Sunday, January 01, 2012
Eight Lipscomb student-athletes led by Brent High, Associate Athletic Director for Spiritual Formation, arrived in Honduras yesterday for an eight-day mission trip to assist with the rebuilding of buildings at an orphanage damaged by recent flooding. This is Brent's dispatch from their first day.
I’m 37 years old and today marked the first time I had ever set foot outside the United States. We arrived in Tegucigalpa, Honduras around 1 p.m. local time. We ate lunch at a local favorite, a place called Burger King.
Then we all squeezed into two small Nissan pickup trucks and made the five-hour trek to Mission Lazarus in Choluteca. Along the way we dodged hundreds of massive potholes, hit several, watched every brand of Japanese small pickup go four-wide on a two-lane road at high speeds, heard more car horns than New York City, saw dozens of scarecrow-type dummies lining the road, marveled at the marketing genius of Coke and how they have absolutely owned Central America, passed hundreds of Hondurans walking along the side of the road to various destinations, creeped slowly over several mudslides that had completely washed out the road in places and barely missed hitting a black dog.
The buildings and houses that lined the road were all extremely simple in construction. Bricko blocks, metal siding and tile roofs were the norm. Many people sat outside their dwellings watching the cars pass by.
The beauty of the countryside was stunning. It reminded me a lot of Wyoming and Idaho, two of the prettiest places I’ve ever visited in the United States. The mountains are incredibly beautiful. The valleys have a great deal of character. The flowering trees have the most vibrant red and purple blooms. The sunset was magnificent.
We finally arrived at Mission Lazarus in Choluteca a little after 6 p.m. It was already dark by then. Dustin Wilder, Kyle Erickson, Nate Mueting and Tyler Burstrom peeled themselves apart as they exited the back seat of our little truck. They had counted on bonding this week but not literally. After surviving five hours of driving that drew references to video games including Frogger and Mario Kart we were just thankful to be alive, safe and where we set out to be.
Cameron Hartsell, group coordinator for Mission Lazarus, warmly greeted us as we arrived. He showed us to our cabin which puts just about every church camp lodging to shame. Then we sat down to a home cooked meal of fried chicken, rice, fried potatoes and homemade tortillas. We met a group of 28 people from Fourth Avenue Church of Christ in Franklin. They were finishing up a week of service with Mission Lazarus. We enjoyed getting to know the Humphries and Collins families and hearing about how God had blessed their experience in Honduras.
Later in the evening we asked TJ McCloud to play the guitar we found in the gift shop. He’s a talented songwriter. He finally agreed and played several of his original songs. The folks from Fourth Avenue were so impressed they asked TJ if he would be willing to lead them in worship a little later. We joined them and had an incredible time of praise, prayer and sharing in front of a big wood burning fire in one of the biggest stone fireplaces I’ve ever seen. The wind blew. The stars shined brightly. The voices blended beautifully. Cameron shared some of the history and vision of Mission Lazarus. It was a mountaintop experience on the mountain.
Like any other trip you start to get to know the characters and the stories associated with them. I enjoyed getting to know “Kramer” (Ryan Terry from the golf team) and “Grandfather” (Nate Mueting from the golf team).
We were given the orientation of the facility, given instructions for how we’ll spend Sunday and then sent off to our cabins to rest. I can’t stress enough just how amazingly nice the facilities are at Mission Lazarus. Everything here has been well thought out. Everything oozes excellence.
Tomorrow promises to include more bonding, mountaintop experiences and our first taste of hard manual labor. All of the guys seem to be very excited to be here and eager to serve.
I can’t tell you how much we appreciate the prayers that have been offered for our team and this trip. Please keep them coming. Special thanks to all of the donors who helped make this trip possible. Even after just one day I can tell you that your investment is already making an eternal difference.