Speaking Louder

Speaking Louder

A Song

I recently listened to the song, “Speaking Louder Than Before,” by Jeremy Camp. It’s one of those songs that gets my blood pumpin when I am running. Every word to this song is amazing and thought provoking (you can listen to it here: Speaking Louder Than Before) But if I had to pick the part of the song that gets me the most is in the main chorus:

“We are, we are in desperation

We need to reach this generation

We are speaking louder than before

We are the light to reach this world

We are the salt preserving these souls

Let’s show them the love that we’ve received now.”

This is Osny Isabel...such a beautiful girl with amazing eyes.

Meet Osny

When I think of reaching this generation that’s in despeartion, I am reminded of Osny. Osny is 16 years old and lives in our home for teenage girls (The Eagle’s Nest).  Osny was around the age of 6 when her mother died, leaving her, her twin sister, and little siblings to fend for themselves while living with their grandmother.  As the years went by, Osny began to do some babysitting and caregiving to make some money. One day while walking home from work, 4 men abducted her and raped her repeatedly for 2 days.  She was obviously deeply broken by this incident and told her grandmother about the rape. However, her grandmother didn’t believe her and told her she was a lying to try and cover something else up. Osny’s dad came home from the USA (he migrated to the states for work) and the grandma told him about Osny and her “lying problem.” So her dad, angry at her for causing his mother trouble, told Osny what a liar she was, that she didn’t know what rape really was, and then proceeded to rape her himself to teach her a lesson.  Osny ran away and was picked up on the side of the road by a woman who took her to Tegucigalpa to find work.  After 5 weeks of working, Osny had a nervous breakdown.  She was sent to the mental hospital for 2 months, and then to the government orphanage from there.  That is where Alvin found her and brought her to the Eagle’s Nest.

“I Hate My Birthday”

It’s easy for someone like Osny to feel trapped in the dark. Just this past Saturday I went to the girls home and did an activity with them. We told about some of our favorite things. I asked the girls what their favorite holiday was; it could even be their birthday!  But Osny could not think of one. So I asked her, “What about your birthday?” She just gave me a disgusted look and said she hated her birthday. WHAT?! I have never met anyone, especially a teenage girl, who hated their birthday. I wondered why..Is it because she never got presents on her birthday? Is it because she was never sung Happy Birthday to? Or is it because she is trapped in the dark and doesn’t realize that Sept. 11 was the glorious day that God brought her into the world?  Needless to say, she needs to know the unfathomable love of Jesus Christ.

It’s Time To Speak LOUDER

Living in a third world country has made me realize how we are in serious desperation; desperation for a Savior. And if you read Chad’s last blog entry, you read about why our ministry focuses on this generation; a generation of children and youth who have been forgotten. I write these words again to encourage us all to speak louder; speak louder than you ever have before!

“We are the salt preserving these souls.

We have the love that will be brought.

We are speaking louder than before.”

 

 

All the girls from the Eagle's Nest, along with Sarah, who is the house mother. Osny is on my right. This is when my three friends visited from my home church.

Corruption in Honduras

Recently I had the privilege of experiencing the corruption here first hand. Alvin and I along with Pastor Ramone, who is the pastor of our congregation in the village outside of the city, were headed to check on the progress of feeding center #3. This feeding center will also be the place Pastor Ramone’s congregation will be meeting. Right now they meet in various homes around the village.

Police Checkpoint

Just as we were leaving Tegucigalpa we came to a police checkpoint. These are very common and I have been pulled over many times in the few months we have been here. It is always a nerve wracking experience since the police here are all corrupt; you never know how they might try and cause you problems. So far I’ve been pretty lucky and only had one cop that was nasty to me. Most of the time they just look at my registration and license and send me on my way. Not today…

This cop was looking to make some money and was intent on finding something for which he could threaten to give me a ticket. This is what they do. They threaten you with a ticket for a violation and then wait for you to offer them some money, which they gladly accept and send you on your way. As Christians we have a policy in our ministry not to contribute to the corruption. We gladly accept whatever ticket they are offering. This cop checked everything on my vehicle. He checked my license, my registration, he checked to see that I had two triangles and a fire extinguisher (which are required here in Honduras) and then he checked to see if I had a spare tire. Well my spare tire has recently been stolen. And that is where he had me. We explained to him that it had been stolen; however, he had no sympathy and said it was a violation and I was getting a ticket. I accepted that and told him I would be happy to pay the fine.

Alvin and I went into the police station with the cop (the checkpoints are always outside the roadside police stations) where he proceeded to write my name on the ticket. Then he looked up and with no shame told us that he would let us go if we made a contribution to the police station. Alvin told him that we are happy to contribute to the police station and that we do so through the church, which is true. However, we do not make those kinds of contributions personally. The cop was persistent and tried to tell us that with the contribution they would be able to buy tires for their vehicles and water for the station. In a way I feel for him, they have second rate equipment and are not paid a lot. But we still weren’t going to bribe him. Alvin explained that all three of us are pastors in the local church and then asked him how we could get on our knees before God knowing what we did. And then Alvin didn’t say anything more. For a few minutes we sat in silence while the cop’s conscience caught up with him. Slowly he lifted his head, handed me my license and registration, and sent us on our way – without a ticket.

When we left that station I was steaming mad. I told Alvin that things like this make me want to pack up and go home. Here we are pouring out everything we have to the people of Honduras and this is the thanks we get. I know we aren’t doing it for thanks and that this sort of thing is why we are here, but I still couldn’t help being angry. Alvin smiled and looked at me and said, “Chad, this is why we focus on the youth. This is why we work so hard to reach the youth of this country with the message of Jesus Christ. This is why we focus on educating them so that they will grow up differently. The chances of us changing men like this are very slim, but if we can get to the youth we have a chance at a better future.” He is right. That is why we don’t involve ourselves with politics. Real change is not going to come from the government. Real change is going to come from reaching the youth through the church.

Y0u Can Help

(following is a shameless plug for support, you can stop reading here if you want)

We could use your help in reaching the youth of Honduras. Our ministry is solely supported by individual gifts and donations. We now have an easier way to give online. To do so visit the Support page of our ministry’s website – mehonduras.com/support/ and click the big blue button. If you would like to know about specific needs we have in the ministry you can visit the Help Now page of our website – mehonduras.com/help-now/

Strikes and Riots

Strikes and Riots
Honduras education strike

Police used tear gas to stop the riot.

The school year in Honduras runs from mid-February to mid-November. Three weeks ago the school year started – three weeks ago the teacher strikes started. It is unbelievable what is going on in Honduras right now.

Today was declared a day of protests by the leadership of teachers, taxi drivers, and the resistance. For those who are wondering, the resistance is a small remnant of those still fighting for ousted president Manuel Zelaya. He was rightly removed from office for illegal acts against the constitution of Honduras a year ago. The resistance has very little following; however, they pay people to cause trouble. Today, most of the taxi drivers who participated in the protest were paid by the resistance.

Why are they protesting?

Taxis joining the protest

Taxis blocked traffic to protest gas prices.

No one really knows why the resistance is still protesting. For some reason they think Zelaya should still be president. The taxi drivers, on the other hand, are protesting against high gas prices. According to one article I read, a spokesperson for the taxi drivers said they understand that the price of oil is high but they want the government to do something about it. Ummm, yeah. I feel there pain. I think we all can identify. Gas prices are killing us too. But one thing I know, there is nothing the Honduran government can do about it. They can’t even pay their teachers. Which leads me to the next point.

The teachers are protesting for a number of reasons and some I’m not real clear about. But every year it is the same old story. The government doesn’t pay the teachers, the teachers strike, the government promises to pay, the teachers go back to work, the government doesn’t pay, the teachers strike… and on and on it goes. Last year the teachers were on strike so much that the children were not able to complete the required number of days to pass their grade. The teachers didn’t want to work through their yearly break (what we call a summer break in the states) so the government just passed all kids regardless of merit.

Teachers blocking the main boulevard

This was just down the road from our house. Teachers were blocking a main blvd.

According to a local paper, the teachers are striking because the government recently passed a law called the Incentive Law for Citizen Participation. The law aims to empower municipalities and parents in the administration of education in communities across the country. I don’t know why but they don’t like the law. They are also striking to force the government to pay a million dollar debt to INPREMA, which is kind of like the teacher’s union.

The real loosers…

…are the kids. For us it is a major inconvenience. The streets are blocked and it is dangerous to be on the streets while they are rioting. But the real loosers are the kids. In Honduras you are lucky if you get a 6th grade education. That means we have a population of people who are uneducated and therefore unskilled. They have no marketable skills so they are relegated to a life of poverty. And for some reason, that is just fine with the government and teachers. They don’t care. I even heard one leader in the government calling for the cancellation of school for the whole year. For the rest of 2011 there would be no school.

Education really is the answer

I don’t think it can be overstated. Lack of education will continue to doom this country but a healthy education system could transform it. For evidence we need only look at our neighbor Costa Rica. On December 1, 1948 the president of Costa Rica abolished their military. Then they took the money they would have spent on the military and spent it on security, education, and culture. Unlike any of their neighbors, Costa Rica has not endured a civil war since 1948 and have none of the social ills, at least to the same degree as Honduras.

I love Honduras and I have committed myself to helping the people here. But I fear for this country. I fear the apathy of the elite and the corruption of the government will destroy any hope of a brighter future.

So Much Hurt, Yet So Much Hope

So Much Hurt, Yet So Much Hope

Casitas

And as some of you know, we have a team of 3 amazing ladies, all of whom are from our church, and all of whom are good friends of mine. Tarrah Jandoc, Suzzi Snydar, and Elisa Cuellar are visiting our ministry for the week, with their main focus on the Eagle’s Nest girls. However, today we went to see some other parts of the ministry, including Tiny Houses (casitas), which is a government run orphanage for abandoned or misbehaved children. Our first visit was to the infant center, which houses babies from birth to age 2. As we walked in, we were greeted by 6 precious ones who gave us some stares with their big brown eyes. I then took the ladies back to one of the bedrooms where there were two baby girls sleeping soundly in their cribs. It took everything I had to not pick them up, but I decided to let them sleep.

Veronica

Then we noticed a little girl in a different room. She was all by herself in this room, just sitting quietly in her crib. So we went in there and I picked her up. She was such a beautiful little girl, with dark hair and dark eyes, and chubby little cheeks. One of the nannies came in and told us that this girl was isolated from the others because she has chickenpox or measles (they weren’t sure which one). Her name is Veronica and she is 11 months old. She was brought into the orphanage because of domestic violence in her home.

A Mother’s Touch

It was obvious that she was used to being alone all the time. I could tell because she was so quiet and calm just sitting by herself in that room. And there was such a sadness in her eyes. Nothing that we did could make her smile. It broke my heart. But not compared to the literal tear I felt when I had to put her down. It was time to go and Elisa was holding Veronica. Elisa couldn’t put her down, so I had to be the one to let her go. I placed her in her crib, thinking that she might just go back to sitting quietly. But the second I released her, and our bodies separated, she screamed for me to pick her back up. It was like she knew what a mother’s touch was, and she wanted it back. Tears quickly came to my eyes as I had to leave her. I couldn’t look back, because if I did, I don’t think I could have left her again.

Foster Parenting

I later asked Alvin if it would be possible to foster parent this child. Alvin knows people in high places and could arrange for us to be foster parents without going through all the government “red tape.”  But the fostering would probably not be for long, and the chances of adopting Veronica are slim to none. This is because in order to adopt a child from Honduras the child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law; and technically, Veronica does have a family..just not a very good one.

Hurt and Hope

I love visiting Tiny Houses, but I hate it at the same time. I love seeing the children and I love loving on them. But I hate leaving them. I want to take them all home with me and give them the love the deserve. I want to bring Veronica into my home and raise her as my own. Every single child that I meet at Tiny Houses has so much hurt in their life. The one thing I have to remember is that with Jesus, they also have so much hope.