Stumbling into the door of the bathroom was not the best start to the day. But it is dark at 3:45am, and sometimes you don’t see doors you know are there.
Stare in the mirror.
Stare in the mirror again.
Drink more coffee.
Think about brushing hair.
That was the morning’s routine.
I walked across campus in the dark, offering a sip of my bold coffee to the security guard at the gate who without fail greets me with a smile and calls me Princess. He’s a favorite.
No one else is around on arrival at the rancho. This is a typical consequence for my tendency of always being early.
More coffee made. Knowing I was not going to be the only one needing it at the early hours. Slowly, one at a time, everyone arrives. Fifteen of us, all men except for me, and I began to wonder what I had signed up for.
The numbers varied as we talked, “Maybe 12.” “I heard 8” “No, there are at least 9”.
Going into the day, there is little known, and expectations are nearly impossible to have or maintain.
It’s nearly a 2 hour drive before we even reach the foot of the mountain we are about to traverse. Gives a girl plenty of time to think…
When you look at the mountains driving into Chiquimula, it is hard to see the fine lines that make up the dirt paths to small villages, but they are there… just behind the curling morning fog.
Looking at the clock, it’s only 6:30. The sun is barely up and thoughts start rushing.
“I wonder if they know.”
And I do, I really wonder about what is happening in the homes we’re speeding to at that very moment… 6:41am.
Do they know that 15 people woke up before dawn and decided to come searching for them? That these 15 people are traveling more than 4 hours to find them? That they’re important enough to eventually spend thousands on their rescues?
Do they know we’re coming for them?
The foot of the mountain looks like the entrance to a construction site, dust and dirt everywhere and no real road- just a dusty path that shoots straight up immediately. It is well past half an hour of traveling up this dusty path before we even reach the first child.
A few of us follow Carlos up a small trail that seems nearly vertical, slipping a time or two I wonder how I would actually climb this with a baby in hand and a basket of corn or other burdens, much like the woman of the house probably does numerous times each day.
There is enough smoke in the small house to choke us all and in every corner I look, there is another child.
The next child is found in nearly the same scene.
The third one meets us on the side of the mountain, the mother hiking 2 hours already that morning to reach us.
The story goes on.
It goes on for another 8 hours this day.
And it will likely go on for weeks or months more.
Child after child was picked up, loaded into the vehicle with a mom or dad and a small plastic bag for one change of clothes. Each one, seemingly more severe than the last… two month old babies that should be twice the weight they are- at birth. They barely tip the scale at 4 pound and your really question how they have even survived for this long. Ventilators, machines, and medicines keep children in these conditions alive in the states- yet somehow, in these distant mountains, in these dusty villages and stick homes- these little ones are still fighting on their own.
It was more than 10 hours, and with little more than coffee in our stomachs, there were some very real hunger pains by the middle of the afternoon. And for me, it became a little clearer. The smells of the day, the smoke, the hunger, the ache and tiredness… I saw and felt the rescue in a deeper way yesterday, and I shared in their stories more than ever before.
Do you know what I love about sharing in their story though?
My thought at 6:42am, the minute directly after I wondered about whether they knew we were coming…
“It’s just like the Savior, in so many ways, we never see Him coming for us in the midst of our suffering.”
It is a clear picture of salvation.
It makes God look glorious.