It hardly seems like we have been here working for a day, and here it is the end of Day 6. Most of the gang members can't believe how blessed they are to have someone helping them with this very difficult problem. It is so worth it from the standpoint of the change in their lives, but today I am seeing the blessings we are personally receiving from the program. The patients are blessing us with their trust. The gang leader came back today, he had only let me remove minimal tattoos the other day but now he is ready for me to work on his face. He trusts us. He knows we are only looking out for his best interests. Because of my lack of Spanish skills, I have no way of creating trust in these people. All they see is some woman holding a really big scary gun when they come in the room and I want them to sit or lay down on the table right next to me. They are ready to run for their lives. I can't make them feel any better about their situation or calm them with my words. Many times in mission work this has made me feel inadequate but I know without a doubt that it is how God meant to be. It is how the body of Christ works together. It makes Romans 12 come alive. We don't all have the same gifts. It was never meant for any one of us to do it all. How we work together with our different gifts to get a particular job done is what God wants us to comprehend. It has been a beautiful concept and it has blessed me continually on this trip. Marilyn and I take turns so that no one person gets to tired to continue. We encourage each other and help each other with the process. Sometimes one of us sees something that the other does not see. Tim has been unbelievable at calming the patients, explaining the process to the patients, and showing the the hope Jesus offers with their new life. The people involved in the rehabilitation program have bent over backwards to be supportive. Most of the x gang members were accompanied by their minister or spiritual mentor as well, who added encouragement and a hand to hold through the process. The process is not without pain and was difficult for the stoutest of patients.
The greatest blessing for all of us, I feel, has been from the X-gang members themselves. Their stories of their lives changing for good. Hearing them call out to God for help. Singing. Watching them read their Bible while they wait. The satisfaction after they are finished. They are so excited. I can not even phantom walking around in life worried that I could be killed any minute of any given day just because of a mark on my skin and the wrong person sees the tattoo.
The other blessing these men have given us each day is the eye opening realization that you can love a person, no matter what they have done in the past, if you just choose to love the sinner and hate the sin itself.
So. On my last day, the only gang leader alive here in Honduras that is not in prison or dead, asked me to remove the tattoos on his face. (he spoke English, yipppeee) As I mentioned before, he has been hiding them under makeup so he can go outside. He had let us remove his smaller ones last week on his hands and arms. The number 1 was tattooed on one cheek and 8 on the other.
By the time I was finished, tears were rolling down his cheeks. We talked about the tears... He was obviously embarrassed by it. We decided together that the tears represented a cleansing. He hugged me and told me thank you and that he loved me, and that I was his sister in Christ. There could be no greater reward that I can think of. God is good. Have a great day. Look for the good in everyone you meet today.
serving Him with you, gayle davidson