Oasis of Hope and Love
Upon arrival in Tegucigalpa, one cannot help but be struck by the extreme poverty that grips most of this country's inhabitants. Our bus travels through city streets lined by hillsides of tiny homes built out of scrap wood and metal, most of which have only dirt floors... I wonder what is going through the minds of the students who have accompanied us on this mission trip. Are they having a bit of "culture shock"? I suspect so... The city bustles with noise and traffic, but we slowly find our way into the surrounding countryside and the mountainous terrain that reminds me a lot of my home state of Colorado. Thirty-five kilometers out of the city, we turn into the entrance of Rancho Santa Fe and NPH orphanage, and although it has been a year since my last visit here, it feels very comfortable and familiar.
It is Saturday afternoon, and shortly after arrival we join the nearly 600 children of the orphanage for Mass at an outdoor amphitheater. Perhaps because my Spanish is weak, or perhaps because I am exhausted from the day's travel, I find it difficult to concentrate on the words of the priest and instead find myself gazing upon the many children that surround me. In many ways they are typical kids; some fidget, some seem a little bored, but for the most part they are amazingly well-behaved and what strikes me the most is how incredibly beautiful and happy all of them seem to be. Each of these children, either orphaned, abandoned, or rescued from a situation in which they were very vulnerable, has found both family and home in this oasis of love and hope. Here at NPH they are safe from many of the dangers that had threatened them in the past. They have opportunities to receive a quality education and vocational training that will secure a better future. And they are surrounded with the love and support of their many, many brothers and sisters, caregivers, and volunteers who contribute to the life of the orphanage.
Rancho Santa Fe is also an oasis to those of us who have come to volunteer for a week at the Holy Family Surgery Center. We are rejuvenated and renewed by the joy that surrounds us. We certainly do not forget the poverty and desperation first witnessed upon our arrival In Honduras; however, it does not overwhelm or intimidate us. For we know that on this 2,000 acre ranch, the love and grace of God inspires and transforms the lives of all who come here.