If I am counting correctly this will be my 7th trip to the Central American country of Honduras. My first trip was in ninth grade. Seven years later, I am a different person… largely because of my exposure to this strange and beautiful culture.
When I first visited Honduras everything was new to me. The language, flying in an airplane, the food, the way of life many people lived that was so different than my comfortable little subdivision culture. I wasn’t necessarily shocked, but more-so enamored and intrigued. That first trip opened up a new world to me. It brought missionary stories that I had always heard as a child to life right before my eyes.
Occasionally I go back and read my travel journal from that trip. It is very insightful to see how my perspective has transformed from then to now just by the descriptions that I gave. I told of the frightening traffic in the city and the typical tortilla-and-bean meals. I had met a boy named Jorge and I spelled his name “Horhay” because that is how it sounded to me. I saw everything with a pair of gringo* eyes. Everything that I wrote was a portrayal of some cultural element held up to a North American backdrop. If something didn’t make since to me it was because it was different from that which i was familiar. At an elementary level, I was assessing the Honduran culture by comparison. I was mentally sorting through what made them, them and what made us, us. At first glance Honduras was new and new = different. By now I am so accustomed to it that I see more similarities than differences.
Each year, for about a decade or more, Argo Christian Fellowship has sent a team to the Copán region of Honduras to help provide medical attention to many people who live hours from access to a doctor. They team up with some great local doctors and dentists to host clinics, usually in small concrete school or church buildings. Oftentimes these villages are hard to reach and depending on the rainfall, might only be accessible by foot or horseback.
- One of the worst experiences I had was hiking a couple miles uphill to a pueblo called Santa Lucía. Each step had to be taken deliberately in order to not lose my shoe in the deep, sticky mud that formed a suction up to my ankle each time. We took turns carrying duffle bags of medicine along the way and I don’t think one team member made it to the clinic site without having been covered in mud from slipping and falling at least once. We had a good laugh later on but my journal entry that night began with illegible scratches and scribbles out of pure exhaustion and frustration followed by “this is how I feel right now.”