En El Río de Dios: A story of Honduras
Twenty-three years ago, Hurricane Mitch devastated Honduras and prompted a group from Orangewood Church to make the trip in hopes of providing needed medical attention to the people there.
This year, we had the privilege of returning to Honduras after two years away due to the pandemic, for our 23rd medical mission trip with a team ready to serve the Lord by serving his people.
The rolling hills of Honduras are spotted with villages, schools, farms, and some of the most friendly people you’ll ever encounter. During our annual trip, we travel to five different rural villages, whether high in the mountains, low in the valley, or across the lake, and provide medical care to adults and children, as well as fun, games, and ministry to the children. Our days are full of language barriers, a beating down sun, challenging work, but also hundreds of coloring pages, smiles from all, life-saving medicine, and a week that we won’t soon forget.
Each day, we travel by pickup trucks, whether in the truck itself or the cab, to a village expecting our team. As soon as we arrive, we are greeted by crowds of people who’ve traveled from surrounding villages to receive medication, some of whom have walked uphill for miles.
On a typical clinic day, we set up a receiving line in an open-air classroom, complete with an initial screening, prenatal vitamins, a deworming station, an optometrist, prescription medication, and more.
The Children’s Ministry team sets up in another classroom, and prepares for a long day of playing games, coloring, and spending time with the kids.
At the beginning of the day, the children’s ministry team and all the children in the village gather into one large circle as our Honduran Children’s helper Josias prepares us for the day. We sing songs, including one called “El Río de Dios,” or “The River of God.” In this song, we claim that all we want to do is to swim in the river of God, “Quiero nadar en el río de Dios,” and every kid in that circle sings mightily. In these moments, we can see God’s work firsthand. We have the privilege of being with the people of Honduras, in their homes, and in their lives. We have the privilege of jumping into the river of God with them.
The first time I went to Honduras was when I was 14. I hadn’t been exposed to different cultures, I had never traveled outside of the United States, and my Spanish speaking skills were subpar. Even so, the children ran to me, hugged me, played catch and tag with me, without worrying that I couldn’t speak to them in the way I wanted to. I have never felt so immediately accepted and cared for as I have with those children. This spurred a lifelong love for Honduras that I will always carry with me, and a passion for learning Spanish so I could better communicate with the people there.
In 2015, on my second trip, I remember a day where I felt very homesick. I missed my home and room, and felt that the sun couldn’t get any hotter. I removed myself from the hustle and bustle of the kid’s room, and sat by the water well to gather myself. As I was sitting there, a little girl ran up to me with a heart charm in her hand. She opened her hand to me and said: “un regalo,” which is “a gift.” She handed me that heart charm, smiled, and thanked me for playing with her that day.
Since that day, I have cherished this heart charm necklace and still wear it every day, seven years later. It reminds me of the beauty that God has created, if we are willing to open our eyes and see it.
This trip allows us to explore the world beyond Orlando, Florida. To experience different cultures, to spend time with people who can impact us so much without speaking a familiar word. By touch, sight, sound, the hot sun beating down, the children laughing as we play tag, and the beauty of the hills, we can feel the presence of God in a way we might not have before.
We can sing songs in a completely different language and understand the sentiment. I thank God my family asked me to go on this trip seven years ago, and that I listened. I’m forever thankful for Orangewood members Bob Mauger and David Castor, who lead this trip with care and love, as God has led them to missions.
Quiero nadar en el río de Dios.
— Johannah Huber, Communications Coordinator