Last Thursday I bumped and jumbled along the rocky roads of our little town with one goal in mind: finding young women whom I would convince to attend our first sex education class.
Sure, I had posted flyers all over town during the several weeks leading up to the event – in the local grocery store, at the bus stop, outside of several little corner stores, at the local nurse’s clinic, etc — and even went walking house to house, visiting roughly 40 houses personally to make the invitation to the event, but, in Honduras, very few people will take the initiative to attend unless they are cornered and cajoled into doing so at the last minute possible, even if attending might save them from a lifetime of ignorance, suffering, and unwanted pregnancies.
So, playing by Honduran rules, at 9:00am, exactly one hour before the event was scheduled to start, I mounted our 2001 cab-and-a-half truck, rolled the windows down, and went to search the streets for the same young women who had probably seen my flyers everywhere and had even received a face-to-face invitation but for whatever reason would not make the effort to come on their own.
My husband Darwin accompanied me and, literally, when I spotted a group of three teenage girls whom I had never seen before in my life standing idly along the main road of our town, I shouted excitedly to no one in particular, “Teenage girls!”, convinced God had put them there for me to find them, put the car in park in the middle of the gravel road, and ran over to invite them to the event that was about to start in less than 45 minutes. Of course they were surprised, but their mom – who happened to be sitting nearby — urged them to go, so they ran in their house, combed their hair and put on skirts, and hopped in our truckbed as I promised the mother to return them to her in roughly three hours.
That was basically how the round-up went, and by the time we drove in through our front gate at 9:55am, there were 16 young women between the ages of 10-32 who were sitting around me in chairs, on a sofa, and on a couple wooden benches under the shade of our porch. Three of them had received a house-visit invitation the day prior and took the initiative to walk up the long, solitary road to our home while the rest were found and brought via my Toyota street-search during the hour before the class was to begin.
Although I was nervous at first, my voice and dry erase marker shaky as all 16 pairs of eyes were on me to explain what most parents here shy away from teaching their own daughters (or simply don’t have the knowledge to do so even if they wanted to), we ended up persevering through a wonderfully rich teaching-discussion of two hours as we discussed both the scientific and emotional/relational/spiritual aspects of sex, menstruation (most women here literally do not know what menstruation is or what it signals even if they have been menstruating their whole adult life), masturbation, men, birth control, pregnancy, virginity and the loss thereof, menopause, and the different stages of life and what they imply.
Towards the end of the discussion, a beautiful 15-year-old asked innocently, laughing self-consciously, “This might be a silly question, but…men can’t get pregnant, then, right?” Pointing toward my drawings of the male and female reproductive systems on the white board in front of us that we had discussed in detail, she said, “I mean, they don’t have the parts…”
Another young woman, at the beginning of the class as I was preparing to draw the illustrations on the board, asked innocently what a vagina is and where it is found. When I explained it to her, her eyes grew wide.
Luckily, these young women are still in school and have not gotten pregnant yet, but many more like them who are only 12- and 13-years old in our neighborhood are already sexually active, and some have already given birth to a child they never were prepared to take care of. In attendance were two single moms: a 21-year-old and a 32-year-old, both of which admitted to having their eyes opened during our two-hour class to many basic details about their body, men, etc, that had previously been mysteries to them even after having travelled the hard road of experience.
For example, by law a married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law that binds her to him. So then, if she has sexual relations with another man while her husband is still alive, she is called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is released from that law and is not an adulteress if she marries another man. — Romans 7:2-3
At the end of the meeting we all stood, hand-in-hand, and prayed both for men in general – for strength in their temptations, for their purity, and for our wise and supportive interactions with them – and for us women. Before I drove everyone home, many of the women suggested doing a brainstorm on the white board of future teachings they would like us to organize, including dating, the good/bad uses of technology, and forgiveness/healing, among others.
Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord shall be praised. — Proverbs 31:30
After about a year-and-a-half or two of sensing that Biblically-based sexual education was something the Lord wanted us to become involved in (rather than merely rescuing unwanted children — the products — of sexual sin and ignorance), we finally took the big first step, which tends to make the steps that follow more forthcoming. Please pray for us in this new initiative, both for the young women who attended the first meeting and for those in our neighborhood who we hope to reach in the coming months and years.
Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. — 1 Corinthians 6:15-20