How can one describe the indescribable? Explain a rainbow of color to one who has never had sight? Or the most beautiful of sounds to one who has never heard a single sound?
Yesterday was our first full day back from Honduras. The sights, sounds and smells of that country and what we experienced is fresh in my mind. My heart is heavy. I have, in a twenty-four hour period, since stepping off of that plane, experienced a hundred different emotions. I feel weighted down and as if someone is sitting on my chest making it difficult to breathe. I have gone from sitting quietly, reflecting, praying, looking at pictures, full of joy, to sobbing, to anger and back again. Having my best friend, the hubster, here to talk with has been my most valuable asset.
I loved all of the well wishes from friends and family yesterday, but honestly couldn’t bring myself to talk to anyone, but one. Who I longed to talk to was my team. No one will get me and what I feel, but them. And when checking in on one, I heard she had the same sort of feelings. Like refugees, scattered around our small city, I feel out of place and out of sorts. I am glad on our last night, as we met as a team, we were given “pointers” on how to re-enter. I know what I am feeling is normal, and know that it will be a process to work through. How do you come back to this life in the US, so full of abundance after seeing and experiencing what we did? I am excited to share this amazing journey with you.
On our first day we visited the AFE school. AFE stands for Amor, Fe y Esperanza (Love, Faith and Hope) We toured AFE and heard about its beginning. It’s quite amazing how God can work through the smallest of children to do something so huge in a country. We learned how one visit to the trash dump in Tegucigalpa prompted a tiny girls heart to help an entire population stricken by incomprehensible poverty.
We visited each class at AFE starting with the nursery. Kids can immediately grab your heart, and I knew mine was gone the second we stepped in to play with these sweet cherubs.
As we visited each class, we learned their names, favorite colors, favorite subjects and what they would like to be when growing up. Doctors, paralegals, engineers, teachers, soccer players… They asked us questions as well, and it was so fun to hear their laughter as we struggled over our Spanish. We ended in each classroom, with an encouragement, “Te ve en la Universidad!”
It was amazing to see this school. To know that these students, not long ago were attending school for the first time, under a make-shift tarp, sitting on old tires, in the trash dump. Now they have roofs over their heads, sitting at desks and tables. God is good!
The next part of our day was a visit to the dump. We were educated on this, and were prepared…so we thought, for this visit. We were not allowed to take any photos, out of respect and dignity to those who make the trash dump their home. And honestly, pictures would’ve never conveyed what we saw.
As we drove up the winding hill, I prayed…”Lord, give me the strength I need for this. Give me eyes to see, and ears to hear these people.”
We were going up to feed the people of the dump and I thought about how it would have been for Jesus. How the dirty, sick and starving would come to Him and how he loved them all. I continued to pray as we pulled in. I was nervous. I had images of what I thought we would see, but as we approached I realized, quickly, that even my worst minds-image, wasn’t even close. We stepped out of the van with our bags of water and food, and the crowds emerged. At first it was hard to wrap my mind around these….people. Broken. Dirty. Emaciated. Their clothes, faces and hair all one color. I grabbed my composer, trying my best to keep my eyes from tearing. Trying my best to…breathe, through the rancid, sour, odor of rot and decomposition that was permeating my nose and mouth. We started a line to hand out water. We were instructed to make three lines, for men, women and children. As they raced into lines to grab whatever they could, I saw their faces for the first time. Their eyes. These people, who were entrenched in the piles of trash, right along with the buzzards and dogs, who seemed almost “un-human” had eyes so tender. Their faces, became real to me. They became, people. Human beings. I watched as smiles emerged from faces, grateful for just the small amount of food and interaction. I left the line with bags of water to hand out. I walked a ways, praying a silent prayer over these people. May God spare them of this. I watched as they scoured through new trash as trucks entered. Frenzied, looking for any tidbit they could find. Grateful for even a chicken carcass that was thrown out, so that they could have a meal for their family.
We got back into the van, and I sobbed! I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to be able to do more. I wanted for this entire population of people living in the dump to not exist. These men, women, children and infants to have a place to live and work and eat and breathe! To be clean and have fresh water. I wanted to scream. But I sobbed.
After our dump visit, I was so emotionally drained, I could barely speak. In fact all of us were quiet…each of us processing what we had experienced. Quietly lifting up prayers as the day went on. Praying for AFE and how God is using that ministry. Praying for our strength, as we all knew that the next day we would be out in the neighborhood building a house from the ground up. I was encouraged by this. Was excited to meet the family we were building for and hand the keys over on that last day. Little did I know, that God had given me a little glimpse on this very first day at AFE.
I changed on that day. Changed in a way that I am still working through and processing. Changed in a way that I cannot convey and may never be able to. A soul change. A shift so strong in me that I know I am a different person. That day at the dump will never leave my mind. The kids at AFE will never leave my prayers. My list of names is long. i know the country of Honduras is on my heart. I know and see that God IS working in this country. I know He is bigger than all of this.
– to be continued…..
For more information on AFE and their ministry, go to http://www.afehonduras.org/
~For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land. -Deuteronomy 15:11