Monday, July 22, 2013

"How Much More?"

By Kyle Kleeberger

Sitting alone on the bank of Eastern Honduras’ Patuca River, I was lost in thought.

How much more beautiful would life be for the Tawahka tribe if they didn’t worry whether their next drink of water would lead to disease and, quite possibly, death?

“How much more?”

This burning question inspired me to launch an adventure of learning! 
Working with the non-
profit organization Broken and Poured Missions Inc., maintaining the posture of students rather than teachers, young Honduranian Exse and I were sent to research where our first “clean water” initiative might be sited. After a long flight to Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital city, and two other shorter flights in smaller, adrenaline-pumping 6 passenger planes we landed safely on a grass airstrip in the middle of Exactly where we wanted to be.

We loaded our trip packs and food into the pipante (a canoe-like craft carved from a tree), its ancient 60-horsepower motor slowly taking us toward Krautara, one of the Tawahkas’ seven jungle villages. Our prayerful hope was that the tribe– who had no idea we were coming– would be open to our living with them. For two full weeks, we would learn about their community, their surroundings, and what they thought made life meaningful to them.

For safety purposes, we picked up a neighboring tribe’s dentist on our way upriver. For this area is a hub for drug trafficking from South America to the states. We introduced ourselves as a dental team. Several dental clinics later where we gave many shots, and pulled many rotted and aching teeth the Tawahka people were grateful! Yet some remained skeptical of the tall white man who slept in the school house.

That skepticism eventually faded after two weeks of working alongside them in their homes and fields, of sharing many conversations and meals.

They turned out to be some of the most hospitable people I’d ever met.

They gave me the few material things they did have, providing shelter, a bed, food, and water (For bathing only!). It wasn’t much, but they didn’t have much. Upon my departure there were tears and long embraces looking forward to the next time we’d see each other.

I saw Jesus in them. It’s as if Jesus had already shown up and taught them how to love and treat people. Their lives were simple, beautiful and I desired to be more like them. They were content with very little, with rice and beans every meal. What a surprise it was to me that their lives had so much joy despite their lack of “stuff”!

That morning as I prayed alongside the muddy Patuca River, I asked that He’d allow me to bring clarity to the Tawahkas’ water source. I never imagined that the tribe would bring clarity to my faith, my call, and my pursuit of our Creator. This unexpected reversal has altered my prayer:

“How much more beautiful would life be if our world took time to learn from people like the Tawahkas?”