Before I begin, I’d like to thank my wonderful sister, Steph, for letting her dorky little sister take over the blog today. If only she had known what she signed up for!
On 27 July, 2013, I left my “old Kentucky home” for a week-long mission trip in La Esperanza, Honduras. Let me explain how new it all was; not only was I on my first mission trip, not only was I leaving the United States for the first time, but–unlike my relatively well-traveled sister–I had never even been on an airplane before!
Before traveling, nearly every person who approached me about the trip told me that I’d leave more thankful for everything I have. In true teenager fashion, I doubted them. “I’m a good person,” I’d tell myself, “and I realize that I live rather nicely by world’s standards. Wrong. Absolutely nothing can prepare you for seeing the imagined makeshift shack with a tin roof appear in reality over and over. La Esperanza, the city in which we worked, is in the region of Intibuca (say in-tee-boo-kah) which is second only to Port-au-Prince, Haiti as the poorest district in the Western Hemisphere. Two of our team members brought beans, toys, and Bibles to a family of six that lived in a house (could it even be called that?) the size of a small walk-in closet.
In our three full work-days, I had the opportunity to work in both the clothing ministry as well as the pharmacy. In both, I was able to witness hundreds of face light up upon receiving shoes and medicine. There was an appreciation in each person’s demeanor far beyond anything I’ve ever seen in the United States. It was a real slap to my previously-not-very-thankful face to see how baseball caps and t-shirts as well as baggies of Tylenol and children’s chewable vitamins became such prized goods.
Perhaps the most heart-wrenching, though, was our visit to the Good Shepherd Children’s Home, a sanctuary of sorts for children of the poorest families and most unfortunate circumstances, just outside the capital city of Tegucigalpa. Upon our arrival, a majority of the 100+ children were waiting at the gate. I was approached, then taken by the hand, by an eleven year old girl named Lipzy. She spoke only some broken English, but she repeatedly announced that I was “muy beautiful”. She also recited, from memory, Psalm 100 in Spanish. Here it is in English, in the English Standard Version:
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
As I reflect on this trip, I cannot help but think of stand-in parents; they are not legally adoptive parents, but they have an overwhelming amount of time and care devoted to certain children. The facilitators of the GSCH are an excellent example. However, I had more than a few team members step up for me. I am only sixteen years old, and I traveled without my parents. However, I can think of no less than eleven church/team members that have stood in as parents for as long as I’ve known them, but even more so during the week of our mission trip. They helped pay for my plane ticket and for a few souvenirs. They made me care packages with sundry items. They hovered over me the night I had a nosebleed due to the extreme altitude difference. They greeted me each day of the trip with a genuine smile and a “good morning, Destinee!” While the purpose of our trip was to show God’s love to the unreached in Honduras, I can’t help but feel that the idea of Galatians 5:13 is reflected in those who, of all the opportunities they have been given, chose to extend the love of God into an awkward teenage girl like myself. Galatians 5:13 says:
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
With much love,
If you are interested in learning more about the group with which I traveled, Baptist Medical and Dental Missions International, or the aforementioned Good Shepherd Children’s Home, you can visit their websites below.