Who would have thought I would ever go on a mission trip? To quote on old friend of mine when they found out I was going….”This blows my mind.” Well, I promise you….it was mine that was blown.
I am going to TRY to share and put into words what happened…
Here is what I remember the most about our mission trip. Granted if you were to pick an ideal mission team from the lot of us only two would probably be chosen. Our team, as we call ourselves, is the sweep the kitchen mission team. A few of us are ex-addicts of some sort, two are pastors, and all of us have hurts, habits and hang-ups.
Yeah, God took an unlikely group of people and made a team. A team of brothers and sisters, His children, to share Him to a foreign country. How cool is God?
If you would like to read about the first knowledge of the trip and the attack from the enemy you can read them here and here. Please understand that so much happened while we were on the mission trip that I might seem to ramble. As a matter of fact I know I will. I may even get my days messed up because, unlike the rest who actually wrote a journal , I would go to the Rio Mame River, where I would walk by this one amazing tree every morning, and talk to God during our down time in the mornings.
I will say here that getting out of the US is easier than getting back in as far as customs and such. A few of us had to turn over some things we bought in Olanchito due to customs and one of our team had to be frisked…hilarious.
Upon arriving at the airport we were greeted with people seeking money. But we were warned prior about such folks so we just talked with them for a few minutes and they moved on. It seems that many of these people have been doing this for years and are actually considered wealthy down there. They know tourist will feel for them if they dress “down”.
It was about a five-hour drive from the airport to the mission house in Olanchito, Honduras. That ride was an experience to say the least. For the most part we were just looking at the mountains and tree groves as we bumped along the road. Once we hit a town/village, if we were flying over, it would have looked like a bunch of ants moving around. No street lights…just yield and go. People on bikes and motorcycles everywhere. No speed limits whatsoever!
The houses, now granted, are different from the ones here and are mixed. In that, I mean you will have a nice home and then a poor home all through the town. All of them will have a fence with barbed wire on top to keep thieves out. And then you will see a home not finished yet. It can take years to build a home down there. They go and work for a while then buy the land. Go work and then lay the foundation of adobe or cinder blocks. Then go work some more and then build the walls and later the roof. No debt. But it takes a while. I thought that was interesting.
Back to the driving for a sec. Despite no speed limits or lights everyone was very conscious and courteous of others on the road whether on bike or foot. I saw no road rage in anyone’s face as we passed them by or as they passed us. Here is why…time is not important down there like it here.
On our last road to the mission house we were on a mountain and the road was bumpy to say the least. What tripped all of us out was that as we passed a waterfall, that actually flows over the road at times, we looked down to see a hole in the road that left about just enough room for the vehicle to go by. My jaw dropped. Looonng drop is all I can say.
We make it the mission house and are greeted by Pastor Dario. This pastor, to me, is the Billy Graham of Honduras. His desire for the lost to accept Jesus Christ is amazing. Upon saying hello, he asked us if we wanted to go meet the guys in the Ark. We were tired but ready.
This Ark is actually a rehabilitation facility that the Lord instructed him to build. It is also the reason we came. This mission trip was to bring Celebrate Recovery, a Christ centered recovery program, to the Ark and to Pastor Dario’s church. God saw that accomplished and much, much more. Upon meeting the guys in the Ark you could tell they were hurting…a few actually detoxing. A wonderful first visit.
Now our plan was to go to the Ark every morning and every night to teach a few men how to lead a CR program and to share our testimonies with the guys. Normally a CR program is worship, lesson and small group discussion on the lesson presented that night. Once a month someone gives their testimony how God helped them recover from say drugs, alcohol, depression, anxiety, food addiction, control and anger issues, porn addiction all the way to just plain ole, yet hard, self-worth issues. Well we did all that every morning and every night at the Ark. Remember, time is not a big deal. We could spend an hour or two if need be. And we did.
The first morning we started with worship. What was cool was that many of them knew the songs and sang along in Spanish. For some reason God told our planner, Marie, that I needed to give my testimony that morning. I gave my testimony, having to change it a little as certain words were hard to translate to Spanish, then the lesson was presented by our team leader Bro. Rayland. Powerful, as always. Then came the altar call. You could see the fight in the hearts just by looking at them. Finally a few came and we prayed over them. Then the rest came. We prayed over the whole group.
We then went into town to set up the rest of the visit, which trust me was God ordained. The places, we shared the message of hope to down there would not even let us in the door here…much less say of course….come on. We went to the schools, the prison, the orphanage, the hospital and yes, a television station. And we were welcomed with open arms.
Ended Sunday with another CR meeting at the Ark with Bro. Rayland giving another great lesson. More time praying with the guys and getting to know them a little thanks to our interpreter, Maria.
Monday morning there were two new men at the Ark. Pastor Dario had gone fishing and caught two more men. One of whom I will tell about shortly. The devil had hold of him good. But we had our CR meeting and prayed over the men again. You could see the light bulbs going off in the heads now. They were realizing that God did in fact love them and nothing they had ever done would change that fact.
The message that brought the light to the guys in the Ark was presented by Bro. Rayland. Basically he took a dollar bill from their country and asked them if it was an acceptable bill. Then he crumpled the bill up real good and asked them if it was the same bill as before despite it’s appearance. They said yes. He then poured water over the crumpled bill and asked the same question. They agreed that it was still the same bill. He then went outside and rubbed the bill in the mud, came back inside and asked the same question. That is what made the light bulbs go off. Realizing that no matter what we have done and the dirt we have accumulated, we are still the same people who God created and He still loves us. Several of the men accepted Christ that evening. One of the most powerful messages I have ever heard and I know I did not do it justice.
Next we head into town for our first school visit, sermon or meeting…whatever you would like to call it. It was definitely a shocker to realize that we would be speaking twice at the same school. There were so many children attending this school that they have two sessions one in the morning and one in the evening. Some kids get home from school at like seven p.m. Our first session had, if I had to guess, about 500 kids. The second session had about 400.
Ryan gives his testimony with Bro Rayland bringing the lesson/message. Our interpreter Maria Lee did an amazing job. About the whole time they are speaking I am just walking around behind all the students praying that God will reveal himself. I did that at all the schools we went to.
God answered those prayers powerfully as hundreds of kids came down front at the altar call for prayer. You know the Lord is moving when even as we are packing up to leave kids are still praying for one another and hugging each other.
We break for lunch. Here I will say that the food in Honduras is QUITE different from food in the states. We went to one restaurant where we were served soup as an appetizer. There was a hoof….a HOOF…in one. I don’t even want to know what was in mine. I tasted it and my taste buds said…uh…no! I actually had to ask pastor Dario if they eat cats down there because during our entire trip and many excursions through town I think I saw only one cat and that was at the church.
Now the chicken places beats our hands down though. The Chinese buffets are different there as well. It’s really not a pick what you want to eat and then sit down like ours. They deliver the food to the head of the table and it is passed down. All entrée’s are done this way. If you run out of one they will give you more. I pigged out.
After eating lunch we head back to the school for our next session. Another huge altar call with hundreds of kids coming down after Bro. Eddie gives the message. I will say this: it was so hard to pray for these kids because of the language barrier. But, nonetheless, we each were praying for as many as we could reach. You just had to spread your arms out and grab as many as you could and ask the Lord to move and show himself to each one. Then leave that group and go to the next.
Some of the kids could have come down just because they wanted prayer for good grades, for all we knew. I know for a fact that some came down on a dare yet went back to their seat a changed person. Some came as support for another. Some of the them could have come down because of rape or physical abuse. We did not know but we prayed for them all to receive Christ. Did they…you ask. That will be at the end of the story if you don’t mind continuing along with me.
Tuesday morning I had the privilege of going fishing with Pastor Dario. And I do not mean using a pole. I mean people fishing…..for one young man in particular. Pastor Dario was called Monday night about a young man who became mad with his parents and set the house on fire. We went to the police station were he should have been. But they had let him go…in “care” of another person. So we drove over there. No go. No one was even home. So we decided leave. Well Pastor took a wrong turn and then another. Guess who was standing on the corner? Yep, our guy, Joseu, Pastor Dario gets out of the truck and talks to him. He ends up hopping in the back of the truck and we go to church. Now this is awesome….he gets saved that night..stands up in front of the whole church and gives his testimony! WOW!
Unfortunately Joseu could not stay at the Ark due to capacity limits and the fact he has AIDS and they can not afford the meds. So we had to take him back to town the next day.
We went to the orphanage and the hospital on the same day. The hospital was almost too much for me to handle. The conditions were just terrible. Yet the people there needed and wanted prayer so I stayed. And I prayed for healing along with the others.
Many nights we would return to the mission house just completely drained both physically and spiritually. Praying for as many as we did is taxing. Prayed out is the phrase we used one night. That changed the next morning when we went to orphanage and saw a man running to meet us on all fours. Yes, I said all fours. This man could not stand so he learned to use his hands and feet to get around. It moved all of us to prayer for him.
We had fun at the orphanage, though. We handed out clothes and stuffed animals. We even played football with the animals with some of them. Throwing them and letting the kids catch them. Then they would throw then back…kinda. Not sure who had more fun us or the children. They intentionally tried to throw them over our heads.
One of the little boys has a scar on his left eye. His dad had used a machete to kill his mom, sadly Erlim was hit with one of his swings of said machete. Most of the little ones tugged at my heartstrings. Two of them….man I wish could have fit in my suitcase and brought home with me. One of them was Erlim and the other is this beautiful little angel….
One morning after our CR meeting at the Ark we decide to take a group photo of us and the guys at the Ark. Well, that did not happen as planned. God planned a side mission. Told ya I would get back to the story of one of the fishes.
As we were walking out the building we hear a loud thump. Only to turn around and see one of the new guys having a seizure. So back in we go. When he fell he hit the concrete hard. He was bleeding from his head. Mrs. Wanda holds pressure on the wound as our nursing team Derek and Tracy works on getting him still….kinda. Like I said earlier the devil had him good. While I was praying over him Derek and Tracy were praying as well. Derek felt the presence of a demon so he starts casting out the demon.
Now with that said and before you deny any of this please remember I was there. I will never forget that moment. Was he possessed? Yes. Did the demon come out? I believe it did. But, honestly, only God knows the true answer. I know that while Derek was praying the guys temperature rose and the convulsions got worse. Can’t, for the life of me remember all Derek prayed but I know all at once the body temp dropped, the convulsions stopped, his eyes went from black to brown and the bleeding stopped.
We get him set up with an IV and bandage his head. Now the next morning this brother looked like a new man. Smiling as he hugged us with clean duds and clean-shaven I say out with the old man and in with the new.
The day we went to the prison was interesting to say the least. Was I nervous? Yep, but just for a little while. Long enough to get to where we would be speaking and saw a sign in Spanish that Jesus Christ can break your chains hung on the wall. Was not nervous after that.
But the prisons over there are different from the ones here. I saw the guys cooking their own lunch outside of their “cell”. Many of the men were actually making the string that they use to make hammocks. Pretty cool to watch. They used old alternators and cranked them by hand. Several of them continued their task while we sang but stopped and came over while Matt gave his testimony. Both men and women came to hear us that day, as they are in the same prison just separated by a wall and barbed wire.
It was cool to see “hardened” criminals break down and cry as we prayed for them and with them. Proof that even the hardest of hearts can be reached with the Gospel and through the words of a testimony.
Being at the T.V. station and getting to witness, first hand, how everything works was cool. Before the program started we had the opportunity to pray for the owner and her illness. We then started our live presentation of Celebrate Recovery by opening with worship. Then we gave a detailed explanation of how the program worked and also ended with worship.
As weird as this sounds Pepe the monkey was a blast to hang around with. He and I took a nap together under his tree on the second day. He just sat in my lap with his arms around my neck…we fell asleep. Everyone liked Pepe….but Pepe loved Ryan, our music leader.
On our last night there. We held a CR meeting at Pastor Dario’s church. The lights in town went out. We were not deterred. We continued on, in the dark with the meeting, despite trying for an hour to get a generator to work. What amazed me was the fact that the children remained quite and attentive through out it all. My children would have screamed bloody murder had the lights gone out. But that is the culture there. A lot of homes have no electricity at all.
Many have asked me since our return how do you know you reached a single person. I just say because when a kid comes to you and says that they WERE planning a marijuana party for after school and have now decided to not have it after hearing Matt give his testimony. When after praying for a young man at the Ark and you see a completely changed person the next day. And the fact that God’s Word never returns void of its purpose.
All in all, I would say that the Gospel was shared with well over 1500 youth and adults in just a few short days. Along the way I saw Matt become the speaker I knew he would. I am honored to have actually watched it happen. I watched as Ryan became the music leader God wants him to be. I learned what it means to be an actual prayer warrior….in a new sense of the term.
Some have asked whether we achieved the goal set before as in setting up a Celebrate Recovery in Honduras. I happily can say yes. Leaders are in place and the last video I saw everyone was in their CR shirts and reading their Bibles. So good to see.
On a side note we will return to Olanchito, Honduras. The trip is being planned already. We are prepared to go wherever the Lord wants us to go as we have been invited to India….who knows what God has in store for this sweep the kitchen mission team.
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.
We all went. We have all been changed in one way or another. But the team has a bond that can never be broken.
Stuart and the Sweep The Kitchen Mission Team
You may visit my Facebook page and see more photos of the trip if you would like. Just go here.