I’m not sure what I was expecting upon my travels to Honduras. I’ve had this tugging on my heart, this yearning, to visit a third world country and serve on a missions trip. Not necessarily to change the world but to at least love on one person. I also wanted to quiet my soul and calm the whirlwind thoughts that so easily capture my mind in hopes of hearing a whisper from above.
In my travels, I was seeking him as I often struggle with my will versus his. My deepest desire is to make my Father proud and not neglect the eternal treasures he has gifted me with. I often feel that I’m battling with my own soul as I try to make sure that I’m spending my time in the right places… even if it’s just to rest and be still.
It’s taken me awhile to process my trip but as usual, once my fingers gently click on the keyboard in the early morning light, the holy spirit has his way of letting himself be known.
I’ve never traveled to a third world country so I honestly had no idea what to expect. Our destination was Rancho Oasis for Youth, a small ministry near Ojojona, Honduras. Ojojona is a small colonial town of about 10,000 people 20 miles south of the capital city, Tegucigalpa. This small white washed town was founded by the Spaniards in 1579, over 400 years ago. I found out pretty quickly that Ojojona is a quiet town that attracts mostly tourists from the larger cities throughout Honduras.
In contrast to how a large percentage of Americans live, Hondurans can be considered poor in regards to material wealth. Personally, I didn’t feel like I was in a third world country. Maybe it’s because of my travels to Spain over the years that I’m used to adapting to a different countries standards of living (which some Americans can struggle with). Also, Sevilla, Spain, much like Ojojona is an ancient city and a lot of its beauty lies in its ruins.
No I didn’t see a third world country, I saw people filled with the riches of joy and happiness… and, maybe that’s just it, I needed to understand that third world doesn’t mean unhappiness, desperation, or solitude.
To each Honduran I met, I first greeted them by letting them know how beautiful their country was and what a privilege it was to be there. This usually brought a smile upon their face as they would nod and agree that Honduras is the most beautiful place on this God given earth. To see their heart for their country reminded me of my own mami and her heart for her own.
During our stay in Honduras, Gabe and I were blessed to visit a local baptist church led by pastor Jose De La Paz.
This Baptist church is part of a network of 18 others in the countryside and once a month they all gather together for a large reunion.
As the sun slowly set and the sky turned to night, it was absolutely beautiful to see the community gather, each walking in from different directions of the mountain sides. For me, it was a blessing to hear worship take place in Spanish especially in seeing young children, teenagers, adults, and grandparents all joined together as one. Yes, it’s the Latina in me that craves family and seeing it displayed as the norm warmed my heart.
It was definitely a sight to see people bring in tithes of rice and beans, something that I’m sure will bless the pastor and his family. I have to admit, I was a little bit jealous that we were unable to stay until the end of the service as each family that attended brought in traditional Honduran food to be shared and eaten together as sisters and brothers in Christ. Visiting this church was definitely a highlight of my trip.
Throughout our stay, I was constantly reminded of how little it takes to be happy. We were able to help teach an English class at the local public school.
These children are filled with joy and to me seemed much more innocent than children in our inner cities of Des Moines. The lack of stuff… tv, video games, the internet keeps them playing games like tag, dolls, and soccer.
In playing a simple game of bingo, they were just happy to win. They didn’t need a prize.
On our stay we were so, so privileged to meet the humblest of people. People like Oscar.
He works hard for many hours each day and yet finds time to coach soccer to the boys in his community. A soccer team that Jon from Rancho Oasis organized.
Oscar lives in a very small home with, I believe, 2 children and one on the way and yet he’s content. He’s happy. He has God.
It was seeing the beauty in the meek and the humble that made me see Jesus in these people and in this town.
I can only imagine the days of old when Jesus walked the earth and everyone lived like many do in Honduras. They didn’t have material things, they had each other and that was enough. To Hondurans in Ojojona, it seemed to me that it didn’t matter how big their homes were, what they were made of, or what was in them, but instead who they would be gathering with and what meals they would be sharing with one another. It was beautiful and in that these people with so much less material wealth, to me, seem far richer than most people living in the States.
Please know that these people have their fair share of problems like anyone else in the world does. These are just my observations from speaking to some of the people in Ojojona. I’m very curious and would love to know what other places in Honduras are like. If you’ve been to other places, please share with my your own experiences in the comments below. It’s a beautiful country that I would love to see more of.
In seeing this love of community within the people of Ojojona, God spoke to me while I was there.
This is my sweet Katie pie.
A sweet 10 year old girl that is on fire for God. This little girl has ministered to me so many times throughout my life. She has a genuine, kind heart. She truly cares for people and I’ve seen it time and time again. During my time with her I was able to have her help me lead a bible study for some of the local girls at the ranch. In our time of studying together, God spoke to me and in his whisper I heard him tell me that I need to disciple our girls in our home church. I need to be more involved in their lives and make time for them. It was beautiful and a calling I am so excited to see through. (So if anyone reading this is from CCDM, keep me accountable!)
Katie had the fantastic idea to bring the rubber band bracelet fad from the U.S to Honduras. The kids LOVED it!
During my time I also had the privilege of being able to make a friend named Ilsey. Yup, God brought me someone to love on! Ilsey is a gifted teacher in the community and has a heart for children. What a blessing that was to make a new friend.
In writing this post, God showed me that he answered my prayers. He gave me someone to love on and in the stillness of listening to my Katie pie read Psalm 23 in Spanish, he gave me a calling to disciple my sweet girls at home.
I don’t want to forget that I was able to cook and hang out with Mare…
eat good food, and….
ride a pretty sweet taxi!
Honduras, gracias por mostrarme la belleza de su país! Que Dios los bendiga!
A lot of people have asked me if I would go on another short term missions trip. My answer is absolutely! My heart is now yearning to visit Africa or India. I’ll be praying about it for sure!
So, have you ever been on a missions trip? I’d love to hear in the comments below your experiences and what God has shown you on your travels abroad.