This summer, I was able to take the most incredible trip of my life- a mission trip to El Ocote, Honduras. At first I didn’t think I would be able to go, because the trip was pretty expensive and I had other stuff going on this summer. I prayed a lot about it and talked to my parents, and we were able to make it work! I sent out fundraising letters in May, and the response was overwhelming. I was so blessed to be able to raise all my money and have such amazing people to sponsor my trip! Over the next few months, I got my passport, went shopping at Goodwill for scrubs, stocked up on snacks, and did some extremely last minute packing. Finally at three in the morning on July 6, we drove to the airport and were on our way to an amazing week!
We had an early flight from Memphis to Atlanta, had a bit of a layover there, and then flew out of Atlanta into the airport in San Pedro, Honduras. We met up with our translator and loaded up on a bus and drove for about two until we got to our hotel. The hotel was like nothing I’d seen before- not like a Hilton or a Marriot. There were big rooms with a balcony and a hammock connected to it, and there were only about 12-14 rooms in one building. All around the rooms there was lots of land, beautiful views, and other buildings used as meeting rooms (where we played Scattergories every night!). Not too far of a walk away was the restaurant were we ate all our meals, and there was also a pool, horse stables, and a huge lake with a mountain view out in front of the restaurant. On the first day, we did a little exploring and walked up a big bridge where you could see the lake really well, it was beautiful!
Most of the days were pretty similar: we woke up and had a devo at 7, ate breakfast at the restaurant, and took about a 30 minute bus ride to the village of El Ocote. The first day we were there, I worked in the garden most of the morning of the first day, but as soon as the kids started coming out and playing soccer, I couldn’t stay away. It was so fun playing with them! Looking back, there was such a big difference in the amount of kids who came to play on the first day versus the last couple of days. There were SO MANY kids to play with- it was the best! That afternoon I worked at VBS and played games with the kids. We played soccer, tennis, hula hooped, and more- they loved it. The next day, Saturday, I did VBS all day. In the morning, I worked inside where the kids learned the bible story and did a craft. That afternoon, we played more games outside and I met even more kids! A few of my closest buds were Maggie, Sesia, Daneri, Jose, Walter, Henry, Danny, and Eddie.
Sunday was a little bit different- we didn’t go to the village that day. We got to sleep in a tiny bit, and then we took a boat ride across the lake to go on a hike to a (dormant) volcano. It took a while to hike, but the view was fantastic once we got to the top! You could see all of the lake and across to where we where staying. After we got back to the hotel and had lunch, we got our swimsuits on and loaded on the bus to head to the waterfall! A few people chose to do the zipline, but most of our group hiked to a waterfall. You could hear and feel the spray from it a long way away. We climbed down to where these rocks made a circular pool where we could swim. I thought that was going to be it, but no. Our guides took us UNDER the waterfall! You could look up and see the water coming down from all sides. It was so intense! I also jumped off a 15 foot ledge into a deep pool over water below. It was so scary but I’m glad I gathered the courage to do it!
Monday and Tuesday were pretty similar, we worked at the village or at VBS all day. Something really neat that we got to do was food distribution after lunch. A leader would gather a group and take food and supplies to a house in the village. I went to three or four houses, and we got to know the family a bit and pray over them. It was both convicting and inspiring to see that even though they have so little, these people are so happy and positive, and they lean on the Lord through it all. Monday morning I met two boys, Mauricio and Gabriel, who could read and write. I downloaded an offline translating app and we were able to communicate! It was so cool to be able to get to know them despite the language barrier. Tuesday morning I went with a few other girls to visit an orphanage and have VBS with them, and then I worked a bit on the garden some more that afternoon.
Wednesday was so sad, because it was our last day in the village. The week went by so fast! We got to see the kids for the final time, and we also had a clothes distribution where the families could come by and take what they needed. The kids were so happy with their new soccer jerseys and shorts! We also had a house dedication to the family that we built the house for, you could tell the family was so grateful, it was really encouraging. We said our goodbyes, gave hugs, and repeated “te extraño” (I’ll miss you) dozens of times. It didn’t hit me until later that I wasn’t going back to see them the next day, this was the final goodbye. It was heartbreaking, but I hope I’ll get to see them next year!
This was such a memorable week, it exceeded my expectations by a long shot. I learned so much from these people. They were always happy, always smiling and joyful. Yet they had so little! It really put perspective on my life and made me realize how much I take my things for granted, and how I should be grateful for what I have and not always want more. This was just such a great example of “Jesus is all you need”. Jesus was all these people had, they really had little nothing else besides him. If you would look in their houses and see their clothes you’d realize how impoverished they were. Yet those kids were the happiest little kids I’ve ever seen. No complaining or whining, everyone played and laughed all day long. How amazing is it to know that the God who loves us so well is also loving them and taking care of them right now, and they can trust in Him despite their struggles? Amazing. These weren’t even a quarter of the pictures from the week, if you want to see them all, I made a part one and a part two to a vsco journal, go check them out!