As I was preparing to go to Honduras this summer, I had no clue why I was going. I went last summer and was on summer staff for two weeks. Why would I go back to do the exact same thing again this year? The easy answer is God called me to go, but I felt that wasn’t the real reason I needed to fly down and spend another two weeks on staff. I would say the reason was to spend more time with my sponsor child, but my family was sponsoring a new sparrow, whom I didn’t know. I had no clue how God was going to use me during my three weeks in Honduras, or how the people of Honduras were going to impact my life.
I began my trip this summer with an open mind and an open heart. I had no idea what I was going to be doing, I wasn’t even one-hundred percent sure I was on summer staff, and I didn’t have any expectations for the weeks ahead. The funny thing was, I was in a state of calm and tranquility, which if you personally know me, doesn’t ever happen. God was with me, and I knew this was going to be one of the best summers ever.
There are so many different things I could write about, from having a dance party at the Asilo in Tela, and cleaning the walls at the Sparrow Academy, to spending a couple of hours talking with Lóany, Tatiana, and Sheily in Los Bordos, and reading books with toddlers A, Y, M, and Buddy at the Children’s Home. I will never forget the memories I made during those three weeks. All in all, God’s calling on my life to be a missionary was solidified this summer.
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,and provide for those who grieve in Zion –
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.” Isaiah 61:1-3
These verses describe in perfect detail what God has called me to do. In conclusion, the answer to why I went to Honduras this summer is still very simple; God called me to go impact the people of Honduras AND he wanted me to learn that being outside of my comfort zone is the best place for me. I look forward to the future mission trips I’ll embark upon and can’t wait to meet the people God has called me to serve.
“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” Matthew 28:16-20
I want to start my post by saying that this summer was truly one for the books. Although it had many challenges, I saw the work God is doing in our ministries unfold every day before my eyes. It was incredibly rewarding for me to be a part of something so supernaturally wonderful for the month and a half I was able to be there. With that being said, the summer was also incredibly difficult for me in many different ways. I felt lonely at times, exhausted beyond belief, and there were moments when I felt like my being there was no benefit to anyone. These difficult times were the times I asked myself and I asked the Lord questions like “Why am I here?”, “What can I do?”, and even “What good am I?”. God used the people around me to show me my purpose this summer – building relationships.
Sparrow is unlike other missions organizations. When people hear “mission trip” it can be easy for their minds to go straight to the practical – building houses, providing medical attention, giving people things like clothes or hygiene supplies. These are all wonderful ways to serve and to advance the kingdom, without a doubt, but I’ve found that it can sometimes become easy to lose ourselves in practicality and omit personality. The personality of missions is what Sparrow is all about, building trust and friendships with people that serve to show them the love of Jesus in a personal way. I had to realize this summer that sometimes it’s more important to sit down and talk to someone than it is to do anything else for them.
As a person, I am not social. I do not always want to talk to people or even interact with people. I struggle to open up, and to let people see my heart. The Lord showed me that none of that is an excuse to not fulfill my purpose. I am here, whether in Honduras or in America, to give myself to people in ways I might not want to. To let people in, to love them without the promise of them loving me in return. Because, ultimately, that’s what Jesus came to this Earth to do. He loved us so much, so sacrificially, that he died for us on a cross, knowing full well that most of us would never love him in return. If Jesus can do that for me, then why can’t I do that for people? Can I sacrifice myself, my comfort and my security, and passionately pursue people with the love that Jesus has given me?
Mark 12:30-31 says:
“30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”
Thankfully, God was not finished with me this summer, and thankfully he is never finished with me. He brought people into my path this summer that changed my view of purpose. I have been so blessed by the relationships I’ve made in Honduras. My heart is so full, and I have never felt more loved than when I am with my Honduran friends.
I specifically want to mention my friends in the Bordos; Jeidy Pereira, a girl that I see myself in. I love you more than words can express. Rolan Madrid, thank you for being my greatest friend and encouraging me always. All my youth group boys, I love you all so much and you know that. My friends Claudia and Wendy, thank you for opening me up this summer. To my translator friends, Karely, Sara, Isabel, Daniel, and Ms. Lul, I love you all deeply and I’m thankful for the connections I have with all of you. And finally, to my friendterns, I love you all so very much and I was so blessed by you all this summer. I haven’t been a perfect friend to all of you, but by God’s grace I’ll get to keep pursuing the friendships He’s created in my life for years to come.
God bless, and have a great week!
I’ve never once doubted that our God is an all-powerful God. A God capable of walking on water and calming the storms with a simple wave of his hand. A God that can perform so many miracles beyond compare, miracles beyond what we could ever have imagined. But personally, I feel like I’m always too focused on the big picture to pay attention to the little ways that God works in my life. Ways that I may not have expected, unusual and mysterious ways.
The Spanish language is a mountain of its own. Even after hundreds of hours of language training, countless conversations with the native Hondurans, and constant studying and practice, I still found myself tripping up on my articles, using the wrong conjugation of a verb, and so many other technical things that I had previously learned. So walking out of the white passenger van for the first time in over a year was a bit of a scary experience for me. In trips prior I had never needed to worry about translating for myself. We were blessed with amazing translators, who had great relationships with the kids and families wherever we went, and they were always willing to come lend a hand. But this past summer I knew that I could build and maintain stronger relationships with so many people, just because I was able to speak their language.
The first day back in the Bordos was quite an experience. I was instantly greeted by two beautiful, smiling faces. There was a connection almost immediately, and the three of us were nearly inseparable for the rest of my trip. It wasn’t an obvious thing at the time, but looking back on it now I realized that God had performed a small little miracle in my life. The entire time I was with those girls, it was just me and them. It was my broken Spanish combined with what seemed like their perfect Spanish. Yet somehow I was able to understand every word that came out of their mouth, and from what I could tell, they were the same way with me.
And it was in little victories like these that I was really able to see how God was working. This trip gave me a newfound confidence, and changed how I live my day to day life back home. While I may not have to speak in a foreign language with everyone that I come across, it still makes me look for the little miracles that are placed in my life everyday. Just seeing how one small conversation made me reevaluate just about everything I do makes me so anxious and excited to see what will happen next time that God decides to place a big miracle in my life. Because He will do it again.
Another summer spent in Honduras, the same question asked “How was your summer?” It seems like a simple question but a question that brings up so many thoughts and emotions it’s hard to put in to words. I could talk about how the beginning of the summer a young boy from the Los Bordos community lost his life too early, or a few weeks later the call about a friend in the states only being given a few weeks left to live, or I could talk about the fact that the government in Honduras found it reasonable for an all-boy’s orphanage to have a few girls thrown into the mix or I could bring up the fact that many families that I love and have relationships with had been kicked out of their homes by the government and no longer live in Los Bordos. I’m not going to lie, this was a hard summer. I experienced a lot in my two months on Summer Staff with Sparrow and from it I grew a lot. It was like everywhere I turned something was happening that hurt, things I felt were unjust. I felt as if confusion and discomfort were around me at all times. I questioned God’s goodness and faithfulness. I struggled to find the peace of the Lord in a world of chaos.
In the midst of the chaos I was reminded of the passage in Mark chapter four when Jesus calmed the storm. In verse 35 Jesus says “Let’s go over to the other side.” Jesus took the disciples left the crowd where he was preaching, and got into boat to go to the other side. This summer I was looking at it from the disciple’s point of view. I’m sure when they got in the boat they had no clue what the “other side” had in store for them. This summer I was able to relate that story to when we walk as Christians with the Lord we often forget that there are going to be bad days where we are faced with things that we would never expect to happen. On their journey to the other side a huge storm hit, the water was flooding into the boat and the winds were rocking the boat. Can you imagine the dismay of the disciples as they were calling out to Jesus who was asleep and they got no response? This summer I often felt like the disciples did then they were in this moment. I felt like I was staring injustice in the face calling out to the Lord and he was just “sleeping.” Then Jesus woke up from his sleep and said “Silence! Be still.” The waves stopped and the winds died down. Can you imagine the looks on the disciples faces when they had been screaming out for the Lord for who knows how long, and in a split second the Lord calmed the storm?
What happened when they got to the “other side?” When they got to the other side they were able to share their story of Jesus and his faithfulness even in the midst of the storm. He was able to not only calm the actual storm but calm their hearts and provide them with a peace that only the Lord can provide. This summer I made it to the “other side”, and I’m able to see the Lord’s peace even in the midst of the injustice of this world. I can relate to the disciples and the fact that this summer I went through many storms and tried to seek the Lord’s peace and faithfulness in the middle of those storms. I experienced a lot of loss whether it be with the lives of others or in relationships. In Los Bordos, I have formed many relationships and over the past 5 years I have been able to grow and continue to grow in those relationships. One relationship in particular is with the Rodriguez family. Three days into my trip the eldest son lost his life way too early leaving his family in the middle of a storm of questions. Wendy, the mother, grieved the loss of her eldest and still continued to support and love her family including me. It was really hard for me to grasp the fact that she was at peace. All I could see was the injustice. I was confused and mad at the fact that something like this would happen. Again, I was staring injustice in the face screaming at the Lord and it felt like I was receiving no response. I felt like the disciples did when they were in the middle of the storm. Throughout the summer it was hard for me to understand but I was able to learn and grow in the fact that it was okay to be upset, angry or even a little mad. I held fast to the Lord and his promises because they are good. Through the questioning I was able to find peace in the Lord. I held on to the verse 1 Peter 3:11 “They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it.” I had not been actively pursuing the peace of the Lord as I was trying to seek the peace in answers. I was so caught up in the evil things and the whys that I lost the fact that because I know Jesus I have a peace that far surpasses the questions I have.
I know the Lord’s promises are true and he is good even in the middle of chaos. I can stand firm in the fact that I have peace in the Lord. The Lord has used these challenges that I faced this summer by giving opportunities to minister to others. Even though it was an emotionally hard summer for me I am thankful for the opportunity the Lord gave me to serve in Honduras. I was able to grow and learn even more promises about Lord and his peace.
Routine can turn the most meaningful things into monotony if we let it. For me, this summer was filled with early mornings, making breakfast by myself for the team before most were awake, praying that we had enough eggs. Lunch breaks for Brooke and I often meant trying to cut semi-thawed chicken, scrubbing the goo off of our hands, devouring a sandwich, and running to the van. Afternoons were regularly filled with braids, hand games, and hugs from my friends in the Bordos. Evenings were spent sweating and singing in the kitchen with other summer staff, trying to get dinner ready on time (I highly recommend “Do It Again” by Elevation Worship). Every night we would hear how the team processed that day, and then Dean would decide what time breakfast was the next day so we could do it all again. It was busy and messy and wonderful.
I went into this summer wanting so desperately to be successful – to be helpful, effective, and wise. To be honest, I was often weary of being faithful in the seemingly small things. Especially at first, it didn’t feel like I was being the hands and feet of Jesus. It didn’t feel like I was doing an important job. Much more of my time was spent doing ordinary things than extraordinary.
I understand now that the Lord was using the routine things to sharpen me. By teaching me to be faithful in the little things, I was ready to listen to him in the bigger things. Many days, faithfulness meant being willing to accept correction. Sometimes it meant getting out of my comfort zone to meet new people. Sometimes faithfulness meant talking to someone with compassion when all I wanted was to crawl into bed.
Because of the Lord stretching me in these ways, I was equipped to comfort mothers with children in the hospital, bring food for the hungry and soda for the thirsty, and even be a friend to a few of the girls at Sparrow Academy. Some days being faithful led me to amazing conversations and even breakthroughs with English Class students that I will always treasure. Every situation, whether easy or difficult, comfortable or not, big or small, is an opportunity to grow. We just have to choose to see it that way. This is both an encouragement and a challenge.
In the seemingly meaningless moments, God wants to show us more of who He is. We allow Him to do so when we die to ourselves and ask God how to serve Him. I have learned this summer that we as followers of Christ need to make ourselves available to his power and plan, and let go of our own.
Ask yourself how you define success. For a long time, my life was based on thinking success looks like being the best or the most effective. Ask yourself what your life would look like if you put that definition of success to the side and replaced it with faithfulness. Look for where you are already called to be on mission. Maybe it is in an underserved neighborhood, your office, your family, even in your kitchen! It may be in a situation you’ve already been sent into; it will likely be out of your comfort zone.
The truth is that God sends us into ordinary tasks just as much as he sends us into extraordinary moments. He uses both to build His kingdom and both to reveal His character. God wants ALL that I am; and he wants ALL that you are. He wants to be part of our incredible days, and the normal ones too.
Romans 8:28 says,
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.
This is not to say that bad, frustrating, or even boring things won’t be a part of our lives as followers of Christ. But rather, if we let Him, He will use all things – every moment – to pull us closer to Him because He is good.