I was moved by the health conditions of those who came to the clinic… I had expected hungry, malnourished children… The moms knew their children suffered from parasites in the intestinal tract and asked for meds… When you ask them how much water they drink daily, they think 2-3 glasses is sufficient. Robbie used a 1-liter bottle to show his patients that they needed at least three times that every day! They thought their bellies would blow up if they drank that much!
Gina, our optical tech on this trip, brought many more pair <of glasses>, along with eye charts. She was able to correctly supply what many women and men needed. What a valuable gift it is to them to be able to read their own Bibles! -- a hunger for God!
Being a “baby” Christian (5 years), what most affected me on my first mission trip… was the time spent praying. The team prayed together prior to starting each day… we prayed with patients… we prayed at the end of the work day… we got together for team devotions and we talked about the miracles we witnessed throughout the day! … It made me realize how important, wonderful, and powerful prayers are!
The simplicity of the Evangecube was evident in many who heard and saw the gospel unfold. Several Hondurans… became proficient with their cube and shared the gospel with it while we were there… God spoke to many. Evangelism efforts resulted in 50 Bibles, 600 tracts and 140 small crosses given out.
Since this was my first mission trip, I was apprehensive about what I would find when I got there. I was definitely going out of my comfort zone… Playing and making crafts with the children in their church was a joy and I delighted in the fact that our team was putting smiles on so many little faces… I also had the opportunity to visit nearby homes, which touched my heart… When we asked them what we should pray for, each one cried as they needed prayer for health issues, alcoholism, jobs and for family… I realized how important the church is to these people. It is the one place they can go to sing, praise the Lord and leave their troubles behind.
My second mission trip took me to Tegucigalpa, Honduras… We worked shoulder-to-shoulder with the locals, while building strong bonds that will stay with us forever. Our job descriptions changed almost moment to moment and I found myself alternately laying block, tying together rebar, mixing concrete on the floor and hoisting heavy buckets up to the top of the walls, among other things… Our team grew closer each day and I enjoyed every moment we had together, whether working, eating, sharing devotions or merely riding to and from our destinations. Our times of worship and interaction with our sister church were some of the most precious times, and they responded with extraordinary love and appreciation. We quickly realized that their faith walk was far more mature than ours and their total focus while praising God is to be admired and adopted.
When I first heard of the trip I started praying… I also learned to put my trust in God for all things. It was eye-opening to see how the Honduras people live with so little, yet have so much love in their hearts… I was most interested in their immensely successful cell groups. New Christians must join a cell group. The sole purpose for their groups is to reach non-believers. Their goal is to have every member of the group become a leader and start a new group. The people of Brazos Abiertos live their lives with the love we seem to get only in a life group.
Besides working with the children and doing a little construction, the best part for me was my relationships with the ladies. Kas and I went with seven young women from the church to visit five homes near the church… After praying for a lady's very ill husband, we asked if the group of seven ladies needed prayer. One by one, they expressed their pain. They cried as we prayed for them. Praying for the ladies in this church community made me feel very bonded to them. I will not forget their faces with beautiful smiles. God also opened a door for ministry to Iglesia Brazios Abiertos's women who have been abused.
I greatly appreciated the opportunity to work alongside both my FCOG team members and my Honduran brothers at the worksite. It was nice to be in a situation where title or economic class did not mean anything and we could literally sweat it out together and experience the joy of serving together… I was reminded that material possessions are not the end-all to happiness and fulfillment. Coming from an environment where appearance, success and time frames are emphasized, it was nice to be reminded that relationships, enjoying the moment and not needing material goods to provide enjoyment and fulfillment.
It was such a joy to return after 2 years to see familiar faces and be reunited in friendships. As was my experience before, the blessings we received were constant and overwhelming. Every time we turned around there was a smiling face, a hug, the only English words many of the Hondurans could speak: "I love you," hand-made gifts, food, and more food. One of the best ministries we had was that of cardboard testimonies. We were able to share these testimonies, translated into Spanish, at church on Sunday… It was our prayer that they would know that just because we're from the U.S. does not mean we don't have a lot of the same issues they deal with. Most of us who participated had experienced alcohol, abandonment, or abuse. Some issues are international, as is the fact that Jesus Christ is the only answer!
Each time I've gone on a mission trip, I've discovered the same truth: You go on these trips to serve others; but instead you're the one who is served… They never once failed to give us their very best. In the materialistic society we live in, the things we have define who we are. Many of the people in Honduras lack material possessions, but they are so wealthy in their faith and trust in God. There's not a doubt in my mind that they wouldn't trade God in for all the money or popularity in the world. That sort of faith is something that I've come to crave after seeing how much they love and fully depend on God.
On our trip, God humbled me in many ways. One that stands out was… Emerson, the severely disabled son of a very caring mother, Sonia… and for me it was hard to see past the gloom of this predicament… I realized how many treasures dear Sonia must be building up in heaven. Even here on earth I could tell that her hard work was its own reward.
Ironically, the very next day God allowed me to be sick and I had to be taken care of! In between all the pain I kept thinking, "Very funny, God." He really does work in amazing ways.
There is no doubt why they call our sister church "Brazos Abiertos." They welcomed us with "open arms." Almost every person greeted us with smiles, hugs and kind words. Although there was a language barrier, the language of love shared between us was clearly understood… Many things stood out during our time with our brothers and sisters, especially their worship… We sang "Ancient of Days" and although we sang in English, and they in Spanish, God heard one harmonious church, and it was a sweet and beautiful sound… Home visitations were humbling, eye opening and a chance to love on His people… His provision in placing us all in the appointed homes He chose was amazing! … Some would consider the Honduran people to be poor by our standards, but I see it differently. They are so rich! Rich in His love, generosity, kindness, humbleness… fully dependent on God to provide for all their needs.
Paul and Christie Tanner
The Trip of My Life! Thanks to all of those who prayed and donated to make this trip a huge success. Christie and I will be forever changed by what we experienced in Haiti. May we never forget how blessed we are as a nation and as individuals.