Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Honduras Trip Days 9-12

Sunday we had church at the Mission House, got our stuff ready for Tela, and then went to Valle de Angeles (Valley of Angels) to do some shopping. I finally got my pupusa, which was incredible, and I bought a painting to go with the one I had bought a few years ago. It poured down rain while we were there, which made it a pain since there are very few places to duck for cover.
Monday we loaded the buses and headed for Tela (which is by San Pedro Sula) on the beach for our retreat. It is a beautiful beach, like Siesta Key in Florida, and basically this is the only hotel on the beach so we almost had it to ourselves. We played in the ocean, in the incredible pool, and played lots of cards. Tuesday was more of the same and then Wednesday we left for home.

Honduras Trip Days 1 and 2

On June 27th, the Harding Acadmey group met at school at 11:30pm and drove to Nashville because our flight left at 6:00 am on the 28th. Since the plane crash at the Tegucigalpa airport in May, that airport was closed, so we had to fly into San Pedro Sula. Since we had to change our tickets not everyone was able to get on the same flights. When we got to Miami, 7 from our group were able to go on right away and then were able to take a bus to Teguc that day. However 3 of us had a long layover in Miami and therefore had to spend the night in San Pedro.

I was pretty nervous about it, but God was looking out for us the entire time. Ben, Kadi, and I spent the night at a nice motel (actually one I stayed at when I lived there) and got a good night sleep.

We woke up Sunday morning and went to the restaurant next door, packed our things, and went back to the airport where we met up with another group of TORCHers to ride the bus to Teguc. We got to the Mission House about 7:00 pm and met up with everyone else. It was so much fun to see all my TORCH friends.

Honduras Trip Days 7 and 8

Friday about 30 of us went to Good Shepherd Children's Home (8 of us to build part of the playground and the rest played with the kids all day). I was on the playground crew. A few people had already been there the week before and set the posts in concrete. We built the floor 7 feet up and then put the roof on. It was a lot of fun and I got to work side by side with Josue who hasn't work with us in a while due to his job at the airport. But since it's closed TORCH hired him for the summer.

Saturday we were determined to have the medical clinic at Didasko orphanage. Dr. Gayle had donated some medicines since our container (full of stuff) hadn't been released yet. The opened up 3 classrooms: doctors/nurses in one, one for the pharmacy, and one for the nutritionists and hygenists. It was so hard to turn people away.

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we had a VBS team that went to Didasko, so while we were doing the medical clinic the VBS crew set up a carnival with games and toys and a Veggie Tales movie.

Honduras Trip Days 5 and 6

Wednesday Tyler, Ken, and I headed up building a house in Neuva Oriental. The house went pretty well. Now, you have to remember that these are not houses like the states... they are one room (16x16) made out of wood with a tin ceiling.

Due to some recent health problems and the hard work I did yesterday, I couldn't do as much as I usually do, but that allowed me to supervise and coordinate everyone while those that didn't have any experience to pick up a hammer and work. It is a great feeling of accomplishment for people that are not good with their hands to be able to hammer in some nails and have a house in a few hours.

After we were finished we met all the other groups at the blind school to visit and play with the kids there. That is something we do every year that everyone looks forward to because this was one of the few places where the kids seem to be well taken care of and loved for.
Thursday a group of us went back to the dump and this time we brought more people and several were on their first trip. Those of us that had gone before were trying to prepare the others, but there were still a few that had a hard time handling it, but that is okay. Sometimes we feel that we have to be able to handle everything that comes our way, but really it's okay to say that we can't.
Afterward, we loaded up the bus with bags of food that an earlier group made and we took them to Nueva Oriental (where our 2 construction teams were working), hiked the mountain passing out the bags of food. It is an amazing experience to give someone food in the name of Jesus and they tell you they didn't know what they were going to feed their children that night for dinner. God has timing that we, as humans, cannot even fathom!

Honduras Trip Days 3 and 4

There were about 100 of us total on the trip, so each day there were about 4 or 5 projects that we volunteered for. So while I am talking about what I did, just know that there were several other projects going on that I wasn't involved in.

Monday (our first day of work) several of us got to do something we've never done before. 15 of us that had been on several trips made about 300 baggies with half a sandwich, chips, cookies, and a bag of water and then we handed them out to the people that live at the city dump. The leader was trying to prepare us for what we might encounter: he said that we'd be hated and not wanted, that are safety was in question, and to be aware of the people (especially the men) because they sniff glue to lessen the pains of hunger. The complete opposite was true: we felt welcome, appreciated, and safe.

As we drove down the road, we turned a corner and the bus got silent at the sight of 100-150 people digging through heaps of trash trying to find food scraps, anything they could use to live, or anything they could sell, like plastic bottles. Everyone living there carried bags of their "treasures" and would not set it down for any reason for fear that someone would take it. Here, in the states, we put our purses, Ipods, phones, etc, down and if it gets stolen or broken we just buy a new one without thinking much of it. I can't imagine what it's like to hoard someone else's trash as my treasure that I cannot set down.

As we pulled the bus to a stop, a line formed immediately... they have been programmed what to do when a bus pulls up. We had buckets with fresh water and soap that we washed their hands with and, if we let them, would've washed their whole body. Then, they made their way to the back of the bus where several of us stayed to hand out the bags of food. However, when a dump truck came around the corner the line took off running after it because they each wanted the "best" pickings of the load. They ran away from good, never-been-eaten-off-of, food for garbage because that's what they have lived their lives doing. That was the saddest moment of the day for me.

Let's not forget that this is a city dump, so not only are these people competing against other people for survival, but there are dozens of dogs, millions of flies, and thousands of vultures (more than I've ever seen in my life) walking around digging through the same trash. And then there's the smell... a stench like no other you have ever smelled.

One sight that I will never forget is the sight of a young pregnant woman. Can you imagine being a young woman, probably 18-20 years old, living in the streets, being raped over and over again and winding up pregnant. You have no where else to go but to go to the dump, so you have to give birth in the dump and amazingly enough, you and the baby live through it without any doctors. And now you start raising the baby in the dump to live the same lifestyle without any hope of a different life.

There were a few men playing soccer with an old, flat basketball and several of our guys started playing with them. It was so wonderful to see the divisions of status being blown away by a simple game of soccer. These Hondurans are the untouchables of all Hondurans. And here they were laughing and playing together on piles of trash!

Everyone has a story; several were on the run for their lives, so they always kept ski masks and long sleeves on even in 90 degree heat. Another family came from Mexico in hopes of a better job, but that fell through and they had no where else to go. And the list could go on and on.

And as you are focusing on the absolute poverty, you look up and see the incredibly gorgeous view of nature that people in the states would pay millions for. We are so blessed with material possessions, we take them for granted, and are not content. Yet these people are content with their lives and have the faith that their needs will be provided. I want to be like the woman in the dump today... when we said we had enough to give out seconds and thirds, she said, "No, there are others on the other side that need it." In her utter poverty and desolation she was thinking of others!

Tuesday I went to the bodega (warehouse) where a group of us split up: half of us were taking stucco off to be redone and the other half were doing painting inside. I was doing the stucco outside and my right arm went into complete exhaustion when all you have to work with is a claw hammer.

While we were doing that another group was doing a "Gatorade Blitz" where they went to the store, bought a bunch of Gatorade, and then drove around town handing it out to the city workers that sweeps the streets and pick up trash. They earn about a dollar a day in wages and usually do not have anything to eat or drink during the work day.

Other activities included visiting the hospital, visiting orphanages, and building houses.