We read Matthew 26:27-28, 36-39 during our group time this evening, following our 5th day in Honduras and our 3rd day at the school working with the children. It was the perfect scripture to help launch us into discussion, reminding us that even Jesus struggled, ultimately having the strength to say “… yet not what I want but what you want.” Individually we may have felt called to be here in Honduras, and I think that’s safe thing to say for this group of heart-felt and invested missionaries, but it isn’t always easy to be here. The human heart can be very tender and easily distracted, and the line between my own interests and God’s calling may become blurred at times.
The hour-long bus ride to Ciudad Espana is becoming familiar – the blankets of houses built into the hillsides, kids walking to school, cows herded down the street, horses wandering aimlessly. It’s all still very striking and noteworthy, but becoming familiar. We look for certain landmarks like the long row of terra-cotta homes that have slid down the hillside into a heap. There’s the tire recycling park that looks like someone’s artwork and tells us we’re about half-way to the church. Then there’s the brightly-colored water park that is in such sharp contrast to the surroundings, you can’t help but stare in awe. All of these landmarks mean we’re getting closer to our people, closer to the church and the school where our kids are waiting for us.
Yesterday we were greeted by the kids and showed a wide variety of fun playground games, which we happily joined them in playing. Today, the Pre-K thru 6th graders demonstrated to us their musical talent with beautiful songs in the church sanctuary, costumes and dance. There was a particularly entertaining performance about Noah, his animals and the trials of being on a boat. Their sweet little voices were high-pitched and excited as they recited their lines and impressed us with their hard work and enthusiasm.
After the performances we joined the classrooms and spent about 45 minutes working with the students to teach English – and they taught us Spanish. What an ambitious and eager group kids – we thoroughly enjoyed our time with them and it was most definitely a highlight of the day. The best part is I think the kids enjoyed it almost as much as we did – their brown eyes full of happiness and interest. The rest of the day was spent unpacking the computers and monitors we brought from Kansas, and working on preparations for our banner-sewing project that begins tomorrow. It was a good, productive day, one that gave us time to think and talk to the kids, the staff and each other.
Our discussion tonight brought up some of the internal struggles that we are each facing in Honduras. My own, and many others, seem to mostly stem from the relationships that are developing with the people at the school. We are becoming more familiar with one another, seeking out specific faces, smiles, hugs. They look for us, we look for them. Gifts are being given to us by the children, hugging frequent and unhesitating. We know each other’s names. It’s getting personal and we’re starting to discover their challenges and their lives. The struggle begins with knowing where my heart-strings end and God’s will begins.
We have all developed a love for the tiny little woman who works at the church and warmly greets us each morning with hugs and smiles. She has three children she’s providing for at home.
Julie is endeared by the little girl with the light brown hair and light hazel eyes who, after a hug, is determined to teach the hand-clap game to her. Those beautiful eyes are captivating and irresistible.
We ALL know and are lovingly cautious of the playful little boy with the mop of dark hair. He likes to sneak up behind us, pinch our sides and then dash away before we can catch him. He’s small and fast and I’m not really sure what he looks like in detail because he doesn’t stand still for very long. We’re happy to give him attention.
Many of us have become friends with the two handsome teenage boys who show up daily to shovel dirt and help build the new parking lot. They like to play the “how do you say” game, leading to LOTS of good laughs and stories about one another. They’ve become our friends.
Michelle and Jill have become friends with a student who attends the school on scholarship. She’s a beautiful girl, top performer and strong leader. She has a big future.
Paul has developed a connection with the beautiful little boy with the round face who grabs onto his legs and requests a shoulder ride or to be chased around the church. They’re buddies for sure.
It’s day three with these people, just about the amount of time it takes to get to know a person/situation and develop a desire to dig deeper. What’s happening is we are identifying with these kids and adults. We feel sad that they don’t have a playground because we would absolutely want one for own kids. We want to make sure hard-working teenage girls go to college and we will help however we possibly can. We would like to give the teachers the English lessons they have desperately asked for. The list of what we want to do is long, and yet we can hardly do anything in a week. What I’m struggling with is the very real possibility of returning to Kansas and losing this passion and involvement and heartfelt desire to help. It’s going to be hard to remember this place when I’m surrounded by the luxuries of my home and can physically and mentally distance myself. And yet it’s terribly important to me, to all of us here, that we remember what we have seen and the people we have met, remember that children don’t have beds to sleep in at night or windows to close against the rain.
I hope we will be able to return to Honduras in the not-so-distant future to continue our relationships and accomplish some of our dreams, guided by God’s calling. It’s only the beginning and we have work to do. Our hearts are changing and we’re leaving a piece behind with the Honduran people. We will pray for clarification of what God wants us to do.