Tonight's entry was penned by Alexis Fuller as part of a letter she wrote to me following her mission to Honduras this summer. I've been blessed to be where Alexis was many times and it's an amazing experience. Her mother, Catherine, is in the picture with her and the beautiful kids. Catherine penned three entries for me last week! Alexis is a WCS senior and one terrific young lady!
My mission trip to Honduras could be described in typical phrases: awesome, life changing, extreme, surprising, depressing, and a completely new experience, all mashed together into a giant ball of emotions. From the time I got off the plane I knew everything I expected would happen, along with everything I didn't expect. One verse I saw working through the week was the scripture we used during our morning devotionals, Romans 12: 9-13:
"Love must be sincere. hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
One thing I did not expect was how hospitable Hondurans are. When they see guests coming, they go into their house and find every plastic chair they own and hand them out to your group. If they did not own many chairs, they invite you into their home as guests. Something interesting I noticed symbolic of their hospitality was that there was never a closed door to a house once we left Tegucigalpa (the capital.) Every home from that point on was open for neighbors to be free to visit and play with the children in the home.
Unexpected things, like minor sicknesses, also hit our group, but these were short and soon recovered from. The worst part of being sick was being unable to go local, a program we had the opportunity to partake in. If we went local, we would leave from VBS to the home village and spend the night. When we got up in the morning, we would spend the day doing whatever work they would do. Everyone who went local described it as different and astounding. Everyone was treated like royalty in their descriptions, another example of the Hondurans' hospitality. David, our leader, shared with the group how two girls going local did not have a house in which to stay: the preacher simply pulled up to a house of a church member and asked if Sara and Ally could spend the night. How many of us would take random strangers into our homes for a night with no second thoughts of having enough food, the house being clean, or where they would sleep? I think that's a factor of growing up in two completely different cultures.
I used to think that people in third world countries were there because they were poor and did not want to work hard to get into a richer country like the United States. From working on the job site and hearing the stories of families as we delivered food, I learned that the reason these people are poor is simply because their country and economy cannot afford to pay them the wages they should earn through their honest, hard work. The men building the schoolhouse obviously know much about their work; they constantly had to remind the gringos, myself included, how to build a brick wall. Sometimes, I wondered how much quicker they would move without us in the way, but I remembered my experiences moving mobile homes. One of my co-workers, Joseph, explained to me that a good portion of time getting a house ready to move or be moved into was simply getting up and getting the right tool for the job. That's where younger, less experienced hands became most helpful; we fetched the right tool. So from mixing mortar to wetting bricks to making the wall look good by filling in holes, the newer hands helped the more experienced ones and the gringos learned how to build a brick wall. The best part was seeing those walls being joined with others and finally forming a room. I joked with my mom how we did not have to buy my first house now; we could just build it!
Honduras was an experience that taught me to be grateful for what I have and what I know and to realize that others work hard, too. I should not take what I have for granted. Thank you for your support! I am really looking forward to going again next year if God enables me. What our group witnessed will change us all forever. Thanks again.
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org