My first volunteer trip to Honduras was in the winter of 2009. A church group was making the journey to build homes in the second poorest country in Central America—and though I had heard amazing stories from my friends about prior mission trips, I wasn’t sure what to expect.
We touched down at the Tegucigalpa Airport, which boasts the world’s second most dangerous takeoff and landing according to the History Channel (no big deal!), and drove 2.5 hours to Southern Honduras. As we made the trek, I was initially shocked—even haunted—by the living conditions… mud huts, scattered litter everywhere, the pain of poverty palpable. All throughout that drive, I watched and listened to my friends and travel companions. There was excitement in their voices, and their eyes were bright as if they didn’t see what I was seeing. I wondered to myself, how could they not be saddened by what was passing before their eyes? I would soon learn, however, that I was the one who had been blind.
The next day when we arrived on the construction site, the sadness that had consumed me during that long trip from the airport was quickly replaced by something else. It may sound somewhat cliché but the moment I encountered the people of the village, my heart was filled with love. Rarely had I experienced such sincere warmth, love, and gratitude. Gratitude, warmth and love from people who had far less than anyone I had ever met before. The joy of the Honduran people in the midst of those $2/day wages, gnawing hunger, having no real shelter, few clothes on their backs, and often no shoes—it’s something that most people would have to experience to believe. The love and joy were simply mind-blowing.
I made that first trip to Honduras in 2009 because I wanted to ‘give back’ as people always say. I wanted to get out of my air-conditioned, luxury-laden, big-house living (relatively speaking), overfed bubble and do something for somebody else. I must say, before going, I did not know the magnitude of the bubble. Throughout that first trip and during the eight subsequent visits I’ve made to Honduras over the past eight years, I discovered more about love. The pure love of those experiences is something I want to share.
I want to spread the stories of my experiences as much as possible, and first to my children. I hope to take my 16 year-old daughter to Central America within the next year. She’s put our first trip on hold due to another mission trip she’s taking to New York City this summer—and that’s okay with me. My heart is full in the knowledge that she wants to give back to others, and I have no doubt that she will experience love in a new and life-changing way.
For anyone who may be interested, the groups I work with locally include Sharefish, Mercy and Grace, and North Carolina Baptist Men. Each group has certain specialty areas but the trips I’ve attended focus on construction, education and medical projects. I'm also a fan and supporter of BC Serna, who I had the chance to meet briefly at a conference. He encourages young people to travel to Central America to serve and raises money to sponsor their travel. Check out the group with which he travels.