Reflection on Honduras

As I sit here in my home with Louis Armstrong gently singing “Winter Wonderland” on the speakers, I feel the warmth of a space heater at my feet. A couple nights ago, the band had its first annual Christmas party. Later we’ll be mailing presents to our families and probably make hot cider. Christmas is a joyous season in the Owen household. We decorated our house a week before Thanksgiving and bought our tree the day after. Still my heart beats in nostalgia of a recent trip the band took to warmer, sunnier climates…

It’s been a week now since we’ve returned from the band’s excursion to Honduras. As we flew in, the landscape looked a lot like a flight into LAX over Riverside, CA. As the plane crept closer to the ground, we soon discovered many of the rooftops weren’t stucco on $450,000 homes, but corrugated metal sheets on crude concrete or wooden walls. We landed in San Pedro Sula and we met our team from Compassion International at the airport. We had begun our 4-day trip to learn how they work in other countries and how poverty effects the lives of the people in Honduras…

The streets were rough and water often overflowed onto them. In the poorest areas, trash abounded in the streets. Humorously in the same, roosters, dogs, and sometimes horses, roamed the streets! As we pulled up to our first Compassion project and opened the door, we could hear the little children get louder in excitement that our team of sponsors from America had arrived. The joy they had was incredible. Here they were in the midst of no running water, and no proper sanitation. They had no jungle gyms, and no Tickle-Me-Elmo dolls. They had joy. Our American minds had been blown. I quickly learned that the believers in Honduras pray that God will give them enough to survive. At home we so often pray that God will give us over abundance. In the middle of this slum there was hope. Compassion was working with the local church bringing children in to be loved, fed, and shown the truth of our Savior. These were children of gang members, or single mothers; and they’re left to fend for themselves. We learned of stories where kids from the Compassion project helped in leading their parents to the Lord because of what they learn at the project. We heard stories of Compassion kids growing up and going to college for a chance to follow their dreams. No longer are these children left with the only hope of working in a factory or being a mother at the age of 14, but rather a chance to dream and hope.

America’s current price tag for the drug war is $49,542,681,026 at the moment I’m writing this. Cartels continually smuggle illegal drugs and firearms into the US up and down Central America. There is an average of 10 deaths in San Pedro Sula a night as a result of gang violence. In the midst of such turbulence there’s a light. Children are coming to the Lord and communities are being changed. We heard a story of entire gang communities in El Salvador that have laid their weapons down because their children are playing and growing with children from other rival gang families. Ruben and I saw the result of a terminal child healed simply because a water purifier was installed in the home. To God be the glory. Christ is changing the hearts and minds of the people in San Pedro Sula. Not a government run mission to kick the poor out of the city. Not an international campaign to tell people not to do bad things. Children now have illumination to do more than they’ve been raised to know. “In Jesus’ name” is what this is about.

Ruben and I also got to meet our child that we each individually sponsor. Mirian and Nelson. When my wife and I picked up Mirian’s packet over a year ago she was a cute 4 year old with braids and a simple story. Now she’s a real human being that loves dolls, and is shy, and has a sister who she can’t leave her side! Nelson is a bubbling little mongrel that just loves to be hugged and runs and plays with a passion. What a joy it was to see that though their parents may have been given a difficult lot in life, these children have a new hope. I don’t feel like the fun pen-pal from the states, I feel like a part of the family now. It’s the closest to parenthood I’ve ever felt (though I’ll be an actual parent in only weeks). We played schoolyard games with our kids and many others while Mike, Brendon, and Jason played a game of soccer in a water-logged field with the older boys. I’ll remember that day always.

As I sit here writing this, I wonder what will become of me. Will I give everything I have away and commit to a life of poverty as well? Will I use every resource I have to help those in need and spread the reach of the Kingdom? Or will I, like Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit, long to quietly sip my tea with a fireplace at my feet in my rocker completely detached from the world’s needs? All I know is that the trip had an impact on us all. The things that I do and the things that I don’t do will always have a reminder of life in San Pedro Sula. I pray that we never forget the poverty. I pray we never forget the hope and the joy we found there.

That is a fraction of a summary of our trip. It was truly an amazing 4 days. Lord let your light so shine in Honduras!

In closing, know that Tenth Avenue is taking much needed time off. Babies will be born this winter, songs will be written, and we will just plain recharge for 2011. 2011…man. Why are there no flying cars? Anyway, may Santa lick his chubby little fingers in thanksgiving for the cookies you left, and may your checking accounts leak into the cups of the thirsty. May your eyes open each morning with a wellspring for the joy of living, and may your families reunite in song and hymn by the fire.

Thank you for the lovely 2010, everyone.
-Jeff and the Tenth Avenue North family