Lessons from Charlie
Our first visit to Mama Tara’s Miskito Orphanage was in November of 2009. Only four months later, in March of 2010, we found ourselves back in Puerto Lempira in preparation for a long-term move to the area. Our second visit to Mama Tara’s was as delightful as the first. Along with friends from Texas and new friends from New York, in March we had the opportunity to spend time with the children, deliver medicine, visit with Mama Tara and accomplish some of the items on the orphanage’s maintenance work list.
I vividly remember our walk over. My wife, Laura, and I were as excited as two children on Christmas morning. Would the children at Mama Tara’s remember us from our November trip? Had the children grown and flourished since we last saw them? What new children would we get to bond with on this trip? Would there be a place for us to serve at Mama Tara’s when we moved to Puerto Lempira? The questions spun around in our minds.
So many of the faces were the same, and it took very little time for many of them to remember me, the Gigantic Gringo. Their smiling faces and giggles will forever be burned in my mind.
Charlie & Me – November 2009
There is one boy that is always on my mind when I think about Mama Tara’s… Charlie. He is a little larger weight-wise than your typical Miskito child. His smile and laugh are perfect for any ad campaign for children’s goods. The first time I met Charlie, he wanted my non-stop attention. We played soccer for an eternity. We talked about soccer, played games and looked at dogs and new puppies. He was also my personal guide for a tour of Mama Tara’s.
Charlie & Me – March 2010
I remember being a bit nervous as I walked up to Charlie in March of this year, wondering if he would remember me. When he got a good look at my face and I mentioned my sombrero (hat) from our previous visit, he lit up and knew exactly who I was! I was relieved and thankful that our friendship could continue to grow. Charlie’s smile and acceptance of me are exactly what he and the other children at Mama Tara’s need to be shown from Christians. If Charlie’s smile and friendship can make such a deep impact on this 40-something year-old man in a moment of uncertainty, I can only imagine what a smiling and compassionate face means to a fatherless child. I want Charlie and the other boys to play, run and worship God side-by-side with our own children.
photo by: Our friend, Holly
One day, later in the week, I was working on bike repair at another home for children in Puerto Lempira. I felt a tap on my back, turned around and there stood Charlie. I was so surprised to see him. You can see the delight on my face in the above picture. Charlie could have decided to play with the other children, but, instead, he chose to come over to see if I needed any help. This is love expressed by a child who doesn’t have a lot of earthly possessions. This is concern shown by a child whose future is uncertain. Love and concern; these are the traits that God wants us to share with the world.
I often wonder what will happen to Charlie when his time is up at Mama Tara’s? Will he end up running the streets of Puerto Lempira with many of homeless, teenage boys in the area? Will he be tempted to dive for lobsters using unsafe equipment and possibly end up disabled at a young age like so many other young men in Puerto Lempira? Or will Charlie take the more challenging road of further academic education in another Honduran city? These are the current “opportunities” for boys like Charlie in Puerto Lempira. Lord, I pray that you watch over Charlie and lead him on a path that shows him Your hope. He has so much promise.
I spent one day by myself working on maintenance items at Mama Tara’s. At first the boys at Mama Tara’s were busy with their daily routines of school, playing and doing their chores. As the day progressed, I noticed boys following me around to watch what I was doing. At times, I asked them for an extra pair of hands to hold something or retrieve an item I left on the other side of the room. Then they began to ask to touch and use the drills, saw and hammer. I tried to use this opportunity to teach them how the tools worked and how to use tools safely. Then it dawned on me, these boys don’t have many male influences in their lives. They crave interaction with men.
Spending time with these boys, playing with them, showing them how to use tools, teaching them the basics of being a man of God… what a privilege and what a joy! If you are reading this, I urge you to invest in the lives of these young people … for a day, a week, a month or longer. The rewards are eternal for all parties.