Sorry to the 3.5 faithful--I came home with a bad sinus infection and have pretty much done nothing since arriving home from Honduras late Thursday night. I did watch the Steelers clinch the division this afternoon though...
I think I left off on Tuesday morning. We went to two homes that day, both of them large. The first was Emanuel, with about 120 kids. It was actually a pretty nice place for a group that size, and the children were very excited to see us. I spent most of that trip organizing shoes with Ruth Kramer. The leadership in Honduras had actually taken the time to put each child's name on a shoe that was--at least when they drew the outline of their foot--the right size. And probably 80% of the time it was great. It was that other 20 that would get chaotic. The last thing anyone wanted to do was to disappoint these kids, but when you had to say "espera" (wait) you could see the downcast eyes. Fortunately I think we were able to get shoes for everyone there.
Tuesday afternoon we went to the most challenging house of the trip for most of the group. Nueva Esperanza is a government home with almost 180 kids. 35 of them were babies in a nursery with only 2 adults supervising much of the time. Some cribs had 2 babies in them. It's a heartbreaking scenario, and you can't help but want to bring them all home with you. And it doesn't help at all when the orphanage is right next to a juvenile detention home with teenage boys in the trees shouting obscenities at the American women in our group. But the impact was so profound, that many of the group were considering giving up their recreation time on Friday to go back to Nueva Esperanza.
I actually spent a good part of that afternoon at the warehouse trying to get shoes together for the next day's 1.5 hour trip to Tela. I met Linda, a city councilwoman in San Pedro Sula, and she showed me much that their little NGO does there with 19 different orphanages, including gathering them all each May for a day in the park. 700 orphans in one park--that's got to be a fun day! We left the warehouse at 5:30 to pick up the group from Nueva Esperanza, and the trip that had taken 35 minutes a couple hours earlier now took an hour and a half, and ended with Manuel the bus driver backing the bus up a 200 meter dirt road to get to the orphanage. What fun!
Wednesday was a stop on the way out of town at a teen girls home, then we drove to Tela, another resort-ish community on northern shores. In fact, we had lunch at a resort, and walked on the beach a little. Then we drove to a home/school/community center where hundreds of kids had gathered. There was no time here for the VBS stuff, just handing out shoes and candy and love. We also spent some time with some foster parents in a program there. Several ladies keep multiple foster kids in their homes, one had 12!
A part of that foster meeting were 3 new friends from Shohanna's Hope, an organization that provides grants to adoptive families among other things. They had joined us--along with Buckner staff Randy Daniels, Leslie Chace and our director in Tegucigalpa, Yaneth--on Tuesday after touring several sites in Tegucigalpa, the capitol of Honduras. I had actually been on the flight from Dallas to Houston with them on Saturday. Wonderful people.
Wednesday night I stayed up late again with my new friends Jim and Susan Gray. I watched their kids show them the snow from Houston on Video Chat--amazing. The next day though I hated that snow when our plane from Houston was delayed almost 2 hours, making us 2 hours late getting there, and having to catch a later flight home. But that was better than Nick and Wendy from Shohanna's Hope; I think they had to spend the night in Houston.
I finally made it home around 11pm. Everyone was already asleep, but I gave kisses all around and went to bed myself. This was an incredible experience. Extreme poverty, disease, loneliness--all things to destroy hope. And yet hope was there. As we lifted through the clouds over San Pedro Sula and began our return home, I asked our Maker to not let these kids fade from my memory the way the city was fading from view. But I also ask that I see the same issues all around me here in the States, that I learn more how to identify the poor, to serve them, to learn from them. To see Jesus in them.