It’s my turn to write the reflection from today’s mission trip activities.
A few minutes ago I was sitting in the passenger seat next to the leader of our mission trip. This guy has a shaved head, white goatee, glasses, and wiry arms covered in tattoos – including one of the Grimm Reaper.
Gary looks like an old, retired Walter White from AMC’s acclaimed “Breaking Bad.” But instead of using his intelligence and finances to create a meth empire, Gary is spending the later years of his life connecting people in the United States with a ministry that cares and educates nearly 100 Honduran orphans. It’s not every day you meet a guy like this. So during our ride home after visiting a barbecue restaurant where we treated the teen boys to a feast of meaty delicacies, I picked Gary’s brain.
Now earlier in the trip, Gary had mentioned his grandchildren. So I asked him, “Gary, what’s the difference between your grandkids and these kids?” His answer? “I see these kids ten times as much. No. A hundred times as much!” When I dug a little deeper, he explained how God has blessed his children and grandchildren in many ways. But God has called Gary to expand his family beyond his biological kindred to children who are in need of a blessing. “My family is back in the United States. But my family is here, too.”
So he and his wife Sylvia spend their most of their free time taking groups like ours to two main locations: 1) The Children’s Village (AKA orphanage) where we’ve been fixing things up, playing with kids, and (get this) helping build a mini-ecosystem to grow vegetables and fish; and 2) the new school where we spend our time tutoring, cooking, or helping in the medical clinic. Besides hearing Gary’s story, Dan and I got to interview a few other people for a video we’re shooting. This included a woman named Ashley, who left behind her life in the USA to become the director of the school, and two young women from the Leadership Center who have traveled five hours to intern at the ministries related to the children’s village. Ashlea talked about the challenges of limited resources and space and how trying it can be to have all the American volunteer teachers living under one roof. (Sounds like a great Reality TV show!) The two young women who had been raised in Honduras shared how impressed they were with the education that has been provided to the children’s village and the surrounding community. Even though it has its challenges, this under-staffed, struggling school is providing incredible opportunities to these children – opportunities they would never have had without all of our support.
This morning our devotion touched on a verse from 1 Chronicles 29. It’s a reflection of King David who prays, “Who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly? Since everything comes from you, we have given you that which comes from your own hand.” This has really summed up my feelings about this whole trip. Who am I to hold a smiling orphan in my lap? Who are we to fill the refrigerators full of nutritious food for an entire village of children? Who are “my people,” that we should be able to support this kind of life-changing work day after day? We are offering much, but with the knowledge that none of our time or resources was really ours in the first place.
I know things seem crazy in the United States with the government shutdown and corrupted politics. But have you ever realized that your odds of being born in the United States were less than 5%? That’s the equivalent of rolling a 20 on a 20-sided dice on your first throw. We’ve got privileges and opportunities that far outweigh most of the world. And while these kinds of statistics are sometimes used to foster guilt or resentment, I just want you to feel for a moment the awe of being able to say “Who am I, to be given this kind of life?”
Today the Director of the Children’s Village drove a few hours to pick up three siblings who have been part of an abusive family. This week alone the village has grown by eight children, almost 10%. Take a moment to imagine what it would feel like to be trapped in an abusive situation as a child – with no hope of escape or opportunity. And now imagine the experience of someone stepping in, giving you a place to live and good food to eat and an education that can empower you to have a better life. For free. Because someone who had more decided to care.
This is what Worldwide Heart to Heart does every day. A few people had a dream and a calling and now they have a school and a village and so much life! And while we get to say “Who am I to visit such a place?,” you can be part of the family that supports these kids. You knew it was coming, so without further ado, here’s the link: http://h2hcv.org/donate/
Thanks so much for reading this. I hope that at the least this has given you a fresh perspective about your own life and gifts. Whether it’s Honduras or something closer to home, you have a way of making someone’s life better. And that’s awesome.