To the Anonymous Donor, xoxo Bobbi
Thank you to Bobbi, who put her heart and truth out here for everyone to be blessed by how God teaches us, holds us, and provides.
Throughout my adult life I’ve grown accustomed to staying within my comfort zone. (Note I said “adult” life) If i make a decision to do something I am unsure of, I tend talk myself out of it. Making the decision to visit Honduras and actually following through was outright radical for me. The fact that I didn’t talk myself out of going is nothing short of a miracle. I attribute my ability to accomplish this feat with not allowing myself to think about it. At all. Ever. This has turned out to be one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned to date.
~It has been 7 months since I wrote this. Upon reading it today, I realized that I gave myself too much credit for the “not thinking about it” part. I realize now that this was God’s way all along and I am probably going to need to write a completely separate essay so stay tuned…..
When I said I did not allow myself to think about it, I didn’t mean I was making a rash decision. I meant I did not allow my brain to tell me anything about the trip without fact checking it first. I didn’t realize it at the time but God was not allowing me to be held back by fear of the unknown.( I guess that’s kinda what faith is) In doing so, I unknowingly let go of my expectations. I subconsciously had formulated a method to avoid talking myself out of going, which ended up was and continues to be a blessing that allowed for me to have one of the most genuine experiences of my life.
When you’re home, you need to expect the same thing day after day. It’s how we keep up with life. When your somewhere completely foreign, expectations only limit your adventure.
So which facts did I choose to listen to? First, I knew for a fact that I was at a place in life in which I needed this trip. I needed to get out of my own head and to do so, I needed to go somewhere not only outside of my Western PA bubble, but somewhere outside of my United States of Chaos bubble. I also knew for a fact that if I allowed Him to, God would enrich my life in ways I could never have done on my own. I knew for a fact that that this was an opportunity for me to enrich the lives others (although I wasn’t sure how),I knew for a fact that I had no excuse not to go. That’s it. These are the only things I was sure of. I guess you could say “but these are expectations”- and on the surface you’d be correct. The unexpected happened in the “how’s”.(more to come on that later) Whether or not we want to admit it, many of our good intentions come with some kind of expectation, at the very least expecting to be gratified for doing good things.
Unexpectation #1- There’s poor, there’s poorer there’s poorer-er and so on.
We all know this. However seeing it in person makes it much more of a reality. During our drive from the Airport in San Pedro Sulla to Pinalejo, I saw what one would “expect” to see. Boarded up businesses, trash littered everywhere, and the type of homes that if you saw them in the States, you would know for sure were condemned. It wasn’t until we were closer to that little town in the mountains that I realized the “condemned” houses were the nice ones. Nice because they had walls, a real roof, and their kitchen and bathroom wasn’t outside. I don’t know the owners financial situation, however it’s a safe guess that they are somewhere on the “poorer-er” spectrum.
The Poorer-er-er: There’s a place in Pinalejo called “The Colony”. The colony is kind of like a housing plan. However the roads are dirt, and the houses are built with whatever material that can be found. Most have a “covered front porch” which doubles as a kitchen. The roof is made of some kind of corrugated metal and is held up with branches. The stove is made of mud and wood is the source of energy. The smoke from the stove fills the home causing a multitude of respiratory illnesses including asthma. Respiratory illness with no healthcare does not pan out well, especially for young developing lungs. Speaking of respiratory illness, did I mention yet that they have no “garbage pick-up” at this housing plan? The trash is burnt anywhere and everywhere- school play yards, the middle of the road, the front yard- you get the picture. The neighborhood is filled with stray, unvaccinated dogs and therefore littered with stray dog poop. The majority of the kids do not own shoes or own shows that don’t fit. No shoes plus dog poop equals parasitic infection. Parasitic infection with out healthcare or clean water leads to debilitating illness and death. And for those that wonder why someone would “waste there time in other countries when we have plenty of need in our own” disease without healthcare in third world countries lead to pandemics (cough cough, Covid). But I digress. I could go on and on with the details of the colony but I know you don’t have all day-
Poorer-er-er: The River
Another little neighborhood in Pinalejo is “The River”. The river consists of metal-ish shacks. There’s no running water, and the bathroom is a makeshift outhouse. At first thought, it seems like a luxury to live next to water in a country that barely has running water in their homes, but once you realize how many people are using the same water to do all of the things they need to do, it doesn’t sound so luxurious anymore. Aside from the dangers of bacteria in the river water, you have the danger of hurricane season. Obviously shacks aren’t built for hurricane force winds and the river is not an ideal location for hurricane floods. They’re not even built to withstand a bad storm. So, when the weather does not cooperate, what little these homeowners have is reduced to nothing. The lifestyle here is not unlike that of the colony in that there are stray dogs, children with no shoes, burning trash, lack of food, you know, those things we often take for granted. At one point while walking near the houses i stepped on a dog skull. So there’s that.
(Oh, and again to those “help-your-own-out-first folks, burning trash causes pollution and pollution doesn’t just stay where it is produced)
Straight Up Impoverished: The Other part of the River
At one end of the river are some people living under a tarp. I don’t feel the need to elaborate on that.
(Last thing for you Help-your-own-firsters, when your main source of energy is wood and you live near the rainforest, deforestation happens. Trees clean the air for the whole earth, and you too breath air so there’s also that. Are you seeing a pattern here?)
Despite their hardships, the children living in these places who were loved and cared for by their parents radiated true joy.
Unexpected Lesson #2- I’ll make it short and to the point- Pack yourself an anti-parasitic when you visit a country with no clean water.
Unexpected Lesson #3- My faith is much stronger than I’ve given myself credit for
(By the way, these are not listed in order of importance)
There are times when you are doing something risky and you pray you are not harmed in some way but you still worry. I was well aware of the Honduras’ history of crime, murder, sex trafficking, lack of health care, disease, so on and so forth. But halfway through the trip I realized that the fear of any of these things happening to me really never bothered me. Not because i am naive or think I’m invincible. I felt no need to worry about it because I knew I was in God’s hands. I didn’t even feel the need to ask Him although I know He heard my unspoken, unthought of prayer. I was confident that if I was doing what I could to help those in need, I was aligning my path with His and whatever happened was His will.
Unexpected Lesson #4- Honduran Coffee is the best. Especially when you’re drinking it on a coffee farm with baby goats watching the sun set over a sunflower field.
Unexpected Lesson #5- Actions speak louder than showy prayer
While this was considered a mission trip, I’d like to clarify that it is not what most people would imagine. We did not try to “Americanize” anybody. We did not hand out mass quantities of bibles or pamphlets telling people they might be going to hell. We did not knock on the houses that had doors asking if they’ve “heard the good news”. To be honest, I wouldn’t have gone if that were the itinerary because it wouldn’t have felt genuine to me.
Our mission was to love. God is love. When we love just a tiny bit the way He does, we radiate something good to those who see it. That in itself is worth so much more than repetitive words and bible thumping. Let me give you an example:
While at the colony, we were fitting kids with shoes that had been donated by lovely people back at home. We weren’t going to only give shoes to kids who promised to read their bible. We gave them to everyone who needed them because they needed them. The kids who got their shoes then went through our donation box to find shoes for their siblings and friends and the joy on their faces when they gifted others with “new” shoes was contagious. Because they felt loved and cared for, it brought them joy to make their friends and family feel the same.
It’s November now and the unexpected lessons continue to arise. When I began writing this months ago, I wasn’t sure that it had any purpose. I left it unfinished and forgot about it. Today I found it and read it for the first time since I wrote it and realized it wasn’t meant to be finished months ago. I found it exactly when I needed to.
Shortly after our return from Honduras this spring things began to go awry. It started out with little things. A friend and I joked that the devil must not want me to go back to Honduras and that I was in the “fire” so to speak. The little problems slowly grew and it wasn’t until the flames were surrounding me that I realized this was no joke. Amidst the series of unfortunate events, I lost focus. I forgot I was “in the fire”. Honduras became a thing of the past and my next trip seemed fo far into the future. All of the big plans I had for the next trip that I was so excited for fizzled. My days had gone back to “just getting through the day”. I was unable to save money due to limited working hours. The guilt i felt and continue to feel for not being financially prepared for this upcoming trip is unrelenting. A month ago, when I realized that I was probably not going to be able to afford to go, a voice started telling me it just wasn’t meant to be. It told me that I was of no use there. To this day I question my worth to the people of Pinalejo. I catch myself thinking that it is a waste of time and money for me to go because there is another, more useful person that should go in my place. I wouldn’t say I was still amongst the flames but maybe still a little lost in the smoke but once again God has found me and shown me the way out. He used one of His own to overpower the negativity being whispered into my ear.
So to the anonymous donor, I am truly humbled. Please know that your gift to me goes way beyond monetary value. Your gift was the hand that led me out of the smoke and back into the awe of God’s grace and I plan to pay it forward in every way I can.