Those are just some of the questions I had going into this week here in Honduras. I gotta admit answers didn’t come as quickly as I would have liked either.
We landed on Monday, had lunch with the local Compassion International team members here in Honduras, got shuttled to our hotel and called it a day. As I sat in my hotel room surrounded by the city of San Pedro Sula I was ready for God to show me something.
The next day we began early after breakfast and headed to our first Compassion project. Driving out of the main metro area of San Pedro Sula and into the boroughs I saw just how quickly the poverty line shows up. The “have’s” and the “have-not’s” are not separated as much by distance as they are opportunity.
Not 15 – 20 mins from our hotel was this first project site and the kids being served there greeted us with warm smiles and signs with our names on them, welcoming their new foreign friends. We greeted the kids, met the local team at this project and began learning about their mission here at this site.
Once pleasantries were exchanged I was again plagued by the same questions. What are we doing here? What are we going to fix/change? How do we make a difference in the lives of these children?
Next we did some home visits to see where these kids live and bring them some aid from the local Compassion projects. We walked a few blocks from the church and into a home that had no floor, just dirt.
The walls were made of pieces of wood, scrap metal, wire and blocks. Anything really that might work to hold up as a wall.
Inside was a small room, maybe the size of a large walk-in closet back home where 4 people shared one bed, one table, 3 chairs, a sink area, a cooking area and a small desk to hold up a make shift clothing area.
My heart sank. I wanted to fix this and I wanted to fix this now. I wanted to walk this family out of this poverty and help them. NOW.
But we didn’t do any of that. We brought them gifts and food. We learned about their family. Then we left. We left them back in that little shanty. We left them to survive as best they can. We walked. Away. My heart twisted inside.
Inside myself I yelled at God. Asking…no, begging God to show me how to fix this. Nothing. No answers came.
We walked back to the church and prepared for lunch and I was done with this whole trip and ready to go home. I didn’t like what I saw and how we didn’t fix anything today. That’s when I think God brought a little aid to my heart.
I sat next to a Compassion facilitator at that project site and partly in frustration I began grilling them for answers as to why we didn’t fix things for these people immediately and give them better lives, now.
I learned a lot about how the cycle of poverty works and how just throwing money at a problem doesn’t change the heart or the mindset. A handout isn’t as powerful as equipping them to grow, and learn and change things for their future.
I learned how Compassion walks along side these families and their children, making sure they go to school, get medical attention, food, tutors, anything they need to lead a long healthy life.
I learned about how they want these children to grow up and go to college so they can show future generations of Hondurans a better life, bringing socio-economic change to an entire region.
I learned how Compassion doesn’t just help little kids, but they walk with them even through College with their LDP program.
I learned about the Child Survival Program, their Critical Intervention Programs, so many ways that Compassion isn’t just bringing them the things they need to survive, but also the things they need to thrive and bring change to their country.
My whole mindset began to change, almost like God pulled the blinders off my eyes and I got to see what God was doing here with Compassion.
These kids are the future of Honduras and who better to lead a nation than children being taught to love like Jesus, to give like Jesus, to walk, talk and act like Jesus.
These children just need love and people willing to love them. So I dropped my guards and just loved on them as if they were a part of my own family. I loved on these children like Jesus would have. Playing, hugging, talking and showing them the love they may not normally get.
A relationship is all it takes. Sponsoring a child is the start of that relationship. You can walk along side one of these children as they grow up, go to school, learning about life, love, God and you can be a part of that.
These children LOVE the letters they receive from their sponsors and they literally cling to them as one of their most precious gifts. They crave to be loved and a simple letter from a thousand miles away gives them just that. Love. Your love, from friends half a world away.
They also crave to climb on you. Like a human jungle gym. I learned that the hard way. Pick one kid up and 50 more show up wanting their turn next.
Today I learned to love like Jesus would and its not in the quick, throw money and walk away kind of fashion.
It’s not in the quick fix it now mentality either. I learned to love like Jesus means to walk hand in hand, in love and in relationship with those you truly want to help. Jesus plays the long game with us every day, no wonder Compassion says it does its work, in Jesus name. Loving these people, everyday, and in anyway possible.