|People awaiting their turn at the clinic in Los Leones|
It is hard to put into words what I experienced during this absolutely wonderful 9 day journey. I use the word wonderful to describe the experience but that does not mean that everything i saw was wonderful. Our group traveled from Little Rock, Arkansas to San Pedro Sula, Honduras via Houston. Upon arrival in San Pedro a 6 hour bus ride awaited us. As much as I craved sleep after the plane ride I was not able to rest. As we rode along I took notice of the lush tropical vegetation and the beautiful mountains. I also noticed many people walking or riding bicycles along the side of the road. Most of the houses I saw were simple homes made of cinder block and covered with tin roofs. There will little roadside makeshift stores, but also the occasional American style fast food store. These sights along the bus route gave me a glimpse into the contrasts that I would experience throughout our time there.
|Blessing the New Church in Maranones|
|Clinic at Maranones|
There were also local Honduran people who served as missionaries. I was very impressed with the collaboration between the American group and the locals. It was not a "Here come the Americans, get out of the way" experience by any means. On every level--medical, school and Church local people were involved including Fr. Felipe with whom I worked and from whom I learned a great deal. I also met up with some terrific Franciscan sisters who worked in catechesis in the local schools and who ran an orphanage where one could see that the children were truly loved. We had Mass with them one day there.
I found the people there quite open and receptive and very appreciative of what was being done for them. I found them to be a people who worked hard, struggled and had a great deal of faith.
One cannot visit Honduras or any other so-called third world country and not be struck by the poverty there. I have read in several places that 20% of the world's population uses up 80% of its resources. Honduras is obviously in the group of 80% that uses 20% of the resources. I share this not to lay a guilt trip on any one or to assess blame. There is plenty of blame to be cast on many different sources not only outside of, but inside Honduras and other countries as well. I bring up this aspect of things because I think that all of us from the wealthier nations need to be aware of this. Remember that the sin of the rich man in the parable of Lazarus in the Gospel was not an unwillingness to share with the poor, but rather being so absorbed in his own life that he didn't even know that the poor man was there. As more of us grow in that awareness perhaps over time things will change.
The wonderful mission of Christ the King parish in Little Rock, Arkansas, carried out in June every year, with a smaller mission in March, is a great example of the kind of work that needs to be done in many places. It is a hopeful and encouraging expression of Church as well. We read so much these days about what's going wrong in the Church. This mission is clearly part of what is right about the Church.