Thanks

happy tday

I want to offer my gratitude for all of you who have offered prayers, thoughts, and comments as I journaled my thoughts and stories through the years. The children pictured above are some of the children that I worked with while living in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

Even though Thanksgiving is not celebrated as a holiday in Honduras, giving thanks is universal, or at least it should be. These kids often expressed in prayer or thoughts about their gratitude for many things: parents, food we provided, football (soccer), even our lessons and books were dearly appreciated as the poor of this world don’t enjoy much variety or choices in schooling or resources.

If you have a house, food, clean water, and clothes, be thankful. While many of us may  have challenges with our health, finances, employment, etc., if you have access to the internet to read this, you have a wealth of resources compared to the poor of this world. Wherever you may be today or whatever is your state, I pray you will be blessed today with the knowledge that you are loved. I hope you have a table with abundant food, family and friends to share today.

Yes, We Can

12244422_1104381276262177_5549374682467680442_o

This weekend, my church, Northshore Vineyard Church, launches a shoe drive on behalf of  school children in my former ministry on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  In Honduras, one cannot attend school, even public schools, without paying for uniforms, fees, books, and even shoes. The shoes must be black or brown and closed toe. Due to the rising costs of school attendance, many parents do not send their children to school.

Shoes are a great investment in the life of a child. With a pair of sturdy shoes, they can walk into opportunities such as the classroom that are otherwise beyond their grasp.

We have selected fifty children who are in need. All of these children are from very poor homes. Most live in substandard homes. Many don’t eat but once a day. Many are supported by parents who are day-laborers existing on less than 10-15 dollars wages per week. Many are single-parent homes whose moms juggle selling food on the street with child-rearing duties.

Not everyone lives like the homes pictured below, but an alarming number of Honduran children grow up in homes such as these. In the area where we minister, none have running water or inside sanitation of any sort, and the use of electricity is usually restricted to a few lightbulbs or small appliances. A gift of shoes is a great investment for a mother who can scarcely afford to feed her children.

green houseIf you want to give towards this project, the funds will be used for purchasing shoes as well as paying for shipping. We want to ship in late December, as the new school year starts in early February in Honduras. We are asking for donations of $20 for each pair of shoes. A gift of $25 will help pay for shipping as well.

This PayPal link to my bank account is reserved for Honduras projects.

The inspiration for the title comes from a song recorded by the late Allen Toussaint, a New Orleans legend. Here’s a bit of the lyrics from Yes, We Can Can.

Yes, we can great gosh Almighty
Oh, yes, we can, I know we can, can

And we gotta take care of all the children
The little children of the world
‘Cause they’re our strongest hope for the future
The little bitty boys and girls

We got to make this land a better land
Than the world in which we live
And we gotta help each man be a better man
With the kindness that we give

As far as this small project is concerned, there’s no pressure to give. There’s a world out there waiting for you and I that needs our love and help. We can help a refugee, an orphan, a widow, a neighbor, a Muslim, a Christian, or anyone in need. That’s the sprit of Yes, We Can, Can.

 

Can You See Me?

Last week, I misplaced one of my hearing aids. I wanted to fix my hair, so I took them out and laid them on the bathroom counter. When I finished, I saw only one on the counter. After a few minutes, I located the second one. It had been on the counter the whole time, but I couldn’t see it because the neutral color blended into the similar color of the countertop.

I wear hearing aids due to a family-inherited trait. I am moderately deaf in both ears. I lose sight of those small devices quite often. They are meant to be not easily seen, to protect the vanity of the user who wears them behind the ear. Personally, I would prefer them to be bright yellow or orange as my hair covers them.

The phrase that comes to mind when I lose one of these tiny instruments for a moment is “hiding in plain sight.” If you think about it, lots of things as well as people are hiding in plain sight. They are there all the while, but we don’t seem them. Our mind fools us, and we can’t see what is in front of our eyes.

I think that the poor often hide in plain sight. We don’t see them. Our own concerns and issues form such a tight context around our lives that we can’t see the sometimes urgent problems in the lives of others.

I am no longer working in Honduras, but I am still concerned with the overlooked and unseen poor children there. I have many young friends who are not enrolled in the new school term that began in February due to lack of funds for things like shoes or school supplies. Later this week, I am shipping a small shipment of shoes and school supplies, although I didn’t have enough funds to buy shoes for all of the children.

If you are not involved in helping someone in your own community or abroad, please consider being generous with the poor. They can’t repay you, but God makes a promise to do just that. Proverbs 19:17 states that whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done. Even if you can’t quite imagine a literal recompense from God, perhaps you can agree that helping poor children ultimately benefits everyone, as well-nourished and educated children will make the world a better place, not just for them, but all of us.

Here are a few pictures of the children in Honduras. Donors are always welcome. Information concerning giving is available at His Eyes Ministry site or their Facebook site.

 

kids
Some of our kids only eat once a day, or eat only beans and tortillas daily. A daily meal makes a great deal of difference in the lives of these children. The cook is trained to use nutritious ingredients in the meat spaghetti sauce that children may normally not eat, such as texturized soy, carrots, and other shredded veggies.

 

10980758_1434317170193865_6435298442360535369_n (1)
The center provides tutoring in skills such as math, English, and computers. The public schools are subpar in this community.
10848793_1435697306722518_8340251530058849797_o (1)
Mariela is always hungry. Her mom supports the family by making and selling corn tortillas. Unfortunately, she seldom earns enough to feed her family well.
11030832_1441510786141170_5266553576985460979_o
Nicolle is a typical child in the project on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

A note about photos: I have been questioned why our children appear healthy and well-dressed. I do not like to manipulate emotions of readers by posting children who appear sick, dirty, or with torn clothing. Also, our children are aware they are being photographed, so they chose their best clothing for photographs. The ministry also provides clothing at little cost to parents. In some cases, clothing is free, but we feel it lends dignity to charge a small fee. In addition, the men and women who sort and sell clothing receive a small recompense as their salary.

Ricardo’s Story

Ricardo was a daily part of myricardo life when I lived in Honduras. I don’t remember when I first met him, but it has been at least a year or more that he grabbed hold of my heart and my hand.

Ricardo does everything with the utmost enthusiasm. If he were a bit larger, he would knock me down when he runs to greet me. And he always greeted me with two hands out, hugging, holding and giggling. Since Ricardo has hearing and visual impairments, he tends to shout, too.

We helped cure him of the shouting, so at least my salutations from Ricardo might be a bit rough, but at least I could escape without my ears ringing. His mom is raising him alone, supporting herself and Ricardo by selling tortillas on the street. They live in a tumbledown wooden shack with a host of other relatives.

I am not in charge of the project that helps Ricardo and the other kids ricardo homewho receive meals and educational support in my former ministry in Honduras. However, I am in touch with the ministry that is overseeing the children. They are looking for someone to sponsor Ricardo. Want to help?  Need details.

Follow the link to His Eyes for information on tax-deductible giving.milk+and+Jesus

 

 

 

And Then There Were None

IMG_1606 (3)
Walter, learning to read again

“I am hungry all of the time,” said Walter.

He sat on the steps outside of the kitchen door. His dirty clothes hung off his body.  His hair had whitish wisps around the ears, a sign of malnutrition.

I began to feed Walter and later, his sister.  They lived quite close, so they walked  home after a morning sandwich, and they came back later for a hot meal. We didn’t have the resources or the need to feed all of our kids twice a day. This family was obviously an exception.

The two children lacked water, soap, shoes, and decent clothing. The mother

Walter and Ixa at home
Walter and Ixa at home

worked when she could in the neighborhood cleaning houses in exchange for food. Some days, she had no work, thus, no food to share with the family.

Over the year or so that I knew Walter, he began to change. He began to wash. I often sat with him to practice reading and math skills long forgotten from the days when his mother could afford the fees.

Regular meals and occasional bags of beans and rice sent home allowed mom to spend money on water, soap, and other essentials. In addition, my manager talked with her, and she made a hard but good choice: an older son, who desperately needed more calories as he neared adolescence, was sent to live with her sister. I never forget, though, how she left walking and crying from our doors. No decent mom wants to banish a child from the home.

The new ministry that has taken ownership of my children’s project is seeking sponsors for Walter, his sister Ixa, and nearly 40 other children who lack sponsors. A monthly gift of thirty dollars will help ensure  that each child gets a meal, lessons, recreation, and now, English and computer lessons as a new teacher has come aboard with these skills. In addition, school supplies will be provided for the year.

box of boys (4)
Walter loves our project. He’s always up for a picture, a prank, or a game.

I hope one day we can say that extreme poverty has been lifted in this neighborhood.. I think the Father would cheer if we could say to our supporters: And Then They Were None who didn’t eat daily, or didn’t attend school or collected trash to look for something to eat, wear, or sell. 

To learn more about tax-deductible giving follow the link to His Eyes Honduras.

A White Flower

white roseToday’s entry is a repost from my other blog, Honduras Gumbo.  It’s a story of a life in the margins, a series that I hope to return to more in 2015.

Yesterday, a little girl named Marta handed a flower to me. At first, I demurred. My hands were full, literally, as I served plates of beans, eggs, and other goodies.

I passed her by a few minutes later to distribute fruit to children as they exited the building. Her hopeful face scanned mine, and then her eyes fell. I hadn’t taken the flower she had in her hand.

Then I stopped. I took her flower, tucked it into the side of my headband, and hugged and kissed her. Marta is like a daughter to me. I love her dearly. I am the closest thing she has to a mom, as her mom is occupied with working constantly to support their large family.

Without our help, Marta and her siblings would be far hungrier than they are now. Marta has received clothes, shoes, a school bag and other school supplies. Most days I don’t have time to read the Bible to her. And really, I don’t need to use words. She knows the love of God and of our team through our actions.

Yesterday afternoon, I was bombarded with other concerns after I tucked the flower behind my ear. Someone has stolen the water meter and connection to my house. Therefore, I had no water. With our level of bureaucratic nonsense, I can’t say for sure when it will be replaced. In addition, I had multiple demands on my time: a sick child in the hospital, a patient at our nearby clinic needing transportation, a woman needing comfort over a husband who was shot at work. (He is home, thank God, having suffered mainly superficial wounds.)

On the way home, I stopped to buy five gallon containers of water. As I lifted the bottles of water, I touched the flower. Yes, my life is sometimes one big headache. Honduras is a violent, crime-ridden place. Hunger, robbery, shootings, even murders are a daily backdrop of my life here.

My little flower is battered and just about done for. But the hope it represents! That’s the reason I am where I am, doing what I do, loving whom I love.

So we are not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfailing grace. . . there’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see will last forever.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18, The Message Bible. 

This post was from 2012. My little friend eventually left our ministry, mainly because I encouraged her to receive the meals, education, uniforms, etc., that she was receiving through the work of a local Catholic charity. Her family was indeed one of the poorest in our neighborhood, and the Catholic charity there was doing an excellent work meeting the needs of her large family.