by Bob Beams
September 18 – 22, I went with Mike Douris, president of Orphan Outreach, five men from Kentucky, Wilson and Judy Williams from Park Cities Baptist Church and three translators to Guatemala. On Sep. 22-25, only Mike, myself and Maureen Hodge went on to Honduras. The purpose of the trip was to seek Gods will as to where we should serve. We looked at many locations and saw great needs. This story is about just one of them.
When I say “down in the dumps”, you probably think I mean Jesus was discouraged or despondent. No, I mean he was literally down in the dumps, the trash dump. Jesus was really there, I saw Him !!!!
There are many terrible, awful, horrible places in the world. The trash dump in Tegucigalpa, Honduras ranks up there with any of them.
We bumped over the narrow and rough streets of Tegucigalpa to the tune of honking horns. At every crowded intersection street vendors and panhandlers begged for attention. We finally left the large city after crossing over the raging river on a narrow bridge.
We drove through the country side for a few miles admiring all the lush greenery and flowers on the steep mountain sides. The natural beauty was a sharp contrast to what we would soon see. From over two miles away we could see something blackening the sky. When we got closer, we could see the air space above the dump filled with thousands of large black vultures. They constantly were landing in large flocks to consume the edible trash.
When we finally came up over the hill we could see the dump area. It was the dump for the huge city and surrounding area. From a distance it looked like toy trucks in a field with ants moving around them.
Getting closer, we saw these were not ants, but people. Hundreds of men, women and children were going through the trash. As each large trash truck would back up to dump its load, large groups of people would crowd around the dumping trash to get first pick of the “good stuff”.
Fights would ensue if someone got a good shirt before someone else did. If some food looked okay, it would be consumed immediately. The people had to be careful to not be run over by the busy bull dozers pushing the trash over the hill. It was a scene from hell, it was insane !!!!!! People living in the dump !!!
The flocks of vultures would compete with the people for some of the items. It is estimated that 2,000 people spend their entire day here, eat here, get their clothes here, and make their living here. Some sleep in the dump under stacks of cardboard and some stay in shacks on the border. Babies would be placed near the sides of the dump under makeshift shelters while their mothers worked in the dump. If they worked hard, they could earn a dollar or two in a day by selling the things they collected from here. People would come to the dump and buy large stacks of cardboard, plastic and etc. to recycle. The “dump people” are ostracized by those living in Honduras. Even those living in the slum feel superior to them.
Ok, so where did I see Jesus ? Jesus was standing beside me and Jesus was standing in front of me. I saw Jesus in the eyes of Mike, and Maureen, and some others were handing out clean water to those living in the dump. I especially saw Jesus in the eyes of Jeony.
He is the pastor of a nearby church who has given his life for many years to help these people. In front of me were those combing through the trash. I saw Jesus in their hollow eyes. You remember Jesus said, “If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me”. Yes, I saw Jesus down in the dumps.
For many years Jeony has been ministering to these people, he has build a school nearby and the children go here in the mornings from 7 to 12 and then they have to go to work in the dumps to help their families survive.
Jeony, and his wife, and his brother and his sister-in-law and a few others all teach at the school 12 months a year with no pay for their work. They teach the kids, love them, feed them, and lead them to Christ all on sporadic donations. They have a good school for all ages up through high school. Now they have 80 students and are planning another building (to be built soon with donations) so they can have 120 students.
How can we help? We are not exactly sure now, but we are going to help. If you want to be a part of this, let me know and I will keep you informed.
One last thing. Before we left, Jeony shared something with us. He said, do you know the difference between pity and compassion? He said pity may have strong feelings, but it doesn’t last long. Compassion may or not have strong feelings, but it actually does something and lasts a long time. The Bible says that Jesus had compassion on the people when he fed the 5,000.