A week ago I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Honduras with the non-profit organization Rice Bowls. Our church has been filling these brown plastic rice bowls for years, so when this trip was announced, Thomas and I jumped at the chance. There were 20 on the team from my home town and two from California. Although I kinda sorta knew some of the folks going, Thomas and I went with open hearts knowing we would make friends while we were there. And that we did.
As soon as we drove into the orphanage, the team teenagers clicked immediately with the kids. Because Rice Bowls makes it a priority to continually visit the orphanages throughout the year, and team members return time and time again, relationships are made.When the kids hear the bus arriving with the Rice Bowls team, they come running out of their casitas to greet their “family”. Yet, even through all of the excitement, I felt a bit unsure of my role there. “Mar- it’s an orphanage for heavens sake! There are children to love!” Yes, yes, that’s very true, but even as I rocked the beautiful little children in my arms, I felt there was something more. Thomas on the other hand was fitting right in. The 7-9 year old little boys followed him everywhere. It was hilarious to see their eyes grow huge when Thomas flexed his muscles. Boys will be boys, no matter where they live Before we left the states, Johnny (the Rice Bowls’ ambassador, trip coordinator, head honcho, Papa, pita, Ta-tay, kid at heart) asked if I would encourage the tias (house moms or aunties) in a little devotional. Of course I would! So, in MerryMary style I made some little bible verse cards. That I can do. Unfortunately, I was feeling a bit stuck on what I was actually going to say to so many women that I didn’t know AND speaking through an interpreter. Yikes! Again, God reminded me that no matter where we are from, women need to feel valued. I had a few days before this devotion time, to observe the women at work.I watched Tia Anna every morning bring the nine little 4-6 year olds freshly bathed to the cafeteria for breakfast at 6:30am. When the kindergarteners went off to school, she swept and mopped her casita every day. She hand washed the children’s clothes at the wash house, then hung them to dry. Cleaned the bathrooms and straightened the toys.Meanwhile, these little monkeys got into all sorts of four year old trouble.They swung on the swings.They climbed trees.They built with Legos.They colored.And Tia Anna found the patience to teach them crafts. The tias in the cafeteria handmade ALL of the meals for the hundred children, dozens of tias, workers and missionaries.Every plate, cup, fork, pot and pan is hand washed and dried.
Whew! I don’t know about you, but after watching what these women do, in addition to absolutely giving their hearts to the children, I was humbled. I immediately realized how lazy my life is. And I knew I needed to encourage these beautiful women. I had to let them know how important their work is and how much it is appreciated. God led that devotional time with the women by us all sharing a little bit about ourselves. The tias shared with us something that no one knew, a secret dream maybe. We all celebrated when one of the Tias announced her pregnancy! The tias shared the worries and anxieties they have being a house mom. They watched as I wrote these prayers down. We gathered in a circle and a few of us prayed God’s Word over these amazing women. Even though we don’t share the same verbal language, God’s language of love spoke loud and clear. We cried, we hugged and we loved.My job was to love on these women.It was laughing and sharing a cup of fresh brewed coffee.It was allowing Tia Olga to share her passion of painting nails. Pretty fancy, I must say!It was giving the women a 15 minute pampered facial session. The ladies had never had a facial mask done before. With soft music playing in the background, the ladies on the team gently provided facials, back rubs and hand massages. Initially, I felt a little uncomfortable getting into the ladies faces, but within moments I realized what a blessing it was for me to have this opportunity. As I applied the mask and massaged the lotion into her hands, I silently prayed for each part of this sweet women…her eyes to see the beauty in herself and the children; her mouth to say words that would encourage those around her; her ears to hear the truth of God about her value and worth; her hands to be strong in her work and gentle in showing love to the children.
As each tia finished her session, there were more tears and hugs, and each lady was given a bag of beauty lotions, candles, and potpourri. Yes I went to an orphanage and played and loved on kids of all ages, but I think my main reason for being there was to encourage the women.
I can’t wait to share with you other aspects of this great trip!
Tune in next time!