My wife, Tamara, and I just returned from one of our many trips to Honduras since 2003. For me it was my sixth one this year. Our work with Heart4Children/Ninos de la Luz has brought us many experiences most folks have never imagined. On this last trip I was impacted once again by a "chance" meeting. Here is the story:
We were eating at a restaurant, sitting by the window. As we ate our hamburgers I notice a little boy, obviously very poor, at the window motioning for something to eat by bringing his dirty little hand to his mouth. I signed to him that I would come out with food in a few minutes. As we left I went back to the counter and ordered a “to go” order and carried it with me outside. When I came outside he was waiting for me, as I expected. However, he had a very small corner of a hamburger in his very dirty hand and the following conversation took place:
Me: “My name is Jim. What is yours?” Him: “Juan.” Me: “Where did you get that hamburger?” Him: “Basura (the trash).” Me: “Would you like a new one and some fries and soda?” Him: “Yes of course.” He quickly swallowed the last bite of the trash burger and took the bag with a very big smile and thank you. Me: “What have you had to eat today?” Him: “This.” Me: “Where do you live?” Him: “Basural (trash dump). Me: “Do you have family?” Him: “Yes a brother and sister.” Me: “Do you have parents?” Him: “Only my mother.” Me: “Where is she?” Him: “Sick.” Me: “Where is your papa?” Him: “Dead.” Me: “Can I come visit your house?” Him: “No!” Me: “Why,” Him: “It is very dangerous.” I have met untold numbers of hungry and very poor children over the years, but this boy just hit my heart as if he were the first one. I told him to remember me and look for me in the street. I also told him, “Someday I will come visit you at your house.” I gave him a hug and told him, “Good-bye” and he sat down where he was and had half the hamburger eaten before I walked 10 steps. I thought to myself, “Juan’s life is nothing but trash!”
I know the place where he lives. I plan to go there on my next trip. I did not take a picture of him because I never want to exploit his poverty. I hope to get a picture of the dump village where he lives on my next trip. Many people have asked me why we spend our time, money, and life in Honduras when we have poor people right here in the United States. Of course, it is our love for Ninos de la Luz, but it is also because the poverty we have here in the U.S. does not compare to the poverty in the poorest countries of the world and Honduras is one of the very poorest. According to the World Bank and Unicef the percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 per day is 17.9% and the per capita personal income is just $2,070 per year of which 60% of that income is controlled by the richest 20%. And, this in a country where the cost of living is about equal with the US for food and clothing. Housing is cheaper, but your floor will be dirt and your walls and roof made of what you can find. The US per capita income is over $50,000 and we have 0% of our population living on less than $1.25 per day. Our wealthiest 20% control 46% of that income. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/
I must admit there are many times when the burden of working with Heart4Children overwhelms me. There are days and weeks when I am just exhausted of the stress and burden. I wonder, "Where is God in all this?" And then, I am working down there and I have a meeting like the one with Juan and I am reminded that it is a worthwhile effort. There are so many Juan’s and “Juanets” just in our little area. We need to bring more of them into our home and school. We need to be the love of Jesus to them. We need to practice “pure and genuine religion,” taking care of the widows and orphans and not being corrupted by the wealth and comfort of our western world riches! We need to continue fighting the battle of raising funds – something we dislike and to be honest are not very good at doing. We need to remember, our worse day is a day Juan can only dream of having! That's where God is in all this!
James 1:27: What God the Father considers to be pure and genuine religion is this: to take care of the orphans and widows in their suffering and to keep oneself from being corrupted by the world.
Luke 18:6: But Jesus called the children to himself saying to the apostles, “Allow the children to come to me, and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”