It is Wednesday afternoon and I should be at Finca Grace, playing games with the boys. But Chase has caught a bug and I feel my place is here, with the son who traveled all these miles to play with Honduran boys and girls. While he rests, I retreat to the rooftop for fresh air, to think and to pray.
I am greeted as I mount the last marble step by two pairs of brown eyes. One, with mop in hand, says “Hello!” and gives me a hug. The boys crowd near me as I pull out my computer and show them photos I have taken of all of them.
Little Anderson steps away, whistles, and calls the tall one (his name is Carlos, but he tells me it’s “Charlie”) back to work. It’s then I am struck by the fact the little boys are cleaning up after us! We ate lunch here two hours ago, and the little boys have wiped down our tables and are mopping the floor. Of course, I am a distraction so I urge them to get back to work.
In addition to providing shelter, food and a Christian education for these Forgotten Children, a major goal of this ministry is to teach them to work, to help them become responsible and productive. For the older boys, this may mean apprenticeships off the farm to learn a trade or enrollment in a university to work toward a degree. For the younger ones, it is doing the dishes, sweeping the courtyard, cleaning up after the missionaries.
These are opportunities they did not have when living on the streets of Tegucigalpa.
As we have noticed in our visits with families living outside the city, there is a sad acceptance of their plight. For some of the mothers, simply keeping their children clean, fed and clothed is all that they can handle. And on some days, there is not even energy for that. And for too many mothers, the father either has no job or has left the home.
This morning, we visited the hillside dwelling of a familiar friend, to bring rice and beans and a bag of supplies to his family. He recognized us and shared with us that he fears for the safety of his children. He says that someone came into a home just down the street a few nights ago and killed everyone. He does not feel safe. And he does not have work.
Tears filled this grandfather’s eyes as he accepted our prayers and our gifts. He and his wife have done what they can to create a clean, tidy home. But this good man needs something to keep his hands busy and to feel that he is providing for his family. We leave a Spanish Bible along with promises to continue to pray for him.
We spend an hour visiting families and handing out beans and rice from the windows of our bus, which is parked along a busy highway. The childrens’ faces brighten as we give them flip-flops, candy and toys. We hold babies and hug their mothers as we gather to hear a message from Brad, one of our team members. God has given him words to share with these hungry people about the One who can fill them up. A woman comes forward for prayer and I watch a tall Honduran man, one of the few lined up for food, lift his hands as he prays along with us.
Too soon, our beans and rice are gone and we must move on. There is still time for a visit to a destination that is new to all of us. One of our interpreters has told the missionaries of a home for disabled children, so we wind through the crowded streets of Tegucigalpa to find it.
Children of all ages and disabilities are cared for in this Catholic-run facility. We line up to take take the handles of wheelchairs or strollers, or to walk alongside those who can move on their own, and gather in an open hall for a time of singing and storytelling. A little fellow navigates through the crowd on a special tricycle, another hangs in a swing, arms and legs secured. His whimpers trouble me, because I know nothing can be done to free him from this pain.
One of the missionaries reminds the children that because their Father in Heaven sent His Son to die for them, they will someday be in Heaven where they can run, play, swim, and where their bodies will be whole.
We give hugs and kisses and leave behind food and stuffed animals — and a piece of our hearts.
While I’ve shared these reflections, the boys have gathered at the tables with their teacher to do their homework. Later, I know we will share dinner with them, and then we will ride the 45 minutes back to Finca Grace and the church at Monte Redondo for an evening worship service.