One of the unexpected joys of visiting Honduras over the last eight years has been establishing friendships, not only with Hondurans but also with missionaries from the U.S. who serve there. One of these friends is a south Louisiana lady, Laurie Matherne.
My wife Becky discovered Laurie’s blog about living in Honduras a couple of years ago. I started reading and became a fan of her writing immediately. Laurie’s dry humor and keen wit are always entertaining, and her stories and observations about life and work in Honduras are a must read for anyone thinking of visiting or relocating to Honduras. We were able to meet her briefly on a visit last May, and have since communicated through our blogs and Facebook.
Last week, Laurie was kind enough to pick us up at the airport and take us to our hotel. Later that day we were able to tag along with her in one of her many ministries in one poor neighborhood area up the mountain from Tegucigalpa.
We took Laurie’s Toyota pickup (affectionately named “Pepe Burro”) up a mountain road to a little neighborhood called Nueva Espania (New Spain). Laurie explained that the neighborhood became established after Hurricane Mitch. Spain promised some financial support, hence the name. The support apparently never arrived, but the name stuck. It had the hard-scrabble look of many of the poorer barrios in Honduras–rough dirt roads, small cement block houses, skinny dogs wandering trash-littered streets. There were lots of barefoot kids in cast-off clothing from the States. You can’t travel very far here without seeing “Florida Gators” or “Roll Tide” on a t-shirt.
Laurie works with two separate ministries that share a walled compound: “His Eyes” which operates a medical clinic, and El Cuerpo de Cristo, a local church. On this day, as she does three times each week, Laurie worked with a local woman in a “feeding program” associated with the clinic. This takes place in an old block building, sparsely supplied by North American standards, with only a few tables and chairs and some storage cabinets. The kitchen consisted of a sink and a newly acquired electric oven/stove, of which Laurie is especially proud. Through support from her church and donors in the states, 100 to 150 children get a glass of milk and a bowl of a rice dish three times a week. On this day, the dish was arroz con leche (rice with milk), which is a little like our rice pudding without the sugar. About a hundred children were present, with probably 30 who appeared to be three to five years old. The kids are remarkably well-mannered and polite; each says “thank you” as they receive their meal. Quite a contrast to the parent/child interaction that can be witnessed in the line of almost any fast-food restaurant in the U.S.
Part of Laurie’s mission is to make sure that these kids get something nutritious to eat, even if it is only three times a week. She believes this is one way to help people out of poverty: teach them to properly care for themselves. She targets the women and children because they are the most vulnerable to the effects of real poverty–a poverty where malnutrition is almost a given and starvation is not unheard of. This is simple evangelism in which few words are needed. The love of Christ is demonstrated in a basic, tangible way for all to see and experience.
I want to write more about Laurie’s work in my next post. In the meantime, why not visit her blog ? Be sure to click on “Ministry Information” sidebar to see what else she’s been up to.