By Heather Sarmiento
As I walked into the dorm rooms and tossed my backpack onto my usual bed this year, I couldn’t stop thinking of how many years I had been coming to this place. The ranch is my home away from home, and more importantly, the home where I learned the truth about God. God is love. Such a short and simple statement that took me years to understand.
To begin with, I didn’t grow up going to church or having any real religious influence. When I first came to Honduras I wasn’t only a ‘newbie’ to the mission, I was also a ‘newbie’ to church. Trying to make sense of Christianity and and understand God was at the forefront of my mind at the time. What does a missionary do? How do they act? What are their motives? Why does God call us here? As the days unfolded and I watched my fellow missionaries interact with residents of the homes they worked in, I witnessed the Holy Spirit working. People who spoke different languages were communicating with each other. There was laughter, sharing and fellowship as we worked on cement floors and roofs. How was it that strangers could feel so connected, united even?
God was and is the common denominator. With God present we were able to see each other as God sees us, with open arms of love. After the week was over, I sat with my team and Sue Church [former executive director of HOI] at the dinner table at Honduras Maya. I was 16 at the time and Sue asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I told her I wanted her job. Truly, what could be better than devoting your life to helping people find God?
At first glance it appears that missionaries are going to Honduras to help those who are living in poverty, and they are. However, the real reason we are all involved, whether consciously or unconsciously, is because we are witnessing the Holy Spirit. That is why we are filled with the Fruit of the Spirit when we are there; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Jesus said, “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back.”
My understanding of this verse came from doing mission work with HOI over the last 11 years. I am completely dedicated to being a missionary in Honduras, and because of this decision I have gained so much in my personal relationship with God, and my life in general. If you are wondering if it ever gets old, returning to the ranch every year, I promise you it does not. God wants to show us something in Honduras, and there is never a shortage of new things to show us. As for me, my journey in Honduras has only just begun.