Empty Suitcases & Full Hearts

One of my favorite aspects of working with our mission teams is having the opportunity to watch people leave Honduras with empty suitcases and full hearts. I watch it happen time and time again—eager spirits, nervous laughter, and way too many bottles of Purell. They come ready to serve but, they leave broken—broken in the most beautiful way.

“When I was 16, and a freshman in high school, I could tell something in my life was wrong. Not that I was doing anything wrong, but I could tell God was talking to me, and it was almost as if I couldn’t hear the words. During that year, He slowly started forming more coherent words. It took a while to get to the point of understanding him, but when I finally did, my mind was opened to a whole new world that I’d never seen before. He told me that I needed to be homeschooled, and I had never been more sure about anything in my life. I saw how I had been spending so much time sitting in a classroom, when all I really wanted to be doing was loving God’s people. During my first year as a home schooled kid, my youth minister introduced my church to the idea of going on a mission trip. My church is on the smaller side, and we’d never done anything like that before. Of course I signed up!

On my first trip to Honduras, I learned so many valuable things. 1) Three years of French classes do one absolutely no good in a Spanish speaking country. 2) There are so many beautiful people that God has created. And 3) Even though I had fallen in love with Honduras, God had me living in Memphis for a reason. My mission was to come back to the states and love the Memphis that I was predestined to live in. When I got back home, everything reminded me of Honduras. The trees, the cars, the people. My sister was paying close attention to everything that I was saying, and when it came time for my church to go on another mission trip to Honduras, she was so thrilled to go with me. Even though I knew my heart was in Memphis, I also knew that if I didn’t go, she wouldn’t get to experience God on another level like I did. I decided to go again, and I am so glad I did. Not only did I get to spend a wonderful week learning and growing with God and my sister, but I got to meet Elvin again.


Elvin was this super sweet boy whom I had met the previous year in Honduras. Back then, I didn’t know any Spanish, but I did know the language of kids. I taught him a game, and we played it for the most of the time he was at the school. I sat by him and tickled him, and he’d start giggling and laughing. Children are magical. They can look strangers in the eyes and trust them in an instant. I wish more people could have that mindset.

He’d hug me and hold my hand and I just really took to him. When I saw him for the first time on this second trip, tears flooded my eyes. Elvin’s face lit up and he smiled when he saw me. He ran straight to me and gave me the biggest hug. It was as if we had kept up all this time. How could a boy that I’d met 365 days ago remember me? All I’d done was spend a few hours with him. All I’d done was play a game with him. And he remembered me? Wow… What a crazy thought. And yet, it was completely true. This sweet boy had remembered me. Surely that meant something. When Elvin left to go to school, I could feel God tugging on my heart. I couldn’t believe that I had made an impact in the life of a child in another country. I looked over at Ruth [Hamilton] and asked her if he had a sponsor. When I found out that he did not, I knew what God wanted me to do. He was the reason why I had come back to Honduras. I knew the funds would come from somewhere as long as I was faithful to God. I added my sweet Elvin to my family that day, and I look forward to getting to spend and share life, love, and Jesus with him. God brought us together. I’ve gained a new little brother to care for and pray for and look after.

I thank POI for what they’re doing in Honduras. They know how to serve and equip others to do the same in a beautiful way. They’ve inspired me to love the people in Memphis by the way they love the people in Honduras.” —Ivy Jones

Next week our first 2015 summer mission team is traveling to Honduras to serve alongside the POI staff. A team of families from Presbyterian Day School will be spending a week loving, giving, and learning. Will you join us in praying for their trip?

Many of the participants on this team are young children—I’ve watched it happen and I experienced it myself. The poverty will be confusing, the kids will become playmates, and they will return home with empty suitcases and full hearts. Our prayers will be their fuel.

To follow the trip throughout the week, check out #servePOI on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram to see photos, stories, and prayer requests!

Do you have a word of encouragement for the PDS team? Leave it in the comment box below and we’ll pass it along to the team members!

Who is blogging?

Hannah Hamilton is the daughter of David and Ruth Hamilton, founders of Point of Impact. She first traveled to Honduras at 6 years old and has been passionate about advocating for the impoverished ever since. To read more from Hannah, click here.


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