During our time in Honduras the team made several visits that impacted me greatly. The first was to Hope Farms. This is a coffee business that Mike the missionary started to both give hope to the locals and to support the Children’s Home.
The farm’s supervisor is also a Baptist minister. He told us through Mike’s interpretation how the farm has changed their lives. It has not only given him employment but he is able to employ his parishioners who pick the coffee beans by hand. And now that they have employment they are able to tithe which has in turn strengthened the Church. It is a win/win situation if ever there was one. (May I encourage you to find them on the web and order their coffee. It is great coffee and you will be helping the Children’s Home).
After sharing with us we laid hands on him and prayed over him and he in turn gave us his blessing. We witnessed that even though we are divided by nations and languages the bond we have in Christ is greater still. It was a privilege to be with this servant of Christ.
Leaving the farm we stopped by a local Pentecostal Church were the pastor shared his powerful testimony. We sat in a tiny cinderblock structure on rickety benches but God was as present there as He is at Canterbury Cathedral. When we laid hands on him and prayed for him he began to weep. Clearly he was moved by our love and support. (This is why you go and don’t just sent a check). After we left the church I returned and peaked in to see if he was okay. He was kneeling at his chair still weeping and praying. I did not interrupt his time with the Lord. We were given more privilege to be around another servant of Christ. We also noted how well respected Mike was everywhere we went, which speaks well of his witness there.
On another day Mike wanted us to visit the communities that initially we were to serve in a clean water project but were not yet ready. At first we objected, wanting to continue our work at the Children’s Home but Mike insisted. He said that he wanted us to see the real Honduras. We assumed having walked through his village that we had done so but we were wrong.
So we piled into two 4X4’s and off we went. We took a snake trail down the mountain deep into a breathtaking valley. The lush vegetation was like a scene from Jurassic Park. We met the Don (landowner) at a store and Mike had a long conversation with him. His community had joined another community in working for one year to dig a 3 mile trench from a mountain cistern to a holding tank. But since not all of the people in the other community had participated there were some in the Don’s community who did not want them to receive water at all. Mike struck up a compromise. The money we provided would pay for another holding tank to be installed which will double their water capacity and there will be plenty to share. Those from the other community would help with this new project and therefore receive water. Those who don’t participate will be charged a fee. Those who are not able to work, like a widow lady, Mike will pay for her. We have high hopes the project will be completed soon.
Although the communities were only about 1 ½ miles apart there is no road connecting them so we had to drive another 45 minutes to reach the other community. We left good dirt roads to drive on poor dirt roads until there were no roads left. After splashing through a stream and climbing hills I was convinced were unassailable, we came to a stop in a pasture. From there the path was so small that we had to hike into the community. The Don’s community had only received electricity a couple of months earlier but this community would likely never receive it. They were living in shacks with dirt floors and until Mike came across them they had no sanitation. Mike built them latrines so that they would quit fouling their drinking water. He built them facilities to hand wash their clothes and take a bucket bath. He even built a school that is attended by 25 kids. Mike pays a teacher to hike into the village because education is the only way these kids will ever break out of poverty. Once again we witnessed the deep love and respect that these folks had for Mike.
The shocking thing to me was when Mike told us that what we were seeing in this community represented about 80% of Honduras. I realized then that what I believed to be a very poor community around the Children’s Home was actually Middle Class. It made me ashamed to think of my complaints about what in reality are exclusively First World problems. These folks are barely surviving and I get mad when Publix runs out of cilantro. Lord have mercy.
The people we met were gracious and kind and also joyful. Rather than being broken by their poverty they seemed to find a way to celebrate life. At night you can hear music and singing across the community. All in all it was a humbling experience and I think we were all enriched by our time there.