By Sarah Fisher, Staff Writer
It’s hard to pack for a trip in 30 hours. It’s even harder to prepare, emotionally and physically, for a mission trip, and it’s almost impossible to prepare to travel to a developing nation with a high school youth group as an atheist. But, with only 30 hours notice, I dropped everything and went to Honduras for a week.
As I sat at work on a Tuesday, thinking about my concert plans for the coming weekend, I saw my high school youth pastor had left me a voicemail. Greg, who I haven’t seen in a year, called because someone dropped out of the youth group’s annual trip to Honduras leaving that Thursday—and he wanted me to be the one to fill the spot.
It’s not exactly a secret that I’m not religious, and if anyone knows exactly where I stand on Christianity, it’s Greg. After six years of open-minded, intellectual conversations about religion, I’m not shy when expressing what I believe to Greg. Before I asked about malaria medicine and flight times, I had to confirm if I was even allowed to go – did he call the right person? To that, Greg just laughed, said he welcomed questions and reassured me this was a good thing. So I took a deep breath, took a week off of work and I went to Honduras.
Having never been to a developing nation, I was equally heartbroken and inspired by Honduras. I’ve always been passionate about service. I’ve read books and seen photographs of poverty. But poverty became real for the first time when I held hands with a 12-year-old drug addict who lives on the streets of Tegucigalpa. Or when I watched kids my age search through trash piles on the street for dinner. Or especially when I came back to Pennsylvania and filled my car up with tank of gas that cost as much as one of the eco-stoves our team built. I witnessed hardship at a level hard to comprehend, let alone to communicate — everything was new.
But, more importantly, I was in awe of the graciousness of the people I met in Honduras. We traveled to Honduras to build eco-stoves in Guimaca, but we also had the goal of building partnership with other youths. We spent a large part of our trip simply getting to know each other. We played a lot of games, ate meals together, danced more than I thought possible and even washed each other’s feet. Despite the language barrier, I made gracious and genuine friends.
My week in Honduras was simultaneously the longest and shortest week of my the summer. In that week, I learned how to mix cement, I got really sick and I sang in front of a group of strangers. I conquered fears, saw blood, yelled and laughed a ton. I reaffirmed my passion for truth, justice and service. And I learned when you give your whole self willingly and eagerly and with humility and without fear, beautiful things can happen.