During the last two weeks of March, CVM had 99 short-term mission trip volunteers in the field. We are thankful they chose to spend their spring break serving with us. The trips were to Honduras, Guatemala, India, Uganda, Alaska, Haiti, Mongolia, Nicaragua, and Appalachia. We asked the volunteers to reflect on their experiences and share them with us.
By Lana Bourn
Short Term Mission Trip: Joys of Serving Jesus in Honduras
The 2019 CVM short-term Honduras team led by Dr. Dan Paulo recently returned from Danli. This year the team was a great mix of folks from the East Coast to the West. It included 4 veterinarians in their 70’s, 3 spouses and a teenage grandson, two veterinarians at least 4 decades younger, 1 spouse, and a vet tech. Dr. Dan always encourages family members and friends to participate in roles of support or various projects. The team also included 11 Hondurans—3 drivers, 3 student interpreters, 2 “wranglers” and 3 female veterinary students. We were accompanied by the missionary host, a local priest and other church members who joined us along the way. It’s an exciting time of cultural interaction and exchange.
One of the joys of this team is familiarity. Except for the young spouse and the teenager, all of us have served on this team in years past. Dr. Dan has led teams to this area for over 9 years to serve with Jeannie Loving, a SAMS missionary. Some of us have served with him several times. Others who have served with us before were sorely missed this year. Our coming together is a big, Christian family reunion. We are always happy to include new folks. We care about one another, keep in touch through a private Facebook group and pray for one another throughout the year. We are a vibrant team, which has managed to work together to develop smooth work processes and eliminate many of the kinks of housing and meals. Kathy, our vet tech, is the key to the organization of the medications and supplies and everyone lends a hand. Every morning we gathered at 6:30 a.m. for devotions, then breakfast and pack up, heading out to a village for the day where we broke up into two teams—one for small animals, one for large. Each evening when we return we regroup and prepare for the next day.
Another joyful aspect of the familiarity is that we go to several of the same villages every year and have developed relationships with many villagers and the 2 local priests. They look forward to our coming and we relish the familiar faces in an unfamiliar language and culture. The children always know they can expect someone to provide an activity or a Bible lesson. We desire to discourage dependency and to encourage responsible animal ownership; so a small donation is expected for the small animal surgeries (vaccinations are free) and the treatment of farm animals. That donation is collected by the local parishes and provides a nice boost to their church finances.
The real highlight these last 2 years has been the joy of including 3 or 4 Honduran veterinary students. This year we had 3 young women. They are anxious to learn, get hands-on experience, and share how they do things. Our team is great at teaching, mentoring and encouraging them in their professional development and keeping in touch after we return home. We always have 2 senior students from St. Mary’s Episcopal School in Tegucigalpa to serve as interpreters and they are an energetic addition as well. This year these young men led us in some songs during devotions and jumped right in with assisting the large animal team. Our 3 Honduran drivers were fantastic and one brought his bi-lingual teenage daughter to also help interpret.
As with every year we had some challenges—delayed luggage which was full of serum, a delayed flight and missed connection, complicated medical procedures. But the true JOY is Jesus and seeing how He brings together such a diverse group of folks—decades apart in ages and experience, different language and different cultures, but we all have a heart for serving Him. It is a true picture of the Church meeting difficult challenges and working together for the common purpose of bringing Him glory.