The six of us rode in the back of the pickup down the four and half mile dirt road to the village of El Carrizo in the southern tip of Honduras. It was rainy season and the frequent late afternoon heavy rains had wreaked havoc on the already rough terrain. The puddles were like small ponds and we seemed to float in some places as Ricardo expertly negotiated where he thought the road should be.
We had been asked to come to the school in the Colonio area of the village that morning. School was out for a couple of days in celebration of the Honduran Independence Day, so we found it interesting that as we approached the school, we saw children in their freshly washed school uniforms smile and wave to us as they walked toward the center of the village, taking great care not to step in the mud or soil their clothes.
We soon found out why.
The wonderful people of the village had planned a celebration of their own. ASharefish celebration. We were ushered onto the porch of the school into the carefully lined up plastic chairs facing the courtyard where parents, teachers and children all gathered. For an hour we heard representatives from each group come up and tell us how much they appreciated all Sharefish has done for them and their village. The children told us how they were studying hard and how much they valued the opportunity to learn. The parents thanked us for helping them do something for their children that their parents could not do for them. The teachers thanked us for seeing that education was the only way to make things better in the long term.
As each group finished, one of them would come up and present us with a plaque of appreciation from that group. We were overwhelmed by the kindness and sacrifice of the people of the village to honor us in this way. I was then asked to say a few words. I was on the emotional edge and was unsure I could hold it together, but I prayed a quick silent prayer for strength and stood before the crowd.
I told them that their ancestors had a saying: “Grief shared is half grief. Joy shared is double joy.” I told them that welcoming us as part of their family gave all of us at Sharefish double joy. I then told them how by working together – parents, teachers, children and Sharefish – there was no limit to the successes that could take place in El Carrizo that could change their village, their country, and maybe even the world. I thanked them for their generosity and for letting Sharefish play a small part in helping them be who they were designed and built by God to be.
One of the teachers then spoke. He asked if we would allow them to do one more thing for us. He said that the village wanted to provide us lunch. As we began to think of how we could politely decline eating native food due to the potential consequences, smiling children began to hand us each a piece of Pizza Hut pizza, each carefully and completely wrapped in a napkin, indicating that great care was taken to protect us. We looked up at all the eyes of children, parents and teachers watching us to see our next move.
We knew we were holding a delicacy that most of them had never enjoyed. These people, most of whom earn a monthly household wage of seventy dollars, had all pitched in to honor us with something they could not afford for themselves. As the pastor blessed our food, we silently asked for sturdy stomachs and we did what we felt was the right thing to do. We ate.
The looks on the faces of our Honduran friends made whatever illness may have befallen us worth it (for the record – there were no ill effects). They were so proud and joyful to do something for us and we were able to double that joy for them by accepting it.
We smiled. For lots of reasons we smiled. We smiled for the love we felt from these wonderful people. We smiled for the double joy we felt as part of the community. We smiled because we knew something that these villagers did not know:
That tomorrow we were going to be serving these same people over 300 pieces of pizza.
It may have just been a piece of pizza. It was also a wonderful Godwink of how giving of yourself multiplies back at you.
Who will you give a slice to today?
by Oie Osterkamp