“I believe that everything happens for a reason and that everything is a part of a greater plan made by God. What I experienced in Honduras was unlike anything I had ever done. It sounds so cliché, but it truly was an eye-opening experience. It is hard to understand just how blessed we are living in America until you go to a developing country like Honduras. It is hard to imagine what life is like without medicine, clean water, soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste and so many other things until you see people living without it first-hand. It is hard to see how easy it is to be content living a simple life, until you meet people, talk to them and see what they have to be happy about. Though it has been about eight months since I have been back from Honduras, I still think about my time there constantly. I enjoyed seeing those sweet, grateful kids, who wanted nothing more than to play, sing, and learn about Jesus. Thinking about the seeds we planted by introducing them to a life with God is beyond comprehension. Something I did not expect to enjoy as much as I did, was teaching people about the love Jesus has for us. It changed the way I view being a Christian. The love and thankfulness the community we worked in was beautiful. My heart has never been so full. The closest I have ever felt to God was on this trip. The day we went to Rancho Ebenezer, it was like I meant to be there. Hearing about what the children have gone through and what their lives there were like, gave me a gut-wrenching feeling that someday I would be back. When I am back, I will be a practicing music therapist and may be able to start a program at the Ranch. Who knows for sure if that will happen, but God knows, and I trust Him. If I ever get the chance to return to Honduras, I will. I think everyone should experience giving back to a community of people that have less than they do. It is a choice that makes you grow as a person and opens your mind to a whole different world. God has a plan for all of us, and it is by His plan that I live.”

~ Erika ~ age 22 ~ Music Therapy Graduate ~ Illinois State University

“Previous to January 2017, I had never been on any sort of mission trip, let alone Honduras. Going on a mission trip has been something I’ve always wanted to do, but the circumstances have never been right. One day during senior year of high school, I was asked to go to Honduras, and it instantly piqued my interest. I talked to my parents about it, and that night we decided I was going. This is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Leading up to the trip, I heard from countless people that I shouldn’t go because it’s too dangerous there. People thought I was being irrational for putting myself in such a dangerous situation. All the things I was hearing put bad ideas in my head, and right before the trip, I was terrified to go. I wanted to back out, but I knew I couldn’t. Once we got to the mission house, one of the things they told us was that the crime rate is declining and that we would be fine. You just have to be smart about where you go, but you have to do that anywhere. They talked us through it and settled my fears.

Once we got into the mission field, I never felt in danger, and it was the least of my worries. These wonderful Honduran people take over your whole world. The experience I had was amazing. I made a connection with one little boy named Wuendl, and to this day, he holds a special place in my heart. The connection was unexplainable. One of the most heartbreaking things was the language barrier. I wish so badly that I would’ve been able to have a real conversation with him instead of just teaching each other words in each of our native languages.

The experience of being in Honduras was life-changing. These people are grateful for everything they receive; I’ve never seen a person be so excited over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They are some of the happiest people I’ve ever seen. They taught me to be more grateful for the many blessings that I easily take for granted. These people are so faithful and reliant on God to help them in their lives. I loved that I got to help people not only on a physical level, but a spiritual level as well. The wonderful people of Honduras helped me too, even though they didn’t know it. I saw God’s love everywhere I looked, and my faith grew because of it.”

~ Haley ~ Age 20 ~ Accounting Student ~ Murray State University

“Mission trips have always been a passion in my life. I have been on multiple trips to various places in the United States. Because of this passion, I jumped on the chance Chosen to Shine was given to join the Honduras mission team, with another group in January of 2016. During this trip, I fell in love with Honduras. 

Chosen to Shine’s 2017 mission trip was my second time serving in Honduras through World Gospel Outreach. On this trip I fell in love with Honduras even more! The experience was quite different than the first time. Our mission team was comprised of a small group of only six women, and instead of spending the entire week working at medical brigades, only half of the time was dedicated to this, while the other half of time, we were busy with a vacation bible school for the Honduran children.

I loved serving with a small group because we really grew as a community. We left early on New Year’s Day morning.  Throughout the week I grew closer to everyone on my team.

I also loved how on this trip we had more interaction with children through the vacation bible school. My passion is to work with children, so this was perfect for me! During this time, I met a family of four whom I completely fell in love with. The oldest of these children was an eleven-year-old named Jennifer. This young girl was basically taking care of her three younger siblings all by herself. It broke my heart to see how much responsibility was being put on these children, and I really just wanted to bring them back home with me!

On the Wednesday of our week, we visited Rancho Ebenezer, which is a children’s ministry of World Gospel Outreach that serves “abandoned, orphaned and displaced children from birth to [eighteen] years of age.” While we were there, we were given a commentated tour of the property. The part that caught my attention the most was Ebenezer Academy, which is the school at Rancho Ebenezer that provides a bilingual Christian education for the kindergarteners through sixth graders. This Academy accepts North American teachers, and I would possibly like to do this someday!

While in Honduras, we sang the song, “God of This City,” by Chris Tomlin, during worship one night. Part of the lyrics read, “For greater things have yet to come. And greater things are still to be done in this city.” Great things have happened in Honduras and greater things ARE still to be done. Every time I hear this song, I think of Honduras and all of the blessings God has poured into the lives of those who live there and all the blessings He continues to and will continue to provide. I would recommend to anyone thinking about going on a mission trip to Honduras to just go; you will not regret it! 

~ Shelby ~ Age 22 ~ Elementary Teacher ~ Graduate of University of Illinois Springfield