My experience in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, was life-changing. To be precise, it was a shift of perspective caused by living the Gospel. Though my time in Honduras was very short—or so it felt —it was absolutely exceptional.
I was with Fr. Alexis Zuniga, S.T., and Jorge Soto, a member of our lay community from Costa Rica. Both men are outstanding missionaries with hearts filled with God’s love for His people. I also had the privilege of working with a group of missionary nuns from Colombia, along with several other missionary volunteers.
We would all gather once a week to pray together and celebrate Mass before we would set out on home visits, led by the Sisters. We introduced ourselves, got to know a bit more about the people and invited them to participate in the many activities the local parish has to offer. It was quite an exciting experience.
A highlight of my time in Honduras was participating in the Palm Sunday procession and communion services. A good friend of Father Alexis — a diocesan priest from another region of the country — came by asking for assistance. Despite my nerves, I volunteered to help! It was definitely an experience I will never forget.
To the world, Honduras has a reputation for being a violent place. But to me, it is home to very caring and loving people…people who are are humble and open to learning from others. It was my privilege to share in their lives, to hear their life stories and to offer comfort to those in need.
As I contemplate my days in Honduras and recall the people I came to know, I realize how Jesus reveals himself through others. I remember how at times I was speechless after listening to shocking testimonies. All I could do was offer an embrace and cry with those who wept. But in spite of all the circumstances that surrounded us we would always be able to share, pray and laugh together.
A good portion of my time was spent working with youth. We would visit them in “El Centro De Alcance,” an outreach center with the aim of counteracting the violence within the community. It is a program that helps youth cultivate a better atmosphere through positive thinking and behavior. Without a doubt, I had a great time and learned a lot from this ministry.
Indeed, every day was different — never a dull moment. Our founder, Father Thomas Judge, consistently spoke of charity and how it leads us to give ourselves to others. Thus in the spirit of charity, we are sent, directed by the Holy Spirit, to the poor and abandoned.
Before coming to Honduras, I had experienced only two other mission sites — in Mexico and in Costa Rica. For this trip I asked God, “Lord send me to where you are and where I can serve you and your people.”
In the end, Honduras was exactly where I needed to be. It made for a terrific mission experience in which I learned many valuable lessons about life and the importance of living as a community. Most importantly, it has increased my understanding of what the kingdom of God is all about.
Thank you to all who made my visit to Honduras possible. Your support and friendship is not forgotten. You remain in my daily prayers as I hope I remain in yours.