After my trip to Honduras, with four others from the church where I get to serve, I was invited to offer a reflection from that trip. Below is what I shared with Calvary Denver back in early July.
To be invited into a family’s home, church, school, city, and country is an immeasurable gift. And, when young people allow you to witness their authenticity, vulnerability, and passions it is an unforgettable experience.
In a week and a half’s time, I had both of these memorable opportunities come together… all thanks to the remarkable young ladies from Calvary who participated in our international missions trip to Honduras and our hosts Dago Zelaya and the community at Hogar de Ninos Vida Nueva (New Life Children’s Home) in Azacualpa.
On Thursday afternoon, five of us from Calvary left on our journey, picking up more team members (soon to be friends) along the way. Samantha, from Kansas, joined us on our layover in Houston and then our ABCIM: Discovery Team in Honduras was made complete when we landed in the country and met up with seven more team members from New York.
In our short week together, our main project was doing construction work on the campus of a local orphanage that had housing for the children and a school. Our work involved clearing debris, mixing cement to build classroom walls, laying flooring for a library and computer lab, and creating a sidewalk.
When we weren’t busy working around the campus, our time was spent playing an epic game of soccer with the children from the orphanage (they may or may not have taken it easy on us, but we will take a USA win of 5-4); leading an interactive lesson on the Good Samaritan for the children’s bible study; exploring the surrounding mountains and seeing a coffee field and local riverside; visiting a local pastor and working with him to take food to people in his community and praying with them if they wished (20 families received food to last about three weeks); taking a tuk tuk (or rickshaw) between Maya Ruins and a local market; and so much more.
On the first night, as I stood in the middle of the campus and looked around to the mountains surrounding us, the children kicking a soccer ball, and our team settling in, I was awash in the peace of the Spirit – the Spirit that connected us to those on our Discovery Team and interwove our connections with Steven, Carlos, Jaime, Glenda, Vanessa, Norma, Janey, Nancy, and Alexandra (the children who lived on the campus).
In preparing for trips like this, youth leaders always hope for meaningful connections for our students, but it’s not something we can force. Within a day, it was evident that this team was unique. Even though we came from different parts of the country and were with those at Hogar de Ninos Vida Nueva it was as if we had been friends long before this trip. Every group and trip has a few bumps and natural frustrations, but as a collective we were no longer the New Yorkers, Midwesterners, and Hondurans: we were community.
The laughter of my girls quickly was enmeshed with the laughter of others – inside jokes were made, stories were shared and built upon, games of soccer were the source of playful jokes and bets, and attempts to communicate in each other’s languages built community. We found a joyful rhythm!
At the worksites, we used our teamwork to find more efficient ways of mixing cement to keep up with the crew pouring and laying the floors. When one struggled, three others jumped up to help, there wasn’t one person carrying the team, but rather a balance that allowed people to take care of themselves, the work we were doing, and each other. We were far from perfect but we were given space to be ourselves, leading and stepping back as needed, which meant we were the best we could be in the present moment. The Spirit of God connected our hearts to our work and to our new friends and each other.
I returned to daily work here at church and reminisced about the sounds of laughter, the effort at trying to keep up in a soccer game, the sweat from hard work, the breathtaking beauty of the countryside, and the stilled moments of seeing three teenagers and a young adult from home thrive from the soul-filled work they were doing. My heart is deeply grateful for the relationships we all carry with us that reach beyond the distance between our homes.
We hold the ministry and transformative work that Dago, his family, and those at Hogar de Ninos Vida Nueva in God’s Light. We hold the continued process and transitions back to daily work for all of our team members in prayer. May this week and a half not be a story we tell; instead, let it be a story that is a touchtone in our faith journey as we continue to be transformed by the lives we met and ministry we joined.
On behalf of the five of us from Calvary who were on the ABCIM: Discovery Team, we thank you for the prayers, financial support, and love you provided before, during, and following our trip. We truly could not have done this trip without you!