September 22, 2014: Sometimes my days seem to get lost in the endless task of sweeping and mopping our floors, fighting stains and mold, balancing quality and individual time with each child and between my husband and I, and managing the administrative side of things. Occasionally I get discouraged because the kids washed their clothes poorly or dozens of mosquitos found their way into our bedroom or I wonder how walking around in galoshes delivering food and water to our farm animals fits into God’s redemptive plan.
But not tonight.
The Lord privileged me greatly in allowing me a glimpse into the transformational work He is doing in our children’s lives in the midst of all the daily and hum-drum happenings of our household.
Darwin and I sat at our long wooden table with the kids for dinner as normal, but rather than being armed with a scribbled list of family matters to discuss or our Bibles to share a truth we found that day, we were armed with the unlikely: a local newspaper.
We opened the page Darwin had stumbled on a couple days before: the migration crisis of Honduran youth pouring into the United States and now being returned to Honduras. We began with a general overview of the theme, informing the kids of the current situation of thousands of Honduran children and teenagers flooding the United States’ border in search of lost parents or the illusion of a better future. Our kids faces dropped, their eyes drilling ours, each lost in their own thoughts and level of understanding of the new situation being presented to them.
We then explained slowly and with several simple examples how many of these children and teenagers are now being removed from the United States and being returned to Honduras, detailing how the entire situation is very difficult for the United States – receiving thousands of uninvited minors who have no place to go, having to make difficult situations as to what to do with them, etc. – and how the Honduran youth likewise face untold difficulties – travelling long distances and facing certain dangers, arriving in an extremely large and unknown country whose citizens speak a foreign language, probably not being able to find their parents or assimilate into society as they imagined they would, etc.
Once we were certain the kids had a firm understanding of the overall situation, we read the article at hand about the unaccompanied minors who are currently being returned to Honduras. There were many big words and unfamiliar political terms, and although the kids respectfully maintained eye contact their stares began to glaze over, so we quickly closed the paper and decided to put things on a more personal level.
We had a very specific direction we were headed, and we wanted the children themselves to make the decision at hand.
I looked at the kids as a coach might look at her eager players or a theater director at her stage performers, “Ok, let’s say that the six of us – Brayan, Jason, Gleny, Diana, Pa and I – all six of us together – are biological brothers and sisters. We’re kids. Let’s say Mom and Dad left us to go get a job in the United States because they couldn’t find a job here. Now we feel…” And my eyes grew and I looked around to see if anyone would take the bait.
Diana bit. “…Lonely.”
Me: “Yes! We would feel lonely and…”
Jason: “Sad. Crying.”
Me: “Ok. Excellent. The six of us – all children – are now living without Mom and Dad. We’re lonely, sad, and bored. But Gleny –” and I shoot her an excited glance as if to indicate here comes your line “– says, ‘Hey, why don’t we go to the United States to look for Mom and Dad? Let’s all pack our backpacks and get out of here.’ What do we say?”
Everyone nods or voices their agreement. They’re up for the trip.
Then my eyes shoot over to Brayan as the plot thickens. “And Brayan says, ‘Let’s start by walking, then we’ll take a bus, then another bus although I don’t know how or where…’ And then… we find ourselves crossing the border of the United States after a very long journey. We feel…”
Me: “Yes. And we arrive only to find out that no one understands us because everyone speaks…”
Me: “Yes! It would be like if a small French child showed up in Honduras looking for his mom and dad, but nobody could help him because they couldn’t understand him.”
Brayan says with a wicked grin: “Well, I would just tell him bon apetit [and then unintelligible made-up French words]…”
Me: “Ok, ok, thank you, Brayan. So we arrive there and find out that the United States is BIG. And it’s not so easy to find Mom and Dad. And then the government decides to return us to Honduras because Honduras is where we’re from, right?”
All state their agreement and seem eager to hear the rest of our developing journey.
Me: “So then we arrive in Honduras again. We feel…”
Me: “Yes! Why?”
Jason: “Because… Mom and Dad aren’t here.”
Brayan, exasperated: “You mean we went all the way there and had to come back?”
Me: “Yes. And now we’re in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and nobody knows where to send us because we don’t really have anywhere to go. What do we need?”
Me: “Ok, maybe, but we’re all children. What do we need?”
Brayan: “Medical care.”
Me: “Maybe, but even more essential than that – what do we need more than anything else?” My eyes searched the table to see if anyone was catching on.
Jason: “We need somebody to help us.”
Me: “Ok! Help! What kind of help do we need?”
Gleny in a wobbly whisper: “Hospit…”
Me: “What?! What, Gleny?” My eyes narrow in on her as she begins pronunciating the rather cumbersome H-word that we use quite frequently.
Gleny triumphantly: “…Hospitality!”
Me, my facial expression growing wild: “Yes!”
Diana, poised: “For someone to open their home to us.”
Me: “Absolutely! Right?! We need a place to live. And what kind of people do we hope offer us hospitality? Really bad people, right?” I say, probing them.
Jason, eyes widened by my preposterous question: “Good people.”
Everyone agrees, excited that they seemed to have found the right answer on our long verbal search.
Me, breathing deeply: “Ok, we have said all of this to arrive at the following point: the six of us – Pa and I and the four of you in real life, have been given the opportunity to do exactly as you yourselves just suggested. I received a call a couple days ago to see if we would consider opening our home – offering hospitality – to two children coming from this exact situation. We don’t know if they will be boys or girls, and we don’t know how long they will be staying with us – it could be a very short time if they are able to find their biological families quickly, or it could be a very long time if they are unable to. They will be treated like extremely special guests. How do you feel?”
Brayan, eyes lighting up: “Hey! It’s just what you all did when I moved in, opening up your home to me because I didn’t have one! And also for the three of them,” pointing to Jason, Gleny, and Diana.
Me, an infectious joy spreading across my chest, “That’s exactly right, Brayan! That is what Christ would have us to do! Open our home to someone in need!” Thank you, Lord. My heart sank into God’s goodness. Brayan may not be able to read fluidly or multiply decimals, but He seems to have a firmer grip on God’s reality than most.
About an hour later, after dinner concluded and we were cleaning the kitchen, Jason asked out of the blue, “Are the kids Christians?”
“I don’t know, but we are going to show them God’s love,” I answered, and with that, he grinned contentedly and asked no more.
Minutes ago as I tucked Jason into his bottom bunk, the top one now empty after Brayan moved into his own room a few weeks ago, Jason looked up and said in his nasaly, 7-year-old voice, “One of them could sleep here,” eyeing the empty bed above him in his simple understanding of God’s love for the lost.
I agreed and kissed him on the forehead as our porch light leaked in though his windows, praising God in my heart for granting these children a practical understanding of what it means to treat others as they themselves would like to be – or have been – treated. Thank you, Lord, for Your unmistakable presence among us and for the mighty work you are doing in their hearts.
The photos used on this post can be found at the following online sources, along with informative articles related to the current Central American migration crisis: