Written by Sally Wevers, who led a team from Calvary Church in Holland, Michigan, on a visit to La Unión from Feb. 11 to 18.
An eight person team recently returned from La Unión, Honduras.
Despite different ages, backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, the
group bonded extremely well. The Unión MicroFinanza staff did an
amazing job setting up the schedule, as we were able to spend time with
farmers, families, students at Abundant Life school, and individuals in
The trip was unique in that it took place
during coffee harvest, and we were able to receive and process Marlon
Carcamo's (Calvary's coffee provider) coffee cherries. We
picked coffee, unloaded 150-pound bags of fresh coffee cherries,
processed them through the beneficio, hand sorted, stirred beans in the
solar dryer, smelled, tested and tasted coffee.
We had times of reflection, devotions, and debriefing, sharing, and challenge. In order to share so many thoughts from the team, we are listing some
observations, impacts, and responses. We hope you enjoy reading about
what we have learned.
- There is extreme poverty next to spectacular beauty, and the two extremes painfully clash.
- Calvary's coffee farmer, Marlon Carcamo, was thrilled and honored to
have North Americans pick in his field and have lunch in his home with
his family. But, the honor was ours.
- Our hearts hurt
for the difficult physical labor and efforts placed on our farmer
friends, so painfully affected by a leaf rust fungus that was no fault
of their own. The fungus destroyed major portions of the coffee fields
for many farmers. Knowing the families, having faces with names, brings
authentic sadness and concern to the team. Our prayers will now be more
intentional for them.
-"It is unfair that they work so
hard and their provision for food is wiped out. The unfairness makes me
mad! I don't think I will complain when I get my Saturday chore list
anymore," shared by the youngest member of our team.
- Physical provisions for families have been negatively affected, but
there is more. Education for many has been taken away. We spent limited
time in Nueva Paz -- this is where a team helped to build water collection
systems called pilas two years ago. Eight children could be named from
this one small community who had to quit their local school for lack
of $15 per student for the semester!
- We are committed to purchasing the Aldea Coffee at church, and
sharing our experience with others. The choices we make at home do
dramatically impact others.
- We are partnering with an
amazing organization in La Unión. The Unión Microfinanza (UMF) staff is
committed to change. One of the staff members shared this with us,
"Coffee is the thing we do to partner with and provide change. It could
have been tea, or something else. The driving passion we have is the
people, not the product."
- The UMF staff has the
wisdom and the education to teach and replicate supplies needed to
create smaller scale beneficios for area farmers. This training
continues to have ripple affects in the community. We are grateful for
Calvary's partnership with this organization.
team was challenged to attain more responsible personal stewardship, to
consider what "living with less" might look like, to realize a growing
appreciation for UMF's tremendous commitment to La Unión, and we
experienced a greater appreciation for the education offered at Abundant
Life school. The spiritual maturity of high school students was a
powerful witness to us.
Most, if not all of us, have been asked,"Why go on a mission trip?" This is a summary of our answers. It is not about how much work that
could be accomplished, but rather it is about relationships renewed, and
others begun. It is not about what we could teach them, but what they
had to teach us. When we now know names with faces,
people matter. What they do and need matters, and responding to needs
brings Christ-centered joy. Mission trips motivate personally and communally. Step out of your comfort zone. Mission trips are addictive!