Every year, I make the effort to connect with our ministry in Honduras and experience a different perspective. That meant that this year it was my turn to switch it up again and come on the medical mission led by our medical director Dr. Patrick Reeves.
On Saturday, January 19th, sixteen of us from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Michigan woke up very early to travel to Honduras. This particular trip was very meaningful to me personally because it is the first time that I got to travel with members of my new church plant (Reset Church) in Rhode Island. Most of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island team gathered at Logan International Airport really early to try and prevent any delays with TSA check in. I had heard that the government shutdown was creating some unnecessary check in delays in airports all over the country. To our surprise, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush was on our same flight. We met the rest of the Michigan and Massachusetts team at Miami International Airport where we boarded the flight together. There were seventeen of us on this team and we were happy to arrive safe and sound in Tegucigalpa. Awaiting us was my dad, missionary Hector Newman, with his unfading characteristic smile.
On Sunday, January 20th, we started the day by celebrating Ashley Reeves' birthday. Ashley is Dr. Rick Reeves' wife and has been to Honduras many times on previous medical missions. We headed to El Arca Camp with the whole team. As part of her birthday wish, Ashley had requested to be baptized. It was a special occasion as well because the baptistry was being dedicated to the Lord. Rev. Dr. David Kilpatrick, who is the Senior Pastor at West Medford Baptist Church and serves as Mission Honduras Chair was very influential in donating the needed funds to complete this new baptismal pool. After the dedication, he performed the baptism and we all rejoiced with Ashley. Later in the afternoon, the youth in our mission team left the hotel to go to a special pre-teen/youth service. Ethan Pino, the youth leader at my church, preached to the youth on the topic, "Don't Miss the Point." It was a very blessed service. Afterwards, we hung out with the children and teens. An hour later, we dedicated the sports court at the Cofradia Church in Danli. This is the same sports court that Judy Margetts, Jonathan DiLuglio and I worked on with some college students from Rhode Island last March. The sports courts looked incredible. The dedication ceremony for the sports court was especially touching to Judy Margetts because Dr. Hector Newman unveiled a beautiful plaque naming the court after her. As tears rolled down her eyes in surprise, I caught a couple of tears streaming down my face as well. The plaque also had a dedication to the young college students from Rhode Island who invested a lot of effort, time and money for its completion. Just last year, our mission team then had seen all the filler soil poured and the more than 120 loads of dirt to level the court. We were so ecstatic to finally see the court completed. The children and youth looked extremely happy. After the ribbon cutting ceremony, Judy and I received plaques for our fundraising efforts and then Judy had the honor of shooting the first basketball. Even though it was an air ball, we had fun seeing the next 20 children, teens and adults try to get the first bucket in. I also had the chance to kick the first soccer ball to the goalie. After the dedication service of the, "Judy Margetts" sports court we moved inside the church for Sunday service. I was already under a lot of unspoken pressure. You see the church service began at the same time our beloved Patriots were playing in the division championship. We had an amazing worship time with the praise and worship team of the Cofradia church. With the game in mind I went to the pulpit to preach. You see I was always taught that God comes first in everything so I was not going to cheat anyone out of a spiritual blessing just in the name of a football game. My message was titled, "Breakthrough" based on the passage in Mark 2:1-12. The spirit of God worked through the message and forty minutes later I was making an altar call. What a day! This is what mission trips are all about. Mission trips are all about getting to know the locals, while getting to know your fellow team members, while continuing to know more about God.
On Monday, January 21st we left the hotel and for the next hour rode our bus to Teupasenti, El Paraiso. This is where we were located for the next four days helping those in need of medical assistance. When we arrived, there were many people patiently waiting for us under the sun and in the shade. That night, after the brigade concluded, I joined the board of Iglesias Comunidad de Amor International for an executive meeting. It is always great to hear from my colleagues the wonderful news about our ministry amongst our churches in Honduras.
On Tuesday, January 22nd, we went back to our medical site in Teupasenti. I love this church because it is on the side of the road in the belly of a big mountain facing a picturesque forest. The weather was lovely compared to the freezing temperatures of New England. At the end of the day there was a lady that seemed to be in a rush to get done with her medical visit. I asked her, "Why are you in such a hurry?" You see the Honduran culture is very laid back so this caught my attention. She looked at me, pointed to a mountain behind us and said I came from the other side of that mountain and it's going to get dark soon. I asked how long it took her to get to us and she said 3 hours. She had 3 little children with her walking another 3 hours up a mountain while the sun sets was all I needed to know. I immediately helped her get through the line. What a great reminder to never take any of the conveniences that we have living in the USA for granted. God has placed all of us in places where we can make a difference whether it is locally, nationally or internationally. Later on in the afternoon we celebrated Samantha's 17th birthday with a piñata party. That night Dr. Kelly Wemple, who had just arrived from Michigan, joined the rest of the team. Later on, Dr. Kilpatrick preached at the night at the Cofradia church service. The message was focused on the excitement about sharing Jesus.
On Wednesday, January 23rd, the youth from our team went to El Arca campground to spend the day building the bathrooms for the dormitories. The rest of the team went to Teupasenti to continue with the brigade. At noon I took the youth to one of the many hills on the property. Every hill at El Arca is named after a mount in the Bible. Right in front of the mount you will see the name of it posted on a piece of wood. I decided to take them to Mount Zion. This is the hill that caught fire last March and our courageous teens stopped it. The hill looked way different this year. It was green and at the top there are many benches to enjoy the amazing sight. Once at the top I had everyone sit in a circle and we had a time of intimacy with the Lord. After a brief time of meditation on God's word we prayed for each others needs. It was such a special moment to share with the youth.
On Thursday, January 24th, we all gathered for our last day of service. Throughout the week Pastor Hector, Pastor Kilpatrick and myself took turns praying for people and preaching to the crowds waiting to be seen by our medical team. Our teenage team members played soccer, gave away bracelets and toys and connected with their Honduran friends. In the middle of the day Suzanne, who is a nurse, said to me, "Pastor I need you to talk to this couple and pray for them. They are going through a rough time." I waited for the couple with 3 children to see the doctor and get their medication. When they were coming out I grabbed some chairs and sat down to talk to them. They went on to tell me that they recently lost their 9 year old boy due to a stray bullet on Christmas day. The mother started to cry and looked away from me. I could see her sorrow and my heart felt her agony. The dad had this broken look on his face. You see it was almost a month to the day that their son was senselessly killed. I sat there for a while and talked to both parents. I mainly listened and then gave them a word of Biblical counsel. I grabbed Pastor Toribio Santos (our local pastor) and layed hands on the family and prayed for God to comfort them. When we were done praying I gave them a big hug and blessed them.
On Friday, January 25th, we stopped by El Arca Campground on our way back to Tegucigalpa. During the week two of our team members rededicated their lives to the Lord and decided to be baptized. Dr. Kilpatrick baptized them. It was a wonderful time. These are some of the stories and amazing experiences that the Lord gave us during this mission trip.
Overall our team helped around 861 patients with medications and treatments for all kinds of medical conditions, including: diabetes, infections, high blood pressure, arthritis, carpal tunnel, asthma, acid reflux, dental infections, vision difficulties, and more. Everytime I go to Honduras, I feel blessed and come back filled with more energy and passion to continue to do the work that the Lord has set for us to do. I can't wait for next year. Will you come with us next time?
Pastor Enrique Newman