Hooray for being home! I literally don’t know where to begin this post– I’m brimming over with excitement and happiness. There are so many stories to share and I finally have the regular internet access needed to share them! But since I have to start somewhere, let’s start with thoughts from last week’s mission.
As noted in the last post, two weeks ago we had formation with thirty Honduran youth. We broke them and ourselves up into seven groups to do a week of mission in various mountain villages. My team this time was a small one. Rebeca, one of the girls from our house, and two other Hondurans from the formation. The first of them was 23. He’s an ex-gang member who almost died through gang violence, and then had this crazy conversion. His dream is now to go to Africa to do mission work. Incredible guy. Then, this 15-year-old boy. I’ll be honest, I feel funny using his real name on the internet, so for our purposes, we’re going to call him David.
It’s funny how… I always think that after coming down to Honduras for all of these years, I know what to expect on missions…ha. More often than not, God throws us something unexpected and for me this time, it was this kid.
David is one of the boys from La Granja, the boys’ orphanage in Comayagua. To put it lightly, he did not want to be there. Unbeknownst to us, he’d been sent on the formation week as a chastisement for bad behavior. This is not a good way to start a mission. Missions are exhausting. They take all of you and then some. If you’re not in it wholeheartedly, it’s not going to go well.
Thankfully, I have some experience with punk teenage boys, and by the first evening, I already felt like his big sister. Between visiting homes in the morning, programs in the afternoon, and three meals a day, David and I were together more or less every waking hour of the week. Slowly but surely, I saw more and more that beneath the too-cool-for-school teen surface, there was an incredible amount of potential and a really good kid. But while it’s so easy for me to see that, it’s a lot harder for David.
His memories of his parents are of them drinking, being drunk, and fighting. His mom passed away about five years ago, and three years ago social services found him and his two brothers being neglected. They took him to the orphanage and though his father is still alive, he doesn’t visit them.
One of the parts that always broke my heart a little would be when David would be messing with me, joking around in the way all little brothers obnoxiously do, and then afterwards in apologizing say something about being malhecho, literally, badly made. But the way he would say it… it was like then he wasn’t joking anymore. He truly thinks that he’s not wanted… that nobody cares for him. I’m convinced that his bad behavior is the typical cry for attention. When you’re living with 70 other boys, how else do you get anyone to notice you? But he’s also convinced that he can’t change these bad habits. That that’s just who he is, this bad kid without a place in the world and without a person to care. Saying goodbye to him was awful. I wrapped him in this huge hug as he kept saying “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go.”
So as we parted, I reminded him of what I’d told the kids in the aldea during my talk on the family. We all do have two families. Our mother, father, etc. but also a family in Christ. And it’s not just something that you sign at the end of your email, “Your sister in Christ,” but rather a mystical reality that truly unites all of us. He has a gringa (aka white girl) for a sister… and God for his father…he is loved and important and without him, the world would be lacking. Then he left and then I cried.
And the tears… they weren’t just for him… but for all of those other 70 boys in the orphanage… and some of the teenage girls in our aldea. There are so many who feel so alone. They were tears because I knew that in four days I’d be back home, celebrating Christmas with my family who– despite the ups and downs throughout the years– has always made me feel loved and cherished. Why is it that I’ve had that blessing when so many haven’t?
Throughout all of this, the lyrics of O Holy Night keep coming back to me. It might be typical, but it really is my favorite Christmas song.
Long lay the world,
In sin and error pining,
Til he appeared,
And the soul found it’s worth.
There’s this ache inside of us, this sense that we are made for something more, that we’re meant to be loved…but we’re helpless, lost, wandering, until He comes to us. Only in Christ does everything come together. Only in Him do we find that infinite love… do we understand how priceless and treasured we are.
These past five months were officially a discernment period after which we’d officially commit to the two years in Honduras. I’d already bought my plane ticket to return ages ago, but a part of me wondered if I’d doubt myself coming home. Already these first three days have been absolutely incredible. I’ve had delicious dinners, Christmas music, and hot showers. But all of that comes second to the amazing people who are in my life. I’ve been overwhelmed by the love I’ve experienced amongst my family and friends here. Moreover, seeing how many suffer without it, has made it all the more valuable to me. But. As hard as it is to leave these people, ironically, it’s the love from and for them that compels me to do so. I’ve been given so much, without reason… who am I not to share it with others? And in the end… the work I’m doing isn’t that grand. I play tag, I help with homework, I sing songs…but if through that little love given someone learns a little more of the Father’s love for us, then every cold shower and every spoonful of beans is more than worth it… and I can’t wait to dive into the depths again and see what the New Year brings.