March 30, 2020
The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. Proverbs 16:9
Think about the excitement when preparing for a trip. You check to see what the weather will be at the destination. You think about what clothes you will take with you. You look at options for things to do in the destination location. Excitement builds as you approach your departure date.
All of these things are true when preparing for a mission trip, but there are so many other preparations as well. A few years ago as I was preparing to go on a mission trip to Honduras, I started walking daily with a backpack at 3:00 in the afternoon—the hottest part of our day. Because it is very hot in Honduras in the summer, I started with a mile or two, then increased the distance to about 6 miles a day. Initially, my backpack was relatively empty except for one water bottle. As I increased my distance, I also increased the weight in my backpack by adding bricks to my load. I knew that our group was going into a relatively remote village in Honduras to build houses. We had been told that the bus would likely not be able to carry us into the village and that we would need to walk that last mile or two carrying our supplies and tools. I wanted to be ready to walk the mountainous path without worry of carrying the weight. When the day came to travel, I was prepared! Well, at least physically, I was prepared.
Spiritually, I had prayed about the mission trip before I put my name on the list. Once I agreed to go on the mission trip, I prayed for the group who being sent. I prayed for good weather—knowing that we wouldn’t be able to build as much if our time was rainy. Again, I thought I was prepared.
The first morning when we walked into the village, the women, children, and a few men were there to eagerly and enthusiastically welcome us to their village. (Most of the men were working in the fields during the day.) They smiled at us like we were a gift from God. But what I found in that remote village was the face on God on every person’s face. These were the happiest people I had ever met. They smiled so easily and they had so little. By our standards, they had nothing. Yet, they had everything.
The people in the village near Copan lived in houses made from sticks and mud in what amounted to “lean-tos” on dirt floors. The children had no toys. When we gave them toys, they didn’t know what to do with them. As we taught them, the children laughed, but not as much as their mothers! When the teenage boys returned from working in the fields, we pulled out soccer balls. These tired young boys ran into the fields and played soccer for hours.
We were divided into work teams with at least one male from the family helping with his own house. The family members spoke only Spanish and those of us from the US spoke only English, but somehow, we managed to communicate fairly well.
God was present in every moment we were in the village. We witnessed him in the joy on the faces of the women, children, and teenage boys. They laughed heartily at us when we pulled out jump ropes and demonstrated how to use them. The young girls learned quickly how to jump and would sing as they jumped. The men who worked with us on the houses were so grateful for the assistance with building concrete homes with cement floors. Each day when the men returned from the fields, they were eager to see what progress we had made that day and to hear stories about our building process.
None of my preparations, not the physical or the spiritual, prepared me for the mission trip. Sure, I was ready physically. Absolutely, I am glad I prayed for our group of travelers. But nothing prepared me for the real deal—the real encounter with God in a remote mountainous village in Honduras. Words fail me as I try to share what it is like to be sent and to witness God’s glory in the beautiful landscape and in the simple lives of these precious children of God. Thanks be to God that I answered the call to go. Thanks be to God for showing me joy in this remote village. Thanks be to God for showing me his love in the faces of my brothers and sisters of Honduras.
God of all creation, thank you for reminding us that everyone is a child of God and that you love each one of us. Thank you for showing us your presence in our day-to-day lives and in the times of being sent. Help us to love all of our neighbors, near and far. In Christ’s name, Amen.
About the Contributor:
Robin Morris is a member at Limestone Presbyterian Church in Gaffney. In January, she began her second three-year term on Session and serves as the Clerk. She has been a member at Limestone since 2013 and was a member at Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill prior to moving to Gaffney. She went on the mission trip with her daughter, Emily. Her son, James, has been on the same mission trip to Honduras three times.