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A Year Ago Today...

A year ago today, I stepped off a plane and into Honduras. I had been here other times, but never by myself. My heart was racing and to be honest, I felt like crying because I was already feeling homesick and overwhelmed. I didn’t know exactly what my work would entail, how long I would be here, when I would see my family and friends again. I had been aware of these questions for almost the whole year of preparations leading up to my arrival, but actually getting to Honduras made them concrete.

The next three months were months of training and further preparations, including a month-long Spanish class in the capital and two months of agricultural training in Olancho, northern Honduras. Although homesickness was strong, my time there was lovely; training with the program’s fun-loving agricultural coordinator Cesar, living with a caring family, and enjoying the clouds and mountains of rural Olancho.

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In February I moved to the city I was assigned to, a city in southern Honduras called Choluteca, often called the hottest city in the country. I lived with a host family and traveled with a nurse to various rural communities to monitor the growth and health of children under the age of five. The goal was to get to know the communities and eventually start working with them to establish gardens so that each family can have fresh fruits and vegetables for those children. Those months were difficult.

As an introverted person I have a hard time putting myself out there to make friends. And in a different culture, making friends is hard for anyone, introverted or otherwise. During those months I felt lonely quite often. And I didn’t know how to start my projects. We all know that starting is usually the most difficult part of any process, and that was the case for me here.

So here I was feeling lonely, missing home, and wondering whether I was going to make any difference during my time here. I sometimes wonder how often people living in foreign countries tell the whole truth about their time abroad. Allow me to be honest. There came a day when I called my parents crying, saying I wanted to come home and that I couldn’t do this anymore.  Fortunately, my parents lovingly but firmly convinced me that I was strong enough and that I should finish my first year before making any big decisions. Thank God for my parents. Through lots of prayer and encouragement from people both in Honduras and in the U.S., I was able to start putting myself out there and getting my projects started.

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I currently live with a good friend who I met a few months ago. On a typical work day I get up and take a bus to the community I will be working in that day, paying around 20 lempiras, or 85 cents for bus fare. In the communities I meet with the small groups of women who are interested in these garden projects. We do various activities, like make organic compost, preparing the soil, planting seeds, and learning about pest control. I love working with the women. Most of the time they are hard-working and full of jokes (some lovingly at my expense).

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At the moment I’m taking a month to work with an agricultural engineer to build a model garden in five different communities. From that garden, the women can harvest the fruits and vegetables to take home, as well as use those seeds for making gardens in their own homes. Last week we planted sweet potato and squash and we’re planning on planting banana trees soon.    

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The past year has not been easy. But it has been rich in learning experiences. I have learned about myself, my relationships, agriculture, Honduras, and especially about God’s faithfulness. In the moment, it is never easy to understand the difficulties we go through. But God gives us the comfort of being able to look back and see the pattern of his work in our lives. I’ve learned about our interconnectedness as humans. I came here thinking I would do everything myself, but I’ve learned that asking for help or relying on others doesn’t imply weakness, rather it allows the goal to be achieved more efficiently and includes others in the process. I feel less hesitant to ask for help or to tell someone that I’m struggling with something, and that has improved the quality of my time and work here. We don’t have to feel alone if we are surrounded by unique and talented individuals and the presence of God.

Because of this I have to say thank you. My first year and the year to come would not be possible without you. If you have donated money, thank you. That money provides my funds to buy materials like seeds, chicken wire, and other tools for the communities. You have had a direct influence in those projects. If you have ever sent a message, e-mail, letter, or listened to my problems over a phone call, thank you. Even if I didn’t get time to respond, believe me that your words cheered me on and brightened my day. You are my encouragement to keep going. If you have lifted me up in prayer, thank you. I need help seeking God’s guidance and I know that your prayers are powerful.

If you would like to continue to support me, you may donate money online or by check. Make the check out to World Renew and include my fund code (503355) in the memo line. It can be sent to:

World Renew
1700 28th St. SE
Grand Rapids, MI. 49560
To donate online, click here:
https://secure3.convio.net/crcna/site/Donation2?idb=112010647&df_id=8240&mfc_pref=T&8240.donation=form1
then choose my name from the drop-down list titled “Choose Individual or Team” and fill out the rest of the page.

If you’d like to send encouragement, you can send me a Facebook message or e-mail me at emuhope1216@gmail.com You can also send letters to me at
Local B10 Segundo Nivel
Centro Comercial Plaza Milenium, Col. Tiloarque
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C., Honduras, C.A.

 

Thank you so much for making this first year possible. Here’s to our second year of work in Honduras!