Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Servant's Heart

“The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

This morning we awoke to a bright, sunny day.  It’s bittersweet to realize that today is the last clinic day. 

We arrived at Casa de Diamantes, the site of this morning’s clinic, and found that the church volunteers had already done a great deal of set up in preparation for our arrival.  Their preparation made our set up go fast, and we began our clinic, just as we have every other morning, with Pastor Armando Zeron saying a few words and then leading us in prayer.

Pastor Armando and local boy
Pastor Armando made a point to tell us that their church emphasizes that the Christian life is not only about receiving, but also about giving and serving.  Church volunteers were plentiful, and they certainly were joyful in their service!  The pastor also pointed out that his church members (and the community attending the clinic), were watching us and recognized that we had traveled a long way to serve others.  He thanked us for our good example and for the service we would provide today.

Approximately 100 people were waiting for the clinic to open when patient registration started.  This smaller crowd allowed all of our team to interact more with the patients, especially the children.  Stickers were everywhere, and everyone seemed just a little more relaxed.

As of this writing, we’ve seen about 240 patients.  Perhaps more will come this afternoon.  But if not, we know that we have served to the best of our ability.

After lunch Pastor Armando escorted several of us to the “dump neighborhood." This neighborhood is located just behind Casa de Diamantes.  The people of this area “mine” the dump for recyclables that they can then sell to the recycling facility.  This way of life has gone on for generations.  Many parents encourage their children to drop out of school to help work at the dump.  And so, the cycle of poverty continues.

Beyond the challenge of lack of education, people living in the dump community also suffer from extortion by local gangs.  Gangs control the dump, and the “minors” must pay the gang before they are allowed to work in the dump.  This tax is paid daily.  Pastor Armando told us that many of the residents of the dump area have never been to Tegucigalpa, even though it is only about a 30-minute drive from here.  The dump is their world, and they have no concept that life can be different.

Patricia walked with us as we walked through the dump neighborhood.  She grew up there, but she longed for a better way of life.  She has worked in the tutoring center of the church for several years, trying to help others to a better life even as she is working to help herself.  Because she has a full-time job, it has taken her longer to finish school, but she is on track to graduate this year. 
Church Members Patricia and Elizabeth

As we were walking back to the clinic site at the church building, Pastor Armando stopped to talk to several people to let them know they were missed at church and remind them they were welcome to come back any time.  Pastor Armando's heart for the people in the community was obvious.  It was evident to me that his people learned to serve by watching their pastor serve.

Tonight we will worship with church members back in Cofradia.  Tomorrow we head out early.  We plan to visit the Valley of the Angels, an artistic community near Tegucigalpa.

Thanks for your continued prayers for health and safe travels.  Those prayers are felt and appreciated!

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