There are a few meta-narratives of my trip to Honduras, including true education and service. This is another one.
One of the reasons why I wanted to go on a mission trip was to experience discomfort. A perspective on how varied the life paths of humanity on this earth is always a good antidote against insularity. We need reminders that the daily trials and difficulties we face, especially in the modern world, are usually petty ones. They are often luxurious trials, meaning that we get to experience them because of the tremendous privilege and luxury that come with them.
Interestingly enough, ten days in rural Honduras did not bring me to a point of discomfort. I was, in fact, completely comfortable with all the logistical arrangements throughout the trip, as well as the slightly unexpected occurrences. No electricity – absolutely liberating. Cold showers – no problem. I still showered twice a day. Damp bed, water dripping from the roof during your sleep – didn’t kill me. Washing clothes with hands – tiring, but I could get used to the exercise. Fruit flies crowding your breakfast – fine. Professional ants crawling up when you sleep and leaving many bites – annoying, but I’d trade everything else with that. Visiting people – loved it.
Moreover, the people there are very friendly. Life works, even without the conveniences of modern lives, because “a man’s life consists not in the abundance of the things which he possesses.” I admired how much they work with their hands and I’m close to coveting their lives when I think about my much more sedentary lifestyle. The smiles and waves people give when you pass them by made me think what a luxurious life actually means.
Basically, I was not uncomfortable at all during this trip. I enjoyed every moment. Of course, it was a short one. But I’m beginning to wonder if I would be uncomfortable if I lived there. Perhaps being Indonesian helps, since I’ve seen and experienced worse.
I was wondering about what was going on. Was this a bad thing that I was comfortable? Shouldn’t something be pushing me more? Then on day 3 or 4, Raquel opened up to this text during worship:
“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” 2 Cor 1:3-4.
How interesting. The source of comfort is God, and it is possible to be comfortable in any kind of difficulties. Then, because we have that comfort, we can comfort others who are in trouble. If that’s so, then I wouldn’t want to ever be uncomfortable.
Every good thing comes from God, and I believe it was a gift that I felt comfortable in the given circumstances. Perhaps my work was to comfort others who might not have been as comfortable. From that day, I stopped worrying about seeking discomfort and shifted focus to, as I could, comfort others.
As the trip went on and I was becoming more and more appreciative of the lifestyle there, if that was even possible, I realized that the discomfort that pushes me out of my boundaries does exist. But I wasn’t going to find it in this mission trip.
I realized that I actually am more uncomfortable in the life that I live now than in Honduras. It’s not about physical discomfort. It’s the mental and spiritual discomfort of being where I am right now, waking up pleading for God to give me strength to face each day. Perhaps that’s why God puts me in school. This is where my character is being grilled…
With that thought, the burden returned and I felt the heaviness on my shoulder. But Christ too drew near and assured that His yoke is easy and His burden light. He would be with me still and the same comfort can remain with me as the trip drew to a close and I returned to the US. Being on this mission trip was actually a relief from my discomfort and I felt eternally grateful that God let me experience a breather there.
Tasks uncommended, labor without recognition, is the lot of most of the world’s toilers. And in such a lot many are filled with discontent. They feel that life is wasted. But the little rill that makes its noiseless way through grove and meadow, bearing health and fertility and beauty, is as useful in its way as the broad river… The lesson is one needed by many…What we need to learn is faithfulness in making the utmost use of the powers and opportunities we have, and contentment in the lot to which Heaven assigns us. Education, p. 117.