Today’s reflection comes from the heart of Madonna Snyder, a pastor at our church and a dear friend. This is her first mission trip to Honduras:
Again today we made our way to the school soccer field to set up and cook for hundreds of people. I thought the crowd was much bigger than yesterday, but yesterday I was helping serve the drink so my head had been down most of the time. I purposely chose a different job today in order to see the faces and make eye contact and be able to give a smile to those going through for the food we gladly give away.
Most of the faces were strangers to me but there were two women who seemed like old friends, Maria Elena and Candida. I met these two neighbors only yesterday when the group I was in made our way to each of their homes to invite them to yesterday’s meal. We were welcomed in with great hospitality and warmth and there was a genuine joy they showed us for having taken the time to stop by and see them. We were able to visit and take our time to hear a little of their stories and then share prayer together. This simple unplanned visit seemed to join our hearts and today when they joined us at the soccer field again we hugged tightly, happy to see one another.
Before the meal is served each day there is first a worship service so that we can not only feed their stomachs but also give them the gospel to feed their souls. As I stood among the crowd with all those I didn’t know, listening to singing in a language I mostly don’t understand, I am surprised by how much my soul still is able to worship. Then watching Maria Elena worship with her eyes closed and hands outstretched brings tears to my eyes as she pours her heart into her singing, unphased by the fact that others are watching her. And my mind begins to wonder about the others in the crowd.
Pastor Rudolpho is leading worship and there are those close up who are fully engaged the way Maria Elena is, there are those just behind this front group, who are there but not fully participating but being respectful. Then there are those who are sitting back, not part of the crowd,who seem totally unengaged waiting for the meal we will serve; not much interested in worshiping except to stare in curiosity at the worshipers.
I cannot help but think of the Parable of the Sower, found in Matthew 13. Long ago Jesus told us that there would be those who’d hear the Word and it would take root in their lives and some would hear the Word and it would not. A farmer may know well what type of soil he has to work with but when it comes to the heart of our fellow human beings we are not privileged with that information. God knows the condition of the heart but we are still required to sow the seed. We are not called to pass judgment on who is ready to have the Word take root, we are called to spread the gospel far and wide and to do so with generosity and love. And so again today that is what we did, fully trusting God to work in the lives of the beautiful Hondurans.
And we are also trusting God with our new friends. In the world I live in it’s so easy to stay in touch that it’s a little difficult for me to think I may never see Maria Elena or Candida again, but I know that God will be here with them in Honduras. I know that, not simply because His Word says He will never leave us, but because I have seen Him here. God has been working. God is working and He will continue to work, and I’m feeling blessed that He allows us to join Him in that work.
Today is our last day to work in the neighborhoods surrounding Tegucigalpa. It will be a hard one for all of us. We talked in our “team time” last night about the fact there is so much need, and so little that we can offer. But we were reminded that every contact, every prayer, each bag of beans and rice leave an impact. And we have to trust God to do the work, to grow the seeds we are planting.
Before we left Honduras last year, one of the missionaries living here told us to consider that the Lord put us where we are, in our daily lives back in the States, for a reason. He said that while, for some of us, our tender hearts may cause us to reject the blessings He has given us, we need to understand that it is because of those blessings that we can do this work we are engaged in right now. And he called us to pray for others the Lord HAS placed in Honduras to do long-term work.
It was a blessing to hear from one of our interpreters, Seun, that Hondurans have great appreciation for the sacrifices we make in our lives so that we can come to her country and minister to the poor. She says that the Honduran government fails to provide for the very basic needs of its people, and that they believe God has sent us as His ambassadors.
A final word: There was plenty of excitement at the shelter last night as the Honduras and US soccer teams faced off in tournament play — and not a few sad Hondurans when the US won 1-0. Go Team USA!