The Davis Family
We have been neck-deep in “futbol-playing, trouble-causing, foul-mouthed, disrespecting, lazy-bum, teenage boys” now for almost three weeks. And it has been the most fantastic thing for us. We absolutely love it. We believe in this model of “using sports as a hook” so much that we sold out to it. We are former athletes who learned a ton about God through this avenue of sports. So why not do the same for these boys on this side of the world?
Life in this village is pretty sad. Drug use and alcoholism is rampant…there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’s see a burned out, or drunk man passed out on the street or wandering aimlessly, with hollow-eyes, through the village. Sexuality is off the charts. Just last week I learned that another one of my friends here tested positive for HIV/AIDS. His promiscuity will punish his wife and kids for the rest of their lives. I saw a teenage girl yesterday…she has always struck me as a girl who was bound to get in trouble. Not more than a few weeks past her 16th birthday and she is showing the signs of a new life growing in her belly. I asked if the dad was still around, my friend responded, “he put his pants back on and took off…” A week ago, I asked one of our new boys about his family. “Where is your dad?” “He is living in America.” “Do you know where?” “No, I haven’t spoken with him in three years.” “And your mom?” “I don’t know; I think she is here in Honduras somewhere.” Dang…this place is a hell-hole.
The amazing void left in the lives of these boys is obvious. It is easy to arrive here and think this is such a cool, tranquilo beach community. How nice to live on the coast of the caribbean. Dig a little deeper; pay attention; ask a few questions and you quickly see that this place is a death trap for so many people. There is a vortex here. One that grabs youth by the ankles and drags them into the vicious cycle of sexual deviation, alcohol and drug abuse, death, destruction and an existence so far from God. The longer we are here, the more obvious the source of this vortex: busted up relationships with God and homes absent of a dad/mom presence. In a super simple way, here is what I mean: a dad brings stability, strength and a sense of dignity to a family. A mother helps to nurture and bring a sense of care and concern to the home. God ties it all together with purpose, value and an over-riding sense of direction. The home was designed, created, made specifically to have a father and a mother. Bottom line. When one is missing. The design is upset and complications enter. That is what we are seeing here. These boys are lost and the girls are left hanging.
The minute you put yourself in someone else’s path…course correction can occur. It is simply amazing to see. I mean it blows my mind.
We try to run a tight ship here. Lots of discipline. All day long, tough conversations. Never letting these guys off the hook. Making them look you in the eye. Enforcing the use of conversation to process things. Submit to authority. If they arrive one minute late…go home and come back tomorrow, but on time. Owning your mistakes. Push-ups till your arms fall off and planks until your legs are shaking. When one fails; all fail. Don’t follow anyone who isn’t going anywhere. You mistreat my wife or daughters, you pay the price – because women are priceless. Everyone has value. Do things for free. Take care of the elderly. Respect authority. Real men pray. You gotta read the bible to know anything about life. Work hard. If it is not yours, don’t take it. Be the same person wherever you are. It is too hard to wear many different faces. Save your excuses. Don’t lie. Enjoy sweating, bleeding and pain – they tell you that you still have life. Talk straight, don’t make up sissy ways of saying the truth. Be respectful of all. Start and finish strong. There is only one truth. Eat all the food on your plate and thank those that prepared it for you. Encourage one another. Talk very little and listen a ton. Be a part of something bigger than yourself. Learn to sacrifice. Come early and stay late. Don’t wear your clothes like a bum. Don’t walk around with your hand out expecting something. Don’t walk around with your head up your butt either. Fill your head and heart with truth. When you think you can’t run any more…start sprinting. Alone, by ourself, we are nothing…together we are one.
Kids who run the street, oblivious to order, thinking they know everything…actually stop and listen when they meet someone of a certain resolve to do things the right way. And that is how we try to operate. As a staff of three gringos, one guatemalan, and five hondurans, we pray and talk through what we have to do that day to play a significant role in introducing these boys to the Truth. It never ceases to amaze me when you bring Jesus into a conversation. People either run, or engage deeper…but there is a certain element of respect for what He is about. And as we wander about talking about Him, we see things change.
During the course of the week, we make it a point to visit the school and also visit the homes of our boys. They can’t hide and tell you stories if they know you have eyes and ears all over the place. And we are hearing some pretty amazing, yet simple things. One mother told us this the other day, “my boy is different since he started hanging with you guys. In the past, I never knew when he would be home; and he was ALWAYS in trouble. Now, he is home no later than 9pm and tired from working hard with you guys all day. Homework and chores done. I am not sure what is going on, but it is making a difference in my home.” Too simple? Not really. If he is home in bed, that means he isn’t out impregnating a young girl or getting HIV/AIDS. We consider that a win…have him around long enough to meet Jesus. Teachers are telling us they are seeing a difference in the classroom. Our boys are finishing what they start and screwing around less in the classroom. When we talk to the parents, or in many cases, the grandparents (parents have died of HIV/AIDS or have just left) they express this overwhelming sense of relief – “the cavalry has arrived.” They share how overwhelmingly grateful that they finally have help. Their youth are out of control and they have no idea what to do. They tell us, “we always tell our kids/grandkids, you go over to Pablo’s house and don’t come home until he tells you it is time.”
The other day, a small group of boys hung around long after practice and ended up eating dinner with us. These are straight-up street kids. Almost the entire conversation at dinner that night was prayer. Earlier that day, I asked them at lunch to pray…no one would volunteer to do it. So, in a locker-room-vocabulary sort of way, I asked them, “what’s wrong with you pansies, don’t you know how to pray? You guys to proud to pray and say thanks for this great lunch?” Later that night, they were trying to figure out what the heck I was talking about. Man, that was fun. They asked, we answered. They asked more, we answered more. We asked, they answered…and on and on it went. Learning what it meant to talk with the One who made you. The One who loves you and cares for you. You could feel the ground shake that night as little changes were happening in the hearts of these tough boys.
Travesia is changing…learn the faces of the boys above, in this part of the world, they will play a role in the change of it.