From UK (first world) to Honduras (third world): from tarmacked roads to dirt roads: from ambulance services with their sirens: to zero ambulance services.  What’s the difference – is it just potholes?

Recently, in April, my husband, Tim, decided it was time for me to revisit, after 10 years, and introduce our daughter, Clarice to, situated along the Congrejal River Cove which flows through the vivid-coloured tropical rainforest in the republic of Honduras, Central America.  This coincided with Tim being aware that a project he had started in January, with other volunteers, was uncompleted so he felt the urge to see it through.  A tin-roofed two-storey structure, comprising of a large communal room on the top floor became unbearably hot at times, so ventilation and fans were needed, so these were positioned in a new suspended ceiling.

Back in summer 2008, yes, 10 years ago, I visited with a group of eager “mission-minded” people connected to our church plus our local Emmanuel church.  My husband had not planned to go, but due to me becoming unwell, he decided to “rock up” to Heathrow airport and see if he could find a way to join me.  I’m not sure vaccinations even entered his mind.  If you want to know more about his “unplanned” journey, and travelling along the “no go at night” road, incurring multiple wheel punctures on the hired car, having zero Spanish linguistics; Tim is the best person to tell how God took him to a place of “fear of losing all, to praying, God showing up, praying, God showing up, so on…”.  Word still has it that this country has the “murder capital” of the world.

In 10 years some things have remained constant, but there has been much growth and development. Dr Martin Williams, and his wife Wendy, first worked there in 2007, and they continue to do so, now under the directorship of Healing Hands Global Inc (an American charity).

From one building, incorporating the family’s home and hospital; the family now have their own “designer bungalow”, several self-contained flats for interns, dormitories for short-term teams, plus an extended hospital, which now boasts a maternity unit, dental practice and operating theatre.

During the last 10 years Tim was asked to join the Board of Directors.  He continues to communicate mainly by email and Skype conference calls, etc, plus he now tries to visit Honduras once a year offering his carpentry and building skills. Our church has been generous with several financial gifts, which has enabled a fair amount of building works to happen.

A few years ago, the hospital shut for 2 weeks, and we had the pleasure of hosting all 4 permanent staff.  They were thrilled to experience London for the first time, never mind Europe, attend our church, and visit Scotland.  A small fellowship from Scotland had paid for the doctor’s medical fees, so it was marvellous that Martin could visit the donors and thank them in person.  The Williams family of 4, and their long-term dedicated nurse, Tabby, have planned another trip to London this summer, so if you are at church on the same day you may see them.

So what have I learned on my recent trip?  I believe God has taught me to be more patient, and to ask for less.  I didn’t have an assigned project this time, but was thrilled to be invited to help in English classes in Instituto el Rey,  Recognising that these students were privileged to attend, they had less variety of leisure activities outside to avail of compared to UK city dwellers;  they appeared very happy and healthy, and I think they benefited greatly by spending time at the local river,  listening to the birds and their music.

So … What is mission? Have you got a heart for mission? When you pray, what do you hear God calling you to do with your resources and time?

In conclusion, I’m amazed how God has given me the opportunity to experience life again in a very different climate and culture, in various work settings, with missionary focused people.  Whilst I may not think about it often, or recognise it, I know I have been changed forever, and for the good.

By Roberta Gilkinson