HOPE FOR HONDURAS

Here are the reflections I scribbled on the plane on the way to and from our visit to Hope 4 Honduras…

League City…
Doing my morning run at 3:45 AM today. Before I leave I want to run the streets with fresh eyes for the things that surround me every day, so familiar they go unnoticed – street signs and storm sewers and sidewalks and driveways and traffic lights. I run down illuminated, tree lined boulevards and feel the mist on my legs as sprinkler systems water lawns and flower beds. I can see through night lit windows into elegantly furnished houses with multiple car garages and swimming pools. This is my neighborhood. It occurs to me that I’m wearing running shoes. I’ll change them when I finish because they are only for running. As I run I try to remember how many pairs of shoes I have, but I can’t. When I finish my run I’m going to jump into a hot shower and put on clean clothes and decide what I want to eat for breakfast. And then I am going to leave, because I can.
Mogote…
Ten hours later and I am in Mogote. Mogote is urban. The houses are jammed together and crammed up against the edge of the road. The road is just well travelled dirt with big rocks jutting up and big holes cratered throughout. In many places there is a trickle of water seeping through the rocks and down the hill. It doesn’t take long to figure out where the water comes from – there is no sewer system. I’m careful not to walk in the wet places and I’m trying to be careful not to step in one of the myriad piles of feces in the road. Emaciated stray dogs are everywhere, but many of the piles I’m avoiding can’t be blamed on the dogs. Open spaces look like the surface of a landfill, every wrapper and package and discarded anything just goes on the ground. The road is dotted with black scorched areas where trash has been burned but most of it just litters the roadside. The air is smoky from burning trash and cooking fires. The smoke mixes with the smell of urine, garbage, feces, dust, exhaust – the odors aren’t overwhelming but they are ever present.
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Motor cycles and trucks and little red three-wheeled taxi scooters are everywhere zooming up and down around the bumps and holes. They narrowly miss each other and narrowly miss the pedestrians. The streets of Mogote are not sleepy; kids walk to school, young men and even families of three or four buzz by on motorcycles. Vendors drive by in trucks with loud speakers blaring advertisement for their goods – it sounds like a Muslim call to prayer. One guy on a motorcycle is selling pizza. Men trudge along tugging ice cream carts and others walk the roads selling cotton candy. A man leads a string of horses past us, they are laden with bundles of sticks to sell for fire wood.

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Some of the houses in Mogote are brick or cinder block, but most are rough cut boards nailed up vertically with a few big rocks holding down a corrugated metal roof. Laundry dries on barbed wire fences, chickens peck around dogs sleeping in the shade and women peer out of windowless openings and doorways. Somewhere near the house is an outside toilet and a basin for holding water captured from the rain or purchased from a truck when the resident can afford it. There is no running water here. Some of the houses have concrete floors, some dirt. A few have electricity and every once in a while you even see a very out of place satellite dish.
This Gringo cannot appreciate the essence of life in Mogote. “Poverty,” “scarcity,” “under resourced” – whatever words I would use to describe it are incomplete and fail at reducing the reality of Mogote to something that is comprehensible. Even though you stand in the middle of it you aren’t really experiencing or even imagining what it is really like to live here. But just being in Mogote overwhelms your senses and overwhelms your paradigms of justice, government, family, and security. Those things are swallowed up in Mogote’s abject material want and invisible crime and relentless, pervasive, pathetic need.
Paula…
I met Paula on the road in front of the mission. Shiny combed hair and big dark eyes and a smile that warms the whole hillside. A hug from her little arms puts your heart in your throat and fills your eyes with tears. A bottle of bubbles to blow brings a little girl belly laugh that chases away the odors and the economics and the filth. Five magical minutes with this charming child and I am grateful that I got to come to Mogote.

Buenos! Comida!
Jose and Alex lead the Gringos through the streets to hand out bags of rice and corn and beans. They walk past the houses and yell “Buenos! Comida!” and the Gringos follow behind and hand out the bags of food. Jose and Alex are men. They know the streets of Mogote and the people of Mogote and they lead the Gringos around so we can feel like we did something to help, but they are the helpers. They are loving their neighbors. They have made themselves servants of people like us, the guests of Hope 4 Honduras, and servants of the people of Mogote. They are patient, strong, and caring and they are my heroes and they are heroes in the Kingdom of God. I want to know them and hang out with them and laugh with them and help them. I thank God that I got to come to Mogote to meet them.

Who knows how many hundred meals a day are cooked then cleaned up after in the kitchen at Hope 4 Honduras. They are cooked with love and precision and care and expertise. Betty, Denise, and Carol are dedicated and hospitable and so very welcoming. They are busy and fun, efficient and engaging. They let me help them even though I was mostly in their way, and it was a gift to me that I got to be part of the team for a little while. As I listened to them chatter and laugh and point to where the dishes I dried were stored they made me glad I got to come to Mogote.
The most obvious thing in the world to me as I walk up and down the dirty roads is that the people of Mogote do not need me to be here. They have Alex and Jose and Leo and Shelly and Ron and the ladies in the kitchen who live out the gospel with them every day. But, It is good for me to be here so I can walk along as the gospel of Jesus is lived out in raw simplicity, that is what Hope 4 Honduras is doing and it is spiritual and pragmatic: Share what you have with the widows and orphans in the name of Jesus and speak to them about their Savior. Pray for every grain of rice and tortilla that it might communicate Jesus’ love. Walk through your streets and call to your neighbors so you can give them provision and tell them Jesus loves them and invite them into his church. They do not need me to be here, but they welcome me here to walk beside them for a few days and I am grateful that I got to come to Mogote.

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