Tuesday, August 22, 2006

I went on a 2 week mission trip to Honduras

When I was a junior in high school I had some big plans to go on a trip to Mexico with our Spanish teacher (he took a group every other summer). Not only was I going to go, but my boyfriend was going, too. A week in Mexico. With my boyfriend. We were excited.

Sometime during the school year a friend and I had a meeting with someone (our youth pastor? I don't even remember) about going on a mission trip to Honduras during the summer. After the meeting, I was convicted - I needed to go on the mission trip. It wasn't just a matter of I wanted to go, I needed to go. Looking back, I now know that I felt called to go on that mission trip, however, I don't think I would have known what that meant at the time... My friend also decided to go, and a guy that I worked with in the parsley farm also decided to come with us after I told him about it.

My parents were on board. My church gave us some money. My grandpa gave me a scholarship. It was a go for launch.

I broke the news to my boyfriend - I wasn't going to Mexico anymore, I was going to Honduras on a mission trip. He was quite upset and I think it ultimately led to our demise (among other things). So upset, in fact, that he backed into his dad's van when we left to bring me home - oops!

So my week of sight seeing with my boyfriend - indian ruins, the market, the gulf, the beach, hotels, real food - turned into 2 weeks of hard work and less than stellar conditions.

We had a group of about 25 kids from around the country & 4 Canadians. We stayed in a house in the woods. It had concrete floors, some walls and a roof and that was about it. No running water, no shower, no beds, no air. We slept on 2 inch thick matresses on the ground - one right next to another. We took "showers" in our bathing suits in the creek that bordered the property. The creek had a wall near the bottom that had 3 or 4 PVC pipes in the middle of it. The pipes = the shower. There were cows doing some business upstream... but we had no other option. It was hot. It was the middle of summer and there was no question that we needed showers everyday when we got back to camp.

The only sight seeing that we did was whatever we observed as we were driving to and from our work-sites or as we took a break from the work. We did go out for ice cream in town one night, though. We were followed closely by little kids (mainly boys) who begged us for just a little money so they could buy some glue to sniff. They didn't have shoes. Their clothes were ridiculously dirty and torn up. They were skinny. But they needed glue.

The food... I'm sure that we had some authentic Honduran grub, but all I remember is poptarts, tiny bananas and fresh pineapple. There is nothing - nothing - like fresh pineapple.

It was 2 weeks away from home. I get homesick very easily and I cried for the first couple of nights. My new friends supported me and prayed for me and sent me little notes. We had nightly slumber parties in our rooms and got to know each other quickly. They all helped me determine whether I should call the guy my boyfriend or my ex-boyfriend (I had no idea if we were still together when I left...) We all bonded in a way I had not done before with other kids my age. We bonded through the living conditions, our work during the day and mostly through our shared love of God.

My faith became real to me on that trip. I had always believed in God. I grew up in a Christian home, went to church every week, went to Christian school my whole life, had gone on YCF convention, went to youth group, etc. etc. Yet it took getting down and dirty to help others to make my belief this personal and real to me. I think it was something I took for granted until then - it just always was. But these people had a faith and reliance on God that I had never experienced. They had nothing. They could do nothing to help themselves get out of the situation they were in. Yet they had God. And God provided for them - through us that summer. Through similar groups in other summers.

I'm glad I chose Honduras over my boyfriend and Mexico. (As it turns out he was my ex-boyfriend and he never really got over my choosing Honduras). Mexico would have been awesome, but would I have found my faith there? I don't think so. Would I have come home with a better understanding of the needs of others - perhaps, but not like I did. I'm sure its obvious, but I gained so much more by going on this S.E.R.V.E. trip than I would have if I had done the sight-seeing that I originally planned. God called me to that trip and I am thankful.

Have you gone on a mission trip? Where? What did you do?

getting to know me in 100 days - day 7


Tim 3:28 PM  

never went on mission trip, but tons of youthgroup trip and kissed countless number of girls!!!

Amanda 9:00 PM  

What a stud, Tim! :P
Jared and I went to the Czech Republic in the summer of 2003. Two weeks. Away from 2 small children (Annaliese was only 1, Luke was 3). I really didn't want to go, but Jared felt called to go but not without me. It was a real struggle in submission for me, but God really wanted us there. We had a wonderful friend take the kids for the first week, then Grandma flew out from CO the second week. We went to assist our missionaries with a retreat for their church. It was very stretching for me...culture shock, language barriers, homesickness...oh, and did I mention that I was 3 1/2 months pregnant? (We found out a few months into the planning process, and decided I'd be fine to travel). Overall it was an awesome experience, and I'd love to do it again someday...maybe when the kids are older. It was hard being away from them for so long, though!

Heaven Sent 12:13 AM  

Great post topic. Jeff and I went to Abaco, Bahamas the summer before Emma was born with our chruch youth group. I know, the Bahamas sounds like a vacation, but trust me, this area is not for the faint of heart. The Haitiian refugees there really have it rough and seeing babies literally walk through streets lined with garbage broke my heart.

Still, one of the most awesome lessons I learned when I got there was that God didn't want us to feel sorry for these people -- he just wanted us to love them. So we did -- for almost two weeks straight. Our high schoolers taught two bible schools and played with the neighborhood kids as much as possible. We literally had kids hanging on us because they desired love and attention so much. It was a very moving experience I feel blessed to have gone through. Hopefully there are more mission trips in our future! Thankfully our youth group sends kids to Abaco every year, so we may very well get to go again!

Jen 10:12 AM  

I went on a Habitat trip to South Carolina my soph year at Calvin. It was not Hilton Head LOL! We re-built a house for a single mom with 5 kids and 2 grandkids living with her. The hardest part for a lot of us "Dutch" kids was not so much the poverty but how they had such a sense of hopelessness that they let the house fall into such disrepair. It wasn't so much the things they could not do physically or financially but the things that they did not do~like cleaning and simple yard maintanace. There was even 2 sons who were 18 and 20 and did nothing to help their mom. That drove a lot of the guys on our team crazy. Especially the day we were repairing the roof in 95 degree heat and the sons sat and played PS the whole time.

But after a day or two we started to learn that it wasn't so much laziness as it was a complete hopelessness that overwhelmed them. They just felt if the house was literally falling down around them why bother to wash the dinner dishes.

We were working with a group from Harvard who were very booksmart but kinda lacked people skills. And no one them were Christians. So while our group was working hard to connect this family with the local church, the other group was trying to drive them to the welfare office.

Kinda like Lisa said, we were learning not to judge or condescend them but just to come along side and love them.

Carol 4:46 PM  

I have never done a missions trip. I've done serve projects, but not trips. I used to be a junior high leader at all my previous churches and loved it, so I planned lots of service projects.
But I too, Tim, went on manya YCC conventions... and met lots of great guys. The hug lines were fantastic! (the Canadians gave the best hugs!)

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