Day 2 – 8/19/08

“As I walked into the Café Americana (Honduran version of Starbucks), a little boy walked up to me and showed me a picture of his mom.” “She had a horribly disfigured eye.” The tears started. “Everyone else in the room told him no.” I couldn’t turn him away. My dad continued, tears flowing now, to tell the story of how the little boy had been begging for money today in the coffee shop right next to the hotel. This scene – and a thousand more like it – play out every day here in the midst of incredible poverty. The Hondurans know that we have more money than they could ever dream of. Maybe they even know that we are particularly venerable when we go and get coffee – an obvious luxury. What if my son or daughter had to take a picture to Starbucks every day to show off their parent’s shame in order to beg some money for food?* There is a black hole** of need here and we have to be careful not to be sucked up in it.

I awoke early today and worked (computer stuff) in the hotel lobby for a few hours. Later, when dad came down to the lobby and went next door to get us some coffee, he came back with this heart breaking story. The story, and the emotion of it, set the stage for another day of great communication with dad and another day of just seeing God work in our trip here. Dad and I sat in the lobby and talked for quite some time. It was the kind of talk that I have longed to have with him, really sharing our hearts. I am so grateful for this trip already just because of the good time that we have had together. After lunch, we walked about 6 blocks to the Central American Language school to visit with Raphael, the director, he was not there so we waited at the same table that I wrote this blog entry from four months ago. We watched the same dissonant symphony of cars, trucks, bicycles, and horse and buggy all come together in one amazing intersection. Dad made the comment that it looked like synchronized swimming where all of the swimmers were listening to different music. Once again, we were dazzled and amazed by the traffic flowing in and out of different lanes and swerving and just barely missing one another. Not one accident was seen, but a hundred near misses took our breath away and made us want to cover our eyes. It is like watching a Nascar race where all of the drivers are blindfolded. In reality, it was just another day of traffic in La Ceiba.

In the afternoon we met Howard, the Honduran man that is employed by the hospital to take care of the hospital’s affairs in La Ceiba. For those of you who don’t know, La Ceiba is a town of about 70,000 people and is about 45 miles from La Ceiba. It is the gateway through which all of the missionaries and the supplies flow in and out of the hospital. It is the weekly grocery run for everyone. It is the one time per week when you “go to town” and get coffee or an ice cream cone, or just go to the mall and feel like you live in the city again for those that live at the hospital. It is the place that most of the goods are purchased that are used at the hospital. And in all of this, Howard flows gracefully through the maniacal traffic that I described earlier and the chaos of needs and schedules of those at the hospital, helping to purchase and deliver badly needed items. He has a wonderful servant’s heart and he has the great advantage of being from La Ceiba. This is his town. He understands this place and knows where to find what you need and how to get it in the most cost effective manner possible. And last but not least, he loves Jesus. He has been such a blessing these last few days. Today, God used him to find a house for us to rent and it was nothing short of miraculous.

We had come down here sure that we were going to rent a house that belonged to a missionary who no longer lives here, but hadn’t yet been able to sell the house. They had generously offered to rent the house to us at a very reasonable rate. Just a few days ago, however, we found out that it didn’t have any appliances and that we would have to buy or rent them for the three months that we were going to rent the house for language school. Well, that didn’t really make sense, so we asked Howard if he could find us a furnished house or apartment that was a) in a safe location here in the city and b) would fit in our budget. This may not sound like a tall order, but believe me – we were asking him for the moon. Howard thought about it for awhile and then drove us over to an apartment building and made a few phone calls and within a half an hour we were being shown around a very cute fully furnished apartment in a very safe location with everything that we need that was in our budget! Now Howard would be the first to tell you that God is the one that made that apartment available to us today, but it was so wonderful to see how He used Howard and how He used Howard’s gifts and abilities to bless us. The result is that we (hopefully) will be putting a deposit down on an apartment tomorrow that will work perfectly for us and that we can move right into – fully furnished with dishes on the table. Thank you Lord!

While we waited in Howard’s truck for the apartment owner to drop over and show us the apartment, Howard got to tell us a little bit of his testimony. What a beautiful display of someone whose life is turned over completely to Christ. Howard was a track and field star in Honduras. Actually, Howard was the track and field star in Honduras in 1989. He had qualified for the ’92 Olympics in Barcelona and nothing could stop him. On September 13th 1989, he and 46 others were on their way to Tegucigalpa (the Honduran capital) in a bus to a track and field event when a tragic accident happened, killing 19 of his teammates. “There was a 14 year old girl in the seat next to me.” “She was my friend and she was killed.” Howard was in a coma for nine days. “The doctors gave up on me.” “But my parents, they keep on praying.” “When I wake up, I can only thank God for my life and give my life totally to Jesus Christ.” Wow. Everything that Howard had known up to that point was gone. The doctors said that even if he lived that he would never walk again. Every day, Howard is a walking miracle. He has the most beautiful smile; it is the smile of someone who knows that he shouldn’t be here. I think that this is why he glides through all of this chaos down here with so much grace; he knows that he is living a life that should have been taken away and that was given back to him by God. All I can say is that I am so blessed to have met Howard and his testimony enveloped me like a warm blanket on a cold day – you can’t help but be wrapped up in his love for the Lord Jesus and his gratitude at getting his life back.

After taking a ton of pictures of the apartment, we rushed back to the hotel and I emailed them to Marinajo so that she could give her approval. She loved the pictures and felt like this was God’s provision for us and I my dad agreed so we committed to renting the apartment. We will put a deposit down on it tomorrow and then head for the bank to get our bank account setup. What a great day.

Dad and I ate at Pizza Hut (1/2 block from the hotel) and then went and walked around the town square. We sat at several the many benches that sit around the town square, like bleachers at a sporting event, and watched the traffic – a venue that never gets tiring. We guessed that if there are 70,000 people in this town – there must be at least 50,000 taxi cab drivers here. If Nascar had a minor league driver development program, this is where it would be – here among the taxi cab drivers. We sat around the hotel room and watched some Olympics tonight. Off to bed now with expectations of another great day tomorrow. Thank you for praying and for listening. God Bless!

*In another story that happened a long time ago, a woman from a place called Canaan sought out Jesus to ask him to help her daughter. Her daughter suffered from demon possession and His response will surprise you. It does not remind us of the Jesus that we know. I believe that he is showing us the kind of faith that God is pleased with – it is faith that will not be turned away. You can read the story in Matthew chapter 15 verses 21-28. There is a marvelous sermon on this topic from the Lutheran Hour entitled “A Great Faith” here. I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to it.

** In the middle of every black hole there is something that is so dense that it sucks everything into it. In this case, it is drugs. The bars on every home and business with razor wire coiled on top. The innumerable vigilantes (men with guns) guarding every store. Our Honduran friend Howard explained it this way. “My country has good people.” “Every bad thing that happens is because of drugs.” In the US, drugs can be an accessory to a rich, or popular lifestyle.