It was a Friday. Our group had traveled through 7 days of mission-trip-bonding, and we found ourselves in the community of Las Bresas. We were told by our group leader that we were bringing supplies in a pick up truck (i.e sand and 8 bags of cement mix). We would use these supplies to give a family of 5 something they never had before – a floor other than dirt. But what transpired in our time there was so much more than dirt. We shared more than a little bit of sweat labor. We shared life… for a day.
It was late morning as our bus slowly bumped along a path barely wide enough for our vehicle. It pulled to a stop and one-by-one we filed out and were welcomed by a few of the neighbors, and before we knew it, a large number of children and Mommas were gathered to meet us. We enjoyed sharing a few trinkets, a few treats, and a few stories and then slowly walked further back to where make-shift homes were gathered under trees.
We met a family. Dad, Mom, son, and two young daughters. They did not know we would be arriving today, and at the sight of our truck, Momma began to weep, and then she started tidying her home for her visitors and workers. Through an interpreter our leader talked about where we were from and why we were here, and then we divided into groups. Some stayed to help with the labor of the floor, others gathered to visit with neighbors and share about the gospel of Christ, others found themselves playing with the children, and others followed those who had gathered as they invited them to their homes. Hands and feet. Those led in the moment of where they felt their hearts compelling them to go. And it was a beautiful sight.
For those working on the cement floor, water was needed to mix the materials, so with buckets in hand, they walked down an open path to the river nearby. To get to this River, one passed a field of cows, a horse could be seen walking by, and the smell of pigs were in the air. When arriving to the river, I looked over and saw people gathered to wash their clothes. When I looked to the right, I saw men gathering supplies from the river, and a type of pipe system had begun.
It it was a beautiful sight. Community gathered to use the natural resources provided to their village. And in a small way, we were there to just be part of it all.
While some worked on mixing the cement, I went with a group of people to visit an older lady at her house. As we began to talk, we learned of her story. She’s 74 years old and she’s a Momma to 9 children. Her husband passed away over 20 years old, so she lives in this home with her son. She attended a church just down the road, and she had this aura of peace about her. It made it that much more shocking to learn than three of her sons had been murdered. Even more so, she leaves the judging to the Lord as one of the murders lives just across the street. One child died early on in life, and another was “lost”. Her son came home for lunch and he too carried this sense of peace about him. In the midst of chaos, ultimate trust in the One who creates all His children was prevalent in such a tangible way.
After lunch we came back to work some more, and we also brought more supplies with us. We noticed that a family of 6 had a home that consisted of a hammock strung between two trees, and that was it. Someone had asked if we could create a temporary shelter for them in this their rainy season, and so we purchased a tarp. With a bit of string we gathered, we were able to secure it to some tree posts to create a roof, and had some leftover to create a wall as well. I must admit, we stumbled and bumbled and they respectfully watched. We had no tools, no staple gun, no duct tape. In fact, at one point, I asked it one gentleman wanted to assist in using some rope to secure one end. I had a feeling we could watch and learn. And we did.
While attempting to help, I noticed a Momma watching from nearby. I felt drawn to her, strangely uninhibited by the language barrier, I attempted in very broken Spanish to ask a few questions. I noticed she had a fire going and was cooking. She proudly showed me the meager helping of vegetables she was stewing in her pot. And she smiled. And I smiled. And I gave her a hug. Well done Momma. And I asked to see her house. And she walking me into a small, dark space, dirt floors, well taken care of. In one corner was a medium bed and a small bed. In the other corner was a hammock and a few clothes hung along the wall. And she told me she has 6 children. And she smiled. And I smiled. And I gave her a hug. She was proud of her family. Thankful for the home she had been given.
And then we visited another family. This morning we learned that twin boys lived in this home. Their Mom needed to take an antibiotic that had dried up her milk. It had been awhile since those babies had milk. So, we brought some formula and some clothes, bought a few toys, and simply wanted to give out of the abundance we’ve been given. All credit to God because He is the great provider. And that Momma hugged and wouldn’t let go. And she said she is grateful to God for bringing us here. And I wanted to say, “No, sweet Mama. I am grateful to Him for bringing us here to you, for I am receiving far more than anything I could give.”
And the children gathered. And I looked into their sweet faces, told them hello, asked them their name and how they were doing, and they reached for my hand and simply wanted to be in our presence. And they had so much joy! I couldn’t stop smiling, it was just so contagious.
One precious girl was fascinated with my yellow hair. She looked into my blue eyes and called me beautiful. I asked her to see her house. And she walked me to her humble home where I met her father. And she was tiny. Tiny for 11 years old. And it was as if I could see her future, and see the plans the Lord has in store for her. Though in human eyes, she didn’t have or own very much, the eyes I looked into held all the hope in the world. She stole my heart.
And then I looked to my right and I saw her. She had met us at the bus two days prior, and in the same moment of being greeted and asked their name, she grabbed my hand and walked with me, leading a few others to houses we shared in earlier. And today she was wearing a school uniform. And she hugged me fiercely. And she was a leader. And I thought to start a game, a game my girls enjoy. Face-to-face we clapped hands in rhythm. And her face lit up, and in a cross-cultural moment, we were jiving to a Spanish tune. And soon others joined. And then I was invited into the “circle”, literally. A rousing game of “duck, duck, goose” ensued, and then I learned a game in which each child in a circle counted to 9, with the tenth person attempting a slap to stay in the game, and then someone stood in the middle, and questions were asked, and with the right response, everyone scattered – run, they told me and grabbed my hand. I laughed so hard, and the Mommas stood around shaking their head at this loco gringa. And I wondered, when was the last time the Mommas got to play? And we took lots of pictures.
And my heart was so full as I looked around at the community of God – different colors, different sizes, different ages, different languages – all made possible through the love of Christ. And as we gathered in closing, praying together and celebrating a day of work and play, this precious family was overcome with emotion as they confessed their sin and welcomed Christ into their lives, receiving His salvation. Because His love is irresistible.
And my heart was full. And before parting, the little girls received a small gift of clothes. These clothes once belonged to a little girl who is a friend of mine. Her Momma and Father adopted her from China. Her Momma dropped these clothes off to me just a few days before leaving. These little girls cherished their gifts and sat down to admire their new items as any other girl would do. And I gave that Momma a hug, and lingered just a bit longer. Their lives were changed in more ways than adding a simple floor. I will she her again in eternity.
And as we boarded the bus, the sweet leader of a girl ran to me, grabbed my hand, and so proudly wanted me to meet her Momma. And I gave her a big hug. And I wanted so much to tell her how proud I was too meet the Momma of this big-hearted girl. And she humbly looked at me and asked if I had any sandals left for her. And I JUST gave a suitcase full of flip-flops generously provided through Old Navy to the Great Commission Church, and I personally had 2 pairs of flip flops back at the Mission house, and in an act nothing short of sheer common sense, I had something she didn’t, and so I gave. Literally, the shoes off of my feet. And it was the easiest thing in the world to do. The Bible talks about a time when people shared all that they had with neighbors. And it’s beautifully simple. And it was perfectly natural. Because that’s the way God’s love works. No strings attached. And I couldn’t wait to share with my children, all this Momma had learned from her family in Honduras. My God is a Great. Big. God.