We had a little excitement here on Roatán this week. A visiting young man serving on a mission team took a kayak out to watch the sunset and was pulled by wind and strong currents out to sea. After many anxious hours and thousands of prayers he was rescued by a coordinated effort of American and Honduran search teams. He has a wonderful testimony about his experience on Facebook. It’s well-worth the time to read it.
At Casa de Luz we had two teams of visiting missionaries; one from Colorado and another from Florida. I made many new friends and it was so exciting to watch the progress on the court (new nets and paint), the school (beautiful new turquoise color called Calypso) and on the retaining wall behind the school. Screen material was put in the ridge pole vent on the roof to help stop the leaves and debris from the jungle that blows in constantly. Through all the noise and activity, we managed to have school, often yelling over the gasoline-powered cement mixer and the shouts of workers just outside the windows. It was a busy, happy scene!
Before I came here I heard many dire warnings about the dangers of Honduras. It didn’t really bother me much because I have always thought that wherever I am, like Aaron discovered, God is with me. He has promised never to forsake me or leave me. I have come to understand many things about Honduras and the Honduran people. First of all, every one, every single person I have met has been unfailingly polite, kind and has greeted me with a smile. I have never heard an angry word spoken here between two people, nor between children. Some have gone out of their way to help me, providing advice, rides, and even a day-long tour of the island. I have been invited to study Spanish, to their homes to have dinner, to birthday celebrations, and to learn to make tortillas. My niños at school have brought me refrigerator art, flowers and stickers to wear on my shirt at school, and more joy than I have experienced in a long time. I’m already dreading saying goodbye. I have made a good friend in the property manager where I live, who, as a life-long resident of the island, has provided me with everything from rides to the grocery store, advice on where to use an ATM, what trees produce what fruits, and WD-40 to help with a sticky lock. WD-40 is universally useful! Juan Carlos has actually climbed a cashew fruit tree and shook it so I could have a fresh taste of this amazing fruit, of which we enjoy only the stem. The stem is the cashew nut. I learned that the roasting process is dangerous as the hulls give off toxic fumes. Good to know as I’m sure I would have tried stir frying them in my kitchen! Today he showed me an almond tree, how to find a ready-to-eat specimen and smashed it with a hammer so I could have my first fresh almond.
No has tried to rob me, stab me, or shoot me, even though I’ve seen guns everywhere and many of the men carry machetes. Lots of people are employed as trimmers and grounds-keeping is an intensive occupation. The jungle is pervasive and in constant need of cutting back. Most banks and technology stores employ an outside guard, who carries a sawed-off shotgun, and an inside guard who is also armed. Can you imagine walking into Verizon and seeing a well-armed sober-faced soldier standing guard? The reason for theft here, and the stories that are heard, is that technology is what sells on the black market. If I do get robbed, I am not likely to be hurt, but I will lose my cash and anything with resale value. And the bottom line is this: Unemployment approaches 65% here. Desperate people will do whatever is necessary to eat. I asked Juan Carlos how much taxi drivers make here. I pay $2 to go wherever I need to go. One way -$2. There is one main road from Coxen to West End, about 8 miles or so, and taxis continually run back and forth all day, picking up customers who wait on the roadside, and running the route. They honk as they approach and you either wave if you want them to stop, or shake your head no if not. One of the things I will remember most about Roatán is the constant sound of horns honking. They honk at potential customers, pretty girls, and friends going in the opposite direction. I’m pretty sure there’s a “horn language” but I haven’t figured it out yet. It’s not unusual to share your taxi. And who can blame the drivers? Gas is about $4 per gallon. They pay $20 per day to rent their cab and according to Juan Carlos, they clear $40 after expenses if they have a good day. Forty dollars for 10-12 hours in a taxi all day.
There is a “bus” system, but the bus is really a 15-passenger van, and they run every 15 minutes or so. For 18 Lempiras, or $1, I can go anywhere I need to go on that same main road. The buses run into the Colonia where I work and they stop wherever I need to get off. You just yell, “Baja!” and they let you out. You pay and get out of the way! There are no road shoulders so you need back up quickly. All in all, it’s very do-able if you can live without the independence that having a car gives you for a while.
I feel I have settled in well. I am already half-way through my time here. There is still so much to accomplish but I am surrounded by loving, supportive people and children who express their affection for me every day. It’s a good life in spite of the hardships. I pray that I can make a difference in my small way. Thank you all for your prayers and support. It means so much to me.
Care4Communities (C4C) is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3), Florida-based Corporation, headquartered in Jacksonville. C4C exists to share the love of Jesus with the communities of Roatan through sports, education and construction activities as a means to develop relationships and affirm their dignity.