Back in our own comfortable home where the to-do lists, laundry and every day distractions of a life with too much seems to be piling up. How do we keep what we’ve seen, learned and felt over the past week when life calls us back to what was before? All day we have said that we miss the kids. And each of us can’t stop thinking about them, especially Owen. My first memory of Owen is watching him running down the gravel street in search of his mother and younger brother before his graduation ceremony and my last was tearfulhugs and waiving goodbye at the airport. To hold these sweet children and get to know them has made my desire to help them find their best even more.
Does it take an entire country hurting, hungry and struggling to survive to get my attention?
Two boys living on the street being shewed away from the market to make room for customers, for me.
I desperately wanted to be more than the rich white American coming to a third world country to get a glimpse of why I should be thankful for what I have, but you can’t escape reality when it meets you face to face.
We met these two boys in the photo above on one of our many trips to the local market. I loved the energy and sense of community at the market. People were dependent on one another in their communities and would come to buy fresh ingredients that were prepared, slaughtered or picked that day.
Our family knows all to well what goes into the planting, harvesting and bringing food to market every week, and these people do it every day! The pride they showed in what they had to sell was inspiring and a bit disheartening knowing that these were people barely getting by. This man was at the market we most often frequented and he asked me to take this photo of him. His weary face filled with a partial smile tells his story of hard work and passion.
This was a community with a lot of suffering, but what they still had was a deep knowing that food is one of the most important things in life. The day revolved around meals and everyone sat down to eat together. There was daily shopping at the local markets and hours in the kitchen. It was a reminder that eating good food together as a family takes time, effort and is most importantly, worth the sacrifice. It was a good reminder for me as we came home to hope in a stronger connection to our own local food system.
At every turn there was another talented person skillfully creating food or practical items with their hands.
Ondina works at the project and shares her ability to cook the most delicious food. The talent that this woman has is amazing. I was excited to be able to spend a few afternoons watching her cook authentic Honduran dishes (I’ll share a few soon). Along with continuing her job cooking and cleaning for families and operating a shoe business with her husband she has a dream to own her own restaurant one day. These are humble people who want to do what they do well.
The truth is that I arrived in Honduras seeing the country as a whole, the project as a group of kids. There were no names or stories to put with the face. Is that how I remained blissfully unaware of the reality of those hurting in the past? To see them as a group of people rather than individual souls with hopes and dreams? Slowly over the next few days each child became more real to me and I was able to give freely the most important gift I have to offer, love. These children were loving in return and my family learned a lot about sacrificial giving even when you have little to offer. They taught us what it was like to be happy, playful and caring no matter your circumstances.
The 14 year old boy named Jorge was a big personality in a small frame that knew surprisingly good English. He taught me how to peel my first star fruit and charmed us with his unique sense of humor.
The boy named Brayon who can sing, dance and has a style all his own. He kept us laughing the entire week.
Jairo was one of the older boys at the project,and he loved the little kids. He especially made friends with Adaline and was one of the only kids who could pick her up since she liked being on the go!
The newest girl to the project named Monse. She quickly became good friends with our Elizabeth.
We had been fortunate enough to Skype with Carlos last Christmas when he was with Justin and Ashley. Carlos is a funny, energetic child and it was so much fun getting to know him better.
So now that we are back home in our warm home getting ready to celebrate Christmas what do I do? I think about Owen and the other kids at the Manuelito Project. I can see them running, playing and laughing. I hope that the memories never fade, but I realize that life happens and new things will likely grasp my attention until we see these sweet kids again. I’m thankful for the blessings that God has put into these young children’s life through the help of the project, but the truth is that it‘s still tough and that the people dedicating their lives to the project have a lot of work to do each and every day to make the project continue. Ah, but there is so much hope!
One dream of the project is to start a coffee shop to be run by the kids. I love the idea of hands on learning and who doesn’t love time with a good cup of coffee and time with your thoughts? Kids in the community could come and do their homework, weary travelers could stop in for a dessert or pick up handmade items made by the kids. Yes, ideas like this remind us that there is always another way. It’s never too late.
There is something that I can do and you can do it too.
I’d like to ask you to prayerfully consider supporting these kids, the Manuelito Project and our Bowling Green native friends Justin and Ashley Guest with your financial gifts. Tis’ the season of giving and in many ways so many miles away money is what we have to offer. There are several ways that you can give in small and big ways to the coffee shop and other ideas I’ve listed on our Global Water Issues Page.
What happens when you give to the project? You help children break free from a hurting past and step into something better. And when we do that we can move mountains.
We can change lives one at a time.
We can help a group of kids who are living in community with one another.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
I’ve always read this scripture and thought about how it relates to living in the excess of the United States and choosing to be transformed to a simpler, more meaningful life. But as I witnessed the extreme poverty in Honduras I recognized that this equally relates to not conforming to the obstacles that are placed in our lives. Our lives in and of themselves are meaningful. My life is beautiful, my children are unique and special and so are each and every person living on this earth. No matter our circumstances, how much money we have, or where we live we have a right to be known.
Some may be called to travel long distances to love another, but we are all called to love right where we are. We were reminded to tear down walls and do the hard work of serving one another. We returned thankful for our neighbors and friends who had supported our trip and have taken care of things here at home while we were gone. Thank you all.