The first thing I noticed was not the heat, which I had mentally prepared myself to withstand. It was the houses, and I use that term loosely, as the plane made it’s final descent to land. It didn’t help my feelings any that the airport in Tegucigalpa, Honduras is listed as the #2 most difficult airplane landing site in the world. I held Luke’s hand a little tighter. Those weren’t houses at all. In fact, my dog has a somewhat smaller but nicer house that she refuses to sleep in at night. At least she has a shingled roof and a wooden floor. These were shanties, shacks, and lean-to’s. And they were full of families.
I could write for days and days about the heart-breaking, soul-shaking things we saw on our whirlwind mission trip to Honduras. I could tell you how the poorest among them have to go to a government run hospital where the only nurses and doctors are in training. There is no air-conditioning; there is no privacy. Children line the walls of large rooms in rusted, malfunctioning metal beds and cots while their parents either sleep on the floor or sit at the foot of the bed. I could tell you about the Mama whose hand I held as she cried and once again wet a onesie to lay on her premature baby girls’ head as she passed from this world to the next; she didn’t have a washcloth to use. I could tell you about the baby with a severe cleft palate who had no feeding tube, but was choking and coughing on every bottle he was given, and about his mother who couldn’t have been over fifteen. I could tell you about the little family of four who moved into their own 14′ x 14′ “house” that we built for them. We built it essentially in raw sewage as there is no waste management in these neighborhoods, and they live downhill. But they had been living in the same size house with her sister’s family, nine of them total, and this was a tremendous blessing for them to have their own place. I could also spend hours and hours talking to you about how when we arrived in El Tizate after a two-and-a-half hour bus ride, largely down a dirt road over a mountain, that the people of those nearby villages were wrapped around the building, waiting in line long before sunrise. Some waited in line for hours just to see if we had vitamins for their children. A large percentage of their children will die just from the lack of clean water and limited food resources.
I promised Ms. June, a lady from our church, that I wouldn’t lose Luke–that I wouldn’t let him run off into the jungle or go barefooted, and I kept my promise. Each time we would get on the bus, at least one person would say, “Luke, are you on the bus?” He eventually got tired of being asked that! But it made me stop and think for a while. You see, we all have a “bus” we should be getting on everyday. Maybe yours isn’t in a third-world country (but I do think EVERY American should have to spend a week in the developing world–you will seriously rethink your entire life). But God has asked each and every one of us to do something, and that’s to love others. Are you loving your neighbors? Are you stopping by and asking the sweet older lady down the street if you can help with anything? Are you loving your family well? Are you supporting your spouse with your words and your attitude? Honestly, it’s easy to throw money or supplies at “good causes”, and don’t think that’s not important, but are you getting on the bus and really seeing the people around you? Or are you too busy? I believe one of the Devil’s greatest schemes for our society today is making us too busy to really see each other, to really help each other. Are you making room in your life for what’s really important?
I will leave you with one last thought. Thousands of people are fleeing Honduras everyday because of these conditions. (If you want to talk or learn more about it, I will be happy to spend some time with you!) For obvious reasons, my grandparents thought we had lost our minds taking our kids and walking into it. Maybe it was crazy, but it was truly one of the greatest experiences for us as a family, for me as a physician, for us as a couple, and for our Spiritual growth. When you compare the haves and the have-nots in this world, you realize that God put enough on Earth for all His children. No one should go hungry; no children should die of starvation or malnutrition. If they do, that’s not God’s fault; the blood is on our hands. The responsibility to help others falls to us as God’s children. So, I will ask you one more time, are you on the bus?
God bless, Allison Key, MD