We visited a boys home last week in Puerto Cortes to play in a friendly soccer tournament with some of the orphans there and also with a few teams from some nearby schools.
We only took our younger boys, our JV team that consists of boys 11-14 years old. And I keep thinking back to our time there. Some things really struck out to me and I wanted to share them with you.
Our boys behaved really badly! And honestly, we’re used to that. Its kind of embarrassing, but it’s also really honest. They fight a lot, they shout, they lie, they cheat, they whine and complain and on and on and on. They do it in the academy every day… and it’s not their fault. They are a product of their environment and just how bad their environment is shows in their behavior. They live in a broken, abandoned, forgotten, dark village were life have very little value, human dignity doesn’t exist and this is considered ‘normal.’
I often get frustrated to not see more change in the boys and I’m reminded by God or often reminded by Maria or Jeremy (maybe it’s God working through them) that we haven’t honestly been here very long working consistently with these boys. So then how can I expect to see a complete reversal of learned behaviors that have been engrained in these boys for years and in the community for generations? A good question indeed! It shows the absurdity of me and my sheer impatience to expect this of them already. I need to cool my jets, remember the goal, revisit the big picture, and pray that God will ‘help me in my unbelief.’
Please don’t misunderstand me, we have seen lots of changes in these boys. When looking back to the beginning of our year this year and even to last April when we relaunched, the boys who are still with us have changed in some ways, even if very small. Boys have grown and matured. Others annoy their friends less or at least know that it’s bad and aren’t surprised when they get called out for it. Other can read better and are less afraid to share in class and in devotionals (this is a personal big WIN for me!). Others like to listen to bible stories, ask questions during devotionals or at least fight really hard to stay awake instead of blatantly sleeping the entire time.
But these boys are orphans, very nearly equal to the boys that they played soccer against this week. Most of them are abandoned, not cared for, not taught that they are unique and have great value. They come from broken, sometimes dangerous home lives, where one or more parent is dead or has left them in the care of someone else who is more than likely also taking care of other cousins, nieces, nephews or grandkids in the same boat.
The bible calls us (that’s you and me) to take care of widows and orphans, the weak and the fatherless. I googled verses about orphans and here’s a few that hit home for me…
“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.”
“For in You the fatherless find compassion.”
“Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.”
So, when if you wonder why we are here and what we are doing in Travesia, Honduras, just look back to these verses. They explain better than I ever can why I’m here and what drives me to get up every morning.
And now back to my other point: We noticed that the orphans that we played soccer against behaved better than our boys from Travesia. They played well together, got along for the most part. They didn’t fight or shout at each other or constantly bully/annoy each other. It was a very distinct difference. And we live in a village that’s only a 20 minute drive away… but it shows the remarkable cultural difference between this community and typical Honduras. The differences are there and can be seen in subtle ways; in this case the ways that children play and interact with each other.
It was really fun for me personally to get to know some of the boys from the orphanage. I got to play with a few of then and see at least a little bit of their personalities come out. One was very shy and would cry or get upset over the slightest thing… he was one of the youngest there. A few others loved to play and wanted to get you to play with them in every game. They were all very proud of their awards and trophies and wanted to show you around and explain in detail what every trophy was for and which one was there favorites. Just like our boys, they loved attention and personal time from anyone willing to give it.
I left there feeling a new burden for the people the Bible calls the ‘fatherless, the weak; the poor and the oppressed.’ I’m praying for new ways that I can help defend them and bless them. Please join me and pray for the orphans… both in Travesia and in Puerto Cortes! God loves them all and wants more than anything to adopt them as his own and give them a new eternal family.