A weekend in Balfate (visiting Hospital Loma De Luz)

10/25/08 (Saturday Night)
We’ve come “to the hospital” (about an hour and a quarter drive from La Ceiba) here in Balfate for a short overnight weekend stay. This is Loma De Luz – the hospital where we will live and serve once we are done with language school in La Ceiba (about three months from now). We’ve been here before as guests – now we come as missionaries. We are staying tonight in our “home” here which has already been made ready for us – a little three bedroom apartment that is part of a much larger house that has been made into a tri-plex. We have seen it before. Dad and I stayed here in August. This is the first time we’ve stayed here as a family. As the rain falls down onto the metal roof in sheets and the cool night air blows in off of the Caribbean, I am having another one of those “pinch-me-is-this-real?” kind of experiences. It hits me all over again that we now live in Honduras as missionaries. That dream that was conceived in January of this year and birthed in May upon our first visit is now a reality. Wow. Having never lived abroad before, there is this special kind of wow that I go through several times a day that says “wow – I now live in a different country”. I can certainly say that for a large part of my life, I never would have dreamed of living outside the USA. This kind of surreal sensation extends much deeper tonight as I realize that this home (our eventual home) is really quite remote. We live in the jungle, really. Wow – there it goes again.
I killed my first scorpion tonight. We were eating supper over at Margo and Nelson Concepcione’s house and Margo ran out to their freezer on the front porch to grab something and came back in to report that she thought she had seen a scorpion. I went out to investigate and didn’t see him at first. As I was about to head back inside, I saw him hiding under the door. He took off across the front porch, the curl of his back tail left no question as to his identity. He was perhaps three inches long. I stomped on him and flattened him good. Take that! His back tail convulsed around trying to find something to sting for several seconds before he was finally still.
This time of year is absolutely beautiful here. I remember so vividly our first visit here in May: brutally hot. Several times the temperature went over 100 degrees, high humidity – no rain and no air conditioning. We stayed in an upstairs apartment. We were miserable. The last time I was here was in August. It was still hot, but much better. The thing I remember about the August trip was that it was so incredibly dry. Dust everywhere. This time it is wonderfully cool and there is no dust. The rain is wonderful. Perhaps the rivers will swell and perhaps we won’t be able to drive back to La Ceiba tomorrow but we will worry about that tomorrow. For tonight, the coolness and the sound of the rain swirl around us in a delicious motion. It is intoxicating.
I haven’t said much about Andrea before now. She is a little girl in the children’s center that has absolutely stolen my heart. Yes, my heart still belongs to my daughter Mariah and in a different way to my son Ben, but Andrea is special in a way that I can’t describe. She was terribly abused by her step dad – which resulted in her step dad being shot by her mom (he recovered). Her mom has aids and was on death’s doorstep. When I first met Andrea in August, her mom was in a hospital in La Ceiba (described fully here: ) and her dad was in jail. Both parents were most likely dying of aids. Since then her dad has either bribed his way out of jail or escaped – all that we know is that he is free and her mom has made nothing short of a miraculous turn around. She and her mom live here in sanctuary housing and at the children’s center. Her mom seems happy and healthy (an absolute miracle) and Andrea seems happy and content. Why am I telling you all of this? Because this afternoon when we arrived we immediately dropped Ben off to see his new friend Samuel at the children’s center and Andrea came out to greet us. She asked for and received permission to come with us to help unpack and spend a few hours with us this afternoon. She came with Marinajo and I to our new apartment here and helped us unpack and then played with us and “hung out” with us for a couple of hours. I found myself sitting on this big oversized recliner type chair in our apartment reading children’s books to Andrea. The books were written in English, but she only speaks Spanish – so she would teach me as many words as she could from the pictures and then I would fill in as much as I could with what little Spanish I know to try and get the basics of the story across to her. I was sitting here reading stories with this beautiful little nine-year-old girl whose world had exploded just a few months before. Without this place – the hospital, the children’s center, and sanctuary housing – her story would have been just another lost story in a sea of lost children here. Now, she has joy and safety and health, and some dumb gringo to try and explain the three little pigs to her in broken Spanish. It was like a mix between language school (with a nine-year-old teacher) and charades. What a beautiful experience.