On my fourth day in Honduras, I awoke next to my beloved husband in a strange bed. The first three days had been a blur of prayer time, getting to know our missionary team, planning out presentations and packing for our trip to the small rural villages tucked in the banana and coffee-filled mountains of Honduras. A bumpy truck ride later, we were in the middle of a Central American mountain range and welcomed into the home of a sweet little old Honduran grandma and her two precious grandchildren.
The early mornings began with the sharp beeping of a loaned watch alarm, jarring after a night of rather fitful sleep interrupted well before dawn by what seemed like thousands of roosters and dogs. My sleep was perforated by several horrific nighttime experiences with a hole in the ground, otherwise known as an outhouse. Moreover, the early hour required an awkward preparing of oneself in the dark, as we resisted turning on the light (singular) for fear of waking our hosts. As soon as we finished, we popped outside to walk next door to the church, where we met our team members for some prayer time, our spiritual food for a busy day.
After heavenly prayer came earthly breakfast, a favorite time of day for perpetually hungry Jing. Beans, eggs, plantains, tortillas and creama, a delicious homemade sour cream, were typically in order. As a missionary, it’s imperative to finish all your food, but our hosts jammed packed our plates so as to make it a challenge. I occasionally had to slyly pass some food on to my Honduran brother, who amazingly managed to clean his plate to a shiny finish at every meal.
After breakfast came home visits. We split into teams, and Diego, Carlos, Claudia and I started off down our path. My fellow missionaries could not speak English, thus leaving me in the dark as to where we were going or what exactly we’d be doing. We climbed up and down dirt roads, following mountainous paths where they led and greeting all we passed with a hearty “Buenas!”
Perched on the hillsides were homes, small cement structures with raised foundations and shaded porches. Often pigs, chickens, and rather skinny-looking dogs lounged about, and children frolicked every which way while adults went about their daily tasks. We walked up to houses, introduced ourselves, and Diego asked if we could take some time to pray with them. At each house families welcomed us, scrambled to put out chairs and invited us to sit.
Now my Spanish was dicey at best, and if one spoke really slowly perhaps I could understand. However, in the beautiful villages of the mountains there were no allowances for my lack of understanding. People were generous with their time while talking to us, generous with their well-wishes and thanks for our visits, generous with their resources in the form of snacks and soda. And while my team members shared the Gospel and the love of Christ with each family we met, I sat silently and offered my prayers to God for blessings on the people I was with. I didn’t understand the details of the discussion, but I asked for joy and hope and safety and courage in the face of any troubles that might befall them. Our lives are different, but the same. Different in that we in the United States have all the resources of the world at our fingertips, and those in Honduras do not. The same in that the troubles of the world try to bring us down, and ultimately we all need the joy, hope and deep love that only a relationship with Jesus can bring.
Our week on mission was filled with singing, dancing, prayer, joy, hope and love – all the things that in the abstract that make life worthwhile. However, the tangible form of those things is not what you might expect. We briefly lived the life of those who are poor, but in reality we are called to be poor all the time, to live simply and for Christ; to give constantly, not of our stuff or of our money but of ourselves. I’ve always said this to myself, but in going on mission I realize how I’ve fallen short in this respect. I am, and we are all, called to do more.
To my brothers and sisters in Christ, in the United States, in Honduras and all around the world, Jesus is life, and the only worthy thing we can do for one another is to model the love He showed and help one another on our journey home.