Alive and Well in Lomitas

During my week-long visit home (Honduras) in June, I drank more than a few cups of Honduran Hospitality (not to be confused with Southern Comfort), especially my first few days. While sipping the coffee-flavored sugary liquid known locally as coffee, the conversation immediately turned towards their Gringos' offspring. Once the pictures of Stacey+Tiny White Baby made an appearance, I ceased to exist for a little while. Once news got out to the community at large that I was in possession of pictures of Stacey+Tiny White Baby, visitation to the house to visit the pictures of Stacey+Tiny White Baby dramatically increased. I acted as priest and gatekeeper of the sacred objects to the pilgrims young and old that arrived to pay homage to the wallet-sized likenesses. Even after nightfall they arrived (dim flashlights bouncing down the path), asking to borrow the pictures to take to show to some grandma out in the sticks. Without fail, Stacey+Tiny White Baby were returned within 15 minutes, gingerly carried by the designated child errand-runner which expressed profuse thanks for their visit.

Aside from this important function as Official Las Lomitas Gringo, I did very much enjoy catching up with everyone. Especially Erick and the next-door neighbors. While shooting the breeze, some interesting similarities between the two households became apparent.
  1. Each of them had a son try to emigrate to the United States only to be caught and returned. One caught in Mexico, tossed on bus and shipped back. The other enjoyed 20 minutes of freedom in the US before being captured, detained, and returned via plane..
  2. There were still piles of people there. Between the two tiny houses, 23 people living within a few meters of my house. Mrs.A's brood wins with a baker's dozen.  
  3. They each had done a little construction work. Details in the captions below. 
The Ramirez Family has moved their kitchen and is doing some overhauls. Previously the kitchen was separated from the house and up a slippery slope. Falls were common, especially for the women in the slick pre-dawn morning when they went up to prepare meals for the men. The kitchen is now attached. They have purchased blocks (foreground) to put up a few lines of concrete block on the bottom before laying a hygienic concrete floor.

Back from two years of work in San Pedro Sula as of January, 17 year-old Karla has begun construction of a small general store that will provide the basics and sell food on soccer game days. The new store is opportunistically located on the edge of the soccer field right next to our front gate (the wooden frame in the photo).
As happy as I was to see the two families moving forward in terms of construction and quality of life, I was more pleased just to see that everyone was still alive and well. My brief visit reminded me how candidly we use that phrase here. "Everyone's alive and well." In Honduras, it is truly a blessing to know that everyone is alive and well. Catching up with the Sanchez and Ramirez Families, I heard story after story of local families that were either not well or even worse, not alive.

The night that I arrived in Las Lomitas, Mrs.A arrived after dark at my front door in her fashion, as I had experienced so many dozens, if not hundreds, of times before. Always asking for permission to enter with her soft "Permiso," the door already opening. She enters, beaming her radiant smile, hands occupied by a plate full of piping-hot food. One of her twelve children on her heels always has the drinks. In the dim light at the plastic table, she carefully places the food - covered by another plate to keep it hot and safe from flies. She smiles, bids me a good night, and leaves as silently and quickly as she came. Ten seconds later, I hear her kitchen door shut for the night, having fed the largest and whitest of her children.

The only variable in her routine is what is under the plate. Boiled yuca? Fried chicken? Eggs and isote flower covered by tortillas? Fresh fish from the lake? Usually its a surprise, but that night I knew it could only be one thing. She knows me, and knows what I love. As sure as rain, that night I uncovered an especially large portion of my favorite Mrs. A meal - pastelitos de carne. On my first night and last night in Las Lomitas, I enjoyed lovingly-prepared fresh pastelitos.

The Sanchez family is not a project for us. The Sanchez family are not just neighbors to us. The Sanchez family are not just souls to be won. They are people. People that grow, suffer, learn, share, and love. Together with them, we grow. Together with them, we learn. Together with them, we are all understanding a little more about what the love of Christ looks like.

One week in Las Lomitas. Alive and well.

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