Written by: Abbygail Middleton
“Honduras”- signifying a valley or depth seen. It was named by a colonial settler, Christopher Columbus, as he first saw this land in his pursuit of America. Though termed initially for the deep water seen off of the coast, this name grew of greater significance to Columbus as he related it to the depths of struggle he faced in his faith journey and personal joy while colonizing territories. As I sat and listened to one of the local Honduran men explain this truth of his homeland to me, it hit me how apparent and true the name still stands today. Although surrounded by significant trials, the joy of the Honduran people is distinctly evident.
This spring break, I had the incredible opportunity to serve on a medical mission trip in the country of Honduras. Now you may be thinking of the typical mission trips seen on social media: taking cute pictures with kids, doing a few skits, then hanging out in a foreign culture for a few days to “relax,” but this was quite different. Although that idea can often be enticing, I was drawn into a much deeper relationship-focused trip. During our time in Honduras we had the privilege of coming in contact with many amazing people. We first worked in a city called La Esperanza and had the privilege of visiting a local hospital, the only one available in over a two-hour radius. We then for the next five days headed into the depths of the Opalaca Mountains to serve the indigenous Lenca Indians of a village called Agua Caliente. In this particular village, the people live in adobe brick houses or ones made of stick and plaster. Poverty runs deep through the Lenca population, as a typical payday may be up to $5 maximum for eight hours of work. There is no electricity or running water aside from the river in the rain forest nearby. They traditionally cook in a wood-burning stove inside of their houses and live mainly off of cash crops such as corn, coffee, beans and squash. Most children in these villages have no financial or physical means of education past the sixth grade, and thus work to provide for their own family at a young age. During our time in Agua Caliente, we had the opportunity to serve these people through running a few medical clinics. For the people of this particular village and even ones within a two hours reach who came, this was the only exposure they had to medical and dental care in over two years. Given their presented circumstances and struggles, these were by far the most joyful and appreciative people I had ever met. They had no concerns of what they wore, how they looked, or the followers they had on social media. In fact, they had never been exposed to this type of discontentment. Their main focus was family and providing for the ones they love. To see this perspective was so powerful for both myself and my team. Even more so, I was able to see not only a paradigm shift in my own life, but also in my mom who accompanied me on the trip. This was an influential perspective to bring back to Fayetteville, especially headed into the rest of the spring semester. As school comes to a close and the pressure to perform increases with final testing, I am grateful each day for the educational opportunities and “Honduras” moments I have been presented with so I may use this blessing to bless others and make an impact in the world.