Aug. 6, 2008
Today I was far away from the news whirl with all the prognostications about vice presidential picks. Our team here in Honduras was in a small village about 20 minutes from Tela called Tornabe. Our first challenge of the day was just getting there on the old American school buses that have been given a second life here in Honduras and serve as our transportation. These buses, which are the main means of transportation for most people in the area, had to navigate the craters in the dirt road and the occasional animal that would wander into our path.
Once we are on location it takes about 30 minutes to set up the various aid stations. The people are first registered where basic information is written on a form that will accompany them through the process. Their second stop is where I spent the bulk of my time with the gospel presentation. It was there we soon discovered our second challenge.
The folks in Tornabe do not speak Spanish; they have their own dialect called Garifuna. They understand Spanish well enough to communicate, but in some cases we had to interpret from English to Spanish to Garifuna. I am pretty certain some things got lost in translation. I am accustomed to some people not laughing at my jokes, but when they laugh and I didn't say anything funny, that causes me to wonder.
I was able to find out a little bit about the origins of the Garifuna people. They were African slaves taken from the Island of St. Vincent who were then marooned on the Island of Roatan in 1797. The Spaniards later moved them to Trujillo where they dispersed along the coast of the Caribbean. They remain pretty segregated in their small communities like Tornabe.
Today we saw around 600 people, again mostly women and children, bringing the total that we've been able to help with food, medicine and the gospel to over 2,000. I am constantly amazed at the natural beauty of Honduras, but at the same time the poverty and despair. I've also noticed that most of the area is in need of a good anti-litter campaign.
An unfortunate distinction of Tornabe is that it is reported to have one of the highest concentrations of HIV-positive people in the Western Hemisphere. The local church, under the leadership of Pastor Marvin, which hosted our clinic today, helps feed and clothe over 60 children of various ages who have been orphaned primarily because their parents died from AIDS. I have to confess that talking to these little ones, who have little more than the clothes they are wearing, was not easy. I thought of my own children having to survive on their own as these little ones do. But for a while we laughed with them, shared God's love with them in word and in our actions, and brought smiles to their faces.
Before I shared the gospel with them I went to the back room of this cinder block building and watched as 60 children were given their one hot meal of the day. We were able to give many of the orphaned children clothes as well as leave Pastor Marvin enough food to feed the children for several weeks. We ended the day with a dinner and multi-church service at Centro Americano Iglesia where Pastor Luis Eucedo's church made a great Honduran dinner for us. More tomorrow!