I left home Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 3:30 AM to go to the airport. Wayne was very gracious to drive me there at such wee hours of the morning. Friends in need are friends indeed. The deal was that he would get half a star in his crown for everyone I reached in Honduras.
My flight left at 6 AM, with a layover in Atlanta, GA. Need I mention again the pure, unadulterated excitement?
This trip was to me about true education. So starting from the plane ride and throughout the trip, I re-read Education by Ellen G. White.
They say that the Tegucigalpa airport is one of the top 5 most dangerous airports to land on. Apparently the runway is surrounded by mountains. I was sitting on an aisle seat so I didn’t pay attention.
We landed in one piece and exited the aircraft to walk outside, around the airport building to get to the immigration entrance. The weather was hot, but pleasant. Immigration line was long and slow – a true feature of the developing world.
There were 8 or 9 of us with GYC Intermission on the same flight, but I had only met Michael because we were sitting in the same row. Glancing through the crowd, I wondered if we could really read “GYC” on people’s expressions. We managed to find 5 other people while waiting in line: Lissette and her niece from Holland, Genaria, Paul from Bermuda, Janelle from West Virginia, and Siobhan from Tennessee.
My line was already really slow to begin with, and when I got to the booth I still managed to be a bottleneck. The immigration lady didn’t speak English and she couldn’t find Indonesia on this list that she had on her computer. Didn’t really know what it was for. She kept scrolling up and down, and she gave up after a while and just stamped my passport. Very amusing. I think they had difficulty Paul too, being from Bermuda.
I grabbed my recently purchased duffel bag, which by the way, can fit so much more than a suitcase, and walked out of the claim area. I saw a tall woman in blue holding GYC/VIDA sign near the escalator. This must be Naomi. Amy had told me about her high school friend, Naomi, who is now a full time missionary in Honduras for VIDA Internacional, the ministry that GYC partnered with for this mission trip.
Naomi checked off my name and I told her that Amy said hi. Some other people were already waiting there and we stepped out to wait for the bus that would pick us up. I was pleased to find more familiar faces. Alex and Nina were from the Russian church in New York. A few of the young adults there had come to an ANEW Sabbath in Delaware back in Spring 2010. I met Alex and a few others then, and Nina forwarded a hello from Vera.
Someone also asked me if I was at CAMPUS and knew Naome Muzhamindo. It turned out to be Chenai, Naome’s sister! Of course I had heard about her from Naome and we were both actually at Naome’s baptism three years ago, although we didn’t meet then.
Another cool meeting was with Jessica Medori. The church that Jessica grew up in is the West Wilmington SDA Church in Delaware, where Erica and Hillary are right now, and where ANEW had done many programs with. Two weeks before, ANEW visited a church in Hershey, PA, where Jessica is currently located. Erica, Jacqui, Hillary, and Melissa stayed overnight at Jessica’s apartment during the ANEW visit, even though Jessica was out of town that weekend. I hung out there too with them. So basically, I was chilling at Jessica’s place before I even met her. It’s grand to be Adventists.
We packed the school bus that was our chartered vehicle. We stopped by the mall for lunch and to exchange money. Tegucigalpa was a chaotic city, much like Jakarta. I felt very much at home. In fact, I felt at home during the entire Honduras trip.
It was Sunday, which meant that a lot of people were at the mall, just like Jakarta. I had a baleada for lunch, which was super good. They’d give you a lot of avocados. There was a Wal-Mart at that mall too, though an overpriced one.
Finally, it was time to head out to the Buena Vista, the project site. I was all smiles during the ride to the project. Luscious green hills, sun rays in between mountains, houses on the hills, ultra-confident bus and truck drivers, cows on the street, banana and papaya trees (hadn’t seen those in a long time), small brick homes. Awesome.
Naomi told us a little bit about their work there with VIDA and about people’s lives there. There’s a need to educate, especially young girls, who often would move in with guys much older than them and start a family at a very young age.
We got to Buena Vista at about 6 PM, just before sunset. It was such a beautiful complex! Breathtaking, really.
Our living space was not bad at all. I heard from someone who was with the GYC trip in June that they were sleeping on cemented floors. This time around, the girls’ dorm was tiled and the walls were cemented already. No windows or doors installed yet, so there would gaping rectangular holes on the wall. I looked forward to sleeping in the ‘open’ space that night and waking up to sunshine. The bathroom section was covered by a blue tarp and the soap smell gave the entire floor a nice fragrance. I felt truly comfortable.
We ate supper in the dark. Suppers there are very light, for example, some banana bread and a piece of fruit, how suppers are supposed to be. After a short evening worship, we all said goodnight to settle into our living spaces. It was only about 8 PM.
I stayed out for a little bit to bask in the quietness of the night. I wrote this in my journal:
The moonlight is so bright. I am overwhelmed with the privilege of just being here. Here in this isolated little village in Honduras, I am getting the prime and best education I can get. This classroom is more glorious than any lecture halls, and the instruction much more prestigious than any Ivy League education. There may be much hype attached to Princeton, but I feel much more privileged to be here, with my headlamp, surrounded by mountains and bugs, in communion with my Maker…
I went to bed at about 9:15 PM.