We checked out of the hotel in San Pedro Sula and began the journey to the Copan region this morning. En route to Copan, we stopped in an area called Florida, which is where the project we were going to visit was located.
The region was very rural, with beautiful countryside mountains. We saw some cows grazing along the roadside, and it struck me how different the cows were from cows you see in Canada. These cows were bony, and did not look anything like the robust cows that we have back home. Horses are used in this area to travel and to help carry wood and other items.
When we arrived at the center, the children were not yet present. We met with the center’s leadership team and the pastor, and listened as they explained their role in the project. One of the most memorable speakers for me personally was a 16 year old young lady who served in the project by teaching and leading children, you could tell she had a passion for working with kids and giving her life completely to the Lord. Unfortunately, this is not typical of the teenagers back home. The atmosphere here is very family and community centered. People who have the least seem to be the ones who give the most of themselves.
A contrast I’ve thought of often since being here is how the poorest people are the ones who connect with other people in the warmest of ways. Back home, when you pass people on the street, there is little eye contact or greetings, strangers rarely speak to each other. This is even more true in large urban areas, where the atmosphere is “cold”. Here? It’s not just the weather that’s warm, it’s the people.
We were brought a stack of files belonging to the children at the center. We were invited to look through the files as they explained how they kept records on each child, what the files contained and how the information was used.
It was amazing to see how thorough they are in every aspect. The file contained medical and dental records, school reports, even records of the school supplies given to the child, and each home visit made. Information on their family situation could also be found in these files. The older children’s files had books called “My Plan For The Future”, where children were asked to write goals for their future and keep track of the progress made toward those goals. The books contained very thorough and insightful information. It gave a chance to the project leaders to investigate further if there were issues meeting those goals.
The files also contained a small notebook that the children use to write a draft of their letters to their sponsors. One of the files I looked through was of a young lady at the project with a sponsor in Italy. She writes to him very often, they seem to have a solid relationship. It was very encouraging to see this, since many of the children at the centers don’t receive letters from their sponsors.
We had lunch at the center before splitting into four teams and doing home visits.
A few curious children found their way to the development center and sat by the front door, looking at us and wondering what we were doing there.
A handful of them followed us to the home visits, giggling and skipping along as we walked the dirt paths to the homes.
Once again, a few girls pointed to my ladybug tattoo and giggled, trying to rub it off. I smiled.
They smiled and giggled, pointing to a nearby building in a field, where a horse had wandered halfway into the doorway... quite funny indeed!
The home we visited was built on a hillside behind the project. It was the home of a sponsored boy and his family.
It was hard to understand exactly how many family members there were, and how many of them lived in the home. There were many children, and the woman had some difficulty explaining who her children were.
She was such a lovely mother, so calm and soothing, with a gentle disposition and an easy laughter in her heart. She had a wonderful sense of humor.
The daylight shone through the cracks between the boards of the walls, and the wind rustled the corrugated tin roof and made the metal sheets rattle. They explained that when it rains, if it’s windy, the rain comes into the house through the cracks in the walls. Sometimes, the floors get wet when there are downpours, and they have a wooden crate to keep their clothes up off the floor and dry.
They have an outdoor kitchen unlike any I've ever seen. Suddenly, our old counter tops and lack of cupboard space didn't seem very important.
There was no bathroom, no running water.
In the cooler months, they bundle up and rely on blankets for warmth. Although it was very warm outside, the house was surprisingly cool, possibly because of the breeze through the cracks in the walls.
We explained why we were there, and asked them questions about sponsorship, their experience with the project, their family’s needs and situation, as well as their relationship with Christ. The mother answered the questions while quietly nursing her baby. The children entertained us with their antics, and were quite curious about our cameras. They were fascinated by pushing the playback button on the back of our cameras to make their photos appear.
Her son showed us the letters he receives from his sponsor in Australia, he said that he regularly receives communication from his sponsor.
The letters are treasured.
We finished by gathering around and praying with the family, and offering them food and supplies as a token of our gratefulness for having them open their home to us and helping us understand the reality of the poverty they live in.
They were very, very grateful. The mother had tears in her eyes.
The gift we gave seems so small compared to the magnitude of what they're teaching, what they're giving back to us, how they're changing our hearts, our lives...
To be continued...