It is amazing what ten days and a little water can do.
I had been on several mission trips before, so I went into this trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras expecting to build a house or two, lay some cement, eat weird food, and maybe hand out some vitamins. My expectations turned out to be wrong - I was getting ready to experience no ordinary mission trip.
From the first Friday our group's goal was to evangelize. We went to remote villages and shared the good news with people who were aching to hear it. We went into schools (public and private) and taught children of all ages about the Bible. We went from house to house (really from shack to shack) encouraging Christians and presenting the Gospel to those that were not Christians. We took the Bible and its message to more than 2,500 people. God was glorified through us and we give him all the praise.
But, the most impacting part of our trip occurred on the third day. The events of that day will forever be burned in my mind. On that day Alex died.
Our Saturday began at 6:30 A.M. with an early breakfast then a three and a half hour drive to go thirty-eight miles over rough, rocky terrain in Mission Caribe's school bus which was packed full of equipment, Hondurans, and Gringos. Upon arrival in Chapoline, the group hikes about a half a mile to a stream. There we witnessed two brand-new Christians be baptized into faith in Christ Jesus. After rejoicing with our new brother and sister, we hiked about two and a half more miles to the soccer (futbol) field.
Before dividing into teams, Dennis and Zack led the group of mission workers and local youth in a devotion and worship. The game lasted about two hours (the blue team won). After it was over, we headed back to the bus for a lunch of sandwiches and juice.
We then had the opportunity to hand out clothes to the people of Chapoline. Our next project was the church service planned for the afternoon. I was part of the team in charge of teaching the children. Not long after we started the lesson, we got word that Alex was missing and believed drowned.
Alex was a nineteen-year-old boy who was a student of the Bible and attended classes at the mission. Like that Saturday, many times he would go out with the team to the churches to help out. He had just barely made it on the bus that morning before we left Tegucigalpa. He was on the "white" soccer team.
After lunch he and a few others decided to go swimming. What became apparent after his body was found was that he had dove in and hit his head on the rocks at the bottom of the pool. When they pulled his body out of the water, two of our team members, Melissa and Deb, attempted CPR to make every effort in hope that somehow his life might be preserved, but Alex was gone.
I had never seen death so close. A young man with whom I ate lunch with not too long ago would never eat again. My mind was in shock. The question on all of our minds was, "Did Alex accept Jesus Christ as his savior?" To our great joy we found out that Alex had accepted Christ and been baptized just two months prior to that fateful Saturday.
We experienced that day two people begin their new lives in Christ and in the same stream a young man end his physical life to begin a new life in heaven.
You might think that this tragedy placed a damper on the rest of the trip on the work of Mission Caribe. No. We would not let death triumph over the possibility of new lives waiting to be born. God's work must go on - and it did - and it will.
My experience in Honduras will never be forgotten. What did I learn? I learned that even though tragedy/bad things happen, God triumphs always. As a result of Alex's life and his death, his sister came to know the Lord and was baptized. His mother is not far behind.
As I left the runway in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, my heart was overwhelmed with a great love for the people of Honduras and the hope that someday I will return.