It has been a day like none other our team has ever experienced. In some ways, parts of today defy the ability of any vocabulary, any language or any author to adequately describe what our eyes have seen. There is a very big part of me that simply wants to crawl in bed, pull the covers over my head and wish to God that I could open my eyes and it would all have been a very bad dream. But dreams require no response. Today does.
We started with a visit to a facility that is a safe home to about 15 elderly people who were found on the street. Francisco is the man who finds them and takes them in and while he’s fixing food for them, he makes extra and feeds the drug addicts and alcoholics who now line up at his door for lunch every day. The house reeks of urine; it was an offense to our nostrils just to walk in the door. No government organization subsidizes his facility and no families pay room and board. It’s just Francisco, his few staff members and 15 outcasts.
Some simply stared right past us. Some grabbed our hands and stroked our arms, hungry for human touch. Some told stories of their lives and although most of us had absolutely no idea what they were saying, I witnessed so many of our team members kneeling at the residents feet with tender eyes of compassion.
We had the privilege of serving them lunch (Rebekah made chicken and noodles and we added applesauce and rolls), feeding some of them and then holding them as we said good-bye.
They have been given dignity by the kind gesture of just one man who determined that he would no longer turn his face from their agony.
What happened next deserves so much more than I am able to convey so I need to say that up front. I am woefully inadequate, absolutely ill-equipped to express the extent of the desperation and flat out unreality of our trip to the city dump. There are no pictures posted because it is not safe to take a camera out of the bus and to be honest, the thought of snapping a picture of someone’s devastation seems inately wrong.
Approximately 1,200 people live in the dump.
Vultures live there.
Cows live there.
It stinks there.
I can still smell the stench on my clothes. And with no desire to be crude but to help you understand the extent of the odor, in Honduras the water pipes in buildings are small so no one flushes their toilet paper. It is all disposed of in a trashcan and thrown away….and taken to the dump.
We stood beside garbage truck after garbage truck that came into the dump and watched as mounds of garbage, filthy, putrid garbage were dumped onto the ground. And then the indescribable happened. Human beings – men, women and children – climbed into the heaps and started sorting through it. Looking for plastic to recycle, clothes to salvage and food to eat.
We tried to help. We pulled on gloves and attempted to find the clear plastic bottles that were the most desired objects. A few team members held bags for others to put their “finds” in and some of our team passed out sandwiches, apples and water.
But the agony of the stench mixed with the sight of the bulls snorting thru the garbage and the vultures so thick they looked like a dark blanket and God’s children in the thick of it all trying to survive on someone elses trash and soiled toilet paper was nauseating. I realized on the bus on the way back that it wasn’t just my stomach that was rebelling. My very Spirit wanted to vomit.
I asked my 9 year old grandson what his thoughts were about the dump, when we were at the feet of the Jesus statue and he said, “We sure have messed things up Grandma.”
Indeed we have.