While I was in Honduras, I spent some time on the streets of Tegucigalpa. I was there to see and interact with the young boys, and some girls, who live on the street everyday. Many of these children cannot or will not go home. Some have been abandoned by their parents. Some live on the streets because their parents have no money and have no food or shelter to give them. Some come from violent or abusive homes and the street is 'safe'. These kids beg for food or dig in the trash to find food. They sleep under a bridge or on the sidewalk. They wear whatever clothes they can find and rarely take a shower. Oh yes, most of these kids are also addicted to glue. This glue is a shoe glue that the kids take, pour into an old soda bottle or plastic cup and inhale through their mouth and nose. The glue is highly addictive and does more damage to their brain, kidneys, lungs, etc.. than drugs like cocaine or heroine. The kids become addicted to the glue because it numbs their feelings of hunger, cold, heat, etc... I should also mention that this glue numbs the emotional pain all of these kids bring to the streets from their past life.
One morning my small group went to the street to hand out food, meet some of the kids and take a look at what life on the street is like. What I saw has changed my life - forever! First, I saw a young man named Alejandro who was/is completely addicted to glue, not letting it go for even a second. I later found out that giving up your glue is really, really hard. Here is Alejando:
Here is Alejando with Micah Project Staff Member, Becca:
Here is Alejandro with his glue:
The glue is their life, their comfort, their source of hope that they can make it another day. This young man had at one point joined the Micah Project (The Ministry to help these street kids). Sadly, his addiction was so strong and his wounds so great that he went back to the streets. The Micah project continues to pursue him and pray for him because they know that the longer this boy is on the streets, the less time he may have to live his life. Second, I met a husband and wife who were eager to show our group their home. When we came to their house I quickly realized that it was situated on the side of a pile of trash. There home was made of trash and they were so proud of what they had. Here is their home: Finally, I saw a sweet little boy named Axel. Axel is about 11 years old, addicted to glue and has lived on the streets for some time. When we met, he was very hungry and told our group that he wanted to leave the streets and be a Micah boy. I am encouraged to say that Axel did leave the streets later that week and is a part of the Micah Project. Here is Axel that first day we met: We are also supporting him and praying for him as he breaks his glue addiction and learns what it means to be loved and cared for.
So, what does this all mean? How does this experience impact who I am and what will/did I learn? First, I learned that only by the grace of God do these boys leave the streets and enter into the Micah Project Ministry. I hear that breaking a glue/drug addiction is really hard, not to mention the emotional wounds these boys bring to the house can be painful and difficult to process. I do know that they Micah project has been working with boys for over 10 years and has seen tremendous growth and progress. Truly, the grace of God is powerful to change these young lives. Second, I leave more thankful for all that I have. When I saw the couple's house made of trash I was overcome with so many emotions that as soon as we walked away I started to cry. Why did I cry? I started thinking about my house and all that I wish I had, yet do not. Now, let me confess something to the reading world: I struggle with this - A LOT! Yes, I have a nice 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom house with a fenced in yard, lovely windows and wood floors. Do I wish I had more? Yes, I do. Part, not all, of my struggle comes from attending a nice Church in St. Louis were many people have VERY nice homes in Frontenac, Ladue, Kirkwood, Town & Country, etc.. that have 3 - 4 bedrooms, designer furniture, updated kitchens, finished basements, etc... Some people we know even have farm houses, second homes in nice parts of the country, etc... I really struggle and compare what I have to what others have. I often sit in church and feel less important than those who wear nicer clothes, the latest styles and have more disposable income than they know what to do with. Oh yes, did I mention the private school factor? Many of the students we work with attend private schools here in St. Louis. some of the school cost between $12,000 and $20,000 a year. That is more than I make working part time in a year. It is hard for me to not compare what I have to others and I often, if not daily, forget to be thankful for what I do have. Let me quickly say that I don't struggle with this just because of the Church I attend. I attend a great church, with generous, caring and loving people. I struggle with this because I am human and a sinner. I struggle with this because it is my glue. Wanting more, even if it is just a little bit more, and not being thankful for what I have is the drug I feed myself on a daily basis. I can't let go of my drug. I think I deserve more/better. I think about what I would like to have and how I could work to get it. Going to Honduras has helped me to put some things into perspective, yet again. Finally, I learned to remember the good things in my life. To name a few: I have my family, friends, a job. I may not be rich with money, a bigger house or even some new clothes, but I am rich with those around me who love me, believe in me and enjoy being with me. I remember mentioning to Michael Miller (Director of the Micah Project) and some students that I didn't marry into money, but I married into a spiritually rich family with so much compassion and a heart to care for others. For those of you that know my husband, Steven is a man of great compassion that loves the Lord and loves others. For all that I have - I am truly thankful. My trip to Honduras was a great blessing. I learned so much and I am so thankful that I was able to go. I encourage you to think about what your 'glue' of choice may be and how you may be called into the process of letting it go for so much more - LIFE.