I traveled to La Ceiba last Saturday for a 5 day trip to experience some different ministries there. La Ceiba is on the northern coast of Honduras on the edge of the Caribbean Sea. The sea is on one side and mountains on the other with rivers winding through it and palm trees and natural life around every corner. It is the 3rd largest city in Honduras, but it is completely different from the busy, dirty capital of Tegucigalpa. It is really more of a town with a population of 35,000 spread out in different neighborhoods. The city is a shocking contrast between rich and poor, breath-taking nature and impoverished slums. It is a party city with magnificent beach-front hotels and drug dealers on every corner.
Traveling there was also an adventure. We got on a bus at 7:00 am to start our 10 hour bus ride. This bus took us to Teguc and made stops along the road for anyone who wanted to come. Well, I don’t know if “stops” is the best way to describe it. It was really more like slowing down just long enough for a few people to jump off or on. The music on the bus included everything from Spanish gospel music, to 80’s music to Lady Gaga. The bus took us to a popular mall in Teguc where we bargained with a taxi driver to take us to the next bus stop. We picked up Baleadas for lunch, which are a popular Honduran food similar to a quesadilla filled with anything from just refried beans to any number of veggies, meats, and cheeses, and a layer of something between sour cream and butter. On our way to the bus station, we were driving down a steep, crowded 3 lane highway, when I looked out my window and saw some guy gliding by our car not 3 inches away. I had of course seen multiple motorcycles squeezing through the lines of cars, but this guy was standing and not on a motorcycle. It took my brain a moment to realize that he was skate boarding down the highway through moving traffic! When we got to our bus station in San Pedro Sula, my friend and I got off to switch buses. I walked into the waiting room to see that they were playing Hair Spray. It was such a strange feeling to realize that I was in a bus station in Honduras watching an English musical about a city in my home state! Then as we were waiting, the power went out. Nobody moved to go to a better lit place, nobody screamed, and almost nobody even commented. It is just normal life for the lights to go out for half an hour or so. Our trip was otherwise fairly uneventful. We arrived in La Ceiba at about 6:00. I looked out the window as we were coming into the city and saw lines of palm trees closely lining the highway; their branches hung over the highway and brushed against the windows of the bus as we passed.
I was very tired when I arrived, so I don’t remember much of that first night. I remember the giant mango tree next to the dorms where we stayed. It was one of those magnificent, old trees whose branches are each the size of a tree themselves. I remember the cold showers because there is no hot water there, and I remember the sand covered floors. I guess that last was due to the constant construction outside the dorms, but I swept up a veritable beach from that bedroom floor!
Sunday morning Amy and I got up in time for “gringo church” which is the church service that the mission team has there for themselves to have a chance to worship in their heart language. After church the team leader, Mike, gave us a tour of the facilities. This included the dorms where summer teams, interns, and guests stay, the kitchen and dining room which serves as the gringo church and the center where they bring in street boys for their feeding program, the medical clinic which is under construction, the seminary, also under construction, and the mango tree. After this we went to lunch at the mall with the interns. Honduran Chinese fast food tastes different than American Chinese fast food! Malls are a wonderful place to people watch, and I took notes on the differences between American and Honduran style.
We went to a Honduran church in the afternoon with the street boys ministry. Hispanic worship is much livelier than most American churches. There is just a lot more excitement and clapping and dancing. The street boys with us ranged from 11-17. They are rough kids even when they are being friendly or silly. They make their money on the streets often with drug dealers. Most of them have been sexually abused, and most of them have families who depend on their work to stay alive. The ministry brings them in for meals 3 times a week along with a bible study. Then there are the special outings like going to the Cost Arica/ Honduras game or coming to church. After church we took them to get baleadas and hung out and talked and played games. They are just kids, tough kids with tragic stories, but kids all the same!
Alright, this trip was really packed, so I am going to post about the rest of it soon!