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Honduras mission trip has tri-fold purpose

Honduras mission trip has tri-fold purpose

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Honduras mission trip has tri-fold purpose

Aug. 15, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0531}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz** and Tita Parham

DANLI, Honduras — Danlí Central was the first Methodist church to form in Danlí. It is one of 12 congregations in five different areas of Honduras that comprise The United Methodist Mission Church of Honduras. Photo courtesy of The United Methodist Mission Church of Honduras, Photo #06-418.

When a Florida Conference delegation travels to Danlí, Honduras, in September they’ll be intentional about doing some things that haven’t been done on other mission trips.

Along with a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission (UMVIM) project and leading a Celebrate Jesus Mission week, the team will intentionally focus on discovering the type of transformation that takes place when a group of people is immersed in a different culture and how that experience can transform their churches back home.

The 10-person team, representing churches from Tallahassee to Pembroke Pines, will work in eastern Honduras Sept. 4-12. Their hosts are the Rev. Doralbis Hidalgo and her husband, David Sardiñas, missionaries from the Cuba Conference of The Methodist Church and supported by the denomination’s General Board of Global Ministries. Both are on the Florida Conference missionary support list.

The team will be stationed in Danlí and work with the congregation of a new church plant in Quisgalagua, about 45 minutes away from Danlí Central, “the mother church” of the area, according to Icel Rodriguez, assistant director of the conference’s Global Missions and Justice Ministries office and co-leader of the team.

“Quisgualagua is a brand new mission field of United Methodist Mission of Honduras,” she said. “The mission is two years old, and it is growing very fast. They have 76 children in attendance to the worship services and quite a few adults. (In May) 10 new people were received into the membership.”
The Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, director of the Global Missions and Justice Ministries office and co-leader of the team with Rodriguez, says a feeling of spiritual growth and transformation often naturally occurs on mission trips, but what is different about this experience is the time set aside each day for the team to specifically reflect on their experiences.

Rankin said members of mission trips often experience cultural differences they don’t understand, like being approached by a child begging for money or the impoverished conditions in which people live, or spiritual differences, like new forms of worship and “a total dependence on God” frequently seen in other countries. Team members will explore how they are affected by those kinds of encounters and can use what they experienced to make their churches healthier. Rankin says it not unusual for people to go back home and become more aware of things they never noticed before their trip, like the number of homeless people in their community, or begin ministries they would not have previously considered starting.

With that change in worldview, Rankin says this type of experience has “everything to do with transforming congregations.”

DANLI, Honduras — Volunteer Cheryl "Mariana" Bieck waits for a team at the airport. Photo courtesy of The United Methodist Mission Church of Honduras, Photo #06-419.

What’s also unique about the trip is the Celebrate Jesus Mission. In the mornings team members will work on the UMVIM project — putting together the metal structure that will support the sanctuary roof. In the afternoons they will lead the congregation in visiting their neighbors as part of the Celebrate Jesus Mission. The team hopes the roof work will be completed so the space can be used for an evangelistic service following the block party at the end of the Celebrate Jesus Mission.

“Months ago when we started thinking of taking an UMVIM caravan to Danlí, Honduras, it occurred to me that if the caravan also had an evangelistic outreach emphasis, it would help the missionaries on the field not only with construction work, but also with the reaching out to the community in a shorter time frame,” Rodriguez said. “Especially when it comes to a new church start, such an effort brings great support to the missionaries.”
Rodriguez said Celebrate Jesus Mission leaders jumped at the chance when she approached them about being involved.

Kathy Furlong, executive director of Celebrate Jesus, has participated in five Celebrate Jesus missions and says each time is unique.

“I’m really looking forward to doing a Celebrate Jesus mission in another country,” said the member of Community United Methodist Church in DeBary. “I like being out on the street reaching people for Christ. There are so many people who are hurting, who are so needing Jesus, and it’s great to be able to offer them prayer.”

Pablo Hernandez will be able to help out with that goal. Along with other team members he is fluent in Spanish and will be able to knock on doors and seek prayer requests in Spanish.

A member of Nueva Vida Hispanic in Pembroke Pines, Hernandez said this is his first mission trip and he is most excited about the opportunity to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Martha Gay Duncan, assistant director of Celebrate Jesus and a member of First United Methodist Church, Lakeland, is equally excited about the opportunity. She has been on 10 Celebrate Jesus missions.

“I’m looking forward to physically working on the church in the mornings and spiritually working on the body of Christ in the afternoons,” Duncan said. “I’m looking forward to the block party at the end — I’m looking forward to all of it.”

Duncan is also hopeful this will not be the last trip conference representatives make to Honduras. “It’s all in what God’s going to do,” she said. “It will work out.”

It has always worked out for Larry Bradford to go on mission trips outside of the country. He has been to the Bahamas, Belize, Chili and Costa Rica three times.

DANLI, Honduras — Children particpate in Sunday school at Danlí Central. Photo courtesy of The United Methodist Mission Church of Honduras. Photo #06-420.

“I have a heart for missions,” he said. “My goal when I retired was to help as many kids as I could. So that’s what I do. I received an e-mail message about the trip to Honduras. I immediately sent a message saying I wanted to go. They are working on a church, and a church always brings children to it.”

Bradford, a member of Ponte Verde United Methodist Church, said he doesn’t understand how people cannot be touched by the lives and struggles going on around the world.

“When I return from my trips, I try to show as many people as I can the photos so that maybe a special place in them will be touched,” he said. “Maybe somebody who listens to me will get attached to that vision. The blessing will be when people want to go and help.”

Furlong is hopeful if all goes well the next trip can be an even greater effort. “I hope we make a really good connection while we’re there,” she said. “I would love for us to be able to do it again in the future.”


This article relates to Missions.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.