This past Sunday was no ordinary Sunday for us. Usually, Sunday is a day for our family to sleep a little later in the morning and get ready for church at our own leisurely pace. Church here doesn’t start until 10:30am. And even then, that is a “Honduran” 10:30am which could mean closer to 11:00am. It is our only day to sleep in, since the work week here is full days Monday through Friday with a half a day on Saturday. We cherish our Sunday mornings.
This last Sunday morning began with an early phone call from our Pastor. A woman in our congregation had passed away late the night before. Funerals here are very different from what we are used to in the States. They usually begin at the moment the person passes away and last for about 24 hours until the burial. Close family and friends will stay all night, and during the day other friends from the village will come to pay their respects. And we are not talking about just the adults! Entire families with children of all ages arrive. The family of the deceased, no matter how poor, is expected to feed everyone who shows up. It is a great way for our church to act as the hands and feet of Christ, donating money to help with the cost, cooking, serving, consoling the family. So our usual Sunday was going to be a day long funeral instead.
I quickly got ready and walked down the road to a friend’s house. We usually give their family a ride to church. I wanted to warn them that this was not going to be a normal Sunday. We were probably going to be out for most of the day. When I arrived, my friend informed me that there was going to be another funeral that day as well. Two teenage boys had been shot and killed within a block of our house. As he’s telling me the story, I realized that I had heard the shots that had killed them. The morning before, gun shots echoed very close to our house. I had told my kids to go shut our front door, since we usually leave it wide open when we are home. It never occurred to me that the shots were aimed at people. It was 10:00am and broad daylight when they went off. How could that be possible!
As we headed to the funeral, I couldn’t stop thinking about the young boys. I don’t know how many of you remember that our house was broken into a little over a year ago. The police caught the people who did it. They were just kids, a 14 year old boy and his 9 year old brother. The authorities had tried to bring them to a juvenile detention center to get them help. When they arrived, they were told the center was too full and were sent home. Our house was only one of many that they had robbed. Yet, there was nothing the police could do about it and the kids learned that they could get away with it. Why not steal if you can’t be punished? A friend of ours even approached the boys and urged them to change their ways. He warned them that stealing from the wrong person would land them an early grave. Why not hand your life over to Jesus and let Him change your ways? Yet, they didn’t heed the warning. The older brother was one of the two teenagers that had been shot and killed that morning. They had crossed the wrong person and their chance to change was over!
Knowing that death is a natural part of life didn’t make the hurt any easier to bear. As we laid hermana Remelia to rest, I praised God that she had lived a long, beautiful life. Her kids and grand kids, although hurting, had a lifetime of memories and love to cherish. And I prayed for the youth of Honduras. In a country where violence and crime is the norm and many children grow up without knowing the love of a parent, what does their future hold? Pray for them! Pray that the church can reach the youth of Honduras. They are the future of this country.