I plan on using this blog sometimes for some personal use, much like the old blog I started before this beautiful website was around. I find it quite cathartic, as well as hopefully informational for you. I will try to keep things tied to the mission work as well, much like today's post.
Before I begin though, I need to preface what will come below about our experiences Friday, January 20th, mostly to counter what I sometimes see in other posts/stories that seem to imply that quite a bit of skill, maturity, and extra gifting of spiritual connectedness involved in doing ministry, or at least in ministry .
What you will read below and what we did on Friday (as in pretty much every other day for me really) involves introversion, reluctance, fear, and in the end prayer and just putting one foot in front of the other to get started. At least for me. Your mileage may vary. There is a point though here...don't give me any credit for any of this. I myself recognize that I am awful, both in the current sense of the word, but also in the original meaning, being full of awe, at what God does with some otherwise crappy, normal, or otherwise rather un-special people. I am speaking for myself here of course.
We got the blessing of scheduling house visits due to a guest coming who brought many, many supplies (crocs, shoes, shirts, pants, rice, beans, and Bibles/tracts/Bible cartoon-comic books.) Todd has come before, this time though we were able to make a day of it and visit as many houses as we were able...something like 10 in the end I believe for 12 different children in the Milk Project.
Every time we do this, it is interesting. Interesting meaning...every house is different, and you know what to expect but never to know quite what to expect. I won't go into detail for every home, but some of them really stood out.
We visited a mom whose husband actually had a full time job. This is quite unusual. Among other conversations (including discovering that uncles/aunts if not your blood uncle/aunt have another term to use for that) we talked about the mom's 17 year old son Anderson, who went illegal to the USA. It took a couple months, and was not easy to get through Mexico either (which has its own sets of dangers...and deportations, almost 47,000 Hondurans were deported from Mexico last year.) The first day he got across the border, he got caught by immigration. He was flown to Miami, where he is in a home for kids like him. He is being well taken care of, and could "escape" at any moment if he wished...it is not high security or anything. If his mother had family or anyone with whom they could leave Anderson, he could leave, but they do not. If they do not find anyone, and he turns 18 in June, he will be deported then. That is as they say...quite the pickle. Find someone, and he could stay "indefinitely" but if not, then he will be off on a plane back to Honduras in June.
We visited a home that was a first for me, where the mother was very excited to meet me...only heard good things so she said. I was surprised my name would come up at all. She was praying for Donald Trump's inauguration (I was not entirely sure positively or negatively but she seemed to be excited by the idea) and was fascinated with all things USA with its healthcare and education focus. She even loved all USA movies, especially those with Jean-Claude Van Damme. She was quite the talker, so I did not comment on that. I noticed a picture of the mormon temple on their wall. I asked Maria later...they had been attending a Mormon Church, but not recently. They also had a cat...Maria's daughter Lesly is a sucker for kittens and this one was just a few weeks old. It was an interesting time to talk and pray for sure.
We met a mother I had seen several times before, but this time she was asleep when we arrived, not making tortillas to sell. This was quite surprising. Turns out, she now has a full time job, working nights at pretty much the only textile factory still in Tegucigalpa. Most are on the North coast, and several have left for other countries (where tax and salary laws are more favorable.) Textile jobs are hard work. She works three 12 hour shifts a week, with 1/2 hour for lunch and one 15 minute break. It is a full time job for as long as it lasts...there are no guarantees really. These textile jobs also pay less than what a minimum wage would be at any other business. Still...it provides better than making tortillas.
Speaking of tortillas...there are still plenty of mothers doing that just to try to provide for their families. This mother a single mother trying to provide for her and her three children.
Many of these homes are like this...the area seen here is the kitchen/living room. There is just a bedroom attached, and then this area outside for washing dishes and clothes.
There is corn soaking there for tomorrow's tortilla prep. If she is fortunate, she could "make" around $9 a day doing this...minus costs of course.
Like many homes...I saw no other food.
Some homes have odd "pets." We were actually visiting a family that rents a room from the owner of this property, who had a pigeon in a cage, and then here...two squirrels. Not pets so much as a mini-zoo. They can never be released, as they would run away of course. Kind of creepy actually. Especially with the couped up barking dogs outside in a very small pen.
We met a grandmother who lied about her age being 71 (she turns 71 in April) who has been "visiting" for seven months visiting the public hospital to get a handle on her diabetes. We had a long chat about that...her feet not healing, not able to see yesterday, and constant nose bleeds. How is her sugar and bp? Not sure. I reminded them our clinic was nearby, and would not have to wait the three months or more between appointments.
There were more stories and sharing, laughs, concerns, and joy (some of the kids disappeared with their bags of "goodies" as soon as we got there) but to end every visit...
The biggest thing we can do for these families, for these children, is prayer and sharing Christ's love with them. It was a privilege we had in every home we visited, and a few of the kids were actually brave enough to lead the prayer time! (something about Maria, Todd and myself being present, along with the fact that some of their parents do not pray was imtimidating for some of the kids.)
We will continue to do what we can as God provides physically, and in the project as well for helping them with their education and overall physical and mental wellbeing, but definitely our focus is on spiritual transformation that only God can do.
May he continue to do that through the Milk Project, and beyond its four walls!