It has been a few months now since our return from leading an incredible three-week missions trip to Toronto and Siguatepeque, Honduras with 12 of our youth and 4 other leaders. All are currently members of Willow Creek Baptist Church located just outside of Barrie, Ontario.
This trip was a unique time of ministry for my wife and I as this was our first mission trip, among many we’ve experienced, leading a team from Canada. We were so blessed to have this privilege and there wasn’t a day that went by when we didn’t see God leading and going before us in everyway! As a team we needed to raise $37,000. God immensely blessed this project and we were able to raise over and above what we needed. This allowed us to bless Siguatepeque Bilingual Christian School by sending 7 children to Vacation Bible School as well as pay for economic stoves, which will be delivered to families in the poor communities.
Our first week was a training week in Toronto (REMIX-www.torontoremix.com) with several other youth groups from as far as the U.S. Our days were filled with learning how to center our lives around the mission and message of Jesus, while also learning how to see people as God sees them. The mornings consisted of in-class training followed by afternoon mission and ministry opportunities. Here we were sent out as a youth group to put into practice what we had learned in the morning sessions. The themes for the week were as follows:
DAY 1 - Encountering God's Love
DAY 2 - Meeting people through Jesus' eyes
DAY 3 - Care through listening and learning
DAY 4 - Connect with God's community
DAY 5 - Share God's truth
DAY 6 - Share God's mission
Our first day led us downtown Toronto via subway where we did a prayer walk that ended at a church that reaches the homeless and marginalized in the city. The other afternoons consisted of things like; park ministry, cleaning top-bottom at a youth drop-in center, mall ministry and more, all while sharing God’s love and praying for people. There were some incredible conversations that came-out of this time as we encountered people who were so hungry to know the truth and purpose of what life is really all about.
Sunday July 3rd our team arrived in San Pedro Sula and drove 2 hours up the mountain to the school, located 4000 feet above sea level. Our first week at the school, consisted of Vacation Bible School each morning until noon. We had over 70 kids attend from JK to Grade 5 and did kids songs, taught memory verses and Bible stories, played games and just loved on kids as Jesus would. Many of these were children from the local orphanage and these beautiful children grew very close to our whole team. In the afternoons we worked, until dinner, on a children’s Jungle Gym, painted wall murals, built and painted desks and chairs for a school in a rural poor community of Balibrea, organized the school’s library, repaired fences, cleaned roves, property and more.
In our second week, most of our days consisted of finishing up work projects along with visiting the poor community of Balibrea. It was here where we gave eight economical stoves to families who attended the house church in that community. The pastor from that area (Pastor Noel) came with us and taught each family how to use these eco friendly stoves that only smoke for about 3-5 minutes and use five times less firewood. For only $50.00 Canadian/stove, Honduran families will remain healthier and provide more time to do other more productive things. We were also able to give the families clothes, hygiene products and stuffed animals for the children.
Balibrea was definitely the highlight of our two weeks in Honduras. It was very hard to see what some of these families lived in when right across the road families had so much wealth but the incredible thing was they were all so happy. They were all smiling and laughing and so grateful for the stoves, clothes and toys. Our team quickly began to realize how much we have in Canada and how unhappy we still are a lot of the time.
Upon our arrival back to Barrie we had a team debriefing where we asked two key questions: 1. How has this changed us? 2. What are we going to do to serve in our own community? We all agreed we need to serve more people and families in our community, church and youth group. Some of our youth are now looking for opportunities to help their neighbours, others have started witnessing downtown Barrie on weekends and as a youth group we have focused many of our events to serving others in and around our city.
To see pictures and read more of our journey, please visit more of our blog.
We are now praying and looking forward to leading another team of youth and leaders from here at Willow Creek, Lord willing, to Honduras again in the summer of 2013.
Love In His Service,
Pastor William and Melanie Walker
Associate Pastor Of Youth and Worship
Willow Creek Baptist Church, Barrie, Ontario (www.willowbarrie.com)
Work E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
William and Melanie Blog Website: www.melwillwalker.blogspot.com