“The Bible says we should give food to those who are hungry- but there are also people who are hungry for the Word of God, like the people in the hospital yesterday. They wanted the cards we had written with the verses and prayers on them more than the food. They asked for MORE cards- for themselves and their families.”
This was Aurelio’s comment during one of our reflection times in Tegucigalpa. Two evenings ago, we stayed up late into the night cooking a batch of over 600 pancakes. Six HUNDRED pancakes! Yes indeed- that’s a lot of flour, eggs and oil. Our Trekkers had also spent the couple weeks leading up to our trip preparing handmade cards with different messages of encouragement, scripture quotes, and prayers for those we would be visiting in the hospital.
In Honduras, 60% of the population lives in poverty and roughly 5 million people depend on public health facilities.* The government buys and provides 80% of the medicine that gets distributed to public hospitals. However, usually due to a series of corrupt officials and workers along the way, roughly 40%** of that medicine gets stolen and sold on the black market before it can even arrive in the hands of the patients. Many patients are required to buy their own medicine (when they can find it), and sometimes even the medical supplies used for first aid or surgical procedures. That might mean having to save up for your own series of IV bags and rolls of gauze pads. Many people don’t have the necessary funds to do so, and are forced to have to wait for important medical procedures. Public hospitals are usually so crowded that there is a long wait for any patient to be attended. Several families aren’t able to repeatedly afford transportation to and from their home, as many come from villages outside of the main city, so they sleep overnight, sometimes for several days in waiting rooms or right outside the hospital doors.
Our Trekkers joined up with a few members of Agape Christian Church to visit Hospital Escuela, one of the more populated hospitals in the city. Arriving around 7am, we were greeted with lines and lines of people who had been waiting for the hospital to open, possibly all night. Our Trekkers jumped in with their plates of pancakes, maple syrup, and cards of encouragement. I couldn’t explain to you the feeling of pride I had in my heart as I saw them approach family after family to share a simple meal with them.
As Aurelio mentioned in his comment above, time and time again, people asked for more of the cards. Not more pancakes. More hand-drawn pieces of construction paper that had a simple Bible verse, prayer, or word of encouragement on it. Even though this was the first full meal (simple albeit) that many had eaten in a day or two, what people seemed to hunger for more than food was the Word of God. What I saw, was that our youth were sharing scripture while living it out as well. When those two things coincide, something powerful happens, and people take notice.
Even though it was we who came to serve, I think Aurelio and the rest of us ended up being the ones changed the most that morning. Aurelio saw how powerful is the call to God’s Word. Aurelio saw the power of living out our Faith. Aurelio, along with the rest of us, left the hospital transformed by pancakes and the Word of God.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
**Association for a more Just Society