A Special Situation

Abandoned.
Forgotten.
Alone.
Put aside.
Barely given a glance.
Pale
As if they’ve never seen the sunlight
Mocked
As if they were inadequate as humans
Left in a jungle of cribs, sometimes tied to their beds in fear and annoyance
As if wild animals.
This is no far tale.
These are the special needs kids of Nueva Esperanza.

Reginaldo

The second time I went to Honduras I spent a week in the public orphanage in San Pedro called Eden that was holding children from Nueva Esperanza, which had burned down. However, now they are now back in Nueva since it’s been rebuilt. I’ve had the privilege of getting very close to a lot of the kids there.

There’s a nursery at Nueva that holds all the special needs kids and all the babies. The conditions are horrendous. There’s only one worker for what seems like 20 babies (including a bunch of newborns) and about 10 special needs. The babies are of course, first priority. Not only do the special needs kids get put second, but they don’t seem to get much attention, at least of the loving kind, in general. They’re incredibly pale from never being outside. Their side of the nursery usually smells terrible, they sit in naked besides their dirty diapers in stain-ridden cribs all day long. Sometimes, the other kids will come in and pick on them. They call them crazy.

There’s a down-syndrome boy there named Adon who likes to pinch, and pinch hard. Because of this the workers (called tia’s) would tie him to his crib. When I was there for my first week, Adon had found a way to escape his crib and was trying to pinch all of us. A girl in my missions group blurted out,

“Would someone please put him back in his cage?”

I don’t think she really meant cage but it struck me none-the-less. These cribs were so much more like cages then cribs. They were treated as if they wild animals, when really, they’re just defenseless children.

Today in chapel one of our teachers came up and spoke to us. He started to talk about his first-born son, Charlie. He talked about his birth, how much he loves him, and all the wonderful things about him. And then he hit us with the blow. Charlie has down-syndrome. Charlie waved, happy as ever, to all of us, and then our teacher went on to talk more. He told us of a time when he was in high school and he laughed at a choir of special needs kids. His heart had been so incredibly changed by his son.

But the thing that struck me most about all of it is when he asked his 13-year-old special needs son, Charlie, to get up and sing with him. They sang “Our God Is Greater” in front of all of us. And it was probably the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. Charlie sang, off-pitch, monotone, missing half of the words and squeaking.

But his dad looked at him with such pride and love.

His face showed nothing but absolute adoration of his son. All of us could see that our teacher couldn’t have loved his son more than he already did. At the end he showed us a montage of pictures of his beloved son, deeply smiling at every one of them. Charlie was so incredibly happy, too. It was enough to bring tears to your eyes. I had to do everything in my power not to cry when I thought of the special needs kids at Nueva.

Valentine and AnitaThere were a few from my group who had so much love for these kids. They’d hold them for hours, walk them, call them their baby, and even one of them changed an older kid’s diapers. I have so much respect for them.

But then there’s the rest of the population, like me. I can’t express how uncomfortable I am around those kids. I feel so out-of-place and I don’t give them nearly as much love as the other kids. Seeing Charlie and his dad in chapel today reminded me of how badly I needed to change. Those kids need just as much – if not more – love as the other kids.

Maybe I’m not called to serve in the special needs field, maybe I am. All I know is that I need to try, and that there needs to be a bigger group of people willing to step up and help out. There seems to be at least a small to medium interest, from what I’ve seen, to saving the kids in Honduras. But there seems to be little to none willing to save those with needs.

I know there are more people out there who have a heart like my teacher for these kids. And I know there’s some out there that don’t know it yet.

Please, please, please, anyone who is willing, fight for these kids. They need you.

“Now the body is not made up of one part but many. If the foot should say, “Because I not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpredictable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoice with it.”

– 1 Corinthians 12:14-26

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The Truth in the Cliche

“So, Kaylie, where are you going to college?”

Well you see…

The thing is…

I’m not.

Immediately, faces change. No college? A smart, average American isn’t going to college?

Nope.

Then what are you going to do?

I’m going to live in Honduras.

Aren’t you a little too young?

—————————————————————————————————————————–

Usually, when I have this conversation this reaction usually comes from adults. However, I’ve also gotten a few reactions like this from fellow young people. And I get why I get the reaction. I’m only 17, I’m on the honor roll, and I could probably get into a decently nice college. But yet, college might not be in the master plan of my life. Maybe in a year or two or a few, but God isn’t showing college on my radar right now. For some, this majorly freaks them out. For those people, there’s one thing you need to understand:

I know where I’m supposed to be.
I know where I’ve been called.
And it’s not here.
And it’s not college.

I think there’s something wrong with society. With college. Everyone is so obsessed with the best school, the best education, the best job, that they forget their calling. Everyone seems to have the same idea, and the same plan.

  1. Go to school
  2. Get a job
  3. Start a family
  4. Missions

But you want to know a secret? Once you get in school, you won’t drop out. Once you get a safe job, you won’t quit and you won’t get large amounts of time off. And finally, once you start a family, there is little to no chance of leaving. Missions won’t come afterwards.

What people don’t seem to realize is that being young and being heavily involved in missions isn’t:

  1. Bad
  2. Dangerous
  3. Irrational
  4. Ignorant

Being young is the exact opposite, actually. Being young is perfect for missions. When you’re young, you aren’t tied down. You have ten times the opportunities of any older person. And generally, the younger you are, the more passionate you are. Our generation needs to work on not focusing on the better school, the better job, the expanding family; but focus on the calling. If God has called you to go to the great school, get the great job, and start the fam, then go ahead! Do it! But if you feel the call for something else, but also feel the pressure of schooling, let it go. Do your calling first. Our society’s priorities need to change.

I was one that believed that “too young” was a thing. I didn’t even want to go on my first missions’ trip. In fact, I had to be pressured into it. Even after a few missions trips, when I had developed a deep love and passion for missions in Honduras, I still felt I was “too young” and that I needed to do all these other things before I could really be a missionary. But then I had this exact conversation – with the exact same argument – with my friend, and leader at the time, Jenny. She pretty much convinced me not only that I could go live in Honduras next year, but that I should.

This may seem all too cliche, like some kind of quote you’d find on some teenager girl’s profile picture description, but it’s the plain, bare, truth.

You Are Never Too Young.

In fact, “Young” is the perfect age.

Pronino

Walls

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One thing you can find all over Honduras are big, giant walls. You can find them around schools, homes, stores, and even public libraries. They almost always come topped off with barbed or electrical wire, or some other kind of stabbing painful device, like rusty nails pointy-side up. You can’t really go anywhere without finding some kind of wall or fence, besides the poorest areas, where their houses are made out of discarded metals and wood or sheets all patched together unevenly. But even in those areas you can usually find at least one small fence.

It makes complete sense for them to have these walls. Without them, you are very likely to be robbed, raped, assaulted or even murdered. It is a necessity for these people to own the walls.

A few weeks ago, I was in Honduras and staying with my upper middle class friend and her family. She lives in San Pedro Sula. She, her cousin, and her older sister took me and my friend, Sarah, around San Pedro and showed us all of the giant mansions of the millionaires.

But there was a problem.
We didn’t really see the mansions.
Can you take a guess why?
That’s right. Walls.

Because these families were so wealthy and had such a huge house to protect, they had to have even larger walls. We could maybe see the top of the roof. Each wall was beautifully made: thick, with large, ostentatious doors and were all made out of expensive brick and other gorgeous materials. You could tell a person’s wealth by the extravagance of their wall.

I laughed at the irony, and joked about how in America we actually saw the mansions when we went mansion searching, not their crazy walls.

At first, they all laughed with me. And then one of them got slightly sad-looking and said to me:

“I wish Honduras was more like the United States. You guys don’t have walls. You don’t even need them.”

And she was right on one thing.
We don’t need walls.
And in a physical sense, we don’t really have them either.
But in a spiritual sense, our walls are higher and more exclusive then any of the Honduran mansions’ walls combined.

While the Hondurans put up walls to protect themselves, we put up “walls” to keep everything out. We enjoy our comfortable lives. We don’t want to change it. I find myself in this position all the time. Sometimes I second guess going back because the luxury I can find here is so nice and oh-so-addicting.

Before I went to Honduras, I was very much a “wall” person. I knew about poverty and the need for missions in other countries, but in my head and my heart I’d block it out. So much so, that the only way I ended up going in the first place was an immense amount of peer pressure. We want to believe that someone else will take care of it. That it isn’t a big deal. That staying inside our walls won’t affect anyone.
But there aren’t enough people to “take care of it”.
It is the biggest deal.
And staying inside will not only affect the outside negatively, but also the people on the inside.

Our walls, even though we believe they keep us from the dangers of the outside like:
– Giving up some kind of luxury to donate
– Being uncomfortable in a place of poverty for a week or more
– Being hurt, raped, or killed by a dangerous person
– Feeling out of place in another culture

Are actually endangering us by staying inside. By not going outside, we miss out on:
– Learning about a new culture
– Receiving unending love by insanely gracious people and cute kids
– Finding a passion we didn’t know existed
– Adventuring through a beautiful, new land
– Changing our views on life based on a new experience

Staying inside the walls not only harm others who need our help, but harm ourselves as well.
As much as we think they need us, the truth is we need them.

I can personally say that going outside my walls has changed my life completely. We’re talking total 180. I am so much more happy now then I ever was before. And the best part is, I’ve become 10x as rich in spiritual luxury than I ever was in my physical luxury. But that’s a story for a another day.

Today I ask you to challenge yourself.
Go Outside Your Walls.
Even if it’s just to a poorer area of town that you feel uncomfortable in.
Just go somewhere.
Slowly, but surely, break down those walls.
Go all Joshua on it.
Even if you never truly break it, at least lessen its size.

Ask any wall-breaker. Life is better without barriers.

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