Her name was Sandra and we made an instant connection. She was the only Honduran woman I’d met who spoke beautiful English. And, she bore the name of my little sister.
On my second trip to Honduras, I was asked to share a Bible study with the local women. A circle of chairs was set up in the grass outside the church in the mountain village of Monte Redondo. Nearby, children from the village and from the orphanage operated by Forgotten Children Ministries enjoyed lively games, crafts and a Bible message.
These women were Mamas and Grandmamas, taking an hour from their work-at-home lives to fellowship and to hear what this American woman had to say about Jesus. With the help of an interpreter, we walked through verses in Romans that I hoped would encourage and bless them.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs — heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.” Romans 8:17
The women were gracious and attentive. I’m not sure if my message was anything new, or even if my efforts blessed them, but I know I was blessed. Many of them had plenty to teach me — about humility and grace, about committing God’s word to memory, about gratitude for the simplest of blessings.
Sandra had proudly responded in English when I asked the women if they had a favorite verse, giggling with delight at the surprised look on my face. After our time in the Word ended, I sought her out and told Sandra about my sister. I commented on her English and Sandra said she had lived in America for a short time. We chatted and shared the names and ages of our children. Then Sandra mentioned that she worked outside the home because her husband couldn’t work. She made money for her family by gathering discarded clothing, even buying cast-off clothes, so that she could re-sell them on a street corner in the village.
I saw Sandra again later in the week as we all gathered in the church for an evening worship service. She asked for money and wrote down her e-mail address so that we could stay in touch. I pulled a few bills from my pocket and pressed them into her hand. We hugged and I said I would pray for her. Then she was gone.
On return trips to Honduras in the years following, I searched for Sandra’s face, to no avail. I had prayed for this young Honduran sister, but never followed up with an email because the mission organizers advised against it. It’s an act of obedience that I regret.
Mission trips have forever changed me, my husband and our sons. For as long as I’m able, I will travel to Central America and to any other destination the Lord dictates. I’m certain I will meet many Sandras — women who must find work in countries where there is little opportunity for employment.
I’ve shared stories from my mission trips with family and friends and I’ve often heard the lament “I don’t think I can go.” In truth, God has not called all of us to go, but He has called us to give — our prayers, needed supplies, financial support.
Those who cannot physically go into the foreign mission field can and do serve at home. But, when their hearts are touched and they are led to extend hope and help to countries outside their shores, they can give to causes that provide safety, hope and an income for all women. Whether widowed, orphaned or seeking an escape from a life of enslavement and poverty, women around the world need gainful employment.
Trades of Hope was started to give women an opportunity for a better life. The company works with artisans and organizations in countries where there is little hope of employment for women by marketing their handmade products, either online or in home parties.
On Sunday evening, August 13, my friend Sheli Massie will join me on Facebook for a live announcement about how you can help provide for women around the world through purchasing their products at Trades of Hope. I’ve invited lots of friends to drop in as I step into this endeavor with Sheli and Trades of Hope. All my profits from this event, as well others I’ll host in the future, will be set aside in a fund to send myself and one of our sons to Honduras in June 2019.
I hope you’ll join us here at 8 p.m. ET on Sunday evening, August 13 to meet the amazing Sheli and to learn more about Trades of Hope.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:27