Reflections on Mission 2

Last week I traveled with 29 other brothers and sisters in Christ to Tegucigalpa, Honduras to build homes for three homeless families who live and work on the city’s trash dump. During our mission there we visited the dump and experienced what my teammate, Eric Pogue,  so eloquently describes below. Eric was so moved by his experience that he penned this account a few days later and shared it with our team. He has graciously allowed me to post it here for you to glimpse the reality of perhaps hundreds of Hondurans every day. There is no official count as to how many people live and work on the trash dump as there is no birth or death records for these people.

The Trash Dump

by Eric Pogue

We raised the windows on the bus as we approached the trash dump in the mountain town of Buen Samaritano, approximately fifteen miles north east of Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  Our travel companion, Austin, a curly blond-headed American missionary, who lives in Honduras, believed a non-ventilated school bus with thirty sweaty passengers would be more comfortable than having the bus infiltrated with trash dump flies.  As we moved closer to the dump, the air thickened, the temperature rose, and a vile stench permeated the bus walls.  The fresh air we enjoyed moments earlier was quickly devoured.  We turned the corner and arrived at the trash dump, a place where hundreds of Hondurans come every day to pick through thousands of pounds of unwanted garbage from their fellow citizens.  Our mission was to provide 400 bags of water and 200 packages of food for the people at the dump and to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gravel crunched under our feet as we stepped off the bus and the smell of the trash and the trash dump people nearly made us vomit.  The flies, once held off by the bus walls, now flew freely into our face, because, well, that´s what trash flies do.  The sun beat down from above; there were no trees to provide protection, no grass to provide comfort.  The trash dump was approximately three football fields of gravel and trash, but we decided to not explore the area by foot and stayed very close to our bus and each other.  It is a place where vultures, flies, odor, gravel and weather seemingly do everything possible to oppress that which doesn’t belong.

We followed the lead of Pastor Johnny, a local Pastor whose life mission is to provide children an alternative to life on the dump.  The Pastor, who started his ministry over a decade ago, formed two feeding lines: one for the men and one for the women and children.   The trash dump people are familiar with these feedings and immediately gathered around the Pastor to jockey for position.  They know there is food, they don´t know how much.  They are told to respect the line but the stronger push the weaker out of the way to improve their chances to eat.  Besides the food found on the dump, this may be the only chance to eat that day.  They are very hungry and their focus is food.  Nothing else matters.

When basic needs are not met, God´s people become less than what God intended.  The brain that has the capacity to create, love, lead, teach, learn and serve is focused solely on survival and therefore success, for a trash dump person, is survival.   If survival can be ensured, the other areas can be developed but unfortunately survival is a daily requirement.

As we were leaving the dump, God showed up.  A local Honduran man fought through the vultures, flies, gravel, sun and smell and gave his life to Christ.  His ability to push forward and hear God´s calling through the oppression of the dump inspired us all.

For all of us, God has graciously allowed us to have abundance.  We were not born on a trash dump; we do not have a daily fight for survival.  Our basic needs have been met and we have the ability to develop characteristics that are uniquely human.  We are all God´s children but not all of His children have been blessed as generously as we have.  We should not take this responsibility lightly.  We are called to fight through the flies and vultures in our lives and become the people God intended for us to be.  We have no excuses.  Let´s vow to do better than we’ve done.  Let´s love the Lord and others more than we love ourselves.  Let´s be obedient to his word and give generously with our time, talent and treasure.   Let´s be more patient, more forgiving and more eager to discuss our faith with others.  Let´s never forget the lessons learned from the trash dump.

Thank you God for opening our eyes and for the gifts you have generously given.  Thank you for your incredible grace and for the beautiful people of Honduras.

Eric is pictured here. He is in the middle with the huge smile.

Thank you Eric for allowing us at This Temporary Home a view of you and your team’s experience last week in Honduras. You beautifully captured a very raw reality in the lives of these created people of God. Also, a special thanks to my brother-in-law, Tom, for the images of the trash dump.

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