Honduras Dinner – Tuesday, October 30 at 6:00 p.m.
2013 Mission Trips: July 13-20; July 20-28
One of the highlights of my time here has been to join one of our Honduras Mission Teams several years ago. The parish has long supported and led these trips and I had grown jealous of those who had participated, hearing all the reports of the town of Tela, the parish of Espiritu Santo, and the deep Christian faith of our Episcopal brothers and sisters there. Both my children had gone and, finally, Mary Ward and I were able to make the trip.
The great needs of the community and country certainly made an impression on me but, frankly, I was prepared for that and wasn’t shocked at the poverty. It’s there and it’s a big problem for that country. Like any problem, the causes are multiple. There’s no one thing or event or people to blame for the severe lack of resources in Honduras. The government is unorganized and inconsistent. There is some wealth but poor distribution of the wealth makes most everyone very poor. In many ways Honduras is a scavenger society. Garbage collection is virtually non-existent so most things just get thrown to the side. But someone eventually wanders by and picks up what others have thrown out, imagining some possible use for it in the future. Little additions to small shacks are constructed with most anything solid that can be collected. In that way little goes to waste and the people depend on each other much more than we tend to think we need to here in our country. Extended families stay very close, continuing to live in tiny shanties even as children and grandchildren and great grandchildren are born. The elderly aren’t cast off; they continue to have a place in the family system.
The parish we have worked with over the years thrives in many ways. A new and attractive nave and sanctuary attracts parishioners and newcomers. The clergy and lay leadership is sound. The school is an important part of the community and spreads a good bit of hope around the area. Many in the area are Roman Catholic but the Episcopal Church is growing quickly there. Not being quite so top-down in its organization, the Episcopal Church is a little closer to the people in the pews and maybe a little more responsive to community needs. Having married priests and female priests has helped the church tremendously. What has helped us in this country – continuing the great tradition of the liturgy, along with a progressive spirit of adaptation to changes in culture – has helped the Episcopal Church do well there too.
The great joy of the people in Tela, and most everywhere in Honduras, is striking. People with less seem, in general, to enjoy what they have more than rich folks. But, in Honduras, those with very little don’t stand in contrast with those who have more like they do here. In Honduras, hardly anyone is a “have”; everyone is a “have-not.” There’s not that brewing anger against the rich that we find around here. Everybody’s in the same boat and, so, the joy is more accessible. We forget that here, that we’re all in the same boat. Our independence here makes us forget we need each other, even forget that we need God. In Honduras that’s not easily forgotten.
The main surprise I had in Honduras was the sense of community that was built among our own team members. The work we do there helps the Hondurans, that is true. We build things, we teach, we offer medication and dental work. But most of our work there is really about pilgrimage. We travel to another culture, reflect on what we find there, and process what those sights stir within us. It’s a place of discovering deep faith. It’s a foundational experience for young people. It’s a time we all come close to God and know a bit more about our relationships with each other.
How does that happen in a third world country better than it happens here in our own surroundings? That’s a hard question to answer but we begin to do that at our Honduras Dinner on October 30. Come and hear what your parishioners are doing. Come and consider being part of the team. We need others to jump in and carry the movement forward.
Applications for next summer’s trips will be available at the dinner or you may contact the church office. Perhaps this is the year God intends for you to go to Honduras. Pray about that and, even if you’re never going to go, come to the dinner. Your faith will grow. And you will help the church in Honduras.
Robert C. Wisnewski, Jr.