I gripped the armrests and squeezed my eyes shut. I wasn’t a nervous flier, but the Tegucigalpa airport was reputed to have the second most dangerous runway in the world. The mountains directly at the end of the runway forced the pilot to slam on the plane’s brakes, causing it to fishtail wildly.
We landed safely and I reassured the wide-eyed twelve-year old next to me that flying wasn’t always like this. He in turn gasped out, “It’s not like in the movies.”
Honduras awaited us.
The details of how I ended up being a part of a mission team in Central America are foggy at best. All I can say is that God put it on my heart to serve that summer, and I’m not one to pass up an opportunity, so there I was, blinking in the broiling sun and fatigued from an early-morning flight.
Because I actually lived in a different state, I only knew a couple of the team members. I met most of them at the airport that morning. We were probably the most ragtag team you’ve ever seen- ranging in age from twelve to eighty-one (yes, you read that right), from a variety of churches and backgrounds. I was the only adult that wasn’t married or a mother, so I floated between the teens and the older adults.
To say I was out of my element would be an understatement.
I am a Type-A, detail-oriented, take-charge, stick-to-a-schedule-no-matter-what person. I totally own that. Here in Honduras, however, everything was so different.
Most of us spoke little to no Spanish. We were supposed to be helping with Bible camp, with the promise that the children coming would speak English. They didn’t.
They wanted us to do some painting. The paintbrushes shed little hairy bits into the paint. Once we had paint, that is.
The ladies were supposed to help in the kitchen. But there were local women already in place.
We couldn’t drink the water (at all).
All toilet paper had to be thrown away, not flushed.
The beetles were so big we could hear them clicking against our windows at night. Some of them were the length of my thumb.
Our daily schedule was haphazard at best. We never knew where we were going to end up- at a church, a street market, a school, or in the middle of the city.
On top of that, we were confronted with the harsh realities of a Third World country. I encountered deep poverty for the first time; I’ll never forget the sight of small children sniffing glue in the streets, barefoot and dirty. We learned to use bathrooms that had no running water, toilet paper, or electricity. Even at the camp where we were staying, the electricity would come and go.
It was the most amazing experience. Heart-breaking, shocking, terrifying, thrilling, and wonderful. The people of Honduras were warm, welcoming, and kind on levels that aren’t seen in the United States. They were so much fun to be around and we were all usually laughing. We couldn’t always understand each other, but the ideas got across.
I loved trying new foods, visiting the markets, participating in the church services, tramping through jungle, singing in Spanish (badly), and even being pushed out of my comfort zone. I had never given my salvation testimony through a translator before or walked up to a stranger to share the gospel. We all wore gospel bracelets, and I still remember holding my hand out to show mine to some girls. My hand was shaking violently because I was so nervous.
Almost nothing went according to plan on that trip, but it was beautiful in its own way. God was at work in that place, and my experiences changed my life.
Last week I said that I was going to be addressing a myth about singleness: “A life without (romantic) love is no life at all.” This quote brought me up short and penetrated my mind. My hearts aches for all the single women that believe this is true. For so long, I was there, too.
When single women start to embrace lies about their lives, it’s like the lies block out the sun. Suddenly, you’re not aware of the warmth and goodness. All your focus on is what you don’t have and what you’re missing. Your mind can get so twisted up you completely miss the truth:
The true value of a life is in what you have, not what you’re missing.
It’s in all the little moments- shining bits of goodness that show us more of God.
Romance is just one aspect of life. For some it is a wonderful, beautiful thing. But if it’s missing for you, that’s ok. There are so many other wonderful things that can fill up a life.
My mission trip experience was incredible for so many reasons. Whenever I think of it I think of riotous color, bright smiling faces, bananas right off the tree, games, laughter, sleeping outside under the stars, and joy even in the midst of poverty.
Let me tell you, in those moments, life was pretty worthwhile. That’s the beauty of a life planned by God. He brings you to places (like Honduras) that you never would have chosen for yourself. God wants to stretch you in ways you didn’t think possible, but when He does it gives you a life bigger and better than your dreams.
Because we are small, finite people, our dreams are just as small.
Our infinite God is so much greater. The Bible tells us that His thoughts for us are more numerous than the grains of sand. Pause for a minute and let that soak in. God never stops thinking about us. He never stops thinking about you.
Friend, you don’t need romance to have a fulfilling life. You don’t have to sit at home and wallow! As a single woman, you have unique opportunities to travel, volunteer, serve, and otherwise explore the life God’s given you.
This week I’m thankful for the blessing of unexpected opportunities. Together, let’s celebrate every SINGLE blessing!