Honduras has got a lot of bad press recently – and rightfully so. In an article on the Huffington Post it says -
Honduras has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries and is likely to have the highest murder rate in the world — 86 per 100,000
Honduras stands to break world records with its murder rate — estimated at 86 per 100,000 inhabitants — putting it ahead of war-torn countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, a study said October 13, 2010.
In the article where it lists Tegucigalpa, the city we live in, as the 5th most violent city in the world they use this picture – taken 3 blocks from my house.
The other day Quendi, one of the girls who used to live in our girl’s home, came over to our house. She came over so that Trina could take her shopping for school supplies. She got on a bus about 7 miles from where we live. Shortly after she got on two other guys got on and pulled out guns and knives and proceeded to rob everyone on the bus. They took everyone’s cell phones, money, jewelry, and anything else they had that was of any value. This went on for 15 terrifying minutes. This bus was headed to the market in the center of the city. These people were probably going to buy their food for the day. Quendi said that when the bus stopped everyone got off. There was no reason to go to the market now – no one had any money left. Those who were going for food were probably going hungry.
There is a ministry in Denmark that sends a lot of volunteers to Honduras. We have two volunteers from Denmark working with our ministry right now for the next 6 months. A few times a year all the Danish volunteers in Honduras come and spend a weekend with us in our ministry. It is usually about 20 people we host for the weekend. I have been working with the coordinator to schedule one of these weekends and I was supposed to call her last Wednesday but I forgot. I sent her an apology email and this was her reply:
I got robbed in a taxi today on the way home from work – nothing happened to me, but they stole my money, camera, visa-card and pincode and drove me around for 45 minutes until they dropped me off… I’m okay, but yeah, I haven’t really had the time to wonder why you haven’t called.
A couple weeks ago we were in Walmart (yes we have a walmart here) and needed some cash so Trina used her debit card in the cash machine in Walmart. We only use our debit cards for withdrawing cash, we never use them for purchases so it was pretty easy to tell where we used it last. That was on a Saturday and on Monday I logged in to our bank account online to see how much money we had. I was surprised to see four cash withdrawals from our account done in Lima, Peru. Peru is a long way from here and we have never been there. Apparently there must have been cameras and a skimmer on the cash machine so that when Trina used it they were able to steal our card number and PIN and then use that to create a new card and steal money from our account.
Right away I called the bank. There were four other withdrawals that were pending. In total, they stole over $1,000 from our account. Thankfully our bank covered it all and returned all the money to our account. The worst part is that now we don’t have our debit card and no way to get any cash until my family comes next week. This is the second time in a year that we have had our card stolen without ever losing our physical card. The first time, our credit card number was stolen by our waiter at a restaurant. The lack of security here is very frustrating. It isn’t safe to carry cash. If you hand someone your credit card they might steal the number. And if you use your debit card in a cash machine you might be watched and they might steal it too.
When I was talking to the bank the nice lady asked me if I had filled out a police report – she said it was one of their requirements. I said, “Maam, I could do that, but the police here are often times more corrupt than the criminals.”
Are we scared? No. Should you be worried about us? Absolutely not. Should you be afraid to visit? Of course not. You and I are no safer at home in our beds than we are on the streets of Tegucigalpa. I just saw on Facebook that a friend of mine from our safe little town chased someone out of his house, out of his bedroom, in the middle of the night. This stuff happens anywhere and the truth is, our security doesn’t come from the conventions of man but from God above. And honestly, I never feel like I am in danger even when I know I am in dangerous situations. I know I will probably be robbed at gun point some day. I know that will be terrifying and traumatic. But I know that God hears my prayers for protection and He hears your prayers for protection too. So why do I tell you these things. I hope it gives you a better glimpse of what we live with and encourages you to cover us in prayer and not only us but all those like us, who are working in dangerous places around the world. Pray that God gives us protection, courage, and boldness!