“Some call it mission work. It can also be called loving others.” -Destiny Holmes
Mission. A Latin word that means “to send.” But, little did I know that the Lord was sending me to a place to which my heart would soon long to return. Each one of my team members prepared for a week of serving & sharing the gospel. While we may have thought we were being sent to the impoverished and in need, spiritually they are rich. Without hesitation, they will serve you, even if it’s the last bit of rice. This uncovers the true Gospel. Not only were our distractions and the pressures of American life left behind us, but this left us open and vulnerable to the crazy love of God.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
Here, Jesus tells us to gather others amongst Him & build His nation. On this trip, I not only saw Jesus through the children, but His love for them flowed through their words. “What makes you happy?” The responses of what Jesus had done and given to these, who knew nothing but the name, would blow a stranger’s mind. Because, despite what darkness was presented to them in life, they knew of a light beyond the shadows of doubt. Interacting with these kids would make you want to know him more.
Pure joy on their faces, love flowing out of them, with arms wide open the children showered you and made every encounter feel as though it was once in a lifetime. In that moment, POI had felt like home. I had found heaven on earth & there was absolutely no turning back.
I would be belittling the seriousness of my trip if I were to say that it had been easy. There are stories behind each and every child. There is hurt, fear, and shame there and it shows in their actions. Learning how to care for them in those situations has strengthened me and prepared me for what I hope to be a lifetime of teaching. When a child is incapable of being still and is acting out, placing them into your lap with your arms wrapped around them is like an antidote. It seems simple, but the care you place onto them brings assurance that they are loved and protected. You can feel their heart rate slow down as you hold them. Seeing this need is truly amazing and eye opening.
Natalie Standiford states, “Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels.”
Well Ms. Standiford, you have never been more on point. Physically I was prepared but when it was time to open the car door and live in the moment, I was unresponsive. My heart was stripped, my eyes were hoping they were being deceived, and I had no posture for the situation. There was no pretending that what was before me didn’t rush through my body. In that compact time I felt I had experienced every emotion. Hurt because I couldn’t do much to help. Sadness because kids were present. Loneliness because I didn’t know how to explain these feelings. Fear because I wasn’t sure of what tomorrow brought. Anger because I wanted to scream. I wanted to tell God that I was upset with him. Shame because I was getting back in the car and heading back to my needs and wants. Guilt because my facial expressions showed these emotions. Yet under this all I was also glad for the chance we did have to feed them and share the Gospel.
Taking The Tubs Home
1 Timothy 4:13
“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.”
You know, there are some things in this world that you cannot truly understand until you have visibly seen them. One of these was seeing the locals’ living conditions. Yet, this verse brought ease as we delivered buckets of basic necessities to them because it tells of what we are to do as Christians. We must wait and ensure that others may come to know him, even when it is challenging, because it gives us assurance that greater is coming. This part of my story I deeply cherish. It is difficult to fully express what I felt there.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou.
A week with the trip team and the POI staff turns into a lifetime together. On the last day together, tears flooded the room as we felt each other’s absences approaching. One of our team members said, “It is not that we have to go. It is that tomorrow we cannot help.” And here it punched me as the room grew quieter and tears came stronger. She was right! We were all choked up because we saw the need. We saw the difference we were making. We saw how it changed the kids. We saw how it changed the community. We saw how it brought hope. Most importantly, we saw that it made us grow closer as Christians who were going through life together.
This trip would not have been complete if it wasn’t for the people. I heard that the best things in life are not things at all but the people who make you feel loved and cared for. I now have a family in Tegucigalpa, Honduras and they are my best things in life.