This summer my wife, Pam, and I were part of a service team which traveled to Honduras to work at El Hogar. At least, “to work at El Hogar” is the simple way to explain what we were doing there. It would be more accurate to say that we went there to let the boys and staff of El Hogar Projects work on our hearts and minds.
For the vision and practice of the orphanage itself—“The Home of Love and Hope”—as well as its Agricultural School and Technical Institute, are to be transforming examples of radically practical love and faith in the midst of appalling poverty. It is to raise boys that society would otherwise treat as garbage as if they were individually and personally loved by God, and were of infinite value in God’s eyes.
Scenes of poverty and a hardly-functional civic society are inescapable in Honduras. On our journey from Tegucigalpa (the capital city and home of El Hogar) to the Agricultural School, our bus passed an enormous city dump that teemed with a large population gleaning a fragile living by picking through the garbage that the city threw away daily.
But at El Hogar we met 75 young boys who received clean clothes each day, nutritious food, a safe compound in which to sleep, play, and learn, and above all loving teachers and directors who tell them constantly of God’s love and care for them. At the Agricultural School and Technical Institute we met scores of older boys who were learning skills that would ensure them gainful and dignified employment in Honduras’ minuscule middle class, and who were also learning a code of manhood that emphasized family responsibility and faithfulness.
In all of these places we were introduced as friends in whom God’s love had been made manifest. Our presence was interpreted not just as an indication of ongoing material aid, but more importantly as a sign that their lives—the lives of those boys—matter to God.
And what I learned that week was that my presence and interaction with the boys mattered at least as much as my time and financial contribution. It is sobering, and more than a little disturbing, to be taken seriously. What I’m beginning to understand is that we traveled to Honduras, above all, to be with the boys and the staff, and to see Christ in one another.
Rich Goldhor – Belmont, MA