Whew! That does it. While the first week of the Roatan Alive mission trip is full of different activities, the closing week is devoted almost exclusively to a day camp for kids from around the island. It’s kind of a cross between Sunday school and absolute anarchy.
It normally starts slow on Monday and crescendos as the week progresses. For whatever reason, this year’s opening day was jammed. By the end of the four days, more than 2,200 kids had made their way through the gates of the small school that hosts our events.
It’s hard to believe it’s been less than two weeks since we left for Roatan and my Bell’s Palsy returned. It’s actually been a blessing the two happened at the same time. If I’d have stayed home, I would have been battling the depression and anxiety that often come with the paralyzing attack. Instead, I’ve been too busy to feel sorry for myself, and have had to push myself – hopefully speeding my recovery.
With only about twenty adults on the trip this week, our resources are stretched. Everyone lends a hand, from moving chairs to cleaning up, lugging water to registering the kids. It might be eight hours this day, and 12 hours or more the next. There’s always something that needs to be done.
It would be near impossible if it weren’t for the help from the locals themselves. Even more heartening is the contribution of area teenagers, kids who not long ago were campers themselves, now giving back.
My role during camp has been in the classroom, trying to teach the kids a Bible verse. Five periods over two hours One class might be fifteen tiny kids in school uniforms that barely make a whisper, even when you ask them to yell. The next could be 45 kids who are so rambunctious it’s a miracle they’re not swinging through the windows onto the playground below. Somewhere, my grade school teachers are chuckling.
Some of the kids speak English, most speak Spanish. Trying to capture their attention is a challenge for me in normal circumstances. This year’s battle with Bell’s Palsy made it seem impossible. But, as I’m constantly reminded, He doesn’t call the equipped, He equips the called. I am so grateful for all the assistance, support and prayers that helped me contribute my small service this year.
Two of the highlights this week came away from camp. Wednesday night, we visited a local orphanage that has been a regular stop for years. Even so, they are quick with a smile and a joke as we catch up on what has happened over the past year, who is new and who has graduated out into the real world. The battles that these young boys face on a daily basis makes me ashamed of the times I complain about my life.
The following morning we limped onto the bus for the long trip to Pandy Town, a small, poor, sometimes forgotten community on the Eastern half of the island. Almost all of the residents speak English, but until recently they didn’t have a school of their own. Ten years of planning and political battles later, there’s not just one, but two school buildings, enough to teach the local youngsters up to sixth grade.
It’s something they’re understandably proud about. But they still need running water and a bathroom for the older children, as well as stairs to get up the steep slope. (I understand the Rotary Club International is helping to upgrade schools around Honduras, but if you can contribute, or know of an organization that can help please drop me a line and I’ll pass it on.)
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