I had been out of the country before, but never like this. My church was getting a group together for a mission trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. With an organization called Silver Mountain Ministries (http://www.silvermm.org/). Tegucigalpa isn't exactly the safest place to travel. Recently, the US Peace Corps pulled out of Honduras (which in turn stopped my church's trip there this summer). Traveling to Tegucigalpa, Honduras was one of the scariest and most fulfilling things I had ever experienced. I wouldn't trade the time I had there for anything and I would give so much to be back there.
While in Honduras we built houses, worked with children, and helped out around an orphanage. The work was fulfilling. Building a house and seeing the finished product was amazing, but there is nothing, NOTHING, like those smiles. Smiles of the children, the adults, and the elderly. I have never been more moved by such a simple act in my entire life. A smile, nothing more than a few muscles moving in the face of almost a complete stranger, but there were times that it moved me to tears.
A little girl named Cheli stole my heart in 2008 (my first trip there). She was about 3 years old, had dirty skin, and a dirty torn dress. After my group had held a Vacation Bible School for a big group of children at a Iglesio de Cristo, a Church of Christ, in a village named Magote a few of the children just gravitated towards me, this included Cheli. We had a ton of time to kill waiting for our bus to come pick us up so I spent quite a bit of time with this small group of kids. Cheli was such a sweetheart. There was a bit of a problem though. She only spoke Spanish and I only spoke English, but as soon as she looked into my eyes and smiled I instantly fell in love with her and the language barrier didn't matter. I wanted to take her home with me and never stop cuddling with her. We played silly games, took pictures together, and drew little pictures. When the time came for me to leave my heart was breaking. I knew there was a chance that I would never see her again. She held my hand the whole walk back to the bus and when I was telling her I had to leave she started crying and I couldn't hold it in either. She kept saying something in Spanish and when I asked someone to translate for me I found out that she was asking for me to take her with me. I had to leave though. I cried the whole way home and even writing this today 4 years later I am tearing up.
A little boy named Jerso stole my heart again in 2010 (my second trip there). He was about 5. He is the little boy in the red shirt in the pictures above. He found our group in Magote several days we were there. His smile was beautiful and his fast Spanish speaking (even though I couldn't understand it) was absolutely adorable. I wanted to take him home with me, just like Cheli, and I know that if I had the opportunity to go back and bring them home tomorrow I would do it. He did this silly thing with his eyebrows that we taught him and he played with my brother like they were brothers. I couldn't imagine my Honduras 2010 trip without him. He made such an impact on me.
Honduras taught me so much. I appreciate what I have so much more now. I was incredibly humbled. They have so little and they are so happy. The real smiles they gave us when all we did was build them a little house with a dirt floor. Most people in America would scoff at the sight of that and not even accept it as a shed, but these people were so grateful. I have so much, they have so little, and they still manage to be a happier people than I am. They live in a dangerous country like Honduras with next to nothing and still manage to be happy. If that isn't inspiring then I don't know what is.