I had hoped to be able to send in daily updates, but we did not have a reliable Internet connection so I was unable to do so. However, I think that was for the best because it gave me the opportunity to expand on things and provide more details. I hope that by breaking our trip down day by day, you too are able to see the ways that God used our team during our time in Roatán!
Day 1: Saturday
After an early morning bus ride and a day full of flying, our team made it safely to Roatán. While standing in line to get through customs in our matching shirts, many of us were asked questions like, “What brings you to Roatán?” Many travelers were surprised to find that we were on a mission trip, while most of them were on vacation. It was easy to see that many people were unaware of the poverty that burdens those who call Roatán home. However, that is not to say that they were not friendly and supportive. Many of them wished us well and were very kind.
We soon arrived at Casa Isabella. This was our home for the week. Because of the time difference, we had gained two hours and were able to relax a little after a long day of traveling.
Day 2: Sunday
Last year, the Roatán team helped to build a church in La Colonia. Our team traveled to La Colonia in three separate vehicles. However, the vehicles could not actually reach the church. The church was built on the side of a large hill. The roads there were not much of roads at all. Paved roads were few and far between. This particular road was a dirt road that more closely resembled several huge ditches full of garbage. As we began our trek up the hill, we got to see what life was like for the people that lived there. Their homes were humble and you could tell that they let little go to waste. They created stairs out of old tires and creatively used things that we are typically so quick to throw in the garbage.
We hadn’t even made it half way up the hill and we were hot and tired. It was humbling to think that these people make this trek on a daily basis multiple times a day. It was even more impressive that people crave the word of God and fellowship with other believers so much that they are more than willing to take the time to make this trip. The people that live on this hill make the trip every single day, multiple times a day. We were only about half way up the hill when we received word that they were expecting us at a different church at the bottom of the hill. It was certainly a workout, but I think that God used that walk to open our eyes to the realities that the people that live there face every day and to the minor things that we often take for granted.
We arrived at Calvary Baptist Church to a welcoming group of people. Experiencing worship in Spanish was a little different because of the language barrier, but nonetheless it was beautiful. Zach, Kailey, and Rachel had the opportunity to share their talents and lead the congregation in a few worship songs, as well. The message was wonderful. Typically, the message is taught in Spanish by one person, and translated to English by another. Today, however, their translator was sick. Rather than leave us trying to decipher Spanish, the Pastor taught the message in Spanish and English. This seemed very challenging, but the Holy Spirit moved through him and everyone was able to understand the message. It was very cool. God is not confined to one country or language. The God of Huntington, West Virginia is the God of Roatán, Honduras and He is good!
We had the rest of the afternoon to relax at Casa Isabella and enjoy our time together. Some of us walked to West Bay to swim, and later the rest of the team met up with us for dinner. It was a great evening of fun and fellowship and it gave us a good opportunity to prepare for the work to come.
Day 3: Monday
Today was our first day of work. We had a big breakfast and then divided into our teams to head out to our worksites. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we weren’t doing exactly what we had planned, but God opened doors for us in other places. The Casa de Luz team – Claudia, Hannah, Kailey, Rachael, and myself – didn’t actually go to Casa de Luz. Instead, we went to the Clinic Esperanza. There we did VBS with the children who were waiting to see the doctor. Hannah, Claudia, Sarah, and Tori put the VBS programs together. We had to make some adjustments as we went due to the language barrier, but the VBS programs were phenomenal and the kids really seemed to respond. Even though communication was a challenge, with the help of our translator John Carlos, we were able to connect with the kids and got to spend some extra time just playing with them and loving on them. In the afternoon, we had planned to travel to a community called Mud Hole and do VBS there. However, they were not ready for us, so we visited the other work sites.
The team at Corozal – Bill, Susan, Zach, Tori, Jeff, and Scott – went to work refurbishing a playground at a school. Rain prevented them from doing some of the work, but it certainly did not stop them. Despite the pouring rain, they continued to do as much work as they possibly could. Throughout their workday, they were also able to play with some of the kids at the school. They did not have a translator with them, but they were still able to communicate with the kids.
The team at Hottings Sparrow – Phil, Robin, Christian, Austin, Ella, Sarah, and Kirsten, assisted by people who lived in the community – were set to work on building a brand new playground that Phil designed. However, there were complications with the delivery of the supplies that prevented them from progressing too far. They were able to dig holes, but without supplies there was little else they could do. That didn’t stop God from working through the team there. The extra downtime allowed them to establish close relationship with the people that lived there.
Richard was the glue that held all of the teams together. He spent the day traveling between the work sites and making sure things were going smoothly. Despite several changes to our plans, he kept his cool. There is no way that we would have accomplished as much as we did without him!
Following a delicious dinner, the team gathered for worship and a devotional. While we were singing, a mother and her three daughters heard us from the beach and approached Casa Isabella. They needed money for school uniforms and we were able to help them and pray over them.
Day 4: Tuesday
Today the Clinic Team did VBS at the again with a new set of kids. It was great to meet new people and share Christ with even more people, but we definitely missed the kids from the yesterday. Once we finished up at the clinic, we headed to Corozal to join them for lunch. After lunch we – Claudia, Hannah, Kailey, Rachael, Ella, Kirsten, and myself - were able to go to Mud Hole. There were so many kids and it was wonderful! Those of us who had been at the clinic even saw a familiar face from yesterday. The VBS program once again proved to be a success. The kids had a blast and so did we! We are so excited to go back again tomorrow!
The team at Corozal has made tremendous progress. The playground looks nothing like it did before! They were also able to do VBS with the kids from the school, which was very impressive because they did not have a translator and the kids spoke little to no English. The work isn’t done here, but it is obvious that this team is making a difference!
The team at Hottings Sparrow hit the ground running today. They worked very hard through the heat, but still faced some challenges. Austin, who had faithfully served alongside and just loved on the people of Hottings Sparrow, got sick and had to be taken to the clinic. This wasn’t necessarily how he wanted to be spending his time, but God is sovereign and was able to use Austin regardless. He had been sharing the room with a pregnant woman when he was receiving treatment and the room was very cool. Despite being sick and cold, he gave his socks to the pregnant woman to keep her feet warm. This was a beautiful picture of selflessness and was done with pure motives. Despite the circumstances, God was glorified!
Day 5: Wednesday
Teams have shifted some, due to different workloads in the sites. Regardless, God is continuing to use us.
Today was a rough day for the clinic crew. We did VBS at the clinic, but there weren’t many kids there. This made things a little less exciting, but praise the Lord! This meant that there were less sick kids, and we were able to bond more with the kids that were there. After lunch with the Corozal team, we were so excited to go to Mud Hole again. We arrived to disappointing circumstances. Due to miscommunications, there was no one to let us in the school and we were unable to do VBS there. This was the last day we had planned to be in Mud Hole, so we were very sad and our workday was cut a little short.
The Corozal team was hard at work again. They had another successful day of VBS and got to love on kids again! By the afternoon, the playground was nearly completed and looked incredible. They achieved so much; they too were able to end their workday a little bit early.
The Hottings Sparrow team is so faithful to serving the Lord! It is so great! All week they have been going above and beyond. Because of the setbacks the first few days, some people have been getting up early and starting work before everyone else. While the other teams were able to head back to Casa Isabella and relax a little, they continued to put in the work necessary to finish the playground on time.
Our evening devotional was once again incredible. During worship, the family that had joined us on Monday came back. They didn’t speak much English, but they joined us for worship and it was yet another beautiful reminder that no language barrier can stop the hand of God.
Day 6: Thursday
The team at the clinic did VBS, but once again there weren’t many kids there. We were able to work with the Corozal team to finish up the playground, adding little details to make it a little livelier. The all-white swing sets, tables, and teeter-totters are now decorated with bright green paint. Susan had an excellent idea to add a phrase to the tops of the swing sets, which now read “CRISTO NOS DA FUERZA” (Jesus gives us hope) and “CRISTO NOS DA AMOR” (Jesus gives us love). These phrases were from the VBS programs.
Once we finished up at Corozal, our combined team headed to the church in La Colonia where we had started walking to on Sunday. Once again, the hill was a challenge, but it was so worth it. The kids there were so eager to do VBS that they immediately began setting up chairs and cleaning the water that had pooled on the floor. They LOVED the David and Goliath skit and craft. Those of us from the clinic once again saw a familiar face.
The Hottings Sparrow team made tremendous progress on the playground today. Phil has designed a great playground! It isn’t even finished yet and the kids already love it! They continued to work well after the rest of us had finished at our other sites. The whole team is doing great things, but this bunch is determined and dedicated and they deserve so much recognition for that.
Day 7: Friday
Today was our last day of work. It is crazy how quickly the week has gone by and how much we were able to accomplish in such a short time. Since it was our last day on the island and most of the work was done, the teams at the clinic and Corozal once again had shortened workdays. We split into two groups; one did VBS at the clinic and the other traveled back to La Colonia to do VBS at someone’s home.
The Hottings Sparrow worked all day. They started early and finished much later than the rest of us. Their hard work and dedication paid off! The finished product looks incredible! We’ve all worked hard this week, but those who had a hand in this put in a little extra sweat and poured their hearts into this project. It has been so cool to see how God has used this team despite so many unexpected bumps in the road. It has truly been an incredible week!
We did our devotion out on the beach around a fire. The stars were beautiful and the water was calm. We were able to marvel at the vastness and detail of God’s creation. It was a great evening of fellowship and reflection on our trip. It was a wonderful way to close out our time here.
Day 8: Saturday
Today we traveled home. We were sad to be leaving such a beautiful place and the incredible people that we have met, but we are so excited to get home to our loved ones. God worked through us so much this week and a lot was accomplished for His glory, but He also worked in us. I pray that we remember that and all of the things that we learned from our time in Roatán.