Today we travelled. It was about a seven hour trip from the ranch to Tegucigalpa including a lunch break.
Before we left, the staff of the ranch gathered around us, led us in song, shared their thanks for our presence and mission, and sent us on our way home with prayer.
The trip itself was rather uneventful. The roads were the roads.... the same bumpy roads. You never get used to it, but you do adjust. When we finally hit paved roads again, the first time we were on them in a week, the entire van erupted in applause.
We had lunch at a Menonnite bakery owned by an American couple. There was a buffet with fish and chicken that was all tasty. Some tried vegetables again for the first time since being here. I did not. We met another mission team having lunch there as well. It was a bit surprising to hear American English being spoken around us for the first time in a week. After lunch, we picked up a few souvenirs for friends and family and then made the final hour and a half drive to the capital city.
We are staying at The Maya hotel and the contrast of plush living with the view out of the window (see photo insert) is sharp. Poverty is all around here in the city just like in the villages. I don't know the current standings, but this country has been consistently rated as one of the worst economies in the western hemisphere. Mission is not a luxury or an add-on to the life of a Christian. We are to help the poor. It is what we do. It is how we participate in God's mission to this world. Coming here is a stark reminder of the need and the importance of being involved in mission wherever you are.
Tonight, we had dinner at the hotel next to the pool. The food was good and the company even better. Heather was still not feeling well and after dinner went to bed to try to recover. The rest of us went upstairs to a ninth floor conference room for devotions and final thoughts on the trip.
The Scripture focus of the devotion was Acts 20:24. This was Paul saying goodbye to the Christians in the city of Ephesus. He reminded them of his calling and told them, "I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the good news of God's grace." We spent some time talking about what it means to testify to the good news of God's grace in our lives, and particularly how we each have done that here in Honduras.
We also talked about a few things regarding going back home. To experience this level of poverty and then return to the affluence and abundance of the U.S. is hard for many to handle. We suggested four things:
- Don't feel guilty. Rather than feeling guilty about the abundance of our lives, let this trip inspire us to be more giving.
- Be thankful for what we have. We could not flush the toilet paper down the toilets here. It had to go in a trash can next to the toilet. Be thankful and don't take for granted the big and small things of our life.
- Don't overdo it in telling about this trip. The fact is it is hard for others to fully grasp the experience, much in the same way it is hard to explain to people any experience of great joy or sorrow. It is really something that you have to experience for yourself. Along with that, we talked about the importance of not saying, "You have to go on this trip" to everyone you meet. Not all can, not all will, and not all should. If God calls, go. If not, don't go.
- Tell stories of people. We could talk about bumpy roads and stomach problems, but the real reason people keep coming back and the real affirmation of the present work of God is in the stories of people.
It is good to be able to get under clean sheets in a comfortable bed. Sleep now and then the trip home tomorrow.
God loves you... and so do I.