Friday, July 12, 2013

Being There

I am not quite sure what I think about this day.  Perhaps by the end of this entry I will have figured it out.

I spent the morning immersed in my US life, accomplishing many of the pre-moving/house closing activities that must get done.  I was amused by the number of people who squeaked in delight and amazement that they were talking to someone in HONDURAS!  (That either says something about their worldliness or the general perception of technology in Honduras!)

Suzy came by to pick me up for lunch and a Missionary Afternoon.  I love my role as Volunteer Coordinator but I relish these times of being a "hard core" missionary.  Well, hard core after our lunch at TGI Fridays!  Our plan was to find Scarlett.   Suzy had gotten directions from our new social worker, Alejandra.  Suzy didn't want to drive her car in this congested area so she arranged for a taxi-driver and ministry friend, Oscar, to drive us.  Our thought was he would drop us off and then swoop in to pick us up when we were done.  When Suzy told him where we were going (typical HN address:  Area xyz, near building xyz, across from...) Oscar announced he was going with us.  "It is dangerous there!" he said.  "We know," replied Suzy, "we are washed in the blood of Christ."  (Please protect us and lead us to Scarlett, I silently prayed.)

We knew Scarlett and her mother lived in a "cuarteria" in a "cuartito."  a cuarteria is a string of rooms, each one rented to a family, English translation is tenement.  A cuartito is the actual room.  The first cuarteria we went to was up steep steps and then down a long dark, narrow hallway.  "Gulp" I thought.  "Lord, remember we are washed in the blood of Christ."  We passed several doorways, a few people suspiciously peering out at us. Unannounced visitors easily could have been hit men.  We asked if they knew Scarlett's mother.  Looks darted between them.  "Look up there" they pointed.  We continued to climb the stairs and came out on a roof tope with more cuartitos.  Soon it became clear this was the wrong cuarteria.  

We trudged back down the stairs and dark hallway.  Disappointment was setting in.  When we got to the street, Oscar asked a drunk if there was another cuarteria near by.  "Yes, right there!" he pointed.  Again, up the steep steps into another narrow, pitch dark hallway.   I had no idea what we would meet in this hallway... Silent prayers.  Someone poked her head out of the first cuartito.  Yes!  She knew Scarlett's mother!  Right a the end of the hall!   She met us at the door and, to our delight, invited us in.  I couldn't get in fast enough to see Scarlett.  When Scarlett saw me she leapt into my arms!  

Their cuartito is very small, very dark.  The only natural light coming from the doorway.  Six people live there.  Scarlett, her pregnant mom, Olga, and the boyfriend/father to be, his mother, sister and sister's baby girl.  There are 2 double beds almost touching. In one corner is a toilet, next to that is a hot plate and a "pila" (concrete sink.)  There is a distinct outhouse odor in the room.  There is also a dresser with a hutch. No chairs.   Olga, the boyfriend, and "sister-in-law" were very pleasant to us.  We didn't get the heebeegeebees from any of them.   We think the boyfriend has a part time job although they were all there watching staticky TV (antennae, no cable.) I was hugging Scarlett, kissing her on the cheek and crooning to her.  Her mom said that she knew me from the photograph Scarlett has of us.  She cried and cried and cried when she left the Children's Home.  I was telling Scarlett that I miss her and I love her.  Then I told her Noelia loves her, and so does Berlin (her Tia at the Children's Home) and Maria Mercedes.  At that point, Scarlett burst into tears and reached for her mother.  She wouldn't even look at me after that.  I can only imagine the memories were too painful for her.  She must have felt abandoned and rejected again, this time by us and the Children's Home.  I was stricken, the family sympathetic.  I was moved by their kindness to me.  Suzy let Olga know that we are there for Scarlett. Olga told us that we could call them any time and she would meet us somewhere so I could see Scarlett.  Oscar, still with us, said he would come pick them up.  I gave Scarlett and Olga some lempira for a gift, told Scarlett I will love her forever and we left.   

As so often happens in Honduras, the mood changes quickly.  I was on the verge of tears only to break into hysterical laughter with Suzy as we watched Oscar get into his taxi.  He had locked the keys in the car (on purpose) so he somehow opened the trunk, removed the spare tire, pushed the back seat forward and then climbed into the trunk stretching and reaching as far forward as possible to barely lift the lock on the rear passenger door.  Oscar is a big guy so this was particularly amazing!  Oscar carries on a steady stream of conversation, most of it unintelligible to both of us but with great gusto and laughter. 

On the way back to get Suzy's car at the mall, Suzy noticed a church on the other side of the divided highway that her surrogate daughter, Sarai, attends. We decided to stop by.  It is also the church where Sister Lupita ministers. Sister Lupita is a prophet and also, through her prayer, healed my incurable Achilles tendons.  When we walked in, it was clear she didn't really remember us.  Nevertheless, she was very gracious and welcoming.  (She did finally recognize us!)  I told her Suzy needed a healing prayer for her knee.  Suzy explained that someone had already laid hand on her knee and it was a bit better but still very painful.  Sister Lupita reminded her of Jesus healing the blind man.  First the man could see shadows that looked like trees, then he could see clearly.  "God's healing is still working.  You need to wait," she explained to Suzy.  She said more prayer wouldn't hurt so she grabbed her oil. She and I both laid hands on Suzy and Sister Lupita started to pray.  She prayed a long time shifting back and forth between Spanish and tongues.  I silently prayed for a healing miracle for Suzy's knee.  She also revealed in her prayers that the Lord is very pleased with Suzy and her ministry, that He had sent many angels disguised as people and Suzy had treated them well.  He is going to continue to do that and He has more work for Suzy to do.  (Suzy was a bit dismayed that this work seems to include several trips!)  When the prayer for Suzy was over, Sister Lupita looked at me and told me to prepare myself. The Lord is going to bring me great joy!  Get ready!  Sister Lupita also happily agreed to visit Suzy and the girls at her house who really need some prophetic prayer.

As I sit here in my room at Casa LAMB, I am reflecting on all that happened today.  What does it all mean?  What is the common thread?  I can't say the visit to Scarlett had a happy ending.  She looked healthy and clearly her mother loves her.  The others in the household seemed like good people.  The environment is desperately poor and there seems to be no future for any of them.  As I expressed to Suzy, it is not that they are hopeless in a depressed sort of way.  It is more like they are hope-absent -- they seem to have no concept that a better life exists for Scarlett or any of them.  We agreed we would not be successful in regaining custody of Scarlett, a bitter pill for me to swallow.

I think the common thread of today, of Suzy's ministry, of LAMB's ministry, and of following the Risen Lord is: being there.  Oscar repeatedly assured us that he is there for us, to protect us, to help reunite us with Scarlett for visits, for anything we might need.  In fact, he already has quite a history of being there for Suzy and me - serving with joy.  Suzy is there for countless people, including dear Jasmin, who has called upon her so many times.  Jasmin is stronger now than she ever has been, steeped in the love of and for Jesus.  The Honduran leadership team is always ready to help someone in or out of the ministry, to say yes to the call to rescue a child.  I assured Scarlett that I am always there for her. Sister Lupita was there for us, long before she recognized us.  All of us are there for each other and for those God puts in our path.  Why?  Because Jesus is there for us, always, no matter what...

"...And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."  
Matthew 28:20