by Pastor Linda Skinner For many years now our church has selflessly sent youth teams to Honduras to work amongst the poorest of poor. I’ve had the privilege of leading the amazing team on our annual auction supporting our mission projects. As part of the auction, the youth team kids work hard. They procure items for the auction and help on auction night as part of their preparation for the trip. It has been one of the highlights of my ministry at Washington Cathedral watching the kids who go on these trips come back with such a heart for Jesus and the “little ones” he loves in all parts of the world.
This year, for the first time since we have been working in Honduras, I had the honor and privilege of going on the Youth Mission trip with the team. That means I got to work with the team in preparation for the auction, in preparation for the trip and taking part in all aspects of the trip. For all of us on the team, our hearts were stolen by the children we served in La Paz, Honduras. But in addition, my heart was stolen by the young people from our church who went on this trip.
Every step of the way, I watched them courageously step out of their comfort zones and do things they never imagined they could do. As the time to go on the trip approached, there was the combination of excitement mixed with a little trepidation. For some, this was their very first mission trip experience--and they had no idea what to expect. In preparation, they had to have vaccinations not necessary in this country. And we had to brief them on health hazards and dangers of entering into a third-world country where you do not know the customs or speak the language well. I know this all added to their sense of apprehension.
John says these words in 1 John 4:18 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear….” I witnessed this phenomenon the minute our kids stepped into the San Jose Orphanage and met the children of the orphanage. Despite age, language and cultural differences, they were drawn to one another. The love of Christ shone on the faces of our kids. Before I knew it, they were had a soccer game going, they were playing “go fish” and teaching one another “clapping songs”. Loved reigned supreme in the hearts of all.
Every day, they grew closer and closer to one another. We learned one another’s names. We even visited homes of some of the children in the NiCo Tutoring center. God worked in our hearts and none of us wanted to leave. But the day came that we had to say “good bye,” and again that beast of fear entered in our hearts. Fear of leaving and letting go. Pastor Rey asked us to be brave and not to say or do anything to hurt the hearts of these children who have suffered their entire lives with feelings of abandonment. We needed to be strong to hold back the tears and leave them with joy and laughter.
I think this was the hardest assignment our kids faced. I was so proud of all of them. They showed such maturity and compassion. They were crying inside because they didn’t want to say "Adios", but outside they were filled with joy for the time God had given them with these precious little ones. As our bus drove away, they shouted one another’s names saying “Adios”, some of the kids ran alongside our bus, waving, laughing and calling our names. It is a picture of “Love and Courage” that will forever be emblazoned on the hearts of all of us. We went on a Holy Adventure and God changed us all.
This weekend Pastor Josh, our Youth Pastor and Mission Team Leader, is going to preach on his life verse Joshua 1:9 and he will be interviewing some of the team members. You don’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate what God is doing in our midst through the youth of our church.