Seeing new parts of the world have opened my eyes to the different people that drift through the world virtually unnoticed by the world around them. Visiting Disneyworld I saw the obvious family group that is trying to navigate the immensity of the park. Spending a week on the East Coast I saw everything from beach bums to spring breakers working on their tan. Going through Las Vegas I saw, well, I saw some very strange and different people there, some of whom I would not like to bring back to mind. I’ve traveled through many parts of The United States and have seen some very obvious characters that are native to those specific areas, but one escapade I was not ready for was my mission trip to Honduras.
I ventured out of the Honduras airport surrounded by a flock of starch white American Christians, which made me feel safer, yet also exposed, like a white swan in a flock of geese. Everybody in our little church group speculated with their mouths agape at the foreign, third world setting around us. We were drawn to the cultural difference many of us had never seen before. There were chaotic streets, crammed and drooping houses, and people scavenging throughout the streets.
We were dropped in the center of the capital, and it could not have been more overwhelming. I had always heard stories of kidnappings and murders in countries like Honduras, so I made a mental check of the many Hondurans around my flock of Americans. I saw men with guns walking through the streets, policemen eyeing the purse draped over my shoulder, and children milling around the airport asking, “Money, please,” with their broken English. I immediately and unintentionally labeled the Hondurans as a brutal race where mercy for Americans was slim. I judged them based on what I had seen from an American standpoint as harshly motivated by poverty. That was my first mistake.
As we entered the gated Orphanage we planned on spending a week at, I saw an unexpected side of Honduras. The orphanage was a breathtaking oasis compared to the city around it. Six hundred children called this place home, and six hundred children left a life of poverty and crime to be brought up in this oasis. It was here that I learned to open my eyes and see behind the life and culture that people are built upon. Listening to their stories touched parts of my heart that have been cold for far too long. My good friend, Dulce, stays at the orphanage to watch over her seven brothers and sisters because their mother was not able care for them. I met thirteen year old girls who sought the help of the orphanage in the midst of their fear and pregnancy. There are children at that orphanage who I gave my heart to; children who don’t have a clue of where they came from or who once loved them.
Stepping into this part of the world has opened my eyes to what lies beyond the crime and poverty. Underneath it all lays children and people who were cast away and abandoned, and who are still holding onto shreds of hope. I have seen Hondurans who have come from the depths of poverty and shown the world how amazing they can be. Through this trip, I saw broken lives that were made whole and given a new purpose. I learned to listen to the silent cries of hope, rather than see the dirt that stains their nation and their past. Now I know to look within.
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