The air is cool. The sleep was good. The smell of coffee, the anticipation of a new day and a feeling of gratitude greets you at the sun rises above the mountains of the Agalta Valley. Light pushes through mountain mist and breaks over the cross reminding you that you’re here because of him. It is sunrise in the Agalta Valley where every morning feels like Easter morning.
Christians are often called “Easter people.” It is right that we should be called such. When Jesus rose from grave hope grew in the hearts of his followers. Jesus had kept an impossible promise and his followers began to live lives of faith, hope and love. Jesus has risen, so his promise that we will live eternally is true. Jesus has risen, so the pronouncement that our sins are forgiven is real. Jesus has risen therefore his teaching that we can have a personal relationship with God can be trusted. Jesus has risen and his vision for the way the world will one day be is now our vision. From that moment on we have dared to hope and we have built our lives around the promise, power and presence of Jesus.
All of us at HOI want to wish all of you a faith-filled Easter. We pray that you experience his presence in worship, family and reflection. We are so grateful the opportunity to serve alongside of you and the people of Honduras and Nicaragua as we work toward God’s preferred future in our lives and theirs.
For Christians, yesterday marked the beginning of Holy Week. It is a time for us to lighten our schedules and reflect upon the betrayal, trial, death and resurrection of Jesus. Many of us attended Palm Sunday musical celebrations and will attend Easter morning services. Across the United States, children will enjoy egg hunts, visits with the Easter Bunny and new outfits. Culturally, it is as much a celebration of the spring season as it is an expression of our faith.
Holy Week in Honduras looks a little different than it does here in the United States. Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday in Central America are more reflective and subdued while Good Friday is a day of joyous celebration. Also, you won’t find egg hunts, baskets filled green plastic straw, chocolate bunnies or bright colored eggs. Department stores, restaurants, banks and government offices will close during Holy Week. Luggage packed with the best outfits will be hoisted into cars or buses, and families will travel to be with one another. Holy Week in Central America is when faith and family are inseparably bound together.
The expansion and growth of Protestantism in Central America has reshaped many of the worship traditions. For many Protestant congregations, and especially the Agalta Valley, Wednesday is time for families of the church to come together and share a meal. On Thursday night, families will gather in worship for the annual foot washing service. Friday will bring families back together for the Good Friday celebration which can last all day in some larger villages. On Easter Sunday, families will gather for morning worship and one final meal before everyone returns home.
If you have served in Honduras or Nicaragua, it will come as no surprise to you that in these areas family is the very cornerstone of life. In fact, most of us in North America come away from our time in Honduras with a deep appreciation for the central place family has in the hearts of the people we served.
Our prayer for you this Holy Week is that it is will be a time when your faith in God and love for family will be wonderfully woven together. That together you will reflect upon the life and ministry of Jesus and you will remember the people God has called you to serve in His name.