Two different worlds
A student reflects on the mission trip to Honduras
(This article originally appeared in the Summer 2014 issue of Threshold magazine)
by Emily Bauer, Benedictine College student
What would it be like to live in a world without iPhones, a world without television, and a world without clean water to drink? The people of Honduras live without the material things that Americans take for granted. What they do have is what keeps them strong; they have faith and love. The people in Honduras are not wealthy in regard to material possessions. Instead, they have spiritual wealth.
While on my mission trip to Honduras, I was blessed with the opportunity to spend time with teens and young adults in a Franciscan youth group. The group was made up of about 25 boys and girls between the ages of 15 to 24. We played games and listened to talks about Lent. Most of the teens were from low-income families and were feeling the pressure to join gangs. While talking with the teens, I learned that the youth group was the only way that they were able to stay out of gangs and to meet friends.
The contrast between this youth group and my youth group from high school was huge. My high school youth group was more for socializing than it was to gain a closer relationship with God. Teens wanted to be there but not for the right reasons. The youth group in Honduras was the direct opposite. Every teen that I met wanted to be there because of their faith in God. They had a yearning to grow in their relationship with Christ. When the teens joined and accepted the Franciscan path, they were given a Tau cross. When I asked one of the teens the significance of the cross, I was told it was to remind them of Jesus and the struggles that he endured. When wearing the cross they were reminded to always behave in a way that reflected well on the Church. All of the teens wore their crosses with pride.
Going to the youth group and meeting all the teens was the best and most moving experience of the trip. I made some amazing friends that I am going to remain in contact with. The youth group touched my heart in ways I can’t even begin to explain. I will never forget the amazing people and experiences I had.
I was left with a feeling of sadness because of the poverty and challenges that the teens face on a daily basis, but at the same time I was envious of their devotion to God. They seemed to have an unwavering faith and a love for God and each other. They didn’t need the connection to the Internet and social media, only to God. Amazing the difference that distance can make. We live in the same time zone, same part of the world, but the differences are astounding.