Sunday, September 4, 2016

A Bridge in Five Days

What happens when a hard-working, nineteen person team from Lighthouse Church heads to Honduras to build a bridge in a week? They finish it with two days to spare! I had the opportunity to speak to three of those over-achievers--Josh Merson, Melissa White, and Gretchen Moran.

A Spiritual Journey

Josh Merson was the missions team leader for the group. He was determined to keep the trip mission focused and not lose sight of why they were there. The team hit the ground running.

The morning after their arrival, they visited a feeding center with about 300 children, where they doled out candy, sang songs, and played with the kids. That evening, they attended Russell and Iris’s church, Abundant Grace. It was a powerful service despite the fact they experienced a power outage and were sitting in the dark! Even though there was a language barrier, the team was able to follow the posted scripture. Earlier that evening, the team had done a devotional on the very scriptures the pastor was using!

On Monday, work began on the bridge. Josh spoke of a hill, which currently has no name, but which proved to be treacherous. From here on out, I will simply refer to it as the Intimidating Hill of Treachery. The team spent two days carrying supplies up the Intimidating Hill of Treachery. Up and down. Up and down. They collected river rocks, and hauled sand, gravel, and bags of concrete up the hill. Josh said watching the community members turn out to help made those repeated trips up and down more bearable. The indigenous workers were not getting paid for their help, but they turned out anyway. He refers to the volunteers as the “most enthusiastic, hard-working individuals.” Josh was impressed by the fact the community members remembered the names of the people from the Lighthouse team. Josh said Russell and Allen did a great job keeping contact between the two groups of workers.

Josh spoke of his belief that all Christians should make a similar mission trip as a part of their spiritual journey. He stressed it isn’t just for people who have been Christians for thirty years. One member of their team has been a Christian for about a year. Others for about five years. Still others, for decades. He sees how the trip impacted each person, regardless of how long ago they became Christ followers.

The group was particularly touched by a group of teenage girls who surprised them with a song during their feeding center visit. The girls had taken the time to learn the English words to “Open the Eyes of My Heart Lord”. Unable to find the words to adequately describe the emotion of that moment, Josh said simply, “It puts pressure on your chest!”

Accomplishing Much with Few

Melissa White had taken a mission trip before through another organization and thought she knew what to expect. She was struck by the difference between the workings of a larger organization and a family missions group. She said she, “had the misconception the team would have a part-time guide to appease us.” She had not expected the personal involvement the Sowers family demonstrates. From breakfast each morning until the devotional each evening, at least one Sowers was involved. Melissa also spoke of the respect the local community has for the family. She said, “Most people think one or two people can’t accomplish a lot, but the Sowers show they can--through their ministries.”

She continued by saying, “Their attitudes are inspiring. We got to hear where they came from and that it doesn’t take much to make a difference in people’s lives. You just have to have heart. This is not a sheltered experience. We saw it all. We were working right beside the Sowers.”

Melissa wants people to know you don’t have to be a construction worker to participate in a construction oriented mission trip. She said, “I’m a lawyer. I work in an office. I don’t like to do something as simple as shoveling snow, but there was something for everyone to do. There’s always a job. Making sandwiches. Forming an assembly line to fill in the gaps. The more hands, the lighter the work. We’re not the skilled laborers. We received guidance and direction from the Sowers. Be prepared to go with the flow and to take direction.”

“Life Transforming”

Gretchen Moran has been to Central America six times, but declared this to be the “most authentic trip”. She spoke of the Sowers’ complete transparency and having full access to learn as much as you can about their ministry while you are there.

This was the first mission trip for Gretchen to take with her husband. The pair of engineers has done prior home renovations, but wouldn’t classify themselves as being skilled in construction. That didn’t matter. She described the trip as “life transforming” and said, “It gave us a deeper connection to Honduras and the people they encountered.” She continued by talking about the impact the week had on the entire Lighthouse Church team.

Ongoing Relationships

Josh, Melissa, and Gretchen are each looking forward to sharing their experiences with others when they return home. They are excited about having an ongoing relationship with Sowers4Pastors. They are hopeful that Lighthouse Church will sponsor a Honduran sister church.

One of the verses that has been at the forefront of Josh’s mind throughout the trip is I Corinthians 10:31, which says, “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” He would like to remind people how easy and affordable it is for most people to sponsor a child. Even if you can’t donate $15 a month, a gift of $5 will still feed 250 children a meal at a feeding center. As the girls at the feeding center sang, “Open the eyes of their heart, Lord!”

- posted by Christi

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