Since joining my new missions agency, Christian Health Service Corps (CHSC) this summer, I felt the Lord leading me to serve in Honduras with them. There were two mission hospitals in Honduras that needed an American nurse to help their ministries: Hospital Loma de Luz (through Cornerstone Foundation) and the Jungle Hospital (through Healing Hands Global). Per Greg and Candi's suggestion of visiting both hospitals, I planned a site visit September 25-29.
Before my trip, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking of the World Health Organization's statistic of Honduras being the most dangerous country in the world due to drug trafficking and drug cartels. It spurred me on to truly walk by faith in many ways. It was the first time traveling to a new country by myself. I did not know anyone at either hospital, except for three people I communicated with via email prior to my trip. I did not know Honduran culture, but I knew Spanish and that is half the battle. Transportation was more of a challenge than what I was used to. I truly had to trust the taxi drivers set up for me were legit drivers and not someone who would abduct me. Through it all, I have never relied and depended on God more than in those five days while in Honduras.
I flew to Honduras Sunday, September 25th. I drove 3 1/2 hours down to Houston the night before to stay with a friend who lived 20 minutes from the airport. Before he left to go to church that morning, he noticed I appeared a little anxious and stopped what he was doing to pray over me and for safe travels during the day. I felt immediate peace rush over me. I made sure I had everything I needed for my trip before leaving the apartment. While waiting to board the plane, I grabbed a banana and apple to eat for breakfast, not knowing when I would be able to eat once I arrived in Honduras.
During the flight (2 hours, 45 minutes), I read over my Bible study for the day (Armor of God by Priscilla Shirer). I had felt under attack all week leading up to the trip through things that happened at work, co-workers, friends, family, etc. I expected this because I knew the Lord was calling me to serve in Honduras so the enemy was trying everything he could to discourage me. In the study, Priscilla talked about the enemy's strategies: against your passion, your focus, your identity, your family, your confidence, your calling, your purity, your rest and contentment, your heart, and against your relationships.Wow! After reflecting on the past week, I had experienced attacks in almost every category she had mentioned in the study. I have learned over the past twenty years I have been walking with the Lord, whenever you are closest to the will of God in your life, you will face even greater attacks form the enemy in attempt to thwart it.During the remaining time on the plane, I prayed the Lord would direct my steps, protect me from the enemy, give me discernment where He is truly leading me to serve over the next 3-4 years, and to give me encounters with people who were spiritually lost.
After going through Customs, and scanning my carry-on and backpack, I waited anxiously for Lizzie, a nurse who serves at Loma de Luz. Her parents have been missionaries in Honduras for ten years. It was closer for them to drop Lizzie off at the airport in San Pedro Sula and catch a flight to La Ceiba than for them to drive straight to Hospital Loma de Luz. I was not looking forward to our flight to La Ceiba, as I heard the plane we would be flying on would be a 15-passenger propeller plane (a first for me...but like I said, I would be walking by faith in many aspects during this trip).
While waiting for LIzzie to arrive, I receive a message from a missionary nurse at the hospital stating there was a tragic even that had happened a couple hours prior. A visiting surgeon had drowned while spear-fishing off the coast near the hospital and all of the missionaries and staff were involved in the search effort. She informed me that Lizzie and I would need to take a taxi from the airport to the hospital as everyone was quite distraught. She also wanted to let me know the situation I would be "walking into" once I arrived. I read the message over and over and just prayed for the family of the surgeon, his family, and those involved in the search.
An hour passed by and there was no sign of Lizzie and her parents. We only had 30 minutes left to board our plane. I searched and searched but could not find her in the crowded airport. I completely forgot the time change and that Honduras was an hour behind the time my watch was set so we actually had an hour and 30 minutes until we had to board the plane. What a relief! 25 minutes later I finally met Lizzie and her parents. While we waited, we grabbed a baleada, a traditional Honduran dish composed of a thick flour tortilla folded in half with mashed beans (we added cheese but Honduran cheese does not taste like cheese in the States). It tasted kind of bland to me, and of course, it upset my stomach.
We went through security and boarded the plane. It appeared everyone who purchased a ticket was on the flight so I did not know why we were still waiting over 15 minutes to leave. A small man in a pilot uniform walked towards the plane. Of course we were waiting on the pilot to board! (Only in Latin American countries is everyone late.) The plane was the smallest I had been on (48-passenger jet). By the time I listened to 3 worship songs (18 minutes), we touched down in La Ceiba. Our taxi driver was waiting for us and loaded our suitcases. We made a stop at the grocery store in La Ceiba on our way to Belfante, where Hospital Loma de Luz is located. After leaving the grocery store, we drove 30 minutes on paved roads until we came to a dirt road, which we took for 45 minutes. I thought the plane was "bumpy" and turbulent enough. No, this stretch of dirt road, with all its numerous, deep potholes, made me even more "car sick" and nauseous than I have ever been.
We finally made it to Hospital Loma de Luz where I finally met Liz, a nurse who I have corresponded with over the past several weeks. She showed me to my room and I quickly unpacked so that I could get some rest. It didn't take long before I was properly welcomed to Honduras by a huge, gigantic grasshopper landing on my face. Bienvenidos a Honduras!
Grasshopper that welcomed me to Honduras
For more pictures of my adventures in Honduras, visit my Facebook album here