Reflection

When I was first presented with the opportunity to go to Roatán, I was hesitant. I wasn’t sure what to expect and it was intimidating being an outsider in such a close group. I prayed over the situation a lot. Once I agreed to go, I went to the talent show that the church held as a fundraiser. From the instant I walked in the door, I had the overwhelming peace that I had made the right decision. Everyone was so welcoming and all of my hesitation was gone.

I had the opportunity to work at the Clinic Esperanza, where I spent the week loving on some really great kids. As someone who intends to spend the rest of their life working with children, I loved every second of it. I think that those children taught me more than I ever could have taught them.

Most of the children at the clinic were sick and had been waiting to see the doctor for quite a while. They were so patient and I genuinely don’t think that I would have been had I been in their place. I am in a season of life where I am constantly on the go and I often find myself in a state of frustration when I have to wait on something. We live in a society that is all about instant gratification. We want what we want when we want it. But these children reminded me the importance of slowing down and being thankful for what we do have. So many things that I see as a chore, they see as a privilege. The pastor at my home church gave a sermon on a similar topic a few years ago. You don’t have to; you get to. It has always stuck with me, but the people of Roatán lived it out. Those children lived it out.

I also went with a group to a church in La Colonia, where we did VBS for the kids that lived there. The church was on a hillside and it was a tiring walk, but the people of the community did not let that prevent them from going to church. When we arrived at the church, the concrete room had quite a bit of water on the floor. Before we could even react, the children were cleaning it up and setting up chairs so that we could begin VBS. These people had a desire for the Word of God that I so often pray for. I am so much more aware how much I take for granted. I go to a nice church with more than one room, with video screens, with a worship team, and with so many other things that I fail to take notice of because I’m just so accustomed to them. I have not just one but three Bibles, not to mention access to it on my phone anywhere that I go. Yet I do not spend nearly enough time digging into the Word as I should.

As we traveled around the island, we were all stunned by the state of the roads and of the homes. We were also enamored by the way that they did not waste anything. There were stairs made out of old tires and murals made from plastic bottle caps. Things that we would ordinarily toss aside were things treasured by them. On our way to Corozal and Hottings Sparrow, we drove past the dump. You could smell it before you see it. On top of the piles of trash stood people, just like you and me. This dump is their home. It is an image that will never leave my mind. I spent a lot of time questioning why I get to live in such a nice home with such nice things, while they are living on a mound of trash. Through this questioning I realized that it isn’t what we have or how much we have that matters. Its what we do with it. We were blessed so that we could bless others, and these people remind me of that each time that I think of them.

Far too often I forget that happiness is an emotion. Joy, however, is a state of being. I find myself seeking joy in material possessions and in people. I am met with happiness, which is fleeting. The people of Roatán have so little, but they are so full of joy! They have reminded me that my joy is rooted in Christ. No matter what season of life I am in, I can be joyful because God is with me. That will never change and that will never fade.

I took a step out in faith and God showed up in mighty ways. This experience is something that I think of daily and that has changed the way that I live my life. Roatán is written on my heart. When I came home, somebody asked me, “So, where do you go from here?”

I’m not sure what exactly they meant by this question, but it is something that I consider often.

Honestly, I’m not sure where I am going. I do know that wherever I go, I’m not going alone. God goes before me. Wherever I go, He is with me. But when I think about this question, this is my response:

The question is not “Where do I go,” but rather “Where do we go?” Church, we are one body. We are called to serve. We are called to love. We are called to share the gospel. Not everyone is going to go to another country, but that does not mean that missions are not for them. We could not have gone to Roatán without the people that supported us financially and those that prayed for us continually.

Something the Church so often overlooks is what is right in front of us. There are people in our own backyards that have never heard the gospel. Our lives are a mission field. How many opportunities have we missed to share the gospel because we were just too caught up in our own world? Think of all of the unreached people that we come into contact with everyday. The coworker you eat lunch with. The girl who sits next to you in class. The neighbor you wave to as you drive by. What is stopping us from sharing the gospel with them?

So, where do we go from here? Church, we go everywhere. We go everyday. And we tell everyone.

"I have leaned that I will not change the world. Jesus will do that. I can, however, change the world for one person and if that one person sees the love of Christ in me, it is worth every minute.” -Anonymous

2016 Trip Recap

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.  

Thank You!

We are just a few weeks away from our trip to Roatán, Honduras! As we prepare to leave, I have to say that I am completely humbled by the outpouring of support that our team has received. Praise the Lord for such a strong body of believers willing to share their blessings with us! This trip would not be possible without all of your support and prayer.

So far, we have raised approximately $28,600 and we are very close to having all that we need. This is absolutely incredible and we are so thankful for those of you that have contributed financially and those of you that have been praying for our team and the people of Roatán. 

In the next few weeks before we go, we ask that you continue to pray for us. Pray that God will go before us and prepare the partnerships with the communities with whom will be working. Pray that our hearts are focused on God, that God grants us wisdom and boldness to share the gospel, that we are gentle and loving to the people we encounter, and that our actions glorify Him. Pray for the people that we will be working alongside, and that their eyes and hearts will be opened to Christ.

gain, we thank you, and we cannot wait to share what God has done when we return!

Meet our team!

We are one month closer to this summer’s trip to Roatán! Our team is so excited to see what the Lord has in store for our time there and we can’t wait to share it all with you! 

Meet our team!

The group at Casa de Luz will be teaching English to children and adolescents and putting together a VBS program. This team will be led by Claudia Berlin and Hannah Ross will coordinate VBS. The other team members will be Ashley Young, Kailey Grueser, Rachael Swanson, and Richard Crespo.

The group at Hottings Sparrow will be constructing a playground and putting together a VBS program. This team will be led by Bill Wright and Sarah Rice will coordinate VBS. The other team members will be Ella Wilburn, Kirsten Wehmeier, Austin Petry, Robin Littell, and Phil Manilla.

The group at Corozal will be putting in a water system and putting together a VBS program. This team will be led by Jeff Garrett, and Tori Garrett will coordinate VBS. The other team members will be Scott Steward, Christian Taylor, Zach Swanson, Susan Swanson, and Bruce Johnson.

Two very kind young ladies offered to share why they feel that this trip is important! Kirsten Wehmeier, who will be going to Roatán for the first time this year, said “I think this trip is worthwhile because we are called to serve even if it is for a short time. I think that our time in Roatán will help the locals, but also impact us greatly.” Kirsten also hopes to gain a better perspective on the call the Lord has for her life and a better perspective on life in general.

Sarah Rice is a returning member of the Roatán team. When asked why she decided to return, Sarah responded, “I saw how people were affected by our ministry last year in Roatán. Also, it played such a large part in my walk and I couldn’t imagine not going back this year.” Sarah also said that Roatán has given her a new outlook on life and changed her heart.

To those who have not gone before, Sarah has kindly offered her advice: “I would say keep your eyes open, and by this I mean to be aware of how God can work in any opportunity. Also, I would say to be open and accepting of change. They live a different lifestyle in Roatán and our job is to spread the gospel wherever we are placed and needed. God may have a different place for us once we arrive than where we had previously planned.”

Our team is so very thankful for all of your support in preparing for this trip and we appreciate your continued prayer!

The Mission Value

 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 28:19 

This month, I had the opportunity to meet with the elders at Norway to discuss the value of missions, and more specifically the upcoming mission trip to Roatán, Honduras. Together, we approached frequently asked questions and common misconceptions about missions.

One of the most common questions regarding missions is “What about the people who need help in the United States? There are people in our community that are struggling, why do we need to go to a different country?” To this question, the elders said, “We can do good work for God anywhere.” 

Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

Christ has given us specific instructions and these instructions do not confine us to one specific location, but rather tell us to go into all nations. “All nations” includes our own, and Norway does serve the city of Huntington. However, it also includes nations like Honduras. One specific aspect that the elders have considered about overseas missions is the growth of our mission team. Leaving our comfort zones leads to reliance on God and in stepping out in faith, we are more aware of our purpose to serve others. While serving others in our own community is certainly beneficial for all, sometimes it is easy for our minds and hearts to be clouded by our comfort. Stepping out of our comfort zone aligns are hearts more with Christ and less with the world. 

Finances are also a major consideration when it comes to missions. Some people may wonder, “Could this money not be better spent? Doesn’t the church have bills to pay?” 

To this question, the elders were clear that the money for this trip is being raised outside of the operational budget. Each member of the mission team is responsible for raising the money to pay for his or her personal expenses, which is a personal sacrifice. However, there is no shortage of help from the people at Norway, as the congregation has pulled together to help out the mission team! The elders were adamant that you couldn’t put a price tag on the work of God and that if we trust God, He will provide for this trip.

Another question that applies more specifically to our trip is, “Why would you go on a short-term mission trip? What is the benefit of that?” 

While this is a short-term mission trip, in a way, it actually is long-term. Our presence will have a lasting affect and the relationships that we build will continue even after we come back. The organization that we will be working with has a permanent presence and Richard Crespo is very active in this organization. It isn’t about how much money that we have to spend or how long we go; it is about changing the lives of the people we are serving and changing the lives of the people on our team.

The elders are very excited and look forward to the trip. They are hoping to eventually increase participation in the future and have the mission team grow and change throughout the years. Bill Wright said, “We would love to see more teenagers become more involved in missions.”

The congregation has also been supportive of the trip. According to the elders, there are no objections to the trip and there has been a desire to help out and raise funds. The congregation has been very helpful when it comes to events and all of the fundraisers have been well attended! The outpouring of interest and support from those who are not going on the trip has been a blessing.

March 2016

As the second poorest country in the Americas, Honduras has an unemployment rate of 56%. With a population of approximately 7.8 million, more than half lay below the poverty line. The people of Honduras earn an average pay of $10 per day and typically, a family makes around $4,500 in one year. 

Roatán is an island off of the northern coast of Honduras. The population is approximately 70,000. While the major language in Roatán is English, many of the people speak Spanish.

Our mission team will divide into three smaller teams to address the needs of the communities that we will be serving.

The first team will be working alongside a missionary couple at Casa de Luz. This couple is retired, and through the support of a U.S. agency, they are committed to living on the island of Roatán and serving the people there. Casa de Luz is located in La Colonia, which is a slum. This group will be teaching English to children and adults. By learning English, the people of Roatán gain a skill that will help them to get a job.

The second team will be working in the community of Corozal. They will work alongside members of the community to construct a playground for the children. The third team will be working in the community of Hottings Sparrow. They will be working alongside community members, helping them with their water system. By teaming up with the people of Roatán, both of these teams are helping to complete projects that would take a significantly long time without our assistance. 

In addition to these service projects, a few members from each of the three teams will be putting together a VBS program. All three teams will be using the same VBS program in the three different locations. 

Richard Crespo, the leader of our mission team, has been going to Roatán for over twelve years, working with a Christian clinic ran by a non-profit organization. According to Richard, his time in there has given him an appreciation for the people of Roatán. Many of the people there work in the tourist industry. Their strength to persevere despite the fact that they are poor and surrounded by wealth is very admirable. They also have a high regard for education, as they want their children to one day have a better life. 

Richard’s hopes for this trip are that the members of our team will expand their worldview and cultivate an appreciation for the differences between our culture and theirs. The greatest value of our trip will be the establishment of relationships with the people of Roatán. While our tasks will end and we will return home, our relationships will continue on and provide the people of Roatán with the encouragement to persevere.

Hello

Hello, my name is Ashley Young! In preparation for the upcoming mission trip to Roatán, Honduras, I will be updating this blog each month.

I’d like to start by taking the time to introduce myself. I am twenty years old and I am from Williamstown, West Virginia. I am currently a sophomore at Marshall University where I am double majoring in elementary and English education. I have played the violin since I was five years old and I also enjoy reading, writing, and painting. I have always known that I wanted to be a teacher and I wholeheartedly believe that this is the best career path for me, because it combines everything about which I am passionate and gives me the opportunity to serve others on a daily basis. 

Throughout my childhood, I went to church with my friends from time to time, but my family did not regularly attend a church. It wasn’t until I was in the seventh grade that my family began to regularly attend church at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Vienna, WV. It was there that I came to know and love God, and after attending for about a year, I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I was baptized and became a member of the church. Throughout high school, I was somewhat apathetic in regards to my faith. Looking back it isn’t hard to see that I didn’t have my priorities in order and I missed a lot of opportunities to share the gospel with my classmates.

When I came to Marshall, I got involved in Baptist Campus Ministries (BCM) and started attending Marshall Community Fellowship (MCF). I joined a small group through BCM and began helping with the children’s Sunday school class at MCF.  During my freshman year, I began to play violin with BCM’s praise band and in January I joined the worship team at MCF. My home church didn’t have a lot of people my age, so experiencing fellowship with other students made a huge impact on my life. I have constant encouragement and accountability through the friends that I have made at BCM and I have experienced a lot of personal growth since coming to college. 

I would describe the fall of my freshman year as the best and worst time of my life. I had made incredible friends and I loved school and my relationship with God was stronger than it had ever been before. In October, my grandma, with whom I was very close with, passed away. It was the first time that I had ever experienced a personal loss. It was devastating, but the girls in my small group and many of my friends were such a blessing to me in that time. A month later, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. By the time that the doctors found it, it had already metastasized to her bones. This means that her condition is treatable, but there is no cure. To this day I am terrified for her, but I trust God and I know that He is sovereign. It has been absolutely incredible to not only see how my family has grown together, but how my courageous mother has grown closer to God with each passing day.

At the time all of this happened, my small group was journeying through the book of James. James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of his faith produces perseverance.” Consider it pure joy. While this was a difficult season of my life, I learned so much about myself and my relationship with Christ. While this is never what I would have planned for myself, I understand that God’s plan for me is far better than my own, and because of these things, I have become a better version of myself.