It’s the Thursday before Easter. I’ve had this week off for Semana Santa. That’s holy week in Spanish. This is a big week for folks to take off, take a break, and for a lot of people to get wasted and do dumb stuff… kinda like saint Patrick’s day in savannah. I’ve been so thankful for this week and I want to make the most of it! Its been great to sleep in, relax, and have no plans at all. This is a time to recharge, rest, and catch my breath. I’m so glad that this week break falls on the week before Easter because I have more time to purposefully think and pray about Easter. This Easter will be very different for me this year. Its my first Easter not working at a church and doing all fun, crazy, busy, exciting stuff that comes with the Easter season. And its also my first Easter in Honduras. This week has actually been the opposite of what it would have been at home. It was been very tranquilo and if I were in Savannah right now working at the church, this week would be extremely busy and nonstop. Right now I prefer this to the latter!
The academy has been open now for 9 weeks. We have a very set schedule every day with the boys. It’s so great to get to know them more and more and to see their personalities come out. They are great kids and I still get shocked back into reality when I learn about someone’s home life or hear about something that happened to one of the boys. Things may so often see beautiful or idyllic on the surface but here it doesn’t take long to see just how far this is from the truth. Every week it seems like I’d learn something new about one of our boys that would just stop me in my tracks, something that I just couldn’t make sense out of.
Here are a few quick examples because I could write pages and pages about this but I don’t want to share all the gory details and it would take longer than I have to write it all down.
-One of our boys lives with his grandmother, his dad, his uncle and cousins. His mom and his aunt have both left their families and moved somewhere else. These two moms chose to abandon their husbands and their children.
-Another man’s wife left him and his two young sons because she just couldn’t live here any more. Before leaving, she was given advice and even encouraged to leave her family by her own mother, who also has other daughters who have done the same. How bad can things be that you see no hope or no possibility and see leaving everyone behind as a way out?
-We recently learned more about two of our older boys who are brothers. They live alone here in Travesía. They are 16 and 17 years old. Their mom lives in the city over an hour away and their dad lives in the next village a few miles away but doesn’t really do anything with them. These two have to make their own way, find work, get their own food, try to go to school and figure out life without parents.
-Another boy in the village has a dad that has 3 ‘families.’ He has a girlfriend and children here, another girlfriend and kids in another village and third in a nearby country. He spends time going around seeing all of his families and spending time with them. Take about spreading the love in the wrong way! This boy is also one of our most challenging. He constantly has to be called out, doesn’t listen, is ridiculously behind in school. But like anyone else, he wants someone who will spend time with him and be a part of his life. I think he keeps coming back because he sees that here. Even though he’s called out and disciplined, he still sees that he’s cared for here. He, like so many others, is learning discipline probably for the first time in his life here and even though its tough, he wants it!
-I’ve learned about another boy in the village who I’m pretty sure is an orphan for all intents and purposes. He either doesn’t have parents or they don’t want anything to do with him. From what I understand he sleeps around with different friends or relatives but doesn’t have one place to call ‘home.’ He is a kid who is street smart and has gotten into trouble a lot in the past. He also shows so much promise here and we want him to grow more with his rino family!
-There are several boys who regularly miss class or practice because they have to work. They have to fish or have to help sell bread for their families. Often those families don’t have a mom or a dad or both and its just the kids and a grandmother. I don’t even think I’ve once since I’ve been here about someone’s grandfather being around or part of the picture.
There are so many kids here who are just part of a horrible cycle of growing up without a real loving family. Without a mom or a dad. And this has happened so long here that it’s become just part of what folks think of as ‘normal’ here. That’s just the way things are and the way they will always be.
I’m constantly reminded of the verse from James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I feel like many of our boys are orphans who are wandering around without guidance and without hope and its been this way for so long for so many that they don’t even realize that it is not supposed to be that way and it doesn’t have to be that way! I want to be part of that change for these boys. I want them to grow up knowing that they matter, they have value, that there is more to life than what they can see with their own eyes. I want them to see the God who loves them with a vast, grand, incomprehensible and fierce love. I want their lives to be changed by this love so that they can in time change their families and bring new life and new hope into this community.