I think it’s safe to say that I’m not the ONLY person who initially dreads going on a mission trip they signed up for. Let’s just be honest people.
On the heels of going to Honduras I was full of anxiety and stress. I didn’t want to leave my husband and kids. I didn’t want to venture into unknown territory with absolutely no body I knew by name. I didn’t want to fly, what if the plane crashed! Basically there was a whole list of (silly) reasons for why I didn’t think I should go. But the only way I was getting out of this commitment was if some illness were to come over me. Could I get food poisoning maybe??? Ugh but who wants to intentionally do that to themselves?? There wasn’t anything I could do, I had to go.
Saturday morning Jason and the girls dropped me off at the airport. It was heart wrenching leaving my two young daughters, who didn’t understand where mommy was going and why. It’s a bit difficult explaining to a 2 and 3 year old you are going out of the country to “Honduras”. “Can I come mommy?” was M’s response. Ugh I wish! I thought. Anyway, I drug my unwilling body into the airport and threw a smile on my face, trying to act like I really wanted to do this. CWE requires us to all travel in the same BRIGHT yellow CWE shirt, so I spotted my team members immediately. We all went through our introductions. It just so happened that I would be traveling with two men who attended grade school with my dad. And one of those men had his 19 year old daughter with him. Being the two youngest ladies on the trip we hit it off pretty quickly. I was so glad to have a buddy!
My fear of flying had never been tested so much. We had to take 3 different planes to finally arrive in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Upon arriving we were met by the head Pastor Oscar and his faithful members who would be our “chauffer’s” for the week. We would be traveling in the sweetest school bus I’ve ever seen.
I thought flying was what I should be concerned over but that fear rapidly shifted to a fear of driving. Not only is the traffic horrendous
but my anxiety escalated when we got up into the mountains and I thought for sure this bus was going to roll off of them. Crossing rivers, driving through sludge, MASSIVE ditches and tub sized holes in the path, all the while having a headlight out in the dark and RAIN. I kept praying and assuring myself that God did not fly me all this way to have me killed in a bus accident! And then 2 hours later we were way up in the mountains and came to the village we’d be residing in for the week. It was about 9:00pm, 11:00pm Florida time. So we all had been up and traveling since about 7:00am. It was nice to be out of an automobile.
Our accommodations were that of a local church. Made out of concrete block and cement floors with a nice block wall and iron gate with those swirly pokey things on top (the kind you see on prison gates!) to keep people out (I guess…).
My thought was “Oh this is nice. We must me in a safe neighborhood with all those precautions…..” We enter in to find our rooms. We were blessed to have electricity for light however we did not have A/C. Fortunately it was cool at night so we weren’t sweating in our sleep. We were given about 3 inch thick foam mattresses to sleep on. Nice and close to all the bugs we encountered. To say the least I didn’t sleep well that first night.
The next morning we were woken by the early morning light 5:00am, cockadoodledo’s, mooing, and the barking of all the stray dogs. A far cry from what I normally wake up to. It was our job, the ladies, to take care of the men. So to the kitchen we went.
All the food was brought into Honduras by CWE. We couldn’t eat their food or drink their water. Everything was pretty much contaminated so we did a lot of sanitizing. We had to boil water and add bleach tablets with Dawn so we could clean with it. When cooking we used all bottled water. We had to make our milk with that delicious powdered stuff….. uugghh. Breakfast usually consisted of oatmeal, cereal, and biscuits. In fact most of our meals were basically carbs. Pasta, rice, bread, bread, bread. Lunch was the best because we actually had turkey meat I was used to. The meat that was used for dinner always came out of a can. The men didn’t mind but since we women had to pull it all apart and separate the gristle we weren’t inclined to eat it at dinner time. One of the challenges we had was getting drinks cold. We had two pretty crummy appliances that just did not want to keep things cold. We had a freezer that froze some things in certain areas of the freezer. And a fridge that basically acted as a cooler with no ice. So we spent a lot of time getting things frozen and transferring them back and forth between appliances. We tried utilizing anything we could as ice to keep other things cold. We needed to be sure that the men had cold water and lots of it to prevent heat stroke and dehydration.
So to summarize our day it looked something like this:
5:00am wake up cook breakfast, pack coolers, and restock fridge and freezer.
7:00am clean bathrooms (ie: the portables the men used and the commodes the women were blessed with.)
We had to fill up a bucket with water to pour down the toilet so it would flush. Toilet paper went in the garbage.
This was where we took our cold showers =)
8:00am this was when we had some down time. We would get to rest and spend time in prayer and reading our bibles. These moments were such a blessing to me.
Then we would start prepping for lunch.
Lunch would be anywhere from 11:30 to 12:30.
When the guys would return we had to make sure they had clean water to rinse and wash up with. Re pack their coolers and cater to whatever they might need.
After lunch we’d clean up and have some more down time. Again, reading our bibles, praying, visiting the job site, and interacting (as much as we could) with the locals. Remember, they ALL spoke Spanish. I got a D in Spanish, haha. Most of the time Nikki and I would play with the kids when they would get out of school. There was a group of young boys and two little girls that we really bonded with. We played “futbal” with them and spoiled them with candy. We couldn’t understand much of what each other was saying but we had a blast.
Then around 4 we would start getting ready for dinner. After dinner we would have our devotions. And then by the time we got done with all that it was 9:00pm and we were all pretty tired.
Being able to spend so much time with the Lord this past week was one of the greatest blessings. Having two small children my quiet times are usually pretty quick and not very quiet. To be able to spend an in depth intimate time with God was just the most amazing gift. I miss it already.
A few things that just really hit me were that the people there are more content with nothing then we are with endless resources and abundant living. The Christians there don’t need beautiful air conditioned sanctuaries with a big talented choir or a great band. They come to church and worship more passionately than we do, with their voices alone and sweat dripping down their forehead. Sitting in their church service I wondered how many Americans would even come to church if those were the conditions they’d have to sit in. I know for certain that when the A/C kicks off or heaven forbid isn’t cut down low enough, people start fanning themselves incessantly with grim looks on their faces as if they can’t believe they’d be expected to tolerate a little heat. The people in Honduras don’t care. They only care about worshipping their heavenly Father. Here in America if we aren’t comfortable we won’t participate. How sad is that? Are God is deserving of our full devotion and attention no matter where we are or what circumstance we are in. He deserves much more than most of us in America give Him. He deserves our everything, and I want to give Him that.
The last night of devotions the local pastors came and had dinner with us. By the way when I say local that means pastors who traveled a few hours to be there. One of our people asked them to sing a song for us. And with great joy they decided to sing “How Great Thou Art”. In Spanish of course. They belted that out with passion, emotion, some with tears, because they were not singing it for us, they were singing it TO HIM. They were just ecstatic to be given the opportunity to worship Him with fellow believers. For us, if we don’t have a good enough voice or an instrument to make up for our bad voice or a choir behind us, we won’t sing. We aren’t bold enough I guess. But to them, it didn’t matter. They wanted to make a joyful noise and didn’t care what anyone thought except for Him.
And of course, I was reminded of how unappreciative we can be of the things we have here back home. These people live in mud houses, with no a/c, sleeping in hammocks or on the floor, bathing out of cisterns and all the while cleaning with pride. Sweeping the dirt off their dirt floors, scrubbing there cement sinks and cisterns to keep them clean because they are grateful to have them, washing their clothes and hanging them to dry, using machetes to trim back foliage in their “yards”. These people built fences and walls around their homes, from rocks and tree limbs. They have no tv, no phones, no internet. They don’t have cars. The kids don’t have toys. And they are genuinely content. I felt more content being their then I do here back home. God didn’t create us so we could live life distracted by the things of this world. He created us for relationship with Him and with others. They have that their in Honduras and are happier than the vast majority of Americans. Happier than the richest of Americans.
This is a house and a broke down truck.
This is a relatively “nice” house in the village.
Being there the thing I noticed most with myself is the freedom I felt. I was cut off from all worldly things and felt no pressure to engage in what is normal. Things like email, text, facebook, myspace, shopping, tv, didn’t distract me from pursuing my relationship with God and relationship with others. Because I wasn’t distracted I never felt guilt. I didn’t feel guilt because I was confident that the activities I was engaging in were glorifying to Him. I knew that reading my bible and praying in my free time was glorifying to Him. I knew that interacting with the children there, sweating in the heat with them playing soccer and running around with them was glorifying to Him. I knew that serving others that were serving Him was honoring to Him. I spent my days seeking what God wanted from me for that day. And now back home, I am committing to continue with that mentality. To start my day with this, “Father God, how do YOU want to use me today? What can I do today that glorifies you?” Because seeking His will is where we find freedom. And with freedom, comes joy and peace. And with joy and peace comes love, patience, kindness, and the rest of the fruits of the spirit.
This is the Bible Training Center. Week 1 got it started. Our Week the men put the roof on, spread the concrete floor, spread the concrete on the outside, and put the windows in. A LOT of the local men would come and help in ANY way they could. The people of the village have been waiting 22 years for a building like this to be built. They said if CWE had not come it would have taken them 50+ years to build it with the resources available to them.
This is our whole team after we finished the project.
My favorite boys =)
This is a local market place, their “7 Eleven”.
While we were shopping we ran into a man that had 3 puppies he was trying to sell. Jason’s lucky I couldn’t get this cute little thing through customs. There were a TON of stray dogs and puppies everywhere. Not to mention horses and cows wandering around.
Death by Chocolate!!!! SOOOOO GOOOOOD! I miss having desert every night.
We went on a hike to visit a cave in the mountains. Didn’t really think about changing out of my flip flops! Had to take them off to make it through the river crossing.
At the top!
This baby horse was 3 hours old when we came across it on our hike. So SWEET!
You would always see the siblings taking care of each other. So cool.
Making water balloons. They LOVED IT! (Not gonna lie I did too!)
They would sit on this wall for hours and just laugh, watch us, and speak to us in spanish. So content to do nothing but hang with their buddies. No video games here! You don’t find that in America!
We walked by these young ladies every day. They would always be sweeping in the morning. They were ecstatic to get candy from us.
Totally normal for the kids to have either no shirt and shorts or vice versa. Shoes were a luxury.
I wish I could have brought this beautiful girl home. However, she was perfectly happy in her little hut with all her brothers and friends.
It’s time to start utilizing our resources to advance His kingdom. I’m grateful to live where I live and have what I have. God has blessed me richly. I’ve learned a multitude of things from this trip. To sum it all up……
“Here I am Lord, ALL of me. Take my life, it’s all for thee.”