Honduras was an adventure that changed my life. It’s very difficult to put into words all of the experiences that happened in my brief time there. I think I can best put it that if anyone who may question the existence of God should go on a mission to a poor country. God’s presence was everywhere; the love from the boys at El Hogar orphanage was awesome; the inspiration from the men and women who have dedicated not only their time but their lives to providing a safe, loving home and education for the abandoned, orphaned and hopelessly poor boys I met was sensational; the volunteers – long and short – who had a calling to teach and learn from the Hondurans were inspiring; the raw, stripped emotions and relationships that are part and parcel to being in an environment that promotes and allows you to explore your own intellect and strength encouraged me; the epiphanies that occurred with all of us who went on the trip were miraculous; the courage to open our hearts and allow our lives to be turned upside down and inside out truly gave me pause; the the beauty of Honduras, the poverty of the people, the contrasts — all were imprints of a life that we don’t have here. Evidence of God’s existence lives in Honduras.There was nothing subtle about Honduras! You never had to read between the lines or wonder what was truly happening. Poverty is stark, poverty is raw, poverty is frightening. Living in poverty must be a Hell I cannot imagine. But I witnessed it, I shared it, I smelled it, I was scared of it. But in the midst of poverty grew happiness, smiles, joy, pride, gratitude, hope, and most importantly, LOVE. A peace came over me that I’ve never experienced while at El Hogar and I am hopeful that I can hold onto it for a long time. I am so blessed and we, as Americans, are blessed to live in country where there is a middle class.The details of the trip are equally important but I’ll try to give you the business card version. I left for Honduras and flew into Tegucigalpa where I was to live at the El Hogar home for boys for one week in a volunteer house. The boys, ages 5 – 14, are orphaned, abandoned, or come from hopelessly poor families (in Honduras 75% of the population lives on $1-3/day and most items are on par in price as in the US). El Hogar has two other facilities for the boys who are 14 – 16 years old: one, an agricultural farm where they learn to become farmers and the other, The Institute where the boys learn to become carpenters, electricians, or welders. The hope is that the older boys, when they graduate, will grow the almost invisible middle class in Honduras. These boys are the hope and future of Honduras. They will have an education and a craft that they can take with them anywhere. My service team spent several days painting the new institute and also, the physically stronger of us, made concrete BY HAND to build new dorms for the boys BY HAND (read: no cement mixers, no plows, no back hoes, no tractors, no bulldozers, no pumps to pump out the rain during the rainy season — ONLY hands, shovels, and buckets!!!). The hired workers made a whopping $10/day which is considered the going rate for this type of back-breaking work.We also spent our late afternoons and evenings with the younger boys at El Hogar. We ate most of our meals at El Hogar in the tiny dining hall. Beans and tortillas were served at most meals but pancakes were sometimes brought out to mix it up. We did have an opportunity to see some of Tegucigalpa, visit the Saturday market, take an infamous taxi ride, and eat out at some restaurants. Every night we had a devotional and on Sunday went to Santa Maria, the Episcopal church that sponsorsEl Hogar, for Eucharist. It’s amazing to hear the service I know so well– in SPANISH! I actually could keep up except during the hymns.The most poignant aspect of the trip for me was the home visit. Two of the boys at El Hogar came from a home just up the hill. We visited their “house” which was tucked behind some gravelly alley way and built into the side of a rock face. The other 3 sides were made of wood planks and the roof was made of corrugated tin. There was no floor, only dirt. There was no running water, no toilet, no kitchen except for a small “stove” where the mother made the tortillas that she sells for a living. There were 2 light bulbs hanging from a rope. 5 people lived in a house that was about 300 square feet and had to share a bathroom with the neighbors across the way. Yet, the mother greeted us with a smile. She made no apologies, was gracious, and tidy. She herself was clean and wore clean clothes as did her 2 other children. She rents this shack for about $250/year. The injustice is unspeakable! I noticed a pile of bricks in the corner which represents her hope. Her hope for a solid home. Her hope for better than she has. A pile of bricks is herhope for a life perhaps with running water AND electricity. I wept. I wept because she was so kind and I wept because for the first time in my life I really GOT how blessed I am. I couldn’t wait to leave because I was faced with my own ugly covetous issues and yet she> smiled and told us about herself and her children. Her 2 boys at El Hogar couldn’t come home because she couldn’t afford to feed them. It was heartbreaking and yet, I realized how lucky her boys were to be given the chance at life at El Hogar.(My husband) and I have talked and decided to sponsor one of the boys at El Hogar. Our sponsorship will provide room and board and education to a boy who would otherwise be left on the streets of Honduras to fend for himself or join a gang (which, by the way, I learned that initiation into the gangs requires the boy to murder someone).
The entire experience was amazing! I am so thankful that I went and so blessed that I have a supportive family and husband who all encouraged me to go. I cannot wait to go back. I learned so much about myself and it truly changed me forever!
Tori – Ashburn, VA