Last summer I traveled to the small island of Roatan, Honduras. Upon arriving I was shocked to see what a drastic change it was from my small home town in Georgia. Needless to say, it was quite a culture shock. Although I was unhappy at first, I decided to embrace the changes and enjoy the week I would be there.
Upon landing, I noticed there was one runway and a tiny airport. As we ventured through Customs we all became very irritated because of the lack of air conditioning. The group of missionaries and I made our way to the taxis so that we could be taken to the church compound where we would be staying. When we arrived I noticed it was surrounded by barbed wire and had guards at the gates. I was surprised to see this since I was there with a church group. I couldn’t wait for the next day when I would be working in the orphange. We had a relaxing night and fell asleep quite early due to jet lag.
The next morning I woke up ready to go to the orphange. There are two orphanges on the small island. I would be working at the Sandy Bay Lighthouse Ministries Children’s Home. As we loaded up the trucks and ventured off I began counting down the minutes until we arrived at the home. As we arrived at the home and saw the children outside one immediately caught my eye. He was an eight year old by the name of Gabriel. The whole week I was there Gabriel and I stuck together and we became quite close. I learned that he was one of only two true orphans in the home. By true orphan I mean a child who does not know their parents. Gabe’s parents died of AIDS and he was left as a street child before coming to the home. He touched my heart in so many ways. I couldn’t believe how such a young boy living in the situation he was in could thrive and be as happy as he was. Every night before bed when he would pray he would ask God to bring him someone to love and care for him. Hearing him say this absolutely broke my heart. Everday while I was in Roatan I couldn’t wait to wake up and get to the orphange so that I could check on Gabe.
Upon leaving Roatan I realized that I had a completely new appreciation for all things in my life. I was so much more thankful for my mother, and sister, the house I live in, and the wonderful life that I lead. I also realized how close I had grown to Gabriel and how much I was going to miss him. Since leaving Roatan I constantly check on Gabriel via internet. I have decided that as soon as I get the chance to go back to that tiny tropical island I will be on board a plane in a heartbeat. I can honestly say that traveling to Honduras was the most eye opening experience I’ve ever had in my life. I find it funny that it took and eight year old boy to make me realize how fortunate I am, but I am so thankful he reached out to me, touched my heart, and changed me like he did.
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