Honduras Semana Santa Trip  

Posted by Jeff ("Jefe") Oleson

Last month 5 of us went with some Salvadorean Cruzada staff and 5 students, 4 from Matias and 1 from Evangelica, on a Semana Santa trip to Honduras. Semana Santa is kind of like spring break here, except it's for everyone in Central America to have off to be with family, go vacation, do things with church and for some, celebrate Jesus' death and resurrection. But we took the opportunity to go out to Honduras and take the gospel to some poor rural communities.

We took 2 12-passenger vans northeast with luggage for all 16 of us and equipment to show the Jesus film in public (3 old school projection systems with 5 cases each, probably totalling 300 pounds.) We headed out at 7:30 am and drove 9 hours through El Salvador and Honduras, with me driving the Cruzada van and Manuel driving a rented van with a lot more power. I ended up trailing pretty far behind much of the time because of significantly inferior power and tons of big hills and windy roads almost the entire way. We saw many crazy passes on the two-lane highway we were on, and drivers with little concern for their own safety or the safety of others.

We finally arrived in Honduras at 4:30 with sore butts, coming to a kind of camping area with a bunch of tents set up, and old buses set up on blocks to provide extra living space. The biggest tent had a big stage set up for music and dancing, and plenty of room for chairs. The whole thing looked like an old hippie tent revival.

We really had no idea what to expect with this whole thing, and knew that as Central American culture goes, anything we had planned could be completely thrown out the window and replaced with something new. So we were quickly told upon arrival that we would be split up into 3 teams and go to different towns for most of the rest of the trip. Manuel told us that Kristen, Joe and Brenna would go with three Matias students, Ruben, Herman and Jenny, that Jenna and I would go with 2 staff, Selegna (from Panama) and Janette, and a student from Matias, Jairo, and that Manuel would go with his son Geovanny, Rocio (a girl from Evangelica), and this lady Veronica and her son Daniel, who I had no idea how were connected to the group at all. And so the adventure continued!

Our team got into the back of a pick-up and rode to Zacapa, a little town with about 1000 people, mostly dirt roads, a town square with a park adjacent to the Catholic church -- the biggest building in town -- and streets dominated by kids, dogs and chickens all running around unrestrained. We quickly found out that we would be splitting up for sleeping and eating. The girls were in one house with one pastor, Jairo was in another, and I in another with another pastor. My house was all the way across town, and I had to take my stuff nearly a mile over there the first night, but a couple kids helped me out.

The pastor and his family had a nice house, as houses in Zacapa go, and they were very nice and hospitable. I did feel really awkward being a gringo there and being the only one, and it didn't help that they really weren't too social and didn't engage me much. I ate most of my meals alone, for whatever reason I know not, and after a couple unfortunate plates, ended up being apprehensive of what would come next. At lunch on the second day I came up to the table to find a bowl of soup which didn't appear too harmless at first, but ended up being quite the experience. Mandongo as I learned it was called, consists of plantane, potato, squash, and cow liver (tripa) and just about made me vomit. The cow liver was about as tough as a car tire except slimy, and I spent so long trying to chew one piece that I looked around for possible witnesses and spit it out into a napkin and put it in my pocket.

As for ministry, one afternoon we taught a bunch of youth in the church we were helping the 4 Spiritual Laws. One Guatemalen that was with us drilled them for an hour, just having them memorize each point and the scripture references associated with them. Then we showed the Jesus film -- kids version -- twice, once in the church and once in the town square. The second time we were feeling a lot of discouragement for showing it as we walked around town and saw a version of it playing in many homes. We wondered, has everyone seen this already? And the pastor whose church we worked at was asking us are you really showing this again? But ultimately we felt led to still do it and though it seemed like no one would show up, there ended up being over 100 people with dozens that accepted Christ!

The trip was so cool in how it allowed us to connect with students of Matias and allow them to lead out and take steps of faith. At the Jesus film in town, I went with one of our student leaders, Jairo, and he led a lady and her kids through the 4 Spiritual Laws and his testimony, with the end result of her accepting Christ with tears in her eyes. It was so cool!

On the third day, we left to go have a kind of debriefing time at the beach, where, believe it or not, we stayed at a military base! We got a big warm welcome from some soldiers that scolded us for taking pictures on the base, which is a big no-no apparently. We slept in the barracks alongside some soldiers, on hard concrete floors, and the Central Americans played loud games and sang songs all night right outside where Joe and I were trying to sleep -- it seems like they just don't value sleep like Americans do. We also were scolded for playing cards on base, which was fun too. But the coolest part of this part of the trip was hearing students tell stories from the week, how they were impacted and how they saw God move.

But I think the beach was the most memorable part of Honduras. When I heard this was a port city, I knew it wasn't a good sign, but I could have never been prepared for what I witnessed. Trash like you would never imagine, drunk people watching distasteful beach concerts, stagnant water crammed with people and even a huge shipwreck. Joe's comment was "Even if you told me to imagine the worst beach I could imagine, I never would have imagined one this bad."

The last thing we had to do to complete our grand adventure was make the little 12 hour jaunt back to El Salvador. For some reason, Central Americans feel the need to start super early for things in the morning -- probably because so much time gets wasted later on -- so we were leaving the base in our vans at 4 am. Then I drove one of the vans the ENTIRE way home. I just got in a groove, popped my iPod headphones in my ears and charged it, with a carfull of sleeping girls. Joe also did an awesome job driving with a carfull of loud Salvadoreans. All in all it was a great trip that I will remember for a long time.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 13, 2009 at Monday, April 13, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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