Good evening blog followers. Although I (Andrew) have written bits and pieces of former blogs and have helped to proof-read and edit, this will be my first complete blog that I’ve written. No time for training wheels, I’m jumping in with both feet. As Ashley stated in our last blog, our first week and a half has been awesome. We’ve gotten to spend time with the children and youth during the day, and hang out with the Chapin teams during nights and weekends. There’s always something to do and someone to talk to. This past Saturday night we attended the weekly youth group. Let me give you a synopsis of how youth group here works. It starts off with the kids having a hang out time, followed by organized guys vs. girls games. Apparently they have been keeping track of wins for the past several weeks, and when they reach a certain point, the winning team gets to take a trip to the beach with Pastor Maiko or something along those lines. Needless to say, they are pretty competitive and there is much incomprehensible Spanish screaming when the games get close. The games are followed by listening to snippets of different Christian songs on YouTube, all of which are in different genres. I guess it’s to give the kids good ideas for Christian music they can listen to that matches their tastes. Then Maiko gives a sermon, and while I can’t understand most of it (although I’m proud that I’m picking up more and more Spanish and can understand the main points he is getting across), I can just tell by his style and passion that he is an amazing preacher.
So back to this past Saturday night. After group was over the Gringos were cleaning up the multi-purpose room. After we finished, I was walking back up the hill toward our apartment and saw a bunch of the youth and Maiko in the first education building. Apparently they were all praying for Keylor, the 16 year old that Ashley and I sponsor, because his mom was really sick in the hospital. She is a diabetic and had to have some sort of transfusion. She previously had to go to the hospital for the same reason and fell into a coma and almost died, so you can imagine the severity of the situation. After finishing the prayer and dispersing, Maiko informed us that since it was just Keylor and his mother living in their house, one of his friends, Luis, would be spending the night with him that night. The two boys ate dinner at Maiko’s house right after that, since Keylor’s mom wasn’t home to cook for him. Ashley and I started thinking, and thought it would be awesome if I could sleep over at Keylor’s too so the boys wouldn’t be alone. Maiko asked him, and while he was excited about the idea, he was also embarrassed for me to see his house because it wasn’t clean (and probably because of the size and lack of material possessions in it). We told him I didn’t care, and that I was messy too. So Maiko and Ashley loaded us up with snacks, I got my pillow and a blanket, and the three of us made our way down into the Bajo towards Keylor’s house.
For those of you who don’t know, much of the Bajo has been redone in the past few years due to help from the government of Taiwan. So instead of a tin shacks with dirt floors, most of the families now have a small concrete house to live in. Most people, including myself, wouldn’t really consider that 3rd world type poverty. But upon entering Keylor’s house, I was truly humbled and almost felt guilty and embarrassed for the luxurious and pampered American life I have been raised up in and have become to expect as normal. There was a main living area of the house that was probably 10′ x 20′, which including a living room and a kitchen. And when i say kitchen, I mean a table with a hot plate for heating things and a tiny sink which barely worked next to a countertop. The living area had a couch, a chair, and a tv on a stand. There were two tiny bedrooms that were connected to this main space by a doorway (but no door) which had beds and dressers, and a small bathroom toward the back of the house off the kitchen. I have to be honest that my first thought was “This isn’t so bad.” Then when it started to sink in that this was the house that he lived in every day of his life, not just something you stay in for a week on a mission trip or a camping trip and tolerate it because you know that soon you’ll get to return to your spacious, well-furnished, air conditioned house filled will all your “stuff”, I realized that the people here were living in true poverty.
We did some rearranging, which including moving the couch into Keylor’s bedroom and their lone chair into the kitchen, and ended up with two mattresses on the floor in front of the tv, which we would share to sleep on. We put a movie on, laid on the floor eating our snacks, and just talked with each other (in very broken Spanish on my part and lots of signaling and hand-gesturing on theirs). I wasn’t going to put this next part in because it’s sort of embarrassing, but it really is a big part of the story, and down right hilarious. The food that we ate at Maiko’s house before going to Keylor’s was authentic Honduran food that they prepared for us. It basically consists of eggs, beans, and cheese in a tortilla. Not the best combination for someone who is already really gassy due to a high-protein diet. My stomach was absolutely killing me from holding in so much gas, so I told the guys I needed to go to the bathroom because I had to “pedo,” the Spanish word for said action. They laughed and I went in there and tried to do it quietly, but it wouldn’t work so I just didn’t try. I tried to lay down on my mattress and hoped it would just go away, but it eventually became too painful. I tried to warn them the best I could, and then just let it rip. Over the next 30 minutes, I have never “pedo”ed so much and I would bet those two boys never laughed so much. The next morning we all got ready and I invited them back to the mission to eat breakfast with everyone and join us for Gringo church.
Although it was a somewhat physically uncomfortable experience, I’m so glad that I got to share it with my sponsor child and another boy that I’ll surely become very close to. I’ll never forget my first slumber party in the Bajo.