• March 18, 2014

Not always a happy ending

© Heart’s Home International

by Gaby F., Missionary in Honduras

"The alco­holism here in our neigh­bor­hood is ram­pant, per­haps a con­se­quence of the incred­ible unem­ploy­ment and the vicious cycle that starts with the young people who wit­ness and live with alcohol in their fam­i­lies as chil­dren. The “bolitos” (drunk­ards) are reg­u­larly depre­ci­ated, insulted and told they are losers and use­less for the trouble they cause. They are not com­pletely without fault, but just the same, the humility of their pro­found desires is found after taking just a couple min­utes of my day to put aside my reser­va­tions, ask how things are going, and sin­cerely listen. Beneath the dirty words, the bel­ligerent fights, the demanding requests for food and money, and the shady deals they get them­selves into to make a few lem­piras to buy their alcohol, they suffer for the same rea­sons as the rest of us. They are lonely; they feel like what they are doing is use­less, they want someone to love them uncon­di­tion­ally. Having so little, one sees how grateful they are for the simple respect and con­cern we show for them. Forming friend­ships with the bolitos, my heart breaks for them more than almost anyone else. For many, I see no exit from this path that leads to nowhere, and I feel impo­tent to do any­thing to improve their sit­u­a­tion. I sin­cerely suffer with this hope­less­ness, with the bolitos, but also with other friends of ours, the old folks in the asilo who are simply waiting out their last days, the women in the jail who have been there for ten years and still have twenty to go, the young people who see no prospect for employ­ment after they grad­uate from high school, the mothers who spend more time working to make ends meet than raising their kids, and then don’t know what to do when their kids enter into a gang, the fam­i­lies who are sep­a­rated from their loved ones who have left to the US or Spain to work.

Perhaps I don’t suffer in the same way as my friends, but it is the part of my mis­sion that tests me. Not all of the sto­ries have a happy ending. But it is in this suf­fering of mine that I find com­pas­sion-lit­er­ally “to suffer with.” Letting myself assume some of the suf­fering of my friends, I begin to really love them. I look back at my year and a half here, and many things are the same. The bolitos still drink, the people are still unem­ployed, the gangs still exist, the heart­breaking vio­lence never ends, the young people still leave for the US to work, and there are still people who have nothing to eat. But the dif­fer­ence is that I love these people, and they love me, and because of that, all of these sad sto­ries that per­haps don’t have a con­ven­tion­ally “happy ending” are worth living, and we find the way to be happy together because of the love we share. This is the mir­acle that God gives us, the ability to find this pro­found hap­pi­ness in the midst of the day to day suf­fer­ings that we share.

“Gaby, you know that I’ve never lived in this part of the neigh­bor­hood, but it’s here I hang out every day. You know why?” tells me one of our bolito friends, “be­cause here, there are people who love me. I’m only here because I’m loved here.”

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