Hello friends, There are a few words that describe the second half of my trip to Honduras: shock, awe, guns and beauty. It was an extraordinary Honduran Barbie adventure. I’ll explain…

Shock…
Last Sunday, I truly almost peed my pants when my friend, Karen and I were seated in the grandstand section of San Pedro Sula soccer stadium for the city’s televised Independence Day celebration. There we were -Americans and sitting in the Honduran VIP section. And might I add, we were dressed less-than-fabulously for the occasion…

Our hostess, Flor, picked us up at the airport earlier that morning. One of her friends was the Independence Day event organizer, hence our fancy seats. The celebration extravaganza featured dozens of public and private high school students playing musical performances, dancing and costume displays.

Here is the view from the a grandstand section of the parade. Karen was brave enough to take photos...I was not.

Here is the view from the a grandstand section of the parade. Karen was brave enough to take photos…I was not.

While Karen and I were shocked at our seating accommodations, we were more stunned by those sharing our space. To our immediate left were two high-ranking Honduran Military brass with lots of stars and stripes down their sleeves. Flanking the men and us were uniform soldiers hefting M4 rifles – I’m sure they were present for the higher-ups and not us gringos. Politeness – okay, fear – kept me from counting how many armed soldiers were in the grandstand section with us, but there were enough gun-toting soldiers to set my suburban heart a-flutter.

Karen and I were loved seeing all of the traditional costumes that depicted the story of Honduras' 192-year history.

Karen and I were loved seeing all of the traditional costumes that depicted the story of Honduras’ 192-year history.

We watched the parade in near 100 degree heat for about four hours. Flor let me borrow her fan because I was glistening in the most unlady-like of ways. As I was fanning myself and Flor’s darling five-year old, I noticed that one of the guards kept moving closer to us, until he was standing close enough to feel the effects of the fan. So, I discreetly fanned the dude with the big gun. Never know when one might need a friend with a gun, right?

At one point, there was a huge rifle blast that went off while we were standing. Karen yelled and I fell back into my seat. #embarassing

During the parade, we saw remarkable performances from dozens of schools. The costumes were beautiful and the students were tremendously talented. Like the States, important events are always punctuated by a few intense moments – like a fight that broke out on the opposite side of the stadium. As we watched people running from the center of the action, Karen and I clasped hands in case we needed to make a run for it. But, police apprehended the guilty parties and the crowd cheered. We also were fascinated by a guy who might have been angling for YouTube stardom – he was dancing by himself in the middle of the bleachers and gathered quite a crowd around him. He managed to captivate the stadium’s attention for about 15 minutes while he danced his heart out for us and the television audience.

We were at the parade to see the students from Flor’s church be in the last group to take the field. It was cool to see those students a boldly stand up for their faith in a venue where they would have been threatened, harassed or even beaten – yet, they stood proud and delivered a creative, impactful presentation to the audience.

Awe…
Karen and I were exhausted after leaving the parade. We had been up since 4:30am and so our long morning, plus no food and thick heat made for tired gringos. Flor dropped us off at the home we were staying with a hug and some Wendy’s.

About the house…this was the nicest home I had ever stayed in. Once we were behind an exquisitely-designed gate, the front door opened and our jaws dropped. Just gorgeous. The homeowners are brilliant business owners and members of the SPS church? We were so grateful that they graciously opened their home for our stay in SPS.

Here is the first floor entry of the home we stayed in while visiting San Pedro Sula. The only thing more impressive than the home, was the hospitality shown to us while we were there.

Here is the first floor entry of the home we stayed in while visiting San Pedro Sula. The only thing more impressive than the home, was the hospitality shown to us while we were there.

Not only did our surroundings infuse us with awe, but so did the hospitality of our hostess and everyone we met from the church. At home, we pride ourselves on how well we serve others, but waves of humility washed over Karen and I as our hosts treated us like honored guests – it was truly a blessing.

Guns…
Yeah, there lots of guns. I should be used to guns. Shoot, I live in an urban area so I hear gun shots from time to time. But, on this trip, I really struggled to get used to seeing the over-abundance and omnipresence of guns. Hear me on this: I didn’t disagree with their presence. I knew that the good guys I was with had to be armed because the bad guys, with selfish purposes would also have guns. And if I was going to be unarmed, I wanted to be with the good guys with guns.

The kidnapping of husbands and sons is a real threat in Honduras, so affluent families must have protection. Imagine working hard, doing well in life and then, knowing that unless you have protection that someone will kidnap you or your son for ransom? How would your life change? How would you protect your family? This is the reality for many Hondurans.

In the States – at least in my corner of the world – we don’t have to think about life in the context of what our friends in Honduras must deal with. We might have angry debates about gun safety and law enforcement funding, but we have an infrastructure where our police officers and federal authorities are keeping the streets safe enough to keep the majority of regular citizens from taking up arms. Do I always think this will change one day? Yes. Unfortunately, our individual selfishness is quickly outpacing the now-unpopular moral fibers that our country was built upon.

While I managed my fear of constantly being around guns (our SPS home had numerous armed guards), I thought about our SPS friends and how they lived in spite of the ever present threat of violence. They boldly lived and thrived in spite of the threat.

In the States, we always act surprised when outbursts of violence penetrate our safety bubble, as if a quiet town or a suburban address insulates us against another’s selfish outburst of hate or destruction. Yet, SPS residents are proud of their city. They acknowledge their country’s economic and political weaknesses, but they never lose sight of the heart of the people and the physical landscape.

Beauty…
There were so much beauty observed during my trip to SPS. The hearts of the people and the love shown to us, but the beauty of the mountains surrounding the large city – just breathtaking.

Karen and I were inspired by the beauty of the home of our new friends. They allowed us to take pictures – I now know what my new kitchen will look like – ha! While I worked on my tasks for the conference, I enjoyed the glorious artwork and the new and vintage decor that surrounded me and fed my creativity. Yum!

We experienced the beauty that comes from establishing relationships with new friends in SPS – those experiences were rich and fulfilling. I am always amazed at how God blesses me when I say ‘yes’ to life off the beaten path.

On of my favorite places in Honduras at the Palma Real Hotel in La Ceiba.

On of my favorite places in Honduras at the Palma Real Hotel in La Ceiba.

So, this was a long post, but if you are still with me, thanks for coming along for the ride. I wish you could have come along and experienced the hundreds of other ways I was blessed during this trip for yourself.

Now, it’s Monday morning. I’ve got to wrap this up and head into the office after two weeks away. Hard to believe that life will go back to ‘normal’…at least until the next adventure!

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