The Calling to “GO" to Honduras
In February 2016, Frances Surgenor traveled to Honduras on a medical mission trip with Friends of Barnabas (FOB). Check out her story and see how God impacted her life through serving the people of Honduras.
The Calling to “GO!”
To me, being a Christian means displaying the characteristics of Christ: mercy, compassion, humility, and caring. What better way to show those traits than through a Mission trip?
I have always been interested in Missions. While working and when my children were young, for the most part I concentrated on local missions. And there are many! There are more populations to serve right here in Charlotte and in the US to keep us all busy 24/7! Those who are poor or homeless, the mentally ill, addicted, unwed mothers, victims of abuse and human trafficking, prisoners, and those who are unemployed are all populations at risk and that need support.
After retirement, however, I felt God’s calling to step out and take a Mission trip outside of the U.S. University City UMC does such a wonderful job through its Mission outreach, and offers many opportunities locally, nationally, and internationally. While visiting UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) on-line, I came upon an organization called Friends of Barnabas. This sounded interesting, as they organize Medical Mission trips, and being able to use my Nursing skills on a Mission trip appealed to me. But this was in December, and the group from Virginia was leaving in February!
After speaking with the Team Leader, and speaking with my very supportive husband, and LOTS of prayer, I decided to go for it. Perhaps just having two months to prepare would force me to not back out!! Even though I was almost 66, had had a recent knee replacement, and knew the conditions may be demanding, I was feeling very excited!
Friends of Barnabas was founded by a Methodist Minister, Reverend Linwood Cook, in 2000. From simple mission trips to dispense Vitamin A and anti-parasite medication to children, the trips expanded to include general medicine, eye, and dental clinics to the poor communities in the remote mountain regions of central Honduras. Soon, FOB added surgical mission teams focusing on cardiac, oral and maxillofacial, neurological cases, and a full-time clinic. FOB’s staff work alongside a dedicated group of volunteers and missioners to serve the people of Honduras, making the world a little better . . . one child at a time.
I’ll have to admit I had forgotten who exactly Barnabas was, but soon found that everywhere I turned I was running into this man!! It was my turn to teach Sunday School shortly after I committed to joining the Mission team, and the lesson was on Paul and his early conversion. Guess who encouraged Paul and took him on his first mission trip?? Barnabas! Barnabas was an early convert to the new religion of Christianity and upon his conversion, he immediately sold his property and devoted the proceeds to the Church. For this and similar acts, he was renamed “Son of Encouragement.” When I visited the Health Department for my necessary shots, the intake Nurse there started talking about her mission trip and mentioned Saint Barnabas! To cap it all off, in early January, Pastor Ron spoke of offering “encouraging” words to other people as part of our Christian responsibility, and guess who he referenced? Barnabas, of course!! If I didn’t know who Barnabas was before, I certainly did now!! I get it, God, you want me to go on this mission trip!!
Going . . .
It is very hard to put into words what this Mission trip meant to me. From the beautiful, humble poor people of Honduras, who are so grateful for ANYTHING we had to offer to the wonderful volunteer members of our team who never complained, always found a way to smile through every challenge (like no electricity, cold showers, having to climb the mountain on foot when our bus got stuck on the rocky terrain and had to be pulled up the mountain by tying a wench to the front of the bus and several trees), I felt valued for what I had to give, so very humbled, and definitely appreciative of what I have. From the 88 year old lady who had walked for miles to come to the “clinic” to get a small bag of Tylenol for her arthritis to the stoic 11 year old boy who would not cry even after a painful dental extraction, each and every one of them touched my heart in a way that I will always remember with a mixture of admiration, respect, and sadness.
Rev. Cook wrote a prayer for the Honduran children that sums up my experience better than anything I could relate and so I would like to share it:
A Prayer for Honduran Children
(by Rev. Linwood Cook)
We pray for the children of Honduras;
who play with sticks and rocks, their toys,
who laugh and sing, over the growls of hunger,
who know a tortilla and a handful of red beans is a meal,
who love their parents as they hug and bless each other,
who hope for a better life, someday.
We pray for those;
who have never tasted ice cream,
who sleep on the ground, a bed of cardboard or burlap,
who do not have a room to clean,
who learn to cook over a open fire at the age of four,
who have never colored a picture.
We pray for those;
who have parasites consuming much of what they eat,
whose bodies are stunted by malnutrition,
whose stomachs will know pain in the day and night,
who will never see a doctor or a dentist,
who have never known a bathroom with walls.
We pray for those;
who live with birth defects,
who have to be carried to the mountain medical clinics,
whose arms bear sick children many miles,
who travel so far, to help so many,
whose minds, hearts and hands will repair.
We rejoice and pray for those;
who see clearly for the first time,
who take their first wobbly steps after a surgery,
who show joy through a new smile,
whose load is made lighter when a child is made healthy,
who live, saved by the selfless love of a far-off neighbor.
We pray for those;
who will make a decision to make a difference,
who take their vacation to go to Honduras to help,
who give faithfully to make the ministry happen,
who will touch a child, and be forever changed,
who are friends like Barnabas. Amen
Should YOU go? Yes!!!!
I know I am not the only one out there who feels called to Mission work to share my love of Christ. I would encourage anyone who is able to GO GO GO! You will be blessed beyond words. But if a trip out of the country isn’t possible, remember that “going on a mission” doesn’t have to entail a long trip and travel. There are things you can do in your own town. In fact, you never have to leave your house!! Write a letter to an inmate (there are thousands waiting for a Christian pen-pal), crochet or knit baby hats or blankets for unwed Mothers, donate household items to worthy causes (they pick up!), participate in food drives, book drives for children, the backpack ministry at church, pack a bag of food to hand out to the homeless at stoplights (or pick them up at Church through the “Stoplight Ministry”), pack medical kits for Syrian refugees in March after the Wonderful Wednesday meal, and on and on. Every single person can “go on a mission.” Don’t put it off one more day! And remember – it is never too late!
In Christian Love,