“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Henry David Thoreau
“My work will be here tomorrow but my friends may not” – A common Miskito phrase
As long as I can remember, I have been touched by the stories in books and on TV about the plight of orphans and starving, vulnerable children. I recall when I was young telling God and myself, “When I get older, I’m going to help those children!” My childhood was happy, filled with sports and friends in Plano, Texas, a wealthy suburb of Dallas. I’m not sure where the time has gone… and as for helping ‘those children,’ well, my part has been minimal.
I certainly have many excuses for not following through on my promise. First, there was college at the University of Texas and then a very brief stop in the NFL. Next came a career, my wife and my own children. I rationalized with myself that God must want me here in America, nice and comfortable, raising my own children and supporting missions and orphan work financially. As our family expanded through childbirth and adoption, I became more and more dependent upon the trappings of comfort.
Then it happened! In 2008, our pastor and his family, dear friends of ours, decided to pick up, attend language school and become missionaries in Brazil. My thought was, “Wow, that is so great to hear, we are so glad God is calling you and we will pray for your family’s safety and success.” I still remember his parting words to us… “I can see you guys doing this one day.” “OK,” I reasoned,”but right now my job is to support missions, we can’t all be missionaries.” I was thankful to God for a great and easy life. My happiness grew for our pastor and his family and I was confident that they would serve with all of their hearts. But then, as I really thought about it, I asked myself, “What if everyone felt that their job was just to financially support missions? What if there truly weren’t enough people to actually serve?”
Fast forward to January of 2009. On one of my many flights, I read the book Same Kind of Different As Me, by Ron Hall & Denver Moore. This book is a moving true story of two men, polar opposites. They are brought together by one man’s loving, Christian wife. The book inspired me to question my own life and ask what I was doing to further the kingdom of God. As I read through the book, I felt God speaking to me. I am not accustomed to hearing God’s voice audibly, but He gently whispered, “I need more from you” and I felt His probing “What are you willing to do for Me?” I called Laura and asked her to pray about taking our heart for orphans anywhere God called us.
It was during this period of time that I really started to feel God telling me that He wanted my family and me to serve Him! My eyes were further opened by the book The Hole in Our Gospel written by Richard Sterns, the CEO of World Vision. He accurately describes our job as Christians… taking care of orphans.
If you had asked me a year ago where Honduras was, I would have had a hard time pointing it out on a map without the country in red bold letters. Honduras is only a two hour plane trip from Dallas, but it was a world away in my mind. My lack of knowledge of Latin America was vast. Despite Honduras’ close proximity to the wealth of the United States, Honduras is the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, behind only Haiti.
What a difference a year can make! I’m so grateful to God and the people He put in my path to open my eyes to Honduras, its people and its beauty. As I listened to the stories about the orphans and vulnerable children in Honduras, I found my heart falling out of my chest for this country. However, I still had reservations. We researched many of the cities of Honduras and dismissed the most needy area, La Mosquitia, as being too remote for my family to relocate.
We planned an exploration trip to Honduras in the fall of 2009. Our itinerary included La Mosquitia, only because Laura had done a video and was working on a newsletter for Mama Tara’s orphanage and we wanted to see the place she had written about. And because a friends of ours, Dr. Tom Brian, had founded a home for disabled children in the region. Our reservations continued right up until we stepped off of the plane and onto the sand runway of Puerto Lempira, the largest city in the La Mosquitia region.
Our trip further unveiled the underbelly of Honduras that is only visible in person. It is tough to imagine living with so little after being spoiled by our American lifestyle. Yet, there was an overwhelming feeling of peace and comfort in doing it. There was a sense of peace that this was where we would make our home. We lived out of our backpacks for a week and found out we did not really need much more than that with God’s guidance. I’m sure I learned this lesson much earlier in my life and somehow forgot it in the midst of chasing the American Dream. Although our family looks very different than the people of Puerto Lempira, we have formed deep relationships. The people have great needs such as clean water, health care, gospel materials, education, and many more issues. Our desire is to serve the people of Puerto Lempira long-term just as we want to love the Lord… with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.
And as for me, I do not plan to be a statistic like those men referenced in the above quote by Thoreau. Instead, I will go to my grave with my song completely sung. May my God get all of the glory, even if I sing out of tune.