My son, Chase, and I have returned to Tegucigalpa, Honduras, this summer for a week of ministering with a team from LaGrange First Church of God. In the next five days, Lord willing, I’ll share a snippet of what we see and do in the mountains of this Central American country.
If the mountainous, tree-covered landscape wasn’t enough to convince a Hoosier traveler that they have arrived in a foreign country, the bumper-to-door-to-bumper traffic, blaring horns and loud Latino music is proof.
Our team of 16 (plus 5 who joined us here) is in Honduras for the next six days, serving alongside Forgotten Children Ministries. In the days ahead we will live with, love on and minister to the 74 orphans living at the FCM’s three shelters. We’ll also travel in and around Tegucigalpa bringing food, personal supplies and the love of Christ to people in need.
Though we arrived weary from traveling the 1,700 miles between Indiana and Honduras, we were revived by a stop at a shopping mall for a late lunch (there’s a 2-hour difference, so it really is lunch time here) and supplies for the families we’ll visit.
But it was a stop at the girls’ orphanage, Grace Shelter, that brought all of us back to life. Thirteen young girls introduced themselves to us as we learned about that ministry from their director. It is a blessing to see their beautiful, healthy faces and know that here they are safe and can have hope for a life that is better than the one they left on the streets.
We arrive at Noah’s Ark Shelter in time for dinner. Here, we are greeted by the 18 boys who call this three-story building home. Little ones, ages 6 to 12, live together on the main floor while young men who are in university or have jobs in the city share rooms on the third floor. Our rooms are in a wing alongside the paved courtyard where the boys play — next to the school bus. It’s a small space, but the boys make the best of it and on our first night, our young men join the boys in a soccer-style game that they’ll play until bedtime.
The boys. Now I remember why we’re here. Hugs, familiar smiles, recalling names, greeting new ones. I know it will be hard to leave these boys in just a few days, but for this first night, we are overwhelmed with the reality of God’s grace here.
Orientation, dinner, an hour of singing songs with the little (and big) boys and an hour of bagging beans and rice. It is 10 p,m. and we’re off to find our bunks and sleep.
Today is full, but in a relaxing sort of way. After a wonderful breakfast of eggs, bacon, toast and fresh fruit, we travel by bus 45 minutes to the village of Monte Redondo where we will worship with Pastor Rudolpho and his congregation. Lively worship music greets us and for the next two hours, we feel Jesus present in this bright, beautiful space — despite the fact many of us can’t understand a word that is sung or said.
We leave the church to walk the road to Finca Grace and the clouds that have been hovering all morning burst forth with a shower. It is winter here, the rainy season, and there will be brief downpours like this each day. We arrive at the farm soaked, but happy to see the young men who live and study at this beautiful spot.
Lunch, games, fellowship — the next two hours go by quickly. As soon as the rain stops, most of the boys start up a game of soccer. There’s plenty of room to play here and it’s a lively game. Chase has brought his cleats (“tacos” in Honduran) and joins in.
Soon, the farm will become home to all of the 74 children in the ministry, with room created to almost double that number. Gordon, the missionary spending the day with us, leads some of us to the site that has been cleared for construction of a girls’ home and a boys’ home. He says FCM is halfway to its goal of $500,000 and hopes to begin the project in less than a year.
All too soon, we board the bus to head back to the city. We stop at a government-run orphanage to spend an hour sharing pizza and Jesus with the children who live there. Several of the children living at the FCM shelters are brought here from this orphanage. Later in the day, we talk about the contrast between the government facility and the shelters run by the mission. It’s rewarding to see the difference living among those who know and love Christ can make in the children.
I take many photos of the children at this orphanage, only to find that we can’t share them publicly. It is for their safety, and I respect that.
Once back at the shelter, we’re joined by the little girls from Grace Shelter and we all share dinner in our rooftop dining room. More songs, hugs and laughter, then it’s bedtime for the children. Another hour of bagging beans and rice, and it’s lights out for us, too.
It’s early (6:30 a.m.) here in Tegucigalpa as I put final touches on this message. I’m on the rooftop where we eat our meals, a cup of rich Honduran coffee cooling next to the bits of rice clinging to the table where little brown-haired boys and girls ate dinner with us last night. The early morning cleaning crew is arriving and already the little boys who live here at Noah’s Ark Shelter are doing their morning chores, preparing to begin school at 7:30. A rooster crows, breaking through the noise of traffic, and patches of blue sky tell me it will be hot again today.
The primary ministry on our agenda today is cooking and serving a mid-day meal to those who work at a dump outside the city. We’ll invite families living nearby to enjoy a free meal of beans, rice, chicken and potatoes. Later, we’ll spend the afternoon at Finca Grace.
It will be a good day.