Then comes conversations about buying something or something traditional in this area or time of year...and I have never heard of it or it is a totally foreign concept. And then to drive the point home that it is not me...everyone who then joins the conversation, agrees, has the gidgetdrives the point further home. Mentions of common Christmas plants that I have never heard of...but everyone else seems to have, driving customs that I swear weren't a thing when I lived here about 20 years ago, conversations about politics, policies, rights, they make ratcheting screwdrivers now?...the list goes on. I think I was just kind of denying them for a while. And denying how long it has been, I mean, 18 years "gone" hasn't seemed that long, but clearly it has been.
All this can be a little uncomfortable. And it comes even more going into our home culture as well. (think about that sentence that just came out of me for a bit.) But...overall, it is pretty encouraging in a strange way. Wherever we were born, and whatever culture we are given growing up or encounter living wherever we are or where God takes us, it should not be our first and foremost identity. There is something freeing of being caught between cultures to help you identify what really matters, what you really believe, and what is just not important, or what it just not as important as others think it is or should be.
Kiss me, or be the same...whichever way is fine by me.
Those of the kids that accompanied Maria to Sampedrana also got to stop for a visit in Comayagua. This was quite the unusual adventure for most of them!
It is hard to admit sometimes when we need help. Sometimes, it is hard to admit that to ourselves. One thing traveling around the US has taught me (yet again) is that with spiritual highs, come spiritual lows. Getting to share time with people here has been great, sometimes just hanging out and chatting, sometimes with great discussions that dive deeper in the mission, faith, and the world in which we live.
But in what I believe is an ongoing need for transparency and shining a light on a darkness that can otherwise be crippling, let's talk about anxiety and depression shall we?
Have you ever shown up to work, only to look around you in confusion and a shortness of breath? Have you ever felt like you are driving into a woods, seeing the trees all crowded together and you are racing into them so fast you can't focus?
There is a forest to wade into every day of our lives, of errands, spiritual errands, physical work...you name it, and all with their importance and calling out for our attention, whether we feel capable or able to perform them or not. When that forest seems coming at us at great speed, all the more reason we should stop, pray, and try to just deal with walking around the first tree in front of us.
My frustration, my paralyzing fear sometimes just to tackle the day, can come from many things, but ultimately...am I seeing myself and my relationship to God correctly? Or am I just seeing a brown mass of thorns and branches, and trying to make that tree blossom from my empty jug without help from the Holy Spirit? Not to trivialize this subject, and not that it is all just "fixed" from our point of view, but there are many a passage in the Bible that can help in those times, to regain proper focus and persevere, one that hit me today especially is one that is instructive and then tells you the why...I Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on Him...because He cares for you."
I thought I would take a stab at expounding a bit on the current caravan of thousands of mostly Hondurans walking to the US.
Depending on what news outlet you use, you will get some different views on the motivations behind the individuals making up this caravan.
Often mentioned is gang violence and the general poverty (some outlets report 60% poverty), which is true, and unfortunately, nothing new. This story is in the news cycle now because of the size of the group, but the number of people trying to leave difficult circumstances (in Honduras and in many other countries) to get to a promised land of opportunity has been going on long before I have been living in Honduras.
When you are from the USA living in Honduras, conversations in Honduras will at some point turn to life in the USA, quite often a person's experience with either living in the USA or trying to get there. When you are in the USA, it is very difficult to understand the risks for those that make this journey, not just from "close by" Central America, but from around the world...which also includes many walking through Honduras from South America or even Africa. The risks are huge and certainly real: death, dismemberment (riding La Bestia train and falling off), getting caught up in sex trafficking, rape, robbery, dehydration trying to cross deserts, and more, but not the least of which is getting caught and sent back.
But just facing those risks (as well as the financial cost to get there which is huge) gives you a tiny glimpse into the challenges of daily life for so many in Honduras.
Is there some co-opting of this situation for political reasons? Sure. What else is new? But to think that is the reason behind all this is short sighted.
One of the main sources of income for the country is money sent back from those living/working abroad. The word for that is remittance. I only know it because of how common it is there. If you can get to the USA, the likelihood that you will be able to work, be safe, and have enough money to send some back to support your family is the dream that most find. But it can be difficult because the pressure to provide and sacrifices an immigrant makes are often huge.
I chose the picture above (from a joint service in Cantarranas) because it shows a good representation of some Hondurans that have made the journey, and some of those that currently are, whether or not they are in that caravan. There are big issues here, but when you focus in, you see real people.
From a legality/moral point of view, I certainly do not have any answers to all of this. It is a complex situation, the roots of which I struggle to understand through the lens of history and the factors that have added up to get us to this point over a period of 50 or even 100 years. Big factors and a mountain of little ones, and not all the burden lies on Honduras or countries like it either.
Just this past month, someone that used to work for the mission made it to the border, went through the month long process of interviews and time in front of a judge there (they turned themselves in on purpose at the border), and is now living legally in the Northeast and immediately working 30 hours a week, awaiting more appointments before a judge in the next year.
Bottom line: We pray for so many in so many countries that feel forced to leave everything they know to travel so far to try to make a life for themselves and their family. It can help, it can hurt, but it is always hard, even in the best of circumstances. We also pray that as a mission we could be a small piece in helping Honduras.
I remember a bit from Saturday Night Live from many years ago. Someone answers the phone at a sorority saying "Delta Delta Delta, can I help ya help ya help ya?"
Sometimes talking about the work of the Milk Project can be difficult in terms of just the messiness of life. The same could be said for Church work as well sometimes.
I won't post any pictures or mention any names, but just recently there has been situations that can be hard to process...
1. A young man leaving the project because his father realized he is old enough to work full time and needed the extra help. (He is 13)
2. Another young man running away from home to the Milk project director's house.
3. Siblings in the project who behave well when with us, but having major obedience issues at home with parents that are not there because of trying to find work from very early to very late in the day.
These are just three of many such situations going on every day.
There is a delta, or triangle, represented in what we try to do, three sides that ideally work together, being the parents/guardians, the children, and the Milk Project.
As parents, children, or people trying to help others including parents and children...how can we best help? That is our continual challenge. And helping not just in a physical sense, not just in trying to help familial relationships, or any of the other many ways we try through education, sewing, medical, etc. but also helping others spiritually find The Way.
There are plans, prayer, and ideas. They are most definitely needed. But they only work when lived out, and that means some great highs, and great lows. Working with people is messy, not easy, and not always easy to measure success.
Whether working with now over 100 children in two different locations, or just your own children, family, neighbors, or co-workers...it is a calling for all of us, to each other, to be there to help ya.
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