Thursday was our first full day of ministry in Honduras. We left the house around 9:30 to load up some boxes of clothes and shoes, as well as all our medical supplies. We stopped at a pharmacy in town to buy deworming medicine and antibiotics.
Rode in our school bus halfway up the mountain to the village of Ostralia. The mountain roads aren't really roads, more like dirt paths with lots of gravel, boulders, potholes, and traffic coming in the other direction, not to mention the people, dogs, chickens, and other animals grazing beside the road. We had to pass a cemetery every time we went up the mountain. It was so unlike American cemeteries...crosses made from pieces of pipe, no nice neat rows, no big mausoleums, just a collection of homemade crosses with names and dates written on them.
We set up at the school in the village, which appeared to be a gathering place for the whole community. People were already lined up outside waiting. We had clothes and shoes, school supplies, and candy for the parents and children, and two separate areas for medical care. We all stretched our Spanish skills that day, trying to help and understand what was needed. I got to hold at least 5 babies while their moms looked through the clothing. I would just walk up to a woman with a baby and hold out my hands. Universal language of moms, I guess.
Met the director of the school, Elizabeta, who was there all day, despite being 7 months pregnant. She wanted to find new shoes for her teachers. Definitely gave me a change of perspective on schools - we want things for our kids like iPods, while teachers in these villages would appreciate pencils and notebooks. These classrooms had concrete floors, few decorations, and very old furniture. There were 2 outhouses next to the large central courtyard, which had a dirt floor. They did have a small computer lab, but I'm not sure how much (if any) internet access they had. I'm hoping to partner my school with this one to have our students communicate as possible, and ask our kids to collect supplies to send to them.
Ended up leaving the mountain around 6:30 after a huge downpour. We were beginning to load the bus when it started, and ended up stuck for a bit while it stormed, and the medical people finished up. It got dark around 7 pm every night, so you will have to imagine the interesting ride back down the mountain on those dirt roads that had turned to mud. Add to that the endless parade of people returning from work in the city. The rode motorcycles, cars, and buses, all of which we encountered on our way down.
We asked for authentic Honduran food for dinner, and ended up at El Gordon with the 22 people in our group. It was good food, but we were all very tired. I tripped on some stairs and fell and bruised my left knee pretty badly. Ordered pescado frito grande (fried fish), and was surprised to have a whole fried fish...head, eyes, tail, fins, and all.
When we left the restaurant, it was raining. A little girl was standing outside with an umbrella. I was carrying a box with the remains of that fried fish, some vegetables, and plantain chips that were leftover from my meal. The girl offered me her umbrella to use, and I handed her my box of food. There was probably enough food in there to feed her family that night. She followed us to the bus, where she reclaimed her umbrella and stood waving as we pulled away. How many times have I left a restaurant with leftovers, not even thinking of the many who go hungry? Another change of perspective.