feed the people on my own; but if I could serve as that link that would bring doctor and patient together I was all too happy to be that.
Sometimes we would go and serve food at the national hospital. This may not seem like much to us in the United states, but here while our loved ones are being cared for the in hospital by a massive medical staff and unlimited resources, we are free to come and go and get some fast food or even sit down to eat. These families are not near as lucky. They must stay at the hospital twenty-four seven with their loved ones. The medical staff is so scarce that the family member becomes the caretaker of their loved ones while they are hospitalized. Helping to feed and bathe and clothe them, lifting them up if they can be moved, and seeing that they are in a room with six to eight other people, watching over their belongings. All these people in a non-air-conditioned room. Nice right? Well the sick are fed in the hospital, but the families even though they give so much towards the wellbeing of their sick, they do not receive food and aren’t able to leave to go and eat, so we would come in and love on them and give them something to eat.