Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Journey To Honduras Begins

After months of planning, fundraising, cross-cultural coordination, and much prayer, the Honduras mission team has begun our 2014 mission journey. As if meeting at the church at 3:30 am this morning weren't enough, today's journey began early in the morning after Fourth of July celebrations in all of our neighborhoods. Going to bed early didn't help. My neighborhood sounded like we had a military invasion and our neighbors defended the town by emptying out their arsenal of weapons stored for just such a moment. The truth is, none of us minded. We love the celebrations of our country's independence. But it did mean we were even more bleary-eyed than usual at 3:30 am. 

We loaded into the vans, headed for the airport and had an uneventful time through check-in, security, and onto the flight. Spirits were running high. Many slept on the flight to Houston. My daughter, Christina, was concerned because United overbooked the flight and dropped her seat assignment. She had a ticket but no seat. So, being the 24 year-old tech savvy Twitter user she is, she tweeted a complaint about United. Before leaving for Houston, she got a tweet back from United saying they would fix it. 

In Houston, all got coffee, breakfast, and stretching of the legs needed. We met up with another part of our team, a group of 11 people from St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Bonita Springs. Their pastor (priest) is Roy Allison and he has gone with our group several times in the past. Now, he is leading a group from his church. We spent much of our time getting to know each other. Meanwhile, Christina went to the United counter to get her seat assignment. They told her they were overbooked. She told them, "I'm with a team of 28. I HAVE to be on this flight." After a few moments, the United agent solved the problem. The agent said, "Get six people, including you, that you really like." Christina did. It was her, her boyfriend Tyler, the three Dowdys, and me. "You six stand over there and wait for me a minute."  A few minutes later: "You are all upgraded to first class." Bam! So we flew to Tegucigalpa, Honduras in first class. I sat next to Darren Dowdy, teenage son of Jayne and Barry. It is his first mission trip, first time out of the country, and first time to fly first class. He was visibly thrilled. As were all six of us. 

The flight was smooth, and the landing into Tegucigalpa the usual harrowing twists and turns and feeling like doing a fly-by of hillside homes around the airport (Click here to see video of landing in Tegucigalpa). It feels a bit like what I imagine it would be like to land a Cessna single engine airplane into Raymond James stadium. Descend and stop. Quickly. We collected our luggage and headed east on a beautiful day with surprisingly comfortable weather. 

Weary travelers on the bus to Jutacalpa, our stop for the night
We stopped at a Mennonite bakery on the way to our hotel for the night. The bakery is run by Americans who have moved to Honduras and caters to groups like ours. We got a snack there and had a chance to mingle with a second busload of people heading for the same ranch on which we will be staying. They are from a Methodist church in Carrollwood, Georgia. 

At the bakery, Roy and I began talking about the theme verse of this week:
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” Matthew 5:16. We are considering how this theme verse can truly be a defining verse for our experience this week. We’ll let you know how that works out.

We made it to the hotel in Jutacalpa and here we met the third team that will be joining us on the ranch, a group from Decatur Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. The group from Decatur was a group of 27, most of whom looked to be high schoolers. Their pastor and two other leaders were there as well. We all had a delicious dinner of rice, grilled chicken, carrots and Zucchini, and, of course, tortillas.

So, that is the report for DAY ONE. After 17 hours of traveling, we have made it to our hotel. All are safe, tired, well and are excited to be here. 

My hope for this week is to invite a guest blogger to write entries so you can get a feel for the experience through others' eyes. 

We covet your prayers and will be praying for your worship and serving in the days ahead. 

Grace and peace, 
Pastor John


marcus said...

We are blessed that you are able to connect and send us these updates. What a huge change in connectivity from just a few years ago.

The team is large this year, but so is the prayer support. 17 prayer partners (just for the St. A team members), but also 2 congregations who love you all very much and are thinking about you and praying for you constantly.

Today in church, Joy preached a beautiful sermon on John 7:53-8:11 that was both well researched and informative, but also passionate and personal. She challenged us to examine our own conscience about times when we have 'judged' or condemned others. Our adult bible study class talked about it for a long time.

I couldn't reliably say how many times I heard the Honduras team mentioned in a prayer today. Maybe 5 or 6? Every prayer offered up on St. Andrews today, in worship, in bible study and in personal prayer (blessings before meals, etc.) lifted up the team.

With all this prayer support, God must be planning something special for your team this week.

Vaya con Dios!

Karen Fullerton said...

One day I want to make this trip with you! Big brother and little sister team!

Laurent Ramambason said...

Dear John,
It so good to hear from you and the team, in so lively way, fulfilling the great commission and linking people of different cultures.
Your first day story shows that, in God, negative circumstances lead to first-class experiences. Wow!
St Andrews is lucky to work upon both development wisdoms: “Think locally and act globally”, “Act locally and think globally”