The dump day is so hard. I wake early, knowing that this will be the day for the visit. Praying to God that he protect and surround the hearts of our team with a supernatural force. That he allow us each to see exactly what we need to see.
For me, breakfast is quiet. Being in Honduras last year; I know. I understand what’s coming. It’s hard not to try and explain to our new team members what’s going to happen. I want to prepare them for the ambush to the heart that’s going to happen as we drive up to and visit the dump, but I cannot. They need to take it in the way God sees fit for them, and not some prewritten script from those of us that have prior experience.
As we turn onto the road, my heart seizes. What will it be like this time? I have been here. Will it be less impactful? Will it seem old hat?
As we climb the bumpy hill, I start to smell what’s ahead of us. That thick, rancid smell of rot and decomposition. I pray silently and tears sting my eyes. “Spirit lead me where my trust is without boarders. You’ve called me here. You’ve prepared me for this. Be here with us. Open my eyes even wider on this journey. Allow me to have the heart and eyes to see these people as Jesus sees them. I have prayed so many times “Send Me.” and here I am in the middle of this, thank you.”
~Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
We step out of the truck into a war zone. Ravaged ground teaming with busyness. The buzzards and dogs swarm around heaping piles of decay. I pan out as the smell lands thick and rancid on my tongue. My eyes burn. My heart heaves in my chest as I see them appearing. Sepia-toned people. Dirty and broken as if they came from underground. They head towards us, knowing that we have come to feed them. They surround us fifteen, maybe twenty deep or more with hands reached out. I stand back from the line taking it all in with my bag of tortillas and rice. It’ s brand new to me again. Not the same as I remember it being. I hear the Holy Spirit speak to my heart “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” These are the least of these.
The line in front of me runs out of tortillas and it’s my turn to step up. I feel my heart quicken and a sob starting to climb up my throat. I step forward and look at outstretched hands. My eyes continue to travel down disheveled arms to faces. Women and children surrounded in meagerness. It’s a need so profound it’s undescribeable. I reach into my bag and we touch hands. I think “this could’ve been any of us” Had we been born of a different country. Smiles emerge on the faces of these sweet, women and children. I just want to grab them and hug them. I want to scoop them up, and bring them with us. The passion I feel runs so deep for them it burns my stomach. I stare into their eyes. They are grateful and genuine. A meal today. They have one meal today. I think of my own children. As a mother this stings me. Had I been born in any other place; this could’ve been me. Us. It’s hard to hand out only one pack to each women and child. They ask for more. “Dos por favor?” as they hide one behind their back. I wonder if they have more children back in their home made of plastic and parts that the dump has given up to them. My heart lurches thinking about this. What would I have done for my children in this situation?
I am down to water now as the team walks and spreads out a little. We still stay somewhat close as this area is not safe to wander far. I smile and talk to people. Are they thirsty? Do they need agua? The hands continue to stretch out and I continue to see their eyes crease in smiles. How much we take for granted every single day in our country. Our abundance. Our taps that run gallon after gallon of fresh water at our disposal at any second. Water is something I don’t even feel we are really grateful for; but they are. This small plastic bladder of water I hold could mean life or death for them today. I think about waking every day to a restart. That’s life for them. It’s a do-over every day. They wake to scour the dump for recycleables or the scrap food left behind. The possibility of an old bottle of hot, coke with one sip that was left. That’s their day. Every day.
People begin to surround us asking for prayer. Their needs run so much deeper than their poverty. You would think that this would be their first need. I think too immediate. Our culture has done that to me. They need prayer for sick family members. A son that is dying. Here in the disintegration and rot, a son is dying and this mother is weeping. Our team surrounds her and prays for her in our English language. God hears us. She hears us, and knows what we are saying even though she doesn’t speak the language. She hugs us and is so grateful. As this mother leaves another approaches; this time, pregnant. She will give birth to and raise her baby right here.
As we climb back into the truck I allow my tears to fall. I continue my prayers for these people as we drive away. My emotions run wild and I feel that twinge of guilt. We can leave. It seems unfair.
It’s hard for me to see that type of need and not be able to change it in an instant. I think about the impact we have partnering with AFE to build homes for these people, and for the children to have the opportunity for education through AFE. God is good. It may not happen in a spilt second, but it is making a difference. One family at a time.
I am reminded of the verses we studied over the week. The parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Everyone got something, but no one got everything.
As we come back home and acclimate to being back into a wealthy country; a first world country, I need to keep reminding myself of this: Why God put us here and not there. And even though I feel like a refugee coming back into my own home, I don’t allow guilt to swallow me. I thank God for the compassion he has put in my heart. Without that I would walk around in such abundance and only crave more. My job is to feel a burden, not guilt. God gave us what we have knowing he can trust us with the recources. It’s not an issue of fairness, but of what we can handle and how we are going to use it. Partnering together to do kingdom work.
Our next trip is already in the works. Dates are already being set. I thank God for giving me eyes to see beyond my four walls. To be witness to what real need is and what genuine thankfulness is.
For more information on AFE and their impact on the people of the Tegucigalpa trash dump click here: http://www.afehonduras.org