Our Time In Honduras So Far {The Short-Term Mission Controversy}

Down, down, down we walk into the small community of Fernando Caldron.  I carry two bags of food filled with rice, beans, salt, sugar, coffee, pasta, tomato paste, and lard.  It’s a narrow path lined with people at their home’s entrance.  Americans walking through their community surely draws attention.

We give one bag to each home.  I turn up a path and am in shock at the number of “households”  – each “room” is the home of a separate family.  It’s a maze of makeshift buildings.

With my broken Spanish I meet Wendy, who lives at the end of the path.  Alone.  Pregnant.  Her son is due a few months.  She will name him Jose. She relates this with a huge smile.  I am out of food but promise her a bag.  We wait together for her food, smiling and “chatting.”

I love her.

This was her manna from heaven today.  Feeding her and her unborn child.

And for THAT – I am thankful.  My heart is full.

But…

I struggle with the concept of short-term missions.  I’ve served on – even organized – a few teams, and each time I land in Honduras I wonder…will the Americans swooping in help or hurt?  My American attitudes and cultural context aren’t even close to those in Honduras.

Will they see us as savior instead of Jesus?  Will our gifts of food and clothing and a house be attributed to us?  Or to Him?  How can I communicate that it’s all Him?

As I had breakfast with two long-term missionaries this morning, I am more convinced than ever that there’s NO easy answer.  No rule.  No solution.  No one-size-fits-all.

And when we THINK we know the right answers or have it all figured out because we’ve just read When Helping Hurts or Toxic Charity, then we are only perpetuating the problem with our blanket statements about what’s “best” or “right.”  I know because ideas I held so tightly  just one week ago have now been blow to bits by reality.

Regardless of your “side” regarding mission work, we all agree that Jesus must be center.  We all say that – we even mean it – but WHAT does that even look like? Does it always look the same?  If I pass out food or build a house and never mention Jesus, am I still on mission for Him?  Is He center?  After all, HE knows my heart.  He knows my motive.  Won’t he honor that?  In my weakness, he is strong.

I just don’t know.  I wish I could share some earth-shattering revelation about how we can answer our call to help and love the poor better, but I can’t.  I can only hug sweet Wendy, pray for her and unborn child, and try to see Jesus in it all.

So, whether you “buy-in” to the idea of short-term missions or not, I want you to know…pray you understand…that Jesus is here. Many we meet already know Him (The idea that Americans must evangelize those poor people in third-world countries is another post entirely!)

But, He’s here.  He’s shown up again and again for the people of Honduras and for our team.

Here’s what we’ve been up to since Friday…

The team arrived and didn’t even settle in at Villas de Valle (think small cabins) before packing 400 bags of food.  We ended the day “grabbing mops” as Kage Queen led us in amazing worship, preparing our hearts for the week.

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On Saturday, we built two houses.  These houses are 16 X 16 wooden structures that cost about $1600.  They have one window and a door.  A family of eight will occupy one – another occupied by a family of four.

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After the houses were finished, our team prayed with the family and read a blessing over the house.  (Unfortunately, I missed this part thanks to dehydration. But, I can tell you Honduras has a really nice hospital 😉

Sunday reminded us that God, not us, is in control.  We showed up at church only to discover church had been cancelled for a funeral.  So, last minute, we headed to another church – La Iglesia de San Miguel.

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This switch was a gift from God.  The pastor knew Jen, our leader, and welcomed us with tears and joy.  I LOVED that not having enough communion supplies did not faze the pastor.  He ran to the nearby pulperia (small store) and purchased grape pop.  Best communion I’ve had.

Jen asked the pastor how we could best serve his church, and he asked for shelving to organize Sunday school supplies. So simple.  We plan to build those this week.

After worship, we distributed food bags in Fernando Caldron, Colonia Manzanal, and Ojojona.    We played with the kiddos at Casa de Esperanza before heading with them to the junk cross for dinner and devotion.

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Yesterday and today we are coming alongside missionaries already serving full-time in Honduras.  We asked both ladies…how can we best serve you?

Miss Valerie at the Nashville School needed another classroom and wanted a porch for her small home. We built both.

Miss Janet in Comayagua asked my daughter, Hannah, to teach the teen moms in her program how to crochet while some of our team played their children.  These young gals are moms because they’ve been abused.  They’ll use their new skill to create and sell items to support their children.

Han teaches crochet

The rest of team is cleaning off two pieces of property in preparation for building. One in Comayagua and another in Ville de Valle.

And while I am STILL struggling with short missions as I type this afternoon, I do know one thing:  God is sovereign.  He loves each of us beyond our comprehension – so much so that He died in our place so that we might serve and glorify Him, bringing His kingdom to earth.

I may not have all the answers.  You don’t either.  No of us do.  But, I can be on mission today in this place – as you can be on mission today in your place.  I can love Him and love others.  I can ask…

How can I best serve you today?

Comments

  1. Beautiful heart felt words and all I can say is you ARE being Jesus because as we read the word we realize that Jesus met and touched the people along his way each day, those who were in His path. He saw needs and met them. This is what you are doing in Honduras this week. Blessings to you all as you serve!

  2. Annette Ciaravino says:

    Think of short mission trips as visiting your brothers and sisters in Christ. Just family visiting family…family helping family…family loving family.

  3. Sarah,bi am loving this news from Honduras and please know that you all our in mine and rick’s prayers – daily! You all are christ’s hands and feet and I have to believe in my heart that even though this is a short mission, what you are doing will have a lasting effect on the people you serve. God bless you all and please give my baby girl a hug from her mom!

    • Thanks so much, Judy! I will definitely give her a hug! She’s a joy to be around and serve alongside

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